Things I Miss About The United States

Now that I’m all settled in Portugal, there are a few things that I should note that I miss about the United States.

I love living here. The beautiful weather, the friendly people, the bug-free environment (I’ve seen a few bugs but they are very rare), the affordability, the slower pace of it all, the safety… there are a lot of things that are just awesome.

Being said, I do miss the following:

  • Friends & Family – Of course I miss my friends and my family. I’m hoping some of them come to visit.
  • Variety – You can find almost anything here. However, it’s not in the variety that it is in the United States. For instance in the US you would have entire isles at the supermarket dedicated to one or two items but you had your choice of brand, shape, quantity, etc. Not so much in Portugal. Supermarkets do not have this. You are lucky if you get your choice between one or two things of the same thing.
  • Vegetarianism – In the US Beyond Meat and Impossible are almost everywhere. They’re not here at all. You’re hard pressed to find a veggie burger of any kind. It is very possible to be vegan or vegetarian here though, of course. Lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Vegetarian Chinese – One of my favorite restaurants was Yuan Fo in Rockville that had the best vegetarian Chinese food.
  • Land O’ Lakes Butter – Heidi and I call it our “special butter.” We have Planta here (which is a lot like Promise) so it’s pretty good but not the same.
  • Ease Of Cellphone Use – Getting my number ported over (I might blog about it later to try to help others) is a pain in the butt! Cellphones never used to always “work” in the US (we had Google Fi for a while which was a piece of shit; so was T-Mobile when I was in college) but here, porting over my US number is an issue. Cellphone service overall is great though! Data, calls, texts everywhere! No deadzones yet.
  • One-Stop Shopping – There are no “big stores” like Target or Wal-mart here. You can absolutely find what you need (baring a few items) but you might have to go to a few places to find specific things.
  • Specific Items – We haven’t been able to find the following: maple syrup and yellow squash.
  • Things We’re Going To Get Back – When we move out of our AirBnB, our next place should have an ice maker and a dryer. We have to hang our clothes out to dry. Which is great for the environment but they don’t dry very well with us being on the first floor. There isn’t a breeze. We also miss our stuff.

Moving To Portugal (Ongoing Post)

I’ve decided to blog about this! I’m not sure who reads my blog anymore but here it is.

Bri and I have decided to move to Portugal. The plan has been in the works now for a while. Here I will document what steps we’ve done and where we’re at in the process.

Initial

We visited Portugal in December 2021 and decided it would be a place we would like to live. For various reasons, Portugal has been our number one retirement destination. It is cheap to live, has great healthcare, great culture, speaks mostly English (thought we will be learning Portuguese).

Time: 10 days in Portugal.

Choosing A Lawyer

We interviewed a few different lawyers and figured out (roughly) what we need to do. We met with four different immigration lawyers (all in Lisbon) and received quotes.

Time: 4 months (finding and interviewing lawyers). This process might be faster for others.

Signing Up With An Immigration Lawyer

On Tuesday, February 22, 2022 we paid and sent over our information to the immigration lawyer we chose. We sent them over pictures of our drivers licenses and passports as well as some other information they asked for. We paid around $3,000 initially. The remaining is around $1,000.

Time: 1 day.
Cost: around $4,000

Getting NIF Numbers

The migration attorney is in charge of getting us Tax ID (NIF) numbers. We need these numbers to open a bank account (which the attorney will also do). It took them around two weeks to get us these numbers. We received them on Monday, March 7, 2022. The attorney now needs our United States Social Security cards which we will send over today.

Time: 2 weeks.

Getting A Bank Account

We obviously needed to open up a Portuguese bank account there. In order to do this, we need various forms and other information. We had to send them almost everything… copies of our passports, social security cards, proof of income, our last few paychecks, our tax returns for various previous years… it is a lot.

On top of which, they needed INKED documents so we had to print out various documents (bank account information with Millennium) and send it to them… like actually send to Portugal.

We sent these documents (the first time) on Monday, April 4th, 2022. We eagerly awaited their arrival. We sent them through USPS. No tracking info. It cost around $20 to send.

By April 18, 2022, our lawyers were wondering where they were. We decided to print out these documents AGAIN and resign and send them. We did this on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 and sent them out this time through UPS.

This process is finally finished but we still need to fund the account all the way.

Time: 2 months

Putting Money Into The Account

Once we finally got access to the account, we had to put money in it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t cheap. Bri created a Wise account to transfer money from his account to the new Portuguese account. He also couldn’t initially log into the account so he had to call the bank.

We completed this in a week though we need more time to transfer funds as the Wise app takes some money and doesn’t allow large transfers.

We are also playing the market a bit and only transferring money when the Euro is at a better position so we get more Euros for our buck.

Time: 1 month

Finding A Place

Well, we have to find a place to live, right? In order to be accepted, we need a place to stay. We initially started looking on our own but we decided to go with a realtor. We hope to not have to fly over there to look at places. Right now it’s a very busy time. It also costs money and time to go over there to look.

Reading online, it can take a while to find a place. This is why we are hiring a realtor to do the finding for us. We are looking in the Algarve (which is really hot right now because of summer).

Our realtor sent us a listing and we wanted to pick a place from their list but none of the places were available. I don’t know why they would send us stuff that they didn’t first check was available.

We ended up going a different approach through our lawyers. Our lawyers were able to find us a room to rent with a lease. We will be using that address and lease as our housing requirement. As far as a real place to live, we will be staying in an AirBnB somewhere in the Algarve until we buy a place.

Cost: $133 (for realtor to find places)
Time: 3 months

Fingerprinting/Background Check

Us living in the DC area, we kind of have an advantage. It was really easy to make an appointment somewhere close to get the FBI background investigation and fingerprinting scheduled. We did that on Wednesday, May 11th.

Cost: $160
Time: less than a week

Getting Our Pets Over

More time and research needs to go into this (and I have a checklist for them). So far I’ve bought two dog crates and am getting them used to them. Unfortunately, they will need to go in the cargo hold.

Getting the pets over is a very tricky process. Portugal is a rabies-free country so they both need to be up-to-date on their rabies vaccine. However, they also need to be microchipped which needs to take place BEFORE their rabies vaccine.

We needed to do the following:

  • Crate train the pets – This was a difficult process with Lando. Wiki was aces. Lando would whine all the time in his crate and would become destructive. He destroyed a plastic bowl that was left in his crate. He also destroyed a blanket we had overtop of the crate.
  • Find a USDA approved vet & make an appointment – This process was more difficult than it sounds as there are not a lot of places that still do it. They need to go to this vet within 10 days of travel.
    • The vet did a lot of paperwork and research for us. Lando was an issue as his microchipping occurred AFTER his rabies vaccine. We needed to get him another rabies vaccine which had to happen 21 days prior to his vet appointment.
    • We told the vet about Lando’s anxiety and she gave us eight pills. We tried one and that made him calm down. Before the plane, we gave him a pill which hopefully worked.
  • Get the USDA certificate certified – The vet looked up what we needed to do. Once we got the certificate we had to overnight it to a place in Albany, NY that certifies certificates and have a return overnight envelope to send it back to us.
  • Properly label the crates – The crates that I bought came with “LIVE ANIMALS” stickers so we put those on the crates. We also put stickers with our phone numbers as well as Bri’s dad’s number. We also put a bag of food duct taped to the top of the cages just in case.
  • Pet trackers – For piece of mind, we bought Samsung smart tags for both our pets. We tested them out first and they worked! It just needs to have a Samsung phone around to find the pets.
  • Call the airline – We flew out with TAP so we needed to call them AFTER we booked our tickets to tell them we had two dogs. They asked about breeds and sizes and sizes of their crates.
    • We needed to arrive there two hours before our flight. We went to the luggage counter with them and our luggage.
    • We rolled them in then later took off the wheels on the crate. The airport took them on a cart which we followed.
    • The airport/TSA scanned their crates. We had to zip tie the doors closed. TSA/the airport said they could no longer touch the animals once we had them zip tied.
    • We tracked them and after an hour of no activity on their tags, they finally appeared underneath us! We were the last ones on the plane on purpose so we could see them get loaded. They took them out in this van and loaded each one up on the belt. A lady then walked both of them into the cargo of the plane and I assume strapped them down.
    • At the airport in Lisbon, we asked where to pick up our pets. The airport person said to wait by a door (funny story to ask me later). The door eventually opened and we retrieved our dogs, safe and sound. They couldn’t wait to get out of their cages and had to go to the bathroom really bad.

Cost: $263 (for two dog crates) + $618 (USDA vet) + $83 (for certified overnight certificate) + $1,600+ (for the dogs to be in luggage)

Getting A Place To Rent

We contacted a realtor a month and a half before our VFS appointment. She sent us some things but nothing met our requirements or it turned out to be unavailable. She got another realtor involved which had a few places. However, even after making a decision, the properties were unavailable.

Days turned into weeks. The final week we needed a place, we were freaking out. I was reaching other realtors in Portugal to see if they could help. We finally told our lawyers we didn’t think we were going to make the deadline. She offered us an alternative and we took it. We have a lease for a place in Porto.

This was by far the hardest and most stressful part so far.

Cost: $625
Time: 2 months

Getting Travelers Insurance

It only took a phone call. But we did some research before we decided on a company. We chose Mutuaide and made the call to have our insurance start on October 1, 2022. No deductible. Best part it was only 1,200 euros for two people for a year! If health insurance was that cheap in this country, we would stay.

Cost: $1250 (1,200 euros)
Time: 1 day

Getting Ready For VFS Appointment

This took a long time. We needed to print out many documents. Our list (per person) was:

  • Application for National Visa
  • Passports
  • Two passport sized photos – we only needed one but they said to bring two
  • Colored copy of passports  – we needed them notarized; which we didn’t know; but luckily, the person was able to copy ours and notarize them herself
  • Personal statement
  • Proof of financial means – we brought bank statements, a letter from our property manager, and account statements from accounts we have which generate income
  • NIF documents – we got these first thing from the lawyers; this was one of the easiest things as they did the work
  • FBI criminal records – see above
  • Release/request for Portugal criminal record check
  • Proof of travelers insurance – see above
  • Proof of accommodation – see above
  • Copy of marriage certificate – they did not ask for this but we provided it anyway
  • Representation letter – our lawyers provided this for it; they didn’t ask for it but we provided it to them anyway
  • Two money orders – one each person; made out to Embassy of Portugal; both for $95.19

Now all that’s left to do is wait.

Time: months (see above steps)
Cost: $95.19 + $95.19 + $150.38

Selling Our Home

Of course we need to sell our current house before we make the move. It might seem a little pointless to put this in here but I feel it’s important. We had to find some realtors and vet them.

We finally decided to go with a local one recommended from a friend. This same friend also will do the photography and video of our home. We listed our house in August.

After a week and a half of being on the market, we finally got a bid! After a lot of negotiating and the home inspector finding a lot of shit, we settled on a price. We closed at the end of September, 2022.

Time: 6 weeks

The Waiting

After our VFS appointment (mentioned above), the long wait happens… We went through DC which is usually faster than other places but that wasn’t the case for us.

We kept checking on our application online but no update. Just kept saying it had been forwarded to the embassy.

Finally on August 2nd (right as we were leaving for GenCon) we got an email requesting our 2021 tax returns. We quickly gathered the information, went over to Brian’s parents, and scanned it to a PDF. Within an hour of their email request, we had sent it back to them.

We waited another long time to get any feedback back. We emailed them and called several times in September as it was going on 90 days since our VFS appointment.

FINALLY on Monday, September 19, 2022, we got an email saying we were approved! The email came in the morning right before my standups. Finally a weight had been lifted and the long wait was over!

Brian mailed our passports a few hours after we got the good news. They stamped with our Visa and we will have the ability to get into Portugal on our six month D7 Visa.

Time: 95 days + 4 days (we sent our passports on September 19 and got them back September 22)

Getting To Portugal

Bri made flights at the beginning of October for the end of October.

We hung out with a lot of people in this month. We went on a kid of “going away tour” and saw a lot of family and friends before we left. It was quite sweet. I loved seeing all my good friends one last time. We saw:

  • Uncle George in North Carolina
  • Heidi in Virginia
  • Bryan S – We hung out with Bryan S who lived close to Bri’s parents a few times since he was so close
  • Megan & Matt in New Orleans
  • Our local people: Helen, Andrei, Jason & Brittany, Aaron & Sabrina, Shawn & Jen, Eric & Delaura, Joe & Kate

Like I stated earlier, we booked tickets for October 30th. We flew out really late and arrived in Lisbon on October 31st. We rented a car and got down to the Algarve (lots of steps before, see the pets). We checked into our AirBnB on November 1st.


Diary Of Portugal Scouting Trip November/December 2021

As some of you may know, Bri and I are looking at Portugal to possibly retire. We wanted to visit the country to find possible towns that we like that could be possible retirement spots. We planned this trip for a few months. We rented a car for the whole trip and stayed at two different places in Portugal (though it ended up being three hotels).

Portugal is a great country full of friendly people, culture, and fun things to do. Cervejas (beer) is sold everywhere and at all hours of the day it is not uncommon to drink. Cervejas are in coffee shops, souvenir shops,  lingerie shops (just kidding about that one).

Most people speak English but we did run into some who did not but we were able to easily get by. We learned some Portuguese before going of course such as “olbrigata” (which is thank you for women).

It was an awesome week. We did a lot. Visited a lot of places. It seemed like a very long trip even though it was only a week and a few days.

Pictures:
http://yearscollage.com/user/niles38?set_id=47

Here’s what we did:

Friday, November 26, 2021

  • Got up around 7:30 am
  • Went to CVS for covid test
  • Ate leftovers
  • Lounged around all day
  • Bri’s parents picked us up
  • Drove to Dulles
  • Got there really early
  • Ate and drank at bar
  • Talked to lady for a while at gate
  • Boarded plane
  • Started to watch Titanic
  • Couldn’t sleep on plane

Saturday, November 27, 2021

  • Got to Lisbon
  • Very long line at customs but they didn’t ask us anything or checked anything; just stamped passport
  • Got luggage
  • Tried to find rental car place with no luck
  • Finally figured out they didn’t have a stand there; had to wait to get picked up
  • Got rental car
  • Tried to get to hotel but phones were not working
  • Had panic attack because our phones weren’t working
  • Bri found wifi and downloaded Lisbon map
  • Got to hotel but we were too early for check-in
  • Walked around & Got Portuguese dish and beer to eat
  • Back to hotel & checked in
  • Took a shower and nap
  • Walked around Lisbon
  • Got a cafe (very small coffee)
  • Walked and found beer place outside & Got a glass of wine and 0% alcohol beer (oops)
  • Walked around; checked out outdoor markets
  • Ate at place outside; bri Got sausage on fire
  • Walked around Lisbon & found beer museum
  • Had many beers
  • Went back to hotel and slept
  • Woke up 11PM our time (4AM Lisbon time)

Sunday, November 28, 2021

  • Time change fucking with us; got up around 2 am Lisbon time; had sex; played on phones; back to sleep
  • Got up around 8:30 Lisbon time
  • Headed to breafast; had breakfast
  • Took a nap & got up around 11:30 Lisbon time
  • Hit the road; got gas
  • Évora; walked around and finally found food inside the castle walls
  • Suviner shopping
  • Went to grocery store on the way to Mourāo to see if we can eat here cheaply; about a wash
  • Went to Castelo de Mourāo; waited for sun to set
  • Tried to go to telescope place but it was closed; waited for sun to set
  • Saw stars; thousands of then
  • 2.5 hours back to Lisbon
  • Got dinner at sushi place

Monday, November 29, 2021

  • Breakfast
  • Nap
  • Went to Fonte de Telha
  • Had lunch at cool Beach restaurant
  • Walked around town
  • Tried to go to Corva but it was just a neighborhood
  • Back to hotel
  • Walked around & Got dinner at hybrid restaurant
  • Drinks at hotel’s rooftop bar

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

  • Breakfast
  • Chilled in hotel room (no nap)
  • Walked around and hit up a cafe; expresso
  • Went to an old church, sé de Lisboa
  • Walked to Tagus; had expresso and cerveja by the water
  • Went by pink Street
  • Walked to Praça de São Paulo; cerveja
  • Walked around hitting various cafés; Benard
  • Went to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
  • Walked back to hotel
  • Walked to Lizzo’s and got pizza

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

  • Breakfast
  • Got going to Quarteira and checked into hotel
  • Went to Fonte de Telha but restaurants were closed
  • Went to beach restaurant in Lagos
  • Walked around Lagos and went to grocery store
  • Back to hotel & drank & watched Netflix

Thursday, December 2, 2021

  • Back hurt in the morning and too much light in room
  • Bad hotel & bad hotel food
  • Decided to check out and find a hotel in Faro
  • Traveled to Faro
  • Checked into hotel
  • Walked around and got food at Italian place
  • Had to get Euros from ATM
  • Walked around and went to marina bar & drank most afternoon
  • Went back to hotel & relaxed
  • Went to Portuguese restaurant

Friday, December 3, 2021

  • Breakfast (better than the others)
  • Started early and went to Tavira
  • Cafe and walked around; visited shops
  • Went to Cavanas (clear winner)
  • Drinks on the boardwalk
  • Went to Santa Luzia & had lunch
  • Went to Olhão; drinks by the water
  • Went back to Faro
  • Dinner at nice Mexican restaurant; learned some português
  • Talked to Stacy on messanger video chat
  • Drank in room

Saturday, December 4, 2021

  • Woke up to wrong number
  • Breakfast
  • Went to pharmacy to schedule covid test
  • Headed off to Sagres
  • Walked around Praia da Mareta beach
  • Lunch at beach bar
  • Went to Lagos; walked around & Got drinks at a tap bar
  • Went to Portimão; walked around & ate dinner at a pizza place
  • Back to hotel

Sunday, December 5, 2021

  • Breakfast
  • Spa
  • Walked to tap pub
  • Drank cerveja and had conversations with people from Ireland and England
  • Too drunk so Went to hotel to sleep
  • Went to covid test
  • Bri Got dinner
  • I got dinner later
  • Talked to Stacy and watched the Ravens game
  • Couldn’t sleep

Monday, December 6, 2021

  • Got up around 7 AM
  • Breakfast
  • Checked out of Faro hotel
  • Traveled to Lisbon
  • Got to airport way early; I fucked up the time and thought we flew out at 2 PM instead of 5 PM
  • Cervejas and coffee
  • Got food
  • Walked to immigration
  • Waited some more
  • Segregated our gate & made us fill out form to return to US
  • Loooong plane ride
  • The plane could not land so we had to circle around again since the wind was bad
  • Bri’s parents picked us up and dropped us off home with the dogs

Weddings I’ve Gone To

As I’m sitting here in BWI having a few to drink… what a perfect time to blog!

Recently (just in the past six months) my friend from work has been to (and officiated some) NINE weddings. NINE. I guess they all got delayed from years past?

Anyway it got me thinking… one, my coworker must be really popular and two, I don’t think I’ve gone to nine weddings in my entire life.

Counting them, yeah. Thought I would blog with a count.

  • Young – I went to a wedding when I was like 5. My parents were still together. All I remember was staying in a hotel and dancing a lot.
  • My own – I believe I was there at my own wedding to Bri. No one else was. Justice of the peace, baby.
  • Tricia & Travis – Good friends from college got married. I was a bridesmaid! Very good wedding. Also was the same day as Shawn and Jen but we didn’t know them yet.
  • Joe & Kate – My in-laws. Fun wedding up in New York. We had to stay at a different hotel from the rest since we had Candi. A few good stories from it.
  • Seth & Meredith – Friend from college. Good time. He had karaoke and Taylor Swift songs.
  • Leslie & Jason – Friend from college. Nice wedding up near Baltimore. Good food. I photocopied.
  • Pablo – Uncle George’s friend had a nice little wedding at his home. I think Bri and I kind of crashed it but it was fun. Very low budget. Coors Light in Coolers.
  • Mel & Jim – Right before covid. Friends I knew from Bernie’s campaign. Fun Jewish wedding.

We went to a few wedding receptions (Megan and Matt, Bri’s childhood friend), but we weren’t at the actual “I do” part.

Looking ahead, next year I will go to at least one, Bri’s cousin. I’m not sure who else is on the horizon…

Still drinking…


I Really Need To Keep Shit Bookmarked

Well it happened again. I got called out for being wrong about something but, later, after a half hour of research, I found what I needed to to back up my argument. And I feel like a shit if I were to text them later to assert my claim.

Google is a real pain in the ass. It is REALLY hard to find things right as you need them to back up an argument. I’m not sure what I’m going to do going forward, I mean I don’t want to bookmark every single article I read just in case I need to back it up months or years later.

This time it was an argument about whether or not Biden can eliminate student loan debt. Turns out, most likely, I’m right. Trump even used the same kind of logic when he did it.

Here are some links:

And now doing a google search of this: can the secretary of education cancel student loans links to a bunch of articles! Fuck my life sometimes man. I hate feeling like I’m this jerk or crazy person who makes bogus claims and can’t back them up. Fuck me for not having the information right then and there. But looking back at it later, I’ll fucking find it.

Update bonus: Here’s a reminder that POTUS can give everyone Medicare for All under section 1881 A of the Social Security Act. In fact, that act has been used in Libby, Montana where residents can get free healthcare.


Diary Of Myrtle Beach June 2021

My mom’s boyfriend, Kenny, was kind enough to give me his timeshare in Myrtle beach in June 2021. I originally wanted it to be a big girls trip with just Arlene, Becky, and I but I realized that wouldn’t be fair to our guys. When Arlene decided to get her own place, I made the move to have the guys there too all week.

We had an awesome time! We did breweries, wine tasting, lots of mini golf, pool, dinners and drinks, games, and (of course) the beach! I always wanted to do a trip like this with good friends. It was awesome.

Pictures:
http://yearscollage.com/user/niles38?set_id=42

Here’s the diary…

Friday, June 4, 2021

  • Worked half day; got everything done
  • Packed
  • Got stung by a plant
  • Dropped dogs off at Bri’s parents
  • Got hotel in NC
  • Hardee’s for dinner; drank a big beer

Saturday, June 5, 2021

  • Crappy breakfast
  • Left hotel
  • Got to Sands Beach Club
  • Found car spot with electric parking
  • Met up with mom & Kenny
  • Drove to Ocean Annie’s
  • Drank a lot of beer, live music
  • Got food
  • Went back to resort
  • Room ready
  • Kenny & mom showed us around room then left
  • Went to hot tub & drank
  • Becky texted & we met up with them
  • Hot tub & pool with Paul & Becky
  • Twisted Restaurant dinner
  • I was plastered
  • Back to room
  • Arlene & Andy came by

Sunday, June 6, 2021

  • Got up & Went to breakfast with Paul & Becky (good place)
  • Went to Costco
  • Came back to resort
  • Walk on the beach
  • Hit the pool with everyone
  • Played with ball
  • Back to room to chill and change
  • Went to the pirate Voyage show
  • Went back to our place for games

Monday, June 7, 2021

  • Talked to Kenny but weather not good
  • Went to the beach
  • Went to the brewery, Andy & Arlene Met us up there
  • Walked to golf but Went to a wine tasting place along the way
  • Hung around wine place for a bit
  • Paul drove us to alpha gold put put place
  • Went to Arlene & Andy’s
  • Got pizza

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

  • Got up somewhat early to go boating
  • Met Kenny & Mom at the marina
  • Went to Bird Island
  • Walked around a bit, did the ocean
  • Got stranded on Bird Island because of the tide
  • Had some beer
  • Did more ocean and beach
  • When we were able to get out, did a toast with wine
  • Boated to LuLu’s… bad service
  • Had lunch, drinks
  • Boated back to marina
  • Everyone tired & Went to bed early

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

  • No one wanted to go out to breakfast
  • Bri & I went to blueberry grill for breakfast
  • Went to Publix
  • Back to hotel
  • Went to the beach
  • Met up with Arlene, flew kites
  • Walked to Harry the hats for lunch
  • Hung around hotel
  • Hit up the boardwalk around 5
  • Paul, Bri, Becky drank at Hurricanes (cat 5 Hurricane’s)
  • Played the Mind, alcoholic slushi’s
  • Rode the SkyWheel
  • Met up with Arlene & Andy
  • Went to some tiki bar (bad service) but shots and food
  • Went into some shop
  • All rode back in my car; everyone drunk

Thursday, June 10, 2021

  • Everyone drank the night before
  • Went to pancake house for breakfast
  • Back to hotel
  • Mini golf at two places
  • Went swimming in pool
  • Met cool guy by the pool
  • Went to seafood place for dinner
  • Checked out kite place before we ate
  • Back to our place for games
  • Everyone called it an early night

Friday, June 11, 2021

  • Paul & Becky got up, packed and left
  • Kind of sadness
  • Waited for Mom to message me
  • Got in the pool for a bit
  • Went over Kenny’s
  • Went out to lunch with Kenny & Mom
  • Hung out with Kenny & mom for a bit
  • Back to hotel
  • Met up with Andy & Arlene and went to place next to Ocean Annie’s
  • Back to our place & played rummy
  • Went over to Arlene’s for their beer
  • Watched half of a movie

Saturday, June 12, 2021

  • Got up and cleaned and left
  • Traffic a lot
  • Picked up the kids
  • Got home & watched movies

Diary Of RV Trip 2021

A lot of time went into the making of this trip. Heidi, Bri, and I have been playing Dominion online since the pandemic. Earlier this year (2021) we wanted to do a vacation that was “covid friendly.” Since Bri had always wanted to do an RV trip, Heidi and I went along with it. We let him plan the whole thing which was probably a mistake… we just let him go at it with the assumption that he knows what we like… which he did.

We had several mishaps during the trip like forgetting the pillows and having to drive almost two hours out of the way to pick up and drop off a rental car. But we had a great time but it was very stressful at times (at least the driving was). But we had a lot of fun and have a lot of good memories.

Pictures:
http://yearscollage.com/user/niles38?set_id=39

Anyway, here’s a diary of what I did on the trip…

Friday, April 30, 2021

  • Worked from home for a few hours
  • Heidi came over
  • Got the RV, went through the whole spiel about “how to RV”… thinking to myself they need to have a degree program in this shit
  • Went home and started to pack, neighbors came over to check the RV out

Saturday, May 1, 2021

  • Left around 6 am
  • Realized we forgot the pillows!
  • Went all the way to some airport to pick up the rental car
  • I picked up the rental car by myself and drove to Walmart (ewww! First time I’ve even step foot in a Walmart much less buy something in like 15 years!), got pillows, beer, and other supplies, and other shit
  • Got to KOA and relaxed, I built the fire
  • Couldn’t sleep, tried to sleep in rental car; half way through the night I was cold so I went back in the RV

Sunday, May 2, 2021

  • My back hurt in the morning after the sleep on the top bed
  • Went to the Fontana Dam with everyone and dogs
  • Walked around Cherokee
  • Cherokee memorial
  • Went to Firehouse Subs where there was an order for “Trump” (a Trump guy said his order was for Trump; he had a Trump patch on his biker vest)
  • Heidi went for a walk so Bri and I could do adult things
  • Dominion at night before rain

Monday, May 3, 2021

  • Back hurt in the morning after sleep on top again
  • Heidi watches dogs while Bri and I went out
  • It was rainy all day
  • Tried to go to Mingo falls (but it was closed); dudes who walked down said don’t waste a trip up
  • Scary one way gravel road next to creek to get out of the place
  • Went to Mingus Mill; a nice guy there gave us a tour
  • Drove through Smokey Mountain National Park
  • Camera broke before Laurel Falls!
  • Did the hike up to Laurel Falls; no one wearing masks
  • Went into smallish town in Tennessee to get gas; no one wearing masks walking around like it’s Marti Gras… got out of there fast!
  • On the way back noticed a “Native Brews” sign
  • Ate at Native Brews

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

  • Returned rental 3 hours out of the way; I drove rental back by myself; met up with Heidi and Bri
  • Got on the road
  • Bad wind and rain
  • Bad accident which caused traffic
  • Heidi panic attack
  • We drove through GA for like 10 minutes (very strange)
  • Canceled rental for Alabama since we weren’t going to make the time
  • I drove through nasty rain storm to get to Alabama; hazard lights on the whole time
  • Drank at night outside after rain
  • Decided that I will sleep on the table bed which had to have been built for a midget (excuse me, small person) since I had to sleep catty cornered

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

  • Bri Bri got pan cakes at the Market place in KOA
  • Walked around KOA
  • Did laundry and played cornhole; talked to the owner of the KOA
  • Debated food; nothing around; no one delivered not even Dominos
  • Decided to drive to store and get food
  • Bri and I did some adult things in the Publix parking lot while Heidi got the groceries
  • Walked around KOA when we got back; cinco de mayo food

Thursday, May 6, 2021

  • Breakfast and coffee outside
  • Heidi went for a run
  • Went and did kayaking around lake
  • Birds divebombing us around bridge where their homes are
  • Walked and chill; of course drank
  • Tried to grill but severe thunderstorms
  • Lando kept me awake at night… tried to do adult things but it rocked the trailer too much and woke up Heidi… blamed it on the wind and the dogs

Friday, May 7, 2021

  • Got on road to KY
  • Got rental car
  • I found yet another fucking Walmart (all they got out there) drove there and got cupcakes for Heidi’s birthday
  • Went to the KOA store… everyone was super nice; offered to drive me back to RV since I bought 4 six packs of beer
  • Walked around and played on bounce thing
  • Ordered from New Jersey pizza… story… they did not deliver :( But ordered pizza from somewhere a little closer who did deliver
  • Played Dominion and got on Fri night call for a few minutes

Saturday, May 8, 2021

  • Drove to random bourbon place but it wasn’t there!
  • Drove to Wilderness Trails distillery and did a tasting
  • Went to little Mexican place which had awesome food; dogs were welcome too
  • Went to Four Roses but they were sold out
  • Went to Wild Turkey distillery; Heidi and Bri drank so I could drive
  • Debated what we were going to do on Monday; Heidi made some calls and set up a KOA for Monday night
  • Bri and I went out on a date night but the first BBQ place didn’t wear masks (very scary!) so we went to another joint that had masks
  • Heidi went for a walk so Bri and I could do adult things
  • Played Dominion

Sunday, May 9, 2021

  • Went to Cumberland Falls with dogs; just Bri and I
  • Drove through Boone National Forest; stopping at interesting places
  • Came back, rain, the mind, and drank

Monday, May 10, 2021

  • Had shower and got on road ASAP
  • Part way through I did calculation from home and from KOA to home
  • The KOA we booked ended up being another 2 hours total versus just hammering it out and going home being 1 more hour
  • Decided to head directly home instead
  • I drove the final leg which was all of Maryland; drove by our college, Frostburg <3
  • Got home around 6:30; unpacked and cleaned

Random Thoughts 12/13/2020

  • I DO NOT have covid. I doubt that I’ve ever had it.
  • I REALLY want AOC to force a vote on Medicare For All so then we will know who supports giving people healthcare during a pandemic.
  • I say fuck too much.
  • My friends are awesome. I miss my friends.
  • My dogs are awesome. I don’t miss my dogs since they’re always here with me.
  • I’ve been downloading (actually buying) a lot of music.
  • I’m really into Chernobyl, Mount Everest, abandoned places, ship wrecks, etc. I would like more recommendations for YouTube but since all I subscribe to and most of what I play is political in nature, I don’t see much.
  • I have a weird crush on Jared Harris right now. I just finished binging Fringe and just watched Chernobyl on HBO for the third time. I just love his voice. It’s sexy to me.
  • It does not feel like Christmas to me.
  • I’m kind of a little addicted to work right now which is not a good thing. I think about it a lot. I’m having fun and (dare I say it) look forward to the work days.
  • I’m learning Spanish and actually getting good at it. Speaking and hearing, not so much but I can read it.
  • I REALLY wish the Democrats didn’t suck. I REALLY wish we had Bernie in there. I REALLY wish more people realized that the Democrats suck and demand more from them. All I do on Twitter is bash the Democrats because they deserve it. They are beyond pathetic and the next four years are going to be a cluster fuck. Sorry (not sorry) but Joe Biden sucks ass. He’s going to make things worse (and NO that doesn’t mean he’s worse than Trump).
  • I wish I had more time for this blog. I wish I could write debunking posts like I used to. I would research the shit out of something and write about it with sources and stuff. It was fun and awesome.

COVID Songs (In Case I Die)

Hahah.

I’m playing the following songs in case I die. I’ll update this blog post to remember me by.

  • Matisyahu – One Day
  • Kodaline – All I Want

Will my memory live on? God I hope not. My miniscule life means nothing.

I know I’m borrowing this from a Kevin Spacey movie but I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.


Chances About COVID

Yes, I’m drunk writing this. (Thank God for spell check!)

I’m in Ocean City, Maryland right now. I’ve been looking forward to this time for many many weeks. It’s wonderful.

Am I COVID positive? I don’t know. But I couldn’t tell you that before I came here either.

I’m quarantining for at least two weeks when we get back. I’m wearing a mask always (DUH!) even on the boardwalk. I’m very slow to type but I feel safe at the moment. I want to always be safe.

Being in Ocean City, it’s great but it’s also worrisome. I love hearing the ocean but I worry about COVID.

Just now. Tranquil. It’s necessary. Different change in scenery. I need this. Thank you. I’m grateful I can do this.


Post Pandemic Plans

I’m getting a list together of all the stuff I want to do once this shit is over. I really miss the ability to just go out. I miss my friends. I miss hanging out and having a few beers. I miss driving. I actually miss my commute. This time of year I’m riding my motorcycle to and from work. I miss that. But I actually miss being in the Prius as well. Scary thing.

Anyway, here is a list of stuff I would like to do once the pandemic is over and life becomes normal again:

  • Go to Medieval Times (I seriously think about this everyday)
  • See Arlene in Florida with Becky
  • Go with Arlene to Seattle
  • Go on a cruise with my P.I.C. (Bri Bri)
  • Go to the beach
  • Have our yearly party
  • Go glamping with Heidi
  • Play real life board games with all my board game friends
  • Start up our Friday traditions of going to a bar and playing board games
  • Hang out with Uncle George and have a few beers
  • See my family

New Look & Pandemic Activities

I decided my blogs needed some love. I’m looking at this blog and Syntax Notes. I’m installing new, crisp, clean WP themes on both this blog and Syntax Notes.

We’re also getting out a bit more (a bit). Every week or every other week we seem to do something with someone. We still maintain distance with them and wear masks. It’s nice to actually go places and see people. You need that.

I can’t wait for this bullshit to be over!


Carpet Vs Hardwood

We recently explored the possibility of moving to another house (long story). So, naturally, we started interviewing realtors to sell our current house. Every one of them said rip up the carpet (which is only five years old) and expose the hardwood.

I wasn’t sure what kind of impact that would have on our home as the different levels have been built up for carpet. Not to mention, the title I had put in on the side door. That would have to go.

I also wasn’t sure what kind of shape the hardwood floors were in as I hadn’t seen them before. What if they were crap and needed to be sanded? Ugh. I know what that does to a house (all the dust, disgust from cleaning and sanding hardwood from my dad’s house).

Ripping up the carpet was a non-starter with us. We dismissed it and saying we wouldn’t do it. Apparently, hardwood “shows better.”

I had hardwood when growing up and it was gross. Getting a glass of water in the middle of the night, or going to the bathroom? I’d have to wipe my feet off before I went to bed. Dust, dirt, black on my feet. It was not cool.

My husband and I are big into carpet. I love the feel and the ease of cleaning. It’s just a vacuum. With hardwood floors it’s like swiffering, vacuuming, and cleaning. It’s a pain. Not to mention the dust and hair that settles down on it and get’s blown around. Then you have these areas close to the walls where there’s hair and dust. Ugh.

So, this post was pretty pointless. Just letting people know I’m a carpet person and hardwood sucks!


I’m The Average American?

WaPo had an interesting article of what the average American looks like. I fit most of their attributes.

Here’s how I compare:

The average American is a woman – Yes, I’m a woman.

The average American is white and not Hispanic – Yep. I’m Caucasian.

She’s 52 years old – Nope. I’m significantly younger than that.

She has a bachelor’s degree – Guilty. BS from Frostburg!

She works in “education and health services” – Somewhat. I work for a government contractor who does contracts with HHS.

She earns $889.62 a week – Nope. I earn a lot more than that.

She lives in a city – Yes. The suburbs.

She’s a political independent — who tends to vote Democratic – Yes. I’m a registered Independent but I tend to vote Democrat (when I like them).

She voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 – Hell no! I voted for Jill Stein.

The average American has a 26.1-minute commute – This is accurate.

She’s married and lives with her spouse – Yep.

She lives in a house that she owns or that another resident owns – Yes, I own my home.

There’s probably another person there, too – Yes. My husband and my pets.

She’s an evangelical Baptist – Nope.

She disapproves of Trump’s performance as president – True!

She believes that Trump has strengthened the economy – False!

She believes that Trump has weakened America’s standing globally – True!

She would rather see Democrats control the House than Republicans – Yeah, I guess but it’s like one inch of difference.

She probably won’t vote – Fuck no. I’ll always vote.

Total: 13/19


Best Days Of My Life

Wow, what a serious title.

Anyway, for the past, I don’t know, year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the best days of my life were and how I wish I could relive them… even the boring parts.

First, though, let’s start about songs about the best days of people’s lives. Here’s a list I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Bryan Adams – Summer Of 69
  • Kid Rock – All Summer Long
  • Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
  • Bob Seger – Night Moves

Not sure if all of them are about like the best times of people’s lives but they were good enough to write a song about.

Anyway, I figure the best times of my life were:

  • Spring and summer of senior year of high school – I was ready to graduate high school so like everything was easy. I didn’t have to nor want to study. I crushed on a few guys from my school (some of them teachers)! School was actually fun. I was living with my mother and sister who didn’t care where I went. I didn’t have money but I had friends and time. That summer I started dating a friend of mine. I would go over his place and hang out. We would IM each other and invite ourselves over to our friend’s pool. I played a lot of neopets. I hung out with a lot of friends; go to the mall and the movies and sushi. I was always up for hanging out. I would sleep late everyday. It was a great life.
  • The May after I graduated from college; spring, summer, fall – This was the time where I really had everything. I had friends, time, and money. We had finally made some friends and we were all living in the apartments in Germantown. It was an amazing time. We would hang out every night. On the weekends, we’d go out to dinner, had drinks, go rent movies, and go back home and watch them. We’d play a lot of Rockband and go over to each other’s apartments all the time. We’d do crazy stuff like light off fireworks, water gun/balloon fights, go to the pool, barbecue, etc. I had everything then… then my dad had to die and it changed everything.

I love my life now for the most part. I have everything… time, money, and friends; but it isn’t the same as those times. I wasn’t constantly hanging out with people or sleeping in late everyday. Just miss those times I guess.

Maybe I should write a song about it.


Brian’s Run For Delegate

I thought I would post about one of the most hardest thing my husband and I ever had to go through: running for state delegate. Besides my dad’s house (you should all know what a nightmare that was), running for office was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Honestly, the first 8 months were probably the hardest… and that’s granted the campaign lasted a little over a year.

Donations

When Brian first announced to our family and friends at a party we threw, I thought the support was going to be tremendous. I had set up ActBlue beforehand and made sure it was working so people could donate ASAP. No one donated. No friends, no family, no one. It wasn’t until maybe September when we got our first donation. We had several people said they would but no one donated until then.

The first people to donate were people who’s door Brian knocked on. I remember that feeling of seeing the ActBlue notification of a gift of $25. Finally, we were relieved. I had Brian write a thank you note right away.

We didn’t raise a lot of money throughout the campaign but Brian wasn’t asking for it either. We didn’t tap any friends or family. We didn’t send out an email with the companies we worked for asking for donations. Besides Brian’s parents, we only raised a few hundred dollars total. Brian’s parents gave the most.

Campaign Lit

I had always wanted to go to a union shop but VistaPrint was cheap and they had great deals and the quality was great. We started out with business cards. Brian would door knock with them. We eventually had to bite the bullet and upgrade to something larger so we got postcards instead. We started out one-sided then opted for two sides… one being the stances, contact info, his picture, etc. The other, a personal message mentioning that he’s NOT A LAWYER.

We also purchased a few signs and posters with his logo.

The Logo

I had came up with a few things for Bri. He liked the cursive font with the Maryland flag. However, everyone thought it was too hard to read. By this point my sister was bugging me about a campaign video and we needed the logo to be concrete. I just changed the font and the alpha of the flag (making sure the 4.5:1 color contrast ratio for accessibility was enforced).

We went through like three logos. Even now people still say it’s hard to read but whatever. Maybe something that lead to us losing.

The Campaign Video That Never Was

When Brian started out, my sister, Stacy, offered to help with a campaign/intro video. I wanted to film the whole thing in one weekend. I had obtained a script from a guy online. I wanted it to be funny but the guy didn’t put many jokes in it. I had already came up with some jokes so the guy included some of them but all-in-all, looking back, I was disappointed in the script.

My sister came down for the weekend and I gave her the script and she immediately started to revise and make changes. I thought it was such a waste to let it go and Brian was awful filming. He won’t act the way I wanted and I got very frustrated with everything.

This was one of the worst weekends of my life. I had to divorce myself from it. My camera was crappy, we didn’t have all the things we needed for the script… it was just bad all over.

After the weekend, my sister took the footage we had (we shot more after she was gone). She and her friend tried to edit it together but nothing really came about it.

I wanted the video to be a 1-2 minute thing that said who he was, what his platform is, what sets him apart from the rest of the crappy candidates, but it never went. I wanted it to only take about a month so we could release it end of September to share on social media. I was hoping it could be a hit on YouTube since it would be funny but we stopped.

I do thank my sister and her friend for their effort.

Door Knocking

Our whole campaign strategy was about the doors and the events. We never through any meet-and-greets besides the one at Leisure World in September. It didn’t go well at all. Only four people showed up. It was a flop.

We got the voter data from Nation Builder and instead of paying thousands of dollars for the VAN, I decided to create my own.

It took me three days to load all the data into a MySQL database and another few days to build an app around it. It was all stored locally on my laptop at home (a laptop I especially bought for the campaign to replace my old PC).

I would create lists off of the data by choosing a street, looking it up on Google Maps, and getting the streets by it for a route. I created over 160 lists which was around 80% of the knockable district. A lot of the un-knockable district was Leisure World, apartments, or houses that were too far apart to knock.

Bri used these lists throughout the campaign. Bri’s parents would come over for the last two months of the campaign and flyer doors.

The app worked well and I would like to add upon it and have it as an alternative to the expensive VAN. However, I’m going to have to come up with a better way to load and update the data.

Events

Like I had mentioned before, Bri never had any meet-and-greets besides the one in Leisure World. He attended a lot of group meetings though. Every group I heard about, I made sure Bri attended their meetings. I wanted Brian to be a different kind of delegate. One who doesn’t just show up during election time. I wanted him to continue to going to these groups if he had won.

He mainly just did group meetings at night and even attended meet-and-greets of other people we knew were running.

Strategy

Like I said before, our whole strategy was door knocking. We also touted the fact (and hammered it) that Brian is not a lawyer. There was only two other candidates who weren’t lawyers running. Brian is also fact based. I made sure his website had links to articles that were proof of why Brian thinks that way. No other candidate does that or has that. Actual facts? What? And ideas to boot. And he backed up his ideas with facts!

Friends

We pretty much postponed our social lives until after 8PM. Bri would door knock all days

But where to start with our friends? First off, mostly all of our friends were not supportive of Brian running. They would ask how it was going but that’s about all. Only my friend from work joined us for a march (with the exception of our friend’s son). Mostly the marches were family and some of our political friends.

Let me get that straight… our friends were almost of no help but our political friends were of help. The people we met for Bernie stuff helped out a bit. Other than that, it was just us and family.

I am disappointed that our friends didn’t help us. It was something that really hurt me a lot during the campaign. I’m over it now and I’m still friends with people but it really hurt that no one would help. People barely could like Brian’s page on Facebook.

Social Media

God did Facebook cause me much anxiety. When we first announced in June 2017, I thought immediately Bri would get a lot of FB likes on his page. We got like 15. And it stayed at 15-20 for MONTHS. This was the most depressing thing for me that a lot of our friends couldn’t even bother to like his page. I can’t explain how much depression I felt because of FB. I was always tempted to pay for ads for Brian so he’d get more likes but knew I would regret it (if it even panned out).

Social media is not one of my strong suits. I sucked at posting to FB and Twitter but I always felt Brian needed to do that for himself.

Twitter wasn’t so bad. Brian got quite a few followers so I wasn’t depressed about Twitter. He even had more followers than someone we knew running who had hundreds of FB likes.

But ya, FB sucked and caused me to go through a lot of depression.

It’s A Big Club

2018 was a year where a lot of progressives ran for office. We were already helping our friend out in his County Council run. We met a lot of progressives on the campaign trail and if Bri wasn’t running, I would have totally helped them out in their campaigns.

However, a lot of these progressives turned out to be very popular. Much more popular than Brian. People I hadn’t even heard of were suddenly getting all the attention from Bernie groups (i.e. Moco’s Our Revolution) and Brian wasn’t. I had been a part of those kind of groups for a long time and never saw any of these other progressives in there. However, they got all the attention and not Brian.

George Carlin famously said, “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.” I hate to report but the way I feel about progressives is the same… it’s a big club and we ain’t in it.

Endorsements

We spent hours and hours filling out candidate questionnaires for endorsements. We put our time and effort into finding the right words to say, spelling, grammar, etc. In the end, most came down to money anyway.

Here’s a list of groups that I have completely lost respect for because their endorsement process is a joke. Just have the most money or be able to raise the most money and you’ll get their endorsement.

  • MCEA – Ie. the Apple ballot/teachers union. My god. It didn’t matter what kind of views you had. You just needed to have the right amount of money in your bank account. Only one of the incumbents got their endorsement along with the rich guy and the union lawyer.
  • Sierra Club – We were pretty green. We wanted 100% green energy, everything recyclable, etc. Didn’t matter to them. They only cared about the money in your bank account. The two incumbents and the rich guy got their endorsement.
  • Progressive Maryland – We thought for sure we’d get PM but they instead endorsed the two incumbents and the union lawyer… go figure.
  • Progressive Neighbors – Nope! We are not the incumbents so we didn’t get their endorsement. They also went for the rich guy as their third.
  • SEIU – These people really treated Bri like crap. They scheduled a last-minute meeting and when Brian showed up, they didn’t. He tried to call them back several times (even talking to them) to reschedule but they never gave him a time. Seems they didn’t want to hear how Bri would help them with a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare, etc.
  • All unions – Bri didn’t get any union endorsements. They all wanted to see the money. Like I explained before, money wasn’t our strong suit but door knocking was.

I am deeply humbled and honored and I thank the only two groups to give Brian an endorsement:

The Montgomery County Green Democrats and Montgomery County Our Revolution

These two groups didn’t care how much money you had in your bank account. They didn’t ask for other endorsements. They were strictly issues based.

And when it comes to the issues, Brian is the candidate.

ActBlue

I will never have ActBlue again. Bernie used it and I had donated to Bernie that way. I even tipped them quite a few times. MISTAKE.

ActBlue charged us lots of money even though we only raised a few hundred dollars through their site. They would charge us like $5+ a month.

I will never do ActBlue again and I will NEVER tip them again. Lesson to learn: DON’T TIP ACTBLUE. They get their money through the candidate.

The Other Candidates

We thought the two incumbents would win but one of them did not. I didn’t care for the other candidates that much. The union lawyer didn’t bother me as much as the others. The only one I really liked (besides Brian) was Jade. I would vote for him if he ran again.

One of the candidates did not treat Brian well. He made peace with her but I didn’t like what she did. She did end up winning.

The rich guy really bugged me. I will not be voting for him (or any of them) in the general. He’s the “progressive” but he raised thousands upon thousands of dollars from out-of-state. Since he raised all that money, he got all the endorsements. And since he was “progressive”, all the progressive groups swooned over him. Like I said, big club.

I really do think no one has the same integrity about money in politics as I do as no one else thinks that him raising thousands of dollars from out of state (and taking PAC/union money) is an issue. The same thing to say of him taking that money is the same excuse corporate democrats (and their defenders) use. Think about that.

Summary

To sum it up, friends hurt, lack of money hurt, determination and family are what got us through. I’m glad it’s finally over. I will NEVER do that again.


Vacation Days

When I started working my first job out of college I only accrued 10 vacation days a year. I calculated it out and that was roughly a month and a week I had to work in order to get ONE day off. I needed to have stayed with the company FIVE YEARS in order to get 15 vacation days a year. It was complete hell for my first few years. The first actual vacation I took was over two years after I started working.

My second job wasn’t much better. I started out with accruing 10 vacation days a year (same as before) but I think after three years with them I could get another week for a total (and maximum) of 15 days a year. The first two years of this job I actually got less time off than my previous job. However I decided to leave after two years and it just so happened I left when others left as well. They (and me) sighted not enough vacation as one of our reasons for leaving. After I gave my notice the company changed their policy. They now gave everyone 15 days off a year as well as two extra floating holidays (for a total of four floating holidays).

Since they changed it, it actually got me to come back. I was very happy in earning 15 days off a year.

The next job I got I had 15 days off a year as well as some government holidays off. After one year I accrued 20 days off a year. That wasn’t so bad. I actually felt like I had time.

I got another job and now I get 21 days off a year. I’m moving up!

I can’t help but feel kind of happy that me (and I’m sure many others) voiced our displeasure over vacation time and made companies change it. Talking with some people fresh on their first job out of college and them earning 15 days off a year makes me feel like I helped to accomplish something. I’m glad they’re getting more time off than what I had when I started.

I also have to note that my first and second job there came with a week sick leave. However sick leave could only be taken if you’re sick and it was not paid out when I left. I would sometimes fake being sick so I could get a mental health day. My third and now my fourth jobs do not have sick leave so I did not/do not have to do that.

It’s still NO EUROPE but it might be getting better. And minimum wage workers (and I’m sure MANY, MANY other people) do not earn vacation or sick leave. The United States has a long way to go as we are still the only first world country that doesn’t offer guaranteed paid time off.


Validation In Life

I’ve been really, REALLY stressed out a lot lately. So stressed out to the point I’m breaking out, forgetting lots of tiny little things, messing up plans, not able to concentrate, slurring speech, messing up A LOT at work, etc. And it’s definitely because of work. I feel like I have too much on my plate right now and no down time. I just do not feel like I’m very good at doing adult things right now.

I took off last Thursday and Friday and went to Ocean City for the crusin weekend which was nice. However I don’t feel like it was adequate enough time to recharge. I still feel stressed. The last real vacation I guess was Panama a year and a half ago.

This kind of stress is something new to me though. I’m just not handling it well. I feel like my work is sub-par and I’m just not as good as I used to be. I feel like I could get fired for messing up so much.

Talking with Brian last night made me realize that it may be because I don’t get validated. When I was in college, sure I’d get stressed and mess up and stuff but I also got validated. I would get grades back that made me feel good about myself. In the real world we don’t get that. The only validation I get for the work that I do is MAYBE once a year, an annual review. Other than that, nothing. No, “doing a good job”, “wow you did that really great/fast”, whatever. Just no validation. And it’s not only this job, it’s been since I got out of college… every job I’ve never received enough validation.

I realize this validation problem in my personal life as well. Like the Young Turks did a story on social media and how it hurts our self-esteem and our self image. They covered just what others say, etc. For me it’s not like that with social media. For me it’s how many likes and comments I get.

I’ve kind of quit Facebook again (not like anyone notices) but I’ve stopped posting my pictures from Instagram. The likes I got were just not good enough. Especially when I see a lot of other friends get likes and stuff after one hour of a post… If I post something the first like will be like hours from then. Other friends post things and they get like 20+ likes all the time. My world record for a post is like 20 likes.

I feel like social media has made me less validated as a person. If I don’t get enough likes on a post or a picture, I delete it. It makes me feel inadequate if I don’t get likes or comments. No one is talking about that. I could write the exact same thing as any other friend on Facebook, they would get like 20 likes and I wouldn’t get any. Twitter is the only social media I actually like and I don’t feel the pressure to get likes or retweets or anything.

And yes, I get plenty of validation from Brian but it’s not the same as a boss or a friend just telling me I’m doing a good job or that I’m an awesome person and that I’m liked. I’m not getting what I need right now to feel better about myself and I really don’t know how to solve this issue.

Just stress like everywhere. Work and social media. I can quit Facebook but I can’t quit work.


Electoral College Thoughts

With Hillary’s loss and win with the popular vote, there again is talk of getting rid of the electoral college. Back in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote yet lost the presidency. Hillary won the popular vote by a large margin but lost the presidency.

Should we get rid of the electoral college? My opinion is no.

The electoral college gives candidates a reason to visit states. According to 538, there are around 12 swing states. If the US was to get rid of the electoral college, candidates would only have reason visit the most popular states; i.e. California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

I think I remember Trump saying he would have only campaigned in like six states instead of fifteen if there was no electoral college.

I know I’m going against like all my progressive heroes on this but I believe we need to keep the electoral college so smaller states can have a voice as well. And I’m from Maryland where we never get any love from either candidate every presidential election cycle. And we perhaps would if the US got rid of the electoral college since we’re like the nineteenth most populous state.

I’m for keeping the electoral college but I think we should award electoral votes based on voter turnout. There is/was no incentive to vote. ONE PERSON could have shown up to vote in any state and all that states electoral votes would go to that person whom the ONE PERSON voted for. Presidential candidates should work for every vote and try to ensure that his/her base actually shows up to the polls.

For example, my great state, Maryland, has 10 electoral votes. Say if only 58% came out to vote and Hillary Clinton won the majority of the vote, Maryland’s electoral count should be 6 and be all awarded to Clinton. Probably rounding up the percentage of eligible voters is best. Even smaller states, like a state with 3 electoral votes, would have reason to vote so their population can hit that 66% threshold so they can be awarded their full 3 electoral votes.

But I believe there should be more incentive to go out to the polls if we did it this way. I know that people roll their eyes at this because most of my friends and peeps are informed but there are a lot of people who feel like their vote doesn’t make a difference. I think if we were to award electoral votes based on turn out, people would feel they have more of a voice. It would definitely drive democratic numbers up since the higher the turn out the more the democrats win.

Anyway, that’s my idea.


Progressive Sources

Something that I had forgotten to blog about in my lessons learned from the election 2016 was all the progressive media that I now listen to instead of the hallow,corporate-owned, corrupt, in-bed-with-wallstreet MSNBC. Here’s a list of my favorite progressive heroes and independent media I trust and that I draw strength from:

  • Jimmy Dore – The one and only. I met him in Philly. Listen to his stuff religiously.
  • The Humanist Report – Hosted by Mike Figueredo. Good progressive and political commentary on the latest news.
  • Redacted Tonight – Hosted by the amazing Lee Camp. Every Thursday they do a live taping of Redacted Tonight in DC. Lee Camp was also in Philly along with John F. O’Donnell. He’s the only quazi-celebrity to make it to my quotes page.
  • The Young Turks – Been a fan for a while now. I used to watch Cenk Uygur on MSNBC a while ago. His tone and political views got them to fire him (same fate for Ed Shultz). But I’d watch TYT for election results during the primaries since we were all on the same side (Bernie) and they give it to you straight.
  • Let The Madness Begin – Two awesome dudes who do short progressive vlogs talking about the latest in politics.
  • Debbie, The Sane Progressive – This woman is awesome. She rants and raves about Bernie and the progressive movement and what the democrats do, etc. I also met her in Philly and she gave me a hug.
  • Secular Talk – Just started to listening to this guy, Kyle Kulinski. Very knowledgeable dude.
  • Democracy Now! – I actually don’t watch Amy Goodman as much as I should. They cover the most important topics on the show and have great guests.
  • Cabin Talk – Claudia Stauber, who I saw in Philly but I met her a few weeks back at the Take Back Democracy DC rally, talks the latest in Bernie, progressive politics, etc.
  • Progressive News – Hosted by Tim Black. Awesome guy. I met him at the Take Back Democracy DC rally. He was also in Philly with Black Men For Bernie. I don’t watch him as much as I should.
  • The Trews – Russell Brand’s youtube show. It’s pretty good. I catch it from time to time. Always complaining about republicans.

Wow, I got quite a list of progressive heroes!

I also listen to Best Of The Left podcast from time to time.

Another few dudes to add to the list are:

  • Greg Palast – He does investigative journalism and documentaries especially in the areas of election fraud, where he’s an expert. I met him in Philly. He sat on one of our posters! Catch his latest documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
  • David Sirota – I follow him on twitter. He’s a REAL journalist with the IBTimes.
  • Jordan Chariton – He’s with TYT Politics. I would follow him on twitter but he tweets too much! I love him anyway.
  • Jeremy Scahill – I follow him on twitter. Co founder of the Intercept. I’ve been following him for years. Big into our military involvement.
  • David Shuster – I’ve been following him for years as well. Tells it like it is. He was on MSNBC for a while.
  • Edward Snowden – Of course!
  • Julian Assange – Wikileaks. Keep fighting!

But don’t think I don’t get MSM as well. I still check Google News to get my fill of corporate owned MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, etc news. I read a lot of articles everyday.