Sunsets, Sunrises, Shamrock, Summer Winds & Chemtrails
“Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.” Chuck Palahniuk, Diary
“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Two weeks ago I made it to Wednesday after my usual two and a half-hour round trip commute to a job I’ve been doing for twelve years. It has taken a physical and mental toll. I continue to do it because I have obligations and responsibilities. It’s a job. It’s not me. I’m a financial executive who has always had the best interests of my organization as my main focus. My superiors know they will get accurate timely analysis and straightforward no bullshit guidance. But my self-worth and ego are not tied to my job. It is a means to pay my bills and accumulate wealth.
Some people love what they do. I have had a couple four-year intervals during my career when I loved what I was doing and couldn’t wait to get to work. Those days are long gone. I’ve had to endure fifteen months working for an egomaniacal psychopath in a suit. Thankfully, he’s gone. I’m tired of all the bullshit. Exiting this rat race as soon as financially possible is now my main goal.
I’ve never bought into the keeping up with the Joneses regarding cars and other shallow displays of faux wealth. We have two 2012 Honda Civics, bought used, and an eight-year old Honda Insight, all owned outright. I am a saver, not a spender. I replace things when they break. I don’t have granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, or a home theater. I buy clothes infrequently and only when they are on sale, and I have a coupon. I simply don’t care what others think about me, my cars, my house, or my clothes.
I’m a low maintenance, debt averse person living in a high maintenance, heavily indebted, “look at me” world. I glory in doing the opposite of what the majority are doing. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to join any organization that would have me as a member. The only things that matter to me are my family, honesty, facts, liberty, freedom and my integrity. I wear fucking khakis, but they don’t define me.
I checked the weather forecast for Wildwood for the weekend and it was perfect – Sunny and 70 degrees. I told my wife to book two nights at our favorite motel and I took off Monday. Fall at the shore is the best time of the year. There are very few people and you can really unwind, relax and soak in the beauty. The air has been so full of bullshit, I truly needed to get away.
The attempted Kavanaugh lynching by left wing lunatics, never ending imminent Rosenstein firing, interminable Mueller witch hunt on behalf of the Deep State, Trump tweet storms about the best economy ever, forecasts of a looming stock market crash or new record highs, impending military conflict with Iran, Russia, China or whoever the latest enemy of the week fits the agenda, the worst hurricane ever forecasts, and my three month depressing work project coming to an end was enough to create calamity overload. Sometimes you just need to get away from the doom and gloom.
We arrived about noon on Saturday and proceeded to the top deck looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, read our books, and downed a couple drinks. The bullshit of our daily existence quickly drifted away on the warm ocean breeze. The plan was to take a long sunset walk on the empty beach to Captain Jack’s restaurant on the boardwalk and then head out around 9:30 to see Billy Jack at the Shamrock. When you get up every of morning at 5:30 to slog into work, 9:30 is my normal bedtime. But I need a night of insanity at the Shamrock a few times per year to keep my sanity.
At 6:30 we headed over to the jetty at 2nd street. Watching the relentless onslaught of waves rolling in and caressing the seawall refreshes the soul. Taking in the vast scope and magnificence of the ocean gives you perspective on how small and inconsequential we are in the grand scheme of things. Our super-sized egos and aggrandized sense of self-worth mean nothing in the end. We’re not unique snowflakes – just decaying matter, like the organic debris washed up on the beach. We’re here for a short time, and rich or poor, we all end up as worm food. That’s just a fact.
Strolling on a virtually deserted beach at sunset on a warm Fall day refreshes the soul. All the pressures and worries of your daily existence fall by the wayside when you get in close touch with nature. The lapping of waves, invigorating scent of salt air, water dance of the sandpipers, squawk of the seagulls, and golden sunset over deserted sand dunes is just the prescription for a stressed-out person who overdoses on information on a daily basis. I feel bad for the landlocked folks in deplorable flyover country. Lakes and ponds are nice, but nothing can match the majesty and beauty of gazing upon a seemingly endless horizon across the Atlantic Ocean. But the long tranquil walk to Captain Jack’s was just the quiet before the storm.
We were seated at a table on the outside deck. It was a perfect evening to have a couple beers and a burger in the fading light of day. I had been texting with my son, as he was one of the 110,000 fans in the Penn State stadium dressed in white for their white-out showdown with Ohio State for the Big Ten lead.
Having gone to college amidst the tenements and filth of West Philly, I never got to experience the thrill of a big game on a real college campus. I was too busy rooting that my car didn’t get broken into or a crackhead didn’t come in the window of our apartment (that did happen). The game was just getting underway and was on the big screen outside. Life was good.
Then my good vibrations were obliterated by a shrill shrew and her hefty cat lady minions at the next table. It quickly became evident these dour Hillary voters must have still been angry about her humiliating defeat and the impending elevation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It was clear the gaunt churlish 50 something miserable bitch at the head of the table was their leader.
None of the hefty resistance cat ladies sported a wedding ring. Based on their looks and demeanor, that was not a surprise. Since it was the last weekend in September there were only two young servers for the whole restaurant. The miserable shrew was berating the teenage server because her Blue Moon took ten minutes to be delivered. Her cohorts were embarrassingly averting their eyes to the unnecessary display of rage.
Their order of multiple appetizer plates arrived with the same relative timeliness as our order. Our food was tasty and the beers were cold. We had no complaints. My wife, employed as a waitress, understands the pressures and challenges of being a server. I was watching the game and not paying attention as the cat ladies chowed down on their wings and things. Then the predictable scenario played out. The odious wretched malicious wench demanded to see the manager.
She berated her for 10 minutes, complaining about the “big” pretzel, which was 80% eaten, the delays, and numerous other offenses supposedly inflicted upon her coven. The manager comped the entire meal and then the nasty shrill spinster and her portly sycophants triumphantly departed without leaving a tip for the teenage server. My wife was outraged at her behavior, as she has experienced customers like them on numerous occasions. Miserable divorced belligerent shrews are a growing plague across the land.
After witnessing this ordeal, we were ready for some surreal Shamrock encounters. We walked back to our motel, in the Uber by 9:45, and sitting at the bar by 10:00. It was crowded with the Monster Truck Weekend throng, but no Billy Jack. Being a generous guy, he was playing at a friend’s birthday party in Philly and was rushing back down to Wildwood to perform his usual show.
I just drank and watched the heartbreaking Penn State loss until he arrived shortly before 11:00 pm, one hour past my normal bedtime. We reacquainted ourselves with a couple we had met at the previous Saint Patrick’s Day Shamrock bash. As I talked to Pat, I found out he was in the printing equipment business.
That led to a long discussion about our common interest. It just so happened the day before was the final day of operation for my employer’s print shop, which reported to me for the last twelve years and had been in business for decades. I mentioned the shop to Pat and he informed me he used to service it when they had Kodak printing equipment in the 1980s. He has worked for Kodak his entire career.
When he started they employed 125,000 Americans. Today they employ 3,500 Americans. How the great have fallen. Technological advancement, terrible management, bad strategic decisions, and better competitors have resulted in Kodak and Xerox becoming also rans in the global economy. It’s a tribute to Pat’s skills as a doer that he is one of the final 3,500. I hope his pension is safe.
My thankless task over the last three months has been to shutdown our printing operation, migrate parts of the business to other departments, ensure a smooth transition to external providers, and fire the staff. It has occupied 80% of my time and resulted in many sleepless nights. The livelihoods of nine people in your hands weighs heavily on a man’s psyche.
Informing the staff went smoother than I expected as my honesty about the finances over time had prepared them for the worst. With much effort, I was able to place five people in other rolls within the organization and convinced an outside vendor to hire another. Two decided to retire, leaving only one truly unemployed – and he wasn’t a good employee anyway.
When I took them out for a farewell drinks and dinner they all thanked me for supporting them and keeping the operation viable for as long as I did. I’m still tying up loose ends regarding the equipment lease buyout and sale, but the shutdown went as smoothly as possible, with minimal complaints and no interruption of service. The print business is in terminal decline, as technology has made most printing obsolete. Anyone clinging to old methods and paper-based solutions will get passed by. As Kodak and Xerox have proved, adapt or die. Their survival rate is dropping to zero.
I had enough work talk. It was time for some good music, observing the cast of curious characters who would easily fit into a Coen Brothers movie, and tying a load on. Billy Jack greeted us and the other regulars sitting around the bar. Jack, the bartender, has been there forever, reminiscent of Coach from Cheers. Billy Jack then began his normal repertoire of Tom Petty, CCR, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, among others.
A 70ish eccentric lady sat down in the seat next to me. She seemed a little off and began dancing to her own tune with peculiar hand gestures and facial expressions. I edged my chair a little further away. During Sweet Caroline I was forced to hold hands with her. Later in the evening we found out the lady this oddball who could pass for a homeless bag lady was the owner of Mack’s Pizza, a hugely successful pizza place that has been on the boardwalk for decades. She is probably a millionaire. You just never know.
Billy Jack kept referring to an older gentleman across the bar as the Jewish Frank Sinatra. He was a bald guy with a slight resemblance to Sinatra. He was dressed oddly, with a sweater, large gaudy necklace, and what appeared to be some sort of large garish velvet belt that looked like something you’d win after a WWE wrestling match. Then it got really weird. Billy Jack called him up on stage to sing a couple Sinatra songs. With a deep baritone foreign accent, he belted out Summer Wind like a champ and then rolled right into My Way. He was great. The whole bar erupted in applause.
It was another one of those surreal Shamrock moments we’ve come to expect. More guest singers were called on stage and performed admirably as the evening reached a crescendo. We departed around 1:30 am and caught an Uber back. We spent Sunday recovering, watching some football and lazing by the pool reading. We decided we would get up early on Monday to see the sunrise over the Atlantic.
I automatically wake up at 5:30, so I was up making a pot of coffee well before sunrise. We were alone on the beach, except for the seagulls, as dawn broke gloriously across the horizon.
The darkness of night withdrew as light grew ever brighter across the eastern skyline. We just stood there with our mugs of hot coffee admiring the beauty of a Fall sunrise across a calm sea.
Time seemed to slow down. No worries about work. No bills to pay. No lawn to cut. No phone calls, emails, or presentations to create. No traffic jams or ignorant drivers cutting me off on the Schuylkill Expressway. No blog to update or left-wing commenter trolls to be put in their place. Just the two of us in awe of nature in its purest form.
We were alone with our own thoughts. Only the squawk of a seagull and the sound of waves lapping on the shoreline breaking the glorious silence. We thought the moment couldn’t be surpassed. Then God said “hold my beer”.
There it was. The sun rose up out of the sea like an orb on a mission to enlighten the world. As it appeared to ascend from the ocean depths, it left you speechless. Could there be anything more beautiful? This is why Fall at the shore is the most idyllic time.
We then proceeded to walk down the beach in search of Conch Shells or other treasures the sea might have deposited on the beach overnight. It seemed nothing could disturb our tranquil trek. But I was wrong. As I looked up at what should have been a brilliant blue sky, a disturbing scene I’ve witnessed before was underway.
There were three high altitude planes flying parallel along the horizon emitting chemtrails into the atmosphere. There was very little humidity. These were not contrails. That can be proven by the fact these planes would stop emitting the chemtrails periodically. If they were condensation trails, they would not have control over the emission and they would dissipate rapidly. As you can see from the pictures there are gaps in the trails.
My wife used to be skeptical when I would point out these incidents. Now she agrees our government is purposefully spraying something into our atmosphere. During the course of the morning the chemtrails morphed into hazy unnatural fake clouds, shrouding what should have been a brilliant blue sky. I assume some intellectual yet idiot government bureaucrats are secretively using my tax dollars to combat global warming through this ridiculous program because they know better than us. It irritates me, but wasn’t enough to ruin my day.
We walked for a mile or two, then turned back. As we slowly shuffled back up the beach more people had come out to play. Up ahead was a pickup truck. The owner had brought his two dogs to the beach for some exercise. What looked like a chocolate lab puppy and his probably ten-year-old sheep dog companion were doing their thing. The chocolate lab was running like the wind.
His unbridled joy at being loose on a deserted beach exuded from every fiber of his lean body. He galloped three blocks down the beach, slammed on the breaks, and dashed three blocks in the other direction, with no thought to resting. He ran into the ocean, barking and bounding with the gusto of a youngster. You couldn’t help but smile at his unbridled enthusiasm for life.
His older sheep dog companion was also happy to be free, but he paced himself. As the lab would pass their starting point the sheep dog would run with the puppy for ten or twenty yards and then lay down. For every three blocks of non-stop running by the puppy, the old dog would run about 50 yards. But they were equally happy to be on the beach with their master. Unable to just enjoy watching this episode without thinking, I immediately saw it as an allegory for life – specifically for my life.
When you are younger you are full of piss and vinegar. The world is out there for the taking. You have dreams and ambitions. If you study hard, work hard, and do the right things, you will get ahead in life. If you are a smart, dedicated, loyal financial person with the right degrees, training and experience you believe you can rise to the level of CFO in the company you have dedicated your life to.
But then life throws you some curve balls and you go down swinging. It’s not to be, due to circumstances beyond your control. You find out life isn’t fair and friends weren’t really friends. You end up settling into a good job with good pay, and looking for intellectual satisfaction elsewhere. Your unbridled enthusiasm is replaced by sporadic bursts of enthusiasm.
When I started writing ten years ago, I had so much to say and so little time. I was pumping out two or three 5,000-word articles per week. When I started the blog, I was posting four or five short pieces per day and one large article per week. I thought I could change the world. I thought I could convince people to vote for Ron Paul, as our last and only hope.
I thought I could reach enough people to make a difference. I was driven to reveal the truth about the Wall Street criminal cabal, our corrupt government leaders, their feckless apparatchik minions, the military industrial complex and the propaganda media machines peddling fake news.
Now I’m like that old sheep dog. I’ve been beaten down by life. The realization I won’t change the world or get a candidate elected with my worldview has sunk in. I now have sporadic bursts of energy, only writing when I feel I have something worthwhile to say. Whatever course the world takes will not be influenced by me or anything I write. Tilting against the windmill of history will just tire me out. Therefore, I’ve decided to pace myself, try to enjoy the little things in life, and watch the show.
Getting worked up over the daily trivialities put forth by those running the show isn’t beneficial to my mental or physical health. I view our world through the lens of Strauss & Howe’s four generational turnings, with the world midway through this Fourth Turning. There is a certain serenity you achieve when you know things will get worse, but are mentally prepared to deal with the challenges ahead. Nothing that happens will surprise me now. I’m an old dog and I’m not going to be taught new tricks.
The movies Fight Club and Falling Down seem to capture the angst and anger of multiple generations – particularly for white men. I really understand the quote above. It applies to most Americans, with differing degrees. As an employee, I may not be a slave, but I am owned. The paycheck, health care benefits, and tuition benefits are the chains that keep me making the sixty-mile, two and a half-hour round trip commute to a job that doesn’t inspire or stimulate me mentally. I’m not materialistic and don’t buy shit I don’t need, but the mortgage, tuition, taxes, medical bills and a myriad of other expenses must be paid.
On Tuesday I got in my car at 6:45 am and battled near gridlock, government incompetence (mistimed stop-lights, potholes) and idiotic drivers, on my 80-minute trek to my office, feeling much like the seething Michael Douglas character in Falling Down. Then I logged-on to my computer to see 62 emails from my one day off. And the day went downhill from there.
I consider myself a balanced rational man, but you can’t help but get pissed off by everything going on in this world and the bill of goods sold to us by the ruling class and their co-conspirators in the media and financial world. If I can just hold on for a few more years, maybe I can cast aside all this bullshit and spend every morning watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. A guy can dream, can’t he?
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