Is Free Software Really Free?

Screenshot of GLUI example program.

Screenshot of GLUI example program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of sugar-coated offers for free software online these days.  Some are like roaches that multiply with each passing day.  These offers sound too good to pass up, but in reality, sometimes you’re just better off purchasing these programs directly from the publishers.  Why?  This is because free software not only promotes its programs, but other online services as well.

I Want It Because It’s FREE

What attracts consumers?  The word FREE!  Most computer users would like to learn to do more things on their machines as make videos, record music, read or write ebooks, etc, but don’t want to pay for software unless they absolutely have to.  However, times are tough and many consumers lack good paying jobs-that is if they’re lucky enough to still be working.  Before buying software, they must be sure they’ll use it enough to make it worth the price.  They’ll only purchase a program as a last resort.

All the more, free software does sound enticing.  More than ever before, people would like to update their computer skills in hopes that by doing so will land them a better-paying job.  If they can learn skills that are in high demand for free-all the better.

I’ve run across numerous companies that offer free software.  Yes indeed, I was tempted to try some of them.  I would check out the Tucows ( site where a variety of programs are available for both PC and Mac users.  Some are freeware, others are shareware  (donations appreciated), and the remainder are for pay.  Another great thing, most of these programs run on various versions of Microsoft Windows and have ratings and reviews submitted by past users.  Tucows is a reputable site for safe software applications, for all I know.

Free software downloads are like everywhere online, but some are downright deceiving.  Yes, they’ll say they’re free when viewing their listings, but be prepared to jump through some hoops if you wish to try them out.  I won’t do any name-dropping or finger-pointing here, but I’ve had extensive experiences with many of them.  As I would download a program, I found I wasn’t only downloading that software, but other services as well.  And if there weren’t services connected to them, the application was free for a trial time period, usually 7 days.  Hey, they never said that up front!

The “Free Lunch” Buffet

What kind of services come with free software?  There are numerous types as search engines you never heard of and money-saving programs.  Yes, some offer savings on: groceries, pet products, ebooks, auto insurance, health insurance, college education, books, legal services, medications, and so on and so forth.  Do you really need any of these?  Absolutely not!  They’re like the over-priced corn dogs and cheese curds you buy at the state fair, only they don’t satisfy your hunger.

The next day, you’re phone is ringing off the hook because you checked certain boxes or agreed to certain terms you more than likely scanned over when searching for the “Continue” button.  Shame on you!  Maybe if you’re lucky, you save on insurance premiums or find an inexpensive airline flight to the other side of the globe, but there’s a slim chance in that.  Unless you are ruthless enough to slam your foot down, you may find yourself pursuing a college degree in a few months.  Nothing wrong with continuing your education, but… is this a good college?

Why don’t they just make it a “free lunch” buffet?  What if you saw a sign outside a restaurant offering free lunch between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm that says nothing more?  Would you try this place out?  Say you are extremely savvy and hungry.  You won’t want to pass this opportunity by.

The catch is, you must walk down a long hallway that leads to the diner.  The hall is filled with booths (not dining booths, mind you) on either side where representatives are selling products or services to promote their businesses.  As you make your way down the hall, you’re being greeted by several reps who are pushing fliers and brochures in your face and boasting about whatever they’re trying to sell you.

You’re like, “What the hell did I do?  I wanted to go to the buffet, not some business trade show!”  The next thing you know, you have a plastic bag filled with sample products and advertisements because you were too polite to tell the reps “no”.

Once you finally entered the buffet, you tell a waitress that you would like to try the free buffet.  It turns out that you only receive samples of each entrée for free or there is a limited section of cheap food that you can choose from.  If you want the regular “all-you-can-eat” special, you have to purchase the full meal deal.

The bottom line here is: There is no free lunch.  Free software often works this way.

Types of Software Downloaders

From my experiences, I can say there are three type of software downloaders who are:

  1. The “I need it now” people – These surfers are just so antsy that they want to find something right now and get started right away.  They’re not too cautious, as long as the application downloads and is available to use instantly, they’re satisfied.  They’re eager to check boxes and click through dialog boxes without reading the messages. Many don’t realize they may be downloading a virus along with the software, but they’re not too worried about that.  It never happened to them before so why should they worry?
  2. The “I want to improve my life” people – These people just want to enhance their skills and are open-minded, adventure seekers.  They assume that all companies are fair and out for the consumer’s best interest.  You can say they’re much like the coupon clippers that want to save money, but end up spending more on products they’ve never used before, just because they seem like good deals, or perhaps “steals.”  They accept new services in belief that they could benefit or else feel guilty for turning them down because these services seem so nice or practical.  They’re like, “Maybe this can help me, you never know!” or “What do I have to lose?”  These are the innocent, naïve fools that have money to burn or are strongly convinced that catching a virus can’t happen to them, because it hasn’t happened yet.  Go figure!
  3. The “Computer Scrooges” – They’re like: Hey, if there’s a free program out there, why should I hafta buy one?”  From their point of view, software is way too expensive and they’re scared to spend a dime if they don’t have to.  It’s like, let’s see how good the free software is, it may be great and save me from buying a program with bells and whistles I don’t need.  While a significant amount of them are penny-pinchers, others are in hard financial situations where they feel it’s best to avoid gambles any way they can.

I’ll admit I’ve played all of these roles in the past.  Sometimes I would find a great program, but other times I fell into traps that were hard to get out of.

I’m Not Bashing Free Software…

Before considering a free download ask yourself one question:  If this software is free, then why are companies charging users for their programs?  Most likely, free software doesn’t cover all the bases of a purchased program.  Investigate paid programs to see what features they offer.

Although, I know what I might be getting into, I still search for free programs. I found some good file conversion and sound recording programs that were free.  If you want to go that route, fine, but you should be prepared for what you might get yourself into.

Here are some basic tips:

  1. Install an anti-virus program that determines whether or not a program is safe to download.
  2. Create a backup and restore point on your machine before searching the internet.  (Check your operating system’s help section on how to do this).  This way, if the software raises havoc with your machine, you can restore your computer to the settings it had before the download.
  3. Read reviews on the program you would like to install.  Say if the program is called “Kwik-Write”, enter “Kwik-Write reviews” into your favorite search engine.  If you know others that use similar programs, ask for their input.  Anyway, I just made up the name Kwik-Write.
  4. Allow yourself plenty of time to check out a program before using it.  Never be in a hurry to download and use it!
  5. Be prepared to read and read, read, read!  If you hate bothering with the small details and terms and agreements, you’re putting yourself at risk.
  6. Find out if there is a trial period, how long it is, and whom to contact for support.  Beware!  Trial programs have some disabled functions while others have limited functions.  For example, you can try out a new word processor, but might not be able to save or print with it until you purchase the program in full.
  7. Many free software offers accompany online services that install additional toolbars on your browser.  Though these toolbars promise enhanced searching capabilities, they often slow down your machine and eat up its resources.  Your browser has a means of removing them.  Find out how to do this before you download.  Hiding these toolbars does no good.
  8. Some non-affiliated services will lead you into a trap to accept them.  The only way you can escape their dialog boxes, is to click the “Yes” button (or the equivalent).  If you find yourself in a trap, never accept the service.   Shut down and reboot your machine immediately.  You’ll be doing your system less harm in the long run.
  9. Download from reputable sources as much as possible.  Third-party, off-brand names might carry viruses or other rogue programs.
  10. Scan your newly downloaded programs to make sure they’re safe before opening them.

Just play it smart when downloading free software.  Never rush the process.  There is nothing in this world that must be done online today.  If you want to try out software, it is best to consult the publisher’s site and see if they offer free versions.  Avoid third party sites, they’re more likely trying to make money selling other peoples’ works.  This will save you from a severely handicapped computer, tons of sales calls, and strange charges appearing on your bank statements.

Speaking of bank statements, check yours regularly, especially after the download.

If there’s something I left out or could have said better, please feel free to comment.  Thank you.


Thou Shalt Not Compare


Self-Esteem (Photo credit: @Peta_de_Aztlan)

The vast majority of us, especially teens, have one nasty habit: comparing ourselves to others.  Such a mode of thinking is natural, but poses a bona fide threat to our happiness and self-esteem.  We tend to see someone with skills, merits, relationships, or possessions that we don’t have and then form a sense of envy towards that person.  As we covet such a person, we either react in jealousy or choose to make our newfound nemesis an example by which we can follow.

The tenth commandment of The Ten Commandments is: Thou shalt not covet.  This simply means one should not be envious of whatever it is that another person has.  Such thinking is destructive and can hurt us in more ways than we realize, even subliminally.  Comparing ourselves to others often creates a belief that we are inferior to them.  Having an inferiority complex causes us to ignore or maybe even write off our finer traits, but at the same time, makes us work harder to improve ourselves.

For some, this type of behavior can become extreme.  We find ourselves taking drastic measures in attempt to equal ourselves to those we covet.  This might go as far as working ourselves to death and/or creating huge financial debts, all just to raise our standards of living.  For example, some purchase new homes or automobiles they can barely afford, just to equal themselves to those they worship.

I’ll admit that I fell into the same trap until my therapist made me aware of it.

Misconceptions About Admiration

At the same time, we are likely to develop false beliefs about those we admire such as:

  • This person is successful in everything he/she does.
  • This person is more worthy of happiness than me.
  • This person always feels good about themself and is usually happy.
  • Since I am not like them, there must be something terribly wrong with me.
  • Everybody loves him or her
  • He or she glides through life with minimal resistance
  • They were just born that way

None of the above statements are true.  Sure enough, the person you’re comparing yourself to encountered problems and obstacles along the way.  No matter how deep their feelings may seem, acquiring their finer trait(s) was no walk in the park by any means.  More than likely, they’ve made mistakes and suffered setbacks as well.  Who knows?  They may envy someone who does better.

One’s Overall Value Can’t Be Appraised

Is there a formula by which we can measure our self-worth?  Absolutely not!  Humans are complex beings comprised of a variety of components, that when combined, make each person what he or she truly is.  Such components may be one’s state of health, gender, culture, geographic location, genetics, background, skills, personality, strengths, weaknesses, habits, likes, dislikes, religion, convictions, and personal values, just to name a few.  Each person is unique in his or her own ways.  Likewise, a person’s traits are formed based on their upbringing, past experiences, lifestyle, education, and how they have been affected by those around them.  Wealth (or lack of it) also is a factor that greatly influences one’s quality of life.  The degree of discipline and ambition one has also determines their final outcome.

One who grows up in a supportive, positive environment is more likely to be successful than another who was raised in a condemning, negative setting.  How we were treated since early childhood greatly influences our self-worth and personal outlook on life.  If we were raised with adequate guidance and support, our end product is likely to be superior to those who were not.

Yet another factor arises: our personal value systems.  From early childhood, each individual develops their own unique set of interests, hobbies, and convictions.  Our systems are influenced by our experiences, past accomplishments, and the conditioning we receive from those around us.

For example, some love sports and thus feel the need to perform well during games while others value attaining intellectual qualities.  Hence, because an athlete is more concerned about being a good team player, he may not care about how great (or poor) his math skills are.  Likewise, one who excels in math, English, and history courses may not care how physically fit she is.  Those who love fast, powerful motorized vehicles, feel that it is important that they own a nice car or motorcycle.  On the other hand, one who wants to become a musician feels it is most essential to have a nice electric guitar and audio gear.

So, the point here is, being that each individual is made up of thousands of unique pieces, is there a single value that each person can be assessed at?  Absolutely not!  While we can assess property values on homes or blue-book values on cars, there is no single, simple appraisal system we can apply to human beings.

Comparing one person to another is like comparing one tool to another.  Can we really say that hammers are better tools than saws?  Are wrenches better than screw drivers?  No.  If you need to drive a nail into a wall, a screwdriver obviously won’t work as well as a hammer.  Then, could we say that a hammer is overall a more useful tool than a screw driver?  For that particular job, yes, but for all jobs, no.

Hence, comparing a hammer to a screw driver is much like comparing ourselves to other people.  Each person has their own unique set of values and skills like each type of tool has its own purposes.  There is no one single tool that does everything.  Likewise, there is no one single person with every skill and quality.

OK, let’s make the comparison fair.  Imagine comparing one football player to another.  While both players love football and excel at it, one is not necessarily a better player than the other.  While the first player may make a great tackler, the second may be able to run fast and throw the ball far.  Although one player has helped his team score more touchdowns than the other, the overall self-worth of the first is not greater than the second.  Can you truly say that one is more deserving of a loving relationship than another based on how they perform on the field?  No.

Comparing both players is as foolish as comparing ourselves with others.

What Separates You From the One You Envy?

Unless you’ve known this person all of your life, this question may be impossible to answer.  Why does he/she have some quality you lack?  There could be a number of reasons for this.  Possibly he or she:

  • Knows people who have helped him/her achieve this quality.
  • Has worked at developing this trait longer than you have.
  • Had or has access to resources that have benefited him/her (such as training, coaching, books, software, equipment, etc) that you don’t.
  • Has had more positive support from peers.

Hence, it is absolutely foolish to compare yourself to this person.  Trying to keep up with or outdo this person is like racing a race car with a pickup truck.  Of course, the race car will win because it was built specifically for racing while the truck was not.  Does that make the pickup truck totally worthless?  No.

Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to another, STOP!  You are not of lesser value, but are just different.  Remember, you have qualities this person lacks.

Anything I left out or could have said better?  Comments are appreciated.

Space Management: Do You Need A Bigger House?

English: Brigham Young's Lion House in Salt La...

English: Brigham Young’s Lion House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Español: Casa del León construida por Brigham Young en Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some folks tend to think they need a larger living space.  This is not necessarily true unless perhaps you want to start a home business or are married and raising kids.  If your household needs are not growing with time, you can make better use of the home or apartment in which you live.

What inspired me to write this article?  My brother and I rent a three bedroom house in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I used to live in a larger home in Minnesota before I moved out here.  Moving into a residence with less square footage meant I had to get rid of some of my belongings, which I did.  Still, my current home is big enough for my needs.

Mostly, I wanted to do certain things like working out and making drawings, but felt it was rather difficult since I lacked the space.  Yes, my house became cluttered with a lot of stuff making these things rather difficult.  Over the years, I’ve collected and sold hundreds of books, CDs, DVDs, and cassettes on eBay and Amazon.  I accumulated shelves, boxes, and bins of media that lost their value and were just taking up space. I found myself making excuses why I can’t do this or that unless we lived in a bigger house.  Knowing this is easier said than done, I got creative and moved things around making the extra room  I needed.

Do you need more living space?  Would you like to purchase more items (say furniture or electronics) but you don’t have a place to put them?  Would you like to do certain activities, but don’t have enough room?  Before you opt for a larger house or apartment, see if you can make better use of the space you already have.

If your home is tiny, you more likely need a bigger place to live, but if it’s good sized, efficient space management may do the trick.  As logical as this may sound, some people give this little, if any thought. Others rarely make the effort to organize things and convince themselves they need everything they have.

Here are tips to free up extra living space:

  1. Add shelves – If you have a lot of bare wall space, you can purchase wall mountable or free standing shelves.  Shelves come in many different widths and heights, some spanning from floor to ceiling.  Move around furniture to make room for shelves if necessary.
  2. Get rid of junk – Over the years we accumulate a lot of stuff that we think we’ll use but never do.  Let’s face it, if you haven’t used a particular item in the last two to five years, you never will.  Hence, it is best to sell it, give it away, or dispose of it.  If you have broken down appliances and/or electronics but don’t have the funds to get them repaired, get rid of them.
  3. Reorganize storage spaces – If you don’t frequent these areas, they’re bound to be overlooked.  You can make better use of closets, cabinets, shelves, or rafters by sorting them out.  These spaces may contain clothes you no longer wear, books you no longer read, paperwork you no longer need, equipment you no longer use or the like.  Selling unwanted items may generate more cash or donating them may serve as a tax deduction.
  4. Remove unused furniture – Such items may be tables, dressers, or chairs just taking up space and never being used.
  5. Get rid of excessive boxes – If you still have packaging materials from large electronics and appliances that you don’t plan to return, discard them.

After you’ve taken all the above steps ask yourself: “Do I still need a bigger house?”  If not, you can save thousands of dollars in moving expenses and higher rent.

The Public Bus: Is Taking the Last Seat Selfish?

English: I, user aardvarkage, took this pictur...

English: I, user aardvarkage, took this picture on Thursday, November 23, 2006 while riding the RTD light rail train. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When it comes to public transportation, everyone who has been using it for years has some kind of story to tell.  Either the freakin’ buses are late or they’re crowded with hooligans.  For some, buses only run on time during peak hours.  It’s much like Weird Al Yankovick’s “Another One Rides the Bus” song.  Well, really not that extreme!

I ride the light rail or city buses wherever I go.  Though people may complain about the Salt Lake City bus service, I never had any serious problems with it.  The buses always seem to come on time and the light rail trains arrive without any trouble.  That is if there isn’t a ton of snow that nearly buries the tracks or if the electricity doesn’t go out causing the train to stall for who knows how long.  Even worse, if there’s no announcements stating why it stopped running everyone is left in frustration sitting on a stalled train.

Anyway, it goes without saying that during rush hour the trains and buses are crammed with people.  Right before the evening rush most seats are occupied with only one person, but there are maybe one or two seats completely empty.  If there is only one empty seat left and I board the train alone, am I selfish for taking the last empty seat?

I feel like I doing that can be a curse.  It’s like eating dinner with friends when towards the end of the meal there is one last piece of meat remaining on the serving plate.  Should you take it without asking anyone else if they want it?  The truth is that everyone will glance at it, but nobody will touch it feeling it is uncouth to snatch it up.

If you’re courageous you can ask if anyone wants it.  Most likely, everyone will say “no” to avoid the chance of depriving your wish-to eat that last pork chop, steak, or whatever it may be.  You know one thing for sure: it will get thrown out or stored in the refrigerator so why not take a stab at it?  Nobody really will and the host will do whatever she wants to do with it after everyone excused themselves from the table.

I often leave the sole empty seat alone and just sit next to someone.  By doing this I get a kick out of watching people get onboard just to see who will grab it and in most cases, the next boarder usually does.  Still, my consideration goes out to a mother with her children or a group of friends who like to sit together and chat or perhaps someone who is toting home a few bags of groceries.  If I’m the only person in a four-seat section, I will gladly move to allow a group of people to all sit together.

As for riding on a light rail train, when you’re seated, you’re either traveling forward or backwards.  Does it really matter?  You will get to the same place just as fast.  Still, most riders would rather travel forwards.  Because each train travels in either direction you’re often stuck sitting within a set of seats that face each other.  If all the seats are full, just be careful not to stare at those facing you.

Regardless of how full or empty the train is you’ll get that announcement, “Be considerate of others.  Please don’t put your feet on the seats!”  I still do, unless of course someone is sitting opposite of me.  It’s extremely bad to do if your shoes are dirty or wet from the rain and you soil or dampen the seat for the person who will have to sit there.

Then there are those who transport their bicycles on trains or buses.  It’s so nice to have the pull-down racks where you can place your bike in the grooves and slide the bar over the front wheel.  The only glitch is if someone has their bike on the outer groove making it really hard to put yours on the inner one.  Worse yet, you wait for the bus and it finally comes, only to find that the bike rack is full.  “Oh s***!” is all you can say.

Sometimes the bus driver will let you take your bike onto the bus, if it’s full, but man that is a pain in the “you know where.”  Then you have people trying to walk past you without clipping their heels on your pedals and that creates a nuisance.  It can be painful for passengers if they’re not careful.  Thank god, it’s much easier rolling your bike onto a train, especially if its floor is at ground level.  If it has stairs, just let your bike lay in the staircase where the doors will not be opened and pray you won’t come to a station that is accessible from either side.

As for buses, if you tow a bike, some drivers give you a card and some don’t.  Why is that?  It all depends on the guy behind the wheel.  Those that don’t, you just have to alert them when you get off by saying something like this: “I will need a few minutes to remove my bike!”  Some take offense as if they’re being treated like an idiot while others are cool about it.  The last thing you need is the driver to pull away the moment you step off that bus with your bike still on the rack or worse yet, an inattentive driver running your over as you try to retrieve it.   Neither has happened to me yet.  Thank god!





Small Ways to A Happy Life

conquest of happiness

conquest of happiness (Photo credit: the waving cat)

There are 15 simple things you can do to bring happiness in your life.  While most of them are free, those that aren’t don’t cost too much.  No, this isn’t another one of those work out, diet, and lose weight posts.  In fact, the Internet is inundated with such articles.  The content in this article consists of little things that you can do to make your life more pleasant.  Unfortunately, not everyone thinks about them.

  1. Spend time outside at night — Most everyone loves to spend time outside after dark.  This is a great time to get out of the house and venture into a local park or the wilderness.  Doing this is great in the summer, especially after a hot and humid day.  If you take someone along, you two can freely talk about anything and feel like an adventurous outdoorsman or hiker at the same time.  Most of all, you are not faced with the worries or cares of your daily environment.
  2. Call someone you don’t contact regularly — Calling someone you rarely ever talk to can seem daunting.  One reason people don’t stay in touch with those who are no longer a part of their daily lives is the fear of making fools of themselves by not knowing what to talk about.  These people may be former coworkers, old friends, former neighbors, those you once dated, etc.  No doubt, it is hard to get the ball rolling at first, but once you do, you will be happy with the results.  You will also learn more as their feelings about things and what they’re doing now.  Likewise, they would like to know how you’re doing as well.  Meanwhile, you both can learn about things neither one of you knew before.  I call people just to let them know how I am doing and what’s happening in my life.  I am always happy afterwards and have made the person I called feel more worthy knowing I am thinking about them.  Never have I wound up in a nowhere conversation.
  3. Create a weekly entertainment routine – Set aside a specific day of the week to do something that you truly enjoy.  It must be something that you do only once a week and only on one specific day of the week (ie: Sunday only).  Better yet, make sure this activity is scheduled for a certain time of the day (ie: evenings only).  For example, go bowling every Saturday afternoon with your friends, take your family to a matinee each Sunday evening, or attend a community club that takes place on Tuesday nights.  For this to work, you must set a strict schedule, unless perhaps, your activity entails building or enhancing your knowledge or skills.  By doing so, you have something to look forward to each week.  Doing such an activity several times a week and different times of the day lessens the joy of it and can even take its toll, not to mention that you soon will become sick of your routine entertainment.
  4. Clean up your living space – If you’re like Felix Unger on the Odd Couple where you have everything neatly organized and in its place, skip this section.  If your house (or apartment) is cluttered or messy, more than likely you’re unhappy living like this and perhaps, have a low self-esteem for being a slob.  I know it’s hard to get motivated to clean because it seems like hard work, but once you get started, you will find it’s not as laborious as you thought it would be.  You can even make it fun by turning on some music.  As you clean rooms and organize closets, you’ll find things you forgot you even had.  Quite often people find miscellaneous household goods such as receipts, documents, cleansers, paint thinner, etc that they thought they ran out of or threw out.  If that’s the case, you can save yourself money and grief.   While owning a home, I would choose a nice spring day to clean the yard or garage.  It was a good reason to be outdoors and enjoy the nice weather and have fun while doing these chores.
  5. Do someone a nice deed – It could be your mother, your spouse, or a stranger in trouble.  No matter who they are, if there is some little way you can make someone happy without a significant sacrifice, then do it.  For example, you can show up unexpectedly to mow your parents’ lawn, buy a bottle of wine and flowers for your wife, or help a motorist whose car is broken down on the side of the road.  Every so often, I give $5 to a homeless person because I know they need to eat just like the rest of us.  By doing this, I feel better about myself and if someone should offer me help, I feel I deserve it.
  6. Splurge – What comes to mind when you hear the word “splurge”?  For some it may mean eating something one’s diet does not permit or spending a small fortune on a nice item.  You need not defy you diet or break your budget to splurge.  If you are broke, you can simply take extra time out to do something you enjoy or just to relax.  Go ahead and let your chores slide for an hour or two.  Spend an extra hour lying in the sun on the beach or joy surfing on the Internet.  Allow your chores or cares to slide for an hour or two, unless they’re extremely time sensitive.  Taking that extra time out will make you feel better later.
  7. Elaborate on your favorite hobby or interest – Think about something that truly interests you and find ways to elaborate on it.  Don’t worry about what others might think.  If you truly love doing a specific thing, then by no means is it worthless.  For example, if you love nostalgia and would like to know what your community was like 50 years ago, do some research.  Go to your local library or city hall and request information.  On the other hand, if you love to let off steam about things people do that bug you, join a chat forum or create your own blog.
  8. Take a pleasure walk or drive – Being cooped up in the house too long can make you feel unhappy.  Getting out takes you away from the daily doldrums of your everyday life.  Playing music as you venture out makes your little journey even more enjoyable.  Visiting a locality that you haven’t been to in years may be interesting.  Best of all, you can leave your worries at home for a few hours.
  9. Volunteer your time – Here is an opportunity to learn more about your community while taking part in some industrious activity.  Knowing that you’re helping out less fortunate people than yourself will make you happy as well as raise your self-esteem.  Better yet, you can show others your finer skills and even make new friends.  Someone will appreciate your presence and contributions you make.
  10. Take on a constructive project – This can be a number of things depending on what you’re skilled at or like to do.  For example, those with carpentry skills may add electrical fixtures or fix things that are falling apart in their homes.  Those that enjoy sewing or crocheting may want to make articles of clothing for loved ones or wall-hangings.  My dad would buy run-down, antique wooden furniture and refinish these pieces to look really nice.  Whatever it is, after starting your project, you may be elated by the progress you’ve made.  At the same time, you can impress others with your art or skills. Most likely, you have just found a way to improve your home.
  11. Visit your local library – Going to the library doesn’t appeal to many people.  Some think libraries are strictly for children, scholars, or nerds who love to read.  Even if browsing the library isn’t your “cup of tea”, you may be surprised at what you’ll find there.  Nowadays, libraries offer much more than just books: they offer CDs and DVDs available to check out.  If you don’t have a computer with Internet access, you can spend an hour on one of their machines.  You can also read magazines or the local paper and even read back issues on days you missed.  And if you just want additional information on a particular topic, feel free to browse their shelves.  You may be surprise at what you may find.  Best of all, you can save yourself a few bucks by checking out books or media rather than buying them.  Try it, you’ll like it.
  12. Engage in creative writing – Here is an opportunity to let your imagination run wild.  Write something.  It could be anything that affects you deeply.  If you have a computer, whip out your word processor and type away.  If not, a standard notebook and pen will do.  Write whatever comes to mind.  Sure, it may be hard to get started, but once you do, you may not want to stop.  Do this whenever your imagination is fired up, even if this means taking a few seconds away from your chores every now and then.  Jot down ideas as they come to mind and elaborate on them when you have the time to do so.  Once you have begun, more and more ideas will come to mind.  Some will more likely require research.  Think up ways you can get the additional info you need.  This may be looking things up in newspapers, magazines, asking people, consulting reference books, or surfing the Internet.  Once you found these facts, you’ll know you have learned something.  In the end you’ll feel better about yourself as you now externalized you inner feelings and desires.
  13. Enrich your knowledge – Is there a particular subject you would like to know more about?  You may learn things about it by finding sources on it.  Just stop for a moment and ask yourself: “Where can I find more info on this topic”?  This may mean browsing your local library or bookstore for a book or magazine.  As you know, the Internet is an endless venue of information and if you don’t like to read, there are videos and other visual materials available.
  14. Make your chores fun – Instead of approaching a chore with the attitude, “I don’t want to do it, but I have to”, find a way to make it interesting.  So your wife has been nagging you for months to clean the garage.  All the while, you’ve been making excuses like, “I don’t have the energy” or “I am too busy”.  Make this chore fun and interesting.  Think up ways you can help prevent the garage from becoming messy again.  For example, you can add shelves, install drywall, add lighting fixtures, put in ceiling hooks, or apply a finish to the floor that will make it look clean enough to eat off of.  If you don’t have the money or skills to renovate it, make it a reason to get out and enjoy the weather while blasting your radio.  Think about how much nicer your garage would be if everything in it was organized and easy to find or how much more room you’d have if you got rid of the excess junk.  Once you start such a job, you will come up with creative ways to make it more interesting.  The next thing you know, the job you once dreaded becomes the project you can be proud of.
  15. Play a game – Take some time out and play a game.  With the vast amount of games available these days, there is no excuse for not finding a game you enjoy.  If you have a computer or gaming machine, great.  If not, there are a countless variety of puzzles along with traditional board games.  I love crossword puzzles, especially when I have a dictionary handy or am near a computer where I can look up the answers.  While completing them, I learn interesting things.   I also found that putting together a jigsaw puzzle while listening to the TV makes me more attentive to what is being said during the news.

If you’re still reading this, more likely you have an open mind and believe my suggestions are real.  You are then apt to try one or more of them because you truly want to be happier than you are now.  And best of all, you believe you can.

For those who’ve scanned over this post and left it, chances are, they are thoroughly convinced that none of my suggestions will work.  These readers are very much set in their own ways and might not have the courage to do any of these things for fear of failure.  Yet for others, they may firmly believe that they’ll never enjoy these activities and that they’ll deprive them of their precious time.

As human nature is concerned, we are mainly influenced by stimuli in our daily environments.  Often, it’s other peoples’ actions that influence ours.  For example, you can ask someone to learn to play guitar, but if this person never picked up a guitar in his entire life or never knew anyone who has, more likely he has no motivation to learn.  However, if family members or friends of his play guitar regularly, he might be enticed to try.

Hence, beginning a new activity is never easy.  Many fear that it either takes too much effort or that it might end in unfavorable results.  Others feel that a new activity will only create a nuisance in their lives, preventing them from watching their favorite TV shows or doing their chores.  Those with an open mind will find a way to form a sense of balance between their cares and their leisure time.

So please try one of these activities or create one of your own.  What have you to lose?  If it doesn’t work out you can always quit.




Reading Is A Virtue

Reading a book

Reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How can you learn about the world around you?  By reading.  How can you further educate yourself on various topics?  By reading.  How can you launch a successful career?  By reading.

Still, there are lots of teens who hate to read.  To them, reading is for nerds or brains, not so much for the cool dudes.  These teens only read when they have to, for example when doing their homework, but dread it then. The only time they love reading is perhaps if the material pertains to a personal interest or type of story they’d enjoy.  You may see some standing around the magazine racks in stores browsing their favorite magazines.

And it isn’t only teens, many adults dislike reading and avoid it whenever possible.  There are exceptions of course.  Some may have careers that require a great deal of reading such as lawyers, accountants, administrators, etc.  Also, there are those who feel it’s their biggest priority to keep up with the news.

Add to that, the savvy consumers.  Not only are they out to save money, but they want to be armed with knowledge when making purchasing decisions.  Likewise, there are those who want the inside scoop on issues that may affect them.  They need to know their rights and what they can do if they’re in troublesome situations.

Reading Is a Virtue

I’ll say it again…reading is a virtue.  You must first start by adopting a positive attitude towards reading.  Sure, reading never sounds like fun, unless it is on a topic that you enjoy.  Reading is never a waste of time and effort.  In fact, it can teach you things you hadn’t expected to encounter.  Even when reading an article that you don’t find too interesting, you might pick up on a valuable fact that may not be directly related to the article.  And if you gained nothing from it, you didn’t lose anything either.

I’ll give you five good reasons to read, read, read:

  1. The more you read, the less hassles you’ll face.  Though it may seem like an unnecessary time-consuming, mundane task (especially if you think you know everything), in the long run it will save you time of fixing mistakes, returning items to stores, and possibly embarrassment from awkward situations that stems from lack of information.
  2. Reading keeps you on top of things happening in your community.  For example, if you belong to a club, you can adequately prepare for changes that arise due to unexpected circumstances.  The more you read, the sooner you know, and the better prepared you’ll be.  Those in your everyday world will have a more favorable impression towards you if they see you’re well prepared.
  3. Reading  can will improve your grades.   Sure, reading assignments take up your time and seem rather cumbersome, but there is a purpose for each chapter or handout you are given, or else you wouldn’t have been instructed to read it.  What is that purpose?  How does it tie in with the rest of the course?  Just sit down and take the time to read the passage.  If you don’t understand parts of it, reread them or ask your teacher questions.  Never be in a hurry and skim through it.  That will never work.  As you already know, you will have to take a test based on the material.  Taking tests suck if you don’t know the answers and guessing them rarely ever scores you points.  However, if you’re well prepared, you will enjoy the tests and anticipate getting better grades.  Getting good grades in high school will help you succeed in college.
  4. Reading can help you succeed in your career.  For sure, many of us value having a good-paying job and one that challenges us.  Although such a career gives us greater self-esteem, learning and understanding all phases of the job may seem daunting.  Many “newbies” would like to attain instant success but are intimidated by manuals and lectures.  Because of this, some may become discouraged and will evade reading as much as possible.  Their attitude may be: “Why should I read these things?  I’ll never understand them anyway.”  Still, you can never lose anything by reading what you’re required to read, even if you never understand it.  But the more you allow reading to intimidate you, the less likely you will succeed on the job.
  5. Reading makes you a well-rounded person.  Not only does reading make you more intelligent, but it expands your horizons all the more. If you’re willing to read about most subjects in general, even those that don’t pertain to you personally, you are more likely to understand other peoples’ problems as well.  These can be topics as pregnancies, marriages, divorces, money management, etc.  Though these subjects have nothing to do with you, they can help you better relate with people who are affected by them.  You may learn about others’ lifestyles and different cultures.  The more you know, the easier you will find it to interact with others.  You will be better prepared to face situations in your approaching adult years.

Hopefully I convinced you that reading will help you tremendously in life.  No, it’s not always fun to read, but look at it this way: any successful man will tell you that not everything in life is supposed to be fun.  If you still hate reading, I won’t condemn you for that.  Despite all I know, even now and then I tend to shrug it off. To better understand yourself, read on…..

Reading Is Like Eating Raw Carrots

Why is it that people dislike reading?  First of all, people think in pictures, not words.  Second, many find themselves challenged by things they read.  Third, in some cases, reading seems more like a chore than a leisure activity.  It requires one’s full attention and concentration.  A great number of people don’t have an attention span beyond 10 seconds.  Fourth, most all whom dislike reading know they have had problems understanding and remembering things they have read in the past.

Everybody knows that carrots are good for you.  Eating them, however, brings no pleasure whatsoever.  It’s not because they taste terrible, but their flavor is not so pleasant either.  Besides that, they require vigorous chewing and hence, they’re not the snack of choice by any means.  Like eating raw carrots, reading can also seem laborious and cumbersome and let’s not forget, bitter.  That is why many tend to avoid it whenever possible.

People who dislike reading prefer action over written or spoken words.  They would rather engage in an activity that will bring quick, favorable results.  Likewise, they desire to be active and take in stimuli in their environment instead of sitting still and concentrating.  Hence, reading to them is much more of a chore rather than an activity they can enjoy.  Some feel reading will only be intellectually antagonizing, bogging down their minds with intense details they’ll never remember.

If you feel this way, you may want to read about my personal experiences.

As a Teen I Had a Hate-Love Relationship with Reading

…And beyond then, I used to hate reading.

Pleasure and instant results were most important to me and since they were, reading posed as a threat to rob me of my enjoyment.  I wanted to be out doing some physical activity or spending time outdoors when the weather was nice.  Therefore, I saw reading as a chore that would take me away from all that.

Despite that, a lot of what I read as far back as grade school I found interesting.  I excelled in English, history, and math.  Although my grades weren’t top-notch by any means, I was able to answer a lot of questions in class.  By doing that, I impressed my classmates as they thought I was exceptionally smart.  Some even thought I might be a straight ‘A’ student.  That’s a lie if there ever was one.

But when it came to homework, half the time I was happy to read because I knew it was necessary, but on some occasions, I would skip out on reading certain things for fear of boredom or I was convinced that I wouldn’t understand the material anyway.  In some cases, I figured I knew these things already or I could just fake it that I did.

For example, in a news writing class, we were all given a booklet on the rules of writing material for the high school’s paper.  These rules went into great detail of how words and phrases should be written according to their style. Like the word percent was to be written as per cent (two words, not one).  Because I did well in English courses, I felt that reading this booklet was unnecessary, so I didn’t.  Now I wish I had.

On the other hand, if we were assigned to read novels, I would love to read.  While most students expressed their loathing for these books, I tend to love them.  I guess it goes back to grade school, my teachers would read books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary.  Unfortunately, my reading taste has not grown up, as I would seek out “baby books” to read, even in Junior High.  I would read the jokes section of Boys Life magazine (for boy scouts).  The jokes there were rather elementary and only grade school kids might find them funny.  Still, as I read them, I skipped over the long ones figuring it was too much effort to read them.

As an Adult, I Was Knowledge Deprived

Boy did I pay the price for reading as little as possible.

I hated reading the newspapers, especially current events articles.  I would only do so because one of my history classes required it, but I would read the minimum I feel I could get away with.  The teacher would then ask us to voluntarily contribute to the classroom conversation with their personal insights on current events.  I only spoke if the teacher asked me, but never volunteered.  I would just tell myself, I’m no good at understanding current events.  I just wasn’t born with that skill.  BULLSHIT!!  Nobody’s born with that skill, they acquire it over time.

Then again, I had trouble understanding the content in newspaper articles.  I would read them, daydream, then reread paragraph after paragraph and the material would not sink in.  Not only was this difficult, but extremely boring.  My mind would wander and little things that happened in life would bother me too much to concentrate.

Quite often, I would purchase things that required assembly, for example book shelves.  When putting things together, I would be totally turned off by the massive amounts of screws, bolts, caps, and other parts that were required in the assembly.  My attitude was, “Why are all these things needed anyway?”  I figured I knew everything necessary and attempted to put whatever it was together without reading the instructions.  That of course led me to taking the thing apart and starting over.

One great example was when I purchased an electric typewriter.  I figured I’d pull the unit out of the box, remove all packing materials, plug it in, and begin typing.  Once I turned it on, I kept hearing beeping sounds.  Although I put in a sheet of paper, the beeping persisted and I could not activate the keys.  I glanced at the owner’s manual and read a thing about radio interference and thought that was the problem.  Shortly after, I returned the typewriter to Target for another one telling the customer service clerks there was radio interference preventing it from working.  They seemed to believe me and granted me an exchange for an identical one.

It turned out that there was nothing wrong with the original typewriter as I became frustrated trying to get it to work.  I finally gave in and read the manual and it turns out that there were plastic tabs to hold the ball in place that I hadn’t removed.  Bottom line: If only I read the instructions thoroughly the first time, I could have saved myself a trip to the store.

If at first you don’t succeed, read the instructions.

My Work Performance Suffered

My work performance suffered while working for a worker’s compensation insurance company in Minneapolis.  Me and five other workers processed one-year insurance policies that businesses were required to take out to cover their employees.  Not to go into great detail, but we were required to do the math work to see if these companies owed additional premium or were due refunds at the end of the year.  A lot of the contracts I processed were returned to me for corrections.  My job skills were marginal and I did not advance in my department as others did.  Luckily, I didn’t lose my job.

While working at Berkley, I rarely read the documents and memos that were distributed to everyone.  They would just pile up in my inbox and because of this, I had a less-than-average understanding of what was happening in the company.  Some of the staff, it seems, looked down on me for my lack of skills.

In Conclusion

The point here is that I cheated myself out of a better life because I disliked reading.  My work performance was often poor and I knew little of what was going on in the workplace.  When attending social gatherings and meetings I never had anything to contribute to the conversations.  I used to wonder what was wrong with me.  I’m just not a good conversationalist.  I felt like I was dumber than the average person.  I felt inferior in groups of people and acted as if people were thinking bad thoughts about me.

My life, in a nutshell, was not as successful or enjoyable as it could have been.  Only if I read more, I could have been a more active member of society.

There Is Life Beyond Today

Greatest Hits (A-Teens album)

Greatest Hits (A-Teens album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are you a teenager?  Are you dissatisfied with your life?  Do you have a low self-esteem?  Do you feel it’s important to prove your self-worth to your peers and others?  Do you feel the need to keep up with the Jones?  Are you afraid of what others will think of you if you lack their lifestyles?  If you answered ‘yes’ to most or all of these questions, you must keep in mind:  There is life beyond today.


When I was a teenager, I was in a rage to do as much as possible as soon as possible.  It first began with landing a job.  Then, there was the talk about students going out and partying.  Like many others, I was a true music lover and wanted to collect as many albums (or tapes) as I possibly can afford.  My thinking was, if I don’t get a particular album pretty soon, I’ll never own it.  False!  If I could only talk to myself back then, I would tell my teen, “There is life beyond today.”


Destructive Thinking of Teens


Oftentimes teens set high standards for themselves that are rather unrealistic.  This may mean purchasing an expensive car as a Mercedes Benz.  Those with outlandish goals or self images aim to acquire a lofty lifestyle that not even their parents have.  They never even stop to analyze why their parents don’t live the way they’d like to.  Once teens believe there is a way to get these things, they’ll go after them with great vigor.  Some will believe, “If (name of person) has this, I should be able to get that too.”


The earlier the age teens accomplish things, the better their reputations will be.  Such things are dating, sexual intercourse, leaving home and moving in with friends or lovers, partying, taking mood altering drugs, going into business, buying expensive items, getting tattoos or body piercings, getting married, etc.  Again, if there’s a way they can accomplish these things, they’ll seek it out.  Perhaps, this makes them a superior person.  That means peers will think they’re extra special and earn their admiration.  Is all of this necessary to inflate their self-esteem?  Absolutely not!


Teens that attempt to rush into the adult world too soon encounter tremendous problems.  Little do they know how undereducated and inexperienced they are.  All they’re concerned about is enjoying life more and building a superficial self-image.  Some male teens want the image of a tough guy or macho man and will do things to prove their manhood.  Women, on the other hand, feel the need to look beautiful and slim.  Some may fear that if they weigh a few extra pounds, they won’t get dates or asked to the prom.


Some teens are extremely restless.  They feel an ongoing tension to try to pursue the things they want and feel they deserve.  When they run into problems in life, they may feel cursed and perhaps, not meant to have what they want.  While some may want to give up, others persist towards their goals.  Those who do, have little or no patience and act with great rage and anger.  Some are so selfish, they don’t care who they might have to hurt or put out just to get what they want.


The bottom line: Teens today are spoiled brats-unless they’re raised right.


When I Was a Teen…


About 35 years ago, I was in my teens.  I remember those days, perhaps, too well!  I was angry a lot and felt cursed if I ran into problems.  Worst of all, I was greedy and selfish and didn’t care who I had to set back just to get what I wanted.  Now I regret such behavior and feel that I might be still paying the price.


At the same time, I was somewhat living in a fantasy world.  I grew up in a material family with four other teens and a young adult, all who felt that they must have nice things or others would think they’re inferior.  I didn’t have the need for an exotic lifestyle, which was out of the question anyway, I felt that having a nice stereo system and a huge record collection was the most important thing in the world-nothing else mattered.


My older siblings loved rock music and felt they must have the same and unlike me, they were able to afford it.  It was like, to be cool, you had to listen to hard rock and crank the music really loud on a high quality stereo system.  I couldn’t agree more.


What did this conditioning do to me?  I became extremely obsessed with music.  Almost every dollar I made had to go to buying records and tapes.  I could never have enough music.  All I would ever think about and talk about was music.  I would spend at least two hours each day playing my stereo.  My family members would get tired of me always listening to or talking about music.


On Saturdays, I would buy used 8-track tapes at a flea market nearby.  Even if I was down to my last few dollars, if I could find a cheap album, I just had to buy it.  I guess you can say I was like an alcoholic who didn’t care about anyone or anything except how he was going to get his next bottle.


Enough of that!  The point is, I felt that if I didn’t have a particular album, I might never own it in my whole lifetime.  I should’ve been told: There is life beyond today.


Vienna Waits For You


So the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”  The point of the song: Vienna Waits For You, simply says there is no hurry to get to where you feel you need to go.  Hence, you have your whole life to become the person you want to be.  If I could go back in time, these are things I would tell myself:


  • Don’t compare yourself to others: This is one of the most evil traps you can fall into.  It is natural to want things others have-most commonly, possessions.  One of my brothers was obsessed with nice cars and envied his friends for theirs.  The point is that some people are more fortunate than you.  Those with nicer items may have resources that you lack.  Either they know the right people or have wealthy families.
  • You can’t do what you can’t do:  Sure enough, you’ll be conditioned by the people around you.  You’ll hear people say things to make you think they have grandiose lifestyles.  When I was in high school, it was partying.  Kids were going out, getting drunk and stoned, and having a blast.  I wanted to do that also.  Little did I realize I was playing against a stacked deck.  Still, I persisted in trying to get into the party life any way I could.  I would ask around, trying to find parties.  That only made me make a fool of myself.  I felt rather pathetic and worthless because I was lonely on the weekends.  Instead, I should have ditched my efforts to party and find worthwhile things to do.
  • Break each goal into small tasks:   There is nothing wrong with wanting something really nice.  In fact, it’s totally natural.  This may be, for example, purchasing a home theater system or becoming a straight A student.  Whatever it is, don’t expect to somehow achieve your goal overnight.  Therefore, you must break your goal into smaller pieces.  In the first example, find a home theater you can afford.  Next think about ways you can earn the money to buy it.  Finally, think about when you would like to purchase it.
  • Never be in a hurry to do anything:  Slow down and relax.  There is nothing in this world you need RIGHT NOW!  Some teens don’t seem to realize it and become stressed, get uptight, and urge those they know to help them immediately.  It’s not good to hound your parents for the money to get what you want or even take your stress out on others.  Also, if you should rush into doing something, there is a great likelihood you will make a move you will regret later.  You are prone to make bad decisions or forget to plan properly and the result will, more likely than not, end in disaster.  For example, you may have the urge to buy a used car because you feel you need it TODAY!  Once you get the money, you may become overly eager to hand it over to the owner and drive off without even inspecting the car.
  • Nothing worthwhile comes easy:   There is a high price for attaining the finer things in life.  In some cases, the price may be so high it will make your hair stand up on end.  For example, if you want to become captain of your school’s football team, you’ll need to develop proficient playing skills.  On the other hand, if you want to become a beautiful model, you will have to spend more money on cosmetics, skin care products, and clothing than you realize.  Most every good skill or trait takes years of practicing and conditioning.  Nothing good ever happens out of the blue.
  • Consider your health:  Sure, you may have the urge to go out and have some fun-that’s perfectly natural.  You may find yourself engaging in dangerous activities or adult-oriented forms of entertainment.  You must remember that you’re not indestructible, just because you never had any major health problems.  One prime example is under-aged drinking or smoking.  Doing these things may make you feel ecstatic and cool but will hinder your body or brain development.  Just because you don’t feel any adverse affects now doesn’t mean you never will.  Health problems are not just for the elderly.  Abusing your body will make you unhealthy years later.
  • Accept your life as it is:  You must learn to love yourself as you are.  So you may lack the skills and or possessions of those you admire.  All you can do is try your best at whatever you do.  No one can ask any more from you than that.  After all, you may not be as fortunate as others in ways.  Maybe you weren’t brought up in an environment that promotes the traits your friends may have.  For example, if your friend is able to bench press heavy weights but you can’t, it is likely that he’s been weight training for years, but you haven’t.  Still, you have qualities he doesn’t.   Concentrate more on them and use them creatively to your advantage. Find ways to improve your life.


When I look back on my teenage years I wish someone had told me all these things.  If I could go back, I would print up and give myself this blog and urge me to read it.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the Internet back then and our resources were rather limited.  By just reading this, imagine how much better my life could have been.




Recession-Related Suicides

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from...

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from the Esplanade to the Treasury Building in Perth, Western Australia to see Premier Sir James Mitchell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are there recession-related suicides?  Yes!   Suicide rates have risen 20% during the Great Depression.  With that in mind, I began to wonder if some folks have ended their lives just because of the recession.  Long periods of unemployment affect former job holders much greater than one can imagine.


It is not so surprising that jobless consumers are two to three times more likely to consider taking their own lives according to The Washington Independent website.  Here, you can read stories of homeless people that are having difficulties and cannot depend on local public services as the Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Salvation Army.  This only leaves them to roam the streets day and night with no particular place to go or no goals to pursue.


Those lucky enough to have a roof over their head, especially homeowners, are still under a great amount of stress.  For most, their unemployment checks are about to run out, their utilities are endangered of being shut off, and they must choose between feeding their families or living in a home where all of the utilities are running.  At the same time, these individuals or families are facing a possible eviction or foreclosure.  To top it all off, some are in danger of or have had their vehicles repossessed.  Some would like to purchase nicer things, but have no choice but to make do with what they have.  Others have no funds to replace things if they break down (as the furnace, an appliance, etc).


Consider those with pets.  We must not forget they need food and periodic care.  Those who are in severe financial turmoil may have no choice but to abandon them.  Turning in unwanted pets to the humane society may seem harsh, but what else can their owners do?  What if the animal shelter is full and cannot accept any more?  It is then up to the owner to decide what to do with them.  Finding someone who will adopt them is rarely easy, if not impossible.  Some may go as far as killing them or turning them loose into the wild.  Needless to say, it tears an owner’s heart out to abandon his pets.


I have sympathy for these people.


Not only is this stressful to the bread winners, but also seemingly disgraceful.  It leaves them between a rock and a hard place.  They’ve sent out countless numbers of resumes with no response back and have become tired and hopeless when considering their job search.


What are these parents suppose to tell their children?   What once dependents expected from their parents (clothing, food, and shelter) is nearly gone (if not completely gone).  Children, especially younger ones, will be heartbroken knowing they’re being deprived of what they hoped to have.  Tension can grow as siblings must fight one-another for things they need.


In 2007 I had a one-week temporary job for a furniture rental store.  My duty was to ride along with the truck driver to pick up or deliver furniture.  I remember stopping at a large, new home and hauling out a living room set because the woman renting it could no longer make her payments.  When we were done, her living room was nearly empty.  I thought about her three little children who ran around the house as we moved the couch and the chairs out to the truck.  Though they were very little, I bet they wondered why all the furniture suddenly disappeared.  This is just a typical example that some unemployed families face.


Now, imagine you’re a debt collector or a utility service representative.  While it goes without saying, most all believe these employees are cold and heartless.  Although some may seem that way, they are human too.  After all, they’re only doing what they must to keep their jobs.  It isn’t easy to tell a customer that they must possess their car or shut off their lights because a payment wasn’t received in three months or so.


So, what do all these things have to do with recession suicides?  A lot!  Losing a job no doubt has a domino effect on one’s life.  Going months without being able to land another one forces a family to lose their once great standard of living.  This causes misery for everyone and depression for the unemployed.  In severe cases, some families become homeless.  A hopelessly jobless adult may feel that the only way out of his problems is to end his life.


About how many suicides are there?  Coming up with an accurate, up-to-date answer is difficult as figures change continuously.  According to a recent video by The Week   in Indiana, the suicide rate of unemployed victims is about 11%.  Recession-related homicides occur as well and are about 9%. These figures vary among city and state  About 6.6 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer.


Fortunately, there is help for those who’ve become distraught and feel that they’re at the end of their ropes.  Along with the 211 line, there is a toll free number: 1-800-273-TALK which is answered 24 hours a day.  Most all large cities have community centers and crisis lines that can be called day or night.  Some facilities are free while others charge according to one’s income.