Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?
Inequality is like being locked in a prison
With no one to see or hear you
No matter how much you shout for help
You are all alone and there is no one around to care
I’ve been in this type of prison many times in life
Nowadays I feel more free but as a young adolescent it was a tough battle
I had to endure taunts and long uncomfortable stares
Whispers behind my back, little things that cowered me further into a shell
I feel like I was born with the most unforgiving inequalities:
Bad eyes, can’t drive, trouble with relationships, futile job searches, being turned down every time, bad hips, scoliosis, getting discouraging thoughts about life, feeling of hopelessness
The broader inequality prison today for me is in terms of money and power
How certain people get top priority and special treatment over others just because of fame or name recognition
It angers me inside how unfair life can be
How the world still views money as the driving force between individuals
But there is nothing I can do about it
Because I am within the boundaries of a prison
I can only go so far before hitting a hard invisible wall like in video games
Looking up, I can see the faintest way over this barrier
But it is very, very high and slick and all I have is a single length of long rope
I’ve tried many times to throw that rope over the wall
Only to have it fall back down to earth in a pathetic heap
I still have not given up hope though
There is still a chance for me
Graduating from college with a degree has given me an edge
Someday I’ll be strong enough to get that rope over the wall
And scale over it to reach new, exciting places
But for now I’m trapped in an inequality prison
And life is neither good nor bad, but mediocre
This past July I have been in the process of trying to establish my first company. It’s called ‘Matt’s Videography’ and specializes in creating quality presentation videos and photography for events that people are having. This whole thing started when I created a video for my sister’s open house and my family members just went crazy over it, calling me “a genius” and that I am missing my calling with this kind of stuff. The video was amazing, way beyond their expectations. I even ending up calling it my own – adding that I created it along with a promotional message at the end.
So after my mom suggested that I start a business making and selling videos with people’s pictures, home videos, and music on them, I jumped right into the potential money making pit by starting off conjuring up a temporary logo and creating a Facebook page that has, as of July 30, 67 likes and growing. My relatives also suggested I get some business cards to pass out to people to spread the word. I went on Vistaprint, created a custom card with my info on it, made it look nice and purty with a glossy finish, and ordered 250 of them. Well the $30 bucks I paid for them (that included shipping and handling), hasn’t gone very far because I’ve only given away two (just yesterday). This is because I felt funny about going up to random people and showing them a business card, feeling like I could be an annoyance. I didn’t feel so confident about showcasing my company to people but I guess I have to fight tooth and nail any which way to get it known out there. I could have gotten 50 cards free with FreeLogoServices.com, which I did later on while creating a more professional looking logo on that site, that I couldn’t use without purchasing it first, arbitrary to the website name.
Things got more serious when I decided to create a website for my brand. It all started while I was watching a golf tournament and a commercial for web.com appeared (the only one I’ve seen so far), since the tournament is sponsored by them. I thought, “hey, that’s just what I need. It’s a fast and easy setup and I’ll be successful in no time”. That’s what the commercial pitched and piqued my interest immediately in the site. So I went to the website without hesitation and signed up for a domain name under ‘anytimedvdandphoto.com’. Then I had a choice between the basic, standard, and professional website. I chose the pro because it included a shopping cart that would be beneficial to my operation. So the cost of all of this seemed like a sweet deal with the promotion that was currently being offered at a low price. In a few days time, though, I found out that the price of running a website with web.com, including all the perks such as SEO, Facebook Boost, Google listing, and professional help from the design team, would all add up to cost about over $300 per month. If I’m billed every four weeks, that would be about $1000 a year that I don’t have.
Looking for alternatives, I checked out the site builder on webs.com, with an ‘s’, and saw that they offer a more flexible option of paying for either $24.95 monthly, 1 year at $10.41 per month, or 2 years at $8.33 per month.
I had a website done by the people at web.com and I was really impressed with it. I made a couple of changes and asked the design group to make some changes as well. It’s not a very dynamic page, everything stays the same and I only have so many ways to customize the page (being that it is template based and doesn’t require any coding to work). Still, it is good for me because I’m a beginner at this sort of stuff and need something that is easy to manage. Currently, I am featuring two products on my ecommerce: photo prints and special event videos. I know there is not a whole lot going on right now but if I give it time and put some hard earned effort into the page, I could have it streaming with products and interactivity that’s up there with some of the best websites. Could have.
If this business of mine takes off one day I am thinking about opening up a shop somewhere locally or out-of-state if I ever move away. I’m pretty good with video making software such as Sony Vegas and CorelStudio. I haven’t used After Effects that much but I think it would be beneficial to the work of my company if I learned more about it and applied it. I would also invest in some camera and photography equipment to give my operation more potential.
For now, this is more of a fleeting hobby of mine than a serious business since I haven’t made any money yet and don’t know where it is going to go. I’ll continue to go along with the ride and if someone happens to be interested enough to buy my product I might just reconsider not going through with it after all. I knew not to expect amazing results right out of the gate. It takes work to get a company going good and strong. Since I’m the only employee right now and I’m not yet officially incorporated as a business, I really shouldn’t be too upset if things don’t go like I want them to. Like any successful company, it starts with a dream and then a vision. Getting that vision to become a reality is no one step process. I know because I am now experiencing it for the first time.
Clocks: Time comes in many forms; also a visual representation of Coldplay’s hit.
Badass Bikes: Belonging to some big badass bikermen and bikerchicks at a motorcycle rally. Not even close to the size of the Sturgis gathering held every year. Bikers come from miles away to participate in that one. At this particular one, I got near the stage where a cover band was playing and it was LOUD! I thought the whole place was going to blow up or something.
Besides that, I am also getting a business together that focuses on creating videos for special events, as well as offering photo collages, photo books, and possibly in the future a whole line of party supplies. All of this is an if because I don’t know if the business will even get off the ground let alone having one customer approach me. Doesn’t hurt to try.
The 2014 Daytona 500 got red flagged for rain so Jack and I got bored and started to present some interesting facts about the race, number one being the starting point.
1. Try to offer a scientific explanation of the commentators left to right positioning on screen:
The main speaker of the broadcast is always on the left, being the traditional rule in TV etiquette (at least here in America). The audience’s eyes seem to focus more on the left side of the screen so the guy who is going to speak the most will obviously be over there, with some exceptions. I know this is the thing in America but in other countries, such as Japan, it might be different. On talk shows, the guest star is on the left because he/she is the star, the one being spotlighted and the viewers eyes are trained on them. In America, we also read left to right, drive on the left side of the car, and on Windows computers have the start button to what Beyonce would say.
2. View highlights of classic driver fights, from the ‘water cooler’ race of 1979, to The Intimidator saying “that son of a bitch”, to ‘the shove’ of 2006 with Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, to the Edwards and Keselowski feuds at Talladega. And also a little bit of Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart mixed in there.
3. Watch last year’s Daytona 500 with a person who didn’t watch it last year, betting money on who will win, when cautions will come out, etc., and relaying events that had not happened yet and talking about people who were still alive then, maybe watching the race.
4. Entertain self with episodes of “Bob’s Burgers” and “American Dad”.
5. Sing karaoke songs. Any songs related to racing are very welcome.
6. Shoot hoops.
7. Play a game of Twister.
8. Watch the “circus act” on the track as jet dryers and workers try to dry the surface, sometimes using squeegees and boxes of Tide to the tune of “Car Wash”.
9. Figure out that from Neil Armstrong’s name, Neil A spelled backwards is A lien (Alien). So the joke is “did they send him to the moon or did they send him BACK to the moon?”. You could also get “Strong Mr. Alien” out of that. Again, it’s all a conspiracy. NASA didn’t really send anyone to that rock in the sky. It was staged. Neil Armstrong is a geniusly made up name that could have double meanings.
I’m only joking of course. I’m a realist. I don’t believe in conspiracies, hoaxes, and other crap passed around the Internet by people with no life. Paul McCartney is alive and well.
10. Thinking “when are they going to get this damn race started again?” and “They didn’t have to introduce all 43 drivers to us with a cheesy ceremony like that”.
11. Catch up on your favorite TV shows on Netflix (The Walking Dead, everyone!).
12. Reminisce about the first 38 laps of the race, watching it all over again if you have to.
My family and I were in Lansing on the twelfth of February – my sister Emily’s 18th birthday – and heading over to the CSL Plasma center to donate for some money like we’ve been doing for over 2 years now, excluding her and my dad. Not the best way to get by but it helps out a lot since we are so cash-strapped and can’t even afford a new dryer. It was supposed to be a great day for my sister – I mean, this is her last day officially as a kid and will soon be able to do anything she ever dreamed of, except drink yet, of course, which isn’t a big priority for her anyway.
First, my dad pulled into the Speedway/Sunny Day gas station to, you know, fill er up. It’s usually a stop and go, normal everyday situation. But today I sensed something different. For one thing, Dad was slower than usual, and he is pretty slow anyways; he was in the store for quite a while. Finally, he came out of the store with a receipt, crinkled it up, and threw it in the trash. We were making jokes about him being slow and a putz and other jokes about Charles and Al, two lovable buffoons, who didn’t go to donate today. The commotion broke out as my dad, Bob, was pumping gas. I was in the middle seat, thinking away absent-minded, and heard some shouting behind me. Then I heard a gunshot but was oblivious to the moment, didn’t know exactly what was happening at first and didn’t react immediately. Then a grey SUV backed up into another behind a gas pump and smashed its front bumper up pretty good, pushing in the front end of the car like an accordion. The damaged car turned around and fled, the driver obviously pissed. We thought at first that a riot was going to break out and this was some sort of dispute. But then Emily and my uncle Jack, who saw the action from the backseat, believed it was an undercover cop after they saw a man in a brown coat running after the criminal’s car. The details were murky from my point of view but all the undercover cop did was shoot the guy’s tires; I thought someone got shot and was lying on the ground; It could have ended up much worse. The criminal fled in his car and jumped over a snow bank.
Later on, behind the snow bank, I saw a couple of men chasing the fugitive after he ditched the car which either crashed into something or was cornered by the police. The guy was obviously wanted and had been staked out perfectly at the gas station. As we were finally getting the hell out of there another grey SUV pulled into the gas station and seemed to drive over the debris left over from the collision as if the driver didn’t notice it was there. I thought “how stupid can this guy be?”
I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t in the middle of the commotion or dad wasn’t walking towards the store as that SUV backed up into the other one. We should have ducked our heads when that gun went off but I guess we’re not so used to situations like this. It was fairly controlled and the cop knew what he was doing and obviously had some backup to stop the criminal from getting away. Still, though, shooting a gun off in broad daylight in front of innocent bystanders is a bit risky. Jack had this crazy idea afterwards that it was a scene being filmed for a movie and the people at the gas station were extras. It sure seemed like it because I’ve probably been to gas stations a million times and nothing like this ever happened. It was like an action scene from an old Bruce Willis’ flick or an episode of COPS. Either way, it was surreal.
Dad was so slow getting out of there, just taking his merry time with pumping the gas; Mom and Jack were yelling for him to hurry up, and it is funny when my uncle Jack gets nervous because he sounds like a little schoolgirl with his voice getting high. A blue-shirted employee of the Sunny Day convenience store came out and looked around like “What the hell?”
In front of us was a brown car at the pump and an African-American man near it with a winter hat and a red plaid, Paul Bunyan-esque shirt on. He was just laughing like what just happened was no big deal. Yeah, I’m sure he’s seen his fair share of eruptions in the cruddy city of Holt-Lansing.
“Just another day in Lansing” I said.
Another thing like this happened on July 7, 2007. 7/7/7. Supposed to be one of the luckiest days ever but not for an unfortunate driver in Detroit. As we were heading out from Detroit at night from a 14-inning stint with the Red Sox, the Tigers winning by the way of a walk off double, we came upon an intersection on MLK Boulevard. We were about to cross it when a car came zooming by from the left and hit the side of a car coming from the road in front of us, smashing in it’s side door and spinning it around several times. The other car just kept on going through the intersection and never looked back, the driver not stopping and facing up to their reckless, life threatening mistake. This night was another lucky break for us, being in the right place at the right time. Dad called in the accident like a noble Samaritan would.
Afterward, back in 2014, we donated and got our money and left the strange city of Holt-Lansing where there are shoot and runs, people just nonchalantly walking out into the street full of cars, and poor beggars on every corner. As day turned to night, we arrived at Ruby Tuesdays in Okemos to eat dinner. A fine restaurant with a nice salad bar that really upped the meal I got (a slice of hickory bourbon chicken with a side of onion rings). We had a young waitress that looked like in she was in her 20s, blonde and kind of ditzy like a pre-Penny at the Cheesecake Factory. I thought she was kind of cute and I smiled at her and tried to get her attention and it worked quite a bit. Even walked by the section where she and the servers were and then walked right around the middle bar and stool section. So silly of me, I thought afterward.
With constant reminders that we, the mix and match bunch from Michigan, will be going away for about seven days to live like village people, I have been wondering just how we are going to survive. Yes, we will have tents and lots of other gear such as bug spray and flashlights but actually living in the great outdoors without the magnetic force of a computer nearby is rare. Sure, I have been camping before, at Mystic Lake in fifth grade, but I got to stay in a nice heated cabin with electricity and a bunk bed, not lying on the ground as a huge thundercloud rages over. There was also a nice bathroom near the cabin that I visited frequently during the night. Where we are going, there won’t be those luxuries, which is a challenge I like and am ready to face. Of course, it is not going to be true wilderness – the place is going to be regulated – but being out there with nature is something a lot of people should invest part of their life in.
A lot of people waste their summer, though, sitting in front of screens playing mindless computer games or banging on plastic toy drums that sound like (censored). Of course, not everyone has a readily accessible pool right near their house that they are not responsible for keeping cleaned and maintained (which becomes such a chore that you feel like giving up and wonder why you bought the damn thing). Our Windham Hills pool is great because it provides a place for the community to cool off and relax after a hard day. It’s open to just about anyone nowadays – the check in/check out list isn’t enforced very well and there isn’t always a hired pool attendant/supervisor down there who even cares. Still, there is some control. Kids that are wild and rambunctious will be told to stop or get kicked out. I find it really annoying when a kid makes a huge cannonball jump in the water and I get the full force of the splash. There is hardly anyone of my age group down there also, since it’s mostly kids who barely know how to count and are still in the early stages of elementary school.
Most of the clan came up to the water hole today as well as the rest of the neighborhood. I like to have room to spread my arms out and do a few laps around the pool but with it looking like the Atlantic Ocean during the aftermath of the Titanic sinking I mostly stick to one spot, near my odd but loving family. Yeah, they are all misfits in their god-given ways and wouldn’t come within twenty feet of Hollywood but my folks are simple, easy to get along with, and live their life without caring what others say about it.
The Nokia girl comes back to my uncle Jack and I and reminds us that the cleaning job she was offering us is still on, albeit strangely. Its seems legit and I have been waiting for a steady paying job for sometime now. Maybe the answer lies with a woman who has a friend nicknamed Goober and swims around in a pink inner tube acting just like a little kid. Business woman…hmmm….I guess anyone can own a business these days. Is this woman serious or just psycho? I’ll see but I’m leaning more towards the latter just to be smart about it.
The sun is hot so sunscreen is a must. I try to once again get that illusive tan and am actually more successful today. Lying on the chaise lounge is relaxing. I am able to wash away my worrisome thoughts and regain focus on things I want to accomplish in my life. And one of them is definitely not getting that stupid bike of mine fixed.
Jack said he had a present for me when I got home from swimming. Like in most cases, I was like “okay, it’s probably something cheap or silly that will probably be gone in a few minutes and I won’t care about it”. But when I popped open Emily’s trunk and saw a medium sized duffel bag, Jack said it was a tent for our camping trip. Well, that’s good. I will not be forced to sleep in the same tent as Charles and mom, which would be a nightmare. We immediately went to getting the tent set up in the yard. It seemed simple at first but then trouble set in. I have never set a tent up before and getting those pesky poles upright to support the tent was difficult but not torture. With a little bit of help from Charles, the bearded man with the know-it-all attitude and technology that could rival the U.S. Government, the tent went up in no time. The result was a 10 by 8 foot tent with enough room for about four to five people, depending on size. Jack and I would have probably been out there longer if it wasn’t for Charles. He helped us fix some mistakes, like the knot in the roof I tied wrong, and gave us advice but I believe I could get the tent up by myself next time. The secret to getting the ruddy thing up was forcing the flexible poles into their foot slots when it felt like they wouldn’t budge anymore. The tent had to be moved left and right and the stakes adjusted in the ground, stretching the tent out.
Of course I wanted to sleep in the tent the first night so that’s exactly what happened, with the addition of Jack. With a few blankets and a small, uncomfortable pillow, along with my phone that I call my extended arm, I made it through my first night under the stars. I have stayed in a tent one other time in my life, up in Cheboygan while on visit to John Wrosch’s sister’s and family’s house. My sisters and I shared it since it was large enough that we didn’t have to sleep right next to each other (which would have been awkward).
It was different back then. I was thirteen and going through the tough sledding of adolescence while going to a school full of hard-knock ghetto kids who would knock you down and make you feel like the most worthless, terrible thing in the world. Now I am twenty-one and free to take on the world as I choose with no one to stand in my way and tell me I cannot do anything.
Okay, I’m being too dramatic. I’m just in a tent outside my house with the ever so talkative, spieling Jack Draffen keeping me company. It’s nice to have someone on my level, though, who I can have a conversation with without them being too overbearing. Jack has always been that way to me, a kind of friend who I can talk to whenever I want without feeling scared. We are probably the biggest goofs when it comes to things like pitching a tent, moving furniture, making a garden, fishing, playing sports, or meeting women. Whatever Jack says I usually listen to and respond with simple answers, even if I am not totally interested. We usually have simple conversations, such as one tonight where he is going on about what we need for our camping trip and the prospect of learning to fish for the first time and if we will even catch anything. He pitches in ideas and I pitch in ideas – like a tandem bicycle working towards the same goal. It’s this kind of bondmanship/team work that makes us a great pair and I would like to see that continue on but I know it will be hard since I want to move on with my life and Jack won’t be here forever. He was actually the first person that I felt comfortable having a good conversation with. Before him, I was usually confined to a shell, occasionally saying a few hellos or asking a question. I have really opened up since then and am better at conversing with anyone in general. I don’t mind Jack stating the obvious, the fact that with every piece of new technology he encounters he needs my expertise to show him how to use it, or that he needs help spelling any word in the English language longer than 4 letters. He has his quirks, like naming objects such as his radio (Chauncey) and his newer radio (Chauncey Jr.). He’s had some of the same problems as I’ve had in life – being trapped in a lonely box with no way out and no one who understands how to help you. Thankfully I got help and found a way out, and it’s been a struggle or failures and successes. From my first day of school to now being an amateur tent-maker I have learned the ropes and have experienced life. There is still a long road unwinding for me and where it takes me I will soon find out. Only I can decide that. Right now though, I am lying on the floor of a tent, listening to the wind and rain pattering the roof, the cars rumbling by, and the sound of water dripping and splattering into the mud pit we call a garden.