Find something more important than you are, and dedicate your life to it.

sat940memeIt’s a well known fact that American colleges don’t teach applicable job skills. You won’t learn much in college that you’ll actually use in your real life. As pledging, beer pong and meaningless sexual escapades fade into boredom and you mature from late adolescence into true adulthood, you’ll begin to figure out that college is pretty much a waste of time. You’ll confer with like-minded individuals who think they’ve figured everything out, and then trek on down to your guidance office where you’ll consider changing your major for the fourth or fifth time to something slightly less laborious so you can enjoy what’s left of your college experience before the inevitable real world smackdown. And why not? Everyone else is doing it. Besides, you’ll end up in some entry-level job where they’ll teach you everything they’d teach a high schooler. As long as you’ve got that paper, you’re golden, right?

Wrong.

Human resource-types are instructed to view your college experience as a qualifier. They know there’s a certain attrition to college and the more difficult degrees. That’s why the higher-paying careers search out those more complex degrees. It’s not that your advanced calculus or biochemistry classes have taught you useful job skills – every complex formula you’ll ever need to crunch has been in a computer program for at least a decade. It’s that you had the work ethic and personality trait to complete your required courses. Hiring professionals realize quite well that those who can stick it out and pass their useless math and science classes are better suited to conform to a typical corporate environment, and are more apt to work harder and be more dedicated employees.

That’s right – you’re being gamed. Make the wrong moves, and you’ve just wasted four years of your life and thousands of dollars you could have earned in your new photo processing or window-dressing career.

There are widely known statistics describing which majors are worthwhile that you’re genius major-changing peers probably didn’t bother looking up. According to a new report from researchers at Georgetown University, although the unemployment rate for recent college graduates stood at 7.5 percent in 2012, not all majors gave students an equal chance of finding work. Just 5.1 percent of elementary education majors, 4.8 percent of nursing majors and 4.5 percent of chemistry majors were unemployed after graduating. Compared with those graduates, architecture or social sciences degrees were about twice as likely to be unemployed, with a whopping 10 percent unable to find a job. And for those who failed to get a college degree, about 18 percent were unemployed. And those unemployment rates don’t measure underemployment – just because you’ve secured a job doesn’t mean it’s a good job. Things are even rosier for those who stick it out and earn graduate degrees, especially in the hard sciences.

But wait – there’s more. If money’s what you’re after, the college you graduate from has a huge bearing on your starting salary. Elite military and tech schools send graduates out into the workforce with some of the country’s highest early-career salaries, according to a new report by PayScale. Graduates of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis earn a median annual salary of more than $80,000 over their first five years, the most of any school included in PayScale’s report. Graduates of Harvey Mudd, a liberal arts college that specializes in mathematics and the physical sciences, earn just under $76,000. Graduates of West Point and CalTech earn just over $75,000. Rounding out the top 5 is M.I.T. at just over $70,000. Ironically, Ivy League starting salaries were significantly lower. It appears that technical abilities are highly valued among recent graduates, potentially explaining why a California Institute of Technology graduate with an engineering degree will likely be better compensated than a Harvard graduate with an English degreeDoes it mean that CalTech kid is smarter or better educated than you? Not necessarily. But some well-connected HR non-genius somewhere certainly thinks so, and that’s the game you’ll be forced to play.

There’s one more thing to add to the confusion – the market is changing daily. Outsourcing, automation, and advances in technology will create an entirely different job scenario four years after you began college. According to a recent report by The American Staffing Association, here’s a list of the top 10 jobs going unfilled. Remember – that’s today. In 2016, this undoubtedly will be an entirely different scenario:

  1. Occupational therapists
  2. Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer
  3. Psychiatrists
  4. Occupational therapy assistants
  5. Photographic process workers and processing machine operators
  6. Physical therapists
  7. Speech-language pathologists
  8. Forest and conservation technicians
  9. Internists, general
  10. Merchandise displayers and window trimmers

Some of today’s unfilled jobs are comical. A photographic process worker, whatever that antiquated position that might be, has got to be the top of the dead-end job list. Truck drivers will be obsolete by 2020, replaced by automated driving technology that won’t fall asleep at the wheel and require medical benefits. And don’t get your hopes up in becoming a celebrity window trimmer, because Amazon.com won’t ever need windows trimmed. However, the list does include several well-paid medical professions that won’t be outsourced or automated anytime soon. But those jobs require the harder majors. Yes, that’s math and science. Becoming an occupational or physical therapist now requires a hybrid medical degree that’s almost as difficult as becoming a doctor. The long-term earning potential and job security is exponentially better than an easier job and a cheesy degree.

Look, it’s your life. Freedom affords you the right to do whatever you want. Fortunately, there’s a safety net of unemployment, welfare, and food stamps. Some people have no problem living in a box, tent, trailer, or roach-infested Section 8 housing with like-minded fools. If your daddy is uber-wealthy and well connected, then I suppose you can do whatever floats your boat. My kids don’t have that luxury. If you’re really hot, I’m talking model hot, you might score a sugar daddy (or momma), and you can stay at home sipping Martinis while advancing your melanoma by your oceanfront pool. Statistically, that probably isn’t going to happen.

The big picture is controlled by people who think they’re smarter than you, and they’re steering this crazy world. If you don’t have a trust fund, then you’re in the game like the rest of us. I know your head is racing and your brain is screaming PARTY PARTY PARTY! But it’s so temporary. And in the grand scheme of life, you’ll forget those four useless years faster than you can blink, but you’ll regret it forever. Do yourself a huge favor that will make your entire life better. Play by the rules, do the right thing, and work hard for four short years of your life. I always tell my kids it’s better to work hard for four years so you can party for the next sixty, rather than party for four and suffer later. Trust me, the former is so much better.

Redneckin.


A few years back, I was cornered by some guy at a kid’s party. Honestly, I forget his name. I want to say George, Paul, John or maybe Ringo, but I don’t remember. I must admit I am occasionally introverted. It’s kind of a learned thing. The only thing I hate more than parties is being forced to small-talk with party people. And especially with men. It seems to always end in a stream of narcissistic chest-thumping banter that I can’t help but mute. This time was no different, but I decided to follow through and see where this particular guy was going. I patiently listened as he described his thriving blue-collar business, his investments, his home, and his prized possession, his brand new Ford F-150. It had custom racing stripes. I suppose you never know when you’ll be forced to race your pick-up truck, and stripes must have some sort of special powers that make it faster.

“So, you into boxing?” he asked in his dull, monotone, nasal southern drawl. He removed his camo baseball cap to wipe the sweat from his bald head. I remembered I had just shaken his hand and sneakily wiped it on the back of my pants. “Not really,” I replied as politely as I could. He nodded and took another sip of his Bud Light. “How about huntin? You do any huntin?” At this point, I knew our conversation wasn’t going anywhere. But I wanted to see what he was made of. “No, sir, I’m really not into beating people senseless, or killing animals for sport. Just seems kind of brutal. Humans haven’t needed to hunt for food in over sixty years, so I don’t see the point. I’ve gone fishing once or twice, but we actually ate what we caught.” He nodded again, but I could see signs of concern on his brow. Kind of like, what the fuck is wrong with this guy? I didn’t really give a shit what he thought, but I was concerned with his interests from a parental standpoint. His son was palling around with mine, and was already talking about going out on his four-wheeler and shooting shit. I took a deep breath. “I follow a little football, but professional only. I work out at my home gym, I go mountain biking once in a while, and I zipline at the local zoo every weekend. Otherwise, I’m usually working on a book or something.” I knew he’d disapprove in my life choices. I could see it in his beady eyes.

“Hmm,” was all he could manage. “I bet you voted for that Obama too. No, no, I’m just kiddin.” He wasn’t. Now this smug bastard’s true colors were beginning to show. I really wanted to engage this sonofabitch in a lively racial and political discussion that would reduce him to a micropenis, but I bit my tongue and racked my brain for an excuse to grab my kid and leave the party.

It wasn’t just John Paul George Ringo who seemed to have this adverse attitude. It seemed more than half my small town was filled with these small minded idiots. It’s not that they’re dumb people – many of them are well-paid engineers at some of the leading aerospace companies and defense contractors in the world. But even smart people make dumb choices. C’mon, boxing? Killing deer for sport? What’s the point? Why not use that brain? Enter a robotics contest. How about inventing or building something useful, instead of propping up your gun collection in case the zombie apocalypse hits tomorrow?

He, and his redneck brethren, can’t help being what’s collectively and wrongly called conservative. It’s the way they were brought up. You see, their daddy’s granddaddies were given land by some other rich white guy many years back, who probably took ownership of his stolen Native American land from an appointed governor. Many of these rednecks have always known some sort of material wealth, so they’ve never had to fight to earn like the rest of us who have normal-colored necks. They assume it’s their God-given right to have what they have, and you weren’t meant to have anything. I believe they box and hunt out of boredom. And they pass this mindset and its inherent boredom to the next generation. Hence, a kid’s dad who disapproves of President Obama because of the color of his skin, and anyone who doesn’t hurt people or kill innocent deer. That was the last thing I wanted my kid to become.

I excused myself to find the bathroom, and we rudely hightailed out of that party. My son didn’t know any different. I disallowed any weekend getaway invitations with that kid and his family, always coming up with an alternate plan of something I supposedly had already planned. Believe me, that was exhausting. Eventually they stopped asking.

Who knows. Maybe I’m some sort of racist against camouflage-laden dudes with red necks. I’d like to think society has a better chance of advancing from our adolescence if we stop beating each other up and killing things to support our ego. But what do I know. I’ll just crawl back in my office now.

Do nothings.

Hi. I'm Bob. I don't do dick for a living, but I make six figures.
Hi. I’m Bob. I don’t do dick for a living, but I make six figures.

I used to love, love, LOVE Career Day in school. There were few places you could garner real world experiences from those who were actually in the trenches. Back in the day, I remember chatting with an anesthesiologist, an electrical engineer, a truck driver, a baker, a television producer, and for whatever reason, several attorneys. I really wanted to be an attorney and I was on my way — until the brain in my other head decided he was more powerful than my real brain. Nine months later, life got in the way, and that was that. Ironically, during a heated argument several years into child support payments, “life” informed me that my offspring might not be my biological offspring. What was important was that these people had real jobs and real life experience, and we were allowed to ask them anything. I’d hit the library (remember those?) the night before and come up with some doosies. My fellow students would sit back and enjoy my third degree. I think the parents did too.

A few decades later, it was my turn to be one of the grillees. Similar to one of my idols, Wayne Campbell, I too have a vast collection of hairnets and name tags. But I was asked to speak about my main gig, which I cannot disclose at this time to maintain a certain level of anonymity for my kids and still corporate-chained wife. C’mon – who names a kid Miso? I had an entire shpiel planned that was sure to get my son’s classmates laughing and elicit dirty looks from his teachers. If you’re one of the five or so people who have been following this blog, you know I only have the best intentions, so lighten up. But I wasn’t the star of this show — the other parents stole the spotlight long before I had the chance.

The first guy up was Mr. Juan Abee Sportster. He opened his laptop and played a YouTube video of some basketball player for a minute or so. Then, he pulled out a wad of cash as he explained what he did for a living. Apparently, you can now earn a whole lot of money playing fantasy versions of your favorite sport. The best part is you don’t have to worry about being injured, or even breaking a sweat. This wealthy basketball superstar stood about 5’6″ and must have weighed 280 easy. He specializes in a game called Fan Duel, and told us he’s earned as much as $16,000 in one day. I vocally posited that it was gambling, and perhaps not the best example for young minds. He vehemently corrected me, noting that he received a 1099-MISC for his earnings, and that it was most certainly a skill-based endeavour. Excuse me. Those kids were in love with this guy. We later found out his wife was a physical therapist, which explained how he was able to play the unemployable gambling house husband.

Next up was Ms. Daisy Trader. She was quite boring and fairly taciturn, droning on in her well-rehearsed monotone speech that explained how the financial markets ebb and flow, and how she attempts to make money by buying and selling other people’s, um, money. She mentioned some crazy cockamamie thousand dollar program that told her what to buy and when to sell. I mentioned that unless she was the only person who had that cockamamie thousand dollar program, thousands of other people may be making the same exact cockamamie trades she was. She defended her purchase by informing me that only the people smart enough to buy such cockamaminess would benefit from the program, and only they would do well. Since she didn’t seem so bright, I thought I might be able to learn a thing or too from her. I desperately wanted to ask her where she got her money to trade in the first place, but my offspring gave me a dirty look and shook his head no.

Finally, there was Notso Real Broker, a forty-something mother who obviously had some work done on her face, and, well, probably towards her chesticles too. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt thinking she forgot she was slated to speak that day, so I’m sure the adolescent boys all looked past her low-cut bright-ass fuschia hoochie mama top and watched her eyes as she spoke, like I tried to do. Ms. Broker’s job was to watch over her team of professional real estate sales ladies, step in whenever necessary to strongarm a deal, and collect half of their three to six percent commissions for doing, well, not much of anything. She bragged that there were ample opportunities for some of the girls in the audience to become money-burning earners just like her. I thought that was a trifle bit sexist, but what do I know. The misandrists at Time and Huffington would love that ho.

Then it was my turn. But my spirit was completely broken by then. How was I to compete with three apparently successful professionals who do nothing for a living? Is this the new world we’re ushering? An economy that generates money out of thin air with no measurable product or service? How can that possibly sustain for any length of time? And all the great advice I’ve been drilling into my kids’ heads since they were old enough to hear — you know, about pursuing a worthwhile degree at a good college to they can secure a rewarding career — was that all for naught? Should I instead be telling them not to worry, because they too can make money doing nothing? I sidelined my jokes and muddled through as best I could. When it came time for Q&A, I casually slipped out of the room for a moment to speak with the teacher who organized the event. I asked if she thought these were the best examples for her very malleable-minded students. Her response was pretty much “They were all I could get. No one else could get out of work.”

Adapt or die, I guess. I think it’s time to quell Career Day.

How to choose a new home. Or, how NOT to choose a new home.

I’ve moved. A lot. My neighbors now call me “New Every Two.” And I’m planning to move again. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because I can.
  2. Location is a choice, and life is way too short to stay in a crappy situation.
For sale by owner. Quick.
For sale by owner. Quick.

Here’s the thing. Neighborhoods change. Sometimes for the better, but more often for the worse. If you’re gifted with psychic abilities, the power of foresight, or even better, a smidgen of common sense, you’ll know when it’s time to pop that FOR SALE sign in your front yard.

Take my neighborhood for example. When we built our new home, it was wonderful. There’s nothing like the smell of builder foliage. Everything is neatly manicured, things are clean, and people are orderly because they care. When you spend ten times your annual salary on a bunch of concrete blocks and two by fours, you tend to care. For a little while. Until the luster fades. Then the bushes get bushy. The trees begin to look unkempt. The lawn weeds up and goes without mowing for a week or two here and there. The unused pool now has an interesting 50 shades of jade. We’re about four years into this neighborhood, and the signs of neglect are finally starting to show.  A few homes have already changed hands. We’re typically new every two, but the school thing had us locked in a little longer this time.

The other thing to watch for is the youngsters. Our hood was crawling with toddlers and pre-adolescents four years ago. It was cute seeing the little monsters run around and giggle in the cul-de-sac. Now, many of them are migrating into pre-adolescence and full-blown teens. Basketball hoops are beginning to show up in driveways. The playground is showing signs of wear and neglect. Mailboxes are mysteriously becoming damaged by children illegally driving golf carts in the wee hours of the morning. There are occasional high school parties which require police intervention when a certain family’s “professional” parents happen to travel simultaneously. Kids are great when they’re young, but as we all know, they typically become not-so-great shortly thereafter. And especially in a society that has removed any sense of teeth from discipline. Shoot, a woman called DCS yesterday because her neighbor was yelling at her children in the driveway. And she bragged about it on Facebook.

In some upscale neighborhoods, I’ve witnessed something I call neighborhood attrition set in. The original, older, more conscientious owners pass away, leaving their homes to their spoiled narcissistic children rather than the close friend or neighbor who routinely helped with chores, provided free meals, and wiped their ass for a decade. Man, I sure as hell won’t do that again. Sorry, world. The old-school guys were great. Many of them were directly responsible for defending our nation against Japan or Korea, and others did a fabulous job staging our nation’s first pioneers on the moon. They lived sparingly and saved every penny they could for a rainy day. But their children were neglected, perhaps due to the long hours and parental absenteeism. It’s uncanny how many of those boomers are complete disasters. It’s probably a Florida thing, as I stare at the unemployed shirtless pot-smoking fifty-something next door who just traded his dead dad’s Cadillac in for a Corvette. That SOB just hit the lottery.

When looking for a new home, in addition to property values, good schools, and this, that, and whatever other thing your overzealous real estate professional is lying about, it’s not the color of skin or last year’s adjusted gross income you should be worried about. That’s not what really matters, not to mention that it’s technically illegal for a real estate professional to share that sort of information. These are the easy to spot identifiers that are sure-fire indicatorsrs of trouble to come. Avoid any and all at all costs.

  1. Basketball hoops in driveways. A sign of adolescent males who spend an inordinate amount of time outside, most likely unsupervised. Expect loud noise, screaming, and rampant profanity especially late in the evening.
  2. Playground atrophy. The kids are too old to use it, and the homeowners don’t seem to care. Guess what else they don’t care about? Your property value.
  3. Landscape putrefaction. If parents don’t have time to tend to the landscaping, how are they going to have time to raise responsible adults? This may also indicate a disproportionate amount of foreclosures.
  4. Automotive malfeasance. Look for older cars parked on the street or in driveways with windows that are a little too dark, wheels that are a little too big, stereos that are a little too loud, and engines that sound a little too much like lawnmowers. Someone’s parent probably purchased that POS, so you can assume there’s bad judgment all around that household.
  5. Teens in golf carts. In our neighborhood, you supposedly have to be 14 to drive a six thousand dollar golf cart. Since there’s no golf course in our hood, I fail to see the necessity for golf carts. We’ve seen two-seater golf carts filled with at least six teens throwing beer bottles off the back after a party one night. Nothing but entitled trouble, which is in many cases, worse than ghetto trouble. I’ve lived both troubles, so you gotta trust me on this one.

There’s my advice. Hopefully, you’ll find a home in a neighborhood that will alleviate your stress and foster happiness for years to come. Me? We’re looking for an apartment for the next two to three years, and then we’re retiring in an RV. How cool would it be to be able to move your home at will? I’m sure there are downsides to that too. But at this point, anything beats those assmunch teenagers.