One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard came from a throwaway comment by a friend I’ve known for nearly two decades but only recently got to know on a more than a superficial level. I don’t even remember what prompted the remark but it was solid. She said:

“Stop being so hard on yourself”

If being hard on oneself were an Olympic event, I would be a repeat gold medal winner. The Michael Phelps of that event. It seems I’m always playing back old memories on my Pensieve in HDTV-esque quality where I relive every mistake, mishap, and faux pas of my 20s and 30s and even last Tuesday.

Because sometimes, despite your best efforts, things just don’t happen — you could have been in the right place at the right time but weren’t, or you were and you didn’t capitalize on the moment. Things happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason is dumb fucking luck.

Just like the ghosts in The Sixth Sense, people don’t realize how hard they are being on themselves. That’s right, I’m using a 17-year-old movie as a way to bind an analogy.

“I’m not saying you can’t think about your tax bill or your leaky faucet. I’m saying you can’t let these things, which you consider negative, dominate your thoughts. Of course you have to think about them. You need to give them the time and attention they deserve so you can address them and fix them, but once you’ve made as much progress as you can toward solving the issue at hand at a particular point in time, then, when no further forward progress can be made, you should redirect your thoughts to something else. Keeping your focus on your worries, all the negative situations over which you have no control, or which you cannot control at the moment, will only attract more negativity to them and therefore to you. It’s the law of attraction. The law of creation.” Down at the Golden Coin by Kim Strickland

Instead of being so hard on yourself, you have to learn to be where you are, and be okay with that.

So the next time you are at a dinner party and someone says starts beating up on themselves, say to them: “Hey stop being so hard on yourself!”

And be sure to give them the link to this post. That’s how dinner parties work, right? I don’t get invited to many.

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Getting It Off Your Chest, Life Lessons, OutSourcing Ordeals, Uncategorized

Groupon Customer Support Fail

The other day my wife sent me an email with a link to a Groupon Deal.  This deal was only available for customers who receive the promotional email directly from Groupon.  However, after purchasing the deal, Groupon prompted my wife to share the deal via email with her friends, hence her forwarding it to me.

I tried to access the deal and got the message about it only being for the chosen people, not the unwashed masses like myself.  But I thought I’d reach out to Customer Support just to check.   I explained what had happened as described above.

A few hours later I got the “but sir, you cannot purchase this deal unless God Groupon emails it directly to you.”  So I asked why they asked people to share the deal after they purchased it instead of disabling this feature.

A few days later I got this response:

Hi Michael,

Sorry for the trouble. This deal is only available for customers who receive the promotional email directly from Groupon. If you are trying to purchase the deal using a different account you will not be able to do so. If you did receive the promotional email, please be sure to use that same email address when making the purchase. Our apologies for any confusion.

If you have any further questions regarding this deal, please let me know! To expedite your request, please include or forward the original email you received.

[name redacted by me]
Groupon Customer Support.

And then to add insult to cluelessness, they sent me a follow up “How would you rate the support you received”email.  I’ll give you three guesses how I filled it out and the first two don’t count!

At first glance it looks like a failure to communicate.  They are not understanding that my use case is different from the one their explanation applies.  But what’s really happening is Groupon likely gets so many support issues that they cannot take the time to parse through each one.  So they have some program that is probably picking up on keywords and spiting out scripted responses.

Either that or they have outsourced their support to someone who doesn’t quite understand English whose only job is to follow rules, stick to the script and leverage the experience and expertise that are embedded in the system.

Here’s the thing.  I can live without $10 off already cheap pizza, but I cut my teeth in Tech Support and cannot stand crappy customer service.  DO BETTER GROUPON!


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Dark Matters, Life Hacks, Life Lessons

When you go from living Paycheck-to-Paycheck to Credit Card Cycle to Credit Card Cycle

Today is the closing date for my main credit card.  That means I start a fresh cycle and have already racked up $380 in charges for things I put off paying for until today.  That doesn’t include the $105 I spent on my belated Father’s Day present yesterday…I had to pull the trigger and purchase yesterday because it was on one of those One Sale per Day sites.

Frozen Pizza

What you eat when you are poor

In my days of living paycheck-to-paycheck I would often play my special brand of  Credit Card Roulette, where you charge everything on one card one month, then a different card the next, paying off the previous card.  This kicked the expense down the road but never really resolved it.  You’d tell yourself that you wouldn’t spend as much the next month, but when your only expenses are food, rent and utilities, it’s kinda hard to cut back.  Oftentimes I would have to float a balance and pay interest.

My wife and I treat money slightly differently.  She absolutely abhors carrying a balance on her credit card and paying even a minute amount of interest.  I on the other hand, will pay interest to float a balance on a credit card rather than disperse large amounts of money from my bank account.  I might be “throwing away” money in interest payments but I believe that the credit card companies reward me with a better FICO score.  [Oh no wait,  that’s because I’m an old, straight, white guy.]

Fresh Vegetables and real meat

What you eat when you are less poor

The reasons for this are probably enough to keep a therapist in business for years, but my inner armchair psychologist says it’s because I have always gone through life without much of a safety net.  I came from a poor family and I didn’t get a good paying job right out of college.  I’m one of the very few “rags to slightly better rags” tales I know of.  I climbed the socio-economic ladder in sprints rather than steady strides, which means I struggled for years before making even decent coin.

The thing about being poor once upon a time is that you never feel like that time is over or very far away.  I always feel like I’m two unfortunate events and one bad decision away from being back to being broke.   So I pay a little interest because I figure if push comes to shove, and I have to choose between paying rent and paying my credit cards, I can always defer the cards until I have to declare bankruptcy.


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A few years ago, I decided to take a crack at fixing the gate between my deck and the side fence in my yard.   I didn’t understand why the previous owner had a gate there.  Now that I have children, I completely understand the need.  Alas, my attempt in 2014 sucked and I left it open until the rugrats arrived, then i just used a kiddie gate.  But the weather has not been kind to it, and it wasn’t very practical in terms of being able to access the water hose.  So I tried again.


So far it seems to have done the trick.  The new gate is better looking and more functional than the previous kiddie gate.

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DIY, Life Hacks, Parent of Twins

How to Repurpose a Crib Rail into a Gate