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December 2018

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Dear Trevor

(This is a repost from 2004. We at Nippies® no longer have a Guest Book.)
NIPPIES doesn't get a lot of Guest Book entries, although we do get many visitors. This is largely due to the fact that we write about a variety of topics.

Usually, the Guest Book entries are pleasant ones. However, we were surprised to find one the other day from "Trevor". Trevor was very insulting. He said the site was a "joke", and that we should allow the "real journalists" do the writing and reporting of news. He also commented on a typo in our Guest Book section, which we have since fixed.

This is our response to Trevor. There simply wasn't enough room in our Guest Book....

Dear Trevor,

Whatever on earth makes you think that we at NIPPIES consider ourselves to be a journalist of any import? On the very top of our page, it says "not important person". We meant that when we wrote it. We know that, in the scheme of things, we are not important to anyone except our immediate family.

To be technical, a "journalist" is anyone who keeps a journal. This web site is written more in a magazine form- when we have the time. But it can also be considered somewhat of a journal, we suppose. Therefore, we are "real journalists". However, we never take ourselves very seriously. And we never thought anyone would be nominating us for a Pulitzer Prize, Trevor.

That said, we do take offense to the "joke" part. We write about some very serious topics, Trevor. And we write the truth as we see it from our reluctant participation in the rat race. Believe me, Trevor, we are not out there leading the pack. Every month is a struggle to keep from being trampled....

What we really are, and all we ever considered ourselves to be, is a voice. It's important, Trevor, for the little people to have voices. Of course, we cannot, and do not try to, represent every person who is one of the "little people" of this world. There are so many more of us than there are of the big shots. And we are all different. But we all have something in common: we don't have lobbyists out there who are wining and dining our politicians the way the AMA, the ABA, the pharmaceutical industry, and every other powerful organization or corporation does. No, Trevor, we don't have the money for that. But we do have to live with the consequences of what those powerful lobbyists achieve. We, the little people, are workers whose sweat, blood and tears makes the fortunes of the rich and powerful grow.

So, when we can, we speak out. We act. And we write.

We write on behalf of those who struggle monthly to pay for their own health insurance. In the case of many self-employed, that means doling out 1/3 to 1/2 or MORE of all income- BEFORE taxes.

We write on behalf of those who have been injured by a negligent or just plain bad doctor. We know many physicians are good people who are dedicated professionals. But there are also a lot of bad ones, Trevor. And we also know that many are focused far too much on their bottom lines.

We write on behalf of those who dream of owning their own business and achieving the quickly disappearing "American Dream". Disappearing because those days when an unskilled worker could put a little aside to open their own business are now just a memory for most Americans.

We write on behalf of those working poor who don't stand a chance of owning a home because they can't even earn enough, with wages being what they are these days, to pay the rent AND put food on the table, much less save for a down payment.

We write on behalf of little children who are bullied. We write on behalf of those who are waiting for a cure for their rare diseases but have little hope because the pharmaceutical companies are too busy researching more profitable drugs such as the Viagras, the Vioxxs, and what have you.

Writing and speaking out is important. But more importantly, Trevor, we put our actions where our mouth is. We don't just write about society's ills...we try to help correct them.

Right now, Trevor, we are working on other web sites which promote ideals we believe in. We believe in keeping jobs in America, we believe in a living wage, and we believe in helping the small businessman compete with the Wal-Marts. Right now we have two web sites devoted to those causes. They are totally non-profit, Trevor. As a matter of fact, these web sites cost US money each month, Trevor.

We also ran, and devoted a great deal of time and some money to, a web site devoted to keeping Catholic education alive. Funny how the Catholic Church has money to remodel old convents to turn them into profit-making federally funded housing, but can't fork the money out to keep their Catholic schools opened. How they have money to pay out millions in priest sex abuse scandals, but they can't afford to remodel schools that are in need of remodeling, and leave the fundraising to already overtaxed parents.

Much of our day is spent trying to help an old classmate - a struggling artist who spent her best days taking care of her ailing and aged mother - to keep a roof over her head. Her mother died, Trevor, and now she has no income. We haul water to her house daily, Trevor, in our old 92 jalopy because her water has been shut off. She also has no phone, no car, and no heat. And, if she doesn't cough up enough to pay for her electricity, she will soon have no lights. With the cold weather coming, we assume that heat will, too, become a problem. So, when we helped her get a $6.00 per hour job at a mini-market, we also took on the responsibility of getting her back and forth to that job until she can get ahead enough to pay for bus fare.

Sometimes we write, on another web site, about the atrocities committed by our local government officials. We live in a county where corruption is rampant: judges (one judge in particular), mayors, council members, board of supervisors, one particular chief of police, who not only seems to run the town council, but who seems to THINK he owns all the private property in the little township, etc.

We have school boards around here who hand out favors like others do candy at Halloween...but only to their family members and political cronies. It's been an open secret for decades that you have to pay for your teaching job in at least ONE school district not far from where we type.

And, Trevor, sorry to tell you this, but even the newspapers where the "real journalists" work are, er, well, let's just say their publishers are not exactly examples of journalistic integrity. One was caught not allocating newspaper carrier tips to the newspaper carriers. Oops! A "computer glitch", they said. But this powerful publishing empire took nothing more than a little slap on the hand for their "mistake". The other paper? Just as bad. They pick and choose which corrupt politician to put on the hot seat.

Sheesh.

It isn't easy. But we just keep on keepin' on.

No Trevor. This site is no joke. It is very serious in many ways. Amd we know it has been anemic of late. Articles have become fewer and farther between. We apologize for that. But we have been very busy, like the rest of the "have nots" in America, trying to keep our heads above water, and to educate others about what the rich and powerful are up to.

We are just trying to survive, and to help others do the same.

So, Trevor, thank you for your entry into our Guest Book. We are sorry that we offended you in some way, if that is the reason for your hostility. And we suspect it is. But we will keep on writing and keep on voicing our opinion, even if it is done in what you consider to be an inferior fashion. Because that is the beauty of living in America.

Have a great day, Trevor. And thanks for writing.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As a Baby Boomer with a late-in-life Millennial child, I am growing fearful...very.

FRACTURED AMERICA
The internet has forever changed our lives.
Here is one family's story.

- by Maggie H.

I was a mother for the first time ate age 29, and for the second (and last time) at age 39. My childen were, at the time, and still are, the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

But the difference between raising my first child, a son, and the second child, a girl, has been enormous. The first child was raised, until age 14, without social media or the internet available to him. Oh, not that we didn't want the internet (then referred to as the "world wide web") to come into our home. We did. We were, more or less, pioneers in home computer ownership: by late 1991, we'd already owned three Radio Shack (don't laugh) "laptops" and a desk top, which we drove to New York to purchase.

Our son was still kindergarten, and years away from using computers.
Our "Millennial" daughter was years from being born.

We bought these dinosaurs to help us with our business - my husband is self-employed as an entertainer. I spent hundreds of hours programming and "formatting" themm(a term I didn't then, and still do not, completely understand.) And, even though these "machines" cost a combined $9000.00, financed, they did next to nothing for us. And what they did do was s...l....o....w...!

And so, for most of the latter nineties, while making monthly payments for our mistakes - we returned to doing business the old fashioned way: via paper publications and the U.S. mail. We relied on publications such as "The Ross Report" - a show business audition publication. Progress was made at a snail's pace, many costly, false leads occurred.

After a few years, we finally paid off the "machines" and these things were tossed on the dust heap. But one day around 1996 our son, then about age 12, began asking for a new computer. He went to a private school, and "everyone has one, Mom." And they probably did. But we kept refusing, remembering how useless, and expensive, the first three had been.

Then, when our oldest was 14 and in junior high, we went to the public library so he could do some homework/research on their computer and print out some information. I was in the children's Reading Room with "the baby", now four and in nursery school, when my son came in and handed something interesting: a print-out of information on our main business rival, complete with his photo. It was upsetting to discover that the competitor had an online presence and we did not.

I went home that night and told my husband and business partner it was time to get back into computers. The nature of his business (entertainer) meant he was out working most nights until 3 or 4am. Getting known nationally meant he could travel to choicer and more lucrative bookings on the weekend, and be home during the week. That meant more time as a family, to attend school and sports events for our daughter - something he' missed out on for our son. Heaven! Or, at least, that was what I thought at the time.

Within days we were on our way to the nearest "big town" to make our (life-changing, as it turned out to be) purchase of a desktop at Circuit City. But first we stopped at McDonald's for supper. I remember sitting in a window booth with our "family of four", as my son like to call us, eating a hamburger and anticipating how exciting our world was about to become. Since the library epiphany, I'd done my fair share of research (through word of mouth). It didn't take long before we made our decision and headed home with three cartons (keyboard, motherboard and monitor) and high expectations. We were so excited.

What was the computer like? I found an old commercial for Circuit City Computer Expo '98. The computers were 300 MHz, or something like what is featured in this commercial:
Circuit City '98 Expo

And so it began.

Within months, I had learned how to network. I found a man online who offered, for a modest fee, to put together a website for our business. Months later, I learned our new webmaster worked for, and was loyal to, our main business rival. "Joe I" charged us over $200.00, then created a website which made my husband appear to be 5 foot zero and 300 pounds - not cool when you are in show business in any role except that of a comedien. Joe also used purple text on a blue background, making the page almost impossible to read. (Thanks, Joe.) More research led us to another webmaster, or I should say, webmistress, who worked hard for us at first, but later wanted to charge far too much for updates, which were necessary to remain competitive. It was clear to me that I had to learn how to create and maintain the website myself. Off to work I went, learning how to put together a starter page and how to get it "out there".

I discovered the top search engines at the time (1998): Excite! was big, as was Web Crawler, Lycos, Alta Vista, and Infoseek. I submitted our new, crude one page website to all of them. GOOGLE was just being launched.

My free time, between delivering newspapers and working on the other aspects of our business, were spent learning how to do HTML so I could build a competitive and attractive page. Meanwhile, our son quickly joined Myspace.com, and disappeared into our new office - a cubbyhole of a room where the desktop computer was kept - every day after school. He cruised Ebaum's World, updated his Myspace.com daily, and downloaded music. But, now being 14 and having lived without a computer for all of his formative years, he had other interests. After an hour or so, he'd disappear into his room to practice guiter, study, read or draw.

The next seven years were spent in a haze of learning and creating. I learned enough HTML to be equal with most self-taught webmasters. I continued to assist my husband in his business, both online and off. I created websites using domain names I'd purchased during the "domain name gold rush". Nippies.com was one of them. I continued to work part time delivering newspapers each and every morning. I worked hard at keeping the house clean and being the best wife I could - often going with little or no sleep. The internet soaked up a ton of my time an took a ton of time away from my family.

In hindsight, I don't think it was worth it.

I regret that too many nights my very young daughter fell asleep waiting for me to finish up my computer and other work. My heart breaks now to remember how often I found her asleep on the couch after she'd waited for hours to watch something on television with her. I cannot get those hours back. And, in the end, I realize I was on a hamster wheel: the rewards did not equal the effort put forth.

By 2005, after spending seven years largely enslaved to mastering html and computer navigation, along with other business related duties, I woke up one morning to find my daughter was a pre-teen who was hooked on social media and my son was heading toward his 21st birthday as a college drop-out after two years.

The dream of more family time - vanished. Our website got my husband playing at at Del Webb's Sun City near Phoenix. There he connected to two women, who had just met that day, who were in the audience. Woman A was large and agressive, and, we later found out, very unhappily married. Woman B was smaller, and her husband was dying. Woman A and Woman B forged a fast friendship that day.

The first batch came ten or so months after that first meeting in Phoenix. A large box filled with gifts for my husband arrived: expensive leather pants, cologne, etc. Also included were one gift each for myself and each of our children. Despite the fact that Woman A had signed Woman B's name along with her own, I knew, by know, who was the driving force behind this campaign: Woman A. My suspicions were validated when Woman A left her husband shortly after that Christmas, moved in with the now widowed Woman B (a naive woman who was more than willing to use her late husband's insurance money to payroll living expenses), and showed up thousands of miles from her AZ home to attend my husband's week long booking at an Oklahoma Holiday Inn.

I was no longer quiet about how inappropriate all this appeared to be. But my husband dismissed my discomfort as irrational jealousy. After all, he assured me, look at her (Woman A). She was large, very overweight, and most would judge her as very unattractive. But my intuition was flashing red, and it turned out I was right.

Eventually emails disappeared, and phone calls "to check in with each other became the norm. This meant there was more privacy between the two. Woman A was most concerned that his talent was being wasted in our neck of the woods. She began to plant the seed in his head that, until you played the West Coast, you were not a national act. And, unbeknownst to me, she and her new best friend began to look for regular work at a theater near their shared apartment in Phoeni.

It did not.

Instead, our busiess ended making far less because of flight costs to and from PHX (Sky Harbor International Airport), living expenses, transportation expenses (the groupie left her husband, moved close to the theater where my husband now worked two weeks a month, and drove him back and forth to work...and we paid for her expenses), etc. All this added up dollar wise, but the cost we as a family paid was far, far more expensive.


To be continued...

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