Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: working for a living

Starting a new phase in life

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I feel like I am starting a new phase in life. Here I am at 46 years old (almost 47), finished paying my child support almost a year ago and starting a new career. Is this how life is supposed to work?

When I finished high school in 1986 my fiance’s grandfather helped me get a job at a welding shop in southeast Texas.  The pay was pretty bad, but at least I was learning something.  From 1986 – 1999 I bounced around various welding shops hoping the pay and benefits would get better, but they never did.

1995 I went to Lamar College in Port Arthur for a degree in computer information systems.  Working a full time job, being a parent, being a husband and going to college takes dedication.

1999 – 2000 my life fell apart.  I lost my job due to the company making poor decisions.  It sure is funny how the CEO make make terrible decisions and everyone else has to pay the price.  Then in 2000 my wife of 14 years filed for divorce.  In all honesty I was tired of her screaming, fit-throwing and refusing to control her spending.  In the long run divorcing her was probably the best thing that happened to me.  But it would take years to make progress in my life.

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Starting a new career

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A few months ago a buddy of mine and I were talking about life, jobs, careers when I mentioned I was tired of the 8 – 5 grind. I expressed how tired I was of doing the same thing day after day. My buddy suggested a look into getting a job in the tugboat industry. You live on the boat, have chances for upward mobility, experience opens some rewarding career paths.

I got my TWIC card and physical then sent off for my Merchant Mariner Credential.

Then came the bad news, jobs in the tugboat industry are highly sought after. Being entry level makes things that much worse. Like all other industries tug companies want to high people with experience.

After 6 months of looking I was lucky to find an outfit willing to give me a chance.

I am 46 years old. I have at least another 20 years before I retire. This gives me enough time for another career and enough time to make some money before retirement.

This is a random video of a tugboat.  What tands out is at around 3 minutes into the video the sun goes down, then you see the lights of the tug against the city lights, with the American flag flying high.

Looking for a career change

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For the past 9 years I have been stuck at an office job working on computer related stuff. Just the typical stuff like unlocking users accounts, maintaining the company website, trouble shooting VPNs, just your usual tech related stuff.

When I was going to college I would have never guessed tech related stuff would suck so bad.

From 1986 to 1999 and again in 2003 – 2005 I worked in welding shops across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. The pay and benefits were pretty bad. But at least at the end of the day I had something to show for my hard work. Whether it was fitting a 2:1 elliptical head on a pressure vessel or heat exchanger, building some nozzles, fitting a pass plate, building a shell cover or floating head,,,, there was something at the end of the day to see. Being able to see your work at the end of the day creates a sense of accomplishment.

With tech related work there is nothing to see at the end of the day. Not being able to see your completed work decreases job satisfaction. Job satisfaction finally reaches a point were you ask yourself, what am I doing here? What am I doing with my life? When I retire what kind of stories am I going to tell my grandkids?

For the past 3 months I have been applying for a tugboat deckhand position. I want to get outside and do something besides sit at a desk all day long.

When my kid were growing up I wanted a job where I was home everyday. I just could not imagine leaving my family for a week or more at a time. Now that my kids are grown it is time to do something for myself. It is time for something new, something where I get some kind of job satisfaction again.

I got my TWIC and Merchant Mariner Credential. Now it is just a matter of applying until I land a job.

The State Of Social Security Disability

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Do you want to know how bad things are? Do you “really” want to know? Chances are, if you pass your time watching sports rather then watching the news, or reading gossip websites rather then reading news websites, you probably do not want to read this article.

Since 2009, an average of 150,000 jobs are created every month inside the United States.

During that same time, an average of 250,000 people apply for Social Security Disability every month.Kevin Felts blogger and survivalist

In other words, 100,000 more people apply for social security disability every month over those that find a job.

Around 14 million people currently draw Social Security disability.

Source14 Million Americans Don’t Work Due To Disability, And The Number Is Growing

The system is broken. 100,000 more people file for SS disability rather then find a job every month. It is just a matter of time before the financial system collapses.

It is impossible for 150,000 workers to support 250,000 people on disability, and that is the direction we are headed.

As long as the Federal Reserve can print money out of thin air, everything will be ok.

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US Economy Shrank 0.1 Percent In Last Quarter 2012

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Surprise, surprise, surprise, the US economy shrank 0.1% in the last quarter of 2012. That 0.1% may not seem like a lot, but the real story its much worse then 0.1%.

Take these factors into consideration:

The economy shrank during the biggest spending time of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. If the economy shrank during Christmas, that says people do not have expendable income.Kevin Felts, blogger and survivalist

The economy shrank during one of the biggest panic buying phases in the firearms industry since the 1994 assault rifle ban.

Not only were people spending money on Christmas, but they were also buying all the guns, ammunition and magazines they could get their hands on,,,, and the economy still shrank.

One thing that caused a slowdown in the economy was a reduction in military spending.  The question I have to ask, why does government spending play such an important roll in the economy?  Maybe the government does not want the people to know how bad the economy really is?

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I Believed The Lie

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This is another one of my welding sucks articles. If you do not want to read about how bad it is to work in a fabrication shop in southeast Texas, just move along.

When I was growing up I was told that if you did a good job, your efforts would be recognized and you would be rewarded for your hard work.

I now know that is a lie.

The lie of “work hard in the hopes your employer gives you a raise” is a wage slave mentality. By working hard you set aside your own standards and adopt the standards someone else has set for you. Do you want to live life the way you want, or the way someone else wants?

“If I weld that nozzle and don’t bust an x-ray, then I will get a raise”,,, is a slave mindset. If I just do this, or if I just do that, then the owner of the company will be happy, and I will get some scraps from his table. Sounds more like the life of a dog rather then the life of a free man.

When I was working in the various welding shops around southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, I would look at my pay check in disgust. I busted my ass, did a good job, and was rewarded with barely above poverty wages on 40 hours a week. How is someone supposed to buy a home, buy a car, have kids,,, on less then $25k a year? To listen to the weld shop owners, the employees should be proud to work in dangerous and dirty conditions of barely above poverty wages.

What I regret most about my career is:

1 – Believing the lie

2 – Going into the welding field

3 – Staying in the welding field

My first job at a welding shop was in 1986.  It took me from 1986 – 1995 to finally admit that welding sucked and I needed to get a new career path.  In 1995 I started going to Lamar College in Port Arthur Texas.

Now that I am out of the welding field I am free to express my frustration without the worry of getting blackballed.

I was once told that if an employee spoke up, the various welding companies would agree not to hire him, thus condemning the worker and his family to poverty.  Or, the worker would be forced out of the welding field.

Nobody had to force me out of working in welding shops, I left upon my own free will.  I was glad to leave and hopefully never look back.  The only time I look back is when I write these articles and have to pull up some old memories.

Turning 45 Years Old

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Today is my birthday, I turned 45 years old.  Depending on how you look at it, turning 45 is either not too bad, or it sucks.

Retirement – One thing that bothers me is I am nowhere near being ready for retirement.  I partially blame myself, but I also blame every 401k management firm I have used.  Since 1994 just about every 401k management firm has lost money, except for the one I am using now.  How am I supposed to save for retirement when the people managing my 401k lose 20% of my money every year?Kevin Felts blogger and survivalist

Something I worry about is if social security is going to be around when I retire?  I know people who have never worked a day in their life and they are drawing social security disability.  I work and pay into the system for some lazy bum to draw benefits?

Working Hard – When I was growing up, kids were told to “grow up, get a job and work hard.”  Because we “worked hard” our efforts would be recognized and we would be rewarded.  I know now that is a lie.  Working hard is a wage slave mentality.  No welding company is going to reward your efforts unless they have to.

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Job Opening For Heat Exchanger Fitter

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I got a wild hair and decided to do a google search heat exchanger fitters. I was wondering what kind of job openings were out there, benefits and what the salary was.

One of the first results is a good example of why I left the welding field. The job opening was through a temporary agency, which was advertised as a temp to permanent position.

Why do companies use a temp agency? Most of the times its because the company has problems retaining employees. To cut down on the drug test and paper work, the company goes through a temp agency. The temp agency does the interviewing, drug test, screening, then sends the person to the welding shop.

No salary and no benefits were listed in the job opening.

Why should people stay in a field where the companies have problems retaining employees, and employees are not offered benefits?

If this was a good job, people would be lining up at the door.

Fab shops offer terrible benefits, lousy pay, and then they complain when they can not find skilled workers.

Why are kids going to college and leaving the manual labor jobs behind? Because kids can make 2 and 3 times working in computer then they can make welding.

Back in the late 1980s and into the 1990s weldshop foremans were worried about the number of young people going into welding. Instead of offering improved benefits, just hire employees through a temp agency.

Why did I leave the welding field? Because the pay, benefits and working conditions suck.

Republicans Are Isolating Voters

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Kevin Felts, blogger and survivalistBy demanding tax breaks for the upper crust, and demanding spending cuts for everyone else, the republican party is isolating voters.

Business Insider said Republicans Are Economic Terrorists

As a Republican and Libertarian, I have to ask what are the party leaders thinking?

The nation has overspent since the arms race of cold war. Once the cold war was over, military spending continued to spiral out of control. Coupled with welfare and corporate welfare, we are broke. We are past broke, we are 16 trillion in debt, and climbing, or rather sinking.

Who in their right mind would argue against the rich paying their fair share?

Capital gains pays less taxes then regular income,

Companies like facebook and google can offshore to lower their tax burden,

But yet, everyday working people are taxed till it hurts.

The middle class is being taxed to death, and all the Republicans can think about it protecting the rich?

After obama won re-election, the Republican party needs to do some soul searching. Do they serve the people, or do they serve an elite few? The party has effectively isolated minorities, gays and now they are working on isolating the middle class.

How much does the Republican party expect the voters to put up with? Are we supposed to keep protecting the rich until there are only 2 classes left, the rich and the poor? If the economy keeps its present course, and taxes keep going up, the middle class is going to die.

Maybe, just maybe, the Republican party will be voted out before the middle class is taxed into the ground.

But then again, if the Republican party is voted out, that leaves only the democrats.

Maybe its time to vote in another party? Maybe its time to kick the two major parties out and get someone else in power?

I Regret Working In The Welding Field

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Kevin Felts working on his bar-b-q pit

working on his bar-b-q pit

A little about my work history; in 1986 I went to work for S&T Fabrication (they were in Woodville Texas at the time), in 1987 I went to work for Ohmstede at their Sulphur Louisiana shop. I worked at Ohmstede from 1987 to 1991.

Between 1991 – 1996 I bounced around between the various welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

In 1996 I landed a job at Allied Fabrication in Rose City Texas. Allied was one of the better companies I worked for.

The other companies that will remain nameless can kiss my ass. The sorry ass companies that exploit their employees, pay terrible and provide no benefits will not be mentioned by name.

Its not that I regret working in the welding field, I regret allowing myself to be exploited. Why should someone have to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week to be able to live?

While I was working at Ohmstede my supervisor (Bill Scott) told me that it was either feast or famine. Either you worked the overtime and had a good paycheck, or you worked 40 hours a week and starved.

In other words, sacrifice time with your family on the alter of money.

That is a heck of a choice, work overtime to make sure your family can pay the bills, or not work the overtime and barely get by.

If I could go back to 1986, I doubt I would every go into the welding field. The pay sucks and the the benefits suck. Why should I sacrifice my hearing and my lungs so a company can throw its employees some scraps?

One company I worked at in southwest Louisiana did not provide any kind of benefits, nor did the employees get a cost of living raise. After the 90 day probation period the employee received a 25 cent an hour raise. After that first 25 cent raise, no other pay raises were given. Why should employees have to suffer that kind of poverty level wages? We are not talking about stocking shelves at a grocery store. We are talking about skilled fitters and welders.

And welding companies wonder why they have problems finding skilled workers? Look no further then the pay and the benefits.

Why should young people go to work at a welding shop and make barely above poverty wages, when they can go into computers and make 3 times the money?

I have yet to see an ASME certified pressure vessel or heat exchanger shop that pays like working with computers does.

Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer Hourly Rate: $25,072 – $57,948

Salary for C++: $41,324 – $99,072

Why should I make $57k a year, when I can apply myself and make $99k a year?

But yet ASME certified welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana complain they can not find skilled workers?

Wages Slipping for Skilled Workers

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I spent 15 years in the welding field, was an ASME certified welder, built ASME certified pressure vessels and heat exchangers. The fabrication shops I worked at are in southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

From 1986 – 1999 I saw wages eroded by inflation and greed by the employer.

One employer never gave raises, what you hired on at is what you made. After you were there for 3 months you “might” get a 25 cent raise, but never anything after that.

Another employer, their idea of a raise was 25 cents a year. That 25 cents was easily eaten up by inflation.

Today (2012), I would have to make between $66,000 – $67,000 to have the same standard of living that I had in 1990 when I was 22 years old. That $66,000 – $67,000 is just to maintain that standard of living, and not to improve it.

Welding shops in the area are not paying anywhere near that much these days. The last welding shop I worked at, I made around $45,000 a year.

Its not just a matter of low-skill jobs being associated with low wages, wages for skilled craftsmen have not kept with with inflation or minimum wage.

In 1987 I went to work for a certain company, at that time their top pay was 3.35X minimum wage.

Today, top pay at that same company is around 2X minimum wage.

What is going to happen over the next 30 years as wages and minimum wage stagnates against inflation? Will skilled workers be making minimum wage in 30 or 40 years?  How are working class families supposed to be able to buy a home, buy food and pay their basic bills?

Turning Points in My Life

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As I was reading through an article on Toms Hardware about the greatest video cards of all time, I caught myself looking at the dates on the video cards, and then comparing those dates to things that were happening in my life.

Between 1996 – late 1999 were a great time in my life. My third son had been born in 1994, my daughter had been born in 1996, I had a steady job with good benefits, a little overtime here and there.

I started going to Lamar College in Port Arthur around 1995.  It was time to get out of the welding field, so I went to Lamar to learn computers.

Then there were the video games such as Diablo, Quake, Red Alert, and the camping trips into Orangefield Texas in the mid 1990s.

The early Quakecons were a blast. Driving to Dallas, staying with my buddy “Acid Breath” and his wife for the weekend, those were good times.

Around August 1999 all of that fell apart when I was laid off from Allied Fabrication in Rose City. The company had recently lost a lot of money, I had missed time due to my drinking. When it came time to reduce cost, I and a couple of other people were let go.

In all honesty, I loved working at Allied Fabrication. They were a great group of people that I really liked working for.

Regardless of how much I liked the job, all good things must come to an end.

Towards the end of 1999 and into early 2000, I was feeling really down. The jobs I was able to find sucked – terrible pay, no benefits and really long work hours.

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What did you want to be when you grew up

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While I was growing up adults and teachers asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up.  What I really wanted to do was Anthropology, the study of ancient civilizations.

My other choices were to do something with the outdoors, or to create something, such as a scientist.

When I finished high school I took a job at a welding shop, which was not even something I had considered.

In the 1990s I looked into opening some kind of outdoor gear review magazine.  But the magazine was cost prohibitive.  The companies that would print the magazines wanted a couple of hundred thousand dollars up front, and that was even before I found anyone that would carry the magazines.

From the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s, I was waiting for something to come along on the internet that would help me build a website.  There was basic HTML sites, but I wanted something that was dynamic and able to handle steady updates.

In early 2006 I opened the forum.  Later that same year I opened the blog but in a different format then what we see today.

Between the forum and the blog, I have achieved something I have wanted to do since I was a kid.  I get to go play in the woods, then write about it.

Creating content on youtube, the forum and the blog is like a scientist creating something.  I do my research, do my observations, then write about my opinion on the research and observations.

The internet has given me the ability to express myself like a real-life job would never have.

How life choices bite you in the butt

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When I decided to write this article I was having problems picking a title. Lately I have been doing some thinking. What promoted this was a comment posted on one of my post. The comment was in reference to some of my post sounding bitter.

I want to be honest with my readers, my poor life choices have led me on the path of bitterness.

Who is to blame for my life choices? I am.

Working in the welding field

In 1986 when I graduated high school I decided to enter the workforce instead of going to college. My wifes grandfather helped get me a job at a local welding shop. I should have known something was wrong when the company did not offer and kind of benefits, such as health insurance, or retirement.

In 1987 I got a job at another welding shop, but this job had lots of overtime and some benefits.

I should have know in 1987 that working in welding field was a dead end job. But I justified staying in the welding shops because I was making good money. In 1989 when I was 21 years old, I was bringing home anywhere from $500 – $1,000 a week. That was after insurance and taxes. I felt I was accomplishing something with my life.

Once again I overlooked the obvious. Working 80 hours a week when you are 21 years old is one thing. What was I supposed to do when I got into my 40s and 50s? Would I be able to do hard manual labor at 50 years old? What effects would steel working have on my body?

I blinded myself that welding companies treat employees like disposable products.

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Workplace Inequality

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In the recent debates between tweedle dee and tweedle dum there was a question about workplace inequality. I did not watch the debates, the talking heads will say anything to get elected. The after debate articles is where I saw something about gender inequality in the workplace.

I am going to guess its the same ole question asking about the pay differences between men and women, and the how women hit a glass ceiling with promotions and benefits.

Its the same womens activist, womens liberation, trash talk over and over and over.

Here are the facts, women should never be allowed to make the same money, or earn the same benefits as men.

Call it payback for the thousands of years that men have sacrificed their lives in the name of women and children.

Who stormed the beached of Normandy? Men.

When the titanic was sinking, who got on the lifeboats first? Women and children.

Who is expected to lay down their lives for women? Men.

Who is expected to sacrifice their life to save a child? Men.

During world War I, who were getting slaughtered by the thousands every day? Men.

When there is a dirty, nasty, dangerous, repulsive job that needs to be done, who gets called? Men.

When is a woman expected to lay down her life for a man? How about never.

If a man refuses to lay down his life for a woman, he is branded a coward.

10,000 men die on a battlefield, its war.

10,000 women die, its a crime against humanity.

During a divorce, who is most likely to get the children? The woman.

After the divorce, who is most likely to be paying child support? The man.

Why is that?  Because society expects the woman to get the kids and the man to pay child support.  If women want to fight for something, fight for the mans right to have the children and more women pay child support.  We want to be fair right?  Then an equal number of men as women should get the children during a divorce.

Women have their day for breast cancer awareness, where is the mans day for prostate cancer awareness?

Women have the right to have an abortion, where is the mans right to opt of being a parent?  Can a man force a woman to get an abortion?

If we wanted things to be equal, then men should be able to force women to get an abortion.

Little boy gets hurt playing, he is told to suck it up and get tough.

Little girl gets hurt playing, someone picks her up and comforts her.

When a building is on fire, who gets out first? Women, children and cowardly men. At no point would society expect to see a man flee a burning building leaving women and children behind.

Until women are willing to be mowed down by the thousands under machine gun fire, until women are willing to make the same sacrifices that men do, women should not make the same wages, or earn the same benefits that men do.

Disagree? Post your opinion and debate me.

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