Category Archives: Life

The Casual Notice Guide to Negotiation

I’ve been told that I’m a good negotiator. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never had to negotiate with myself. I do know that at one time, I was a bad negotiator, but have learned many of the things I was doing wrong, and I’m more than happy to share my experience, because a world that negotiates better is a world that runs more smoothly.

But why should you want to be good at negotiating? I mean, I get that you’re doing fine paying MSRP for whatever you buy, and “haggling” seems so…flea market. That’s what they want you to think. I don’t know who “they” are. I assume there’s some shadow cadre of real estate agents, auto dealerships, and furniture stores that have a vested interest in keeping you ignorant of good negotiation. So, yeah, stick it to them.

Or, face the fact that nearly every interaction you have after small-talk openers is a negotiation of some kind. Every topic from what to watch on TV to how many Hail Marys you’ll say if you find your keys boils down to a simple business concept: two people each have something the other wants, even if that something is a utility player to be named later. You need to negotiate well, because negotiating badly is how you end up alone and poor.

Negotiation is not war

No matter what those mid-eighties business guides that essentially plagiarized The Art of War tell you, negotiation is not war, and going into a room thinking it is will only generate casualties, and you will be one of them. In the ideal negotiation, both parties walk away thinking they’ve had one over on the other. Most come out with both sides feeling okay (but not ecstatic) with how it came out. In the worst ones, one or both parties feels ripped off. We want to get as close as we can to ideal while avoiding the worst like the plague.

The thing is, if you walk into the room ready for war, you immediately put your counterpart on the defensive. They’ll be less likely to make concessions and more likely to make unreasonable demands. Always remember that you have common ground: you each have something the other wants, and it behooves you both to make the trade cleanly and fairly.

It also helps to remember that nothing happens in a vacuum. If you walk away from the table leaving Marcy with five Skittles for her entire bag of m&ms, what are you going to do next week when she has Reese’s cups and all you have are Necco Nickels? A more friendly, cooperative strategy of negotiation helps in improving relations for later trades.

Do your homework

The best way to get the best deal is to know what the best deal really is. If you’re looking for a new car, research what cars in your class usually go for in your area. What’s the value drop between a new and late-model used car of that class? What amenities do you have to have, and what can you expect to pay for them? What sort of warranties are available?

You should also research your own situation. What’s the absolute most you are able to pay? What’s your ideal? What amenities can you live without? Would something smaller or less tricked-out be better if it fits more neatly into your financial situation?

Keep what you’ve learned in mind when you walk in. Doing so will not only help you keep your goals consistent, but will also give you insight into what your counterpart is doing. Knowing, even sympathizing with your counterpart’s position can only help, because the more open you are, the more they want to be open to you. He wants you commission, but he also wants your commission next year when you buy a junker for your teenager, and the year after that when your husband is looking for his car. Even if you don’t expect him to be around, later, develop a relationship as if you did.

Have benchmarks

Every negotiation is a dance between three points on each side. You should know and remember what these points are. If you walk in to negotiate and don’t have wiggle room, then you’re not negotiating. You’re laying down an ultimatum, and no one wants that.

So what are these points? Well the first one, the very top, is What you want. That is to say, what is the ideal outcome for you. Be realistic. You’re not going to get two acres of prime downtown real estate for 85 cents and a half-eaten chicken leg. It goes back to doing your homework, because your first offer should be what you want, and if it isn’t realistic, then you’re just being insulting. Try to stay in a range of plus or minus 20% of fair market value.

The next point is what you’d like. This is your most realistic expectation for how the negotiation will come out. If you’ve done your research, then any good compromise will get you pretty close to this benchmark.

The final benchmark is what you will accept. This is the worst deal you can make without feeling resentful. Again, be realistic, but mostly be realistic on your own behalf. If that plot of land bottoms out at 10 million, will you be able to make that money back? What further investment needs to go into the property before it can be developed? Can you afford it? Do you want to? Your point of acceptance should leave you in a position to make use of what you have without hardship and really should leave you a fair few steps above hardship.

Have options

During your research, you will undoubtedly come across things that are close to what you want. Keep these in mind, maybe even make some inroads into those items. It’s important to always know that you have options and what those options are. You’ll be more confident walking in if you don’t believe that your life depends on the outcome of the negotiation.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

You have options and you know what they are; you also know what the absolute minimum you will accept will be. What do you do if your counterpart isn’t willing to come up to your bottom? You walk away. 10 million is fair, but if your counterpart can’t make it construction ready by closing then it’s not fair enough. 65 thousand is too much, especially since you told them you don’t want (or need) the undercoat, since you live in the south and are unlikely to encounter heavily-salted winter roads. At some point, you have to recognize that the deal will not happen.

When you have to walk away, don’t be mad about it. The whole point of walking away is to ensure that no one feels hard done by. Thank your counterpart for their time and express your regret that a deal couldn’t be reached. Remember, this negotiation may not have gone as you hoped, but there will almost certainly be others. No matter how gratifying it might be to slam the papers and make gratuitous remarks about scheisters, a hanshake and a regretful shrug will do everyone more good in the long run.

The Casual Notice Guide to Rain

Asshole Rain is not rain at all, but a weather condition in which you need to do something that requires dryness (mowing the lawn, repairing a road, watching beach volleyball), but the weather gods make it cloud over and look like it’s going to rain every time you start moving forward.

Mist is also not technically rain. It’s fog. Sticky fog that makes you look like you fell in a lake if you have to spend more than a few seconds in it.

Swamp Rain is a warm light rain only distinguishable from mist in that the water has a definite downward direction (most of the time).

East Coast Rain is like swamp rain, but it’s colder and might randomly turn to ice.

Sad Girl Rain is rain that falls softly and warmly, making the whole world depressing.

Funeral Rain is a patchy, light rain. To be funeral rain, it must be cold enough to wear a fashionable raincoat and patchy enough that you only need your umbrella for long shots.

Mountain Rain is steady like sad girl rain but cold like funeral rain. Mountain Rain goes on for days, sometimes weeks.

Pissin’ is a cold steady rain like mountain rain, but it has randomly distributed heavy drops that make you check around to see if there are any birds overhead.

Autumn Rain is all the bad parts of pissin’ and funeral rain, only now you’ve got dead leaves glued to your car windows.

Seabreeze Squall is a small, intense storm that wanders inland from the coast.

Sunshower is a seabreeze squall that’s too lazy to form a cloud.

Rain longterm rain dropping about an inch per hour. This can lead to “flooding” in places where they think that standing water puddles are evidence of deluge.

Houston Rain like regular rain, except the rate is closer to three inches per hour. Houston rain usually happens in clusters when you don’t actually need the moisture or cooling.

Tropical Storm is a Houston rain that starts over open water.

Hurricane is a tropical storm that’s got its shit together. Wind-based categories really only apply when the hurricane is on its way up. A Cat 3 hurricane on its way up is no big deal; a Cat 3 on its way down from Cat 5 is a giant storm that has reduced winds but more of them, and will ruin you life like that one ex-lover who keeps finding out your phone number.

Casual Notice Presents Infopamphlet #31942: What to do if you’re pulled over

Editor’s note: The author is not a lawyer or officer of the court. This advice should not be taken as legal advice. If you need legal advice, talk to a lawyer; don’t go to an internet site, especially not one that focuses on oddball humor.

Other Editor’s note: I’ll be referring to the officer using the common idiom of the male pronoun. That is linguistically correct if you are unaware or unsure of the subject’s sex. If this offends you, feel free to suck it up and read something else.

You’re driving down the street, rocking out to Bananarama or Flock of Seagulls or whatever you kids listen to these days, when suddenly you see trippy red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. What do you do?

1. Pull Over

If you are on a limited-access highway, turn on your turn signal and gradually reduce your speed as you pull into the emergency lane. Pull as far away from traffic as you can while still remaining on the pavement. If no emergency lane is available, you got me. I’d slowly work my way to the nearest exit and pull off the highway entirely, but you have to do what you think is right, and in case you’re also involved in a car accident, you could get a salt lake city car accident lawyer even when the police is present.

If you are on a regular road, slow down and pull into the nearest safe place to stop. A parking lot or unused side street is good. Don’t try to find a great parking space, but also don’t stop right in the middle of a busy street.

Don’t speed up. Try to indicate to the officer that you are attempting to comply with his lawful order that you pull off the road. In fact, the idea, here, is for you to stop somewhere where both you and the officer will be safe while you conduct your business.

2. Stop your car

Once your car is stopped, put it in park and turn the engine off. Take your keys out of the ignition and place them on your dashboard near the middle (so they don’t accidentally fall into the defogger vent). Some newer cars have a handy pad in front of the onboard display; if you do, put them there.

Roll your window about halfway down. This allows the officer to have a reasonable discussion with you while affording you protection against assault in the rare case that this is not a real police officer.

Tell anyone else in the car to shut the hell up and let you do the talking. They have no stake in this, unless they mouth off and force the officer to drag them down to jail for being a dumbass. They may be asked to identify themselves, and should be prepared to do so.

Put your hands on the steering wheel, at the top, and leave them there.

3. Listen to the officer and comply with his lawful requests

Depending on your state, the officer will ask to see your driver’s license and either your registration or your proof of insurance. This is a lawful request. He has already observed you in violation of at least one traffic law, and has every right to demand that you show proof that you are entitled to be driving your car on that state’s roads. Hand them over.

If you need to reach for anything, inform the officer beforehand. “My license is in my wallet,” and, “My insurance card is in my glove box.” are reasonable things to say, and allay any concerns the officer may have as to whether or not you are reaching for a weapon. Remember, he doesn’t know you; you could be a terrorist leaning over to set off your car bomb.

If you have any weapons in your car, inform the officer of them and their location. “Officer, I need to inform you that I have a loaded pistol in a console holster. I am licensed to carry,” is the sort of thing you should say, substituting the actual location and details of your right to have the weapon and whether or not it is loaded. The officer may ask you to remove the weapon and surrender it to him. He is within his rights. Again, he doesn’t know you, and part of his job is resolving the issue without anyone going to the hospital or the morgue. Without making any sudden or suspicious movements, or gripping the weapon in a threatening way, surrender the weapon to the officer. He will return it when he lets you go.

if asked to step out of the vehicle, step out. Officers may remove any person from a vehicle during a traffic stop. Pennsylvania v. Mimms, Maryland v. Wilson, Michigan v. Long, Rakas v. Illinois are all cases in which are backed by the US Supreme Court.

4. Be Polite but do not admit to wrongdoing

Greet the officer cordially, “Good afternoon, officer, may I help you?” is a nice way to do this. He may ask you if you know why he pulled you over. Politely assert that you do not know why. Don’t worry, he’ll tell you. Don’t argue with him. He’s not a judge, nor is he a prosecutor; he saw what he saw. Not only that, he told his dispatcher what he saw; he’s not going back to his car to say, “Never mind the traffic stop, dispatch; they say they didn’t do it.”

It’s important to remember that this guy (or gal) works a ten to twelve hour shift, encountering people on what is, at least the worst day of their week–possibly their year. He doesn’t need to hear how you’re a sovereign citizen and the US is just a corporation that only holds legal jurisdiction if you let it. He doesn’t need to hear about the YouTube video you saw that says you don’t have to provide your driver’s license or proof of insurance. He doesn’t want a debate. He doesn’t want any trouble at all.

The truth is, he probably didn’t want to pull you over, but your dumbass ran the red light or blew through a school zone at 50 miles per, and he didn’t have a choice. You violated one of our many sensible traffic laws that keep kindergarteners from being knocked forty feet across the road.

The point is that you made the dumbass choice to break the law, the least you can do is not give the officer any shit when he calls you down.

5. Sign the ticket

Listen while the officer explains why he’s giving you a ticket and what needs to be done, next. Sign the ticket. It is not an admission of guilt. All your signature at the bottom of a ticket says is that the officer presented you with a summons for the cited violation and you took it. Again, not an admission of guilt, just an admission that you received the ticket. Officers have to account for every ticket that comes out of their book, because they’re made of platinum, apparently.

If you do want to admit your guilt and simply pay the standard fine–and, man, I wish some of you would–there is a space for that on the back. You sign, you mail the court a check, done (unless you’re a serial dumbass, in which case the court may demand an appearance). If you only get one ticket a year, and your state/county/city allows it, you may be entitled to have the ticket quashed by attending a defensive driving class. You still have to appear in court, and the judge has to approve it.

6. Thank the officer

You don’t have to, but it’s a nice thing to do. Don’t apologize to him for being such a dumbass, but do thank him, in a general way (“Thank you, officer,” works, if you can keep the snideness out of your voice).

7. Resume your journey

Once the officer lets you go, get your keys, start your car, and carefully re-enter traffic. Don’t wait for the officer. He has some paperwork to complete, and he might find it weird that you’re just sitting there, staring in your rearview mirror. Don’t forget to make your appearance, or better yet, just pay your damn ticket.

Other questions

Can the officer search my vehicle? Yes and no. A traffic stop does not, in and of itself, constitute enough probable cause for a vehicle search. If you and your idiot friends make a scuffle hiding the bag of weed on your console, or if (bless your tiny little mind) you leave that bag on your console in plain view, then that does constitute probable cause. Basically, don’t give the officer a reason to be suspicious, and he won’t have a reason to search your car and he won’t have a rationale when the judge asks him.

I’m a reasonably attractive young woman; should I offer the officer my phone number or a blow job? Oddly enough, no. That comes off as an admission of guilt and an attempt at a bribe (how much of a bribe depends on how impressed the officer is with your attributes). Even before the days of dash and body cameras (with sound), this was an iffy proposition. Now, it’s just a good way to turn a misdemeanor traffic stop into a felony.

In closing, don’t be an idiot.

Casual Notice Presents Infopamphlet #35486

Your Go-Bag and You

It happens all the time. You have to get out, and you have to get out, now. This is why you should have a bug-out plan. If you don’t, be sure to check out Casual Notice Infopamphlet #35422: You should Have a Bug-Out Plan. But the best bug-out plan in the world is useless, if you don’t have a well organized go-bag. This infopamphlet will teach you

  • How to select and pack a good go-bag
  • What items should go into your go-bag
  • Where to keep your go-bag
  • Who should know about your go-bag, and when you should tell them.

Selecting your go-bag

Whether your cashgrab cult of personality is being investigated by the feds, your violently insane ex saw you at a gas station, or you just realized that the shady government organization that’s been employing you to kill people for the last five years may not be the good guys after all, you’ll need a sturdy and reliable way of transporting the necessities of a new life to a new location.

While many professionals will suggest that a gym bag or small duffel is the ideal go-bag, we, here at Casual Notice believe that a mid-sized student’s backpack (such as the Zammo! brand Casual Notice backpack, available in our online store) is the wiser option. The multiple pockets and sections afford better and longer-lasting organization of items, and we’ve found that the top loop included on most quality backpacks makes it a more manageable ad hoc weapon.

In any case, your go-bag should be sturdy and unobtrusive, with few noticeable details and secure fasteners.

Packing your go-bag

What should you have in your go-bag? This depends on a variety of factors, including, whether you expect the bug-out to be permanent, whether you expect to engage in a multi-target vendetta during your bug-out, and the price of replacement items in your area. However, in general, a well-packed go-bag should contain at least the following:

  • Three (3) full changes of clothes
  • Two (2) changes of identity, including at least one passport per identity
  • Ten Thousand US Dollars ($10,000) and a comparable amount of local currency
  • A shave kit and scissors
  • Colored contact lenses
  • The keys to a safe house within one hundred miles
  • At least four (4) Casual Notice brand PowerNola bars to maintain vigor during your bug-out.

The observant will note that we didn’t include a back-up weapon in the inventory. You should certainly keep a weapon near your go-bag; however, we have found that, in times of duress, having the weapon inside the bag often leads to the bag being messily unpacked, resulting in a loss of precious time and organization.

Stowing your go-bag

Until it’s needed, you should keep your go-bag in a secure, accessible, but hidden location. It’s tempting to leave it under a loose floor board or behind an incongruous painting in your residence, but you never want your go-bag to rest where you sleep. Putting aside the discourtesy of exposing anyone who may share your residence to the threat of your pursuers, it is possible that–after the initial bug-out–you may see the need to return to your residence for a forgotten keepsake or microfiche containing evidence that will blow the conspiracy apart.

We recommend the rental lockers located at any fine transportation terminal. Airport terminals are best, since they combine permanence and privacy with a certain level of security. Railway terminals are second; what they lack in security, they make up for with the fact that no one rides trains, any more. Bus stations are less expensive, but they are significantly less secure, and they are often gathering places for vagrants. If there is no other recourse, a bus station will have to do, but be prepared to smell like urine until you can locate an open Brooks Brothers.

No one who is not you should know the location of your go-bag, and the time you should tell them is never.

We hope you’ve found this Infopomphlet useful, and that the advice inside allows you the sort of temporary mobile security you deserve. Be sure to check out our other Infopamphlets, like Long Range Assassination for Recently Activated Sleepers, and So You Want to Play the Bagpipes.

Conservative Politics for Dummies

I read a lot. I read a lot about politics and government, in particular. I read factual reports filled with opinions and opinionated editorials supported by facts. I also have a habit of shooting my mouth off in comments sections and on Facebook posts. And I read the comments and remarks on those, too.

I may have mentioned before how much it bugs me that people spend a lot more time projecting their prejudiced expectations on others than they do calmly discussing issues and reaching some form of accord. If I had a dollar for every time a progressive friend of mine expressed a false stereotype of conservative policy, I’d be rich enough to have more liberal friends.

It doesn’t help to tell people how they think, or to tell people who agree with you how to debate those who don’t. Those sorts of guides always result in lots of preaching and no debate or discussion. So, conservative that I am. here’s my guide to the conservative take on a list of issues. Feel free to disagree with me. That’s how discussions happen.

“Conservative” doesn’t mean what you think it means

It may surprise you to learn that nearly every conservative position expressed by policy wonks on MSNBC and Fox News is utter bullshit (maybe not, who am I to judge?) This is partially because allegedly conservative media outlets use hilariously slanted polling methods and “balanced” media outlets like MSNBC have a bad habit of creating straw men. That’s not the whole of it, however.

We, as a people, err in thinking that political thought can be expressed along a single line, when it’s more accurate to express it in a matrix. Essentially (and I’m not the first person to say this) political thought breaks down along the lines of money and power, and opinions can be charted on that graph in the same way.

Click for slightly larger image.

Click for slightly larger image.

The vertical axis is all about power and who has it. Liberals want people to have most of the power; Authoritarians want that power safely in the hands of government. The horizontal axis expresses money, and how the government should spend it. Progressives are all about social engineering and using tax money for (presumably positive) social change. Conservatives would like to keep their own money in their own pockets, thanks. Mind you, a political conservative may be socially progressive, the difference there is that he believes the funding for social change should be voluntary and not gained through taxation.

And that’s the thing. Saying “Conservatives oppose gay marriage,” is like saying “Red Sox fans hate the New York Jets.” Not only does it pigeonhole an entire school of thought behind a single issue, it draws that issue from a different game, entirely.

Moral issues are divisive among conservatives

People who identify as conservative are widely divided on the moral issues, even if we occasionally reach an accord for disparate reasons. I see myself as a liberal conservative (but not so far out either axis as to be Libertarian), so my first reaction to any moral debate is almost always, “I don’t have a dog in that fight.” If I’m pressed, my reaction will probably end up somewhere around, “Sure, why not?” More authoritarian conservatives will have highly developed opinions on such subjects, usually based on their religious beliefs.

I’m always amused at the number of people who call themselves conservative and complain about the government in their front yard, but have no problem putting the government in someone else’s bedroom. I am not amused by the laundry list of assumptions people make about me when they learn that I’m a conservative.

For instance, I would never eat this kitten (unless it was served with a side salad and a good dipping sauce).

For instance, I would never eat this kitten.

Republican politicians aren’t conservatives

American politics is a popularity competition to see who gets to play with the money and power of the American People. This isn’t new. By extension, no professional politician is either liberal or conservative, because those philosophies are all about keeping power and money, respectively, out of the government’s hands.

So straight off the boat, any politician saying he supports “good conservative values” is lying to you (never mind that it’s a senseless phrase–there are no political values, only issues and concerns), because he wants your money and your power.

Telling us what we think just pisses us off and shuts down discussion

No conservative is “anti-immigration.” Many are sick and tired of giving illegal immigrants and those who enable them a free pass, but that’s not the same as being anti-immigration any more  than punishing your child for stealing money off your dresser makes you “anti-allowance.” Conservatives are not, as a group, racist, sexist, homophobic, luddite, or jingoist. Some are some of these things, a microscopic minority are all of them, but most are none of them.

If you talk to people, instead of flinging random accusations at them, you might find out that their concerns are as valid as your own.