End of July

Met the new complex manager on Friday morning. They were doing routine spraying for bugs. I had problems with bed bugs a couple years ago. Had to get rid of a lot of my furniture. Had the carpet taken out and replaced with vinyl flooring. But the carpet had needed replaced for a few years anyway. A lot of places in the US have bed bug problems for at least the last several years. I heard that even five star hotels had some issues. But haven’t had problems with bugs since before the pandemic started.

It’s been a cooler than usual July, at least in my hometown. We’ve avoided the droughts and heat waves that hit most of the western states. It’s been hazy for the last couple days, probably from the forest fires.

Keeping in contact with friends. My friend in Denver is looking to buy some land. She sometimes gets discouraged when places she could afford are quickly sold. I guess I really have no desire to be a property owner. I like my apartment, my hometown, and I don’t have to shovel snow or mow grass. That and I like that I can get same day delivery for groceries. And I can get anything within reason from amazon within three days. My town is a few hour drive from any major metroplex, so we don’t have same day delivery. My best friend from college will have to report back to school in a few weeks. Hard to believe he’s been a teacher for almost twenty years now.

Found that I am eating less than I usually do. This has been going on for several months. Most days I usually eat only twice a day, with lunch always being my biggest meal. I think I am losing weight again. Most of my clothes are getting baggy. But I’ve always preferred looser fitting clothing. Tight shirts and pants just don’t look good on me.

Preseason football practice started a few days ago. I’ll be watching football games on Saturdays again in only four weeks. And the college kids will be returning before long. My town always comes back to life in mid August when the college returns for fall session. When I still owned a car, I often went to college events and festivals. Used to go to a few football and volleyball games on campus too. Ten years ago, my favorite hangout was an internet cafe near the college campus. I miss that place.

Got back into reading physical books again. Currently working on a Michio Kaku book and a geopolitics book about what the world will look like once the pandemic passes. Been watching more movies too. Saw Minority Report, Aeon Flux, Jupiter Ascending, and The Mask of Zorro within the last week. Thinking about watching some epic classics next week. I’m thinking either The Ten Commandments or Gandhi.

I can tell the days are getting shorter. Probably only another six weeks of really hot weather. Spring is usually my favorite time of year. But I do like fall for football, baseball playoffs, and now soccer. I try to watch whenever the US national teams play now that I have a niece and nephew who are good soccer players. My nephew plans on trying out for his high school soccer team when school starts up.

Summer is starting to wind down. I weathered it alright for the most part. Looking forward to cooler weather again.

July 27 2021

Spent most of yesterday morning outside my apartment. Just hung out in the complex library catching up with the other tenants. Had some good conversations.

Been having lots of rain lately. It hasn’t been nearly as hot in my hometown as in most places. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. We still have another six weeks of potentially hot weather. Corn harvest will start in six to eight weeks. Football season is a little over a month away.

Haven’t been keeping up with friends like I used to. I imagine most people are busy and stressed these days. I usually spend my days reading books or watching educational videos on youtube.

Knowing Thyself

One of my teenage nephews got his first job shortly after school ended for the summer. It made me think back on the types of work I had over the years. It also made me think back on the career advice my parents, teachers, etc. gave me when I was growing up.

I did lots of chores for my parents from as far back as I can remember. I was mowing lawns for my parents from about age 8 and helping mom cook supper from age 6. My grandma used to let me help her in her vegetable garden. My grandpa and dad used to take me and my brother with them whenever they went out to cut firewood on a local rancher’s property. They didn’t let us run the chain saws, but they did let us stack and store the cut wood even before we started school. When I was 8, my dad gave me an old hacksaw so I could practice cutting on small pieces and limbs. When I was in junior high, I helped out at my uncle’s farm every summer. I usually had to store and stack hay bails, help take care of pigs, clean chicken houses, and things like that. And I loved it. I loved it all. I’m glad my family thought it was good to get their kids involved in chores and family business when we were still in grade school. I even helped my dad organize files and clean in his dental office.

I got my first “real job” as a fast food cook. Got told off by the owner my first day out of orientation. He might not have known it was my first day. I’ll never know. Lost the job a month later when I couldn’t work fast enough to be a cook in fast food. For the rest of the summer I worked on a construction crew at a livestock sale barn. We were in charge of rebuilding pens and fences to keep cattle and pigs in while they were being sold. It was hot and dirty work. But it didn’t bother me as much as working fast food.

Over the next several years, I worked in retail. I hated dealing with customers. Caused me too much stress. I usually did better when I was unloading delivery trucks, organizing the store room, stocking shelves, and cleaning.

There is an underlying theme in all of this: I did much better at jobs that didn’t involve interacting with the public and weren’t really fast paced. As bad as I struggled in retail and restaurant, I would have struggled even worse in sales and in person teaching. Of course, the mental illness made this even worse.

I think in addition to my mental illness, the big reason I struggled at work was I often took jobs that weren’t aligned with my personality and skills. As much as working in crowds and with people I don’t know bothered me, I’m sure more people are bothered by work when they would have to spend entire days alone or with the same people. Most people I know don’t understand how I spend days on end alone and not break. It’s just the way I’m wired and my skill set.

As it is I’m on disability for my mental illness. But because I don’t work a regular paying job doesn’t mean I don’t keep occupied. I read alot. I have this blog, while it may never have a large audience, has several hundred postings since 2013. And I spend my time reading up on lots of science and tech advances that most people simply don’t have the time or energy to research on their own after dealing with work and family duties.

Sure my work probably won’t make me rich, but I have what I need. I may be just below poverty line (at least by American standards) yet I don’t feel deprived. But I do have simple tastes. A good time for me was going to the bar with my then girlfriend and playing darts and singing karaoke. Or having a plate of chicken wings with a few college buddies while playing board games. Or going to watch a couple friends play baseball for my college. Or going to listen to a couple local bands perform at on campus concerts on Friday nights. I may not have enjoyed going to high school sporting events as much as some people in my hometown, but I certainly enjoyed playing football and competing in speech meets.

I guess the only work or life advice I could give my teenage nephews or any teenagers is simply “Know Thyself.” Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Try a variety of jobs and activities, especially when your still young, have lots of energy, and still living with your parents. If you don’t like being around people or don’t handle rejection well (like myself), you’re not going to do well in sales or as a business owner. Don’t try to be what your family wants or do something just because it pays a lot of money. Do something you have the skills for. Also be ready if you have to change jobs. Science and tech are destroying and creating jobs far faster than they were even twenty years ago. Know Thyself and keep leveling up.

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

July 11 2021

Been quiet the last few days. Staying close to home as it’s been really hot when it hasn’t been raining. Looking forward to fall again. Only 50 days until the first college football games. It was so strange last year watching games in empty stadiums. I see the Olympics won’t allow spectators this year. I hope we can get enough people vaccinated that we can open up all over the world again.

While covid hasn’t been as rough for me as most people, it has been quite lonely at times. Glad I can do my psych doctor appointments by teleconference. I haven’t been to a general practice doctor since the pandemic started. I managed to get vaccinated in early May. A home health service sent two nurses to my home, had me answer some questions, and gave me the Johnson & Johnson shot. I didn’t even have to leave my living room. So thankful such people and services are out there. Internet shopping has been a godsend for myself. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be had this happened back in the early 1980s. As far as loneliness goes, if my grandparents’ generation had to fight a world war, the least I can do is stay home.

Still lifting weights three times a week. Noticing some of my strength starting to come back. I force myself to stand up at least once an hour. If I sit for too long my muscles get sore and I have issues walking and doing chores.

Haven’t read much for traditional books lately. I am watching the Dune mini series that came out in the early 2000s. I’m not normally much of a science fiction fan, but this series is done alright. A friend of mine has been talking up the Dune and Foundation series for years. I read the first Foundation book last summer via audiobook. I have grown to love audiobooks. My college roommate’s dad was a truck driver who used to listen to audiobooks when he was on the road. I can understand why he liked those so much.

Don’t have much planned for the next few weeks. Cruise Night (a rally for classic cars) will be in my town later this month. And one of the main routes run right by my home. Since I’m on the top floor of my complex, I get an amazing view and I don’t even have to brave the hot late July temperature or the large crowds. It should be a huge deal this summer as the country is opening back up. I’ll just watch out my window and have the American Graffiti soundtrack playing, like I do most years. For my Independence Day, I replayed the Revolutionary War on one of my computer games.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my coffee addiction. I’ve had only five cups in the last month. For the first several days I was sleeping more and kind of irritable. I was probably going through caffeine withdraw. I am back to more normal sleep. Most days I’m up for good by 6:30. I usually go to bed around 11pm. Was up until 3 am a few nights ago. Haven’t stayed up that late in months.

I’m doing well overall even if I stay close to home. I usually have visitors in my cleaning lady and a couple neighbors a couple times a week. My neighbor is kind enough to help me with chores like laundry and mail once a week as long as I provide laundry soap and change for the machines. I guess after years of helping out others, I need the help now.

Middle Summer

Been spending my Independence Day getting in touch with friends and family. I was lazier than usual in keeping tabs on friends for the last couple weeks. I usually don’t have much going on during the summers. Still reading a lot, even if it is mostly online articles these days. Watched some of the UEFA tournament over the last couple weeks. Most of those games started late morning here in the US. I don’t watch much for traditional tv anymore besides live sports events. I’m looking forward to the Olympics later this month. I have no doubt that Japan will be good hosts. My favorite events to watch are the sprints and long jump.

Found out my complex has a new permanent manager. I haven’t met her yet. I usually don’t interact with management much outside of my annual recertification, and that is usually in March or April. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I got my flooring replaced and my walls repainted. The only complaint I have about having vinyl floors is they are very slippery when wet. When my cleaning lady mops, I make a point to not walk on the floor for at least two hours. I slipped and fell in my living room several weeks ago. Since I landed on my hands and knees, I didn’t hurt anything. Just had to catch my breath and stand back up.

July and August are usually rough times for me. I have a seasonal aspect to my mental illness. Haven’t had much for flare ups so far this year. I hope I can keep this up.

June 26 2021

Been cutting back on caffeine. Had coffee only twice in the last ten days. While I am less prone to irritability, I do sleep more and have more headaches. After having near record breaking heat a week ago, things have cooled off. I usually have my windows open all the time unless it rains.

Still reading lots of online articles from science and economics journals. I don’t watch traditional cable news. Haven’t for years. Most of my family and friends quit watching regular news too. Just too depressing and, unless it happens in my hometown, there really isn’t much I can do to make things better.

Been quite stable mentally, more so than usual for early summer. I do make a point of avoiding conflict, drama, and stress. Most nights I’m in bed by 10pm and up for good by 6am. I usually nap in the afternoons for an hour or two.

June 18 2021

Been sleeping a lot more the last few days. I was feeling quite rough yesterday. Had to reschedule my cleaning lady. I didn’t want to risk having a break down around her or anyone else. I think the older I have gotten, the better I have become at isolating and staying away from people if I think there could be problems. I’ve had maybe three bad breakdowns since March 2020. My worst was shortly after the new year. But, the breakdowns don’t last as long as they did years ago. I also think they are less frequent. I don’t know if the illness is less severe in my early 40s than in my mid 20s or if I’ve just gotten better at managing the problems.

Been real hot this week. We came close to breaking records at least two days this week. I also saw on the news that the EU is opening back up to American travelers. Maybe I should buy a couple shares of airline stocks and see what happens. Most people I know are already vaccinated. I got mine in early May. Didn’t have any side effects. I’ve been watching some of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament the last couple days. They’re usually on in the mornings and early afternoon here in the US. I’m planning on seeing the England vs Scotland match this afternoon. ESPN covers those games. It’s good to see some people in the stands at sports events again.

My birthday was a few days ago. Mom and Dad came to visit. I got a few pairs of pants for gifts. As a kid, I was never excited about getting clothes unless it was something like a Nebraska Huskers football jersey. I doubt my 15 year old self would have imagined getting excited over new clothing as a birthday gift.

Fathers’ Day is this Sunday. I’m not sure what my dad has planned other than Sunday church services. He’s enjoying his retirement. Keeps himself occupied by working on model train sets, going to the grandkids’ soccer games, ham radio, etc. He’s in his early 70s and still has a pilot’s license.

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

I’m going to be celebrating my 41st birthday next week. A lot has changed over just the course of my life. The fact that I can send out my random rants into something called The Internet and have them available to anyone who has what is essentially a pocket sized super computer that happens to make phone calls is still mind boggling. The subject of this post is the things I wish I knew about life when I was 18 rather than having to learn them through hard experience. So here goes

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

In many ways, work is easier than school. At least with work, you get paid for your trouble. And you don’t have to deal with the completely random assortment of jerks, losers, morons, and bullies that you are assigned to just because of your age and where you live. At work, most people are there because they have skills the job demands. And, no, you aren’t expected to make friends at work.

You don’t have to get married and have children to have a fulfilling life. You don’t even have to have a successful career to be fulfilled.

It’s probably best if you don’t get all of your fulfillment from your job. The most interesting people I’ve ever known hate their jobs but made up for it with their hobbies, church groups, community activities, etc.

It isn’t necessary to have a high paying job to make lots of money, especially if you are smart about things like debts and investing. Lots of people make six figures yet are only a missed paycheck away from being behind in their lease or rent. Some of the richest people I ever knew never owned expensive houses, took vacations to foreign countries, or drove anything more luxurious than a new Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Take care of your joints, especially your knees. You’ll miss those when they go bad.

Routine maintenance on EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s your house, your car, your physical and mental health, your friendships, your marriage, etc. It will allow you to correct minor problems before they become major crises.

You can tell the truth all the time and some people will still think you’re a liar.

Many people stopped developing mentally and emotionally as teenagers. In fact, I know many adults who have worse morals and make worse decisions then teenagers and college students.

Elders will always complain about the “damn kids.” The only way to avoid doing this when you become an elder yourself is to consciously fight against it on a daily basis. The same people complaining about Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande where the same people rocking out to Rage Against The Machine and Marilyn Manson back in the 90s.

If you want to find out what someone is really like, give them power and money.

Some people will always fight against change. They are usually only delaying the inevitable.

Some people will never be pleased.

Some of your worst critics will be family members, friends, and neighbors.

The only real constant in life is change.

June 9 2021

Weather has been very hot the last several days. Summer is certainly here. My parents are going to visit for a day or two next week as my birthday is coming up. I don’t need anything really besides a few extra pairs of pants.

I usually talk to an old college friend of mine three times a week in the late mornings. He’s a high school teacher and school is out for the summer. Even though I haven’t seen him in person in several years, we still have lots to chat about. He and I are in the same fantasy baseball league. Have been since the mid 2000s.

Sleep patterns are changing, again. Most nights I fall asleep shortly after midnight, wake up to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night, and wake up around 6am. I usually nap for an hour or two after lunch. I think I’m also eating less. I still eat twice a day, but I’ve been having smaller meals for the last few weeks. I’m limiting caffeine. I have only one cup of coffee per day, usually in the morning. But I’m starting to find I feel better on days I don’t have coffee. I sleep more on those days, but I’m also less irritable.

I haven’t been doing much reading the last few weeks. I still watch lots of educational videos on youtube. Been studying lots of economics videos the last several weeks. I’m thinking a change in subjects will be in order soon.