Thanksgiving 2020

It is Thanksgiving here in the USA. I’m spending it by myself as my parents and I both agreed it probably was too risky for them to travel several hundred miles while the new cases were at an all time high. So I talked with them over the phone this afternoon. Called a few friends to check on them. My cleaning lady is making plates of food for her disabled and home bound clients. I made some grilled brats for myself. A local disaster relief agency dropped off a plate this morning. So even though I had to stay home I still got the traditional Thanksgiving meal. They even sent a couple slices of pumpkin pie 🙂

2020 has been a rough year for most people. Between the pandemic, protests, lockdowns, elections, layoffs, etc. almost everyone has a story from this year. We also saw the development of several vaccines within a year of discovering covid 19. We saw private space flight take major leaps. Saw the first human passengers on a test hyperloop. If the hyperloop does get as big as I think it eventually will, future generations will look back on that the same way people today look back on the Wright brothers and the first cosmonauts and astronauts. Competitive e-sports is becoming really big. Even my alma mater is going to start an e-sports team in fall 2021. And it’s a small Christian college of less than 1000 students. While I personally would rather play games than watch others play, I suppose it’s really the same idea as watching live sports like baseball and soccer on tv or in the arena.

I’m thankful that, in spite all these changes and tragedies, I am still mentally stable. 2020 is a year that people will be talking about long after I’m gone. Hopefully it will be a year when we started making the positive changes that have been needed but have been putting off. Crisis often brings out the best (and sometimes worst) in people and nations.

Thanksgiving During Pandemic

I’m spending my Thanksgiving in my apartment this year. I couldn’t get my ham so I’m grilling bratwursts and making a large pot of cheese soup instead. I’ll also be doing Zoom calls with my parents and my brother’s family. I think most people in my complex are either staying home or going to local relatives. My cleaning lady said she’d bring a plate for me and the rest of her disabled clients.

Been listening to audiobooks more lately. Currently a couple hours into some Nietchze. As far as my other projects for pandemic, I recently finished Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I started back in February and finished a few days ago. Certainly a worthwhile read for anyone interested in history and economics. Granted it’s really long, almost as long as the Bible. Been reading more poetry too, mostly Emerson, Whitman, and Dickenson. Read some Kipling this summer.

Read in the news yesterday a third vaccine is ready for FDA approval. I think it’s from AstraZenica. I just hope enough people use it and distribution can be solved. I imagine front line health care workers, police, and military will be the first in line Hopefully I can get mine sometime by summer 2021. In the meantime, I’m avoiding crowds and wearing masks when I meet delivery drivers. For the ones that don’t come to my apartment, one of my healthier neighbors will drop off packages for myself and the other shut ins.

I did have a slight flare up over the weekend. Thankfully it was short lived. Nothing a few minutes of ranting and several hours of sleep couldn’t solve. Overall I’m doing well even if I am voluntarily isolating. I just hope this burns out soon.

November 21 2020

Stayed up late again last night. Been listening to audiobooks quite a bit lately. Bought some groceries yesterday. Looks like I’ll be spending the rest of the month at home. My town passed a mask mandate through late February 2021. Glad I bought a box of masks last week.

The loneliness gets to me sometimes. I’m not irritated or paranoid about it. Just kind of sad. 2020 is going to be a year for the history books. And in almost every way imaginable. I’m still amazed workable vaccines were developed in only one year. I just hope enough people use these vaccines and practice preventative measures enough we can end this pandemic soon.

I doubt we will have a complete return to the normal ways of previous years. I don’t plan on doing much shopping in person anymore. I’m completely at ease for having doctors’ appointments online. I already got rid of my car last year. I had grown to hate driving the last few years before I gave it up. I have gotten pretty decent at cooking my own meals. I enjoy watching movies in my own home with my own snacks and no one kicking the back of my chair. I have thought for years that doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers, etc. don’t get the recognition and respect they deserve. I think the same way about delivery drivers and minimum wage workers.

Progress didn’t stop during 2020. It actually sped up, often out of necessity. I read a couple days ago that now over 65 percent of the world has internet access and over 90 percent now has electricity. The change over to renewable power is going faster too. Read another article a couple days ago that over 90 percent of new electrical generating capacity is now clean energy like wind, solar, hydroelectric, etc. Politicians can talk all they wish about saving the coal and oil industries, but even the economics of cheaper renewables are working against this. It is now profitable to install green tech. I don’t think some of my friends would have seen the free market as ushering in green tech. Maybe we will head off the worst of climate change because the finances now make sense. Pity the tech wasn’t there twenty years ago.

As far as other progress goes, I read some places are now experimenting with flying drone taxis. Supposedly Dubai is supposed to have this service within the next two years. So everyone complaining about no flying cars can finally keep quiet and fly off. Personally I think a person born in the late 1800s, if they saw the world today would probably be more impressed with internet access than anything flying.

As bad as this pandemic has been, it could have been so much worse. Even if this would have hit back as recently as the 1980s, it would have been much uglier. I’m still amazed at how much work can be done from home. Couldn’t have done this without reliable internet. With vaccines set to be mass produced, I can start to see the end of the pandemic is in sight.

November 20 2020

Stayed up late last night, latest I’ve stayed up in weeks. Spent some time out of my apartment. I saw some maintenance workers in the apartment next door. So I’ll probably get new neighbors soon.

I’m slowly starting to reestablish contact with old friends. I kept mostly to myself and a small core of long time friends and family for the last couple years. I had gotten burned out on people fighting over petty nonsense over social media. For an introvert like myself, social media was a blessing as it was far easier for me to socialize over facebook than in person. Since I live in a small town and most of my friends live hundreds of miles away, I don’t have many opportunities for good socializing. Since I have rare interests, socializing has always been difficult for me. Once people started arguing over social media real bad, it really killed my social life. It hurt real bad. While I’m starting to rebuild those friendships, there are at least a few I’m not sorry I lost. One good thing about social media is that I get to find out what someone is really like. The bad thing is that I get to find out what someone is really like. I suppose it is like in order to find out what someone is really like, give them power and near unlimited expression.

Found some audiobooks on youtube, at least some that are old enough they don’t violate copyright laws. Been listening to philosophy books for the last couple days.

Not experiencing as many aches and pains the last several days. I still take advil in the mornings but I take it only once a day. I don’t need as much sleep. I usually only sleep seven hours a night. I usually spend three to four hours a day in bed reading online articles or texting friends.

November 19 2020

My hometown passed a temporary mask requirement ordinance at a city council meeting this week. It’s supposed to be in effect until February. The number of cases has spiked in my town. I wear masks when I meet delivery drivers and have guests. Have been for months. While I probably won’t be seeing my family for Thanksgiving, my cleaning lady said she would bring a couple plates of food.

I don’t have any plans for the weekend besides maybe watch some football. I’m still getting used to watching ballgames in empty arenas. I’m reading a lot again, mostly science articles. Found out that many of the audiobooks I was listening to on youtube were taken down recently. Likely because of copyright laws.

Weather has been nicer than normal the last several days. But we’re supposed to get chilly weather starting tomorrow. Today might be the last nice weather day for a long time. Most of the leaves have fallen now.

Mentally I’m feeling stable. Have some rough patches last week. But have felt better this week. I still don’t venture out much. I do check in on my neighbors once a day. I usually call my parents a few times per week. And I chat with my best friend via facebook a few times a week as well.

I saw that my supermarket is starting to limit the number of certain items people can purchase, especially paper towels and cleaning supplies. I usually bought a little extra in terms of food and cleaning supplies every time I got paid this summer. I should be able to bunker down for awhile if things get real ugly. I’ve heard that rural areas are now getting it worse than the big cities. Looks like it could be a long winter.

November 18 2020

Looks like I will be spending Thanksgiving alone this year. With the increases in covid cases, my elderly parents think it’s a bad idea to travel several hours to visit me. I understand. I’m thinking about buying a pre cooked ham and maybe a cherry pie. My cleaning lady said she usually makes a plate for her elderly or disabled clients. Even the local Knights of Columbus aren’t hosting their huge dinner this year (though I do think they’ll deliver to people who sign up a few days in advanced).

I’m not surprised that cases are surging again with the cold weather. I am disappointed that many people I know still refuse to take covid serious. I rarely leave my home because of this. It’s really childish to think that wearing face masks in public and avoiding large indoor gatherings are infringements on rights. It’s really discouraging to see just what most people are like in times of crisis. Yet, while the quantity of my social contacts has declined, the quality of my friendships and interactions are increasing. I no longer have the patience to tolerate rude, toxic, and reckless people. Maybe that is why I’m holding together well during the pandemic and economic problems.

I see that most of Europe is back on lockdown. While I think this is what the US needs (as people refuse to practice common courtesy) I fear there will be blood in the streets if anyone even talks about this, let alone tries to enforce it. It’s really discouraging. Seeing how poorly people are taking the problems of 2020 makes me afraid for the future. It’s hard to think a year or two down the road once this pandemic burns out when people actively fight against making things better.

Things I Enjoyed Too Much Growing Up in the 1980s and 1990s

I normally have little to no use for nostalgia. But at the same time I’m happy I grew up when I did. I think many of the struggles as well as things that gave me joy while growing up made me the man I am in 2020. I’m not saying growing up in the 1990s was better than growing up in the 2010s or 1950s or any other time period in history. One thing I don’t miss about the 20th century is the lack of youtube and easy access to information. I never want to return to that. Here is a list of things I enjoyed, probably too much from the 1980s and 1990s. I still enjoy them. And over the years I’ve added to this things that came out after I became an adult. Heck I’ve had the joy of being called both a “triggered snowflake” and an “apathetic slacker” on the same day (in reference to being from both the Millenial and Generation X eras). So here goes

Things I enjoyed too much about growing up in the 1980s and 1990s

Indiana Jones movies

R.L. Stine novels

Chose Your Own Adventure books

TV shows like Daria and X-Files

‘Made in Japan’ electronics that never broke down

The music of Metallica

Flannel shirts

Making fun of preppies wearing Abercrombie and Fitch

Patrick Swayze movies, especially Road House

Saturday morning cartoons

Candy cigarettes

Going to Pizza Hut when they still had all the arcade games and cool decorations

The music of Tupac

Fairuza Balk movies

MTV when it still had music videos

Nebraska Husker football when Tom Osborne was the coach

Watching Michael Jordan play basketball

When politicians lied mainly about sex and doing pot as teenagers

Listening to the stories of World War 2 vets and survivors of the Great Depression

The music of Marilyn Manson

When the parents actually had better ethics than their kids

Collecting baseball cards

Conspiracy theories not being widely believed

Johnny Bravo cartoons

Futurama cartoons

Westerns like Dances With Wolves and Tombstone

The music of Jon Bon Jovi

Cosmic Bowling nights

Rollerblades

When anti vaccines weren’t popular

Singing “Fire, Water, Burn” during fire drills in high school

Wondering if kids in the inner cities secretly liked the music of Garth Brooks

Ross Perot and his pie charts

Jodie Foster movies, especially Contact

Inspiration and Bringing To Light The Things Done In Secret

Even though I’ve been feeling hopeful and optimistic overall during the last couple weeks, I still don’t socialize in person much. Then again, that could be why I’m optimistic. While most people have been allowing themselves to be bombarded by constant bad news, I’ve been making efforts to figure out what is actually going right. My entire life I’ve heard that the world was messed up and we would collapse back to the Stone Age any day now. It really messed with my head when I was growing up. It was one of the reasons I preferred to spend most of my days alone in my backyard. I’d spend hours on end out there pacing through the cedar and cherry trees making up stories. I’d made up stories of heroes, future worlds where we solved most of our current problems (like climate change, poverty, war, disease, etc.) and were exploring outer and inner space. I never read comic books or science fiction novels as a kid. The nearest bookstore was over an hour drive away. Most people in my hometown thought “The Simpsons” and “South Park” were morally degenerate but war movies, westerns, and crime dramas were “wholesome family entertainment.”

As I didn’t have much inspiring hope in me as a kid, I had to manufacture my own. Granted, this was in the years before youtube and binge watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix. My best friend from my teenage years (the same lady who is my best friend even now) was probably even more alienated and an outsider than I was. I could at least fake enthusiasm in things like watching sports and politics I didn’t agree with. And I still do, mainly as a mechanism to appear like one of the crowd. I am actually more effected by the reactions of my family and friends to things like politics and our team suffering a losing streak than I am the politics and losing itself. Sadly, social media only amplified this.

Yet, I’m still thankful that enough people had the vision and ability to make social media work to bring it to the world at large. Sure, it was painful seeing sides of people I had known my entire life I would have wished I never knew existed. But I also found out who were really cool people I could count on in times of crisis. I may have lost lots of friends over the last several years, but I strengthened others in the process. Social media and the last few years of social unrest and change have really driven home the fact that most people have the friends they have, not because of shared interests and values, but due to lack of options. I have often had more acceptance and friendship from strangers I’ll never meet in my various facebook groups than I experienced from some people I have known since childhood.

Social media also allowed me to find out who the really toxic people were in my life. Once I gave up trying to talk sense into these people, I cut them out of my life. It was a tough process, but one that was worth it. People like that have always been toxic. It was just in previous eras this toxicity would have never been made public knowledge. These may have been the types of people who were pillars of the community in public but beat and shamed their children and spouse behind closed doors. One positive about social media is that is exposed the con artists and liars for what they are. People like that could have gone entire lifetimes being such and would have probably never been detected. The people who can be aware of how messed up those in power and in our own social circle can be are figuring it out. We don’t necessary need an entire population of citizens aware of how bad they are being cheated by those in authority that have never cared about them. Just enough to force changes are necessary.

Sometimes all it takes is the actions of only one really dedicated individual to inspire others whom in term inspire others. I mean, does anyone know who Gandhi’s brothers and sisters were (without going to wikipedia)? Or Isaac Newton’s? Or Greta Thunberg’s? Or Martin Luther King’s? Short term, fear and hate usually win. Long term, it is usually love and hope that wins out. Sure we have our problems and always will. But that doesn’t mean that progress is in illusion. I absolutely despise people who believe progress isn’t real and that even individual people can’t change. I’ve ended friendships over these attitudes. I spent my entire childhood being bombarded by negativity, pessimism, and fear. I will never go back. Hell, I feel like I was cheated by my elders for trying to steal my optimism and hope. They may have fought to take my hope and crush my spirit and kill my creativity. But they failed and they failed miserably. If anything, they made my resolve even stronger. And I’m not unique in this regard. I imagine every city, town, village, cross roads, tribe, etc. all over the world has at least a few kids who were “hopeless dreamers” who refused to be “practical” in spite of the negativity and punishments of their elders. And many of these kids grew up to be the adults who made positive change possible in their own ways. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are often the ones who accomplish just that. In short, now is probably one of the lousiest times in human history to be a pessimist who naively clings to comfortable lies of the past. It is also an awful time to a tyrant so seeks to divide people and rule through fear.

November 1 2020

Just read that much of Europe is going back on lock down as the pandemic picks up again. I am still avoiding people for the most part. Most people I know aren’t taking this at all serious. I fear they never will even when they themselves get sick. So sad. And with an extremely hostile election coming in only a couple days, I fear the problems are going to get a lot worse. I hate what people have become. And it was completely unnecessary. I am told that socializing can help with mental illness. But most people I know, even people in my family and friends circles, have become toxic. No reason to socialize with people who will make me feel even worse. I’m sick of politics, even of people I agree with. I’m sick of science denial. You want to fear change, fine. Go to the mountains and live off the grid. Don’t take the rest of us with you. Stop trying to remake the world in your image. I’m sick of seeing rude and anti social people prosper for being rude and anti social. I’m pretty much ready to go on voluntary isolation until this all clears.