September 18 2021

Last weekend of summer is officially here. I turned on my furnace for the first time a few days ago. It get chilly at night now. Corn harvest is beginning. It will be in full effect in a week or two.

Been having more aches and pains these last few days. Probably the constant change in weather. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less the last few weeks. My clothes are looser now and I am a lot more flexible than even last spring. I’ve been having issues with bad sleep. I’ll fall asleep but won’t stay asleep for long. I usually get my best sleep now after 5 am. For most of the summer I woke at sunrise. I no longer keep a clock in my home as I have my phone, computer, and game console for that.

I like fall. It’s my second favorite season behind spring. I love being able to climb out of bed on Saturdays and catch college football games all day. Baseball playoffs will be starting in a couple weeks. Basketball and Hockey will be starting soon. I’m glad baseball season was able to go with fewer problems from covid than I thought. I still remember last year when most games were played in empty arenas. It not only wasn’t the same, it was eerie. So glad I got vaccinated a few months ago. I got the Johnson and Johnson one shot and done deal.

Been having issues with congestion in my lungs and throat. The throat congestion clears with a sip or two of apple cider vinegar. I usually mix it with a cup of water as it has a very strong bad taste and can be rough on my stomach. I think apple cider vinegar helps with lots of things, but I certainly don’t recommend it without a cup of water or tea. I still have my senses of taste and smell. When I do cough, I cough up gunk and not dry coughs. So I doubt it’s covid. Besides, the congestion, aches, and insomnia are the only issues I’ve had lately.

When I do have guests, I wear a face mask. The only regular guest I have is my cleaning lady once a week. It feels good to get my place scrubbed down and she doesn’t mind my conversation. While she works, I usually read science and news journals. I’m particularly fond of the free versions of the Washington Post, Financial Times, and FutureTimeline.net

Looks like another summer has come and passed. I’m ready for some autumn again..

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Nostalgia and Regrets, Or Lack Of

One of my best friends from college died from cancer a few days ago. She was only a couple years older than I and had two teenage kids. I used to play trivia games all the time and she was one of the few who could actually beat me on our campus. After a couple years, she was the only one who would even play against me. Even though I hadn’t seen her in several years, I will always miss her. Easy socializing with people of similar interests is one of the things I miss about not being young anymore.

I’ve been thinking back on my younger years more than usual lately. I’m normally not nostalgic as I think nostalgia glosses over the bad parts of our past, overlooks what is going on that is good today, and leaves no vision for the future. Maybe it’s the time of year when school is back in session and my hometown, home to a small state university of about 8,000 students, comes back to life. Maybe it’s that after over a year and a half of pandemic and the end of two decades of war in the Middle East (at least for my country), I have found myself reflecting on how we got to the point in August 2021 were we currently reside.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I understand why so many people are nostalgic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the health they had in their late teens coupled with the knowledge they have in their elder years? But, health is wasted on the young and inexperienced and wisdom and wealth are wasted on the elderly, frail, and cynical. I just hope I never find myself complaining about the younger generations and fantasizing about a past that never existed anywhere outside of my own mind.

I do have a few regrets about my younger years. Most of them are minor, but the big one I have is that I didn’t do more to care for my physical health while I was fighting my mental illness in my twenties. I don’t regret the road trips, the books read, the college degree earned, the dead end jobs abandoned, the toxic people I gave up on, the failed romances, not having gotten married, not having kids, the activities participated in, etc. I certainly don’t regret having survived to middle age with a serious mental illness. I don’t regret trying to make something good out of a bad situation. I don’t regret being involved in many activities in high school and college. I don’t regret the friends I’ve kept over the decades. I don’t regret staying on good terms with most of my family even if we don’t chat very often. I don’t regret the women I’ve asked out on dates in high school and college even if I got rejected by all but a few of them. I don’t regret going a year and a half into a worldwide pandemic without getting sick and spending most of my time isolated. I don’t even regret selling my car and giving up driving. I always thought driving was overrated anyway. The only reason I learned to drive is that my country has had garbage for public transit my entire life.

I don’t regret not socializing with toxic people. I don’t regret cutting rude people out of my life. I don’t regret giving up on my minimum wage career. I don’t regret not letting other people determine what I think of myself. I don’t regret having unpopular opinions. And I certainly don’t regret spotting trends years before most people I know. I guess I’m not as nostalgic as most people my age and older because I have fewer regrets. Sure it meant lots of heat aches, humiliation, failed jobs, being betrayed, and knowing I’ll never be prestigious, rich, or even a respected member of my community. But it was worth it to become the man I am today.

Thoughts On My School Years

Schools in my town are back in session for fall. High school and college football will be starting in a couple weeks. I was on my high school’s football team back in the late 90s. Since I attended a small high school (My senior class had only 30 students when we graduated), it was easier to get involved in school activities than in most schools. In addition to playing football, I did school play for two years, pep band for basketball games, competitive speech, and a couple years of track. Even though I’ve been out of high school since 1999, I don’t go all Glory Days like the old Bruce Springsteen song. Those four years of high school and five years of college seemed to last forever when I was going through. Time really does speed up the longer you’ve been alive. I mentioned this to my then 90 year old grandmother when she just chuckled and said “You have no idea just how fast it’s gonna get.”

While I may have learned more history, philosophy, science, tech, etc. in binge watching youtube videos for 10 years, would I have desired to do such if I didn’t have good teachers in my youth and parents who encouraged me to read at a very young age? The idea that school can teach something everything they need to know about life and working by age 22 is not feasable. Especially with as fast as science, tech, and industry changes anymore. And these changes aren’t slowing down. I’m amazed at the amount of changes I’ve seen just in the last two years, let alone the last twenty. I can imagine my twelve year old niece chuckling every time her dad talks about the old dial up internet and even land based phone lines. I’m sure my seventeen year old nephew rolls his eyes when he thinks about people like me who have never used virtual reality head sets or 3D printers. I don’t even have a TikTok account. I don’t even make videos on youtube. I probably would get a larger audience doing videos about mental illness issues, but is it really worth the hassle of dealing with more trolls and arguments in comment sections? I still think it’s amazing there are kids on youtube and tiktok making over a million dollars a year and they aren’t even old enough to join the military or vote. I guess the possibility to make a living off anything you are good at is now there. That wasn’t the case twenty five years ago.

If anything, the purpose of school should be teaching kids how to learn long after their last day of high school. I did the math and my youngest nephew won’t hit even current retirement age until the late 2070s. We don’t know what will and won’t be available by then. We might not even need most people to have jobs by then if automation and AI takes off like I think it could. But, then again, some predictions will be laughably way off. Some economists back in the 1930s thought that people would need to work only 15 hours a week instead of 40 by 2030. Hell, I’d be thrilled if we could get the work week back down to 40 hours by then. And wages haven’t even tried to keep up with cost of living and productivity since the late 1970s. No way could anyone working a job requiring only a high school degree can support a house and six kids anymore outside of truck driving, sales, and trades in 2021. Most people I know younger than me are working two jobs and still barely breaking even. Any wonder why younger people are revolting against the current order? I wish my cohorts and I had that kind of courage fifteen years ago.

August 5 2021

Found out my brother and all four of his kids tested positive for covid this morning. I had a couple friends in Omaha and a couple cousins catch it last year. So glad I got vaccinated months ago. Having a chronic mental illness and being overweight are already two strikes against me. I’m getting prepared in case another round of lockdowns are enacted this fall. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Saw my psych doctor a couple days ago. We did a teleconference. Got my prescriptions renewed. It was essentially a follow up. I had been having more irritability than usual all of last week. I wasn’t paranoid but I was quite irritable. It seems to have cleared up.

Been following the Olympics some. I don’t watch much for regular tv anymore. Most of what I watch are youtube videos and Amazon Prime. Saw the first half of The Ten Commandments yesterday. Probably finish that tonight.

Been chatting with friends a little everyday. Found out a friend of mine is going to talk to a disability lawyer soon concerning chronic health problems. Another friend’s daughter had her first birthday party a week ago.

The Black Hills Motorcycle Rally is starting this weekend. That is always a sign for me that summer is all but over. My cleaning lady’s kids start back to school in a week. I just hope schools reopening and summer rallies don’t turn into super spreader events. Since we actually have vaccines, where we didn’t a year ago, I hope the outbreaks won’t be as bad this fall.

I’m pretty content to stay close to home, at least for the near term. As long as I can get my groceries delivered and have access to internet, I should be alright.

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.

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.

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.