Routines and Change Of Seasons During Pandemic and Economic Crisis

I’m enjoying the cooler weather. I spend most of my time either under the blankets in my bed or with a blanket over my legs while I sit in my recliner. I think I’ve gotten more sensitive to cold over the last few years. Cold didn’t bother me at all until my mid 30s. I am glad that cool weather is here. I usually do my best writing and reading in the fall and winter.

I’m currently between major reading projects right now. Been reading some old poetry books, writers like Emily Dickenson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Starting to read science articles again. Spent much of my summer reading geopolitics and history articles and blogs. Been reading more wikipedia lately.

I’ve been lazier about writing the last few weeks. I guess even I thought my blog entries were getting stale and uninspired. I’m now seven months into my self imposed quarantine. It goes get to me sometimes. Many people I know still won’t wear face masks in public even with cases of covid on the increase in my town.

Many people I personally know are struggling. Two of my friends in Omaha had to apply for rent assistance and regularly use food pantries. A friend of mine in Denver is worried that layoffs at her job may be coming as her company is losing business. I don’t leave my apartment much except to visit my neighbors and pick up the mail. I pass most of my days with lots of reading and phone calls. I call my parents every couple days to check in on them. I talk to my friend in South Dakota every weekend. I don’t watch much live tv outside of football on Saturday afternoons. I do watch a lot of science lectures, philosophy lectures, interviews, podcasts, and audiobooks on youtube. I don’t use facebook much except to keep in contact with close friends and a few cousins.

Weather is supposed to get real cold this weekend. My friend in South Dakota said they have had a few snows already. My friend in Denver specifically owns an all wheel drive car for their winter snows. I am restocked on supplies and should be able to stay home for awhile if needed. My cleaning lady arrives on Thursday afternoons. She does good work and is good conversation.

If there is one thing I don’t like about being an adult is that it isn’t as easy to have good conversations as it was when I was in college and just starting out in my adult life. Most people I know are busy with family and careers. Most are stressed about money issues, relationship problems, problems at work, etc. that I really can’t relate to. I don’t know if I’m stuck in a perpetual early adulthood or if I just skipped most of my career and right into retirement. I have given up on making new friends via social media. Just to divided and nasty anymore. It didn’t start out that way. It’s sad to see what it has become.

In other news, cement work is being done around the complex, namely in the parking lot. Doesn’t effect me much as I no longer have a car. But at least maintenance is still getting done during a recession and pandemic.

Too Bad I Don’t Get Paid To Learn or My Path To Becoming An Independent Scholar

I’ve been enjoying the cooler fall weather and the changing leaves. Been having bouts of depression the last few days. They clear up after some good conversation with old friends and family. I think the loneliness of the pandemic is starting to get the best of me. I’m too paranoid to socialize in person much as most people I know won’t wear face masks. And with flu season starting in only a few weeks, this could be a really rough winter. I’m prepared to hunker down and stay home for a real long time if needed, at least in terms of supplies. I’m not so sure about the mental part of it.

I’ve been having more time to think during this pandemic. Been reflecting on my past and growing up. When I was a kid, some of my happiest memories were being alone and exploring our large back yard and letting my mind wander. I’d often make up stories and keep these story lines going for months at a time. I never did write any of them down and have forgotten most over the years. I kept a journal one summer while in junior high, at least until my brother stole it and mocked me for some of my writings. He and some of the neighborhood kids used to spy on me when I paced the backyard too. Hurt really bad to have my privacy violated like that. I didn’t realize I was good at writing and story telling until I was almost done with college.

I graduated college with a business degree. I originally started as a pre medicine major with the idea I would get a job in a research lab eventually. While I was really interested in biology, palentology, and chemistry as a kid, I was also really interested in history and literature. I didn’t consider studying history or english in college because I heard the horror stories about arts and humanities students finding only minimum wage jobs after graduation. I only studied business because I got a D in organic chemistry, which destroyed my chances for graduate school. I also didn’t know much about business or money besides how to balance a checkbook. And since money involves everything, I thought business might lead to a career once I finished college. I really enjoyed the economics, finance, and investing classes. I didn’t enjoy the accounting classes. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and no idea what I was going to do with it.

After graduation I worked a couple retail sales jobs as that was all that I had available to me. Even while working those jobs, I used to get anxiety real bad about working. I used to vomit before work most days because of the anxiety. I later got a job as a graduate assistant while I was working on my masters’ in economics. That job, while really enjoyable, lasted only a few months because I couldn’t make grades. I also don’t think my bosses or coworkers liked me.

After I qualified for disability insurance a few years later, I finally had a safety net. I worked part time for a few years as a janitor at the county courthouse. After a few years of that, I decided to take “early retirement” and finally do what I wanted for the first time in my life. I devoted my life to studying, reading, writing, etc. And I have never been happier. I may not make much money and I probably never will. But I’m good with that. I never had the kind of ego that needed lots of money, a prestigious job, a big house, a wife and kids, etc. I guess I just wanted to be an independent scholar. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties I got to realize this dream that I was too scared to admit to anyone, even myself.

I love learning. I always have. Even being the odd kid in my school who loved learning and was too stubborn to hide it, it was never beaten out of me. I guess I was fortunate that, even though I got lots of garbage from classmates for being too smart, most of my teachers didn’t discourage my thirst for knowledge and wisdom. I even had a few who encouraged me and loved me for being eccentric. And I found even more teachers like that in college. I also met kids who loved learning even more than I did. It was amazing. It’s tragic that most kids have that God given love of learning beaten out of them at such an early age. I don’t know why I never lost that love. I’m just grateful that I never did.

Things I Am Glad To See Change

It’s been several days since I last wrote.  I feel that my posts were getting stale and I was running out of material.  I was needing some time away to recharge.  A lot has changed over the last several years since I started this blog.  That change has only accelerated over the last several months during the pandemic.  I thought I would do a post about things that I am glad that are changing.  This isn’t meant to be definitive by any means and is merely a thought exercise carried out via a blog entry.  So here goes.

Things I Am Glad To See Change

  1. The increase of the work from home options for office jobs.
  2. The rise of home delivery services, especially for groceries.
  3. Increased appreciation for delivery drivers and store clerks.
  4. Increased appreciation for nurses and doctors.
  5. The decline of the commute to the office.
  6. The decline of air pollution
  7. Less emphasis on senseless consumption
  8. Increased appreciation for empathy and compassion
  9. Increased awareness that not everything on social media is true
  10. The decline of 24 hour cable news
  11. The increased appreciation for baking and cooking at home
  12. The decline of retailers who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt
  13. Increased awareness of prejudices in our institutions
  14. Increased awareness of prejudices in culture
  15. Increased awareness and appreciation for medical science
  16. Private space flight
  17. Plans to return astronauts to the moon
  18. The mass realization that there are some problems politicians can’t solve
  19. Increased applications for renewable energy
  20. More people realizing the importance of work life balance
  21. Streaming services
  22. Increased learning from home via Khan Academy, etc.
  23. Increased awareness of how social media can be abused
  24. 3D printing
  25. CRISPR Cas 9
  26. Self Driving Cars
  27. The rise of the electric car
  28. Increased awareness of mental health issues

Thoughts on My Upcoming Birthday

My birthday is this Sunday.  I will be forty years old.  I guess the thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that I do have more aches and pains, especially in the mornings.  I have to be more careful about what I eat too.  I’ve noticed that too much caffeine makes me irritable and short tempered.  Too much carb rich food like bread and pastas will make me lethargic and sleepy.  Too much milk will unsettle my guts.  It’s also easier for me to fall asleep.  I do wake up at least once a night to visit the bathroom.  I don’t desire sugar as often.  I have little to no interest in sex, certainly not enough to start dating again.  I have come to be more accepting of my weaknesses and drawbacks.  I’ve learned to compensate and work around those weaknesses and drawbacks.  Instead of looking for what’s going wrong in the world, I spend much of my time trying to figure out what’s going right.  Even though I’m middle aged, I have more empathy for kids and young adults.  I didn’t have much empathy for kids and young adults when I was a kid and a young adult.  I’ve come to accept that everyone has their own struggles and problems, so it’s best to go easier on people overall.  I’ve developed more of an appreciation for customer service workers like waitresses, cashiers, delivery drivers, shelf stockers, gas station clerks, etc.  I have found that a good cup of coffee and a home cooked meal will give me more joy than going to clubs and chasing women ever did.  And I learned that we as humans are far more adaptable and able to change than we realize, especially in the long term.

We Knew The Problems, We Didn’t Act Accordingly

Haven’t left my apartment since last weekend.  Been sleeping more too.  2020 has been an insane year, to say the least.  Pandemics.  Protests.  Quarantines.  Broken supply chains.  Private space flight takes astronauts to the space station.  Yes, 2020 will be a year for the history books.

While all these things are overwhelming for me, I try to stay grounded and positive.  I try to tell people around what’s actually going right.  I tell people that I am hopeful that all of our current troubles are hopefully the birth pains of a more humane and balanced way of living and interacting with the world.  We were foolish to base so much of our manufacturing overseas, especially essential medicines and protective gear.  Militarizing the police was not a good idea.  The uncomfortable conversations about bigotry have been put off for far too long.  Our governments spending too much money and passing the debts off to future generations have gone on for too long.  The gaps between the wealthy and the poor have gotten unmanageable.  The middle class, a key ingredient in any stable and free society, has been under siege financially for too long.  Many people in their twenties and thirties don’t see how they can ever afford a house or children when they already have a small fortune in  student loans.  They were told, like I was, a college degree was necessary to get any jobs beyond frying chicken or pumping gas.  Then they get out of college and the good paying jobs their parents and grandparents had aren’t there.  And now automation is probably going to take over a significant portion of jobs in most industries.  Any wonder most people are scared and angry?

Most of this has been building for at least a couple decades now.  Workers in my parents’ generation knew that social security wasn’t going to be enough to cover their retirements.  Yet, too many of them didn’t save and invest enough to make up the difference.  Now they can’t afford to retire and creating a log jam of millions of younger people overqualified for the entry level jobs they have available.  We knew that too many police officers weren’t being held accountable for using excessive and deadly force, primarily in black and brown neighborhoods, yet we wouldn’t hold them or corrupted local politicians and judges accountable.  Doctors and scientists have been warning us for decades a major pandemic was extremely likely in our lifetimes.  We knew, but we refused to prepare.  We knew about the potential dangers of climate change since at least the 1960s.  Sure, rivers are less polluted in many countries, electric cars are becoming reliable, solar and wind power becoming cheaper than coal in many countries, power storage is becoming more feasible, and nuclear fusion is in development.  But we are starting to see the effects of what scientists have been warning for decades.  We knew a major stock market crash was due once my parents’ generation started retiring and selling off their retirement funds.  We didn’t do enough to prepare, either as nations or individuals.  Wages for most workers haven’t budged in terms of inflation since at least the early 80s, even though workers have gotten more productive and are demanded more from employers.  We treated customer service workers like garbage for decades.  I saw it everyday I worked.  I even received enough abuse from customers, bosses, and coworkers alike I will never work in customer service again.  I don’t care if my disability does get cut off, I’d rather starve to death than be treated worse than an animal.

2020 is indeed a very stressful year for most people.  It was made worse because problems we’ve known about for decades were either never addressed or addressed inadequately.  Hopefully 2020 will be a year when we start to make right the wrongs and bad decisions of previous decades and eras.  I don’t know what it’s like to be black or any other racial minority.  And I never will.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman either.  And I never will.  I don’t understand their problems.  But I do want be empathic and be part of making right the wrongs of the past and present.

Thoughts on My Upcoming 40th Birthday

I’ll be turning 40 years old in two weeks.  I guess the days drag slowly but the years go fast.  I sometimes lose track of time during the day to day grind.  I’ve been a bit more nostalgic than usual lately.  Been listening more to the music I liked back in college and high school.  While I don’t buy into the whole ‘older music is better than new’, I do like a lot of the things that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s.  But, then again those years were real significant to me.  It was when I was growing into the man I would eventually become.  In those years, I had my first dates, my first kiss, travelled to Mexico for a couple weeks, actually had good physical health, could stay up all night and still do a full day of classes with little more than a couple Pop Tarts and a cup of coffee.

It seems the only true constant in life is change.  I risk sounding like an old man when I say I’m amazed at all the changes I’ve seen just in my lifetime.  I’m old enough I remember the last few years of the Cold War.  Even as a nine year old growing up in rural Nebraska, I knew that the Berlin Wall coming down was significant.  I was in fourth grade when my elementary school got a bunch of Apple II GS computers.  I felt like I joined the future right then and there.  Now those are ancient relics compared to what we have now.  I may sometimes give my elders a hard time for not being comfortable with computers, but my nephews would give me the exact same hard time for being uncomfortable with VR programs and 3D printers.  My thirteen year old nephew set up a VR flying program for my father, a licensed pilot and former Air Force pilot.  I don’t know how to do this.  Maybe I could after watching a few tutorials on youtube, but not until then.

Just in my forty years, I’ve seen computers go from clunky desk tops to fit in your coat pocket supercomputers that happen to make phone calls.  I’ve seen the electric car become reliable.  I’ve seen the internet become as much as a game changer as the printing press and steam engine in previous eras.  Saw 9/11 and the subsequent wars.  Saw China become a world power.  Saw the European Union and Brexit both.  Saw the rise of Populist politics on all sides in many countries.  I’m seeing the Covid 19 pandemic play out in real time.  Saw the rise of robotics and the beginnings of AI.  Saw the Human Genome Project get completed.  Saw the rise of social media and tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.  Saw Apple’s renaissance.  Saw the decline of video rental stores.  I’m witnessing the decline of traditional retail (and many of my previous jobs were in retail).  I’m seeing the beginning of driverless cars (I imagine our grandkids will find that term as quaint as ‘horseless carriage’ was in the early 1900s).  Heck I’m even seeing researchers trying to slow down the aging process.  And these are just the things that are in the headlines everyday.

I don’t know if I have another forty years left in this life, but it has been an exciting ride so far.  I would love to make it to 2060, if for no other reason than to just see what else plays out.  We do live in troubling times, with the pandemic and protests turning violent on an almost daily basis.  I remain hopeful that these are the birth pains of a changed for the better civilization that makes more efforts to not repeat the wrongs of past eras.  Granted, some days it isn’t easy.

20 Facts About Me

I’m going to take a break from posting about my day to day routines during the pandemic today.  I’d like to do another ‘just for fun’ post.  I suppose it’s one of those odd facts about me postings.

Odd facts about me

  1. Even though I spend most of my time alone, I actually like conversation.  Granted I have a tough time with idle chit chat and neighborhood gossip.  I will talk about things like history, geopolitics, economics, baseball stats, tech advances with almost anyone who is willing to engage in this type of conversation.  Even when my cleaning lady is here every week I’ll look up things online and tell her about some of the headlines, especially in tech.  Yeah, I’ll be telling her about something like advances in robotics while she’s mopping my kitchen or about possible medical treatments to slow down aging while she’s scrubbing my bathtub.  But she is either really interested or she’s really good at humoring the eccentric loner she cleans for every Thursday afternoon.
  2.  I really don’t watch a lot for traditional television shows, not even on streaming services.  I do watch a lot of interviews and round table conversations about science, tech, medicine, and economics on youtube.  I watch a lot of shows that sometimes are featured on channels like History Channel, Travel Channel, etc.  I subscribed to Disney+ mainly because they carry NatGeo shows.
  3.  I am far more interested in reading non fiction than fiction.  I’m not sure why.  Even my favorite comedy performers base their routines on pointing out how absurd every day life can be.
  4.  At least once a day, I will climb into bed, pull up my blanket, put on my CPAP machine, and just let my mind wander.  It seems to be a good way to declutter my mind and relax.  I try to do this for at least an hour a day, usually in the afternoons.
  5.  I really don’t like driving cars.  I never have.  I even sold my car last year because I didn’t use it enough to justify having it.  Thank God for grocery delivery and Amazon.
  6.  I do love computer games.  I especially love games like Civilization, Total War, Sim City, etc.  I have never really gotten into first person shooter games.
  7.  I no longer have music CDs or even pay for music streaming.  All the tunes I need I get for free on youtube or free Spotify.  I don’t mind sitting through ads every ten to fifteen minutes, at least as long as it’s not longer than thirty seconds.
  8.  I don’t have a Twitter or Tik Tok account.  I just can’t get my points and ideas across in a fifteen second video or a short tweet.  I have a hard enough time carrying on a decent conversation on facebook.
  9.  I don’t always carry my phone around when I’m in public.
  10.  If I’m in a state of depression or anxiety, I sometimes won’t answer my phone or my door.  I fear having a melt down over the phone or on a guest.
  11.  I’m still amazed at people who post articles on their facebook pages without doing a couple minutes of research to see even what the article says, let alone how reliable the source is.
  12.  I don’t use paper checks for anything besides my rent.  Haven’t for years.
  13.  I don’t check my mail every day.  90 percent is junk or things I already know through my online accounts.  Seriously, stop sending me coupons already.  I can just as good of deals with a few minutes of online research.  And businesses who try to advertise through direct mail make me not want to do business with them.
  14.  I’m surprised at how few people understand the concept of compound interest.
  15.  I sometimes get upset with youtube’s algorithms suggesting videos to me I have zero interest in.  Stop sending me links to conspiracy theory pages just because I watched a few videos on the history of banking or about buying gold coins.
  16.  I don’t enjoy long goodbyes.
  17.  I can often tell if the weather is going to change by how extra sore my knees are.
  18.  I think it’s too bad that chicken wings aren’t health food.
  19.  I think access to internet is no more a luxury than electricity or running water.  At one time, yes.  Then again, having a roof and four walls used to be a luxury too.  What century are my neighbors who think internet is a luxury living in?
  20.  I’m 39 years old and I still love heavy metal and hard rock music.  Always will.  If I make to be an 80 year old man and living in a retirement home, don’t be surprised if I’m still listening to bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin or the like.

Missing Sports During Quarantine

Been under volunteer quarantine for over a month.  I sometimes lose track of days at this point.  Many of the things I love about spring I haven’t gotten to take part in this year.  One of my spring traditions is watching the college basketball tournaments.  It’s always interesting to see what small schools pull off upsets and then make deep runs into the playoffs.  I’m also missing baseball.  It’s been a tradition of mine to have a game playing on my tv while I was working on my computer or reading a book.  I miss not following games I wouldn’t normally care much about because of my fantasy baseball league.  I’ve been part of a league for over a dozen years with a couple college friends and some of their coworkers and friends.  Only within the last few years did we start charging league dues.  But even those are only twenty dollars a year. I’ve never won our league, but I mainly do it to make watching baseball even more interesting.

I’m going to miss the Olympics this summer.  I have no doubt that Japan would have done a great job as host nation.  My favorite sports to watch are gymnastics and track.  I make a point to always watch the gymnastics finals and the sprints finals.  Even as a teenager I was never flexible or a fast runner.  Maybe that is why I pay so much attention to running and gymnastics.  Hopefully this pandemic burns out enough that we can have the Olympics in 2021.

I’m missing soccer too.  I have a niece and two nephews who are big soccer players in youth leagues.  So I started watching soccer games a few years ago to try to understand their sport more.  I have a subscription to ESPN Plus so I can get out of country soccer games.  I sometimes watch MLS during the summers.  And I make a point of watching the US national teams are playing.  But that is on hold for the time being.

I’m missing spring football practice.  This Saturday would have been many colleges annual Spring Game.  It’s essentially a glorified practice.  And here in Nebraska, that game normally draws capacity crowds of 90,000.  90,000 attendees for essentially a practice.  Yes, we Nebraska fans are crazy like that.

NBA playoffs would have been going by now.  I’m missing those too.  I’m even going to miss hearing about The Masters golf tournament and the Triple Crown horse races.

It still feels odd not having a ballgame on tv most nights.  I’m going to be glad once those get up and going again.  The NFL Draft is next week.  Of course, it’s going to be done remotely.  I may watch that.  I’m a bigger fan of college football than the pro game, but it is interesting to see what pro teams college stars sign with.

April 13 2020

Been a good day so far.  Bought some groceries.  So I’m set food wise for a while.  I was up pretty late last night.  I’m still staying home all the time.  I haven’t been off my complex’s property in a month.  I haven’t had problems with boredom yet.  I do have even more aches and pains the last few days, especially in my knees.  The best thing for that seems to be stand up and walk around more often.

I am so grateful for home delivery right now.  I’ve been getting my groceries and medications delivered to my home for a few years now.  It worked so well that I quit driving my car.  Having a phobia of driving made the decision to sell my car made the decision more easy.  I haven’t driven a car in over six months.  And I don’t miss it.  My budget is thanking me now that I don’t have to buy gas two to three times per month.  I haven’t even shopped in a Wal Mart or a mall for almost three years.  Most of my house supplies I get either from Amazon or through my supermarket home delivery.

 

April 1 2020 Social Distancing

Got my social security payment this morning.  I ordered a few groceries and supplies.  Mostly meat and cleaning agents.  I should have those delivered this afternoon.  I have to drop off my rent check and do laundry today.  I do my laundry at least once a week.

Still doing well mentally.  I haven’t had a breakdown in over a month now.  I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m holding it together in spite the stressful time we’re in.  I think it helped that I got prepared earlier than most people.  I haven’t even had to leave my apartment complex in over two weeks.  I sleep a lot now.  I usually sleep at least ten hours a day.  I’ve heard sleep helps boost immune defenses and, for me, reduces stress.  I was doing breathing exercises in bed yesterday and was relaxed enough I fell asleep for over three hours.

I actually don’t have much problems with aches and pains except for when I wake up in the mornings.  I make a point of standing up at least once an hour no matter what I’m doing.  I haven’t read much other than online articles this week.  I still watch some youtube videos.  Much of what I watch are videos on the line of what positives will come from this pandemic and what tech will advance faster because of covid 19.  One thing I do see happening is that more companies will allow more work from home options.  Another is that grocery and medication home delivery services will become real popular.  I also see that fewer people will harass others via social media interactions.  I was starting to see this already.  It isn’t as bad now as it was three to five years ago.

I started lifting weights every day.  I just don’t work the same muscles two days in a row.  When I was seriously lifting in high school and college, I usually lifted five to six days a week but worked individual muscles no more than three times a week.

The days are starting to go quicker now.  For the first week of the self quarantine, the days felt like weeks.  It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t leaving my apartment complex, it was that even that option went away.  But, like many things, I adapted within several days.  I do still have some minor maintenance issues in my place that could be taken care of quickly.  But, for now, only vitally necessary maintenance is getting done.  So glad I got my new floor and paint before all this mess hit.