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.

May 9 2021

Other than a few really hot days, it’s been a chilly spring. We’ve also had several good rains. Hopefully enough to ease drought conditions. I usually leave my windows open during the day and close them right before sunset. Still gets chilly at night.

Had my covid vaccine. I took the one shot Johnson & Johnson. Didn’t have any side effects. The nurse was so smooth with the needle I barely felt it go in. My mom is a retired nurse and always prided herself and causing as little pain as possible for her patients.

Today was Mothers’ Day. I called my mom. My brother had some flowers delivered to her house. She and my dad went out for Chinese after church services. My mother is one of the big reasons I’m still on social media on a regular basis. Even though I call her three to four times per week, she still likes checking in on her boys. It doesn’t matter that I’m in my forties and have a few gray hairs, I’m still her kid.

I think I actually lost weight during my self quarantine. Most of my clothes I bought are now quite baggy. I have to buy extra tall clothing because I am taller than most people. My torso is actually longer than my legs. I had a doctor tell me if my legs were any proper proportion to my torso, I’d be almost 6 feet 10 inches. As it is, I’m 6 feet 2 inches. So I ordered a couple shirts through Amazon.com that are a size smaller than I normally order. They should be here in a few days. As I live in a rural area several hours away from major metro areas, I don’t get next day delivery. But I told one of my cousins who has grade school age kids, her kids will someday be nostalgic for the UPS or Amazon man the same way she and I were for the Sears Christmas catalog.

Overall I’m doing alright. Had a couple minor breakdowns since Christmas. But they were quick to pass. I’m not as paranoid as I used to be. I don’t hear footsteps out in the hallway or knocks on my door from people who aren’t there nearly as often. Footsteps and knocks at my door are two of my common auditory hallucinations. Another one is my phone ringing, especially if I’m in another room from my phone. I usually leave my phone sitting on my desk unless I leave my apartment.

Spring has gone fast. I’m feeling less stress overall. I’m to the point where I’m the one encouraging my friends and family more than the other way around. It will be interesting to hear people’s stories about what they did during the Covid pandemic of 2019 to 2021. I imagine many people took this time to retrain for higher paying jobs. Some probably got in better physical shape. Some probably learned to play a musical instrument or learned a foreign language. Some may have made lots of money investing their stimulus money. And I am grateful for the grocery store workers, delivery people, truck drivers, nurses, doctors, research scientists, etc. that made this pandemic more bearable. It’s one of the first times I ever saw when doctors, nurses, scientists, etc. were as publicly respected as tv stars, politicians, business tycoons, etc.

Thought on Marriage, Social Relationships, and Life’s Callings

I love being 40 years old. I enjoy that I no longer feel pressure to get married or have kids. I never could stand going to family gatherings and my old high school for home football games and have people asking me when I was going to start a family. People think I’m a liar for saying this, but I decided I wasn’t getting married when I was 18 and a senior in high school. For one, I saw that most married people I knew argued and fought all the time and about the pettiest crap. I still remember when I was 16 and my parents started arguing at the dinner table and I had just had it. I had a rough day at school already and I had a few hours worth of homework ahead of me that night already. I got up to just walk away, and they both shouted at me to sit down. Then they just went back to their argument like I wasn’t there. Sometimes when they argued, I’d yell at both of them just because I had enough. And my family was mild compared to most of my friends and extended family. Two of my high school friends and three sets of my cousins parents’ went through divorces in my youth. Seeing that scared me real bad. And I always heard this crap about how “you just gotta pick the right girl” or “love is all you need” or “love is forever” or “there is someone for everyone.” But I knew even in my teens I hated drama and fighting. I’d often hear that fighting makes relationships stronger and then I’d get punished for hitting my older brother or the neighbor kids. I always got mixed messages like that. I still do, though more through social media than my immediate family and friends. I love that I am no longer pressured to get married or have kids. It’s a pity almost no one respected my desire to stay unmarried twenty years ago.

I love that I can cut toxic people out of my life and not feel guilty at all about it. I may have fewer friends at age 40 than I did at age 22, but all of the friends I have are amazing. My best friend from college and I have never had a shouting match. Sure we’ve been irritated with each other many times but have never shouted at each other or ghosted each other. I’ve cut lots of people out of my life after we changed as people and after I figured out we weren’t good for each other. I’ve had to cut people out of my life that had been friends for years because we no longer shared the same values. I’ve even cut out family members. I find few things as irritating as going to family gatherings and hearing that one older relative rant on and on about the “damn kids” or that second cousin go on about politics or how much of an idiot his boss is. I don’t put up with toxic and rude people anymore. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone and in my apartment than socialize with toxic people. Anymore, most people I know are toxic. I refuse to put up with it. I don’t have to at this point in my life. And I don’t feel a shred of guilt for not socializing with people like that.

I love that I can do pretty much what I want for money, at least as long as I’m not breaking any laws. When I was a kid I was constantly asked what I wanted to do for a living. Originally I wanted to go into science research. I wasn’t really concerned with making lots of money. I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but it isn’t the primary focus of my existence. Another truth about me that most people think is a lie is that I decided I wanted to go to college when I was eight years old. The idea of being around well read people and getting to study things I wanted to sounded like winning the lottery in my eight year old mind. I always loved learning and reading. I didn’t have to be forced to read. Hell, I had to be forced to socialize with classmates. Mom and Dad were scared I’d never develop social skills if I just read books and made up stories in my back yard all day every day. Yet I still had a good social life in college, far better than what I had in grade school and high school. I’ve been accused of being anti social my entire life, but especially when I was a kid. The thing is I can talk with others all night about things like history, philosophy, economics, literature, science, and tech. But I can’t stand to talk about things like politics, the weather, sports, gossip, and school rumors. These things don’t interest me. Never have. Yet I was condemned for being anti social for not enjoying things like ballgames, county fairs, watching cable news, discussing politics, or the weather. I’ve never been anti social, I just have different interests than most people I’ve ever known. I’m thankful that the internet allows me to connect with people who have similar interests. I have more in common with people from my tech and futurist groups that I will never meet than I do my neighbors and most of my family. The internet is a godsend for the black sheep and small town eccentrics. It’s a pity I don’t have a couple hard core scholars or retired engineers living near me. In short, I love being a free lance independent scholar. Sure I will never get rich off my knowledge. Yet as long as I can pay my rent on time, keep food in the pantry, clothes in my wardrobe, keep my daily medications current, and keep the internet paid up, I don’t need much else. While I’m not convinced on the idea of previous lives or reincarnation, maybe I would have been wise to become a monk had I lived in medieval England. Maybe I could have been cured of mental illness and gone on to write parts of the Encyopedia Galatica if I lived in Asimov’s Foundation universe thousands of years in the future. I’ll never know. Being a scholar is like crime: It doesn’t pay and can land you in prison if you’re not careful. But, damn, I don’t know any other way to live my life.

Adjusting To Spring

It is starting to look and feel like spring again. Saw my first lightning of the season on Easter Sunday. The trees outside my window starting leafing this morning. Been watching lots of baseball the last few days. And I put some of my winter clothes away.

I’m still listening to audiobooks on youtube, mostly history and economics these last few days. Listening to some old radio shows too. Listened to a few episodes of The Shadow from the late 1930s. Been sleeping a lot lately. I usually go to bed around 10pm and wake up for good around 5am. Mentally I feel pretty stable. I usually do better on days I avoid aimless social media use and news casts. Have had only one major breakdown since last fall. Late summers are usually my toughest time of year.

Still taking it all one day at a time. At this point I’ve adapted to spending most of my time alone. I no longer feel guilty for not wanting to socialize with toxic and rude people. I’m glad I can keep myself good company. Alone time doesn’t bother me anymore. Sometimes it’s when I have my happiest and most peaceful moments.

Quarantine Journal: March 25 2021

Doing well overall. Started lifting weights again. I’m taking vitamin D supplements and I think it helps with the depression and anxiety. Met my new landlady a couple days ago while I was waiting for a delivery man. I think she will make a good manager.

I’m thinking about signing up for a home health service to see if I can a covid vaccine at home. Without a car I’m essentially home bound unless I want to hire an Uber driver. I’ve heard that many places are starting to have spikes in case numbers again. For as many problems as my country had in the first several months, we have gotten vaccines out faster than I thought we would. I’m thinking where was this level of focused action one year ago? Many people died that didn’t have to.

While I don’t socialize much in person, I leave my door unlocked during daylight hours in case anyone wants to drop by. My neighbors and I check in on each other a couple times a week. I’m having fewer aches and pains the last few days. Maybe I’m doing something right.

Still stable mentally. Had one flare up in early January but it was short lived. Haven’t had any since. It does get lonely sometimes spending most of my time at home and by myself. But I am still prime target for covid and there are still lots of vaccinations to go. This thing isn’t over by any means just yet.

March 22 2021

Another winter has passed. The weather is starting to warm and the spring rains are beginning. Corn planting will be starting in my home state in a few weeks. The days are certainly longer now. Easter will be first Sunday in April. And I’m beginning to adjust to the end of winter.

My parents visited over the weekend. My brother gave me a PlayStation 5 for Christmas. It is amazing. I have a couple games for it now. I have Madden NFL 21 and a first person game similar to Skyrim. The graphics and game play on both are mind boggling. Thank you Josh (my brother). I really appreciate the gaming console. I will get lots of joy out of it. Certainly a far cry from the 8 bit Mario Brothers games I played back in the late 80s. I don’t have any VR games but my nephew has a VR headset. My dad played a flight simulator game on it and said it’s quite realistic to a real plane (he’s a licensed pilot).

Been having more aches and pains lately. I’ve been lazy about taking pain pills and lifting weights the last few weeks. I’m starting back on those today.

Mentally I’m feeling stable. Exterminator is supposed to be spraying all the apartments sometime this week and maintenance will be replacing filters on my furnace soon. It’s good to see that routine maintenance will be resuming. The pandemic really changed a lot of things for everyone. Seeing my parents over the weekend made me realize how starved I was for in person human contact. I have essentially kept my in person socializing to a minimum for a year. Last I heard over one hundred million vaccines have been given in my country since Christmas. As sad as it is that my country didn’t handle the pandemic well, maybe we can turn things around with the vaccine programs.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In The Future

I’m composing of list of things that probably will be coming within the next generation or so that I am looking forward to. My entire life I’ve been accused of being too much of a dreamer and having false hopes. I’ve even had people tell me I think long term too much. I’ve always been bothered by how short sighted most people, at least in my culture, seem to be. But here goes with the list.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In The Future

People back on the Moon

People on Mars

5G tech

3D printed houses

Eradication of malaria

Seeing people my age and younger in places of power, wealth, and influence

Seeing my nephews and niece start careers and families

Being seen as a wise old man instead of a young smart ass with attitude problems

Blockchain tech truly come of age

Having people do favors for me because of my age and not feel guilty

Being old enough to not only know what others think doesn’t matter, but not being able to remember anyway

Truly amazing Virtual Reality

Seeing friends and classmates become grandparents

Not repeating the mistakes of my elders and previous generations

Lab grown replacement organs

Mile tall skyscrapers

Fusion energy

Having a robot neighbor

Cures for mental illnesses (It’s my blog, I can dream can’t I?)

Riding in a driverless car

Getting to watch what amazing breakthroughs come by the time I die

The end of the pandemic

The end of cable news

The end of unneeded paper work

The end of junk mail

Personalized medical treatment

Getting to watch the development of the next trillion dollar industry. My bets are on biotech and space based resources

Just knowing we have armies of really smart scientists, engineers, doctors, artists, etc. figuring out new things and solutions while normal people cry doom and gloom. Then again, good news never has sold well

End of Winter and Thoughts After One Year of Pandemic

Winter is almost over in my part of the world. I usually leave my windows open during the day only to get under blankets after dark. The days are usually warm but the nights are still chilly. The days are also a lot longer than just a couple months ago.

The vaccinations are rolling out pretty quickly in my country. Both my parents are fully vaccinated and getting out more often. Probably be a few more months before I qualify. Yet I have avoided getting sick for over a year. I still have some emergency supplies just in case. The last year has been lonely. But it wasn’t overly stressful. I’m glad I live in a town with home delivery groceries and Amazon delivery. I’ve avoided doctors’ offices and public places since last February because of pandemic. I did this as I am higher risk being overweight and mentally ill. But, as I had a set up where I could get groceries and prescription medications delivered, I didn’t have to leave my apartment unless absolutely necessary. My neighbor, who is quite mobile, picks up my mail once a week. In return I give him quarters for laundry and the downstairs vending machines. Amazon, grocery delivery, wireless internet with access to Youtube and Netflix, mail service, my cleaning lady arriving once a week, cell phone calls to family and friends, Facebook Messenger with friends, etc. has been a godsend for me and people like me. I sold my car almost two years ago as I no longer trust myself driving. My reflex and attention to detail just aren’t what they once were. If I do get real desperate, there are a few Uber drivers in my small college town. Most of the delivery drivers I have dealt with are younger people in their 20s. I think this pandemic would have been a lot worse had it hit back in the 1980s when we didn’t have easy access to internet, delivery services, fast vaccine developments, etc. I guess I am seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic. I just hope when another one hits, could be a few years or even not for another several generations, we are better prepared. As bad as covid is, it could have been so much worse.

Fear of the Future

Since I have more alone time since the pandemic started, I have spent much of my time researching science and tech articles and journals. I’ve been especially interested in the changes in the workplace and job market. Personally I’ve been getting my groceries delivered to my house since 2017. When I started this, I was the first one in my complex to do so. As far as I know, a significant portion of my neighbors now do so.

I’ve gotten most of my shopping done online via Amazon and King Size for several years. For the first time in my life, I actually have a complete wardrobe that fits perfectly. I never understood why people were so picky about brands of clothing, at least for clothes that didn’t have to be worn at work or social gatherings. But then I grew up in rural Nebraska where most people wore polo shirts and slacks even to church. It was tough to get excited about clothes shopping when I knew it was hit or miss if I would find anything good in my size. Most people weren’t at all sympathetic about it. I was just told to “lose weight” rather than look for specialty clothing options via mail order and online. For me, the internet has been a godsend when it comes to shopping for clothing.

I don’t regret selling my car. I had grown to hate driving over the years. And since I live in a small town in a predominantly rural state, driving is my only real option. I’ve had people tell me that things like buses and passenger trains were “socialist.” Never mind that USA used to have the best passenger rail and public transit service in the world. And air travel, with all it’s restrictions and screenings, is a sick joke as far as I’m concerned. You pay for a ticket and then they treat you like you a criminal from the time you show up at the airport until you arrive at your destination.

But, it’s alright. With communication tech being what it is, I really don’t have to leave home much anymore. And the pandemic accelerated the changes that were already starting. People tell me to socialize more. What do think I do online? I also read more now than I have at any point in my life even if I haven’t been to the library in over five years. I’m actually learning more as a middle age man than I ever did in school. Too many people got the idea that learning has to be tough and boring. And no, memorization isn’t learning. A damn smart phone can look up facts and do math better than any scholar. Anyone relying on rote memorization and repetition is getting slaughtered in the real world. It’s only going to get worse in that regard.

When I was struggling socially in junior high, my dad told me that nerds and geeks would someday rule the world. I thought he was full of it when he told me this when I was thirteen. But, not even thirty years later he was right. Most of the richest people in the world got their start in science and high tech, not manufacturing or mining. And I am loving every minute of it. Things like comic books, live action role playing, computers, techno music, video gaming, art, writing, empathy, compassion, etc. were considered weak and unmanly. My classmates hated people who read comic books and worked on computers or did art. They were like be normal, play sports and fix cars.

Now people are worried about machines taking over many current jobs. They should be, especially with the whole Puritan work ethic and being defined by your employment type of b.s. we’ve shoved down our kids throats for generations. These kids are right when they know that even a college degree isn’t worth as much as it was forty years ago. I’m glad I went to college when I did and got out debt free. College was also the only means I had to find something conducive to my skill set. I grew up in a town of less than 500 people dominated by corn farming and raising cattle. The nearest four year college was an hour and a half drive away. Corn farming and raising cattle requires nowhere near as many workers as it did one hundred years ago. We no longer live in a world where 80 percent of our workers can work on farms, factories, or mines. Maybe 15 percent of the population does such now. People complain about all the manufacturing jobs getting sent to China, but the value of US manufacturing is actually higher than ever. We just manufacture expensive things like jets, power generators, etc. And much of our manufacturing is done via machines. Blaming immigrants and foreigners is a convenient red herring for politicians looking for votes.

If there is a point to this post, it is that the future is already arriving. It’s up to us to adapt to the new reality or step aside for those who will rise to the challenges. If you don’t think the world can change for the better, you are wrong. It will change for the better but it will change in spite of people who try to hold onto the good old days (which actually sucked for most people by the way).

Jan 26 2021

We got over a foot of snow on the ground right now. I’m staying inside for awhile. I’m content to read, play computer games, and stay warm. I was supposed to have a couple packages from Amazon come this afternoon. Don’t know if they’ll be delayed or not. Packages delayed by snowstorms isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination.

I am still sleeping a great deal. Most nights I go to bed around 10pm and wake for good around 9am. I wake up a couple times in the middle of the night to go to the restroom and stretch. I usually get stiff and sore after sleeping for several hours. I have found stretching for a minute or two before I get out of bed can knock most of this down.

I haven’t visited my neighbors this week. I’m pretty content to stay home and keep to myself and my audiobooks. Typical mid winter for me.

I have all but given up on social media. I chat with a few friends, a couple neighbors, and a couple cousins. That is it. If I don’t know someone in person I will no longer chat with them over social media. It’s no longer worth the headaches and stress. The only reason I keep facebook is so I can have instant messaging. I cancelled twitter over a year ago. I understand why many social media sites are becoming ghost towns. It’s no longer any fun outside of close friends and family.