Exercise Pain, Spring’s Renaissance, and Gradual Improvements

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I enjoy the spring season more than any other.  The weather is turning warm, the trees are blooming, the grass is turning lush green, and everything is brimming over with new life and new possibility.  I even enjoy the rain and occasional storms.  Spring is the annual rebirth of nature.

I live in a small town with several parks and lots of hiking trails.  I have visited a few of these parks on almost a daily basis for the last month.  The trees, bushes, flowers, lakes, and wildlife in these parks offer the added benefit of being able to relax and enjoy a little of the natural world while exercising.

Speaking of exercise, I’ve been doing that for longer times on an almost daily basis.  Walked in the light rain and humidity this morning for twenty minutes.  I was unhappy at first that I had to stop after a short time before the aches and pains came on.  What I didn’t take into account was I had been walking forty to sixty minutes four days a week for the last six weeks.  On the other days I was still doing at least twenty to thirty minutes a day.  I track all my exercise and eating on webmd.com in addition to keeping written logs.  When I reviewed these logs, I didn’t realize just how few days off I had.  I think I’ve had only two or three days of no exercise since April 1st.  Last year I made it a point to take at least one day off per week.  My aches and pains are no doubt from pushing myself harder and taking fewer breaks.

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Fortunately my mental health hasn’t suffered.  I probably should go back to the take one day off per week to stay fresh.  When I started exercising and losing weight, I wanted the project to be sustainable weight loss and small changes enacted every so often as my physical well being increased.  I never intended for this to be temporary or drudge work.  Last spring I started tracking everything I ate.  Last summer, I started keeping tabs on how much I exercised.  Other changes I made included decreasing my carbs intake.  I rarely buy or eat bread anymore because I feel sluggish after eating more than a couple slices. I love things like bread, rice with Chinese food, and spaghetti.  So this was a large transition.  It got easier because I felt better mentally and physically on days I kept the carbs low.

A big change I made starting on New Year’s was light weight lifting.  I did this for three times a week for four months.  I gradually increased the weight involved as well as the repetitions.  Gone easy for the last week as I was beginning to over do it.  My muscles let me know I was going too hard.  But it really helped me keep exercising and eating right during the winter.  Some days the weights would be my only exercise.  In spite of the decreased activity of winter, I still lost an average of one pound a week.

Been going pretty hard on the exercise since the first warm up in early March. I haven’t had many days off from exercise. I’m starting to feel it physically.  A couple days off from the grind are in order.  Need to reset and take a little time to reflect on how much has already been accomplished during the previous year.

Why I Actually Like Being An Adult, Disability Insurance, and Other Side Rants

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When I was growing up and going through middle school in the early 1990s (back in the dark ages before we had internet in every house, restaurant, laundromat, etc.), I had this teacher who loved to tell us about the dreaded ‘cold cruel world’ and how much being an adult was going to suck.  As a naive thirteen year old growing up in the farm belt of rural Nebraska (I lived at least 65 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart), I was by no means wise to the ways of the world.  We didn’t even get cable tv in my town until the late 1980s, so all I got to see of the outside world back then was what Ted Turner chose to show us on CNN every night.  As a child I was only vaguely aware there was a world outside of Nebraska and that people went to college for things other than becoming doctors, teachers, and lawyers.  But practically everyone else I ever knew were farmers and had no real need for any real ‘formal education.’  So naturally I blew off my teacher telling me how lousy being an adult was because, quite frankly, my hometown had nothing to offer someone with my natural talents and abilities.  I didn’t complain, I didn’t try to dispute my elders when they warned me ‘wait until you have kids’ or ‘wait until you have a job you hate’ or ‘wait until you have to pay taxes.’  I didn’t complain or dispute because 1) I was just a kid and what do kids know and 2) Starting about age 12 I looked all around me and saw many adults who literally could not think for themselves or long termed.  I saw many adults who complained about living in a rural area, complained about work, complained about their spouses, complained about how their kids acted, complained about the weather (quite common among farmers), complained about politicians, etc. but I never once saw any adult try to do anything to change their situations or improve themselves.  Once, being the curious child I was, I actually asked one of these wise adults why no one tried to do anything to change things.  The angered look on this grown up’s face made me think I had committed some form of blasphemy like saying the Ten Commandments were a lousy idea.  After that I made it a point to never to question an authority figure so blatantly.

Putting all of these observations together I became convinced that I probably wouldn’t like being an adult was as grumpy and unthinking that many of the adults I saw.  But, I also hated being a kid.  Oh did I ever hate it.  I was constantly bullied for being smart and different.  My teachers often didn’t like me because I often could find easier ways to solving problems then what they were teaching us.  My football coaches didn’t like that I wasn’t Joe Rah-Rah.  I didn’t have many friends because I just didn’t ‘go along to get along.’  And I didn’t like the fact that, as a kid, no one took my complaints and problems seriously.  When I said I wasn’t being challenged in school, I was told I had a problem with authority.  When I didn’t bring home straight A’s, I was told I was an underachiever.  I wasn’t told that no one in the work world cared to see your high school report cards.  And I certainly wasn’t told that adults are often as clueless as kids about what’s really going on and what they want out of life.  The adults were just better at hiding it and lying to themselves.

Eventually, like all nightmares, my time as a kid ended.  I went on to college.  While I didn’t leave Nebraska or find the college campus to be completely full of people just as smart and quirky as I was (thank you for getting my hopes up, college recruiters), I did meet some cool and stimulating people.  As it was a small college with people from all over the world as well as the United States in very close proximity, it was quite easy to socialize with many people with different backgrounds.  It was also not so big of a college that international students, in state students, city kids, farm kids, etc. could get by with just socializing with people like them.  To have any hope of a social life a person would have to socialize with many different people.  Leave your biases and stereotypes at the door, I suppose.  I met most of the people I have kept as friends to this day at college.  I learned a good deal about business, economics, personal finance, accounting, writing, etc. that, in all honesty, I should have ideally been taught in college.  I discussed this in an earlier post.

Yet, as much as I liked college, I came to find I enjoyed being an adult even more.  As an adult, you can choose were you want to work.  As a kid, your parents or the local government chooses where you go to school.  We had only one school in our town, the nearest private school was over 65 miles away, and most of the schools within a 50 mile radius were exactly the same as mine.  Home schooling wasn’t really popular back then. My best friend, and occasional dating interest was homeschooled until high school.  Kind of funny, though, when she entered high school the school wanted to put her in remedial education and she wound up being an honor student within a few months.  And for those who say that ‘home school kids have no social skills even if they are book smart’, I will say that two of my best and most stable friends came from home school environments.  But maybe because these two were so well read and treated a nerdy outcast like myself so well makes them ‘have no social skills.’  I couldn’t leave the school I was in.  My family would not have liked having someone with a GED in their family.  It is far easier for me as a grown up to leave a job where the boss and I don’t mesh or if I don’t like that my coworkers hardly work and don’t care about the customers.

Other things that are cool about being an adult is I get to do cool things like vote, set up my own schedules, read whatever I wan to read, watch whatever educational videos I want, make whatever friends I want without family pressures or social limitations, write my own blogs (we didn’t even have blogging back in the mid 1990s as there was no easy access to internet), I don’t have to date if I don’t want to (whereas in high school I was often ridiculed because I couldn’t get a girl to date me besides my homeschool friend, and even then I was still ridiculed because she came from the proverbial ‘wrong side of the tracks’), I can form my own beliefs and don’t have to really fear if I share these beliefs or not, I don’t have to think anything I don’t believe or lie just to impress some authority figure who supposedly is wiser than me because he’s old and has more money and prestige.  Shoot, I don’t even have to work if I don’t want to.

One thing I would have loved to have known about applying for Disability Insurance was, if I filed before my 22nd birthday, I would have had my monthly benefits determined by my parents’ income.  I was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia at age 20, graduated college at age 23, but didn’t file for disability before until age 25.  Financially I shot myself in the foot because I didn’t apply for disability before age 22 since both of my parents were medical professionals.  I would be making much more than I am now had I not tried the John Wayne gut it out until it was obvious the cause was lost routine.  Yet that is in the past.  I still do well because I can choose to live a minimalist style of life as a single adult.

Even though I was set back for several years because I tried to work and be a productive citizen by not dropping out of college and applying for disability at a younger age, I am still free to make the choices in lifestyle to adjust accordingly.  Yes it was hard to learn to live below what most Americans would consider poverty level and I did make some mistakes along the way.  But I learned from those mistakes and adjusted my game plans and lifestyle accordingly.

To be quite honest, I don’t know many people besides myself who can live on less than $15,000 per year, which is $125o per month.  At the average American hourly wage of approximately $13 per hour, that’s only 20 hours of work per week.  I make even less than $1250 a month and I live quite well, especially since I’m debt free.  Some may disdain me for ‘being on the dole’ and say ‘you just live off the government.’  But, you know what, had I never become mentally ill I would have achieved my dream of going into medical research, would probably be making six figures by now, would have gotten married, had kids, owned a McMansion, and been one of those ‘respectable’ types that pays more in taxes than most people.  Not everyone on disability got there because they are lazy and want a free ride.  Believe it or not, there are a few of us who got there because of things we couldn’t control.  Maybe people like me who are smart and on disability in spite doing all the right things are as rare as unicorns but we still exist.  Another great thing about being an adult is I don’t have to try to please people who think I am a leech and lazy for receiving disability.  I hate being on disability, God do I hate it.  But that is essentially the only option for people with mental illnesses in my situation besides homelessness or prison.

In closing, I know this post and rant was quite long winded and had a bit of a sharper edge to it than my regular posts.  For this I don’t apologize because, as an adult without an employer, family, or a social circle I didn’t choose, I really don’t have to apologize for speaking the truth.  As an adult I have far more choices and control of my own life.  That alone is reason enough why I actually like being an adult.

College, The World of Work, and The New Reality

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I’m taking a detour from my usual posts about mental illness and related issues. Yet this is still a serious topic I’m writing about. It’s about college, the world of work, and the new career and economic realities of life in the early 21st century. Even though I’ve been out of college and in the dreaded ‘real world’ for the last ten years, I still have yet to find the proverbial ‘well paying, well respected’ job that we were told that a college degree would lead to. I know that we’re living in tough economic times and that we’re transitioning to a service based economy from a manufacturing one. But I can’t help but feel like I was sold a bill of goods. It’s as if the old rules of go to college, get a good job, save your money for retirement, and live the American Dream of a house, a spouse, 2.3 kids, etc. no longer apply.

I am convinced we, as Americans, been living the high life for too long. Our expectations are out of whack. There very likely is a limit to how much of ‘the good life’ that we can expect before our standing of living goes down. And I think that we in America have hit it. I suppose this simply couldn’t last forever.

I wonder if those who are now entering college are aware of what’s going on in the world. Lord knows that I, and most of my classmates, had no clue as to what was coming. I still would have gone to college. But I wouldn’t have deluded myself into thinking that I was going straight from college to the good life. I suppose it’s what they call ‘paying your dues.’

Anyway, the rules have changed. College by itself will no longer guarentee you much. So my advise anyone who wants to go to college straight out of high school is this: Don’t go in with your eyes closed. Know that college alone will not guarantee you the easy life and happiness. Buyer beware. If you are still determined to go to college, at least study something that can specifically transfer over in a career. I’m talking about majors in any field of engineering, computer informations systems, accounting, teacher education, computer science, anything in the medical fields, and law. I would especially highly recommend trades like plumbing, welding, electrician, auto mechanics, information technology, anything to do with transportation, mining/extraction, renewable energy, and construction. It seemed that many teachers I knew ran down the skilled trades until they needed their cars fixed or carpentry work done on their houses. Most people I know with liberal arts degrees like english, history, etc. are either working low paying jobs, are becoming college instructors, or went on to law school or business school. Now, I love english and history as much as anyone I’ve ever met. I also didn’t want to teach in a traditional classroom setting. So I read as many history, classic literature, and philosophy books as I could on my own time during my five years in college. The school library was my second home. I may not have had much of a social life but with mental health issues, I didn’t have much of a social life anyway.

I’ve been out in the world outside of school for ten years now. I made some mistakes in the course of my college years. Had I the ability to do over again, I’d have probably studied Computer Science or Information Technology in addition to my business training. I use computers all the time just in my blogging and researching. I have a basic business background, but I don’t have anything specific like accounting. I still would have read a great deal of history, classic literature, and philosophy on my own. I am, however, grateful I never majored in such subjects. My basic business background taught me how to manage my personal finances, which is not required learning in American high schools. When I was questioned ‘why business’ after my foray into Pre-Med failed, I answered something like ‘I don’t have any knowledge of how businesses, banks, money, investments, sales, and economics work. I can learn this and perhaps make myself employable once I get a bachelor’s.’ While I haven’t landed the high paying job, I definitely learned how to budget and get as much out of money as I can. These skills made adapting to life on disability insurance and part time work much easier.

The ideas of how an individual has to budget all their expenses, know where their limited money is going, how compounding interest on credit cards and bank loans work, etc. are not exactly mysteries of the universe. But I had to study business in college to learn these things that, in a truly good education system, would have been addressed to kids in high school and even middle school. The level of financial knowledge in my country is truly sad. This lack of knowledge is why we’re having record numbers of people and businesses going bankrupt. Many marriages are strained and fail because of poor money management. Strained families cause stress and anxiety on everyone involved, especially children. It is why most city, state, and federal governments have such atrocious amounts of debt. Most of this could have been avoided had we been taught how money really works. I would liken this lack of instruction of the primary driver of our modern civilization to an ancient farming society not teaching their kids how to plant, raise, and harvest crops or how to care for livestock.

Many devoutly religious people may counter with the ‘love of money is the root of all kinds of evil’ from the Bible and other religious teachings. This has nothing to do with lust for money and power. Teaching money management to kids would tell them how the basic tool of survival in our post industrial age society, money, really works and give them a healthy respect for it. Surely it isn’t so bad to teach kids something in middle and high school that would truly benefit them in their adult lives? Any school that doesn’t teach it’s kids basic survival skills in their given society nor gives those kids the ability to learn on their own after the formal education is done, in short, isn’t justifying it’s own existence. I was fortunate to have studied business in college for my own sake. And I had to learn it in college because it wasn’t taught in a safer environment like a local high school or middle school. I am so grateful I didn’t have to learn about it on the mean streets or the ‘school of hard knocks.’

Seeing Old Friends

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I haven’t written for two weeks because I spent almost a week in my childhood hometown. I spent that time visiting old friends from my high school years.  One of these friends in particular, the best friend I have ever had, I hadn’t seen since we were eighteen.  We kept in contact through Facebook and emails, but none of that is the same as seeing a friend in person.  I was pleasantly surprised that she and I were able to pick up as if it was only a few days since we last talked, let alone sixteen years.  I was actually quite speechless when we first met last week simply from being overjoyed at seeing this friend who stuck by me through the highs and lows of mental illness.  Years ago in high school, when I was having my first problems with crippling depression and bouts of anger, she was the first one to suggest that what I was going through was not normal teenage angst.  She observed this before even I did.  Good friends like this need to be held onto.  It’s not like good friendships can be found every day.

This visit with old friends reminded me of how valuable having some people who will support me, and I support them, truly is.  In my current life, I don’t always have a healthy social life.  Much of this is due to the paranoia aspect of my mental illness that makes it tough for me to tell whom is trustworthy.  Since my default mode is to assume I cannot trust someone I just met until I can tell otherwise, this makes starting new friendships and social contacts pretty tough.  Social safety nets are not only essential for any kind of stability for those with mental illness, but they make life much more enjoyable.  They are the pleasant memories of when things are going well that can make the difference in getting through tough times that come and go for all people, mental illness or no.  To paraphrase the late Robin Williams from ‘Dead Poets Society’ (one of my favorite all time movies), ‘Now medicine, business, engineering, science are all good endeavors that are necessary to sustain life.  But it is things like art, poetry, beauty, love, friendship that are reasons we stay alive.’

Thoughts on the Death of a Close Friend

I’m going off my usual mental illness topics for this post.  Something like what I’m currently writing has been weighing on me for quite some time.  Yet it finally crystalized into actual thoughts within the last twenty four hours before this writing with the death of one of my best friends.  This man died in his early 80s and was a retired Lutheran minister.  Pastor Vern, as this man was known to everyone living in my apartment complex, was probably the wisest, wittiest, well read, and compassionate individual I met in my entire life. I knew him for eight years but I don’t believe I ever heard him say anything derogative or hurtful about anyone.  I know I can’t go even eight days without at least thinking something hurtful directed at others, but hopefully most of this is due to the aspects of my illness.

Being a career Lutheran minister, Pastor Vern no doubt had his views on religion and God.   Yet he was not as caught up in rituals, creeds, and beliefs when talking with me as he was on the basic principles of Christianity and other religious beliefs.  Those core beliefs, the ones he lived by everyday were simply 1) Love God, 2) Care About Others, and 3) Respect Yourself.  I suppose if one were to substitute or supplement  the world ‘God’ with nature or the earth, even the most convinced atheists would be hard pressed to deny that loving nature, caring about others, and respecting yourself are good principles to attempt to live by.

Pastor Vern, being one with a wide array of interests and knowledge, was a perfect friend for someone like myself.  He and I could easily talk about history, classical literature, philosophy, among numerous other topics for quite a long time.  We would usually be sitting outside, him smoking his pipe, and just discuss whatever happened to come up regardless of whether it had any logical order or direction or not.  Some of our neighbors who listened to our conversations no doubt thought us a little odd for rarely discussing such mundane things as weather, current events, or gossiping about others.  For myself and Pastor Vern, hardly any topic was not subject matter to be discussed.  We had an unspoken agreement that no matter how much we disagreed on any one topic, we would never become angry or speak harshly to each other.  I suppose this falls under the care about others and respect yourself principles.

He and I have both studied the basic teachings and principles of most religions with significant followings.  We both came to the conclusion that in spite of the differing rituals, social practices and customs, sets of creeds and beliefs, etc. that one thing they all believed were the ideas that a person would be better off in their own lives and dealings with others if the basics of ‘Loving God (or your creator/giver of life/etc.)’, ‘Caring About Other People and Living Things’, and ‘Respecting Yourself’ were principles that a person attempted to live by.

Yes, these are simple principles to the point that any six year old child can grasp these are important.  Sadly, most of us as adults severely complicate these and often don’t live by these ideas at all.  How much less strife and division would we have in our work places and places of business if managers, workers, and customers alike lived by even the caring about others and respecting ourselves?  How much less war, famine, disease, poverty would we have if even individuals, let alone the governments of the world, operated with these guides?  How much less needless destruction of our most valuable forests, farmlands, waters and wasting of finite natural resources would we have if we lived by even the ‘Love God/Nature/Earth’ idea?  How much less conflict and needless grief would we have in our personal lives if we cared about others and respected ourselves more?

I apologize for the mini rant in the previous paragraph.  I wrote that to try to apply to our own lives the principles that my recently deceased friend Pastor Vern lived by every day.  These are principles I attempt to live by though often inconsistently.  In closing I’m glad to have had a friend like Pastor Vern for the eight years I knew him.  I wish that everyone could attempt to live by such principles, or at least become acquainted with those who do.

Washing Out of Graduate School, Having Mental Health Issues, and Chains of Events (Or The Story of My Adult Life)

If I were to meet anyone who has been diagnosed with mental health problems and he/she were looking for advice as to what to do from the diagnosis onward, it would be 1) Don’t Give Up,  2) Look for what you are naturally good at despite your problems, and 3) Get Really Creative. 

In this entry, I’m going to tell some of my personal story from the last several years. It’s a short autobiography of sorts. In February of 2006, after having washed out of the MBA program at a small state university, I decided to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.  I had recently lost my graduate assistantship due to my grades.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like my classes or hate my work with the university.  Far from it.  I absolutely loved the work of being a research assistant, tutor, seminar presenter, and occasional substitute teacher.  Yet my mental health issues were flaring up during this time.  I would have been allowed to stay in school in hopes that I could raise my grades and get back on track.  But the prospect of going to school without a job and no way but loans to pay for it while taking on my mental health issues just didn’t appeal to me.  I was able to get through undergraduate college without any debt thanks to academic scholarships, working full time during the summers, and the much appreciated assistance of my family.  I was afraid that taking on the burden of continuing graduate school with no guarantee of getting my grades back up, having to go deep into debt to continue said studies, all the while combating mental health problems and being a financial drag on my family (who were already paying through the nose for the high risk health insurance I was on for meds that otherwise would have cost almost $2,000 monthly); all of it would have been major problems that simply were not worth it.

Looking back on it, I believe I could have completed the MBA program had it not been for the mental health burdens.  But, like almost everyone, I simply didn’t have the unlimited funds to cover medications, health insurance, and retaking the two classes I didn’t do well at all in.  Yet, knowing myself better now at age 33 than I did at age 25, I know I would have been unhappy with being another cubicle bum jockeying for dollars.  Even though I appreciate money as much as anyone I know, I also know it isn’t my only motivator or even one of my primary motivators.  I have found, over the last several years of experience and looking for tendencies in my life going back to before I even started elementary school, that I really enjoyed sharing what I learned with others and giving advice.  If I did complete the MBA program and then become something like a financial analyst, I wouldn’t have been meeting my need to share what I learn to others and helping others avoid problems.  I love explaining things to people, assisting people, and looking up things I don’t know.  I always have.   Had I been able to stay on the ‘traditional’ path, I would be miserable at a cubicle job but would still have my personality slants I mentioned above.  I would have probably then gone on to attempt to get a PhD just so I could teach at even a junior college. I probably would have been doing what I loved, but would have had a rough road to get there.  But to quote Eric Church, “Thank God I ain’t what I almost was.”

Instead, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to become competent in areas besides business and economics.  While I am not an expert on treating mental health problems and issues in others, I have over the years become quite knowledgeable on how to survive with mental health problems and issues.  In the process, I was able to work a part time job for over four years.  I have, thanks to being on Social Security and having the earnings limitations that come with being on Social Security, become knowledgeable on how to survive on what most people in the Western world would consider below poverty level existence.  I have learned how to ‘stretch a dollar’ far further than one could learn in any business school.  Thanks to following my natural love of telling stories, explaining things to people, and reading, I am also a self taught writer.  I have been writing seriously for only ten years as it wasn’t something I acted on until I was almost out of undergraduate college.  Because of my mental health issues, my natural empathy for other people, and my natural desire to share what I learned, I eventually came to write about my experiences with mental health problems and issues.  Many of these writings have found their way onto this blog, The Writing of Life.  I may not have a string of letters behind my last name that ‘qualifies’ me as a trusted expert, at least not in the traditional academic sense.  But with my experiences with my own mental health problems combined with my writing skills and the power of the internet in the Information Age, I can fulfill my natural talents and perhaps help some people in the process.

I have no idea where my life’s journey will go from here.  But this blog will be part of it regardless.  In only seven months of having a definite focus in my blog, I have had over 1,500 visits already.  Though there are bloggers that get that even on a bad day, this is already more than I would have expected when I started. And that’s with sometimes infrequent posts.  Being somewhat risk adverse by nature, I never would have started the process of becoming a mental health advice blogger had I never been forced to change directions.  Yet “Thank God I ain’t what I almost was.”

What If Our Favorite Fictional Characters Aged and/or Kept Up With The Times

 

I’m going to take a break from my regular writings and post something just for fun this time.  I always wondered what would happen if cartoon characters aged.  So I’m just going to do some speculating and take a few wild guesses.  Here goes:

1) The ‘Peanuts’ characters would all be grandparents by now.  Snoopy would definitely be dead, but his descendants would still be acting like flying aces, except the doghouses would be probably F-14 Tomcats in Operation Desert Storm instead of Sopwith Camels in World War I.  Charlie Brown’s grandson probably wouldn’t be as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown would have no doubt married Lucy or Peppermint Patty.  About the only difference would be Charlie Brown the third would be able to kick a football.  

2) In Looney Tunes, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam would probably be in jail for hunting endangered species like talking rabbits and Tasmanian Devils.  In the Road Runner and Coyote, the Coyote would probably be using Acme Predator Drones to try and catch the Road Runner.  Sadly, Foghorn Leghorn would probably be living on a factory farm in a small cage.

3) In ‘Superman’, Clark Kent/Superman would have recently celebrated his 100th birthday and probably have a 75th anniversary party with Lois Lane.

4) In ‘Batman’, Bruce Wayne would probably be long since retired.  The Joker and Riddler would have long since been given life sentences in prison.  And Bruce Wayne would probably be a trillionaire by now.  With inflation being what it is, a single billionaire won’t go as far as he could fifty to sixty years ago.

5) ‘Sherlock Holmes’ would no doubt be much like modern day CSI shows.  But he’d still be on Scotland Yard’s hit list even in 2014.

6) In ‘The Simpsons’, Bart and Lisa would be in their early to mid thirties.  Bart would probably be finishing up a five to ten year stint in Springfield State Prison or beginning a career in politics.  Lisa would probably have 2 or 3 PhD’s and well on to a Nobel Prize winning career. 

7) The ‘South Park’ kids would be in their mid 20s.  Stan would go on to be a star college quarterback and married to Wendy Testaburger.  Kyle would probably have become a lawyer.  Cartman would probably be in prison or running ponzi schemes.  Kenny would have either gotten out of poverty or died for the 500th time.

8) Futurama hasn’t happened yet as it takes place in the 31st century.  So it could face the most changes of any cartoon between now and the year 3000.

This list was only meant for fun.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten many other popular cartoons or fictional characters.  I hope it was enjoyed.