December 14, 2018

Another week has come and gone.  Besides seeing my psych doctor I haven’t been out too much.  But it looks like our cold spell is over and it’s supposed to more bearable for the next several days.  Our snow and is ice is melted.  So getting around town is easier now.  I spent an entire week without driving because of the snow and ice early this month.  I was starting to feel kind of confined and needing to get out.  Even I have times I just need to leave my fortress.

Been chatting with friends over facebook more lately.  Made some new friends in my techie groups and kept in contact with friends and family.  For awhile I was getting discouraged that I wasn’t hearing from my friends and family as often as I would like.  But then, I wasn’t posting on my personal site much besides promoting my blog.  Socializing is much like investing; no deposits, no returns.

Haven’t been reading much besides online articles and blogs lately.  The thing is I read as much, or even more, than I have in years past.  But I don’t read much for hardback print books.  The things I enjoy reading about now are science, tech, geopolitical, and medical news articles and essays.  Haven’t even listened to long audio books for weeks.

Sleep patterns have changed too, this time for the better.  Most nights I go to sleep around nine or ten pm and wake up for good at four or five am.  I still get my handful of quiet hours, I just get them in the early morning rather than the middle of the night.  Been this way for a few weeks now.  And it seems it takes more to make me irritable and paranoid ever since my sleep patterns changed.

Still haven’t made any concrete plans for Christmas.  I may go to my parents’ new house in Oklahoma.  But weather can be so unpredictable and dangerous for travel this time of year in my part of the country.  I guess I don’t have any gift wishes this year.  The PlayStation 5 won’t come out until next year at the earliest.  I would like a new gaming console as the one I have is several years old and showing it’s age.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset after saving his chore and odd job money for months.  Personally, I’m waiting a few years until the quality improves and the prices drop at least 50 percent from what they are now.  One thing about information and computer tech, the first versions are usually expensive and clunky (think cell phones from the 1980s or televisions from the 1950s), and after a few revisions they become inexpensive and every one has them.  My cell phone is a $99 Wal Mart special smart phone.  Yet, as far as computing power goes, it’s far better than the $2000 desk top computer I got for college back in 1999.  Too bad the costs for things like housing, automobiles, and education didn’t drop with time like computer tech.

As it is, I’m enjoying this holiday season.  The college bowl games start tomorrow, so there will be games on almost every day until New Year’s.  That’s what I’ll be doing for awhile.

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How Facebook Saved My Social Life

 

I have to admit that I am grateful for social media outlets like facebook and even twitter. Made some new friends through these even if I will never meet these people in person.  For the first few years of being active on social media, I felt some sadness in finding out that there were lots of people scattered all over the world who shared my passions, interests, and mental pursuits but none of them lived within driving distance of me.  My closest friends to me now live in Omaha.  Most of my really good confidants live out of state.  And many of my newer friends live in other countries.  It is bittersweet in knowing that I am not as abnormal or damaged as I feared in my younger years.  Besides the few years I was in college, I have never fit in with the people I lived near.  There’s nothing bad or good in that either way, it just is a fact.  It has caused me much grief over the years knowing that I would never have the same interests or pursuits as most people nearing in my hometown or even my own family.  I didn’t have many friends as a kid, but that forced me to develop my own interests and ways of keeping myself occupied.  Had I been Mr. Popular in my teenage years, I may have never developed my mental muscles to the extent that I did.  I certainly wouldn’t be as self reliant or resourceful or resilient.  All of these attributes have helped me immensely in my life as a mentally ill man.

As an adult, I have been able to expand my social circles even though I don’t have a regular job.  This is because of facebook and twitter.  Sure I have had to deal with jerks and irritable people online.  But at least online, I have the unfollow and block buttons.  I don’t have such near God like powers in person.  If I have nosy neighbors or annoying people I see everyday, I just have to deal with it and smile.  If someone is giving me static online, I send them to the unfollow and block list.  It’s my personal version of digital purgatory I suppose.  Facebook has actually made me more social than I was as a child before internet.  It has also shown me that I am not the only person out there who feels isolated and alone because he/she doesn’t conform to the norms of his location.  And now that I have filtered out the garbage that can come through social media, it is a social bonanza for me that I have never experienced in the real world.  It’s rather amazing.

 

Arm Chair Philosophy During Thanksgiving

Spending Thanksgiving week by myself.  I had my celebration a week ago as kind of a going away party for my parents.  I guess I don’t mind spending the week alone as I’ve spent much of my adult life alone.  I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 when I graduated college.  I would actually feel kind of strange having to share a roof and four walls with someone, especially if that someone and I got on each others nerves.

This isn’t the first major holiday I spent alone.  Several years ago I stayed home when my parents were hosting it because I felt a major breakdown coming on.  I wasn’t going to have a break in front of my niece and nephews, especially when they were still too young to go to school.  It was a sad deal in that it was also my grandfather’s last Thanksgiving.  He was diagnosed with cancer a few days later and died a couple months after.  I was fortunate to been able to host the last couple Christmas celebrations with my parents at my apartment.  Not sure what I’m doing this year as all my family is now living out of state.  But I have a few weeks to figure that out.  It could be I get snowed in and not able to go anywhere.  This time a year the weather is always a factor where I live.

Starting to sleep less again.  But I’m not staying up all night either.  I usually go to sleep around 10pm and am up usually around 2 am.  I prattle around for a couple hours and then go back to sleep for another couple hours.  I’m usually awake for good by 8:30 am.  I have been feeling quite stable lately too.  I’ve now gone a full year without a major breakdown.  First time I can claim that ever since I was in high school.

In spite feeling better overall, I really have no desire to go anywhere or socialize much.  I’m content to pretty much stay at home much of the time.  Home is where I feel comfortable and accepted, even if I am alone.  I don’t like socializing in person much anymore.  I’m almost scared of other people now, especially people I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a new aspect of my mental illness.  I don’t have the volatile mood swings but just have no motivation to see anyone or try anything new.

Perhaps I really am depressed and not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone is the way it’s being manifest.  I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of despondency or sadness, but I probably do have both.  I feel no need to socialize because, in my diseased mind, I already know the outcome of said socializing: We will talk about dumb and mundane things and not much will be accomplished from the meeting.  I guess I’m used to not much being accomplished.  I’m used to people outside of family not coming through on what they say they’ll deliver.  It’s like I expect things to not work anymore.  I’m probably suffering from apathy too.  I’m just too tired to fight against it anymore.  I’m used to things not working like they should. I’ve seen it my entire life I guess.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t understand the average person’s obsession with politics or working; people talk all the time yet nothing really changes and certainly not for the better.

I would almost swear that people are intentionally screwing up and doing what they know won’t work.  I can’t believe that people are so stupid as to do what they know won’t work over and over and yet be duped by every charlatan and con artist who comes along offering the same tripe with different packaging and names.  I guess that’s why I don’t socialize anymore.  I’ve seen it all before and I’ve heard it all before.  But nothing changes for the better.  The only real positive changes I’ve seen, at least in my life time, have come via science, technology advances, and humanitarian efforts.  Yet no one wants to talk about these.  But it is science, tech, and humanitarians that are making up for the gridlock in politics and the loss of trust in education, law, and religion.  I guess that people don’t pay attention to what really makes a positive difference.

For generations we have heard old men on their death beds lamenting how they spent too much time at work and not enough time with their spouses and children or grandchildren.  Maybe it’s finally starting to get through to the younger workers who seek a work life balance more than my generation or my parents and grandparents did.  I think I’ll say something like “Too bad I didn’t get the corner office or the company car when I was working” or “Why did I take the day off to take my nephews to the museum?  There was money to be made, dang it” just to break up the somber mood and my way of saying kiss off the old style Puritan work ethic that seems to believe that those who don’t work themselves into an early grave are going to hell.

I don’t regret not having a regular job anymore.  Most people I know who got rich didn’t do so by working forty hours a week for someone else.  They got that way by working for themselves and starting their own businesses.  But even as rich as some people I knew were, I still didn’t see them take with them to the afterlife.  Even the Pharaohs had their graves robbed over the centuries.  Get a large pile of gold and jewels only to have marauders run off with it or have it collect dust in some museum half a world away thousands of years later.  Hard work may have never killed anyone, but neither did enjoying the small things of life that money, power, and prestige can’t acquire.

Fighting Battles Against The Pessimism of My Friends and Family

Been isolating for most of the last week or so even though I desire to have conversations and interact with people again.  Yet a paranoid part of me is fearful of socializing.  When I make it a point go out of my apartment and socialize, I am usually met my irritable and angry people.  Many of my fellow tenants are in foul moods, even more so than usual.  That’s why I don’t socialize with my neighbors.  The very few times people make it a point to interact with me, they are usually upset over often trivial tripe.

I admit I wasn’t raised to be an optimist.  I almost never heard anything positive about life or the world in general even while growing up in a prosperous family during the prosperous 1990s.  Now it just seems like everyone is wanting to fight over the pettiest and stupidest nonsense.  I see it in my friends and family social media posts every day.  I hear it almost every time I call friends and even family on the phone.  I hear from my neighbors every time I step out of my apartment to run errands or even pick up my mail.  And I am burned out.  I’m burned out on all socializing.  I just want to stay home, read my books, and mess with my computers anymore.  I have no interest in interaction with rude, angry, and stupid people.  And people think I need to be on anti psychotic medications.  There seem to be plenty of people out there who probably could stand to be too if their rhetoric in public conversation is any indication.

I am not a optimist by nature.  I used to be a real pessimist, especially in junior high and high school.  I had friends and school mates, when fed up with my moaning, would say things like “drink yourself happy like everyone else” or “snap out of it.”  One of my buddies in college, when I was complaining about constantly being rejected when I asked women on dates, had enough and asked, “Zach, do you believe in God?”  I said, “Yeah”. He then answered, “If God wants you to have a woman in your life, he will miracle you one in a way even you can’t mess it up.  If not, well nothing you can do about it.”    Well, I never did have much success with dating, but I am better off on my own most of the time considering the circumstances.

Over the years of observing things happen in the world and in my own life, by the time I hit my early thirties I came to acknowledge a great truth about life in general.  This truth is that most of what we worry about almost never happens or turns out to be more manageable than previously thought.  Even the tragedies of life, like a range fire, can provide nutrient rich soil for new life and possibilities.  I am actively looking for the positives that will come from our current state of affairs in civilization as a whole.  I saw the UN’s report on climate issues stating that we have only a generation or two to start cleaning things up or we’re going to have to deal with serious consequences.  I understand that many of my friends and readers don’t accept the science behind climate change, but they don’t have to.  Most scientists, many business leaders, and people that can and will make a difference do and are making changes as I write this.  We don’t really need even the majority of people to approve of the changes that are being made.  Sheesh, it was only a small percentage of the population in the American colonies who fought in the Revolution against the British.  And I must say, I’m glad they did.  It was only a small portion of the population back in the late 1800s who wanted to enact voting rights for women and get rid of child labor.  It eventually happened.  I’m glad these things happened.  People who fight against scientific, social, humanitarian, tech, etc. progress usually find themselves on the wrong side of history.  Change is happening all around us.  It can be delayed but it is inevitable.

I’m tired of pessimists in general.  I’ve been surrounded by them my entire life.  I was forced to listen to them growing up because we had no internet to expose the facts and because, well, I had no choice in the matter of who I socialized with growing up in such a small village.  Before the internet, all I knew about of the outside world was what CNN and Fox News bothered to tell my naive Nebraska farm boy ears.  And once I started looking around and seeing most of the predictions of hell on earth not coming to fruition, I became quite angry.  I had spent years not being told what was going right.  I could have made different plans had I had all sides of what was actually going on, not just the bad.  I essentially wasted my teens and most of my twenties, the years of my physical prime, making decisions made from one sided information.  And due to this righteous indignation, I started searching out what was actually going right.

It is tough trying to break my friends and family’s myths about how bad life sucks.  I am almost always met with thunderous silence or told outright that I am a liar.  And it’s tough to remain optimist when few others even try to.  But, let’s face it, the crowds are almost always wrong.  The best thing to do in most cases is the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  Wisdom of crowds my foot.  But I will continue to attempt to break the myths my friends and family cling to, at least the myths that say life sucks.

House Guests and Books

Had a few house guests last night at my apartment.  Granted it was my parents and one of my aunts but it’s the first time in weeks I’ve hosted people in my apartment.  I’m normally kind of nervous about hosting people as I am self conscious about my place and possessions.  I feel paranoid that I’m constantly being measured and condemned for the way I keep my apartment and even the books on my book shelf.  I moved my book shelf to my bed room just so fewer people would see it.  As I have a wide range of interests I keep a wide range of what would be considered by many people of scholarly books.  When my retired pastor friend died a few years ago, his family offered me some of his ancient history, history of religion, and philosophy books.  Since many of his works were in ancient languages like Hebrew and Greek I had to turn most of what would have been really interesting down.  I know a little Spanish from my high school years but haven’t used it enough lately to have any kind of working knowledge of the language.

As it is now, I can keep some of my more scholarly works in ebook form.  I’ve downloaded hundred of free history, philosophy, religion, etc. books onto my computer and iPod.  Yes I still have an iPod but it mainly serves as backup for my computers.  I’ll probably never get to read many of these books but I’m glad I have them.  I even picked up some sci fi and horror books.  About the only real horror author I can get into is H.P. Lovecraft.  I did read a couple Stephen King books but I never developed much of a taste for his work.  As far as sci fi goes, I really like Issac Asimov and Cory Doctorow.  I read mostly science fact books by people like Michio Kaku, Ray Kurzweil, Kevin Kelly, and Carl Sagan as I’m typically more interested in seeing sci fi become science fact.  I don’t read much for fantasy novels but my brother and his kids are big fans of J.K Rowling and J.R.R. Tolken.  I guess I always considered real life interesting enough.  That’s probably why the two fiction novel drafts I wrote flopped. I don’t have much of my writings from the first ten years I was working on the craft.  What I do have, well, I’m glad didn’t get published.

Since I’m spending more time alone since the weather turned colder, I’m spending more time reading articles and watching documentaries.  I don’t really go out except to check the mail and break up the routine.  I haven’t even socialized with friends much the last couple weeks.  It’s gets lonely at times.  About the only thing I hate about being an adult is that I can’t just spend time with my friends at a moment’s notice.  As much as I couldn’t stand some aspects of high school, that is one thing I definitely miss.

Keeping Myself Company and Thoughts On The Future

Haven’t had much to report for the last few days.  Been getting out of my apartment a little again.  Spent a few hours out the other day because of maintenance work.  I still don’t socialize much in person as it’s just too big of a drain dealing with rude and irritable people most of the time.  Sadly it seems like most people I deal with are in foul moods more often than not.  This is regardless of whether it is online or in person interactions.  It’s times like this that make me glad I can keep myself company for days at a time if necessary.  I have too many problems with my mental illness to be dealing with anger and rudeness from others.

I’m starting to sleep during the days again.  But if I want to avoid people that seems the way to be.  Let me rephrase that, I don’t want to avoid people at all.  I just want to avoid rude, hateful, and stupid people.  I find it sad that we as a civilization had almost godlike powers to get in touch with people all over the world that we would otherwise never met and we squander it tearing other people apart and subdividing ourselves.  I would love to see people stop this madness but I imagine that’s a pipe dream.  I actually think some people want to be angry and miserable.  I think some people do not want to be happy.  I hope I am wrong but I look at their actions and have to wonder.

As I have been spending much more time alone the last several weeks I have been preforming some mental exercises in an attempt to just let my mind wander and think.  One thing I think about is what will future generations in future centuries condemn us in the early 21st century for.  People today readily condemn past generations and civilizations for their attitudes toward slavery, women’s rights, religious zealotry, bigoted attitudes, and general ignorance.  Maybe future generations will curse us for being too sensitive about what others say about us, maybe they’ll hate us for not reigning in our industrial pollution, maybe they’ll hate us for subdividing ourselves into factions and digital tribes, they may hate us for eating meat, they may hate us for medicating our children who don’t like school, maybe they’ll think us too narrow minded and hypocritical, maybe they’ll hate us for waging wars, maybe they’ll hate our general distrust of science, maybe they’ll think we are religious zealots.  In short, we don’t know.  We are not as enlightened as we like to pride ourselves on.  We as a species have come a long way since we started out as hunter gathers in forgotten antiquity, let alone since we started building villages and cities.  But if we think that we, in 2018, are the pinnacle of human wisdom and culture, then we are so sadly mistaken.  We can do much better than we currently are.  And, guess what, we will do much better in the years, decades, and centuries ahead providing we don’t destroy ourselves in some short sighted stupid fit of collective insanity.  We are on our way to achieving some really super cool things within the next several decades, let alone in the far future.  Sure the ride is rough getting there.  There are times I have my doubts about my fellow man.  But the fact is that most advances are discovered by a tiny fraction of the human race.  The rest of us are along for the ride.  We can follow, try but fail miserably to stop change, or get out of the way.  Change is coming.  Change is inevitable no matter how much we snipe at each other in our social interactions.  The world is a cool place in spite what the news man tells us.  If it bleeds it leads because that is what our species developed to notice first.  It was a brilliant survival strategy when we were Stone Age hunters but it’s causing us unnecessary grief and anguish in the Information Age.  Part of me would love to stick around to an old age for no other reason to see negative fools and naysayers proven wrong and I can laugh at their fear and hate.

Optimism for The Future

Change of subject for this post. The summer is all but over.  And it doesn’t bother me much.  Summers have been my toughest times of year since I started having problems with mental health in my late teens.  I just don’t do well in hot and humid weather.  I have no doubt that being overweight only makes this worse.  But I have lost some weight this summer as I’m down a full shirt size.  I have no delusions that I’ll ever be able to run a marathon but I would love to be in better health again.  There is just so much cool and amazing things happening in science, technology, medicine, humanitarian efforts, and even geopolitics that I would love to hang around for quite awhile just to see what happens.

In spite of our problems and divisions there really are some cool things happening even right now.  Just a few days ago I read an article that stated the two Koreas are talking about placing a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics.  I would have not imagined that to be possible even five years ago.  I saw another article about a Japanese businessman who’s going to literally fly to the moon and back via SpaceX in 2023, also a few days ago.  And I have little doubt that the first people to set first on Mars have already been born, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do go there within 20 years.  As bad as the hurricane has been to the East Coast, at least we can organize relief and rebuilding efforts more rapidly than we could even fifteen years ago.  Pretty much every space agency in existence is making plans to set up bases on the moon.  Cryptocurrencies have filled in the gaps in some nations where the traditional economy is falling apart.  Kind of kicking myself for not buying into bitcoin when it was only a couple hundred dollars a shot.  Another statistic I read a few days ago that gives me hope is that people that can read are reading three times as much as their predacessors in the early 1980s did.  Granted most of this reading is online articles, tweets, and conversations with friends and colleagues.

Advances are coming in fast and often.  And as connected we as a species and civilization are, they aren’t going to slow down anytime soon.  Get used to it.  Adapt or get left behind.  I may find it frustrating to listen to people talk about the ‘good ol’ days’ but I am also amused when I hear griping about the present and talking how there’s no hope for the future on forums that didn’t even exist twenty years ago.  I might take these types seriously if they were moving into Luddite communes or Amish villages.  I for one say ‘screw the good ol’ days, they weren’t all that great’, especially if you were a racial, religious, or sexual minority, woman, or a child.  And I hope we keep advancing so should I find myself in the 2050s as an old man pining for the 2010s, the youngsters will tell me where go with my nostalgia.  And I hope some of these youngsters can tell me off from a lunar or Martian colony or via computer based telepathy or in full emersion vertical reality.

I am convinced some really cool things are going to happen within our lifetimes, especially if we don’t anything really stupid as a civilization that we can’t easily undo.  As much attention as we pay to national politics, it isn’t the politician who’s going to make a cool reality possible.  The best they can do is pass favorable laws and step aside.  Science the %*&@ out of our problems, to quote ‘The Martian.’ Otherwise other peoples in other nations will bypass these nations and make advances possible.  America and Western Europe are no longer the only shows on Earth, and no amount of whining, politicking, and trade wars are going to change this.  And why not let everyone have a shot at some prosperity?  The sooner we as a species realize that we share the same planet, breathe the same air, drink the same water, and that a species at war with itself is doomed, the better.  At this point, we can achieve some cool stuff as long as we don’t seriously screw up.  We don’t seriously mess up, it won’t be a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’  And I feel extremely privileged to be alive to witness these transitions even if the ride gets bumpy and irritating at times.