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.

Routines During Pandemic

Been a few days since I wrote.  An update is in order.  Had groceries delivered Thursday afternoon.  Frozen meat is now in short supply.  My supermarket is limiting how much people can buy in one purchase.  I was able to get soup and cheese.  Been craving vegetables a lot the last few days.  I’m probably not getting enough in my new diet.

Got my meds refilled a few days ago.  I hope those don’t get in short supply.  I do have reserves but I hope I don’t have to resort to that.  Been sleeping more lately.  I have been stable overall though.  Maybe the extra sleep is keeping me this way.

I see that some places are starting to reopen.  I understand why places need to reopen, especially small family owned businesses.  But I am still worried, at least for myself, that this could start a second wave of infections.  I’m glad I have the option of staying at home even with the lifting of some restrictions.  I see that some of the big soccer leagues in Europe are reopening.  And there are talks here in USA about colleges being open for in person classes this fall.

It’s been an odd last several weeks for me.  It seems like time slowed to a crawl the day the covid 19 was officially declared a pandemic.  So glad that I and most of my friends and family got prepared early.  I feared this could become a major problem as early as late January.  It is encouraging that restrictions are being eased.  Sadly, I fear there simply is no way to keep mass quarantines in place until vaccines are mass produced.  Either way, we are going to take a beating.  Doctors have warned for years this was only a matter of when.

Been keeping in contact with friends and family more.  I call my parents several times per week.  I talk to old friends usually once or twice a week.  I call my brother a few times a month.  I guess if I can’t see people in person, I have to make do with phone calls and video conferencing.

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.

March 8 2020

The remodel of my apartment started yesterday.  We have the carpet torn out.  Today we will probably do some painting.  The work on the new floor will start tomorrow morning.  I’ll have to stay in a hotel for a few days.  Fortunately my family is in town to help with this project.  I can stand a few days of upheaval for a solution that will probably last the next 15 years.  I’m glad this has gotten started.  I will be glad when it is accomplished.

Adapting to Changes of Middle Age

Been sleeping more the last few days.  I think I’m trying to fight off a cold, again.  Been hitting the fluids and vitamin C.  Hopefully this passes quickly.  I haven’t been socializing as much the last few days either.  I have been to tired to be much for decent conversation.  I have gone easier on reading the last few days too.  I essentially want to sleep as often as possible.

I getting to where I’m ready for spring.  Spring is usually my happiest time of year, especially in May and June.  For some reason I just don’t well in the heat of late summer.  August is traditionally a tough time for me.  I think I’ve gotten my fill of winter.  Fortunately it hasn’t been as tough of a winter this year as last.  We haven’t had much snow in my town since the first of the year.  The air hasn’t felt dry, it just hasn’t snowed or rained much in my town the last several weeks.

A lot of sickness has been going around my complex and my town this winter.  Other than a bad cold around the first of the year, I have avoided it.  Even though I still don’t socialize much in person, I’ve been making a point of leaving my apartment at least once a day the last few days.  I think I’m just wanting to be out and about more.  Even when I have deliveries to my place, I now meet them in the lobby rather than wait for them at home.  I usually have a decent idea of what time my delivery guys will arrive, so I usually go to the lobby a few minutes before they arrive.  It gives me an extra reason to move around more and gets me out of the apartment, at least for several minutes.

My mother’s birthday was yesterday.  She’s now in her seventies.  I was talking to her yesterday and she said her age doesn’t get her as much as having her youngest son (me) going to be forty this summer.  I guess being forty doesn’t traumatize me as much as I thought it would.  I do regularly shave now as I was noticing a few gray hairs in my beard.  That I spent much of my thirties with a beard.  I haven’t been losing hair but I’ve noticed my hair doesn’t grow as fast as it once did.  The only real part of being middle aged that bothers me is that I just don’t have the endurance I did even a few years ago.  I used to walk 3 miles a day all the way until my mid 30s with no problems.  Most of the jobs I ever had required me to be on my feet most of the time.  I now understand why people look for desk jobs once they hit their late 30s.  My mind is as strong as ever, but the body just isn’t keeping up anymore.  I’m still adapting to this.

I have now accepted that there isn’t any embarrassment in asking for help, especially with physical tasks.  It took me awhile to adapt to this.  For as long as I can remember until a couple years ago, I was the one who was doing physical tasks for others on a daily basis.  When I worked retail, I didn’t mind lifting heavy items or stocking shelves.  I didn’t mind the lifting and walking involved in factory work.  I enjoyed being on my feet when I worked as a janitor for a few years.  But that kind of endurance has faded over the last few years.  I was so used to helping others I didn’t bother to keep track of what I did to help others.  I didn’t mind living on the top floor of an apartment complex and parking as far away as possible from the front door just because I was quite mobile.  Not anymore, at least the mobility part.  I still try to help people, even if it’s as simple as keeping clutter off the floor so my cleaning lady can get her work done quicker.  For years I helped others and didn’t think of doing otherwise.  But I guess now I can ask for help as needed.  See, it does pay to help others.

End of January Updates

Had a quiet weekend overall.  Watched a couple movies on amazon and talked to family and a few friends.  Spent the entire day Thursday out of my apartment while maintenance was being done.  So I was out and about all day.  Caught up with a few of my neighbors.  Had some good conversations, the kind when I talked so much my throat was sore at the end of the day.  Been a few years since I had a day like that.

Overall I’m less paranoid these days than I was during the fall.  I think things began improving about late October to early November.  That’s about the time I got to know my neighbors better.  We usually talk once a day just to see how each other is doing.  I usually leave my door unlocked when I am awake now.  I used to leave my door locked all the time.  Sometimes if I was really paranoid and anxious I wouldn’t answer the door.  I don’t notice people walking and talking in the hallways as much as a few months ago.  I used to be real paranoid about that.  I think it helps alleviate the anxiety and paranoia even more getting in touch with my neighbors.  I still have occasionally have days I just want to stay in bed.  But those are becoming fewer and less frequent.

I’m also having fewer problems with aches and pains.  I started taking some supplements for my joints a few months ago.  I now have fewer aches and am more flexible.  I don’t wake up nearly as stiff and sore as I used to.

I’m starting to need less sleep again.  I usually go to sleep around 11pm and wake for good by 6am.  I occasionally nap in the afternoon.  I feel better rested overall than even two months ago.

I’m still lifting arm weights three to four times per week.  I’ve been adding more exercises and reps the last several weeks.  I started regularly lifting weights last March.  It  was a slow go the first few months.  Gradually I built up strength and endurance.  Eventually I added more exercises and reps.  I definitely notice a positive difference in my strength and stamina in less than one year.  I want to keep this up.  Can hardly wait to see what the next year will bring.

I’m having fewer flare ups the last several weeks.  Sometimes I even go entire days without flare ups.  And the flare ups I do have are shorter lived and less intense.  I think it helps that I have connected more with my neighbors and old friends in the complex.  It helps that I avoid negative people and situations, in person and online.  I don’t spend much time on facebook anymore except to chat with a few old friends.  I don’t even participate much in my tech and science groups.  If it weren’t for a few old friends and promoting my blog, I wouldn’t even have a facebook page anymore.  One of my close friends is thinking about closing down their account.  I was off facebook for a week over the autumn.  It helped me to alleviate stress and irritability.  Other than a couple friends I just don’t get much out of it anymore.  I guess after 10 to 12 years I’m finally ready to truly cut back.  I still have my email address.  Besides, the friends I stay in contact with are the types I don’t need to keep in contact with on a daily basis.  This isn’t high school anymore.

Between getting back in touch with my neighbors and friends in the complex, exercising on a regular basis, keeping in contact with friends and family, reading books on a regular basis, watching more movies, and getting even more active with this blog, it’s been an eventful and fruitful last couple months since the weather turned colder.  I guess we still have another ten weeks of cold and dreary weather.  But I have held up well the last several weeks.  I can face the next several weeks too.

End of the Year

Been a bit of an up and down year for me.  I’ve had several positives like finding a new general practice doctor and restarting my weight lifting routine.  Even though my lungs are still weak, my physical strength is almost as good as it was when I was in my late twenties.  I have employed a cleaning lady for a year.  The apartment feels more like a home than a hide out.  I redecorated my apartment.  I put up some art work done by friends and a few classic battle flags.  My personal favorites are the old U.S. Betsy Ross flag and the Pirate Ship flag.  I ordered several through amazon as they were on sale. While the flags look excellent, they are also bigger than I expected.  I currently have three on my walls. I’d love to hang all of them but I don’t think I have enough wall room.

As far as drawbacks go, I lost confidence in myself to drive my car.  So I sold my car to one of my dad’s friends.  It was an older, but lower mileage, car.  I no longer drove enough to justify having it.  And it was doing no one any good just sitting in a parking space.  I still isolate some, but I have reestablished contact with some of my old college friends and extended family I had lost contact with over the last few years.  I suppose after being a regular on social media for a few years, I have figured out what to post and what not to mention.  I think most people are at least starting to adapt.  I’ve noticed I’ve been involved in fewer online arguments than even three years ago.

I almost never have back pain anymore.  But I still get short of breath if I’m really active.  My physical therapist said I retained most of my physical strength even if I lost a lot of my lung capacity and my heart needed to get stronger.  In addition to lifting weights, I also make a point of walking around and doing stretches in my apartment every couple hours.  I am now on a blood pressure medication.  I have noticed I don’t need as much sleep as I did before I started the medication.  I’m also regaining stamina more quickly than before.

As far as science news goes for 2019, there were some really cool happenings.  A probe was landed on the dark side of the moon by the Chinese.  A few more probes were sent to Mars.  Self landing and reusable rockets are becoming almost common occurrences.  The world now has almost five billion people with access to the internet.  Strides in life extension medicine have been made.  There is now at least one company, started by a young man in his twenties, that is now removing garbage from the Pacific Ocean.  Plans are being made to start cleaning up orbital space garbage.  I bet my grandparents when they were watching the USA vs USSR space race back in the 1960s didn’t think this would become a problem so soon.  And now private companies and small countries are sending up probes.  Definitely not my parents’ space race anymore.

Even an electric powered pickup truck is now in development by the guys at Tesla.  I joked about that a few years ago.  Maybe my joke about custom making a fishing pole on a 3D printer or buying camping supplies with Bitcoins aren’t far behind.  And I’m sure there are already people who can build computers and moon shine stills from scratch (see my Nerdy Redneck posts).  Now it looks like it is starting to happen.  I also saw that a cross country self driving truck delivery was made here in USA a few weeks ago.  There was a driver present but the only time he took over was for things like refueling and maybe road construction.  Ten years ago this was science fiction.  Looks like I’ll be telling my brother’s kids to not consider being a truck driver or taxi cab driver.  Even the small college town I live in has a few Uber drivers now.  Before my car accident I applied to Uber, thinking I could make a few dollars ferrying around college kids on the weekends.  I was turned down because my car was too old.  One of my friend’s, her husband works for an Uber like company.  Made decent money but worked long hours and was rarely home.

2019 has been an eventful year overall.  Much of it has been good news, some of it bad.  The bad news is going to get more attention simply because that is what the human mind notices first.  Brilliant survival strategy in the Stone Age but can drive us insane when most of the basics are already met for most people in our world.  According to a scholar named Yuval Noah Harrai, our world now has more people suffering health problems from eating too much as opposed to not getting enough food.  Our great grandparents would have never imagined that.  As much as I enjoy futurism and tech predictions, I would be foolish to say what isn’t possible for the citizens of 2120, especially after how much change I’ve personally witnessed since I graduated high school in 1999.  My best friend and I were among the first families in our small farming town to subscribe to internet.  I didn’t have my own email address until I was 18.  And it was my friend who taught me how to get free music (which I never did) and free dirty pics (guilty as charged).  My eight year old nephew is enamored with my mother’s old mechanical type writer.  I never used one myself but learned how to type on an electric type writer when I was in junior high.  The change over to computers was easy in comparison.  Maybe my nephew’s kids will be surprised that we had to type on computers, rather then just think and communicate that way.  Or it could be something completely out of the blue we can’t imagine yet.  If the 2010s are any indication, the 2020s will be even more eventful and sometimes chaotic.  It’s only going to get more interesting and eventful.

December 12 2019

Been on my new meds for over a week now.  I think I notice a difference already.  I don’t need as much sleep and I wake up with almost no aches and pains.  Even the aches in my knee are far more manageable now.  For a few weeks I would wake up in pain, especially in my knee.  It usually went away after a hot bath and a couple Tylenol pills.  But it seems like my mornings are starting faster now.  I still lift weights every other day.  I still don’t leave my apartment much.  But I usually leave my door unlocked when I’m awake.  My neighbors drop by a few times a week, usually to chat or drop off some food they made.  Yesterday they were here for a couple hours and brought pork chops and potatoes.  I provided the meat and they made dinner.  I’ll have to go grocery shopping again in a few days.

With today being a Thursday, my cleaner is scheduled to arrive today.  She’s usually here over the noon hour.  I buy her supplies and she gives the place a scrub down and vacuum once a week.  She has been here since last Christmas.  I notice a night and day difference in the way the place not only looks, but feels.  Since she started cleaning my house, I have put up more decorations like paintings, historical flags, and throw rugs.  A good throw rug not only brings more life to a bachelor pad, it feels so good on bare feet on cold mornings.  I am no longer paranoid about having guests in my apartment.  At this point, I prefer hosting guests as opposed to going to other people’s places.  When I was in high school and college, I preferred going to other people’s rooms and houses.  Kind of odd how one can change over the years.

Even though I don’t get out for long, I still keep in contact with my friends and family.  I have a few friends I talk to almost daily via facebook.  I chat with my family a couple times a week on the phone.  I am slowly reestablishing sidetracked friendships on facebook.  Over the last few years, I had cut my friends list down significantly because of, well, dumb reasons.  Some of these friends were worth letting go, but many are worth reestablishing contact with.

December 11 2019

Only two weeks until Christmas.  2019 is going to be passing into 2020 soon after.  2019 has been a long year for me.  I think spending much of my time at home made this year go slower than usual.  It was a year of changes for me.  I sold my car so I’m no longer driving.  I lift arm weights regularly.  I gave up most fast food.  I gave up most sugary food.  I broke down and hired outside help to keep my home livable.  I now have help with cleaning and laundry.  I gave up on a few friendships once it became painfully obvious some of my friends and I no longer had the same interests or values.  I guess people do change over the years.  It’s usually so gradual that we don’t notice it until afterwards.  I am beginning to overcome some of my anxiety about people.  Guests don’t bother me much anymore.  I still get slightly paranoid when I hear people talking out in my hallway.

I didn’t watch much tv or news this year.  I can’t relate to many tv shows.  I even cancelled my Netflix subscription.  Most of what I watch anymore is youtube or live sports.  The news is depressing, but I get that’s what catches the attention.  We have plenty of good news stories that will never get mentioned simply because good news doesn’t catch the attention.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked either, outside of online science and tech articles.  I guess it’s been kind of a less eventful year, at least for me.