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.

Removing Myself From Social Media and Thoughts on Change

I decided I’m giving up social media.  I cancelled my twitter account and have put my facebook on inactive status.  I spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually writing and researching.  I have only a couple close friends and a few cousins I really hear from anymore via facebook.  I would have given it up over a year ago if I wasn’t fearful I’d permanently lose contact with my friends and family.  I tired writing more emails several months ago, but got only one response from the dozen I sent out.  I suppose it feeds into my paranoia that my friends and family really don’t like me that much.  Every time I call my parents, the bulk of the conversation focuses on what I can do to improve myself and how to make my apartment more presentable.  I find this irritating.  I really do.  I can’t even just live anymore.  At this point in my life, I don’t care if I impress people or am popular.  I have never been popular, not even in college or high school.  But I had a good time in college because I got to spend time with people even more eccentric and academically oriented than myself on a daily basis.  I know many people condemn academic knowledge, scholarly pursuits, and intelligence.  I have endured this my entire life.  And I have given up on people ever changing their attitudes towards intelligence and wisdom.  I just want to live and be allowed to pursue my goals, which include learning as much as I possibly can about as many subjects as I can.  I don’t give a damn if I ever make a cent off my pursuits of knowledge and wisdom.  As long as I have enough money to make rent and keep my pantry stocked and myself clothed and my psych medications current, everything else is just add ons.  I don’t need a large house, a prestigious career, a trophy wife, lots of kids, a fancy car, designer clothes, or the respect of people I have nothing in common with.  I never have.  I was, like many ambitious teenagers, brainwashed into thinking I needed such nonsense to have a fulfilled life.  It took a serious mental illness and struggling for most of my twenties to realize that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  And it took a few more years to where I got to the point when I no longer felt shame for not wanting a life I had no say in designing.

I don’t feel shame for not wanting to be rich or famous.  I don’t write blogs every few days with the idea I will get noticed and make a train load of money.  I write for a record of what it like to be a mentally ill man in early 21st century America.  I don’t write just for my current audience.  I write for future generations so there is at least one record as to what mental illness meant in the early stages of the Information Revolution.  And make no mistake, our species and our civilizations are going through a period of transition at very least as profound as the Agricultural Revolution thousands of years ago and the Industrial Revolution hundreds of years ago.  It should be no wonder so many people are afraid and angry.  Afraid of what’s happening and what is going to happen.  Angry that we found that much of what we learned in our youths and what worked well in previous generations is starting to no longer apply.

We are at a point in history when our science and tech is advancing faster than our institutions of government, religion, education, finance, industry, and social norms.  At this point in time (November 2019), the world is far different than the one I went to high school in during the 1990s.  I’ve recently rewatched some of the tv shows that were popular when I was a teenager, and it’s almost quaint looking at some of the tech that was considered cutting edge twenty five years ago.  Even in the Matrix series, there were no smart phones, social media, video sharing platforms, laptop computers, etc.  There were still phone booths in that series and that was made only twenty years ago.  I didn’t notice the subtle changes that were happening over the course of a year or two when things were happening.  But looking at it over the span of twenty years, I am as a 39 year old man living in a world that is foreign to the one I occupied at age 16.  I’m not even sure my niece and nephews have seen a VCR tape anywhere outside of a history show or museum.  I sometimes chuckle when I see older people who don’t research online as much as my cohorts do.  But my teenage nephews would chuckle that I have never run a 3D printer or used a VR headset.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset from money he raised working odd jobs for his parents and neighbors.  He set up a VR flying simulator for my father.  As for me, I’m waiting a couple of years for the prices to drop and the tech to get more user friendly.  As crazy as the changes I have seen in the last twenty years have been, I guarantee the next twenty will be even more so.  At this point I’m just content to buckle up and enjoy the ride from my apartment in small town Nebraska.

Routine Changes and Intellectual Pursuits With Mental Illness

Been staying home most of the time lately.  The weather is turning colder, like typical Nebraska Novembers.  We had our first snow a couple days before Halloween.  Even though I have essentially been cabin bound for several days, I don’t usually feel that lonely or irritable.

I have made a few changes to my routines.  I decided to give up on coffee, again.  Even the morning cup that was my standard for over fifteen years too often makes me irritable and twitchy.  I am sleeping longer too.  I usually go to bed around 9pm, wake up at 2am, work online or read until about 6am and then go back to sleep for another three hours.  I also usually nap for an hour in the afternoons.  It seems like I am sleeping some at least three times a day.  It may make it tough to get a lot done, but it does alleviate anxiety and allows me to declutter my mind.  I still sometimes get vivid dreams, but fortunately most are not scary or violent like they were in my early twenties.  Most just don’t make sense or they are the ones where I’m naked in public and no one seems to notice.  And I often have those dreams where I am back in school and I can’t find my classes or even open my locker.  Needless to say when I wake up and realize I’m in my late thirties again, I feel relieved.

Since I fazed out coffee and sleep more, I have found it takes more to make me irritable and distressed.  It also seems like I recover from aches and pains faster.  And I catch my breath quicker when I get winded now.  I don’t feel much for aches and pains when I stand for long periods of time, but I do find it annoying sometimes.  One of the reasons I started doing my shopping online was mainly because I got annoyed with standing in line for more than a couple minutes at a time.  The worst was when I was at the gas station and needing to pay for a tank of gas and I’d have several people ahead of me buying lottery tickets.  It was especially bad on the days of Powerball drawings.  I am convinced that lotteries are a tax on people who can’t do math.

I’ve also cut out as much sugar as possible.  I didn’t even buy candy for Halloween this year, not even for myself.  Then again, I enjoy watching people in costumes more now than I did even as a ten year old when I got to dress up.  Sugar was another thing that made me sluggish and occasionally irritable once the sugar rush burned off.

I am making friends with some of my neighbors.  I usually hear from them at least once a day.  For a small monthly fee, they’ll help me out with my laundry once a week as long as I provide the soap and laundry money.  They were also good enough to make dinner for me a few days ago.  While I do cook for myself, it’s usually simple things that don’t require a lot of ingredients.

Gotten back into listening to audiobooks on youtube.  I also listen to science and tech themed podcasts.  I occasionally listen to Joe Rogan if he’s interviewing a scientist or tech person.  I still avoid politics.  I have enough beliefs across the entire spectrum that is doesn’t qualify me for any traditional camp, party, or tribe.  So I catch flack from all sides just because I try to think for myself and am not dogmatic about my politics.  I swear politics has become like religion for far too many people.

I don’t post much on facebook anymore.  Then again, about the only people I hear from at all anymore are my best friend, a couple cousins, and a couple college instructors.  Even the tech groups, with only a few exceptions, have become fear mongers and hopeless these days.  Even tech enthusiasts are too often guilty getting their science news more from Hollywood and less from actual scientists.  I don’t read most science fiction and I don’t watch any science fiction shows just because they are so dystopic and such doom porn anymore.  No wonder most people are filled with fear and dread.

I try to tell people what’s actually going right (and far more is going well than not), but I’m just waisting my breath on everyone it seems.  About the only person who doesn’t think I’m a delusional liar is my own mother (and my best friend when she’s been doing well).  And even with her, I don’t know if she actually believes what I’m telling her or if she’s just humoring me.  And people wonder why I dropped out of society and don’t socialize much outside of close friends and family.  What’s the point of socializing if most people just suck the life and positivity out of you?  It seems that optimism and empathy are the modern rebellions.  It isn’t cool to be an optimist, but that may be just because we are years ahead of the curve.

People think I’m lucky because I’m on disability and don’t have to work a regular job.  While having freedom (at least to the extent the pension money doesn’t run out) is amazing, it is also a lonely life.  I spend most of my days reading, watching science lectures, lifting weights, listing to podcasts, but not much socializing.  It’s like this scholar I sometimes watch on youtube said, “If you seek the truth, the truth will set you free.  But it will also make you lonely.”  But I’d rather seek wisdom and knowledge than popularity and prestige.  I’ve felt this way my entire life.

I believe I now know what my purpose in life should be.  It is to be an independent scholar/philosopher.  Sure such work will mean I will never live a wealthy life.  Then again, some of the smartest and wisest people in history will never be known because they spent their lives in monasteries or libraries or lecture halls and laboratories.  And that is only if they were lucky.  Many more spent their lives never fitting in, seeing absurdities every where they went, and died frustrated and bankrupt.  Fortunately, the internet gives an outlet for people like me, who in previous eras would have had no options other than monasteries or academic life.  The true geniuses who drive progress may not be the billionaire entrepreneurs, but the engineers and scientists and instructors making the entrepreneurs visions possible.  I suppose people like that do the intellectual grunt work that make modern society possible.  Yet most people will never hear of them, much like no one hears of individual master carpenters or plumbers.

November 1 2019

Saw my parents over last weekend.  Picked up some supplies I was needing and had a good visit with them.  Also decided to sell my car.  I wasn’t using enough to justify having it.  Besides my town now has Uber service in addition to a shuttle bus service.  And I can still get my groceries and medications delivered to my place.

I’m spending more time with my neighbors.  One of them volunteered to help me out with laundry once a week for a small monthly charge.  After having them over a few times I now realize how much I was missing from not socializing much.  I still don’t leave my apartment very often but I do make a point of standing up and walking around at least once an hour.  It seems to help keep the back and knee pain at bay.  I took a few days off from lifting weights but am starting back on that today.

Decided to shave my beard and trim my hair.  I buzzed my hair quite short.  Any shorter I’d look bald.  Haven’t had my hair this short in a few years.  I also haven’t gone clean shaven for a few years too.  But I figure if some people can update their look a few times a week, I can update mine every couple years.

Overall things are looking alright as we press closer to winter.  We got our first snow a couple days ago.  We had patches of snow still during Halloween.  I didn’t do much for Halloween besides play some background music via youtube for much of the morning.  I was going to watch Dracula (the Francis Ford Coppola version) as I own that on my amazon account but didn’t get to it.  Chatted with a couple old friends last night on facebook.  I’m still going to bed earlier and waking up for a few hours in the middle of the night.  I get my sleep and I’m still able to enjoy the quiet hours.  Best of both worlds for me.  Haven’t had any bad flare ups for a week now.  For awhile I was having them pretty bad for a couple days.  But I changed my routines some, changed my diet some, and got more consistent sleep.  So far it’s working.