Having Access to The World Without Leaving Home or Wearing Pants and Shoes

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My parents moved to Oklahoma City area a few months ago to be closer to the grandkids.  They seem to be adapting to suburb life well.  They joined a large church where they have lots of opportunities to socialize even outside of Sunday church services.  And my dad, being a bit of a handy man from his youth on a farm, is absolutely thrilled that he lives only a few minutes drive from stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.  Mom is talking about planting a few trees and getting a garden going in the new backyard.  Meanwhile, here in Nebraska we haven’t been above freezing point for over two weeks.  But I guess as I learned from my brother who has worked in Oklahoma City area for twenty years now, that far south seems to get spring almost a month ahead of me where I’m at.  I have been quite envious of how their winters are milder than ours (and my friends from Minnesota say the same about my winters) but I will be grateful that my summers won’t be as rough as theirs.  I imagine I’ll eventually relocate to Oklahoma myself.  It’s just a matter of time and doing the Social Security transfer paperwork.

Overall I am happy for my parents in their retirement years.  I was worried about how they would adapt to retirement when my mom retired from the hospital and my dad sold his practice.  They didn’t socialize as much as many people, at least not outside of family and church.  My mom was on the town’s library board of directors and my dad was on the local school board back in the 90s and early 2000s.  He got to sign my brother and I’s high school diploma.  I did hear of a few examples of 18 year old high school seniors got elected to their local school boards and got to sign their own diplomas.

I guess I have gotten past the fact that I can’t just get in the car and go visit them on a whim like I could when they lived only a couple hours away.  But then, I just don’t travel as much as I used to mainly because I no longer need to.  I even recently signed up for grubhub.com, so participating fast food places in my hometown can deliver food to my house now.  I now special order my clothing through a big and tall men’s webpage and they mail my orders to my door.  Sure it is more expensive than Wal Mart or the old K-Mart, but the selection is much better and the clothes fit much better too.  As I always had odd sizes.  Before I hit puberty I was quite tall but really skinny.  Never been anything between being overweight and really skinny it seems.

If I don’t feel like venturing out of my house, there are a couple places in my hometown that can deliver groceries, sometimes even same day delivery if I order in the early morning.  I get most of my prescription medications sent through the mail now. One of my college friends joked with me that if he used my setups, the only times he would need to leave his house would be to go to work, get maintenance and gas for his car, and to buy his occasional beer.  He may have been joking but that is about the reality for myself.

And now many jobs can be done from home now via telecommuting.  I imagine it’s only a matter of time before this truly takes off.  I have a cousin and his wife that can do most of their work from home if they so chose.  The only time I need to go to my bank is to buy quarters for laundry and visit the ATM machine.  I do all my blogging from my leather recliner (which was delivered from a local furniture store) in my living room.  I have friends who take free online courses (not for college credits though) through MIT.  I use Khan Academy and youtube videos a great deal when I need and want to learn something.

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Maybe it will be telecommuting that saves some of these small Midwest and Southern towns that started drying up once farming and manufacturing got more automated and needed fewer human workers.  With as bad as rents and housing costs are in the big cities I couldn’t afford to live in a place like San Francisco or New York, let alone Omaha or Kansas City.  Maybe telecommuting is what will indirectly solve the affordable housing crisis here in USA. Might even solve the problems of higher education costs getting out of control. It also will cut down down on commuting time, so less air pollution from automobiles even if electric cars weren’t becoming more affordable and easy to find.  As strange as it may sound to some people, future generations might look back and write history books about topics like how technology, science, and the open market solved problems like environmental pollution, resource depletion, poverty, and perhaps even end war.  I think in some ways (at least much of the stats and data I have personally seen) all of these are beginning to happen.

Even though I don’t socialize in person as much as I used to, I don’t feel any less connected than I did in the past.  Sure I do miss physical touch and intimacy, but I have adapted to socialize more online and on phone. I’m currently trying to get face time set up on my computer. But I have adapted to my reality and have found ways around not having much money or living near people with similar interests or not wanting to drive everywhere anymore.  There was an old song about having the world on a string.  I don’t have that, but I do more or less have the world with a few keystrokes on a computer with wireless internet.  I can all my shopping and socializing and I don’t even have to wear shoes if I don’t want to.  I can hardly wait until I can get a multi purpose 3D printer I can use in my house as easily as I now use my computer and phone.

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Progress does sometimes seem to be slow, at least when we are in the middle of the day to day grinds and stressors.  But given the perspective of decades and years, we as a civilizations and species have made an incredible amount of progress just in the last ten years, let alone my lifetime, and certainly let alone since my grandparents were born.  All of this I do from home wouldn’t have been possible even in 2000.  Yet, growing up in the 1980s the year 2000 was some mythic futurist time.  Sheesh, other than fast than light travel, matter replicators, “beem me up Scotty”, computers who act like humans, and contact with life from other planets, we are starting to live much of what science fiction even forty years ago.  I have hope.  Everyone else should too.

My Thoughts on Possibly Moving to a City

I’m going to go off subject for this post.  But some major changes may be happing in my life soon.  I might be moving to a larger city.  Which excites me as most of my friends and family have already moved to larger areas.  I’m pretty much the last person of my group of friends left in a rural area. My father has been saying since the 1980s that rural America’s greatest export isn’t crops but it’s most intelligent young people.  I didn’t believe him when I was in school because even though I was around some troublemakers who didn’t want to be there, I could find smart people to hang out with whenever I wanted.  It wasn’t until I got out of college and into the workforce did I realize just how right my father was.  Finding intelligent people to have in depth and far flung intelligent conversations with is brutally tough.  And it got tougher the older I became.

I should have known something was amiss when most of my friends left the rural area I lived in and went to major cities to find jobs requiring lots of brain power.  Even most of my cousins moved to larger areas.  One cousin of mine lived in a suburb of our state capital but still telecommuted from his home for several years.  Even I telecommute with this blog.  I wouldn’t have anywhere near the reach without the internet.  Yet I think I could do even better if I was in a larger city with more in person contacts.  I stayed in a rural area mainly because of my family and wanting to be close to family while I worked though life with a mental illness.  Now my parents are talking about moving to Oklahoma City to be near my brother and his family.  If they go, I’m going with them.  It was always my plan that I would move to be near my brother after my parents died.  But I might not have to wait that long.  Besides, I like having my parents around.

It’s not that I am anti social or don’t like communicating with people.  I love having intelligent conversations.  A half hour intelligent conversation with family members or old friends is enough to recharge my batteries for a few days.  Intelligent conversation and learning new things actually makes me feel physically good.  It gives me a high that no drug, money, or woman can duplicate.  Yet I don’t get that much in the low income housing complex or rural town I live in.  I didn’t used to believe it, but I now really believe that there is a “brain drain” that is taking really smart people out of rural areas and sending those brains to urban and suburban areas where there are high paying jobs that require lots of brain power to accomplish. I have met some really sharp farm workers and factory workers over the years of living in rural areas.  But I still think they could be doing much better had they gotten some high tech education and moved to a larger city.

Most of my friends in high school and college were really sharp people.  As a result, all of them moved out of the rural area I grew up in.  And most of them are making pretty decent money.  My brother is an engineer for a large firm and so is his wife.  He wouldn’t be doing nearly as well had he stayed in the rural areas.  A friend of mine living in a Midwest city and her husband are considering moving to the coast because of better job opportunities.  My parents are considering moving to Oklahoma City to be closer to the grandkids.  If they move, then I won’t be far behind.  Part of me has always wanted to see what life in a city was like.  I do find it annoying that public transit doesn’t really exist in my town.  If I had access to public transit, I’m not sure I’d even own a car.  I don’t like driving.  I never have.  And I know many younger people don’t even want to own cars.

I have never lived in a city.  Yet pretty much every one I know who lives in rural areas are trying to tell me how bad city living is and how unfriendly city people are.  I have met plenty of unfriendly people in rural areas too.  If you look hard enough, you can find whatever you want in people pretty much anywhere.  I’m not scared of moving to a city.  I am ready for a new chapter in my life.  And I feel I have gone as far as I can go living in a rural area.