Optimism in the Future

Even though I haven’t heard from many people besides family and a couple close friends,     I remain optimistic overall.  I get much of my optimism from reading science journals and intentionally looking for humanitarian efforts stories online.  Reading these stories from sites like futurism.com, human progress.org, future timeline.net, among many youtube science and tech sites helps to keep me optimistic overall.  I know we have problems.  But I just became sick and tired of always hearing how bad everything was and how it was never going to get better.  I have been hearing about how bad the world was and how bad everyone was since I was old enough to listen in on conversations.

Growing up, I almost never heard my elders or teachers have anything good to say about the future or the world in general.  That bothered me for many years.  I have been hearing dire predictions for years, yet most of them never came to pass or turned out to be manageable.  Several years ago I finally had enough.  So I forced myself to do some research and find out what was actually going right.  I had to do a lot of research over the last several years to see what we were doing, where we were going, and what had already accomplished.  We are doing some really cool things in the realms of science, technology, and humanitarian efforts.  You just won’t hear about them on Facebook or the news.  Granted this is not a license for problem solvers to get complacent or lazy.  Humans have an incredible ability to see into the future and spot potential problems long before they happen.  Not only do we have the ability to see what could happen, we also can plan and change accordingly.  And we change and plan so well sometimes we forget what the original problems were to begin with.

I haven’t spent much time on Facebook or twitter lately.  I still go to Facebook a couple times a day just to see what’s up with friends and family.  But, for me, Facebook is the internet’s version of looking in the refrigerator and hoping there’s still some left over pizza from last night.  Most of the time you’ll get stuck with hot dogs, moldy cheese, and old lunch meat, but sometimes you get lucky. I still drop in on my tech enthusiasts’ groups, but I don’t participate much beyond liking articles that are being shared.  Unfortunately, mental illness and social media don’t mix well.  Not much I can do about it besides staying away when I don’t feel well.

I still stay awake quite late most nights.  It seems to be when I get the most research and writing done.  But at least I’m still getting enough sleep.  I do enjoy the quiet and solitude of the overnight hours.  I may have odd hours and odd practices, but at least I can still function with my mental illness.

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Socializing, Family, and Facebook

The Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and now the weather will definitely start getting hot soon.  I’ve been feeling stable but on and off depressed for months, especially since the middle of winter.  I think some of this depression comes from just being so lonely all the time.  There are only so many books I can read before I’m burned out.  Fortunately I was able to see a couple cousins and their families for the afternoon over the long weekend.  I hadn’t seen either cousin in a long time.  It was fun catching up with them.  First prolonged intelligent conversations I had in months.

I gets bouts and depression and loneliness more frequently than I used to.  It doesn’t help that I don’t really have any friends in my apartment complex anymore.  It also hurts that I had major falling outs with a few old friends that I had known for several years.  One of these friend couldn’t respect the fact that I’m not working a regular job and spending most of my time alone.  This person also thought I’m wasting my time with this blog.  Well, I sent that friend packing.  If a person can’t respect my decisions about work and how I spend my time, then we can’t be friends.

Another friend and I had a falling out over politics.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who can claim that these days.  But I just can’t stand how divisive and hateful modern politics has become.  It didn’t used to be this way.  Besides, political fan boys on all sides seem to be too blind to realize that modern politicians don’t care about the voters unless said voters are lobbyists or big money donors.  The way some of my friends and family post on Facebook, you’d think they were getting paid for every post about politics they put on their sites.  Besides, does anyone change their thinking because of these posts.  It’s like watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other but not nearly as entertaining and far less civilized.  I’d quit Facebook and twitter if they weren’t the only means I had to keep in contact with most of my friends and my key promotional materials for this blog.  Mark Zuckerberg really has a business monopoly that would do any 19th century robber baron proud.

The biggest reason I don’t post about my particular beliefs is that, well, no one group reflects what I value.  When it comes to social issues, it depends on the issue.  When it comes to having a good military, I’m in line with some Reagan era Republicans even if I’m not as interventionist.  When it comes to curbing the abuses and excesses of Wall Street and big business, I’m almost as militant as any Occupy Wall Street guy.  And I definitely won’t support any politician of any stripe that wants to cut science funding.  Science funding is quite small compared to military or social programs.  I don’t have a political home because there isn’t any party that reflects what I value.  And I think many people in the under 40 crowd feel the same way.  And I know it may irritate some of my elders to write this, but I think the last thing our world needs is a senior citizen politician who isn’t familiar with science and modern technology.  My parents generation has been in charge for almost thirty years.  Retire and play with your grandkids already, you earned it 🙂

I guess the biggest reason I have been fighting depression for awhile is that my primary means of socializing and communicating, social media sites, have become so toxic and nasty even among friends and family.  And I think it sucks.  Some days I doubt I really am making any positive difference.  Heck, some days I wonder if people even want positivity and happiness in their lives.

Technology Advances and U.S. Presidents

I decided for today’s post to get off the subject a little bit.  Actually I’m off the beaten path a lot.  A couple of random events have gone into this post.  My grandmother will be turning 95 years of age in a few weeks and she made the off hand comment something to the effect ‘I’ve seen people go from Model T’s to Predator Drones just in my life time.’  I was also reading a history book that came out a few years ago that detailed all the U.S. Presidents from Washington to George W. Bush (it came out before Obama was elected).  As I was reading this book my grandmother’s comments just kept coming back to me.  And doing a little further looking into when some of the wonders of modern living that we take for granted were developed, I put together this list (which is by no means meant to be anything but for fun), of what the some of the leaders of the USA didn’t have even in the White House that you and I have even in our house and communities.  So here goes:

George Washington didn’t even have the White House as Washington D.C. didn’t become the nation’s capital until after his death in 1799.  New York was the capital at the time.

Thomas Jefferson may have wrote the Declaration of Independence, and approved the Louisiana Purchase, but he didn’t do with a ball point ink pin.  He and political rival John Adams (the second U.S. president), also have the distinction of having probably never ridden on a train but having died on the exact same day, July 4 1826.

Andrew Jackson may have won the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 and be on the 20 dollar bill, but he never had a flushing toilet in the White House.

Abraham Lincoln never had electric lighting or a telephone but managed to be one for the ages anyway.

Theodore Roosevelt managed to complete the Panama Canal, win a Nobel Peace Prize, break up business monopolies, but never got to “speak softly and carry a big stick” before Hollywood could have filmed him in a color movie.

Woodrow Wilson got the Federal Reserve Bank and the League of Nations (the forerunner to the UN) pushed through, but never owned a black and white television set and probably never owned anything made of plastic.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had the New Deal, the TVA, the REA, the WPA, and was president during World War II but never shopped at a Wal-Mart, ate fast food, or had a credit card.

Dwight Eisenhower got the Interstate Highway System done, organized the Normandy Invasion,  but never owned a hand held calculator or a minivan.

John F. Kennedy may have stopped us from getting in a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis but never so much as nuked a burrito in a microwave oven.

Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act but didn’t live to see the rise of cable television.

Richard Nixon opened relations to China, had his enemies list, and spied on practically everyone including himself but did so without personal computers, Skype, and those eye in the sky cameras you find on practically every intersection in every major city anymore.

Gerald Ford trips on the steps of Air Force One in the 1970s, it makes the 6 o’clock news.  Today it would have probably a hundred million hits on YouTube within a weekend.

Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. president born in a hospital (born in 1924).

Ronald Reagan may have been instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain, but he couldn’t ‘lol’ about it on Facebook or tweet #toredownberlinwall on twitter at the time they happened.  In fact, he couldn’t so much as receive a quick text message from Margaret Thatcher or anybody else for that matter.

I could list more examples, but these are just some off the top of my head.  I welcome others and discussions.