Burning Fields of America

This was not the post I had intended to publish after such a long period of time since my last contribution. It’s needs to get said though.

There was a time not so long ago in my life that I would have been all over the news commenting on posts, following people on Twitter and putting my strong opinions out on the Internet for anyone who cared to read. I was writing a lot online for multiple sources, ran a few sites for myself and others, and even had a decent following for the short period of time I was regularly active. Free time was consumed by constant thinking about what I was going to write next when I got home and sat down to the computer. I would go through news sites and pin articles to my browser bar that I wanted to comment on later that day more often than not never getting back to them again because something else peaked my interest.

All of this wouldn’t last of course and didn’t all crash and burn at the same time, as it was more of a gradual decline and general loss of interest. Days turned into weeks which turned into months where I wouldn’t even think of writing. I stopped following mainstream news sites, stopped following a lot of my regulars on Twitter, deleted a lot of the news feed apps on my mobile phone too. Focus in my life started to become local instead of global and I worried about things around me and in my neighborhood, town, and local city. In hindsight this was very much an introverted reaction to getting overwhelmed and not knowing how to process or deal.

I recently was up way too late a few nights ago seeing how deep the Internet hole went only to get to a dead battery on my mobile phone never getting remotely close to the bottom. I was left with an odd feeling of hopelessness and dread mixed with anger and frustration similar to how ice and fruit are mixed in a blender to make a smoothie. See, a conversation I had with an old friend I had not seen or heard from in years brought into sharp focus just exactly what has been happening the last few days in this country. He was still very much the same person I remembered from so many years ago who got behind the cause du jour of the day and rallied with the followers of said cause. Through the course of this conversation I came to the conclusion that while he was the same person I remembered, he could not say the same about me as I had changed significantly.

Not sure when it quite happened exactly if I’m being truly honest. All I know is that the way I think about the world around me now is not how I used to think about the world around me in previous years. One really good example of this is when the topic of the president comes up in conversation, now always by someone else and never by me anymore. I listen to comments, hear the negativity spewing from people that I know and most of the time respect, and am left thinking about how obvious it is they don’t read half the articles that give them the “facts” now being spoken. We were always going to get to this point, it was inevitable, a country can only take so much stress before things pop off like a bottle rocket.

A global pandemic keeping people inside, away from social contact for weeks on end is enough to drive most people over the edge. I personally had several weeks back in April where I didn’t think I’d make it this far but I did. Now adding on a horrific event of police brutality that kicks off the worst protesting this country has seen likely since the 1960’s, people are just fed up and done. They’re just done. Things are broken and millions of people across the country are peacefully protesting for change that is decades overdue. I personally am in a weird head space emotionally and I’m having a difficult time processing anything significant in general let alone about protests, government, or a global pandemic.

We need to adapt as a nation to survive I think. The best way I know how to start to do that is by making sure we get someone new occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Violent rhetoric begets violent rhetoric, lets break that cycle.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #george-flynn, #trump

True Friends Might As Well Be Big Foot

When you stop to think about it, true friends are like family without the commitment to obligation to see them on holidays, birthdays, etc.  Family is mentally and physically draining for many reasons, many of which lead back to the fact that they remember how you used to be and have difficulty understanding why you would ever change.  Friends on the other hand, at least in my experience, go with the flow and embrace change as it happens as it strengthens the bond; makes the friendship stronger over time.  It’s this reason that for most the idea of a “true friend” is so foreign and unattainable because the level of trust required to be given is truly frightening.

Most people have a lot of what I refer to as acquaintances often mistakenly though of as friends.  These people are the ones that you see at work, on the weekends, hang out with at parties or catch up with over lunch every so often.  Acquaintances are definitely ones that you are connected with over social media accounts and rarely ever see in person.  The idea of calling up an acquaintance, out of the blue, asking to meet up because you need to talk to someone about something really important or need help is foreign and feels like wearing a left shoe on your right foot.  The fact of the matter is that we all have a lot of these types of friends but most will ever ascend to the pedestal of a true friend.

True friends are those lucky few that are allowed access to the inner working of your mind and soul.  They’ve seen the raw energy, the darkness and light, the wordless joy and crushing sadness, and the massive crazy that is your life for what it is.  In return they’ve shared the same with you, raw, uncut, unedited.  There is a connection deep enough that a mere glance can emote an entire conversation in seconds with no effort at all on either participant.  A true friend would give you their last dollar to help you out if they didn’t need it at that very moment.  These are the reasons that true friends are so hard to find and so hard to keep once you do find them.  This kind of connectedness isn’t normal for most people, certainly isn’t normal for me.  In fact, I go from full to empty in a matter of an hour or so with this type of person and have attempted to sabotage these relationships in the past.

What’s the point of all this?  That’s a good question.  I guess the point here is that I’m in a place right now where I could use a true friend and I don’t have one right now.  If you’re one of the lucky ones to have a friend like this, make sure to hang onto them and recognize what it is you’ve managed to capture.  Very few of us have someone that gets us for the true person that we are on the inside, the person that talks back to us on the inside that no one else can hear.  Once you find that true friend, grab on and don’t let go, it’s like holding onto a hurricane.

The 0’s and 1’s Getting Thinner

You know it’s been a long time since you last wrote when you go to log onto your account and need to reset your password….  Writing has been furthest from my mind that last several months as I hit a stage of burn out.  I just didn’t have the motivation to sit down and write anything in favor of doing other things that involved anything that didn’t have a computer related to it.  Job is good.  Family is good.  I’m good.

Since February, I’ve been really working hard on making better choices on what I shovel into my mouth.  For a second I had considered the whole surgery thing to lose weight, but after seeing the options and talking to a few people, I quickly moved onto medication assisted weight loss that didn’t involve knives or stitches of any kind.  To my astonishment, I’ve kept my appointments, followed their regimen well into the high 90% range and even joined AND a gym that I attend regularly 4 times per week.

My first weigh in was 358 pounds with a rather embarrassing body-mass-index that can easily be figured out for those that wish to know.  It’s now the end of June and we’re heading into the summer and my last weight check I was topping off at just over 315 pounds (that’s 43 pounds).  The medication I’m on doesn’t make me lose weight, rather, it helps my brain control the stomach monster growling and screaming at me that I need to eat.  Basically it makes it easier for me to not snack and eat regular meals at regular times.

Over the last 4 months, I’ve experimented with different types of food intake and have settled into something that doesn’t make me feel slothy and slow or like I have constant noro virus.  The breakdown, which is around 2,000 calories per day where 50% comes from fat, 30% from protein and 20% from carbohydrates.  Not quite the rigid “you must not consume more than 25g of carbs per day” Keto thing people are on, but also not the “in bread we trust” thing I had done for so many years before.  It’s a happy medium that I can live with for the long-term.

The other massive change I’ve made, that has definitely impacted the entire family, is that we PREPARE all of our food now.  There is nothing in the house that comes in a box, bag, or can if we can help it.  Something about buying something in a box that says “All Natural” that just makes me bust out laughing now, I swear.  Is a plastic bag “organic”?  Yeah, I used some common sense (and my eyes) to realize that fresh and natural food LOOKS fresh and natural and by its very nature, has a need to be prepared just before being eaten.  In the end, I’m spending about the same amount of money on groceries as I was before, but I’m shopping at farmers markets and butcher shops instead of grocery stores.  Fresh meat and vegetables actually stay longer because they’re not wrapped in air tight plastic and foam containers.  Who would have thought?

Overall, I’ve learned one very simple and easy lesson from all of this.  To lose weight, you must:

  • Eat less
  • Move more
  • Repeat

Never enough time

There’s something to be said about being so busy that you forget what it is that makes you relax when in fact, you have the ability to sit down.  My mistake for thinking that once the holidays were over, there would be more time to get back to some of the activities that keep me from being mean to people.  I’m still waiting for all this wishful extra time that I’m on the verge of just taking without regard for anyone around me.  Yup, I’m going to lock myself in my basement office that doesn’t have a locking door handle.  Knocking will just be met with silence or perhaps the occasional chair squeak that happens when I recline then sit back up again.

A few good things have motored my way in the last few weeks though.  There is a new position posted at my workplace that is 80% of what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months.  I have a decent chance of actually getting it as I’m on good terms with all of the interviewers.  While I think that I’ve done what was required in 9 months to demonstrate that I’m ready for the stretch goal this new position would put me into, anything can happen.  Silver lining is that I won’t be losing my job, it’ll just feel like being dropped a peg with a new level of management between me and the CIO.  Time will tell.  I already know that it’s more work of course, making a brain in my head that’s already tense that much more tense.

I think my daughter is being bullied in school.  Being the expert I am on that subject (go to hell bullies from my past), I recognize the signs all too clearly.  Her progress reports are slowly slipping without a noticeable difficulty in homework completion.  She is also not wanting to spend time with any of her friends and is hiding in the basement playing games, watching television, for hours at a time.  My restriction of “screen time” is met with some serious attitude, like way more than usual.  There is also a general lack of enthusiasm for any activities that she used to look forward to each week.  Yeah, she’s definitely being bullied.  The school is full of useless politically correct assholes that are experts in condescending placation when anyone reports suspected bullying.  I just hope that she decides to tell us before it starts to eat up her insides like it did to me.

The whole education system is beyond fixing at this point.  The only way to get a decent education for the kids is to pay ridiculous amounts of money for private school that is only  marginally better than public school.  Cyber schools are an option, but that is a huge commitment for parents that are both working.  Whatever the outcome of any of this, my daughter is the one suffering in the end.  I don’t have the answers right now, not sure if I ever will, but I need to get this suspected bullying taken care of now.

Don’t know when I’ll be able to sit down and write again, but as with previous posts, I do try to get free time.  The forces of life and responsibility have other plans lately.  Stay frosty.

Spiffing Up The Joint

So, I’ve been busy with the design of the site lately.  Doing a few things here, a few things there.  Although I’m never quite satisfied with static pages, I am at the point where the overall theme and design are going to remain largely unchanged.  I’m sure there will be additions of new features and functions along the way as I find neat things to add to my self-hosted site.  The freedom that self-hosting provides is amazing and I only wish I had done it sooner.  Just for a point of clarification, I am on a self-hosted “managed” WordPress hosting provider, meaning they handle most of the heavy lifting.  I have the option to muck with it, but am choosing not to get into the weeds.  This managed system is relatively easy compared to a true self-hosted system where you essentially install, configure and publish the entire thing on your own.  I don’t have time for that kind of thing.

I’ve pulled my links from the old site to this one and you’ll see a greatly reduced listing below in the footer.  Unfortunately quite a few of the people who I had followed in the past have either locked their blogs and made them invite only or have left the platform all together.  As I find new people to read, I’ll be adding to the listing.  There are so many reasons I can think of that someone would stop writing and eventually leave the platform.  There are just as many reasons I can think of that makes someone decide to make their blog private.  At some point though, a private blog loses its appeal, at least in my experience.  To each their own.

Bonus points to the first person that can name the movie that the featured image came from 🙂

Attitude built by experience

I’ve reached an age where I can objectively handle pretty much anything.  This gives me an ability to let most things just pass without much thought.  Such as someone getting mad over a decision that gets made, getting passed over for a promotion or something as simple as negative perceptions.  It’s when presented with these life situations that you gain valuable experience.  As the graphic so perfectly puts it, experience alters your attitude and it has nothing to do with age.  I’ve met individuals that have been expertly mature that are in their 20’s.

This objectivity helped me reach a conclusion regarding social media.  As those that have followed me, I deleted my 10-year-old Facebook account last year.  I recently just deleted my Twitter account as well.  At this point, I do not have any “active” social media accounts.  Ones that may still exist I just never went back to delete and are most likely already gone for lack of use.  Social media, in my experience, gives the user a distorted view of the world around them.  They quickly become addicted to social media other real life non-social media skills start to fade or become awkward.

What is scary is the absolute dependence on social media 20-somethings and younger show.  So dependent that there are measurable delays in development into adulthood.  Jean M. Twenge at The Atlantic wrote Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation that goes into serious detail on this fact.  It’s rather long, but definitely worth the read if you have younger children that are close or have already received smartphones.  Social media is just one of the many symptoms that can be traced back to an uncontrollable addiction.

Overall maturity with most individuals, through smartphones or social media, has declined.  It’s going to make it much more difficult to keep the jobs filled needed to keep our country going.

Welcome to my new home

Welcome!  If you’re reading this, you already know that I’ve migrated to a self-hosted provider.  It’s surprising at how powerful the WordPress application is once you get away from WordPress.com.  The old w1nt3l.com blog will be up for a few months, but at some point I will cancel it and get a pro-rated refund.

Not much time tonight to write much as it’s getting late for me.  Hope you decide to follow me again.

Dealing with technology still a PITA

You would think that with all the advances in technology and software that things would have become easier.  Windows 10 and other operating systems have taken a lot of the guesswork out of figuring things out for yourself.  Even with that convenience and efficiency, there are still things that are more complicated than they really need to be.

WordPress

This is an awesome platform and WordPress is the Amazon of the blogging world.  Sites around the world utilize this software and you would think it’s really easy to use.  Well, if you’re on WordPress.com hosting, it is.  They do all the hard work for you.  As soon as you venture out into the world of self-hosting, you are plucked from a comfortable chair and plopped down into an iron maiden of obstacles.  I’ve just spent several hours migrating about 1GB of posts, media, pages, etc. from a WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site.  You can see from the time of this post, it was a rather difficult task and those that know me through my previous writing, a challenge is never something I back down from.  It’s almost done, fingers crossed, the media came through this time.

Mobile Plans

The days are gone where you had to miser your minutes and perform phone calls with lighting precision.  Text messages used to be costly as well and spamming a friend was as costly to you as it was to them.  With unlimited calling and texting, the only thing left is data plans.  Not 10 years ago, an unlimited data plan, that you mortgaged your house to pay for, was truly unlimited.  Sucking up 5GB cost the same amount as 25GB and there was never any throttling to lesser speeds.  Mobile carriers are now offering what they call unlimited plans, but if you read the fine print, they really are xxGB’s at high-speed and then limited speed after you reach that limit.  I guess unlimited data is technically true, but who wants to try to watch a streaming video at 3G speeds.  That’s just crazy talk.  I won’t even get started on the amount of money it now requires to keep your constantly connected life actually connected.

Screen Resolutions

I remember a day when the ONLY resolution you could do was 1024×768.  Readers that remember Windows 95/98 are all too familiar with that rather piddly screen real estate when tying to view your high res porn.  Now you have 2K, 4K, 4KUltra…..  it’s enough to drive anyone insane.  Add to the confusion by making a 4K resolution available on a 13.3″ screen and it’s enough to make any normal person go blind.  I was smart, I opted for 2K on a 13.3″ screen yet still have to run at 150% just to see most things on the screen.  Why not make a maximum resolution fit the screen size because the day is coming when 4KUltra is available on a 10.6″ screen and it will most likely be from Microsoft.

At the end of the day, all we really did was solve a bunch of problems from years past and replaced them with new problems.  And people wonder why I’m rejecting technology in certain parts of my life.  I just don’t have the time anymore.

The 1 in 500 years storm

This is the first major storm that I’ve experienced where I’ve had a direct connection to victims that I know personally.  I don’t have the experience to even start to imagine what they’re going through right now on the ground in Texas, Houston especially.  The videos, pictures, first hand accounts and emotional posts to Twitter don’t even come close to conveying what all those people are now having to endure.  People are saying this is a historic storm that has shattered records since we’ve been keeping detailed weather reports, well that’s not quite right.  We’ve had category 4 storms in the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico before.  We’ve had devastating damage from winds before too.  What truly makes this storm, as opposed to others, is the sheer volume of water that has fallen in such a short period of time.

Yes, I’m going there.  Climate change.  The Gulf of Mexico is unusually warmer than in previous years.  Is that an anomaly or is it getting warmer and we’re on the start of the trend upwards?  The weather pattern that is holding what’s left of Harvey, currently a Tropical Storm, is odd for this time of year.  Is that an anomaly or are weather patterns now starting to slowly change because of increased temperatures and moisture in the air?  This country is on a dangerously slippery slope with our withdraw from the Paris Accord, a climate change denier is now heading the EPA and has already started rolling back regulations.  Fossil fuel companies are getting more subsidies than ever before and have been making record profits despite a glut in crude oil prices.

I don’t think this will be the last storm that will redefine the record books and in fact, I think it is the first of many that will increasingly demonstrate that we’ve been complete idiots in this country for ever believing any of the crap that climate deniers have been shoveling for years.  We’ll get our chance to make a difference soon enough.  Gasoline prices in the United States are going to spike significantly in the aftermath of Harvey.  40% of crude oil refining is based along the Texas coast and those refineries are months away from full capacity.  Oil platforms in the Gulf are largely undamaged, but they have nowhere to send the oil even if they did start extracting again as they’re fitted for pumping crude to shore via pipelines.

Be a human being, do whatever you can to help the victims of Harvey.  My company has pledged to match any donations up to $1,000 and I’m going to scrape together exactly that amount.  My company has an office, or did, in Houston that is now damaged beyond repair.  My co-workers house is gone, he was south of Houston.  Another friends house is sitting in 7 feet of water.  With an unprecedented storm comes unprecedented support in all forms from first responders to aid workers.  Do what you can to help.

Nothing stays the same

I want to start off by apologizing to all that follow me for my lack of activity the last few months.  Life has been rather hectic this summer so far and there isn’t any reprieve for me in the near future based on what I know is coming.  Sticking to a writing schedule has been difficult when there isn’t much time so spare.  The little downtime I manage to scrape together has been dedicated to real life things that have been pushed off due to unplanned events and not staying up to date on family event scheduling.  There is so much in the summer that needs to be done that doesn’t need to be done any other time of the year.  Making sure the lawn is mowed, yard work, making sure someone is watching my daughter (the wife is now working), parties and of course impromptu weekend get-togethers planned on a whim.

The wife is working now after getting a call from a mutual friend from the firehouse where she volunteers and is now the Treasurer.  Her friend runs their own business and after their book-keeper gave notice, they called my wife and offered her the job.  She accepted and it’s been an exercise in futility trying to work out camp, places for the daughter to go afterwards and changing work-from-home days on fly week to week.  I’m home today for instance, but my normal remote work days are Tuesday/Thursday.  For someone that relies on a weekly routine, it’s been stressful keeping up week to week with the ever changing responsibilities.  The extra money is definitely helping, a lot, but it’s slowly eroding my ability to stay somewhat normal and calm.  I’m finding that driving has started becoming a string of curses at other drivers for doing stupid things, which is how it started last time when I lost my crap across the board a few years ago.  It’s worrisome.

I’ve never liked the summer months.  It’s hot, humid and I’m generally not a happy camper unless I’m inside with ample air-conditioning cooling everything down, including me.  There are actually quite a few things that I don’t really like throughout the year, but tolerate for various reasons.  As long as I can get the downtime I need to tolerate the world, it’s all good.  What isn’t good is how I’m feeling now and not seeing a way back until school starts again for my daughter.  That leaves me with just over three weeks before a semi-normal routine returns to the household and, naturally, to me.

This coming weekend is, at this point, open with nothing planned until Sunday afternoon.  I’m hoping it stays that way.