Laundromat Reminiscing

I think I get some of my better writing done in the laundromat. It’s a place of strict utility. My fellow unclean neighbors and I come together for our sudsy ritual. Unless it’s that one homeless guy in the corner who blasts out punk music and shouts the occasional obscenity. He’s not quite as clean, but that’s not his intention I suppose.

What is there really to say about laundromats. I grew up frequenting the laundromat in Elgin, Texas with my father. I think my mom got the washer and dryer in the divorce.

My brothers and I were rambunctious and bored as hell every time. Unless we had managed to somehow squaller up a few quarters to play Mrs. PacMan. Eventually I realized that books were in fact portable and thus  any down moments for the rest of my teenage years were mainly spent nose down between the pages.

In fact, reading at the laundromat is one of the more comforting images I can draw up in my mind.

Nowadays, I sit like like a crazed tech-hobo with my tattered backpack and laptop typing away, hardly paying attention to all the fresh characters playing out their laundry routine.

Man, you know it has gotten bad when I am writing about laundromats.

My grandfather owned a laundromat, I believe. I remember going with him on his rounds one time when I was less than ten. Checking in to make sure nothing was broken or too dirty. Using the special key to open the machines and collect the hoard of quarters. Quarter hoard. That’s fun to say. It looked like a fortune to me at the time.

It must be strange to earn a living in quarters. I think my dad’s side of the family has always been a bit change obsessed. For instance, my father always used to carry around a change purse and paid exact change as often as he could. I recall many afternoons spent with my brother sorting out coins, counting them, and putting them into paper rolls to give to the bank. True, we weren’t rich, but I don’t think we were broke enough to make such coin-counting a necessity. Then again, summer days in Elgin with a barely working T.V. and three sons to keep quiet. Maybe such tasks were necessity to keep us…subdued.

I think a fondness for coins just runs in the family. Even my father, a man who eschews unnecessary material collection, had a modest coin collection. A relic saved from his childhood.

Today I throw away pennies. Our society has moved beyond it’s coinage days. Beyond soda, clean clothes, and drinking games, quarters are fairly useless. Dimes? Nickles? What’s the point?

Sure, I could make all kinds of tie-ins here to economics and the hazard of inflation by central banking or the advent of digital currencies, but that’s not me. I like to leave the niches and micro-planes of academia to those who enjoy such scholarly flossing.

I prefer to reminisce like an old man on a porch spitting out watermelon seeds of memory. Painting broad pictures about how the buzzing cicadas in the burnt Texas August sunsets made your skin tingle as the heat died down in the laundromat parking lot, knowing that sticky purple snow cones were not too distant in the future

Raise The Base

To be frank, I’m not where I should be.

Things are not going badly. I’m in shape. Have savings. Family and friends. My cholesterol is great. No sanity threatening habits.

It’s a good baseline. But baselines are a place to start from.

It’s funny, what I call a baseline now was an ideal years ago. When I was too out of shape to run a mile, sleeping until 3 pm, broke, and hardly eating a thing all day. Then, my baseline was just hoping it wouldn’t rain that day. Which in Portland was a bad bet to make.

That was a time when I definitely was not where I wanted to be. So I took that baseline and built off it. Slowly.

Moving in with my aunt and uncle nearby gave me time to reflect. Time to read and absorb ideas again. Place myself back in the context of who I used to be, or more like who I used to want to be.

Moving on to rural Minnesota to work and reflect was the next step. Earning my own way, working outside all day, coming home to a quite main street. It wasn’t all melons and honey like I describe now. I missed contact with friends and anyone in my generation. But that was a lesson I had to learn too. I learned that I need to get the ideas in my head outside of my head also.

Add it to the baseline of what I need to be happy.

Which got me out here to the gold coast of California working in the weirdest city in the U.S. Writing daily and working with the downtown crowd.

The baseline raises.

I don’t know what’s next. But I do know that I have one duty. One thing, comprised of many small things, that must continue. And that is to raise the baseline.

No, I don’t mean to be an obnoxious, in your face, life hacker flaunting how my life is beautiful and so can you.

I think we all have our baseline. And tomorrow it may be lower than today. But next month it should be higher. Whatever “higher” means to you. A family, a better career, a bike ride across Mongolia.

All you have to do is reflect, and allow your honest opinion to be heard by yourself. Tougher than it sounds. There will be lots of ugly truths compared to the beautiful lies.

Either way, this is a journey. Not an equation. Stop every now and then to marvel at how you even got this far.

Now, go.

Musings on Schedules

I don’t think I was meant to have a schedule. No, I’m not foolish enough to think that no schedule implies not having a disciplined routine. The hunter who doesn’t sharpen their spear does not stay alive long. The farmer who ignores the crops faces the penalties

To clarify my thought, I do not operate well on someone else’s schedule in the long term. I need to be able to take an hour at 11:00 to go walk and clear my head, or, write a few hundred words about the meaning of cheese. Having time for irreverent “non-productive” thoughts is a special kind of freedom. I assume everyone feels similarly. To what degree is hard to say.

Some people can sign up to work at IBM when they are 21 and retire at 63 no problem. They get their house, their hot dogs, their BMW, and that’s that. A life well lived. Secure in its predictability.

I see nothing wrong in that. I even get a little jealous of the person who can find joy while relegating ten hours of their daily routine to an outside entity.

I’m not sure where I determined to have the gumption to not keep my mouth shut and keep my nose down. Maybe my preferred routine started in having summer breaks from school. You work around the same peers and projects for 8-9 months, then have 3-4 months off, then come back to work around a new set of peers on different projects.

School may not have been the best place in my life, but I gotta hand it to them, that routine works perfectly for me. Whether it’s because that’s how I’m naturally wired, or because I was conditioned from the age of six, I don’t know. Nor do I think I could change my wiring if I wanted to.

I have no problem with hard work. Usually I am one of the more dedicated employees at every job I’ve had. It comes down to the inevitable desire of independence. The catch being, that without the financial freedom that comes from adopting another’s schedule, there is only hunger and paranoia. Neither good conditions for creativity or joy.

Yes, this is all pitiful and aimless musings towards no end. Why do I have to publish this for everyone? I’m not sure. But I do know that it gets me one step closer to working on my goal of writing on my own schedule for sustenance.

 

What Don’t You Need?

I did not drink any coffee today. Who’s to say if that was a vital mistake or not. In terms of how exhausted I feel, I will chalk it up to an immediate loss. However, I plan on forgoing for the next two days as well since it is the weekend and my self-experimentation does not have to interfere with clients.

It’s good to detoxify from things you have grown a tolerance to. I’m not one to make my life into a spreadsheet and document every time I yawn or pass gas. But I do believe if there is something that you have grown accustomeed to which is not required to meet your basic needs, try going without it for a few days or a week. Whether this means, getting more or less sleep, eating eggs instead of cereal, abstaining from alcohol for a week or month, do without seeing that person you desperately want to see.

Just try it out!

The reason for this voluntary abstinence being two-fold. First, you will naturally clear out the reserves of what has become normal. Whether this is chemical tolerance or habitual norms. Everything needs scrubbing from pools to neural pathways. When/if you return to the behavior it will be with a cleared perspective which hopefully informs better choices.

Second is the pain. Pain is one of the most illustrative teachers known to humanity. The harder you find your withdrawals, the more is being taught. So, listen up and start asking questions such as: Do I feel better or worse after this experiment? Should I really hurt this bad after not having the thing for a day? What are the implications on my body and spirit when I am on the drug? Isn’t it a shame to be a sort of titty-baby that must have this thing?

If, after a few days, the true answers to such questions are overwhelmed by the demand for whatever drug be it serotonin, nicotine, caffeine, dopamine, cannabinoids, etc…then you have learned something.

Go on back using. But you will never forget that you heard the truth. And it’s voice in your head will act as a relentless stream of water on sandstone until you come to terms with yourself.

Friction of Distance or Why Cities Exist

There are city people, country people, and, as strange as it is to me, suburb people.

Luckily, we live in a country where we get to choose which of the three we dwell in. Where we seek our work is slightly less at our discretion, but still a manageable choice in the realm of our control. Unless you want to work on a subway train, there are a variety of options for the location of your employment and habitation.

Cities get the most attention. If we’re to trust the U.S Census Bureau, from 7 years ago nonetheless, a bit over 72% of citizens live in “urban” areas. Urban being defined as a 50,000+humans.

Another ~12% include places between 2,500 and 50,000 peoples. Suburbs of sorts.

Then the remainder ~16% live in “rural” areas. Though, funny enough, 72% of this country is statistically approved rural area.

We sure do like to congregate it seems. And for obvious reasons. It makes most transactions cheaper. Except most real estate prices. And silence.

Cheaper in the sense that there is less friction for commerce. Which makes the products produced cheaper to be strewn across the country and globe. If a factory had to acquire the necessary components of manufacturing from six far away locations, that plant would suffer the inevitable pitfalls of Murphy’s law. Luckily, there has been a tacit agreement by all parties involved that the friction of distance should be minimized.

So, when manufacturer A needs a shipment of 300 dingles to make their widgets and supplier B of said dingles is 700 miles away and thus must charge for long distance transport, acts of god, insurance, etc…Supplier C says “Hey! I know how to make dingles and I’m only 50 miles from manufacturer A! I shall incorporate and sell dingles to manufacturer A.”

There is no malice to supplier B. They simply are not geographically relevant anymore. They can try to find manufacturers who need their dingles elsewhere, the closer the better.

Follow this process for most every industry and tie in the same principles to employment and, voila, cities are explained.

Sure, sure, people will say that culture (access of mates) is another pull for our urban coalescence. And they’re right, but that’s another biscuit to crack. And it is ancillary to the true reason cities exist. Maximizing the value we can create to make the objects of our desire cheaper.

To bastardize Mises, we value things. Things are not free, therefore we attach prices to them. The lower the price, the easier to acquire our desire, the more likely that solution will proceed and be iterated on. The value part of that equation is subjective, but prices are a cosmic certitude as much as a quasar. Dollars, Yen, seashells, bitcoin, hugs, or gold. Doesn’t matter.

Everyone’s got an opinion whether the growth of urban population is the saving grace of humanity or a demonic degradation to the human spirit.

And they’re right.

We Aren’t Too Different From Celery

I’m just coming to realize that I haven’t really had an interesting thought in my head at all today.

Hang on, let me check again…

Hmmm, nope. Weird. Usually there’s at least one thing that can set me off down a road of dictionary dribble.

Sure, there were lots of miniature tid-bits of idea flotsam. They just never accreted into some concept I can wrap my hands around in earnest. Nothing I’d feel worthy of taking up your eyeball juice with.

Funny though, I’m still writing about it.

I think if I just had a few more calories in my stomach I might be able to muster up a paltry pun or some quibbling anecdote with perhaps a grain of knowledge.

But really, nothing.

Well, a plant doesn’t grow everyday. They grow in spurts. Some crops even grow mostly at night, when all driving light energy is absent.

I won’t get anything done by not doing. But I also don’t expect to bloom daily. All that matters is that I don’t lose my structure and grow when the conditions are favorable. After all, we aren’t too different from celery.

There. There’s an idea.

Randomocity

I know a guy, who told me a story once I fancied. It goes as such:

There’s a guy who is preparing to bike to his friend’s house. He gets all of his gear and readies himself in the driveway to pedal off when, he remembers, he forgot his helmet inside. So he dutifully goes back inside, gets the helmet, buckles it on and heads out.

It’s a fine bike ride and at he’s paused at a stoplight which turns green. He pedals out into the intersection and is smashed by a reckless driver who ran the light! Luckily he survives, but he is banged up.

The doctor comes in and says how lucky he is to be alive. In fact, the only reason he is alive is because he wore his helmet. With his neck swaddled in a cast he manages a muffled snort and says “If I hadn’t worn the helmet, none of this would have happened!”


There’s a book called Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Taleb which I have not read.

And in fact, I can think of no other qualifications that should empower me to write about Randomness. Except that I do in fact think, and so here we are.

What is Randomness? Why don’t we call it Randomocity? Should we start this like any other aimless pontificating article with a dry Webster’s definition?

Nah.

I think of randomness as the realization of unexpected occurrences.

So, technically, everything.

My parents meeting, breeding, and letting me live. And the same on your side as you now read these words.

Think of everything that had to align to make this occur! It’s almost enough to believe in invisible storm gods and lightning priestesses. Or Presbyterianism.

I understand why we don’t actively think about all of the chances that bring us to be whom we are. It’s a non-ending puzzle with origins far beyond our historical horizon. And as Sweet Brown says “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

But, is there anything that isn’t random? And what could constitute an “intentional” occurrence? And the real question, is the difference between the two significant?

I purposefully woke up and went to work today. I left my door, got on the bus, read my book, got off at my stop, walked to the office, and got in the elevator, which, was broken! So, I had to walk up the stairs. And got to work regardless.

Ok, let’s stop here.

First off, yawn. This is one of the lamest examples of randomness, but it illustrates the point well enough. I can’t have y’all too excitable.

But say, I had bumped into a woman in the stairwell with a bag of oranges that spilled and I said something funny about orange juice in the morning, I don’t know. But she laughs and I catch her eye. After a few more chance encounters in the building, we end up going out for a drink, yada yada, I meet her parents, she meets mine, we get a dog, a marriage, and produce tiny humans.

So, now the randomness of the elevator being broken that one day seems more significant. But it is still the same random occurrence that actually led to no real significance, that I am aware of yet.

The reality is, we can’t know the future which is why, when the football is punted, everything is random. We just apply significance and interpretation retroactively.

What matters is the intent.

In the fictitious Stairwell-oranges-wife scenario, we only met because I was following my original intent to go to work. Having that driving force is all that was necessary to provide for the fictitiously favorable outcome.

I also could have tripped and broken my neck around the third floor.

Randomness is a natural product of action. Accept it. Apply meaning if you must. Just try not to take it all too seriously because, there’s is much beyond your control. Take it easy. All your successes and failures are not solely your property. Get your head out of your egotistical ass.

I’ve found the best solution is comedy. Laugh at yourself first, and you learn quicker.

Which is why I’ll leave you with Eric Idle to put it all into perspective.

 

 

 

Acknowledge and Proceed

I think one reason I didn’t start writing regularly and in earnest until I was 26 was fear that I’d find I have nothing to say.

That is still a relevant fear.

I can diddle the keyboard endlessly, but is there a reason beyond the tapping sounds produced?

To be honest, I don’t feel satisfied with my daily blog posts as of late. They are aimless, uninspiring to write, and guaranteed to waste the time of those reading.

True, I am currently doing this to get better and not to satiate the literary appetites of others. But I feel that six, seven months ago my writing felt purposeful, even giddy. Not every day, but more often than not I would push publish and be proud to throw it up into the world of clicks. Then again, I haven’t gone back and read every post from back then. Maybe I should do so before making outright judgments.

Even so, I can be more or less objective about the difference in feeling. Perhaps I should acknowledge that what was then can not be now. In all aspects of life.

I can bitch about my shoulder not working as well as it did five years ago, but that doesn’t mean I am crippled for the rest of my life. Instead, I must be creative with the best ways to exercise and use my arm.

The same goes for writing. Though there is no apparent reason it should atrophy occasionally and mutate from time to time, it does.

Acknowledge and proceed.

Nightmare Snakejuice

Nightmare snakejuice!

That doesn’t mean anything, yet, but it was top of mind when this blank page opened.

After all, all that matters in doing, is getting started. The rest can be picked up along the way.

I’ve always had a penchant for being erroneous and random. Perhaps it’s a fanciful medical condition never revealed since my family doesn’t really believe in doctor’s visits.

I think it’s something altogether different than a medical diagnosis. I’ve always been extremely bored and thus have to find ways to shake it.

Not bored in the active sense of not finding things to do or learn. What has always gotten my goat is the fact that so many people, comprising society at large, are terrifically droll. And I feel the sheer volume of our societal hum drum like a weight on my head.

They are content to punch in the clock at mind-numbing jobs. They regularly get down and suck the knees of people whom they would otherwise never heed. They begin insipid marriages/careers that lead them to ugly realizations ten years down the road which they manage to cover up for another ten years in therapy and chocolate cake.

The prime example of our depressive masochistic society is the colors which 98% of cars are painted. I figured out from an early age that all these grey, beige, burgundy, commuter shells are the actualization of the true despair felt by the collective lackluster masses.

I don’t mean this to be a diatribe against such an intangible being as ‘they.’ After all, some of them are alright. And besides, I am easily a ‘they’ by the standards of another. And who is really right when stones are being thrown in every direction, smashing teeth and windows?

I can’t necessarily explain why I’ve always felt different. Why I had to leave high school and walk across the mountains. I know plenty of other people who read Lord of The Rings and On The Road who didn’t catch the compulsive instinct to retire early and wander any back road they found.

If the puzzle of my peculiarity is in front of me, I have trouble seeing the image or how the pieces align exactly to define who or what I am. The best I can do is follow these gut feelings and impulses. Or at least hark to some key words spoke by Mr. Morehouse, “Don’t do stuff you hate.”

This doesn’t mean to not have longer-term goals or to give up when the going gets strange or tough.

To me it means to always be honest with yourself. Or try your damnedest to.

Is what you’re doing serving towards becoming the best version of yourself you can imagine? Or, are you being an ironic little twat full of ready-made retorts and defenses that feel hollow when uttered from your lips?

Chances are you don’t have someone supremely honest and caring in your life to challenge you with every decision you make. So, you and I must each develop our respective internal counselor, or madman. However you want to think of it.

This internal guide who knows who you are and allows you to express that supreme incarnation of yourself at anytime is a start. Just make sure you listen.

There’s nothing wrong commuting daily in horrifying traffic in a sedan painted kick-my-face tan. So long as the positive output is greater than the negative inputs, you are doing alright. Assuming you are listening to the true version of yourself.

Life wasn’t designed or evolved to make you constantly giddy. But it should statically aim for more moments of joy than grief. Ideally.

If that is just not your reality right now, then reassess the rules you feel the need to follow and figure out which ones to shirk.

Nightmare snakejuice.

My Places And All The Others

I’m not sure where my happy place is. I think I have a few. Mostly in  North America because, well, that’s where I’m from.

One is definitely the Pacific Northwest. From Coos Bay, Oregon up to Skagway Alaska is what appears in my mind when the term grandeur is used. There is no more objectively beautiful and ethereal landscape than glacially carved fjords butted up against sharp mountain peaks carpeted in spruces and firs. But who can stand that much darkness and rain year after year?

Another is the Hill Country of Texas. Truly blessed land that is not good for growing much beyond Ashe Juniper and goats. But the spring fed rivers and creeks winding under colossal cypress trees can make you forget time exists. Even the heat of late August seems light when sitting in the shade of a breezy porch sipping cold tea and looking out on the rugged karst limestone hills covered in tangled live oaks. Then again, living outside of time can create existential angst and laziness quickly.

Then there’s my newest obsession of Louisiana. I have only spent time in New Orleans, while a magnificent city, is not the draw. It’s not even the swamp country of Lafayette or Baton Rouge. For some insane reason I am developing a passion for the North East corner of the state which I have never even been to. So, I have no fanciful descriptions except what I can interpolate from my previous experiences in the northwest corner of the state, as well as southern Tennessee and Arkansas. What I imagine and hope for is something between a mixture of the swamps of the south and tall grass land Savannah. A land of steamy wind curling over fields of marsh grasses and winding between stolid Post Oaks. A place overlooked by interstates and the busy commerce of suburb building. Nothing is more distracting to me than timing my schedule to avoid the mass of other people with similar schedules.

Then there was the area around the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica, but I will keep this list within the invisible lines of the United States for now. There is so much of the world I have no idea about. To an extent I do believe that a fjord is a fjord. A desert a desert. And mosquitoes bite pretty much the same everywhere. But the culture is what distinguishes a Nordic fishing village from the Alaskan equivalent. The architecture is different. The technology slightly more specialized and unique.

Perhaps I will concern myself with mapping out the rest of the world using my own senses. Populating my brain map with tangible experiences. I know I don’t have to worry about deserts because they really hold little appeal to me. So that knocks off about 33% of the landmass area.

But I’m the kind of person who can obsess over such a task. It already happened to me on this continent, and there’s still so much I haven’t seen between the roads I have traveled. No, I think I must be patient and realistic. I may still have to have a few different plots of land to call my own in this country in the aforementioned passion-zones. Ew. And then make more surgical insertions into new and desired locations. Gross.

For example, I would like to bike and walk around Germany for two months. Perhaps spilling over into the Czech republic a bit.

I know I have to live in Columbia and South America for at least six months.

New Zealand? Obviously.

Africa, well, that’s something I have to start thinking about.

Asia, beyond Japan, has always eluded my interest. Not for lack of things to be interested in. More due to sheer ineptitude on my part.

This world is just to damn big for someone obsessed with Geography. Which some define as the study of anything distributed over space and time. Great. I’ll get back to you once I seen and experienced that.