Oh jEusus

Oh Jesus, I have one minute before the end of the day!

How will I fulfill my promise to write something every day for a year?

Perhaps I will simply write something.

That sounds like sound fulfillment. Does it not?

I’d love to talk about my 3rd grade Japanese penpal from Hiroshima or the woods of my childhood, but that’s another day.

Clicks and Ire

Sometimes I wonder why what I write here isn’t more contentious. It’s not as though I don’t have beliefs that would curdle the yogurt the average North American. And boy, that contentious content sure picks up clicks and ire quicker than anything else.

Luckily, my goal here is not widespread notoriety and debate. It’s not even for you to be reading this, but thanks for your time. I am here writing this for the sake of writing this. Everyday. It’s my medicine.

People don’t take penicillin to offend anyone. And, if someone (I’m sure they exist) were offended by penicillin usage, well, good for them. Ideally, someone does get offended and writes a logical retort thus enhancing the knowledge of all parties involved. I feel like this is how things used to happen around the times of Ben Franklin, though sometimes they would skip logic and go straight for the dueling pistols…

Anyway, besides practicing their pistol aim, authors of controversy had to practice exploring their own beliefs to find the faults and protect against them. This meant interacting with ideas that may have been unsavory parlor-room discussion. Not only listening, but responding. Civilly.

I don’t think manners are necessary, but they do reveal how intelligent you are. Not on some arbitrary scale of social intelligence. The ability to be offended and not respond like a bucking mule in a tin shed reveals a depth of thought. It means that the beliefs you hold are not so tenuous as to be threatened by the passing ideas of others while you consider them.

Fear of different opinions pervades our American society. We see the backlash daily as people interact on Facebook like rabid dogs in comment threads. They can’t drop the bone and don’t even notice they’re being tugged out into the rushing traffic of public idiocy.

Or we make neat, little padded rooms for ourselves by blocking everyone who lives a different sort of life. Interacting with the three people we know are pure of thought.

So when a new and flagrant source of controversy pops up online or in life, people lose their minds. You become a fascist or a snowflake immediately. There is no middle ground to savor the differences and understand the minutia of what makes you right or perhaps, god forbid, reevaluate your stance.

I know it’s probably a lost cause for most people over the age of 25. We have successfully inbred the information and ideas that we encounter. Which is partially why I don’t bother trying to shake the branches of our idea tree on purpose. I know that most people read what they want to read to gather more ammunition with their particular caliber on it just in case an idea war breaks out. This is why all the clicks go to the most inflammatory content.

If you’re producing ideas like atom bombs your blast radius will absorb the most trauma and attention while marginalizing any nuance of idea.

I think it’s preferable to approach ideas more like a ball-peen hammer on an anvil. Chipping and chinking away as the metal is shaped. Sometimes the idea must be thrown back in the forge to reshape entirely when the hammering has become too myopic and finicky.

If you’re looking for headlines that say “Abortion is an Abomination” Then go right ahead, but you won’t find it here.

But if want to hear the sounds of metallic tinkering and feel like you’re reading the equivalent of tooth-picking, then this is your place.

There Oughta Be A Law

There oughta be a law against people saying there oughta be a law.

There also oughta be a law against people who contradict themselves.

What the punishment will be I cannot know for sure, but death seems the most likely. Very little gray area when mortality is on the line. It is perhaps the clearest binary we know of as humans. On and off. Then again we have no idea what happens when that off thing happens.

Many people wear silly hats and speculate what it means to have your mortality shut off. I walked into the Carmel-By-The-Sea (the person who named that town definitely deserves capital punishment) mission church yesterday accidentally right when mass started. There was definitely some silly hat antics going on and waving around of framed pictures. Who was in the picture I could not tell, but I assumed there was a point. And I assumed the point was to threaten people about what happens when they’re turned off.

This particular mission was more interesting than the vague and morbid threats issuing from the hat-wearers. Apparently, the alter over which the old hatted man preached contained the remains of none other than Junipero Serra himself. Which, probably means nothing to you. Short history lesson.

Senor Junipero was a monk who founded many of the early mission in California including one in San Francisco in 1776 that is the oldest standing building in town. Technically he is a saint now. John Paul II decided to canonize him back in ’88. I’d like to think that a few faxes were sent to make this happen.

Anyways, his dead body was hanging out in that church yesterday. Hopefully, all he believed would happen to him came true after being switched off. Sainthood, monikered high schools, and old buildings are great for us still around, but what did he want for his spirit 200 years after his death?

I’m not going to read his diary to find out but I assume that he wasn’t after luxury. He probably just wanted to hang out with Jesus and talk about the bible for eternity. Not sure if that’s heaven or hell. I’m no theologian.

There oughta be a law against people who are flippant with the memory of the deceased. Especially if they have a high school named after them.

If they take me out for any of my transgressions, I know what I want.

A cabin on twenty acres, a pack of mutts (humans, dogs, or both), and some sort of word processor with copy/paste capabilities. Maybe some steak and eggs too if it’s not too much.

There oughta be a law against people who ask for too much from the afterlife.

There oughta be a law against someone writing so much nonsense and publishing it. But, it’s too late. The damage is done and now we’re in this together.

Good night.

Nemesi

I kind of wish I had a nemesis sometimes. Having an external personification of all that is disagreeable would make life more manageable. When things go awry and malevolence occurs, it would be nice to point to a clear figure as the source. Too often though we are without culpable nemesi besides ourselves. But it’s not fun to blame yourself.

Either you go too far and fall into a loop of shame, or you avoid self-blame to a point of non-learning. Supervillains are great because they remove the internal conflict within each of us much like excising a festering splinter.
Life is not Indiana Jones however. There is not an arrogant Nazi or Frenchman to outsmart and win over. It’s just you in that big fancy gourd of yours. Better learn how to make friends.

Town and Country

Here it is. Universal wisdom for the ages. Or maybe just a tirade against people some inane aspect of reality. Like people who don’t push their chairs in.

It’s hard to decide which route to go every weekday when I can barely feed and clean myself before 10 pm.

Today feels like a wisdom day. Which means I have a semblance of free time before entering the next gauntlet of this demanding city.

But I act like the country life is free from worry. This is patently untrue.

Life in the sticks requires a lot more driving for supplies, land/house management tasks (assuming you’re the owner), helping neighbors with large projects, and still feeding and cleaning yourself. Oh, and somehow making money which usually involves long days of manual labor.

However, the country life is always painted with a golden halo in much of our culture. The pastoral ideal is nothing new. Romantics really began the great hinterland proselytization during the peak of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s. And for good reason. Cities were gross back then.

People were shitting and dying in the streets. Rivers would set on fire. The air would choke you if you lived in the wrong neighborhood. And the water was so bad that beer was preferable. Along with the beer came all the other infamous vices of man including lust, murder, gambling, misogyny, and communism.

So yeah, the country was painted in pretty pictures and lacy poetry by the dirty city slickers who may have been fortunate enough to afford country homes. Let’s not forget though that while many would extoll the virtues of the pure country, the population was massively shifting to the urban side. In the “more” developed countries nowadays 74% of humans live in cities. Compare that to “less” developed countries where only 44% of humans live in the urban zone. This publication said so, so it must be true.

My point is, cities are inescapably efficient for humans, however much we like to bitch about their stank. And even our modern cities with all their feces and stabbing, are luxurious compared to Pittsburgh just 100 years ago.

The countryside has shifted too. Suburbs surround and cut through swaths of woods and scrubland. Massive unnecessary agriculture (corn subsidies) blanket entire states and provide jobs that will surely evaporate with the subsidies. The entire Midwest will be mostly devoid of people in twenty years, at least until remote tech employees start realizing they can buy a four-bedroom house for 80K and keep their lucrative jobs.

But this is all a bit too macro. What about the pleasure of just waking up and looking out your window across your window to the edge of the forest?

Hard to quantify and difficult to afford these days, but more accessible than many would like to admit.

While the city is excessively expensive and daunting for the average person, the country is just as difficult to justify. It is cheaper, but not by that much, and how do you work a job that doesn’t require Carhartts and a chainsaw to afford it?

The answers are out there. I can say this for sure. Those who think it is impossible to live where they want will certainly make it so.

Novels Are More Like Hot Tubs

Greetings from the poop capital of America!

Man, I was bitchy yesterday. For those of you who didn’t bother reading what I wrote, don’t worry, you missed nothing except some whining about runny cheese sauce and me breaking down in the laziest fashion imaginable.

Today is better.

I started reading Steven Pressfield’s novel The Knowledge and it’s good. Real good. Or maybe I just haven’t read a novel in a while. I miss it. The creative spontaneity. The public secret we all share in knowing that the author is making all of the shit up yet we willfully forget in order to dive in head first.

It’s great. The closest comparison I can think is when you’re playing a game as a child and all of the imaginary rules and worlds you construct are absolutely real.

Often I think that mental acrobatics are detrimental, but really they are the only trait that matters when it comes to enjoying life. The key is to choose the right thoughts to bend and when to do so. If your job is making you insanely depressed, perhaps don’t try to imagine otherwise. Just quit.

But when it comes to more casual affairs like reading a story or exercising, following or creating a narrative can enhance the quality of reality by three-thousand percent. That’s just science.

For example, sometimes when I do sprints I think about all the unsavory tasks I have to do at work and run through them. Like, literally I imagine they are in my way and I am running full-bore through them and destroying them. Yes, it’s exactly what a five-year-old might do. And since we are all still really children, that is why it works in relieving stress.

Reading novels, no, submitting your mind to the narrative of a well-written novel does something similar. IT can elevate the ordinary humdrum of your life into something nobler. I don’t mean this in the form of escapism. I mean that you can take the themes, action, and excitement from your book and decorate your daily life with it.

The snappy dialogue, the intrigue, the attention to detail in the descriptions all can be weaved into your life and relationships. It doesn’t work as well with movies because they are a one and done sort of transaction. Like a shower. Novels are more like hot tubs. You can soak in them, savor the experience, draw it out with a beer or a cigar, have a conversation, others can join in.

So read a dang book full of interesting made up nonsense and elevate your life. Or else, stop complaining that your life is dull.

What Went Wrong?

I can’t say why things go wrong, but it does seem that one wrong tends to compound into others.

I took a different bus on a whim to try and buy tickets at the Fillmore for a show in two weeks. It was crowded, stressful, crazy and pointless. The Fillmore wasn’t open for another hour.

I then take three different buses to get home and for some crazy reason decide to walk to the grocery store for a few unnecessary ingredients to make cauliflower mac& cheese. It’s been a lingering obsession for the past few days.

It’s been cold and gusty all the while, but I get home with the dumb ingredients. The cat is going nuts because she is a cat. I cook everything perfect but forget to drain the water from the cauliflower and ruin my perfect cheese sauce, an irreparable mistake. Sacrilege. I try to evaporate some of the water, but I only succeed in making some of the cheese stick to the skillet. When is the last time you cleaned cheese stuck to a pot? It gains a spectacular odor of rotten armpit hair and ruins any sponge.

Above all this process has taken over an hour. I rarely cook an entire meal for more than 30 minutes. All for a watery side dish. Pure rage builds up behind my eyes, but I am satiated from it. The flavor is good and it thickened up slightly.

I know I have early ass calls in the morning, I slept poorly for the past 6 weeks and don’t expect much better tonight. I was supposed to work out, but forgot. Now I’m full and mad. But at least my screwed up shoulder gets a reprieve.

And now I have to write this?! Yes. And I wrote it. Not so bad a day after all.

The Mind Wheel

Sometimes it’s hard to stop my mind. Why should I ever desire to stop my mind? Fair question.

First, what do I mean?

I think of the mind as a large bicycle wheel floating above the ground. Thoughts keep it in motion. It can go back into the past or forward while remaining stationary in location.

I do not think it is possible to stop the mind’s wheel. For very long at least. Besides, what’s bad about having ideas and thinking? Nothing. It becomes a problem when the thoughts are too numerous and displaced from the current moment so as to cause anxiety or depression.

Thinking excessively about the past causes the latter. Over-fixation with the future causes the former.

Having one’s mind away from the present has many pitfalls.

For me, it often means hard times falling asleep as well as the aforementioned big two. Sad and fretful. If you never feel these things then great for you. And you’ll probably have a nervous breakdown from all the denial baked into your ego.

Some days it’s easier to slow the wheel with meditation, plenty of sleep, and moderated caffeine. Walking, yoga, exercise in general also help to flush out any obsession with extraneous thoughts.

However, we all know that some days are definitely not all days. Shit happens and we must deal.

This is why I suggest having a regular introspective practice of some sort. I do a few, but one reflective habit a day is enough to give continuity and success. Mine is writing. If everything else goes to shit, I know that I wrote my piece.

It could be as simple as cooking some eggs, even if you only boil them to eat later. The idea is anything that makes you pause and set aside deliberate time to accomplish. The practice of ceasing whatever flurry of emotion and busyness to settle on a solid task transfers elsewhere.

After a while, you will find it easier to apply your discipline of cessation and accomplishment to something a bit more reflective like journaling or meditation. The key is starting small and singularly. Don’t change six variables at once, that’s self-destructive science.

You may never truly be able to cease the spinning of the spokes in your mind, but you can get a handle on the brakes through being mindful of your thoughts. It will take time and small steps of mental awareness. The worst outcome you’ll face is calm and satisfaction. Watch out.

 

Some Thoughts About Timmy

I can say with a high degree of certainty that I would not be who I am today without Tim Ferriss.

I can also say the same thing about Garfield, my mother, and Moses. But sometimes we must ignore the infinite tangents that pierce each of us and weave inexorably back to an ancient black hole.

Anyways, my life has been drastically improved by listening to Mr. Tim’s podcast.

In 2016, I was working out in the middle of nowhere. I won’t describe it because nowhere is typically without notable features. But there I was, being paid to wander the plains and woods of North America. Sometimes on foot, sometimes by tractor, four-wheeler, or F-350. Ostensibly I was attempting to halt the spread of invasive species, but there really weren’t any. Or sometimes there was so much birds-foot trefoil that I couldn’t possibly lug enough herbicide to destroy it all nor did I desire to spread that much collateral damage on the surrounding ecosystem.

So, many of my days were spent in search of, nothing really. Usually alone. For a while, I enjoyed the solitude and fresh air. I was coming out of a hard time trying to escape an aimless and negative life. And it was fantastic. But equaling out a negative still leaves you with a zero.

I faced a grand vacuum of personal expectations. Horrifyingly vast and taunting. It was easy to lower the score and slip backward. It was about this time my friend and coworker recommended the Tim Ferriss podcast to me.

I had already been listening to Isaac Morehouse’s podcast which I credit with getting my mind cogitating and receptive to new ideas again. College was a real bitch for me personally.

When Tim Ferriss came about to me I was hungrier for knowledge than I had been in six years. Fortunately, each of his episodes averages around two hours and there was a backlog of 200 episodes or so.

It was a truly magnificent period of my life. Wandering through pristine prairies collecting seeds by hand while picking up sage life advice from people I could only hope to meet. Gunning my four-wheeler through swamps while laughing with geniuses I’d have never had access to otherwise.

The job itself was, well, a job. I did it to the best of my ability and tried to improve processes where I could. But all in all, it was not intellectually stimulating. Usually, when a job reaches that point, I tend to bow out.

Instead, I woke up every day excited to learn from a hero I never knew existed. Even Tim Ferriss doesn’t suggest that anyone listen to every episode of his show. He makes the point often that he designed his show so only 10-20% of episodes appeal to the standard listener. But, there I was, talking to cows and mending fences hours from the nearest gas station.

I’ll never regret listening to guests whom a time-constrained routine would normally disallow. Often it was people whom I wouldn’t give much credence to who could spell out truths in ways my mind had never considered.

To this day I still listen to every episode for that very reason. I can’t give a completely open forum to every thinker in my path, but I allow Tim to curate a selection for me. All for the high price of nothing. What an amazing world some of us live in.

 

Eight Days A Week

I have a modest proposition if you’ll hear me out. It is my sincere desire to get rid of the seven-day week model and replace it with an eight-day a week model.

The main idea being that people work hard for four days and then have four days off.

Think about how amazing that schedule would feel. When you’re at work, you are working your ass off, then you can shift your focus to something entirely different on the other four days. It may even be another job if that’s what tickles your fancy. Or another job for two of the four days off, and then still have a two day weekend. Or you could just work eight days a week. I think I’m starting to understand more about the wisdom of the Beatles now…

Months would consist of three, eight-day weeks. Years would be comprised of 15 of these months equaling a total of 360 days. What about the other five days you ask? They are an international holiday to do whatever the hell you want. Work more, explode things, bacchanalian extravaganzas. Whatever.

Look, you don’t have to make up your mind now, but think on it. We’ll touch back on this later.

Good night.