“So, in general, the idea is to mechanize as many processes as possibly, eliminate human error, increase productivity, reduce costs…”
“What should all the people you put out of work do?”
“Get other jobs.”
“But if all businesses are doing the same thing you are, mechanization, more work with fewer people, et cetera, what jobs?”
“Well, they can’t just be lazy and do nothing!”
“They wouldn’t. Very few people can actually sit around doing nothing for a long time. I mean, sometimes it looks like people do that, but that’s usually because they are just super tired from being worked to death. After some respite, most people would start doing something.”
“Yeah, like getting a job!”
“Well, no, like maybe volunteering in their communities, or making music or art or research and thinking about how to do something new or something better.”
“Who would pay them for that?”
“So, in general, the idea is to mechanize as many processes as possibly, eliminate human error, increase productivity, reduce costs…”
This is where I would complain about writing the wrong year on my checks for the next few months, but since this is 2018 I don’t write checks for anything anymore. Well, that’s not entirely true. I write exactly one check per year, because my HOA doesn’t accept their dues any other way.
I made my first resolutions post back in 2002, where I proudly stated that I didn’t need resolutions. I then followed that by making resolutions posts every year until 2014. 2015, 2016, and 2017 I missed, because in the last three years I was more apt to post about why I wasn’t posting than to post anything of any real substance. Over the years I see that I tend to make the same resolutions over and over. I suspect a lot of people do.
I usually resolve to exercise more or eat better, or both, with a goal of not getting fat or to stop being fat, and since I am fat I clearly have failed at this for 16 years. And when I say I am fat, this isn’t an anti-body-positivity thing. I would be perfectly happy being fat if I was happy and also fat. But as I have gotten heavier and out of shape, I have become less happy. I am uncomfortable sitting sometimes. I have trouble tying my shoes because of the density of my gut. Moving around is exhausting. And as I get older, my weight is probably contributing to other health issues that are cropping up. So I will once again resolve to eat better and move more, to lose weight and be healthier.
I also often resolve to read more. Oddly, I’ve been reading more, especially since my company moved to Buckhead and I have a 90 minute commute, one way. I take the bus because I hate driving in traffic, and this lets me read. I still have a backlog of literally hundreds of books. I wish I was a speed reader, but I am not. Progress though. I am reading.
And I usually resolve to write more, which I am resolving again, because I miss it. I miss emptying my brain on to the internet where no one reads it. I’m not even going to share this stuff on social media. This is for me… and the poor unfortunates who stumble upon it.
There were also years where I declared I was done with PC games, followed by years where I declared I was back to PC games. Now, I just want to play games, on any platform – PC, console, tabletop – just more games.
So that’s where 2018 begins. Resolving the same resolutions of the past, and resolving to resolve them better this time. And this year I’ll be employing one of these in an effort to plan and document my progress.
Let’s make this year a good one.
The last day of school in the eighth grade was a terrible day for me. Normally the last day of school would be the beginning of summer, but I left school and immediately went to the orthodontist where they pulled three of my teeth and put on the braces I would wear for the next three and half years. I would get them taken off just before my senior year, but I’d get them put back on again a year into college and wear them for another two years.
Five and a half years of monthly, and sometimes twice a month, tightenings, along with incidents like that time I got kicked in the teeth and had to literally unhook my lips from my braces, I’ve learned to tolerate a lot of mouth pain. The pain is still there, but I can shrug most of it off because, well, it doesn’t hurt as much as all those other times.
In fact, during the years I was dealing with braces I developed a sort of zen approach to the pain. I would go to the orthodontist and as I sat in the chair waiting for my turn I would steady my breathing and go into an almost trance-like state. They’d tighten my braces and then I’d go home.
As I got older, I continued to apply this technique to regular dentist visits. And now, twenty odd years later, when I go to the dentist I warn the technicians, “Hey, I might fall asleep, so just wake me up if you need me to answer a question or something.” I even start getting sleepy just being in a dentist office waiting room.
Back in March of 2016, I had to have surgery on my gums to remove a cyst, repair the bone and fix a cleft. I warned the doctor that I might fall asleep. “I doubt that,” he said. He gave me the pain killer shots. “You might feel a pinch.” I did, but it was nothing. “This might burn a little.” It did, but I barely noticed. They stepped out a minute and then came back to begin the surgery. The doctor took his scalpel and made his first incisions. And once I was certain the drugs were doing their job and all I really felt was pressure and the occasional pinch, I went to sleep.
They woke me up to let me know they were done with the surgery and to give me some after-care instructions, then I went back to sleep. They woke me again when they’d finished packing my gums and were ready to send me home. “You weren’t kidding,” the doctor said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had someone sleep through a procedure before.”
This year, since the last surgery didn’t fully fix the problem, I had to have donor gums, just a small section. Once again, I warned the doctor that I would fall asleep. He doubted me, but I did. Repeatedly. The jerk kept waking me up and asking me stupid questions that I couldn’t answer because his hands were in my mouth. I mean, you’d think they’d at least stick to Yes/No questions, but nope. Anyway, I left the surgery annoyed that I didn’t get my sleep time.
Sadly, I also needed a crown this year. And that dentist wouldn’t let me sleep either. But that was more because when they are shaving down a tooth to put a crown on it, it’s really hard to tune it out.
But when I returned for my routine cleaning, I slept straight through.
What’s the purpose of this story? You can get used to anything. And I think most people do, to the things they do every day. Some things are worth becoming numb to, to a degree. But every now and then you need to check in and make sure you aren’t missing anything important. I’d become so numb to mouth pain over the years that I had ignored a cleft and a receding gum line to the point where I needed two surgeries to get it to the point where I might not need a third, but I also might lose teeth if I’m not careful.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned becoming more political in the past year and a half. I hate this term, but it seems to be in fashion and it applies, and so I suppose I am “woke” – in some ways if not all ways. For a long time I was focused mostly on myself and my family. All I wanted was to get us out of debt and stable, and I achieved that… about a year and a half ago. That’s when I started looking around and seeing that lots of other people we not okay.
Of course, I can’t help everyone, but I can help some people, and I can be informed and make sure that I vote responsibly to make things better for as many as we can.
The last time I published a post here it was June of 2016. A year and a half ago. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything this year.
You see, I’ve gotten quite political in the past 18 months. Since the Republican Party allowed the least qualified and least competent person to take their nomination, and the party as a whole basically gave up any semblance of normal order in favor of trashing the system for the benefit of the few in what appears to be an attempt to cash out before the revolution. And not only was he nominated, but he rode a tide of white anxiety to the White House. And now “Everything is terrible.”
That’s hyperbole. Things are bad for lots of people, and the current administration appears dead set on making things worse. But here I am, an educated, white male who managed to get the worst of his past (debt) behind him before someone started pulling up all the ladders, and I’m okay, and I’m probably going to keep being okay for a while.
To that end, I have political feelings. And I come here sometimes to write them out. And then I edit them. And then I edit them some more. And I wonder if a person who has thus far been immune to the effects of what is happening should be speaking. I probably shouldn’t. I should probably use my voice to say “Hey! Check out this person over here!” And I try. I share things on social media. Which is just about the least that a person can possibly do. It’s only slightly above “raising awareness” for things like cancer and other illnesses. They don’t need awareness, they need money.
I digress. So I have all of these drafts. These things I have written and edited and abandoned. What do I do with these? Clearly when I sit down to write, I write these things, but my lack of doing anything with them has lead to me writing less and less. Should I publish them? Even if some of them are likely misguided attempts to help?
This is what I think of as the year winds down. Just a couple days left and 2017 will be history.
As 2018 nears, I feel that I need a theme, one to be the driving focus of all things, under which all the smaller tasks will fall. I think that theme will be: Do better.
Last night I celebrated, with fifty or so friends, the tenth anniversary of my marriage. I had intended to stop the party at some point in the middle, perhaps nearer the start, to give a toast or speech. However, things got away from me, as they do, and there was too much fun going on to stop it. So instead, I write here a version of what I intended to say.
Seventeen years ago, I met a girl in a pool hall. We fast became friends. Fifteen years ago today, I was sitting on a bench in New Orleans overlooking the Mississippi River, waiting for that girl to return from the restroom. As I looked out across the river I was thinking about where my life was going. I had recently quit a job and moved into another that I wasn’t so sure about. But sitting there watching boats move along the water, I knew one thing for sure, and that was no matter what my future held I wanted that girl to be there with me. When she returned, I asked her to marry me. Ten years ago today, I was standing on a footbridge at River Street, next to city hall, in Savannah. We had been engaged for five years, and had finally decided that we were no good at planning a wedding, so we didn’t. We had quickly thrown together an elopement in a matter of days, witnesses, officiant, photographer, location, time, suit, dress – in that order. If you want to hear the full story of the pantsless wedding, buy me a drink sometime and I’ll be happy to tell it. But there I was, exchanging vows with the love of my life. Before then and since then, there have been good days and bad days and everything in-between days. But everyday, now and forever, as long as I have her by my side, I know that I have everything I need. I love you. Thank you for saying yes. And to all of my friends who were able to join us, and to all of the friends who were not, thank you for being a part of our lives.
Apologies to Paul Anthony Dobleman, whose art we stole for our invitations, and is displayed as part of this post. We didn’t ask permission, and so we beg forgiveness. Your artwork is superb.
I had just spent all of my savings on a modem, and I had come straight home, installed it and dialed up one of the numbers on the back of the MicroCenter sale paper. I heard the soon to become familiar modem tones and I was connected. The screen filled with ASCII characters and it asked me to login in, or to register. I chose to register and had to answer a series of questions, the first of which was my name.
I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the concept of being online. I had seen some movies and TV shows that had depicted connecting to these bulletin board services. And I had a couple friends who had gone into this world before me. This was an important moment. I was entering a world where I could be anyone I wanted to be. I simply had to decide.
I picked a name that day that I would use for nearly two decades. It wasn’t my name, nor was it the only one I would use, but it was the one I would use the longest. I finally abandoned it when I shrugged off the last vestiges of the life I created for it. The identity had been mostly dead for some time by then, and very unceremoniously I closed the last account I had for it.
In the early days, I fought very hard for that name. I kept it separate from myself in as many ways as I could, but it was still me, and much like if I found someone publishing things under my real name, I worked to defend it. It was MY identity.
And I wasn’t alone. Those days of the BBS and the early Internet were filled with people pretending to be someone else, but usually the same someone else most of the time. Sure, someone might create another persona for a specific thing – a MUD, or a fetish group, or piracy – but most people I knew maintained one main online identity.
Coming from that world, it confounds me when I run into things like *chan culture. The idea of a board with no identities, where everyone is anonymous, where every post is attached to no one, isn’t something I’ve ever wanted. I understand the idea, that ideas posted without the baggage of the person who posts it can allow the “best” ideas to bubble to the top. But I’ve rarely seen it work that way. Usually, unfettered by consequences, people are willing to say and support the shittiest ideas, the ones that hurt the most people. Some people might even be posting those ideas “for lulz” (for laughs), but quickly it becomes hard to tell if someone is joking or being serious, because you have no context.
Not too long ago, I was asked if a particular joke was “racist”. I won’t repeat the joke, because it is racist. However, the person who asked maintained that the joke itself couldn’t be racist, only if a racist person said it could it be taken that way. Simply telling the joke didn’t make the person racist. I agreed with the last part, but disagreed with the earlier bit. See, it was a Holocaust joke, and the joke itself, just the words, provided without context – without knowing who was telling it, and to what audience, and in what tone, and surrounded by what other words – the joke was simply about Nazis killing Jews, which was done for racist reasons, and thus the joke is racist. However, if I were standing outside a synagogue with a group of Jewish people, and one of them told that joke in the context of terrible jokes racists tell, I might laugh, because it’s a dumb racist joke being told to show how dumb and racist it is.
So on an Internet forum, one that doesn’t have full anonymity, I can see ForumDenizen287 post something that might be offensive. However, having read hundreds or thousands of other posts by ForumDenizen287 over the years, I know that they are not being serious. But over on a *chan site with full anonymity, the same post is without context. I cannot see the history of the poster, because everyone is anonymous. So a terrible offensive post defaults to being a serious terrible offensive post.
A member of those *chan sites might maintain “but we are ALWAYS joking!” And it might be true, for that person or even for many people. But if a forum is filled with hateful, racist posts, it will inevitably attract actual hateful, racist posters who aren’t joking. And you can’t tell them from anyone else, because all the posts are anonymous. You can’t see someone’s history and place posts in context.
To make things worse, the people who maintain that it isn’t serious become a shield for the ones who are serious. And ultimately, if you have a group of people, whose identities you cannot separate, some of whom are racists and some of whom are only pretending to be racists for comedic effect, it is safer for an outsider to treat them all as racists. Sure, you could just as easily treat them all as being people pretending to be racists for comedic effect, but then when one of the real racists is spurred to action, emboldened by all the support of his racist friends online, some of whom were only pretending to be racist but were encouraging him just the same, who is responsible? I can tell you from seeing it happen again and again that the people who think it’s just joking around will say that they can’t be responsible for “third party” individuals who do things on their own, and by the way you can’t prove they encouraged the guy anyway…
Ultimately, it makes me sad to see so many people fighting to shirk responsibility. Anonymity has it’s uses for sure. For whistle blowers, or other situations where truth needs to be told and the teller needs to be protected. And I’m sure there are other reasons. But I just can’t get behind anonymity protecting assholes being assholes for asshole reasons.
One question that comes up from time to time among friends or strangers is “If you could choose any super power, what would you choose?” It’s one of those questions that if people take it seriously can actually tell you a lot about the person, especially if you get into discussing why they chose the power they chose.
A lot of people choose flying. And I admit, being able to fly would be pretty awesome, as long as it was Superman flying and notÂ Andrew Clements flying. If you don’t know who that is, look up “My Secret Identity”, a TV show from the late 80s. Another popular one is to be invisible. For me, science gets in the way of that one, because if your eyes are invisible then you are blind. Then you get invulnerability, super speed, strength, and a slew of others. And you’ll probably get some joker who says “The power to have any one super power at a time.” or “All the powers!” Ignore that person.
Having given this much thought over the years, I always comes down to two options for myself. The first is immortality. The idea of living forever always appeals, because I look at how much things have changed just in the last couple hundred years and it really makes me not want to miss out on what comes after the next hundred. There is a drawback, of course, with the unnaturally long life of losing everyone you ever care about. Immortal people, by necessity I think, either will be detached or depressed. The second option, and the one I usually end up picking, is the ability to be able to understand and speak/write all forms of communication.
I’ve always been fascinated by language. In middle school I took a half year of French and a half year of German. I took two years of Spanish in high school. And in college I took two years of Japanese. I can’t actually speak any of these languages with any fluency, but I can pick out words and I’ve got some phrases down, but conversational speaking has atrophied with disuse. I want to learn more, and use what I do know more, but it requires effort that I seem unable or unwilling to put forth.
Oh, and one other language (and the reason for this post), I can (sorta) play strip poker in Danish.
It’s a very specific bit of knowledge, but when I was 13, I got a modem, and I went online for the first time. And it was there that I encountered software piracy in the form of a strip poker game. I downloaded it, and I installed it on a floppy disk that I purposefully mislabeled, and late at night when no one was around, I would load up Artworx Strip Poker and play, so that I could play poker and see naked girls in all 16 glorious colors. It would be a year or two before we got a VGA card to allow the girls to be in 256 colors. Despite the game being made by a US based company, the pirated copy I obtained was from elsewhere. And this elsewhere happened to be Denmark.
Jeg kalder.Â Jeg trakÂ et kort. Jeg rejser.
It is so burned into my brain that when I play or see poker, those words come into my mind. I’ve even had to resist the urge to actually say “Jeg kalder” when playing. And honestly, I don’t even know if the translations are correct, but it is what was in the game.
Perhaps I should actually try to learn Danish.
I noticed the other day that in 2015 I had only written one blog entry. Normally I would have an excuse that I had been writing elsewhere, but I haven’t. Most of my writing projects have puttered out.
First and foremost, I stopped doing reviews for Shakefire. The main reason I stopped was because of the garbage I was being given to review. I don’t blame the guy running the site, he has things that need to be reviewed, and since I have a regular day job I can’t go see movie screenings in the middle of the day, so instead I get mailed a pile of DVDs and CDs. While the music was of varying quality, and I even discovered a new band or two, the movies were almost all terrible. The lowest budget of horror films. It is depressing to always review garbage. So I quit.
Next, for “reasons”, the Man vs Wife series of game reviews I was doing petered out.
I also tried writing some fitness blog type stuff. But I’m not very fit (yet) and what I wrote was trash.
There are various projects I have by noodling with, but I’ve been down on fiction writing ever since I pushed myself to “win” NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. Winning involved me just puking out the most insipid drivel I’ve ever written and soured me on the novel and on writing.
All that leads me to my new effort to get back into writing. This new writing will include blogs and other things, but all of it will result in a daily word total that I will put up on The Magic Spreadsheet.
What is The Magic Spreadsheet? Well, it’s this. That’s a link to a Facebook group where you can find the link to the latest spreadsheet. Basically, it is a tool to try to encourage writing every day. To join, you just open the spreadsheet (it is a Google Doc) and find a free line on the appropriate page (the first sheet includes instructions on how to find the right page) and put your name on it. Then you write, and you come back and put your totals in. You earn points, both for how much you writer and for how long your unbroken chain of daily writing is. When you have enough points you can level up, which allows you to get more points for writing more. At the lowest level you need only to write 250 words a day. That’s just a couple paragraphs. I mean, this blog post is over 700Â words. As of this writing, I am on my 3rd day. Hopefully I can stick with this.
In addition to the Magic Spreadsheet, I’m also trying to put together a schedule for some other projects I have, things I need to do on a regular or semi-regular basis, most of which involve writing, but some of which involve drawing, and some involve speaking, and some involve music, and some involve exercise.
Oh, exercise. I’m back on the 5BX bandwagon. If you are reading this and it intrigues you and you are a woman, there is XBX for you. I have finished the first chart and moved to the second. The full push-ups of the second chart are proving to be more difficult, so my progress has slowed.
With exercise goes “diet”, and by that I don’t mean “doing some fad binge thing to try to lose weight fast and then gain it all back when I quit”. What I mean is making small changes to my diet to include better foods. More vegetables, less junk. More water, less soda.
And both the exercise and diet are being spurred on by the fact that I’m going on a cruise the first week of July, and I would like to be in much better shape by then.
All of this comes on the heels of recently readingÂ Surprisingly…Unstuck. I’ve read a few self help / motivation books before, but this one has to be one of the cleanest presentations of simple information that is bound to work for everyone. Most of it is exceedingly simple, but also the sort of things you might not think about on your own until someone points them out. In fact, it’s so simple that the book gets a bit repetitive at the end. Still very worth reading.
So, that’s it for now. I’m going to try to be back here more often, if for no other reason that to keep a log of things I’m doing for myself and to point the five people who might be reading my blog to other projects of mine as I work on them.