“Why I Say F#ck No To BitCOiN!” (plus my thoughts)

TruthNeverTold’s video on the subject:

Hmmm. He’s echoing a few of my own concerns about bitcoin, particularly that it’s backed by nothing (a major issue with our fiat currency already),that it obviously isn’t limited since so many different types of cryptocurrencies are surfacing, and that serious pondering on the topic of financial anonymity (for everybody, including politicians and whatever shady shit they and whoever else are wanting to conceal) gives me pause. He brings up the interesting question: anonymous to whom? To one another mostly, or so it appears. If he’s right that a government agency is all up in that scheme, utilizing this technology to manipulate people into behaving as if they are truly anonymous online and preparing people for a switch to purely digital currencies — well, honestly that wouldn’t entirely shock me at this point. Sounds like modern life.

I’ve hung back from the bitcoin craze, initially ignoring it and nowadays looking around to get better acquainted with what’s going on. What I have heard on the matter makes me glad I didn’t have enough money to invest back before trading prices soared for bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, seeing as how the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to work the way many had hoped. It’s been interesting observing people throwing so much faith behind these new currencies, and I can understand their enthusiasm to challenge the status quo. But none of this smells right, ya know? It can’t be that easy to render the U.S. Treasury obsolete.

We’d like to wish it were a possibility, but how can it be? Money is no longer the true name of the game. It’s beyond that now. Or perhaps it’s always been beyond that, money merely being a vehicle for acquiring power. But once one’s firmly entrenched and the System is thoroughly corrupt, you wind up having to fight the System itself. Cryptocurrency alone is insufficient. You’re still locked into this grid and beholden to various major corporations, a number of whom contract with our government. Who’s side do you figure they’ll be on in the end? Helping free you from them? How would that suit their interests?

Cryptocurrency backed by nothing…  Except what? Mathematical computations? What stops a wealthy individual or group from buying up a vast amount of bitcoin? Bid the share price up, scare people over the threat of the bubble bursting to where they start selling when the market is way up, then buy up a bunch once the price drops? Nothing that I can find would prevent that from being a possibility. And then we’re right back into a situation no different than our current mainstream economic conundrum. Disproportionate amount of currency cornered would grant some much more power than most, and nothing is likely to stop that from occurring eventually.

But is it all another government con-job? Maybe. Probably. I won’t claim to know. Just wouldn’t surprise me if so. And I don’t know what you do about that either. It’s like we can run but we can’t hide and most likely will be caught. I don’t like it any better than the next person. And I wish I had an alternative to suggest.

This is why I get to thinking that we’re going into this dystopian future whether we like it or not. There don’t appear to be brakes on this runaway train. Corruption is real and it runs deep. Why? Because power and prestige is very enticing to humans. Control matters. For as innovative and daring as we are, we’re also very predictable in terms of group behavior. Marketing efforts have demonstrated this. We can be swayed and directed rather easily if you know what buttons to push, and the study of psychology has been all the rage for the last century. These are not stupid people running major institutions and agencies, and plenty of them probably honestly think they’re on the right side of history and that they’re protecting our nation and citizenry. Probably…

People often believe whatever they wish to were true. Facts are a funny thing — turns out not as stable and widely accepted as we like to think. What’s popularly assumed so often isn’t what’s actually true.

Don’t know when the shift in this direction occurred. Perhaps it’s always been this way on up through the ages, or perhaps societies always devolved into some version of what we’re experiencing. But what’s perceived by us  on the ground as decline heralds the rise of something else to those who stand to benefit. But really nobody truly benefits during dark ages, despite what power one may possess. At least that’s my thought on the matter.

I just don’t know that we can stop whatever’s coming. Not sure we can even reason with it at this point. It’s behaving like a force of nature by now. Prepare to be lied to and deceived. Utopia is not on the horizon, not in the foreseeable future.

Oh, and as for silver and gold — their true value is going the way of the dinosaurs so far as I can tell. Will retain some commercial value, but can it serve as currency in this day and age? No. (And, again, what stops a few from cornering that market? Nothing. Already happened before and will happen again, you can bet on it.) Many people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around such a claim, but I do believe it to be true. I guess time will tell…

A new dawn, a new year (first journaling update for 2018)

Well, here we are in a new year. Welcome to it. Can’t complain thus far. Had a nice NYE with Former where he cooked us a very nice meal (beef tenderloins wrapped in bacon, baked potatoes, button mushrooms, and fettuccine alfredo) and we watched the movie “The Running Man” until around the halfway point when I fell asleep. Was absolutely nothing like the book, for the record. Different storyline, the main character was completely altered as if the role were adapted for Arnold Schwarzenegger to show off his Rambo-wannabe persona. Planning to finish watching the film before the week is up, just to see how it ends. The book was great, but this movie so far is a piss-poor adaptation.

Woke up on New Year’s Day to dessert in bed (chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream). Pleasant start to a new year.

Today I took myself to the local theater to see the movie “All the Money in the World” starring Mark Wahlberg. Ate a bunch of buttered popcorn, which was my primary reason for stopping in, having never heard of that movie before. Was a pretty good flick. Decent anyway.

And I made it through my favorite holiday without toasting wine to the new year. Decided to avoid all temptation and not go out on the town that night. And I’m glad. Nice to not have my progress wrecked by one night of foolery. So, 6.5 months and counting is where I stand currently in quitting drinking. That’s really good.

Ran out of audiobooks for December and my Audible subscription doesn’t renew until Jan. 7th, so I began re-listening to previously purchased books: Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul and now Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy.

Did a little shopping at Sally’s Beauty Supply earlier with my Christmas gift card and selected new hair dye from a brand I’m unfamiliar with. Eventually we’ll see how that turns out. Decided to bleach streaks in my hair last month that wound up being a bit choppier than I’d hoped, which I then covered with a demi-permanent black cherry shade that I kind of like. But it’s nearing time to move on to a new permanent dye, preferably one similar in color. If all goes to hell I can always dye my head back to black. It’s fun to play with beauty products and usually my experiments turn out fine enough.

On another random beauty-related note, I tried out the “jelly sandwich” technique on my nails using jelly polish concocted by mixing a few drops of a dark blue polish with half a bottle of Seche Vite top coat that I had been planning to toss, layering a cheap blue and silver glitter polish in between coats. Turned out quite pretty and has me looking forward to future “jelly sandwich” attempts with other shades.

What else? Delivered most of the treats I had planned, though I should make one more batch to deliver to a few more folks on Friday. Thinking peanut butter cookies with hershey kisses as well as Ghirardelli double chocolate brownies. Tomorrow already promises to be a long day, followed by more baking.

So basically easy-going over here. Chatted with my best girlfriend tonight and got caught up on gossip. Rarely does she find time for lengthy conversations since she has kids and a busy schedule, but the stars aligned for an hour-long chat today, which was nice. Normally it’s 15 minutes here or there while waiting for the kids to get out of school or when she’s out picking up food for the family. More hectic of a lifestyle than I’d care to contend with, but it works for her.

Yeah, pretty simple week thus far. Cold as Hades here, but hopefully it will begin warming up some this weekend. Oh, and I got the great idea that I ought to challenge myself to lose 10 lbs. by Valentine’s Day so as to keep from becoming a total sloth this winter like I did last year. Hate heading to the gym when snow is on the ground, so I need to start working out at home. Already am aware of HIIT workout videos freely available on youtube and really ought to exercise along with them. Really seriously need to. Because I fell off the low-carb bandwagon in November and am struggling to get back on there and need cardio to help balance me out. Improves the mood too, which is necessary during winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply. Will continue trying to coerce myself into going along with this scheme…

Ear worm that won’t leave me alone this week:

That was “These Eyes” by The Guess Who. Never realized they were a Canadian band before now.

Overall a nice Christmas

Was a pretty relaxing day. Didn’t have as much work as in years prior, which was actually kind of nice. Had dinner with my best guyfriend and his mom on Christmas Eve, then later met up with Former for our present exchange. Then today I mostly bummed around the apartment, aside from roaming around Walgreen’s cosmetics section for a while earlier in the afternoon.

Received all sorts of goodies this year, including a few gift certificates/cards.    My uncle and aunt sent this cool electric fleece-lined throw blanket that I’ve been sleeping with (and which my cat has fallen in love with). They also sent along this super tasty chex mix with chocolates and pretzels and nuts in it. As well as some little slipper booties to wear around the apartment, which are always appreciated since it gets pretty darn cold in here in January and February. And I also received thick socks from a few people, as are always needed. Former went on a shopping spree this year and picked up everything he’s heard me talk about in recent months, from silicone baking sheets to sweatpants to straws (I have trouble finding ones that don’t bend, ha) to a comfy lounging sweater to socks to a pack of ankle wraps to a speed loader for my pistol to his customary box of chocolates, plus gift cards to two stores and a gift certificate to get a manicure and pedicure at the local Asian-owned salon that I like best. Very sweet of him.    I only feel bad that I didn’t buy him more fun stuff, focusing mostly on the things he needs like bunches of socks and a few pairs of warm thermal underwear and a new bread knife and another Martha Stewart cookbook (he’s a big fan of her work).

So he spent the day wrapping presents before heading to dinner with his family and I chilled here at my apartment and puttered around online mostly. Enjoyed the leftovers my buddy sent me home with yesterday. Tasty ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, his mom’s corn casserole, with slices of pear and chocolate cake for dessert.

Chatted with my Grandma again briefly earlier today on the phone. Messaged a few friends and my uncle and cousin. Don’t have any work scheduled for tomorrow so I’ll likely be bumming around the apartment some more, aside from heading to the grocery store (in need of more seltzer water — forgot to stock up for the holidays).

Not sure what will be planned for New Year’s Eve just yet. Maybe a dinner out. Maybe a night in. We’ll see.

All in all, it was a pleasant Christmas. The neighbors even knocked off their fighting, which was nice since I can hear them plain as day through my bathroom walls. Wanted to drop off some treats to a couple neighbors but that can wait. The rest of my gift-giving will be for the new year.

Even heard from a buddy I haven’t seen in quite a while. One of the downsides of staying away from bars is we never run into one another anymore, and he moved to a new house that I’ve yet to visit. Will respond to him tomorrow. Been missing his company too, but such is the way things go when my lifestyle changed. Maybe one of these days I’ll head over to see his new place and catch up.

Back to watching youtube videos now.

Christmas Eve drama

Currently in the process of getting ready to head out, having baked some brownies last night I intend to share with a lady friend of mine, with plans to go over to my best guyfriend’s place to have dinner with him and his mom. But while sitting here in my livingroom right now I’m listening to the neighbors upstairs fighting, as they’ve been doing frequently in recent days. Sometimes it’s the man and woman, but this time it’s the man yelling at a little boy. Kind of unsettling. I try to give neighbors the benefit of the doubt since we all have our moments and get into loud arguments at times. Never called the police on any of them over it and am glad none have done so on me either over the years (though I’m much quieter these days). But still. It’s more difficult to tune out when a kid is crying on and on and on. Went upstairs and listened in the hallway a few minutes ago to try to find out how bad the fight is, but I can hear them more clearly through my own bathroom walls. Puts a damper on the holidays when these fights keep erupting over and over again.

But you have to be careful about approaching people over that sort of thing. Never know what all is going on on the other side of that door. And sometimes it just sounds worse than it actually is. Overreacting helps nobody. One time several years ago a young couple were living up there and fighting so loudly to where I did wind up banging on the door with my stun gun in tow. They were scaring the shit out of me with the way she was screaming. Turned out to not be that bad of a scene despite her dramatic screams, and they later apologized to me and kept the noise down after that. And I told them that I just cannot tune out the sounds of a woman screaming like that. Hurts the soul to try to do so. And they understood and rectified the situation and we all were cool after that.

But this family I’ve already had issues with since their kids were throwing boxes of lit matches out the window a few months back, pissing off a bunch of us neighbors who’d prefer the place not be burnt down. And the mother blew her top at everybody when we confronted her about it, immediately denying her kids had done anything wrong or been left unattended. Pure bullshit, yes. And she tried getting in the face of a man who lives downstairs, creating a very tense situation that took his girlfriend intervening to deescalate. Shouldn’t have gone that far, but that’s how people can be around here. Hence why I don’t knock on doors unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary, which is extremely rarely.

The landlord knows and just tells us to call the police. But most of us here prefer not to involve the police in our business unless it’s an emergency. Best to know what all is going on before calling them since they’re not there to mediate our personal affairs and someone might wind up going to jail even if it’s not fully warranted. So…there’s always that consideration.

They seem to be piping down now. That’s good. Just makes me nervous is all.

“Joe Rogan Experience #1055 – Bret Weinstein”

Saturday afternoon viewing:

“Logic Is Not Enough”

From the Corbertt Report.

Sunday morning thoughts on that which we call God and the formation of hell on earth

A thought keeps returning to me lately. When in the Christian bible it is said that the meek shall inherit the earth, perhaps what that really means is that lower lifeforms will inherit the earth. Think plants, protozoans, and prokaryotes. (Or, thanks to human ingenuity, perhaps even nanotechnology.) The smallest of the organisms. That would make sense, when you really stop and think about it, considering how the cellular level always adapts and eventually triumphs over whatever we attempt. The microscopic evolve much faster than we do, putting us and other higher life forms at an ongoing disadvantage, with no end in sight.

Also, consider the scripture where it was said that lions will someday lay down with the lambs. Maybe by that what is really meant is that lions and lambs (e.g., higher-level lifeforms) will both succumb to death, as in going extinct as species. Just a thought…

Seems to me life is crazier than we can imagine and that it’s so obviously not constructed to cater to our human whims and wishes.

Was just listening to a youtuber Christian that I turn to from time to time to hear his commentary on current events. Today he was complaining bitterly about how stupid we human beings have become, how our civilization project has led us to become weak and incompetent, comparing us to modern farmed chickens and how far from natural they’ve strayed. What he’s pointing at there is domestication, and yes, we humans are subject to this as well, as should be apparent by now. Does it make us lazy and stupid? Yes. We too are far from natural in nearly every sense, having forgotten in a few generation’s time how to provide even the basics for our own survival. I’ve bitched about this plenty over time as well, noting how most of us nowadays only know how to wave around money, not create things of actual productive value. Sure, modern economics is largely to blame for bringing us to this point, and overpopulation, popular socialization, and increasing technological dependence will keep us here. Is this trend going to lead to human extinction? Perhaps. But such concerns no longer bother me much anymore. C’est la vie. Special as we are, we’re not above Nature. Though undoubtedly a few of us will brave the storm and survive on in the future dark ages. Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the disaster(s) that befalls us.

I can understand people getting riled up over these topics, angry that we humans can’t seem to change course. But at the same time I also try to accept that we’re not as smart as we like to think, or at least we’re not as quickly adaptive due to our mega social/cultural/political/economic systems currently in place. The individual maintains more flexibility than the collective, yet we’re all absorbed in a major collective scheme at this point in time, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we will go down with this ship when the time comes because there is no alternative for most of us. I accept this and reckon I would be one of the first to go down when that day comes, assuming it’s a big catastrophic event rather than a lengthy decline (the latter seeming more plausible). Is what it is. I, for one, am thoroughly dependent on modern conveniences and technologies and can’t barely imagine life outside of them. Being subject to the elements directly and learning to hunt and gather when modern weaponry have run out of available ammunition strikes me as entirely daunting and best left to the survivalist types who train for such scenarios.

This is the downside of domestication. We grow increasingly dependent on the Systems humans have constructed. We know this, and yet some become very depressed when contemplating this reality. I used to as well, but then I came to see that that’s my expectations acting up. Rose gardens were never in the trajectory, much as we love to envision a utopian future. It’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider who are attracted to wielding such power over and within these Systems and how they tend to get there (hint: not through truly democratic voting into office).

Personally, I don’t wish to see the future past a certain point. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Continually reconfirms my decision to not have children, having no way to prepare them for what’s to come. Just trying to imagine what 20-30 years into the future will hold is mind-boggling enough, based on my readings of where technologies are heading. Where others see possibilities and easier living, I see enhanced domestication and surveillance. That in no way warms my heart or makes me hopeful for my species, though I do aim to maintain an open mind since I have no way of truly knowing how it will all shake out in the end. Maybe we will get lucky and knock ourselves back into a stone age, that seeming to me to be a better alternative than winding up within intensely technologically-advanced totalitarian societies. The future looks very dystopian to me and has for a lot of years now, try as I might to imagine things working out more in the people’s favor.

Hence why I can’t stand these gender-bent movements and racial movements and other ideological oddities intent on separating us from one another. Just creates more suffering in the meantime, and very little of what they have to say is actually relevant in the big picture. Not really. Just keeps us blaming one another while our ship rocks and threatens to sink, as if that will change a thing for the better. Even our stupid political divides have come to look like nonsense to me over time. Corporate-backed teams with more in common than not, parading as if competing in our media circus. Just another smokescreen, another illusion that we all-too-willingly buy into.

So I guess when I think about these things nowadays, I’m overcome with the thought that we should probably make life easier on one another in the interim. Maybe quit paving the way to hell in our own individual fashions so far as we’re able. Cease blaming others who weren’t alive when the ball first began rolling and who individually have no more power than we do to stop it. Guess I’m taking more of a hospice outlook on life at this point, though I understand that simply making ourselves more comfortable isn’t necessarily the best idea either. But screaming profanities at one another constantly and casting blame wholesale and telling others to get off the planet certainly isn’t helping anything. Much as I don’t like the notion of coddling our illusions, I also take issue with the idea of stripping them from people and leaving them with nothing to believe in. Seems the latter will prove to be a more dangerous tactic, leading more into nihilism and a sense of despair and futility, which will only further paralyze people. That doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.

As I was talking about with a couple friends lately, everywhere I’ve explored has eventually wound me up at the same place, which is to go to God. And by that I do not mean religion, though I’m not exactly sure what it does mean. That’s just the feeling inside my heart and head more and more these days. Like this is too big for any one of us to comprehend and to take on, and perhaps we’d be better off giving one another reasons to maintain faith in humanity and that which is good and proper and reliable, rather than tearing it all down and leaving people with nothing to believe in. This is an intensely personal and emotional topic for me and not one that I typically care to speak about with others outside of my closest people, so I won’t run on much about it here. It’s just a recurring thought, a pull in a direction that I’m not yet able to fully grasp the meaning of but recognize it as significant. That which I call God isn’t what religions have taught about, though past people tried to point toward it to the best of their limited abilities. It’s incomprehensible in a way, yet very meaningful in Its reminder that life follows a “plan” we can’t control and dominate, try as we might. Perhaps referring to it as life’s “flow” is more accurate, though we tend to conceive of it as if it is a plan since we can note that its workings indeed do appear to have some sort of rhyme or reason. Just not in line with our human melodrama, which then perplexes us. I won’t pretend to understand It, and I certainly won’t attempt to articulate my thoughts about It beyond what I’ve said already since I’m not the one to attempt to do so. And that’s fine. Striving for a personal understanding is all one really can ever hope for, considering we can’t help but experience this life through our own subjective lenses.

As someone who hasn’t been religiously affiliated in over 20 years now, I admit that it feels a little weird to keep feeling this pull toward that which is greater than us, not knowing how to describe it or what it all may mean. Atheists and skeptics would look upon someone like me and say that I’ve grown scared enough that I’m just grasping for straws at this point, when in reality I’ve actually grown calmer through this process of exploration. I was far more scared in years past, back before I began to release my expectations and try to accept life simply for what it is, good, bad and ugly alike. That transition maybe was brought about originally through fear and fatigue from fretting, but I didn’t go searching for it so much as it just crept up on me over time. And I don’t know why or how or what any of it means, but I’m willing to listen to It and accept not having answers. Because there’s nowhere else to go, quite literally. So maybe it is some sort of figment of my imagination — that’s always possible. But perhaps it’s a useful one, far more so than all this bickering and team-joining and politicking and expecting humanity to find its way out of our myriad conundrums. I don’t think we can, not in the foreseeable future. And I do believe there are people poised and ready to take full advantage of whatever power grabs become available, because that’s part of human nature to do so. We’re not a good species, but we’re not entirely a bad species either. We just are what we are, complicated as that can’t help but be. Shortsighted and tribal, power-hungry and nepotistic, sometimes charitable but also unavoidably naive…and on and on it goes.

Seems to me there’s no good reason to loathe one’s own species, especially considering none of us are immune to its foibles and fallibility. This is who we are, right and wrong, and it’s what we have to work with. So many seek power over others, believing that to be supremely meaningful, but really it’s learning to exercise power over oneself that’s especially tricky. We’re not too good at that. Domestication may be partly to blame today, but this problem follows us back to the very beginning of human origins. It’s the perennial conundrum that most of us don’t even begin recognizing the importance of until we’re more than a couple decades into living and will struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s certainly easier to deflect outward, to blame those over there for our problems, even those at the top, but really we’ve all been complicit in the games we play in this life. Whether we initially meant to be or not, we became so and remain so even after we start becoming aware of what’s going on. No political party or laws on the book can rectify this matter for us. It’s an innate flaw within us — just part of living as sentient life who are always growing and exploring and learning. Can’t be helped and can’t be altogether changed. So no, there is no utopian on the horizon, just more human errors in judgment and striving for power and popularity and playing of the games as have been set before us by previous generations. Plus more technological prowess that many of us don’t fully understand and that most of us will not be able to control.

And on and on it goes. Sometimes it feels very daunting to take in, but other times I feel relatively at peace about it, sad as it can’t help but make me. Am I still scared of the future? Sure. How could you not be if you’re really looking into what’s being developed and what ideologies are growing in strength and numbers? I worry a lot for my loved ones, but I take some solace in the fact that our lives will only last so long. Some say that’s pessimistic thinking on my part, but what really strikes me as pessimistic would be if we were designed to live 150 years or more. That sounds like hell on earth. Which gets me thinking about the reason why I lost my religion in the first place as a young teen: I couldn’t believe in infinite suffering in hell. That’s what broke me out of that faith originally, finding no answers to that question. And since then I’ve come to understand at least that hell is something we humans can create on earth, and I can’t help but believe that in the future we will construct a greater hell than has ever been known before. That’s not what I’d like to believe, but all signs keep pointing in that direction. Why? Because our good intentions don’t tend to jibe with reality, as has been proven time and time again, yet technologies can and will allow for the formation of far more invasive ways of life. And many people will embrace them, believing the hype and accepting the rhetoric claiming that these technologies will aid us in reducing waste and saving the planet/climate and becoming evermore efficient as societies and within corporations. People will believe it because they wish to, going back to that naivete mentioned earlier. And people will gnash their teeth and people like myself, calling us fear-mongerers and luddites and pessimists for not gleefully being on board. To which I say: we’ll inherit the life we deserve. So be it. We do not understand freedom and have shown nearly a fearfulness of it and the responsibilities it requires of us to maintain it. That much is clear by now. So we will get what we help bring about. Right or wrong.

I’m just grateful that life isn’t too long. Allows us to appreciate what time we do have and what people we’re lucky to know while alive. I can grieve for my country and my species in general, but it will change nothing. We’re an interesting lot, if nothing else. Life is indeed fascinating and mysterious, and I look forward to observing it continuing to unfold during my lifetime. I try to tell myself not to be afraid, that it’s just life and this is how it can go. That no suffering can go on indefinitely (though some torturers have demonstrated to the public that it certainly can go on far longer than one can sanely endure — hence our capacity for evil). Feels like a game of whack-a-mole sometimes where the objective for the average layperson is to not get shut up in a box somewhere, whether by a government entity or a crazed stranger or even in an abstract, ideological sense whereby the box is fictitious yet we treat it as if it’s real and keep ourselves within its parameters out of fear and/or obedience.

Life is crazy, life is mad. And it always will be, that much is guaranteed. But with the notion of God comes Love, and I think that’s of infinite importance right about now. Others in the distant past have said it’s true, but reality keeps demonstrating just how true it really is. But then again, that topic perplexes me too, so I continue to grapple with it, not comprehending what it’s even asking of me. Not known for being a very forgiving person myself, so I’m likely very limited in my understanding of what that all may mean. But I will continue to explore it, feeling that it’s very important and deserving of our dedicated attention and contemplation.

Makes me feel very humble reckoning with all this stuff, feeling like a little animal who’s just not competent to make sense of so much in this life. It can be very overwhelming, undeniably so. But I’m trying not to be paralyzed by reality so that I may participate in a more meaningful and productive fashion. However successful I prove to be at that is yet to be seen. My prayer today for all of us is that we be willing to reckon with all sorts of unknowns, particularly those which contemporary “wisdom” deems as off-limits, irrational, or otherwise heretical. I believe it will be good for us to do so, albeit difficult as well.

Mid-December update

Been holed up over here, not interacting much online this week before tonight. Got busy with Christmas shopping (nearly all of which is completed now) and otherwise laying low. Had a good bit on my mind lately and am keeping much of it to myself. Recorded a few videos back in November and early December that I’ve yet to edit and upload. May get around to it eventually. Especially since I’ve now hit the 6-month mark in quitting drinking. Yay me. Though I haven’t missed it much, nor the bar patrons I used to waste time with. Cravings still come and go, as they perhaps always will, but nothing overwhelming.

Haven’t been to the gym this entire past week. Was pretty darn cold out, so I got lazy after finishing work. Plus my knees are strained. And the left ankle’s weak again. Maybe it’s developing arthritis…

Took my car into to Sears auto shop last week and it wound up taking them over 2.5 hours to just put my snow tires on, even with the appointment booked days in advance and me standing around waiting with a friend to get my car back. That shop’s gone to hell. After they messed up my car’s rack during a previous unrelated job, I no longer trust them to do anything more than mount my tires, and they can barely even do that right, come to find out. Probably should re-tighten my lugnuts just to be on the safe side.

That’s been my main gripe lately. Otherwise I had been in a pretty decent mood. Kind of unusual for Christmas time, having not been in the spirit the last several years. Though now that I’m feeling somewhat chipper I’ve noticed that practically everybody else out roaming around town seem to be pissed off. Bunch of grumps in the grocery store, at Target, in traffic, at the UPS store, etc. To that I say that folks should take a break off of celebrating the holidays then. We’re not mandated to do so. If it stresses you out so severely, then say to hell with it for a year or two. Maybe only sends cards for a change. Doesn’t make much sense to wear ourselves ragged over a holiday, especially since it’s become little more than a commercial ploy these days.

Audiobooks that I’ve been listening to lately are Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (as already mentioned elsewhere on this blog); The Quest For Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (HIGHLY recommend that one!); The Running Man by Stephen King; three books in Lois McMasters Bujold’s Vorkosigan series: Shards of Honor, Barrayar, and The Warrior’s Apprentice; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (narrated by Alison Larkin — she sounded like a chipmunk, causing me to miss nearly every third word, but I’d already listened to the story long ago — not sure why I felt the desire to re-listen to this); The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig; Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday; and currently I am listening to Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman (and loving it — would definitely recommend it to others, though I doubt most people I know could sit through it since its information is rather alarming for those unfamiliar with current technological threats and those on the horizon — think “internet of things”).

What else? Purchased a bunch of baking supplies and am planning to share brownies and cookies with some of my clients and friends this season. Been putting together little treat bags for some special animals in my life. Finally ordered Grandma some cookies Saturday morning (with free shipping — woohoo! Having already spent over $50 at UPS this week.). Bought lots of thick, warm socks since those are always needed in the winter. Pretty pricey too.

Cooked myself keto “mac” and cheese three days ago and have been enjoying the leftovers. Basically broccoli and cauliflower with a homemade cheese sauce, and I also poached some chicken tenders to add to the mix. Plus a side of roasted brussels sprouts. All very tasty. After two weeks of carb bingeing I figured this meal was in order. Continue reading

More on the book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”

Wrapping up my thoughts on the audiobook Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance tonight, seeing as how I meant to get to this last week when I completed listening to it. Did enjoy its content throughout and would recommend the book to others.

I experienced what might be considered a sense of kinship while reading his story. Like that of a distant cousin. My family migrated to the South, and his headed to Appalachia and then Ohio. They sound like similar types of people, having originated from Scotland, Ireland, and elsewhere in northern England, so the culture he described is fairly relatable. Was glad to hear of his acceptance into Yale Law School, though admittedly much of what he described there sounded pretty foreign to me too. I also hadn’t realized that some of the most expensive and prestigious schools could be the most cost-effective for low-income students due to grants and whatnot.

There was a part in the latter portion of the book where he was talking about his mother and recognized that her ability to act like a monster was in him too. That resonated with me deeply. It’s amazing how many similarities we can share with those we think are crazy, especially when we were raised by them. And the culture reinforcing such behaviors certainly doesn’t help. He spoke of learning to keep his indignation in check and not being so reactive to perceived disrespects from others. Yep, that’s a tough lesson that undoubtedly requires ongoing grappling with.

But I felt proud for the author after listening to his book. Almost like how I’d feel toward a cousin who’s moving up in the world (as my own cousin actually is, graduating with a Master’s degree in spring of 2018—a first in our lineage—and we’re very proud of him too). It’s a humbling story to sit with and consider and one I’d like others to spend time with as well. Vance is right about a lot of things he mentioned there, particularly in regards to personal responsibility and accountability (which he learned about while serving as a marine). My own family has very mixed feelings about the military too. But I suppose it’s good at least in terms of instilling self-discipline.

I’ll admit, listening to this book made me realize, once again, just how class-conscious I am and apparently can’t help but be. Struggle with it as I might, it still remains ingrained. And maybe that’s largely due to socialization and culture, but I also don’t doubt a good bit of it comes via interactions. Difficult to shake that sense of “us and them” once it’s deeply taken hold. Almost like a defense mechanism where you can’t help but maintain this sense of tribal pride out of loyalty and as well as to stand up for your own people in the face of a society that likes to make fun of them and speak as if they’re unwanted and disposable, ignorant and backwards. I don’t think any amount of climbing the socioeconomic ladder can fully erase that either — your roots are what they are. Money doesn’t nullify that fact.

One point that I’m stuck on and have been waiting to address on here is the forgiveness he chose to show his mother. While I can understand the desire to do so and wish him well with that, I can’t personally endorse the idea in all cases. Sure, it’s the Christian thing to do (so we’ve been taught), but then there are concerns about enabling bad behaviors. Some people won’t change until the costs of not doing so become so great that they must, and others won’t change regardless. Maybe one important difference here is that Vance spoke of how much anger he had earlier in life toward his mother, whereas later on he came to feel sympathy for her. My own experience was just the opposite, having grown up with a great deal of sympathy toward mine the first 20 years of life, then figuring out that tough love was in order if I was ever to escape her bullshit. Then I got really angry. Nowadays I oscillate between irritated sympathy, frustration, and acceptance (in the last step in the grieving process-sort-of-way). It’s not a matter simply of what’s easiest, it’s about sanity preservation. Some people are toxic, for whatever reasons, and they either don’t see it in themselves or won’t. Either way, they’re unlikely to change if they can’t come to terms with the harm they’ve done and continue to do to those close to them. Sad but true. Not that I would encourage others one way or the other on these matters — that’s for each individual to decide for him or herself. But when he mentioned his mother getting onto heroin around the time he graduated…ugh…my heart sank for him. Some folks are inclined to chase pain, to recreate it and keep it rolling onward. And it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a healthy relationship with someone hellbent in that sort of fashion. Much as it may be tough to accept, considering these are family members. But we each figure that out however we do, or perhaps the situation might change for the better over time. One can pray, and I do hope that’s the case for Vance’s family.

This man’s story did strike me as sad in places, though I’m glad he too had the love of grandparents to help pull him through. His Memaw sounded like quite a character. The people he described therein reminded me of various persons I’ve known over time as well, to whatever degrees. I appreciate that he was willing to be so brutally honest, sharing both the positive and negatives sides to their personalities. Because we’re all a complex blend of right and wrong, well-intending and misguided, ignorant and insightful. I feel he really brought his family members to life in the pages, which isn’t an easy feat. Kudos on a book well written!

Anyway, I’ve said enough on all this. Tripped down my own memory lane quite enough also. I’ll leave off in saying again that this is a book very much worth reading or listening to.