Dailyish Thoughts #98

I’m not usually a fan of Christmas season. Too much chaos and noise and materialism. Not to mention the obnoxious darkness of winter. But I am trying. I miss my family “up north” something awful with all these ups and downs lately. The tree will be coming out tomorrow, I’m determined!

Today’s down and up was turning on the van only to have it rev up and down and idling at 15 mph. Then it would accelerate on its own. Good times. I managed to get it to the auto parts store for a code read and then home, in neutral most of the way! Thankfully I was able to clean the part and get it running again instead of buying a new one for $90. I can’t afford that! I am very grateful.

I get to start riding the bus as a monitor tomorrow. Not sure what that actually means, but I have to be there at 0600. Woo. It’s nice to get the extra hours and I need to get used to early mornings anyway, so I suppose I can say I’m happy about it.

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Dailyish Thoughts #97

It’s Friday night, which means I don’t have to get up and drive a big yellow monster tomorrow! Nah, it’s not bad. But it is nice to get a break and maybe focus on some other stuff.

I won’t lie and say life is great. It’s kinda crappy right now actually. Lots of busyness without much reward. But such is life right now.

There is no shortage of topics right now bouncing around in this brain of mine. Maybe at some point I will get a chance to put them all down. I have a few new money making things, a ton of cultural commentary, and maybe a few music critiques. It’s been sparse around here, but not in my brain!

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No-stalgia

My carefree childhood, I was such a dork…

What is it about the past that we think was so much better? Why is it so easy to sit in a current rough patch and think “I wish I was back in such and such a time”? Was the past really that great?

I watched the CNN produced documentary “The Nineties” on Netflix last week. Despite living up to the “Clinton News Network” nickname (that man could do no wrong in CNN’s eyes), it did make me miss some of thatdecade’s better features.

The thing I miss the most is the popular music. I’m not up to date on the latest pop music, everything modern I listen to now is “weird” to most people. Most people meaning my wife, her opinion is the only one that matters. The rare time I do get to hear current hits I gag a little. At least in the nineties the mainstream was trying to be creative and make something people had not heard before. Now it’s just repackaged garbage from some other time and place. Just because that time was often the nineties doesn’t mean they do it well though.

Other features of the decade? Was it really that great of a time? I started high school in the final year of the decade, so my memories are a jumbled heap of childhood memories and silliness. Comparisons are easy to make though, one doesn’t need precise memories of events to remember that some stuff just plain sucked back in the day.

I definitely don’t miss dial-up internet. Yes, kids, there was a day when the internet wasn’t “on” all the time. You had to pay by the minute, and those minutes did not produce much more than a page or two of TEXT. Pictures? Come back after you have gone to the kitchen for a Surge and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. I remember the first time I heard of Ethernet, it was a mind blowing concept.you meqn the internet is always connected? You can watch movie clips on it?!

Cell phones? As a kid i only knew one person with a cell phone and it was corded and attached to a bag. You could not watch movies on it or play Candy Crush”. The only cool feature on a cell phone back then was “Centipede” which could be played on a black and green screen. You could play it for days though without charging the phone. My memory could be a bit skewed but I swear those phone batteries lasted for-ev-errrr (if you don’t get that reference, you’re killing me, Smalls).

The movies were better then. I mean, they actually had to try. CGI was limited to Star Wars (and it was bad), so Hollywood actually had to build sets and scale models. And aside from the epic that was Titanic, not every movie was a three hour highly involved action sequence. You could watch an hour and a half movie and then go about your day. After you returned the video cassette to Blockbuster of course. If you were kind you would rewind. If you were a jerk… Well…

You didn’t have to commit hours to sitting around binging on TV shows either. What was on TV was what was on, you didn’t get to pick, and you definitely didn’t get to skip commercials.

For some of us TV was called “Cable” which despite being roughly the same technology as today, was nothing like it’s current counterpart. There were no DVRs and no easy index channel which could take you directly to the channel of your liking. You had to wait for the preview channel to scroll through allof the channels and then manually get yourself to the show you wanted.

Most people had a VCR, which, if you had a degree in engineering (or nursing, as did my mom), you could program it to record something. But.It had to be on the right channel. It was largely just used for playing movies, not recording them.

If you didn’t have cable you had to stick to the old rabbit ears and a non-digital *gasp* signal. Which meant you got like six channels. You missed out on Nickelodeon, the beginnings of the Cartoon Network, and all the major 24/7 news channels.

Which reminds me:

The politics haven’t changed.

The 90’s was full of political scandals. But they seemed to move a lot slower than current scandals. Even with 24/7 news networks coming onto the scene the slower pace of information streaming (well, it was dial up, there was no “streaming” as we know it) meant that you could watch the news and not be suffocated in useless data. There was only so much new stuff to report so you could watch an hour and pretty much get it all.

I certainly don’t miss the outfits or the hairstyles. Except for the grunge. We can keep the grunge. Bring back flannel already!

What were we thinking? And she’s going to kill me. Also: Epic 90’s album cover material!

I will be happy once modern fashion gets out of its 80’s slump. That is a decade I am too young to be nostalgic for. Except for Reagan, who isn’t nostalgic for Reagan? There I go with the politics again…

I will probably always be sappy and sentimental, it’s just my nature. But closer inspection reveals that the past wasn’t really better than the present. Sure, I was a kid and responsibilities were fewer and stakes were lower. But if I were the me of today living then would I find it better? Probably not. How would I make money? How would I talk to you on this blog? How much smaller was the world back then?

It’s nice to think back on those days, but I’m content to see what the future will bring.

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The Flame Blame

(C) Ed Hall, Not used by permission. I hope he forgives me. Heck, who’s reading this anyway?

“You might like my latest cartoon” came the message from my political cartoonist acquaintance. I’ve been following him for some time and while our politics rarely line up I at least appreciate his passion and willingness to push buttons and boundaries.

But this time he really pushed one of my buttons.

I’ve been standing on the sidelines and avoiding conversations about the wildfires in California. The few places I did comment with my knowledge and opinions didn’t seem to get anywhere. People have decided to look at the whole situation through whatever political worldview they have chosen for themselves. Even the wildland firefighter community on social media has collapsed into bomb lobbing and insult hurling.

Everyone wants to blame someone.

My cartoonist friend (and the environmentalists) want to blame climate change (and the Republicans). Yes, weather does play a major role in the spread of fire, and in the availability and moisture level of fuels. But just like you can’t blame an ice storm for car accidents, you can’t blame the climate for wildfires.

People are the cause of accidents, whether they be car crashes in an ice storm or devastating wildfires in a drought. The ice did not make the driver crash, the driver’s response to the icy road caused his accident. The climate did not create the devastation, the policies and practices of people in response to the climate created the devastation.

When Trump blamed the fires on lack of management he wasn’t entirely wrong. There is horrible management going on in many of the forests around the country. Much of that mismanagement is concentrated in the western states, particularly the three bordering the Pacific ocean.

Environmental groups, loggers, ranchers, and developers have been knocking heads in that part of the country for decades. The lobbyists for these parties have all gone to the Federal government to get their way in the land management game. Full fire suppression, a lack of timber thinning, a lack of controlled burning, and an explosion of building in the wildland interface are all polices and practices tied to these groups and their lobbying one way or another.

But just like you can’t blame the weather, you can’t blame mismanagement. Because mismanagement has a root.

Blame lies squarely on the concept of Federal ownership and management of land. The Federal government was not created to do such a thing and is not capable of doing it effectively.

Better put: land is best managed by the people who own it and live on it. Those are the people with real skin in the game.

When land belongs to everyone it becomes fodder for political ends. Public ownership means that I get to call the shots for land thousands of miles away from me. This is usually land I will probably never see, and ecosystems which I may never study or understand.

But locals know the land. Locals know what happens when you manage the forest one way or another. They live in it and derive their economic well-being from it. They have a vital interest in making the whole thing work. Mismanagement has direct and dire consequences upon them.

Ironically it is often these locals who lobby the Federal government to do what they wish because they don’t get along with the other locals. The ranchers don’t like the loggers, the loggers don’t get along with the recreation special interests, and no one gets along with the environmentalists. And no one gets along with the Fed either, because while trying to please everyone, the Fed enacts and carries out policies which please no one.

So while the ranchers are happy to have cheap (ie Federally subsidized) open range grazing land they are not happy with the fences the environmentalists want put up to protect the watershed. And the loggers are content to log land managed by their Fed friends but they are not happy with the ranchers for burning up timber while trying to improve grazing conditions. The environmentalists are happy to have a giant monopolized force machine to restrict all human action on nature but they are not happy with… well… anyone.

We should get the Federal government out of the business of land management and turn it all over to the locals. Let the local loggers and the local Hippies and the local ranchers sort it out amongst themselves.

At least then when it burns out of control we know who to blame.

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Dailyish Thoughts #96

“Dumpster fire” is a pretty useful phrase. There is not a better term for so much of what’s going on in the world around me. Not that my life is personally a dumpster fire, but the toxicity of the people I have associated with lately can only be described as such.

Dumpster fires have nasty smoke, spew sparks which light other stuff on fire, and stink to high heaven. The opinions and manners of the keyboard warriors I tangle with are also largely nasty, ignite passionate (and ignorant) debates, and…well… stink.

My gluttony for punishment prevents me from abandoning these people unfortunately. I do hope to channel some of my displeasure into intelligent and well thought out posts.

But for now my brain is simply a pinball machine of thoughts.

Thank you wife for listening to me try to sort out this pinball madness and clear up some of the emotional constipation it has caused.

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Dailyish Thoughts #95

Ever have a week where chaos settled into something calm? When all the puzzle pieces settled into the right spots? Yeah, me neither. Life is messy, y’all. There is so much undone, so much to do, so much I don’t even know needs doing. I’m going to take it all one step at a time. One day at a time. The chaos is not likely to settle in my lifetime, but at least I can learn to master it and make it work out for the duration.

One day at a time.

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Dailyish Thoughts #94

It’s officially the dark season. November through February are my least favorite months. Holidays and birthdays aside, there is nothing redeeming about these months. Darkness and cold…. Yay. It’s not all bad. Like I said, holidays and birthdays. And if we go to the right places, snow.

I miss being home with the kids. Working all the time and not getting to hang out with them is miserable. Especially in a house with rooms. If I had my way I’d have a house with four rooms: a bedroom for the parents, a bathroom, a big room, and a kitchen open to the big room. That way time spent at home is actually worth something.

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Dailyish Thoughts #93

Information overload is a very real thing. BInge watching and social media threads are especially deep sources of wayyyy too much information. And 90% of it is antagonistic nonsense meant to provoke emotions instead of rational thought. The modern level of discourse doesn’t want debate over ideas and philosophies. Feelings are what matter, and feelings are best provoked by continuing to poke people until they burst. Poke people with enough negative ad hominems and eventually they will get violent toward whatever character you want.

So today was an overload. I consumed too much and I think too much about what I consume. Sometimes this results in a good product. Sometimes it just makes my head hurt. Today was the latter.

Onwards into tomorrow (today now). Let’s see if we can get the house clean on my only day off this week.

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Dailyish Thoughts #92

I have missed art. Running myself ragged everyday has left little time to sit still and focus on capturing an image with paint or pencil. Writing posts is nothing like sitting still for awhile and just focusing on an object and studying it’s lines and shapes and trying to interpret them onto paper.

We learned about driver fatigue today in bus training. I have spent so much of my recent life fatigued and I didn’t even realize it. Every symptom of fatigue they described was something I have felt on a daily basis for years. Long term fatigue is dangerous to physical and mental health. Sometimes you just have to shut down your life and take a nap. Don’t be afraid that life is going to pass you by while you sleep, it will be much easier to keep up with if you are rested.

So this weekend is a break for me, at least from the stress of trying to make money. I need to catch up on the house and yard work I have been avoiding.

Eek, there is so much!

Oh, and while I have your attention, please check out this GoFundMe from a Facebook acquaintance and consider giving:

https://www.gofundme.com/u7wjs-adoption-of-run-lin

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Reinvention

People are always talking about changing themselves. They seem discontent with who they are and want to “reinvent” themselves. They go out and get a new haircut or a new wardrobe, they lose certain friends or go on fad diets. Constant change is seen as a good thing, but is it really?

I have spent many years of my life trying to be other people. I let others dictate my moods, my likes, my diet, and even my thoughts and beliefs. Mine is a super sympathetic personality. I mimic. To a fault.

So when I started trying to change that fault of mine the first inclination was to reinvent the wheel and become a whole new me. Reinvention never happened though. Not only is it hard to change old habits, it’s impossible to deny personality traits and innate passions.

There are things that I like that I had spent a ton of energy trying not to like or denying that I liked them out of embarrassment. I was trying to please other people by denying my own tastes. Honestly it makes no sense why I did that, except that I can be very insecure sometimes.

Some people want to reinvent the wheel. But the wheel doesn’t need reinventing. You can’t find something to replace the basic design, it’s already functional enough.

Although you can’t reinvent the wheel, you can improve: You can add rubber tread and a motor, or cogs and a chain, or a belt and a series of wheels. You can make the wheel do what you need it to do.

You can’t easily change your personality, or your tastes. But like the wheel you can make them work in your favor. You can embrace them and run with them.

That’s what I hope to do in the next few months. Perhaps you’ll be seeing some changes around here. Stay tuned!

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