Off my game and cranky

I’ve soooooooo been off my game lately. Not that I’m complaining per say, but it’s starting to get a little ridiculous at this point. For the last several weeks I’ve consistently been thinking about technology and how it’s literally invaded the lives of everyone around me. I realized just how pervasive technology has been during the weekend teaching my daughter how to dial a phone number on a spare mobile phone we just activated for her to use when we’re not home or out on errands. I went back to my childhood and realized that I’d known how to use a telephone (ones attached to wires, hanging on the wall…..i’m old) around 7 or 8. Those were the days when you called someone and if they didn’t answer, no one was home. Getting in touch with someone was a crapshoot because the phones were stationary for the most part.

Back to my daughter, teaching her how to dial a phone number. She grabbed the phone out of my hand saying “I know how to make a phone call” then stared at the screen after going into the phone app. Well, she didn’t know and smartbutt had to give the phone back to me. I showed her where to dial in the number, how to select someone from the contacts list and how to add someone to the contacts list. There is a parental control app that monitors who gets added so I or my wife can approve/block/delete before she sees it if we feel it’s not appropriate. I showed her that only numbers in the contact list are allowed to ring through, all others are blocked. Really a slick app that I have installed in Parent mode on my own mobile phone. She complained until I told her she won’t have control of her own phone until she pays for her own phone, so the complaining was brief. A locked down phone is better than no phone I guess. Where is the drive to want to learn how things work?

I know how to use computers, technology in general, because I want to learn how they work and how to use them. Technology was a new thing for my generation and for those that took to it, bleeding edge stuff, its been a life filled with learning. Technology being pervasive and having invaded our lives completely, the drive to learn how things work and how to use them has diminished greatly. My daughter doesn’t want to know how the laptop works as long as the power button turns the thing on and takes her to her apps/games. She also doesn’t care how the Xbox works as long as it powers on and connects her to YouTube so she can watch stupid videos of other people recording themselves playing Minecraft. She has asked no less than 10 times for me to create a profile for her friend on our Xbox that I’ve refused to do with the statement “Figure it out on your own, you’ll thank me later.” She hasn’t even tried.

All this brings me to my off gameness. For the last two decades I’ve lived, eaten and breathed technology in all aspects. How quickly it has changed just in the last year or so makes me question whether it’s actually made my life better or not. I don’t talk with my wife while she’s on her phone, I refuse to compete with a glowing screen. I don’t ask my daughter to do anything while there is a screen, any screen, lit up in her line of sight. I also deleted Facebook, as you all know already, because there is nothing social about connecting with people through an application or website virtually. Many people my age, as I’ve read and talked to, are getting to the same point with the technology in their lives. I’ve even curtailed the amount of television I stream because, honestly, the content is getting contrived and commercialized. Watch Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I was a huge fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy back in the day by the way. I was disappointed with his new show.

Technology and me will be having a heart to heart very soon in the near future I think. I don’t think technology has good odds. Time will be the ultimate judge.

Unintended disconnect

I’ve been sick the last 6 days and finally starting to feel better.  This was a hard one this time as I had seasonal allergies on top of the usual symptoms from a cold.  The last thing I wanted to do was pick up a piece of technology let alone look at a screen, so I had an unintended disconnect from the online world.  I can’t say that it’s been all that bad, but I do feel eerily disconnected from a lot more than just technology.  The last 6 days I’ve done hardly anything other than lay around and binge watch (then watch again after falling asleep) some older shows.

It’s going to take me a few days to get back into the normal routine as I’ve returned to work today after a few days suffering.  My usual thing is to work from home during a sickness, but my aversion to anything technology forced me to just take the time.  After more than a year at my current job and taking almost no sick time, I’ve accrued quite a bit of it according to my last pay stub.  I said screw it, I’m taking sick time because they are giving it to me and I really didn’t have any motivation to focus on anything.  Of all the years I’ve been in IT to some degree, I’ve rarely been so disconnected from everything; at least not without a lot of stress.  This time, no stress, not a care actually; it was quite relaxing despite having a horrible cold.

Yeah, I hear you all now, a “man-cold” isn’t serious stuff…..blah blah.  For almost two days I was at the point where the pressure in my head felt like it was going to explode and nothing helped.  Hot shower with steam, no relief.  Vicks in hot water with a towel over the head, didn’t make a dent.  Nasal decongestant spray, 12-hour no less, barely let me get through the night without getting stuffed up again.  Things were so bad at one point I almost went to the doctor, something I never do usually, because I was almost convinced that it was a sinus infection.  Well, it wasn’t and pushing through the pressure I got out on the other side and feel almost back to normal.  It bothers me that this time it didn’t have the pre-requisite two days of my throat being on fire indicating that a cold was on the way.

I have it down to get around to my normal Monday post, Three Things Thursday and hopefully I won’t miss my Weekend post.  Then again, having them down doesn’t mean they’ll get done, so no promises.  Being offline, so to speak, for a few days has me evaluating my reliance on technology in general as actually is possible to survive without being connected.  I realized this as my wife continued to use her phone after we went to bed last night and was still on it two hours later when I was woken up by the dog.  I’m not sure she got anything productive out of those two hours and I’d rather not be slave to things like that.

On a slow anger simmer

I had the last four days off and had hoped that Monday and Tuesday I would primarily be by myself. That didn’t happen and I’ve been on a consistent angry simmer for the last 48+ hours. Nothing I’ve done, or attempted to do, has gone according to any semblance of a plan I had ridiculously thought might have helped. Wanted to finally get all the taxes together and ready to mail, they’ve already been submitted electronically, just owe all around this year. Wanted to get some writing done for EPV, but my mental attitude didn’t lend itself to that either. Wanted to cut the lawn but couldn’t get the lawn mower started; think it needs a new carburetor. Needed to get the toilet guts swapped out as water is leaking into the bowl and making them run every so often; decided that would be a bad idea.

Rather than getting 5-6 hours of time to myself, to work at my own pace, I wasn’t alone except for a few hours on Monday but I was too far into the anger to have it be productive. The wife was supposed to be at her sister’s house until last night, but came home last Sunday instead because the accommodations there were hard to deal with. I get it, I wouldn’t want to stay somewhere that was cluttered and messy. Being forced to sleep on the sofa alone would have been enough for me to want to leave. The problem is that I’ve needed to get alone and work through some difficult issues and work up some plans that require focused thought to complete. My tolerance for the normal things that bother me is gone and I simmer all day on the edge of anger. At this point, short of a taking a day to myself outside of the house, I don’t think I’ll get past this overwhelming feeling.

Adding to the pressure is the fact we’re having a birthday dinner for my Mom this Saturday, at our house, with my brother in attendance. I’m off on Friday, but I already know that I won’t have any time to myself unless I just head out in the early morning and don’t come back until later in the day. That would most certainly cause more problems than it solves as I need to stay around and get the lawn taken care of. Dinner at our house means that we’re stuck with cleaning up after dinner. We’re also stuck with all the leftover food (we always have left over food) that ultimately will be lunches and dinners for the next few days into next week. I’m okay with the same thing the next day, but push it two or three then I’m just not hungry and won’t eat.

The wife is off this entire week and I already know that today and tomorrow nothing will get done. She’ll get sucked into working on something for the firehouse, doing something random that wasn’t planned, or just not have any motivation and do nothing. I’ll end up cleaning up the dishes, running the dishwasher and most likely doing the laundry. If it’s a tag team effort I don’t mind doing any of that, but when it’s me all the time because some time suck is occupying her time for days on end through the week, it quickly gets annoying. When I sit in my office or in front of the TV, I’m not just sitting there doing nothing. I’m inside my own head, thinking and processing, trying to work through anger so that I’m no longer angry. From the outside, it looks like I’m just being lazy further convincing me that her saying she understands doesn’t equal her actually understanding at all.

The next few weeks don’t tell me that I’ll have any opportunity for time to myself.

This is your brain on stress

I need some downtime.  For the last few weeks, I’ve had something to do pretty much every day from the time I’ve woken up to the time I’ve gone to sleep.  It seems like months, but in reality it’s only been maybe three weeks.  The stress of going from one thing to the next has my limits being tested especially when plans don’t go exactly as expected.  I can count the number of hours of downtime I’ve had on one hand making finding a long stretch of time where I can unbind my brain that much more imperative.

The free time that I have had was used to run through the finances, complete the family taxes and creatively find funds to pay for tax shortfalls that we didn’t anticipate.  We aren’t by any means in dire straits, but don’t have too much of a cushion or emergency funds to tap into as we’ve already used them a few months back for healthcare bills.  That brings me to something that’s been on the top of my mind, healthcare.  It seems so much harder this year than in previous years as the providers are getting harder to deal with in terms of payments.  It seems being a patient for years, with not an issue with payments, has no bearing on the them forcing a $1k repayment for testing over three months is unfair.  My usual offer to pay back $100/month fell on deaf ears, to which I said I’m sending them $100/month and if they don’t like it, they can send me to collections.

The wife is going to her sisters house for a few days to help her recover from major surgery and is leaving home base in my hands.  I took two days off next week so have a 4 day weekend coming up; something to look forward to.  The daughter is quite self-sufficient at 10 now and finds things to occupy her time.  I have a few activities planned that the both of us can do of course, but they’re maybe a few hours on 1-2 days.  She also has school on Monday and Tuesday giving me several hours to myself that will be a welcome relief.  Those two days will be singing to me like violins out of the sky and I can take my time doing the few things I know need to be done.  One of them being a real overhaul of the household budget that I can really concentrate on with nothing interrupting me.

I need to have another conversation with the wife reconfirming my need for a few hours each week where I can unbind and peel off stress.  The fellow introverts out there know exactly what I’m talking about and understand.  My wife is concerned that the daughter is showing signs of wanting to be by herself more than be with friends on most days; something I said wasn’t a problem.  I was forced into social situations and was made to go outside when I was younger and I resented my parents for a long time because of that.  I told the wife its normal, to let it be, and if she starts becoming too isolated I would take the lead in helping her find a balance.  In my experience, it’s the balance that is more important than forcing one behavior or another; balance makes it good.  My wife, the extrovert, tries to understand but doesn’t have the context to truly understand.

Hope to see you again on Thursday, the wife made another painting that is now hanging in my office.  I’m going to need a bigger office if she keeps up the painting, or I’ll just have to start getting them framed and hang them up in the house.  She’s really getting good at them.  I also had a lake in my backyard for a few hours during a ridiculous rain storm that confirmed that the sump pump does in fact work as advertised.

Humans don’t need to suffer like this

This is an opinion piece based on the article below.

How bad does the world have to get before we start to realize that it’s not all clean tap water, endless food buffets and golden toilets that whisk our poop away?  Real people, children, are suffering an agonizing slow death because of a comparatively smaller group of self-centered and self-absorbed rich elites.  I didn’t have the words to describe my disappointment until recently and I’ve stopped turning away and ignoring the problem.  It is unacceptable to me that in a country of so-called Christians, we have put a man into the White House that is going to reduce the amount of funds that go to foreign humanitarian aid, not increase them.

The commodity that is so badly needed in these areas you ask?  Water.  Simple water.  So many American’s take it for granted that when they turn on the tap, clean and drinkable water flows out.  What if all of a sudden, due to causes outside of your control, that water was now cloudy, thick and slimy; would you still drink it?  Would you get so thirsty, almost on the brink of death, that you would risk drinking the water that you know for certain will get you sick?  I’ve personally never been in that position, but imagine that I would in order to fight for my life and stay alive.  A human can go 4-6 weeks without food, but only 4-5 days without water before a fatality occurs.

There is a real possibility, almost a certainty, that Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen will be in the grips of a months long famine later this year.  That is approximately 20 million people who will be starving and dehydrated and more than likely facing death before the end of this year.  How can the world idly standby and watch this crisis unfold and not do anything?  There is more than enough food and water in the world to where no one would ever have to face being hungry or thirsty ever again.  Technology has enabled us to clean the dirtiest and nastiest of any source of water.  We have the ability to create self-sustaining systems of food production after creating the environment for that to take hold in the first place.

All it takes, unfortunately, is money.  Money drives all of our decisions, not fellow humans.  Why someone sitting on $75 billion doesn’t believe they can part with 50% of their wealth and STILL live the same life they’re living currently is beyond my comprehension.  I’ve never even had $1 million, let alone $1 billion.  Sure there will be some in the “have” category that will see this as the ravings of someone in the “have not” category.  I have enough in my life to live the way I do, I don’t need more than that.  I’ve had my down turns and have been financially troubled in the past, but I’ve pulled through.  A portion of my salary, even in my lowest points, has been set aside for donations to various organizations that assist foreign humanitarian efforts.

Call me an apologist, a bleeding-heart, or whatever else that comes to mind.  It won’t change how disappointed I am with some of my fellow humans that refuse to see others not as fortunate as they are as anything but a sub-standard class of people.  We don’t choose where we get born, but we choose how we get to live our lives regardless of where we’re born.  A Somalian native, scratching the best existence their circumstances allow, is a far better example of a human being than most wealthy elite in any first world country.

When it’s America’s turn to suffer drought, food shortages, etc., will we get the help we need from other countries or will we get a figurative middle finger?