In the wee hours of the new year, I was awake and washing dishes, when a ceramic bowl hit the edge of the counter and EXPLODED in my hands. Both hands were shredded and bleeding profusely.
For a moment, I thought, “Well, I COULD go get a bandage and do something about it. But the bowl was made in China. So maybe if I just declare this a “China Bowl” incident and blame it on China, and then do nothing else, that maybe the whole situation will “just go away.”
Then I did the right thing and took care of it with bandages and Neosporin.
Of course, the above is a metaphor for how our “president,” our “leader,” has treated this deadly virus from the beginning.
But a Narcissist do-nothing calling it “China virus,” as if that will absolve him of responsibility is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the many people who have said it’s a hoax and those who STILL believe that.
The list goes on, and I suspect there are too many people who are all too familiar with these issues.
Today, I’m going to write about my latest issue, which may be unique to me and my area. At least, I hope this to be the case, because you don’t want to be where I am right now.
THE THURSDAY TURN-AWAY I was talking with a friend who lives in the next county over, who said that he went and got a COVID-19 vaccination. He set it up through a health care app that is used in our state.
He detailed how the app will tell you it’s less than a half hour, but it actually takes two hours. In his county, the National Guard is there providing assistance, as they work to reach a goal of vaccinating 250 people per hour. Cars are lined up all around.
I got excited and optimistic about it, which is an issue I’ll detail at the end, and registered myself to get a vaccine in MY county. It had no notes on restrictions, as the app gladly accepted my registration to get the vaccine. It said that I would be waiting 27 minutes. Off I went to the county fair grounds.
WHEN I GOT THERE There were five or six people at the entrance. One comes over. “You here for the vaccine? Just go through this maze in the parking lot and talk to the people at that shack over there, and they’ll set you up.”
The maze in the gravel, pot-holed parking lot was a zig-zag back-and-forth, driving around cones. The weirdest part of it all was that I was the ONLY car there.
I get to the shack, and there are seven people at this location. One person comes over, and she has a bit of an attitude.
“Hello, and what qualifies you for the vaccine today?”
I wasn’t ready for this question.
“Uhhhh… I live in X county? I’m a human?”
She explained, “We are only vaccinating front-line workers.” Now, I had heard this before. Why would the app allow just anyone to do this, then? Why would it not say anything? For all I knew, the policy had changed and they were going to inoculate all 16,000 of us here in this tiny location.
I could feel Autistic rage boiling under my skin as I struggled to contain myself. “But, nobody’s here.”
To be really clear, I have made the unfortunate mistake of moving into a small town. Small towns are full of stupid people, so there is no shortage of people who believe it to be a hoax, or who simply don’t want it. Every block has a big truck with six Trump flags mounted in the back.
We went back and forth a few times, until I’d had enough. “Best of luck with sitting on your ass and doing nothing.” I angrily drove away.
MY ISSUE People are dying. A station is supposedly set up. They’re doing NOTHING but turning people away all day long. Meanwhile, in the county just 10 minutes away, the National Guard is helping them to vaccinate as many people as possible.
In a town that has fewer than 20,000 inhabitants, they should not be very picky about who gets what. I can understand the frontline workers being first in a major city. But here? Especially when the county next door, which is significantly larger in population, is using the National Guard to help inoculate everyone.
I’m going to die of incompetence.
EXCITEMENT AND OPTIMISM As promised, I’m back to this topic to close out this entry. Whenever I feel excited or optimistic about something, it always backfires and brings more upset and disappointment.
Yes, I know. Life is full of disappointments, be an adult, blah blah blah. I am an adult. The problem is that this still affects me.
I have read the Stoic [with a capital “S”] writings of the likes of Epictetus and Seneca. The Stoic method is to start the day off with very, very low expectations of the world.
Epictetus and other Stoics teach that the only things truly within our control are our thoughts and actions.
Maybe I need to have low expectations of Mankind in general, so that I can avoid frustration and disappointment. Doing this makes it difficult to be optimistic.
I’m such a depressing person that the few around me will tell me, “Be more optimistic. Things will work out.” Now, I’m finding that I need to abandon optimism if I’m going to avoid disappiontment.
Anyone who gives me a lecture about any of this will be showing me that they either didn’t read this, or they did and failed to understand it.
I logically know things.
Practicing them is another. And making them fit with other issues adds a new complexity.
So, my challenge is to avoid optimism while remaining optimistic.
PREFACE Social networking was truly fun in the 90s. I made my own NEW connections, joined my own groups, and was never in anything resembling an echo chamber.
One great example was mIRC. I had joined a group called “Married But Flirting.” Of course, very few people were married, and nobody was flirting. It was named that to scare away the younger people. The thought of an old person flirting with you is unsavory to them.
We had a GeoCities page, where everyone posted one photo and their name. We had monthly meet-ups in Long Beach, California, as well as an annual meet-up in Las Vegas.
But now, it’s all about addiction, anger, “engagement” [advertising], and making bigger and bigger money.
EXPERIENCE IN SOCIAL NETWORKING Everyone has opinions about social networking. My opinions are based on two things. The first, yet maybe less important, is my experience in social networking activity online. I’ve been using the publicly-available internet since it was first made available in April 1993.
Before that, back to 1987, I ran a BBS for a year, which was a bulletin board service.
The more important basis for my current opinions on social networking are based on professional experience. From mid-2005 to mid-2008, I worked at MySpace. These are often times referred to as “the years that mattered,” as my time there represented the bookends, where the site started to get massively popular, up to when people began abandoning the site.
Yes, Tom was real. Yes, I worked closely with him at time, at least in the early days when there were only 40 of us. By the time I got downsized with 5%, there were tens of thousands of employees in multiple locations.
Since this entry is about social networking and manipulation, there is one other aspect of my experience that qualifies me to talk about this.
DELETING ALL SOCIAL NETWORKING Another aspect of my experience that is relevant is the fact that I deleted ALL of my social networking accounts. From mid-2014 to mid-2019, I had NO social networking accounts at all.
I had deleted Facebook, my primary access point, along with Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
I would end up starting another LinkedIn profile in 2015 for a few years, but that was only because I accidentally ended up working for LinkedIn for one year, after they purchased lynda.com.
A FACEBOOK PRIMER For the purposes of simplicity, I will be keeping my focus squarely on Facebook. It is the most accessible and possibly the most addictive website. This is due to their use of algorithms that generate anger, frustration, and a phenomenon known as “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.
The anger generates more time on this site. This is known as “engagement” by advertising people.
While people experience anger while interacting with “out groups,” or people with whom you disagree, they also create echo chambers that encourage you that you’re on the right side of everything. They give you “friends” and you can see each other, so long as there is agreement.
It is a very tricky tight rope act, and Facebook does it very well.
WHEN YOU DELETE YOUR FACEBOOK Since 1993, I had used social networking. It started with AOL, then CompuServe, then ICQ, mIRC, and so on. With Web 2.0, it was Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook.
It is safe to say that I’ve deleted lots and lots of personal social networking accounts over the decades.
But when you delete Facebook, something very interesting happens. When I deleted mine, I was effectively run off by an angry mob of people who believed that I was “in on it” when I got manipulated and destroyed by a “friend” who claimed that she had cancer.
Nine months and $40,000 later, the truth came out. I got the “I told you so” messages, along with death threats from “friends.”
In other words, I had a major motive to go away and stay away.
During the first month, it was a nightmare. FOMO ran through my Autistic, ruminating mind. What are they saying? What’s happening? What are they going to do to me next?
Lost sleep and the added stress gave me perpetual sweats, slight tremors, stomach pains, and panic attacks. Psychologically speaking, it was almost as bad as the manipulation I suffered from the cancer scammer. This must be what it feels like for drug addicts to quit.
By the end of the second month, and this is the good news, all of those symptoms and stressors faded away. It left me wondering why I had ever posted anything online at all, at any time. Why should anyone care?
THEIR BIG MANIPULATION When you are in the process of actually deleting your Facebook account, the website immediately engages in manipulation. They start with how they’re “sorry to see you go.”
The two main points of manipulation are key. The first is a fear of loss, when they warn you that all of your data and everything will be “permanently deleted after thirty days.”
This is a complete lie. My account was deleted and NOT re-activated for FIVE years. In my attempt to create a new account in mid-2019, I found that the system noticed me and funneled me into a process that resulted in my OLD account being revived.
There is one other big lie.
YOUR FRIENDS WILL MISS YOU They will show a handful of random “friend” from your list, and they will tell you that these people will “miss you” if you go.
There are a few reasons why that turned out to be a big lie. I have been searchable online since search engines have existed. Google came into being in 1998, and I’ve owned my website since 1999. Before that, I was on other services, so there was no excuse.
A friend looking for me online in 1993, or even 1987, could have found me.
During those five years, NOT ONE friend on Facebook looked for me. They didn’t email me or call. None of them asked if I was okay. For that, I relied on my two regular friends who have the ability to call, text, or email. They don’t need a bloated hunk of garbage like Facebook to remind them that I exist.
Additionally, when I was forced to re-activate my old account that had been “deleted” for five years, I noted that I still had the same friends. Only ONE of them had wondered where I had been.
The rest didn’t even know that I was gone for five years. I could have DIED and nobody would have missed. me. This is a hard truth to realize.
IN SUMMARY If you are planning on deleting your Facebook profile:
It will not be permanently deleted after 30 days.
Your “friends” won’t miss you.
You will have physical and psychological withdrawals.
The harshest withdrawals last 4-6 weeks.
By 8 weeks, you’ll be so over it that you’ll never want to go back.
So if you’re considering deleting your Facebook account, but have some concerns or feel that you’re facing uncertainties, then I hope that my entry here today will guide you through your journey of freedom.
And if you think that you’d like some consultation on doing this, please feel free to comment on this OR email me through my website. I can answer a few questions for free and reply to a few emails.
For more in-depth support, I would recommend consulting with a therapist.
“Were it not for social networking, I may have gone to my grave believing that I was more loved than I was.” —Me
I have developed a keen interest in the past, especially family history. The funny part about it is that none of the stories that I was verbally told as a child seem to be true, as confirmation is elusive. But there are so many other stories they did not tell that are interesting.
One example is my Great Great Great Grandfather, Lafayette Fite. Sounds like a great band name, so I might use it. DIBS!
He was a blacksmith in Perkinsville, Indiana. By the looks of things, people had hard lives during those times.
I couldn’t find my GGG Grandmother’s name, so we’ll just call her “R. Lee Ermey.” That drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket is a time traveler in a dress!!!
But I digress.
As of now, I have over 250 years’ [a quarter millennium] worth of history, just on my mother’s side, all the way back to John Johannes Shaffer, who was born in 1755, after his father Jacob arrived here on the USS Patience. John fought alongside people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry.
This kind of past cannot be changed in a way that directly affects me. They did what they did, they were what they were, and there is nothing that can change my perspective of any of it.
In other words, if someone was a monster or a good person, then that’s what they were. After that acknowledgement, I go on with my life.
But there’s a different kind of past that is more recent, and it is currently at-risk of being destroyed by the present.
FACEBOOK: THE DESTROYER OF MEMORIES This story goes all the way back to 1976, when I was in 6th grade. There was this kid in 7th grade named Brook. I really looked up to him. I could focus on many stories, but this one is a big deal to me.
At recess, while the other kids played in the snow, I would stand outside the window of the band room, watching Brook play his old wooden drum set on a riser. He’d crack the window and let me listen and watch. His feet were at eye level for me, so I could watch his bass drum and hi-hat technique as well as the rest of it.
When he got held back in 7th grade, I was secretly excited about it. We would be in the same classes!!!
I made it a point to try to hang out with him, even though I didn’t know how to make friends. He lived right across the street from the school. We got to a point where we would go to his house for lunch! He would put something in the fry machine and we’d play drums.
He had just gotten a blue Ludwig Vistalite drum set that was incredibly beautiful and sounded amazing. We’d play that for a while. Sometimes he would give me pointers or correct something that would end up being a bad habit.
After that, we’d listen to some records. He had lots of drum corps records. My favorites were The Phantom Regiment and Cavalier Cadets.
From 1977 to 1979, we became friends and drumming contemporaries.
I asked my mom if she could buy Brook’s old drum set for me for Christmas. We couldn’t afford much. She told me that she talked to him and they had already sold it.
This little fib was told in order to generate maximum excitement when I would receive this kit for Christmas. I would later also get Brook’s old bicycle when he went BMX. Brook came from a family with money, and I lived off his hand-me-downs.
But all good things come to an end. The hard truth was that Brook was a still year older than me. This meant that he got his drivers license a year earlier. He became more interested in cars and chasing girls. His philosophy differed from mine, which was that I have room in my life for all of it.
Brook quit the band, and I put more focus into the band, effectively driving us into completely different worlds. I don’t recall interacting with him once after he made that decision.
OLD MEMORIES AND A BAD DECISION Although Brook and I went our separate ways in the early 80s, I never once forgot about him or how he contributed to the enrichment of my life. For over 40 years, I felt a great deal of gratitude toward Brook and his generosity.
My feelings were such that, had he called me and asked a favor, I’d do it if I could, without question.
Flash forward to 2019, when I returned to Facebook after staying off for five years. I did a search and found out that Brook was on Facebook. Finally! He was never online before, so maybe he found an interest in social networking, or was just getting caught up.
I friended him without going through his profile.
MY BIG MISTAKE I was trying to find ways to be more interactive with people. The Autistic adult in me held the false belief that Facebook was all about re-connecting, catching up, and interacting with people from the past. Boy, was I wrong!
I had this idea, where I would choose a person, or a group of people, and post a photo and short story, with the main point being my expression of gratitude. Since many of the people on my now-deleted friends list were from high school, I wasn’t exactly talking out of line or anything. My friendship with Brook while he was in band was no big secret.
So I write something where I talk about how grateful I was that Brook encouraged and facilitated my early drumming with is friendship and efforts, which was a true gift to me.
He saw it and replied, “Yea, but you did it all by yourself.”
I told him the whole point was that I would not have been able to do it by myself, and that he helped me.
He was starting to get angry and aggressive, as if I were blaming him for something.
A PEEK BEHIND THE COVERS… I had no idea what was going on. However, I was getting the sense that he was the kind of person who buys into the flawed and false concept of “rugged individualism.”
So I went to his Facebook page and read through his wall of posts.
It was packed full of hatred, anger, and fear. In other words, Trump.
THE AFTERMATH To say that I felt destroyed was an understatement. The whole thing got me wondering if I was some kind of “tag-along” kid who he entertained out of boredom until he got his license.
Was I the yet-to-be-diagnosed Autistic kid who wasn’t catching on to certain social cues?
Then I start to wonder if he quit band to put some distance between us. We graduated in 1983 and spent less time not talking then we did being friends.
It gets me wondering if he was ever my friend in the first place.
A HARD DECISION After reading Brook’s page, I noticed that he was getting progressively more aggressive in his remarks on my tribute to what a great friend he was. ^I mean, how DARE I call him a good friend who helped me!^
Side note: Carets [^] at both ends of a statement are called a “Sarcastrophe,” which denotes sarcasm. Now you know!
What he wrote must have triggered some kind of Autistic event in my head, causing me to do what I’d always do. I deleted what I posted, and then I blocked him.
I DID NOT LEARN MY LESSON After that, I decided that maybe I should not be the one to instigate any nostalgia. But if someone else wants to do so, then I can play along. That was my new, faulty boundary.
In late 2019, I was contacted by a former girlfriend named Annie. She was big on the nostalgia hype train, and seemed to have some fond memories of me. She recalled our first date, when I was 17 and she was 16. I took her to the theater to see Poltergeist. Afterward, I took her to my house, where we sat on the edge of my bed and I played Stairway to Heaven for her.
We dated for a while, until her dad found out. He was a retired Marine Drill Sergeant. As it turned out, he did not like me dating his daughter, so he tried to kill me with a big crescent wrench. Good thing I could run fast.
Here we were, 37 years later, catching up. This catching up turned into talking about combining the future AND the past! We had dated, and we had never broken up, so maybe we could just pick up where we left off.
She came out under the false pretense of a short visit, and ended up staying. I should have known she was doing this when she said, “I THINK that I got a two-way ticket.” Another clue was the first thing she did when she got here, which was starting to unpack silverware in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, I was ignoring LOTS of red flags, because I came to the position where I really, truly wanted this to happen. Little things like giant red flags weren’t going to get in the way.
I won’t get into private details about Annie’s life or her past. I will say that, if what she told me was true, she had a very rough life full of abuse. I couldn’t figure out why she had this life. Long story short, every many in her life had abused her. Or so she claimed.
I would later figure out that a few horrible things were going on. One of the really bad things was the fact that she appeared to be “mirroring” me. She would hear about my music pursuits and declare herself a “songwriter,” as she jotted some disjointed poems on a page.
Upon learning about my time as a stand-up comedian and Pee-Wee Herman impersonator, she also declared herself to be a comedian.
In every instance, she would do this, and then declare, “See how much we have in common?”
A GREAT DARKNESS Annie had been in five abusive marriages with four different men. They were all significantly older than her. One of them, who was the most brutal in his abuse, was actually given a second chance.
She constantly talked about her abusers, including her ex-husbands, her parents, and her siblings. Almost every person in her life had abused her, according to her.
She had put a copy of an article from 1969 on the refrigerator, about how she was run over by a car when she was 3 years old. She has some brain damage as a result. This article and story was the cornerstone of her perpetual victim narrative.
What had started out as a fun and seemingly loving reunion was quickly turning into a dark cavern of fear.
She would be cooking in the kitchen, and then would suddenly blurt out, “My dad raped me,” and then continue. It was driving me mad, to the point that I told her it was impossible to breathe or be alone with her, as the room was packed full with all of her abusers.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END I knew things were not going well when she accused me of “fucking with her meds.” She was taking at least 12 different medications at the time.
But what really drove it all home was the day she dialed 911 and hung up. The police arrived, and she was telling them stories of how I hit her.
The police told me that they’d normally arrest me in a situation like this. However, her stories were so erratic and disjointed that they were not going to do this.
After they left, I had a talk with Annie. I pleaded with her to understand. I’m a big guy with a shaved head, so I look scary. I’m also Autistic, so I tend to get riled up easily. This combination makes me a prime candidate for getting killed by the police. It’s just not a good idea for me to be interacting with them at all, ever.
It’s also not good for me to be with someone who believes that they’re being “poisoned” by “plastic being put on the silverware,” whatever that means.
Talking with Annie became no different from talking to my cats. You can do it, but they don’t understand and proceed with whatever they want to do.
She dialed 911 again.
She ended up going to a shelter, where they instructed her on how to clean out our joint checking account. As I was wondering what was happening to her, I saw my balance go to $0.00.
I went to the bank to see what happened, and I saw her on the sidewalk. I asked her what she was doing, and her reply was“NOOOOO!” Her voice sounded like a wounded animal defending itself. She darted into traffic to cross the five-lane road [counting the turn lane].
Police nearby stopped her. One officer asked me, “So, what exactly do you expect to gain by following her around?” The thing was that I wasn’t following her around, because I had no idea where she was. I was only going to the bank to find out why my account was wiped out.
This officer’s comment was a warning, and I missed it.
Another officer played nice and asked me if I could get her meds together for him. He also wanted me to go with her to her next therapy session. He claimed that my presence was requested and wanted.
Once I got to her therapy session, I learned that this was not true. My hope in attending was to advocate for her mental health, because I sincerely loved her and cared about her.
I got kicked out of her therapy session. I would later learn that the therapist didn’t really want me there and the officer was just fucking with me, for some reason I don’t understand.
They had also claimed that she was seen by “four doctors” who cleared her with regard to the state of her mental health.
THE GRAND FINALE The officer brought her back and asked if she could stay. I said that she could not, as I didn’t feel safe with her there.
First he said he was going to take her to a shelter. Then he told me, “You know, she’s a prime candidate for getting raped and killed in the shelter. Someone was killed there three days ago.”
I was confused. Is it a shelter, or is it a one-stop rape-and-murder shop?
I thought about it and said that she could stay. This was when the officer got childish. “No! No! NOPE! You had your chance. She’s going to the shelter. Too late. You had a shot and blew it. Nope!”
They drove her about 12 miles away to a place that “might” have room for her. The officer supposedly said, “I can’t spend another 8 hours babysitting you,” as he abandoned her on the streets at night.
She called in a panic, and I made the mistake of being empathetic and picking her up. She spent the night here, and it was her last night.
She tried to be sexual with me, so I had to explain why I wasn’t feeling all that sexy or into it. I told her that I “needed some time.” She told her therapist that I was “withholding sex as a weapon.”
The next morning she and I had a talk for 35 minutes about how she needed to get help, what I needed, and how things needed to be. I was afraid for her life. I then had to leave for a doctor’s appointment, so I asked her to wait for me.
She left on foot and walked to a church to get to a shelter. She left her phone behind and everything. Meanwhile, she got a check in the mail for $60,000 from her divorce lawyer. This lead to a few visits from the police, warning me to “not try to cash her check.” I kept telling them that I was trying to get it to her, and they warned me about “going out to look for her.”
What they were doing was crazy and made no sense.
One time, they came to pick up her check, phone, license, and other documents. I gave them to the police. They came back 15 minutes later, handed it back, said, “Couldn’t find her,” and ran off. I can only guess they were running late for their second job as mall cops.
She ended up getting her check and documents. Still, she had a TON of things in the apartment, and I had to fight her to pick these things up. During this time, she made accusations, screamed at me, threatened me, and played mind games.
Overall, it would take me the better part of three months to get rid of her.
Today, she lives in her own little apartment, alone. She has no income, and cannot take care of herself effectively. I don’t know what will happen beyond that, and it’s none of my business. Plus, I no longer care.
IMPACT AND ANALYSIS When Annie came out and decided to stay, it forced the break-up between me and my then girlfriend of 20 years, Catherine. She and I had been having some problems, but that’s another story.
Catherine was here when Annie got here, and ended up leaving in April for four months to try living in Rhode Island. After four months, she decided that she wanted to come back to Oregon. Catherine called and asked for permission. Annie gave that the green light, and then complained about it for the remainder of her stay.
Catherine is back here with me. However, we’re both going through individual therapy to see if we should even be together. Is it healthy? Am I even capable of a relationship? We will find out.
For now, we’re very supportive friends who care about each other. I have no capacity or desire for any romantic ventures at all. Both of us are being most cautious about it all, and for good reason.
Everyone feels burned by this. I personally blame myself, for allowing Annie to flirt with me online in the first place, allowing her to visit, and then allowing her to stay.
That’s the power of me really wanting something to happen. My approach with Catherine is to not want getting back with her, and also not wanting to be alone. I’m not expressing a desire to do either thing, until I reach the point of making a decision.
I wanted Annie to come out, so that lead to me ignoring red flags in order to make it happen. So I’m deciding to NOT want either outcome, so that I can do my best to be accepting of whatever happens.
This includes the possibility that I might want to try again with Catherine, while she may decide to move on. Whatever she decides, I must accept. I made this bed, so I must lie in it.
So if she wants to leave, then I must allow that to happen. Based on the decisions I made, I certainly cannot make anything in the way of demands in this situation.
And I do feel badly for Annie, even though she brought chaos, fear, and uncertainty into my home. This doesn’t mean that I have to rescue her. I have been staying away from her, per my therapist’s orders. Phone blocked!
But Annie’s words and behaviors brought ugly feelings into my heart, the likes of which I had not experienced since I left my ex-wife in 1998. My ex-wife also had a traumatic childhood. She survived incest, her father was an alcoholic, and she suffered Borderline Personality Disorder.
The darkest thing about my ex-wife is that through her life she experienced “love” via violence and abuse. Once she found my buttons, she would push and push and push and push. She also loved dialing 911 when I denied her request for “love.”
What I concluded is that my ex-wife wanted me to hit her so that she would feel loved. My REFUSAL to hit her was what caused our issues.
Assuming that Annie’s abuse stories are true, I can only conclude that she was trying to push me into hitting her for the same reason. Both my ex-wife and Annie are incapable of having healthy relationships, thanks to past abuse that has not been checked or dealt with via therapy.
So when Annie was making accusations about me to the police, I saw the parallels in it all, and it gave me the chills.
It’s shocking just how many adults find it acceptable to exploit others, especially Autistic adults.
IN THE END For now, I am here with my dear friend Catherine, and we are helping each other with our individual mental health journeys. The way I see it, the worst case scenario is that she and I will remain friends. We are civil with one another, and looking forward to whatever the future may bring, even if it puts us on different paths.
As for Annie, I may very well never see her again. That’s fine.
Back to the significantly wider topic of the past, I think that it is best to preserve the past. At the same time, I must remember that attempts to bring the past back to life can be tempting, but it is highly dangerous.
My experience with Brook destroyed my memory of how much he influenced and enabled my future as a drummer and musician, and even the idea that he was once my friend.
My experience with Annie destroyed my most fond memory of my years dating as a teen. It may also have other consequences for the future, which will be seen as early as this year, as chances are good that Catherine and I will decide to part ways.
I’m back to not using social networking [since September 2020], and I don’t know if I will ever return. If I do, then it will be a situation where I make NEW online friends and avoid the past.
The past was what it was, and I need to protect it by not tampering with it or trying to go back to it. I would much rather have my old good memories with Annie, instead of what I have now. Those old memories are destroyed forever.
The future seems to be wide open.
But the big things I need to remember are simple: The past is far behind, the future doesn’t exist, and right now is all that I will ever have.
Remembering the past is fine. Anything beyond that is off limits.
Although I am 56 years old, I can still remember what it felt like when I was a really little kid. One element of that vast sensation focuses on my very early opinion of adults.
I would look at them with wonder, as well as a sense of envy. My envy stemmed from the *observation* that these adults had life figured out. They knew what to say and what to do. Oh, how I can’t wait until I become one of them.
As I got older, I started to wonder what it would be like on the day when I became a “man” and an “adult.” What would be said? What would I think? What would be THE defining moment?
That moment wasn’t anything like growing hair in new places, my voice changing, being old enough to drive, vote, drink, etc. None of these hallmarks ushered any of this magical power into my life.
ON BECOMING A “MAN” I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for something to happen that informed me that I was a “man” in the eyes of society. By my 30s, I decided that I needed to further investigate this idea of becoming a “man.”
People have suggested to me that being a “man” is defined as being a provider, protector, having a solid job or career, getting married, and raising children.
While I haven’t had a solid job or career [thanks, Autism!!!], I have done the rest. None of it gave me the sensation that I was suddenly, somehow, a “man.”
But I also had my own definitions, which were based on physical attributes. I figured that maybe I’d have wider shoulders, or maybe a square chin. Basically, I’d be able to LOOK in the mirror, see myself, and then declare, “Ah, yes, you’re a man now. And a sexy one at that.”
That moment hasn’t happened. I’m old enough now that I can easily accept the fact that it will not ever happen.
The concept of being a “man” is a shit social construct that is designed specifically for shaming males into being something they’re not and doing things they’d not typically do.
After determining that this is total bullshit, as I put little value in most social constructs, I decided to move to the other part of my concern.
ON BECOMING AN “ADULT” As noted above, I have been a provider, I’ve been married, and I have raised children. None of this signaled to me that I was suddenly an adult. In fact, most of the time I feel like a 16-year-old boy who is bumbling through it all.
There is a clue in there.
At the same time, I felt like I was kind of an adult, sort of. A little sensation is better than none at all. What was the source?
A HORRIFYING REALIZATION When I had a bad motorcycle accident in 1990, it meant regular therapeutic visits to my chiropractor, the late Darrell Takeo Yoshihara.
Dr. Yoshihara had become a friend. We would go out and sing karaoke at a local Chinese restaurant. We went golfing one time with Steven Stills. Darrell invited me to do that because he wanted someone there who would make him look good on the course. I had to laugh at that.
We even shared a Cuban cigar after-hours outside his clinic, after one of his more famous clients showed up with the cigars as a gift. I’m no fan of cigars, but it was an interesting experience.
For those who feel excited… no, having a cigar with The Terminator was NOT what gave me the sensation of being an “adult.”
When Dr. Yoshihara told me something, I took it to heart. He was almost like an unlicensed therapist who was guiding me through the world.
It was on August 18, 1990. The good Doctor opened up his office after-hours for me, as he often did for close friends and celebrity patients. I was receiving my regular adjustments, when I just blurted out the question.
“DTY, when will I feel like I’m an adult?”
That’s a question that I wouldn’t ask of almost anyone. Even as I type it, the question sounds almost stupid. But I trusted the good doctor enough. He had his own question for me.
“Why don’t you feel like an adult?”
I told him that my reason for not feeling like an adult was based on the fact that I had yet to experience any “defining moment” that signifies that I am adult.
Now, I suppose that some things, like graduating high school, provide some type of ceremonial process that can allow the person experiencing the event to gain a sense of adulthood via achievement. For some reason, I did not view high school graduation in this sense.
DTY said that my answer to his question could not be based on waiting for an external event. It had to be something inside me that was nagging me.
For reasons unknown, I began to think back to when I was that little kid who looked up to the adults who had it all figured out.
“I’m in my mid-20s and I feel as if I’m the only person who hasn’t gotten everything figured out yet.”
What this means is that I hadn’t figured out how to build a career, how to build credit, how to buy a house, or how to do anything that “adults” do.
Dr. Yoshihara laughed, possibly because his response to my statement was so easy and natural to him. At the same time, I had never considered this idea.
“The funny thing is, the more you live, the more you realize that nobody really has much of anything figure out. Everyone is trying to make sense of the world, even ME! That’s life.”
I told him that it seemed to me that he had it all figured out. He said that he just kept on trying and this was where he ended up. This part of what he said did not age well for me, for I kept on trying and I’ve got almost nothing tangible to show for it.
August 18, 1990 was the day I learned that adults don’t have it figured out and have no idea what they are doing.
I was now an adult.
THE IMPACT OF THIS REALIZATION Before my realization, I was under the impression that I was the only one who doesn’t get it. But after this profound talk, I started paying attention to others. What I’d see was big people who have the appearance of being an adult, who act like children.
Today, we can watch hundreds of hours of videos on YouTube, featuring grown-sized human hairless primates who are doing and saying horrible, child-like things. They seem clueless as they go about their recorded business.
The impact of this realization was big and two-fold.
On the one hand, it alleviated my concerns that maybe I wasn’t ever going to “be an adult.”
But on the other hand, it gave me a great sensation of despair for Mankind. Life was profoundly more hopeful when I lived under the false belief that grown adults know what they’re doing, or that they’ll mostly do the right thing.
IN THE END Hairless primates seem overly interested and concerned about the social construct of what constitutes a “man.” They will often times pass judgment on me because I don’t look, act, or sound the role to them. More feces flinging, so far as I am concerned.
I have found that I do not care one bit about their opinions. Besides, what they think of me is none of my business.
Those individuals who have judgments of this nature to place upon other individuals need to spend less time focusing on others, and more time working on improving themselves. Besides, pointing fingers is just a way of avoiding one’s own self.
So far as being an “adult” is concerned, I’ve heard people tell me that an adult wouldn’t invest any time in anything like musical instruments, playing drums or guitar, etc. This typically comes from people who have no musical abilities. I chalk up their judgment to a sense of harsh jealousy on their part.
I feel sorry for them. And, as usual, their opinion of me and what I do with my life and my time on this planet is NONE of my business. They’re wasting their time pointing at me.
Ironically, those people who tell me what I should do with my life and how I should live it, are the SAME people who would get very upset with anyone who said this to them.
IN THE END When I was a child, I had great reverence and confidence in adults. However, as an adult, I cannot say that I still possess this positive feeling. In fact, most adult humans seem pathetic to me, in a general sense.
This is NOT a passing of a judgment on a specific person. Rather, it’s my view of Humanity in general.
When I was a child, I had reverence and respect for adults. At the same time, I had a hatred for children my own age. How ironic that becoming an adult, for me, meant realizing that adults are just over-sized shit children.
Generally speaking, of course.
It’s no different from my declaration that I have friends who are compassionate and intelligent, while simultaneously acknowledging that humans in general are stupid and lacking in empathy.
A person can be smart and kind. People are stupid and terrifying.
That’s not exactly the best note on which to end, so I’ll end what I’m writing with a song. I saw Dr. Darrell T. Yoshihara perform this song on stage at The Hollywood Bowl with the band Hiroshima. One of his cousins is in the band, and DTY himself co-wrote this song [he is listed in the video description, as “Composer, Lyricist.”
My second year of college was in 1984/85. After becoming disillusioned with a Percussion Arts degree, I changed my focus to T-Comm. That is, Telecommunications, or radio and television.
I lost confidence in my Percussion Arts degree because my main professor, Richard Paul, who was my drum teacher since 8th grade, was not showing up to my marimba lessons. They were scheduled for Monday at 8:00am, and I couldn’t see him getting up that early to drive 80 miles to the campus.
There were others who let me down, so I decided to move on and acquire some skills and knowledge to apply elsewhere.
THE GROUP PROJECT During the Radio portion of the class, I worked alone. Long story short, my grades were very high. My final exam was to produce my own radio show, including commercials, announcements, and sound effects on carts.
Then I moved into the Television portion of the class. The final exam for this involved having a three-camera shoot with a producer and camera work.
Everyone was put into groups. As fate would have it, I was put into a group with some people who had decided that this major wasn’t for them, so they were not going to do the final.
Keep in mind that we had no cell phones, no internet, no email, and no answering machines. I had to try to physically find these people, since they were so uninterested that they didn’t even stick around after class to share information.
So I tried to tackle the entire project myself. I set up the three cameras, and was ON camera while operating a production switcher. Basically, I was doing an advanced YouTube video decades before YouTube existed.
THE HAMMER COMES DOWN I hand in my final to the professor. She looks at it and asks me, “Where is everyone else in the group?”
I told her that I tried to find them, and ended up having to do it myself because they didn’t care and were not interested.
She said it was a valiant effort, but it was a GROUP project for a reason.
She told me:
“I have some bad news, and some worse news. The bad news is that I have no choice but to fail you in the Television segment, since this is a group project. The worse news is that this poor grade invalidates your Radio grade. You’ll have to try again next year.”
There were a few other reasons why I left college, but this was most definitely top of the list.
I was angry that my fate relied on complete strangers.
This was a foreshadowing of what my life would become as a musician who either joins or forms bands, and served as a peek into the window of what it is like when your efforts and success rely on the behaviors, character, and talent of others.
WHIPLADS, FIRST ITERATION My band WHIPLADS was probably my most successful venture. We never gained any commercial success, but we had some solid music and played out quite often.
The first iteration was a four-piece, which I formed after I quit SECRET and took bassist Kevin Sherwood with me. Kevin would end up playing rhythm and lead guitar, and would ultimately become a full-time lead vocalist in the band’s second iteration.
But in the first iteration, we had other players. Alex Austin was a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter who had some amazing talents. The bassist was Alan Tait, who was a bit of a troll.
The band was starting to have some problems. Alex became comfortable with making fun of me for being overweight. He would draw stick figure cartoons that depicted me as a round character. The context of these offerings were all about mockery and disrespect.
Meanwhile, Alan was developing a really bad attitude. To be more accurate, he was just letting his bad attitude leak out.
In hindsight, I probably should have saved some time by either letting them go or disbanding completely. Instead, I let it all go and it lingered. As it turns out, I used to be VERY good at ignoring red flags and moving on as if things weren’t happening.
This kept on, until one night, things snapped.
FATE STEPS IN I’m not feeling too good about the band and the current state of affairs. We have a gig in North Hollywood at some dive bar. I got there early, as I always did, to get set up and staged for quick set-up. I had my drum tech, Junior, in tow.
I also had a flask full of Martin Sebor Absinthe, which I had planned on dipping into later, after the show. My personal philosophy was [and is] that chemical modification is for after-hours. I typically treated music like my job.
Tonight would be different.
Alan comes in, and the first thing he says is, “Fuck it. Let’s get drunk.” For some reason, I was on board with this. So I got a Heineken, drank half of it, and then re-filled the rest of the bottle with Absinthe, effectively making a type of boiler maker drink, I think.
I had two of these.
We were expecting no people to show up. By the time the booze started to kick in, I started witnessing a crowd. The sound man asked us to get on and do a sound check before our set started.
I sat down at the drums. I remember playing the drum beat for Sweet Emotion to give the sound man a sample, and then I put my head down on my snare and closed my eyes for a second.
WHEN I WOKE UP As fast as I put my head down, I raised my head. I was no longer sitting at my drums. Instead, I was sitting at a table. The club was completely empty, and chairs were on the table. My drums were gone! The band was gone!
I was alone in half-darkness.
I stood up carefully and made my way out of the club. My drum tech was sitting in the car with my drums.
“What happened?” I asked her. “We were supposed to play this gig.”
She replied, “You did play the gig, and I video taped the entire thing.”
I felt even more sick to my stomach. In my mind, I just knew that things went poorly and that I ruined my reputation. And there’s evidence of how bad it went, to boot! I was sure of it. We get home, unload, and go to bed.
I would have dreams about the gig, as if I were in the audience, but isolated behind a dark wall, peering through glass. Whenever I had to sing, a microphone melted through the glass and I would join in.
Then I woke up.
THE VIDEO TAPE The next morning, my attempt to wake up peacefully was shaken by the memory that there’s a video tape that I need to watch.
To make matters worse, Alex called me and said that he quit the band. Damn, this tape must be really bad!!!!
My stomach pulsed. I would have to face my fears and watch this train wreck. After hemming and hawing about it all, I decided that I deserved this special kind of punishment. I put the tape into the player and sat down.
There I was, on video. The sound man announces the band, and I enthusiastically count in the first song. The performance was actually good.
The rest of the tape was the same, with the band sounding better than ever before.
Why did Alex quit? What was the problem.
ALEX’S DEAL BREAKER The problem came near the end of the performance. We had played our regular set. Alan comes over to me and says, “Symptom of the Universe! Fuck it! Let’s do it!” I appear rather hyped about it and we start to play the song.
“Symptom of the Universe” is a song by Black Sabbath. At Alan’s request, we had started playing this cover as an encore. However, Alex had a big problem with this, for some reason. He just didn’t like the song.
We’re rocking it out, and Alex does not look very happy, at all. Before the guitar solo, typically taken by Alex, I see him lean over and whisper into Kevin’s ear. Kevin responds, shrugs, and we play on.
Kevin said that Alex told him, “take it,” as in play the solo. Kevin had replied, “I got nothing” and shrugged.
During a previous rehearsal, Alex had said that if we ever played that song again, that he would quit the band.
It’s not actually that impressive that I played the entire gig perfectly while passed out. It had become a routine for me that I could execute in my sleep. The problem was that I had to have been aware enough to make a conscious decision to VETO Alan and not play that song. But I was having a great time, it seemed, and so I rolled with it.
I was lost in the moment and allowed the cover to be played, instead of being firm and ending the show. Being wasted allowed this to happen, and I had no conscious memory of any of it.
After Alex quit, Alan tried to get fired from the band, because he couldn’t bring himself to quit like Alex did. He’d bring a bad attitude to rehearsal, and even a bass with technical issues. I wouldn’t fire him, for some reason. Eventually, he just stopped showing up and taking calls one day.
That was that.
MY ANALYSIS Both Alex and Alan had a great deal of contempt for me. They didn’t like me. As for my side of it, I didn’t think that us liking each other even mattered. What mattered was whether or not we could create together.
That was a wrong take.
Alex and Alan were both engaging in destructive behaviors. My attempts to ignore it all was unhealthy, and lead me to my own destructive behavior of getting wasted before a show.
Yes, I was destructive to this group project that was my own project.
Upon having this realization, I destroyed the tape, considered all of it to be a bullet dodged, and moved forward.
I had been drumming with Noodle Muffin for a spell, and asked the band’s bass player, Kevin Richardson, if he would join us. He did, and we ended up making some great music together for the second iteration of WHIPADS.
Ironically, I replaced Kevin on bass with Noodle Muffin, after he quit due to the band’s political music. I had also joined Kevin’s band, Falling Moon, in which we did some shows and recorded an album.
THE END OF WHIPLADS Sadly, the band came to a rather abrupt and ceremonious end in 2006. Kevin, the guitarist and singer, belonged to a cult. The cult leader warned him that Los Angeles would be devastated by the bird flu and that he should abandon the area and everything about it, immediately.
He had just finished a fantastic movie called GAMERS, where he was deeply involved with the writing, the music, and acting. I went to the premier and met some of the stars, including Kelly LeBrock, William Katt, and Beverly DeAngelo.
Everything seemed to be picking up, and then he left.
The other Kevin was upset, as was I.
He called us a few weeks later, apologizing for having to leave. He said that someone from HBO was interested in licensing some of our songs. Kevin Richardson’s response to this was, “Fuck you. I don’t want to hear any of my performances on HBO, or I’ll sue.” CLICK!
That was the end of the band. Or should I call it a group project?
ULTIMATE ANALYSIS Even though I was in charge of the project, it still failed, just like the group project in college.
Was I inept?
I did make some mistakes. Those include not dissolving the first iteration of the band sooner. I tolerated a great deal of emotional abuse from Alex and Alan.
Another mistake was keeping the band together after I learned that Kevin S. belonged to a cult. When someone belongs to a cult, the cult makes decisions and has authority that takes precedence above all other. The cult also takes priority over all others.
I thought that maybe I could work around that. The end result was a good band that died too soon for an absolutely stupid reason.
THE SOCIAL ELEMENT OF A BAND Music performance has always been a social catalyst for me. These social connections were tenuous, at best, and fell apart as easily as they formed.
I play drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and a variety of other instruments. I can do it all myself, and my home studio is set up for that.
But it can get boring. Creating music without a band, to me, seems to miss the point completely. It’s the case with modern “music,” and it’s the case with what I’m doing now.
It’s one thing to write and record a song. But playing in a band is a completely different kind of beast.
Yes, COVID-19 forces me to stay home and not join another band. If I survive this, I might want to form another. Should I be able to do this, it will be the FIRST band that I’ve had AFTER my High-Functioning Autism diagnosis.
Will this be a good thing? Time may tell, or we may never find out.
REUNIONS? Would I be up for a reunion? Not really. I did run into Alex a few years later at a liquor store in Hollywood, quite by accident, while attending a CD release party for The Prix.
Everything seemed like water under the bridge. But I suspect that the contempt he had for me would resurface in almost no time flat.
Kevin Sherwood recorded and released a solo album. I bought a copy, since he’d probably not send me one, and wrote to him saying how nice it was to hear some of the old tunes of his that he had submitted for WHIPLADS.
Kevin didn’t respond. However, I have been friends with his older brother, Ken. Ken was one of the few people I got to see in mid-2019 before I left California for Oregon. Ken put in the effort to be a friend whenever we talked. He was an honorary member of the band, and we dubbed him “The WHIP-DAD,” only because he’s a few years older than us.
I had contacted Alan sometime around 2012, because he had left a bass behind and I wanted to try to return it to him. He was playing with the band Vegas Preacher. He was vague and didn’t really want to talk. He said that he didn’t want the bass. It was a homemade kit thing. That was that.
As for Kevin R, on bass, he has been in his own world for quite some time. In his own world, he is the dictator. It’s a night-and-day, Jekyl and Hyde type of thing. Reuniting with him doesn’t sound like it would end well.
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN If I had that kind of a chance, then it may not have happened at all. I would have ousted Alex the first time he drew his insulting stick figure cartoon in the parking lot. Alan would have left right behind him. That would leave me and Kevin to try to figure it out. Maybe we’d find other people. But then I’d find out about his cult membership and depart myself.
And the black-out drunk gig situation never would have happened, which inspired me to drink only water before a show.
IN THE END Doing this any other way seems almost impossible. At the very least, I cannot see it happening any other way.
Then again, it is nearly impossible to envision an alternative life or alternative reality. I often wonder what kind of life I would have had, if only I had known earlier that I was Autistic. It feels like a life wasted sometimes, but that’s another topic for another time.
To the main point, the concept, implementation, and practice involved in the “group project” is something that may evade my understanding for the rest of my life.
It’s a truly rare event when I see a comment. Not too long ago, I got a comment on one of my videos.
“Sounds like you need some drum lessons. Hit me up if you’re in the area.”
This is the kind of comment that I can see being taken as an insult. To me, it’s something truly special.
THE TRACK The video he was using by which to judge all of my abilities, or his suggested lack thereof, was a track titled DrumWild XV.
This track, engineered and produced by Travis Dickerson, was on an album my old band, WHIPLADS, recorded titled Pollinator.
We were recording at Travis Dickerson’s studio, performing LIVE on the floor. We rehearsed 3 hours every Sunday, and then had at least two gigs per week. This meant that we were tight and ready.
The band had paid for a specific amount of studio time. We had recorded 14 tracks, and we had some time left.
This inspired me. I was thinking of Tarot cards, where the card numbered XV is for The Devil. So I asked Travis to record me, as I played a series of disjointed riffs and beats. They were incoherent and not fitting together with each other on purpose.
With the track recorded, Travis got it to slow down, like one might slow down a tape machine, but slowly.
The track starts out like it’s going to be some kind of drum solo, but it quickly melts into shit.
WHY? I did this because I am not a fan of drum solos. I will entertain something like Terry Bozzio and his Melodic Drumming and the Ostenato, but on a special occasion. Listening is fine, when I have the time. Spending time creating and perfecting them just gets me thinking that I can better spend my time as a man who wears multiple hats.
As a drummer / musician / songwriter / producer, I made it a point to avoid drum soloing once I got out of college. I believed, and still do, that my time would be better spent songwriting and collaborating, instead of spending all of my time by myself.
Learn to be a team player and practice on that.
And I’m not the only one who has these types of feelings about the drum solo. Check out Bermuda Schwartz with Weird Al Yankovic, Straight Outta Lynwood tour in 2007.
I don’t want to try to deliver the greatest drum solo in the world. Instead, I want to play on some awesome songs that I like. That’s way more valuable to me.
Basically, it’s a troll at the end of the CD. And I got a reaction out of it.
So it wasn’t really an insult, at all. It never hurt my feelings, as I take nothing personally. I’m not even certain that *I* exist, but that’s for an existential entry.
However, I went to HIS YouTube channel to see his drumming. He has no videos. His bio gives no mention to drumming at all. So he was probably trolling, too.
The master always drops the first troll.
EVEN THE VIRTUOSOS On YouTube, the great Steve Vai has a ton of videos. On one of his videos, he was showing people a pedal he had acquired and was playing something with it. He found an inspired melody in the things he was playing.
Someone left him a comment: “Oh boy! This guy is supposedly some kind of guitar god, and yet he can’t even come up with a guitar part of a melody without cheating and using a pedal.”
Some people just don’t get it. To be fair to my commenter, I was trolling, so he isn’t as bad as that Vai commenter.
IN THE END WHIPLADS ended up breaking up, I think in 2007 or 2008. It seems so long ago. I miss having that band. The four-piece band was okay, but the three-piece that followed was way superior.
So I’ll leave you with a video, which is a track from Pollinator titled “Pink Lemonade.” The video is images I snapped when all of those music master tapes burned up at Universal Studios, offering a view from various angles in Studio City, California.
Thank you for reading, listening, and watching! And remember to be cool to others online. [bonus photo below the video!]
I’m still getting followed by a great number of “make money” blogs. If anyone from those blogs actually reads this, my blog is NOT a business, I won’t be making any money off it, and I am NOT interested in your products.
Thank you. ++++
It is strange and unsettling to wake up and remember that the Federal Capitol building was attacked by an armed insurrection.
When I was a kid, I was told that I should be grateful that I live in America, a country where things like this “don’t happen,” according to the people who told me these things.
It was adults, exclusively, telling me this. They’d say that “only Third World countries suffer things like government overthrows.” They failed to mention that, in most cases, we are the ones who overthrow their governments.
I don’t like the phrase “Third World,” by the way. It feels very Cold War.
At the same time, I cannot in good conscience classify America as a Modern Industrialized Nation. We are at the bottom of many lists. Health care in America is for the wealthy, and is a privilege instead of a human right.
The “wealthiest country in the world” allows people to lose everything and become homeless if they commit the crime of being sick, getting fired, or making a mistake.
Safety nets are almost non-existent, when compared to Modern Industrialized Nations.
And our form of Capitalism is now “Late Stage Capitalism,” which involves a great deal of Socialism for those in charge, and harsh reality for those of us below.
A great example can be experienced if you go to gamble in Las Vegas. You can gamble on and on. But if you end up winning a big amount, the government takes a big chunk of it.
Now, if you’re gambling and run out of money, you cannot call the US Government and ask them to give you a bit more because we’re about to win it.
You take ALL of the risk, and only get SOME of the reward.
In Wall Street, when they take a big risk and win, they keep ALL of the profits. But when THEY lose, they get a bail-out from us.
That’s just one facet of our shit situation.
To be clear, I use my First Amendment right to free speech to criticize America, not because I hate the country. Rather, it’s because it’s my home, and because I want it to be made better.
There is nothing honest or productive about getting on one’s knees and bowing while giving 100% praise all the time. America has the capacity to rise to the challenge. We’re just not there, and at this point I’m not certain if we’ll survive to get the opportunity to improve.
Where we stand now, the likelihood of horrific events happening [on top of the ones already in progress] has increased dramatically. It generates a special kind of fear that sits in your stomach and feels like you haven’t eaten in days.
It’s truly terrifying and depressing.
ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE When the pandemic first started, some kids at the park decided to use sidewalk chalk to write inspirational messages on the pavement. Something tells me that these kids should spend less time in the park and more time in school.
Are you a real person who reads this? If so, then please consider leaving a comment. I’d much appreciate it.
This morning, I woke up thinking about Bill Spooner, The Tubes, and what might be the most harmonically sophisticated power ballad of the 80s, “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore.”
The lyrics in the verses are a bit hokey, but it is a power ballad. I’m typically not a fan, but I make an exception for Bill Spooner. His ability to craft a song like this is mostly unmatched.
Unless I’m mistaken, this some came out in April 1981, or somewhere near there. As the song approaches its 40th anniversary, it still holds up.
The song was never a hit. To me, this fact serves as Exhibit A in everything that is wrong with today’s music business. ++++
Tibo Bat is my Maine Coon. One of his favorite things to do is sit on a foot stool, like he’s waiting for his dinner or something. It’s kind of cute and strange.
Of course, I’m trying to distract myself from the world falling apart, since there’s not much I can do about it.
It’s a time to find an appreciation for those things that will soon be slipping between your fingers, never to be heard or seen again. ++++
As I watch self-declared “good Christians” — who like to declare that they’ve cornered the market on “family values” — destroy the country, it got me thinking about my own values and positions.
I have never believed in any gods, regardless of whether or not they are commercially available for purchase. However, I have believed in being kind to others, as an empathetic being.
A big part of my empathy, sympathy, and humanity is actually informed by my suspicions that there is no god or devil, no heaven or hell, no angels or demons, and that we are utterly alone in the cold, dark, uncaring universe.
An interesting feature that comes with my lack of belief is an acknowledgement that, so far as we know, what is happening on earth right now, or at any time in history, is all that we’ve got.
I see no evidence that the universe cares about us, or has any feelings whatsoever.
Instead of miracles, I see human persistence.
I have been told by Christians I’ve met that their belief in their god gives them comfort and strength. This makes sense, as the horrible negativity that I’ve experienced in the past from aggressive Christians is informed by this comfort and strength.
It breeds a sense of arrogance, not only in the idea that they have all of the answers to everything, but that they are the chosen people who get to enjoy a perceived connection with this being.
This leads to incredible ego spikes. I can only imagine the ego I’d have if I sincerely believed that an all-powerful god and a seemingly and equally all-powerful devil were engaged in an eternal battle over ownership of my soul.
This must drive the ego through the roof.
It also gets combined with what I call “otherism,” where they lift themselves above the others who are not like them.
The end result of this debacle is a group of ego-centric people who believe they are better than everyone else, who cannot wait to die so that they can go to heaven, where they are on their knees bowing to their leader forever.
In fact, many call this afterlife “paradise.”
It draws attention from RIGHT NOW.
It rapes a person of their humanity.
It encourages them to take NO RESPONSIBILITY for where we are right now.
It informed them that their god will swoop down at the last minute and save them. Screw everyone else.
The problem they have is that they don’t get anything in the way of actual interaction with their god, who more than likely does not exist. They will then choose a human being to fill that void.
In America, we all know who they chose.
My point in mentioning all of this is that I sincerely believe that if people did not have their belief in their gods, if they did not view themselves as better than others, if they did not fear the others, if they stopped engaging in judgement and the othering of people, if they were not so confident that an unverified paradise awaits them after they die, if they were not so confident that they are 100% correct about everything…
…then maybe — just maybe — they might be afraid and humble enough to be more caring and compassionate. They’d stop waving the flags and chanting the bumper sticker slogans. They’d stop the tribalism and realize that we are all on this massive ball of dirt, rock, and water, hurtling through space at incredible speed around a nuclear explosion.
Maybe they’d be the loving, caring people they claim to be now. This is why they must tell people that they’re loving and caring, because you cannot currently tell by their words, their actions, their policies, or who they support on the world stage.
Don’t tell me that you’re a good Christian or a good person. I’m not interested in hearing your masturbation, self-praise, and radioactive pat on the back.
Instead, show me. And don’t point it out. Just do it, be it, LIVE IT.
The reward that I see in living this way is immense.
It’s not without its risks. I’ve been taken for a ride more than a few times in life. These days I am way more prepared to catch these inconsistencies, which serves to protect me from harm.
Some people have even told me that I “act more Christian than Christians,” which effectively invalidates the label.
I’m not saying that I want to take your bibles away, or stop you from praying.
What I am saying is STOP!!! Go into a closet and pray, like you are instructed to do in Matthew 6:5-7. As you do this, THINK about who you are supporting, the policies you support, and what you are doing to other Americans, as well as other human beings.
Stop and give thought to messages you receive from preachers, politicians, and newscasters. Are they telling you to be afraid? Why should you be afraid when you have a god on your side? Are they telling you to deal with the “others” in the world?
Why are they feeding you this type of fear and hatred? This is a big question to ask yourself. And be honest. Lying to yourself is one of the biggest lies you can cut.
And, as a favor to me, please stop pointing at people like me, putting horrible acts in our laps, demonizing and condemning us.
American Christians had 56 years to show me the “love” they claim their god has, as well as compassion, and other attributes of humanity that they ascribe to this god, even though it doesn’t match up with how this god is portrayed in his own book.
Not one succeeded. They tried to sell me their philosophy with hatred, judgment, fear, and threats. They tried to sell it to me by socially ostracizing me for the first 21 years of my life.
I cannot buy into a philosophy when the book says one thing, the apologetics say another, and the people say yet another thing.
Beyond that, any philosophy that declares those who don’t believe it to be fools, while stating that it is blasphemous to even question any of it, is not worth my time. Strong philosophies have the ability to stand up to scrutiny. ++++
I’m glad to get that off my chest. Watching a full day of armed insurrection was a great deal to consume and digest.
So far as I know, we are utterly alone in the universe, and this right here — right now — is all that we’ve got. Please try putting down the weapons and angry words, and have some compassion for your fellow human being, before it’s too late.
Keeping a journal is one activity that I’ve used in an effort to maintain something resembling sanity.
The phrase “keeping a journal” isn’t completely correct. I have THREE journals.
Why? Because, as Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.”
This basically means that the medium determines the way in which a message is perceived. What I’m writing now, which you are reading, is one thing. However, if I wrote this out for myself and delivered it in video form, then people would perceive the message completely differently.
To make matters more interesting, the medium used would also impact how I would deliver what I am saying. I most definitely would not actually write this out and then read it into a camera. I’d jot down some points and just speak.
This leads to my journaling. Today, I’m going to show the three different mediums that I use for my journaling, and describe how they impact me as the content creator.
JOURNAL #1: PEN AND BOOK As I may have mentioned in a previous entry, I can type in excess of 100 words per minute. By comparison, handwriting is slow. It can make my hand hurt. Using ink, I must be more precise and avoid making scribbles or corrections.
At the same time, using a pen to write makes the words more personal for me.
Application:In this journal, I typically keep two entries per day. The first entry involves how I feel in the morning. No big details, and keep it to two sentences.
The second entry is how I feel in the evening.
With both entries, I include the date and the time of day.
Security Level: Medium-High. Anyone can open a book, although I give it a slightly higher security rating because one would have to access the book first.
JOURNAL #2: COMMODORE 64 AND “THE WRITE STUFF” Using a computer for a journal is nothing new, and [SPOILER] my third mode also involves a computer.
With the Commodore 64, there is much more of a process. Powering up the computer takes a whole 3 seconds. I load in the software and change the color of the screen frame to black.
Anyone who types on a modern-day computer keyboard is spoiled rotten! It is so easy to type on a modern keyboard. By comparison, the Commodore 64 keyboard feels more like a manual typewriter, in a way. The keys are bigger, and it takes significantly more pressure to produce a letter.
It also takes more effort and technique to avoid typos. On my modern keyboard, I can press the E key and then the S key, when typing out the word TEST. It will show up just fine. However, on the Commodore 64, I am finding that my fingers are bit lazy, and I’m pressing the S while the E is still depressed. This produces TET instead of TEST.
Application: This journal receives focus on one specific topic. I will skip writing in it if I have no specific topic of concern to address. Otherwise, I will write about that one topic and keep it to about two pages.
Security Level: Very high. Most people don’t even know how to load or launch programs on the Commodore 64 anymore. It’s not something that can be easily figured out, especially by anyone who has used nothing but modern-day computers. Adding to security is the fact that this computer is NOT on the internet or any other network.
JOURNAL #3: MS ACCESS ON WINDOWS 10 This is the BIG journal where everything can go. It’s a big more complicated with way more features. Because of this, I can make my entries significantly more robust and detailed.
As noted in the above image, the palate is full of opportunities to enter information. It also contains some default information.
At the top border, starting at the left, we have my DrumWild logo, a title, and a tag line. Next is a drop-down that says “Standard Journal.” I can select other types of entries, including “Creative” or “Mental Health.”
In the top center is a photo of my son with Tommy Chong, cuz reasons. There are button controls to add a new entry, delete the current entry, go to a previous entry, or the next entry.
The top right has a slogan of mine, “…and then I said ‘And then’.” That’s another story for another time.
Beneath this, above the big black text area are other things. I can add a title and select the date. I can also select a mood. I like how it defaults on “Hopeful,” which is completely by accident.
There is a MEDIA field, where I can add a YouTube link to a song that reflects how I feel. Any internet link can be put there. And “Today’s Image” is a place where I can put my own photograph, again to more accurate capture my current mood.
Adorning the big black MEDIA field in the center are images that serve to remind me to be careful in the world, because humans are dangerous.
It takes me a few minutes to set up the new entry. Once it’s there, I can go to town. There is no need to click SAVE, since everything is saved automatically.
Application: This journal has it all, and I can write in it all day long, on a comfortable modern-day keyboard, until I have said what I want or need to say. I can also make multiple entries that are more specific in focus.
Security Level: Very high. I can disconnect the computer from the internet while I’m writing. MS Access allows me to install a password on the journal, AND it also encrypts all data so that it cannot be opened in other programs.
IN THE END A journal is like a private therapist, in a way. Three journals may seem like overkill, but each journal serves multiple purposes for me, be they psychological, mechanical, or otherwise.
Keeping at least one journal can instill a sense of power and agency in one’s own life. In today’s world, that is worth its weight in gold.
Two topics I wanted to avoid writing about were politics and religion. And now, it seems my hand is forced to say something. I’ve been quiet for five years.
As a life-long Atheist / non-believer, many times I found myself confounded by those who are overly-religious, to the point that it rules every single aspect of their day. Even more curious are those who are willing to break the law, lose pieces of their lives or minds, or even die for charismatic leaders.
In reviewing how they got there, it might lend some clues into how to get them out. Fortunately, there are intelligent people online, including Theramin Trees. This video, which should start at around 29:51, explains this in elegant detail, while avoiding the big orange elephant in the room.
If it does not start at 29:51, please feel free to forward to that point, although the entire thing covers a variety of situations and relationships where people can fall prey to harmful people or ideas.