Hi, How Are You?

INTRODUCTION
When I wake up in the morning, sometimes I’ll read through articles on my phone, in the Google news aggregator.

Of course, there are stories from the day, as well as articles about mental health. There are even advice columns, such as the old-school Dear Abby, and the relatively new and similar Dear Annie.

In one of those advice columns, a 65-year-old man wrote in to lament how he has given up on humans. Once I read his letter, I determined that he may be Autistic, like me.

The biggest indicator of his potential Autism was his expressed unhappiness with being honest when people say, “Hi, how are you?”


ON BEING AUTISTIC AND LITERAL
Some Autistic adults do not understand colloquialisms. I’ll provide a few examples.

An Autistic man tells a co-worker that he just won a million dollars in the lottery. When the co-worker declares, “Get out of here!”, the Autistic adult takes it literally and walks out of the room.

Another example comes from my real-life experience with someone whose job it is to “help disabled adults.” I was displeased with how slow and lazy her progress was, because the longer the process took, the more I’d have to wait and suffer. So I let her know, “You’re dragging your feet, but I will be the one to pay for it.”

Her reply indicated that she took this literally. “Pay? Who is charging you money? You don’t pay us anything.”

A neurotypical person would take my statement as meaning that the person providing the “help” was being lazy, but that lazy person would not be suffering any consequences for their laziness, while the person in need of help WOULD be suffering… or “paying for it” with suffering.


HI, HOW ARE YOU?
When people asked me how I was doing, I was always tempted to tell them precisely how I was doing. Sometimes I would do it, and that wouldn’t end well. As a result, I also wondered why the hell people asked me how I was doing when they didn’t really care about the truth.

At 0:57 is an example of someone giving a literal response to a version of “Hi, how are you.” From the movie Breaking Away.

My disappointment in humans grew from that first time I got this question.

Before this, only people like my mother or grandmother would ask me how I was doing. When they asked, I would answer literally and tell them precisely how I was doing. Most of the time I wasn’t doing well, but I felt better being able to tell someone how I felt.

The man who wrote the advice column letter said that he had given up on people when he’d go home, people would ask him how he was doing, and they made it clear with body language [walking out of the room] that they did not care about the real answer.

To paraphrase his concern, “They ask me how I’m doing, but it’s unacceptable to reply with, ‘I’m lonely’.”

This is in line with my personal experience, in that generally speaking, giving an honest answer to this lame question is socially unacceptable.


WHY WE DO THIS
I had no idea why people talked like this until I ended up discussing it with a therapist just four years ago. Based on what I learned, I know how to accurately describe this.

But of course!

When someone asks how you are doing, it’s like getting online in the 1990s, when you had to use dial-up. Those noises the modem would make — skkkkksshhhhhhhhhhh pssssssssss dongy-dong ssssshhhhhhhhh — indicate that your computer and the server are “shaking hands.” In other words, they are connecting.

So when someone asks how I’m doing, it’s no different. It’s making sure that I’m listening and paying attention while our two brains shake hands.

I suppose the alternative would be to walk up to someone and just start talking to them without warning. That might be even worse.


MY OLD WORK-AROUND
Depending on the situation, I would sometimes give a long response to the question of how I was doing.

“If you really want to know, then we can talk about it later, but my official response is that I am fine.”

This would let people know that I was probably NOT doing fine, but that I was there and paying attention. In a way, I was also letting them know that I was also playing the same game as them. This was many years before my Level 1 Autism diagnosis.

In some ways, with certain situations, this would only serve to make things worse. Still, it was better than, “I know you don’t give a fuck, so I can’t figure out why you’re asking me this.”

Yes, I would sometimes say that. Yes, I knew it was confrontational, and to be fair I would get really pissed off by the question and the person asking it. And yes, I quickly lost patience and hope with humans.


HAVING SOME FUN WITH IT
At my grocery store, there is this one cashier and she is hilarious. The first time I really talked with her, she complained that her job would be awesome, were it not for the bosses and customers.

I’ve said this before, so we kind of hit it off.

Yesterday, I went to the store and got in her line. Instead of asking me how I was doing, she said, “Welcome back.”

My response was, “Yea, I’m back for more abuse. What you got for me?” Then I get to briefly hear about a swing hammock they have on the floor, how they’ve put FIVE “Do Not Sit” signs on it, and people still sit on it anyway.

My response to that was, “You just want to keep everyone out of your siesta chair.” We have a laugh. It’s a good experience.


WHY CAN’T I HAVE MORE INTERACTIONS LIKE THIS?
This is my latest question that I have for myself.

In order to figure this out, a few key differences must be identified. For starters, this cashier is not asking me how I am doing, and isn’t behaving in a way that is disingenuous. She’s not pretending to care how I am doing. Rather, she’s interested in interacting.

The way our interactions start function the same as the old computer handshake.

But I suspect a big difference in her interactions with me, when compared to others, is that she is being herself. She’s not this stuffy person who engages in formalities without a care about anything that is actually happening.

Finally, and I suspect there are more items than just this, something tells me that I have a tendency to mirror the emotions and attitude of the person with whom I am speaking.

If someone is asking me how I am doing, but they sincerely don’t care, then it shows. I can tell that they’d rather be anywhere else while they’re standing in front of me. They take the small talk seriously, which encourages me to do the same.

But with this cashier, there are seemingly no consequences in the interaction. She’s not taking any of the small talk seriously, as should be the case. I take it way too seriously, and I have learned that I am inspired by others to do so.

This is a major discovery. It means that I should never, ever take it seriously when someone asks me how I am doing in a way that feels flippant and uncaring.

I should have a “fuck it” attitude, but in a carefree way, and not an angry way.


OLD MAN ADVICE
What advice would I give this old man who has given up on Humanity?

First, I’d encourage him to get tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD]. Knowing that you have this going on, and understanding how it impacts your own feelings can be somewhat liberating.

Next, try to accept this question as a computer handshake and nothing more. It’s like the frustration that comes with waiting for your computer to boot up. Yes, we hate it. Yes, it’s annoying. But it seems to be an essential communication requirement, especially when dealing with neurotypicals, or “normies.”

Finally, figuring out who your real friends are can be a truly challenging task. Try identifying 3-5 close friends or family members. Let them know that you’d like to talk with them about something important. Make an appointment, because people sometimes get busy and don’t always have time to enter into a discussion.

Talk with them about the problem of feeling lonely, and ask them what they would do or recommend. A person who really cares about you would be willing to engage in this conversation.


IN THE END
I remember how much I hated this question; this boring thing I would often call “The Dance of the Morons.” I remember how ugly it felt whenever someone would ask me how I was doing, when I knew that they didn’t care how I was doing at all.

And maybe they shouldn’t care. After all, in most situations, these people were merely co-workers. Yes, I wanted to be friends with some of them, and that lead to disappointment.

Did I care about everyone around me? For the most part, yes I did. That is a huge burden that comes with a big energy cost. It is important to be civil and polite, but caring about co-workers, managers, and bosses is mostly a fool’s errand.

Hi, I’m a fool! 🙂

Learning about my Level 1 Autism was helpful, but so was learning about how the neurotypicals function. They will hint at things, engage in innuendo, or even go so far as to communicate between the lines.

No wonder there is so much misunderstanding in the world.

Meanwhile, we Autistic people are direct, saying precisely what we mean, without any hints or other vague utterances. Then, even though we have said precisely what we wanted to say, the neurotypicals will be quick to attempt to read between the lines, and end up misunderstanding us completely.

And yet WE are the ones who need therapy?


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A Friday Ramble

It is 29F [-1.6C] outside, the air conditioner is set to 73F [22.7C], and I still have to turn the fan on and off in order to regulate temperature. Welcome to Oregon.

Today is a kind of “blah” day. That’s the best way to describe it. No doubt, Major Depressive Disorder contributes to this.

Being clinically depressed, I get to hear lots of advice from people who believe that depression is “being bummed out” or “sad,” when the hard truth they can’t realize is that it’s neither of these things.

More than a few adults in my life attempted to “cure” my depression by labeling it as something insignificant. They said, “You need to snap out of your funk.” Ah, just snap? Why hasn’t even ONE therapist or psychiatrist ever thought of THIS?

It’s like a relatively more recent phone call I had, where the person asked me a question about my perception of pain, and I told them I couldn’t answer that particular question because I’m Autistic.

“Well, just stop being Autistic for a minute and tell me what you think.”

It’s not a choice. It’s not something that we decide to do. And this was a so-called “professional” who knows how to deal with these things.

It seems that just about everyone gets it wrong. Even Jordan B. Peterson, a former college professor who has a degree in psychology, once said, “The thing about depressed people is that they’re depressed about everything.”

This shows me that he’s never had a client with depression, or quite possibly has never treated anyone.

No, depressed people are not depressed about everything. They’re depressed about nothing. I would even suggest that depression is the absence of sadness.

Even the last neuropsychiatrist I saw, who tested me to double-check my Autism diagnosis, had problems. He asked what I liked to do in my spare time. I mentioned playing guitar and other musical instruments.

“Oh, that’s intersting, because Autistic people are put off by sound and are typically not musicians or creatives.”

I guess never heard of the famous Autistic thinker Temple Grandin, who devised a better way to herd cattle. He’s also never heard of Eddie Van Halen [music], or Dan Aykroyd [comedy, music], or Gary Numan [music], and so on.

Maybe his creativity is lacking in creativity.

Even professionals who have been tasked with helping me find gainful employee do not understand me, and the make their living working with people like me.

One of these people got TWO things wrong.

When we met in-person, I noted that I was having trouble making eye contact. His response to this was to NOT mention anything about it, until there was a video meeting that was 2-against-1, with him and his boss against me.

When he brought up my inability to maintain eye contact, I had to explain to him how Autistic people have difficulty with this. For me, if I try to make eye contact, then ALL of what I am doing is about nothing but eye contact. The eye contact then takes precedence over the conversation.

Here’s what it sounds like in my head, kind of like Peter Griff.

Ah, I’m making eye contact. Good. People like him need eye contact, for some reason. But have I made enough eye contact? Am I staring? Maybe I should look away. But if I look away now, then they might take that as a sign of weakness or disinterest. I still feel like I’m staring. And…. oh shit, I just missed every single thing that he said, so now I’m going to have to tell him that I was too busy focusing on eye contact, and that he’ll have to repeat. Then I’ll have to listen a second time without making eye contact. Damn, I’m annoying.

If you do not have conversations with yourself in your head like this, then consider yourself fortunate.

The SECOND thing that he got wrong was evident in his complaint to me during the call.

“You know, there’s something I don’t get about you. When we talk about drumming and music, you’re so excited and have a lot to say. But when we switch the topic over to looking for work, you don’t sound so enthusiastic, to the point that you don’t care.

This was when I had to explain to him that Autistic people can yammer on all day long, with great enthusiasm, about something they like.

While I do NEED to have a job, I’m not enthusiastic about it. I won’t pretend to be enthusiastic about it, because I’ll be called out for not being authentic, and that would be fair.

It was an hour-long call, and I spent the majority of it defending myself while explaining to them the challenges that Autism brings.

Yea, these are the professionals.

America isn’t prepared to help the Autistic or other disabled Americans. To be fair, America does not care about American citizens in general, so I shouldn’t feel so special about it.

As the days go by, I feel more and more sick about life in general. I saw my grandparents fall apart. Grandma had a stroke, outrageous bills showed up, grandpa paid until he could not. When the government threatened to take this World War II Veteran’s home, he shot himself in the head. Unfortunately, he lived for two years before he died, and cried during every single minute of it, as grandma spent TEN years rotting in a dungeon while being re-taught her alphabet.

Nobody wants that. But this is where we are headed.

I suppose the trick is to tap out at the right time. As someone who has been suicidal for his entire life, even I have trouble finding the right time.

I saw how America and American society shits all over older people in their final days. It’s as if to say, you had your time, now get the fuck out of the way because you’re a burden who reminds me of my own mortality.

There is no comforting retirement home with old television reruns and tapioca at 4:00pm, right before bed. That’s a fantasy that got sold to us. Just work hard, you might have the chance to die in relative comfort, without the terror of suffering to death on the streets, or being forced to try to take your own life.

American society is monstrous, uncaring, unfeeling, and highly stupid.

I know, if I don’t like it, then I should leave. The way America is set up, I can’t leave unless I’m wealthy. Hell, it cost me $15,000 to move from California to Oregon. Beyond that, other countries are not interested in Third World refugees moving there from America, unless we have a MAJOR college education and can prove on paper how we will make their society better in a financial sense.

I guess it’s all about money. And money is fake.

There was this stupid thought that just ran through my head, where I should challenge myself to turn all of this around into something that is more positive and hopeful. I tend to avoid hope, as hope often times make bad things worse.

Yes, I have been called “edgelord” in YouTube comments for declaring this. Most recently, it was on a video discussing The Gates of Hell, and a sign that says, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Now, I know that this means something like, “Do not enter, proceed with great caution.” But I took it literally for the sake of discussion.

After I got the response of “edgelord,” and after I let him know that one-word responses are not arguments and typically come from the gormless, I explained to him how hope makes things worse, noting that it was unfair of me to assume that everyone reading what I had written was actually capable of reading, comprehending, and deducing.

So, how does hope make things worse?

This was most recently illustrated to me in a modern B-movie horror flick called “Voodoo.” It’s a lovely story about a woman who broke up with her boyfriend after she found out that he was married to a voodoo priestess.

Of course, her husband escapes all punishment, as the focus of her ire is placed completely on her, even though she did the right thing the moment she found out he was a lying cheater.

Ultimately, the voodoo priestess has this young woman sent to Hell. It was very much like what you’d expect from a Halloween supply store. There was a doctor performing an abortion. She got to reunite with an uncle who touched her inappropriately. She even got raped by Satan himself, as you do.

But then, there was this moment of hope.

In this moment of hope, she found herself in a very white bedroom with a huge bed. Her deceased mother was sitting in the bed, talking with her. She cries and collapses into her mother’s arms, as her mother comforts her with words of hope, and the idea that she will be able to get out of there now, because it’s all over.

That’s when the lights turn red, and demons come out to rip her mother apart and take her to her next place of torture. SPOILER: She’s ultimate lead to the kitchen in the house where she was staying, and she sees her own body on the floor, as she’s being eaten by a woman who is either her cousin or best friend, or both. The friend looks like a demon herself.

The voodoo priestess can be heard offline, declaring, “You’re already dead! You’re already dead!”

This is why, in my mind at least, hope makes things worse. It’s because hope is a suggestion of positive resolution and it generates a great deal of expectation. The situation is made worse with expectations that are not met.

Get your hopes up, and then get them dashed on the rocks.

Well, that’s enough rambling, so I should end this on a high note. The ramble about hope is about as positive as things can get. Best of luck with your Friday and weekend.

Morons in Power

This Wednesday 4/11/22 will be the sixth anniversary of my being NOT gainfully employed. I’ve had a few crap jobs here and there, but nothing substantial.

One day, a good friend tried to help me by setting up an interview with his boss. I am grateful for his attempt, and he is probably reading this.

Thanks, TF!

I show up, and I am told that I need to take a timed intelligence test before I can be interviewed. I do the test, and submit it to the Admin for review. I passed the test, so she starts walking me to the boss’ office.

As I thought about it, I realized that I’d gotten the answer to the last question wrong, so I did the math in my head and told her the correct answer.

When I was introduced, the Admin said, “He got every question right, except for the last one, but corrected the math in his head on our way over here and verbally gave me the correct answer.”

Wow! What good luck! I figured that I got the majority of them right, but wow. No doubt, this will impress the boss!

Before I can even sit down in her office, I can’t help but notice all of the Donald Trump and MAGA merch in her office. She’s a drooling Trumper, all the way. And she talked like a gormless oligophrenic.

That’s a fancy way of saying, “dumber than a box of rocks.”

She starts off the interview with a compliment, saying, “I have never seen a resume like yours before. It’s so fascinating!”

Okay, fine. This compliment doesn’t hit like I expected, but I knew that it was coming from a moron who had no use for things like intelligence.

Then she follows up, “Your resume is so interesting that I asked you to come here to interview, even though I don’t have a position for you here.”

What? The? Effin? Eff??

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so good about passing this test. Not only that, but I was also wondering how SHE would have fared on this test. We will never know, when the stupid are in charge.

To my credit, I did a great job of hiding my contempt for her. Every single word out of her mouth was even more stupid than the words that came before.

I was very angry, because my time was wasted, I sat in traffic for a long time, used gas I couldn’t afford, paid for parking that I couldn’t afford, and put me through an intelligence test, all so that I could provide entertainment for a slobbering moron.

And, to be clear, this is not my friend’s fault! The blame is rightfully placed 100% upon her shoulders.

When I got home, my anger and disgust was almost calmed down, when I had the brilliant idea of searching around online. What I found was this:

Griggs v. Duke Power Company [case] – The Supreme Court decided in 1971 that requiring job applicants to take IQ tests (or any test that can’t be shown to measure skill related to the job) violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

That’s right, what she did was illegal. I took that test, when there wasn’t even a job available in the first place!!

It was also emotionally inhumane to lead me to believe that I had a shot at a job there.

I made myself feel better about it by recognizing that I dodged a bullet by not being hired by her. That’s hard to do when you really, truly need a job.

People like her are liars and wastes of space who have no problem with lying to your face. They lie freely, with the only concern being that they get something out of the lies. They will say anything.

And, sadly, our society rewards these people.

The Meritocracy is a lie.

The concept that “hard work pays off” is a lie.

If those things were true, then I’d not be in this position, and the people I know would all be doing way better than they currently are.

I surround myself with people whom I believe to be smarter than me. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t are. I do not compare myself to my friends, ever. I don’t try to assess their intelligence. I don’t give them a test to fill out before they can be my friends.

This is most definitely a good thing, as these friends are among those I credit for pulling me out of the biggest, muddiest mental and emotional trench of my lifetime. Because they are intelligent, they know how I work and have figured out how to talk with me in a way where it actually makes a difference.

Best of all, I can talk with them when I have encounters like this, and they help me put all of it into perspective.

For them, I am grateful.

Tales From the Sorority

INTRODUCTION
When I first got to college in the fall of 1983, it was initially a very foreign experience. I was far away from home for the first time, and learned about how not fitting in gets extended beyond schools hours, into a 24/7 experience. It would be another 34 years before I would get my diagnosis of Level 1 Autism.

Lots of people asked me if I was going to “pledge” into a fraternity. I had no plans on doing this, for a few reasons. Beyond not being able to afford such a luxury, I had a bad opinion of college Greek organizations.

Basically, so far as I am concerned, it’s a case of purchasing friends. You pay your dues, and suddenly you’re accepted.

I was SO against it that I did not even jump at the chance to join Sigma Pi, after they announced a new chapter, which meant NO pledging. Everyone who wanted in got in. Every guy in my dorm went for it, except for me.

They would later declare me an “honorary Sigma,” and my band would be hired to play at the frat house. But the whole thing just felt very weird to me. They were in their special club, I was NOT in a special club, and I felt no need to enter into any tribal contracts.

When it comes to social groups, I walk alone.


TROUBLE ALWAYS STARTS WITH A GIRL
I was having a tough time of it at first. There were so many people, so many things that needed to be done, so many decisions to be made. It all got really overwhelming.

So it makes sense when I went to marching band practice, and started to a girl there, who turned out to be the granddaughter of my sister’s sixth grade teacher. I never had that teacher in school, but all the same, I felt a connection with her.

BSU Marching Band practice on the field. Back when we both were better looking. Spoiler: I aged better 🙂

Renee and I were a couple for the better part of my first year of college. We ended up breaking up, after she realized that she was failing to get me to convert to Christianity, AND she was failing to control my life in general.

But before the big breakup, there was ONE funny story in all of it, and it requires just a little bit of a set-up.


SHE WAS VERY GREEK
Renee was different from me in many ways. She was a Christian, and I was not. She was a senior, and I was a freshman. The list goes on.

But one big difference was that she was in a sorority called Delta Gamma, or “DG” for short, and I had nothing but contempt and mockery for the entire thing.

The Delta Gamma sweater clashed heavily with my Iron Maiden concert t-shirt.

So when she asked me to be the DG Sorority Sweetheart, I’ll admit that I had my reservations. But the ladies all wanted me to be the male face of their sorority, so I decided to go for it. Besides, I had run out of quarters to spend in the Student Commons playing the Chain Reaction video game [inspired by the band Journey].

My “duties” were unclear, and I have no memory of doing anything particular for the sorority at all.

But there was this one event.


The Hondo D-1 Death Dagger.

THE DG DANCE
At some point, Renee and I got engaged. I bought her a ring with money that I got from selling my guitar. Yes, I learned the hard way that you NEVER sell a guitar for a girl, EVER. We ended up breaking up. After I found out that the pawn shop didn’t have my guitar anymore, I sold the ring and used the money to drink, drink, and drink some more.

But I digress.

Renee told me one night that the DGs were going to have a big event. It would be a dance at a hotel off-campus. I got my best possible clothes together, told my Iron Maiden t-shirt to not be lonely, and went to the dance.

Greek organizations have all kinds of weird rituals and other garbage that they do. I find most of it to be nothing short of pointless.

The first thing I noticed at this dance was the extreme energy of the girls in the sorority. It’s something that is impossible to describe, and it was about to get worse.

They have this ritual of sorts. To this day, I do not understand it at all.

The girls get in a circle and they have this lit candle. They pass it around. Some pretend that they’ll blow out the candle here and there.

The more revolutions the candle takes without being blown out, the more serious the announcement. The candle survives 4 rounds, so all of these girls are getting really giddy.

Then, Renee blows out the candle. The girls then started screeching out of control. This clip below gets close to representing just how horrible the sound was.

I relate with Peter in this situation. To see the horrifying video that inspired this parody, CLICK HERE.

Apparently, the number of times it went around meant that someone got “pinned.” This is typically when a boy in a frat and a girl in a sorority exchange pins. I did not have a pin, but I did buy her a ring, AND I was the Delta Gamma sweetheart. So I guess that counted.

The girls were screaming, and it didn’t stop, even after the music picked up and they started dancing.

I had to step out of the ballroom to get some air. It was just too much for my Autistic brain to handle, or really ANY regular human brain as well. Rumor has it that 15 dogs killed themselves to escape the pain.


THE BALLROOM BLITZ
When I got to the ballroom, I quickly realized that this was where all of the guys were hanging out. It made sense, because no person who values their own sanity would spend any amount of time in that room, with their screeching and jumping around. And they hadn’t even gotten drunk yet.

The other guys appeared bored and there wasn’t much to do but try to watch a football game on a television that had no sound, while listening to people milling about, and one hundred screaming girls in the ballroom.

The SECOND thing I noticed while at the dance was that this hotel was maybe two miles from my dad’s house. And I knew my dad was at work. So I asked a bunch of the guys if they’d be up for going to my dad’s place. We could watch the game [which I don’t care about, but it’s better than the screaming] at dad’s place, get away from the toxic environment, and drink some beers.

A bunch of us piled into a few cars. A few of the older guys picked up beers, and we went to my dad’s place.

It was standing room only. The fridge was full of beer. I knew he had the space, because the only thing in his refrigerator is colby cheese.


BUSTED!
We were at my dad’s house for maybe 90 minutes, when he came home from lunch. He sure wasn’t happy about finding a bunch of college guys drinking in his house. But we gave him a beer and told him we’d start going back to the hotel now.

We go back to the hotel, and as we get closer to the hotel ballroom, we can still hear the screaming. I don’t know how they kept up that kind of energy. So we walk into the ballroom, and it hits me.

They didn’t even know that we were gone.


IN THE END
Academically speaking, college was a waste of time and money for me. I didn’t really learn much that was new or useful. However, the value I got from college came from learning more about human social interactions. I still stink at it today, but it would have been way worse and more difficult had I skipped that experience.

I learned that college girls in large groups are annoying and insufferable.

I learned that when a girl fights to change you, it means that she does not love you as you are.

I learned that you must NEVER, ever sell a guitar to buy something for a girl.

There were many other lessons that I should have learned. I can only suspect that my Autism kept me from learning right away.

I SHOULD have learned that people will pretend to be your friend if they know or suspect that they can get something out of you.

I SHOULD have learned that when a woman is mean and cruel to you, it’s not because she likes you.

I SHOULD have learned to have NO sympathy for people who are aggressive and controlling.

I SHOULD have learned that familiarity and commonality DO NOT mean that a person is automatically capable of, and interested in, being your friend, or more.

Both of those lists go on, but those are the high points.

Do I regret not joining Sigma Pi when I had the chance? No, not at all. Based on my observations and suspicions, I would be treated the same by them today, had I joined. I’m an outcast, and always have been.

Do I regret getting with Renee and being a DG sweetheart? Sort of. I mean, my life would have been better and easier, had I not gotten wrapped up in her. I could have lived to the end of my life without having ever experienced a sorority dance party.

But I did learn some lessons along the way. My guess is that it’s probably better to learn some of those lessons in college, as opposed to learning them later in the real world at the office.

It’s hard enough to know if someone is truly my friend, or if they are lying in order to get something. But this situation is what I got for entering the world of purchased friends.

For me, it confirmed that not joining Sigma Pi was the right thing to do.


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Christian Doesn’t Understand Why Slavery is Immoral

INTRODUCTION
I just heard the most shocking thing, and decided it was important enough to share, as well as give my own commentary.

Mere moments ago, I finished watching a clip on YouTube from The Atheist Experience. This is a show that has been done out of Austin, Texas for over two decades. I’ve watched a good portion of what they’ve done over the years, but didn’t catch everything.

So imagine my surprise that I actually missed this one.


THE PREMISE
The caller’s premise is simple: He wants to know why slavery is immoral. The thing that the average listener might find most shocking is that the caller isn’t some redneck drooler who claims that the South “will rise again.” He doesn’t sound like a MAGA turd.

He sounds like an average person , except he does not know why slavery is immoral.


ATTEMPTS TO KNOCK SENSE
Matt kicks off the call by asking the caller if he’d be okay if Matt took him as a slave. He didn’t want to answer the question, when it’s a SIMPLE yes-or-no question, and the RIGHT answer is “YES!”

He wanted to take the focus off of humans, and onto animals. Matt tried to explain to him that owning humans IS the definition of slavery, and this concept is not extended to animals.

So the caller changes the focus to a horse, and how he can catch a horse, or purchase a horse. He gets into a condescending speech about how to purchase animals.

I won’t spoil any more of this, including the ending, so you watch and tell me your thoughts.


IN THE END
I have never been a religious person, and I was not raised on the bible. So how did I get my morality?

This is a complex answer that cannot be provided in full here. Besides, I’d rather leave that to an expert. But I came to basic conclusions when I was a child.

For example, if I kill my parents, then they won’t be around to take care of me, and I will probably die. Causing harm to others or their property also comes with a great deal of consequence, ranging from fines, to arrest, or even the death penalty for killing.

Understanding the basic rules of society helps.

Even though I am not an expert on the topic, my guess [based on life experience] is that a great deal of my morality comes from my ability to experience empathy.

So, as a kid, I see a basketball. Do I want to steal the basketball? I might feel inspired to do so, especially if it were a tempting, new pro model. Those are neat. But then, a question arrives in my head: How would YOU feel if someone stole YOUR basketball?

Yea, I’d not be too happy. I’d want the thief to pay for their crime.

So when it comes to the topic of slavery, and whether or not it’s immoral, all I have to do is ask myself, “Would I want to be owned as a slave?”

No. Of course not. NOBODY wants that.

And this Christian who called in didn’t possess even ONE OUNCE of sympathy, empathy or Humanity. He sounds like an unfeeling robot.

Now, I understand that taking this call and declaring that it’s the position of “all Christians” would be wrong. That said, it applies to enough of them to make it a fair call. Plus, the early American settlers use the Christian bible to justify slavery, and would even suggest that it’s the “destiny” of the “savage” to take a step up from the jungle and work on a plantation.

They treat it like a favor.

I was going to ask you to look at the number of people who liked a PragerU video, but they took it down. In that video, they talked about how biblical slavery was okay because it “wasn’t harsh slavery.”

Yes, for those who don’t know, the bible CONDONES SLAVE OWNERSHIP and even comes with rules on how to treat your slaves, as well as how to trick them into becoming your slave forever. It’s utter filth, and I can’t believe that self-declared “moral” people push this garbage on their children.

Anyway, I guess the bottom line, for those who STILL might not understand it, is that slavery is wrong.

Yes. It’s wrong to own another human being, or to even WANT to own another human being. Sadly, too many Christians disagree with me. And in our modern time, American Christianity is nothing more than a tribal label and an ideology that is NOT understood, yet is used as post-hoc justification for anything and everything that they want to do.

And if it turns out that any of this crosses a line for them later on, they can just get forgiven in 30 seconds and move on. Instant cleanliness.

I consider it to be disgusting filth.

EDIT: I just happened across yet another example of a Christian who is fine with slavery. This one pulls an attempted gotcha by talking about shopping in a moral way where slavery is involved. I attempted to do this, by shopping morally in all ways, and I will tell you that Capitalism is SO corrupt that it is impossible. I know that minerals mined by slave children are in my smartphone, and I am not happy about it. But I am forced by society to have the smartphone. Having this phone is a necessity, and I am not happy about it.


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April Fool’s Day is Mostly Dead

I don’t know if April Fool’s Day is exclusively an American thing. In the event that it might be, April Fool’s Day is where you can “fool” someone by telling them something that is not true. When they believe the ridiculous thing, you can declare, “April Fool’s!” and have a laugh about it.

To be clear, it’s a weak and VERY stupid holiday and/or tradition.

It started dying out when corporations would try to use it as a way of interacting with customers on social networking. We did it one year on MySpace, where people would write a post, and it would appear backwards.

While this is something that made April Fool’s Day even more ridiculous than it already had been, it is NOT the reason why it died.

We have video footage of the very moment that April Fool’s Day became null and void.

It was the day that Kellyanne Conway brought about the horrible idea of “alternative facts.” This is where a group of people will decide what reality might be, and then attempt to force it into actual being.

In the olden days of yore, we called this LYING.

But it was too late. The alternative facts kept flowing out of this “president” and everyone around him like water over Niagara Falls. It was and is a form of gaslighting, designed to get everyone to question their own ability to recognize and parse reality, to the point that they have no certainty about what is going on.

It causes particular confusion to those who have weak minds, and it drives them to unbridled violence that is not fueled by anything real or true. So when Republicans or Q [or both] suggest that Hillary Clinton and big-name celebrities are running a child s3x trafficking ring, where they drink baby blood to get adrenochrome, so they can stay young, and it’s all happening in the basement of Ping Pong Pizza, a building THAT HAS NO BASEMENT, weak-minded people will actually believe it.

One showed up with a semi-automatic weapon to “free the children,” who don’t exist.

Of course, present them with actual evidence of children being harmed, and they are non-plussed.

So if you are or were a fan of April Fool’s Day, then I apologize for breaking the news to you. If you care about the truth, then please understand that April Fool’s Day got destroyed and rendered impotent by the greatest fool to ever lead fools.

If you support or believe even ONE word that comes from the COVID hole of this perpetual liar, then YOU are the fool.

Change Is Not Always Good

When I worked at LinkedIn from 2015-2016, I has the pleasure of bearing witness to the idiocy of the young developers and workers. Maybe this is why they ended up purging everyone over 40 who wasn’t in management.

It was something of a concern to me that they would be so excited about a new buzzword in the office: disruption.

2016: Why would LinkedIn downsize everyone over the age of 40 who wasn’t in management? What could POSSIBLY inspire this?
I guess it will remain a mystery forever.

YAY! We’re disrupting the taxi industry with ride sharing!!

I could get into other things they said, but it all came down to the ultimate disruption, which is employment.

So what were they so excited about?


THE GIG ECONOMY
They were very excited about the “gig economy.” This is where you get a loose “job” as a contractor, where you get no benefits at all, and the company has NO responsibility to the long list of disposable players who get paid garbage for work.

Along these lines, they were excited about the idea that “you can earn as much as you want.” They never took into consideration that a person can work only so many hours per day.

The gig economy is comprised of a series of online services, such as food delivery, human livery service, and more. This ideology is supported and driven by another idea that is even larger: The Side-Hustle.


MY FAMILY’S SIDE-HUSTLE EXPERIENCE
I experienced this as a teenager growing up. We didn’t call it “side-hustle” back then. What we called it was “struggling to make ends meet.”

This was NOT something that was considered to be fun. It wasn’t an opportunity. It was a necessity to survive.

December 3, 1977: Mom got her practice in with our birthday cakes. This is one of the first that she made, which was for my 13th birthday. Of course, it resembles a drum.

My mother’s “side-hustle,” back in the late 70s and early 80s, was making custom birthday cakes and wedding cakes. I helped out frequently. You can’t imagine the stress and work that comes with delivering a 7-tier wedding cake in a Datsun B210.

It came with a cost. It cut into time that my mother could rest from her job. It also cut into the time that we could have been spending together.

We will NEVER get those years back. Was losing that time worth the money? Absolutely NOT. But the money was a necessity if we were to survive.

1978: Most cakes were made using purchased molds. The Mickey Mouse was very popular with people who wanted cakes for their kids.

She would make her own frosting. It was SO sweet that we kids got disgusted by it early on. This kept our fingers out of the frosting bowl. While the frosting was rather gross on its own, it was VERY good on a cake.

There were many other cakes, most of which I have no photographs.

Back then, people who had to do this to survive were NOT excited or pumped about it. They saw it as a necessity.

Today’s young adults view it as something “cool” that they “get to do.”


SHORT-SIGHTED WORKERS
These young people I worked with at LinkedIn were good at their jobs. But they weren’t very good at thinking things through.

On the day that an Uber-type of app was released, I remember the young people talking about how they were “disrupting the world of older people” and with a great deal of excitement and energy.

I gave them a warning.

“One day, when you get downsized from this job for no reason, you’ll find that the ONLY option you have is to be a freelance programmer. Every few days, you’ll have to find a new client. Every day, you’ll wonder if you can earn enough to get by. When Artificial Intelligence is used to code, and it “disrupts” your world, we’ll see how you fare. Disruption is NOT always positive.”

They laughed at me.

Today, a few of them ended up being let go, and are now complaining about how Uber isn’t paying them enough. They aren’t screaming about health insurance yet, but give it a few years, since they’re in their early to mid-30s by now.

But that’s where things are headed in America. Everyone will be a “contractor,” which means the companies will NOT have to provide benefits of any kind. Already, people cannot afford to go to the doctor. Before the pandemic, the average American COULD NOT afford a $400 emergency. It has gotten worse since then.

It seems the wealthy have found a way to screw us over, and the young people are VERY pumped up about it.

Based! Poggers! [soiface]

The young workers don’t get it. Earlier I called it “idiocy,” mainly because that is truly how it appears. But it’s not really because they’re stupid. It’s ignorance that is the byproduct of a lack of life experience.


IN THE END
When change is being implemented, it is important to ask WHY this change is necessary, and WHY this change is happening.

In the case of the “gig economy,” the change happened so that the wealthy could get even more wealthy, while the people who do the actual work end up making less, or even suffering for it.

This kind of change is NOT good, and I shouldn’t need to tell anyone that.


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Death of The Salesman

INTRODUCTION
This morning, I read a news story about how Starbucks has been implementing a contactless way to get your coffee, so that you never really have any meaningful interaction with the barista.

Today, I’d like to write about my experiences with sales people, and with being one of them, as an Autistic person. I’d also like to talk about how I feel about the idea that the salesman is going away.


MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF FEARING OTHERS
This one is so burned into my head that I will never forget it. I was maybe 5 years old and dad took us to the Burger Chef in Edgewood [Indiana].

We sat down to eat, and it wasn’t long before I was out of ketchup. I asked my dad to get me some more. He replies, “The counter is over there. Go ask them yourself.”

So I did. Sort of. I walked over and stood to the side, hoping that someone would notice me. After a few minutes of this stress, I went back to the table empty-handed.

I told dad that I changed my mind. I lied, sort of. I did want the ketchup, but I wasn’t willing to go through what it took to get it. I couldn’t do it.

Flash forward about 3 decades, and I’m with my five-year-old son at Del Taco. He says that he wants more ketchup, so I pull out the exact same line that my father used on me.

“The counter is over there. Go ask them yourself.”

He walks over, gets someone’s attention, gets his ketchup, and is back at the table within 20 seconds.

To say that I was amazed and impressed with his abilities and bravery would be an understatement.

As an adult, I can still go up and place an order. This has never been a problem. But I won’t go back to ask for napkins or ketchup. I still can’t.


MY FAILURES AT SALES
This section would be the size of a dictionary if I included every failure of sales that I’ve ever had. To be really clear, I’ve never had any true successes at sales, ever.

My biggest failures in sales involve selling myself. Be it as a musician, or as a worker, I just can’t bring myself to lick my own butt. That’s not a healthy way of saying it, but patting my own back just sounds so ugly and wrong.

I prefer that my abilities speak for themselves. Unfortunately, this is NOT how the world works, because The Meritocracy is a lie. But my failure at being able to sell myself is why I’m not either a known musician or a person who is successful at his job.

While there are so many examples, I want to get back to my first.

In 1986, when I worked at McDonald’s, I did enjoy being in the back cooking, even though the abuse we all had to endure from management made life sometimes unbearable.

The job would have been great, if they could find a way to get rid of the boss and customers. That was my thought, and it was the first sign that I had some problems dealing with people.

One day my boss tells me that I need to have “well-rounded experience” in working in the store. What that meant was that they were going to put me on…

…a cash register!

I almost quit right then and there. They showed me how the computerized cash register worked. If someone wanted a cheeseburger, then press the cheeseburger button once. But if they want no pickles, then you have to press another button — I think it was “grill” — and then push a specific button for pickles, then the grill button again, then back to another button.

I was following along with the instruction, all the while worrying that I’d not be able to remember it.

Finally, the moment of truth was at hand. I was given a cash register and had my first customer, an older man who was about 6′-5″ and in a hurry.

We ended up in a situation from hell. Below is a rough transcript, with his words in italics, and mine in standard.

Welcome to McDonald’s. What can I get for you today?

Yeah, I’ll have a cheeseburger and some fries and a large coke and a shake and…

While he’s rattling this off, I’m in a panic, running my finger across the board looking for the cheeseburger button. Not only am I NOT finding it, but I am forgetting the rest of his order.

He finishes his order and looks at me, still scanning for the button. He yells, “Really? REALLY?”

This does absolutely NOTHING to make any of this better. I’m looking around, desperately trying to find a manager, or ANYONE to step in and take over. When I can’t find anyone, I run screaming into the basement, to hide in the freezer.

I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and was very upset with myself. What was wrong with me?

It would take another 31 years for me to find out.


HOW SALES PEOPLE UNWITTINGLY HELPED ME
After I went through my horrible episodes with the cancer scammer and the studio scammer — two people who destroyed my life as I knew it, as well as who I was as a person inside — I was afraid of people. I was afraid to be outdoors.

I was afraid of everything.

My girlfriend at the time would encourage me to get out, by taking me to a guitar shop. Every weekend, we would get in the car and drive 5 miles or so to get to the shop.

I ended up befriending a salesman there named Rogerio. As I write this, I consider Rogerio to be one of my good friends. He encouraged me, even though it was difficult at times. I know how difficult I can be, and that knowledge does nothing to help me make things easier for others.

Over the course of two years, he sold me roughly two dozen guitars and maybe half a dozen basses.

With Rogerio [R] after buying this EBMM PDN Limited Edition JP6 Starry Night. It was not only my favorite guitar, but it’s the only one I didn’t want to buy at first.

And he’s an ethical salesman, too. I’d want to spend $3,000 on a new guitar, and he probably could have used the commission. But he would tell me that he was not going to sell the guitar to me, explaining how it would be a redundancy based on other guitars in my collection.

He had very intimate knowledge of my guitar collection, because he sold all of them to me. He’s that salesman who sold over two dozen guitars to a drummer.


BRANCHING OUT
Getting out and talking to Rogerio every weekend helped me to do other things, like going to the grocery store.

Most people take it for granted, that they can just walk in, get what they want, and walk out. For me, it was an exercise in coping with the terror that is… other people.

I would make it a point to talk to the cashier for a second or two.

In working through my discomfort, I’d later start going to Best Buy a few times per week to talk to the sales people.

At Best Buy, it seems that I always know more about what I am looking for than they do. I would go into the store when things were slow, so that I’d not be taking sales away from the people I’d be talking with.

I was going in with no intention of buying anything. This was all social practice for me. And it was safe, because they wouldn’t be following me outside or otherwise bugging me if I left.

So I’d go online and read up on digital cameras or something before going in. I’d find the section and wait for a salesperson to approach.

Very often, I’d find myself in a weird situation. When I wanted to buy something, I could never find help. And when I did NOT want to buy something, sales people would always congregate around me.

Since I wasn’t in need of anything, a salesperson would be with me immediately. They’d ask what I wanted to do with the equipment, if I had any current equipment or experience, and so on. We would talk about cameras for a half hour or so, and then I would leave.

And it would not be lost on me that even though I knew more about the products than the salespeople there, I would always fail miserably if I were to try to out-sell any of them.


A LITTLE EMPATHY GOES A LONG WAY
Because of my fear of being a salesperson, I go out of my way to make the experience a pleasant one. Knowing MY luck, I’d be the first man to experience The Reverse-Karen, where the salesperson goes nuts on the customer.

The mostly-American phenomenon of The Karen is something I’ve written about in the past. It’s basically grown adults acting like spoiled-rotten babies in public, without feeling any sense of personal embarrassment.

It’s why people are quitting service jobs and leaving customer service.

The phrase I imagine them experiencing in their heads, over and over, is, “I don’t get paid enough to deal with this bullshit.”

And I agree.


WHY I’M BUMMED TO SEE THAT JOB GO
With all of my negative sales experiences, you’d think that I would be the first champion of the idea that these positions should die out.

But I am not.

There were some days, before the pandemic, when I’d not be feeling all that perky or peppy. More often than not, this was my mood. So I’d go over to the little coffee shop in town and get a coffee. My brief and business-only interactions with the lady working there always helped to bump my mood up a few pegs, thereby making me a little bit more tolerable to the rest of Society.

The thought of ordering coffee through an app without any interaction sounds very cold.

It’s the idea of just getting what you want and avoiding the experience of getting what you want.

If my only option was to buy guitars online, then I’d probably have purchased only one. I’d have been unhappy with it, and wouldn’t know why, because I’d not have had that big experience with Rogerio. With all of the guitars I bought, I learned over time [the hard way] what I liked and did not like in guitar features.

Nobody thinks to ask about the fretboard radius. But I do now. That’s just one example of the many things I learned from Rogerio.

With a push-button purchasing experience, there is nothing learned. There is no Rogerio there to point out this or that, or to tell me why or why not a specific guitar would be good for ME, personally.

It’s just, here’s your guitar. Next!


A TRIP DOWN SALES MEMORY LANE
This story is from the summer of 1980. I’m 15 and I have my first “real paycheck” job, complete with taxes. I didn’t drive yet, and the job was about an hour away in Indianapolis, so I’d be ready to go by 7:00am and would ride to the job site with my mother.

Every day, I would wake up at 4:45am, clean up, get dressed, jump out my bedroom window, and run about a half mile across town to a little local coffee shop.

A girl I had a MAJOR crush on was working there early mornings. I’d get there when they opened at 5:00am and sit at the counter so this gorgeous specimen of a woman would serve me coffee at the counter. For the first 10-15 minutes, it was just the two of us.

The coffee was truckstop-grade fare. Anyone who thought that I was there for the coffee was missing the point.

The coffee was the excuse.

But she would interact with me as a customer. No doubt, she had to know why I was there. It gave me an excuse to talk with her.

This leads me to think about the sad emptiness that comes with the removal of the human interaction. Find your things, buy your things, get your things. Sometimes that’s okay, like when I got on Amazon months ago and bought heat sinks for my Commodore 64.

For me, that’s almost like buying paper clips. I have no personal attachment to paper clips.

But with things like a guitar, or other gear that is VERY personal to me, I want to have a conversation with someone who knows what they’re talking about, and get into things in a way where I may determine that I am on the right track, or maybe there’s something I hadn’t heard about that better fits what I want or need to get done.


IN THE END
I’m not a good salesman, at all. However, it seems that over the course of my life I have relied heavily on salespeople, if for nothing more than the social practice that comes with talking to them.

Going to a Starbucks to get a coffee from a barista who helps me out is helping me with more than just coffee. It also helps me get some early and non-threatening verbal practice, which primes me for the office.

Ordering Starbucks through an app, driving up, and getting the drink would get me the drink. But that’s not the only thing for which I am paying!

I want to close this out with a clip from the show Mad Men. I never watched the show myself, but I did watch the following scene based on a recommendation.

In this clip, the main character is pitching an ad campaign for a product. In other words, he is selling a way of selling a thing. So meta! But if you watch this and are then left with both eyes dry and your heart not in your throat, then I have a Starbucks app that might interest you.


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Rascal T. Brat, Snack Time and Cat Dementia

INTRODUCTION
Some of this stuff should probably go in a private journal. However, it’s things that are relevant to what I’ve written in the past. I might be more open than the average person, but I trust that my boundaries will keep me from oversharing.


RASCAL MIGHT HAVE DEMENTIA AND SNACK TIME ORIGINS
Rascal T. Brat is an orange tabby cat. He turned 15 years old just two days ago.

He’s officially “geriatric,” according to some cat experts.

There is one big reason why I suspect that he’s got dementia, and it revolves around snacktime. I think a history of snack time is in order for this one.

Our snacktime behaviors go all the way back to the year 2002, when we adopted a little kitten named LP, to be a buddy with our cat Kaese.

How snack time worked is that the cats would hear the computer connecting to the internet in the morning via dial-up. When they heard the dial-up sounds, they were conditioned to have a Pavlovian response to show up and beg for snacks.

Doing snacktime during this connection process ensured that I’d not be sitting there waiting, and would instead be spending that time caring for the cats.

June 6, 2017: The end of snack time with LP and Rascal.

When dial-up went away, I had to change this Pavlovian response. So I re-conditioned LP to associate snack time with showering. A problem arose with that approach six years ago when my work came to an end and I started showering every other day.

As a result, LP and Rascal ended up with TWO different drivers for snack time. So they’d beg for snacks exclusively in the morning when I first turned on the computer. Then, when Catherine would shower, they’d beg a second snack time.

No problem there.

LP passed away on President’s Day 2019. Less than one year after that, Rascal went deaf. I figured it out when I noticed that he wasn’t responding to noises. I made a really loud noise right next to him while he was asleep, and he did not respond.

This means that Rascal would need a different cue for snack time.

So in the morning, when I go to my office, I turn on the kitchen light nearby. This shines in his face and lets him know that I’m up. This would prompt him to come over for snack time.

Later, when Catherine would take a shower, that would be his second cue. He can sense it in the air when someone is showering.

Well, something truly major has happened over the past few days before his 15th birthday on 3/10/22. I would turn on that kitchen light, and he’d wake up, but he’d not come over for snacks.

Typically, in the past, the light being turned on would prompt him to get up. It wasn’t working anymore.

This morning, I turned on the light and he woke up. He looked right at me. I waved him over for snack time, but he did not respond. So I went to my desk, got the snacks, and took them over to him. I opened up the jar and held it under his nose, letting him know, without a doubt, that snack time was ON.

Tibo Bat, sleeping next to my desk, on top of the kitth condo.

He didn’t show up, so I had snack time only with Tibo Bat. After that was over, I stepped out and Rascal was still sitting there, wide awake, looking at me.

Just… nothing.

I am concerned now that he’s not going to be doing snack time anymore, and that it’s a sign of things declining.

In another concerning behavior, he has suddenly become very, very needy. As a result, I have to try to sleep at night on my back with a 16-pound cat laying on my chest. He gets his pets and feels safe. But he has never been like this until recently.

Now, he’s not protective at all, and instead is very needy.

On his 15th birthday: Rascal T. Brat wanted to lay next to me on the couch and hold hands. He has never done this before.

Back to the main topic: How could a cat completely miss out on snack time?

My only guess is that he’s got Cat Dementia.

I’ve already cited the reason why I think he’s got Cat Dementia. Now, to confuse things even more, here’s a reason why I think that is NOT the case.

When Rascal went deaf, I taught him to MEOW whenever I gave him a hand signal. I just raise my arm up and have my fingers crumpled up a bit, like I’m The Claw of Death. This prompts him to MEOW very loudly.

This video is from February 7, 2022. Again, he is deaf, so he can’t hear me talking. But he can see my hand signal.

I just went over and woke him up, and then gave him the hand signal. He responded appropriately.

While he seems to remember the hand signal, there is really NOTHING in it for him, when compared to snack time.

So the big mystery revolves around his sudden disinterest in snack time. I should note that he will eat a snack if I bring it to him. He is capable of running still, and he also still scratches viciously on the scratching post.

Getting old is a big mystery in and of itself. I hope the best for Rascal T. Brat. And I will always do what is right for him, even if it is difficult for me.


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Change Is Not Always For The Better

INTRODUCTION
“People grow. People change.” This was something that someone wrote to me on Facebook long ago, as if they were talking downward to a child.

Yes, I know that people change. The problem comes when I’ve not seen or talked with a person in 25-35 years, and there is NO WAY to tell how someone has changed on the inside just by looking at photos.

Sometimes you can tell by what they post. At least there’s a good warning and heads up that you should avoid this toxic monster.

When I think about change, I envision someone living their life, making mistakes, learning from them, and becoming a better person over time. This is how I live my life. If I didn’t, then I’d probably have ended up dead long ago.

Unfortunately, it seems that most people DO NOT live their lives in this way. This prompts me to think about their changes and why.

They do things like going along with the community in order to fit in, or going to church as they did when they were kids because they’re older, closer to death, and utter cowards.

Today, I am going to write about some of the observable ways in which people have changed, in a very general way. Obviously, I know people who did not adopt these changes, because they are intelligent beings. These changes typically hit those who are not so fortunate to be independent.

Additionally, I will note how I changed, or did not change.

Yes, I abhor the idea of doing something just to fit in.

Time to get to the list. LET’S GOOOOOOOO!


GETTING A RELIGIOUS IDENTITY
For the longest time, I took a live-and-let-live position with regard to religious belief. That is, I don’t really care what someone believes, so long as they are not hurting anybody.

Well, they’re causing harming to people. I now realize the errors of my ways.

The people I grew up with typically did not talk about church. At least, most of them did not. A few were well-known church goers. In the town where I grew up, the ONE Jewish family that was there owned the biggest Christian church in town. I suspect that they still do. Who’d throw away a major cash cow like that?

It’s one of the few legal scams that still exists.

In first grade, I caught a BUNCH of crap from my peers because I didn’t know what “god” was all about, or prayer, or anything else. That was their chance to win me over. Actually, it was their DUTY TO GOD as Christians, and there are more than a few bible verses indicating that they are tasked with spreading “the good word” and “saving” people [1 Peter 3:15].

I can now say with great confidence that 100% of the Christians I encountered in my life said and/or did NOTHING to “save” me. They were poor stewards of their faith, and are ugly human beings on the inside.

Before the end of grade school, most kids stopped talking about religion, save for the few who needed to cultivate and present an artificially pristine image. They were the most concerned with what other people thought about them.

By graduation, I didn’t ever hear ANYBODY talk about god, church, or anything else.

Flash forward 35+ years, and it is shocking and surprising just how many have turned into church people. They’re now fragile and can’t talk about things they used to talk about. They can’t engage people they way they once did.

It turns them into selfish, horrible cowards who are lacking in self-awareness. It prompts them to do horrible things without consideration of consequences.

They don’t care about other people. To be fair, I can’t be completely certain that they ever did care about other people in the first place. The brands of Christianity that are practiced today are selfish and misguided, and involve selfish attitudes, judgmental attitudes, fosters superiority complexes, and the bizarre desire for acquisition of wealth [which is against the bible’s teachings] in what is known as “prosperity gospels.”

How did I change? For my entire life, I have been a non-believer. What changed about me is that I am now free to talk about it. When I lived in my small Midwest town, and I’d talk about not believing, I would get a stern warning.

“You’d best keep that shit to yourself and keep your mouth SHUT, if you know what’s good for you.”

They’d do this so that they’d not have to listen to anything I’d say. But it was also done so that I’d be isolated and feel alone. I don’t know if there were any other non-believers in town. They were probably also told to shut up, and were then given the same vague, veiled threat.

There is no hatred quite like Christian love.

It makes sense when I’d get on Facebook and I’d be open about non-belief, that anyone and everyone would go on the attack. My very presence makes them feel as if their special religious beliefs are under attack.

This is the kind of change that is not positive or helpful. They’re judgmental, fearful, and use anger to be the bodyguard of their fear. They want NOTHING to burst their fantasy bubble.

They’ve effectively made their religious beliefs a major part of their identity. But that’s not the only thing.


MAKING POLITICS PART OF THEIR IDENTITY
When we were young, we didn’t really care all that much about politics. I knew when I was 16 that Ronald Reagan was an utter turd, but that’s as far as it went. I acknowledged this fact, and then moved on with my life.

Human identity is a difficult and tricky thing. When I was growing up, many men linked their identities to their jobs or careers. The lives of factory workers was all about being factory workers. My grandfather was a “Remy Rat.” Dad was a Guide Lamp, and I never heard a cool nickname for them.

Now if one of these factory workers lost his job, he then lost his identity. When they’d lose their identity, they’d end up taking their own lives. It’s ugly and tragic.

I’d observed this when I was in grade school. This solidified my decision to base my identity on things over which I have some control. So what I did was attach my identity to music, my musical abilities, and my playing of musical instruments. I would even go so far as to include listening to music.

Back in those days, politicians were viewed as slimy, dishonest LOSERS. Nobody wanted anything to do with them.

But now, I can go on Facebook and find no shortage of people I knew back then who are now totally and completely wrapped up in politics. The ones who are the worst worship ex-government employee Donald, wearing MAGA hats, flying obscene flags, and being completely narcissistic, monstrous assholes while telling everyone what good Christians they are.

They have to TELL us that they are “good Christians” and “patriots,” because NOBODY would ever guess it based on what they say and do.

They have their club memberships in Christianity and politics, to the point that the two are intertwined. They’ve cheapened their faith in exchange for personal comfort and perceived superiority.

As for me, I didn’t really get involved in politics until George W. Bush and 9/11. GWB always terrified me when he’d talk like an idiot while destroying things and spending his time as a war criminal. Then I voted against Republicans by voting for a Democrat named Obama. I complained about him quite a bit.

Then ex-government employee Donald showed up, and he has gassed up the biggest threat to the existence of America. I had no choice but to hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton. From there, I voted for Sleepy Biden, and I still feel as if I have never, ever been represented by anyone, at any point in my life.

While these are my political actions, I don’t have any political bumper stickers. I don’t wear clothing with political statements. And I recognize that the “lesser of two evils” is still “evil.” I don’t really buy into the concept of evil, so I’ll use that term to mean “really, really bad.”

I don’t ever attend political events or rallies.

Yes, I did some writing and lots of performing on TWO political anti-GW Bush albums with Noodle Muffin. I was there because I loved the band and enjoyed making music, no matter what it was about. But I didn’t make those albums part of who I was, and I knew that these two albums, while some of the songs are fantastic, would not age well.

NOBODY is sitting around listening to a song about George W. Bush’s two drunken daughters, or really anything else about politics of that time. Nobody.

Yes, I’m proud of my work on this album. No, I don’t expect you to listen to it. But it WAS kinda funny at one time.

I’m not dim enough to want to make Joe Biden or ANY other politician a major piece of my personal identity. And since I’m not religious, I don’t bake any superstitious beliefs into my identity, either.

My ultimate political belief can be summed up by a quote from Doug Stanhope:

“What if I don’t WANT a leader? Where does THAT vote go?”

Too many people my age have decided to make politics a major part of their identities because they are lacking in creativity. They have no real lives, and don’t know what to do with themselves.

How did I change?

The only change is that I vote for the lesser of two evils. I spend five whole minutes doing that. And then, when I am done voting, I move on with my life. Because I have more important shit to do than to fellate someone who is inevitably going to LIE to me about something, or not do what they promised, or otherwise be some kind of hot, runny, compromised turd.

So if ex-government employee Donald is a big part of your personal identity, then you’ve failed and it’s time to engage in some honest personal introspection.

It’s not too late to build a new identity that isn’t based around idiocy.


THEY ARE GRUMPY AND BORING
At the very least, they are boring. The way you can find this out on Facebook is simply by writing to them, or maybe commenting on something they post.

They have NOTHING interesting to say. They are incapable of holding a conversation. They’d rather click “like” and post a wacky smiley face emoticon than say anything, because they have nothing to say.

I suppose, in this regard there isn’t much change. Most of them had nothing to say in school anyway. But life experience gives us things to talk about. I went out, chased my dreams, and have an incredible collection of stories to share with anyone who wants to hear.

Meanwhile, they graduated high school, MAYBE went to college, then went to work in the town where they lived. They married the girl who sat behind them in school. They had kids and then started going to church. Then they got majorly political.

They became utter turds.

But some of them have even gone so far as to become grumpy and ugly. As an example, I wrote to a former “friend” from high school. I looked up to him a great deal. When he got held back to do 7th grade a second time, I was excited about it because that meant we were in the same class. I’d go to his house on lunch break and play his drums. He’d teach me stuff. I ended up buying his used drum set, his used bike, and other hand-me-downs, with the alternative being having NOTHING.

I was VERY grateful for this friend and the things that he did for me and gave me. So I wrote him a note.

He wrote back, “Yea, but you did it yourself.” I told him that I’d not have had the opportunity to DO without his help. He, again, gave me that response. He wanted NOTHING to do with me or any aspect of my life. He didn’t want to admit that we were ever friends.

So I went to his profile and, yep. He became an angry, aggressive, outrageous supporter of ex-government employee Donald. He got infected and turned into a zombie.

I realized it was too late for him, so I mourned his death and moved on.


WAYS IN WHICH THEY DID NOT CHANGE
This list might be bigger, although it’s concerning when it mixes with the ways they did change.

Too many stayed where they were. They did not go anywhere. They did not create anything. They just “lived” their lives like productivity robots made of meat. As a result, they have nothing to say. I wrote this in the second paragraph of the previous section, and I’m writing it again in the second paragraph of this section.

It’s worth saying again: They’re so fucking boring. And they know it. They talk about work or church, and not much else. They will brag about any good news they have, and follow it up with noting how “blessed” they are. This is their way of saying, “My life is going well because I’m a Christian.”

Of course, that’s not true. It’s a lie. No god or baby Jeebus had ANYTHING to do with your grandson’s T-league winning. Nothing. And the narcissism it takes to tell the world that YOUR son won a game because GOD was on his side is unfathomable to me.

It’s a supernatural humble-brag.

How did I not change? I’m still that Autistic music drummer kid that I always was. I just got older, fatter, uglier, and improved my talents. Most of those changes happen to everyone. Otherwise, in many regards, I am still that 16-year-old who just got his driver’s license.


IN THE END
It must be said that I acknowledge the fact that most of these people from high school and college were NOT my friends in the first place. I think some of them wanted to have me on their list to fill some kind of collection. Others need someone to help them feel superior by comparison.

The latter may be more common than the former.

Maybe they wanted to “give me a chance,” as some might say. Maybe their hope is that I got some boring job in town, lived some boring life, and became religious.

Certainly, they are disappointed to find out that this is not the case. Then they get to feel the regret of giving me a chance in the first place. That’s fine. No one likes to hang with everyone else. People have their preferences.

That’s all cool.

I just don’t need the headache.

While I’m here, I may as well throw in a Facebook update, since I started a new account yesterday.

I added TWO friends. One is a more current friend who was also my guitar salesman. The other is a musician who grew up in the same small town, and we graduated together.

That’s it.

I added a profile photo and a profile banner, and posted something in my bio about how people who send me a friend request must also send a message.

Today, I’ll be creating a public post letting people know that I am back, and how they can get in touch.

Again, the reason why I’m not running around adding people is because most people will blindly accept friend requests because they care about how many “friend” they have, and nothing more. They’re “friend collectors.”

I have no interest in that. I’d much rather have ~10 or so friends who are real friends, than a seas of garbage.

To wrap this up, change is not always a good thing. Sometimes it can come with some major consequences. Many of the people I had previously encountered on Facebook had changed in negative ways, to the point that I could only surmise that they are incapable of making friends, which might be why they surround themselves with people who live in town and go to the same church.

Good for them.

I have greater aspirations. I will never go to church, and I most definitely do NOT want to keep things local. I suspect that I am ready to get out there.

Wish me luck.


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