Life Notes
These are my thoughts, from time to time, as I scribble them down.

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A Different World

This is where I grew up - in a different world. It was the 1960s, and a rural area between small towns. Everyone had from 5 to 20 acres, and there was a half mile stretch of woods on both sides of the road that must have totaled 200 acres. We rode bicycles on country roads, and were transported to school on busses. 

Kids played outside all over the area with little to no supervision. My best friend and I would ride our bicycles four miles each way into the nearest small town with a bookstore. Nobody worried about traffic, or nefarious adults. 

We also road our bikes in the woods, and on jumps we made, and pushed the safety envelope in many ways. Of course, no helmets or pads. We did what became BMX off road biking before it was thing. We also would wet down my sloping back yard and slam on the coaster brakes to intentionally crash and slide while avoiding hitting the concrete porch on the back of the house. My friend delivered newspapers by bicycle, which took a good three miles to make up enough customers for a route. I was his backup.

There were all sorts of niches to play in around the woods, including a pond with a sketchy raft made of boards mailed across a piece of hollow log. There was an another spot with a creek to play explorer, and a neighbor kid had a pile of dead logs and roots we used to play army tank. 

We had a full size barn on our property, which provided all sorts of play opportunities. One of these was jumping off the hay loft into loose new hay below. My Dad endorsed this practice. I still have two chipped lower teeth from putting my knee into my mouth. My mother was not amused. 

We had horses, ponies (Shetland and Welsh), and a donkey. The ponies were used in harness with a cart, wagon, and chariot. One time a neighbor kid tried to climb on while I was driving the pony cart, slipped and got his foot caught under the wheel sliding on the pavement. The pony panicked. It severed an artery and blood flew high. The kid was OK, but messed up for a while. Another time, the pony was on an uncontrolled run for the barn and, as we turned into the driveway, the cart turned over spilling me out and trapping the pony upside down. My mother was more worried about the pony as the intestines can get kinked and kill a horse/pony. 

We also ended up with Honda trail bikes to flog about like our bicycles, as well as a flimsy gas powered go-kart. My friend was riding the go-kart and the throttle jammed with him going head on into a barbed wire fence. Come to think of it, he also was hurt twice on bicycles. Once his back slid down a barbed wire fence, and once he slid on his knees on the pavement. 

No matter how many injuries we all incurred, childhood remained free for us. Life wasn't considered unsafe, and we remained at liberty to experiment and play hard. That area I grew up in is now all one subdivision after another after another, with tiny lots and plenty of traffic. I live in the "big city". It is a different world. 

IndieWeb Interpersonal Reactions

I want to think out loud here about some interactions I've read this week that involve strong reactions to the comments and actions of others. True dialogue in a written medium of relatively short, or truly damn short, written comments is extremely hard. It seems so easy to overreact to comments or to take actions that are, in turn, subject to overreactions by others. 

What is sometimes missing is the act of taking the time to ask another person questions, before we make assumptions. What were you really saying here? How did you intend this comment? Do you realize what this suggests, and how it sounds? Is that your belief, or this is actually a brain fart you didn't catch before publishing it to the world? 

A whole kerfuffle I've observed this week seems to have missed a couple of opportunities for dialogue before making assumptions or taking actions. It was entirely understandable in each case based on assigning the meaning of previous experiences to the current instance. But, is that always true? We are all unique individuals, and can be sloppy in our posts. I don't know the answers here, but I think hurtful and harmful things get said with too little understanding. By the same token, support can be expressed that is perhaps not  warranted. 

It takes patience and some true dialogue to act and react responsibly and to avoid false assumptions or cancellations. This is say it is appropriate to call someone on a statement, but to listen first before acting, calling people names, or denigrating their reputation without a full understanding of the situation and the person. Maybe this is too much to ask on the web, I don't know. 

My tl:dr is : Be patient, ask questions, and act on more complete information. I am guilty of all of the above - taking quick action, making assumptions and not asking questions I should have asked. I hope to be better. 

Minimalism

Minimalism is about more than counting things, or not buying things. At its best, it can help you identify what is really important to you and to gain focus. I’ve seen multiple stories of re-discovering interests when the “extra” is peeled away. For me, that is probably photography - which is not, in itself, all that minimal (can be, but…..). I think it also can enrich what you spend time on, and move attention to the process of using your chosen things over searching for more things. For example, feel more centered and content with using my selected fountain pens. 

It is also interesting in how it may interact with how your brain works. My wife is an artist who enjoys visual stimulation and uses it in making art. I get overwhelmed easily by too much visual stimulation (she can too, to be fair), and having cleaner and simpler surroundings is important to my mental health. As I’ve look at people ‘s desk pictures online, some have enough stuff I’d get anxious. It’s fine for those for whom it works, but I need a clean desk. I’ve been gradually removing things to find a sweet spot.  

An important alternate word is simplicity. It perhaps has a more neutral feel than minimal. Simple is elegant and efficient. What is needed. Maybe it sounds less judgmental? 

Interests and Cars

I have been journaling about my interests to see if I can unearth something I am NOT doing that may generate more fun in life. My biggest enduring interest is reading, from early in life to this day. I've been dabbling in learning guitar and Spanish, but they don't really spark. What I am aware of is that my other most enduring interests are cars and motorcycles. 

This has been a source of inner conflict for a long time, as I have been aware of the environment since the first Earth Day in 1970, and of climate change for a long time. I have tried to stop paying any attention to cars and motorcycles, but I find I still read about them. Carving corners and shifting gears is fun.

I was raised in a car family, with an uncle who sold cars, an uncle who repaired cars and a Dad that liked to change up his vehicles on a regular basis. I regularly read Motor Trend, Car and Driver, Rod and Custom, and the car reviews in Mechanix Illustrated. I read nonfiction books on car history, and fiction books about teenagers and young adults with cars. We lived in a rural area, and cars and pickup trucks were a necessity. I also watched any kind of racing I could find on TV, mostly ABC's Wide World of Sports, and listened to the Indy 500 on the radio before it was televised live. 

My childhood and youth was also more generally about things on wheels. I lived on my bicycle, had little Honda trail bikes, a go cart, and drove tractors. We had horses in harness with carts, wagons and even a chariot. I wanted nothing more than my driver's license, and bought a car before I had a learner's permit (and may or may not have driven it a little on the road). I got my license right on time and drove the 9 blocks to high school, as well as for hours after school. It was standard in our town to cruise the central street on Friday and Saturday nights. 

I worked in high school mostly for car money, including gas, oil and tires. One car wouldn't do, as I had 3 at a time in high school, and a total of 6 different ones by graduation. In college, I had a car, classic pickup truck and a motorcycle. In adulthood, I became more reasonable. I tended to buy for cash, not spend too much, and keep cars for 8 years. 

I've also tried to move away from cars as an interest. Environmentalism and awareness of planetary issues, as well as my general nature, have truly constrained my purchase and use of cars. I have averaged very low miles over the years. But, I read about cars and motorcycles and follow racing and there is a real attraction. 

The interest remains and, if the conflicted feelings were removed, it would be fun. I recently went out and thrashed my car on a back road which brought me true joy, however briefly. 

Consumerist Nausea

I'm feeling it today. The nausea that comes with observing rampant consumerism. Even worse, feeling it all too present in myself. I saw an Atlantic article this morning titled "Will Americans Ever Get Sick of Cheap Stuff? It discussed the online Chinese sellers who are undercutting Amazon and others with direct from China shipping. Separately, Cory Doctorow wrote today about how Google search was intentionally made less effective in order to require more searches that would deliver more advertising. 

At our house we are, generally speaking, minimalists. We are not big shoppers, and we've tried to move away from using Amazon. This month, I caved to a 30-day free Prime offer to get a few things. Some were "needs", but I we kind of rationalized them all as needs and as replacements for other things. This is the way of our capitalist society. 

Worse, is when I find myself looking online at new cars or new cameras or new watches. None of these are needs. They are wants and desires. But, I want to resist. The planet is burning and the never ending buying of cheap shit has to end. I am not optimistic. 


My Best Advice

Some of these I adopted early on, while others were learned over 60+ years.

  • Protect your integrity and exercise honesty
  • Save money for retirement and live below your means
  • Buy less stuff and live lightly on the Earth 
  • Listen more than you talk
  • People tell you who they are; believe them
  • You can only change yourself
  • Examine your thoughts and critically question yourself
  • Be curious
  • Feel free to begin and end hobbies or interests
  • Love yourself and others

Silent Reading Party

We went to a Silent Reading Party at a historic hotel in Seattle. Admission is paid and there is a brunch menu, full bar, and live piano music. Everyone brings books and reads for two hours. We scored a love seat rather than a table. It was an incredibly nice indulgence.

She seemed to find her life fascinating. She sat in the waiting room, calling and telling whoever would listen the same few details of her mundane day. Over and over, again. Sometimes, I wish cell phones still charged by the minute. 

A New Calmer Tech Space

I have concluded one of those antsy phases of trying things, and changing things. I obtained my first ever domain, and played with all the settings. I tried three blog options - Scribbles, Micro.blog and Weblog.lol. 

Scribbles is now the only blog for me. Along with dropping Micro.blog, I dropped Drafts as I don’t need to send words that many places. 

I am using Day One for certain kinds of notes, and Simplenote for plain text, with Notes.app for some reference notes and things not in plain text. It all makes sense and it is working. I need not explore anything further for now. 

The mere perception of theoretical accuracy means I can never sell this watch. The needle tip hands and minute track are just cool. 📷

I'm feeling very grateful this morning for a cozy house, and a cozy room of my own. I've toyed with calling my room a "den" or a "study", but last night I was watching a British show where offices were referred to as "my room" and I like it. It connects with childhood.