Tag: happy

What Did You Learn?

As we wrap up Pandemia year two, you have to ask yourself one question. What did you learn? Well, what is it punk? Sorry, couldn’t resist. On the last day of the year, I’m sitting here drinking my coffee and scrolling through the bottomless pit that is Twitter. And what’s the number one trending hashtag on Twitter at the moment? #AOCLovesDeSantis Why? Because our pal, the mask wearing – vaccine mandate loving – Ron DeSantis hating – Ted Cruz travel critic – and fun loving socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was caught in Miami sipping cocktails in the sun while NYC suffers a massive Covid outbreak, and she was, GASP, completely maskless! And that hypocrisy is the perfect summation of the year.

If you haven’t learned the lesson yet, then you either haven’t been paying attention or have your head so far up the establishment’s butt it may be too late to unplug you. The lesson? It’s time to come worship at the Church of Contrarianism. Timothy Leary had it right in the 60’s when he popularized the slogan “Question Authority”. You need to be a contrarian. YOU NEED TO QUESTION EVERYTHING. Why? The “experts” are very often wrong. Politicians are wrong AND they lie. The establishment and deep state only care about maintaining the status quo and will go through extraordinary lengths to keep it. The media is ungodly corrupt and is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the state. The Fed, financial institutions, and the markets could care less about the (your) future – only about continually propping up the system to enrich themselves and the rest of the establishment today.

I don’t mean this to sound like a dark, dystopian vision and to imply that we’re all doomed. We might be – but the good news is that this is not new. Politics has always been corrupt. As our friend Mark Twain said way back in the late 1800’s, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason”. The robber barons of the same time period manipulated, stole, lied and bribed their way to vast fortunes. They were the Amazons, Alphabet, and Metaverse of today. Pulitzer and Hearst were the vanguard of yellow journalism, collectively shaping the countries opinions (and politicians) to their worldview. There is nothing unique about today.

It’s a clear cycle. Are we simply in the sixth version of the Matrix? (vague geeky reference, sorry) You’re not going to fix it. All you can do is ensure you’ve unplugged yourself from the source. Be a Contrarian. Question what you see. Become ungovernable. Do what you can to hold politicians accountable. Question the conventional wisdom.

Don’t forget, the “experts” filled in skateparks at the beach so kids couldn’t go outside, skate and catch the ‘rona. Surfers were arrested on the beach for surfing… alone. The Michigan governor said you could go to Home Depot, but couldn’t buy paint or garden supplies. The covid virus requires you to wear a mask walking into a restaurant, but you’re safe as soon as you sit down. We need a vaccine mandate because it will prevent you from transmitting the virus to others. Jessie Smollet and Bubba Wallace were victims of hate crimes. The Covington kid and Kyle Rittenhouse are white supremacists. The Fed said the current inflation is transitory and the White House Chief of Staff thinks that economically ’21 “wasn’t all that bad”. The savior of the right, Trump, raised half a billion dollars to “stop the steal”, yet spent only $9 million on lawyers. The Trump machine are grifters just like the rest of the politicians. There literally is no difference between the democratic party and the republican party. The current debt is $30 Trillion. We grew that equally under both parties. The Russian dossier, the “very fine people” hoax, Hunter’s laptop, the Epstein/Maxwell coverups, and the pièce de résistance… the Jan 6 INSURRECTION.

Whew! That was a weird stream of consciousness outpouring, off the top of my head. The point is that what you first read, hear, or watch is rarely the “actual” truth. It takes time and multiple observers to sort through opinion, innuendo, political narratives, and outright lies to uncover the tiny kernel of reality. This is true for the left, right, “scientists”, and social media keyboard warriors. Question. Question everything.

“The science is settled”. “Scientists say…”. “Denier”. “Consensus”. “Experts tell us”. “The majority of people want…”. “The polling is clear”.

Anytime you hear any of those phrases, remember the teaching of the Church of Contrarianism and recite the magic words – BULLSHIT! Something is true when there’s plenty of data and lots of independent parties find the same result and the negative hypothesis is not true. Until then it’s just guessing and opinion.

I’d be ok with opinion and guessing if it was done in good faith. Unfortunately, it rarely is. In the last year have you heard one public official, scientist, or authoritarian figure say, “we were wrong” or “data is indicating something different than we first thought”? Nope. Saving face and politics is way more important than admitting you made a decision without all the data.

It’s all very depressing. But it doesn’t have to be. Join me in the practice of Contrarianism and feel the cowl of the media machine and deep state being pulled away from your eyes. Unplug from the mindless nightly “news” talking heads spouting the same tired divisive crap and you may start to see the two political parties for the hucksters they are. If the Contrarian Church grows large enough, we may be able to wrest some control back from the state before it’s too late. And if not, I can at least sell some T-shirts and perhaps market some Contrarian franchises.

Worst case, unplugging may make you think a bit more. And when unplugged, you’ll have more time to go outside and do real things and have real experiences. Because ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about? Making real life-memories, and not listening to some internet Contrarian rando tell you what to think?

With that – you filthy animals go out and have yourselves a great and safe New Years! See you on the other side as we wait for whatever new adventures 2022 holds.

In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

Mark Twain

A Winter Of Illness And Death

The actual text of an official Whitehouse press release: “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.” Seriously? Merry Christmas, bitches. Reading this first thing in the morning made me angry. The more I went through my news and Twitter feeds, the angrier I got. Then I realized – this is not a healthy way to start my day. My typical (non-workday) pattern upon waking is to drink a large glass of water while the coffee is brewing, then head to the computer to consume the news. And that news is overwhelmingly negative. Looking back on the vast majority of my rantings on this site, they’re mostly the byproduct of an hour-plus of getting angry about the state of the world and then writing about it. Not a great way to start the day. I think it’s time to break the pattern. I don’t know what that means yet. Workout as soon as I wake, à la Jocko? Meditate for an hour? Read a book? Walk downtown to a coffee shop and buy an actual newspaper and drink something other than crappy Keurig coffee? Wake and go to the computer but only work on something creative? I don’t know what the new pattern is going to be, but anything has to be healthier than starting my day reading an avalanche of negativity. So as a morning palate cleanser, some things that made me smile this morning…

  • One of the best news reports ever.

  • Yesterday at work one of my patients was a 90-year-old gentleman who had advanced dementia. He was in the hospital because he scaled the fence at his memory care facility and fell (yes, you read that right. A 90-year-old scaling a fence). I went into his room at one point, and he seemed very upset. I asked what was wrong and he said, “This hotel is terrible. They’re very irresponsible. They lost all my clothes and wallet.”

  • After non-stop kvetching about the lack of winter… it showed up big time this week. Got three days of cross-country skiing in. We got another 8 inches overnight, with more to come. There will be downhill skiing this week!

  • Speaking of cold, the hound loves snow and winter much more than summer. Which is odd because he has no fur. Anyway, he treated me to “resting bitch face” when I forced him to stop for a photo while skiing.

  • I’m impressed at the effort it took to make this. Shit keeps escalating.

  • Father and Son

  • Not sure why this made me smile, but it did. Headline: “California pot companies warn of impending industry collapse” Why? Taxes, regulation, and limits on retail stores. People are turning to cheaper, illegal pot.

  • John Daly and his son won the PNC championship, edging out Tiger and his son. I’m convinced the pants are the secret weapon. If you’ve got the gumption to wear multi-colored day of the dead pants to a PGA tournament, you just know you’re going to play well. I’m currently shopping for a pair now.

  • And finally, Elon Musk trolling Sen. Warren is always good for a smile. He’s an underrated comedian.

Song of the day: Matisyahu – King Without A Crown (Live from Stubb’s)

A Little Perspective Is Good

A few things happened this week that have me doing some self-reflection. The first was a patient who was discovered to have cancer. Massive, metastasized tumors that had spread everywhere. The brain was being shifted to one side due to the tumors. Inoperable. The patient was told there were weeks to a month left. It’s hard to grasp being told that sort of news. Seeing that numb, vacant look in a patient’s eyes as they try to process what they’ve been told… affects you.

And then we had a family member pass away a few days ago. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but it’s still not the phone call you expect as you go about the day-to-day minutia of life. During the memorial service a video montage of photos was played, showing the spectrum of his life. From a young vibrant man to elderly and frail. Many of the pictures I’d never seen before. Hilarious plaid and burgundy pants. Massive Elvis-like shirt collars. Vacation and travel photos. Images of holding his infant daughters and final pictures of him with his new grandchildren.

Seeing those images made me happy because it was clear he’d lived a full life. He saw the world, worked hard, and had a loving family to the end. He fully participated in life. He was a happy guy who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He far exceeded the average life expectancy in this country. You can’t ask for much more. The patient who received the bad news won’t have that opportunity. It’s a stark contrast.

Watching that tribute scroll across the screen, naturally you start thinking about your own end. What will my montage of pictures show? Will I be satisfied with my time here? What will people remember me for? Will anyone even show up? I think it’s good to be reminded occasionally that our time here is limited. What do you want out of the brief moment you’re on this earth?

We all want to leave our mark on the world. Something that says I was here, and I’ll be remembered. Some people think that’s their kids. For others it’s their job. Maybe it’s writing a book, creating art, or being a famous Instagram influencer. We think we need to leave behind something tangible because that “thing” is what’s going to define our memory. This is not true.

How you interact with the world today is what you’re going to be remembered for. The more engaged you are with life will influence everyone around you and how you’re perceived. The most beloved people are those who actively engaged with others, were happy, and led full and interesting lives. This is a hard reminder for those of us introverts who struggle with people engagement.

So, mostly as a reminder to myself, a list of things you need to work on today. Right now. Do these things and you’ll maximize the time you have left. And when your time comes… you will be remembered.

  1. Engage with your fellow humans. Preferably in person. Frequently. Repeatedly. When in person isn’t possible, txt, email, Zoom, etc… Maintain contact. This is the most important thing you can do. Out of sight, out of mind. This is also the hardest for me as an introvert. And no, engaging with Instagram or YouTube comments from strangers is not the same thing.

  2. Be interesting. It makes zero difference what your interesting thing is. If your world revolves around building model trains and attending train expos (is there such a thing?), then be passionate about it. People respond to someone who has something more to say than discussing the latest episode of some TV sitcom or regurgitating CNN/FOX news crap. And to be interesting… you have to actually get off the couch and interact with the world. A bonus!

  3. Be worldly. Travel. It doesn’t matter if that’s your own town, state, country, or international. Have you gone to all the museums in your town? Local craft fairs? Explore new restaurants? Tried foods from other cultures? (Taco Bell doesn’t count) Driven to the international potato museum the next town over? You’re only here once. Go explore your world. (see point number 2)

  4. Read. Read some more. Reading makes you think. Reading improves your vocabulary. Read stuff that goes against your political/social views. It’ll help solidify your opinions or open up your brain to other ideas. All of this goes a long way to making you interesting and enjoyable to interact with. (see point number 2)

  5. Be happy. I get it, easier said than done sometimes. The world is not always a perfect place. But you only get one shot at this. Nobody wants to be around a chronic complainer. Be happy and grateful for what you do have, recognizing that odds are you’re better off than a large percentage of the world. And for god’s sake, make a point of doing something fun from time to time. People would much rather hear a cute story about you trying to throw a frisbee for the first time in twenty years, than you complaining about your crappy job (again). Being happy is contagious.

  6. And finally… do something creative. Make something (and yes, food counts). Write. Paint. Take pictures. Sing. Play an instrument. Learn to juggle and put it on a YouTube channel. It doesn’t matter what it is. Creativity engages the brain and forces you to think and learn. And when that happens, guess what? You’ll be a more interesting human.

There are no profound insights in anything I just said. It’s the basic recipe for being a well-rounded, happy human, making the most of the time you have left on this earth. And when your time does end, I guarantee your montage of pictures will show a life well lived and will be seen by a lot of folks happy they had a chance to be a part of your life.

RIP Uncle Jim. 1935-2021