Execution & Resilience

Maybe now that I’ve gotten some of that off my chest, I’ll start blogging more frequently again. May as well spit these words into the void, instead of keeping them trapped and eating at me.

It’s been 2 years, since I wrote that and they have absolutely destroyed me. We’ve all lived in the shadow of what came immediately after that last post, fatefully titled ‘What Even Matters‘. While those two years have been enough to deal with, what I’ve had to live with for the past 18 months has been so much more potent at undermining my very being. But I’m still here and I’m going to be for a long time.


On 8:24PM August 18th, 2020, I was robbed at gunpoint, while at work. I’m still struggling with the PTSD and other fallout from what occurred that night in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t the first time I’ve had a firearm pointed at me, but something from this situation has broken my ability to exist around strangers. It’s only been in the last few months, that I realized what has left me so unsettled and broken; I survived an execution. After the individual grabbed the money, I was marched to the bathroom where I was instructed to get on my knees, and had the gun pointed at my head while he requested my phone.

The helplessness of the situation lingers in my mind, and I can’t stay still or deal with people on a day to day basis without possibly having a panic attack now. I can barely handle grabbing groceries or visiting with friends. I’ve found that I can’t relate to my friends as much, or they can’t relate to me in this situation.

I spent a few months in therapy, but week after week the appointments became the same thing, where I’d discuss a new thing I’d learned but was still beholden to others in trying to find employment and struggling. I’m still unemployed after all this time even though that’s what I really need to find normalcy.

Now I Execute

All I’ve had to focus on is taking care of my family, and the things I could learn to help me execute even better. I’ve explored so many things, because all I can do is execute on the small things. I don’t have the resources left to execute on scale. I launched Friendhaven on my birthday last year, but still haven’t invited anyone or made it publicly available to others because I can’t provide the sustainable platform I want to in my current position. I hope to see people there soon.

Through it all, I keep my head up and trudge through the shit. I may get frustrated or anxious, but I have so much to give to the world still that I can’t give up. Like Don Quixote tilting against giants, I’m resilient and will continue to challenge the adversity I face. I’m going to fight until the end.

Will I come back to write more here, I don’t know? There’s only been 3 posts in the past 8 years. But I’m still here, so there’s definitely a chance that I’ll keep coming back for more if I need to get something off my chest.

Keep persevering.

What Even Matters

My ability to enjoy life, has been compromised. And it is by my own accord and not. 2 weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. And with it all the passions I had faded into anger, not at him, God, or anyone else. The anger was all at myself, and my selfish mistakes, I do not have regrets, but I regret those mistakes. I just can’t feel anything else outside of sadness and anger, and have noone to talk to about anything.

That’s where the blog ended, 5 years ago. It was the beginning of a long ongoing collapse. I don’t know if I’ll ever have my life back. To be honest, with all the things in the past few years, there’s nothing left anymore.

At that time I was working side-by-side with a group of unimaginably talented, that a kid from WV could hardly have dreamed of. And I miss it more than anything, we may not have succeeded, but some of the ideas have come out, and I still feel like what we were working on is something missing. But at the same time when that part of the story came to a halt, I ended up in a weird spot where consumer tech in general just looks poor (even 5 years later) compared to what I glimpsed there. And so I disconnected to try and find some space.

Having no tangible elements to show from all those years of defunct products and small teams, is the worst thing. I spent a year looking for a job in the tech industry after that, and every once in a while I check, but my skills have atrophied so much after being boxed out I feel like an impostor. And yet I look at he current landscape, I realize it’s just a few weeks to get running, like it was with any project way back. I just need a task that means something that I can dig into.

In spite of being able to find a position as software engineer, I took a job back home to help a family friend out 3 months after leaving California. And it’s been rough, it doesn’t pay 1/5th of what I was making, I have had to lift the business on my back and handle the technical and bookwork as well as the other duties and covering shifts that weren’t otherwise filled. It’s been a tough time managing life and that, let alone trying to get back in tech when I have even less to show. And then about a year ago, that friend ended his life at the business and I was asked to review and document the video tapes by the cops.

That killed me, I can’t sleep, and the only thing that helps is focusing on problems and solving them. The whole thing that drew me into software and product development to begin with, except my imagination, passion, and free thought is impaired from the trauma, so personal projects are hard to focus on because “what even matters”.

I’ve lucked out through life, and the past 5 years have just been some of the worst luck ever. I feel like I’m nearing the end, and just keep hanging on for those around me. I know what I need, but have no clue how to achieve what I need anymore. I just mentally can’t balance trying to fight through the fucking tech hiring process anymore, I just want to be given stuff to work on, because I know I can do it. I’ve had friends ask for help a few times in the past few years, and those moments where I actually just get to help and use my brain to do the job has been wonderful.

And I could probably keep expanding this, but I’m tired. My world has collapsed, in every aspect, and continues to shrink and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to keep going. I’m just doing what I must for my family. I just wish I could go back and make that product a success from 5 years ago.

Maybe now that I’ve gotten some of that off my chest, I’ll start blogging more frequently again. May as well spit these words into the void, instead of keeping them trapped and eating at me.

2014: The Year My World Exploded

It’s been a long time, but there have been reasons, some which you can see in my last post, from February.

The past year can be summed up as pretty much a slog that drained me of time and energy, and left me with nothing. Not that cool things haven’t happened, but it’s been a miserable time, and I had to make decisions that had me forsaking everything I cared about. I’m not me anymore.

January had a lot going on, when I was essentially left in charge of operating the local bookstore, due to matters of health with the people I worked with. Then there were family issues and other stresses basically made me want to stop everything. I came to SF, tech’s global center, just to take a break and decompress while having some meetings. I didn’t think about it when I had booked my flights, but I missed my mom’s birthday.

February, I was still operating the bookstore mostly by myself, though the other employee did come back mid-month and things got a little easier. Then I had an interview, but the day of our little dog passed away. I still miss her, because she was my comfort when I was sad.

March, I started working remotely and was probably the peak of my happiness for the year. With the remote work I had to shelve what I was working on in my spare time, due to possible conflicts of interest.

April, I accidentally let my hosting lapse, and lost this blog and some other services that are still not back, much to my sadness. I just never had the time or the resources to fix the issues.

May, this was defined a lot by prep work and failure for a friend’s bachelor party and wedding. Overall the weekend was good, but on my way out, I got news that my great-grandmother had died. I ended up getting home, doing laundry, and getting right back on the road for a funeral.

June, the remote work was paused, so I started working on some interesting stuff of my own, which I’ve pretty much not touched since. Two weeks after my great-grandmother passed, her son passed as well, but I couldn’t make that funeral as I was too busy at the bookstore.

July, at the beginning of the month remote work starts again, and my boss at the bookstore comes back from the absence. July was a struggle with logistics and trying to figure out how everything would work.

August, I stayed just long enough for my birthday, and then left for SF instead of working remotely. A place I find depressingly cold and uncomforting to the very way of I life that I find enjoyment in. Though the job was enough of a distraction for the time.

September, I put the blog back up. I meant to post then, but I’ve been cautious about what I post. In the middle of the month, I found out our other dog passed away.

October, I got out of the city for the first time in the middle of the month, and I was so happy to see trees and A MOUNTAIN, ONE FREAKING MOUNTAIN. I still miss the mountains. Then a day later, I find out my godfather passed away. I ended up going home for the funeral, and spent the entire week on the road or with family and friends. It was refreshing considering I don’t really have any friends here.

November, was pretty mediocre and not much happened, though I did go home for Thanksgiving, though it was mostly ruined by my emotional connection to work. I stayed depressed the whole time I was there.

December, has been so-so, the work stuff still lingers in how I act. But it also lingers in the constant thought of where I want to be. And as much as I can enjoy the work, the city life has destroyed any passion. I fucking hate it here and maybe I should have gone home for Christmas, just to get out. Then my great uncle passed away before Christmas, and he was one of my favorite people in the world. He was just so lively, and could tell a story like nobody else.

And through all of this, I’ve been so emotionally drawn out, that a lot of my friends who are going through even worse things in their lives, aren’t getting the attention they deserve from me, because I don’t have the energy. I’ve lost my family. I’ve lost my friends. I’ve lost my home. I’ve even lost myself. I think, I need to think through my priorities and probably go back to my roots. And what makes me sad, except for all the deaths, I got what I wanted/needed at the end of last year.

Relationship Tectonics

I mostly secluded myself for a month or so towards the beginning of the year, and have yet to fully unravel from that. What I have noticed is when I did start it though, there was a very distinct shift in the relationships I have. For years, my closest friends have existed on the other side of a monitor for the most part. As I’ve come back to the social world, I’ve reconnected with old friends and acquaintances  that I hadn’t spoken to in at least a half-dozen years.

This shift is interesting to me, and something else I noticed is the network of how I discovered people. Most of the people I know stem from a few choices I made years ago: joining Triiibes in ’08 led to joining Twitter and Ustream in ’08, which eventually led to numerous friendships spawned by mutual relations. Some of those people have remained close, and will remain close, even as things shift about; others drift out of sight.

Unfortunately, the biggest effect that I’ve noticed in the wake of my seclusion is that I became somewhat colder to those I continue to interact with. Even when I absolutely adore them, I just don’t feel that I can positively reach out to them. Sometimes it’s just that I don’t know how anymore. I feel I’ve forgotten part of what made it special, and yet I’ll never forget them.

So if you’re reading this and feel that we haven’t spoken in a while or that I haven’t been as positive as you wish; I do apologize, and do know that I still care. I am currently making some personal changes that will continue to make it hard for me to be more open, or even as open as I once was. I needed to get this off my chest, as the weight of feeling this way was one of the hindrances standing in my way of being more open.

Loose Thoughts On Technology

Sometimes I wonder what the point of technology is anymore. All of our basic functionality needs have been met, or at least mostly so. At this point, we have begun trading privacy for minor improvements. I’ve already talked about my Luddian emotions, but it seems that a growing group of people are becoming more perturbed by the audaciousness of companies like Google and Facebook.

I already have issues with phones, but that’s a personal choice, Google Glass is a precursor to a much wider spread issue in which individuals may lose their choice. I just wonder what we’re doing to ourselves, when technology provides only minor benefit but can have such a negative impact to privacy. Maybe we’ll adapt to it as we have other things in the past, but there are questions to ask. Should we accept these tools and what are the responsibilities of the users?

Should we accept the tools? I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but to me they personally don’t make sense. I find them to be a bit tacky, as I prefer life to be more simplified. Maybe others will accept them, but the decisions need to be made. I can’t possibly lay out all the responsibilities, because there are more than one technologies to talk about.

Also let’s talk about reliance on things that we don’t control. We’ve recently seen Google close Reader and it’s had a pretty large backlash, but nothing to be said from inside. You can no longer rely on these technologies, and if it breaks you very well may not have a way to fix it. That is another issue, but it’s not necessarily the technology, but our reliance on SaaS.

Another tangential issue is that most recent improvements have been minor. The ecosystem is vibrant, but what’s getting put out just seems stale. Today’s news is the same stuff as yesterday, and tomorrow will be the same, just with a new coat of paint.

Unfinished Thoughts

This month began with many doubts and personal issues, following a euphoric period over the holidays, it all seemed to be washing away again. Drifting out with the tide, I slipped into a malaise of depression, that started to fade away going into the second week of the month. Then just before bed in the early morning of January 12th I read something, something I didn’t want to believe; something that left me sleepless: Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide.

It was a hard blow. It knocked me back, back into the malaise, back into thinking and rethinking the same thoughts. Instinctively, I knew it was likely the immense stress from the case that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And yet, I wondered why? In my processing I wrote down two unfinished thoughts.

Successful Men

What is it like for the lives of men who sit idly by as time passes and watch as successful men struggle with failure? What is a successful man’s failure; to not have done more, to have done too much that wasn’t of import, to not know when he has done enough? Where does the successful man draw his line, or does he simply forget that there eventually needs to be a firm line? A line that he doesn’t have to keep punting, further away.

Stones and Metal

It is a triumph of history that we can look back millennia because of how our predecessors constructed their tools. Unlike the tools of today, that will likely fade almost as quickly as they came to be, stone and metal still stands only gently worn or hidden by the world around it. The only chances that we have of continued existence, at the millennial scale, is in our architecture and our cultures. Change has begun to progress at such a pace, even while it may feel glacial to us, that we are outstripping our own history in decades. There will be few who stand out in the test of time.

And here it is the end of the month, and another person’s gone who was out to change the world. I can’t comment personally on Jody Sherman, as I had never heard of him until just the other day. From the stories from his friends, he was a  “successful man” and I’m sure he’ll stand out in the test of time, not in one piece but little bits of him will survive in memories.

I just feel empty and tired. The past month, the whole of the year, has just been rough; every time I seem to get up, something comes and throws me back down. Maybe it’s time to make some changes. Time to find some balance. But I don’t know, this whole month can just be chalked up to unfinished thoughts.

This Is Me

Some things gather under my skin, and no matter how much I wish to let them go it’s hard. They come from my culture that I have come from and exist in. I do not respond well to being demeaned and I do not respond well to being boxed into absolutist opinions that I do not hold. I don’t like being pushed into generalized areas, just because I hold a particular view. I do not like being told how I should feel, it is personal.

I have been called privileged, this is something I do not deny; I am privileged in many ways:

I am white.
I have a family that cares.
I was born in the first world, America, in a decent age (though, maybe not the best.).
I am healthier than many.
I know the value of a dollar.
I know the value of honest (and dishonest) work.

And many others.

What bugs me with this is that people will try to demean me because of one of these privileges, often the color of my skin, while I sit there aghast at their hypocrisy and ignorance as they hold privileges that I do envy. They have had opportunities from that privilege than I have never had, and will never have (at least in similar manner). It is something that agravates me.

I hold many views, and I am flexible to change in many, though maybe not entirely. I do not look up to any large entities; I find the government to suck and I find corporations to suck. I often will side with one of them over the other, that would be corporations over government; the reason for that is that corporations often have an alternative to choose from.

I do not deny the fact that corporations can do many bad things, anyone who says otherwise or feels me a corporatist knows nothing of me and the cultural history I have grown up in. I was born and raised in WV, it is a place I love, but this place holds some very gruesome stories that are no less than usurious. In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, there was a culture of financiers and corporations abusing the people of Appalachia. In the many coal-towns created on land purchased by these outsiders, often essentially stolen via mineral right sales, they would pay with company vouchers, instead of true monetary funds, that could only be used at a company store. These companies had a lock on these persons, and their families, livelihoods; the companies had enslaved these men and done so legally.

I will not deny the capacity of increased rights granted by government or clawed back by unions in these and other circumstance. Yes, I stand critical of unions in this day and age, they have become in many ways a hindrance to necessary change. I do not feel they are bad in and of themselves, but they tend not to work in an effective manner, they have become an unnecessary bureaucratic layer.

I also do not deny that there are corporations who do some despicable things, e.g. Wal*Mart (which has a voucher system like that of the coal-towns, in Mexico), Monsanto, News Corp.; yet, I will often stand up to protect or support a corporate entity, its employees, or its actions, as I find reactions to vilify them often without proper consideration. This is often a source of strife for me, as people try to ascribe me to an absolute position of corporate privileges, something I would never do. I support corporations, as I said above, because they often offer a choice and the freedom to leave, while government actions I am beholden to as a citizen.

Growing up in small town America, that holds members at both ends of the income spectrum in a quite polarized fashion, and yet seeing them get along. I have grown to know many wealthy people, and respect them for their accomplishments; I know many hard-working people in the middle that will struggle to get by week-to-week, month-to-month; and I know many people that will struggle, sometimes not due to their own causes; Most of all I know that people in each of those groups will help each other out,  under just about any circumstance. There may be some animosity between the groups, but we are still friends and family, everyone is connected, and willing to offer help if you just ask.

I often think this might just be small-town culture, rural vs. urban living, but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that looking at it there seems to be more apathy, wanting, and strife that seems to come from urban areas. Maybe it’s because of sheer numbers, or the lack of capacity to fend for oneself in earnest due to the packing of so many in such a small space, or maybe people have had to shed their ability to care on a personal level about those they pass on the street because of frequency. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like such a dichotomy.

I also do not respect people who try to tell me what, how, or should I feel. They do not share my experience, so they do not know how I will or should react. They do not know what will hurt me, nor do they know what will make me laugh. I am often within my head thinking, trying to piece everything together into a logical expression of what I believe the world to be. If you try to tell me how to feel about something, you might be wrong; you likely will be wrong. My emotion can change with the area, with the persons, with the events before, during, and after; my emotion is up for interpretation by only one individual: me.

So this was just me blowing off some steam, maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t. This is my life, though not all of my opinions, welcome too it. Oddly, a lot of the things that aggravate me are very similar to things that you hear of racism, but that doesn’t exist for white people, does it. Maybe it’s not racism, but it attacks the same places, they go for my sense of being, my sense of freedom, and try to control my personal emotions in an effort to dehumanize me, because I am not their ideal.