Regrets Are Not For The Living

One must not have regrets while living, to do so is a waste of time, since we cannot change the past from the present. No wrongs cannot be righted in some form, though not always brought back and mended to the original intent. If there is a regret for not doing, then the logical response is to do. If there is a regret for having done something, then to reverse it you must act with equal or greater impact in the other direction. This becomes that regrets are now actionable and somewhat dispossessed of guilt.

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.

FUCK THEM. I AM ME. I WILL ALWAYS BE ME. THE VIEWS I HOLD ARE NOT ME. THE VIEWS I HOLD HAVE CHANGED BEFORE AND THEY WILL CONTINUE TO SHIFT UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. I WILL TELL YOU FREELY WHAT I BELIEVE, IF YOU THEN TRY TO CHAIN MY OPINION TO A LOGICAL EXPECTATION YOU HAVE OF THAT OPINION I WILL LIKELY RALLY AGAINST THAT. I DO NOT RESPECT SUCH EFFORTS.

Languages Of Art

Every passion has it’s language; every language is itself an art. Whether an individual is crafting a simple letter or writing a thousand pages for a novel; whether she is singing a song straight from the heart; whether he is sculpting the muse from his dreams; or whether they are doing something entirely new and unique. There is a language that is held within every art, and everything is an art. Everything has a story to tell, and sometimes only the creator will know or understand that story, in whole or in part.

You can stare at a piece hanging before you, and even though you try, never understand. It is not your fault, nor the creators, nor even the piece itself; there is simply no way for you to understand it. Accept the beauty as it is, whether that comes from a true feeling of beauty in the piece or respect for the crafting of it. All things are beautiful, both the simplistic and the very intricately detailed.

Every individual will use them in his, or her, own ways. Some things may not be appealing to others, and that is okay; I know with certainty there are things that I cannot stand, but that does not make them wrong. The best way to learn the stories is to observe and ask, which is even more actionable.

Ask for the story; seek it out; it will likely be worth your time.

Impact

Over the past year, I’ve noticed myself suffering from various seemingly odd emotions, the gamut between sheer joy, broodiness, to something of despair. I wasn’t sure the reason, or what set it off. The other day I came to think of where it seems to have started, but I’m still not quite sure the reason it impacted me.

A few months ago, an acquaintance passed away. We attended school together, but her and I may have spoke once over those 3 years. My only true interaction, one I don’t fully remember, was at a small Halloween party that a few of my friends threw in college. For some reason, her death has haunted me, it’s something I think about several times a week; I wish I knew why because without an real connection, only a closeness in age, it feels weird.

Obviously, she has had an impact, even on those like me. The ripples from her loss are greater than I would expect. While the full impact on my life might not have came from the events related to her; I can point to several things that have changed at least in part because of them.

One of the most notable things for me has been that I’ve felt broody. Some of it I know comes from my cousin’s pregnancy, but some of this I feel comes from facing mortality. Sitting there during the memorial service, watching snapshots of her childhood pass before me it touched me, and made me wish I was there. There not just as a form of nostalgia, but also as something I felt the need to be part of now. The happiness of childhood and innocence provides such intense joy to those around.

Another thing that’s changed, is that I have become more open to religion. Something about watching the community in and from the church during the service, changed something for me. While I am still not religious, my view has changed, and continues to change. I’ve always leaned more on an agnostic front personally, with a belief in some form of karmic justice. I know that from experience what I do always is almost always returned greater in the future. I cannot say that it is by fate, or by the hands of a deity, any more than I feel I can say it is by luck. More and more, I seek to find a shared faith, even though I don’t truly believe, and part of that is due to the warmth of the community I saw that day from our shared grief.

We will all have an impact and it cannot be measured or seen. Only once we have passed and settled will the scales truly show the difference we made. Change what you can, for you and those near, and even if the impact isn’t large or doesn’t occur swiftly; your impact will be felt. Do good.

Contradictory

Over the past few months I had a building tension in realizations. This stretching is everywhere. What I want and what I feel is right. What I love and what I need. What I do and what I’d like to. So many contradictions from the past, present, and future represented that it’s depressing.

As some of you know by now, I’m mostly* cut off without choice. This is something that doesn’t bother me much though as I had grown to be quite dispassionate about the current state of affairs, both legislatively – even if I’m not around SOPA is bullshit – and technologically. The realm has stagnated, changes are more often of the ‘OOH SHINY’ variety, than of anything that is something that can be productively leveraged.

In my mind, technology should be about enhancing productivity or boosting efficiency, as such saving life. However, all the big players have stabilized their market, and now they’re just pushing the tendrils further and further with mediocre improvements that increase lock-in. As they go further, they’re shifting their mass as well, and the shift is towards the cloud**. I get it, you want to restrict consumption sources and maximize its flow to your coffers; that’s fine, but be reasonable.

An anecdote, a few weeks ago my mom purchased a tablet for my younger sister and asked me to load some apps onto it for her. This was an excruciating experience and left me with an extremely bad taste in my mouth. The tablet wasn’t up to Google’s standards, so no Market app, that sucked. I figured I could add Amazon’s Appstore and that would be just as fine, and it worked pretty well, until I made a realization. About $20 in I realized that, all the apps were verified to my account and couldn’t be used if the Appstore app wasn’t installed and my user account logged-in. There is absolutely no way that’s going to happen, because I use 1-click, and I could find no option to disable purchases.

I went through the process of setting up another Amazon account, just for the device, and provided it a stipend via gift-code figuring that would be good enough and she could add what she wants herself; it’s not, you have to have a card linked to the account before any purchase could be made. There is no way to add apps using Amazon’s Appstore, that doesn’t require leaving your account there, no way I could find to gift apps, and no offering of a stipend system. This sucks, and is anything from simple. I don’t know if it’s similar with Google Market, or even iTunes, but it’s a really shitty experience.

Another anecdote is the necessity for me to have a physical phone. When I need a phone, often for texting, I will often use Google Voice, which is no longer linked to a physical device that I know of. Yet, I constant get berated by them to add 2-step verification, which I can’t use anyways. Or in my search of hosting, a phone number is required which I guess I can understand for contact purposes, but it doesn’t help me. I’m essentially locked out of paying for something I want, because I don’t have a phone. Fuck you, I want to give you money, and because of my personal decision not to have a phone, you won’t let me. You are an idiot, and this is a pretty shitty experience.

Technology fucking sucks, not really, but these systems sure do.

At the same time, I love it and spend most of my time programming for fun and to automate tasks in my life. It should be used to save time and make better decisions. Those instances are just two of several that make me loathe and wary of technology. In this, I’m held in a state of contradiction.

On to a topic I’ve touched on several times over the past 4-5 months, but couldn’t get out of fear of backlash. Now is probably the best time to get it out where I won’t be drawn into the thrall of an argument. Feel free to skip this next section, as it is a bit political in nature. Bottom of post.

Another area that I’m held in a state of contradiction is life, death, and healthcare. What I would love to see and what I believe is better for the present and future or the nation and the world are at odds. I side with what I feel is right, but it does make me hurt inside.

On the one side, I would love to see everyone become centenarians, cancer not exist, and no one need worry about how they pay for it. The other, I see death as necessary, and possibly already less prevalent than necessary, cancer and other illnesses as agents of this change. I’ve been called heartless by some on where I stand, maybe they’re right, but I doubt it.

“No man really wants to die.” We don’t want to die and we don’t want those we love to die, but it is an eventuality. It will happen, and there are two paths, die fighting (for quantity) or die living (embracing the moments you have). Most people equate quantity with the goal; age is the barometer on life after all.

I have spent years with dying people, they managed to get the time, but I don’t know that it was worth it. I’ve been around them all my life, between my mom’s patients, when I was younger, family friends, my great-grandmother, and currently one of my grandfathers. In most of these cases, death is strung out over years, and it’s painful to just about all involved. In only one case did I see it used as a way to actually live longer, out of about a dozen.

I watched two of my mom’s friends die of Hepatitis and the gradual organ failures that came with it, when I was younger, I didn’t know at the time, just that they were sick. They managed to make the most of what they could, and for the most part embraced the time they had, like few others; they where the exception.

I have also watched people like my grandfather lose everything, except for their life. At that point, it’s not a life, it’s a personalized hell and they get sucked in to it. My grandfather survived prostate cancer, but he lost his life to the treatments and now broods in his resentment of the doctors. It’s such a pitiful thing to watch, sure it’s nice he’s here, but I have more memories of the pain and anger than of the happiness and fun times.

This is why I chose to request a DNR order, and won’t seek further care in any terminal or potentially terminal case. This is my choice, and I shouldn’t be taxed for not fitting in with the model of what I and others want. In just about any need I would have for medical care, it will be cheaper for me to pay out of pocket on a need basis, throughout my life, because of that decision. I don’t need help covering it. This is why I still say that the Healthcare Act is unconstitutional in its request that I have to pay for something I do not need. Of course, I’m on the receiving side, being below the poverty line which isn’t something I oft admit. I still cannot agree with it.

I think that we’ve gotten the whole concept backwards. As it stands now, our system takes money from the young and sends it to make sure our older population has a secure and comfortable life. We should be securing our youth; they are the future after all. Take money from social security and Medicare, and invest it in programs that drive experience and knowledge into our youth and protect that investment. While I’d love to live forever, I think that if you want that that is your burden to bear, not the publics.

This means some people in my life today, wouldn’t be, and that makes me sad. I don’t know what I would do without them. What I’ve said was hard, but its how I feel. This is what the populace embrace, but I don’t know or think that it’s the right choice. In this, I’m held by the contradiction.

I don’t claim to know the solutions to either of these issues. I don’t have them. I don’t even know where I stand, often it’s somewhat murky. We all have our contradictions, I guess, and these are some of mine.

Notes:

* If or when I really want to end this exile, I can either purchase a new router or run several dozen feet of cable. It’s only been a few hours, but it feels nice. It’s been like an erratic weaning process over the past few weeks of network issues.

** I can point out rather easily that such a thing as ubiquitous computing via the network is a lie. If the device, or capability, isn’t available when you need it, then it is useless. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, availability isn’t a promised thing.