The Last Rhino

I feel like I have been here before. Looking at the news and thinking we are next. The last male white rhino died earlier this week and I find myself thinking about it over and over again. What does it take for the planet to wake up to what we are doing?

I went on a walk with my daughter today. We climbed Westnedge hill and looked over the city. I thought about the flood that happened a few weeks earlier. Places like the north east and Denmark are seeing record lows as the arctic tries to figure out what to do without any ice to hold the cold polar vortex at bay. The jet stream has shifted, no longer assisting jets on their travels. This is a lot to take in.

Since i finished the Self Authoring program I have seen some changes in myself that i thought I should share. In the past 3 weeks i have had 1 beer. for those that know me that will come as a shock. also, while i have been debating on when to enjoy my pipe, I came to the conclusion that the pipe and my tobacco cellar should be retired until a moment comes my way when I can relax and enjoy the hobby again. So what the hell do I do for fun? I guess I will have to figure it out.

I pulled an old Remington portable model 1 typewriter from my basement, a project I picked up a few months back but set aside due to time restraints. The black body and well preserved case caught my eye when i first saw it. Usually i prefer the Royal desktops but I thought having the portable would encourage me to write in public again. I had to sand down some of the rubber rollers that had flattened out and was keeping the paper from working over the platen. There are several books I would like to write, adventures and characters that are becoming impatient as they run around in my head.

The more I listen to the news the harder it is to comprehend everything that is happening. I looked up climate change podcast and found myself disappointed in what i found. One in particular that was recorded in Michigan ended up being a denial show where the host spit out free market rhetoric and how renewable energy was a fraud that would hurt poor people. Having said all of that, I am seriously considering bring back my old podcast. It won’t be the same podcast exactly, but a revised version that I get to run. the last podcast I ran was on American Prepper Radio and as far as I know you can still find the show and episodes on there, but I don’t recommend it since it is outdated by a few years and the content no longer applies. I was thinking of doing a shorter show, three days a week, 15-20 minutes covering the latest in climate change, economics, and societal collapse. i don’t know when it will start but the idea is there and I already know how to start and record a podcast having do that two years ago. i can’t be the only one needing to talk about this. There has to be others out there hearing what I’m hearing and wondering what the hell is going on? The collapse experiment was a nice test run, I liked the idea, maybe it’s time to improve it now and create something worth sharing.

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Self Authoring for the Apocalypse

The weekend didn’t start out how i wanted it to. Zoey wasn’t acting like herself on Friday with a long drive to the doctor’s office an hour away. The appointment started late and we were back in town by one o’clock. Zoey didn’t eat much that day and threw up all of her food that morning. I found out later she did the same thing that afternoon and slept most of the day.

That night was the usual for me. I left work at midnight and had to be back the next day at one in the afternoon for some overtime. all morning I didn’t feel right, my joints ached and my stomach felt funny. I finished my shift and closed the building. On my way home I called Sarah and told her that I didn’t feel good. A few hours later i was running to the rest room. My palms were sweaty and my weak arms were heavy, no I wasn’t in a rap battle, everything felt cold and my breathing was quick shallow breaths. At some point i found myself in the bedroom with my phone in hand, sending Sarah a text downstairs since i was unable to talk. I wrote “help” and a few minutes later she appeared in the doorway. “What the heck!” she said finding me half dressed and delusional. I thought about telling her to call an ambulance but being the cheap ass that I am I knew that dying would be cheaper, hey at least life insurance would pay out. That night was a long journey through hell. every movement hurt. all my muscles and joint ached. walking 20 feet to the bathroom felt like a Crossfit competition being performed by a morbidly obese man. There were a few moments i seriously thought I might die.

I woke up the next morning, still alive. My stomach hurt and I knew I was dehydrated. This time around Sarah came down with the bug and it was her turn to sleep for 14 hours. We were both scared that Zoey might catch whatever we had but looking back she might have been the first one to catch it.

The day that followed had me waking up at 4AM. I couldn’t sleep anymore. My body hurt from being in bed for too many hours to count. I went down stairs and turned on the Self Authoring Program. If there is one motivation to change your life it’s thinking that last night might have been your last. Remember that scene in Fightclub when Tyler robbed the store and asked the kid what he wanted to do with his life? That was how the flu felt to me. Already this year a nurse at the local hospital died after catching it, she was 40 years old. I finally sat my ass down and finished the Past Authoring program, long overdue by the way. Next came the hard part, the future authoring program.

This program changes everything, no longer able to wing it, or stumble through, you have to sit down and shut up to figure out what you want to do with your life. Saturday night i remember thinking about all that I had accomplished until then. I wrote a few books, had a daughter who’s life I wanted to see, and well, not really much else. What the hell had I been doing with my life? I sure as hell hadn’t been enjoying it.

For three hours I worked through Jordan Peterson’s program and figured out some things about myself and my life that i really wanted to accomplish. Some of the goals I wanted to start right away, feeling encouraged by the event, but the flu had other plans for me. It may take time for me to recover but when I do at least I have a layout of what I want to do in the near and distant future. Finally, the task is finished and I can move ahead to something worth bragging about when the boatman comes to pick me up at the river Styx.

So what is my plan you may ask. I will save that for another time. The flu is not done with me yet. Until next time, clean your room.

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Pursue what is meaningful

Another Jordan Peterson post here covering rule number 7 from his 12 Rules for Life. While i was growing up the opposite was told to me. when i said what I wanted to do with my life the response was, “You need to think about money.” I had, what i was told at the time, a good job. I worked for a well known organization and reach the top of the ladder in my department. That was it. no raise. stuck with nowhere to go and it wasn’t something i enjoyed doing. Regardless of my years in the department i had supervisors who hunted down things they could find wrong and in some cases made up something, anything to justify their position. after 14 years, I quit.

I currently have two dreams that I am pursuing. 1 is establishing a writing career. the second is to eventually work for myself in something that I enjoy doing and will become better at over time. I don’t find meaning in what i do. I think about the benefits of my position, the security, insurance, and of course the paycheck. But it isn’t something that i can look back on and proud of. My books give me a sense of meaning. Making a delicious meal and sharing it with those i care about give me meaning. Being able to support myself and the ones I love doing something I enjoy gives me meaning. There are necessities in life that you can not go without. Having something meaningful in your life is one of them. I don’t know how long it will take or how it will happen but eventually one or both of these things will become a reality.

There is more on my plate these days. Being the primary daycare of a preemie baby, taking care of two houses, and staying up late to write a little, like this post, his how my time is spent. I haven’t even finished the self authoring program that i paid for. I don’t know where to go from here, and that is why i haven’t continued. the future portion of the program expects me to know where i want my life to go. that is something new, scary, an unexpected change from the normal day after day grind that has defined so much of my life. to be in control of where my life is heading is fucking scary. I have had so many people over the years tell me what the right choice is, the safe option of any dilemma. When i was ready to sail into the wind and explore new territory there was always someone close to tell me I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, or you have go to be out of your mind. In the end it is my fault after all I am the one who let these people into my life. Maybe I should be concentrating on something else. Rule number 3, Make friends with people who want the best for you. It sounds like a solid place to start.

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Forced to Go Low Tech

This weekend had me with moments of childish fits and tantrums as my phone was out of commission. By itself the Samsung Galaxy 3 I carry is out of date and running slower each day. Each time my apps update the machine runs slower to the point I finally deleted the Facebook app and Twitter. Honestly, I wanted Twitter gone because of Trump’s tweets. While one could point out I don’t have to follow that fool, there is no other good reason to use twitter other than seeing what the twitter in chief has to say.

That night I sat at a Royal KMM typewriter that I left at my girlfriend’s house and started to write a story that I have been running through my head for months. While zombie books and economic collapse are prolific in post-apocalyptic fiction I have often wondered how to write a book pertaining to global warming. The problem of a long-term event taking decades to happen left me with a puzzle on how to write a story to fit the event. Typing out the first few lines I think I figured it out and continued until I had three full length, single spaced pages sitting next to me. A modest start but the plot was beginning and the world starting to take hold.

Saturday morning, I left my house without bringing a charger and by the end of the day I refused to run home to retrieve one. I spent the night at my girlfriend’s place and the next morning retrieved my charger from my car to use it while riding with her out of town to visit her family. Five minutes down the road the cheap Aldi product broke leaving me with a dead phone for the rest of the day. I tossed the charger in the back seat throwing a fit and stuffed the phone in my pocket.

An hour later my thinking had reverted back the 1980s. a time when there was no cell phone and the homes we were visiting still have landline phones on the wall. We talked about books and shared oven baked cookies.

With my new job, adapting to the work environment and slightly different schedule has left me off of Facebook the majority of the time and with Twitter long gone I don’t receive annoying notifications in the early hours of the day from our demented president. Running around in earlier hours and trying to change my schedule to fit everything I was doing before has become a challenge. I missed my podcast schedule last week and finally recorded the next episode for Top Ramen today. This blog hasn’t been updated as I would like it to be and my writing schedule has been sporadic at best. Although I will say that the rough draft for my zombie book (as if the world needs another one) Last Call was finished last week. It needs a lot of work but I hope it will offer something different in the market from the carbon copy material that is out there now.  Game Over is still being edited and I’m hoping for an April release, it would be nice to have something out before summer and show something for my time spent on it over the winter months.

The upside to being closed out of the internet loop is not being bogged down with Trump news and being able to reclaim some sanity in my life. There is too much going on, too much news every fracking day, and too much commentary to keep up with what is happening. I have three trump podcast I’m subscribed to and not enough time to keep up with what is happening. At the moment, I’m thinking about unsubscribing to all of them just to clear my head. There was a time that I could turn on some jazz music, place a sheet of paper into my typewriter and start tapping away into a story until I became lost in another world. That is something I need to reclaim. The phone at the moment only has Instagram on it for my short fixes of connecting with the worldwide web. Facebook I currently don’t miss and if anything, I simply need to stick with my author page that has been neglected for weeks.

A project that I started last weekend is an old task that I hope will improve my writing. Many writers of a time long gone, learned their craft by sitting down at a typewriter and copying the works they admired most. Hunter S. Thompson would type out, from start to finish, The Great Gatsby and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He believed there was a rhythm to their writing and wanted to tap into that. Plus, there was the joy of trying to connect with how it might have felt to write those great American novels for the first time. A journalist who befriended Hemingway later in his life, learned grammar and sentence structure by copying Hemingway’s short stories over a weekend in an attempt to keep his journalism job. The practice worked and he later wrote Papa Hemingway in Cuba.

I didn’t read Gatsby for the first time until last year and since then it is one of the only books out of the 176 I read that year which has stayed with me. The writing style, the story that still speaks volumes today, and the fact that it was unsuccessful in the market spoke to me about how a great piece of literature could be overlooked until decades later. Again, I’m forcing myself to go low tech for the sake of improving my writing. The world is massive, with too much to take in. Stepping back and clearing my slate is a much-needed task if I’m going to be able to focus on what is important in my life. I’m thankful for the new job that I have, the security it affords, and while I wonder if it is a mistake to close my windows to a world that appears to be falling apart, I can only admit that as a small fish in a vast sea, there is little if anything I can do about it except continue on my path and maybe write something that might make a difference for those that read my stories.

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Surviving Trump’s America

Something happened last week that changed my life for the better. I started a new job in a place that I have loved since I was a child. The public library had a job posted that my girlfriend found on their website. She sent me the link and said I should apply since I qualified for the job. It was a mixture of custodial and maintenance and had the same hours that I was currently working. The position was closer to my home and gave me more freedom to do the things I enjoy doing rather than limiting what a person could do. In previous positions, I was restricted from fixing machines or doing repairs I found in my area. I applied for the job and after a series of interviews I was offered the position.

Finding a job like this in Trump’s America is a rare thing. The policies put into place by the Republican party since the 1980s have made jobs like mine a dying breed that continue to go extinct. Let me explain. The library has a union that has been in place since the days it was part of the Public-School system, because of that the library has benefits that continue on until today. I have better insurance than either of my previous jobs which included a local non-profit hospital and the county government. one would think the best of the best would be found at institutions like these, but sadly they follow the status quo and are short sighted on their thinking. The staff has gone out of their way to greet me and learn about the new guy in their facility. In larger organizations boasting thousands of employees one is overlooked and viewed as just another cog in the machine. The financial security I now feel comes from the jump in pay I received in my new job, almost doubling what both on my previous positions paid. Granted, that is partially due to added responsibilities I received with the expectation of doing repairs and keeping up the grounds around the facility but these are things I did at my previous jobs with no added pay. Simply put, if I repaired a machine I needed to perform my job somebody else was paid for it while I prevented a complaint from being received by my boss.

The policies and economics of my new employer are exactly what I had been arguing for since I left college and joined the workforce full time. Working at a hospital for 14 years taught me that most organizations, even the ones that boast how well they treat their employees, are quick to slice the pay of their workers before cutting own profits to save an image, the wrong image or prestige rather than charity. It always bugged me that the CEO of a non-profit hospital was paid over 3 million dollars a year while many of the departments of that hospital were understaffed and had equipment decades older than they should have been. When I left the hospital, the ER still had machines with 3.5-inch floppy disk drives for detecting heart attacks. Note to self, when an organization has to continue screaming about how great they are, they usually are far from it. Those who are great are too busy being great to fight for recognition.

For the past 17 years, I have been living off of a pay of twenty thousand a year, and the early years it only came from overtime if I made that much. The sad reality is that most people are unwilling to fight for more and how can they in a country that destroyed their unions and took away the rights of workers for fair pay. If one did complain about how little they made it wasn’t uncommon for employees in higher positions to say “be thankful for the work you have.” If the conversation continued they would become irritated or angry because I was questioning their position on the hierarchy ladder. In truth that wasn’t the case. I knew many nurses who worked endless overtime or had second jobs to pay the bills. They were required to continue their education with the payoff being little in the end with more responsibility and longer hours. This wasn’t just in the hospital either. In the County, we had republican economics playing out with a majority of Democrats in office. I never once saw a Union representative and when the Union negotiated the new contract with the County we received a higher cost healthcare plan with a higher deductible that ate up the raise we received. Our pay increase was only a few cents and the county approved the construction of a new courthouse at the estimated cost of 70 million dollars. Even Democrats run on the policy of investing in short term projects with little benefit instead of people.

So where do I go from here? I have a few plans. My little ambitions include filling my modest wine cellar. Stashing away some money in my savings account. Finally repairing my fence that currently fits the image of a ghetto alleyway. Finally, and the most important task, paying off my house years ahead of the thirty-year schedule. Most people either forget or don’t realize that if you only make the monthly payment you actually pay three times the amount due to interest. My $60,000 house will cost me $180,000 if I only make the minimum payment. That is not including the cost of interest and taxes paid on the property.

Why paying people more isn’t a national call of duty I will never understand. I have known so many people in my life that worked their asses off, sometimes to death, without ever having a sense of financial security. Charles Bukowski wrote about this phenomenon in several of his books. People think that the artist must suffer and be driven to write great works of literature. Bukowski argued that his best works were written when he was financially secure and didn’t have the pressure to rush something out. I found myself in that boat a few years ago after writing After the Day and rushing to finish the sequel Red Tide. Trying to stay afloat and keeping a roof over my head I continued writing and releasing books that were poorly edited, if at all, and lacked the rewriting they needed to make a better story. Currently Trump is cutting funding to the arts and in doing so will hurt the quality of our culture adding pressure to those who are trying to survive and therefore undermine the quality of their product for a short-term goal of paying the bills. Welcome to Trump’s America, the Republican wet dream of destroying that which the majority of people love.

While some will argue that I am being over paid for what I will be doing I will leave you with this. My pay will afford me to buy a bottle of wine I could not buy before, paying for the truck driver who delivered it, the wine maker to stay in business, the field hands that picked the grapes, the advertising agents that promoted it, the glass makers that produced the bottle, the graphic designer who made the labels, and the list goes on. People who make more money contribute to the economy, rich people do not. End of story.

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A Vision of the Future

When I imagine what the world will look like, specifically my area of Michigan, I see a drastic change from the world we have today. Some of the things we no longer have include supermarkets, a large number of cars, and less people. There will be some resemblance of our current normality. Local governments will have more power compared to state of federal. Roads will still be around. Electricity will be available to those that can figure out a power source. Libraries will be the main source of knowledge and entertainment.

Economically, the main stores will include reuse merchandise. Items that can stand the test of time and be fixed by a steady hand. This won’t be the electronics that we have today. Cell phones won’t be around. Home phones will return as the norm, for a while. The post office will send correspondence if it is still around after a republican administration. With a return of a reliance on the post office will come a return of earlier technology like the typewriter. Some people as about ribbon and how to get more? The bright side is that ribbon is a fairly easy product to make, also if the ribbon is still in good condition it can be reinked and used several times over. I can’t think of any modern technology that has that ability.

We will see a line in human history marking when humans stopped building tools that were reliable and sturdy. The quality of tools will mean more than how pretty they are.

Slate records and the hand crank Victrola will be items of luxury. The mechanically inclined will be the most valuable people to the general public. They will be the gateway to an easier life and a reminder of the world we once had. Communities will have to return for the sake of the population at large. Neighborhoods will no longer be boxes to hold your stuff, instead everyone will rely on sharing of goods and supplies to get by. Festivals will no longer be a place to sell and buy goods, instead a place to share and enjoy one another’s company.

Acoustic music will be the norm and making those instruments will become a new craft, revived from the local need. Old hand crank or foot pedal sewing machines will be a sign of luxury again. I don’t know if money will survive. People might think it was a nice idea and some will hold onto it thinking it is special while it is not edible and doesn’t serve any purpose besides existing. Festivals and local customs will be dictated by the seasons. Blueberries and other crops will become a focus point and become more than just a garnish in a salad. The first two R’s in reduce, reuse, recycle, will finally be used. While these items are saved and restored for future generations, life will be easier than if they had disappeared along with the rest of civilization. Mechanics will be the wizards of the future, speaking words like Metric and Inches as if it was a foreign language only they can understand. Life will become more simple while becoming more dangerous with people dying from diseases we consider a hindrance these days. In the end, everywhere will become a small town. Jobs will no longer be the concern on people’s minds. With the fall of banks and corporations the only job people will have is to survive. In order to survive people must work together, and hopefully remember the mistakes of the past and not repeat it in the distant future.

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A Message to a Young Writer

As I stand at work and type this I wonder what advise someone could have given to me at a young age to make sure I didn’t end up where I am today, and by that I’m not referring to being a writer or working some second shift job for $12 and hour. Instead I am referring to being a mediocre writer with little experience in a field I still have a lot of ignorance about. I am still learning as one should always do. The mistakes I made is not using the time I had to the best of my ability. This is why I write this to you, young writer.

Do not question your passion and don’t let others do that for you. If this is what you are drawn to or have a craving for, feed that beast. Eat everything. Read anything you can get your hands on. Make friends with like-minded souls who share your interest. Practice. Every word you write, every page you throw in the trash or delete is another step to writing that final work. Learn your craft. A master is someone that never stopped practicing their art.

Work every job that comes your way and treat it like a new experience for the first time. The conversations you have, the relationships you build are all tools added to your arsenal. There is no job too bad, boring, petty, dangerous, or loathing that you can’t walk away from without learning something. The writer shares with the world how they view it. There is no substitute.

Read the classics and hate them. Hate them for being so damn good. Hate them for being difficult to understand. Love them later when you are ready. Cling to those books that had you hooked and figure out why you love it so. What was it that sucked you in and became a part of you? Find those pieces and never let them go.

As a writer, there is no such thing as a useless subject. You may not use everything but if you know what you are writing about it will show through your work.

Find your voice. Use your craft to figure out who you are. When you find your voice, others will listen.

Be patient. Writing does not come quickly. There is no shortcut. Books are never finished in the first draft, edits are not done one time through, covers do not draw themselves, and promotion is half of the battle. Always doubt yourself and have confidence in your work. Listen to those that know more than you. Accept criticism and ignore the trolls. Always have in mind the next project. One book will not dictate your success or failure. You reach your destination by always moving ahead.

The most important thing I could leave you with is this, never stop learning. The world is a living and breathing place. Move with it, breath it in and be a part of it. stories change, markets change, your life will change. Don’t let yourself be left behind.

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