Happy-Sad about the Holidays

The holiday-fever seems to get more extreme with each passing year. I saw full sections of Christmas merchandise for sale as early as Halloween.  I often wonder why no other holidays get the same reaction.  Halloween also has iconic mascots, tradition, and marketability, but there are no parades  for it, or societal pressures to be enthusiastic about it. Many people don’t even bother to dress up for it; no clothing or decorations to signify holiday participation. I’ve always enjoyed Christmas lights, so premature holiday decorations have never bothered me. It feels like the  darkness of winter is less gloomy when bright playful lights adorn the buildings. I’ve never found them to be ‘merry’ but I do find the change of scenery to be entertaining. Any change at all is welcome.

My area has a Christmas faire in downtown, which appears to have outgrown its inner-city park location. Spilling out into nearby areas, causing traffic/pedestrian overcrowding.   The event made a world record for its quantity of decorated trees this year.   So either people really like Christmas, or they just  like street carnivals; or most likely, they just like a change of scenery.
That being said, the office where I work is managed by an individual who is hell-bent on Never celebrating any holiday. We are presently less than 3.5 weeks from Christmas, and every store everywhere has their holiday displays out in full force, but this office [inside and out] is deceptively barren.
I’m fairly certain that I’m the only person working here who still has the nervous energy to be upset with the management. Everyone else is submissive to the antiquated views of the boss-man. It’s Not a disgusting/arduous place to work, but it’s just no fun at all. The blandness breaks a person, like being locked in an insane asylum, white walls everyday, while the holidays are happening outside without me .

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‘Basic’ personality: the trendy safe-zone of socially acceptable behaviors

There is no unchecked individuality in our culture, because we all live by the accepted social rules of our specific subcultures. We all belong to certain social culture-groups.
If all of your friends were ‘doing something’ [fashion, hobby, opinion, ect], eventually you’d be doing it too. Or else you’d be going against your subcultures norms, and subsequently experience social rejection. Humans are social creatures, so we try to conform with our groups’ customs, whatever they may be.

The Basic B*tch/Bro behavior  is a creation of the consumer-goods marketing strategy. Companies have accidentally created a subculture of shopaholics by aggressively marketing conflicting ideas about normality, and pushing nearly every luxury product onto the same young-attractive-westernized demographic.
This demographic is forced to consider thousands of products in rapid succession, and the end result is a consumeristic young-attractive-westernized shopaholic who is shallow and fickle with their purchases. Aka: that Basic Personality.  They appear to have erratic opinions and fashion choices, rapidly jumping to the next popular trend that’s advertised to their demographic, trying to stay in the trendy safe-zone of socially acceptable behaviors.
I have a theory that ‘Basic’ Personality type arose because of the models that appear in advertisements;  the product was advertised specifically to young, attractive, conservative, westernized people. People like that  appeared in advertisements modeling with the merchandise, and encouraging others like them to buy the products and be part of their group.
Social behaviors are learned, so it makes sense that the collective group of product-crazed-shoppers would encourage their peers to mimic the behavior.  In the exact same way, the advertisement distances the product from all other demographics.  Everyone sees the same advertisements, but not everyone reacts the same way to it.  So people who live outside of that consumeristic demographic don’t feel the same urge to comply with the advertisements suggestion of social normalcy. Irregular people aren’t part of the advertising ‘target market’, so no one really presumes them to have the luxury products, therefore they aren’t socially pressured to obtain it.

Think about the advertisements for a new luxury good; popular food restaurants, new technology, new fashion, ect, and think about the type of people you’d expect to respond to those ads.

normal human experiences vs. favorable social behaviors

Normality is a cultural and geographically specific social construct. It’s not real in a tangible sense, because trends / fashions that are normal for the time and place, but will become not normal with time and/or distance. Styles change, opinions change, lifestyle choices change, geography, architecture, technology, ect.
Things that are a normal human occurrence in Alaska, are not the same as a normal human occurrence in Brazil.
So if a number of humans are able to experience something, then that thing is a normal human experience, because it is not abnormal for such a thing to happen. Or rather, it’s not impossible.
I think people have a skewed view of what  normal behavior is, because they anticipate a narrow window of socially acceptable behaviors, even if behaviors and experiences outside of that window are a common occurrence.  The intricacies of social behaviors are specific to the beliefs and values of the subculture. As a culture, we’re lead to believe that normality is a fine line, when in fact it’s expansive, and includes everything that a human is capable of doing or experiencing. It is normal to have a full range of expressive responses [hysteria, violence, depression, delirium, ecstasy, trauma, arousal, frenzy, mania, irrationality] , but openly conveying these behaviors is disapproved of by the current culture.  So many people behave as if admitting to having these outbursts alludes to mental instability.

Believing that having a mental health issues is not normal  is incorrect, because humans throughout history have experienced ailments, so it is normal. Ailments happen all the time. Every city in every country has medical services to treat all the ailments that humans have. So attempting to demonize mental health issues only intensifies the discomfort experienced by ailing people. Pushing people out of the culturally determined ‘parameters of favorable behavior’ creates prejudice, and segments society. Pretending that people are able to restrain their impulses in order to be more aligned with socially acceptable behaviors is foolish, because everyone is capable of having a mental breakdown; like PTSD, hallucinations, schizophrenia, dementia. Some things are out of your control.
If 1 human is capable of something, then other humans are capable of it as well.  If all humans are capable of experiencing an adrenaline rush, then all humans are capable of similar hormonal reactions to stimuli.   Arbitrarily deciding that some disorders are more acceptable [ like: addiction, OCD, narcissism, dysmorphic], but others are inexcusable is not right.
If a quantity of humans are able to experience something, then that thing is a normal human experience.

Pressured to get married

I wish marriage licenses were like driver licenses, and had a limited time duration, so you’d have to renew it, or let it expire. I know that some people are happy the idea of ‘forever’, but marriage requires constant maintenance, and I  think most people aren’t 100% ready for it. Most people have goals for themselves to get married by a certain age. But they haven’t giving much thought to what it’ll take to maintain the marriage, or willing to spent any time mentally preparing themselves for the type of things they’re required to do in order to stay married.

Up until ~50 years ago.  Men viewed marriage as a socially acceptable way to get a lifetime domestic servant,  and acquire someone who will do work for them [cook, clean, care for children];  and women viewed marriage as a socially acceptable way to get a financial supporter.  Back then, women didn’t have 40-year careers [so a good marriage was the key to long term financial security].
But, things change, society changes, and the divorce rates are now ~40%. Indicating that a lawful bind  isn’t the same as a lifetime bind. But people have grown accustomed to the old-fashioned social concepts about marriage,  and refuse to endorse any other forms of commitment. So people still decide to get married, knowing that the odds of being together forever are slim.

I have someone in my life. But I have no reason to think that marriage would be beneficial to either of us. We are not living in a practical culture, and this is not a sympathetic era. Politics are harsh, the economy is bad, and neither one of us can afford to settle down in this city. We’re here to work, but can’t afford to have a home or family here.  I know there are benefits to being married, but  I’m not sure that those benefits are enough to justify the probability of divorce, and the financial and emotional strain the comes along with it. And a 40% chance of divorce is a high likelihood.

Hypothetically, if there was a 40% probability of you losing a limb, you would think twice, try to minimize risk, and avoid hazards. And if everyone in the country had the same odds of misfortune, we would declare it a national catastrophe, and then try to adjust our principles in order to protect ourselves from further harm.
But we’re not,  because society is still encouraging young people to follow their hearts instead of their head,  inevitably leading half of us to harm.  An exaggeration of course. But with how common divorce is, I’m surprised the social-acceptability of marriage hasn’t declined. I’m surprised parents don’t flinch, and beg young couples to reconsider making such a life changing decision while love-sick.

Prayer isn’t always the answer, try Constant Mindfulness instead

Everyone needs to have a basic understanding of how the world works. We all participate in our local culture, and work to sustain ourselves.  We all interact with children, and we all need to consider that we are the causes of our own problems. Believing that there’s an invisible man in the sky that takes care of you, and has a specific plan for everything, is a cop-out so that you don’t have to think about other explanations for things [like facts or science or economy].
There’s a time and place for Prayer.
‘Prayer’ is for people who are facing situations beyond their control.  I could pray to win the lottery, but it won’t really make a difference if God has other plans for me.  I could pray for the victims of natural disasters, but not for the victims of human-caused tragedies, because humans caused those problems ourselves.   We made choices that harmed ourselves and others. Praying for relief from preventable ailments is also moot, because you have the ability to seek medical care and manage your own health.   God didn’t force you to eat junk food every day for 40 years, it’s time you owned up to the fact that you gave yourself  heart disease. Praying is a way to verbalize ‘thankfulness’ for things we already have, not to ask for petty favors. You aren’t going to get a promotion at work because you prayed for it, you have to work hard for it.
People are misusing religion, and depending on it way more than they should. They’re behaving as if caring for the wellbeing of others isn’t their responsibility, even when ‘love’ is  the basis of their faith.

Religion has always been a guide to harmoniously live with other people. Being generous and tolerant of others.  Treat others the way you would like to be treated. You may behave horribly to get the things you want, but greed is a sin, so hopefully your religious guidelines prevents you from becoming evil.
Religion is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card.  God isn’t your personal assistant.  You can’t pray yourself out of situations that you got yourself into.
Life is long, and it requires constant mindfulness;  we’re all going to have to live with the consequences of our actions for the rest of our lives.

Americanized

Something I’ve just noticed about the war-time immigrants,  is that they don’t try to preserve their ethnic traditions.  It’s almost like leaving their homeland forces them to emotionally shed their heritage in order to better cope with the new American ways. Their children grow up with minimal ethic traditions. And within 2 generations everything is forgotten.
But peace-time immigrants maintain their ethnic traditions, because their departure wasn’t forced; they teach the language to their children, and try to retain their heritage, since the option to go back is still available to them.

My father’s mother is full German. During the war, she served as a nanny-nurse to an American military officers family, where she met my American-born grandfather, whom also worked for that officer. After the war, they married, and he brought her here to live in Pennsylvania. My father doesn’t speak German, nor does he own anything resembling a link to German culture. I asked him why grandma never taught him about his heritage, and he said that the war encouraged Americanization.  They didn’t want to be seen as foreigners, so they let everything go,  and total assimilated into American culture.  I’m not sure if my father has any regrets about it.
My mother is also foreign. She also arrived during a war, and she also didn’t try to teach her children anything cultural.  -But she has a significantly younger sibling who did the exact opposite, and did everything necessary to teach my cousins about it.  This means that I have several younger cousins that are very in-touch with our ethnic roots.  I’m envious. And annoyed that I’m constantly being compared to people who had a more comprehensive upbringing than I did. If the culture was important to my mother, she would have taught us about it. But it wasn’t,  and she didn’t, and now I’m just another Americanized adult from a family filled with immigrants, many of whom don’t ever talk about it  [just like my father].

I get it. People travel, and we’re all from somewhere else; which is good, the more diverse we are, the better. It’s important to remember that we’re all immigrants, and the everyday American-consumer-culture is only part of who we are. The Earth isn’t very big, and we are more connected to our overseas neighbors than ever before. We should all share in a variety of different cultural interests, so that we remember how things change, and how we changed along with them.

# family, immigrants, WW2, ethnic traditions, diversity, Americanization, Connected earth, assimilation, culture , forgetting heritage, war makes you forget, coming to America.

13mph toward insanity

I know there’s no truth to it. but ever since the Aug 2017 solar eclipse, it seems like I’m perceiving time moving slower. It’s been ~ 6weeks since then, but it seems like longer to me. I used to say things like, “I can’t believe it’s already June, seems like just yesterday was Christmas”, but now, every week seems to crawl, and I’m saying things like, “that happened today? seems like it happened months ago”.
I’m at a point where sleep isn’t really restful. I lay down at night, and suddenly its morning. Then I rush into endless traffic, then I’m at work for several hours.  It just seems like  such a large quantity of my waking hours are packed into a 9-to-5 work routine that I can’t get out of.
I have no idea how some people manage to go out socializing after work.
I know that other people don’t have to work the 9-to-5 schedule,  and many of the techies don’t have to work 8-straight-hours a day, which allows them to run errands any time of day.  But my current place of work doesn’t have that option. I’m basically locked in for  an enormous chunk of daylight hours.
The months of sitting under unwavering artificial light, in an artificial temperature, makes all time appear to stop. Each day starts to blend into the next, the seasons all blur together, the years. It’s almost like I’m trapped in my own personal circle of hell. On repeat. The illusion of normality, when it’s slowly causing insanity. It sounds like the plot of the show : The Good Place.
Traffic around here has been getting worse.  It takes me about an hour every day to go the 13 miles to work, and another hour to get back home. That’s averaging 13mph when you think about it. And in the autumn season when there’s only 11 hours of daylight a day. I spend nearly all of it at work & doing work-related activities.
I’m not really sure what to do with myself these days. Seems like  I’m just holding my breath and waiting for tomorrow.

City or Country

After expressing desire to move away from the city, a friend commented that, they personally needed civilization. ‘Need’ is the wrong word, because it implies a requirement; like food, water, or air.   But more importantly, when are we ever really away from civilization? We normally can’t leave civilization.
I’m stuck in civilizations traffic 10+ hrs a week. I work in a civilized office 40 hrs a week; white walls, white floors, white desk. I sleep in a civilized domicile; heat, plumbing, wi-fi. Even my yard is mostly paved concrete. There’s nothing natural or rustic about any location where I normally am.
Does anyone really think that moving 4 hrs away from sky scrapers is going to hinder our modern routines? Electricity, plumbing, and wi-fi exists everywhere, there’s no wilderness anymore. Even Camping has been largely replaced by the more civilized Glamping.
I don’t consider rural living to be uncivilized. I’ve traveled to small towns in the middle-of-nowhere America and found that they still have the same mart-stores that the big city does. There are stores and restaurants everywhere, so everywhere seems livable.
At this point in my life, I want a garden, and the city areas don’t offer enough space for it. There’s something about having a garden that literally demonstrates how a person has settled in. Laid down actual roots, and grown into a life.
The area where I grew up in had a lot of farms, so I grew accustomed to it, and not having them around makes me think that people have forgotten where real food comes from.  I think farming is easier to understand than technology,  it’s about longevity. It takes time to grow a healthy orchard. Farming gets easier with age; technology gets outmoded. I try to image what I would be doing if I had a massive garden. If I grew enough yield to be self-sustaining. If I’d write a lifestyle cook-book about getting back to basics.
I realize that I’ll have to leave the city lifestyle behind me, but in all fairness the ‘city’ isn’t doing a whole lot for me. The hordes of city-people make my commute 5x longer, and while it’s True that there’s more variety of lifestyle options in a city, with how much time is already wasted on the mandatory bits, I never have the will-power to utilize the variety anyway. I rarely go out because of how little time there is at the end of the day. The city is congested and exhausting, and so I always feel crowded and exhausted.

Adventures with Greenhouse. Year 1.

A serendipitous present I received this year was a rather large tunnel greenhouse. Arch style, 7ft by 15ft.
With such an uncharacteristically hot-humid summer we’ve been having, a greenhouse seemed unnecessary. But I’ll admit that I was eager to expand my gardening endeavors. My summer harvest had variety, but not abundance.  Perhaps some shelter will help the avocado tree reach its full potential.
This particular greenhouse required assembly, and came with a crude line diagram of the finished product, but no real instructions. Assembly took 2 people about 45 minutes to complete.
Right now there’s only the existing potted plants in it. Peppers, tomatoes, lavender, herbs, ect.
The weather turned cooler near the end of September. And I started trying to sprout seeds for the winter. I know it’s too soon, but since they weren’t ever going to be exposed to frost,  maybe the extra time will allow them to get larger.  My pumpkin vine has existed since early spring, but it hasn’t grown a full pumpkin yet, and I’m worried it won’t happen before Halloween. Maybe if I had started it a year early, I would have ripe pumpkins in time.
A second present I received this year, was an zutano Avocado tree. Taller and thinner than the one I had been growing for the last 3+ years, and this one already had fruit. It was decided that the pear tree would have to go to make space for it. That tree was older, and the pears this year had been disappointingly worm-eaten.
Another new addition, was a dragon fruit plant. It’s not really fair to call it a tree since it’s a jungle plant that’s been formed onto a lollipop frame. I had never seen one before, but apparently they do well in warm-humid weather [or in greenhouses]. The plant appears outlandish; a big tangle of thick succulent tentacles, with pinecone shaped pink fruit.
I’ve also heard that garlic and onions do alright in winter greenhouses, so I figured I’ll try growing those too. Mostly I figured I’d try and keep a tomato plant alive through the winter, since only 1 of the 4 plants I had this year actually yielded a decent quantity.
I’ll update next spring to share what survived.

Floods, fires, earthquakes; and the slow Apocalypse

I’ve been convinced for a long time that America is failing. Corporate greed, consumerism, lack of practical skills education, xenophobic government policies, short-sighted social programs. But there’s something else that’s been in the news lately ; the apocalypse of the natural world.  Fires, floods, and earthquakes sweep the nation, destroying hundreds of American infrastructures. Whole cities destroyed, and emergency services are stretched thin.

American is vast, and there’s plenty of space for everyone, but because of how cities are clustered, no one is able to find work in the rural counties. There are not isolated pockets of self-sustaining farm communities anywhere. So when the cities fail, the masses suffer. The past month, there have been multiple hurricane disasters, multiple fire disasters, earthquakes, and very little government action. In fact, the politicians have been focusing on legislation to deport students, instead of on relief efforts.
If all the natural disasters ruin the land, then in 10 years we’ll all be starving.
-If the fires destroy the orchards and farms, we won’t have food. If the floods ruin the dirt, we can’t grow more. If the earthquakes collapse the roads and buildings, we’ll be isolated.  Flood damage, fire damage, no food.
It’ll occur gradually over the course of years, but eventually the slow destruction of the natural world will become an apocalypse.  Everything will become scarce as we prioritize food production. Prices will increase, and people will become desperately poor from this hardship.  It’ll be the Great Depression all over again.
Eventually, people will become ill from eating cheaply manufactured food, just like the sailors used to get scurvy because there’s no fruit on boats.
Since land now has legal ‘holders’ it won’t be possible to start farming on land that doesn’t belong to you, meaning that renters will become homeless if they are unable to afford the inflated cost. As homelessness  becomes an issue, people will be forced to live in makeshift shanties in derelict areas of cities. Crime will increase as people get more and more desperate. Decline will happen slowly, but it will happen eventually.

Unlike the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was ended by production for WW2, our Great Depression can’t be  pacified, since all our consumer production is already overseas and since we already spend half our national tax revenue on the military. The only way to go is down.