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.

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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.

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.

 

Dating Fiasco

The roommate of a friend of mine has been single for a few months, and has been trying to date. He’s been using dating aps and isn’t having much luck. In fact, the dates he’s been on have been downright hilarious. Full spectrum idiocracy, and he’s only half to blame.
I think his biggest problem is that he doesn’t know what exactly he’s looking for in a woman.  It’s like going into a car dealership without any idea of what you’re interested in, and then trying to test drive every car on the lot.
He’s shallow with his profile viewing, yet didn’t present himself favorably on his own. The dates he manages to go on have been horrible. Poorly planned, inconvenient, and conversationally dishonest.
It’s hard to watch a train wreck, but it’s hard to look away too.  I’ve been enjoying the entertainment value of  his dating fiascos.
He met a woman on the other side of the country while traveling for work, and somehow manages to invite her to come visit him, upon her arrival he decides he doesn’t like her after all, and proceeds to be a wet-blanket for the duration of her visit.
He met a woman who was hostile and drunk for the duration of their date at a night club, and yet he somehow asks her out for a second date.
He met a woman who is chronically unavailable to meet in real life because of a busy schedule. and another woman who was clearly trying to scam him into visiting her pay-to-view sex cam site.
He’s not a bad guy; tall, thin, average bro, car-guy personality, steak & potatoes diet, t-shirt, macho pride, and weak sense of housekeeping. And he lucked out hard with his college sweetheart ex, but Still Thinks that he might find another woman who’s that spectacular, so he’s totally unwilling to lower his standards, or make self-improvements to himself.
He’s given up dating in these past few weeks, and thrown his energy into videogames and snowboarding videos. Which means that I’ve temporarily lost an entertainment source, and can only speculate that dating in the digital age is much more difficult than previously anticipated.

Modern Courtships

If money is power, then how can anyone pretend that a marriage is an equal partnership? Clearly one of them has financial power over the other. If I made considerably more money than my spouse, then there’s an expectation for them to prioritize what they are able to bring to the table, which frequently is ‘time and energy for home maintenance’. If finances are a cornerstone for all marriage decisions, then the breadwinner is the decision-maker.  How are people still justifying marriage, knowing that it’s frequently a servitude agreement.
–  These days, women have equality, and are permitted to pursue powerful positions, but will often have to work a second-shift, and do domestic work at home, because husbands have traditionally never been expected to. The aggravation  of knowing that a woman is expected to do both: a career and a household,  divides her time between the two,  making her less effective in both, and less satisfied with the marriage.

That’s not to say that marriage can’t be equal, it can,  but in order for a marriage to actually be ‘equal’, both people have to bring assets to the table. Hundreds of years ago, this meant a dowry or some other type of inheritance, ensuring that one wouldn’t be a burden to the other. Of course prostitution was widely legal [and accepted] right up until 1910-1915, so it was okay if the marriage was loveless. If both people brought an asset to the table, then it’s easier to see how an alliance makes them stronger. If one was a butcher and the other a baker, then together they are able to expand and become a bistro. They’ve both gained something from the union.
–  But the modern American capitalism culture makes it difficult for individual people to acquire economic resource assets. The bakers and butchers of the world all work for larger companies now, so the only thing they have is a job.   A momentary occupation is expected to provide a basic level of financial stability, and little else. So modern courtships often rely on the individuals personal actions to justify matchmaking.
This is why fanatical ideals about Love have become so popular in our culture. We aren’t negotiating/leveraging our family’s assets, we’re only thinking about personal desires.
So what can a person do if they’re seeking  to impress a potential mate? Beyond the usual: employment, shelter, transportation, and availability;  What would make a person more valuable in a marriage negotiation?
Majority of the population has enough disposable income to have a few luxury items, but not mansions. What ‘stuff’  I accrue to make myself more impressive? What ‘things’ am I able to collect in order to earn favor with a potential mate?
And even if we find each other impressive, what reasons do we have to get married at all?

Escape into the Entertainment Sphere

It’s 2017, and I’m really disappointed with the condition of the American culture.
I’ve been saying for years that Technology has changed how people function, and how people think about the world. It seems like the novelty of digital socialization has slowly taken over our lives. Ever since the invention of the smart phone [10years ago], it has somehow become more ‘real’ to us than our day to day lives.
I read an article about how the younger generations are gravitating toward fantasy-based hobbies because they’re all dissatisfied with how the real world has turned out. This Generational Disillusionment has driven us into the welcoming arms of fictional entertainment.
This past week the media has focused on a new generation of white supremacy Nazis, emerging and spouting hatred toward all other Americans. We’re not looking at foreign invaders, not strangers in a distant land, it’s our neighbors that stand to harm us. A 20-yr old white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of people. Killing people, like a terrorist.

What’s going on with our culture?
Ever since the election of Trump, Politics has become a laughable occupation. We aren’t even trying to improve the country, politicians are simply manipulating the system for personal gain, without regulation.
The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer. Power does that.
My hair is falling out in quantities that suggest that I’m stressed. And I’m not the only one. Studies have shown a marked increase in societal stress these past few years. People are experiencing ‘hopelessness’ as if we were a country being devastated by war. This hopelessness coaxes the youth to abandon reality and dive deeper into fantasy.
Technology makes the world a lot smaller. It makes more things possible.
There’s a genuine possibility of real-life getting worse, and America losing a whole generation into the entertainment-sphere.

Adulting: 40 yr plan

One of the things that ‘adulting’ includes [beyond the usual: car maintenance, bills, taxes, groceries, furniture], is long term planning. It’s a scary thought to a young person, even saying it out loud sounds disingenuous; ‘Long Term’. I am not a fan of long term anything, and the longer I think about how Long I am going to be working, the more panicked I get.
But in order to be a proper adult, we have to budget and save for specific possibilities in the future. A 401k is a retirement fund that you pay into, in conjunction with your employer.  You put in 4% of your income, and your employer matches with another 4%.  The money goes into an investment account that plays with your money, hopefully yielding higher interest than a bank savings account would. Of course, we aren’t allowed to spend the money until we turn 65-yrs old. It’s like Social Security in the way that it’s meant to take care of you after you retire. People use it because it’s pre-taxable income. The more you put away, the less taxes you pay that year.

Bills are inevitable. But it’s important to keep on budgeting, even the Little things, which really do start to pile up. Phones, parking passes, tolls, website memberships, security fees, various services. And on top of all the immediate costs, there’s long term possible costs to plan for; healthcare, children, mortgage, accidents.
No one knows what will happen in the future.  A 40 year career is an antiquated concept. I may die long before I get to utilize my 401k.
& Like everyone else, I have concerns about the future of our culture. Technology changes so fast that every aspect of the world will be different by the time our children are adults. But Poverty has always been a huge problem. In America, it’s something like 25% of the workforce. The costs of living goes up, salaries/wages lag behind, and people can’t afford their daily expenses, let alone plan for future expenses. They fall into the ‘debt trap’ and heavily depend on credit cards. So budget and save for the future.
There’s no telling what industries will prosper or collapse in our lifetimes.  So we need to diversify our investments. We don’t know if the overall ‘standard of living’ will improve or diminish, So we have to save for the possibility of scarcity.
Leave this world a better place than when we found it. Protect the environment, eat real food, budget and plan for the future.

Hazards of Social Conformity

Humans have been doing things that cause our own demises for centuries. Most of the time it’s for social conformity. Peer pressure. Ideas of normality. Current fashion. Often it involves self-mutilation;  binding our feet, stretching our ears, wearing hats made with poisonous mercury, or face powders containing lead. All these things were normal at one point in history, and horrible for our health.    Yet we’re currently not any better.     We’re still doing things that are horrible for us, but are socially considered ‘normal’.     We consume high fructose corn syrup, fatty oils,  alcohol, tobacco. We give ourselves diseases by participating in these popular trends: heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, cancer.     We are continually  pressured to eat ‘normal’ food, wear ‘normal’ clothing, live in ‘normal’ domiciles, and participate in ‘normal’ social occasions. Simply because these things are culturally popular right now.
Current trends continue to be popular regardless of their hazards. Phones are popular, even though they cause a lot of accidents. Fatty food are popular, even though heart disease is the # 1 killer of Americans. Everyone owns a car, even though 40,000+ people died in traffic accidents in 2016. We can’t seem to stop participating because they’ve become embedded into our culture.

Certain popular things change how we interact with each other.  The youth generation is heavily invested with online social media, as a means of sharing every event in their lives. Last month, a woman accidentally shot and killed her friend  as part of a video challenge, to see if an encyclopedia would stop a bullet.  People have always desired having a community  and a sense of belonging, and in the digital era, that community is online. These people were drawn to participate in these risky activities because that’s what their community exists around. There’s a 50day challenge game in Russia  that has caused 130+ deaths. Every day it sends out a task, and the last challenge instructs the participants to kill themselves.  At the moment in history, it is also  normal to live stream videos of all events, including tragedies. Last week,  a group a teenagers were on trial for videotaping a man drowning, instead of helping him. This week, an 18-yr old live posts a video immediately following a car crash that killed her 14-yr old sister, instead of helping.
What this means is that individuals would rather share an existing event, than try to effect change in the world around them. Our social culture  is so obsessed with our digital footprint, that our online life means more to us than our real life.

 

Barclay

I recently watched all 7 seasons of Star Trek Next Gen, and there was a side character that really stuck with me. It was a weirdo engineer with an anxiety disorder. In the first episode with him, no one on the ship liked working with him, and their observable dislike only caused him to be more nervous and awkward with his coworkers. His therapeutic outlet was to have fantasy experiences with the hologram recreations of his crewmates. So the more stress he was under, the more he secluded himself into the fantasy world.

I was fascinated with this particular character because up until him, everyone seemed unusually competent and skilled. He was the only one that had a off-putting behavioral oddity. I found him relatable, because I am also not sociable, and in many ways I do the exact same thing with my hobbies.
Having something ‘small and pleasant’ to say always creates the illusion of friendliness, but it’s very much an illusion, because real socializing often triggers my already short fuse.  It’s not to say that I am incapable of patience and compassion, I am, it’s just that I don’t usually practice those emotions in group social performances. I’m basically a Klingon in that way. I don’t take kindly to being jerked around, and I’m not really interested in coddling a strangers outlandish wishes for the sake of ‘being nice’.

A few episodes later, the show revisits the same awkward character.  He’s made some strides with his anxiety, and starts to blend in a bit, but then he gets zapped by an alien probe and ‘becomes’ the computer’s brain. He enjoys the power-trip, but by the end of the episode, he’s back to being average. Episodes with him start to feel stressful, as the audience starts to identify with his point of view.
After that, he stars in another episode about seeing something mysterious  inside the transporter beam. That episode was emotionally draining, because everyone tried to convince him that he was mistaken, and that there was just no way he saw anything [when of course he Did].    A few episodes after that, he helps out with an sentient hologram character that wants to leave the ship. Which was the first episode that utilizes him in a capacity that doesn’t make him seem completely crazy.    It was nice to see him reach his full potential, like maybe there’s hope for all of us weirdos after all.
And in one last episode, this character is the accidental cause of a mutation outbreak on board that causes everyone to devolve.
Although the episode didn’t focus on him, it does briefly circle back to his anxiety as a source of social discomfort between him and the rest of the crew. Drawing attention to the fact that he still has problems, and his time in Star Fleet didn’t resolve them. Which goes to show that in a world where all physiological and safety needs are met, some people are still anxious.