Finally

I have finally paid off my debt! I don’t know exactly how to feel at a time like this. Part of me wants to celebrate, but the years of living hand-to-mouth have made me weary and I just don’t have the energy. I feel like the child I used to be, waiting and staying up very late to see a movie on tv only to be so tired that I couldn’t enjoy it.

Technically, I’ll be in debt for another week or so until the last payment posts, but the funds are already allocated. I remembered to stop the automatic monthly payments after next week, which was a great feeling.

I’m still amazed that I could accomplish this after going on disability and having my income almost halved. I learned when and where to spend. The pandemic actually helped in a weird way because there was less opportunity to go out and spend money. Obviously, I’d rather not have a pandemic, but I had no choice in the matter.

Now I look forward to putting the chunk of money that went to debt payment each month into my savings, to be held for a rainy day or an emergency. If I really need something I can use my credit, but only as a last resort.

Emotionally, I’m still trying to process what has happened. I’ve dreamed of this day for so long, and now it’s finally here. Since there won’t be any wild celebration, I’ll find another way to celebrate this milestone.

Adjustments

I got some much-needed good news when I visited my Endocrinologist on Friday. She advised me that I can start to really experiment with my medicine and insulin regimen to get my numbers back closer to normal. With all the tree pollen in the air, my glucose levels are fluctuating wildly. This happens to me every yea, but this is the first time that I have found an Endocrinologist who was willing to listen and help me make some adjustments to get things right again.

Obviously, part of this is on me about my diet. It turns out that I was overmedicating myself and that made me eat more. The doctor advised that I cut back on my insulin dosage and then reduce eating, especially at night, to see what happens with my numbers. After a few days, I am noticing a big difference. It is amazing what happens when a doctor actually listens to a patient and doesn’t just give them stock speeches during a perfunctory exam every few months.

I hope that I can maintain this new routine permanently, but she said she trust me to maker the correct adjustments and to let her know when I do between visits.

Closure

I attended a virtual Happy Hour with sone of my former coworkers. We do this on a semi regular basis, but as my time away from the job grows longer, the gatherings are more and more uncomfortable. Several of the people on the team I worked with have moved on to other jobs within the company, or out of the company altogether. Things are not remotely the way they were 2 years ago.

I wonder how much longer these gatherings will take place. My interest is less than it was. There is less and less to talk about because our common ground has disappeared from under our feet. I will give them perfunctory updates about my health, and they will talk about whatever they want to talk about, and we will be done in less than an hour.

I used to have a least one beer during these meetings to appear social. Now, I don’t even bother. I don’t need to drink alcohol anymore, and why should I make any effort for a virtual meeting anyway?

as I mentioned earlier, I don’t know how many more of these meetings we will have. I realize that I just don’t care anymore. The feeling that I was isolated and alone has become normal for me. The virtual meeting don’t help that at all.

I dialed into the meeting 5 minutes early because there is always some type of technical issue to be resolved, but at the designated start time I was the only person online.. while this was too early to write off the meeting, I was not surprised at all.

Making Changes

I woke up this morning with my sinuses completely stoop up, feeling miserable, and in a generally surly mood. I have endured sinus trouble most of my life, I just deal with it. Sinus trouble is a genetic curse my family gave me unintentionally.

Hal told me that he read about changing my sugar and caffeine habits might ease or eliminate them. At this point, I’m willing to try anything so I’ll cut back on sugar and caffeine as much as I can immediately and then see what happens.

I know that there will be some unpleasant effects of reducing sugar and caffeine, I just have to push through and see what happens. If these steps help improve my sinus problems, it will be worth it.

Online Dangers

I am very suspicious of online activity and I try my best to maintain my privacy. I dropped FaceBook many years ago because of the numerous security risks that were known even at that time. Because of my former job with the military, I was informed about the dangers of online activity when not taking precautions to protect myself.

I spoke with Hal repeatedly through the years about his use of social media. My concern grew when he got involved with the VR community and the complicated things that went on there. I explained to Hal that VR was a perfect hideout for hackers and other people of dubious character. Hal always told me that I worried too much, and that he was careful. I knew from the experiences he talked about with me that this wasn’t the case, but I had to defer to his judgment.

A few days ago, Hal told me he suspected that his account had been hacked by one of his VR “friends”. Sadly, this turned out to be the case. Luckily, this person was more of an asshole hacker than a malicious one, but that didn’t make me feel any better. When Hal told me that he was getting text messages on his phone from that person, my inner alarms went off. I have to take Hal’s word that he never gave his number to anyone in the VR community. I explained to Hal that this was the final, incontrovertible truth that he had been hacked.

It has been pure turmoil watching Hal take every precaution AFTER the damage has been done. Thankfully, none of his bank accounts or credit cards have been hacked….yet. I spoke with a former colleague who works cybersecurity and put him in touch with Hal. Hal had to hear someone other than me tell him to reevaluate his online activity, and to take precautions BEFORE something like this happens again because it will.

Hal finally understands what I was telling him for years. I’m not upset with him, I just wish I could have done more to convince him that online is a dangerous place. Everyone needs to be careful. I hope that the scenario is almost over, and that life can get back to so-called normal around here.

As I joked with Hal for several years, reality is bad enough. I want no part in sone online parody of real life!

40 Years

I graduated from high school 40 years ago next month. Time flies and creeps simultaneously in life. I haven’t stayed in touch with people from my hometown because I never felt we had much in common. I occasionally saw a few old classmates back in the day when I used FaceBook, but once I got rid of FaceBook that contact stopped. It was sad in a way, but not overwhelming. I haven’t been in my hometown in over 20 yers, since Mom passed away and I went back fo take care of business. Until that time, I did visit her, or paid to have her fly out to visit me wherever I was at the time.

I thought about this 40-year anniversary and wonder if there is a reunion planned. I haven’t attended any reunions so far, I don’t think I want to start now. It would be interesting to know what is going on, but I don’t want to let all those people from so long ago into my life again. I left them behind when I left my hometown for college and then joined the Navy. I have seen so many wonderful things that directly contradict the small-minded viewpoints I saw on FaceBook from people still in my hometown. My worldview evolved and I don’t want to walk into an environment where conflict is likely.

Through the years I have interacted with some of my classmates, as I mentioned earlier. I could feel the tension involved with communicating after all the years apart. Life experiences were not compatible with people who never left our hometown. Those people fell into the conventional approach to life and are stranded there. I could feel the frustration in their voices when I told them about places I have been and people I have met. What starts as jealousy turns to distrust and in some cases, outright hatred.

I represent what they could have been if they took the initiative when they were younger. I don’t claim to be superior, but I do feel comfortable with my life and hold no jealousy towards them. I am the outcast and that suite me fine. There are others from our class who went into the world. None of them have gone back to our hometown either. I cannot say if they feel the same way I do, but that is none of my business.

I suppose that the symbolic 40-year milestone is why I am thinking about these things. I have done well without returning for 40 years, I see no reason to go back now. I hold no ill will, I just cannot miss something that I never had, and that is a connection to my hometown after all these years.

Endurance

I often find myself wondering what is the point of writing? Self-fulfillment only goes so far before writing becomes just another chore that needs to be done to avoid that uncomfortable feeling when something is neglected. There are days when I just don’t feel like writing, I can’t find any motivation or inspiration.

These are the days when I need to write more than ever, which seems strange. How can I write something meaningful when I can’t think of anything meaningful to write? I feel like I go through the motions without becoming numb to them?

Helpless

Sometimes I feel like there is no more that I can do to address a problem or a situation. I was taught as a child that there is a solution to everything if I can take the time to find it. My parents never watched Star Trek, so they never would have understood the Kobiyashi Maru scenario, a no-win situation.

I face a no-win scenario with my health right now. I’m just over a bout of hypoglycemia, where my blood sugar dropped to 49 and woke me out of my sleep in a cold sweat. Luckily, I had glucose tablets on the bedside table for emergencies, and this qualified. My blood sugar stabilized after about 10 minutes of slowly chewing and swallowing glucose tablets. I got my level back to 104, and now I am terrified of going back to sleep.

Experience has taught me that I won’t have another hypoglycemia episode tonight, but the fear isn’t rational. I am helpless against this fear, making me feel angry and ashamed. I should not have those responses, but they always appear at times like these.

The Waiting

With the proper credit to Tom Petty, the waiting, is indeed, the hardest part. I have say that after dropping my car off to get a new part that is so minor that it was difficult to find. Unfortunately, this part keeps my car from passing the state inspection, so I have to go through this waste of time and money.

Because the dealership is busy, there’s no concrete estimate on when my car will be ready. No matter, my first stop afterwards will be AAA, since they performed the inspection and can verify that the defective part has been replaced without having to pay for a new inspection where another bunch of “experts” can find yet another thing magically wrong.

I feel like I’m being exploited and I don’t like the feeling. My only goal is to escape the hell on earth also known as the customer lounge as quickly as possible. Now, it’s not like I’m missing time at work or anything, but I still think sitting around a place, surrounded by strangers who apparently haven’t heard about COVID judging by the lack of masks, is a complete waste of time.

At least Hal is with me. He decided to make the trip so I don’t lose my temper or anything like that. We brought medicine and plenty of hand wipes, in addition to both of us being the ONLY people here wearing masks. We’ve isolated ourselves away from the beds as much as possible, and we’ve gotten looks from the other people. I hope that we don’t catch anything and I honestly hope no one else here does either. But I will not risk my fragile health so carelessly.

So now it all comes down to the waiting , and the waiting is the hardest part.

Radio Days

I have always loved radio. In the digital age, with everything available via YouTube or streaming video, I often find myself just turning on a radio to enjoy entertainment and information without visual overload. I know that a part of this goes back to my Navy days when I worked extensively with radios and listening to the world and the people in it. In fact, I am listening to a station called RadioIQ as I typer this. RadioIQ is a service from Virginia Tech, NPR, BBC and Virginia Public Radio. Obviously this is not the wacky morning DJ type of station, but it suits my needs.

RadioIQ gives in-depth reporting on issues and provides stories and viewpoints that I cannot find anywhere else. I detest 15-second soundbite headlines that masquerade as real news. I enjoy hearing about things that I won’t see on the tv news. I am extremely wary of “talk” radio. I avoid those types of stations because they are ridiculously slanted and worthless to me since I want to expand my mind, not reinforce what I already think I know.

I know that most of the world enjoys extensive radio programming like RadioIQ, I hope that there are more stations and networks like this around this country. We need more independent media that counterbalances the mainstream media. Mainstream media only exists to serve their corporate masters and make profits. This practice influences reporting, especially what they report. A truly dangerous trend has grown over the last 40 years because the US abolished the “fairness doctrine”. In its place we now have mainstream media that treats basically stupid positions as valid points of view.

I just heard a story about Africa that will never make the national news here. The story came from the BBC, just another example of why I love RadioIQ. That story was preceded by a story about the passing of the author Jack Higgins. Radio, especially stations like RadioIQ, strive to be different, and I enjoy that.

There is something almost romantic about radio. I can envision things as I listen to them without the clutter of provided visuals. I can do other things rather than have my whole being occupied with watching the tv. I have never been able to use the TV as background noise like some people can.

I might be out of touch, but I am a digital man who loves the analog uniqueness of radio.