Get Used To Disappointment

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end for the television sensation that is Game of Thrones. I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time, and I certainly hope that the ending is satisfying – but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that it’s going to disappoint me in the end, just like most of the shows I have loved before it. Now, it’s better than a show not getting an ending because it was cancelled… Stargate Universe, Colony, Firefly, I could go on for quite awhile I’m sure, those are the first 3 that came to mind for me. But then we’ve also got shows like Lost or How I Met Your Mother – shows that I loved pretty much all the way through, but that kind of went to crap in the final season.

The only show that I can think of off the top of my head that had a better than “meh” ending is Breaking Bad. I’m sure there are others, but my point is, they are the exception, not the rule. It’s hard to wrap up a long running story in a satisfying way… and if I’m honest, I don’t know how you wrap up Game of Thrones in another 8 hours or so (I haven’t done the math on the runtimes, nor do I know if the numbers that came out with finalized, but I know all 6 are generally under 90 minutes).

So I’m trying to tone down my own hype for the end. Lowered expectations are met much more easily. To be sure, I’m hoping not to be disappointed, but, I also think that’s the most likely scenario. Especially when I read articles making predictions about how things will end and all the proposed endings sound rather lame to me. Also, everyone seems to be obsessed on the idea of who will end up in the Iron Throne, and I can’t help but feel like that’s missing the point. If the ending involves the importance of some individual occupying the throne, I feel like it will be very uninteresting.

I like to think that George RR Martin came up with some brilliant ending years ago that no one else has been able to imagine and that we’re all going to be blown away by it. How likely is that? I don’t know.

But, I do have my own idea of what I think an interesting (if perhaps depressing) way to end the series would be: they lose. Despite their efforts to band together in the eleventh hour and fight off the army of the dead, Westeros is wiped out, or at least all the structures that exist there. Perhaps the seeds of some new civilization are planted, but the end of the world as they know it would seem interesting to me, and it goes against what an audience expects in the story.

Part of the reason why I think this would be better is I can’t imagine them beating the White Walkers in a way that doesn’t feel contrived in the time left – but perhaps there is a way. If we just end up with Dany or Jon or Jon and Dany ruling the 7 kingdoms with the White Walkers having been kicked off back up to the north and life in Westeros continues on with the Targareans back on the throne and they all live happily ever after, what sort of a conclusion is that to the story?

I don’t call my proposed ending a prediction – I don’t know that I have any reason to think it will happen – other than that the whole storyline seems to have been the people of Westeros fighting about things that don’t really matter whilst ignoring the thing that matters most of all… and it seems like there should be consequences for that – but, I do know that the happy ending doesn’t seem like a fitting one for this story – especially as Martin has posited this series as a bit of a critique on Lord of the Rings… which ends with the return of the king and a happy ending now that the rightful king has returned and evil has been defeated. So is he really going to end his story in the same (not to mention expected) way? It would seem an odd choice to me.

We’ll find out soon enough. Maybe it will become a bit clearer even after tomorrow’s episode. But I wanted to write down some thoughts before the season began.

Respite

Note: This is long, rambly, and self-reflective. It takes a really long time for me to get to the point, and it’s probably not a point worth getting to for anyone other than myself. But you’re welcome to read it if you like.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Which is indistinct from any other time, as my brain rarely shuts up. About the only time I’m not mulling something over is if my brain is preoccupied with something else, like playing a game, perhaps. That’s probably part of the reason that I like them.

One of the thoughts that entered my head recently was this idea that throughout my life there have been different versions of me, and I am in a very literal sense a different person than I was many years ago. It seems to me to be true in both a physical sense and a mental sense. Now, scientifically speaking, ones cells are dying and being replaced by new ones all the time. According to some folks (a quick google search tells me it’s dubious) every 7 to 10 years you’re a whole new mess of cells than you had been 7 to 10 years earlier. So by that logic (I’ll go with the 10 year span), sitting in front of this computer right now is Jason 4.0.

(If that seems off to you, remember, you’re version 1.0 when you’re born, so at 10 you are 2.0, etc.)

Then throughout life you have all sorts of experiences and meet and interact with all kinds of people. Those people have all sorts of experiences of their own, some of which intermingle with yours. They have a bunch of different ideas about things too, and often they’ll tell you about them. Some of those things might seem to you quite interesting or compelling. Some may seem foolish. Sometimes, given more time and experience, a thing that seemed foolish may later seem compelling, or the reverse.

The people that you are friends with are also very likely to shape you in any given moment. Who they are and what they believe is not insignificant in shaping you (“as iron sharpens iron”, as a certain book says.) This is more and more true the closer you are to the person. Your best friend, a girlfriend (or perhaps boyfriend, depending on who you are), or spouse most of all.

One may also just choose to place emphasis on something that they had never placed emphasis on before. Quite likely it’s not a conscious choice, it’s just a thing that happens.

So, as it turns out the versions of myself that I would identify don’t really fit into 10 year windows – but I can certainly identify what I see are major divisions of my life in which I think there was a fundamental shift in who I am as a person – (admittedly it was a little more gradual than it will be written here – I’m identifying it by major milestones):

  • Child – from about when I started having memories to 5th grade, when I switched to a Christian school
  • Pre-teen/Teen – Really just all of middle and high school – I didn’t change much in all of that time.
  • College – Probably extended a couple years beyond college… maybe 6 or 7 years of this – I’d call this a period of reinvention.
  • Married – This is definitely the shortest one, in no small part because of the shortness of one of the defining characteristics (and namesake) of this period
  • Divorced – Obviously barring becoming remarried to a person (lest you think otherwise, something that will never happen) once you are divorced from them you always will be. That said, I’m past the point of it defining me. But for probably a good 4 or 5 years, it did in many ways.
  • Dreamer – This one actually overlaps with the only before and the one after, perhaps never existing entirely on its own.
  • Philosopher – I can’t think of a better way to put it. This is where I feel I am now, and it’s marked by exploring philosophical ideas, culture, theology, history, etc.

When I write it all out and really think about it I can see the seeds of later versions of me being in place in earlier versions. I can also easily pinpoint the single largest shift in who I was (that divorce thing will do it to ya).

One of the things that happened in the marriage period that has sort of stuck with my and grown is an interest in politics. I didn’t really care about it much before that. Late in college I thought about it a bit, but it was mostly characterized by things that I knew I didn’t agree with – and there were plenty of things in both the political parties that I didn’t like (note that at the time I wasn’t really aware that you could be anything but a Republican or a Democrat). I didn’t vote in the 2004 election, which was the first election I was eligible to vote in, because I just couldn’t decide – it might surprise many to learn some of the things I felt I leaned left on at the time.

In this era we had Ron Paul make 2 runs in the Republican party and as a result I discovered libertarianism, which was pretty important for me if I was going to feel like I had a place in politics – whatever I agreed with or disagreed with the Republicans or Democrats on, neither seemed like something I felt compelled to be a part of. Prior to this discovery, politics were simply not important to me, and I wouldn’t have cared what you believed politically about almost anything (one or two exceptions I can think of).

Since then, I’ve started to follow politics quite extensively. I think it is a part of the “philosopher” mentality – political theory certainly ties into philosophy and culture and all or that. I’ve had plenty of discussions with people about it – it’s especially easy to get me talking about it if I’ve got a few beers in me and you bring up anything political at all. I definitely think it’s interesting, and, like most things, I’ve arrived at some outside-the-box conclusions about stuff. It puts me in a rather small camp. And so I’m pretty used to voting for people who don’t win (and never had a chance of winning) and pining for policies (or lack of them) that will never come to pass.

Then in recent years, things just got crazy – and when I say that I’m talking about both of those big parties. If you think only one is the problem, allow me to suggest you should pay more attention to the one you think isn’t a problem. People are super divisive, and if you disagree with someone their perception seems to be that it’s because you are somehow malicious, rather than a person who perhaps sees the same problem and has a different solution. That latter position is a perfectly fair one to take, and is how I saw Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign. I thought he identified a lot of problems very well – I just thought all of his solutions were terrible. But, that doesn’t make him evil or malicious.

I have a few friends who post on Facebook about politics almost incessantly. And it’s always negative. One of the things that I realized a few months after the 2016 election was that I didn’t want to post about politics constantly. It’s kind of just annoying. No one is going to change their mind, and you don’t accomplish anything by doing it. You just kind of frustrate yourself. So I went from posting about it fairly often to not doing so very much. Since then I’ve curbed Facebook use in general as well. I’ll often go a whole month and only post anything at all once or twice.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with people posting political commentary on Facebook. However, I do think they’re probably making themselves unhappy and accomplishing nothing of value. I believe that was the case for me. Especially if the things being posted are super negative all the time. We still have a long way to go to achieve a perfect society to be sure, but we live in objectively the best period of time ever – and I think we would do well to remember that from time to time, rather than always being angry that things aren’t perfect – much of the time I find I’m in agreement with people when they say that something is a problem, but their solution seems to be “tell people to stop doing bad thing x”. If only it were so simple.

So here’s what I’ve found. I can get super frustrated at people when the political ideas they throw out there don’t seem to me to be logical or really make any sense at all. But often those same people I think are perfectly nice and cool to be around. And I can easily interact with them without thinking even a bit about what their political ideas are.

So I wonder how often discussing politics is really valuable. One’s ability to shape politics is pretty miniscule – no matter what I think about anything, I have virtually no say in the matter (one way to put it is, in the event that it is otherwise a tie, you get to decide… otherwise you vote doesn’t matter). Where you really make headway is in changing people’s minds about things, and I really don’t think you do that by talking about politics directly. I think you do that by talking more about culture, and by simply being friends with people, sharing your way of thinking about the world with them. I won’t say there’s never a place for a political conversation, but I think we’d all do well to disengage politically for a bit from time to time, and really to focus WAY less on it in our day to day lives. We’re way too fixated on it right now.

For me, I’ve decided to take some time off from following politics. It’s actually a bit hard, because my youtube subscriptions and twitter and facebook are all full of all kinds of political stuff. But I just want to not engage for awhile. Part of me thinks maybe I should become a “post-political” version of myself. I think I’d be happier that way.

If you read all the way to the end here, I’m sorry. That had to have been painful. I’ll try to write something less rambly and more coherent next time around.

Time and Place

The initial rattlings in my brain that are ultimately culminating in this post began doing their thing a little over a year ago. That’s not to say that it’s something I’ve been perpetually thinking about, but it does seem to have been coming to mind a bit more frequently of late. In 2017, just after Thanksgiving, I took a trip out to Burbank, CA, where I had lived for a few years. I wanted to see some of my friends, and I was also really excited to go and visit the church that I had gone to during my time there.

When I had first moved to Burbank (actually, I guess at first I was in Glendale, but, same general vicinity), I knew basically no one. I didn’t have high hopes to find a church that I thought I would like, because I’d tried for years here in MD and was constantly disappointed by what I found – so why should it be different in CA, I thought. Well, as luck, or perhaps divine providence, would have it, my web search yielded a result that sounded pretty promising. I decided to go and check it out.

I immediately fell in love with the place, and the people that I met there. The very first service I was invited to go watch a marathon of the new season of Arrested Development. In a move that was actually pretty uncharacteristic of me, surely driven by my desperation for human contact at the time, I took up that invitation to hang out with a bunch of people that I didn’t know at all – all of whom would become friends of varying degrees for the next few years.

The entirety of my time in Burbank, I considered that church to be a godsend. It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life – and I’m quite glad it was there, and for the friendships that I had, and, in some cases, still have. I needed a place where I was free to doubt. I still need that. It was a place that seemed pretty accepting of everyone, no matter where they stood. There were times during my time there where I felt maybe they leaned a little too heavily into politics, but for the most part, I felt they did a good job of not preaching politics and just helping people to wrestle with their faith.

My memories of the church were very fond, and then, last year, I went to visit. I actually intentionally planned to be there for 2 Sunday mornings because I wanted to go to 2 services there – I was super stoked to go. I tried to make sure that people knew I’d be there as well, so they could plan to come to the service if it were at all possible. So, I spent the first day with the friend that I was staying with, and then went with him to church the next day… which is where my disappointment began.

The first thing that I noticed was that the message seemed to be considerably more political in nature than they had been back when I was going there. It still had some of the challenging theological content that I always enjoyed, but seeing the political intermingled with it was distasteful to me. One thing I am quite sure of is that Jesus did not come to endorse any political message – in fact he seemed to avoid it whenever possible – he dealt with humans at an individual level, and left the government to its own devices. It was disheartening to see this. And from the handful of video streams I’ve watched parts of since then, it’s only gotten worse… every time I’ve tried to visit in with the church online, I’m struck by how every week they seem to go after evangelical Christians, and also conservatives. These are the people from whom I actually learned concepts like “othering” – treating people who are different than you as less than, or as the enemy. These are the people I constantly heard talking about how this shouldn’t be done, who criticized evangelicals for doing it to homosexuals, etc. It seems so painfully obvious to me that they are otherizing Christians with more traditional beliefs, as well as conservatives, and they are completely blind to it. I see Facebook posts where some of these people assume to know the hearts of conservatives, and seem to assume the worst possible intent.

The other disappointing thing while I was there was that some of the people who I thought would be excited to see me, or want to talk to me a bit at least, didn’t seem to. There were really two that kind of hit me hard… I mean, it wasn’t like it made me depressed, but I was really bummed by it. One was the pastor, who I had hoped to grab lunch or coffee with – but I’d have settled for just a longer than a couple minute small talk chat during one of the two services I was at – but, that didn’t happen either. The other was one of my friends who I had considered to be one of my closest friends while I was out there – I had let him know well in advance I was coming, and so I was hoping he’d make a bit of time for me – but, again, didn’t happen so much. I’m not saying he’s a bad friend, it’s entirely possible I just always considered him closer than he considered me – I mean, he was way more established out there than I was. It just made me realize that the world has changed, and whatever I had out there really is no more.

I don’t know what the point of writing all this out is, but… I guess maybe just to reflect on what was.


A New Week

So my writing discipline fell apart a bit over the weekend. I’m gonna try to get back on track here this week. I felt like I burned myself out a bit, so I’m not too sure the best way to go about this… I don’t know if it would be better to just not make myself do it every day, or commit to only 30 minutes or something like that. Or maybe I’m just being a wuss and I should suck it up and deal with doing it for an hour every day.

Also, WordPress updated itself… or rather, my webhost updated WordPress for me… and… this looks weird now. I guess I’ll get used to it.

After a lot of screwing around with a few Linux distros, I finally settled on Solus. Unless I want to play a game that I cannot get to work in Solus, the plan is to use it exclusively rather than Windows (which I will only use when I want to play a game I can’t get working here). I really like the feel of Solus a lot.

Anyway, that’s it for now… I know this one is just kinda random and rambly, but… whatever. Hopefully I get this writing thing back on track.

Progress

Since I decided that I was going to start scheduling out my days and priorities, I’ve made a good amount of progress on my novel. Today is the 4th day in a row that I’ve spent roughly an hour working on it. That’s far, far better than the sporadic times I have gotten myself to work on it in the past. It’s a little strange to me, actually, that it took me this long to get myself to decide to just set aside time to do it, rather than wait until I felt like I both had time and also was in the right mindset.

I will admit, the first 2 days I felt like the writing was going really smoothly and I was in good head space for it. Yesterday, and then especially tonight, I really wasn’t feeling it as much. But I still did it. Tonight was more coming up with and defining some back story elements than writing actual sections of the story… and actually the bit of story I did write I’m going to need to rework… I wrote it from inside the perspective of a character that, as I was writing it, I realized the reader can’t be allowed to see the perspective of – it will give away far too much.

My plan is to mostly write an hour (or more, if I have it in me) every day – no matter how I feel. This week, Friday will be a day off because I have a D&D night that will be keeping me up super late I’m sure and there’s no chance I’ll have energy to do any writing – I’ll probably try to get 2 hours in on Saturday to make up for it. I’m likely going to use some of that time, and maybe time tomorrow, doing some more thinking and outlining of how to get myself through the remainder of the beginning of this story. Because yes, even though I first had this idea something like 2 and a half years ago, I’m still only working on the beginning. That’s what not being intentional about writing does for you… it’s very easy to just keep putting it off.

The story is pretty big in my head, and I have an idea that would take me across 3 books, each one having a self-contained story, but also having an overarching story. If I’m able to maintain an average pace of 1,000 words a day (I did that the first 2 nights, less so yesterday and certainly not tonight) then I should have an initial draft done this Summer. That would be pretty incredible.

So we’ll wait and see. Four days in and this scheduling my time seems to be working out pretty well. I’ll give updates on my writing progress here from time to time in the future…

Green Book

As you may be able to tell from the title of this post, I went to see the movie Green Book last night. All the trailers that played before it looked absolutely terrible – but they all seemed targeted toward the far left. Made me a bit nervous that I wasn’t going to enjoy the movie that would follow them. Thankfully, that didn’t prove to be the case.

Both Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen were great in their respective roles. The movie surpassed the expectations I had from having seen the trailer (admittedly, they weren’t super high, but it looked like it could be an interesting movie). I’ve no idea to what extent the movie sticks to the real life facts, how much was fabricated to make the movie more dramatic, etc… but I thought it was an interesting peek into the past. It’s a reminder of just how much things have changed since the early 60’s. We live in a much better time now. No, it’s not perfect, but we’re on the right track… and true racists are very much in the minority today.

If I was rating it on a 5 star system, I’d give it 4. Unlike most of the movies I see, I can say with nigh certainty that I’ll watch it again when it’s available for home release. So if you haven’t seen it, maybe give it a shot.

Intermittent Fasting

Every now and again I’m randomly exposed to information that I may have heard of before but didn’t really know much about. Usually it’s by means of a podcast. I was listening to Rogan the other day and the topic of intermittent fasting came up, and since I’ve been wanting to get my eating back under control following the holidays in a way that is relatively easy to manage without having to make a lot of decisions, I’m thinking this might be a good thing to try.

To do it as Rogan suggests, it’s 16 hour fasting periods, so you get an 8 hour window to eat daily. From the bit of extra reading I’ve done, it sounds like 16 hours is considered to be the shortest fasting period. I also noted that a drink with under 50 calories seems to be allowable during a fasting period, though that’s unlikely to affect me as I don’t use sugar or milk in coffee / tea, and so anything I’d drink outside the eating window would be free of calories.

So, the basic idea is to eat your first meal of the day based on when you want to eat dinner. So if I want to eat dinner at 7 PM, I probably am going to eat my first meal at noon, because with an 8 hour window starting at noon, at 8 PM I can no longer eat anything.

I presume that it’s best not to change-up the window too often – especially if you’re wanting to move it earlier – because that’s going to make you have a shorter than 16 hour fasting period, but I haven’t really done any reading about it.

I’ll have some sort of common sense rules that I follow during the week as well… no sugary things like candy / sodas, probably no alcohol during the week – then on the weekends open it up a bit, but stick to the window – and see how things go. This might be just a thing I do for the rest of January, but if it seems to be going well, I’ll likely continue another month. Otherwise I’ll be back on slow carb, which I had been planning to do this month prior to deciding to experiment with intermittent fasting.

Rhythm

This blog has quite a lot to do with the sermon at Church today. That said, what I write here isn’t going to be particularly churchy, but I was definitely struck by the message today in a way that I haven’t been for quite a while… and it kind of spurred me to action.

The main thing that was compelling to me was the audible illustration used to demonstrate the point… playing music without any sense of rhythm… and then also without any rests. It really struck me for some reason.

I’ve often heard people who have accomplished a lot say that they plan their days. For some reason, that’s something that I’ve always resisted. I don’t want to be locked into anything, I just want to take things as they come and do whatever it is I want to do in that moment. I’ve always considered myself to be spontaneous, and I’ve always sort of taken pride in that. But I think that I’ve been wrong about it.

It’s far from the first time that I’ve thought about this idea, which I guess we can say is the idea of living intentionally. I’ve tried to do it in narrow aspects of my life before… most notably with dieting, etc. One of the things that always struck me back when I was in and out of jobs while doing the TV thing out in Burbank, was that when I wasn’t working I seemed to get less “personal work” done than I did when I was working. Having no structure at all I think led to not achieving any meaningful results.

It stands to reason then, that my lack of any kind of real structure in my personal life is likely the reason that I’m not achieving some of the things that I want to do. And I do want to do them, but, based on the things I actually spend time doing, you probably wouldn’t know it. And so I’m trying to change that.

Today I went out and bought a weekly planner… which is something I have absolutely never done before. Earlier this evening, I wrote out fairly detailed schedules for what I will be doing this week. Of course, there are some blocks of time in there to just relax and do what I want to do in that moment, but most importantly, I have at least an hour scheduled to work on writing my novel every day this week. In fact, I just finished spending slightly over my allotted hour working on it before writing this blog. This blog is another thing that I have time allotted to on a daily basis (30 minutes). So we shouldn’t have days where I forget to post anymore, because I have a specific time I am meant to be writing them. It is conceivable though, that I will have a day where I have some special event going on and so planning in a scheduled time to blog that day may be impossible. But in general, you will probably be able to tell how well I am doing with sticking to this by simply looking at how regularly I am blogging.

I’m kinda looking forward to it, but I’m also nervous about it… it’s so contrary to the way that I’ve always done things. I’m simultaneously worried that my schedule is too detailed and also not detailed enough. I’m sure I’ll learn how to adjust things as time goes on… and I guess that’s the important bit… not to let myself discouraged if I mess things up a bit early on. I’m happy that I got writing done tonight… when I sat down to do it because I had just written it in this book about an hour beforehand, I really wasn’t feeling like I was in a place where I could write, but I wrote about 1100 words – plus some notes.

Here’s hoping that I can start to do that on a regular basis… and maybe on a night where I feel like I’m really in a good writing place I can crank out 2,000.

Anyway, I wish you all a great week! I’ll write some more here tomorrow.

Games on Linux

So I’ve already failed in my endeavor to post every day, but, meh, whatever, I’ll just try to do it as often as possible. I decided since yesterday I was too distracted to remember to post, today I would post a bit about the thing that distracted me.

I spent most of the evening trying to get Linux up and running and some games working on it. I don’t know if it’s really worth all the effort, but, there’s a part of me that really wants to get away from Windows… especially the part of me that is concerned with privacy, as Windows 10 is pretty terrible when it comes to that. Unfortunately, no OS does computer gaming like Windows, even though I do see big strides since the last time I tried switching over to Linux… and also big strides on the horizon over the next few years.

Most exciting was that this time around, the game I’ve been playing, Nier: Automata, and also FFXIV both are working under Linux. Unfortunately, it’s still a lot more work than it is in Windows – and there’s still definitely going to be games I just can’t play under Linux. I already feel like I probably won’t really stick with it long-term – but, who knows?

Denying Your Existence

So just because I’ve seen random things posted on this topic over the past few days…

One of the more ridiculous things I hear spewed forth from people’s’ mouths these days is this ridiculous notion that I have the power to de-legitimize their very being. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would like to have that kind of power… but it’s patently absurd. Why would you even want to grant another person that kind of power over you?

Here’s the thing… if you were born with a penis, but you feel like you are actually a woman… I’m perfectly okay with that. I believe you that you feel like you are a woman. But I do not believe that you are actually a woman. My believing that does not affect you in any way, except insofar as I am not willing to sleep with, date, or marry you.. but there are plenty of women who were born with vaginas that I would not be willing to sleep with, date, or marry either, albeit for different reasons.

What I would say to anyone who identifies as transgender is this: Don’t worry about what other people believe about you. If someone is being an asshole to you, that’s one thing. But if they are perfectly kind to you but just don’t agree you aren’t the gender that you were born with the genitalia of, who really cares? Do you need everyone to agree with everything that you believe about yourself to be validated? If you think you’re a good writer, and I say your writing sucks, does that invalidate your writing? I recognize that your gender is more personal and central to you than your writing ability, but the point remains that what I believe about you has no bearing on.. well… anything, other than my own perception of you.

No matter who you are, I will be kind to you (unless you are a jerk to me, in which case I will still try to be kind to you, but may fail in that endeavor).  If I am aware that you view yourself as a gender different from what I perceive you to be, I will refer to you as that gender out of respect for your wishes. And here’s the thing… when it comes to people who I don’t know personally, all you have to do is effectively present yourself as that gender… and I probably won’t even know. If I see someone who’s dressed as a man but looks a little feminine, or dressed as a woman but looks a little masculine, I’m not going to question that. You do you, and don’t worry about what other people believe about you.

You can demand that people treat you with respect and kindness, but you absolutely cannot demand that people believe particular things about you.

Just my 2 cents.