The Thoughts and Questions That Plague My Mind

Is this the best that we can do? That’s the first one. It’s the most depressing one. Humanity has failed. Not only is it not the best we can do, it’s not even in the top 90% of what we can do. We have failed on so many levels that it is impossible to list … Continue reading “The Thoughts and Questions That Plague My Mind”

Is this the best that we can do?

That’s the first one. It’s the most depressing one. Humanity has failed. Not only is it not the best we can do, it’s not even in the top 90% of what we can do. We have failed on so many levels that it is impossible to list them all. Here are just a few with no statistics because I’m sure the statistics would be even worse.
Child Starvation
People with no access to healthcare
Suicide
Hate crimes
Addiction in all of it’s forms
Environmental degradation
Mass Extinction
Homelessness (while speculation homes sit empty)
I could go on…and on…and on…and on. We have failed. This human civilization is a complete and total failure. We have failed each other and we have failed ourselves in the process.

So that’s the first question that plagues my mind. And it brings me to the next question which is more personal “Is this the best I can do?” and the answer to that is no too. My ego wants to give me all the excuses in the world – starting with blaming this human culture I am forced to live in. Ultimately, I want to do more, but I fail. I’m like the old woman with $1 who donates half of it to charity. It’s 50% of what she has and it doesn’t make a difference. 100% of what she has wouldn’t make a difference. I’m like that – unless she can do something to get a much larger sum of money – her charity won’t matter a bit – and neither will mine. I have to scramble, duck, and roll and focus my energy non-stop in order to take care of my family and keep myself in a position to do so. And that excuse sounds pretty good – but the truth is I am not doing the best I can do and I don’t know exactly why that is.

Love is the answer. I’m pretty sure that’s true. However, I’m so filled with anger and rage at the injustices of the world that it is sometimes impossible to give a stranger so much as a smile. Especially if I’ve just read about a child being separated from their parents and the stranger is driving a $50,000 truck with a Make America Great Again sticker on it. Man, those awful baby boomers – they’ve made the world a thousand times worse than it was before them. All the wars in history before them didn’t do as much damage to the planet as they have done in their lifetimes with their greed and hypocrisy. And they’ve tightened the chains around those who followed and reduced the chances for us to achieve any sort of real meaningful freedom besides death.

I’ll tell you what hell would be – to die and wake up surrounded by all the baby boomers. It’s hell on earth and it would be the worst sort of eternal hell. I’ve never been scared of death, but that thought makes me want to cling onto dear life with a death-grip. The soldier-hippie boomers of the 60s, the disco boomers of the 70s, the awful yuppie boomers of the 80s,the disgusting bootstrap-upper management boomers of the 90s, the foul early retirement boomers of the 2000s, and the RV-downsized-still-most-selfish-generation-but-now-need-to-be-taken-care-of boomers of the current decade. God, I want to puke. So, yeah, love may be the answer but I can’t love them because I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome.

What the kids today need to do is have a Lord of the Flies party where take out everyone who is already an adult or who thinks like an adult in the world today and then re-create society. Lord of the Flies would be messy and I don’t want to be killed by gangs of tweens, but for them it would be a better solution.

I wish I could tell you I have an ideology that would make things better – but I don’t. All of the ideologies are bullshit. The ideologues are assholes. And of course, money is the problem – I’ve been to Sardis where the first money was produced and while it was a beautiful ruin – I’ve never been somewhere that so completely emanated evil – although the Pentagon has the same sort of vibe and when I’ve visited concentration camps – those have a similar aura. Do you want to understand money? I wanted to. It’s part of what led me to Sardis in the first place. Money makes slavery possible. Without money, slavery is impossible. People like my sister – who work hard and study and stay on course and spend their lives working working working (but rarely at what they are passionate about) talk about working hard for a purpose – that purpose is ‘buying their freedom’. They want to be free someday – which tells you the truth – they are not free. And if you are not free you are either a prisoner or a slave.

I am a slave to money. I admit it. I do what money needs me to do. I do what money tells me to do. Sometimes it is fun – usually, I feel like a prisoner forced to labor.

Backing Up in Multiple Locations or Cheap Computer Crap or Website Headaches

Backing Up – A Cautionary Tale:
During the entire time I lived abroad I did virtually all my work and stored my photos on a cheap little Acer Aspire Pro – I backed up all of my photos and data on a little external sony harddrive and despite five years of hard use and the original machine being a first generation cheapo netbook – it never failed me and my backups were unnecessary – fast forward to last year at about this time – for the first time since 2005 I bought a full size laptop with a full warranty and all the computing power I thought I’d been missing. It was great and frankly, I became complacent – there was a complimentary cloud storage and backup feature which it turns out expired after 60 days and deleted all of my data – but I had nothing to worry about – the laptop sat on my desk, never left the house, and was new and warrantied – and while I continued to download backups of my websites I stopped using the external storage unit for backups – I felt confident that I was saving all my data. I’d been using my old android phone more than my camera and when I upgraded to an iphone I did the right thing – downloaded all of my photos and data from the phone and reset it – so now that new laptop had all my website backups, most of my photos since we had come to the USA in April of 2013 – and all the writing I’d done since December of 2014 – fast forward again to August of 2014 – the new warrantied computer’s hard drive failed – no problem – under warranty- I sent it to the factory and they fixed it and reset it and sent me a new laptop – a month later – my hosting company detects a virus in my website code and deletes all of my site data – no problem – I had backups – uh yeah, they were on the failed harddrive and are long gone – the online backup in the cloud – expired after 60 days – no backups since 2013 – virtually all of the online work I’d done in 2014 was lost – fast forward and I start thinking about Halloween and Christmas photos of our daughter in 2013 – can’t find them on my camera, must have used my phone – oh yeah, on the old phone so look on the computer – crap – all those photos were on the old harddrive, all the videos (first Christmas morning in the USA, first trick or treat, etc) all gone – fast forward to a few days ago – I remember a story I had started and written about twenty pages of and guess what – it was on that hard drive too – so there it is – I fell into complacency and lost five websites, hundreds of important pictures and videos, forty or so articles, the beginnings of two books, and more – all because I made the mistake of thinking a new and expensive computer was safer than my old cheap netbook and my little external harddrive – a terrible mistake – and one I hope you don’t make. Get a little external harddrive and back everything up on it…I hope this saves you some headaches.

Here’s a side note – yesterday right after I had written this and then saved it as a draft, I clicked the button on the backend of this site that updates plugins – without backing up the site – well, the plugin update failed and I was locked out of this site’s admin panel and had to go through about four hours of headaches to get things right again – the moral of the story? Back up before you do anything!

#vagothinks

I have strong opinions and good ideas – I’m tired of keeping them to myself. I’m going to be sharing them from now on on twitter using the hashtag #vagothinks – I’m still a week out from completing my 99 day fast from Facebook – I may do another 99 day break from it after I check messages, check up on friends, etc.

Here are the first of my #vagothinks:

#vagothinks The USA should offer Syria to Turkey if they go in and kick ISIS out – just give it to the Turks.

#vagothinks the US economy is failing miserably for everyone who is not already middleclass or higher – I propose locialism as a solution…

@vagothinks locialism is a universal safety net including free medical, food, and housing assistance for anyone earning less than $40k/year

#vagothinks #locialism should be free and available for anyone who asks for it – no proof necessary – those who opt out get special benefits

#vagothinks taxes should be paid by employers before wages – flatly – every employee gets taxes withheld – not an employee=no taxes !

#vagothinks Trash trucks should have scales on them – every household gets charged by weight – less garbage=lower bill, more garbage=higher

#vagothinks No one (including corps) should be allowed to own more than two residences but no limit on commercial or industrial properties

#vagothinks There should be a children’s judicial system where children can safely appeal unfair treatment from adults with no consequences

#vagothinks a person’s record should only reflect judgments against them -everything else should be expunged – including credit data

#vagothinks The US government should wipe out student loans and make all Universities public and free of charge – funded by taxes, resources

#vagothinks the US government should use (and disclose) alternative funding for maintenance of parks, universities, schools, highways, etc

#vagothinks the sale of raw materials to other countries should be outlawed. The USA should export finished products only.

The Astounding Way I Earn a Living These Days…and more

America is awash in stuff, things, shit, and treasure…

It’s fucking astounding. It blows my mind. Always has. Probably always will. This country has such an amazing glut of material goods that it struggles with what to do with them – but at the same time – the citizens here are constantly buying shit, stuff, new things…to replace perfectly good old things…

My friend owns a second hand shop down the street from me – every time I step in her shop I realize that my high minded ideals and cultured aesthetic have fucked me again – she is selling the shit out of stuff I wouldn’t have thought would sell- Seriously…get this…I can buy a fine set of hand made, Danish, mid century modern end tables by a known designer and maker and price them at $50 each – and I’ll get a dozen people that come in and look at them and then tell me “Oh, I can’t pay that, I want to resell them” – pickers and dealers coming into an ANTIQUE SHOP – they need meat on the bone.

…oh yeah baby, I’ve made the big mistake – Cater to the classes and dine with the masses and meanwhile she is Catering to the masses and dining with the classes – Yeah, I’m an idiot. I have a store filled with things I appreciate after visiting the greatest museums in the world, traveling to 50 countries and 49 states, and studying art, history, and culture – in a town where most people have at best a 12th grade education and might have visited a couple of cities nearby..or maybe had a trip to California a few years ago….meanwhile my friend is selling them the same things their neighbors bought and they admired…for a fraction of the cost –

I earn a living doing this- we pay our bills and the people that appreciate this stuff find me – which is cool – but meanwhile she is employing two people, making more money, and has the opportunity to buy far more new inventory than I do (let alone expand)- so, the moral of the story is – don’t focus on what you like, focus on what people need – the Warren Buffet investment strategy – it works and my friend is proof of that –

I’m not complaining, mind you – like I said – I earn a living buying and selling really cool things, beautiful art, and interesting things – but the question I should have asked at the beginning was “Do I want to deal in cool interesting things or make money?” The answer, I thought was both, but what I didn’t realize was that I’d much rather make money selling crapola than scrape by selling art…it’s time to do some evaluation and figure out how to reshape my business…

A 99 Day Break from Facebook

UPDATE: Just a few days in and I already find that I have extra time on my hands. It’s amazing how when I have a spare moment on the computer or in the shop or at home, my mind says “Check out Facebook” and then when I don’t I realize – “Hey, I don’t need to be on the computer and can step away to do something else” – it’s amazing how much of my precious time I was killing with FB.

Yesterday, I saw an interesting proposal online – it suggested that Facebook might be contributing to general unease and unhappiness in the world.  I was already feeling a bit nauseated by Facebook in light of the recent behavioural experimentation the Facebook scientists have been conducting on users without their knowledge.

new-profile-picture

If you haven’t heard of it already, Facebook manipulated what stories showed up in the streams of users and then monitored what effect that had on the posting behaviour of those users.  They then, rather naively, published the results which showed that by manipulating what stories users saw, they could manipulate what kind of stories users posted.

So, the chances are that you have already been manipulated by Facebook. And that’s only the study they are telling us about…It was in that context that I saw a Danish group suggesting that a lengthy break from Facebook might make people happier – in general. And they created a website and campaign to encourage people to give it a shot. 99daysoffreedom.com

Upon hearing about it, my first reaction was – “Whoa, that’s three months, I don’t think I could do that – I use Facebook all the time.” and then, those words hit me…What exactly do I use Facebook for? I use it to see what my friends are posting, to try to post things that my friends might ‘like’ and as a sort of ego extension. I use it to try to increase my readership and once in a while I use it to buy or sell something.  The real question is Do I need it? The answer is very clearly “No”. I’ve lived most of my life without it and actually, I was happier with my use of my time during most of that time.  In fact, Facebook has more or less become a defacto boredom time killer and I don’t need to kill time…it’s my most valuable assett. I have so much stuff I want to do and haven’t been doing because I don’t have the time – but suddenly – if I’m not spending my time scrolling through platitudes pasted on nice pictures – or looking at other people’s vacation photos – I’ve got some time.

I mean, you want proof? I’m writing this. I’m not writing it on Facebook, I’m writing it on my blog which I’ve been sorely neglecting lately. You might be reading it on Facebook though because my blog automatically posts on Facebook without me logging in at all. I’m not logged into Facebook, I’m not checking to see if people ‘like’ me or what I post and I’m not being pithy, smarmy, or snarky.  It already feels good.

So here we are 99 days without logging into Facebook begins…if you want to see where it ends…you can see my countdown here..

And if you want to contact me – it won’t work to contact me on facebook. Try emailing me, commenting on this blog, calling me, or even sending me a letter.

 

http://99daysoffreedom.com/vago-damitio

Matter and Matters

Sometimes (actually most of the time) it’s far too easy to get caught up in this world of matter. This world of financial responsibilities, bills, wars, rumours of wars, and again financial matters – most especially money. Money, money, money, money, money, money, money.

laopirate

It’s what makes this ridiculous world go around. Right?

Nope.  Dead wrong. All the money can disappear and the world will keep spinning. All the bills can go unpaid and the world will keep spinning. All the credit can be ruined, all the bank accounts emptied, and all the money sucked up by a giant rainbow eating typhoon and still this old world will go on round and round.

What keeps the world spinning? Gravity. Strong force. Electromagnetic influences we don’t understand. Maybe even love if you are a poet or a certain kind of mystic, but money has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with the world going round.

Money has been making my head spin lately – it’s been affecting the way I see the world, it’s been affecting my moods, and almost certainly as a result – it’s been affecting my health and my relationships.  And – money has been quite effectively eluding me as I do everything I can to get my hands around it.  Money does seem to work like that – the more you need it, the more elusive it becomes.

Changes to Google algorhythms finally seemed to have cut off my ability to make money on a regular basis with my travel websites. Google banning me from the adsense program (and despite my inquiries – they won’t tell me what it was I did) closed another door.

Ebay has been a good source of income to my family – but recently I’ve been hit by scammers and frivolous returns – Ebay makes money from buyers, not sellers – so the whole system is set up to protect those who transfer their cash to ebay – which has created many great opportunities for scammers to buy things and then file frivolous claims. They get their money back, they keep the items, and they file insurance claims on damage – Ebay looks on as sellers get ripped off. There are so many sellers that I am sure those of us getting ripped off are considered acceptable collatoral damage.

I thought that getting a space in an antique mall would be a good way to move away from Ebay – and I found an antique mall that seemed to be moving in a great direction – but as soon as we got in the owner started going in self destructive directions by alienating  vendors and making other reputation ruining moves – soon we were just one of a handful of vendors hanging on in a huge emptying space. For the four months we were there, we paid $1000+ in rent and commissions while earning only about $650 and losing about $1800 in inventory – do the math and you can quickly see that it wasn’t working.  We bartered for another space in a different mall and have had about the same results.

Tables at the flea market in Eugene were another angle that I hit – with more success than in the antique mall – but the markets are infrequent and the crowds are very hit or miss. Tomorrow is the last market until autumn – we’ll go back, but we’ll miss the one tomorrow because tomorrow is also Father’s Day and here in Reedsport, the last day of the Annual Chainsaw Carving Contest – which is important for us – see below.

The best solution seemed to be opening a little shop of our own. For less than the cost of the antique mall space – I was able to rent a small shop in Reedsport right on Highway 101. Reedsport Antiques is now open.  We’re not making money hand over fist – in fact – for the hours I’m putting in, I’m definitely earning less than I’ve ever earned – but – in the first two weeks, we’ve earned enough to almost cover the rent – which is better than we did in any antique malls.  To cover the added expense of opening and running a shop I hoped that the last flea market, an estate sale we helped run in California, listing a large number of valuable items on Ebay for bargain prices, and shop sales would help – as I wrote above – all of them failed and when you count on money or need money from a source – that’s about the time that money runs away from you screaming.  It’s frustrating.

And of course, it doesn ‘t matter. It’s hard to keep that in mind. It’s hard to remember that. My $43k in student loans are deferred and growing through negative amortization. If I don’t pay them – the world won’t end. Our shop and all my hours are almost paying for the shop – but food and rent and insurance premiums need to get paid for from somewhere – and if they don’t – well, it won’t be the end of the world either.

Money matters…in this world of matter. We need it and the more we need it, the more it runs from us. That’s why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There is a very real and very not understood law of cause and effect with money – which could very well be the reason we are put here, the challenge we are given to overcome, or could be nothing at all.  All of this could just be a dark comedy we created for ourselves and which is going to play itself out while the world keeps spinning and then be forgotten while the world keeps spinning as we disappear from the universe and return to the nothing we came from.

Money doesn’t matter.  I figured that out at one point. It’s time to figure that out again.