3 Words Our Family Hates (And 1 We Use Frequently)

I’m a largely tolerant person. Not for myself, mind you. I’m ruthlessly harsh on myself. However, everyone else is entitled to their own beliefs, no matter how stupid they are. The beauty of freedom is that everyone can openly believe the dumbest stuff in existence without risking life and limb for it (though they still risk public shame).

With that said, my Shnoogy Wiggles and I have learned to develop a strong distaste for a few words in our household:

1. Empowerment

Empowerment means “authority or power given to someone to do something”, but what does it really mean?

For one, it seems to imply the word “women’s” in front of it rather often. So what, pray-tell, can a woman receive authority or power to do in a country where women have as many rights as men?

The answer is simple: women in this country are often regarded as more powerful than men. I’ve heard a theory kicked around that it’s to fully equalize (see: compensate for) the inherent biological advantages of manhood, but that’s only on the premise that men and women are biologically inherently different, and only uneducated people would believe that.

2. Awareness

There’s quite a bit of money in awareness movements these days. I may create an Awareness Campaign Awareness movement just to cash in. All I need is to sell an overpriced brightly-colored rubber wristband, call a low-holiday month “Thing Awareness Month”, a website that uses enough jargon to obscure actionables to the average person beyond donating, and a thing nobody could ever disagree with kinda sucks to have.

Why do we need awareness of things? I’m fairly certain most seven-year-olds were already aware of breast cancer, autism, abuse, and welding workman’s comp underpayments.

The answer, again, is painfully simple. Awareness addresses the problem without providing legitimate solutions. For example, I’m a strong supporter of autism awareness, but I believe someone with mid- to high-functioning autism has answers beyond a government check and public defamation.

Sadly, many folks buy into this flavor of slacktivism, and shame on you for not supporting their support of [unfair thing].

3. Victim

A victim is “a person harmed, injured or killed because of a crime, accident or other event or action.”

Technically, by that definition, everyone is somehow a victim. I’m a victim of McDonald’s, for example, because an employee took too much time on my order and made me late to where it harmed my reputation for timeliness. My Goober Noodles is a victim of a small child who continually steps on her bare feet with his poor foot-eye coordination, damages property from poor hand-eye coordination, and makes our eardrums bleed from poor ear-mouth coordination.

Being unfairly harmed by others is obviously an unfortunate place to be, and declaring yourself a victim is a healthy start on the path of self-awareness. However, professing victimhood is the start, and not the end, of your journey, since it will never make you happy.

If you are hurt by another person’s unjust behavior, you are absolutely correct in identifying it, but if you want to move into something meaningful you have to look inside yourself and to Christ, not to anyone else, to find meaning from it.

However, imposing victimhood on others has been the vogue recently, and that’s for one clear reason:

1. Leftism

Conservatives hold to varying degrees of equality, but believe an inherent uniqueness between people and status. Complementarians, for example, believe men and women are different and those differences contribute in their own ways to complete each other.

Conservative values also believe in the general “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, which is why old folks seem to lean further conservative and why conservative is usually considered the opposite of “progressive”.

Liberalism believes in equality. A man and a woman may have differences, but society should view what they do as equal irrespective of who they are. Oppressed minorities need advocates, unequal pay should be rectified, homosexuals should legally be allowed to marry as much as heterosexuals, and so on.

In many ways, solid Christians believe many conservative and a number of liberal ideas. We all have different stations in life, but God made us all equal in His image. We may reap our actions, but nobody is responsible for what they were born into.

Leftism now travels farther beyond the pale than conventional liberalism. It has moved down the spectrum into audacious defiance of any common sense.

Leftism believes society should only identify people by their demographic background and never on their individuality. Leftism treats a Muslim Arab woman who murders three white men with her car as profoundly different than a white man who murders three Muslim Arab women with his car.

Left thinking believes every ailment of society comes from the majority oppressing the minority, and heterosexual white males (especially the wealthy ones) are the largest cause for any injustice. Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are the exact same level of criminal, the United States was formed to oppress blacks and women, and so on.

Now that leftism has a world stage, it can politicize everything. I’m currently writing about a personal philosophical view on a hinky little blog, but if I got enough views I’d make myself onto the left’s unofficial blacklist and reap the wrath of the leftist media.

To be clear, leftism is distinctively anti-God. It hates every boundary God created. It employs Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to feed into dissatisfaction and unhappiness toward a financially profitable political end. They have a relatively predictable formula, but that’s another story for another day.


Chronic Deconstructivitis

As the sun sets on another terrain-unobstructed Iowan landscape, I came upon a profound realization. It’s been nearly one month since I’ve expressed a non-analytical creative thought for public consumption (all the analytical ones are here).

Sometime earlier this summer, Facebook made a server update severely sever one of my final tender links with them. They implemented an integration update that only allowed auto-posting for Pages but not for profiles.

If you are an undying fan of my personal life (which Facebook implies we all need for social wellness), you probably noticed my lack of personal updates through Facebook the past few years. I never expressed a “I had the most OKAY spinach leek dip EVER at Mortimer’s party last fortnight!” and mostly shared ideas like “Organic juice cleanses purge your digestive system AND your wallet!”

Since I like an uncluttered life, I auto-posted my random inanities with Buffer and Hootsuite. Facebook’s update, along with one of the most retarded arguments I’ve had in a while about the #metoo movement on May 12th, was the last California straw.

Social networks distinguish themselves by the nature of their media. Tumblr engineers itself as bite-sized blog posts. Twitter revolves around ideas and responses to ideas. Pinterest revolves around ideas encapsulated in photos. Snapchat is a secretly archived quickly deleted messaging service. Reddit is…something.

Unfortunately, the Facebook/Instagram behemoth revolves around people. Sadly, the average person doesn’t have many interesting things to say. I blame a lack of literacy mixed with poor decisions for consumption, but however it develops most frequent Facebook posters seem to love talking about things nobody else cares about.

Even though taking photos of your lunch has fallen out of style, the mass-production of habitually publishing pettiness has moved its domain to Facebook. If you’ve ever seen a Facebook ad, you’ll likely see the type of demographic they aim for, and it’s an exercise in tedium to sift through the silly and boring content to find out what people are actually doing with their lives.

In some ways, Facebook has set a new paradigm. If you don’t desire to stay in touch with others, you can always watch what they do on Facebook. Sadly, so many people are fearful of change that I find Facebook depressing when it doesn’t bore me.

Individual people must adapt their lifestyle to accommodate how trends change. My Tamagotchi died, I did not catch ’em all, my music player isn’t a separate device from my cell phone, and I’m now numbered among Facebook users that almost never post.

I have a theory that the reason we don’t like to start a change is because it pulls on a carpet thread of associated ideas that can radically redefine our worldview. In turn, the more changes we see the more we’re likely to change, which forces other changes to create a sense of equilibrium.

My emigration from Facebook has merged with adapting to Iowan life and fun changes from our little Honeydew. My Gluey Sniffers and I have been raising Cantaloupe for over a year now, and it now knows how to gesture and make poor attempts at human language. It imitates us and sees all.

Since we’re in the Changemas Spirit, Gummy Droppers and I are redefining our lives as well. The conventional lifestyle of an apartment suite a mile from a fantastic job with room to grow a family and a connection into a healthy Christian community confuses us, to say the least. We’ve been so accustomed to abnormal lifestyles ranging from living in cars to RV’s to strange roommates that doing what normal people do feels pedestrian by comparison.

If you’ve grown accustomed to change long enough, you’ll find a lack of change discomforting. Success may require changing, but when taken too far the love of great change can compromise one’s ability to appear normal, especially when surrounded by average change-adverse people. Since I’ve added Epsilon Theory to my list of Things To Read When I Can Remember To, attaining an image of normalcy is vital for our ability to succeed as a weird family.

Nevertheless, we press on in changing inwardly, which creates many fun opportunities to debase things we once held dear:

  1. My Woofy Mewers hates Vicky or Victoria or any other variation of the name outside of Tori, and therefore my Wifey Poo is now named Tori Stucky.
  2. Saying “if you can’t find who owns the cat, we’ll take care of her if you need” usually yields nothing, but we’ve gotten a friendly black cat out of it.
  3. I’ve come to realize that life’s glorious moments come in microscopic victories that nobody else sees. The outward moments that create awards, heroism, and recognition are merely byproducts of the small investments made when times were tough, life sucked overall, and things were stupider.

The Future’s Past is Present

I deliver fridges during the day and, unlike Batman, I need to sleep at night. This poses a challenge for my capacity for creative expression, especially when my body is still reminding me that I’m no longer in the developmental stage where I’m exploring my body and discovering my blossoming manhood.

Nevertheless, my Stingy Beebee and I discuss matters of utmost-ish importance, and for the sake of keeping the creative blade sharpened upon the stone of predominantly failed writing experiments, I will divulge one of these profound realities we’ve discovered.

If success porn quotes are any indicator, we should all live in the present. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, your purpose starts today, and so on. However, as people who remember things and (hopefully) think ahead, we are incapable of living exclusively in the present.

Our attention is split between our past experiences that keep us from actions with negative consequences (like licking leeches), the present things we can do (like buying leeches), and our long-term plans (like marrying a leech). Therefore, we are constantly playing with our sense of time inside our heads.

This interplay of time periods is most effectively demonstrated by a narrative built around the words “past”, “present”, and “future”, as demonstrated by the average mindset:

The PAST scares me and makes me want to define my PRESENT to avoid it in the FUTURE.

Dysfunctional folks tend to gravitate toward a more robust emphasis of the past:

I’m terrified of the FUTURE looking like my PAST, so I ignore the PRESENT.

Another dysfunctional mentality my past self is familiar with completely ignores the present:

I want a better FUTURE, so I’ll use my PAST to define it instead of focusing on my PRESENT.

My Clumpy Pookums had a pretty ugly emphasis on the present for a while:

The FUTURE is completely unpredictable, so I will ignore my PAST and focus solely on the PRESENT.

Finally, here’s an example of an effective and productive model:

My FUTURE is undecided and defined by my PRESENT, and the PAST will give me boundaries about the best way to attain it.

Anyway, thought rumination consideration discussion over.

Home Got The Range

Any frequent readers of this blog will know that we’ve recently uprooted all of our possessions and driven out to Corn Country Iowa. Living in De Moin, CCI has been a challenge for our family as we’ve been learning the local language and customs.

If you ever want to move to another state, get prepared for sticker shock on everything. With the exception of big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Wicks & Sticks, everything in I-owe-uh costs only an arm and they let you keep the leg.

Don’t get me wrong, these people are still Americans. I have picked up a fancy-sounding job as a Whirlpool Dedicated Authorized Delivery Specialist with some very sophisticated roles:

  1. Drive a truck in a state with a combined population of 3.1 million
  2. Open a truck’s back door and sometimes lower a ramp
  3. Unload stuff and sometimes load stuff into the butt end of the truck
  4. Sometimes hook up water lines and plug in power plugs
  5. Close the door and drive that truck somewhere else

I do kid. The job is a little more complex than that, for several reasons:

1. Truck driving is still challenging

Even though there are more grains of corn than people in this state, some people fail to understand what turn signals do. Dumb drivers are in every state, and the absence of construction or traffic jams comes at the expense of boredom-induced distracted driving.

However, the most significant traffic obstruction here is tractors, especially during sowing and harvest season. Those guys don’t understand that other people have to be somewhere yesterday and drive as if they were on a rural road.

2. Hauling stuff is heavy

Your average side-loading washing machine weighs 500 pounds because someone thought putting concrete into the housing would make it more sturdy. Your average dishwasher weighs about 100 pounds and often stacks three-high in a trailer.

My point is that hauling appliances out of the trailer, especially on a rickety aluminum ramp, is a daunting workout. In fact, I’m such a pansy girly-man macho awesome ex-flatbedder that I had to call off work early today because my left arm loudly disagreed with my brain and filed a complaint with my nervous system.

3. Home deliveries are stupid

Since the paying suckers customers are paying $3,000 for a fridge that depreciated in value 35% below their indebtedness as soon as their ferret sneezed on it, home delivery folks are anally particular about any scratches and dings that could come from a stray gust of wind.

Not all home delivery stops have folks look at you like some sort of (gasp!) blue-collar worker, but it’s still painful seeing their diminution of power to obtain some sort of perception of identity from a vastly overpriced combination of water lines, electric motor, agitator, and compressor-refrigerant system.

Anyway, whatever. I’m getting paid and the child and wife can afford to not die.

Changing Seasons

One week ago, my Pushy Pullers and Cantaloupe drove their way across flyover country to arrive in the land of the silent “S”. They rolled into the Des Moines area with my parents’ assistance the Monday before the nation celebrated its freedom with controlled explosions in small containers.

I rolled in that evening as well. I had placed my two weeks’ notice with Melton, and though they carried out the most professional form of begging possible for a mid-sized company I had to decline. Some things are more important than a lucrative job.

OTR is a challenging lifestyle and can only be tolerable when you are either able to bring your whole family along with you or you’re single and ready to not mingle.

However, I’ve now moved on from that life and am back to being a father. Our Pineapple is growing more sentient each day, and it’s starting to develop a sense that things beyond itself exist in this world. If I don’t watch it pretty soon it’ll procreate, and the cycle will begin anew.

I’m transitioning to a role at JB Hunt hauling new appliances to homes and retailers. It’s a rewarding job of heavy lifting and allows me to have a home again while paying bills and not dying of money deficiency.

In some ways, it feels like I’m coming home, but I’m still having flashbacks to my OTR life. I keep forgetting that I have more than 20 square feet to work in. I forget to use the bathroom regularly from my expectation of a 5-minute walk. I expect my diet to have a choice of destroying my wallet or my shapely physique. Most alarmingly, I tend to forget the presence of the small two-foot alien that I’m responsible for teaching how to budget and eat alongside my Candy Smooshers.

Nevertheless, I’m out of that trauma and into a new trauma: conforming to a Midwest suburban apartment lifestyle. I’m sure it will be horrifying, but at least we moved in the summer where it’s too hot to think and the humidity makes the heat more fun.

The Write Idea

The Write Idea

Creativity is like a muscle. First, you work it out. Then, you give it time to rest. After that, you let it atrophy back into mush. Then, you keep telling yourself that you’ll get on it. Following that, you buy a creativity pedometer and creative exercise equipment. Then, you have a credit card payment. I forgot where I was going with this.

Ah, yes, creativity muscley. To create is to develop ourselves, and to consume is to add raw ingredients. When you expend energy, you are burning your Slim Fast/Jim with a measurable amount of calories. Those calories enable you to work to the capacity that your muscles let you.

In the same way, creation is our mental calories burned from the psychological food we digest. In the same way that sitting on your butt burns ~2,000 calories a day, going about daily life burns mental energy. We’ll say it’s ~1,500 brainfarts, though less for most college graduates.

Unfortunately, like food diets, we must watch our mental intake. I’d have a hard time digging a hole fueled by Ho-Ho’s and Pop Tarts. If I watch nothing but the Dukes of Hazzard and King of the Hill, it will be hard for me to create a compelling science fiction novel unless it involves space rednecks.

Lately, I’ve been slacking off on a proper mental diet, but it’s hard to find anyone to hold me accountable. The internet is a dump truck of mental food, and meaningful discourse is hard to find among the droves of philosophically bankrupt consumer-gluttons. The ones who do want to discuss more often than not prefer to worship a 3-pound blob of gray tissue they’ve never seen but are convinced is better than yours.

In the meantime, I’m working through my 100,000 Tips, trying to update it to something grammatically correct and formatted according to standards a semi-literate monkey could tolerate.

Thankfully, my Woozy Drunkers is driving out of California in about a week and a half. I’d join her, but driving a small building across the country keeps me a bit indisposed to accompany her on her trip, though my parents have decided to come along. Once we get to Iowa, I’m sure we’ll find a meaningful crowd of folks that we can connect with in a meaningful way.

Des Moines is known for its philosophers, right?

Tattered Visions

Tattered Visions

Every parent desires their child to be great. Whether it’s in passing the family tradition on or invalidating the family curse, all decently humane fathers and mothers would be satisfied with a successful adult child when they look at the bag of drool and unspoken possibilities sticking their finger in that light socket.

One of the cursed blessings of being a long-haul driver is in the endless opportunities presented to ruminate and ponder pretty much everything. Since nobody told me that thinking is a dangerous hobby, I’ve done gone thinkin’, and it’s messing with my worldview.

Greatness, like repulsiveness, is rarely defined but at first blush seems to be universally agreed-upon. When you dig deeper into the intricacies of being great, it appears to be a mixture of a well-utilized personality and a fully-seized opportunity.

Unfortunately, the abstraction of an idea doesn’t do well to connect it to benefit the ones who are great. I’ve been observing a mystery that confounds me.

Greatness itself may be perceived by others, but nobody who seems to attain it ever really notices their transition into it. Was Einstein a “great man” when he discovered the theory of relativity, or when it was published? Was Henry Ford great when he developed a highly efficient company, or when his brand became a household name? Do presidents and kings become memorable as they do things, or when the consequences form?

The reality is that history has to write greatness, and it will only be written by the others who come after. C.S. Lewis did wonders expressing Christianity in a modern setting, but how many of his colleagues shared his thoughts and weren’t given credit for them?

In fact, how many ideas can we really attribute to Lewis in the first place? Or anyone else for that matter? Ideas have a funny tendency of not coming exclusively from ourselves, and any contribution we could ever make to humanity is merely stacking upon the body of pre-existing knowledge and creation that travels all the way back to Adam and travels all the way forward to the end of the earth.

No, nothing in this world is genuinely new, but it is new to each of us as we encounter it. Our own tragic fate, however, is to hold the messenger of the information in higher regard than the message, a bit like a tribal culture that worships the man who brings knowledge of carpentry and masonry.

When an idea is seen as new, it really isn’t. It is usually beyond the pale to express it, but the most in-depth pursuit of truth should drive us to squint into the distant haze of ancient history, philosophy, and storytelling to discover the most unadulterated version of the modern remix we see today.

If we want to understand ourselves and the world around us, we must see it from new perspectives. Many of those come from beyond where our comfort zone will send us.

With all of this said, this provokes a personal battle that verges on an existential crisis.

Finding room for greatness in the world of ideas and expression requires creating original and unexplored concepts and illustrations. However, with everything I said above it’s literally impossible to find something “new” that others haven’t tread upon. It seems that the more I read and discover, the smaller the box I have to work with to create something that I have no doubt will add to the incessant buzzing noise of the best digital publishing network this world has seen.

You’ll know if I come out of this existential mess. In the meantime, I’m cleaning up my 100,000 Tips and paying my bills with a good-paying mind-numbing job. This might be the logical consequence of the mental breakdown that invariably seems to come from absence from anything that looks like normal human interaction, or it could very well be something I ate.