Timing and Circumstance

Timing can make or break a song. Timing is the difference between being stuck in traffic and ensnared by the accident. Timing happens on its own. We plan for so much in the understanding that the factors we have to account for become so numerous we couldn’t hope to reach what we thought was the final consideration without losing the first. You leave work one day to go to a concert. You leave early but not as early as you would have liked because earlier that morning you felt a little under the weather and therefore were slow getting to the building. You curse your hours younger self for being lazy and causing you such delays. The delays themselves continue to stack up and you begin to feel anxious and start apologizing to your wife who by this point in the relationship is very aware of your inability to be on time (which is ironically coupled to a reasonably sharp ability to guess the time). She is patient though and assures you that no one else is sweating it. You take a shower and get ready as the anticipation of the event starts to build against the flu that has been trying to beat you down all day. Chills and sweats and aches make lifting boxes that much harder, but the hot water and the extra steam from the cooler air help to relieve some of the congestion. Menthol and camphor paste with its minty scent and color tackle the rest on the way out of the bathroom. A quick run to the bank for parking money and then a dash across the street for dinner before we venture out onto the longest least exciting straight road ever engineered. A mix up at the bank causes another delay. Credit cards all look the same when you use the same bank and what do you mean my pin is wrong? Dash back outside to swap cards, withdrawal the requisite funds, acquire the aforementioned dinner and we find ourselves well on the Way.

Looking out the windows that you haven’t used in years you see sights from your childhood that have grown right along side you. Age paints the landscape more vibrantly as the clusters of warehouses and airports and towns start to come together in the complex systems they compose. The airport comes out further than you realized, but it makes sense in proximity to the large rail yard below the highway overpass. We change the radio and it seems to be aware of the extra passenger present. Odd things sometimes, but all ultimately just coincidence of various degrees. Songs and talks of the hubris of man to lay out these stone canals when water failed to keep up with our ambitions. As the meeting is crossed we are joined on the stone river by more colorful characters in twin-seat highway race cars and ponder if we saw a glimpse of the act or a fellow member of the crowd. These musings go forever unanswered, but enjoyably pass the time as we travel. The organism of societal movings is becoming whipped into a frenzy as we approach the local epicenter of activity. In this opportunity for human to shine as a cooperative species we are reminded of our selfish and distracted natures at every turn. The cell directions service warns us of approaching congestion which has managed to work its way out of your nose and into the system at large. In a city you realize that engineers don’t look at a landscape the same way. The highways ignore what we see as slopes and curve through the air like intricate flight paths to guide the swirling masses of people around and through the spaces where we congregate. A separate roadway exists behind a fence along the waterway and we jest that the locals must have a secret access point to avoid the mess we find ourselves in. A building in the distance displays a familiar scene of a flowing river and your mind wanders back to the radio’s playful sentience. The lights show fades from the building and for a moment you await it’s return. A new pattern is displayed and the coincidence is enjoyable. The highway drops into a low trench as you slowly round a bend and witness some incredible displays of assertion as the wielders of steel bricks swerve to cross the road in the deadliest version of frogger. Traffic slows to a crawl and flashing lights can be seen in the distance. A sign indicates that an accident has occurred. Not all of the players were able to maneuver safely through the flow. Glass and fluid remain to be ground into the pavement by the unyielding river of vehicles. Briefly you wonder how far back in time the accident happened and when you might have been crossing the path of that collision if you had been more on time.

Parking in a city designed for horses is an adventure in alertness. A location is selected based on convenience and we enter the car dungeon through a bizarrely reminiscent concrete ramp. This is likely not the first time you’ve ever parked in this garage and you dismiss the thought. Signs and arrows lead us astray but a hipster with a hybrid advises us to be more perceptive and check the middles rather than the edge. This labyrinth provides a transformative mindset. You enter and in losing your car decide to loosen up and embrace a more present aesthetic. Bicycles and cars compete for space with the former slipping into equal balance. She calls you a nerd and you agree. Shown all the sights to see and a metal frame is what catches your eye, she’s not wrong. The energy and the crowd along the street are refreshing after so many walks along comparatively dim and abandoned sidewalks. The people are as varied as the storefronts and though there was tension most of it seemed positive. Seekers of joys and of love laughed amongst themselves and for a moment it seems like the area has forgotten the surrounding storms building around the world. This amnesia is comforting for a while.

We arrive at the venue and you discover another small joy as she has a keychain confiscated for the safety of the other attendees. A silly pride warms a small part of your chest as you laugh and await her by the door. Light ribbings about our mutual bad influence distract us from the building nerves in the changed scenery. We find a corner and proceed toward a flight of stairs. Lead astray by a desire to escape the crowd we originally sought to join. Guided by a sweet voice to an overpriced can and a woman could could provide us with exclusively roped off stools or chairs we eventually seek an exit. Forces of odor and a ginger with something on his mind drive us toward the front of the show. The first act of hypnosis is completed and the crowd buzzes with excitement and what can be assumed to be various intoxicants. The floor grabs as your feet and attempts to trap you here for ever. The main act prepares their stage. A father and son join our space and we rearrange to accomodate the shorter. Comfort is found in relatable conversation and a tingle works its way through you. The King of Sludge arranges a tall sleek metal stand and we are left in wonder as to its function. Jazz musicians always dress so sleek. As with everything else, all convention seems to be cast aside and the end result remains complementary and pleasing.

We are told later that the first portion of the performance is a gift. We are all drawn in by the trios ability to dance along it and bring us along with them. The lights covering their armor flash in rhythm to the sound. To close one’s eyes is to miss the flash but it remains easier to follow without the distraction. We are told we are all just one thing in a bigger thing. All just one part, our rhythms following the flow cast out by their signal. A local solar system guided by the gravity of the bass and the balanced chaos of the horns. The frequency rises and falls and then breaks to silence. We exit into a frozen night, now colder than before in our sweat soaked outfits as the heat and people swarm away from the scene. Our evening folds itself up neatly into the next adventure.

Cut where the knife goes through, forcing it will dull the blade. Just go with it.

"How do we know if famines killed millions when the Bolsheviks took over Russia?" Or discerning wheat from chaff in a digital world.

I have a friend with whom I frequently debate social theories and political ideas. We entertain the notion that what we are practicing is philosophy and we are sticking to it. Often our ideas lay in opposite camps. That’s putting it mildly at times. Our conversations have changed both of our opinions about certain matters and caused us, I believe, to deepen our search for an agreement if nothing else. This agreement is crucial to the success of any group, be it a family or a town or a federally led nation. The debates get heated sometimes and that’s important too. Partially so that I can practice restraint and learn to focus my passion into well formed argument without all the yelling and carrying on.

He has these conversations with lots of people and I give him credit for that, one person recently hit him with the idea that everything commonly expressed about the repressive nature of the communist governments of the world is vastly exaggerated and mostly exists as propaganda. It occurred to him that this would be difficult to truly personally verify even with usage of the internet. There exists so much misinformation that to really get a quality first hand source that can be verified as authentic would be a seemingly impossible task and that by simply accepting on face value the notion of Stalin’s communist atrocities he himself was doing what he accuses people who accept the reported news of climate science. The lesson here being that without realizing it, we can all be hypocrites. Our opinions are formed by the information we experience in life and they can be changed and influenced all the time. It’s important to challenge your own beliefs every now and then. If they hold water then it should be a reaffirming experience, but we shouldn’t be afraid to discover that we have new values or beliefs. That’s growth, and that things that exhibit life on Earth also exhibit signs of growth is a fairly undeniable fact. Don’t let that say too much about life though. You don’t want to get me started on my opinions about free-will.

Try to count every success

This one should be a little bit more straight forward. In discussing distraction, it’s important to understand focus. Short term focus is easy to lose. Long term focus is difficult to recognize. Both of these statements feel discouraging. It is definitely in vogue to talk about distractability. Everything is a distraction on so many levels that to really dive into that would take away from the point I’m attempting to wrangle together here. Seriously though, at some point even trying to pay attention to everything that is going on just starts to feel like a distraction. The other option is blissful unawareness of anything happening on a global scale. Imagine not knowing that Australia is on fire. Imagine having no knowledge of the current goings on in the middle east. Imagine having no real concept of where the middle east is or why there would even be conflict there. I don’t think John Lennon had sticking our head in the sand in mind when he wrote his version of that day dream. The world keeps turning though, and all we can hope is that we are here to see that continue to happen. How much of knowing about it is useful though? At the same time it feels very privaleged to be handed a live stream to an amount of human thought and be like, “nah.” Proponents would make points about how the connectiveness has helped and it definitely has. We now more than ever can understand how similar the world has become. We can gain an overview understanding of nearly anything we can think up keywords to. And it gets updated recklessly fast. But then feeling connected makes you feel isolated because you are just sitting there soaking in it and letting the currents of human consciousness and tensions flow from your glowing palm directly into your eyeballs. But then you’ve lost an hour or three and you haven’t accomplished anything you set out to do. At some point it’s just discipline, but that requires something to stick to.

Which finally brings us full circle to my original point about getting distracted and how to count successes in the long term. The term that really counts because it generates the factor known as consistency. Stoics would probably tell you that focusing on one thing is just the most you should aim for. I say that’s great if you can, but good luck. I’d say recognize how much you can actually maintain. Some things take only certain amounts of time and some end up being complimentary. Anything that contributes to the things you have determined to be your long term goals counts as a success. Period. Screw anyone that says other wise. As long as you actually did something as opposed to just thinking about doing it. If the goal is to ride your bike more, anything you get in terms of saddle time counts. Just enjoy it and be in it. And sometimes go for a spin around the block even if it’s a weird hour. Sometimes you might still fail to check every box, but don’t discount the ones you have checked off. Perfection doesn’t exist. Perfection exists only in your mind and even then is constantly shifting. Lost as soon as you found it.

This all assumes you’ve found something to shoot for. There’s plenty of good reasons to do anything and an equal number of bad reasons. At some point you just have to choose. And if it doesn’t work, then choose something else or pick a different approach. If that still doesn’t work, then consider giving up. Take an inventory of where you are and really think about what you are looking for in the change. Maybe nothing is missing and you just want more from something than it has to give. Sometimes things just are what they are, but our attitudes about that can make them miserable and intolerable. These days almost any shift can be made with consistent effort. It’s often the sticking to it that’s difficult. This isn’t anything new, but maybe the more it gets said the more people will understand the breadth of the issue.

We have about a buck twenty, but there haven’t been any results

Once upon a time, a small town discovered a social media site. What started out as something that was used exclusively (or at least so we thought) by students in school, had turned into the digital version of community centers. A group online could be started at a moments notice and required no physical location to facilitate the flow of thought among a group of peers. This would not be anything that could be defined as a group of like minded individuals, though a more closed off group could be located without much difficulty. Private groups require membership forms, initial inquiries into one’s commitment to the groups core values. In a town trying to find it’s place in the current century everyone has the perfect plan to solve all of the woes and strife. The area is the most urban city in the county within which it resides. The average citizen has little awareness of the goings-on of the county they live in and the county is aware of this. The story is almost comical in the way that it sounds like a television drama when laid out.

I’ve described the area that I live in previously, but for those that are just following life and jumping in wherever they feel like it here is a small recap. At the confluence of two rivers, a city and a town formed. The town became an industrial and transportation center which developed a sprawling suburb that devoured the surrounding farmland as the population began to concentrate in the town. The town itself was deemed of value because of the narrowness of the river at that specific point. Crossings had been made there by rope guided ferry before the bridges were constructed; bridges for cars, that once carried trollies, and bridges for trains that still run as active freight lines. Before the trains, there were canals powered by the numerous rivers. The area has always served as a facilitator of transportation and commerce, and has always done well for itself. Despite what some would describe as a negatively perceived reputation, the school system provides an excellent education and now modern facilities. There is municipal trash pick up and the option to go with an alternative services provider in most places. The town is divided into more boroughs than necessary and maybe that’s the problem. Like I said, everyone thinks they have a solution, I’m not exempt from that.

Which brings me back to the social media network communities that had started to form. During the last election cycle I became even more politically involved that I had before. To lay out roughly what I mean by that I would start by saying I have for most of my late teenage to current adult years been interested enough in politics to read news articles, research topics in encyclopedias, read through textbooks, pay attention in social studies, and once wrote a paper criticizing the very education that I praised in the previous paragraph rather than write a paper about James Joyce or bother to develop a quality educational work ethic. Someone offered to publish that in two local papers and I turned them down because I was already worried about the repercussions just of turning that in rather than turning in my turn paper. But I had things to say. or, I guess I have things to say. That hasn’t faded much. Deciding then to not publish is why now I have made the choice to do the opposite. One of the social media groups that I found was announced as leaning to one direction. I joined this group because of my personal affiliation with them. The town had previous held a meeting where they invited the denizens to discuss what they thought should be done to improve the town itself. There were engineers and project managers and local business owners and plenty of regular townsfolk who had gathered because they wanted to try to make the area better. Apparently, leveling the waterfront to make it more appealing to people from out of town would do that. That design forum served as my introduction to community politics. Working for the town during the summer when I was in school and simply participating in public school introduced me to community involvement. Crowdsourcing feedback isn’t new. This town is in danger of falling behind the curve and being taken advantage of forever. And that’s why I joined a group on a social media network.

As a bubble does, the group itself tended to be rather focused. Everyone had their suggestions or their gripes and the various members would send praise or commiserate in scorn. One gentleman in particular was full of ideas that the town could do to improve. He had a tagline with each idea that implied his ideas only cost a couple of pennies. Idea after idea flowed in the group and a lengthy chat and chatter would commence and then people would move onto the next thought completely failing to realize that simply discussing the idea on the internet doesn’t actually bring it to life in the real world. The mayor wasn’t sitting there reading the page taking notes other than to get a little boost of dopamine for whatever praise the group decided to shower upon him. Or if they rose to his often unearned defense. One day, an idea was proposed that landed near to my interests and background and so decided enough was enough. There has to come a time where we stop suggesting and start doing and down with the idea that we have to wait for the government to get around to keeping up. You want to do this community group in real life, then let’s go do it. We don’t have to do much, but we should meet in person because in person is where the interactions that will affect our day to day lives will likely occur. And so they and several other people agreed to meet in the back of a bar to discuss what we would want from a specifically oriented community group. I brought a white board and markers and we brainstormed. We discussed the difference between actionable ideas and delusions of grandeur which we decided to refer to as step one and step two. You can’t get anywhere without figuring out if what you are trying to do is step one or step two and it’s amazing how many are the latter. Everyone wants a building, no one wants to pay a guild fee. Our meeting was visited by town council who offered us business cards and open assistance, and a phone call that offered us sand castle promises and wanted to lead us toward their vision for our group.

We continued to meet several times to discuss how to spread the word of our group and what we could do in the area to make genuine improvements and impacts. What we wanted to offer was an inclusive space for people of like-minded output based interest and to offer an open opportunity for people unfamiliar to the practices to give them a shot. The town exists next to a city with a similar thriving community, but it seems to serve as a larger draw. No one is looking at the town partially because the town doesn’t seem very open to people from outside of it. Our group flourished to the point that I had to question what I was getting myself involved in. There are already so many draws that require the time that I have available that I was starting to feel as though I needed to choose between a few of them and decide what was really important. My goal had ultimately been realized. Point proven, build it and they will come turned out to be the nonsense that happened. One meeting in bar turned into another in a restaurant where people who knew what they were doing showed up and managed to turn the group into a functioning entity. Perfect. That was my primary intent. Just to make it happen, I don’t even really care about the credit. The area now has a specific output based community group which is supposed to improve the area through the invitation of inspired minds, but making crafts that cheer people up is also dope.

Most of us feel some compulsion at some point to try to make a change even on the smallest scale. Sometimes when trying to do this we get so caught up in the end result that we forget to figure out what action we have to take to earn the dream we thought up. So much can feel so far out of our reach simply because so much of what we think we are pursuing as action amounts to no more than pure thought and fantasy. We had so many ideas for what to do with that group that eventually panned out well. A building was located for the purposed of hosting collective output creation events and participation in town events was coordinated. The idea of starting with step one isn’t exactly ground breaking, but sometimes I have to remind myself to take those first steps. We all get a little lost in our ideas and forget to actually pursue them from time to time.

Maybe the blog is more about bicycles for now

Walk the walk if one feels the need to run their mouth about how people should get around right? Well maybe some people just have an easier time telling everyone else what to do. Maybe sometimes we make excuses for why we can’t keep up with our responsibilities. Maybe we have to leave at between 5:30 and 6 to get to work on time and are just bad at prioritizing. Or, perhaps, the light we needed to leave at the time was broken. That was all rhetorical and mostly truth. All of that can be solved through the application of non delayed action. That’s what I mean when I say that motivation is crap. I am really motivated to do all of this. Right now. But it’s freakin’ 10:41. What good is this?? Still though. We gotta work with that we get handed and the the ability to do that is way more broadly applicable than fickle motivation. Broken lights though? That’s easy. And recycling in this instance. So, double-whammy at minimum.

This is my second headlamp from the internet bazaar. The first died and to this day I don’t know if the battery itself gave out, or if the lamp quit. It had three lamps and was incredibly bright, which is good because my ride into work is incredibly dark. Municipalities seem to be under the impression that the responsibility of lighting falls solely on the individual that has decided to embark upon their journey like a cave person. You want to ride around exposed on a steel horse, better bring a torch because the bike paths around here are not lit. At all. Now, I haven’t raised the money to do this and I can’t imagine anyone else has bothered to either. There is no estimate I could provide for the cost of those lights, but they stick them on roads and it would certainly encourage people to jump on bicycles. At least enough to alleviate some of the traffic around here. Not everyone is going to bike, and it would be unreasonable to demand that everyone does. More of us can than are though. I certainly can so long as I have a light to get me to work. Whereas my first light gave out in a manner rendering it unusable, the second failed only to remain attached to my cranium. Plastic products on the internet bazaar are not always of the highest durability. A plastic clip that connected the strap that formed the headband snapped, leaving me with a lamp wired to a battery pack and two-thirds of the elastic I needed to wrap those around my helmet.

There was a picture of a bicycle on another website that had a remote battery pack attached to the side of the bicycle. This battery pack connected to at least the front light. Going into that search, in the back of my mind, was the idea that I needed to fix the light on my own bicycle. When I got out to the garage, my plan was to recreate the first assembly (which is a really loose use of that term) that was slapped together when the lamp originally broke. With a bungee cord that did pretty much nothing and the broken straps wrapped around the handlebars and then layered again with most of a roll of electrical tape, the light stayed attached where needed and aimed slightly to the left. Mostly optimal! However, the tape covered a bolt that allowed the handlebars to be adjusted and given that the fit on this bike is being tweaked on an entirely whimsy-based process the need to remove the light became inevitable. The reattachment of the light was not immediately subsequent and thus my morning rides and commitment to something resembling values was cast aside. Until tonight that is. Subconsciously inspired by that picture perhaps, or just presented with an opportunity to really look at a problem and let a solution come to me I realized that I was in possession of everything I needed. First, the straps needed to be slipped from the surviving plastic clips. The light itself is mounted to a hinge with a flat plate. The wire to the battery pack runs out of the right hand side and through a loop for flexibility. After reaching for the ever handy electrical tape, the thought occurred to me that having to cut the tape off every time the power cells needed swapping seemed impractical and counter to the ecological and economic purpose of the bicycle.

The bicycle was sold to me with a small black bag with a busted zipper that once pulled most of the way closed refused to open again without a spritz of penetrating lubricant and creative use of a hook on the end of the bungee cord used in the prototype attempt the first time round. That bag was located, zipper surgery performed, and with some extra looping of the primary strap and a sturdy self looping elastic bungee with a ball on the end of it for good measure, a battery pouch was fabricated.

The light itself sits perched center and pointed low on the handlebars. The lights are supposed to be angled down because as squishy cyclists its in our best interest not to blind drivers so they don’t feel the urge to run us over. They should never feel bothered to switch away from their high beams or make sure that that the buy it now halogen LED turbo lazer beam headlights are adjusted to point at the correct road angle and not straight at my clearly able to adapt to sudden light changes pupils. The hinge was a little floppy and since the town can’t be bothered to fix every single pothole simultaneously it would bob around and be less than useful overall. Electric tape wrapped around the hinge seems to have rectified that issue.

I think I just accidentally lived out that trope of the engineer’s flowchart (does it move, should it?). The graphic designer that agreed to marry me says that it looks retro. That’s pretty much all the praise I’ll ever need.

Now all that stands in my way is laziness. And a lack of sleep. At least I wrote this blog post though. Do you give yourself credit for the little battles when the little battles seem like pyrrhic victories? Might as well, right? Right. Just keep telling them it’s about code. Coding. Coding what though?

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How did you manage to end up here?

No matter it’s ultimately not important. Welcome traveler! Roamer of the world wide web. There isn’t much here for now and that’s alright. This is the beginning of whatever this will become. It might be the end as well if I don’t manage to stick with it. That is part of why I am writing this blog though. Public accountability. If all I ever do is write entries in a little book that I carry around with me, then I have no way to determine if the ideas that get recorded are sound. I can tell myself anything I want and there is ultimately no one to tell me that I’m wrong because in this life we are able to create whatever image of ourselves in other people’s minds that we want. At least right up until the part where they catch you in that act and reconcile that you don’t really know what you are up to.

I for the life of me can’t manage to teach myself code. There’s also a stubborn bitter entity taking up residence in my head that isn’t ready to just throw in the towel and go back to school. So along the way this will serve as a record of what I hope is growth and skill and determination. In my current job, I feel stagnant, a lot of that is on me. Recognizing it is the first important step. Or at least that’s what some would lead me to believe. We’ll see though.

There is nothing that I would call myself an expert in, but that certainly won’t prevent me from rambling. In between drab explanations of what I taught myself in coding camp will be a litany of random discussions ranging from local politics to free-will. And neurosis, but that’s something you’ll just get accustomed to as I dart around from topic to topic. Life has handed me quite the laundry list of experiences, and those experiences have in turned provided me with pretty half-decent insight.

So, let this serve as an introduction to the Public Records Department. Over the course of these first few posts, you’ll start to get an introduction to the lunatic behind this. And assuming you get that far we might get to have some cool conversations.

At some point I will get around to adding a contact form. It will probably be listed under something like send me hate mail, though comments are readily available for that. If at any point, any of you decide that you want my advice, go ahead and ask me anything and I’ll give you a response. No guarantees that any of the advice will be sound nor should it be followed, but who knows, could be a fun time for everyone. I’ll trade mediocre life advice for advice on how to be better at coding. Coding, which as stated, is the primary purpose of this blog. Of course is it.