Journal Entry – 1.4.21

It is 3:01 AM on Monday, January 4th 2021. This is the day that many people dread as this is the first work day after the holidays have officially ended. It is a bit different this time due to 2020 being such a terrible year; I think many are glad to have it gone even if we’re all still working through the terrible things it brought us. Furthermore, here in California we’re all pretty much still in lock-down so there aren’t too many people who need to return to the office. I’ve worked from home for over 10 years so am far removed from the office experience but am wondering if 2021 isn’t the first year ever where people would actually welcome going back to the office?

Fortunately or unfortunately for them we’re still in the pandemic and so most will not be returning to an office even if they wanted. Aside from COVID we also still have a President who is desperately trying to subvert democracy and the system of power the United States is built on. I lost respect for Trumpers long ago and every time it seems things have gone too far they lower the bar even further. I think there is some real concern Trump could try to use the military to remain in power and thus a joint statement was released today by all ten former secretaries of defense. It is surreal to also see elected Republican leaders join Trump in trying to overturn the election results. Let me be clear here: what a bunch of losers.

Children of Trumpers hear this!

1. If you lose a sporting match be sure to cry about it, say it was rigged and fight with lawyers, with threats, with anything you can to say only the points you scored mattered and that your opponents points shouldn’t count.

2. If you get bad grades just tell your parents it is all the fault of lame stream academia. You don’t even need to attend science class because science for Republicans isn’t a real thing anyway.

3. You can cheat, lie, steal, sleep with prostitutes, whatever you like. Normally these things would get you into trouble but just run for public office, all will be forgiven and you’ll become a hero. How about that!

So yes, 2020 remains with us even if the year has changed. I’m always sad to see the holidays go especially after enjoying them for over three months beginning with Halloween and especially having about two weeks of minimal work at the end around Christmas and New Years. I often have an image of those two weeks as being one of naps, watching VR and playing games. However, that image in my mind was just a fantasy as I found myself extremely busy with projects, activities and playing with my boys. There was always one more thing that needed done. But now I’m happy to say that 2021 is starting off with all of those projects completed.

Here are a few of them:

  1. Cut the new Eucalyptus growth – I put this first as it has been on my mind for months. We have a beautiful view of the ocean but these invasive trees grow like weeds and always sprout again. This isn’t a problem if they were just on my property but they are also on my neighbors. I hate having to ask to cut them as another neighbor cut a few big trees without their permission (they have a small forest) and that really left a bad taste in their mouth. But if I don’t I’ll lose my view. Luckily they are great people and I really like them. I finally got the nerve to send a message then meet to discuss and it was all OK. Now I can put that worry to bed for at least a few months until they sprout again.
  2. Backups – It was time to backup my data as well as ensure my wife’s pictures/videos were all backed up. I learned long ago to keep all my files in one folder on a dedicated data drive and simply use FreeFileSync to synchronize my backups with this folder. For my wife I switched her to Mac long ago and still use the now discontinued Time Capsule. I just need to ensure that is still working as double check it is backing up the Photos app as it is has gotten so large it is on an external drive that would need to be plugged in. I also backup those photos on a separate drive as well as use Google photos. I’m extra paranoid about the Photos app on Apple due to two bad experiences in the past. Once the “database” was corrupted and took a while to fix. Also, when Apple did a major update from iPhotos to just Photos that also caused a lot of problems which I think were due to its large size. So in addition to having backups of the app I wanted them all completely out of the app as well and that is where Google Photos came in.
  3. Garden – The garden never stops growing and was due for a trim in both front and back.
  4. Exercise/karate – This was almost daily and takes up a few hours. It is especially important to get this in since we’re all just sitting at home not moving much.
  5. Beach – We discovered a new love for the beach. We live in a beach town but never really used it much. Well that has changed with the purchase of wet suits, boogie boards and a metal detector. For metal detecting we simply need dress warmly and go there, but for getting in the water that takes preparation. Not only does preparing all your gear to get in the water take time but also cleaning up afterwards. You need to rinse off the salt water and sand from everything.

Those combined with thousands of other things really ate up all the time and looking back only yesterday did I really sit on the couch and take some time to just relax.

So here I am, at 3:45 on Monday, January 4th. I’ve woken up too early and better get back to bed so I’m not tired for the first day of work. The first workday of the year is tricky for me because I do need to start reaching out but at the same time nobody really wants to be getting back to work. I need my customers to actually want to engage with me so I usually give it a day or two before starting the heavy engagement.

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Journal Entry – 12.19.20

The time is 5:35 AM. I woke up at 2:30 AM then decided to get out of bed at 3:00 AM. Time always goes very quickly in the first hour or so of the early morning as I complete my chores. This morning I put away the dishes, washed the cups left on the table, made tea, and then thought I would have plenty of time for meditation, writing and VR. Well, passing by my Department 56 Christmas display I noticed the light in my Gin Distillery had gone out yet again.

Department 56 Gin Distillery

The Distillery is always troublesome because it requires a 12V 4W bulb which is very hard to find. Common 120V bulbs will not work. And so after 40 minutes of trying the common bulbs again, scouring the internet for cheaper alternatives to the official replacements, I relented and bought the expensive bulbs. To make matters worse those replacements don’t seem to last very long with the most recent only being 2 weeks. The replacements are $10 on Amazon for a pack of two and again I have no choice.

For the Distillery you cannot even throw away the cord and replace with another where 120V bulbs do work because it is one cord connecting both the light and the water wheel which turns. I learned a few years ago I didn’t need the expensive replacements for my other Department 56 houses, just the Distillery.

So I lost 40 or so minutes doing that. It seems that when I wake up very early my mind immediately goes to what I need to do, then what I might also be able to accomplish. If I continue to lay there my mind wanders to useless thoughts and as is obvious from previous posts my mind is infected with the poison of our current political environment which I refuse to give any space to in this post. This morning I thought I would put my new screensaver on my sons computers. There is a short story here which I’ll relate.

A week or so ago I was having computer problems (post here) and believed it to be hardware malfunctioning. Therefore, I gave serious thought to buying a new computer even though I didn’t want to. My current PC is six years old but still has plenty of power and storage. I don’t need or want to spend the money on a new computer, I just want my current one to function. Well, I ended up giving it a kick and it is working perfectly now. A kick is not the correct way to fix a computer but it gives me hope as if the computer starts acting up again I know it is just a loose connection. The next time I’ll double check all the cords as well as reseat the memory cards and think that should do it.

In trying to figure out the problem I used the “nuclear” refresh option in Windows which deletes everything and does a fresh install. I learned over a decade ago to keep all my files on a separate drive as well as backed up so I can trash as many computers, or Windows OS as I like and still have all my stuff. The refresh turned out to be a positive thing because now my PC is running better than ever. It also encouraged me to try new programs and rethink others. I now am using Microsoft more fully with OneDrive, additional users under my kid’s own Microsoft Accounts in case they want to use my PC for some reason as well as a Microsoft App that connects directly to my phone through WIFI so I can use it as though it were in my hands. It works perfectly unlike previous versions of Samsung SideSwitch which was clunky.

I’ve also made cosmetic changes and again am employing Microsoft’s own daily Bing wallpaper of the day app (here) which gives you new wallpaper everyday and got a new screensaver. Before the refresh the screensaver would never automatically turn on like it should and I could never figure out the problem. With the refresh it works again and after trying a few free versions and almost getting a few viruses I finally paid $20 for the Dream Aquarium screen saver. Good free screensavers (or most software for that matter) is so hard to find these days. They always come with ads, malware, viruses or a bunch of addons you really don’t want. I wanted a good screensaver so went ahead and paid for it. I love good ambiance and a beautiful aquarium screensaver certainly adds to a pleasant environment. Anywho I put it on my kids computers as well since I did pay $20 and should get full use of it.

Well, how about that. Writing about something as unimportant as this morning’s activities has taken seven paragraphs and 30 minutes.

It is Saturday morning and we’re under strict lockdown orders again. It is not as though we’ve exactly been out and about since March and now we’re under the most severe orders to not go anywhere. For the most part I’m perfectly fine with it but I really do not like that we cannot gather with other families. I understand the reason and the reason is many people are stupid and didn’t follow previous rules. We usually spend Christmas and New Year’s alone anyway but it would be nice to see our friends for NYE this year especially since one wife and daughter just came back from a very long stay in Japan AND given the fact we’ve lost so many of our Japanese friends to Japan this year. I’m pretty sure a lot of people aren’t going to be following the orders to not gather this Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The fact that our leadership preaches the restrictions but didn’t follow the rules themselves has really hurt their credibility. Furthermore, half of Americans (Trump supporters) aren’t following the rules anyway and their being encouraged not to do so directly by the President!

So long story short it is hard to demand so great a sacrifice of not seeing our friends on this special occasion when these lockdowns haven’t been effective thanks to Trumpism and the fact that a lot of people are just generally stupid (try public facing customer service, you’ll see!) The reality is COVID is going to burn through the population lockdowns or not and the only hope at this point is the vaccine since many Americans cannot even find it in their hearts to wear a mask. COVID is a thinning of a rather unhealthy herd fed from cola, fast food and instant everything packed with sodium. That is the hard truth.

The virus affects mostly those with “underlying heath issues.” While there are many with serious health issues through no fault of their own, such as the elderly, I’d say “underlying health issues” are PC code words for 80% of people who are overweight, eat poor food, smoke, drink and generally have lived an unhealthy lifestyle. Of course leaders cannot say this because 40% of Americans are obese! This is like when Britain learned in WW1 their citizenry was no longer the fighting fit people who built a world empire. They were out of shape and no match for the Germans in the beginning. Similarly, poor health habits in the USA have lead to an explosion of health issues easily seen by the amount of prescription drugs American citizens take. It is estimated that 66% of Americans take prescription drugs!! That is even a higher amount than those who are obese! Take those two figures and it will shed a bit of truth and clarity to the meaning of “underlying health issues.” When said that way you think of the elderly and maybe 10% or so of Americans. Considering the statistics above it would seem Americans have been in a health pandemic long before COVID but COVID just speeds everything along.

As for me, I care for people and through my experiences have learned to care for all living things. So I do my part and have been mostly quarantined since April except for three trips when the virus looked to be under control. But this order to not gather with friends for the holiday is a tough one to obey.

  1. Newsom and Breed tell everyone else to stay home but don’t heed their own advice. They go gallivanting unmasked at posh restaurants. Their rules are for the masses not those of means.
  2. The President and Trumpers have never followed the rules and so one gathering here or there really isn’t going to make a difference in this fight. Many of us can play by the rules but they won’t.
  3. Mental health is also a concern and if three families have followed the rules and quarantined, stayed home etc the meeting should be safe.
  4. Human beings die, especially when they live unhealthy lifestyles. Strange how everyone is always so quick to support war and killing because of ‘reasons,’ but when the possibility of death just hangs in the air all of a sudden we’re ordered to stay in the house.
  5. I am not afraid of this virus but I am afraid of inadvertently hurting others and so I always wear my mask, always social distance and rarely go out of the house.

But I don’t feel like following the rule to not gather with others for NYE. Leadership has lost their moral high ground over a $300 a plate dinner. The DNA of America is in the individual and not the collective, Trumpers have reminded me of that. And so, I will continue to follow all the rules, but if I break one here or there I will not feel guilty about it.

The time is now 6:51 AM and the day will soon begin. Even though I got out of bed at 3:00 AM my quiet morning time still doesn’t seem long enough.

I look back at what I’ve written and it is too bad my mind isn’t thinking about Christmas magic, joy, peace and all of the things that make this time of year special. I’ll have to try harder.

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2020 in Review

This is a year that has changed everything. COVID-19 has kept everyone mostly in the house since April and we’ve had an unhinged President who garnered a cult following of about half of Americans.

History books will be able to tell us the magnitude of the changes but for now we rely on news articles who document individual changes as they happen: restaurants are shutting down, people are moving and people are dying. All the while the Trump administration has brought the USA to perhaps one of the lowest points in its history yet he still retains a lot of support.

Imagine if Obama had done the same, not only completely failing at any type of coherent response but actively encouraging the spread (and death) by his words and actions such as not wearing a mask. The Republicans would have gone ballistic and call not only for impeachment but probably treason, execution, you name it. I write this as a warning to my descendants who will read this. The times and minds of people can change drastically, for both better and worse. I’m living in time where minds have changed for the worse in support of Trump. We humans as a species are still very young and primitive and make lots of errors. Just look at all the wars, killing and now support of a highly damaging con-man, liar, narcissist for President. We remain highly tribal and although separated less by distance thanks to aviation, the cultural, linguistic and political barriers are as strong as ever. The world order and relative peace is a house of cards held together by a love of money and extreme wealth.

I had previously thought that peace was maintained by intelligent people desiring a common good. That is the myth we were told here in the USA anyway. Under current leadership and at 43 I can now definitively say that there is no adult at the steering wheel of the world. Decisions are made in order to increase money and power, not for the good of all.

Here in the USA we sing the Star Spangled Banner before every sporting match and many children are required to say The Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the school day. During the 4th of July Americans everywhere will celebrate being American and drink plenty of booze. These activities give us the feeling that we are all one group, all Americans and on the same team. It is all an illusion which COVID-19 has stripped away.

COVID-19 kills Americans and is soon to kill more Americans than the total killed in WW2. All Americans have to do to help beat the virus is wear a mask. But you know what? Half of Americans cannot do that as they are cultish followers of Trump who in his desire to remain in power said the virus would magically disappear and ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED NOT WEARING MASKS! Yes, my descendants, this is insanity and something I will never fully comprehend. As I said above humans are still primitive and it is quite obvious Trump supporters are not only primitive but downright stupid.

In reading the news one general idea that might help explain is that the majority of his supporters are uneducated white men whose status in society has been slipping away for decades. Ironically their unskilled jobs were shipped overseas mostly with the support of Republicans yet it is the Republicans they support today. They see the money, power, beautiful women on Fox and like sports teams, feel if they align themselves with the brash, unapologetic Republican party they gain some semblance of status. It really isn’t more complex than a sports team winning a game and a supporter also feeling triumphant. The supporter isn’t part of the team but feels he is so because he buys the team’s merchandise, goes to their games and cheers them on. Unfortunately politics have become very similar and are now part of an identity than ever before. The Republican party takes from programs designed to benefit everyone and convinces those who could use those programs most that anything “social” is un-American. Their status continues to sink and they look for scapegoats such as immigrants. History repeats itself but with different characteristics. I have no doubt that the divisions will get worse, the uneducated whites will get angrier and the relatively calm political times of the past are gone for the next couple of decades.

I didn’t want to get stuck on politics for this post but politics were the main subject along with COVID-19.

With COVID-19 we’ve learned to live our lives mostly in our houses. I’m very interested to read those future history books and just how much COVID changed the American family. Previously the social contract was that you really didn’t have to spend more than 6 or so hours a day with your family. The kids get dropped off at school and the adults go to work all with the intent to make even more money. The amount of money was never enough. Suddenly people everywhere were forced to spend just about all of their time with their families. This became a huge test to determine if a family really liked each other or not. I believe that we’re still in the middle of this test. So many jobs have been lost that many people may need to stay together based on economic need. I don’t think we’ll now the full results until things return to somewhat normal. Will divorce rates skyrocket or will they be somewhat tame given the circumstances. COVID-19 is one big stress test on the American family and the outcome is so far uncertain.

As for us, we’ve adapted to staying indoors and it was not such a huge change. The biggest change was the kids distance learning everyday. With the internet this isn’t much of a problem. On the overall does it really make much of a difference if the teacher gives instruction in person or over Zoom? The current classroom structure hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years but technology certainly has. I’d say the biggest difference is the social aspect. My kids still play games with their friends through the computer/iPads etc and so still have interaction just not so much in person.

Now if this pandemic had happened when I was a kid and without internet that would be a completely different story. When I was a kid the main entertainment was still going outside and playing with friends. Yes we had video games but it wasn’t the main entertainment. A pandemic with lock-down in the 80s would have been torture.

As for personal relationships I lost one old friend who became brainwashed by Trump and had another move far away. I only saw both of these people once a year but meeting either of them again looks unlikely. We also continue to bleed Japanese friends from The Bay.

As for Facebook the awfulness of Trump and his supporters has turned me off of that service almost completely. I have often spoke of using it less but the nastiness of Trump and his supporters has done it for me. One part of me wants to unfriend them all and retain my intelligent friends. However I realize that I may regret doing that in the future. And so, my decision is to simply not use it very much anymore. It is time to let those old acquaintances alone and concentrate on those I have things in common with in present times. Facebook should be like a yearbook, something only opened up once in a great while.

I’d like to write more but will pause for now.


12.18.20

It is 5:56 AM on December 18th. I wanted to continue with my year in review post instead of creating a new post.

Today is Friday and was the first day I had nothing on the calendar for work. That changed due to a last minute unused funds inquiry from an account but that won’t take more than 15 minutes. I always wake up early but especially on the mornings after working out the day before. I got my meditation done and did so in VR in the “Silver Alps,” one of my favorite locations. I’m on top of a snow covered mountain looking down into a valley with two enormous, snow covered mountains behind. I miss snow for Christmas and so turn to digital environments to help with the scenery.

After meditation I used the Wander app which uses Google Street View I can look around almost any spot in the world! Today I tried for the North Pole to see if perhaps Google had placed a VR Santa abode, but no, the North Pole remains ice and water. So I settled on the North Pole, Alaska. I am familiar with this town because this is where we send our letters to Santa every year taking advantage of a service provided by the United States Post Office. You write Santa and the adult writes a personalized response. Stick both in an envelope addressed to yourself inside a larger envelope addressed to the North Pole. The USPS will return the letter inside with a real postmark from the North Pole (AK)!

Through the magic of VR and my Wander app I actually saw this post office as though I was standing in the street in front of it. I also “wandered” around the town. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem very much like the magical North Pole of our Santa Books and even the Santa Claus House looked a little drab being devoid of snow when the images were taken. But isn’t it magical in itself that I could use something called virtual reality and be virtually present in that town? Thanks to the internet I also discovered this Santa Claus house and can visit their website and see what they do! In fact, I then teleported myself into the wilderness of Alaska and stood in awe of its rugged majestic landscape, all while in my pajamas in my comfortable recliner. People in 2020 have forgotten how incredible the internet really is but I have not.

But back to the town of the North Pole, AK, it has its drab areas but also beautiful areas. Along the main road you find your usual McDonalds, various unimpressive places of business and a less than beautiful landscape as it is the arctic tundra. However, looking at a few of the neighborhoods, those were beautiful! I wandered through a section that was mostly forest with a neighborhood created it it. There were tall pines and Birchwood trees with breathtaking orange and yellow leaves. Those neighborhoods were truly magical but I imagine you’d have to watch out for bears. It would be a great place for a child’s (and adults!) imagination to run free but yes, watch out for bears.

Back to 2020. As mentioned above politics and COVID have dominated the year and thus infected my mind. One more thing about politics and I’ll stop. The fact I have to say one more thing is proof about how deeply national politics has affected all of us. Republicans show patriotism by attaching flags to their pickup trucks. Their political representatives must have a minimum of 30 flags behind them when they speak on TV. They have said many idiotic things but see! Do you see all of those flags! Whatever idiotic thing they’ve said is patriotic. Because they’ve put a lot of flags behind them! They can take away healthcare, put kids in cages, call other Americans rats, morons and even dead American soldiers losers!! But because they have a lot of flags behind them this is all very patriotic! See!

The Liberals on the other hand want to provide healthcare to all Americans but they don’t use very many flags. So you know what taking care of your fellow Americans means? It means “socialism!” Socialism is a word most Trump supporters cannot understand but are absolutely sure it is very bad because Fox news told them so. Criticizing certain aspects of America like terrible wars created by American lies or wanting to recognize the terrible racism America has never been able to shake is also anathema to Republicans. For the true Trump supporter (neo Fascist?) you can never criticize America no matter what. It has become a cult much like religious cults are. It is their “team” and no matter what bad things the “team” does you just over look it because criticism is something “true Americans” would never do.

Here is a test to show that Trump supporters are brainwashed. Ask them what they disagree with from Fox News before the election. Fox did call a state for Biden which was true but Trump supporters got rid of truth a long time ago. What do they disagree with Trump on? You know what will happen? The majority won’t be able to name more than one or two things. They’ve been brainwashed into supporting whatever nonsense, outrage, idiotic thing he does and are no longer in control of their own mind. They watch Fox News and other right wing media then copy and paste it onto social media. Out of everyone I know there is only one Trump supporter who could have an interesting, intelligent discussion without the old copy and paste factually incorrect information reflex.

Side note, another priest I knew from the past was put on the “naughty list” of credibly accused priests. This was mentioned on social media and you know what? Many defended him saying “they won’t believe it” even though we all know of incidents. This is the same of not wanting to hear anything bad about your team. Catholics look the other way on sex abuse and even continue to eagerly put their children in the care of such priests while Trump supporters eagerly support any awful, damaging thing Trump wishes to do? Destroy democracy? Sure why not?? Encourage further death and economic calamity by not wearing a mask? Sounds good to Trump supporters!

I read a post from a Trump supporting christian the other day and she was talking about how her church goes on trips out of state, doesn’t wear masks and hasn’t had any problems. You would think that she would know a main tenant of Christianity is to care for others. This implies one wouldn’t want to spread a potentially lethal disease that could kill some people. All they would have to do is wear a mask. But no, this is something they refuse to do.

I’m living in such a stupid time I want to scream. It is as though this is a simulation where many I know continually get stupider and stupider for the sole purpose of testing me. A challenge of the mind it is and can I hold fast without all their stupidity making me absolutely crazy.

OK DONE! Let’s get on with 2020 in review.

I’m finally over Facebook thanks to the stupidity and along with using it much less am going to unfollow the stupid people. Their idiocy is affecting my mental well being. After all, perhaps it isn’t the stupid people’s fault they are mentally weak but it is my fault for continuing to let their words into my life through the internet.

As for trips we couldn’t go back to Japan this year due to the pandemic but COVID and a massive amount of California fire did provide the opportunity to get back to Ohio twice with the whole family. That has never happened.

The first time was back in September when we were refugees from the smoke. The smoke was so bad I had to limit us to one room with the air purifier on high and entryway blocked off with a sheet. I have an air quality sensor and thus was well aware at how bad the air would affect our health. We’re talking being over 200 and even 300 on the index quite often! By staying in one room I could get the reading down to 100 or so but then we would be too high in CO2 due to all of us breathing the same air. The air would also become very stale as well as stuffy and just not fun to breath. So I’d have to open the windows to get oxygen and then the dirty air would rush back in.

Eventually we had had enough and escaped to Ohio. It was good to be back and especially with the entire family. The second time we went back was for Thanksgiving. Due to COVID governments were discouraging travel but being in the industry I know that the airplanes are safe and airports being pretty safe so long as people wear masks. It is in the airports where you’ll see a huge difference. In the Bay everyone is wearing a mask as is required. In Midway however there were tons of people eating and drinking at the bars with no masks. I had mentioned criticism before and will employ it here. People following the health and safety protocols in the Bay is an example of an America to be proud of. Those drinking beer after beer with no mask in their “Socialism Sucks” t-shirts with their bald heads and diabetes caused by being 100 pounds overweight is the America I do not like. But in addition to the “socialism sucks” writing it also had an American flag and bald eagle so this person is obviously a patriot unlike those mask wearing people in the Bay Area airports. It is that man in Midway who claims to be patriotic while simultaneously greatly increasing the chance of infecting and perhaps killing his fellow Americans. Such is the logic of the Trump supporter.

I was not concerned about traveling and fine to go against the recommendation not to travel because my family knows how to quarantine and wear masks. We know that the mask goes over both the mount AND the nose which is something 20% of Americans cannot seem to figure out. We drove to the airport in our own car, went to the gate and got on the plane. At our connection in Midway we avoided fat, bald, uneducated white men drinking beer and not wearing their masks and got on the connecting plane. Then in Columbus went straight to my Dad’s car all the while keeping masks on with ample, periodic use of hand sanitizer. If everyone could travel or generally adhere to those practices the pandemic would have been under control long ago.

But no, Trump supporters in their cultish fervor follow their leader and spread the disease that has killed over 300,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work. But you know what? They wear American flags on their clothes and just love America so much because America is only them and screw everyone else. Does this make any sense? No, it does not.

2020 has given me a headache. So much stupidity.

Another positive aspect is that we did take another trip, this time to Las Vegas and Death Valley. Yes, I understand the pandemic is to be taken seriously but mental health is also to be taken seriously. And so after adhering rigorously to quarantine we need to get out of the house. We chose Las Vegas because it is warm, they’ve got excellent pools, is relatively cheap but also is an exciting place. We accomplished our aim of making excellent use of the pool at the Paris hotel and also visited Circus Circus where Ren won one of his favorite “stuffies” all on his own at the horse race game.

We then went to Death Valley and had a wonderful time in an environment none of us had been in ever before. I’ve written about all of this in a post so no need to recap.

OK, the time is now 7:08, the house will soon wake up and my peaceful morning time has ended.

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Journal Entry – 12.10.20

It is 11:55 AM on Thursday December 10th, 2020. For the first time in many days I have a few minutes to get a blog post in. Work has been busy: from 8 to about 2 I’ve been engrossed in my laptop only taking a break to refill coffee or pee. I look at the clock and to my surprise it is 2:30 or 3:00 PM. Today is the first time all week I can take a breather as I’m all caught up with no appointments tomorrow.

As an Account Manager this time of the year is typically slow. It is ironic that in a year of quarantine I’m actually busier than I usually am. The reason is because every customer interaction requires thought and more preparation than usual.

Mentally I could really use a break. Aside from work there is always one more house chore, one more bill, one more message, one more thing to do without end. This also extends to finances as there is always one more bill to pay, one more service to decline and one more subscription offering. Speaking of subscriptions, those have become relentless. I am a very organized person and even I can get suckered into subscriptions, having too many before I know it. I am not surprised that now everyone and everything wants to sell you a subscription for their services. It seems like a small monthly amount but adds up to over $100 for the company per year, much more than just a one time sale of something.

I do have to give myself some credit because most of the services were purchased on an extreme COVID deal. But I thought it would be interesting to list these out.

  1. Netflix – $13 per month. We’ve had this for a decade and make use of it daily
  2. Costco – $120 annual fee. This is worth it as Costco has the best prices for grocery/bulk items we need for the family. The membership easily pays for itself in the annual rebate. In fact, we make money because we buy a lot from Costco and also get the 2% back for restaurant purchases. We eat delivery pizza and sushi quite often.
  3. Amazon Prime – $119 per year – What we cannot buy from Costco we buy from Amazon. This also easily pays for itself with the 5% cash back.
  4. YouTube – $216 per year. I subscribed about a year or two ago so I could watch Cobra Kai. I then realized that given my love of ambiance I could have YouTube ambiance on my TV instead of putting in my fireplace BlueRay. I like to have some type of ambiance going on the TV whenever I’m in the living room especially a fireplace or during holidays with nice scenes reflective of the holiday. Finally, there is YouTube music which means I’m getting two services in one: music service and video service both combined!
  5. Disney Plus – $70 per year. We got this when it rolled out as it was only $6. The main draw here is by far The Mandolorian followed by the Simpsons. If it weren’t for those two we could do without.
  6. Sirius XM I I got this for a COVID steal!! Only $60 for the top package for a year plus an Alexa Echo puck. We are a Google Smart Home but why not have Alexa as well to see what she can do. I find I prefer the SPA channel on Sirius while working than always looking for a new YouTube Playlist. I won’t renew this one however unless it is for a huge discount. YouTube Music is sufficient.
  7. New York Times – I always want to read the NYT articles that show up in my Google reader but was not going to pay the big subscription fee. One day a few weeks back there was a flash sale for $1 per week for the year. That’s only $48 per year! So I’ve got it for the year but won’t renew if it jumps back up to $120 a year at the end of ’21.
  8. Nintendo Switch – This is $35 per year and worth it as we use the Switch daily. My wife especially likes Animal Crossing and on the rare occasion plays with friends so this is worth it.
  9. Just Dance Unlimited – $25 per year. This is something that normally we wouldn’t subscribe to. However I got the idea to hook the Switch up to a TV in the gym so we could do the exercise games in an appropriate environment and thus, hopefully, encourage working out more by adding variety in a gaming format.
  10. Epic Books – $72 per year. This one is pricey but worth it since we’re in a pandemic, the kids are distance learning and I wanted them to have variety in what they read.

All in that is $921 per year in subscription fees. This is the first time I’ve actually calculated it out and am amazed at how quickly it adds up. I am inherently adverse to subscriptions and feel the need to trim. So unless there are further deep discounts and life returns somewhat to normal the ones that will be cut are: Epic Books, New York Times, Sirius XM, and Disney Plus.

One service that also now offers a subscription and that I’ll eventually have to contend with is Microsoft Office. I use Access Database and although I could switch over to a Linux app I don’t want to. I’m used to Access and am not going to ditch Windows anytime soon. However, their Office product is now subscription although they say a one time purchase option will soon be available. I still have the MS Office 2016 package installer but eventually the product key isn’t goign to work anymore and I won’t have any choice but to upgrade on whatever terms Microsoft sets forth.

Now if I’m so organized but still find myself paying more than I’d like for subscriptions I imagine many across the world, especially in America are getting downright fleeced. America is a place where half the country cannot even wear a mask in a pandemic. Therefore, one would conclude they would do even less well against predatory company practices and have signed up for more subscriptions than they may be able to handle. Credit cards after all rob from the poor and I think subscription services are just as predatory. Yes, yes, individual freedoms, but unfortunately corporations are a heck of a lot smarter than your average Joe and are masters at taking Joe’s money.

Yes, I am a bit frazzled with all the subscriptions, projects, messages and always trying to fend of subscription requests that come in between scam calls about the IRS or extended warranty. If I read the news Trump is trying to destroy democracy all while being cheered along by his poorly educated white supporters who are quickly finding their status in society is slipping away. Maybe if they just voted for more things that run absolutely contrary to their well-being it would make them feel better for a little while anyway. It is kind of like a drug for them: voting for the rich and powerful gives them a high like snorting cocaine but afterwards their lot is all the worse and they need to vote against their own interests again. Gotta stick it to them Liberals you know!

I want to turn off my phone, turn off the electronics and just be at peace. Perhaps a hike through the woods is necessary. My mind needs a rest.

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