Thursday, December 31, 2020


I won't go into much detail about my year. It goes without saying that it's been a pretty eventful one for a lot of reasons-- a lot of them bad-- but you already know that because you probably have had to deal with them one way or another. We all have. Again, though, I won't go into detail; you already have heard how "unprecedented" things have been and how "things are a little different this year" enough times to rip your hair out, I'm sure.

I'm fortunate enough to have kept a job nearly the entire year, stayed healthy in spite of the people in my workplace getting sick and-- often enough-- not doing much to keep others from getting sick too, and kept my moral character by doing what I could to be a good person even when it wasn't convenient or fun. I'm stoked for the muscle I've built and the heavy lifting I can do now, and that I can still run an okay pace at okay distances despite not running as regularly as I'd like. I'm grateful to have the friends and family I have even if we haven't seen or heard much from each other. I'm happy to be married to someone so driven, smart, and patient that puts up with me most days. I even knocked out some of the bigger New Years resolutions I had for this year too, oddly enough. In a lot of ways I've been luckier than most, and I'm glad for that. 

I'm cautiously optimistic about the future. There are things that the human species needs to do to make it a more habitable and equitable one for everyone, and even though it's been made all too evident that people have a really hard time doing the right thing even when it's easy I'm still holding out hope that we'll move forward more informed and better out of this year. I hope you feel the same and do what you can to make the world a better place for everyone. 

This post didn't have much of a purpose aside from letting you know I'm alive and as well as I can be. I haven't written much this year aside from the Instagram I maintain about beer, but I might pick up blogging about fun stuff like low waste and running again in 2021. I hope you have a safe and responsible new year, and I hope to see you when it's safe to do so. 

Love you! 

Friday, June 12, 2020


Apparently some folks are defending confederate monuments and the like because they're a part of American history. The Civil War is a part of the story of the nation, there's no question about that. It brought not only the question of unity within the United States into the continental zeitgeist, but also questions about the freedom of black people in the so-called "Land of the Free" that persist today. Protests in defense of black lives have lead to the dismantling and destruction of certain monuments throughout the country, and those who want to see those monuments protected argue that protesters are trying to erase history. 

But consider Manzanar:

It's a place in the mid-eastern side of California best known for being a relocation camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. 120,000 people were wrangled up and relocated to this small tract of land because of racism disguised as national security, even though there were no similar camps for German Americans during the war. After the war the camp was left to be swallowed up by the sand of time and the dust from the Owens Lake, but now exists as a National Historic Site. It serves to remind the public that the country did something terrible, and that many face discrimination in many forms to this day which we need to overcome. 

By contrast, a statue of Jefferson Davis serves to celebrate a person who fought a war for state's rights to own slaves. A monument to Christopher Columbus is to commemorate a man who brutalized Indigenous Americans and was eventually arrested for being a murderous tyrant. The confederate flag is a banner of a treasonous group of racist losers that even NASCAR won't tolerate anymore. 

History-- especially American history-- is rife with examples of missteps, mistakes, and blatant abuses of human rights to life and liberty. We don't need to celebrate those things; we need to learn from them and do better, and literally idolizing bad people and groups won't help with that. Keeping monuments that celebrate oppression do more to deface the nation than their destruction of them by protesters. We should absolutely not sweep the less-than-savory parts of our history under the rug, but that doesn't mean we should glorify them. Remember slavery so we can work to dismantle the institutions built by them and lift up the people affected by intergenerational trauma and racism. Remember the brutal parts of our nations past and present so we can do better moving forward for our people.

In summary: Fuck the confederate flag, Columbus Day, statues of Stonewall Jackson, and all the other stains on history that don't need to be celebrated. Fuck 'em.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Lemurs, Raccoons, and Show Poodles

My morning commute takes me to the eastern outskirts of Lancaster and Palmdale. The hay fields and sprawling desert of Joshua trees make the drive pretty pleasant, however short it may be, so I've enjoyed the temporary wide open spaces before clocking in for the day. On my route there's a four-way stop, and most days there are people posted up on the corners selling bags of oranges and cloth face masks out of their trucks. It is the most emblematic scene of 2020 to me.

Seeing these folks on my new morning commute got me thinking, and I came to the conclusion that there are three kinds of people in 2020: lemurs, raccoons, and show poodles.

Lemurs are only found in Madagascar, so they've always been isolationists. Similarly, there are people who have always distanced themselves from others, whether it's due to geography, disdain for other people, or health reasons. I have family whose lives have been little affected by stay-at-home orders because they weren't going anywhere anyway (my dad and stepmom, for example, have no neighbors to the east of their house for over 100 miles, which is good social distancing in my opinion). Aside from a few adjustments and precautions, life goes on as usual, only now it's considered being responsible.

Raccoons are ever-adaptable and scrappy (and are probably eating a lot of garbage), like a lot of us are right now. I have a morning commute now because I left my hotel job of 10 years for a job in fulfillment to be with my wife and to help a lot more people. Teachers are conducting classes via Zoom. Restaurants, breweries, and many other businesses are delivering and offering curbside pickup. Folks with office jobs are working remotely. People sell face masks along with their oranges. People are being being creative and adaptable, and along with that there are those scrappy people that face everything happening head-on; doctors, firefighters, field workers, and so many others who take risks every day as part of their livelihoods take on even more nowadays, and if that's not scrappy as fuck then I don't know what is.

Then there are show poodles: originally from tougher breeds, they're used to being pampered, are showy by design, and probably aren't great at surviving outside of their privileged lives, yet are somehow considered more valuable than other dogs. Those people, who stand outside statehouses armed to the teeth to show that if they aren't allowed to kill with a cough they can with a gun, that want to speak to the virus's manager so they can get their roots dyed, and that want life to go back to the normal when normal was them not having to sacrifice their precious conveniences and luxuries, might bark the loudest, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're right.

To lemurs: keep doing what you're doing.

To raccoons: keep fighting the good fight.

To show poodles: you look ridiculous.

To everyone: stay safe, be patient, wear your masks, wash your hands, and don't be an asshole.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Quick Note On Current Affairs

You're probably as tired of hearing the advisories and doomsday sentiments as I am. You've already heard to wash your hands thoroughly, avoid large groups, and stay at home if you're sick. Things kind of suck right now, but you already know that. We'll flatten the curve and eventually be okay as long as we're diligent.

The reason why I felt the need to write something is because we could always use a reminder to be good to one another. I'm fortunate to live in a small community, and that we're generally all good neighbors to one another, but I know a lot of people are islands unto themselves in larger cities, especially with quarantines and social distancing in place. Message your friends to catch up. Wave to your neighbors. Call your loved ones. Don't be a dick to store clerks and other patrons when you're stocking up on food. Knock it off with the coughing "jokes" when you're in public spaces. Be kind. Be considerate.

More than all that: don't be a fucking racist. The response toward people of Asian descent has been far from graceful or productive. It's shaping up to be the same sort of finger pointing and fear mongering that spawned toward Muslims after the 2001 WTC attacks, the LGBT community during the 80s AIDS epidemic, and the Japanese in the 40s after Pearl Harbor. Being a good neighbor extends across national borders, not just across the street. Calling COVID-19 "The Chinese Virus" isn't helping anyone; if anything it's opening Asian communities to acts of aggression from already emboldened white supremacists. We already know where and how the disease started. Let's focus on how to fix it and not on pointing fingers or committing microaggressions in the form of jokes. 

I know I'm just a relatively healthy 30-something-year-old white dude from the middle of nowhere, and I know listening to this hippie "peace and love" bullshit doesn't seem that important, but doing what we can as a global community to unify is how we'll best weather the scary and uncertain times we're currently in.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed, don't be a dick, and don't be a fucking racist, for now and forever.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

My $2 Boots

About a year-and-a-half ago I went to the local thrift store, not looking for anything in particular, when I saw an old pair of boots. They weren't too remarkable; cracking leather, soles worn smooth, but with solid laces and in my size. The way I figured it, if they were beyond repair or fell apart I'd only be out a couple bucks, so I bought them and took them home with me. After dousing the insides with Lysol to avoid athletes foot from unknown persons, I started wearing them nearly every day. I got them resoled, and with regular oiling of the leather to prevent more cracking I've been wearing them ever since and hope to for as long as possible.

New leather boots are stupid expensive. A pair of cowboy boots I bought in high school were on sale and cheap as dirt for $127-- which is still a bit expensive-- but since they're a bit too big for me (and I'm not a cowboy) I don't really wear them anymore. All the lace-up boots I wanted before finding my secondhand pair usually retail for $250 or more, which was above my budget. The reason for that is that they're repairable; where a pair of $50 Vans can last maybe a year or two with regular wear before falling apart completely, a $300 pair of Red Wing boots can last way longer if maintained and resoled. My too-large cowboy boots have even been resoled, so they have a lot of miles to go if I decide to go all yee-haw with my style. While the upfront cost might cause some sticker shock, the money saved by not buying new shoes as often can add up.

There's also ecological impact; one source I found stated that roughly 300 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills. At least when leather is thrown out it doesn't produce microplastics like a lot of man-made materials do, so compared to an old pair of Nike's an blown-out pair of natural leather shoes won't have as great an impact by being thrown out (I think). By replacing just the sole and not the whole boot I can at least keep a bit of stuff out of the waste stream while keeping my feet from being bare. By getting a pair secondhand and repairing them I kind of succeeded in an eco-friendly-double-whammy since I'm both keeping a whole pair out of the waste stream and not requiring new materials to be used to make a whole new pair. Maybe now Captain Planet will give me a ring and make me a Planeteer like I've deserved. 

My budget and morals notwithstanding, I mostly like how they look; well-worn dark brown leather, 6-inch shaft (hehe), no frills, simple, and timeless. I wear a lot of broken-in denim and plaid as it is, and I use pine tar soap and spruce-infused beard oil when grooming, so I might as well go for the whole damn aesthetic by wearing beat up boots. Give me an ax and a blue ox and I'd give Paul Bunyan a run for his money. Hand me an IPA and I'd fit in with most craft brewery crowds in a lot of hip-shit metropolitan areas. It's a versatile look in that way.

All this to say: I like my thrift store boots a lot. Like I mentioned in my last post I've been making an effort to downsize my crap and minimize consumption, and my old and thrift store wardrobe is part of that. I usually wear shirts from Goodwill to work, I do my best to repair clothes when they lose buttons or rip, and I've worn the same pair of jeans almost every day for over a year and the same t-shirts nearly every weekend for the last five or so. I've toyed with the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe to streamline getting dressed but, before I commit to having one signature outfit like a cartoon character I want to make it a point to wear what I already have until it isn't worth saving anymore.

That way, I can at least see how far I can stretch that $2 purchase.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Social Media

I have a laundry list of resolutions I'm hoping to achieve this year that include saving money, getting in better shape, and learning new skills, and so far... well, I've been doing okay, I guess. There have been some hiccups with money, I'm only just getting back into running and fitness after a pretty wonderfully sedentary and indulgent holiday season, and finding the motivation to jump on Duolingo can be a difficult some days, but it's rolling on steadily but surely and I'm dedicated to giving each of my goals a shake.

One thing that I've been doing pretty well with in my 2020 resolutions is "minimizing consumption." This was mainly focused on producing less waste and saving some money in the process; less trash, more cash. For example, I try to bring my secondhand Klean Kanteen to coffee shops instead of using paper cups, use the spork that lives in my work bag instead of disposable cutlery, and buy thrift store swag and wear things I already have instead of getting new clothes. I don't know how much money I've saved, how much garbage I've prevented from entering the waste stream, or if Captain Planet is going to get me a ring and finally make me a Planeteer like I've deserved, but these actions fit with my beliefs and morals and has been pretty neat to work on.

One consumable thing that I hadn't considered when writing that new years resolution, and one that I've taken steps to work on in recent weeks, is one you could probably guess by the title of this post: social media.

At some point after MySpace, I ended up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Untappd, Strava, and others that either are now defunct or I've forgotten about. It's not a bad thing to be connected; I live far away from a lot of my friends so getting to see what they're up to is nice. I also don't get out much so seeing what's up with friends I have nearby is also nice. Having an outlet for my stupid (read: "clever") one-liners, seeing updates on world events, finding communities of people with similar interests, and learning about things I'd never considered or thought about makes being connected on social media platforms worthwhile.

However, I catch myself scrolling aimlessly down my Facebook and Twitter feeds a lot. Pictures of cool dogs on pages like "Dogspotting" and funny articles from satire sites are great, but when I realize I'm just mindlessly thumbing through my timeline, or I catch myself reflexively opening an app to impulsively check for notifications, it reminds me of when I smoked. Years ago I'd think about cutting back but inevitably find myself on my back patio halfway through an American Spirit out of habit. A cup of coffee in the morning or a beer at night meant I was going to spark one up. Getting in my car meant the drivers side window was open a crack and a cigarette was in my mouth. It wasn't that I actually wanted to smoke; I did it habitually. I was addicted. It sucked. Once I quit and realized how much better I felt overall, it was a lot easier to not pick up the habit again. I still think about it two years later, but I'm not about to run to the corner store to pick up a pack anymore.

After thinking how much time I spend online both at home and at work, and considering how divided my attention was from other stuff I'd rather be doing or needed to do, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone-- the two big time sinks of social media for me-- and sequestered my other social media apps in a folder tucked away from my phone's home page. When I'm at a computer I try to meter how much time I spend on any given social media site, and I log out of them before closing their tabs so I have to manually log in every time I want to check my notifications (making them a mild pain in the ass to use is helpful).

The evils of the internet notwithstanding, like social media addiction, data security issues, misinformation and half-truths in news media presented as fact, and the ever-rampant beast known as FOMO, I just want to consume social media more mindfully. I will absolutely heart-react to a picture of an adorable cat if I see one, and I'll definitely watch YouTube videos if I see something that looks interesting, but I'm striving to use these services on my own terms. I'm not trying to be a 21st century Henry David Thoreau, or make my apartment a social media Walden Pond; I just want to be less wasteful and more intentional in my day-to-day life, online and offline.

Hopefully my other 2020 resolutions work out as well as "reduce consumption" has because it's been a good time overall. It's not perfect, but it's a start.