Motivation

For the past month I have had an issue with motivation. It is hard to say if it is due to depression from losing my job, the stress of having to move and suddenly being thrust back into a massive amount of debt, or simply due to my screwed up head which seems to have left me lacking in this area from a very young age.

At first I was allowing myself a bit of reprieve from lifes responsibilities. Abandoning my apartment really sucked and will continue to suck for a long time to come (I have already started getting the debt collection calls about that, what fun.) I suppose that since I was already ignoring such basic responsibilities such as paying bills (due to the fact that I literally had no money to pay them) that I thought that I could let other things slide as well such as personal hygiene or human interaction.
The Face of Depression
When I think about it both of those things certainly do sound like depression, though I never really feel sad when I think about it. I just do not feel like putting in any effort into life.

So this week has been my quest to re-find my motivation. Unemployment does run out and I need to find a way to become self sustaining before that date comes. I go back in forth in my mind from finding some shitty Mcjob or trying to go into business for myself. Office jobs are likely available for me considering the type of job experience I gathered at my most recent post however I really do not know if I want to do that type of work again. For whatever reason I have a hard time forcing myself to be “sane” enough to work among other people in a quiet professional environment. The service industry has always suited me even if the pay is generally shit.

The road ahead forks into many different paths, all of which are now open to me as I am free from any shackles that bind most people. I just need to summon the courage to walk any of those routes. Away I go.

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Terminated

“We will no longer be requiring your services”

All Job Prospects Shall Be EliminatedAll Job Prospects Shall Be Eliminated

“Your job shall be terminated.. at my will”

That was how I found out I was losing my job. It was the end of my shift at the end of a fairly normal night for me at my most previous job. I did have some warning about this as I had been put on probation at said job two months prior but the news still hit me like a slap in the face. My first reaction was shock and later that day it turned to relief. After living for multiple months with uncertainty about my future at least now I finally knew my fate. During that time I was also dealing with some rough conditions brought on by previous bad life decisions which made the uncertainty about whether I would continue to have income even harder to endure. The stress was getting close to breaking me but I stuck with it the best I could and continued to try to improve at the job that I had grown to love. Unfortunately my best was simply not enough and the relief of knowing my fate was at best, bittersweet.

When I asked about why I was being terminated I got a generic “at will employment” response that offered me no solace. Without knowing exactly what I had done wrong it will be hard for me to improve in the future. I want to believe that I was simply not good at my job. I may have been delusional about my job performance for a while as I did feel I did good work and as far as I know I never had any complaints from fellow co-workers or clients about the work that I did. It was rare that I would get negative feedback about the work that I was doing and customer praise seemed to come in regularly. These factors may have contributed to me having an inflated sense of worth to the company I served. When I was put on probation however I was given a rude awakening. The reason for my probation was due to poor job performance. The circumstances of which were a bit muddled and I never got a clear answer on what I could do to improve said performance however this was the only negative feedback I had really gotten that seemed of substance so it is all I have to go on now when trying to understand where I had gone wrong.

I have a more crazy theory that there was something else about my place in the company that caused me to be let go. It was strange that after being put on probation for poor job performance the people who were in charge of rating my job performance and training me to be a better employee seemed to refuse to help. Pleas for more understanding fell on deaf ears as my emails for clarification about what I was doing wrong were ignored. Meetings that were supposed to take place during my probation to review my progress also never happened and my termination came about at 1 month before the end of my probation. All of these factors do make me think that there may have been a different reason than job performance for me to be fired. Perhaps the probation was just a bit of red tape that was required to get the process started of getting me out the door. However theories like this are full of paranoia and narcissism. I am trying to be a bit less self involved so I am choosing to not delve too deep down this path just now. Even if the evidence is there to support such thoughts.

So where does this leave me?

I am 30 and I have been down this road enough times that I am almost not even phased by making big life changes any longer. However I am also getting to the point that I do not think I have the energy for too many more of these. So I don’t know exactly what to do. There is either something wrong with my work ethic or my personality that is causing me to only work places for about 3 years at time before moving on. Historically I have quit jobs after about this much time, this time the choice was out of my hands. Still it seems I may be looking forward to a life of constantly shifting jobs/homes/lifestyles. I may have adapted well to constant flux over the years but I crave stability now more than ever. I have had plenty of adventures in my life and I just want to sit back and enjoy the simple things. I just wish I knew where to start. I suppose as usual I will start at the only place I can, at the end. My time with this company may have come to an end but my journey continues on.

Onward, to the next adventure!

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Becoming one with the darkness

Lately I have been living a different lifestyle than I am used to. Due to my the complexities of my life and my own inability to manage money I have been living without power for about three weeks now.

At first I was fairly optimistic I could handle such a lifestyle I bought some battery powered lanterns, a battery powered radio and some other battery-related supplies to try to make sure I at least had a few comforts left. The water is still on as well, both hot and cold, so I figured there was no real risk of things getting too bad.

The thing I did not anticipate which would become the hardest thing to deal with was how the absence of the endless distractions in my life would effect my mental state. To say that my main method of coping with emotional issues is avoidance would be an understatement. I realize now that the reason I fill my life with movies, video games and other distractions is so that I never have to deal with the darker thoughts going on in my head at any given time. If I feel sad I just put a movie on, if I need to vent I go to play a game. Without these comforts in my life I found myself with no coping mechanisms at all.

Sitting alone in a dark apartment with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company is one of the scariest things I have ever done. I try to cope with this still by avoiding being home, spending as much time as possible at friends houses or just driving around town. However there are still days spent sitting there just thinking. Thinking all the hateful, depressing, self loathing, shameful thoughts that come natural to my twisted mind. The thoughts I have avoided for years that now brim to the surface in my time of desperation.

I am slowly learning to cope, but it is one of the biggest challenges I have faced. I wish I knew how other people can stand to be alone with themselves.

 

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Ex Machina – Review

Every once in a while I am truly blown away by a new movie. This was the case with Ex Machina.

The movie follows the story of a coder, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), working at a large corporation who is chosen to stay a week with the elusive head of the company, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who lives in a remote research facility in the mountains. During his visit Caleb is tasked with running a Turing test on a new artificial intelligence, Ava (Alicia Vikander) that Nathan has created.

Ex-Machina-Domnhall-Gleeson-600x300

The film is shot with a very minimal cast to great effect. The story is mostly told through a series of dialogues between Nathan, Ava, and Caleb which propels the plot through a few good twists. The part of the movie that I personally liked the most is how it raises the question of how we define intelligent life and what rights an AI might have. The cinematography on display here accents the near-future science fiction perfectly with an immersive soundtrack to match.

While I would highly suggest this movie to anyone who has an interest in the subject of AI or science in general it also appeals to those who simply like to think. I have a weekly movie night with my friends at my home which generally devolves into us making fun of the crappy movies that we watch and I was pleasantly surprised when the room fell silent as everyone started focusing on this movies dialogue, hanging off every word.

If you have not had the pleasure of viewing this movie yet I suggest doing so at your earliest convenience.

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Wayward Pines – MidSeason Review

I am a fan of TV. Anybody that knows me knows that I spend a lot of time watching and then talking about the TV shows that I watch. I have not been in the habit of sharing my thoughts in too much detail online. I am going to change that starting now. "Butter Rum"

Thanks to a suggestion by a close friend I have started watching the TV series Wayward Pines. I am 5 episodes into this show now and I must say I am completely blown away by it.

I am going to avoid spoiling anything in this quick review but my friend summed it up best, it is like all the plot twists of a full season of Lost in each episode. The show is constantly challenging your perception of the reality that it is presenting in the most delightful ways possible. As soon as you think you have a handle on what is going on with this shows story you quickly realize you are absolutely wrong as the story shifts constantly. If you like plot twists, science fiction, or mystery I highly suggest this show.

Now, on I go to finish watching this season. I will likely have to check out the books as soon as I am done 🙂

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Why Aaron Swartz still matters.

Outrage. That is the only word that came to my mind when I got an email two days ago from the the White House staff.

I have trouble even writing this right now because I kind of want to scream when I think about it. I was going to make a video but then I decided that would just end up being rather belligerent and would not really convey the point of what I really think about this.

Perhaps I am jumping ahead a bit here.

This all began back in 2010 when Aaron Swartz made a decision that would end his life. He suffered from one of the most deadly traits a human can have, idealism. His story serves as a chilling reminder of how good intentions can reveal the horrors of humanity.

See.. here I go again being all dramatic. Even when typing this out and putting thought into each word I am having a hard time bottling my anger about this in.

If you are not already familiar with the story the decision that would end up being so fatal for Aaron was deciding to download academic papers from an MIT computer that he had access to at the time. It was the type of thing you would do as a student and not think twice about it. Why would anybody care if you took knowledge that was freely available and made copies of it?

Aaron broke the terms of service of the system he copied those papers from. Yes, he had the legal right to download any of those papers but the way in which he did so technically was not allowed. It was a truly victim-less crime. Those who wrote the papers wanted the knowledge to be shared, those who ran the computer systems did so with the intent to share those papers.

So how did this all go so wrong? If nobody was hurt by Aaron’s actions and his only crime was breaking the TOS of the computer he was on then what factor made this story have such a dark ending?

Carmen Ortiz.

In 2011 Carmen decided to take Aaron to court. She was a federal prosecutor that clearly felt it was her duty to make sure that no breach of a terms of service would go unpunished. I would love to say that Carmen was an elected official and that we, the people, had any sort of say in this matter but that would be far to idealistic. Carmen went forward and pressed charges against Aaron in federal court for theft.

Yes, theft is a pretty strong word to use in this case. It would be hard to find anyone outside of our government that would say Aaron deserved anything more than a stern warning for his infraction. The school the papers were taken from declined to press charges, those who owned the system the terms of service were breached on also declined to press charges. Even the state prosecutors who reviewed the case decided to drop all charges. Normally that is when a story like this would end. Aaron would have been arrested and then let free with no charges pressed. However this story is not normal and Carmen just could not let this go.

After the state prosecutors dropped the charges Carmen decided to use her power as a federally appointed prosecutor to supersede that decision and add nine more charges of theft on top of the ones already present and moved forward with the trial.

Aaron was facing up to 50 years in prison and up to 1 million dollars in fines all because he circumvented the computer system he was on and breached the terms of service in order to share papers that were intended to be shared by those who created them.

Like all of you reading this I too have made stupid mistakes in my life. Thankfully for you and I our mistakes did not take the notice of a federal prosecutor looking to make an example of us. Aaron simply wanted to share knowledge and for that crime he was facing a life in prison.

I have never personally wanted to end my own life it is hard for me to imagine a situation where death would seem like the best option. However I cannot blame Aaron for taking his own.

We are all raised in this country to believe that truth and justice are the American way. I learned that this was not the case in my own life at fairly young age. Aaron learned this lesson the harshest way imaginable when his country turned its back on him and decided that the just thing to do was to demonize him for the crime of sharing academic papers.

I still have not gotten back to that email from the White House staff yet have I?

During the build up to the last presidential election President Obama launched a new version of WhiteHouse.gov that included a rather interesting new feature which was an option to create a petition on the site for anything at all. If the petition you created got enough clicks on the site then the Presidents very own staff would be required to formally make a statement on the petition. At the time this seemed like a novel way of finding out what the President and his staff really thought about things. In reality this was Barack doing what he does best and it was all for show. It became quite clear after a few petitions reached the threshold for a response that anything that the president did not think was important would be casually dismissed while the things that fell in line with his politics would be given serious consideration.

Then in 2013 came this – https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

Of course I clicked the button on this one. It was insane that this case spiralled out of control like it did. There was no reason for any of these charges to be filed, let alone pressed with such fervor. I had completely forgotten I had even clicked on that petition since then as time slipped by and it seemed likely that the White House simply did not have the balls to admit they made a mistake in appointing Carmen to the position of federal prosecutor.

Then, two days ago (in 2015) I received this message.

Aaron Swartz’s death was a tragic, unthinkable loss for his family and friends. Our sympathy continues to go out to those who were closest to him, and to the many others whose lives he touched.

We also reaffirm our belief that a spirit of openness is what makes the Internet such a powerful engine for economic growth, technological innovation, and new ideas. That’s why members of the Administration continue to engage with advocates to ensure the Internet remains a free and open platform as technology continues to disrupt industries and connect our communities in ways we can’t yet imagine. We will continue this engagement as we tackle new questions on key issues such as citizen participation in democracy, open access to information, privacy, intellectual property, free speech, and security.

As to the specific personnel-related requests raised in your petitions, our response must be limited. Consistent with the terms we laid out when we began We the People, we will not address agency personnel matters in a petition response, because we do not believe this is the appropriate forum in which to do so.

Casual fucking dismissal is what I read here.

Aaron Swartz may have ended his own life but only after being betrayed by his country who then backed him into a corner and demonized him for something no sane man would consider a sin. Carmen Ortiz was the one backing Aaron into that corner and Barack Obama is the one that enabled her to do so. Aaron Schwartz deserves a better response than “no comment”.

I am an atheist but there are times where I can sympathize with christians. I would love to believe that hell exists so that I could rest assured that Barack and Carmen would burn their together someday. Unfortunately I do not get that comfort as I do not believe in fairy tales any longer. My only comfort is my outrage and in this case I welcome it with open arms.

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Behind the Emotional Wall

Earlier this week I was watching an episode of the show Fringe with a friend of mine when I found myself in tears. Surprisingly TV shows and movies move me to such emotional extremes quite often. I suppose I had never really thought about it much in the past but I never get as emotional over real people. I begin to realize that I have a much easier time connecting emotionally to fictional characters than I do real people.

As somebody who prides himself on being as self-aware as possible I began to dig into this within my own mind.

After giving it some thought (in the shower, of course, where all good thinking happens.) I realize that this is likely related to the general dis-associative issues that I have had since childhood. As a child, due to issues that I am not going to detail here, I spent a lot of time hiding out from the world inside my own mind. My outward self developed into a hardened shell that felt no pain and could not be hurt. Meanwhile in my mind great universes exploded with life allowing me a safe place to explore and interact with others that was all my own.

Inside my mind, in a world of imagination, is where I actually developed emotionally. So it is not shocking that I feel a stronger connection to characters that are not real than I do to real people. I have always felt more comfortable in my mind and to this day I still prefer the worlds that exist inside of me to the real one. It is difficult to let real people in because despite my attempts I have still not completely deconstructed that wall I built around myself as a child, but with characters in TV Shows, Books and Movies it is safe to let them in. Such characters walk right past my emotional barrier as if it was not there at all.

Such are the challenges of a broken mind. Many people frown upon watching too much TV but I can honestly say that having some emotional connection is better than none. If you could only feel life when experiencing it through fictional characters you may begin to understand why people get so obsessive with TV shows, and why people like me get so upset when they are cancelled.

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Comcast is Full of Shit – As Usual

Recently a representative from Comcast had this to say;

No ISP in the country has been a stronger supporter of the Open Internet than Comcast.”

Now, if you are following the news at all concerning Comcast and net neutrality you may be thinking to yourself “hey, wait a minute, I thought they were absolutely opposed to the open internet” and you would be correct.

Comcast has never been in favor of net neutrality which would make it clearly opposed to an open internet (as net neutrality is all about maintaining the open internet.)

For the best example just read a bit about the court case where Comcast opposed the FCC’s decision to stop Comcast from prioritizing certain traffic on their network over other traffic;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC

Being a normal human being I felt it was my duty to at least call out this representative for blatantly attempting to lie to people in her blog post, unfortunately it appears all comments are censored by default pending approval from Comcast.  I have no hope of my comment actually making it on to that post. As such I am calling it out here.

 

http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-response-to-netflix

My Reply:

“What?

I would love to get whatever drugs you are smoking that make you this delusional. They must be amazing. Comcast clearly has a policy of being opposed to the open internet. They even spend money on lobbyists to fight net neutrality, they even fight in court to make sure they can charge people for priority bandwidth on their network.

You either have no idea what the company you work for is up to or you are simply full of shit.

I am going to assume the latter, because most people at Comcast are full of shit (for verification of this just talk to ANY person in Comcast customer support, they will all demonstrate this for you.)”

Comcast, get a life and stop peddling bullshit to everyone you think may be buying it.

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