March 24, 2013

Checked out potential 4-bedroom apartment early in day at Wolcott and Montrose. Worked on accounting query.

March 23, 2013

Starting today, I will be making daily entries that are a maximum of three sentences long. Studied MicroStrategy and then took a long walk to Jefferson Park starting around 5. Contemplating the potential of Advanced Analytics after having an interesting lunch on Thursday.

Pointless Office Chatter

There are moments when I sit at work waiting for a query to run, and it’s something that will take 10 or 15 minutes, and technically I could be working on something else, but my schedule is never so packed that I don’t have these “down times” to fill (not entirely true, but the days when I’m truly crushed by work are not that frequent).

I think everyone has these times except for maybe 20% of the people in the office who truly are overworked or through the vagaries of organizational inefficiency and mismanagement, have found themselves as they lynchpin in some critical process — point is, most people do a good amount of work, with some downtime. It’s human nature.

What drives me nuts, or whatever, is when you run into someone and start a conversation. In an office environment, there are kind of two things that conversation immediately turns to with a casual acquaintance. First is the weather… and who gives a shit? I’m smart enough to figure out what the weather is like without someone telling me. I’m also smart enough to figure out how other people generally react or feel about the weather. I simply look outside, and then extrapolate the emotions of the masses based upon what I see.

For instance, if it is snowing, people will tend to comment on how much it is snowing outside, how much they are not looking forward to driving, how much they are going to freeze walking home from work.

If it is raining, most people will complain. Especially if it is a Friday, or if it supposed to rain for a few days, or if rain is predicted for a weekend. This point of view is also understandable and predictable.

If the sun is shining and the temperature is pleasant, on the other hand, people will say things like “I love this weather!”

The point is, I don’t derive personal satisfaction from talking about the weather, and it seems to happen way too often.

But what other people say when you ask them, “What’s going on today?” is inane crap like, “Oh the usual… just super busy as always.” or “I’ve got a lot on my plate today.”

To me, people who say this kind of crap sound like bots. Intuitively I’m inclined to think they’re being disingenuous. At the very least, they irritate me. Vague, pointless blather is what it is. Now if someone actually talks about what they are working on, and gives interesting (or at the very least — relevant) details on their projects, that is a different thing altogether.

Ironically, even though these people are not actually bragging/complaining about their workload, I am much more inclined to suppose that they are actually working hard.

And thus, for those who care to notice, we have my human psychology lesson of the day.

Trayvon Martin

Here’s a quick take in the less than 10 minutes I have before I crash and go to sleep.

Vigilantism in Florida…. I went to Florida in January, Miami to be exact, and was impressed only by the pristine beaches and fantastic weather. The culture is not amenable to myself. I saw way too many Maseratis, poseurs, jokesters, and so on. I saw an “Irish bar” with pink neon lights. I saw people reclining in yachts in whatever fucking river they have, the Bay of Biscayne, and so on. Islands in the bay… excellent crab… very private looking residential developments. Pretty much everything.

Actually come to think of it, I fucking jogged around in a couple of posh communities. Communities on islands. Communities with old fuckers who probably I-Banked in the 1970s or started businesses in medical contracting or automobile parts manufacturing. Who knows, right?

And now this kid gets shot, and nobody with half a fucking brain who understands that this Zimmerman character lied to the cops… I mean, his story is fairly inconsistent with even a rudimentary description of what happened. But this guy, he’s 28 years old, driving around Orlando in an SUV. And from the pictures of him, he doesn’t look like one of those rich patrician individuals at all. And the question for me, what kind of a gated community is this? Is this a gated community for the working class? Because only Florida would have that kind of shit (well, maybe not ONLY Florida, but you see my point).

So on a scale from 0 to extremely fucking concerned about pursuing truth and justice, where do you rank the suburban cops in Orlando when a black kid gets shot in the chest on a sidewalk in broad daylight?

Now just a couple of other points. I don’t know if it’s my place to say this necessarily, seeing as how I’m not part of the community, but what the hell is up with the “stop snitching” movement? Here in Chicago, I hear stories on a regular basis, every few weeks perhaps, about some little girl or old guy getting hit by a stray bullet as part of some ruckus. And are these crimes ever solved? The list of Chicago cold cases is longer than (insert clever comparison here —> very late).

Nobody helps the cops with anything in Chicago, from what I understand. Either they don’t give a shit because they did it or are friends with the person who did it, or hate the person who did it and have plans to kill said culprit themselves. Or… they are an innocent individual, attempting to move forward with a normal life, and they can’t be bothered to get caught up in pursing abstract ideals within the suffocating atmosphere of intimidation.

So is it correct to say that way more people are caught up in this shit than Trayvon Martin? Every day kids… black kids… they get shot all over the country, most of them by other black kids. Sometimes the murders get solved but very often they don’t. And of course there are the police sweeps and frivolous arrests, shakedowns, and so on. But the point is that things are a clusterfuck out there. That’s what I don’t know if it’s my place to say, because contrary to the admonitions of “we’re all human beings” and “we’re all Americans”, they’re black and I’m white, and I don’t usually care to concern myself with situations that I don’t belong in.

But in any case, this certainly does not elevate my impression of Florida. Good luck to the family in finding witnesses who will step forward, in the same way that any family of a black murder victim needs a lot of luck to get answers.

And that’s what I really worry is not my place to comment on — the inability of the black community to ever produce witnesses to black-on-black shootings.

Anticipating Future Nostalgia

I shouldn’t be writing at this hour but I’ve decided to throw out a blindingly quick post here.

Went running the past two days. Yesterday I was absolutely pumped, made it 3.1 miles and ended it in total exhaustion. Now I could run about 11 miles mind you, if I was doing so at a leisurely pace, but these three miles are not that kind of running. I was going as fucking fast as I can run over that distance and finished in excruciating pain (not pulled joints or anything, just excruciating from the lack of oxygen).

Now I did the same thing today. I was less enthusiastic by far. Procrastinated. Didn’t even hit the pavement until 8:30, and much to my surprise I held up for longer today. At the point yesterday where it took herculean willpower to continue, today I was feeling alright. Not fantastic, but alright.

This time I made it 3.5 miles before the agonizing pain phase of the run kicked in.

The point being, I’ve always used soccer as a means of physical fitness, but there’s only so much I’m going to fucking “play myself into shape”. Rasheed Wallace tried that in the 2010 playoffs and in so doing earned the eternal scorn of every Celtics fan in the world.

So tomorrow there is soccer, and I’m curious to see if I’m running any faster. It seems that I should be running out there at least three times a week in addition to the soccer games. I was thinking about it today at the end. I’m 26 years old, and more or less from 21 to 26 there’s not much of a physical deterioration as far as what the body is capable of, or peak performance. But I realize now, it’s hitting me, that I have 2 years left of peak performance out there playing soccer. Then I will slowly start the long slide down into being an old man.

The example that sprung to mind today, and it’s only one of a thousand, was Gilbert Arenas. Agent Zero has apparently reached a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies this year. He hasn’t played a single minute this season. It’s very possible that this will be his last season in the league. He will be coming off of the bench, getting a few minutes of action per game. It would be a miracle for him to average even 10 points.

Now the thing is, I remember when I graduated from college, in 2006, Gilbert Arenas was the god damned fucking man. He was knocking down 29 points per game. I believe there was a game that season where he scored 60+. And the other thing is, I remember 2006 as being “not that long ago”. Obviously that’s oversimplifying — a ton of shit has happened in the interval and it has actually been quite a long time. But the point is, pretty soon from now I’ll be 32 or 33 and probably much slower, and it will take longer to recover after vigorous physical activity, and if life events intervene it will be much harder to stay in shape and find time to exercise in the first place.

So a thought there, I guess, anticipating the nostalgia I will feel for 2012 around the time that this decade ends.

The Paradox of Retirement Planning

I’ve just realized that planning for retirement is kind of a catch 22. This is based on a couple of premises that I will lay out, and then it should hopefully become clear why Social Security payments and the performance of your individual retirement portfolio, should you choose to go in that direction, are correlated together, and why the failure or success of Social Security also means the failure or success of your retirement portfolio.

Many people point out that there is a budgetary shortfall for Social Security, projected at such and such a rate that will bankrupt the Social Security program in such and such a year. Usually the year projected is something like 2039 or something else about two to five decades in the future.

Certain people are prone to take this math as gospel, and others disregard it entirely. I agree with the premise that Social Security is a ponzi scheme projecting itself on a runaway path to bankruptcy, if current trajectories hold. However, the fact of the matter is that Social Security, your 401K, your salary, and everything else about your financial situation depend upon another factor entirely.

That factor is the underlying performance of the global economy.

You see, if the economy grows at an average rate of 1% for the next twenty years, Social Security is probably doomed. If it grows at 2%, there may be big cuts. If it grows at 4%, Social Security payments will expand appreciably.

Note that when I say Social Security “is probably doomed”, it doesn’t mean that the program will literally be cancelled. Even in a depression economy, there wouldn’t be the political will for such a solution. What is much more likely to happen is that the size of Social Security payments will be allowed to decline in real terms to an extent that a senior citizen relying only upon these payments to live would not even have a prayer of living alone. Not like now, where seniors live very spare. But to the point where a Social Security check would be something like $100-$200/month in current terms. At this level, the check would basically serve as pocket change for destitute seniors, whose best chances would involve living with a child if one could be found.

But what the hell is going to happen to your stock portfolio in such a nightmare scenario? It will probably stagnate as inflation eats it away, in one scenario, or decline precipitously in the fallout of a deflationary depression, in the other.

Conversely, if the economy grows at a rapid enough rate to make a typical investment portfolio successful, then it will actually be difficult for someone in 2012 to imagine the level of prosperity our society will enjoy, 30 years hence. I personally plan to work until I am physically unable to do so, as long as I can find a compelling psychological motivation to do so. Assuming I quit when I was 70, that would mean that I would retire in 2055. If the economy at that time was four times the size of our current economy, a Social Security check alone would be enough to live a glamorous existence.

So therein lies the “catch 22” of retirement, whenever I really stop to think about it.

Is my mind the “real me” at all times?

Watching some videos. Did some reading today. Went down to Hyde Park actually, to go into the student library at the University of Chicago so that I could more effectively do research. Basically because of the massive size of their book collection that is.

So I was going to go out with this girl tonight, a girl who I’m not dating per se but we went on a few dates back in like November or December. In any case, haven’t seen her since before I went to Miami, which was like back in January, and we’re kinda like, whatever at this point. She cancelled on me. And the fact of the matter is, I don’t give a shit. There was actually a moment today where I was kind of dreading meeting up with her tonight, because I am trying to do research and maintain these different writing projects and get my American History site up to #1 on Google at some point in the next year or two, and any kind of social obligations just interfere with that objective. Already I have to work 40 hours a week, or maybe more like 43-44 on a typical week. But then there is the commute to work every day, which is like an extra 1.5 hours per day or about 7 hours per week. And there is the getting ready in the morning. And there is the fact that work is taking up most of the day, which makes it extremely difficult to travel down to the library any time except for the weekends. So now, on a Saturday, it’s like “my day” to do that shit, only if I go out drinking on a Friday night, I will most likely not make it home until one or two in the morning, and then under the influence of alcohol I will pass out for some amount of time and wake up at ten. By the time I shower and get my shit together and get all the way down to Hyde Park after that, the day is halfway over and I’ve squandered my opportunity. Not to mention that after that, I actually have to write the fucking articles, perform website maintenance, locate photographs and edit them, feed myself, and so on. And then I have to do the writing for this site, which is meant to generate a lot of content which can be redirected over to my real project, or at the very least increase the PageRank transfer for search engine purposes. So an hour every evening I am typing about one word per second just to get volume of content here.

My point is, that is a lot of shit to juggle in the air, and then on top of that, I’m trying to keep my ass in shape, which means I play soccer or go running at least a couple of times per week, more in the summer, and that also eats up time. So after doing all of that shit, I have not much time left to socialize and that includes friends who call me up and ask me if i want to do shit, and half the time I lie and make up some excuse that is more socially acceptable than saying I have to go to bed early on a Friday night so that I can take advantage of every possible second at the college library of a University that I graduated from 6 years ago.

My point is that I’m pretty detached when it comes to dealing with girls. I go to dates, or whatever, and my attitude is pretty much like, “Fuck It, I’m gonna be myself, exactly who I am, and make the same stupid jokes I would make with my best friend, and fucking buy them a dinner or whatever the fuck we’re doing, and if that’s no good for this girl then she can fuck off.”

I would say as a modus operandi, that has worked as well as anything. But the truth is that dating never works for me. I have no idea why — or maybe I have some idea why, but the implications are a little cynical and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But take getting laid for instance. I’ve been successful at it, more so in the past couple of years, but the point is that it always happens randomly. Like I’ll be out drinking or whatever, and I get to talking with a girl drunk, and we’ll go home and fuck. A couple of times I’ve gotten action after actual dating, but usually not. And the thing about hooking up is that it’s ok and all, but I always wonder when girls will actually start looking at me as someone they would actually go out with in a relationship, and I’m vain. This is what many people would call “shallow”, but I have my pride and also I simply could not be in a long term relationship with someone I’m not attracted to. So maybe I shoot a little high, but as I get older, and I’ll be 27 in a few months, there’s almost a fanatical, burning devotion on my part to “make it” in something. Not to be a fucking lawyer or a pencil pusher who gets bent over. But to do my own shit and make it. This is the point of my site, and why anything that jeapordizes that gives me a strong emotional reaction. This is why I am considering quitting my job this summer, when my lease renews. It is because I need to take a shot at something. Most people settle for too little in life. They are very quick to settle. I have a real shot at something great. I’m fucking smart enough. It is only the lack of an “edge” that has fucked me over my entire life. Nobody gives you shit in the world. I have no connections. My parents literally like barely even have friends, especially my mom. I’m not even sure my mom has got friends. She has “friends” who she talks to and shit when she’s out and around, but I would be surprised if a friend has visited her home or vice versa in the past ten years (unless it’s like a garden party or something with a lot of people).

My point is, I may be induced to do something even more drastic as I get older. I want to be free from the system. I think about people like John Dillinger sometimes. People who just go out and take it. And if anyone says no, fuck them. These are not the thoughts that civil society is built on, but they are true. And it seems like there’s never even really anything to discuss. How does one discuss bank robbery with people? And also, the larger point is, at a certain point I would rather go out in glory than live another fifty years as a scrub. That is the point I’m trying to make. And I define “scrub” very broadly here. MBA’s, lawyers, whoever. They’re all in that category if they don’t have autonomy and whatnot.

So that is the point. I don’t know if quitting everything to work for myself, in the “online publishing” business is smart or not. I don’t have money issues. I guess my point is, how is it dumber to quit when you have $40,000 and no debt, than it is to have a job but you’re $40,000 in debt? It seems like a pretty fair time to take a risk in my situation. And everything I’ve been doing since 2008 has been preparing me for this moment. I could buy a car and drive it around, and maybe more girls would like me. I could get a nicer apartment with good furniture in a nicer part of town, and maybe more girls would like me. As much as people say it’s all about the “confidence” you bring into it, I’m not fully convinced. I know there are guys out there who could get laid if they lived in a cardboard box and were uglier than a yak’s ass, but they have abilities in social manipulation that are beyond my comprehension.

In any case, I’m apathetic and non-invested in regards to my job. Some people who strive to get ahead would just put extra effort in that area, work seventy hours a week, and claw their way into management or something extremely specialized. Maybe that’s what I “should” be doing. And of course, I’m not really going to run out and try to rob a Chase bank and make off with $13,000 on a Saturday afternoon. I’m just saying, I don’t really know where I go from here. I’m not motivated by the trappings of success on a small scale. I either want to go big, or bust out and just say “fuck it”. Perhaps it is my atheism. I believe that you get one shot on this planet, and if you fuck it up or get unlucky then you’re done. I also believe that you don’t give a shit about anything once you’re dead. So that’s that.

Now as far as writing enough to complete my objectives for today. I think my head is in kind of a sluggish place right now. Before I move on to write my history series, which will be about women in the 1920s and how fucked up and crazy they all were, either from overwork or from the dizzying new fashions, it’s just paramount to explore this sluggishness a little bit. Sometimes it just comes. There is no motivation to write, to work, to do anything. It is a feeling in the brain, generated by whatever mix of chemicals happen to be present at that particular moment. Sometimes it even requires me to remind myself that not just my feeling in the moment, but my entire philosophy and world view are temporarily distorted by something ridiculous, like an overabundance of insulin in the system perhaps, or from waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Like the shit above. Like everyone, I’m sure that I’ll eventually accept my lot in life and learn to deal with it, and stop deluding myself that I deserve more from the world. It’s just that until that moment comes, I am sometimes like a horse within a stable, prone to wild tendencies. The only way to mellow these tendencies out are with age and training. This time last year, I was pretty satisfied with my job. In fact, I was pretty satisfied in October and November even. I felt like there was good work-life balance and that I was learning things. It’s really only recently, when it has started to seem like this job is getting in the way of a project that is urgent, time-sensitive, and very dear to my heart, that I have started to resent it. I resent the slow days the most, when I am sitting around with a limited amount to do, and I know I could be doing something much more enhancing of my life in general.

So I’m sure tomorrow the sluggishness will beat a retreat. I will post my five articles or whatever about women in the 1920s. I will see a movie or do something to reward myself and to relax before the onslaught of the following five days comes at me. And pretty soon, it will be Friday March 9 and I can go back to throwing myself into my real, chosen work.

That is that. This isn’t exactly 3,600 words but I also went way over the objective yesterday, so this brings it back into balance.