Category Archives: Jack Fisher’s Insights

The Joys Of (Briefly) Unplugging And Running

I freely admit that I love technology. I also admit I’m on my phone constantly, checking social media and playing games. I’m the kind of person who gets extremely stressed out when my phone battery is low or think I’ve misplaced it. I think that puts me in line with most people my age.

I cherish technology. I celebrate it and contemplate how future advances will change our society, for better and for worse. Mostly, I favor the better, but I don’t deny that it can negatively effect people in certain ways. Like anything, you take the bad with the good and determine whether the good will suffice.

That said, even I see the importance of disconnecting every now and then. It’s not about fighting an addiction. The whole concept of tech addiction dubious at best and deceptive at worst, depending on who stands to make money off it. It’s a good thing, but like cake or beer, you can have too much of it.

That’s why I make it a point to do something regularly that allows me to separate myself from my phone, my computer, and any other device that has more computing power than a calculator. It’s not pretentious. It’s not because I’m trying to make a stand or something. I just find it genuinely helpful for my physical and mental well-being.

The way I disconnect is simple. I put on my workout clothes. I put my wallet and keys in my pockets. Then, I go out for a nice long run around the various trails around my house. I don’t listen to music, podcasts, or radio. It’s just me, the trail, and my thoughts. It may sound boring and bland. For me, it’s anything but that.

Unlike running on a treadmill, with which I do listen to music and podcasts, running outdoors along trails is more active. You’re not staring at the same wall or hearing some outdated piece of gym equipment crack with every step. You’re actually traversing the real world. You watch trees, streams, and grasslands pass you by. Even when you haven’t gone far, you feel like you’ve gone somewhere.

It’s not just a nice dose of fresh air. Running without any device beyond my keys allows me to just organize my thoughts. Sometimes, I have a stressful day when it’s hard to keep up with everything. A nice run outdoors allows me to get my heart going while my brain just streamlines itself.

It’s a very therapeutic experience. Thoughts become more streamlined. Ideas become clearer. Perspectives feel more balanced. Some of the ideas that have made it into my novels and my sexy short stories have come to me while I’m running. I doubt I would’ve gotten those ideas if I’d been focusing on music, podcasts, or something else.

Again, I love technology. I love my phone and my music collection. It’ll always have a place in my world. However, there are times when I just need to be on my own with my thoughts and the natural world. It’s a simple pleasure that I’ve come to cherish in my adult life. I won’t claim it has the same effect for everyone, but I strongly encourage everyone to try something like it. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

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Filed under health, Jack Fisher's Insights, technology

How To Combat Writer’s Block: A Few Simple Tips

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Writing is challenging. Anyone who has written a grade school essay can attest to that. It’s even challenging for those who do it every day. I’ve been writing constantly almost every day since I was 15 years old. I’ve more than met the 10,000-hour rule when it comes to mastering a skill, but I still find it challenging.

A big part of that challenge is dealing with writer’s block. I don’t care if you’re Stephen King, William Shakespeare, or Kurt Cobain. You’re going to hit a dead end at some point. You’re going to get to a point in your writing where you feel stuck. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in that position. I’ve thrown chunks of entire stories away, along with entire stories, because of it.

At the same time, overcoming writer’s block is probably the best way to progress as a writer. Overcoming a challenge forces you to refine your skill in unexpected ways. I’ve probably learned more by dealing with setbacks than I ever have navigating a successful idea.

I know there are tons of tips out there for beating writer’s block. Most are just glorified placebos, but some do offer meaningful advice. I know because I’ve tried most of these tips in some form or another over the years. Talk to any writer and they’ll probably tell you they have some special trick to getting around it.

I can say with relative certainty that there’s no one special trick that works for every writer. If there were, then someone would’ve patented it and overcharged for it by now. At best, there are strategies you can utilize. They don’t work the same way for everyone, but they do work in most situations. What follows are some of the most effective tips I’ve used over the years. I just thought I’d share them in hopes they work for others.


Tip #1: Create A Routine For Writing

This works well for me because I like working within a routine. I’m very regimented when it comes to work. I like having set times that I can plan around. Doing that with writing has always helped. I designated a certain chunk of time of day, usually an hour, specifically for writing. Doing so helps with more than just saying productive.

Even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I often find my brain starts working better when those times arises. Essentially, I’ve trained my brain to activate its writing function at set times. On some days, it works better than others. It still works and if you’re the kind of person who likes sticking to a schedule, this is a good way to essentially plan around writer’s block.


Tip #2: Exercise (To Get Your Brain Active)

This may not appeal to those who aren’t inclined to exercise. Even if you hate it, I still suggest doing some level of rigorous activity, be it a trip to the gym or a few walks around the block. Anything that gets your blood flowing helps you feel more alert and less lethargic.

For beating writer’s block, that’s important. It’s tempting to just stop writing and lounge about, eventually falling asleep in a stupor. In my experience, that makes writer’s block even worse. I can be stuck on an idea for hours. Then, I’ll just go jogging for a bit and something will come to me. Again, it doesn’t always work, but it works often enough to be a vital part of my approach.


Tip #3: Work On Something Else (That’s Smaller)

No matter how determined you are to finish something, a nasty bout of writer’s block just keeps you stuck in place. You can punish your brain all you want. Nothing will come out. In this case, it’s important to keep your brain working. That’s when having something else to work on can help.

I rarely have just one project to work on. I always have a few little stories here and there on the side. Some never pan out, but they help when I’m stuck on other stories. As long as I’m producing something, it keeps the creative juices flowing. Eventually, they’ll flow well enough to get me back on track with other projects. It can get chaotic, but the key is to just keep your brain chugging along.


Tip #4: Read Over Older Works

It may sound vain, but I’ve found that taking a step back and appreciating what you’ve finished in the past helps maintain a healthy perspective. Even if you haven’t written much and you think your previous works were awful, going back to read them shows that you can do this. You can finish a story.

That reassurance, on its own, helps give you the confidence you need to keep at it. One of the worst effects of writer’s block is how much it hits your confidence. The more you lose, the easier it is to get stuck. Reading over old works doesn’t just show you how you’ve succeeded in the past. It shows you how far you’ve come. It can inspire you in many ways, but you only need one to crack writer’s block.


Tip #5: Write Bits And Pieces (And Combine Them Later)

I find myself doing this often with stories I’ve yet to refine. Most of my work starts off with a focused idea. The challenge is building structure around that idea. While I usually try to go from start to finish in one fluid process, it doesn’t always work that smoothly. Sometimes, I start with the parts I’ve already fleshed out in my head and then just work around them.

It can be messy. Sometimes, the story you craft feels disjointed when it’s written in pieces. You can even tell at times when something was cut and pasted into a scene. Ideally, you fix that sort of thing when you revise it. It’s still a challenge, but it’s much easier to revise something that you’ve already written, as opposed to forcing something out for the sake of breaking writer’s block.


These are all just simple tips that have worked for me in the past. If you have others you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, psychology, writing

A Rant About Going To The Dentist

I hate going to the dentist.

I know that’s not a very controversial statement. Most people who go the dentist don’t go because they want to. They go because they have to. It’s about as fun as getting a colonoscopy, although I would argue a colonoscopy is preferable. At least you’re not expected to undergo that literal shit show at least twice a year.

I say this after having just come back from my latest six-month checkup. While going to the dentist has never been an overly pleasant experience, this was more frustrating than usual. It’s not just because it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, and distressing, although that is a big part of it. This trip was a special kind of annoying.

It’s an annoyance that has been building and compounding over the past several years. In the past, going to the dentist was just a formality. I’d go, get my teeth cleaned, and make an appointment for six months later. It’s still never a pleasant feeling, having a hygienist poke your teeth with metal for a half-hour. It was still bearable, at the very least.

These past few trips have changed things up and not in a good way. Now, every time I go, both the dentist and the hygienist seem to find something wrong with my teeth or come up with some new, exceedingly uncomfortable procedure.

Last time, it was X-rays. I’ve had them done before, but something must have changed because I swear the hygienist tried to X-ray every individual tooth. Doing so required me to bite down on this uncomfortable contraption that made my mouth feel like someone was punching it from the inside. It didn’t help that the hygienist seemed unfamiliar with the technology.

Then, there was the exam itself. For the past several years, this dentist has been telling me to do all these elaborate things to prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum recession. As a result, I’ve tried to be responsible and follow his professional recommendations. That includes the following:

  • Buying an expensive electronic toothbrush that has equally expensive replacement heads
  • Switching toothpaste to a pricier brand
  • Flossing more regularly, both with regular floss and an expensive water floss pick
  • Regularly using special mouth wash to prevent cavities
  • Undergoing gum graft surgery that was so uncomfortable that I would not wish it on my worst enemy

I did all of this over the span of the past five years. I’ve invested time and money to ensure that I maintain proper dental care, just as he asked. It should pay off, shouldn’t it?

Apparently, all that money and time was totally wasted. At my last appointment, the dentist tells me I still got a cavity. On top of that, he didn’t even make clear that it was a cavity.

He used some weird dentist jargon that I didn’t understand. He never even told me I had to come back into the office, get my mouth numbed up again, and have it filled in a procedure that ruins at least half of your day. I didn’t find out until the receptionist asked when I wanted to schedule a filling.

I was pissed, to say the least. It took a great deal of restraint to keep myself from yelling at her and my dentist. At this point, it feels like they’re just plundering my dental insurance and seeing how much I can endure hours in an uncomfortable dental chair. I don’t know if it’s just my dentist, but if I keep having experiences like this, I’m going to find someone else.

I know it’s impossible to get around.

I know dental hygiene is important.

Even so, I’ll say it again.

I hate going to the dentist.

Fuck going to the dentist.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

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A Brief Rant About Car Insurance Commercials

I understand why commercials exist. I’ve been watching TV my whole life. Even as a kid, I knew the economics behind it.

People have stuff they want to sell. TV networks and shows need to make money. Commercials are a way to do that. They need that money to keep providing us with content, compensate studios, and put up with egotistical actors. Those same economics apply to YouTube videos and streaming services like Hulu. If you don’t want to see those commercials, you have to pay extra for services like HBO and Netflix.

Economics aside, there’s only so much understanding I can have when certain commercials become more than just a nuisance. There’s advertising, there’s business, and then there’s just being annoying. With Super Bowl LIV just a few days away and a slew of big budget marketing pushes on the way, it’s a given that we’ll see a few of those commercials.

Since I plan to watch the Super Bowl this year, as I’ve done every year since I was a toddler, I’d like to offer a brief personal insight into a certain category of commercials. That insight can be summed up in just a few words.

Fuck any and all car insurance commercials!

I apologize if that’s not the most articulate insight ever uttered on the internet, but I’m not sorry for expressing my utter hatred of car insurance commercials. I’m not being factious. I’m dead serious.

Fuck car insurance commercials and every marketing team behind them!

Fuck their stupid gimmicks, dumb jingles, dim-witted celebrities, and annoyingly repetitive bullshit!

Fuck everything about the entire concept behind car insurance commercials!

I know there are a lot of annoying commercials out there, but for the past few years, car insurance commercials have entered a unique category of utterly infuriating. It’s bad enough that they seem to make up half of all commercials in existence. Every show on Hulu has at least one car insurance commercial and every live sports broadcast seems to have at least 20. They’re selling a product that’s inherently boring and frustrating.

Car insurance is not life saving medicine, a new toy, a fancy gadget, or a new movie. It’s goddamn bureaucracy, for crying out loud. Moreover, it’s bureaucracy that people are legally required to purchase if they own or regularly operate a vehicle. We don’t have the option to just ignore car insurance if we have a car. For both legal and financial reasons, we have to have it.

That makes relentlessly advertising it exceedingly redundant. I remember when I bought car insurance. I didn’t recount all the commercials, gimmicks, and quirky sayings they love to use. I just used the same insurance my parents and relatives had. They already had accounts. It was easier, quicker, and the price was basically the same.

Again, and it’s worth repeating, I needed to buy insurance when I bought my first car. The process wasn’t some life-defining experience. It was goddamn paperwork, followed by a few forgettable phone calls to an agent. These commercials, which present car insurance as this powerful, life-affirming experience, couldn’t be further from the truth without Michael Bay directing it.

Most of the time, I don’t think about insurance. I have had to use it before. It wasn’t the least bit thrilling. It was just phone calls and paperwork. That was it. Most people I know have the same experience. They don’t like dealing with insurance any more than they like going to the dentist to get root canal surgery.

I’ve met people who have bought things because they saw a commercial for it. I’ve never met anyone who said they bought car insurance because of a commercial they saw. It just adds to the lengthy list of reasons as to why I despise these commercials and skip or mute them if I can.

With each passing year, they become more annoying. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I know I’ll see plenty while watching the Super Bowl. To those companies and their overpaid marketing departments, I’ll say it again.

Fuck your goddamn car insurance commercials!

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Hard Life Lessons You Can Only Learn Later In Life

Life is full of hard lessons that can only be learned through hardship. Anyone who isn’t rich, beautiful, or well-connected understands that. You’re going to go through periods in life when it feels like fate, luck, and divine forces are conspiring against you. That’s not a good feeling. I understand that. It’s also a feeling that’s worth embracing.

I say that as someone who stagnated and stumbled through much of his teen years and early 20s. In terms of social skills and overall outlook, I was behind the curve longer than most. I’ve shared my various struggles from high school. I’ve also shared personal stories of major low points in my life. I don’t doubt that others have endured far worse, but the over-arching themes are the same.

When you’re young and inexperienced, you see the world a certain way. When you’re older and more experienced overall, you see it another. Time, perspective, and basic human psychology has that effect on most people as they live their lives. An unfortunate byproduct of that is there are some lessons that you can’t learn until you’re older.

That’s a sentiment I’m sure many teenagers hear on a regular basis. Some will roll their eyes and I don’t blame them. I probably did the same when I was that age. It’s also a message that most adults have a difficult time conveying because they have the benefit of hindsight. Make no mistake. Some lessons are only visible through hindsight.

For those who struggled as teenagers, like me, I imagine that’s not news to them. I also imagine there are many other lessons that weren’t obvious until many years later in life. My own parents have shared some of those lessons with me. I’ve tried to share those lessons with younger friends and relatives. It’s hard to get across. In some cases, it’s impossible.

Those lessons are still worth putting out there, if only to act as reminders through the filter of hindsight. Here are just some of the lessons that I’ve learned personally or seen in others. If you have others to share, please do so in the comments.

Lesson #1: The world doesn’t owe you anything and whining about it won’t change that.

Lesson #2: You can’t know how right or wrong someone is for you until you’ve spent more than a few years with that person.

Lesson #3: You never know for sure what you want to do with your life before and during puberty.

Lesson #4: A single failure won’t ruin your life if you learn from it.

Lesson #5: Every opportunity is a gamble, but you can control the odds to some extent through determination, work ethic, and talent.

Lesson #6: There are people in the world who are far smarter and capable than you’ll ever be, no matter how hard you work or believe in yourself.

Lesson #7: Convincing people to change their minds about anything is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

Lesson #8: It’s okay to be disappointed or upset, but at some point, you have to try to get over it.

Lesson #9: Like or not, having the right attitude can be the difference between happiness and misery.

Lesson #10: It’s just as easy to fall out of love as it is to fall in love.

Lesson #11: Habits, both good and bad, are difficult to break, but can be managed to some extent.

Lesson #12: People may be driven by basic needs, but are more complicated than you realize.

Lesson #13: It’s never too late to change your path or reinvent yourself, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Lessons #14: Many of the things you think are important now won’t be important years from now.

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Filed under human nature, Jack Fisher's Insights, psychology

Recounting An Awkward (Yet Hilarious) Boner

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For men, awkward boners are kind of like pranks that go horribly wrong. They’re either funny in hindsight or so embarrassing that you’d do anything to forget them. Get any man talking about the awkward boners he’s had in his life and chances are there will be a little of both. Most will be reluctant to share the really embarrassing ones, but they’ll gladly share the ones they know will get a good laugh.

In that spirit, I’d like to share another personal story about an awkward boner I had in a public place that was embarrassing, but hilarious in the grand scheme of things. It won’t be the first story I’ve shared involving an awkward boner. If people enjoy hearing these kinds of awkward, yet revealing stories, it might not be the last.

However, the previous story I shared was very different. That incident was mostly embarrassing because I was a teenager at the time and it took place at school, a place where things get awkward enough. This one is different. This one occurred while I was a mature adult who had largely survived the chaos of puberty, high school, and acne. In some respects, that’s part of what makes it hilarious.

To set the stage for this awkward exchange between me and my genitals, I need to establish a little context. This incident took place about five years ago. Around that time, I was trying to get into shape for the first time in my life. I’d just started running regularly. I’d also started going to the gym on a routine basis. I was past the point where I was figuring out what to do. At this point, I had developed a regular routine.

A big part of that routine involved spending at least a half-hour on a treadmill, burning off whatever excess calories I’d consumed. I even came to enjoy that part of my workout because it was a chance for me to put on my headphones, listen to music, and lose myself for a while. Sometimes, I would also listen to audiobooks. It helped get me thinking and sweating at the same time.

That part of my routine is how this incident took shape. Most of the audiobooks I’d listened to ranged in genre from mystery novels to political topics to romance. On one particular day, I decided to listen to a new romance audiobook. It was billed as a sexier, seamier love story. I’d listened to those stories before, but not while exercising. I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve known better. On this day, which happened to be a chilly Saturday morning in the middle of winter, I arrived at the gym in my gym clothes. I had my audiobook loaded up. It was fairly crowded, so I found an unused treadmill and started my routine. I also began playing the audiobook.

The first 10 minutes went by without incident. I had already worked up a good sweat. Things were going well. Then, the plot of the audiobook took a very sensual turn. I knew when I bought the book that there would be graphic parts. I didn’t expect for them to happen that soon, but it happened.

I’m listening to these very graphic, very sexy depictions being read by an alluring female voice. Naturally, my body reacts. It doesn’t matter that I’m jogging. If anything, that accelerates the process. My heart is pumping and my blood is flowing. This just got it flowing in a specific direction. On top of that, I wore loose gym shorts that day. That meant my body had plenty of room to work with.

What unfolded next was an exercise in tact. I know almost immediately that this isn’t going to be one of those incidents that I can shake off by thinking about football. The dam has already burst. There’s going to be some spillover. All I can do is wait it out.

Keep in mind, this is a crowded gym on a Saturday morning. It’s full of people, young and old. Some of them brought their kids to use the indoor pool. If I were to walk around with a fully-pitched tent in my pants, it’s going to get noticed. Granted, some might just stare for a moment and look away. It’s still not a glance I wanted to attract.

I have to wait this out, hoping that it passes before anyone notices. That’s not easy because, as most men will tell you, jogging with a boner is more than a little awkward. It’s like trying to tap dance while juggling flaming torches. It sends all sorts of mixed messages to your body.

At this point, the best I can do is stop the audiobook and switch to music. I also slow the treadmill down so that’s just a brisk walk. I also tactically adjust my shorts to ensure the tent in my pants isn’t too noticeable. From there, it’s just a matter of my body catching up to my thoughts.

I’m still mortified, but I’m also laughing to myself. I’m still new to this gym and regular workouts. I imagine I’d make quite an impression if people noticed me getting erections while working out. They might find it funny. They might even be curious as to what the hell I was listening to.

Eventually, it passes. My heart is still pumping, but the blood flow finally shifts. I don’t even stop my workout. I continue my routine and go about the rest of my workout, as though it didn’t happen. To my knowledge, nobody noticed that I’d spent a good five minutes on a treadmill with a raging erection. I was relieved, but I remembered leaving the gym laughing hysterically at myself.

As awkward as it was, I don’t see that incident in a negative light. This wasn’t at a time in my life when my hormones were raging and my body was betraying me at every turn. I was a healthy adult who had since developed healthier attitudes. If anything, getting an erection in the middle of a gym showed just how healthy I was at that point.

I still go to the gym regularly. I’ve grown fond of it in the years since that incident. I just know what not to listen to when I’m working out. There’s a time and a place for listening to sexy audiobooks. A crowded gym on a Saturday morning isn’t one of them. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way, but in hindsight, it’s a hilarious lesson that I doubt I’ll ever forget.

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Personal Thoughts On Retirees, Lottery Winners, And Work

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A lot of people like to dream about what they’d do if they suddenly won the lottery and never had to work again. Only a select few are ever that lucky and a not-insignificant portion of those winners don’t end up happy when that dream is realized. As someone who plays and contemplates the lottery, I’m just as guilty of entertaining that dream.

A less audacious dream involves retiring comfortably. For that, there’s less luck is required. If you work hard for years, saving money and planning responsibly, you can eventually stop working altogether and just live out the rest of your days in comfort. Not everyone gets to that point, but for those that do, it’s worth celebrating. I know this because more than a few friends and family members have retired.

I bring this up because I found myself contemplating this recently. Over the holidays, there were significant stretches in which I didn’t have to work, travel, or do much of anything. I don’t deny that it was relaxing. I definitely enjoyed it. However, after a few days, I found myself feeling restless.

Some of that has to do with me being a morning person. In general, I’m always up early. I’ve been that way since high school. I don’t know if I can ever condition myself otherwise, but during this stint of time, it was somewhat jarring. I woke up. I checked my email. I did a little writing. Then, the sun rose and the day began, but I didn’t know what to do with myself.

While I did find things to do, I realized that I’m not very good at managing long stretches of unstructured time. If I don’t have something to do or a place to be, I get a little anxious and not in a productive way.

During this time, I found myself feeling tired at one in the afternoon. I found myself starting random things, but not finishing them. I tried to relax, but I think I might have tried too hard. By trying so hard, I just stressed myself out and achieved the exact opposite of relaxation.

It leads me to wonder whether I could actually handle a scenario in which I didn’t have to work or anything. If I won the lottery tomorrow, would I even want to just stay home all day? If I retired tomorrow and didn’t have to worry about money for some reason, what would I do with myself?

I know more than a few retirees who occupy their time with many things, but I’m not sure those things are for me. Some of that might just be due to generation gaps. Other reasons might be more personal.

For one, I’m still single. I have no wife or kids to look after. If I did, then I might feel differently about having too much time to myself. Right now, all I know is that I don’t do well when I don’t have some sort of job, task, or goal ahead of me. It can’t just be writing novels and sexy short stories. I need other things to occupy myself.

It was a strange revelation, but one I’m glad I experienced. It gives me a reason to contemplate how I’ll manage myself in the future if I retire or become successful enough that I don’t have to work. Luckily, I’m still relatively young and I have plenty of time to plan that out.

Some people can be happy lying around the house all day doing nothing. There’s nothing wrong with those people. I hope they achieve their dreams, as well. I just don’t think I’m that kind of person. One day, I hope I have a chance to see what I can do with that kind of time. Until then, I feel lucky that I have the life I have.

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