The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a recollection and reflection of my Lasik eye surgery, which remains the best thing I ever spent my money on. Enjoy!
Category Archives: real stories
Drugs are bad. You shouldn’t do drugs.
That was the mantra I heard every other day in school as a kid. Others my age heard it too. There were entire assemblies about drugs at least twice a year. There were regular PSA’s after some of my favorite kids shows. Every health and PE class, it seemed, took time out of their schedule to talk about the dangers of drugs.
For the most part, I listened to these message and took them seriously to some extent. However, I could never truly buy in. I’ve mentioned before how certain anti-drug programs I went through in school sent mixed messages. These days, I’ve come to see those programs and most of those anti-drug efforts to be either a waste of time, misguided, or outright deceitful.
I’ll go so far as to say that the drug war is a complete and utter failure and should be ended right now.
I’m not trying to make a political statement. I’m just trying to put my attitude towards drugs and the drug war in context. A lot factors went into this current overview. However, there was one particular experience that really re-shaped how I saw this issue. It wasn’t something I experienced in school or some life-changing PSA. It was actually a result of dental surgery.
That, in and of itself, is saying a lot because, as I’ve noted before, I despise going to the dentist.
A big part of that aversion to going has to do with some of my less-than-stellar dental health over the years. I’m not just talking about having a cavity or two. Most people deal with that. I’ve actually had a number of major dental procedures over the years. I’ve had fillings in my molars, gum grafts for my lower lip, and a whitening procedure that made my teeth hurt for days on end.
In short, I haven’t had many pleasant experiences at the dentist. In fact, most of my major medical procedures thus far have been of the oral health variety.
However, it was when I had my wisdom teeth removed that really changed my outlook on drugs. It also happened to be the most significant medical procedure I had done at that point. It marked the first procedure that required general anesthesia and recovery process. Naturally, I was nervous, but it had to be done.
For a lot of people, getting wisdom teeth removed is entirely necessary. I was among those who had to get it done as early as possible. The longer I waited, the more it would damage my teeth, my mouth, and my overall well-being. Those were my dentist’s exact words.
The experience, itself, was fairly standard. Even if I was nervous, I knew it had to be done. My mother even took time off work to take me because she knew I would be out of it for a while. However, I don’t think she knew just how much the drugs used in the procedure would effect me.
Again, this was my first major surgery and my first encounter with the powerful drugs used in said surgery. I had little experience and no tolerance, whatsoever. Naturally, I was going to react. I just didn’t know how colorful my reaction would be.
It went like this.
I sat down in a dental chair, the nurse put something over my nose, and then told me she was delivering some nitrous oxide.
I distinctly remember her putting this tiny rubber mask over my nose. I don’t remember anything three seconds after that.
The next thing I knew, it was over. I woke up, my mouth was full of gauze, and the dentist said we were done. He might have said something more, but I honestly don’t remember because I was laughing so had.
This is when I learned why nitrous oxide was also known as laughing gas. I definitely got the laughing part down.
However, I wasn’t juts laughing. I was light-headed, loopy, and just giggling like the happiest guy in the world. I don’t remember a whole lot about what I did or said, but I felt so good, despite my mouth being bloodied and sore. I’m also pretty sure I told the nurse I loved her and I might have even proposed to her. I don’t know. I’m genuinely worried that I made that nurse uncomfortable.
Also, remember that my mother is there. She has never seen me this doped up before. She had hard time not laughing. If she’s reading this right now, she might start laughing at the memory because I really was that out of it. I was so drugged up that my mother actually got my dad on the phone so he could hear me. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m pretty sure he laughed too.
Eventually, the effects did wear off. When they did, my mouth hurt. It het a lot. It was at that point when drugs stopped being funny and I realized something important.
Sometimes, you really do need drugs in order to get through something.
For me, it was serious dental surgery.
For others, it might be something else and it doesn’t always have to with medical procedures.
On top of that, these drugs work. Seriously, I do not know how I could’ve possibly endured getting my wisdom teeth removed without anesthesia. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have laughed nearly as much or flirted with the nurse.
Beyond the actual procedure, I was also prescribed some prescription strength pain killers to help with the pain afterwards. I won’t say what type of pills the were. I’ll just confirm that they were a form of opioids. Yes, they were those kinds of opioids.
I’ll also confirm that those pills worked. They were very effective at making my jaw hurt less as I recovered from the procedure. Sometimes, they worked a little too well. That was why I was generally very reluctant to take them. However, they did get the job done. Were it not for those pills, my recovery from that surgery would’ve been a lot more painful.
That’s really what it all came back to, pain and comfort. These drugs were necessary for me. They also made me feel really good while I was enduring something very distressing. That put a very different context around drugs, the drug war, and why people do drugs. Suddenly, all those anti-drug messages I got from school seemed woefully shallow.
Yes, drugs can be very dangerous and harmful. The number of people who die from overdoses is proof enough of that. However, people don’t just take drugs to overdose from them. There’s generally another reason behind it and that reason doesn’t always revolve around getting high.
While that does happen, it’s not nearly as damaging as many of those anti-drug messages claim. My experience with dental surgery gave me a taste of how pleasant it could be. I wouldn’t blame anyone at all for wanting to pursue that feeling, even if doing so came with serious risks.
More than anything else, my dental surgery experience complicated the whole issue of drugs, drug abuse, and why we wage war on drugs. The feelings I experienced, especially with the benefit of hindsight, convinced me that waging a war on drugs just isn’t winnable. These drugs work too well and people generally like to feel good. Like it or not, that’s exactly what these drugs do.
As time goes on, I’m also convinced that the drug war and the overly simplistic “drugs are bad” message is a gross oversimplification, as well as a misguided crusade. Why people do drugs varies, but let’s not avoid the truth. These drugs have potent effects and so long as people desire these effects, there will be those who seek drugs and abuse them.
To those who have only a limited understanding of drugs and drug abuse, I hope this experience helps change your perspective a bit.
Also, to that nurse who was there after I had my dental surgery, I sincerely apologize if I said anything inappropriate. It turns out nitrous oxide just has that effect on me.
Every now and then, we have one of those weeks that really tests us. Whether you’re in high school or a working adult, you just find yourself navigating each day like it’s a marathon after another marathon. It’s exhausting, draining, stressful, and even frustrating most of the time.
Then, you make it to the end of the week and it feels so good.
That’s basically the week I just had. I feel like this past week has been one of the hardest of my adult life. I won’t get into all the details why, mostly because it would require a book’s worth of backstory, context, and plot. I’ll just say that I found myself juggling way more challenges than most over the span of just a few days. On more than one occasion, I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to manage it all.
But in the end, I did.
I didn’t just make it to the end of the week. I actually finished everything I wanted to finish and did it with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and confidence. That just made it all the more rewarding.
I’ve had long, arduous weeks before. Sometimes, I’ve had several in a row, but this week was different. It felt like a perfect storm of issues and challenges. All sorts of factors, none of which I could control, seemed to converge on just a handful of days. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s usually very stressful.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to manage that stress. I like to think I’m better at it now than I was when I was a younger. That still didn’t make it any less draining. When I got home yesterday, I basically fell onto my bed and just laid there for a while. I also enjoyed an extra glass of whiskey, which is typically my preferred method of unwinding on Friday nights. And I can confirm it tasted that much sweeter.
I know it’s a bit cliché to say that hard work can be very rewarding, especially for those doing jobs they hate or dealing with issues that frustrate them. However, there is something to be said about making it through a difficult week and succeeding in everything you set out to do. It really is uniquely satisfying. It shows just how strong you are and how far you’ve come.
I’ll likely face other weeks like that in the future. Everyone reading this now will probably face the same. Take heed from this message.
You will make it through.
You will overcome.
You will be stronger because of it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s another glass of whiskey waiting for me.
In general, being a hard worker is a respectable trait to have. Regardless of your background, culture, or political affiliations, we tend to value and celebrate those who are willing to put in the extra effort into whatever they do for a living. It’s not easy. It can be incredibly stressful at times. Then again, most things worth doing are.
I certainly remember plenty of times when I worked hard. Going all the way back to high school, I can recall days in which I spent nearly every waking hour grinding away at something or another, be it schoolwork, chores, or a part-time job. I remember being drained when all was said and done, but I was ultimately stronger because of it.
That being said, there is a certain threshold in which hard work ceases to be about productivity and just becomes downright damaging. I suspect many people have approached or cross that threshold at some point in their lives, whether it’s with school or a career. However, I don’t think enough people appreciate just how damaging excessive work can be.
This brings me to Japan and their legendary, albeit infamous, work culture. Think back to the longest, hardest day you had at school or your job. In Japan, that’s basically Tuesday. Work for them is not just some 9-to-5 gig you do for a paycheck. It’s a sizable chunk of their lives, more so than American or European workers.
Working overtime, sleeping at the office, and sacrificing for the company aren’t seen as above and beyond. That’s the standard. Yes, it’s a very high standard, but let’s not forget these are real people pushing themselves in extreme ways to meet that standard.
While this high emphasis on work has helped Japan become one of the best economies in the world, it does have a dark side. It’s so prevalent and common, in fact, that the Japanese even have a word for it. It’s called Karoshi, which translates to “overwork death.”
It’s exactly what it sounds like, but it’s actually more complex than that.
It’s a serious ongoing issue in Japan. You don’t have to look far for horror stories about what happens to people who succumb to Karoshi. There are real cases of otherwise healthy 31-year-old men dying of heart failure after regularly working 14-hour days for 7 years straight.
Take a step back and appreciate that kind of strain.
You work so long and so hard that your heart gives out.
It’s one thing to work until you’re tired and sore, but it takes a special kind of strain for your heart to just give out.
As bad as that is, this isn’t the only way Karoshi manifests. Beyond the long hours at the office and the constant stress that comes with it, you can see other signs throughout Japan. It’s not that uncommon to see people asleep on the streets or on park benches. It’s as normal as seeing someone taking selfies.
For a more in depth look on how this unfolds in Japan, check out this video. It’s what got me interested in this topic and inspired me to bring it up.
Now, I’m not looking to denigrate or demean another country’s work culture. I understand that not every society sees work the same way or approaches it in a way people from my part of the world would recognize. At the same time, it’s hard to overlook the issues that result in people dying of heart attacks before they’re 40.
It’s something the Japan is trying to address, but changing ingrained culture isn’t easy. Changing peoples work habits isn’t easy, either. People are set in their ways. I say that as someone who regularly struggled with Spanish quizzes in high school, but never though to adjust study habits.
It’s also an issue I think highlights and important lesson for any society that emphasizes hard work. Yes, it’s generally good, but there are limits. There comes a point where the work is more valued than the person doing it and when you reach that point, the well-being of the person becomes an afterthought.
Those who claim that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life may beg to differ. To them, I would remind them that the human body doesn’t recognize whether or not you’re doing something you love or something you hate. It just knows when it’s being strained to the point where it starts failing.
I feel like this will become more relevant in the coming years. The events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have already significantly affected the workplace and I’m not just referring to the rise of telework. If anything, these events have accelerated the pace of automation. The jobs that used to require all that grinding are becoming less and less necessary.
What will that mean for workers in general?
What will that mean for work culture like that of Japan?
Will it make Karoshi better or worse as certain jobs become more scarce or unnecessary?
These are difficult questions to answer right now, but I suspect that these trends won’t change peoples’ inclination for hard work. It’s just a matter of where that effort will be directed and how we’ll balance it out with the health of the individual. That’s a balance that we still need to strike, no matter how many jobs get automated.
Work/life balance isn’t just a popular buzzword. It’s critical to those who want to both be productive and live fulfilling lives. If you’re life is all work, then is it really living in the grand scheme of things? If anything, the Japanese phenomenon of Karoshi offers insight into what happens when there is no balance. The line between working hard and working yourself to death can get blurred at times, but it’s worth making that line just a little bit clearer, if only to navigate it more effectively.
For the past year, I’ve gone out of my way to urge people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while also pointing out why anti-vaxx arguments are ridiculously stupid. Honestly, I’m sick of doing that and I’m sick of talking about this. I wish getting a vaccine didn’t have to be a point of contention, but that’s just the state of the world we live in.
Again, get vaccinated people. You’ll end this pandemic and save lives in the process.
That being said, I’d like to add another layer to this effort. It’s not quite as dire as the current situation with COVID-19, but it’s still relevant, given that it involves our health and ways we can improve it. It has to do flu shots.
Now, let me start by making clear that the flu is not as serious as COVID-19. Despite the claims of certain misinformed pundits, the typical flu is less likely to kill you than COVID-19. You still don’t want to get either because even if it doesn’t kill you, having the flu is an awful experience.
You feel like crap for almost an entire week.
You can barely eat anything and even when you do, it’s hard to keep down.
Your face is flushed all the time, your nose is stuffy, your throat is sore, and your head won’t stop pounding from the inside.
It’s just an all-around bad time for you and your body. If you’re older or happen to be in poor health, it can be even more serious. People do die because of the flu and it’s not a trivial figure, either.
That’s why I encourage everyone to get a yearly flu shot, especially this year. Last year was bad enough, but this year is even more critical. Now that lockdowns are over and people are trying to live life as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, the flu is likely to make a comeback.
As such, if you can get a flu shot, do what you have to do in order to get it. Do it for yourself and your family. I certainly plan on doing so. If you need information on doing so, the CDC has an entire section of their website dedicated to it.
It’s not a conspiracy.
It’s not an agenda.
It’s just a shot that’ll protect you from another disease you don’t want to get.
To further reinforce that point, I’d like to share a quick story about the worst flu I ever got and how it affected my attitudes towards flu shots. It’s not a very pleasant story, but I hope it gets the point across as to why flu shots are critical.
To set the stage and context, this occurred back when I was in the seventh grade. At this point in my life, I wasn’t in great shape overall. However, aside from bad allergies and acne, I was in generally good health. I hadn’t been seriously sick beyond a common cold in years. As a result, I saw little need for flu shots.
Then, one evening, I started feeling a little ill. I can remember exactly when it happened. It was around 7:00 p.m. one evening. I’d finished dinner and my folks were watching TV. It started with a sore throat and a cough, but it was nothing I hadn’t dealt with before. I thought I’d feel fine after I slept it off.
I was very wrong.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt terrible. My joints hurt, my head hurt, my sinuses were stuffed up, and I was so weak you could knock me over with a feather. I don’t remember looking in the mirror that morning, but I’m pretty sure I looked like hell.
Despite all that, I still thought I could make it to school that day. I thought it was just something that would wear off after I got going. I made an effort to get dressed, get some breakfast, and walk to school. My mother kept encouraging me not to, but I didn’t listen.
In hindsight, this was a terrible decision.
I managed to make it to school. But just as my first class began, my body just gave out. I couldn’t keep my head up and I couldn’t focus. My teacher naturally sent me to the school clinic. Once there, the nurse said I had a 101-degree fever. That’s pretty bad, even for a seventh grader.
My mom had to come and pick me up. To her credit, she didn’t say, “I told you so.” She just took me home, laid me down on the couch, gave me some medicine, and let me sleep.
The next few days sucked, but they weren’t nearly s bad as the first. I was so weak, tired, and sickly that I couldn’t do much aside from watch TV. At one point, I ran out of favorite movies to watch. I tried playing video games, but my head was in such a fog that I didn’t have much fun.
It was just such a terrible experience overall. Even after I got better, I made it a point to take the flu serious from that day forward. I always got a flu shot when it was available. I also took my health a bit more seriously, even though I wouldn’t get in shape until years later. I think that experience helped inform future health habits that have stuck with me to this day.
I still wish I didn’t have to go through that to learn the value of good health and flu shots. I certainly don’t want anyone to have to learn those hard lessons like I did. Even if the flu is not life-threatening, it’s just not an experience you want to have.
So please, if you can, get a flu shot this year.
Get one every year if you can. Take it from someone who learned the hard way. Having the flu sucks. A vaccine can help protect you from it and after living through a pandemic, we should all make the effort.
We all have certain stories from our lives that stand out for no particular reason. They aren’t life defining moments like graduating school, falling in love, or eating your first Krispy Kreme donut. For reasons that are just completely unknowable, you remember them so vividly.
I’ve shared a few personal stories in the past. Some are more dramatic than others. Some were just funny and worth sharing. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how to classify the one I’m about to share. I just think it’s worth sharing because it’s just one of those stories that really sticks out. Hopefully, you’ll see why when I tell it.
Like all my personal stories, I need to establish a little context. This story takes place just a few years after I got out of college. I’m at an interesting point of transition in my adult life. I’m still living at home, but I have a stable, well-paying job that has allowed me to amass some regular income.
I also have my first car, which is a big deal for anyone in their mid-20s. I’m still getting used to the idea of being able to just go out on my own at any time I want. Before then, I was at the mercy of bus schedules and whether my parents would let me borrow one of their cars.
Then, one day, I met up with one of my cousins. She and her boyfriend at the time were living about an hour-and-a-half away from where I was at the time. This is someone who has known me my entire life. She also knew how socially awkward I was and how hard I was struggling to come out of my shell.
Being the wonderful cousin she was, she invited me to hang out with her and her husband one night. Unlike other meetings, I wouldn’t be with other friends or relatives. It was just us, sharing a night on the town, enjoying ourselves on our own terms. It was a bit daunting at first, but she convinced me to try it.
Now, what we did on that outing is another story altogether. The most I’ll say is that we had a great time. She took me to this cool restaurant where we met up with her friends. She then took me to this nightclub where we just danced and hung out. In terms of a night out, it was probably the most fun I’d had since I graduated college.
The real story begins when it gets really late and I’m wondering whether I should drive home. As it just so happened, this was early March and it was still fairly cold out. On top of that, there was some snow in the forecast. It even started snowing lightly while we were on our way back to my cousin’s apartment.
At one point, I’m debating if I should stay the night. They had offered me a chance to stay on the couch and that had been my original plan. However, the forecast kept getting worse as the night went on. I was concerned I might be snowed in and their apartment wasn’t exactly built for guests.
After some back-and-forth, I decide to try and drive home before the storm rolls in. Keep in mind, this is about 2:30 in the morning. It’s the latest I’ve ever driven anywhere, let alone an hour-and-a-half away from home.
Again, it was pretty daunting. Then again, driving on a snowy road in the morning is just as daunting.
Since it’s so late, I’m concerned about staying alert and so is my cousin. That’s when she offers me a couple of Monster Energy Drinks. I’m not talking about the small, discount size, either. These are full-sized cans. Typically, you only need to drink one. Me being so concerned, I decided to have two.
At this point, I’d like to offer a bit of advice to everyone. Do not drink two oversized energy drinks. Just don’t. They’re not good for you.
This is something I had to learn for myself. With flurries still coming down and the roads getting worse, I say goodbye to my cousin. I then get in my car, which is still very new to me, and start making the trip back home at nearly 3:00 in the morning.
Of all the experiences I had that night, this might have been the most jarring. It was genuinely strange, being on the road so late. I wasn’t used to seeing so few cars. There were times when I would drive down large stretches of highway and only see a couple cars pass by. Some of that might have been because of the weather, but it was still a strange feeling.
I grew up outside of major metropolitan areas. I’m used to traffic and traffic jams at all hours. I had never been out at a time when there was so little traffic. It was kind of nice on some levels, but given the late hour and the weather, it was also kind of spooky.
Then, the energy drinks kicked in. Remember, I had two of them, so the effects were definitely noticeable.
On some levels, they did exactly what I wanted. They kept me alert. The problem is, they kept me really alert. I was so alert during that drive that I felt like I was performing brain surgery on the President. I didn’t relax, even during long stretches on the highway. I physically couldn’t. That’s how wired I was.
The weather didn’t get much better, either. The closer I got to home, the worse the storm got. By the time I was on familiar streets, the roads were pretty slick. I drove slower than usual, despite being so alert. I was almost paranoid to go too fast.
Eventually, I do make it home. By then, it’s about 4:30 in the morning. The snow is still coming down and the streets are covered in ice. It’s quite a sight, but what I remember most is just parking my car and feeling like I finished a harrowing adventure. I was both relieved and elated, although some of that might have been because of the energy drinks.
I’m still a bit too wired to sleep at this point, but I ultimately crash after just a half-hour. However, this is no ordinary crash. Coming down from two Monster Energy Drinks is not like coming down from a few two many sugar cookies. I crashed hard.
I remember getting really dazed and drowsy. Then, my ears start burning and my face gets flushed. I then collapse on my bed and go to sleep. When I wake up a few hours later, I have a pounding headache, which I basically spend the rest of the day sleeping off. My whole internal clock gets messed up, as a result. I need the rest of the weekend, just to re-balance myself.
As stressful and harrowing as that night was, I’m still glad I did it. I’m grateful that my cousin went out of her way for me like that. Now, in hindsight, I would not have chugged two full energy drinks. That would’ve spared me the pounding headache later.
Even so, the experience was worth the discomfort. I still don’t entirely know why this story stands out as much as it does for me. I just thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else, I hope it dissuades anyone from chugging too many energy drinks at 2:30 in the morning.
We all have certain moments in our lives that really stick out. As adults, we tend to remember these moments vividly. Sometimes, we even know when a particular moment is going to stick with us for years to come. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, getting your dream job, or meeting that special someone, we can remember every little detail and understand why it matters.
When we’re kids, it’s just not the same. Those moments don’t impact us in quite the same way. It’s just a byproduct of being a kid. You’re young and inexperienced. You have no idea how one particular moment will affect you for years to come.
However, there’s often one particular moment in every kid’s life that heavily informs how their adult life plays out. It has to do with that special part of growing up where you start feeling real attraction to someone else. It doesn’t manifest the same way with every kid, but whether they’re straight, gay, bisexual, or something else entirely, it still happens and it can be overwhelming.
Some people can pin down the exact moment when they started feeling attracted to someone. For others, it’s a messier process. Suddenly, you start looking at others in a very different way. You know what love is. You feel it from your family. However, this is something very different.
One moment, you think members of the opposite sex are icky and gross.
The next, you find yourself drawn to them in a profound way.
I don’t care how well-adjusted you are as a kid. That’s going to be confusing, overwhelming, and even a little scary. It’s often one of the first real signs that we’re growing up. We’re starting to become adults.
In that spirit, I’d like to share another personal story about the moment I first felt attracted to a girl. I promise it’s not too crazy or extreme in any way. It’s just one of those parts of my life that I didn’t realize was such a big deal until many years later. I suspect others might have had a similar experience. Theirs might even be more eventful than mine. Whatever their story, I hope this one helps others appreciate those experiences.
To set the stage, this moment took place when I was in the fourth grade. I remember it more vividly than most my elementary school experience. Part of that was because I had this really charismatic teacher. He was such a fun guy and he definitely made school less mundane. He also was big on letting everyone socialize. He was less inclined to lecture us and more inclined to give us activities that we could do in groups.
I certainly didn’t mind that. It beat reading textbooks. However, this also coincided with a time in my life when my social awkwardness really took hold. As I’ve noted before, my social skills have always been sub-par. Even as a kid, I really struggled to make friends, connect with people, and develop lasting connections.
On top of all that, I was somewhat obnoxious at that age. My parents and siblings can attest to this. When I was in the fourth grade, I wasn’t always drawing inside the lines, so to speak. I had a tendency to overreact to things and I didn’t always think before I spoke. While that never got me into serious trouble, it did further compound my social awkwardness.
Then, add being attracted to girls to the mix. It’s hard to put into words just how much that complicated things.
Now, I want to say I was a bit more prepared than most when it came to girls, albeit not by much. Unlike a lot of other boys my age, I never went through a “girls have cooties” stage. I also never went through a period where I thought girls were gross or anything like that.
It helped that I had friends who were girls. Some of my closest cousins were girls. I never saw them as this strange mystery. They were just other people with different body parts. That was it.
It also helped I got along better with girls than boys at that time. At lunch, I would often sit at a table populated by girls. It wasn’t because I was attracted to them. I just didn’t make a lot of friends with the boys. Plus, a lot of the boys I knew in the 4th grade were annoying.
I was comfortable with this setup for the most part. Then, something strange happened with this girl I had sat near during the latter part of the year. I won’t give her name, out of respect for her privacy. I’ll just call her Sue.
Sue was a nice girl with a bright smile and short brown hair. I distinctly remember her laughing a lot. She had a great sense of humor and she appreciated dirty jokes more than most girls. Naturally, I became friendly with her and she became friendly with me. We weren’t exactly close, but we liked being around each other.
In the beginning, I just saw her the same way I had seen so many other girls. She was a friend and I liked her. That was it.
Towards the end of the school year, though, I started feeling something more. I started looking at her differently. I distinctly remember getting a strange feeling around her that I didn’t get around other girls. At first, I thought I was just being obnoxious again. Eventually, I realized it was something more.
I was actually attracted to this girl.
I was really, sincerely drawn to her in a way that was legitimately romantic.
Granted, there’s only so much romantic sentiment a 4th grader could feel, but I knew it was there. Reading superhero comics with romantic sub-plots helped me recognize the signs. I still wasn’t entirely sure how to deal with it. I didn’t really talk about it at first.
However, I do remember one distinct moment in the late spring where I made this comment out of the blue during a class activity. It had been a joke, albeit a very bad one. I don’t remember all the details. I just remember referencing Beth by name and making it clear that I was attracted to her.
The whole class laughed.
I felt so embarrassed that my face blushed bright red.
At the time, I really felt stupid. Perhaps it was for the best that after that year, I never saw Beth again. I know she still went to the same school, but she ended up in other classes. I honestly don’t know if she remembers me or what I said. However, I doubt I’ll ever forget her.
She was very much a turning point in my young life. She was the first girl I looked at and felt real, tangible attraction. I knew what these feelings were and I knew they were more adult than kid. It was really the first sign that I was starting to transfer from kid to adult. While I still had to endure some horribly awkward teenage years, that moment marked the first step.
For that, I’ll always be grateful to Beth. I don’t know if she understood those feelings or if she ever felt that way about me. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to appreciate that moment and the part she played.
That’s my unique story about the first moment I felt attracted to a girl. I know it’s somewhat tame, but I still felt it was worth sharing. If anyone else has a similar story that they’d like to share, please do so in the comments. These moments are profound points in our lives. They’re worth sharing, but they’re also worth learning from.
Science is a long, laborious, and often tedious process. That’s to be expected. It is, by far, the most effective tool that humanity has in terms of gaining greater knowledge and understanding the world around us.
It’s not always intuitive. There are times when science has revealed just how wrong we were. It’s not that we were all stupid beforehand. We just didn’t have all the data. We could only assume as much as our current understanding allowed.
That doesn’t make anyone a bad or ignorant person for having held those assumptions.
Science, by its nature, is a self-correcting process. It doesn’t assume anything. It’s always taking in new information, running more tests, and expanding on previous hypotheses. Most of the time, it affirms what we already suspected. Sometimes, though, it completely defies everything we thought we knew.
For that reason, some people just love pointing out all the times science was supposedly wrong to cling to dogmatic assumptions like creationism and Flat-Eartherism. These people really are idiots and they’re often asshole grifters who don’t deserve the slightest bit of sympathy.
Then, there are the climate change deniers. They’re not just skeptics, which I can understand to some extent. They’re outright deniers in that they work under the assumption that the whole study of climate change is a hoax or some environmentalist conspiracy.
Now, not everyone in that camp is a stupid asshole grifter who probably leans conservative and has connections to oil companies. Those people are certainly there and they deserve plenty of scorn. At the same time, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to some who just can’t see the forest from the trees.
To the latter, I’d like to share my own personal testimony that I hope will improve your understanding of the topic. Whether you believe it or not, climate change is a serious issue that could have serious consequences for billions of people all over the world. We can and should do something about it while we still have time.
I say that as someone who has been hearing about these environmental for most of his life. When I was a kid, I grew up watching cartoons that often threw in a few pro-environment messages. There were even shows that presented global warming as a serious issue and I’m not just talking about “Captain Planet.”
As a kid, I didn’t understand much of the science. Even most of the adults I talked to didn’t understand it. Some showed concern, but most weren’t inclined to give it much credence. Some even thought it was all just environmentalist propaganda.
It didn’t help that many of them lived in parts of the country where the weather didn’t change considerably from season to season. Many lived in the southern United States where they rarely got snow or cold temperatures of any kind. If the Earth was getting warmer, they weren’t going to notice.
The same could be said for the family I had living in the north. Some lived in areas that got a lot of snow. Talk to them about global warming and they’d be more likely to welcome it, often joking about how they wouldn’t mind shoveling less snow every winter.
Again, both these perspectives miss the forest from the trees. Climate, by definition, doesn’t focus on weather from day to day or even year to year. It tracks temperatures and conditions over a long span of time. For people who don’t pay attention or live in areas with relatively bland weather, it can be hard to sense.
For where I live, however, that’s not the case. I live in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States. It’s an area that sees a wide range of conditions between winter and summer. I’ve lived through summers where it has been over 100 degrees for weeks on end. I’ve also lived through winters that have had multiple blizzards. I’ve experienced both extremes.
As a result, I take notice when those extreme change considerably. It doesn’t happen all at once. Sometimes, it’s subtle to the point where you don’t realize it until years later. Now, given my age and how long I’ve been living in this area, I can safely say that I have felt the affects of climate change.
It has only become obvious to me over the past few years. In that time, I’ve really taken note of how mild every winter has been lately. It used to be things got pretty brisk in mid-October. In the weeks before Halloween, I had to stop wearing shorts and keep a sweatshirt handy. For the past couple years, it only seems to get chilly for a couple of days. Then, it’s up over 70 degrees again.
The winter months have been even more noticeable. When I was a kid, it rarely snowed in December, outside a few rare occasions. However, it was still usually cold, so much so that I had to wear a heavy coat for most days. These days, it has rarely gotten overly cold. I can go almost the entire month of December without having to wear more than a sweatshirt.
It’s still January and February that have been the most noticeable. For so many years, right up until 2015, I could usually count on at least two significant snowstorms. They were rarely full-blown blizzards, but it was still common to see some snow on the ground for the majority of the month.
That has changed considerably in recent years. In my area, there hasn’t been a significant snowstorm in over five years. The most we’ve gotten is, at most, four inches in a single storm. It usually turns to rain and melts within a day.
It’s a hell of a contrast to the winters I remember. Add that to summers that feel hotter and more humid for longer stretches of time and there’s no getting around it.
Climate change is real.
I’ve felt it. I’ve witnessed it. I’m seeing it happen within my lifetime.
I understand that climate involves weather patterns over a long period of time, often exceeding that of a typical human lifetime. However, even if it is anecdotal, I’ve still felt it. That’s deeply concerning to me. Even if it means I don’t have to shovel snow quite as often, it’s still cause for concern.
If the climate is changing that much in this span of time, then I think that’s going to be a bigger problem as time goes on. Moreover, it’s a problem we shouldn’t ignore or underscore. Regardless of your politics, you’re going to be affected by the weather, whether you like it or not.
Much of our civilization depends on weather patterns that are stable and consistent. Climate change will disrupt that stability. We might be able to adapt to some extent, but not if it happens all at once. In that instance, it could lead to a lot of upheaval and suffering. At that point, it’ll be too late.
Now, I’m not qualified to know what the best solutions are. I know they do exist and we need to invest in them because if we don’t, it could end up costing us much more in the future and not just in terms of money.
Regardless of how you feel about modern science, at least consider this personal testimony. Climate change is real. It’s happening. It could potentially lead to some serious problems down the line. Now is not the time to whine about the shortcomings of science. We all live on this planet together. Let’s do what we can to keep it comfortable.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s just a brief message of thanks for all those who have helped my channel grow so much over the past year-and-a-half, as well as a personal story to help get everyone in the Thanksgiving spirit. Enjoy!
There’s a lot of hate in this world. People hate others in such horrible ways for all the wrong reasons. It’s so damaging, destructive, and dehumanizing on so many levels. Hate is what causes otherwise decent people to commit gross atrocities against others. We should do whatever we can to reduce the amount of hate in this world.
All that being said, I fucking hate telemarketers.
Seriously, fuck every telemarketer on this planet.
There aren’t many targets of hate that are fully deserving of such hatred. Telemarkters are a select few. They’re right up there with spammers, hackers, and whoever keeps making insurance commercials. I still believe we should have compassion for our fellow humans, but if you’re going to hate anyone, hate telemarketers.
I bring this up because I’ve had more than my share of run-ins with them. Lately, there has been quite an uptick in both robocalls and telemarketers. Even though I repeatedly and angrily ask that I be put on the “Do Not Call” list, it doesn’t seem to stop them. They still call me and they find ways to make it seem like the call is coming from a local area.
We may not agree on much, as a society. Can we at least agree that these telemarketers are the fucking worst?
Now, I think I understand why there’s been such an uptick lately. In my area, there has been a noticeable uptick in people wanting to move in. I happen to live in a region where a lot of smaller, non-luxury style condos are going up and they’re located near some large retail centers. Since the pandemic, these types of units have been selling fast because they’re further from the city, they’re cheaper, and we have great internet. I’ve yet to see a unit stay on the market for more than two weeks.
Naturally, I’m getting a lot of calls from telemarketers asking if I’m willing to sell my current home or refinance. Most of them are pretty generic. Some are robocalls and some are just people trying to get my info. I hate every one of them, but at least with telemarketers, you can tell them to fuck off.
This leads me to a recent incident that I’d like to share. It involves a telemarketer who called me just after I’d gone to the gym and was still sore. I was not in the mood for their bullshit.
That didn’t stop them from calling.
It never stops them from calling.
However, rather than just hang up or cuss them out, I decided to mess with them this time. As soon as I realized this wasn’t a robocall, I decided that if I’m going to be annoyed by this shit, I might as well have some fun with it. How I went about that might have been in poor taste to some extent, but I don’t feel bad about it.
It went a little something like this:
Telemarketer: Hello! Am I speaking to Jack?
Me: Um…yes? Who is this?
Telemarketer: Hi! My name is [Asshole] and I’m with [Bullshit Company Name]. How are you?
Me: I’m fine. What’s this about?
Telemarketer: Well, we’re calling because we’re interested in helping you sell your house. We have…
Me: Really? WOW! That’s incredible! This is really something else. Please [Asshole], can I speak with your manager?
Me: Your manager. I’d love to speak to your manager right now. Because this is just so amazing.
Telemarketer: Why? What for?
Me: Well, I did not ask for this call. I did not consent to this call. And now I want to speak to your manager to tell them what an incredibly amazing asshole fuck you are. Please, transfer me. I’ll wait!
Telemarketer: Um…he’ll call you back.
Was I a little mean? Yes, I probably was.
Was I overly vulgar? Yes, I definitely was.
Do I feel bad about anything I said? No, I do not.
Again, I did not authorize this call. I did not consent to this call. I have repeatedly put my number on the “Do Not Call” list. These assholes still called me and wasted my time with this bullshit. As far as I’m concerned, if they’re not going to do the decent thing and respect my request, then I’m not going to bother being decent with them.
To whoever was on the other end of that call, I don’t apologize. I regret nothing. Fuck you. Get a job that doesn’t require you to harass people.
To anyone else who has ever fucked with a telemarketer, please share your experience and join me in hating these assholes like they deserve.