The Accidental Hiatus

So, it’s been eight-days since my last post on what was supposed to be a daily blog…

That’s obviously not supposed to happen. I fell into a slippery slope of procrastination (to the chagrin of absolutely nobody who knows me personally), and it just got easier to not update the blog. I initially planned to write a post for each day I had missed (backdating the posts to the missing days), that way I could maintain the facade of this blog for posterity. But that seemed dishonest, and it also seemed like a lot of work to maintain a dumb lie.

The truth is that not much happened. On the 29th, I woke up late, went to work, and grab a few drinks downtown. I went for a hike over the weekend (see the photos below), and I also went for a decent ride on the R3. The 3rd, Monday, was another day at the factory. I went to Butte for the 4th of July (again, not a surprise to anyone who knows me), and also spent some time with extended family at my aunt & uncle’s house. I got some nice shots of the Madison River while I was out there. The days that followed consisted of more work days and little else.

The lack of action and variety also contributed to my absence. It’s difficult to write about the same things over and over again (and worse to read them). As I’ve said before, I need a change. The weekends provide some relief from the monotony, but not enough.

I’m still working on it. Stick with me.

-Will

Tackling Tiny Annoyances at Home

I finally broke down a few days ago and ordered a bunch of small items off of Amazon that have been lingering in the “Saved for Later” section of my cart for months. Everything I ordered came in today, and I wish I did this earlier. The following small issues were fixed:

  • My desktop PC is finally back to 100%. I finally replaced the mechanical keyboard I spilled bore cleaner onto months ago. I also got some new PC speakers.
  • I got a network switch to overcome some annoying issues I’ve been having with our wireless router (and they’ve only been affecting me). It also fixes a shitty bootstrapped solution I was using to connect my Philips HUE hub to the network (via a wireless network extender that was also unreliable due to the aforementioned WiFi issues).
  • New adjustable levers for my motorcycle (to replace the ugly stock ones).
  • 2 extra USB C cables for charging my S8+ (prior to this, the only one I had was the one that came with the phone).
  • 2 aftermarket batteries for my DSLR, so I can go out on longer photo excursions and not worry about dead batteries.
  • A new guitar tuner (so I can play my new acoustic guitar in-tune).

That’s basically it. And even though basically everything on that list was non-essential, it feels good to have finally taken care of those tiny problems. It’s a small semblance of progress in the midst of this period of dreadful stasis.

I’m going for a hike tomorrow, and I’ll be taking my camera out with me to take some pics while I’m outside. Look for some awesome photos tomorrow.

-Will

The Sound of a Broken Record

This blog’s purpose is to record the events of my life during the Summer. Everyday, I struggle to find something new to write about. My days during the work week are essentially identical, with almost nothing changing between them. I wake up late. I go to work. I come home from work. I stay up late and update the blog. I go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The cycle never changes, folks. That’s the problem. I know this. You know this. But it’s like a Chinese finger trap that I’ve walked into, and I can’t seem to find a way out. It’s driving me insane.

I’ve been working on my resume, and I’ve thoroughly scoured the job classifieds on Craigslist. There are other opportunities (to absolutely nobody’s chagrin). I will fill out the applications, and I will fill out some more, and I will not stop until I have escaped.

In the meantime, while I’m still stuck with the evening shift, I need to do something with the earlier part of the day that is available to me. I’m thinking about going for hikes in the morning. Physical exercise, getting out of the house, maybe taking a few photos… sounds like a decent plan to me.

I just need to break the habit of sleeping in until noon.

Brighter days ahead, folks. Keep the faith and stay tuned.

-Will

The Summer Man

One of my favorite episodes of Mad Men is “The Summer Man” (Season 4, Ep. 8). Don is keeping a journal of the events going on in his life, and he’s trying to regain control over his emotions, his drinking, and, generally speaking, his life. He makes a very poignant observation midway through the episode: “People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” Too often we choose to minimize the imperfections of others, rather than accepting them for who they truly are.

I think the episode strikes a chord with me because of how it humanizes Don. The show rarely gives us access to his inner monologue. Superficially, Don appears to be a man in his prime; the reality of his failed marriage, frayed relationship with his children, his alcoholism, and his complicated identity issues show a man who is barely keeping it together. Seeing Don take positive steps after so many mistakes makes it difficult to not root for him; I want to see Don be better. Anyone who’s seen the show knows that he could be great– he just needs to maintain self-control.

I suppose the same could be said for most people, though. We’re often the root of our own demise.

Time to get back to working on my resume and sending out job apps. See you tomorrow.

-Will

Another Day, Another Dollar

Another week of work begins, exactly the same as the last. Mindless repetition of the same task over and over and over again. I’m on autopilot.

Outside of work, I really didn’t do much. I went grocery shopping after midnight– something I haven’t done in awhile. I forgot how many interesting characters shop at that hour. Walmart is a weird place at 12:30 AM.

I have to get out of this cycle.


“In a sense, neuroscience has offered up a prediction here, one that games obligingly confirm. If you create a system where rewards are both clearly defined and achieved by exploring an environment, you’ll find human brains drawn to those systems, even if they’re made up of virtual characters and simulated sidewalks.” – Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good For You (Pg. 38)

I need to clearly define my goals…

Until tomorrow,

-Will

Recovery & Reflection

The hangover after Saturday night’s shenanigans wasn’t nearly as brutal as it could have been. A better strategy of eating and staying hydrated would have probably prevented it entirely, but I suppose that’s something to remember for later. (Though, realistically, avoiding that kind of evening entirely would be much better.)

The worst part about any hangover, in my opinion, is the mental fog/haze. Thoughts don’t feel clear. Cognition is muddled. Everything is a struggle. Hydration, Ibuprofen, greasy food, and a little caffeine helps a lot, but the only true remedy is time. I spent most of the day napping and lazing around the house, feeling shitty about missing the early morning ride I wanted to go on with my local motorcycle group. Wasting a perfectly good Summer day is the kind of thing that can really eat away at you if you let it.

Fortunately, I don’t waste many days like this, and I don’t plan to do it again anytime soon. I think my friends and I were trying to chase the same kind of evening we had a few weekends ago after a wedding, but the vibe just wasn’t the same. Without that kind of significant celebration, it’s just another hollow evening downtown.

This weekend wasn’t entirely wasted, though. I cleaned up my room, worked on my resume, and scoured the job classifieds. If I can avoid the kind of setbacks that happened on Saturday, I should make real progress soon.

I apologize for the late posts! I know that a daily blog is supposed to have new posts daily. I see this weekend as a one-time setback on what will otherwise be a hopefully productive & engaging summer of writing.

See you tomorrow,

-Will

Lessons From Last Night: The Two-Days Later Edition

(Author’s Note: This post was added to the blog two-days after June 24th, 2017. All events discussed in this post, however, occurred that evening. You’ll likely understand why this post was late after reading it.)

  • The Taproom is a fantastic place, and the rooftop patio is even better. Nothing beats drinking craft beer on a sunny day.
  • Alex did not know that the obviously Irish bar, 317, was Irish. Remember to harass him about this forever.
  • Pendleton & Coke is the best whisky/cola combination at the bars for under $10
  • Gin & Tonics are still not good (especially when you’re drinking “well” gin)
  • Playing pool at R Bar is a less than ideal experience (too many drunk people, not enough space)
  • Vaping CBD oil is legal, apparently. It also does not get you high. (We live in interesting times…)
  • Getting home before 2 AM is always a good idea
  • Forgetting to drink lots of water & take out your contacts at the end of the night is not a good idea
  • If you want to go on a motorcycle ride early the next morning, don’t stay out late drinking (duh)
  • Late nights downtown really aren’t worth it
  • Downtown is not the right place to meet new people
  • Bozeman is getting old, and so am I…

Time Flies When You’re Boring

I’m always surprised at how quickly the week flies by when I realize that it’s Friday. When you’re working at a job with heavy repetition, there’s no differentiation between days. I tend to fall into certain routines outside of my working hours (like most people), so the days kind of bleed together into one chunk of the week that zips by quickly. The weekends come fast, but I always have an acute awareness that the time that’s going by quickly is essentially wasted.

If you’re not doing anything worthwhile, time doesn’t really matter.

I have developed a plan to get out of this rut. Step one is straightforward: get a day job. I could hypothetically switch to the day shift at my current job, but I think a fresh start somewhere new would be better. Staying at a place where there is very little room for growth would be antithetical to my longing for self-improvement. I’ll spend part of the weekend doing the usual job-hunting stuff, and then begin working on the next step: rebuilding my social life.

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve become isolated over time as old friends moved away. I never really developed great social skills during high school or college; I was lucky and somehow befriended extroverts who introduced me to other people. As an introvert who grew up in a semi-isolated environment (I attended a K-8 school when I was younger, and there were roughly 200 kids in the entire school. I went to school with mostly the same people for seven years. How do you develop the skills to meet new friends when nobody around you is a stranger?!?), I have a bit of a learning curve to deal with when it comes to developing a new circle of friends. That makes me anxious, and my mind races whenever I’m out at the bars or in any other crowded environment. But I’m excited to learn, and I just need to get out of the house and actually try to meet new people! Getting out and socializing (as oddly clinical and generally “not cool” as that sounds) is my other goal for the weekend.

Outside of those two goals, I want to enjoy the beautiful Summer weather and take some pictures to share with you on the blog. What are your plans for the weekend? Leave a comment below, and feel free to add any other comments or feedback you may have as well.

See you tomorrow!

-Will

Day 3 of 94

I was thinking about the blog today, and I realized that I hadn’t quite clearly defined exactly what I’m doing here. Yesterday’s post was kind of phoned-in, and I don’t want this blog to turn into a random assortment of posts that I half-assed over the Summer. Sure, there might be a few golden nuggets in the pile of crap, but that’s not the point of this exercise.

Back in 2010, this blog’s purpose was to record how I spent my last summer as a high school student (hence the blog’s title– it was my “final summer” before graduation). It served to mark the beginning of the end of a significant chapter in my life. My desire to catalog what I viewed as a pivotal point in my life was so strong that it bled into another blog, the twentyeleven project, that was built to “capture the senior year experience.” The mix of emotions surrounding that moment in time was so strong that the only way I really processed it was through writing.

I feel as if I’m currently entering a similar period in my life now. I’ve been in Bozeman for almost six-years now, and I’m beginning to run out of reasons to stay here. I love so many things about Bozeman, but I feel like I’m no longer growing here. Additionally, I’ve become increasingly isolated as my friends leave Bozeman to start new lives in other towns after graduating from college. Bozeman itself isn’t the reason why I’ve stagnated, but there are more opportunities for growth elsewhere. Plus, I don’t want to live in the same place forever; I’ve already spent considerably more time here than I expected to when I originally moved.

I have returned to this blog to record this moment– one that will hopefully be a period of progression.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this blog over the coming months, and I invite you to comment with any suggestions or feedback you may have in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading The Final Summer.

– Will

Fighting Boredom in a Mundane Environment

(or How to Survive at a Lame Ass Job)

My current job is highly repetitive. I work in a factory doing production work, which is a nice way of saying that I do the same kinds of tasks over and over again for eight-hours a day.

Obviously, it’s not exciting work. It’s very easy to go on “autopilot”, and time will either drag slowly or fly by depending on your approach. If you’re in a similar environment, and you’re allowed to listen to whatever you want while you work, this post is for you. (It’s also a useful post if you have some other boring shit that you need to get done, but you want your mind to be focused on something less brain murdering.)

I’ve found that podcasts and other spoken media (like audio books) are the best choice to distract your mind from whatever mundane work you’re doing. Music is OK, but you’ll grow tired of playlists quickly if you’re listening to them repeatedly (much like whatever task you’re doing, repetition of anything becomes irritating over time). Podcasts have fresh content posted on a regular basis, and there are thousands of podcasts available. Here’s a list of some that I listen to at work:

  • Tech News Today (TNT) This is a podcast that features the technology news of the day every weekday. Each episode runs about 40 minutes, and new podcasts are posted every evening (typically by 9:30 PM MDT). The hosts can be a little cheesy sometimes, but the show regularly features interesting interviews with tech reporters from other outlets (like CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, etc.). If you’re interested in technology and want to stay up-to-date on what’s new in the industry, this show is a fantastic choice. (This show is also part of a network of technology podcasts called TWiT [aka “This Week in Tech”]. I also listen to these other shows on their network: All About Android, This Week in Computer Hardware, Triangulation, and This Week in Law.)
  • Self Made Man This is primarily a podcast for male entrepreneurs, but the content is often useful for everyone. It’s a motivational podcast that features interviews with entrepreneurs in a wide variety of industries, often focusing on the skills, routines and habits, and discipline that led to their successes. Listening to inspirational content while you’re in a mundane environment is very refreshing. (You can also think of business ideas that could help you escape from the shackles of boredom.) New episodes are posted every Wednesday, and every episode ends with a banger EDM track (I have no idea why this is a thing, but I like it).
  • The Art of Charm If you’re interested in improving your social skills, this is the podcast for you. The show features content designed to help you interact with other people, by improving your body language, non-verbal communication, vocal tonality, and a myriad of other social nuances that you may struggle with. There are at least four episodes released weekly: Mondays feature short episodes with quick tips to start off the week, Tuesdays & Thursdays are longer-format interview episodes with guests from a variety of different fields, and Fridays are Q&A based episodes where listeners ask for advice with their difficult social situations. It might seem like a weird show to listen to, but the advice is solid and the interviews are interesting (previous guests on the show include Tony Hawk, Shaq, Larry King, and other notable individuals). This podcast has also been running for over a decade, so there are literally hundreds of episodes in their back catalog, which gives you plenty of old (but still useful, relevant, and interesting) shows to check out when you’re out of other stuff to listen to.

Hopefully these podcasts seem interesting to you, but if they don’t, there are literally thousands of other shows for you to explore. I listen to podcasts through the Spotify app on my phone, but there are dozens of other (much better) options for podcast listening, including Pocket Casts, Stitcher, 60db, and TuneIn.

Good luck podcast hunting, and may your hours of boring labor fly by with relative ease.

-Will