A Long Time with no Update // Story of my life for the past 6 months

Hello blog my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

Job and Apartment Changes

I haven’t actually updated this blog since March, back when I reported that my site was compromised with various PHP shells. A lot of things have changed then, and while I have kept up with various people over Twitter and Facebook and in person, I haven’t really taken the time or the effort to record my goings on here. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but they can generally be summed up as follows:

  1. Laziness.
  2. Fear – yes, fear. I’ve been feeling a lot of things for months now that I didn’t want people to know.
  3. Respect for other people’s privacy.

But a great, great deal has changed in six months, so much so that I finally let some folks go, and I’m going to talk about a few of the things I’ve been afraid to discuss here in public.

I guess I’ll discuss first various big life changes I’ve gone through over the last six months. I now live alone. One of my roommates and I had serious disagreements in the second half of last year that badly damaged our trust in one another. It was very traumatic for both of us. We’d previously been very close friends, and after our disagreements and arguments it just wasn’t quite the same. We mutually agreed that I needed to live on my own, and I resigned from the shared lease we were on and got my own apartment further in Austin.

Since then, we’ve stopped speaking. We’re no longer friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Skype, or elsewhere, and honestly I’m ok with this. I’ve decided to let him go. I have various reasons for deciding that, but it’s simply that neither he nor I have expended any serious effort to stay in touch and after what we went through I don’t think that it will do either of us any good to try. Even now, I’m a little afraid that he will eventually find his way here and read this, but you know what, that’s ok. Mayhaps that will be a little closure for him, as writing this is for me in a way. Mayhaps he will feel betrayed and upset that I didn’t actually come to tell him this myself. I’ll understand that, but to be honest I want to move on with my life and enter this new chapter that I’m suddenly finding myself in.

Speaking of, I may or may not have mentioned this in one of my other blog posts. I have a new job! Well, not really new; I’ve been working at IPsoft for a year this September, but basically, I don’t work at HostGator anymore and I’ve transitioned over to “grown up” system administration at a much bigger company that is right in the center of the action in the IT industry.

I am a Linux Platform Engineer, doing what I have grown to love doing. Administering systems, fixing problems, being technical, and generally being amazing. It has been everything that I had hoped for in a change from web hosting to something bigger and more important, and it has been a huge boon to my personal and professional development. I have a boss who coaches and looks out for me, and I have a product and a service that I can believe in and provide service for. I can’t really ask for much more than that.

Changes, and Why it Terrifies Me…

Alas, the changes started one year ago are still ongoing. It wasn’t just switching jobs and then apartments. It’s been a coming of age experience.. yeah, another one (college, Korea, Austin, HostGator… those all used to be my coming of age experiences). It’s been an explosion of knowledge, exposure, trust, freedom, integrity, and responsibility. Put simply, I’ve entered a whole new world.

And it all terribly frightens me. This is a world I never really knew existed, and it’s starting to make sense to me. Politics, leadership, decision making, projects… people… I’m only just beginning to see it, and it’s both fascinating and terrific. It’s like… all this time I have been living in a layer below, which is in itself shocking. College, Korea, Jiffy Lube, HostGator. Despite all those experiences, it feels as though I have only just now broken through this layer below into a layer above, and doing so I begin to understand what people go through in adulthood and why they start believing what they believe. I struggle to try and keep who I am.

I am doing extremely well. So far, I’ve been very successful and I’ve been very happy with how I have acquitted myself. And I have received the respect and admiration of almost everyone I work with. And in this, I start to feel a certain sense of destiny… or doom. I feel very proud of myself, but also have a feeling of trepidation for what’s coming, like something big is in my future and I don’t know what it is. I just have to learn everything I can now so that I can deal with it when it comes.

A lot of this is probably frustratingly vague. That’s intentional. Satisfy yourself with this basic summary:

I feel my very character being tested very strongly at the moment. It frightens me, and I pray that I will pass that test.

Bernie Sanders, 2016, Optimism, and the Future of American Politics

It’s interesting that I’m feeling that doom on myself and, at the same time, we’re dealing with the very beginnings of the 2016 Presidential primaries. And my, what a circus it’s been – mostly on the Republican side. Donald Trump scares me. I’ll talk about him some other time though.

Bernie Sanders is what I really wanna talk about, at least for a little bit.

You should know that I studied political science in college, transitioned from Republican to Democrat in my last year of college, voted for Obama in 2008, and then promptly moved off to South Korea in 2009 after graduating. From that point, I was depressed on the state of American politics and governance and have been ever since. South Korea, by all standards I could apply to it, was a far better country and governed itself far more effectively than we – our American exceptional selves – seemed capable of imagining.

Korea had inexpensive and very good medicine, affordable food, a culture that worshiped a good education, the best rail system I’ve ever ridden and a world class infrastructure, yadda yadda. At this point, my experience catches up with my knowledge and current world view.

Continuing, I lived in Korea from 2009 to 2011. I moved back to Texas that year. I was as depressed over the state of American governance and politics as ever. I knew what I believed in and what I felt was right for the country, but there was no point talking about it or debating it. It would come to naught. The Idiot Right would shout it down and the “Mindless Middle” (as some say) would follow along cuz it sounded better. I didn’t belong here. My stake would eventually be planted elsewhere, so why care about what was happening in my own country?

And then 2015 shows up. Despite losing all of Congress in 2014 in a swell tide of conservatism and dissatisfaction with government, suddenly the American Left sees victory after victory. The ACA wins it’s second judicial challenge in the Supreme Court, and gay marriage is legalized everywhere by a court ruling just a few days later. The country celebrates! A few start complaining, and they are widely condemned by everyone.

And then, Bernie Sanders came forward to run for President, the one candidate who represented anything close to the kind of policies that I would dare dream for – some of the sensible social policies that I see out of Germany or Korea or Scandinavia, or at least the willingness to debate them and call it what it is instead of Crying Wolf (that is, SOCIALISM!!! or COMMUNISM!!!). And, to my complete astonishment, he starts drawing incredibly huge crowds and getting lots of attention! I felt emboldened, happy, optimistic, like the country wasn’t doomed to a perpetual state of deadlock and dysfunction. If thousands and thousands of folks would turn out to see a self-proclaimed socialist speaking optimistic things about a US where economic justice was a thing, where the state supported it’s students and poor folks, where we could again lead the world into a scary future instead of existing as a static, chaotic mishmash of opposing, state applied policies, then… maybe… just maybe, this country was a thing I could put my stake into. Maybe I could give a shit again.

Now, that’s by no means a complete statement on all of the things that Bernie promotes. I realize that his path to the Presidency is an incredible long shot. Fivethirtyeight.com puts his odds at about 15% right now compared to Hillary Clinton’s 85%, mostly because he’s not drawing any minority support in the Democratic party. That’s all fine. I support him anyway, and here are my reasons:

  1. You should always vote your conscience in the primary. That vote, at least, is not quite so meaningless as the general election. 😛
  2. Bernie is doing something for the American Left that I think Barry Goldwater did for the American Right back in the 1960s. Back then, the Left was ascendant. The FDR coalition had held for 30 years. And many conservatives who worked for his campaign and voted for him were immensely influenced by his candidacy, message, and methods. This butterfly wing flap didn’t really develop into a hurricane until Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, but that’s where it really got started if history has anything to say about it.Point is, I taste something very similar happening with Sanders now. That significant portion of young people who are emboldened by his campaign to be left and proud are going to become a passionate force in American politics 20 years from now; mark my words. And it will be good, at least only if we can start talking about some of the sensible solutions the Left offers to our country instead of flinching in fear of the long dead Communism bogieman.

The same can also be said for Trump – who is currently leading a Know-Nothing Party revival – and the 20% of Republican voters that he is beating up into a froth. I weep for the state of our national politics if this sort of discourse that we’re going to have to have about immigration, and I know that this portion of the Right are also going to be a huge force in American politics for years to come.

Family, Death, Friends

My grandfather on my mother’s side died on August 17th. I attended his funeral up in Dallas yesterday. It was a very impressive event and I learned a few things about him that I’d not known before. Big Jim, as we called him, was in the Air Force and served in the Korean war, for instance.

The military presented him with a three gun salute and played taps for him, and the Dallas PD (for which he worked for 27 years, I think) were also present to give their respects. As for Big Jim himself, he was cremated and laid with us in an urn, to which we all faced. It struck me that the man I’d loved as my dear grandfather was now confined to such a small container.

After the ceremony, we went to have lunch with local family, and after that I went to visit my grandmother, Big Jim’s widow, Nana. I was profoundly affected during that visit, such was her state and how different it was from what I remember. It was very hard. 🙁

I was very, very glad that I got a chance to see her and give my love to her, though. I was touched at how happy our visit made her and how she was still able to express her love. I’m going to remember that forever…

Written while listening to