2008: A Retrospective

The year 2008 was a positive one for me.‚  I have made great advances for myself in many areas, from business to social to physical to mental to emotional.‚  The world in general did not fair so well- economies collapsed, wars started and grew,‚  people were discriminated against (Prop. 8 in Cali), freedoms were lost and religions flourished.

Joel’s 2008 Highlights:

  • Web knowledge greatly increased.
  • Fitness improved.
  • Happier than ever before.
  • Double platinum status achieved.
  • Weekly dinners with good friends maintained.
  • Many good movies seen.
  • Great new friends gained.
  • Vacations had- Vegas, LA, Packwood, Suncadia twice.
  • Received 1,000 unique blog visitors in January 2008, received 50,000 unique blog visitors in December 2008.

Joel 2008 Lowlights:

  • Income not increased enough.
  • Not enough free time.
  • Wrists & forearms still hurt.
  • Not enough business networking.
  • Passing of Chunks & Unbroken.
  • Josh still stuck in bad situation.

Global 2008 Lowlights:

  • Bailout of Wall Street.
  • Bailout of automotive companies.
  • Terrorists attacks in Mumbai.
  • Rapid spread of radical Islam.
  • Loss of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan.
  • Anti-American sentiments grow worldwide.
  • U.S. economy enters recession.
  • Huge swindles continue (Madoff, Social Security)
  • Massive drug benefits given, not paid for.

Global 2008 Highlights:

  • Election of first African-American President Barack Obama
  • Michael Phelps swims like a fish.
  • iPhone 3G released.

Hopefully we will have more Global Highlights than Global Lowlights next year.‚  How was everyone else’s 2008?

Maturity: Emotional Attachment’s Decline

Feelings for others are one of the most challenging facets of life that people must deal with. Emotional attachment is a powerful feeling that you feel towards another person. In a healthy relationship, this feeling is usually positive (caring, love, kindness) and in a negative relationship can be harmful (anger, bitterness). Either way, emotional attachment can feel overwhelming if you have never dealt with it before and even for those who have it can be rough.

Twice in my life (two years ago and a decade ago), I experienced extraordinarily powerful feelings for other people that I had no idea how to deal with. Both times I felt like I was suffocating and could not survive. Each waking moment was a rasping, ripping experience that passed in slow motion. The first time it happened, I had no outlet and no support network so I entered the blackest depression of my life. My emotional connection with my mother was shorn away due to certain bad circumstances. There was one occasion where I stood on my bed with my four inch scout knife and tried to convince myself to fall on it. Fortunately, my vivid imagination convinced me that I wouldn’t actually succeed and would just lay there in pain feeling stupid. After six years of growing out of that horrific experience, I thought that it could never happen to me again.

I was wrong.

The second time I experienced the tearing away of a close emotional attachment it was the loss of my first romantic love. Due to my own stupidity and poor choices, she left me. I did not take it well. Tears were shed. Runs were ran. Booze was drunk. The Box was sent. Plato was annoyed. Losing my first romantic love felt awful… I thought I would never again experience love with anyone. Desperation set in and I dated many girls in a short period who couldn’t make me forget the original. It felt like the insane burning in my head would never end. Time eventually healed that wound and I moved on to bigger and better things. There will always be a little soft spot for my first love, but I feel only a tinge of regret now.

Losing an emotional attachment of a certain kind, be it friend, lover, or parent, for the first time is an agonizing experience. My discovery though is that the subsequent losses are not nearly as painful. I have had close relationships with lovers since then, and losing some has hurt, but I have already dealt with all the same emotions and know how to handle it. Not only that, but each time it happens the experience is much easier. Even cutting off my father due to his vile behavior three years ago was not hard. I dealt with some anger issues and moved on with my life. Having had a few lovers since my first has made me even more resilient in that area. I feel a bit of disappointment and some sadness, but I understand that this is just how life is and raise my eyes to the next horizon.

My reaction to the first experience of loss was self-destructive. I did idiotic things like break my athletic trophies and other possessions, cut myself inside and out and withdrew from the world around me. My kindly grandmother helped me learn how to deal with these hard issues in a much healthier way. My reaction to the next loss was to use these powerful feelings as motivation for making myself a better person mentally, physically and emotionally. You’d be surprised how many miles you can run or websites you can build or people you can meet when you feel emotional pain.

What brings all of this to mind? I had a conversation with the woman I’ve been casually dating for quite a few months last night and she explained to me that she wanted to be alone and did not want to have any sort of commitments. Knowing her, I understand. I realized from the start that she, like many women, prefers men who are distant and emotionally uninvolved. This setup worked perfectly because that is how I felt up until very recently. When I started developing stronger feelings for her, she could tell and was quite put off. I am a straightforward person and don’t play games or conceal what I think, so pretending to still not care was not an option. We talked about it and agreed to do our separate things.

Comparing the ending of this emotional attachment to the first time I lost a romantic partner is amazing to me. The first time, it took months of sharp pain, many mistakes, begging and other ridiculousness for me to move on. This most recent experience was calm, relaxed and slightly sad. Part of that sadness is for the loss of the passion that I felt that first time around. That sentimental passion was really hard, but I also felt like I was truly alive. I could feel the pain tingling in every part of my body, mind and soul for what seemed forever. My situation now reminds me of getting tackled in football: sudden pain, then a few seconds later it fades away to a dull ache in the back of your mind and within a minute you are lined back up at the line of scrimmage about to do it again… and when night finally comes and the game is over, that tackle is inseparable from the thousand other hits you took that day.

I guess this is what maturity is- understanding how good and bad experiences happen and how to handle them. I still feel like my life is happier now than it ever has been before and I am finally realizing that how I feel comes from inside of me and is not a result of who I am dating, where I work, what I own or anything else. If I give each situation life throws my way my best, I can always walk away with my head held high feeling better than ever before.

New Years Eve 2008: ACT Theatre

Tomorrow, Joel and his hordes of minions descend upon the ACT Theatre in downtown Seattle to celebrate all of the joys of 2008 and cheer the coming of 2009.‚  Jarek, Nick, Plato, Bryan, Kenny and many other friends will join me in ringing in the New Year with unlimited drinks, food and beautiful ladies. Adventures will be had, stories will be made and Seattle will be rocked.

To Jeremy & Daniel: It didn’t work out for me to join you guys in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve this year, but I will be there with you in spirit.‚  Buy yourself a shot of Johnny Walker and put my spirit inside of you.‚  That nice Vegas bartender will put his… spirit.. in you later.

To my brothers: Sing a rousing edition of “Happy Birthday Joel” to me at midnight.‚  You weren’t there when I was born, you don’t know I wasn’t born at that time.‚  Don’t question my supremacy.

To everyone else: Have an amazing New Year’s Eve and BE SAFE!


Social Security: Giant Ponzi Scheme

A Ponzi scheme is an illegal scam that operates by paying old investors with new investors money, until the scheme opera

Ponzi Scheme Illustration
Ponzi Scheme Illustration

tor runs out of new investors/victims.‚  Bernard Madoff, a hedge fund operator, recently was discovered to have been running the largest Ponzi scheme anyone has yet been arrested for, allegedly stealing $50 billion from his investors.‚  Madoff basically took new investors money to pay consistent (but false) 10% returns to his older investors.‚  He finally was caught when his fund completely ran out of money.‚  The SEC said it appeared that all of the assets of Madoff’s hedge fund business were missing.

Ponzi schemes are well-known criminal enterprises and the way they work is simple. For example,‚  Ponzi schemes get the first round of 5 investors to put in $100 apiece and promise to double their money. Then, the scheme operator raises another round of money from 20 investors and uses the proceeds to pay off the first round of investors, and usually skim the rest off the top.‚  The scheme operator goes back and finds more and more rounds of investors until the Ponzi scheme blows up because there is no more new victims.‚  Essentially, you rob Peter to pay Paul.

Social Security operates in exactly the same manner as a Ponzi scheme.‚  Money is taken out of current workers (new investors) paychecks and paid to retirees (former investors).‚  The Social Security system is unsustainable over long periods and has only lasted as long as it has because the government holds a gun to it’s citizen’s heads and orders them to continue investing in this Ponzi scheme.‚  No current worker would contribute to the Social Security Ponzi scheme if given the choice because it is well-known that Social Security is getting close to collapsing.‚  Unfortunately, the retirees’ (former investors) hold such strong political clout in the United States that we current workers are forced to continue investing in the Ponzi scheme.

Social Security Ponzi Scheme
Social Security Ponzi Scheme

Even the U.S. Government Accountability Office and most private organizations agree that the Social Security system is unsustainable.‚  Anyone who has taken accounting or finance classes understands that the basic math of the Social Security system doesn’t work- making it the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of mankind.‚  If this scheme was being perpetrated by a private organization, everyone involved would be sent to prison.‚  However, since it is the government itself running the Ponzi scheme, we are all forced to continue paying in.‚  Since there are no regulatory constraints on the size of the Social Security Ponzi scheme, it will continue to grow until it chokes out all economic life in our country and its collapse will be crushing.

The so-called “Greatest Generation” has screwed future generations once again.‚  These greedy people who put in place the Social Security Ponzi scheme have given themselves wonderful benefits and huge amounts of cash at the expense of future generations.‚  Unfortunately, my generation cannot put off the Social Security bill any longer and long before we can try cashing in on it, it will collapse and the debt from it will be the death toll of the United States as a global economic and political power.‚  If this makes you as angry as it does me, kick your great-grandpa in the balls.

Debate: Religion Vs. Evolution

The great and mighty Black Rooster sent me the following video of a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the subject of religion versus evolution.

The debate video is very long, but it is interesting and fun to listen to. Rabbi Boteach does one of the best jobs I’ve heard of defending religion, however Christopher Hitchens still wins out. If you are a logical, reasonable person who watches this video with an open mind, you may gain additional understanding on the explosive topic of religion versus evolution.‚  Christopher Hitchens is a bit overbearing though.

iPhone 3G Sadness

As I stood after sending a letter to the President tonight (as my grandpa says), my most treasured possession fell out of my pocket and into the drink to swim with the not-fishes.‚  I turned around to see to my horror my iPhone 3G sacrificed to the porcelain gods as the water swirled around it.‚  Quickly, I thrust my hand in to rescue it and it came out still operational, so I shut it off.

Now we can only hope and pray for the best.

Join me, friends, in this moment of dire need.‚  The iPhone has been iPooped on.