Life is better with hiking boots…

When I was a boy and I had something weighing on my mind I would enjoy camping and hiking, immensely. The woods were the ultimate counseling session. Something about being able to commune with nature makes contemplating my captivating conditions conceivable. There is truly nothing as beneficial, to my psyche, as simply walking on dirt in the great outdoors. I enjoyed nature because the woods were my healing elixir. For the city folk out there I can understand, not comprehending a love for the woods. However, smelling the intoxicating fresh air of Mother Nature can truly be a magical experience, again “for me”. It is my absolute respite, from the hustle and bustle of an uncontrollably “hyper” city life. No matter the issue, life is better with hiking boots and a tent.
In 2000 after my divorce, my life took a turn for the “not so good”. Sadly, I did not handle it well and things went a little “haywire”. Luckily, that “bumpy” road lasted just over 6 months. After that time, I began heavy weight lifting with my friend who I grew up with. In mid-2001 he began to train me, for my very first, 26.219-mile marathon. He began to fervently encourage me, reminding me that if I can do USMC boot camp, I can do anything. Amazingly, he had done 8 marathons to that point. However, MS had different plans. I was truly discouraged when MS had begun to rear its ugly head. This had put the kibosh on the idea of a marathon. Sadly, I never got to do my first marathon because of my MS, and my friend became fat and lazy. Just kidding, he has become a fireman, saving lives and doing all that “show off” type stuff lol.
What I should have done in 2000 after my divorce was something I always wanted to do. I should have walked the Appalachian Trail, or at least part of it. I should have gone back to the days where Mother Nature was my therapist, something I needed at that time. The Appalachian Trail was a big trail for my big problem.
The Appalachian Trail opened in 1923 and held the title as the longest foot trail in the United States until 1968 when the Pacific Crest Trail had opened. The Pacific Crest Trail has a total length of 2650 miles. Although the length of the Appalachian Trail is continually debated, it is approximately 2200 miles. Thousands of people every year, attempt the Appalachian Trail in its entirety, they are called “thru-hikers”. Of those thru-hikers, only about 25% actually complete the AT in total.
Many in the USA have become so lazy that they don’t seem to understand the simple concept of “hiking”. Let me give you an example of a true experience: hiker comes out of the woods and asks a man getting into his car where “a specific” store is. The guy says “it’s about a mile down the road, where is your car and I’ll give you directions” “I’m going to walk” the hiker said. The guy looked at the hiker and said “are you sure? Because I think it’s actually nearly two miles.” “That’s ok, I like to walk,” the hiker said. The guy says “okay, but if you change your mind there is a cab company around the corner.” This shows that people just do not understand that some people would prefer to simply walk places.
Consider this: for 93% of ALL trips outside of the home, no matter the distance or purpose, Americans take the car. All of this “actual” walking that Americans do equals a total of 1.4 miles per week! This, “barely” 350 yards a day, includes all walking in the home, office, grocery store and to and fro all parking lots.
As a former hiker, it is truly disheartening when an able-bodied person drags or scoots their feet, instead of simply picking up their feet to walk. Have we become so lazy and our muscles so weak, that picking up our legs to walk is too strenuous? Another annoying thing is when someone struggles to find a closer parking spot. They drive around for 10 minutes to get a parking spot that is five spaces closer, than 10 minutes before. In case you are wondering, the average parking space is 8.5ft wide making the 5 spaces, a 42 feet closer parking space. I feel that people simply take their legs for granted, afraid to walk even a little bit more (apparently 42ft more). If they could not walk, would they miss their walking abilities? I know I do.
Things are very different now that I am in a wheelchair. Getting “therapy” from Mother Nature is not likely going to happen again. There is a local park that has a paved walking path; they even have wheelchairs to borrow, at no cost. I have visited that park, but there is still something that is missing. Although the smells of nature are there, the other therapeutic effects just do not exist anymore. Not to mention, the feeling of the dirt, rocks, and leaves under my feet, as I walk, is also missing. Going to the woods now and getting only some of the benefits, just does not get the job done. It’s like going to hear a band and the drummer and bass guitarist don’t show. You can still listen, but there is no way you will get that “feeling” you got from before. So I say to everyone out there, go out and experience nature. We must do this before the only way to see a tree is in a museum, and you have to use a power wheelchair because your legs are too weak to walk.

Robots can’t dance…

Moore’s law states that technology will get twice as powerful every 18 months. When I started this blog, it was simply going to be about all of the advancements in the world of technology. I planned it to be strictly informational. I wanted to talk about all of the automation that we will have in the near future. However, the more that I have learned, the more that my ideas have evolved and the leerier I get at what is coming. The technology that I thought was more than a decade away is presently becoming a reality.
First, self-driving cars have driven nearly three and a half million miles on our roads, to date. We did not realize how close these automated machines of wonder really are to be released to the market. The scarier thing is that anything with a computer can be “hacked”. I saw a story that showed how a couple of hackers hacked a car while it was on the road and someone was behind the wheel. Is Moore’s Law the same for hackers, as well? Will hackers get twice as powerful every eighteen months? They are even linking our cars and our smart home devices. Making these “techno gadgets” live in our lives together in a state of symbiosis. This way, when we do have autonomous cars, they will have comprehensive control over EVERYTHING. Let’s be honest, if robots “take over”, they might as well have, an all-encompassing and total domination of…well…our existence.
Second. Four-legged robots, that sort of look like pack mules, are soon to be used, for our soldiers in war zones. These robotic “slaves”, will carry supplies, and the like for military personnel in battle. This will help lighten the loads in our soldier’s packs and make the units agiler, with a more rapid response time. These soldiers, currently have reconnaissance drones, which can be carried in a backpack. Additionally, these model plane sized drones, can be launched from a soldiers hands, and be controlled by a remote that is just as small. I saw how, they will soon be releasing, reconnaissance drones, that will be the size of a dragonfly. The military robots, on the horizon, will likely be used for a civilian police force as well. There are a great number of things, which have gone from released only to the military to a “civilian release”, much faster than we realize.
Finally, we have simple vacuum cleaners that clean on a schedule, while no one is home, although they can’t think for themselves…YET! However, there is so much more coming, that it will scare you. In fact, now in my eyes, it is plausible that robots will take over the world. The question is: will we be able to keep this from happening?
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be like in the movies, where robots come in and simply start shooting up the place. (Sadly, humans are, sort of, doing this to themselves.) Robots are being made very smart. This simply allows us to weaken our bodies and even our minds to the point that we won’t be able to defend ourselves if there is an “uprising”. I believe that there is a lot of good technology available, but at the same time, some of it is developed to foster our own laziness. Consider the “Segway” like devices currently on and those coming to the market; these are going to weaken our muscles. I can tell you from experience: “use them or lose them”. Think about it, the less that we use our muscles, the weaker we become. It is believed that robots will be able to repair and build themselves, like elves working in Santa’s workshop. They will have this “self-creation” competence, within the next two decades. This will eliminate humans from the “building” equation. Although I am not technophobic, I am now, a bit distrustful, of robots. All of this makes me wonder, how far off the movie IRobot, really was.

Lost in space…

As I start preparing for this move, my thoughts are running at a thousand miles a minute.  I KNOW that it will be a positive and beneficial move for me, to move to my new house, yet I am still apprehensive.  I have been in my current neighborhood for nearly 20 years.  In my current neighborhood I know people, and more importantly, they know me.  If I ever have a problem, they would be more than willing to help, and more importantly, I’d be (sort of, maybe) willing to ask them for help.  Not to mention, the woman across the street, sends a plate of food, on several major holidays.  Home cooked food is the best, it shows love, something the world needs more of.  I will honestly, feel like a fish out of water, for a while.  I fear the forlornness of the situation.  I know that because of the big guy above us, am not “alone”, but I still feel “lonely”.  Sadly, not knowing anyone will definitely not help me feel less lonely.  I will have to fight the feeling, and KNOW that “better things” are coming.  I have recently learned that the community center for The Pinnacle is about one mile away, from where my house is being built.  Since there are sidewalks, that should not be as bad as it could be.  To be honest though, it is still unlikely that I will go.  I do have a motor, that I can easily put on my chair, to “shrink” the distance.  I am just not sure if people actually use the community center.  In the beginning, I had to go to the community center to sign some paperwork.  Other than the five of us, there was no one around.  Not to mention, one mile in a wheelchair is a long distance, to be involved in more “solitude”.  Conjecture tells me that somehow I NEED to find and make friends.  Of course I mean, friends that are more than just waving “hello” when we pass each other in the driveways or on the street.  Maybe, some of us can hang out and do something sometime; I’m not sure what, but something.  Sadly, it has taken me forever, to make the few friends that I have.  Although they are great people, we don’t do things together, mostly because they have lives and families.  Basically, for me making friends is hard…obviously, I am not an extrovert.  I need to have the fortitude, to socialize, and make new friends.  I can talk until I’m blue in the face about what I SHOULD do, but until I am there it doesn’t matter what I think or say.  Everyone has a fear or phobia of something.  Some have a fear of clowns, and some even have a fear of the number 6.  The thing that I am most afraid of is lonesomeness.  A person said something about having “Facebook friends”.  Just because you have “friends” on FB, sorry to say, does not necessarily mean much.  You may have thousands of FB friends, but how often do you really talk to or actually see them?  Would they pick you up if you ran out of gas?  Ok I’m getting sidetracked here.  I lived with VERY little social interaction for 10 years, so I know the feelings and I want to avoid the “replay”.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, we as humans are “social creatures”, built to love and be loved.  I apparently missed the “socializing” gene, for lack of a better term.  People have said to me a million times, something to the effect of, “just don’t be shy”.  WAIT…WHAT???  How can you just change who you have been your entire life?  I’ve also been told many times to get on a dating website and “go crazy”.  I’m not sure what “go crazy” means, but I am still shy and nervous to talk to people.  No dating website is ever going to change that.  I’m shy, and I’m not much of a conversation starter.  I can (sort of) be a good conversationalist, if a conversation is started but I’m not good at starting, said conversation. I fear that I am doomed to be alone.  I know that I need to stay positive, but ten years of “isolation”, does not easily leave your memory.  The other aspect of this move that is…challenging (trying to stay positive) is that choosing things for the house, ie curtains ect, is better done with a significant other (IMHO).  Instead of putting my likes and dislikes only, having another’s input is very important (again IMHO).  So this move is definitely a bitter sweet endeavor.  It is good, because physically it will make my life easier.  I need to simply, focus on that part specifically and not think about anything else.  I need to have faith that the rest will come together and fall into place.  It is sometimes difficult to simply, keep the faith.