Sunday, October 06, 2013

what a long strange trip it's been

Ruby Moss Mouth
A ten-week old pup now going on five years
Sometime back in May of this year I passed something of a milestone. blogbeebe turned eight years old. Over those eight years it's managed to accret 1,500-plus posts about subjects ranging all over the map.

If you look over at the category cloud you can quickly find the top four or five topics I've written about. This isn't particularly rigorous as I've never been careful what topics to associate with any given article. But you can get a pretty good idea where my overall thoughts have been over the last eight years.

When I first started this blog I had no idea where I'd be going with it. I had a vague idea it would be a purely geek type of blog, with entries about my encounters with languages (Java primarily) and software systems (Linux primarily). You'll find some Java entries, and some ancillary Java subjects, such as for Netbeans, but nothing quite like I thought I would write. You will find more than a few Linux entries scattered over the last eight years, but Linux entries sit third behind Digital Photography at number 1 and Olympus at number 2. Funny how all that works out.

I could, like some blogs, go through and delete a whole bunch of entries as if I were trying to hide something I did or said. But this isn't some high-volume site and anyway, who would really care one way or the other? The word 'blog' is a shortened form of 'web log', which was intended to be the digital equivalent or a person's personal diary. And diaries were supposed to be a dead-tree way of keeping a daily record or events and our personal experiences. My blog is certainly not daily, although I tried that throughout 2011 and the first half of 2012. Now I've fallen back on bad habits, where I might write one entry/week. Writing, especially quality writing, is a very hard thing to do. Especially if you're writing not just for yourself but for the Internet audience that might be following you. There's that public embarrassment thing again...

The past eight years (and the years that will follow) are a record, however incomplete and skewed, of my view of the world. If you read it from start to finish you'll note how narrowly focused it all is, and how limited its view of the world. I'm a selfish human being, and my blog reflects that.

I have no idea where the next years will go. A lot has happened to me since November of 2011 when I came back from a Detroit business trip and wound up in the ER, what with my knee operation a year later, then earlier in 2013 with my thankfully short layoff, and all the turmoil in between both personal as well as happening in the world, especially with the revelations about what the NSA is doing as well as the current government shutdown. See, I do pay attention.

It's just that I have no really good thoughts to add to the discussion. All too often I read a lot on the web that does nothing more than add to the noise in the Internet echo chamber instead of helping all concerned come to a compromise and a common consensus (I'm looking at you, Fox News). If anything what the NSA revelations have done is caused me to question my involvement on the web in any way, shape, or form. It's caused me to delete my Facebook account a second time. Even if my second Facebook account only had six friends.

As I mentioned earlier the web log/blog was viewed as a digital replacement for the old-style diary. But I've never treated my blog like a diary, but more like my engineering notebooks. My dead tree notebooks were, and still are, a ledger of results of my actions in order to properly document what the results were of a particular experiment or train of development. You documented everything so that you could reproduce it at a later time, either yourself or by others. When I pushed to write daily for eighteen months starting in January 2011, that was actually unusual for me and the blog.

So now what? I'm headed towards a very large, very personal milestone in December, one that I'll write about when it happens. It's as if my life has been shifting course for the past two years. Towards what, I have no idea, although I have some vague ideas. I've come out of the last two years a bit more toughened, yet paradoxically a bit more sensitive to the world at large. My children are in their mid-twenties now, and my wife and I are "single parents" again. We spend more time together traveling, and I've grown closer to my wife in spite of what she might think otherwise.

I'm in this blog business for the long term. And by the long term, until the day I die or the blog dies, whichever comes first. I'm reaching a point in my life where I should be thinking about retirement, but paradoxically (again) I've been thinking about retirement for some time now, with the solid knowledge that unlike my parents, I'll never be able to retire. I'll have to work for as long as I possible can, physically and mentally. That's just the way the world has worked out for me.

Part of it is that the retirement system that took the place of the pensions my parents have was blown up starting around 40 years ago. But a bigger part is what retirement means in this country. It means taking your winnings and going off to play until you finally die. It means walking away from all the problems you helped cause and letting the next generation, your children and their children, deal with them. And I can't do that.

I don't know what I can do so help solve them, but walking away and living the rest of my life in God's waiting room is no solution. I'm going to be creatively contributing to a better world until the day they box my up for my dirt nap. And this blog, God and Google willing, will continue to document that, imperfect a reflection that may be.

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