Charlie's Blog: SOC 34

6.16.2018

SOC 34


Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

It is Sunday morning. When 4 a.m. comes, I find it difficult to sleep. I am a six hour man. Eight hours is too much though I could go back for two more hours after writing this. Four hours is too little for me. I hear people like Sean Hannity claim to only sleep four hours a night, but I don't buy it. I've done the four hour thing, and I get loopy after two days. I like eight hours, but I wake up at 6 hours unable to sleep. So, I get up and write for a bit which helps me go back for the last two hours. But this is on the weekends. During the work week, I just lay there until the clock goes off. Sometimes, I get another 20 minutes.

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. If I sleep too much, I feel awful. This would be 12 hours of sleep. I wake up, and my body hurts all over. I feel that way after eight. I am sleeping on a brand new mattress, but it doesn't change anything. I feel this way even after sleeping on those plush beds in the hotels. It isn't the surface I sleep on. It is the longevity of the sleep. Being inert makes you hurt. This becomes more apparent the older you get.

I like sleeping on the floor. That may seem weird, but I get great sleep in sub-optimal conditions. When I wake up after sleeping on the floor, I have a horrible pain between my shoulder blades. This fades after thirty minutes of being awake. The rest of me feels great. It sounds nutty, but I am not the only one to discover this. Basically, sleeping on the floor makes you roll over and change positions. When you sleep too long in one position, your body gets stiff. Too much comfort brings pain. By embracing pain, you experience comfort.


This weird counterintuitive experience is what I call the "syzygy phenomenon." Pain and pleasure are always linked. If you seek comfort, you end up with pain. If you embrace pain, you find comfort. Most people follow the conventional wisdom of aiming for comfort and can't understand why they end up in so much pain.

I like to make jokes about making a friend out of pain, but I am not a masochist. I have learned by accident the simple lesson that the body thrives under hardship and breaks down under comfort. Your body was born to suffer. If you embrace this, you will suffer less. If you fight this, you will suffer more. If you doubt this, compare a fit athlete with a sedentary person who is obese. Who suffers more?


Comfort is your enemy. It pretends to be your friend but betrays you later. Pain is your real friend. Pain puts you in the place of suffering but makes the relief sweeter when it comes. It is the relationship between the different ends of a two headed beast. They can never be separated. They are joined forever.

You should not pamper or indulge the body. You should punish it. Saints, philosophers, warriors, and athletes know this. As such, you should endeavor to create hardship for yourself. The alternative is to let God do it for you.



It's not Sunday anymore. It is Saturday now. I am frustrated with my Casio watch. This is the F-91W that I developed a fetish for some time ago. It is a simple and cheap watch but better than expected. In ordinary circumstances, I would be happy with the watch. The problem is that I was a Timex guy before I was a Casio guy. In short, I am going through Indiglo withdrawal. I miss that feature in the fiercest way. It is the only thing I don't like about my cheap watch. It is difficult to see the time in the dark. Being a deep thinker type, this has lead to existential crisis. Yes, I really am this pathetic.

There should be a word for that feeling you get when you switch products you normally use, but you miss something from the old brand. For instance, I ditched my Mr. Coffee for a Chemex some years ago. The coffee tastes much better, but it now requires more time to make. The Chemex is not an automatic coffeemaker. You actually have to do some work. I got used to it in a short time.

I went through the same thing again when I tossed my Gerber pocket knife in the drawer and switched to the Opinel. The upside is that I got a wicked sharp knife. The downside is that it doesn't have a pocket clip or thumb post or serrated edge for sawing through stuff. Those features on the Gerber were nice but couldn't make up for the fact that I have owned butter knives with sharper edges. That Gerber knife is pathetic.


I keep quoting Thomas Sowell all the time. "There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." That line cuts to the core of my problems and frustrations. I loved my Timex Ironman watch. It told the time. It had Indiglo. But it was pricey for a plastic watch and was a gunk and crud magnet. When one of the buttons become stuck such that I had to whittle it away with a knife to make it work, I became dissatisfied with the thing, and my eye began to wander in search of horological adultery. I settled on the F-91W because it was good value relative to its price. I have no complaints about the watch until it gets dark. Then, I hate the thing.

Indiglo will ruin you. Even the Rolex doesn't have Indiglo. Casio has Illuminator watches, but the ones at Walmart are only slightly less pathetic than the F-91W. If you want the real thing, you have to go down the G-Shock path which means a $40 watch on the cheap end up to $90 on the higher end. And you better like fat, chunky watches. I don't.


The Timex Ironman is the midpoint for me. It isn't the cheapest, and it isn't the best. But it keeps good time, is fairly durable, and you can always tell the time in the dark. There is a reason I have stuck with that watch for three decades. Why did I stray? I didn't think Indiglo was that big of a deal. Now, when it gets dark, I just want to go to Walmart and get a watch with Indiglo.

I never get upset with my Chemex or with my Opinel. I don't think about their inconveniences. Likewise, I love my cheap Casio watch in the daylight. It's like my flip phone. Sure, a smartphone does way more stuff except survive a drop on the floor. But if I can call someone or text someone, I am a happy guy. I am a flip phone guy. But that may be the key to an answer to my dilemma.

Before I was a flip phone user, I used the candy bar phones like everyone else. The phones worked great except for one nagging issue--the BUTT DIAL. Whenever I put these things in my pocket, it would dial a number. I tried a holster, and it was the same thing. It was a great phone, and I would prefer a candybar phone to a smartphone. But the thing that hooked me forever was when they put a hinge on the thing. From that moment on, I was a flipper and have remained that way. That ability to flip is a primary reason I resist the smartphone.

My cheap Casio is the candybar phone of watches. It is great for a lot of reasons, but it is also annoying. And that cuts to the crux of my existential issues. I can live without features and luxuries. But I can't live with the annoyances. And that epiphany settles a lot of issues for me.

I bought a used exercise bike, but I end up hauling it off to Goodwill because it felt like I was riding a torture instrument jammed in my crotch. I switched saddles. I adjusted my position. But in the end, I felt like I was ripping something in my reproductive area. It felt liberating to haul that junk off.

My wife had a nice bath mat, but it stank of mildew and rot because it was thick and wouldn't dry. We washed it with everything until we trashed it. It just stunk. Now, we use a hand towel for a bath mat. It's not plush, but it dries quickly. We sacrificed a feature to dispose of a pain.

This same dynamic is what drove me to switch to a Chemex. Mr. Coffee makes coffee easy, but it tastes like crap. The Chemex makes it tastes good. Likewise, my Gerber had features, but it couldn't cut anything. I switched to the Opinel because I was fed up with having to hack at things instead of cutting them. I experience no dissatisfaction with either solution despite their lack of features.

The most important thing is not to pursue satisfaction but to escape dissatisfaction. I became dissatisfied with my Timex Ironman only because it stopped doing what it normally does. Basically, I needed a new Ironman watch. My expectation is to keep a watch until the battery dies. But the batteries outlast the watches now. I had the thing for five years. Why did I complain?

Pain is the deciding factor in consumer purchases. For instance, I bought a pair of Wolverine work boots, but it tore up the back of my heel. Those boots were pricey, but I tossed them after I tried to surgically alter them to remedy the problem. I should have kept the receipt and returned them. Either way, I was done with those boots. I stick with Georgia Giants. They don't hurt my feet.

This really settles a frustration of mine that has bothered me for awhile now. I tend to like things that are plain with fewer features. It just has to be free of aggravation and displeasure like butt dialing phones. I even have a motto for what I like--PLAIN WITHOUT PAIN. It has a nice rhyme to it.

This plain without pain thing also explains why I nuked my Internet Apostolate blog. I was trying to make a very plain blog, but I had to stop with it because of the pain of it not loading properly. I have tinkered with it numerous times since then, but it just doesn't work the way I like. I keep coming back to the fact that my old Twitter account was simply the best way for me to share links of interest and help boost the signal for people and causes. The problem is that I don't have a Twitter account anymore. And this is another frustration of mine.

I like blogging. But it is like having a store full of things, but you don't have a sign out front. You might as well be closed. Virtually every blogger and website I follow has a social media presence. Even Matt Drudge who blasts social media has a Twitter account. It is a speck of hypocrisy on his part.

I love Twitter except for the censorship and time suck. I have no similar affinity for Facebook or Instagram. As for Gab, it is Twitter without the censorship. But I have been social media free for two months now. I don't have withdrawal pains anymore. I just have the frustration of feeling cut off from the wider world. Basically, I'm not a store but a warehouse. I am filling a blog with things that someone might read one day. But they won't be reading it today.


"There's a war on for your mind!" That is the tagline at the Infowars website. Alex Jones is a bit nutty, but he gets one thing right. It is an information war. Basically, I champion three basic things--Catholicism, conservatism, and capitalism. To a lesser extent, I encourage people to become vegan, live a simple lifestyle, and all that. But those life improvement things are not part of the information war. Nobody's going to the mattresses over tofu. But they are definitely going all out over Trump or abortion. Being off social media feels like being AWOL in this information war. On the other hand, being on social media feels like being AWOL from your life.

I think if you are wasting time posting cat pictures and Tide Pod videos on social media then you should get off of social media. But if you are posting pro-life messages then it changes things a bit. That is important stuff. Plus, it is way more convenient than camping out in front of an abortion clinic with a sign.

My internal conflict is between being an information warrior or being a digital pacifist. When I was a libertarian, I was basically a pacifist in my outlook. I believed that people would leave you alone if you left them alone. As a conservative, I am too in touch with reality to embrace a silly notion as that. Weakness is provocation, and pacifism is a form of weakness.