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AstroFrank  ·  233 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Summer Check In.

Another almost disaster was I slipped and fell and got an interesting bruise that took more than a month to heal. For about a week I just laid in bed and waited to heal with no energy to do anything other than read. When talking to the doctors during my first appointment, there was some chatter about lifestyle choices and all that other rubbish. Then they tested my cardio response, which brings me to my one big win this year. With the weight loss and scrappy look, I decided to take advantage of the situation over the winter. I started, and completed, the 100 pushup challenge, the 100 sit-up challenge and the 100 pull-up challenge. I can now do 60 pushups at a time before needing a rest, and can do three sets in a row. The pull-ups were the demon I was most interested in conquering as I have never, even when young and healthy, been able to do more than about 20 at a time. Sometime in February, I hit 40 pullups per set. The weight loss helps, certainly, the gain in muscle mass even more so. I passed a hospital's cardio stress test this spring for the first time in 18 years. 30 minutes at 95% heart rate and at the end I was barely huffing and puffing. Passed it and then owned it. I have the heart health of a man a decade younger, the muscle mass of a man 15-20 years younger and the treatments for my endocrine malfunctions are working better than before to the point we are talking about what to do when the sweet sweet gubmint money stops paying for my treatments. Last bill I looked at, it costs the taxpayer some $70K every time I walk into a hospital. Thanks, you suckers in the blue states, for paying your federal taxes that go to shit hole states like the one I live in. With the conversations, we talked about diet, and something came up that really made me go "huh, interesting." I don't eat sugar any more. I obviously do not eat at restaurants any more either. Sugar does not really fit in with what I eat on the hillside and I do not keep it on hand. My kidneys are shit thanks to multiple mistakes when I was younger, but they are now sort of working again, there is even evidence they are repairing themselves. The doc asked if I was doing something like Keto, and no I'm not. I eat pasta and rice as it stores well and only needs boiling water to cook. With butter and cheese on hand? Gonna be a rice and pasta Alfredo winter. I only drink coffee and water. I buy processed sausages and eat those as snacks, I'm not doing a retarded "caveman" or "paleo" or whatever podcast diet fad is the rage this week. Meat, veggies, root vegetables, sauces, leafy greens and squash. When I don't feel like cooking, or am unable to cook due to weather or fuel, I eat instant camper dinners that come in those storable tubs at Costco, maybe once or twice a month. In the summer when I am running to town often I eat lots of egg dishes as eggs do not store well over winter. Raising chickens would only feed the predators, but with the freezer I might start eating chicken more to save money. This may be my last summer of expensive medical care. My resting heart rate was 60, my BP at the last visit was 110/60. I've maintained a weight under 80Kg for two years now. I'm healthy and fit to the point where I wonder if my physical presence is why the car buying adventure went so well. I'm still an angry looking ugly cunt, but now not fat and soft looking.

There were a few other near misses and oh shits this winter, and each one just became more of a "this is part of living" instead of a panic. I told a dude-bro driving a truck with texas plates to go fuck himself and laughed at him after he mocked the old truck for being, well, an old truck. I'll call that a win. I had a run in with the local wolf pack looking for a warm place to stay, and was able to discourage them with Gaelic punk blasting out on the porch. Really. I was able to get a huge deal on gravelling the road up the hill, the guys had a bit of work cancel on them so I got my grade and gravel about a third off what I was expecting to pay. Damn that gravel and road work cost a lot of money, Three trucks worth, and rental of heavy equipment to make repairs I needed to make 3-4 years ago. I need to do that roughly every 4-10 years depending on weather, so add that to the expense list. I might have to hire someone with a bulldozer to clean up some edges to make the road last longer, might find someone with bigger rocks to protect the corners and cliff faces. End result is that this fall-spring period I spent more monies than in the last two years combined. That hurts a bit, but I invested for the shit show so I'm still in good shape. To live, I need 25K a year, half of that is taxes and fees for things like road access, insurance, etc. Last year I spent a whopping 8200 on food more like 12K if you count the supplies I needed for the garden.

With a new truck, I drove home and did some thinking about what next. I'm mostly set financially, I'm healthier than I have been this century. Then the final disaster. My parents must have been embarrassed by their church fiends and asked about how I am doing, because they called me. The phone was off grid and they left a voice message that seemed sincere and decent so I called them back when I was in town. This is the first time we talked in over a year. Someone wrote that there is a great tragedy in people where some die at 30, but are not buried until 80. My parents are the embodiment of that thought. They are long lost, and a prime reason why the country, hell the world, is shit. My solar panels are why the weather is messed up because they... something about stealing sun light and making the weather hotter (?!?!?) or some what the fuckery. Trump is still president. The church is not guilty of child abuse it is George Soros trying to steal money from Catholics to fund pedo rings. The vaccines are full of poison and killing people. Fox News went woke, whatever that is supposed to mean? The call was an hour, the questions a normal human would ask like "Are you OK?" "Do you miss us?" "Do you want to visit?" Might have been a five minute prelude to bullshit. It is probably the last time we will talk until we meet at a funeral sometime in the future. Not sure why, but this call fucked with my head. So, I sat down, wrote a letter to them about the stuff I've done and built, and wished them well. It was not a farewell, nor was this a "FUCK YOU" more like a "if we had time on the call this is what we should have talked about" sort of letter. I rewrote the letter to make the tone more 'chipper' I guess, and advised them on my winter routine. Mailed it from the big city while visiting my doctor, just in case they try to track me down; on the phone is one thing, in person is its own ball of hell.

Speaking of melancholy, another astronomer died. He was a freind, had a nice family, and some amazing telescopes. His widow reached out to me, and I now possess his biggest and most wonderful telescope, a rare piece of equipment with a documented history, along with some of his things. He put me in his will, and told his wife "Make sure he takes these things because he deserves this stuff and will use it, don't let him say no." Like I said, decent guy and a real friend that knows me. I took her and thier surviving adult children to dinner, talked about life a bit, they all remarked that I look amazing considering I was obese and way out of sorts the last time we were in person together. I now own three very large telescopes along with a couple of higher end imaging rigs, and have no idea what to do with them. They are all in the observatory I built with my spare time and materials I could get cheap here and there. I have two imaging piers, two full imaging rigs and a large visual telescope ready for use every clear night, of which lately there have not been many. The other two large dobsonians are wrapped and protected from the elements until I figure out what to do with them. Might donate one or two of the nicer setups, might sell them, might bury them, might burn them. I don't need the money I'd have to work for with ads and travel and delivery etc, so right now I'm not sure what to do with this gear. Funny that I finally got the big high end stuff when I fucked off, not when I was active. I looked on the market and big visual telescopes are not selling, if and when they do its at deep discounts and the sales take weeks. I'm probably stuck with them for the time being. Speaking of people dying that will be terribly missed, the author of some of the best astro books I have in my collection died. They are going to name a dark sky reserve after him. Wonderful person, he was a blast to have at a star party. I wrote about a star party that was murdered by the local college, this guy taught astronomy classes at the event several times. He accepted several of my images and sketches which were ultimately not used in his books; he liked what I gave him and encouraged me to help some of the pro people with data for their papers. I'm listed by name in at least 41 separate papers now, three of those are PhD theses where I contributed data. Of the five people that drug me into doing science outreach, four are dead and the fifth fucked off into the aether like I did. I'm proud of him; his kids threw a fit every time he bought something, almost like they were hoping he died faster to inherit his savings. The couple that ran that star party I mentioned? They sold everything, bought an RV and vanished. Again, good on them, they are wonderful people and did not deserve what happened when the whole nonsense went down. They have my contacts, maybe they will come and visit. The "not a star party" they organized after COVID, from what I can gather they bought out a campsite, did not advertise and had a good time with a "small" group of about 100 people. The park rangers were pissed off over this somehow (never got the full story but sounds a lot like butthurt), and nobody will step in to fill that gap of running an official event. From what the local astro club people are saying nobody will volunteer; the organization is most likely going to fold this year or next as they cannot find people that want to run the thing and none of the new people in the astro club that joined over COVID want to volunteer for anything. From what I can see on the website for the park, the two rangers working to make the park a science-y center where they teach everything from geology to botany to conservation to astronomy? Those two rangers are no longer listed on the web site, so I hope they got jobs where they are vauled. Nearly thirty years of good will and free labour, thrown away on a whim... I wonder why the people with time and skills are not stepping up by the hundreds any more, it's a fucking mystery. Nobody wants to work any more, right? Go figure, people don't like being disrespected, and volunteers even less so.

I had to forward existing mail to the new PO box, and I still get scraps of the old life. In the bundle of mail was a trickle of atta-boys and where are you's, a few "Yo, sucker come help us" letters and a few notes from people I helped back when I cared. One kid we helped get into college, long ago it seems now, he is working on Artemis. One of the girl scouts we helped get hooked up with a physics program was granted time on James Webb; this one I am truly proud of, she was one of our "rescues" who needed somewhere to go and a reason to be there so that she was not at home. Not everyone gets a happy childhood. One of the kids got a masters and went to Europe to work at ArianeSpace, another is teaching astrophysics at a mid-tier college overseas. So HOORAH on those two for escaping the American experience. When I die, my name will live on maybe one more generation before it vapourizes into nothingness.

In internet news, I had to research a build process and the top five results in various search engines all lead back to the nazi shit hole that is reddit. Only to find that all the subreddits were in lockdown. Reddit is going to fire mods? how do you fire people that are not paid? This did bring a chuckle, even if I could not get an answer to my question. Reddit is going to go public? the fuck? that dumpster fire? And it looks like Musk bought twitter and now everyone knows he's a piece of shit, not just those of us that have been following his antics for the last decade or so. There was a guy doing solar off grid stuff on Twitter, I tried to get to his account and it looks like Twitter is locked down and you can't see anything unless you have an account. No thanks. Looking at twitter, it looks like a place that sounthingawful did not even dare to dream about. Twitter looks as if 4chan and thedonald collected all the rotten human trash of the last 25 years all in one place, and made that a safe place for nazis and racists. Then gave that swill a legitimized global voice with a drunken frat boy cheer over the downfall of democracy. Sadly, these "people" exist and pollute every forum and place of discourse with more than 100 active members. Forums and small websites for people living off grid are right wing echo bullshit chambers and the DIY spirit is being drowned out by REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. The internet is the worst invention in human history, my point stands again. I got blocked from youtube due to running adblockers, lol. I realize now writting that above, the last time I played a video game was... early 2019, maybe? Maybe summer of 2019? Imagine me saying that to the 30 year old me.

Part 3

The death march continues. Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT), one of the premier astronomy vendors in the USA for the last 70ish years is finally dead. It was a viable, profitable, company when the previous owner, Craig, sold and retired back in 2015 after which it was never the same. I stopped recomending them to people by 2017 as their service went to pot. The new owners were flaky, they gave me an "off" vibe, I think the guy that bought the business was a fitness instructor or something before running OPT, the new owner is doing Tedx talks, justifying my original hunches. Craig is awesome; every time I was able to meet him it was like talking to the cool uncle who had all the amazing toys and encouraged everyone around him to be better (and buy more stuff of course). The first telescope I bought with my own money came from the original OPT. Craig dressed like Santa in his ads in the 90's, he is a great character. Orion telescopes is recovering from buying the old stalwart Meade Telescopes, and looks like they are fighting for inventory against Chinese collusion... there are lawsuits all over the place and the whole business looks terrible. If Orion and Meade can survive the next few years I think they will make it. I hope. One of, if not the, authority on telescope eyepieces is retiring this year and closing up shop as well. Two separate companies making mirrors for visual telescopes are going to see their last products ship out this year, then no more. There are a few dedicated astonomy vendors out there, maybe all the other closures will send them enough business to keep going. Two of the few guys left making mirrors for non-professional telescopes are on their last orders and will close up shop this year. The retail storefronts selling astronomy gear are all gone, not exactly a bad thing as niche hobby gear needs people with time and money and access, and all retail looks like it is hurting now. Storefronts are expensive, better to focus on customer support and online sales. Hobbies are in deep trouble due to most people struggling to make rent and/or working two jobs just to feed themselves and/or their families. Hard to find time for anything other than surviving when you live paycheque to paycheque with the rent always due. Coincidently, the European side of the hobby is doing great. Maybe the new American reality should be to make enough money, get enough skills and get the fuck out of here.

This summer makes it four years up here. The person that walked into the realtor office and bought land on a whim is dead, and he is never coming back. I won't let that happen. I'm not angry, I'm not sad, I'm not, well, anything any more. Centered. Maybe that is the right word. I feel more mentally alive and functional than I have in years. Being off the open sewer of the internet has made me a person again. Not working in the computer industry? THAT has made me human, again. I recomend everyone try not working for a living, it's not bad. Without a librarian, and the local bars being terrible, the gossip in town was light, but intereting. Two couples that bought land about the time I did are gone, and a few of the herd of people that bought up here during COVID still own land, but nobody sees them around, most likely they are holding the land they bought for retirement, common up here. The two busineses that seem to be thriving? The very nice lady running the coffee shop with her elderly mother, and the gas station. The local coffee shop is now the gossip HQ. Schools are consolidating due to not enough kids to justify keeping multiple school districs open. Who is making sub-$20/hr and having kids? People in town are talking with a notable hint of panic about what to do once the money of running a school goes elsewhere. Everything else is in that holding pattern before the knives drop and everything dies. The interest rate hikes are going to slaughter a lot of rural businesses that were struggling through the pandemic. Good. Lots of talk about demographics and "kids these days" but missing the context that the boomer generation created a world everyone with a brain is trying to flee. The service companies with shit-level sociopath bosses/owners cannot find people to work for them now that there are options, a sight that makes me cheer a bit on the inside, except for the rot that comes with the death of industry and all. Oh, and pro tip for all the bosses out there? The people you shit on are all connected and talking. Good bosses and good places to work get people, if you start to see a drop in applications? Yea, the people that would apply to your job are doing research and talking to people. Some 1/3 of people in the US under 30 are on mental health drugs according to the signs in the hospitals. The American dream is dead and honestly good riddance. Rent for an apartment in "the city" is unafordable to a single income of $35K a year, and I doubt many younger people are making that here, so they leave. If rent is this out of control in a red state shitwater, I can only imagine how bad it is in a place people should actually want to live. I have no idea how anyone making less that 20/hour is living, much less saving or having kids. The pyramid scam long con MLM that is capitalism needs fresh blood else it collapses, and the ani-immigrant people are not helping. And the US birthrate is the lowest in your history.

Why post? Honestly, not sure. It does not matter at the end of the day, really. Maybe one more fare-thee-well. Maybe a fuck you to people thinking I was an idiot (to be honest I was one of those people). Maybe I am trying to kill that last ember that still wants to care about things. The internet is a personality murdering, self-imprisoning, mental wellbeing killer, dopamine destroyer. The death of the boomers will be the end of television, and I used to think that nothing could be worse of humanity than the TeeVee. Boy, was I stupid and wrong.

For all the worry I had when I left civilization, I am thriving. Each month is another win, each year up here is adding two to my lifespan. The conversations have moved on from ten years left and have a will in place to what do I do if money runs out? I have enough coin to live comfortably until I am in my late 70's when I anticipate social security and disability get cut off, and honestly anyone planning on government retirement funds gets what they deserve. It's only a matter of time before they come after our 401K's now that I think about it. I'll hopefully be dead and all y'all can deal with that. Yet, I'm not very negative at the homestead; things are going well for me at least. I'm doing fine. In probably the first time in my adult life, I am where I am suposed to be, doing that which I need to live. For the first time in a forever, I am home.