Free at Last!
Finally! Mostly free weekends! I have time to enjoy many geekeries. Also, the sun is out! I know I missed the newsletter last month. I actually remembered to write it, but I didn't have anything to write. After too many days went by, I just skipped it. Oh well. I've got plenty of things to write about now, but will the pleasant weather delay me yet again? Not this month!
I also want to let everyone know that I'm on the verge of busting out with some YouTube action. My preparations are about 75% done. If all goes according to plan, sometime within a couple weeks many videos and streams will appear here https://www.youtube.com/user/apreche.
I actually got a bunch of long replies to the last newsletter. All of them were just too long to reply to. If you want your message included in the next newsletter, keep it somewhat short! At least include a smaller paragraph that I can excise and reply to. Following Scott's rules of question asking is a good idea. Feel free to send your long reply, just don't expect answers. If you are wondering how to send me a reply, just reply to this newsletter directly via email. It's so easy.
However, there is just one message I need to address.
Just be as good an example as you can. "You can lead a horse to water..." You come across your wife who is doing something in a wrong or inefficient way. Her life, and perhaps the lives of others, would be improved to some degree if only she were willing to learn a new way of doing things. How do you deliver that education in a way that will be well received? How do you get her to be receptive to learning without being that know-it-all that everyone hates? Unless you want a divorce, YOU DON'T! :D
This email is bad. I think it might be the first bad one I've ever received. Listen Don. This Honeymooners, Flintstones, Andy Capp brand of humor is mostly dead. Let's try to make it completely dead. This is the year 2016. That shit is sexist and gross. If you think this is funny, that is a very very strong indicator that you are "that guy." Cut it out.
I assume most of people reading this already know that I do not take drugs. I do not smoke anything. I do not drink alcohol. I do not even drink coffee. I even minimize usage of real medicine like aspirin unless I am very ill. I also don't drink carbonated beverages, but that's a separate issue.
In our society, this is unusual. Not drinking alcohol especially makes social life quite difficult. It's even more difficult in NYC. Every single after party for everything is in a bar. Every work-related social event features alcohol as the primary attraction. Not drinking coffee makes it even worse. Going on a date is hard enough. Taking coffee or drinks off the table is hard mode.
I've always told people I don't drink without thinking much about it. Recently I learned that when someone doesn't drink, some people assume they are a sober alcoholic. There might be some people out there who falsely believed this about me, without me even realizing it. Ooops?
If I'm not a sober alcoholic, what are my reasons? Some readers may know, but I don't think I've ever explained myself to a larger audience or in great detail. Not a bad way to do away with a newsletter. I'll get to that in a paragraph or two. Let me just start by saying that asking someone the reason they don't drink/do drugs is extremely rude.
Think about that question in reverse. Instead of "Why don't you drink?" how about "Why do you drink?" Someone might have a few good reasons. Maybe they enjoy the crafts of beer brewing or winemaking. I actually respect that quite a bit. Even people I know who do enjoy those things also drink for other reasons. That guy who is really into gardening, but also grows weed. He's not fooling anybody. He doesn't just like gardening, or he'd be growing tomatoes. It's the same as the anime fans making excuses for watching the pervy harem show.
What reasons do people have for using drugs? Obviously some people are sick and need healing. No reason for using them could be more valid. It's actually a problem if an ill person does not take the appropriate drugs, if any.
Other than that, the reasons for taking drugs are mostly sad as hell. At a party someone drinks because they are otherwise too inhibited to let loose and enjoy themselves. At a sporting event, someone can't get enough pleasure from witnessing the spectacular performances of the athletes, so they "enhance" the experience. Someone's life is in a bad place. Rather than face the problems, they escape into a chemical world. I'll leave it to your imagination to think of more, but good luck trying to come up with some positive ones. There aren't many.
And here we have the first reason I do not do drugs, self respect. I look at people doing drugs, and I see all those sad reasons I just mentioned. I can't help but pity and lose respect for such people. If I did drugs, I would lose respect for myself. None of those sad reasons apply to me.
I also abstain because I do not wish to distort my perception of reality. Hey! I see you reaching for your solipsism stick. Put that shit right back in The Matrix where you found it. LSD takes people on a crazy trip, but even drinking a very small amount of alcohol negatively impacts human cognition. If we even have free will, I plan to make as much use of it as I can. If my senses are not functioning at peak performance, that's going to be a problem. How can I make good decisions, and be in control of my own life, if my perception doesn't reflect reality as well as it possibly can? Of course, that's just my personal philosophy. I can't pin that on anyone else.
The more common reasons for not doing drugs also hold true. They are mostly poison. I would like to live as long and as comfortably as possible given the DNA I was born with. Unlike the soma of Huxley's "Brave New World," recreational drugs in our reality all have at least some harmful side effects. Whether it's a hangover, cancer, or death from overdose, it's just not worth it. There are so many other sources of pleasure in this world, I can take a pass on all the ones that are hazardous to my health. I think I draw the line at red meat in terms of the balance between pleasure and danger. Even now, I am eating meats less frequently than ever before.
Money is also a huge factor. NYC has higher prices than most, but alcohol is not cheap in any city. I see people getting a single cocktail at a restaurant for $12. I know I told people not to give to the Patreon, but even that is a better use of money than a single alcoholic beverage. And how many people do I see giving Starbucks $5 a day? Holy shit! That's almost $2000 a year. I got a gaming PC, while the coffee drinker got a literal hill 'o beans. I think I win that one.
There are a plethora of other reasons I do not partake, but the only other one worth mentioning is that it's usually just disgusting. Coffee tastes awful. Just drink delicious hot chocolate. The burning of alcohol tells your body not to drink it. I'd rather stand near a spraying skunk than a person smoking almost anything. Do we even have to talk about needles? I'd rather clean an elephant's asshole than deal with chewing tobacco. I'm not doing any of that sick shit, and usually don't want to be near anyone who is.
Why, after over ten years of GeekNights, did I only think to discuss this now? Anecdotally I've noticed alcohol's prevalence in our culture only increasing over time. Even someone like me who sees effectively no advertisements, is seeing more people drinking more everywhere I go. It's becoming more of a problem, but there is an even more dire situation. I learned recently that some friends are smokers. Somehow I was previously unaware of this. Perhaps they didn't do it too often, or only did it when nobody was looking. I can't look at them the same way ever again.
While I might disapprove of other people's decision to do drugs, I actually do respect everyone's right to do with their own bodies what they please. I actually strongly support legalization of all recreational drugs. While I do look down on people who choose to use any recreational drugs, someone who smokes cigarettes is the worst of all. Alcohol can at least be enjoyed responsibly in moderation. Marijuana seems to have a much better pleasure/harm ratio than tobacco. There are at least some lame excuses to be made for some drugs above others.
Tobacco, in all its forms, has no excuse. There is no question that it's just fucking poison. May as well drink some drano and be done with it. Even worse, it poisons not just the smoker, but also innocent people standing nearby. At least heroin junkies aren't spraying me with a poison gas cloud while I walk down the sidewalk. Cigarettes also make everything smell like shit. At least a BBQ or campfire smells a little bit nice. Don't give me that vape pen nonsense. Granted, it smells less bad, but it's just the same poison in disguise.
Don't tell me quitting is hard, either. My grandmother who lived into to her early 90s quit cold turkey when she was middle-aged. Someone weaker than my grandma is a pathetic sack indeed. If someone doesn't even care about themselves enough to quit, why should I care about them? They're dead to me. They'll be really dead soon anyhow.
From now on, the tables are turned. No more explaining why I don't do these things. The people who are poisoning themselves are the ones who have explaining to do. If someone asks me why I don't, I'm going to ask why they do. If they are honest in their self evaluation, I can't see it going well for them.
PS: Cigarettes smell the worst. Somehow cigars smell even worse. Curiously enough, pipes actually smell terrific. I'm surprised that they haven't caught on with hipsters. Don't actually smoke them! You're not a Hobbit. Let's just make a pipe-scented candle or something.
PS: Oh, look. That's a thing that actually exists. http://amzn.to/1WYUoVP