New Horizon: The Tower

Previous Chapters:

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three


Henry wandered through the forest, the leaves a gentle brown, dry and brittle to the touch. He had ditched his shoes and was now walking among the rocks of the creek. The wind began to pick up, reaching speeds of 128 kilometers per hour. The Earth had become a dangerous place.

Along the creek were remnants of what once was. Henry occasionally come across a cinderblock and rotten wood of houses that escaped the population explosions of the late 2050s. Scientists had expected the population to stabilize after hit 10 billion in 2030 but instead much of the old ways were still being practiced. Animal cloning had become a way to replace the natural and where farms should have been reduced, instead they only grew. Vertical farms were built in the late 2050s but by then it was already too late. What parts of the Amazon hadn’t been swallowed by the Ocean had turned kindling and our once breathable air became a little less breathable. 2040 saw the first carbon recapture unit and while novel at the time, it only encouraged companies to pollute more. Any benefit it might have had was lost to corporate greed.

Henry tripped. Muddy and damp, he picked himself up and looked down. He saw a large vine, no a tree trunk. Moss covered, old. Henry decided to follow. He walked a few steps, bent down and brushed the trunk off. It was black. It wasn’t a trunk, it was a wire. As it turned out, the wire led to an abandoned radio tower some ways off into the forest. Henry thought if he could climb it, he would have a chance to find his bearings. He could here the metal creak in the wind, it was a surprise the tower hadn’t toppled over by now. As he approached the tower he noticed the chipped red paint and heard a faint beeping. Why was the tower on? Wind turbines had all but been destroyed with the Mega Storms that came in the late 2060s and he could see a few busted at the base of the tower, an effort surely made to avoid the burden of high winds. The sun was beginning to set and Henry decided to climb.

At the base of the tower he found the dilapidated ladder that went straight up the some 609 meters it would take to climb. Henry reached for a rung and watched the metal splinter in his hand, the other rung held and he began to climb. Carefully and one rung at a time. The howling grew louder and the tower shook with the force. At times, it felt as though the wind was being sucked right out of him. About 500 meters up, Henry reached a point of the ladder a section had eroded and was missing. Pieces were strewn on a nearby structural beam. Henry swung with all his weight and landed with his upper torso on the beam. The ladder collapsed just as he made it across. “guess no going back now”, Henry thought.

Henry looked around and found some scaffolding. Makeshift and most likely done after shit had hit the fan. Henry went beam from beam, until finally he reached the top. The length of two football fields and he was finally at a small station at the top of the tower. In olden times, these stations would have been separate; a fire watchtower and a radio tower. As resources became scarcer and scarcer and cities larger, it made more sense to combine the two. As night fell, he saw the read blinking light and noticed the solar panels at the top of the structure. All these years and the structure held. Too dark to see, Henry made his way into the cabin and flipped on the lights. A gentle hum and then, light. Henry checked the cupboards and found some tea along with some canned food. “Coq Au Vin” or better known as cock with wine. There might have been a time when people cooked this dish, but in the convenience brought by mass production and globalization why bother? Henry always liked to cook but it was never considered a necessity. He turned on the stove boiled some water and made himself a cup of tea. “Winter’s Nap”, how delicious. He fried the canned chicken and ate a meal, a nice chance to catch his breath before he looked for the main debris field of the New Horizon.

He started a fire in the hearth, and settled into the bed. The sheets, still soft, reminded him of simpler times. Life was never really all that simple when he was born, but he always loved the process of settling down after a long day and feeling safe in his bed. As Henry looked up, he noticed the four skylight panels. These could be tinted off and on but Henry decided to leave them as they were as the fire crackled in the background. The sky was a gentle blue, speckled by red fireballs as the New Horizon continued to rain down upon the land. Henry gently closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.


Another Chapter written! I’m having a blast writing this series! It’s great to finally be on schedule with my blog and producing content on a semi regular basis. How far I’ll go, I don’t know, but the story arch is starting to develop and I just hope I can stick the landing for my first go around. So stay tuned and get ready for chapter five as I begin to draft out the concepts for what’ll happen next! As always, thanks for reading!

January 2021 Status Update: 2020, How’d I do?

This last year has been a crazy year. I’ve had to make major life decisions that have affected my trajectory for the near future. No easy calls but hopefully decisions that lead to a better tomorrow.

A New Year, an improved me

Since I can remember, I have always tried to draft resolutions for the new year. In High School, they were typically one goal and it wasn’t until college that I started adding multiple. Years of failed attempts left me upset, until I took the SMART method from my studies and applied it to my resolutions. Even then, this was far from perfect. In 2019, I went a step further and implemented what I called a “tangible” goal to help measure my success. SMART covers the how, but it doesn’t necessarily cover the why. This year, I want to take time to look back on my 2019 goals that I carried over to 2020. And more than simply focus on what I didn’t do, I want to take the time to focus on my successes.

Language

German and French were the two languages I wanted to add to my language toolbelt. My main motivation is I’d like to spend more time in both countries and not feel like a tourist. Since I’ve already lived in Germany, my main focus for the last couple years was German. In that time, I’ve watched my first German TV show and as of late December, have completely finished the German language tree on Duolingo. That doesn’t mean I’m done with German but it does mean that I now have a foundational base and can begin moving on towards quantifying my language expertise. As a chronic dabbler, I have a bad habit of simply dipping my toes in the water without ever getting wet, so this is beyond exciting. So my Language goal for German? Has been met!

Because I’ve finished German on Duolingo, this shifts my priority to French. French I find extremely difficult to pick up. I’ve been learning it sporadically over the last couple years and while I have some idea of the language, it is elementary at best. Over the next year, it is my hope to build a base much as I did for my German. Luckily, I enjoy learning languages, so it’ll be fun to see how far I go.

For 2021, my stretch language goals are to learn Latin and eventually Japanese. Japanese is completely unnecessary, but it’d be fun to know the basics should I ever travel there. Since for the most part I spend 10 to 15 minutes everyday on Duolingo, I’m not too worried about meeting these goals to some extent.

My overall tangible goal for the year is to take an aptitude test to know where I stand.

Coding

Perhaps the most exciting development, I have wanted to code for the longest time dating back to when I did Lego robotics as a Cub Scout. A missed Summer camp, dropping out of Computer Science II in High School, and a couple decades have finally brought me the furthest I’ve ever been. Online coursework through Codecademy and I finally have a base. Python, SQL, and JavaScript are the 3 languages I’ve started with and I’m actually having fun. For 125 days I learned Python and I hope to get back on the horse after taking a couple months to relax. If I can get 8 months of coding in, then the year subscription will have been worth it. With that said, coding has been a resounding success in my book!

Three coding specific goals for this year: finish my Computer Science coursework and get a certificate, then finish my course in SQL and “How to build a video game with JavaScript”. I had two main childhood dreams: catch all the Pokémon (which I did this year) and make a video game. So all in all, not too shabby for the year.

Painting Drawing Art

I did not get into painting this year! The plan was to originally sign up for art classes and then bam, the plague rolled into town. That said, I did adjust the goal to broaden the scope. The only reason I want to paint is because I’ve heard it is very therapeutic. I’ve since adjusting my goal to include penciling and doodling. To that extent, I’ve succeeded as I bought markers and spend about 5 minutes from time to time drawing lines and circles on a paper. It’s fun, easy, and relaxing.

This year, I want to focus on penciling as that’s the easiest as far as getting started. The plan is to take all my old homework notebooks that I just have sitting around and convert them into my personal art sketchbooks. I’ve subscribed to Skillshare, so a class is literally a click away. I remember being quite good at drawing as a child, so I’d ideally like to recapture some of that childhood spark.

2021, one new goal

Yes, 2020 had other goals that I never met, like camping and running a half marathon (albeit the half marathon can be forgiven) as well as cooking. Looking back, this were just taking a shot in the dark. If I exercise, I exercise but forcing myself to run was too much to ask. Gone are my cross country days and while I eventually want to tackle the half marathon beast, it’ll come when everything else falls into place. Camping is great in theory but in practice it was too difficult to get out given my anxiety. I thought camping would help with my anxiety, but it is clear now that I have to work on my anxiety first before camping can become remotely possible. Cooking is another marathon situation. I have no urgency to cook and while ideally I’ll get into it as a hobby sooner or later, having it as a resolution adds more stress than joy. If I cook a meal every once in a blue moon, I am ok with that. That aside, my new goal for 2021 is…

Music!

I am a nut for all things that can improve cognitive function. My two goals are to learn piano and eventually the violin. My brother bought an electric keyboard a while back and never played. Growing up we had a grand piano that I would play around with until one day we didn’t. So now, I’m going to right a childhood wrong and learn to play without an instructor because online tutorials are actually quite good! Violin I will most likely need someone to teach me but piano has thousands of tutorials and offers the least resistance to learning. It’ll be tough but if it can make me smarter, then it’s worth it.

My tangible for the year is to take a month course and do exactly what the teacher says. I want to simply have fun and find the joy in playing an instrument, which I’m sure I can do.

Epilogue

A new year, fewer goals. 4 in total. gone are the days of exercise resolutions and resolutions I don’t need. This year is a focus on what I enjoy and developing skills that I can carry out of my twenties. It’s a year of change and solidifying who I am and where I want to go. I am ready to move past 2020 and into a new year, so here’s to hoping 2021 is better!

The nightmares we believe

When we are children, we are afraid of the dark. We seek a candle to light us to bed. And still we dream of monsters. The battle between light and dark is constant. For without light, life cannot exist. The darkness twists and distorts, creating illusions and playing tricks on the mind. People spend most of their lives running and they forget the very reason they start running in the first place. It is only when the path forward is blocked that they have time to stop and catch their breath. And what do they see when they turn around? The creeping darkness.

So what is the darkness and what makes it so terrifying? Therein lies the  problem. The darkness is many things at once; regret, sorrow, guilt, anger, jealousy, rage. It is every secret kept, every opportunity not taken, and the time that you can’t get back. It is death incarnate, always chasing and never slowing, only wearing. And at the same time… It is nothing at all. We shine a light through the darkness and see nothing. No monsters and what we thought would be there, isn’t.

And yet we are afraid. It is only when we see the sun peak over rolling hills do we realize that forever long the night seems, the sun always rises.

Personally, I find comfort in the darkness; its shadow like a blanket. Perhaps not so much the darkness but rather the light that shines through. Some nights you may get a rolling breeze, and the soft glow of moonlight, which can be both mesmerizing and somewhat unsettling. The breeze can easily turn into a howling and the light can slowly recede, leaving only darkness. And yet, when we open our eyes, we realize morning has already come.


The Don’t let Mike Starve fund

This post, fun fact, has been sitting in my drafts since July of 2017. It felt incomplete and I had always meant to add more. So come today, I reread the post and have found it to be one of my better pieces and what was missing, was found. The only change I have made since then and now is the final line, "And yet, when we open our eyes, we realize morning has already come." I hope you enjoy this piece and am glad I finally get to share it with the world.

$1.00

Journey’s End Week 5: Silence Like A Cancer Grows…

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


It’s already week 5. I am halfway through my last term… Hard to believe. And what an amazing 5 weeks it has been. College retirement is great. I’m still just as busy as ever but I’m finally doing what I enjoy. It took 5 years but here I am. The little differences have added up. Every small moment aimed towards a bigger goal. The question I’ve had to ask myself a lot lately, is, “Why”? I’m someone who should’ve never succeeded and as I would’ve put it as a Freshman, I was “Cursed”. How can one man change so much in 5 years? The person people used to roll their eyes at whenever he opened his mouth is no more. Now I talk and people listen.

A question I’ve been struggling with as of late is “Nature vs. Nurture”. As much as I’ve tried to create my own identity and blaze my own trail, I have to wonder how much control I truly have. You cannot escape your past, no matter how hard you try. It will follow you. Yet you can rewrite your story. If you ask anyone about who I am, they’ll paint a fairy tale. Great childhood, great parents, and always ambitious. This may be true. Yet this is not what I’ve told people. I simply give people a framework, an outline. In a sense, I manipulate others perception of who I am. We all do this. Every post on Facebook is not of you crying but rather you with friends, having fun. Yet this is not reality, people know this. And we still feel inadequate as we compare ourselves to others.  Everyone struggles.

Today I walked through the plaza on my way to class and in the grass there were over a thousand backpacks. Each represented a student who committed suicide each year.  Reality is not pretty. I may act as a comforting voice; I only hope some will listen. It has always been my goal to treat everyone with respect. All too often I see people judge and make fun of those who need love the most. Even the best of us can be cruel.

A Term of Perspective

Last week I went and listened to a Holocaust survivor speak. As a child I loved watching the history channel back when it was history and not “history in the making”. Back then the Holocaust was a concept, something that we read about in history class. And this fall I was in Germany. Even then, I avoided the concentration camps. I chose to visit the memorials… Reality is not pretty. To actually hear a survivor was a sobering experience… I can’t begin to imagine the horror she went through and the tragedy she faced. She told her story with such grace. She didn’t have an answer for how she survived but at the end she made a point to say that she lived a happy life. She said the past was in the past and that it was best not to dwell. The human spirit is strong and those who choose love over hate give hope for a better tomorrow.

And I finished my week with a comedy show… To say I had an interesting week is an understatement. I couldn’t stop laughing at the show. The event was hosted by the Iranian student association and the comedian was Iranian-American. I don’t think I’ve ever heard more airport jokes in my entire life. And then the show became political… And you know what? It was great! It turns out Donald Trump is comedic gold, who knew? The big theme was diversity as the world tries to divide itself. Hate is a choice. People choose to hate one another, to label. I say it is easier to love. Reality is not pretty. If the world beats you down, remember to laugh and smile.

Speaking of Diversity, I went to a college of science event titled “Diversity in Science”. All too often I have found people choose ignorance to validate their own reality. As a businessman, why would I ever go listen to a scientist? It’s all about perspective. If I had a penny for every time my roommate said a business major joke, I might almost be able to pay off my student loans (probably not). Instead of collaboration, we divide. Even within our own colleges. Finance, BIS, you name it. They’re different, we deserve more, etc. If we want the world to change, we have to be that change. Seek first to understand, then be understood.

The week prior? I met the attorney General of Oregon and listened to College Republicans and Democrats debate. Especially now, especially in the US, we can’t talk politics but need to! But people won’t listen! So to go to a setting where, while I didn’t agree with the other side on all points, I could at least hear what they had to say… It was fantastic!

On Love

So last week I talked about love. It was a fun topic and something I don’t talk about often. I talked a lot about being observant and most important, loving yourself. What I neglected to mention was loving others. Love is a prize…

I used to hate myself. Every day I would look in the mirror and berate myself. And then one day I realized that I couldn’t keep living this way. So I tried smiling. And then saying something positive. And now… I can barely remember who I used to be. What I have is what I wrote in my journal. What was once reality is now but a distant memory. But most importantly, I found others to love me. I’ve met the most amazing people in college and I didn’t even realize it at the time! And I was lifted up. It’s OK to be vulnerable no matter how much you hurt. And as far as finding true love? I wouldn’t worry about it. Everyone is obsessed with “the one” yet there will be multiple one’s in your life. If you spend your life chasing, you’ll never catch. Enjoy the moment. Love is meant to be fun. It’s hard to control. If you want the secret to make it last, i’ll tell you. A proper relationship is when two independent individuals come together to become interdependent. Do not lose who you are in a relationship; rather build something new with whoever you choose to love. Move forward, learn from one another and make each-other stronger. Even if it feels like you’ll never find love, please do this; allow yourself to love.

A Message…

As my time at college comes  to a close, I have so many questions and so few answers. For how much I know, there’s always more to learn. Those who claim they know everything are fools. Everyone has a story and everyone should have the opportunity to dream big. Many live their lives in fear and instead of stepping forward, they step back. They push people away and they try to make it on their own. Don’t. If you have nobody, you will always have yourself. Life is a gift, so don’t waste it. And it is never, never, too late to change.


Thanks for reading! Come back next week as I talk about my secret spots on campus and “the man with the white hair”. Feel free to comment, reach out, and share!