What matters to me?

I was in a circle a few days ago, and had to enumerate my way out. Looking at the list now, I have apparently been working things out, and it is rising to the top.

I asked myself, “What matters to me?”, and here are the answers in the order they arrived:

  • being mentally relaxed
  • using technology to help, not destroy, even as a cost
  • surviving without fear
  • changing bad systems
  • finding a place to settle
  • I want to be me and still work, rather than be someone else. That is what independence means for me.
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Each point is a tip of an iceberg.

This is one of those incredibly mundane-profound things: my admission that I am sensitive.

See, the thing about being sensitive, even knowing that about oneself and kinda obsessing about it doesn’t actually help in any useful way. I’m a nerve-ending.

And when I’m mentally relaxed, I’m really happy. Like, balanced happy. I feel I can engage, rather than retreat. My work, the technical skills I use to generate income, is a double-edged sword I’ve never wielded safely. I can’t even commit to a single specialty within information technology because I’ve yet to find one that isn’t morally compromised at a fundamental level.

Wow, whoo. Yep, that’s my honest thoughts. I love our human endeavor and the amazing tools we’ve built; I despair because everyone is either not learning the costs, or ignoring them.

I feel a lot. And I don’t particularly share. I mean, I output a lot. But not the psychological pressure that builds up, compressed in the suit of mental armor I wear to turn on my computer or walk outside… aw, it’s so fucking exhausting.

So I imagined: what if I could take off the armor? What does that look like? How does that feel?!

Being mentally relaxed, that is a goal worth a journey.

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Well, I touched upon this…

I think things have gotten desperate for me because the e-waste-capitalist-disposable-culture has reached full throttle, and I find it difficult to even exist as a scavenger these days. The herd decided they’d rather have their culture streamed to them on toys than become wizard-scientists, but at some point we realize it was actually a horrible monster all along, but it was okay, we fed it the humans we desired the least.

Who is the monster?

Give me a technology, I’ll show you the heartbreak.

Working the angle: how do people with particular types of memories put them aside in order to function?


This is about being able to live in a place without constantly worrying I won’t be able to live in a place. Rent prices are a fucking nightmare, amirite?! I don’t think I should have to worry about having a home, a place to protect me from the elements and allow me to rest and be safe. And yet, that is my main fucking worry at all times.

So fuck that noise.

And I don’t think I should have to engage with harmful industries in order to make more money, so I have more leverage in a larger, more fucked up game. And it is a game. We must change the rules, it is already too late. This game is broken.

That’s my job, my role.

I imagine I need to determine one of two things:

  1. How to address the other points on the list while meta-fixing them, or
  2. Understand that fixing said systems require checking out from them, so investigate what that looks like.

Well… there is a middle path: find a way to use my current and ever-developing skills to generate what I’m ironically-unironically calling “an honest living”, which is adjacent to or is improving systems.

Which sounds like a plan, but then there’s the various parameters for costs of living, and the actual geography, addressed in the next point…

(But seriously, I want to do honest tech work, what even is that?!)

Related to the rent concerns, but encompasses so much more: where do I want to be on Earth?

I don’t want to drive mecha as part of my daily routine (until they get a whole lot cooler), and while I adore Oakland, this town belongs to cars. I don’t walk outside, because to do so is to be responsible for a substantial amount of motorists that can easily injure me.

But there’s the rub: what can we do? In order to be near things like groceries, we also need to be near cars. Being a pedestrian in Oakland is not optimal, in part because a lot of it is a “food desert”. For complete nutrition we need to be near cars. Ugh.

Lately we’ve been casting our nets out far, and have considered all the angles we could think of, from regional natural disasters to local politics, and considering the lifestyle we want. Now we’re kinda stuck, because we want to live in California, but not in Moddoc County (Which is beautiful! But is also fairly rough on pedestrians…).

For my work, and as the pandemic has demonstrated, I need a connection to the internet. That’s nice, flexible. So… where do we go from here? That’s what matters to me at the moment. Where can I live where I can walk around with fear of motor-doom, breath clean air (and California is sketchy on that point, for several years running), and do my honest work in comfort from the elements without indentured service.

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This isn’t a simple sentiment. I’ll explain with a simple fact: nearly every person I’ve ever worked with for money has made a request of me that was illegal and/or unethical.

There are several reasons for this, and I like to start with:

  1. No one knows anything, including this fact.
  2. Most folks know ever less about magical artifacts technology.
  3. We have practically no regulation for technology companies, and most if not all of the largely profitable ones are doing illegal and/or unethical practices
  4. Ugh, word of mouth. ((You know how many times I’ve had to explain basic ethics because someone heard at a conference about this site where you can buy “data”…))

Keeping in mind no one knows anything, let’s extend it to design. Most people are not designers. They can do design. Anyone who says, “oh, I can’t do design, I’m more into some non-design-y thing, which obviously speaks to a certain type of brain-thinking-paradigm…” to you I simple say shut up be quiet for a moment. You’re wrong. You don’t understand design yet, and there are a bunch of marketing fuckers out there whose job is to sell you on the lie you are bad at stuff, and therefore should pay someone else to do it.

Which is not prudent. You should pay people to do things that you don’t want to do, because you understand it enough to manage the process.

On the flipside, there are those that say to themselves, “oh, I have a great sense of design, and despite lacking the communications skills and knowledge required to work professionally as a designer, I’ll share my opinions without consideration for how important they actually are, because my ego, and will dismiss out of hand actually important things that matter to everyone including my precious ego, like “security” or “privacy” or “accessibility” or “makes sense” because I know this great font and once at my old work I was in charge of choosing featured images!”

Okay, maybe they don’t say all of that.

While I’ve got you on my lawn, let me share another hard learned lesson before you get off my lawn: non-profit funding is the fucking worst.

Keep in mind, everything I just said, and realize humans are deciding how to fund projects used by other humans…

I thought working for the public good with orgs I supported on principal would be great. Better than that: honest. But grants and other types of funding come with it’s own culture and operating principles, all of which are driven by the same fucked up rules that ruin the rest of society.

Basically, non-profit funding is upheld by robber barons with so much money they get bored and play this new game where they win naming rights.

The real heartbreak, of course, are those folks that have principles and care about association and therefore suffer and barely scrap by, and do not have the resources to sustain themselves, and personally sacrifice their bodies and minds to the service of others. And I can’t help them, because I’m doing the same…

Independence for me is a living wage in the ethical service of others.

Okay, get off my lawn, I’ve got to think.