Delusions of Simulation

If we exist within a computer-simulated world, does our knowledge of this fact make our lives any more or less meaningless than if we were truly alive? I can’t imagine life being any less meaningful, but perhaps being part of a simulation might lend purpose to our otherwise purposeless lives through transference.

Personally, I doubt we are in a computer simulation. The people who believe we are just going through the motions in a facsimile of a world are probably grappling with their innate (and possibly unwanted) faith in a higher power which they refuse to call “god” but is certainly based in magical thinking and superstition, not empirical evidence. Instead of having delusions of God, they have delusions of simulation. They don’t want to admit to a belief in an all-powerful being so they gravitate toward this alternative, a simulated universe where we humans are not free in any real sense, where we, some higher power’s insignificant creation/program could be ended with the push of the power button, and therefore whatever we do in this simulation has no repercussions whatsoever.

If that’s not a belief in “god,” I don’t know what is. I only know I have no such belief.

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Where Do I Go?

“When you’re not blogging, where do you go and what do you do?” asked no one, ever. So I’ll tell you. I’m usually consuming media. That includes watching American TV shows, listening to podcasts, or even music on Spotify. I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m a very happy MLB @ Bat audio subscriber, so I try to listen to at least part of one baseball game every morning when I roll out of bed.

I suppose that doesn’t actually answer the first part of the imaginary question, but contrary to popular school myth, I do get out and about quite frequently. I often walk to nearby (within 2 miles) grocery stores at least 3 times per week. On weekends, when the weather is nice, I try to walk a little further, visiting a shopping mall I like or a sporting goods store to peruse their selection of sports socks (with wicking action) to combat my sweaty foot problem (TMI?).

Occasionally I’ll take the metro downtown, but due to the invariably large crowds found on the walking street, I tend to avoid that area for the most part. I’d rather focus on the overwhelming insignificance I feel while sauntering between skyscrapers or the cultural and linguistic isolation I choose whenever I walk among the ancient parks dwellers through surprisingly well-pathed botanical gardens.

It’s also quite unknown that I play various video games on my PS4. I have Monster Hunter World, MLB The Show 18, and GTA V to keep me busy when I’ve got nothing better to do or if I need to escape this world for a while.

5 Minute Micro-Post

I only have about 12 minutes before my work day is over, and I can leave the office here at school. So I thought I would take a few (five or less) minutes to write a quick micro-post about recent developments in my life. There have been few.

One purchase I made on Taobao this week has made me temporarily quite happy has been a new phone case. The first case I bought for my S9+ was just OK. Although it felt good in my hand, I found that it restricted the use of the health sensor on the back of my phone because it had a plastic bar located between the camera and the sensor. In order to measure my blood pressure or to take an accurate heart rate measurement, I needed to remove the case first. With this new Spigen case, such measurements are no trouble whatsoever. In fact, I like this case so much that I ordered another one of the same model only black and bronze instead of dark blue and silver.  It’s nice to have options.

LTBP #3

Lunchtime Blog Post Number 3

Over the the weekend I accomplished very little of the numerous creative projects I had tentatively planned on tackling. Instead, I wasted a lot of time watching TV shows and a couple of films that left me feeling just as hollow as before watching them.

My dysfunctional mind, instead of realigning or rescheduling things I intended to do, simply drops them from the list, unstricken, never to trouble me again, that is, until I realize on Sunday night I completely squandered my weekend.

I’m nobody!

In my American Literature class today, we continued discussing various Emily Dickinson poems. One poem in particular should have made a deeper impression upon my class, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”, but they weren’t able to understand and internalize the meaning behind the words. I suppose I can’t really blame them too much as English is their second language, and I don’t suppose too many American students would find the deeper meaning appealing at the same age. I guess no one wants to believe they are the bog (swamp) in a poem’s less-than-flattering metaphor.

What Sleeped Me?

After lunch this afternoon, my school had a small singing competition in the auditorium, and a few of my students took part. I really mean to attend, but as I walked down the hallway I could hear the caterwauling level of talent on exhibit bleeding emanating from TV’s in classrooms as I walked past. At that moment I decided it would take a dozen demanding students or at least one school administrator to drag me up to the auditorium on the sixth floor.

Instead (and quite content with my decision), I sat down at my desk to check out the endless flow of tech news on Feedly, my RSS reader of choice while indulging in the Material Podcast on Pocket Casts. With each blink, I felt my eyelids getting heavier until at last, they failed to open again on their own. Only through an extraordinary exertion of willpower was I able to end the micro-sleep which had dragged my head low to rest my chin upon my left hand.

I don’t know if I should blame the protein-heavy cafeteria lunch I ate, the extreme dearth of enthusiasm I felt about the singing competition, or the extra-wordy podcast for putting me to sleep. What I do know is that I have no regrets about not subjecting myself to the ear-splitting noises being emitted from the 6th-floor auditorium.

Lunchtime Blog Post Number Two

At some point I’ll have to think of a better name for these lunchtime blog posts that isn’t so on-the-nose, but that day is not today. Today is merely the second consecutive day of my blogging during my lunch break. So in between slurps of hot coffee, I’ll jot down some of my thoughts for today.

Fingernails

Fingernails, in most instances, are pretty freaking awesome. Their convenience when it comes to picking one’s nose or scratching a persistent itch is unrivaled. On the basketball court, however, they are the bane of my existence. I’m referring of course to the fingernails on the hands of my opponents who frequently scrape and tear away my flesh in their desperate attempts to defend me. Every single time I play basketball here in China, and it doesn’t matter if I’m playing against students or other teachers, I come away with hands and arms spotted and streaked with the evidence of their defensive transgressions. I often feel a little terrified that should one of my opponents get mugged and killed later in the evening, I could become a suspect due solely to the fact that large amounts of my DNA would be found underneath the victim’s fingernails.

Lots O’ Drafts

At least 6 draft posts are resting comfortably in a cloud somewhere in WordPress.com. That’s 6 posts I began to write but for various reasons stopped before posting. I’d like to say they are in various stages of completion, however, they are all in the same stage: incomplete. I’ve never been one of those bloggers who could sit down at the computer and remain focussed long enough to crank out multiple blog posts on multiple unconnected subjects and not find some tenuous thread by which to combine and post them together as one homogenous screed. It’s extremely rare for me to finish a post and not publish it immediately. I couldn’t care less about views or likes, so the time of day matters extremely little to me when it comes to posting. With that said, I may try to finish one or two of those aforementioned drafts if I have a little free time later today. Or not. Who knows? Not me.

Lunchtime Blog Post Number One

As time permits, I’d like to get into the habit of blogging during my lunch break(s), this being the first such post. As I don’t much feel like writing about what I ate for lunch, I suppose I need to begin a new paragraph.

I don’t have a lot on my mind these days. Basically, I’m just waiting out this part of life to get to the better parts beyond. I know. I know. I’ve heard it before, it’s not about the destination, but it’s the trip that should be enjoyed, and I get that. And for the most part, I am enjoying this trip called life, but I know a light at the end of the tunnel awaits me come the middle of July when I’ll once again know the meaning of true freedom once more.

In the meantime, I’ve been walking a lot on weekends and playing basketball throughout the week. Last week, I caught someone’s fingertips in my right eye, and it took about a week for that eye to get back to normal. Every morning I would awaken to a blurry film of goop which I needed to blink away and then rub off my long thick crusty eyelashes. Bright light made me wince in pain as my right eye hurt when it constricted my pupil. I’m all better now, and I can’t wait to play basketball with those teachers who nearly blinded me once again.

I’ve been following MLB baseball this season. I shelled out the $19.99 for MLB @ Bat so I can listen to my favorite teams teams, the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Yankees, play ball on my Bluetooth speaker sent from either my computer or my phone. That low price also entitles me to watch the “Game of the Day” for free. So as far as getting live professional sports content for a low low price, you can’t beat MLB @ Bat! Go Tribe!

The weather here (at my secret location) has warmed up nicely already this spring, and I’ve bought several very nice and very cool, breathable polo shirts. I wouldn’t yet call myself a clotheshorse, but my closet has become a little too full. So much so that I need to bag up my winter weather clothes to make more room for my summer clothes.

In conclusion (the best way to end a lunchtime blog post), I think this blogging session has been a limited success. I count at least 3 paragraphs (not counting this one) of information above.

I Deleted My Facebook Account

And I couldn’t be happier about it.
There comes a time in the life of every social network when its administrators must decide between treating its users with respect or exploiting its users. I feel like Facebook has had several such moments, and each time, they have chosen to screw the users of their platform. So now it’s time for me to say goodbye to Facebook and all of the subtly racist and sexist content my “friends” post there. According to the response when I “deleted” my account, it has been suspended and will “permanently” be deleted in 14 days.

Phone Thoughts +

Way back in 2012, my very first smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. By today’s standards, it was slow and tiny with 64 GB of storage, but at the time, it satisfied my meager mobile phone needs. I almost didn’t notice how poor its camera was because I was supplementing  my photography needs using a Canon point-and-shoot S95. While in China in 2015, I upgraded to a Oneplus One with a much better camera. I instantly gravitated to the custom ROM scene and installed CyanogenMod.

In April of 2017, I was forced to buy a new phone after my Oneplus One was stolen, and without the time nor the ability to research my phone purchase, I settled on a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It is a beautiful phone that made me very happy for almost a year, but I have a couple of reasons for deciding to ditch it in favor of a newer,  faster phone with a much bigger screen. The first reason I’m planning to upgrade is that buying my S7 Edge was not my choice. It was a decision forced upon me due to circumstances beyond my control in a moment of desperation. If given the chance, I would have held onto my Oneplus One for at least another year. Reason number two: the camera on my S7 Edge suffers from some pretty bad distortion. Perhaps it’s not noticeable to others, but I always notice it, especially in photos of buildings or other things that should appear perpendicular to the ground, but due to barrel distortion. Of course, the Samsung camera app which ships with the phone has a setting to reduce lens distortion, but that app on my phone does not allow the saving of RAW photos, so I usually choose not to use that camera.

Therefore, after reading all of the leaked information about the Samsung Galaxy S9+ I could get my hands on, I’ve decided to pull the trigger and buy one. In fact, shortly after rolling out of bed this morning, I parked myself on Samsung’s  website, invested the time and effort in creating an account with my new address, and ordered myself a black 256 GB Galaxy S9+. I realize that it won’t ship for another week, but I feel very good, so good that I also ordered a phone case to fit it.

Will this new phone change my life? Yes! Yes, it will.

Oh No Metro

One of my favorite supermarkets to shop for imported foods like milk, cereal, lunch meat, butter, and cheese has been Metro. It’s a German company with stores in nearly every major city in China. The one nearest where I live is about a 45-minute walk each way, but it’s absolutely worth the trek, even if my shoulders nearly give out from carrying 4 liters of milk plus assorted coffee making ingredients.

On my most recent trip to my not-so-local area Metro, I was struck by just how empty the store shelves were. In fact, there were large empty spaces within the store where entire isles of goods had previously been displayed for sale. At first, I thought perhaps Metro had just been scrimping on the holiday pay during the Spring Festival my not having employees restock the shelves in order to save some money. But as I traveled deeper into the large warehouse, I found more and more such vacant areas. In fact, the entire office technology (my favorite) department was simply gone. It was at this point in the nearly fruitless shopping excursion that I hypothesized that the store must be depleting its stock in order to prepare for closure. Shit!

I continued to mull this idea as I continued shopping. I picked up 4 boxes of muesli cereal, 2 liters of milk from New Zealand, 2 plastic cereal/noodle bowls, and a bottle of Hersey’s Chocolate syrup. Other items on my list were nowhere to be found, including toothbrush, ham, cheese, butter, and bread. I suppose I’ll need to re-source these particular products because of what I found upon leaving the store after bagging my meager groceries.

Beside the exit stood a notification board (entirely in Chinese) which confirmed my hypotheses and explained why the store would be closing on February 25th. Of course, I had to use Google Translate to convert the text to English so I could understand it, and after doing so, a mild melancholic feeling descended over me as I trudged home, heavy with despair if not actual food-stuffs.

The next nearest Metro Supermarket location is at least a 45-minute metro (oh the irony!) ride away from home, but I doubt I’ll be making that trip anytime soon. I suppose I’ll just make do with the Carrefour, Bravo, Tesco, Lotus, and Walmart still within walking distance. Besides, I can spend the time I’ll be saving by not walking so far on less productive things like playing video games and binge-watching TV shows.