Tag Archives: Self-Reflection

From time to time, I write a self-reflective post, like a journal. Here they are.

COVID-19 One-Year Reflection

I rarely do self-reflections, strike 1.

People are tired of COVID, strike 2.

But this is my outlet, so I’m swinging away.

Reaching the year point reminds me that at the beginning of all this I had not payed attention to any news for several years prior. I need to put this to rest so I can move on and go back to mostly ignoring the “news.” This has to be the last virus post.

With respect to prevention, all year I have done my best to stay outside when possible, ventilate when possible, do my part to slow the spread by not getting sick. Duh. The fresh air has been nice anyway. (I also jumped through the government hoops as required). I still got the virus – I think, I got a cough, fever, and lost my smell for 5 days. I’m obviously not alone. I knew I was taking chances. I predicted I would get it when I did, which is some form of success. I continued to avoid most indoor situations while I knew I was sick. Success. I didn’t clog up the hospital by requiring treatment. Success.

We all remember how we first heard of COVID-19. I received a text message from a friend on 25 January 2020 that referenced a virus in China. I responded more or less, “huh?” A few days later I remembered that a friend had returned to China (4 January) to take care of her sick father. Could it be related? I texted her. Her father had died from a lung infection in Hubei Province.

For better or worse, the pandemic consumed me. From disease history to modern disease prevention to haywire governments in 2020, I researched to the best of my ability and came to the following conclusions. While I cannot rule out most of the various conflicting explanations, the following seem so common sense and the counter-arguments so outlandish that I am fairly convinced of the following:

The Pandemic in Summary
  • SARS-CoV-2 is the third known new coronavirus in 20 years – not disputed.
  • The virus reservoir and evolutionary origin responsible for the three new coronaviruses since 2002 is humans sharing exhaled breath indoors on the scale enabled by the indoor economy explosion over the last 4-5 decades. SARS-CoV-2 would be more appropriately labeled “EBSRS-CoV-3” for “Exhaled Breath Sewage Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 3.”
    • Wet markets, bats, and camels are not the source. We make the animals sick, but we don’t notice sick animals until we get sick, then we blame the animals / markets. While hybridization by dual infection between animals and humans may contribute, it is a distant second-place factor and we are simply refusing to acknowledge the primary factor.
    • Lab leak? Like the director of the Wuhan Virology Lab herself, I considered it.
    • Bio-weapon? I thought for sure no until I saw how hard governments and media are pushing genetic injections and learned about binary poison, antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and their capabilities with genetics.
    • We will continue to see new coronaviruses periodically unless we fix the conditions that allow coronaviruses to develop. We have barely touched this issue because it would be extremely costly to implement appropriate ventilation standards and by now we may have globally committed beyond the point of no return.
  • The virus overwhelmingly spreads indoors, especially in poor ventilation. There has not been a single confirmed spread event associated with only outdoor activity. There have been countless thousands of super-spread events indoors that can account for the entire pandemic.
    • Prevention should focus almost exclusively on being outdoors and ventilating indoors. City-owned governments and media will not promote this simple idea because it points the finger directly at cities.
    • The virus spreads by aerosols. Aerosol = micro-droplet. This means the WHO and the CDC had the spread vector wrong, obviously ignoring evidence for almost the entire year. The WHO and the CDC corrected themselves around December. Let that sink in. Wrong on the spread vector all year. They have quietly corrected themselves now on their sites.
    • There is a very good chance the virus does not spread by droplets at all. The WHO and the CDC are still claiming droplet spread, even though aerosols by themselves could explain the entire pandemic without droplets. Let that sink in. Very possibly still wrong.
    • Aerosols, micro-droplets, and droplets sound like technical terms to you? Too complex? Let that sink in. After a year of continuous coverage on TV, most are still unfamiliar with the simple terms for the possible spread vectors.
    • If you have 10 priorities – as lurching governments now do – you have no priority. Classic failure of leadership. Common under stress.
    • It is probable and even likely that all outdoor “prevention measures” are completely useless and even cause the spread of the virus by encouraging indoor activity.
    • Masks are highly-visible and make people feel like they are doing something.
  • COVID-19 and the response have changed everything. It is worth learning about and considering, if for no other reason, because you can make money and avoid losing money.
  • If there is one specific thing we should avoid to prevent the development and spread of coronaviruses, it is concentrated exhaled breath.
  • Genetic immune boost is the solution preferred by governments and corporations, which is being frantically promoted in the media. The term “vaccine,” while not outright lying, is much less accurate than genetic immune boost.
    • Genetic immune boost represents an attempt to artificially boost our immune systems against a disease instead of hygienically cleaning the conditions responsible. Realistically, we are nearly ignoring ventilation. This is the first time we have ever openly declined to fix the conditions that cause a disease. I expect genetic immune boost to be unsuccessful long-term against an unrelenting onslaught of virus evolution in the indoor economy.
  • Fusion energy would solve the virus by making it possible to continue climate control indoors and bring in enough fresh (AKA “make-up air”). Will we make it to fusion?

Search EBSRS3

Quit TV Cold Turkey

I quit TV cold turkey about 17 years ago, in 2003. I was about 20 years old. I had always watched some TV up to that point with whatever free time I had, maybe an hour a day. I did not consciously quit. I just moved and never bought a TV. I still watch movies if they are planned and I sit down to watch one I’ve chosen with friends. I also watch live sports, which I prefer to watch in a public place like a bar.

Stage 1: “I’m Missing Something”

For several years, I felt like I was missing something. I felt like people knew something I didn’t know.

Stage 2: “No, They’re Missing Something”

Maybe 5 years in, I started realizing I was getting all the relevant news within a few days just by hearing conversations. I wasn’t missing anything, I was just getting it second-hand. Instead of “news” I was seeing people’s emotional reactions to the news and it was very disconnected from real life. For the first time, I felt like they were missing something, not me.

Stage 3: Produce for Perspective

In 2014 I started a blog with the goal of being able to at least amateur produce every type of media available. In 2018 I spent a lot of time learning to record and edit video. That gave me really interesting perspective.

Often when watching a movie now I’ll switch to imagining the studio set around the scene instead of the movie plot and it transforms their acting into an awkward situation. You have to be a bit maniacal to act as intensely as actors do in a movie studio full of colleagues.

The teleprompter is the other thing I notice. For a monologue looking into a camera, one minute continuously is about the max I can memorize to record. Watching news anchors or commentators go on and on for 20 minutes reading a teleprompter with feeling as though they really believe what they are saying it is creepy. The teleprompter is obvious if you have ever tried to record a message into a camera.

Stage 4: Twilight Zone

Within the last few years I’ve more and more gotten the feeling that I’m John Boyega’s character from the movie The Circle. Fun to imagine I’m a hero of course! I still see people’s emotional reactions to news and TV shows that are mostly fictional or over-dramatized – but now those emotional reactions are widespread enough that they are literally the news. It’s bizarre.

With the coronavirus recently I made a concerted effort to systematically find the most truthful, reliable, objective news sources possible. It is helpful to have actionable information.

TV I Have Seen

I can nearly list all of the TV I have seen for 15+ years and why I saw it.

In early 2008 my roommate had several seasons of The Office on DVD. We binge-watched 3 seasons in a weekend. That’s the last TV show I really got hooked on and binge-watched.

In 2009, my roommate had a TV and I watched a lot of Family Guy by default because he watched it all the time. It was comical how little else we watched. Pure random Family Guy episodes. 90+%.

In 2011-2013, I remember that several of the new type of TV series started coming out because people were binging Dexter, Eastbound and Down, Breaking Bad, Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The conversations sounded like fun but watching the shows sounded like a chore to me. I never did. I would say by this point I had completely lost interest. I was irreversibly uninterested.

I played a video game for the last time in ~2001. I played Age of Empires for about four hours straight. I attended a swim meet afterward and I was imagining the people to be little characters from the game. I haven’t played anything since other than maybe Wii at friends’ houses.

Gone Sailing

On 2 November 2020 I decided to depart the corporate career path (energy engineer) for the rest of my life. My knee-jerk solution was to learn to sail and make sailing my occupation somehow. Regardless of what I do, I made the decision because of a fundamental idea: I am convinced that true progress in the next several decades will not be in new technologies, but in learning to use the existing technologies in a more wholesome way. As I went down the list of categories on my blog, I realized my decision affects almost every category.

Brazil Now What Migration Series: I once again do not know where I will go.

English Lessons: language is basic. Will I teach English from a sailboat?

Industrial Change Surfing: Industrial Change Surfing is about decisions – this was an enormous decision based on industrial changes.

Rage and Frenzy Politics: I believe the current polarized divisive politics partly arise from frustration with the diminishing returns of tech. (A pause for sailing is in order!)

Real Estate: boats are floating real estate. (the tax is maintenance!)

Travel: Sailing is the oldest form of long-distance water travel!

Ventures Quarterly: I have not been faithful to quarterly updates lately, but this obviously represents a ventures update.

Ventures Update April 2019, The “Stop Doing List”

695 Riverview Drive

Still renovating, landlording, and taking notes about it for an operating manual. My favorite part is actually selecting the items to install and doing the work.

Here are the pictures from the most recent renovation, apartment B2:

https://www.nathanruffing.com/riverview/march-2019-b2/ 

I’m about to finish another renovation, apartment B4, within the next few days and I expect it to rent quickly. It is pretty much standard.

The next apartment, apartment A2, is more exciting. It will be the “Skunk Works” apartment with several major top-secret design overhauls that take some of my materials selection strategies to the extreme. It is unique, and minimalist but functional with high-quality materials. Should be done by the close of April. Stand by for photos next quarter.

Landlord’s Operating Manual

This is a double-down on the apartments. The manual describes my system in detail. I am looking to make it available to other landlords and aspiring investors.

PI Time
Piano

Kineomen

I remain the Secretary at Kineomen and record a monthly summary for the company.

Kineomen is trimming down to its winning parts.

Simple Kneads Gluten-Free Bread

Great product, great people.

www.simplekneads.com

These are the only money-making ventures that make the cut. I am trimming everything else out.

Friends’ Venture of the Quarter

Check out Travis and Marcus’ Paveway.

https://paveway.io/

They are five years out of the military, and this project has several years of momentum now. Paveway is about business development, and they just put up the website complete with a few blog posts. Read, comment, interact!

Below this point did not make the cut!

“Stop Doing List”

and lessons learned from four years of trying to do everything.

Real Estate Agent

(Maintaining the license!)

I am supporting my current clients, and maintaining the license, but not taking any new clients. I really appreciate all those who took a chance on me as a new agent and I feel fortunate that my clients are happy with their transactions. Real estate really is a lot of work, but it is fun too. Thanks everybody!

This was the most difficult to say ‘no’ to because I was just starting to gain some momentum and the money is great.

Don’t worry, I’m a part-timer for life! Any questions, let me know. Free advice, free guy with MLS access!

Meet Cbus TV

I would love to make this happen, but I simply do not have time. This is not a side-job. This would be full-time. Producing videos is time-consuming. Once you are reasonably good at it, figure an hour per minute of video, and that is if you already know what the content will be.

Clean video requires an hour per minute, PLUS thinking up and planning the content.

Nate TV

I still have the structure, the video equipment, and the editing software. I still have many videos that I really want to make! Down, but never out!

Park City Holdings

This ended some time ago, but I wanted to list it because I learned so much looking into the note business. It really helped me understand lenders’ motivations and value quality lenders as a real estate agent.

Columbus Area Technology Club

I love talking about tech.

Real Estate Agent by Location

This arose from my desire to do real estate close to home, and I hoped to help other agents do so as well, around the country! However, making money by referring is really hard to do. You are like the broker to the middleman and it is too many steps removed from the value creation.

Nate the Columbus Commuter Biker

Maybe with all these projects off my plate I can actually ride my bike again sometimes!

Art Gallery

I’ve dabbled in the idea of transporting art from Brazil for sale in friends’ establishments here in Columbus, but it’s another thing that just takes time time time. I will still write about it!

Uber Driver

People, my car is just too old and I’m not buying a car just to make $12 / hour!

The Stock Market

Every time I hear somebody talk about the stock market, whether up or down, I am so glad that I have reclaimed the time and energy by not paying attention to that pie in the sky to which I’m always an outsider.

Vino de Coco

I still plan to visit the Philippines. Still.

What to Watch 10: Reflection and Rob Morris’ More Freedom Foundation

Nielsen Survey, Reflection on Television
The Ultimate Commuter Bike
To Blog or not to Blog

Rob Morris’ More Freedom Foundation, selected videos

3 Reasons Saudi Arabia Is More Dangerous Than Iran, Oct 2017

How the Reformation Started the Modern World, Jun 2017

9/11: The Shocking Truth, Apr 2017

3 More Reasons Putin Will Never Touch Estonia, Mar 2017

 

What’s Normal, We’re Not

We are truly different. Our everyday lives are different. America is more different from every other country than any other 2 countries are from each other. Here is how:

1. Consumer Culture

Goods are so abundant and cheap that producers systematically create demand with advertisements. The result is bright colors everywhere representing the well-organized system professionally designed to make us want stuff. This is so omnipresent in our culture that we don’t realize that it’s there. Our system of advertisement reaches around the globe now, and it stands out everywhere else it appears (McDonald’s, Coke, Viagra, etetera).

2. Cars

We each have one. We drive mostly alone. Carpooling is the exception. We park close when we can, pay to when we can’t. Cars are our status symbol for which we spend 6 months to 2 years up to a lifetime of income.

3. Strong Institutions and Rule Following

We trust our institutions. From the government to our universities even to our franchises and brands like Coca Cola and McDonald’s. They consistently tax us, educate us, make our favorite treats, always convenient parking, meet and exceed minimum service standards, and a free bathroom when you need it.

We trust institutions over people. We will invest our life savings in a faceless stock in the stock market, but are much more hesitant to invest in a local business whose owner we actually know.

We stop for traffic lights with nobody around. We pay our taxes. Corruption surprises us. The roads are straight, fast, aligned at perfect right angles. We drink alcohol in specific regulated places at specific times. Next time you walk down the sidewalk in Las Vegas and think it’s cool that you can carry a beer with you, remember, that’s the only thing really normal about Vegas!

Some of these things seem unrelated, but I don’t think so. We are unique in having a mostly stable government that is older than the population, and we accept its authority. Most of us arrived since the constitution was adopted in 1789. Name another country in the world whose current government is older than its people. Egypt or China? Mexico? No. No. No. Any South American country? No. Some theocracy? No, not like us.

4. Sugar as a Food Group

You notice it in the people immediately upon arrival at a US airport.

5. Security

You probably won’t be robbed at a US airport, bus station, or in most public spaces. America has never been invaded. We expect security. We expect our government to counter threats, and it does.

6. Air Conditioning

We don’t just air condition for some comfort and relief. We refrigerate our spaces. Nowhere else in the world I have ever been can afford to do this, or has buildings air-tight enough for it.

7. Television

 

For better or worse, our lives are different. We adapt everyday. Adaptation is so ubiquitous we aren’t even aware of it. We are living an experiment from which came many of the greatest improvements in our lives, … but it is an experiment. It has not run its course. The US accounts for just 6.6% of the land area of the world. It has been less than 200 years since the industrial revolution, out of more than 1 million years of human history. As a population, as a culture, we are shocked, adjusting, and changing. We will not live to see the conclusion. The only thing known so far is that we are not normal.

I live in the US, but mostly without the things on that list. It is liberating to at least identify the ways in which we are different. They are the stressors in our lives. To see people shop as a hobby, drive, follow conventions, sip sugar water, follow years’ and decades’ worth of TV series, and refrigerate their living space is like stepping into a hyper-modern future world. You might think I’m crazy, but the reality is: we are.

When I arrived in Germany in December 2008 to backpack for 2 weeks, my first time leaving the country, I was shocked at how un-shocking things were. People were people, living like people. No big deal. I arrived in Afghanistan in January 2011 for a deployment. I remember that of course, but the adjustment there mostly involved the job to do. After a half year there, the real shock was returning home. The colors! The information! Options! What to do?! That returning home shock doesn’t seem to wear off. I have left the country for 6+ months 5 separate times now, to Afghanistan, Japan, and Brazil. Each time I return, I am shocked by how shocking it is to come home.

Over the last year or so, I have spent a lot of time listening to history lectures from the Greeks through today (I recommend The Great Courses, available on Audible, they are awesome). I started with world history for a while, then recently listened to 2 sets of lectures on American history. The shock is the same when learning about history. There is no precedent for America, neither from distant continents, nor from the distant past. America is America. It stands alone.

America is different. America is far from normal. Travel. Travel anywhere in the world, and when you see normal for the first time, remember that you are seeing normal outside the US. Only when you return will you see what is truly remarkable and special. America.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

That is the question.

In this my third year of “blogging,” I have decided that it’s time to discuss “blogging” itself. I have had a website since summer 2013 when my friend Biff showed me how easy it is to do. Most of you have probably not ever blogged and view bloggers as self-absorbed blabber-mouths with an inflated sense of their own importance. Well, actually, maybe you don’t–but that’s how I felt, and so I assumed others felt that way, and that is where I started two and a half years ago…

When I wrote my first post, I can remember clicking the little “Publish” button and waiting for this imaginary something to happen because I had simultaneously spoken to the entire world all at once. I felt like the collective criticism of the world was going to descend upon me and laugh me off the face of the earth. I called my brother and some friends to look at my post just to get some feedback because the anticipation was killing me. Instead of something cataclysmic, nothing happened. I found not only had I not spoken to the entire world all at once, but hardly anyone noticed. This is bad for someone trying to get hits on his website, but for me, I was relieved, and as time went by, I found that I felt more and more free to write what I want and click that “Publish” button. I have come to the point where I enjoy having my website and it has proven very useful. To take it one step further, I will go so far as to say that if you use the internet, you too should blog!–or at least dabble in blogging, or at least have a simple site. The following is why.

  1. A website gives you elbow room on the internet. Let’s face it, these days we all spend some time on the internet. Even those stubborn technophobic Facebook hold-outs who just got a smart phone use the internet. So wouldn’t it be nice to have some of your own space here? “It’s just virtual space!” you say. Yes. Correct. It’s just a virtual internet too, but you’re on it. It must have some value. Own, don’t be a lifetime renter. Having your own personal space, that elbow room, allows you to direct your information seeking efforts so you don’t get lost in the black hole that leads to the end of the internets. If nothing else, you can set up a page with a list of your favorite links as a starting point when getting your news from the internet. Click the link. I do just that with my website.
  2. Having a website gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective on the internet. Ever watch the “behind-the-scenes” of the making of a movie? Seeing it changes how you perceive the movie and you understand it better. Producing video gives you some perspective on what is possible in movies and video production. The same applies to internet information. Once you produce information on the internet you realize how easy it is and impresses upon you the importance of screening the information. Anybody can do it! There is a whole bunch of junk information out there – especially on the internet – and you are much better equipped at recognizing it if you supply some of the junk yourself! I do. Click the link and buy something, dang it!
  3. Blogging gives you a voice. Have you ever played a game where you aren’t allowed to speak for an extended period of time? It’s frustrating, right? Have you ever been frustrated by the stupid things people say in public forums? “I heard so-and-so said such-and-such on Twitter. What an idiot!” Twitter user or not, you’ve seen tweets. You can’t stop them. Twitter is free. You can’t escape them. Tweets are part of the news these days. Don’t fall into the trap of helpless frustration! Believe me, no matter how many followers one has, they are frustrated too. Dear Twitter Idiot, a million people may have read your tweet, but it still only took those million people 10 seconds to read your 140 characters, and they moved on to the next tweet with little more than a nagging feeling of neglect that you didn’t even bother to use punctuation when speaking to millions of people. Dear Frustrated Mute Listener, find your voice! Blabber on! Look no further for an example. This is me blabbering right here! Look! An excessive exclamation point! Where? Right there! You can too. If you are my friend, I will even go out of my way to read and promote your unlimited characters, but you have to take that first step.
  4. You can use your blog to discuss with your friends more efficiently. Whenever I research a subject, I write my conclusion in a post instead of just an e-mail. That way when the subject comes up again, I send the link to my conclusion! You systemize your discussions! Yes, I really do this and it is fun.
  5. A website is an efficient way to communicate and organize. I used my site for an event over Thanksgiving, and it worked great. Facebook works too, and so does group e-mail, but a website has an advantage over each. With a site, you can adjust it after sending the link, which you can’t do with a group e-mail. Some people do not have Facebook, and you can reach those people as well. You definitely want to be able to reach the Facebook hold-outs, they are the coolest people out there. Just ask them!
  6. Those from the pre-internet days will say we don’t know anything, we just know how to search fast. People say we have off-loaded our brains to the internet. We have transferred memory itself to computers. I agree. It is truly amazing how much information one can take in. Even more amazing, with a blog, you can hyper-organize the information. With the internet, our brains can become an index of searches. With a blog, you don’t even need to do that. You can become an index to the table of contents of your own cross reference to all information known to man – the internet. Most importantly, with a blog you can quickly reference only the specific information you have deemed quality.
  7. The internet can be compared to real estate. Many people will say that blogs are out of date and you will not get any traffic. You should use established places like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, et cetera. It is true that you will get more traffic in these established places. They are like a store front in a mall. There is naturally traffic passing by. With a blog you must generate your own traffic organically. However! Space on the internet is like real estate. With a blog you own the space and you own the traffic. You control how your content is displayed and in the event that you do generate traffic, you own the advertising rights. If you are already producing content in any other place you should blog it first then copy paste it to the other established formats. Own your content!
  8. Last and certainly not least, blogging is a journal. Maybe you want to sit down for a few minutes each day / week / month and reflect. Journaling is a timeless activity. I argue that blogging is an improvement on journaling. Journaling is for hermits. In a journal, you may write some of your deepest secrets feeling the security that nobody will ever read it. How do we know that people write secrets in their journal? Because they wrote them down and somebody found their journal and read them, duh! With blogging, hopefully you’re smart enough not to publish your deepest secrets (I don’t recommend drinking and blogging, bad idea). Blogging is journaling with 3.26 billion of your closest friends keeping you honest. There is an imaginary force of motivation knowing that someone might be reading that keeps you to your routine of a few minutes of writing. So thanks for keeping me honest. The best is when somebody in real life tells you he has read your blog and makes some comment on it. It’s kind of a rush. It’s like a tiny piece of that tidal wave of criticism that you felt on day one–but not criticism at all–and you become a little less self-conscious, and a little more bold each time.

To blog! That is the answer.

Nielsen Survey

I was recently solicited to participate in a Nielsen household TV survey. They have a unique way of enticing participation. The first envelope has a lot of explanatory material and a request to participate, as well as–without explanation–$5 cash, a single five-dollar bill. I agreed to participate, so after a few weeks they sent me a second envelope with a “TV Viewing Diary” to be filled out in detail for two weeks; and again the cash–this time the envelope contained six five-dollar bills, $30 cash! I spent the fives on groceries, filled out the TV viewing diary (blank because I don’t watch), and took their TV survey. Now, like Pavlov’s dogs, I am expecting a thank you letter with more cash. I can’t wait to hear from Nielsen again!

At the end of the diary, Nielsen leaves space and asks you to “comment on TV in general.” This is my response:

Except for about two years in the middle, I haven’t had TV in my house since 2003 (for two years my roommates had one). At first I felt like I was missing something and like I didn’t know what was going on. After a few months, I no longer missed it and I gathered from conversations at work and with friends what was in the news and what was going on in various shows. After a few years, I started having the opinion that TV actually prevents people from really knowing what’s going on. I hear conversations about current shows and it’s all sensationalized fantasy.  People’s world view from the news is this chaotic, scary place, when really the world, for the most part, is fairly well-off, happy, and stable. When I see TV now, much of it is shocking and some of it is offensive. I do miss sports and ESPN. I watch ESPN
whenever I can! -Nathan Ruffing