I Got Laid, And Not In The Good Way.

Well, folks… I’ve just been laid off. Precisely in the middle of my training program, we’ve been shut down due to COVID19. The official reason was given as safety reasons, but the reality is that a good portion of the company’s regular staff at it’s 40+ dealerships have also been laid off. The stooges who laid me off suggested that we might be back in 3 weeks. I don’t know if they believed themselves, but I sure as hell don’t believe we’ll be back inside a couple of months.

Just because this is my life, the day after getting my layoff notice, I was contacted by a wonderful lady who was renting out her basement apartment. I went to see the place last weekend, and although it’s not the luxury apartment I was living in 5 years ago, it was pretty fucking great; and just in budget. Just. If I’m lucky enough to get my employment insurance in a timely fashion, and qualify for the maximum amount, I’ll get 55% of my income.

Napkin math goes like this: take home pay is $450 week. Rent would have been $1,000/month, including heat, water and power. The numbers there conveniently work out to show that just my housing cost would be 55% of my income. My entire income from employment insurance would be gone. Forget groceries, transportation, insurance, healthcare… everything.

If you think $1,000/month sounds expensive, it is. The vacancy rate here in Halifax, Canada is less than 1%. By some estimates, affordable housing vacancy rates are close to 0.4%. Depending on where you get your data, the average one bedroom rental in the city is anywhere between $1,100-$1,500.

The cost of rentals in this area is terribly disproportionate to the average incomes. With a minimum wage under $13/hr and a dearth of jobs, Halifax is a hard place to live for the average person. So, a $1,000/month inclusive apartment is probably equivalent to $700/month + utilities. Try finding a place for $600-$700/month in Halifax. Yes, they exist. Can you find one, and would you want to live there?

I’ve been trying for a long time to make “right” and “good” decisions for some time. Yes, for a while it seemed like I had the world by the balls, and I couldn’t put a foot wrong, so maybe it’s just my turn? Losing everything, including control over my own body in the form of addiction, has caused me to look at every decision hyper-critically, in the hopes of climbing out of the hole I’ve dug myself into. I really feel like I’m doing the right things, finally, but getting the wrong results.

It’s nice to have some time to be back here though, so I’ll try to take advantage of it. There’s a few folks that have emailed me over the past several weeks that I want to get back to, and I want to get some more useful content up here for you. I’m hoping that my dark market how-to will be up here in a few days so you can get onto a safer, more reliable way to get your substances. Keep your comments coming, your input and emails keep me motivated to carry on here. Thanks to those who have taken the time to contribute. Let me know how things are going for you out there.

Send Me Something To Make Me Feel Better?

I’m halfway through my training course. It’s a dumpster fire, for sure. Exam is coming near end of April, no idea if any of us will pass. Most of the class doesn’t seem to care that much. The training is paid, so there’s not much skin in the game. I’m the oldest guy there, twice the age of most of them. I don’t know if that’s going to work for, or against me.

I don’t have the energy to write much. I’m up early to be at work for 8am, which isn’t that early. By the time I’m done… I’m done. Still not having a home is depressing, and the market is getting worse. I’m using more sedatives and hypnotics than I can get hold of, and falling back in to drinking just to get by.

The reality of my new “career” is setting in, along with it, the acceptance that I’ll always be broke and retirement will only come when I’ve lived my last day. I feel like the second chance is turning into a cruel ruse to try to keep me alive a little longer.

I’ll try to be here more, but it’s hard when I hit that point of not caring. I had to renew my hosting last week, and it damn near broke me financially and mentally. Not on a hot streak recently. Tell me something to cheer me up?

How Do I Monetize This Thing? What Do You Want To See Here?

Does anyone have any suggestions for monetizing my blog? I’m not getting much traffic outside my one “acetone cocaine wash” page, so I’m not seeing how it would really work. I’m also not sure how to interpret my site statistics. Eventually I’d like to have content worthy of a donate button or patreon, but that’s a looooooong way off. I suppose I’m just looking to make money off something that should be free, which feels kind of greasy.

Is there anything you’d like to see on this blog? I had mentioned doing a how-to on safely extracting codeine from OTC meds such as Tylenol #2 and #3 (separating it from acetaminophen/ASA and caffeine) without using the crappy cold water extraction (CWE) method, but that’s going to take some time to get the resources to verify my results.

There are no shortage of guides to get you on the darkweb and dark markets, but I might do a quick one specifically for Canadians. Most of the process is universal, with the exception of your crypto-currency broker. I’m not an expert, but I can take you through the minimum requirements for security and procedure to get you on the markets and buying anything your heart desires. I was a vendor on the markets for a short time, but that’s another story. Maybe you’d like to hear about that?

Eventually I’d like to get into the interesting period in my life where I was meeting people online and flying around to meet with strangers in hotels. I’ll be putting out some more automotive content for the hell of it, whether you like it or not. Is there anything you want to know, or that I’ve mentioned that you’d like to hear more about? I know I’m largely listening to the sound of my own typing here, but I’m determined to practice for the day that people are actually listening. Ten years from now, someone will be seeing this blog post for the first time and wishing they’d asked me when they had the chance.

Short Personal Update On New Job And What Drugs I’m Doing Today

I start my new job on Monday. I’ll be getting a few months of training, then if I can successfully challenge and pass the apprenticeship exam, I’ll be starting out as a 2nd year apprentice automotive technician at a dealership. I’m a bit terrified about the whole thing. It’s going to be a lot harder work than I’ve been doing, earlier mornings, longer days and less dollars per hour to start. Overall income will probably be the same but I’ll be putting in a lot more hours to get it.

I still don’t feel 100%, and I can’t remember the last time I did. Most normal people have to be at work early in the morning, and seem to manage, but I’m concerned about having to be at work for 8am and actually working a full 8 hour day. Maybe I’m just innately lazy? I had an early morning paper route when I was young (12-17yrs old maybe?), and most of my work experience before self employment involved getting to work by 6am. I was usually hungover or still drunk in that part of the day too, I don’t know how I did it.

I just don’t remember how I felt 10 years ago, but I don’t think I’ve recovered from something yet. I’m down to 4mg of suboxone now, and tapering that has messed with my life for sure. Being on it at higher doses has a definite impact also though, and I don’t know where I’m better off. I’m equally as excited to get off it for good as I am terrified what will happen without it.

I get a handful of 4mg dilaudid (hydromorphone, instant release) every month from a friend, and it’s been interesting to track the changes in how I react to it. I was worried that my tolerance would be forever fucked after the suboxone. As it turns out, this is not going to be the case, it’s actually been dropping exponentially. A few months ago when I had just dropped to 6mg suboxone, I was shooting 12mg of dilaudid and getting a mild buzz off it. I’ve put the needles away and gone back to plugging (hopefully I can make that stick), and now a single 4mg in the ass gives me a buzz.

Here is the kicker though, I don’t like the feeling. I never loved opiates the way some people seem to, I wouldn’t describe them as euphoric necessarily, but now they make me feel gross. When I became addicted, I did like the feeling and don’t recall this shittiness, but it was more about the feelings it stopped than the feelings it gave me. This is not to say I don’t still feel the compulsion to use them, but there are some here most of the time and I don’t fiend them like I do zopiclone. It’s bittersweet. I hope, like getting away from needles, it is something that I can keep up. I’d also say to anyone who is struggling to quit, sometimes it needs to be the right time, and then it will happen. Not to say that effort and the will to do it isn’t a factor, but anytime I’ve accomplished something like this, it was much easier when the time came.

I’m out of zopiclone, and that sucks. I got myself back on the dark web and ordered some, but they can’t come soon enough. I do get them prescribed, but I’m a month away from being able to get more from my doctor. I love these things so much, it’s a bit sad. I wanted to spring for the zolpidem, but they were almost four times the price. I believe those are the ones that are the isomer that you can IV, I’d be curious to try. Anyone else out there like the zopiclones? I’d love to hear your experiences. Maybe there’s some other odd drug you like a little too much?

BMW E46 ZHP/ZAM M-Sport & M-Performance

Here is another obscure, automotive piece. As far as I know, there is no similar repository on the internet for information on this topic, so I want to create one.

The 2004-2006 (E46) BMW ZHP

There is a ton of info on the ZHP on the internet, and most of it is accurate by this point. Since it’s already been so exhaustively covered, I’m going to only offer a quick summary. The ZHP was an option package available on North American 330 models. It was, at its heart, a sport pack 330 with several minor, but interesting changes. It included relatively significant changes in the exhaust, engine control, and cams to pick up a modest ~10hp increase. There were some upgrades to the suspension, specifically the front, employing different control arms. The factory alignment specs were more performance oriented. Most of the other changes were cosmetic, and fairly extensive but subtle. This included standard alcantara interior, M-Tech 2 body kit, an instrument cluster with red needles and a higher redline to reflect the engine management changes, silver or black cube trim in place of wood, and blacked out “shadowline” trim around the windows. The package was rounded out by a set of staggered 18” wheels, which, while attractive, were very heavy and often chided as the reason BMW needed to extract another 10HP from from the venerable M54. Slightly shorter rear end gearing was also standard, boosting acceleration over the standard 330 sport.

This option was available only on 330 sedan, coupe and convertible models. Imola red, a colour otherwise only available on the M3 E46 was also optional.

In Canada, this package was internally known as the ZAM, but known to the public as the M-Performance package. The only difference between the US ZHP and the Canadian ZAM, was the instrument cluster. The Canadian version used the standard sport cluster, as BMW did not make a metric cluster with the red needles and increased indicated redline, although the rev limit was indeed 6,800 rpm, 300 higher than the standard 330.

So far, I haven’t covered anything that isn’t documented on dozens of reliable resources on the internet. While there is still a popular misconception that the ZHP/ZAM is “an M3 without the M3 engine”, which is tragically false, the details and production numbers of the package are otherwise well documented and irrefutable.

The area where things get muddy, is with another model that was widely available in Canada (there were also European variants that are outside my scope, but would love to hear more about), but not sold in the US market. Introduce, the M-Sport.

Firm details, such as production numbers, or available options, for the M-Sport are unavailable, as far as I can find. Anecdotally, however, I can report that the M-Sport was fairly prolific compared to the ZAM, as examples of them can be seen everywhere. So, what is the E46 M-Sport, and why does it matter?

The M-Sport package was available along side of the M-Performance package (ZHP/ZAM) in Canada, from 2003-2006. Cosmetically, it was nearly distinguishable from the ZAM, most of the time. Getting into the mechanics of the two, however, the M-Sport had more in common with other sport models. The M-Sport retained the entire drivetrain of a regular 330 (by 2003 the 6 speed was standard), including the axle ratio, cams, and 6,500rpm redline. It also came standard with leather steering wheel, shift and parking brake boots, instead of alcantara.

Given that in later years, due to durability issues, the ZAM/ZHP were available with leather in place of alcantara, distinguishing the two can be tricky. The only real visual cue that is a dead giveaway is the tailpipe. ZHP/ZAM cars had larger stainless dual tailpipes, while the M-Sport used the 330 chrome rolled tailpipes. The standard wheels on the M-Sport were the 17” 68M, but the 18” 135M, as found on the ZHP/ZAM, were optional. Imola red was also retained for an option on the M-Sport.

So, why is the M-Sport a noteworthy car, given it’s “lesser” status compared to the ZHP/ZAM? Here’s where things get murky, and a little fun. Unlike the ZHP/ZAM package, that was only available on 330 RWD models of the sedan, coupe and convertible, the M-Sport package could be tacked on to almost any E46. In Canada, it’s not uncommon to see M-Sport package wagons, and AWD cars. While the package seemed most popular on 325 and 330 models, it’s been spotted on 320s as well. 320 and 325 cars did not share the more aggressive rear diffuser as the 330, but carried over the rest of the cosmetics.

This opened the door to another unusual variable, the oft maligned SSG transmission. It’s unclear what combination these options might have been available in, so the existence of an AWD Imola red 330 touring with SSG would be speculative, but I have seen some interesting combinations nonetheless. Unfortunately, these are often passed off as ZHP/ZAM cars, sometimes deliberately, sometimes out of ignorance. Running the VIN is the only way to know for sure, looking for the A767 code.

Another interesting note about the M-Sport cars is that they are usually found with tri-colour stitched leather wheel, M/// door sill plates, and M/// dead pedal. I have not been able to confirm that these were on all M-Sport cars, if they were optional, or dealer upgrades. ZHP cars were available with leather/power interior (mine is a US 1/28 Imola/beige leather), while I have not yet seen an M-Sport that didn’t have full leather with power sport seats.

Building a ZHP wagon is a project that’s been undertaken by many in the US, but here in Canada, you can find examples that have much of the work already done. With options like AWD and the wagon body style, these cars represent a great value in the E46 market. Many sellers are unaware that these cars share so many of the components of the sought after ZHP.

Because there is little official information available about the M-Sport package, much of what I’ve compiled is through firsthand experience, and scouring classifieds. If you have any information that supports or casts doubt on what I’ve discussed here, please contact me, or post it in the comments. The more information I can compile about available option combinations on M-Sport cars, the better we can document these fairly common yet obscure cars.

A Very Unfortunate Story. How Could It Have Been Different?

On October 18, 2016, just before 5pm, a tragic car crash occurred in a city near the foot of the Canadian Rockies. A man (allegedly) driving his 17 year old daughter and one of her friends to an appointment, lost control of his small SUV. The vehicle fishtailed, rolled, and all three were ejected.

The daughter was killed at the scene, her friend suffered brain trauma, and the father suffered serious injuries, but recovered. More than three years later, the father is in court, facing numerous charges in connection to the crash.

From reading multiple news reports, I want to review the factors that contributed to the crash. The pieces I want to look at are the following:

1- The father, alleged to be driving (his defense contests that there’s insufficient evidence to prove he was driving at the time), had a blood alcohol level “over 3 times the legal limit”, which would imply greater than 0.24.

2- Based on multiple reports, all three were ejected from the vehicle, suggesting that no seatbelts were worn. I was not able to find a specific report stating as much, but with all parties ejected and confusion about who may have been driving, I’m going to suggest this was the case.

3- The vehicle was traveling as much as 30km/h over the 80km/h speed limit when it started to fishtail, according to accident reconstruction investigators on the scene (there is no mention in news articles about what caused the loss of control).

4- The vehicle was a 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty. Photos from the scene confirm this was the vehicle make, model and year. This becomes important later.

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to place the impaired father as the driver, as Police contend there is sufficient proof of (some of which is listed in the news reports). Driving drunk impairs judgment and affects reaction time. It’s reasonable to believe this could have been the primary cause of the inputs that caused the loss of control. There’s a reason that impaired driving is a bad idea, and there’s no mystery to this component.

That all occupants were ejected strongly suggests that seatbelts were not in use. For me, this is the most disturbing part of the crash. Again, having seen the photos of the vehicle at the crash scene, it’s certainly conceivable that it was a survivable crash. There is relatively little damage to the vehicle, beyond rollover damage. There were no visible indications of significant passenger compartment intrusion, or fire. Rollovers are where seatbelts do their best work, as ejection significantly increases mortality.

Being vaguely familiar with the section of freeway, traveling at 110km/h on that stretch isn’t necessarily problematic in that it’s not a section with sharp corners. Road conditions, weather and visibility at the time were not reported as factors. 80Km/h roads are typically secondary highway or freeway roads designed for expedited travel, usually with controlled access (no side roads entering or intersections). This particular section was 2 lanes in each direction, separated by a grass median. While traveling 30km/h over that speed is unwise, without another contributing factor, such as traffic, it shouldn’t in itself induce a loss of control. Had the vehicle not been speeding, a loss of control would have been less likely, and the rollover less likely, but not impossible.

The last part is the factor that will be universally overlooked. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed “it’s an SUV, which is prone to rollover”, you’d be wrong. To be clear, yes, SUVs will rollover more easily than a car, but this accident could have happened in a car as well. There’s a specific feature that comes into play in these types of crashes. Electronic stability control. The name varies by manufacturer, but many passenger vehicles manufactured prior to 2007, the year it became mandatory, do not have it. This particular jeep was not equipped with “Electronic Stability Program”.

Stability control is the feature that saves lives every day, but few of us know about or understand. I won’t get into the technical aspect of it in this post, but it’s a rather simple and ingenious system that interacts with your powertrain and braking system, using information from g force sensors, speed and other telemetry data. It will simultaneously limit drive power, and apply braking to individual wheels as soon as certain parameters are triggered. This system, while not infallible, virtually eliminates rollovers caused by loss of rear stability (fishtailing).

In spite of it’s simple operation principle, it is extremely effective in stopping fishtailing, often before the driver is aware of it. During sudden lane changes, it’s not uncommon to see vehicles lose stability in the rear, beginning a pendulum motion of swinging that may become more unstable in spite of correct driver inputs. It’s arguably the most important safety advance since seatbelts, especially because it takes steps to avoid accidents rather than protect occupants during a crash.

This technology was often available on higher end vehicles in the 90’s, but it wasn’t until 2006/7 that it became mandatory in most markets. It’s often derided by those who see themselves as above average drivers, discounted as a “driving nanny”. The stability control system has access to information, and ability to actuate systems, that the driver simply can’t. There is no provision for even the best driver to apply brake force to an individual wheel, or calculate yaw while measuring individual wheel speeds. If you dislike stability control, you probably don’t understand how it works or why it’s necessary.

This safety feature could have saved countless lives in now preventable crashes. Next, I want to talk a bit more about the technical side of it, as well as providing some video examples of accidents that could have been avoided with stability control. Hint: almost every super-car crash/fail video starts with the driver disabling the system by pressing the button.

I hope you found this article worth reading. I’m going to try to change things up more and post some different stories that you might find entertaining or informative.

I Got The Fucking Thing

I don’t know what to call it, it’s not really a job. It’s some paid training and an apprenticeship. The thing that I decided when I was 18, was a bad idea… at 43, I’m doing it now.

Amazingly, it’s a cut in pay for the shit job I do now. Because it’s a structured apprenticeship, there’s not much room to move on the wage either for the first couple years. I wasn’t making a lot more than minimum wage, but it was almost $3/hr more than what I’m going to. In theory, 3-4 years down the road it will be a different picture.

It essentially means I’m going back to school, which doesn’t excite me, but maybe it will get me a little closer to where I always dreamed I’d be. I still would rather be a writer, some sort of artist, but there’s no prospect on that front. I can’t even afford to keep this website going. The nominal hosting and domain renewal is breaking me. That’s kind of sad.

I won’t ask for donations because there’s no content on here worth any money yet, but I’m going to try to make it worth something in the future. Maybe I’ll switch to a more automotive theme, and if any money comes in I’ll get back to some drug chemistry and trip reports.

I have some requests for safer codeine extraction method, safer than cold water extraction (CWE), that I have used myself but haven’t been able to test it enough to confidently discuss it on the internet. I have some other topics on harm reduction and experience maximization I’d like to explore, but being broke is an impediment.

On the topic of drugs, I’m two days in to my latest suboxone taper, now at 4mg. I know next week is going to be hard. I’m pretty much limited to 1mg drops, and that’s accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of my dose. I’m tired of being sick from the taper, but at least equally tired of being tied to daily witnessed doses.

That’s it for today, fuck everything.

This Is Why I Shouldn’t Write Half Stories.

I started writing about my experience with law enforcement, and pictured myself getting directly to part 2. Two things happened. First, the story is long, and it’s tedious even for me to write out. Second, other shit happened that I’d rather talk about.

I have a job interview on Friday. I have really mixed feelings about it, which probably isn’t that unusual. Here’s the thing though, it’s for a position to become an apprentice mechanic. This gets into another long story. Jesus, all of my stories are long. So sorry.

I’ve always loved cars, and many people just assumed I’d become a mechanic. My own twisted sense of direction, and advice from a dear mentor (friends dad who owned a garage when I was growing up), told me that if I truly loved cars, toiling endlessly on other people’s was a sure recipe for misery. The cobbler’s shoes always have holes.

So, for 20 years I tried to do things unrelated to automobiles that would pay enough that I could support my habit (failed) or tried to involve myself in parallel industries that would get me close enough to my passion that I’d be happy. Failed.

Over time, I’ve got it in my head that I don’t want to labour for a living. I want to make a living with my mind. Writing has been by fantasy escape from reality. I just need to write a good book, then I can afford the nice cars and days at the racetrack. Well, that’s failing also. I’m a good writer, I honestly believe that; but I’m not going to produce anything people will pay for. I feel like I could be taught what I’m missing, but I’m not in a position to go back to school for it. I also don’t have the confidence in my abilities. There are too many great writers out there that aren’t getting noticed. I’ve got nothing to add.

This apprentice opportunity takes me out of a similar position, and puts me into training and guaranteed employment. I wish there was something similar for writing. Hell, there probably is, but I don’t know about it, and I doubt I’d get the interview. When this position came up, I was pretty sure my resume and cover letter would get some attention. I have that confidence.

I’m simultaneously terrified and confident about the interview.

I don’t want to be replacing rusty tailpipes.

I had an opportunity to go to a racing technician school, but couldn’t afford to relocate to Ontario for it. I desperately wanted it. There was no job guarantee, but I felt like once I showed up there, they would want to keep me. It would have been my entry into the world of racing that I always dreamed of.

This is a very pedestrian version of that opportunity. It’s more practical, for sure, with some prospect of employment at the end of the paid training. It’s a great opportunity. I wish I could cut it as an artist. I don’t have the discipline or the experience though. I need to be realistic and get my hands back to work making something better than minimum wage.

If I don’t get this position, I’ll be devastated. I’ll be a little surprised, also. I’m that confident in my aptitude and suitability for this. I wish I felt something even close to this about writing. I’m just not there yet. My story isn’t there yet. Maybe this job will move me closer, not further away?

I’m tormented, bitter, depressed, and cynical. I also feel like I have a gift. I don’t know what that gift is, though. As a juvenile, I fancied myself an uber-talented race driver. I’m certainly not, and was actually quite awful at the height of my fantasy. I moved on to thing I might have a gift with fixing things, but that’s a stupid gift that nobody needs. I confused the necessity out of poverty to keep every single thing around me working with being mechanically inclined. I hoped I might have a gift with writing, but it’s not really there either. I confused working hard to express my emotions with being a good writer.

In all that, somewhere, I know I;m good at something. I hate people, but I am able to connect and earn trust. I don’t have the vision or structure of a writer, but I can communicate feelings and ideas. The need to use any resource to repair things I can’t afford to replace, doesn’t make me a technician. Don’t forget I’m anti-capitalist and a social justice warrior. How fucked is this… Is there any connection in it all? Is there a thing that I’m meant to do?

I have 6 years to figure it out, before I buy that one-way ticket. Any ideas, anyone?

Law Enforcement. Police. Are They Inherently Evil? Part 1…

Law enforcement. Police. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now how I feel about these folks. My relationship with the police goes back to my mid teens. Arguably, it could reach further in that my dad was briefly in law enforcement, and my uncle made his career in the RCMP. My uncle lived halfway across the country, and my dad’s stint as town police came and went before I was even born, so I never felt any real connection to the occupation. It’s fair to say though, that I was raised in a general “pro LEO” environment. I was unbiased, more or less

I lived in a very small town, population of about 1,500. It happened to be the regional headquarters for the RCMP, so there was in inordinate number of police present in such a small town. My first interactions with police were mostly as a paperboy. I delivered the morning newspaper, 6 days a week to mush of town. I recall that I had nearly 100 customers on 2 separate routes that I did on my bicycle for years. That’s another story, getting up at 430-500 to deliver papers before going to school. It sounds inhumane, but at the time I mostly enjoyed it. It was the only income in the household outside of social assistance.

I got to know a few of the officers in town, at one point I delivered papers to 5 of them. In retrospect, it probably bought me a lot of favour; but it was used up quickly. My first interaction with police, complete with lights, but no sirens, was when I was probably 13. My hobby at the time was radio controlled cars. I would drive them on the road in front of my house, fairly rural but within town limits.

There was a sightline of about 1/3 mile in one direction, and almost a mile in the other direction, so it would have been an iffy spot for road hockey, but plenty of time to clear the road on sight of a car. According to the police, I was in violation of the law, and a danger to the driving public. I’d been warned. I was a bit shaken by the encounter, but I took it at face value and was hyper-vigilant while I continued to drive my radio controlled cars on the road as a scofflaw.

At this point, I had no real reason to harbour ill will towards law enforcement. The hassled me over something trivial, but I was in the wrong. I still believed that cops were the good guys, and I could trust them if ever the occasion arose. A couple of years passed, and something happened that turned my thoughts to the police, and how they could help me catch a criminal!

I have to back up a bit and give you some background info first. As I mentioned, I delivered newspapers on my bicycle. Over the years, my routes expanded, and I was putting a lot miles on my bike. The hand-me-downs and canadian tire bikes were falling apart and unreliable, so I bought a used Specialized Rockhopper through a small bike shop in the “big city” 20 miles away (it had a mall, a mcdonalds and a movie theatre, population less than 10,000). This was the place you had to go if you needed anything. The bike was $500, sold by a hardcore mountain biker who bought something newer. The rockhopper was used, but well maintained and had some upgrades. I loved it, and rode it year round delivering papers and exploring trails.

I forged a relationship with the bike shop owner, taking it in for occasional maintenance; mostly chains. I broke 7 chains; about 2/year. The bike shop insisted I was misusing it somehow, but we eventually agreed it was the shimano deraileur that “wasn’t designed to be shifted under load”. It’s a mystery to me, but I did end up buying a chainbreaker tool so I could replace my own chains.

Being the only bike shop within a hundred miles, anyone who was a serious biker went there for something. As it turned out, there was a very enthusiastic cyclist in my town that went there for service. I would see him often around town on his road bike, in all weather, decked out in the appropriate cycling livery, like a one man peloton.

A middle aged guy dressed up as Lance Armstrong stands out in a small rural town, and so did his bike. His bike stood out to me, at least. It was high end, and customized to suit his requirements. There was no other bike like it

I know this is getting a long way off topic, but I’ll bring it back. I have to stop here, so I’m just going to post this up now, so I’m committed to finishing the story. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve abandoned because I couldn’t finish them in one sitting. Just remember, this leads into how law enforcement can be the worst kind of evil. Stay tuned…

There Is A Monster At The End Of This Post

Where do dreams go when they die? Eh, who really cares. They’re gone, so why waste energy on speculating their whereabouts? What I really want to know is, what happens to us when our dreams die. If you’re of the group of folks that don’t have “dreams”, I think you could reasonably replace it with hope. The have a measure of overlap in this context.

Dreams, or hope, or the hope of a dream, have a general affect of giving us something to strive for, to work towards, and to keep us moving when motivation for survival isn’t enough. It might not be extravagant, and will surely vary depending on where you are in your life journey. It’s something like the purpose that drives you to get up and do what you have to, even on the shittiest mornings, and keeps you from switching off when the day goes from bad to worse.

I wanted to try to keep this generic, and not make it about my own personal experience, since it will just sound like more whining. I might have to revert to that, however, because I don’t know how to convey it in non-specific examples.

A big part of the despair is as simple as running out of time. It’s a unique factor in that it’s the one thing that no amount of luck or lottery can make up for. There is a point of no return for every dream, some of them are more forgiving than others, but eventually the clock winds down your dream. Yes, there are myriad examples of people finding success late in life, and sometimes the other factors wouldn’t allow it to happen any sooner. If your dream is to switch careers, or go back to school, even fall in love; time might not be your primary enemy. This assumes you have some fortune with the other required resources.

If your dream of going to space, competing in the olympics or backpacking across country in your 20s, time will slam doors on you pretty decisively. For most of us, we might find ourselves somewhere in between. Simply wanting to have a secure retirement, or a retirement at all, mean long term input and navigation to achieve, and a certain amount of luck.

Through bad luck, bad management, or often both, many of us find ourselves in some some depressingly hopeless situations. You only have to look around to see these people, if you aren’t one of them. You can often read about them when they become victims of suicide. When problems don’t come with any reasonably attainable solution, daily life changes.

When you can calculate the handful of variables in your control, compounding them, extrapolating into the near and far term future, the outcomes become universally bleak. Barring some black swan event, that by it’s nature you can’t even guess the odds or magnitude of the outcome, you know the end of the story already. All that’s left is to keep turning the pages.

When I was a kid, I had a Sesame Street book, and it was about the monster at the end of the book. It began with Grover, I believe, calmly explaining that there was a monster at the end of the book. As each page was turned, and the monster loomed closer, Grover would become increasingly upset and agitated, trying every trick imaginable to get you to stop turning the pages. Ultimately, you turned the last page, Grover is having a meltdown, but then discovers HE is the monster at the end of the book. Haha, right?

I know anything can happen, any day. Life can change in an instant. It does. In my book, it’s almost exclusively in ways worse than even I can anticipate. How do I inject some hope into the equation? What do I have IN MY POWER that I can use to redirect this inevitable march? Hoping, praying, counting on karma or balance isn’t enough. It hasn’t been enough, I have decades of receipts. I don’t want the end that’s written for me. My resources are squandered, my energy is depleted, I’m not confident in my physical or mental health even.

I see the hopelessness in the eyes of many, while the rest of the word scurries about gathering their nuts and berries, carving out time to enjoy life, along with a plan to keep it all together. I don’t know what else I can give, beg, or barter to get another chance. How are you doing it?