09.22.21

missing the seasons

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 pm by Administrator

it’s been more than thirteen years now since i left the east coast. i miss it sometimes, in a very vague sense of missing something. when i explore that feeling, i realize that what i am missing is a time in my life, not something embedded in the place itself.

in any case, i watched a youtube last night of a random person driving through my old neighborhood. the video was from september 2017, which was just five months after my father passed, and a couple months after my mother sold the house and left town. it was strange to see the neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of our crisis, loss, and desertion.

in truth, i don’t miss the neighborhood itself. it was miles and miles of gated communities and mansions, with little to do outside of making use of the bike paths and going shopping at one of the two local grocery stores. the cultural attractions were all at least a half hour’s drive away, and even then we’re talking about places that weren’t particularly walkable at night. in most every respect, i prefer the neighborhood where i live now. perhaps the only thing i miss really is the seasons.

when i was growing up, i loved spring, because spring signaled the hope of summer vacation, and because the sudden fury of flowering cascaded into so many other sensations, romantic and otherwise. in early adulthood, i came to relish autumn and its lengthening shadows and pictures of senescence. nowadays, so far from the land where i was raised, i miss the winter. i miss the soft, weak sunlight caught up in the heavy clouds. i miss the bite of the wind and the faint smell of char, as a thin layer of fresh snow crunches under my boots. i miss that feeling of utter anonymity, as i walk silently in the darkness enshrouded in scarf, coat, and gloves, unbeknownst to everyone else tucked away in their homes. i am in a time of my life when i would love to be forgotten, to surrender responsibility, to wander into a vision quest and emerge a stranger, known only to myself. out here, the world pretends that life has no seasons, that life can continue as it always has. the winters of my childhood used to bring an end to these delusions; but this kind of winter carries no gravitas, and thus i cannot stop living as i once was, even though i have lost too much to possibly continue

09.17.21

my best life

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:46 pm by Administrator

sometimes i look at my daughter, and it brings me great joy to see how much happiness she experiences every day. whether it’s playing outside with her friends, or learning something interesting in school, or putting a cookie in her mouth, there is always something in her life that is giving her joy. there is no doubt in my mind that she’s living her best life.

my wife and my son as well do a good job of taking care of themselves, and while there is more responsibility in their lives, i do believe that it is a regular thing for them to experience pleasure and satisfaction. their wellness is a great comfort to me. and it highlights the contrasting experience of my own life. just the other day, my son asked me why i keep working this particular job i have, which is not much different from all the previous jobs i have had, and i was lost for an answer. only days later after a little bit of thought was i able to come up with an honest response: because i am trapped in a life that i do not love.

for the past nineteen years, i have been a working man. i have labored at various jobs that i have hated with varying degrees of intensity. none of these jobs were meaningless; they were all very meaningful, in fact. but all of these jobs have exacted a toll on me that i have been reluctant to pay. specifically, my work has forced me to carry the burdens of other people in a manner that i have consistently found onerous and exhausting. whether as a care provider or as a manager of staff, i’ve had to deal with people at their worst. devoting the vast majority of my time at work to people who are not physically or emotionally well is beyond taxing; it is utterly demoralizing. multiply that experience times fifty-two weeks and nineteen years, and what you get is me—the ambivalent, lost, and chronically unhappy man that i am.

my plight is no different from that of any primary medical provider, over ninety percent of whom express extreme dissatisfaction with their work according to some surveys. but at the same time, my plight is unique because i as an individual am unique. there were so many things i could have done with my life, but i wandered into this profession and for all the wrong reasons perhaps. i had a need to make a living. i thought i could leverage the work into a religious mission of some kind. i thought that this career would complement my philosophical and creative tendencies. nineteen years after embarking on this path, i find myself bereft of the religion that once motivated me to take this career path; in fact, i can honestly say that my professional work is one of the main reasons i abandoned my faith. neither has this work fueled my creative drive. it has actually sapped me of the time and energy that i would have otherwise devoted to exploration and creation.

it hasn’t all been for a loss. i could write tomes about everything that my work has taught me over the years, and of course i credit my long and difficult years journeying with poor, sick, and marginalized people for the personal growth i’ve experienced, now reflected in both my atheism and my mindfulness practices. but i can be honest now about the fact that i’m a misfit for the profession i chose. i cannot stand the structure, discipline, and constant emotional demands of this kind of work, and instead of mitigating my natural needs for spontaneity and creativity, this work has exacerbated my frustrated need for a different way of life. there are people who go through life insisting they have no regrets, and i believe that these people are liars. everyone has regrets. my biggest regret is that i became a doctor.

now, i’m not about to throw away my career on a whim simply because it was a poor choice for me. i have bills to pay. i have responsibilities to fulfill. all of this is part of the web of capitalism and industry that we are all collectively ensnared in. i protest this, but i’ll save those complaints for a more philosophical entry. the fact is that i have placed my personal pursuit of happiness second to responsibility for the past two decades of my life, and while i have paid a price for this, i have also been able to make good on my obligations to others in many ways. however, i’m approaching a period in my life when this will no longer be a justifiable excuse for my deferred happiness. must i continue laboring at this work that is so unnatural and displeasing to me, or should i put it behind me in the interests of salvaging what is left of the little time that remains?

it’s not a hard question to answer. i know for a fact that if i’m still doing this kind of work ten years from now, i will have yet another regret to add to my list of regrets: that i chose not to see what i could be outside of this profession.

i do fear what a less structured life might look like for me, sometimes. though the years of routines and predictable labor have turned me into a relentlessly dour creature of habit, they have also afforded me stability of a kind. what would become of me if i just stopped having a job? what if i took on a work that no one paid me for or held me accountable to? would i become bored? would i turn into a sloth? most of the time i recognize that i have these fears and anxieties because i was forced into a specific kind of work addiction, from a very young age. but sometimes i wonder if i will simply cease to exist if i stop identifying with a paycheck, a daily destination, a certain kind of responsibility to others.

most of the time though, i really wish that for a season of my life i could wake up every morning with no idea of what i had to do. the emptiness of things would pervade me. i might stop commodifying myself and others. i might stop experiencing such relentless unhappiness on a daily basis. i might just begin to tap into the gift that i have to give—the real gift that to this point has been totally unrevealed.

my best life is not about retirement. it is about putting things behind me that have no right to invade my life. it is about freeing myself of responsibilities and obligations that are conceptual and unnecessary. it is about acknowledging that my first priority must always be my own health and well-being, which i have sacrificed consistently and without a second thought for the majority of my adult life. i have pain, and sorrow, and much regret to work through, and i am not sure i have enough time left to work through it all. but a new beginning is the first step on that path, and for my sake, it is time for me to begin imagining exactly what that new beginning might look like

09.15.21

Eagles: great start

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:51 pm by Administrator

in my May 18th entry, i presented a revised projection of a 9-8 season and had this to say about the season opening game:

what’s our path to 9-8 and a wild card berth? i see us beating atlanta in the season opener, an important victory that will set the tone for the rest of the season. while our secondary is no match for their receiving group, the eagles will win this one with relentless pressure on matt ryan. the falcons tried to address their weaknesses on the o-line in this draft, but mayfield and dalman won’t be day one contributors. that’s just fine for kerrigan and company, who will punish ryan on third downs throughout the game. i see the eagles running the ball very effectively against a bad falcon d-line. this win will demonstrate philadelphia’s formula for 2021: running the ball consistently, and refusing to give up any big plays on defense.

this was before julio jones was traded and also before the eagles picked up steven nelson to shore up their secondary. regardless, the outcome was the same. the eagles picked up 173 yards on the ground, at 5.6 yards per carry, and it was big-time runs by sanders and gainwell in the 3rd quarter that put the game away. sirianni’s scheme kept hurts effective in the short passing game, and jalen did well to avoid big mistakes, but the running game and our defense—the pass rush in particular—are what gave us the W.

in the same entry i predicted that we would beat san francisco, and while that’s a tough call on paper, i’m going to stick by that prediction here in september. the niners have a tough front seven but have lost key guys to injury in the secondary, and i think that the eagles will unexpectedly open up this offense on sunday and challenge the niners downfield. i don’t expect the 49ers to be able to stop the eagles’ speedy downfield threats, and i’m counting on hurts connecting with smith, reagor, watkins, ertz, and goedert all afternoon. obviously this will hinge on the quality of our pass protection, and i’m betting on the eagles’ o-line. on the other side of the ball, i think that the eagles are well-designed to expose the weaknesses in the sf offensive scheme, and the pressure will get to jimmy g early and often. the niners are not a team built to come back from a deficit, and the eagles will take this win (an upset no less) handily.

let’s not get ahead of ourselves though and crown hurts and sirianni the kings of all kings. i’ve predicted losses to dallas, carolina, tampa bay, las vegas, denver, new orleans, new york (giants), and washington, and more than a few of these losses will be gruesome, marred by turnovers, and sloppy in execution, especially on offense. hurts will not be sharp every week, and i’ve predicted 17 interceptions for him this year. but he will define himself in the closing stretch, going 3-1 against division rivals and gutting out tough games to get us into the wild card round. and hurts, unlike wentz, will win us a playoff game.

jalen hurts may never be a top-5 quarterback in this league; but he’ll be good enough to make us a contender, and he’ll be likable enough to rally the fan base behind him. he may not ever produce at donovan mcnabb’s peak levels, but i do think he’s enough of a leader and a player to get us to the championship game. that’s as strong of an endorsement as you can get from me. the eagles have a super bowl window while hurts is on his rookie contract, provided that they maintain dominance on the offensive and defensive lines. that’s a tall order after 2022, so the eagles will have to draft well this year and next to stay in the hunt.

sunday’s game was a great start to the year. but keep your pants on eagle fans because it’s not going to be this pretty every week. let’s beat san francisco and keep brooks and johnson healthy.

GO EAGLES

09.12.21

on the twentieth anniversary

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:45 am by Administrator

i am sure that they imagined that even if they were able to get into the cockpit, and take control of the plane, and evade the fighter jets, and barrel into the tower, what they would leave behind would be a burning building, scarred forever for everyone to see, a testament to their cause. imagine even their awe at the magnitude of what they did, when the buildings not only caught fire but then collapsed. it was like everything holding up what is—all the girders and pipes and walls, all the concrete and metal that makes everything strong—suddenly capitulated.

there is nothing left. they could not have imagined that there would be nothing left. yes sure, there is a monument, and there are memories, but the building that was supposed to show the scars of war could not survive our cruelty and our rage. and thus there is no victory for either the perpetrator or the victim, even though we are both.

how weak we truly our at our foundations. it only shows when we destroy ourselves. it has been a long time since i ran my fingers along the fence and all the letters and photographs taped to its thin and buckling spines. i felt the softness and the ash of what was left behind. it was for me both revelation and sadness, and i was never the same.

09.08.21

macro thesis: signal and noise

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:33 pm by Administrator

i’ve recently laid out my base case scenario regarding covid. while the vaccine is mitigating disease severity and saving lives, it cannot guarantee us herd immunity. most concerningly, fully vaccinated persons are getting infected and shedding virus at levels equivalent to those seen in unvaccinated persons. this means that viral evolution is happening in vaccinated hosts, on a populational level. and that means that our current vaccines are certain to have diminishing efficacy against currently evolving variants. additionally, these variants will likely have higher replicative capacity, which means they are likely to cause more severe disease, especially in unvaccinated people.

my macro thesis for the global economy hinges on this view of viral evolution. we are not almost done with covid, as we in the united states were led to believe back in the spring. we are just at the beginning of a years-long struggle with a virus that will become endemic and remain a step ahead of vaccine development. if we are lucky, we will find a sustainable coexistence with this life form, and it will endeavor not to kill us, its valued hosts. but as a society we will emerge from this compromise both sicker and less productive than we were before.

the implications for the global economy have to be obvious. the reopening boom in financial assets has been predicated on an overwhelming belief in imminent herd immunity. like i’ve written previously, the current level of asset price inflation cannot be sustained by anything less than a 100% return to business. but endemic covid implies more like an 85% economy, with chronic workforce shortages due to illness, fear, and cultural change, and with an inevitable contraction of the economy as small and medium sized business begin to shrink or shut down due to these workforce issues. even the large cap industries will at some point have to alter strategy in response to employment data and growth projections. the recent non-farm payroll data was signal, not noise, and what it portends is economic contraction in the times ahead.

the recent taper of the S&P’s momentum reflects low volume and little volatility on the surface, but i strongly suspect it is the tip of the iceberg. those who are discerning the implications of the current delta surge are quietly exiting the market, and for sure a cohort of trend followers is likely to follow in the weeks ahead. we may not tip over into an obvious sell-off until q3 financial data is published, at which point employment data, consumer sentiment, and corporate forecasts could finally align to tell a unified story—that we are beginning our descent into a double dip recession.

so many financial analysts have recently questioned the hyper-inflation narrative, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that their skepticism is warranted. the fed has been reluctant to taper their asset purchasing programs for good reason: because the job market truly is that tenuous and contingent upon the vicissitudes of this mercurial, ever mutating coronavirus. this will be a time when good news is bad news; the good news of forestalled taper will only confirm the anxieties of many that we are devolving into a deflationary death spiral. biden’s plans for corporate and capital gains tax hikes, which will be fleshed out this Fall, will only compound the generally building pessimism around the prospects of this overheated economy. i think we are facing the specter of a wintertime crash in the stock market.

as enthusiastic as i have been about the societal implications of cryptocurrencies, i can’t see cryptos doing well in this environment of general pessimism. the prospects for cryptos, at least in the short term, depend highly on the appetite of large institutional investors. if and when they view bitcoin as a reasonable diversification play, all cryptos will surge to unprecedented levels. but i don’t see that happening in the turbulent times ahead. fear will push the institutional investors into safety plays—cash and bonds—and away from more speculative plays like a bitcoin etf. cryptos have the potential to crash worse than the mainstream financial markets in the season ahead, and for that reason i’m pretty guarded in my approach to crypto allocations. i still think bitcoin and ethereum are buy and hold assets for the long term, but investors with short time horizons might consider selling cryptos on the front end of a general market correction.

i hesitate to predict a solid asset class for the times ahead, because i think most everything will suffer. mega-cap tech stocks have nowhere to go but down from here. all “value” stocks will slide once it’s clear that a full reopening will not be possible this Fall. bonds are in what i’d call a secular crisis. developed and emerging markets can’t thrive in a deflationary global environment. commercial real estate looks like the worst bet of all, and the residential real estate market bubble cannot survive rising unemployment and declining consumer sentiment, regardless of artificially suppressed borrowing rates. gold might stand alone as the one asset that doesn’t suffer a precipitous drop, but it won’t replicate its previous pandemic bounce without another round of quantitative easing. i can’t imagine the Fed doubling down during this slower and less dramatic chapter of the global recession; but if it does, gold is the play for 2022—and beyond

09.05.21

a time of war

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:45 am by Administrator

even in the midst of all the terror and the bloodshed, i know that which causes my suffering. i am the cause of my suffering.

even when they attack me and undermine me at every turn, i am the cause of my suffering. the fear, the anxiety, the rage that overcomes me—these are the suffering. the hunger is the suffering.

regardless, there is the war. the war may not the battle of wills i might imagine. it is not the vendetta that rules me, nor is it the test of my ego that steels me. but in the cool of the eve, when the universe gifts me a solitary moment of illuminating consciousness, there is still the reality of the war that awaits me in the morning. there is the enemy, beyond my own self. there is the conduct of battle to be undertaken, with all its attendant rituals and burdens. and there is that simple understanding of life as survival—an acknowledgement of the threat to my existence, a commitment to outlast that which seeks my extinction. once, we were at war with the elements and with the beasts of the field. we have connived and we have overcome, and thus we now war with one another. one can deny the reality of war as one denies thought itself; but when the knife is at the throat, the truth of what we are comes quick and without deliberation.

like water poured over the blade, i meditate to cleanse myself of the suffering that adheres to my pain. separated from that suffering, i can understand the nature of the battle. these people who are my enemies have not made my death their personal mission. and i know as well that i hate them only inasmuch as the hatred is needed; i try not to add to the suffering. when i awaken to the battle, i will gird myself with that lust for blood, and i will clothe myself in its armor. by its cold weight and its soulless touch upon my flesh, i will know that even he who is mindful must kill, with all the heft of his humanity tempered and honed into a weapon of destruction.

and so the universe, in my deepest moment of meditation, beckons to me to be as sharp as the blade that i carry in my hands. do not be sad that this is your life, young warrior, as you contemplate this violence to come. be alive in this time of war