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This is the penultimate night of the second decade of the 21st century… It’s been a wild ride. Ten years ago today, I was a warehouse temp, unsure about my future, employment, life goals, or anything much in particular. Things have changed… The temp gig became a permanent job. I’ve lived in six cities (well, eight, if you count the suburbs). Sixteen different addresses. Two countries. A fair number of adventures – and misadventures as well. One pranked billionaire. 🙂

I’m ending this decade free of debt, in perfect health, overall grateful for the life I’m enjoying, and armed with a lot of highly ambitious plans. Some are short-term, some span decades and are have already been initiated. Ten years ago, in the bad neighbourhood of Reno, I never would have imagined I’d end 2019 in Toronto (by way of Vegas, Dallas, Tampa, and Seattle). I can’t even begin to imagine where on earth (and/or other planet) I will be at the end of 2029.

In the spirit of sending my future self a message, and because everyone is equally bad at predicting what’s to come, here are some predictions for the next decade! Let’s all come back in 3,653 days to see just how far off I was.

And so, in no particular order:

  1. There’ll be an ironic resurgence of the 1920s fashion. Old-timey dances, live jazz, flapper dresses, etc.
  2. Artificial intelligence will remain a mirage. Just like communism, it’ll be only a decade away no matter when you ask them.
  3. Groundbreaking new technology we can’t quite imagine yet will come out and become commonplace. (Amazon Echo came out just four years ago, and now it’s taken for granted.) I think it might be the HUD (heads-up display) provided by an integrated (or removable) mini-computer.
  4. The US will elect a one-term president.
  5. The US will get a whole lot closer to the Handmaid’s Tale. (See congresscritter Matt Shea’s revealed plan to install a theocracy and kill all the men who disagree.)
  6. The no-fly zones over Phoenix will become extended. As of right now, they’re just a mildly funny one-day occurrences when the hot air’s density doesn’t allow planes to take off. They will become commonplace.
  7. The hologram technology will become available, then accessible, then commonplace. Watching holo-movies at home will become an amazing experience, though folks will quickly get used to them. (Remember when touchscreen phones were cool? Heh.)
  8. At least one large city (1,000,000 people or higher) will run out of water and will have to be either evacuated or placed on long-term life support with water convoys.
  9. Las Vegas will use up all the water in Lake Mead and will hijack the water from the Nevadan farmers up north. Feelings will be hurt but the big money will prevail.
  10. Age-reversing gene therapy will continue to make progress, though it won’t hit the market quite yet.
  11. CRISPR gene-editing will become more widespread. Most of the people experimenting on themselves will suffer horrific side effects (at least for the early adopters) but the successful ones will be fascinating.
  12. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger will die of old age. Berkshire-Hathaway’s stock will tumble by over 10% before eventually recovering.
  13. Space tourism will take off but the prices will be astronomical. (Get it? Get it?)
  14. North Korea will remain a dictatorship.
  15. Russia will remain a de facto dictatorship. It’ll try to gobble up more of the ex-USSR territories like it did with Ukraine.
  16. Things will get very ugly in India with the anti-Muslim tensions and the rise of the militarism. The old “yay, they’re the biggest democracy – see how successful they are?” argument will quietly and awkwardly show itself out.
  17. Ebola will reach an African city and spread.
  18. Antibiotic-resistant infections will get scarier and more commonplace. The last marginally efficient antibiotics (or the brand spanking new ones) will be very, very expensive.
  19. A major city will burn as a result of surrounding wildfires. (California? Australia? Elsewhere?)
  20. Climate protesters (of which Greta Thunberg is only the first) will get tired of asking politely and will take direct action, bypassing the voting booths entirely. Eco-terrorism will become much more widespread. Recycling and abstaining from meat will become much more prevalent, but nothing will be done about the nitrogen runoff.
  21. Rolling food crises in Africa, Central America, South America, and parts of Asia. Starvation will be prevented, but the social unrest will topple at least a couple of governments. (The whole Russian mess in 1905 began due to bread shortages.)
  22. Self-driving cars still won’t be quite good enough to drive on their own. Self-driving trucks will make significant progress, displacing hundreds of thousands of truck drivers.
  23. At least two meteorites missed by NASA will zoom by dangerously close. The one we know about (in 2029) will come close but pass by as well. It’ll get a lot of people very concerned and/or excited – like the Y2K crisis but with a more tangible negative outcome.
  24. No progress between Palestine and Israel. Further deterioration is quite likely.
  25. 3D printers will become good enough to print crappy guns and, if sufficiently advanced, replacement skin and organs.
  26. Three attempted genocides.
  27. Water wars.
  28. Widespread gene-editing will make it easier to custom-order a pet to your exact specifications. There’ll be a lot of controversy about pets with augmented intelligence.
  29. The US Supreme Court will get a permanent conservative majority, resulting in a significant rollback of social reforms and programs. (The precursor to #5.)
  30. The European Union will legalize poly marriages. Mutually consensual BDSM contracts still won’t be honoured and recognized in the eyes of the law, though.
  31. Injectable nanobots will make an appearance. They’ll regulate blood levels, monitor (or alter) hormone levels as desired, identify first signs of potentially deadly diseases. They will not be widespread just yet.
  32. Nano-ink tattoos will move around and wiggle at you.
  33. Universal Basic Income will get several medium-scale trials (between 5,000-100,000 people) and will show promising results, but won’t be adopted by any government due to preexisting notions of propriety.
  34. Bees are out. Mushrooms and seaweed are in.
  35. Salmon will become almost – but not quite – extinct. It’ll become an almost unaffordable delicacy.
  36. Chelsea Clinton will attempt to run for office, likely for the House of Representatives, possibly straight for the Senate. The former will likely succeed; the latter will likely fail.
  37. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will turn 35 in October 2024 and will become eligible to run for president. She’ll do so in either 2024 or, more likely, 2028.
  38. Facebook will go the way of Friendster and MySpace when something bigger and shinier comes along.
  39. I will finish my damn novel.
  40. I will retire. 🙂

The measurements of life

I measure life in bottles of vitamins. One pill per day, each day, without skipping: a measured and controlled path forward, toward whatever future lies ahead. As each bottle grows lighter and emptier, I move away from the person I had been when I began, toward the person I will be when I consume the final pill. Rinse and repeat. A chain of little bottles, back to back, tracking my progress through months, years, decades. My small ever-present companions.

Each vitamin bottle is the opposite of a time capsule: a known quantity that will disappear by a certain date, leaving behind it nothing but a plastic shell. A known known. An utter lack of surprise and the most banal imaginable method of tracking time. A message in a bottle in reverse.

The previous bottle ran out a few weeks ago. I’d started it before I made the choice, for the second time in my life, to leave behind everything and move to a new country where I knew absolutely no one. I’d started it before I drove across the continent, almost the entire length of the mighty I-90, for four days and three nights. I’d started it before I met her. Before I knew her. Before she died.

The new bottle has 365 pills. The only thing I know for sure is when I will be at the end. But as for where, or how, or even who…

One pill per day, each day, without skipping. Slowly and steadily, whatever lies ahead.

“time travel” – 41,600,000 search results on Google
“lime travel” – 167,000 search results
“dime travel” – 67,000 search results
“crime travel” – 44,300 search results
“thyme travel” – 26,500 search results
“chime travel” – 7,220 search results
“Guggenheim travel” – 4,080 search results
“grime travel” – 3,240 search results
“enzyme travel” – 538 search results
“Oppenheim travel” – 96 search results
“rhyme travel” – 95 search results
“mime travel” – 92 search results
“paradigm travel” – 92 search results
“prime travel” – 89 search results
“sublime travel” – 86 search results
“slime travel” – 81 search results
“pantomime travel” – 79 search results
“maritime travel” – 76 search results
“Mulheim travel” – 74 search results
“windchime travel” – 46 search results
“spime travel” – 46 search results
“Durkheim travel” – 26 search results
“anticrime travel” – 2 search results
“pulmozime travel” – zero search results

  1. The best steak is a well-done steak.
  2. Cold pizza is gross.
  3. Milk is disgusting.
  4. Red wine is basically cough syrup for grown-ups.
  5. If it has eyes and staring at me as I eat it – hard pass. (Sorry, Philippines.)
  6. High-grade dark chocolate is indistinguishable from cardboard.
  7. Food is fuel.
  8. If your breakfast is more than a vitamin, a cup of black coffee, and two handfuls of dry cereal, you’re overcomplicating things.
  9. I eat my pasta with ketchup. (The same active ingredient as pasta sauce, and it lasts way longer!)
  10. The greatest meal I’ve ever had? Three burritos from a corner store, with two cold bottles of cider, devoured in a scalding-hot shower after I finished a cold and miserable 36-hour hike in the woods.

The triad in midflight

The dream in which we dwell is at an end.
The longest peace in pieces falls apart
As force and fire triumph over art,
And madness rolls through sky and sea and land.
Unclear and pointless who had acted first:
The box is open, genie on the loose.
We always knew, the day we made the fuse,
The last conclusion of our bloody thirst.
The laws that used to bind us are no more:
The loosening of all established rules.
Some consolation once the wreckage cools,
Grim anarchy that always follows war.
It’s closer now: the new and glowing world,
A spectacle for those who will remain
Through waves of light and sound and shock and pain,
And years of darkness in the sudden cold.
The dream in which we dwell is at an end.
Too late to fight, to plead, to hope, to flee.
And there, on the horizon, do you see
The wave of light enveloping the land?

Giving away another e-book!

I’m on a roll – let’s do another giveaway! From now until midnight on the 27th, my e-book “50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness”  is free on Amazon.com!

What is it? Well, aside from a terrible pun, it’s actually a nifty little book that collects 50 different perspectives on happiness from all over the world, from centuries and millennia ago. They range from ancient philosophers to Mark Twain to Christina, Queen of Sweden (my favourite!), to a girl in the mid-19th century Illinois who wrote a damn good poem on being happy.

I’ve written quite a few e-books over the years, but this one remains my favourite. We live in the age of weaponized outrage, the time of chronic unhappiness, the era of workaholism. It doesn’t have to be this way. Now, more than ever, folks can use an outside perspective (or, in this case, 50 of them) to stop, and think, and reconsider. This may sound cheesy, but over the course of editing this book, I learned some things about myself and changed how I live my life – and I am happier for having done so. “50 shades of yay” remains my most favourite, and also least appreciated, creation.

So go ahead and click over yonder and download your free copy. You don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can just install the Kindle app on your phone, and that’ll do the trick. And as always, if you liked the book, please feel free to leave a book review on the book’s Amazon page: that’d be awful nice of you. 🙂 And needless to say (but let’s say it anyway!), tell your friends and share the link and maybe help them get a little happier too.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, and now is as good a time as any. For the next 3 days, until midnight on the 24th, my e-book “Legends & Lore from Around the World” is free on Amazon.com!

What is it? Oh, nothing much – just a collection of all the world mythology I could get my hands on: the classic European stuff, the obscure and fascinating Native American myths you’ve never heard of, ancient tales from Africa, stories from the native people of Australia and much, much more. All in all, it’s over 10,000 pages of goodness. As far as I know, this is the largest collection of mythology ever assembled.

I’ll be honest and admit that some of the formatting may be slightly shoddy, but under Kindle’s new rules, I can’t upload e-books over 3,000 pages long. In other words, this copy of the book will remain the way it is. (Otherwise, I’d have to break it down into 4-5 individual e-books.)

So go ahead and click over yonder and download your free copy. You don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can just install the Kindle app on your phone, and that’ll do the trick. And as always, if you liked the book, please feel free to leave a book review on the book’s Amazon page: that’d be awful nice of you. 🙂

Ye olde roadtrippe, day four

I’m in Canada, y’all! Took only 40 minutes to get my car through customs: they were very confused that I’ve managed to fit everything I own into one Kia. (I also heard a Canadian say “eh” for the first time, so that’s an unlocked achievement right there.)
 
Typing this up at Tim Horton’s, using the free wi-fi and munching on some potato wedges like the stage-one canuck that I am. 🙂
Onward to explore. :^D

Another day, another 887 miles. Just six hours away from my destination! (Plus customs, of course.) Spending the night in an odd little Michigan village called Paw Paw.

There should be a congressional hearing into the utter lack of bacon at hotel breakfasts. (Breakfast sausage just ain’t the same.)

Along the same stretch of I-90 in Minnesota, there are towns called Alpha, Welcome, Blue Earth, and Ceylon. Heh.

I dined in the town of Nodine, MN, but didn’t see any of the Spartans in Sparta, WI.

South Dakota’s radio is filled with religion, in-depth weather forecasts, and detailed analysis of pork futures and corn contracts. This is probably the only part of the country where being obsessed with weather is justified. (Evidently, 40 barns collapsed the night before because of all the snow on the roofs.)

Minnesota roadside shops have free cheese samples. 🙂

Chicago’s highway traffic isn’t any worse than Vegas on a Friday night, but wow, they really do like their tolls. Had to stop to pay them seven times, and one of those didn’t accept anything but coins. (Well played, robots, well played.)

Ye olde roadtrippe, day two

Drove farther today than I did yesterday. More than halfway done! Ended up taking a rather big detour to avoid a flooded section of the highway. Later on, I drove over a long stretch of almost-flooded highway, with impromptu lakes surrounding it on both sides. (An omen of the not-too-distant future?) That was followed by the post-apocalyptic remnants of an old wildfire. And after that, fog. Hundreds of miles of fog. Being able to outrun a major weather pattern is intrinsically cool. Managed to escape not just the fog but a local river that’s projected to get a couple of feet above the comfortable level.
 
It took three attempts to find a South Dakota hotel that a) was on a paved road, b) had outdoor lights, and c) was actually open at the late, late hour of 10pm. The bastards still don’t have bacon at their free breakfast, though.
 
When your food consumption consists solely of water, black coffee (bitterness is energy entering the body!), and prepackaged food, it gets ridiculously easy to track the caloric intake. Welcome back, cheekbones!