Social Media Detox – Day 2

Last night I uninstalled Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok from my phone. The one thing I noticed right away is that in lieu of the endless scrolling on my phone I’m focusing on other tasks that need to be completed. I have picked up my phone a dozen times today and out of sheer muscle memory started the app that is where Facebook used to be.

It sort of reminds me of when I first quit vaping many years ago. I think at that point I’d vaped for years and gotten to the point of building my own mods that ran off my work computer’s USB port. This was back before they banned the practice indoors. Anyhow when I decided to quit, I stopped bringing it to work.

Every few minutes I’d get the urge to take a drag, so I would look for my vape mod and physically twitch when I realized it wasn’t there. I endured that for two weeks give or take. The headaches faded in a few days but the physical habit was the hardest part to break. I think that will likely be the case here.

I figure if anyone actually needs to reach out to me, they can. Otherwise the social media world spins on without me. I do have a headache though, but I don’t think it’s caused by lack of dopamine… 🙂

God bless!

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Social Media = Less Social

I came to a realization the other day, and shortly after that decided to deactivate both my Facebook and Instagram. The problem sad to say it is my apparent addiction to social media. The realization hit as I spent about an hour arguing with someone via PM, something which without social media tunnel vision and manipulation, never would have happened.

Social media has as a whole made me far less social. I’m an introvert to begin with, so my fuel tank for socialization is already extremely limited unless I’m currently engaged in activities or conversations I personally find interesting. Instead of burning said fuel via direct person to person interaction, it was done online. By the time I had opportunity in the offline world, my low fuel light was flashing.

I sit and think about it – so many times I had a brief interaction with someone in the real world, and instead of connecting directly I ducked behind that virtual shield of Facebook. I wouldn’t get to know them by asking – I’d look them up on social media and if I found greater interest afterwards – I’d add them as a friend and wait to see if they were addicted like me.

In very few instances this resulted in further engagement, conversations, etc… I’m not even talking about trying to date people here, just human interaction on my terms using the modern (read: idiotic) paradigm of social media. For most though, I just became another number on a pile of “friends” numbering in the hundreds if not thousands – and that is only if they accepted.

If they didn’t accept, I would literally wonder if I read the cues wrong. After all, I saw Facebook as a safer route to engage, I control the taps here, don’t I? Early on it used to grind my gears when a message wasn’t accepted or a friend request was ignored. Now with so much else to look at, I embraced my dopamine fueled apathy and moved on to the next post.

So much of what I see every single day on social media is cultivated first by other real people only showing what they want others to see, and further by mysterious algorithms working behind the scenes to draw our attention where IT sees fit. At the end of the day I’m still just a lonely introvert, sitting at home and rapidly scrolling through an endless feed of nothing.

The entire time, my socialization tank gets emptier, and emptier, and emptier until the point I really don’t care that I’m lonely. I don’t care that I’ve been single for the better part of a decade. I don’t care that when I go out the only conversations I get with real people are the folks serving me food and drink that are forced to interact with me to get paid.

That said though, some of the best conversations and interactions I’ve had over the past few years were with bartenders and wait staff. They are people too after all, so many I see simply running on auto-pilot until their shift is up… Others however, there’s something resembling a friendship built there which can expand beyond the working week. I’ll take it.

In the mean time, my social skills fall away, and instead of seeking contact, conversation, and socialization with real flesh and blood people where a keyboard or touch screen is not involved… I’m left confined to my own mind, as are others, and I wind up arguing with them over a reality that outside social media or our own brains – simply does not or should not exist.

Social media thrives on social manipulation, and I’m !@#$ing done with it.

So for now, I’ve deactivated Facebook and Instagram. Tiktok is next. I’m cutting off the source of my dopamine addiction and forcing myself to put down the phone. I plan to use my limited supply of introvert fuel to interact with people in the real world for a change. I think nicotine may be easier to kick than what I should have walked away from back in the days of MySpace.

God bless.

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Like, share, and say AMEN!

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

Mark 12:41‭-‬44

Maybe I’m out of line here friends, but any time I see a social media post with some declaration about God and a request to like, share, or say “Amen” it stinks to me of pride and reminds me of “The Widows Offering.”

The pharisees would pray the loudest for their own glory.  They would drop their coins into the collection jars from a great height so everyone would know what they did.  In the mean time this lowly, humble widow gave all she could.

Every time I see those posts it disgusts me.  Even more are the images who suggest prayer to anyone other than God or Jesus.  It’s a “look at me! Acknowledge my faith, world!”. It’s a load of crap!

The Lord knows our hearts.  When we like, share, or type “Amen” we serve no master other than the world for the adoration of our peers.  We’re praying loudly in the public square for OUR glory, not HIS.

Maybe I’m out of line here, but maybe I’m not.

Don’t like or share this, just pray.

God bless.

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Who knew?

The hummingbirds that visit my feeder have figured out how to tell me it’s empty… they only buzz my cameras when the feeder is empty or close to it!

I also discovered today that they chirp, when I came out to collect the feeder for a cleaning and refill they got quite chatty. Before that I had no clue they could.

Btw the ant moat worked like a charm. No more ants.

God bless!

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Snub and snub alike!

I like to think I’m an observant person. When I started working in NYC several years ago, I recognized a specific behavior from the opposite sex. At first I felt a little offended. Then I realized it was a normal thing and began to find humor in it. Not everyone does it, but when they do, it takes a ton of effort not to laugh out loud.

That behavior? The visual snub, the abrupt and many times exaggerated look away. Here’s how it works… Approaching a woman (I’m a dude in case y’all didn’t figure it out yet) when I start to attempt eye contact, some will share a look, some just don’t look, but a special few will wait until the last possible moment (especially if they were already looking at me) and look away.

Now I never returned to NYC after covid (praise the Lord) but even down here in the Atlanta area, that exaggerated look away is alive and well. Not so much outside the urban areas, but in them? Yup. I still find myself laughing nearly every time it happens, but after a particularly exaggerated, head jerking away motion at the office, I’ve decided to play the game and up the ante.

That animation above where Homer looks at his family then closes his eyes, puts his nose in the air and walks away? Every. Single. Time. Now not only do I get to laugh, but I get to play along. I realize this may be entirely in my head but at this point, it puts a smile on my face, so why not? Some like to look at the world and find a thing to complain about. I like to look at the world and find a reason to laugh. One more on the list. God bless!

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Prayer Hacks

Not necessarily a hack, I just thought the title sounded cool.

So several weeks back I was in my hometown visiting. Long story short, despite my best efforts to keep my cool, someone set me off something good. It was one of those cases where weeks later, I was replaying the argument in my head and getting pissed off all over again. Now I’d say it was 50% wounded ego, 50% annoyance at myself for taking my eyes off God.

So what’s the hack? (again, not a hack, just sounds cool).

A week or so ago, in those random moments where the argument would rise up in me yet again and damage my calm I did something entirely BACKWARDS to how the world works. I prayed, but wasn’t a prayer to God to take the thoughts captive, no. It wasn’t a prayer to remove the anger from me and replace it with something good either.

I prayed for the dude that pissed me off. I prayed for the Lord to bless him.

Every single time.

It took maybe a week or so, but now if my mind loops back to that, it’s barely a blip on my cortisol radar. This does a few things the way I see it, first and foremost it sets my eyes back on God. Second, it reinforces the forgiveness I gave for the slight afterwards. Third, it has me praying intercessory for folks I may or may not ever see again, which is never a bad thing.

Now one other hack I’ve discovered (see previous disclaimers) again involves my own human ego which has zero interest in me furthering my relationship with Christ, or growing, or changing… Is when I feel that ego rising up in me, the anger, the angst… I no longer surf that wave of stress like I’m in the sequel to Point Break, I treat it like an alarm bell.

At first, it took quite a bit of effort and prayer to overcome it, but I knew that I was never going to be completely rid of it, so I converted my torment to a tool. 99% of the time when my ego kicks in, it means I need to pay attention. Whatever slight I’m getting angry about, there’s a situation there, a learning experience and a greater opportunity for prayer.

When it rises up in me my first thought is “pay attention” and my next thought is to pray.

Now I’m not only recognizing God moving in these instances, but I’m able to sop up the entirety of the experience like a sponge. I use it to grow, all the while worshipping Him who put it all together for my good and His glory.

God bless!

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Dream Du Jour

So I woke up around 4am, wide awake but too early to get up and head out to work. I rolled over, messed with my phone for a bit, tossed and turned and eventually faded off to sleep.

I had a few dreams but the one I had right before my alarm went off stuck with me. I’m riding my motorcycle through the country, North Georgia of course. In the distance I see what looks like a sunrise but it’s actually a massive white mansion in the sky.

All around it are the colors of dawn, red, blue, purple abound amongst the white fluffy clouds and the reflections of sunlight. Being this is a dream in 2023 I stop my bike and break out my phone to take a photograph of the sight. What I see on the phone screen isn’t a mansion though.

The colors are still there but the clouds have become wings, it’s transformed into a gigantic white bird that is soaring towards me. I look away from the phone and it’s still the mansion in the sky above the mountains. In the phone screen the bird continues to approach.

Right before my alarm went off, the face on the bird began to turn gray and human, and it was starting to shout something at me.

Full disclosure the only thing I drank before bed was Bubly Seltzer. How about that???

So I get to work and one of my coworkers greets me, asks me how I’m doing. Still a little groggy I reply “I’ll let you know when I wake up!” I then share about waking up at 4am and messing with my phone. I didn’t include the dream (I only share that with strangers on the Internet!).

She says “what you should have done is pick up your Bible! God was trying to talk to you!”. That never even crossed my mind, but rest assured (no pun intended) the next time I randomly wake up overnight I’ll grab my Bible and see what the good Lord has for me.

God bless!

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Bikes – 2023 Indian Sport Chief

After test riding a new Indian Chief Dark Horse with the same 116ci engine as the Sport Chief, I had to have one. The problem was that the dealership I normally went with was two-fold. They did not have any in stock, and they low-balled me on the trade-in. If I was a more patient person I likely could have sold my FTR fairly quick, but alas – I am impatient.

A year prior, I picked up my FTR for $17k from the dealer. I brought it back and they offered $10k with 3500 miles and roughly $1000 of accessories installed. Had the Sport Chief been in stock I may have just done it right there, but instead I wanted to do some research to see what my FTR was worth and also what other dealers may have in stock.

I did some looking via the Indian website through the inventory at local dealerships, and saw the bike I would eventually purchase on display at a dealer down in Columbus, GA – roughly 3 hours south of where I live. Now something about me, is when I want anything – if I have the means – it takes about .5 seconds to make the decision to do it.

So I hopped on my FTR for the long ride south, and within an hour or two of arriving, I was back out the door on a brand new Sport Chief. The dealership gave me a much better offer on trade-in (I was still taking a hit, just not as big of a hit), and everyone was very pleasant to work with. They didn’t fight too much when I declined the laundry list of warranties either.

“I’ll get a warranty if I can keep the bike longer than a year.”

The first thing I noticed about the bike on the ride home was how stable it was on the highway. The fact it weighed 200lbs more than my FTR was part of it. The fairing did an excellent job of blocking the wind, although I did notice increased wind-noise in my helmet compared to the FTR with the Puig windscreen though. The second thing I noticed – the heat.

All of my experience with motorcycles have been water-cooled bikes. In slow traffic, the engines still get hot, but the heat is dispersed by a radiator and an electric fan ahead of the rider. On an air cooled bike, that heat gets dumped out the sides and via the exhaust. It was kind of brutal TBH, but I adapted. I also learned quickly that a heat shield isn’t foolproof as evidenced by part of my boot having melted onto it.

So I get home on my new ride, and honestly couldn’t wait to get off the thing. No regret here, but I’ve just ridden 6+ hours in 90 degree heat. I wanted to take a shower, change my clothes, and sit on my couch! As the days progressed and I spent more time on the bike, the more I enjoyed it. The seat is the most comfortable stock seat I’ve ever experienced.

Every single bike I had before had a stock seat that would thrash my hind end and tailbone after about 45 minutes. On this bike I can easily put in a few hours before I need to step off, and even then – there’s no back or tailbone pain anywhere. I think the only comfort issue I’ve realized is in my left shoulder after about an hour and a half.

There are a few differences between this bike and any other I’ve ridden. For starters, no key. There’s a wireless keyfob like my car, bike won’t start without it or a specific code entered in to the display. Second, no fork lock. Every other bike I’ve ridden had a way to lock the fork and make it more difficult to steal. Lastly, no helmet lock. I did buy a Lidlox though.

The way Lidlox works, is it mounts to the handlebar, obscures the mounting bolt and allows me to lock my helmet to the bike. The only way to remove the helmet is to defeat the lock or cut the strap. The former is possible but pretty obvious if someone is trying to do – and the latter makes stealing the helmet pointless. A good investment regardless.

The silliest thing though, the bike came with a gas cap that was not locking. Every other bike I owned had a locking gas cap. For this bike, it was a $99 option. Seems like a lot for a gas cap because it is, but hey, y’all can go buy your own gas. Leave mine alone. I did land a deal on some used saddle bags while I was picking up that cap though…

I bring the bike back for its 500 mile service and then proceed to have some fun with it. The bike has 3 ride modes, Touring / Standard / Sport. Touring is probably best for long highway cruises as it also appears to shut down one of the cylinders. Standard is a very manageable mode where the power is there but it’s not really going to push my limits.

Sport mode. Hoo boy. Sport mode turns the throttle into a hair trigger and rapidly unleashes every single horsepower and foot/lb with the slightest of twists. I’ve been in sport mode, hit a bump, tapped the throttle, and it was like one of those electric broncos in a honky-tonk. It’d slam me into the seat back, and I’m holding on to the handlebars for dear life.

It’s a 685lb bike that is acting like my old 500lb FTR. Most of my riding then is done in standard mode until I get on a highway. I’m still getting used to the added power, but there’s one other thing about this bike which I quickly noticed. Left curves. I don’t even think when I enter them now. I just lean the bike and keep riding.

There was maybe one instance thus far where I saw some gravel in the road, went a little wide on a left hander to avoid it, and that gave me a bit of anxiety as I got closer to the shoulder than I was comfortable with, but otherwise I’m back to enjoying my hobby… just reacting to and planning for the next turn. It is two wheeled gasoline therapy and the doctor is in.

Just last week I took my bike up into the mountains north of Dahlonega, specifically taking the route where I had wrecked my FTR. I took my time. I prayed. I had some good conversations with the Lord, and healed more with every curve I took. I got in, got out, and rode on.

I finally got around to running Tail of The Dragon last week, in my car, not sure I’m ready yet to do it on the Chief but who knows. I’m in no rush. God bless!

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Bikes – 2022 Indian FTR

I realized the day after completing my first run of Tail of The Dragon that I hadn’t done any updates to my “Cars” section in some time. Regular followers of this blog are fully aware of the fate of my first 2022 Indian FTR (Close Call PT1, PT2, PT3). But I never actually did a full post in this category to cover the bike. Note, this post will cover BOTH of my FTR’s.

Now when I moved to Georgia, I took my 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan with me. Despite getting damaged during the move (one of the mirrors broke) it was still a great bike but I wanted something new and different, which is where the idea of something along the lines of a naked sport bike came to mind. I also wanted an American V-Twin.

While I initially considered the new Harley Davidson Sportster S, after reading about the limited rear suspension travel I started looking at Indian. That’s when the FTR caught my eye.

Now the FTR was completely outside my comfort zone. I’d never ridden anything remotely resembling a sport bike before. It looked cool, matched my 2019 Civic Type-R visually, had plenty of power from its 1200CC liquid-cooled V-Twin and for the first month of ownership was an absolute riot to ride.

It was the most nimble bike I’d ever ridden with acceleration that quickly induced an involuntary smile. Before I left the dealership lot I did a couple laps around as the seating position was foreign to me. It was leaning forward, not back. I felt like I was positioned over the front wheel instead of behind it. It was both comfortable, and not.

I don’t think I actually made it 500 miles on the bike before I totaled it (see the linked posts above). Two weeks later, determined not to let the fear and trauma from the accident take away a hobby that I’ve enjoyed for over a decade, I went back to Mall of Georgia Indian and bought another brand new FTR with the cash from my insurance policy.

Back in 1977, Snowman and Bandit grabbed 400 cases of Coors here... today it's a cafe.

My second FTR in as many months was a 2022 FTR Carbon R. It was the top of the line FTR, with all the bells, whistles, and electronic nannies to try and keep me safer. Before I sold this bike I’d put on over 3500 miles. I refused to take it into the mountains which was where I totaled my last one, and I didn’t want a repeat for one specific reason…

I still froze up on left hand turns similar to the one I wrecked on. Right hand curves, I was fine, I’d lean without thinking and proceed. Left hand curves? I’d jam up and slow down. That put a distracting fear in me nearly every time I rode. In most cases I could just slow down and proceed, but the ever present chance of a panic attack sapped the joy from riding.

Before I sold it, I did perform some modifications to try and make it more comfortable / useful. I added a luggage rack and rear bag, a Puig windscreen to make highway travel more comfortable, and also a Corbin seat to help keep my hind-end comfy on longer rides. What I was trying to do is turn a sport bike into a cruiser… It would never be one.

Still, it is the first (and hopefully the last) motorcycle I’d ever popped a wheelie on. The Carbon-R had multiple ride-modes, Sport mode opened the taps fully and disabled the built-in wheelie protection. At a stoplight outside Dahlonega, I decided to try sport mode. When the light turned green I proceeded to cross GA 400 on my rear wheel.

I promptly pulled over, put the bike back in Standard, and never tried that again. Even with Standard mode and wheelie protection active though, it was possible to get the front wheel off the ground. One time pulling out of Flowery Branch in a right hand turn, the bike was turning slower than expected and only after the front wheel came down did I realize why.

It was a very well built and fun bike, but I was never going to ride it as designed.

Back around Easter 2023, my car was briefly out of commission so I planned to use the FTR for all my tasks that required transportation. That would have worked fine up until I got a staple in the rear tire which flattened it. Patching a flat on a bike isn’t a thing, it needed a new tire, so I made use of Tire Slime (worked pretty well) to get me to the dealer for a swap.

I filled the tire with the bottle of green goop, inflated it, then did a few low speed laps of my neighborhood. A slow leak remained but it held well enough for me to get where I needed to go, as well as use the bike for grocery runs while my car was in the shop. It’d lose a few psi overnight, but that was quickly remedied with my portable inflator (battery powered).

So I get to the dealer, and instead of waiting for an hour or two, I decided to rent an Indian Chief Dark Horse. It had the 116ci motor, air cooled… A low slung cruiser that I immediately fell in love with. Most importantly, I did not pause on left hand curves. Within a few days, I’d be on to my next bike, an Indian Sport Chief in Ruby Smoke.

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I Hate Wasps.

Hate is a strong word that I generally do not care to use. While I fully understand that every creature on God’s green Earth has a purpose, I will never understand wasps. Here in GA I’ve come to accept these orange ones that are mellow and don’t bother me, but sadly they’re not the only ones here.

About 10 years back I was riding my motorcycle through the back roads of upstate New York when a wasp flew into my helmet. My brief moment of hope that it left without incident was interrupted by a sequence of stings on the right side of my neck.

In a panic, I rapidly pulled off the road and attempted to stop on a thick layer of silt and sand. Miraculously I did not wreck my bike. I then unbuttoned my helmet and ripped it off my head, tossing it clear of me. The wasp was long gone, my glasses were now broken, and I managed to escape with a half dozen stings.

So today I’m heading to church on the bike, and this time around I had zero warning. The sharp pain hit me again on the right side of my neck and I felt the thing moving. Now in this case I knew that despite the searing pain I was ok. I maintained control, pulled off into a church parking lot, and got the helmet off.

I never actually saw the thing but I knew what got me immediately. Hours later there’s still some pain but I’m ok. The lesson learned many years ago kept me from nearly wrecking my new bike or breaking my glasses. No need to panic this time, I got off the road safely and eliminated the threat.

All that said though, I still hate wasps. When I finally get to meet Jesus we’re going to have a chat about those things.

End rambling. God bless.

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