Today I was standing in the gas station, getting ready to purchase my diet soda and a breakfast sandwich, when my back pain flared up.

The pain has been a major hindrance to me for some time. Yesterday I left work a few minutes early, skipping out on a team meeting, because it had gotten so bad. It keeps me from playing with my kids much – sitting hunched over a table covered with Legos is as bad as chasing them around the house. It’s already squashed some dreams – I know that I can’t stand long enough to do any acting anymore. I feel like a jerk because I can’t help people move, or help with some chores around the house. The pain is a huge obstacle in my life.

And yet I’m still in denial – I can’t be one of those people who has this kind of disability. I mean, I’m not disabled, after all; some days I can stand without agony or play with the kids without discomfort.

This morning at the gas station, it all kind of hit me at once, along with a nice flare in back pain that came from standing in line too long. I had a fleeting moment there where I wanted to hurl my giant soda at the ground and just storm out, angry at the universe for the hand I’ve been dealt.

I didn’t; the gas station certainly didn’t deserve that.

As I sit here typing my rotator-cuff impingement is radiating pain down to my elbow, and whatever has been intermittently plaguing my shoulder blade for the last year is humming along as well. I can’t go play catch or Frisbee; I can’t jump on a trampoline; I’m loath to visit Disneyland again this December.

So at times I get a passing sensation of despair or anger; this morning it was anger.

The 2nd Half of My Life

This year I’ll turn 39. As I reflect on what I’ve accomplished this far in my life, I have a lot of holes – things I wish I’d done that I didn’t do. And often, it feels like it’s “too late” to do them now.

I’m not sure why that is. A trick our minds play on us to ensure self-defeat, I suppose. But I plan to fight it.

I’m a big “clean slate” kind of guy. I love New Year’s Resolutions. Starts of the week, or the month, or the year – they all feel like a good time to work on myself. So now, I’m going to set up my biggest slate of all.

I’ve decided I’m going to live until I’m 78. Okay, maybe older, but 78 is actually pretty optimistic given my current health – I’m overweight, with high cholesterol, and my father died of a heart attack in his fifties. One calculator I tried said I could expect to live until I’m 70. I’m going to say 78.

That means my life divides neatly in half. I have a fresh, clean slate for the second half, and it starts in a few months. Before I list what I’ll accomplish in that second half, though, let me delineate what I got done in this half:

  • Finished high school and college, despite major depression and losing both parents before I was 14.
  • Served a full-time mission for 2 years in Argentina.
  • Learned to play a few hymns (now forgotten) on the piano.
  • Learned to play the drums.
  • Got married and had 3 kids.
  • Hiked Mt. Timpanogos.
  • Bought a home.
  • Wrote two novelizations for hire.
  • Performed in well over a thousand stage, sketch, and improv shows.
  • Taught myself to program.
  • Built dozens of websites, now earning money on the side.
  • Built and managed Singlesaints.com, which led to multiple marriages for its members.
  • Sold Singlesaints for five figures.
  • Self-published an Amazon best-selling ebook composed of my tweets and cartoons.
  • Went hang-gliding.
  • Learned to front- and back-flip on trampolines.
  • Drew an online comic for more than a year.

Not too shabby – that’s what I can come up with off the top of my head. But there are things I’ve wanted to do and failed to do. This I will rectify in the second half of my life.

  • I will learn to play the piano. I will be able to read music, and serve in the Church by being able sit down and play anything when needed.
  • I will learn to play the guitar. I’ll record songs of my own composing, to share with whomever might be interested.
  • I will write and sell a novel. Hopefully more, but we’ll see. Writing may not turn out to be my cup of tea.
  • I will lose 40 pounds. I will lower my cholesterol.
  • I will pay off my home and all my other debts.
  • I will work with charities that save children from hunger, from slavery, and from whatever other perils befall them.
  • I will have greater charity. I will be more diligent in my pursuit of righteousness.
  • I will love and serve my wife and children better than before.
  • I will meet my grandchildren, and spoil them.
  • I will continue to beat depression.
  • I will overcome shyness and introversion. I will learn people’s names.

We’ll see what else I come up with in the next 39 years. The first portion of my life approaches its end; now is the time for the even better sequel.

What to Do Next

I’m above average at a lot of things, and truly great at zero.

For instance(s): I’ve been published, and won contests for my writing. I’ve been a paid programmer for years and years now. I’ve written and performed songs – albeit comedic songs – for audiences. I’ve done more than 1000 shows of sketch and improv comedy.

I’ve made dumb little games in Flash. I’ve made a hojillion little websites. I made five figures on the sale of my first business, though I’m yet to repeat that feat. I’m not an artist, per se, but I think I draw very well for a non-artist.

I’m 38, and I honestly have no idea what to do with my life.

I think what I want to do is write. I think. But then I don’t spend my free time writing.

This last month I’ve gotten back into playing pointless video games, of all things. That’s definitely not what I want to do with my life, but there I go, whittling away the hours on pointless crap.

The thought I had yesterday was this: nothing – even the tasks you love – will bring much fulfillment if they’re not accomplishing something meaningful. In my case, I love to make people laugh – it’s the highlight of my day – but I don’t want to be a comedian. I don’t believe I would find satisfaction in it. It’s nice when you can bring a smile to others\’ faces, but I want to do more than that.

I think what every individual would find satisfying is to look at the problems in the world, decide which one bothers them the most, and work to fix it.

I like that. Find the problem that bothers you the most, and work to fix it. That seems like the surest road to satisfaction. Even when you fail, you’ll be failing at something meaningful. It may cut deeper, but when you succeed, it will fill you more than anything lesser pleasure could.

The real trick is believing you can make a difference. Like, I want to fight world hunger. I want to fight political polarity. I want to fight slavery, and child abuse, and addiction, and crime.

Thazza lotta fighting. Especially for someone who hates conflict as much as I do.

I just like making people laugh.

But that’s not going to fill me.

An Idea

So, I registered WhyVoteFor.me this week. Here’s the idea:

1. A single location where you can get your locale’s candidates\’ stances. You’d have a link for each candidate — whyvotefor.me/johndoe and whyvotefor.me/janesmith.

2. A forum where you can see candidates\’ rebuttals to each others\’ stances. Or, heaven forbid, agreements.

3. A way to fight brand-name style campaigning. I hate campaign signs in yards with no URLs – just NAME IN BIG LETTERS! Yes, brand-name recognition works at the voting booth, but no, we shouldn’t be doing it. How does this site fight it? By putting up freakin\’ BILLBOARDS with the URLs of each candidate. “LEARN ABOUT YOUR CANDIDATES”, then the URLs for each one.

4. A way for me to make money. Charge the politicians for their accounts on the site. It starts small, but eventually reaches out to every single race in the country, and each candidate/campaign pays in… ka-CHING! I’m a jillionaire who helped further dialogue in democracy.

But first, I need to get back to solving world hunger.

Idea for diet sites: prices of foods resisted

So, had this idea this morning. It’d be a pretty big undertaking, but its potential for helping the hungry seems real. How feasible would this be?

What if you could track foods you *didn’t* eat, and their price? Then, at the end of the month, say, you get a button that lets you click to donate the amount you saved to the IRC or some other reputable charity. So, along with breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks, you have a category called “resisted”, which tracks prices as well as calories.

The more junk foods you resist, the more you’re donating to help the hungry. So when you look at an Oreo, you see the hungry people you could help by not eating it. Maybe it only adds up to $5 or $10 a month, but maybe it’s more. Maybe you get to choose an actual amount you want to donate.

Free Book to Support Dave Farland/Wolverton

I just got a surprise from my accountant – my tax return is double what it was last year. In celebration, and to better aid Dave Wolverton, whose son remains in a coma after a terrible accident, I’m going to give 10 Kindle copies of Dave’s NIGHTINGALE to the first people to claim one in the comments here. I need your email address you log in to Amazon with. You can email me directly, or leave it right in the comments below, but you definitely need to stake your claim in the comments so folks know when we’ve reached 10.

For more info on Dave’s situation, you can go to HelpWolverton.com, or visit Larry Correia’s page on yesterday’s book bomb.

Your email address can be sneaky-crypted if you like, such as “randy at randytayler dot com”, but I should warn you that a) the email harvesters aren’t stupid, and b) they probably already have your email anyway.

(Why don’t I just buy 10 physical copies, you ask? Good question! Because we’re specifically trying to get the Kindle version up in the ranks at Amazon, and with only one Amazon account of my own, I have to buy gift copies for specific individuals. You among them. If you’re one of the first 10.)

Done With Pi Days

So March 14, or 3/14, is known now as Pi Day. Why do we equate 3.14 as 3-14 or 3/14? Because it’s cute.

But let’s look at the real numbers, shall we? If you convert 3.1415926 to real dates, you might look at the Gregorian calendar, or, if you’re a nerd like me, Unix timestamps.

Starting on January 1, 1970, the clock started. The timestamp is measured in seconds, the number 60 equates to 60 seconds after January 1, 1970, 00:00:00. Which would be 12:01:00 AM.

3.1415926 seconds would then be 12:00:03 AM, since we have to round. (The timestamp is in integers.) So the first Pi day is January 1, 1970.

Now let’s move that decimal place. Why? Because this whole thing is arbitrary, that’s why.

31.415926 is a mere 31 seconds after the start, so the second Pi day is ALSO January 1, 1970. Same with the third – 314.15926 was about 5 minutes into the Unix epoch. 52 minutes after the hour we hit the fourth Pi day. Sometime after 8AM on January 1, 1970, we hit the fifth Pi day.

The SIXTH Pi day, 314159.26, comes on a different day — January 3rd, 1970.

February 5th, 1970, is our 7th Pi day.

Then we jump all the way to December 29th, 1970. I guess 1970 was a good year for Pi. Eight Pi days! Glad we didn’t have Twitter back then.

Our next jump is all the way to 1979 – on December 16, we hit 314159265 seconds into the Unix epoch. Also the first one I was alive for.

The 10th Pi day, however, still hasn’t arrived. It won’t be hear until 2069, on July 21.

Until then, maybe you can stop tweeting about Pi day.

(Don’t get me started about May the Fourth.)