Adrift Without a Paddle

A picture of lake quinalt under a blue sky. The bank is visible in the foreground, and low hills surround the lake.

Lake Quinalt. Taken at the Rainforest Writer’s Retreat in 2018.

Today feels like Spring, specifically the good parts of Spring. My California poppies are slowly sprouting, the birds are singing, there was a gorgeous rain this morning that made lovely sounds on the new leaves on the trees out back, and now it’s brighter out, if not exactly sunny, with a breeze blowing through. It’s almost enough to make you think can get away with egregious run-on sentences on your blog.

Today is also a day without much structure for me, at least before a date this evening. I worked pretty quick this morning, doing my 500-word morning pages (a practice taken from The Artist’s Way, I believe) and applying to a couple of jobs that I actually want. Then I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, beyond dinking around on the Internet. I ended up playing This War of Mine for an hour or two. It’s a powerful game about surviving as civilians in a war zone. I’ve managed to keep everything from going to shit so far, but I’m at about day 12 of my current run and finding enough food for my little shelter of three is getting tricky. Soon I might need to start building weapons and preparing to get more aggressive, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that.

After I finished playing, though, I was back and adrift. I described my feeling on twitter earlier today as “directionless but not hopeless,” which still feels accurate. There’s a bunch of possibilities out there for what I could do, but none of them are going to accomplish anything big. So I feel a little like I’m sitting in a boat without a paddle on a still lake. There are worse places to be, for sure, but I’m not getting anywhere either.

There are a few things I should still do. Work out, do a little cleaning, and do some reading I haven’t been properly keeping up on. So while I might not really strongly feel the pull to do any one of them, maybe I can get myself going at least a little bit, using my hands to paddle and get myself moving towards the shore. Even if it’s slow, it’s better than just waiting for something to happen, right?

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Unexpected Shutdown

A screencap of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime. A character is saying "you had already expended your offensive data before we began" while slowly disappating into sparkly mist.

Me at about the time of looking at my bank accounts.

I did my taxes yesterday.

I know, I know, hold your applause.

It really beat the shit out of me, though, and not only because the new way business deductions are handled for 1099-MISC work is confusing as heck. (I just assumed none of my salary was deductible, because no one ever gets mad at you for not taking a deduction.) Taxes just fry my brain every year because everyone almost makes sense, but not quite.

The real sucker punch, though, was checking my bank accounts when I needed the account number for my refund. I was already pretty frazzled, and then I saw my balances, which were much lower than I thought they were.

*gulp*

I’ll be fine, but it just threw me for a loop and my brain subconsciously decided it had had enough for the day. I subbed my taxes, and tried to think of something fun to do. I couldn’t, so I played Metal Gear Solid V until I got frustrated and quit. I couldn’t think of anything fun to do then, either. I flopped on my bed, texted a little, and essentially blue-screened from around 6pm until I woke up (for more than taking my meds) at 5am. (I beat my alarm, it was terrible.)

I feel like I’ve been doing something similar a lot lately. My depression-anxiety brain gets ahold of me and I just…shut down, unless I have an obligation I have to attend to pre-scheduled. I’m hoping I can find a way to knock it off, at least a bit. But for now, it’s a struggle, and I’m sharing it. So hah. 😛

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Metal Gear Cardboard

A screenshot of a codec (radio) call from Metal Gear Solid 3. Snake is talking to SIGINT, saying "No, not just an urge - more than that. It was my destiny to be here; in the box."

Short post today, because I just wanted to share the below video. I really love the Metal Gear Solid series of video games. I love how it includes cardboard boxes that you can run around in while “hiding” in every game. And I also love videos that focus on a small thing in-depth, including gameplay mechanics.

So, clearly, a video all about how the cardboard box has evolved gameplay-wise over the course of the Metal Gear Solid series was going to be my jam! Enjoy. 🙂

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Week Wrap-up: 01 April 2019 – 07 April 2019

A picture of the park on Denny in Seattle, with daffodils blooming in the foreground and trees and grass in the background.

Hey all, it’s a day late, but here’s how my last week or so went, in easy-to-write (and read, hopefully) bulleted list form.

  • Jerry the leopard gecko appears to have hurt himself while shedding, so he gets to go to the vet tomorrow, the poor thing. It’s nothing major and he’s getting along fine, but he’s overdue for his annual and I want to get the injury checked out anyway. For his part, he doesn’t seem to give two shits and is nomming bugs and napping like there’s no tomorrow. Possibly because he has no concept of the future, so there is no tomorrow for him.
  • I’ve been biking more, and even biked to/from my volunteering gig at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, which it turns out is a bit over 5 miles each way. Which was pretty tiring, but at least it’s flat! Also I bike way slower than Google thinks I should, which is good to know.
    • The plus side is that I’ve been managing to actually have good cadence while biking, which is distinctly unlike how I used to bike, so I’m hoping once I get stronger and have more endurance I’ll be zippier than I ever used to be.
  • I ended up with something social to do every night this week. Which is both awesome and intimidating. Hopefully I don’t burn out! o_O
  • I had my second Google Hangouts interview for a position late last week, and I think I did decent? I’ll probably find out in the next week or so. *crosses fingers*
  • Unfortunately I did wash out of the interview process for the other position I applied for, as a technical writer. But I got some decent feedback (tech understanding is good, but the writing itself needs work), so if I want to keep developing those skills and take another stab at in the future I have a good route to follow. That reminds me, I should actually check in the documentation I wrote for GitLab so they can (potentially) add it to their wiki…
  • The twin mean dogs of depression and anxiety continue to, um, dog me. Trying to work past it, though. Or through it. To keep on keeping on.
  • I finished the main plotline of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Yay! Though dang, it’s super-obvious they didn’t do everything they planned to do, as a bunch of plotlines just sort of fall off the face of the planet without a conclusion (even an ambiguous one). I could keep playing and do more side-ops and stuff, and there’s multiplayer, but from what I hear the multiplayer servers aren’t super populated anymore. (And a lot of the singleplayer stuff I would do at this point would mostly be to develop my Private Force/Army for multiplayer, so…) Plus, I’ve already sank 80 hours of my life into this game and I’m only at 61% completion, so I don’t know if aiming to actually finish it all would be worth the time investment.
  • I also finished the audiobook of Ancillary Mercy, the last book in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy. Holy shit, it did such a good job of tying together emotional arc and external conflict arc resolutions. And I want to be best friends with a Translator. And everyone else in the book.
  • I planted some california poppy seeds and lavendar seeds a couple weeks ago and a few of them are just starting to sprout! It’s exciting.
  • I saw Captain Marvel! It’s so good. And continues on from one of my other favorite Marvel movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in actually using its plot to comment on current events. It’s not necessarily the most nuanced or subtle point, but it’s a good one.

How about you all? How did your weeks go? What did you get up to?

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Biking in Seattle

A bike with home-made fenders made of old soda bottles attached, as well as a milk crate attached as a basket.

The frankenbike.

I’ve slowly started doing more biking over the last couple weeks. By which I mean I remembered to bike to writing this morning, hooray for me, and I also went on a bike ride earlier this week.

I’m so accomplished, I know.

I have decided I’m going to a) stick with it, and b) try to get in good enough biking shape I can do postmates or some other bike-based gig thing while I’m job interviewing. (I blame/thank Kaia for that idea.) The latter is going to be a journey, let me tell you. Nothing like transporting yourself via pedal power to realize how out of cardio-shape you’ve gotten.

That all said, some miscellaneous observations on biking in Seattle so far:

  • I will never stop being terrified of large (like 2+ inches wide) cracks in the asphalt. I’m convinced I’m going to catch my front wheel, fall over into traffic, and get run over by a car. Has this happened yet? Nope! Will it? Probably not! But I fear it all the same. ;_;
  • Getting to Ballard from Magnolia sucks. Not because there aren’t options. But because the routes involve either the Ballard bridge or the Ballard locks. Both of which have sections that are too narrow for someone on a bike to pass anyone, pedestrian or other bike, comfortably. So no matter the route you risk an awkward shuffle-tangle.
  • Hills are murder.
  • Cars have, so far, been pretty polite. It probably helps that I pretty much always defer to them, and/or am biking on roads where they have space to go around me.
  • Not having a water bottle with you while biking sucks. At least if you’re me, thirsty-person extraordinaire.
  • Having a milk crate bike basket is great until you’re on a narrow path and a pedestrian is coming the other way.
  • Tourists stopping to take pictures in the middle of one of the locks bridges will awaken feelings of murder in your heart you thought you had banished long ago.
  • Having a bike you’ve DIY-frakensteined feels very weird in a city full of people with spandex bike shorts and high-end road bikes.
  • My brakes like to yell at me once hills get too steep. They still work fine, but the squeaking of rubber on the rims freaks me out and makes me not want to squeeze them as hard as I should. Which is a weird argument for eventually getting disk brakes, but there it is.
  • I know I own two bike front lights. I can only find the rear lights from each of those sets. This is my curse.
  • Being nervous about your biking skill is a good way to end up not biking, because you dilly-dally out of anxiety and then go “oh no if I’m any slower than google maps guesses I will be, which I will be, I will be late.” And then you take your car. I’m working on not doing this.
  • Bike gear is expensive.
  • For being a “bike friendly” city, Seattle sure doesn’t like having real bike lanes anywhere.

I think that’s it for now! I continue to survive. Hopefully biking will get a little easier in the future so it’s just A Thing I Do on a given day instead of An Event. We’ll see!

P.S. Please sign my petition to get rid of all of Seattle’s hills. We’ve regraded the city once, we can do it again! </bad plan>

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Week Wrap-up: 18 March 2019 – 24 March 2019

A random smattering of notes from the past week:

  • Sleeping properly is hard as shit. What the hell.
  • There is Too Much Game in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Which’d be more chill if I wasn’t also playing it addictively. I wish I didn’t have such a hard time stopping after I start a play session.
  • I wish the internet would stop generating 500 thinkpieces about every little thing. I wish The Atlantic would stop publishing articles that are clearly clickbait with conflict-inducing titles. I wish the Internet would just calm down for a second. Somebody slow down the internet train, I want to get off.
    • Or maybe sites could start paying people for fiction instead. I would mind a lot less if there were hundreds of pieces of new fiction published every day, rather than hundreds of pieces of mostly navel-gazing.
    • Productivity article writers need to all stop reading the same 10 books and worshipping the same 10 people.
  • I’m having a hard time just starting anything lately and it’s wearing me out real bad, y’all.
  • I’ve been biking a tiiiiiiny bit, and it’s been good. Really need to work on my endurance. Also need to figure out how to get myself to do rides that end in Cap Hill, because holyshithills is enough to scare me off.
  • I have obtained flower seeds, and now I just need to plant them. But hopefully soon(ish) I will have California poppies! And lavender! Gonna fill my balcony with color and smells and such!
  • Xubuntu’s Japanese input system is semi-garbage, but due to looking up a key combo, I can now type in Japanese again. Why can’t I use the icon in the menubar to switch with the mouse, like I’d been trying to? I have no idea. But at least the issue is solved. Except for emacs, as I just learned. Oh well, close enough!
  • Fighting the urge to get rid of everything I own just because I’m overloaded mentally right now. I don’t think that’s what St. Kondo meant! XD

And that’s a (high-level, admittedly) summary of the last week or so. How are you all?

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Welcome to Starfleet!

Miles O'Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Our patron fucking saint.

A short, silly piece of fiction for you all. Enjoy. 😀

We’re very excited that you’ve decided to enlist with Starfleet! We’re sure you will enjoy the multitude of career paths available to you, and we want to outline some of the exciting opportunities you’re about to have. Continue reading

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Let’s Play Max Payne: Episode 1

Hey everyone! I recorded a Let’s Play for Max Payne. At least the first episode of one. The game is super-melodramatic, to a ridiculous degree, so you get to experience a lot of painful (or funny, depending) writing in this one.

It’s currently up on Youtube and I’m working on getting it up over on Peertube as well. Hope you enjoy it!

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It’s March, I’ve Got Goals

A bike with home-made fenders made of old soda bottles attached, as well as a milk crate attached as a basket.

It’s March! WHO LET THIS HAPPEN???

Slightly more seriously, I thought it would be good to set myself some goals for this month. After all, I have a whole “Month To-do” section in my bullet journal and everything! Therefore, it must be something I should do. My bullet journal would never lie to me.

Bullet Journal: We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Me: Hush, you.

So, some goals, in no particular order:

  • Study hard for an interview that’s going to happen soon, hopefully
    • I have a lot of trouble concentrating on studying lately, but I think having a deadline and a few concrete things to study will help. I’m going to try and get through at least a good chunk of How Linux Works: 2nd Edition and do some exercises from Cracking the Coding Interview. Both really helped me last time, and this is an interview for the same kind of position. Plus: learning! Yay?
  • Make some D&D content
    • Looking at running a custom setting for some friends, using the 5e ruleset. So it might be fun to make some custom classes, items, or rules. It’s going to be in space! With boats! (Think Treasure Planet. And yes, I’m totally getting this idea from a tumblr post.)
  • Get together a portfolio of tech things I have done. I’ll probably put it up over at scrivian.com. I mostly need this to prove that I have, in fact, done technical writing before.
    • Speaking of, I’ve wanted to make a “getting started with Mastodon” series of posts, because Mastodon is hella intimidating and confusing to newcomers. So building that as a piece to include with my portfolio would be good.
  • Bike more places, even though right now the cold air is making the whole “good breaths” part of biking difficult. I figure I’ll get used to it? Plus my bike finally has fenders and a basket! Yay!
  • Finish reading The Republic
  • Remember to do stretching and such in addition to weightlifting
  • Continue to look adoringly at the lizards at every opportunity, because they are sweeties

That looks like a lot! So I’m going to leave it there, because someday I’m going to learn to not overload myself. This might be overloading, it might not, but it’s better than going “and also I’m going to take over the moon, and solve world hunger, and, and.” Progress!

Still, a “nice to have” goal would be finishing the Python book I’ve been very slowly working my way through, Python Crash Course. I really want to learn Django (the web framework) so I can see about building a backend for the Patreon alternative I was thinking about the other day.

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Thinking Out Loud: Patreon Alternative Edition

Jerry the leopard gecko peeking out of his hide with "I HAVE AN IDEA" written in large white text next to him.

This post is mostly just me thinking about loud about how building a Patreon alternative would worth. BUCKLE UP, BUDDIES.

Patreon has issues for a lot of people because it’s really geared for large creators, especially Youtubers. This is fine! But it leaves a lot of people out in the cold who have smaller fanbases, work in fields that don’t release output as consistently (hi, novel authors!), etc. Patreon is also redonkulously squeamish about adult content, making it difficult to discover (by unlisting the page) at best, which totally hoses another huge set of creatives.

There are a couple of alternatives out there, but they have their own issues. Liberapay, for example, doesn’t allow for locked posts due to the nature of being a nonprofit. Drip is apparently foundering right now, and no one’s really sure how that’s going to turn out.

So here’s the thoughts I’ve got so far on building an alternative: Continue reading

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