Scattershot thoughts

The Disney movie Hocus Pocus 2 came out today, which I haven’t yet seen. Aside from one of my coworkers who apparently likes the first movie and plans I’d heard about for her to host a Hocus Pocus party today, I’m mainly reminded of how my ex liked Hocus Pocus, and in the fall of 2017 when we were dating, we went to a video rental store several times and rented different movies before we finally found Hocus Pocus and watched it. The aforementioned party, if I remember correctly, was also going to include my store manager, but since she got sick earlier this week presumably she’s not attending.

I’ve had yesterday and today off work, which has mainly been nice and relaxing. Yesterday I went to get my Covid bivalent booster shot and flu shot, which I turned into a grocery trip and bought, among other things, pumpkin ale, pumpkin pie cream liqueur, various snacks, kimchi, a gyro making kit, and the frozen pizza that I made for dinner yesterday. As far as what I’ve actually accomplished the last couple days, aside from watching YouTube and playing Rimworld I’ve also hand-washed some dishes. Suddenly it seems like I’ve done more than that, but I don’t remember if I actually put away the dishes that were in the dishwasher yesterday, or if that was perhaps the day before. Not that it matters- doing some dishes and getting groceries, which had been on my to-do list, is accomplishment enough. I can’t currently think of anything specific that I feel like I need to do before, say, going back to work tomorrow, but it’s not as if taking out the garbage or putting away laundry is truly that daunting.

Recently I seem to have once again exhausted the possibilities of Bumble and Tinder. I think I remember running into this problem before the pandemic, which I think may have led to my uninstalling those particular apps from my phone. Either way, I’ve never really used OKCupid, and I’ve long thought that’s a possibility (if only to serve as another venue to be frustrated in), but mostly I’m reluctant to try it. My current search criteria, if I remember correctly, are something like looking for women between the ages of 22 and 33 within 50 miles, and in this rural area, there don’t seem to be a lot of choices (particularly if you “left swipe” on all the choices).

This exhaustion of possibilities combined with my enjoying brief stargazing on the early morning of the 27th of this month, when I stepped outside about 12:51 AM and was able to see Jupiter, Mars, and the Pleiades (which I only knew due to the Stellarium and Sky Map apps on my phone). Since I enjoyed stargazing, it made me think, in the most self-deprecatory sense, “who needs a social life when you can stargaze?” The stars are easy to find if you look up, while people have things like “schedules” and “work” and “preferences” that tend to interfere with social lives and planning. Earlier this week I had messaged my current gaming group about having Thursday and Friday off this week, since it’s been nearly a month since our last meeting and I had thought people might be able to play on Friday night, but instead one person was leaving for a trip, so they were busy or had been busy, and someone else wasn’t able to meet on Thursdays, so that not working was a little disappointing.

I don’t really know what to do about feeling socially unfulfilled. The apps can only go so far (particularly if, you know, you actually express interest in people instead of denying everyone), and it would probably be even easier to meet people if I ever did anything other than work or hang out in my apartment or with family.

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Thar Be Gigs In Them Economies

It’s time to #workpost! Is that a thing? It is now!

Jokes aside, there have, naturally, been some changes at work. It’s a new month! This is retail! We have to constantly be changing things because reasons!

September means that it’s fall, so we have pumpkin coffee, cappuccino, and donuts at the store I work at. It’s apparently the 21st anniversary of the company serving breakfast pizza, so we have a new, different breakfast pizza with beer cheese sauce (instead of the normal cheddar or sausage gravy). As far as other new breakfast developments, we have a new bacon biscuit sandwich, which I didn’t know about until the day of.

Read more: Thar Be Gigs In Them Economies

It has been frustrating recently (well, maybe the last year or so at least) that sometimes the company isn’t great about communication. I don’t know if it’s the fault of a specific person (like Joe Blow, the Prepared Food Category Manager, or maybe his assistant or some secretary or something), or if it’s an entire team of people dropping the ball, but there have been several occasions I can think of in the last year or so where people at the corporate HQ are bad about communicating with the stores. For example, this new bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich, rather than sending an email about it 2 weeks in advance like they did for the pizza, I’m not sure they sent any emails about it until the day of. For the new pizza varieties, they’re usually good about putting the word out with sufficient time that they can ship the necessary ingredients, and we can have a couple weeks for training before we start officially selling the new pizza (most recently, BBQ brisket or the aforementioned beer cheese ultimate breakfast pizza). By contrast, when they changed the donut case guidelines at the beginning of August they didn’t seem to communicate it very well, and there’s been at least once where I’ve seen that they sent out further explanation. Now I don’t remember what the further explanation was, or what my problem with the initial explanation was, but I felt like they should have been clearer to begin with.

I also think it’s funny that for the new bacon biscuit breakfast sandwich, the message about it said something about how it was a gap in our menu that our competitors had, so it was felt that we needed to fill that gap and offer our guests more choice, which seemed funny because yes, biscuits and bacon are things that we have, but why did they not send out any information about this new sandwich until the day of? Why did they decide to introduce a new sandwich, not tell anyone about it, and then decide it’s acceptable to not have labels? Sure, we’ve been having trouble getting labels, for whatever reason (manufacturing issues, supply issues, who knows), but usually when we get a new item we have labels to stick on the appropriate packaging, not being told that we’ll get labels when they’re available.

I don’t work at the corporate HQ, but if it were me, it might not be a bad idea to check in with, rather than just the division presidents and regional presidents and district managers, check in with store managers and maybe even the kitchen managers- something like “hey, we’re thinking about this, do you understand what this means? What does this sound like to you?” Then, depending on the feedback, you can either send out “oh, whoa, that’s not what we meant at all” or “Yes! Great, thanks for the feedback!”

And, if you’re feeling really generous, you can write something in the relevant email like “after some extremely helpful feedback from the field, this is the wording we’re going with:” to try to minimize, if not eliminate any confusion, instead of being confused when you failed to send out directions until after the fact.

Another recent frustration is that, for whatever reason, we got new muffins, so our old blueberry and banana nut muffins were discontinued. The blueberry muffins went on sale for buy one get one free for the last couple weeks of July, if I remember correctly. When July ended, we still had blueberry muffins left, and we did eventually get rid of them, even if it was later than we were “supposed to” have disposed of them. At the same time that we were told to donate or dispose of the blueberry muffins, we were told to sell through our banana nut muffins.

Well, at my store, we didn’t sell many banana nut muffins. I had wondered if the beginning of September would mean that the banana nut muffins would be discontinued, and sure enough, according to the register on September 1 they were locked for sale (even though the production planner still has a line for them, so theoretically we could still be making them… but I don’t understand that logic). As a result, on September 1 I went ahead and made most of the banana nut muffins we had left, and after checking with the local nutrition site, I took half a dozen to a friends’ when we were playing D&D, I took 2 dozen muffins to the local nutrition site for breakfast the next day, and I left 9 muffins out for people to take home or whatever happened to them. Our new muffins are blueberry crumb and double chocolate chip, and, funny enough, they’re 20 cents more expensive than our old muffins. I wonder why? It seems to me that the double chocolate muffins are more popular than the blueberry crumb, and I haven’t tried the double chocolate chip muffins, but the muffins suddenly being 20 cents more expensive is suspicious, to me. I have no idea what the cost difference is between our new muffins and the old muffins.

As for the title of this post, we were supposed to start offering DoorDash from my store today, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we had one order today and it wound up being canceled. Tuesdays are usually slower, and this afternoon we got a DoorDash order for a small BBQ brisket pizza, a 2 liter bottle of 7-UP, a brownie, some Advil, and some Benadryl. After making the pizza I looked around and we had everything except the 24 pack of Advil, so I followed the directions to call DoorDash, talked to a customer service representative with a thick East Asian accent, she tried contacting the customer and had me on hold for a bit, and then said she had tried contacting the customer and received no response so she was going to cancel the order. Sure enough, the canceled ticket printed out near the end of the phone call and I had wondered if the person might try ordering again, but she never did.

As far as work-related frustrations, we usually don’t get many online orders that include drinks, so I don’t usually pay much attention to our inventory of drinks, but every once in a while we get that frustrating order for bottled iced coffee or some energy drink or a soda or some other drink that we don’t have, so then I have to figure out a substitution and try to let the customer know. Most of the household goods are similar- despite their being available to order online for maybe a couple years now (I don’t remember when it was added, but I feel like it might have been circa spring 2020), I have yet to see any (other?) online orders where someone wants Benadryl or Advil or Tylenol or anything like that. I know I’ve seen a couple orders where someone wanted a loaf of bread, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone order a can of soup or a package of ramen or a package of paper plates or package of plastic cups or anything like that.

If the powers that be want to make things more convenient for guests, maybe they ought to make it easier for employees?

Rumination

Rather than make one mega-post with several different trains of thought, I think I’ll make a couple and try to limit each post so each is at least vaguely related.

For example, rather than writing a post that mentions thinking about my ex and recent developments at work and ongoing frustration with dating apps and, upon further reflection, probably other things, I’ll make another post in a bit about the recent work developments and this can be the, uh, non-work post.

There isn’t much! Surprising, right? All I do is work and relax and work and relax and work and…

Let’s see… my grandparents are getting older, which is hardly surprising, and there’s not much I can say about that. They’re 93 and 92, and as the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth (and just about any old famous person) reminds me, one day they’ll be the ones mourned.

I’ve been playing Rimworld again, so that has been fun, but it’s also approaching the point where I’ve burned out on Rimworld and am due to switch to, I don’t know, Dominions 5 or something.

As far as the ongoing frustration with dating apps, I don’t know just how much I can write that wouldn’t just turn into pointless rambling (as cathartic as it may be for me). I’m convinced that my previous relationship (being introduced by a mutual friend when my now-ex and I were both in college in a city) is like the easy mode, if not “easiest” mode, for meeting people (and perhaps starting a relationship in general), compared to these days. I’m not in college any more, I work at a convenience store in a small town, and while I could be wrong, I’m convinced that most of the people my age or within the acceptable age range for a relationship are either already taken or may have other baggage. I don’t think this is a bad small town, but I don’t think there’s much of a nightlife (and I don’t get out much, so I’m hardly to be trusted as far as knowledge of the singles scene around here).

Read more: Rumination

I did think it was funny yesterday to remember that today was the anniversary of my ex and I starting our relationship, but considering it’s been 4.5 years since we broke up and over 2 years since I heard from her, I’m not sure what the traditional celebration is. A few weeks ago when I was thinking of the anniversary of our starting to date I started drafting a blog post with a playlist of songs that reminded me of her, though I didn’t feel like polishing that and posting it tonight. Maybe another day (or I guess I could always save it for another day, like the anniversary of our breaking up).

As far as dating apps, I’ve never really used OKCupid much, but Tinder and Bumble continually frustrate me because people either write nothing in their profiles, don’t write much in their profiles, are unoriginal (e.g., “touch my butt and buy me tacos”, “I like beer and tacos”, “my dog needs a daddy”), or the pictures seem bad. Maybe I don’t have much room to talk, since I don’t claim to have great pictures on my online dating profiles, but some people don’t look attractive, I’m personally not interested in lots of body modification (piercings, tattoos, etc.), and the profiles where they don’t even use a picture of themselves seem less than helpful (as far as the whole superficial “judging on appearance rather than substance and then make a binary choice” goes). I have a theory that people who are more “open to experience” tend to be more present on online dating, since I’ve seen a lot of people with tattoos and piercings and I suspect people who aren’t “open to experience” probably just meet their husbands/boyfriends through their social networks.

The best recent thing I’ve seen on a dating profile was on Bumble, I think, earlier this week and it was a woman whose profile said something like “Men who are over 6′ who only go for girls under 5’7″- why do you want your kids to play JV?” I think her profile said she was 5’9″, but as someone who’s about 6′ tall I thought that was hilarious. Of course, I also just appreciate seeing something new instead of the same trite nonsense about “I’m terrible at writing bios” or “not looking for hookups” or whatever nonsense.

Resuming a train of thought from earlier, I suspect that trying to date amid a respiratory pandemic (and that’s not even bringing monkeypox into the equation) is probably a bit more challenging than dating pre-pandemic. Additionally, as previously mentioned regarding location, dating in a city of one hundred fifty thousand at least offers more choices in a smaller area than trying to date in a small town of around a thousand. Even leaving aside the local ramifications of gossip and social networks, based on what I’ve seen on dating apps, there’s a lot of people who are more than 20 miles away, which isn’t too far, but it does seem like it’d slightly limit scheduling (as opposed to someone who was actually in the same town, or at least within 10 or so miles). Additionally, as I’ve thought before, in contrast to my ex, who was a full-time student when we were dating that didn’t have many friends, I assume that any future women I date (assuming I ever do date anyone again, of course) will probably have a job and probably friends and some kind of social life.

Of course, in order to start talking to someone through these various apps, I’d probably have to start swiping right, wouldn’t I? Why would I want to do that?

D&D plot ideas

I put on my robe and wizard hat

Actually, I’m not sure where my wizard hat is, and while I do have a robe in my apartment, the idea of wearing a robe over my work clothes seems silly.

Maybe I’ll write more about what I’ve been up to in another post. For now, a few recent Dungeons and Dragons-related ideas, though of course these (mostly) don’t require that specific system (or even genre).

I have had several D&D-inspired story ideas in the last 12 years, and while none of them have exactly resulted in a finished narrative, they’ve usually proven interesting to think about (until being overtaken by the newest idea). Briefly, last fall I had an idea for a story with a non-linear narrative, and a loose plot outline was as far as I had got before, as winter set in, I became interested in “Old Style Revival” games, specifically OSRIC, and reading about AD&D and other older editions.

Personally, I was introduced to D&D in summer 2009 by playing “Revised 3rd Edition”, or 3.5. I’ve never played 4th edition (or, for that matter, 5th edition), but other than 3.5 most of my other D&D experience has actually come in the form of Pathfinder (1st Edition), also known as D&D 3.75.

One recent idea I had was to run the game with different editions at different levels. For example, starting the game with 1st Edition AD&D rules, then after level 5 switching to AD&D 2nd edition or D&D 3rd edition, then after another 5 or so levels continuing to 4th or 5th edition.

I could see where this might be a headache for the players and game master, since it’d probably involve having to do some calculations (never mind spells and other mechanics working differently between editions), but on the other hand, some of the things I’ve read about older-style campaigns fascinate me. For example, instead of your game following only a small group of mercenaries, also having the party accompanied by a coterie of non-player characters to serve as wagon-drivers, guards, or other needed expertise (and, if needed, apprentices and backup characters) seems interesting, particularly after the party has gained several levels and establishes a power center which then needs to be defended, maintained, and potentially expanded.

If your party establishes a stronghold and you want to try a new class, that may be an opportune time (at least in this idea) to retire the old character, maybe allow some time to pass, and then begin a new ‘campaign’ in the same setting. Maybe 30 years have passed, the old adventurers have died, retired, or otherwise left the area, and the children of the heroes of old have to take up the swords (or wands or staves or daggers) of their ancestors and fight back some new threat (goblin invasion, orc warlords, horse-riding nomads, etc.)

At least in 5th edition, I think I’ve read something before about lower level characters (maybe 1-5) being local heroes, levels 5-10 being powerful and notable in a wider region, while level 15+ characters may be well-known over continental or wider distances. Somewhere (maybe in Pathfinder) I’ve also read something about how most people in the world do not achieve high levels in their lifetimes- I think OSRIC or some other book I’ve read mentions that few people are capable of achieving character levels.

Another idea I’ve had is to play with the “traditional” start to a campaign. Instead of the stock “you all meet in a tavern”, I’ve had an idea before where the party has to come up with why they’re all imprisoned at the start of the game. Did they break a sumptuary law and wear the wrong color or fabric, were they in a bar fight, or did they commit grievous crimes against King and Temple and are awaiting their immediate execution at dawn?

“You all meet at the tavern you work at, or at least the smoking crater that used to be the tavern you work at” has amused me as an idea in the past, though it’s been a long time since I’ve run a game. I’m not sure when my next chance to run a game might be, though fortunately, at least, I’ve recently joined a Pathfinder game that is currently planned to start at level 5. Other than playing a human sorceror, I haven’t decided on an alignment, personality, or much about the background, though I think most of my ability scores and equipment have been decided upon.

No girlfriend, no games, no goals

I came up with the title of this post while taking the dogs for a mid-day walk earlier this afternoon. While I don’t plan to make this a long post exhaustively breaking down the causes and effects, I do think this phrase succinctly describes my current situation (even if admitting this fact seems like telling on myself, or at least betraying that not all is well, in contrast to the usual depiction on social media).

As for no girlfriend, all I really have to say about that is that, in December, I’ll have been single for four years, and, of course, there’s still a pandemic raging. I haven’t dabbled much in online dating lately, but what little I have looked around (admittedly, mostly on Tinder and OkCupid) is disappointing because I want something more substantial than a blank bio and a picture, and because people are disappointing I suspect my list of desired qualities is probably rare in this area, to put it lightly. I also haven’t lost much sleep about this, because (much like pre-college) I figure I’ll meet someone eventually, so I don’t worry about it.

No games stems from noticing that, according to my Steam library earlier today, apparently it’s been 3 weeks since I played anything (ignoring the 2.7 hours I spent a couple weeks ago using a floorplan generator to map a dungeon for my current D&D-inspired story idea). It’s also been 2 years since I last played D&D with anyone, and much like my frustration over not having a girlfriend or, indeed, any romantic prospects that I’m aware of, I think there’s a similar problem of having to meet other people and “put myself out there”. Indeed, the ongoing pandemic complicates the prospect of meeting in person (as if my work schedule and location didn’t already pose enough obstacles), which leaves online gaming, and I’m not currently aware of anyone who might be interested in playing and has a similar schedule. I haven’t exactly asked my friends, but most of my friends who might be interested seem to have families and jobs and other commitments, and they might not be game to meet for an online game at, say, midnight. Of course, scheduling is always a problem, but it’d be nice if I could work less and play more. D&D character ideas seem rather useless without having a prospect of playing them, and I also haven’t done any looking for groups in this department either. I think websites exist where I could play by post or something, but that’s a further effort. Playing with friends was simpler when I lived with a Game Master, and the other half of our party lived in the next apartment building of the same complex.

As for no goals, this stems from a coworker recently asking “What have you been up to?” and my answer being, as usual, something like “Not much.” As far as I can think of, my coworkers range in age from 16 to their mid-60s, which is quite a range. While a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old might be worried about their homework or preparing for college or enduring senior year, and someone in their mid-60s might be worried about medical procedures or health issues or their family, I feel like right now I’m relatively fortunate in that I don’t have to worry about much, but also I’m not really doing anything other than work.

I get up, I go to work 5 days a week, I come home, rinse and repeat. Since I don’t have any friends that live close, I can’t exactly swing by to socialize, and as previously mentioned most of the friends that do come to mind are busy, so we might chat, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to anyone’s house for a social event (discounting, I guess, my grandparents’ being visited by relatives).

If I was currently in college, for example, I might be studying or have assignments or projects or be busy with that, or if I had a family I’d have to consider childcare and whatever the child/children was doing (whether daycare or school). However, I’m not currently taking any classes and I have no children, so that rules those out.

I have things I want to do, or would be nice to do, but I’m not very organized about coming up with a list of goals for my day off (for example), or for “this week”, or “by November”, or anything like that.

I suspect I might be happier if not all three of those admitted simplifications were true, but who knows. It could certainly be worse.

Summer: Vacation, etc.

For some reason, this morning I woke up and decided I could write a post here, because I was vaguely aware it had been a while and I figured I could write about some recent happenings.

After coming to WordPress, apparently I haven’t written here since the end of February. Really?

I, uh, can’t think of much to report, or at least not enough to write a thousand or so words about the last (does math) five months, give or take a week. I mean, I probably could find the words to figure out how to write 200 words about March, April, May, June, and July, plus the first not-quite-week of August, but I’m not sure what I’d report about each month, particularly some of the earlier months. Therefore, I’ll stick to more recent events, like the past few weeks.

A couple weeks ago (July 21-24) I took my first vacation in a while to visit my sister, and it was nice to see her and get away from the daily grind. I hadn’t been to my former city of residence since I moved away about a year ago (July 29, 2020). We didn’t do much- I got my oil changed and a couple new tires (I had asked them to rotate my tires at Wal-Mart while I was getting my oil changed, and then they told me they couldn’t rotate the tires because they were worn down to the belt, and I had sort of forgot about getting new tires), we went for a couple walks, and we got carry-out for several meals. I enjoyed the pan of brownies she had made, and despite taking a couple Mom-made masks and being worried about the current state of the pandemic, I didn’t even wear the masks at all, so that seemed a bit pointless.

It seems weird to think about it being time to get ready for school, though of course it’s been over a year since I’ve taken any classes, and I don’t have any children, so I don’t exactly have to worry much about it (which I’m somewhat thankful for, in light of the current state of the ongoing pandemic). There are several people at work that are leaving, apparently, including the assistant manager and several of the night kitchen people, so that’s potentially a problem, but hopefully more people get hired and I don’t wind up having to work a bunch of overtime (or something).

Recently I’ve been toying with some Dungeons and Dragons/Pathfinder-inspired story ideas. Last fall, I think, I had an idea for a story that was inspired by reading about some of the class options in Pathfinder (specifically, the water elemental bloodline for sorcerers), and this spring (or maybe summer) I had another idea for another D&D-inspired idea, and most recently I’ve been inspired by a game I discovered while visiting my sister last month. The game is called Good Old Dungeon, and it’s a fairly simple dungeon crawl where you control a character and fight monsters and, of course, can use experience points, gold, and materials to advance your character. I created a wizard and thus decided I wanted to build a D&D wizard. I’ve been playing with some ideas recently for a D&D inspired story where this wizard is the main character, and of course building a D&D character has made me want to play D&D or a similar game, though I’m not currently aware of anyone that’s playing. As usual, scheduling is an issue- if I wanted to run a game, I could probably figure out how to find a group of people interested in playing, though the question as ever would be if they’re available or willing to play when I am- say, at 10 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, or after 9 pm most days of the week, or some other not-quite-conventional hour. What I always slightly disliked about playing with my former roommate and other friends several years ago was that we would get together to play on Sunday afternoons at noon. Since I usually worked at 4 PM on Sunday, losing my scarce time before work always slightly vexed me.

Recently, reading about the history of the county where I work has led me to some old books that are available online and were published in the 1880s. Aside from reading about the early history of the county, and the strangeness of imagining the area in the 1840s when it was the unsettled frontier and people were worrying about Indian attacks, I have to admit being amused by some of the flowery writing- I doubt that a history published in 2021 would talk about how “savages” made no use of the country and how the area has some of the most fertile soil in the world (or at least the United States). It’s amusing to imagine such a history- aside from an additional 140 years to cover, unless it was written by a Republican or similar conservative, it’s easier to imagine a more “politically correct” (“woke”?) history that, for example, would not use the phrase “savage” unless it was a direct quote from a contemporary source, and only used if it had good reason. For that matter, I imagine such a history written now might include some native sources, or at least sources that weren’t solely from white men. Some history about slavery in this area might be interesting, for example, though as this was the northernmost outcropping of legal slavery, my understanding is that there wasn’t a lot of it (as opposed to, say, the lower South where cotton and other crops were the basis of the economy). I’ll admit I’m not well versed in antebellum history on this local level!

As a weird and tangentially related note on local history, Wednesday morning on my way to work my mom called and said the local museum was closing and she had been called by someone who was trying to return things to the families that had donated/loaned them. After work Wednesday, I met my mom there and we picked up several things that had belonged to my First World War veteran great-grandfather and had been donated by my grandparents, including his uniform, chest, mess kit and some other memorabilia that had been in the chest, a hay knife, a green bean snipper, an egg scale, a chicken feeder, a table, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. We also picked up an old washing machine that didn’t belong to my relatives, but I think belonged to one of our neighbors (or at least someone that was the ancestor of some of our neighbors).

Speaking of my grandparents, they celebrated their 70th anniversary August 1. I worked that day, but their children (my aunts and father) took them out to lunch and I stopped by Sunday morning before work to see them. My grandparents are certainly in good shape for being in their early 90s, and I’ve sort of already decided that I’ve probably lost my chance to match that particular milestone (unless I somehow meet and marry someone and we both live another 70 years, which may or may not happen depending on medical technology of the late 21st century).

Let’s see- local history, family, vacation, story ideas- I’m not sure what else to write about. Well, I can think of some funny work-related anecdotes, but this post seems like it’s long enough already, so I think I might put those in another post. I don’t know about writing here more regularly, but it also seems like that’s not the worst idea. Until next time.

Month in review

Another month draws to a close, and as usual I haven’t written here for some time. How long? I haven’t looked- I don’t remember the last time I visited this site, but offhand I bet it’s been at least a month, maybe closer to two.

In any event, what have I done this month? I don’t have a list of events to hand, but I can think of a few things off the top of my head. Let’s begin.

At the end of last month, after a bit of online car shopping and talking to my parents, I bought a pickup truck! Previously I had been driving vehicles they owned and insured, but a few days after buying my truck (which did involve borrowing some money from my parents) I began paying for my own insurance.

When we were looking at the truck that I would end up buying, my dad commented that the tires were worn and I’d have to save up for new tires. Sure enough, about a week and a half after buying my truck, one night after work I had a tire blow out a couple miles south of town. I had originally pulled over because I noticed it was riding really rough, and I wanted to look at it, but once I saw the tire had blown I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to limp the few miles to the next town to put air in my tires, as I had been hoping. The guy driving behind me stopped to see if he could help, and he said that he thought I had hit a deer, but he didn’t have a jack that could lift my truck. I realized, after checking the manual in my glove compartment and looking for the jack, that I didn’t get a jack with my truck. Fortunately, a local law enforcement officer also stopped when he saw me pull over and put my emergency lights on, and he also didn’t have a jack that would work, but he called a couple people and some other law enforcement officer brought the right jack and a tire iron, so the first officer changed my tire while I (and two other law enforcement officers) watched. After limping home, I called a garage and made an appointment, and later that week (I think) I ordered two new tires.

A few days later, on Valentine’s Day I was asked if I could come in to work at 1 pm, instead of 3 as I think I was originally scheduled. I said I could do that, and the weather was bad (it was snowing and cold) so my mom let me drive her truck, but I decided to drive on what I thought would be a better road, since I thought I’d have more traction on gravel than on pavement. That turned out to be a mistake, since I got stuck in a ditch about half a mile east of home, but Dad was able to pick me up, brought me back home, and that day I drove the 2010 Jeep Compass to work. I had been driving it for about the past 7 years (before I bought my truck, at least), and I think that was the last day I wound up driving it. Fortunately, despite the snow and cold, once I got onto the asphalt, I was able to get to work without further incident. Later that week, I would get my new tires (and a tire pressure monitor sensor, since apparently I had lost that when the tire blew out).

Last week, Tuesday night after work I was pulled over by a county deputy, and he said he hadn’t seen my transit stickers until he was right behind my truck. After looking at my paperwork and borrowing my driver’s license for a moment he let me continue on my way. Wednesday I called a couple local government offices about what paperwork I’d need to license my truck, and I wound up driving to town to get an odometer reading inspection (for lack of a better word, not sure what the actual terminology would be). As of a couple years ago, in the state of Missouri vehicles that are less than 10 years old and have less than 150,000 miles on them don’t need inspections to get licensed (if I remember correctly), so due to my truck being a model year 2012 and only having about 25 thousand miles on the odometer, I didn’t need a full inspection. Last Friday I got my truck licensed, finally, at sort of the last minute, and so now it’s on to the next problem, I guess. I can’t particularly think of any problems right now, but I think Dad said something the other day about how now I’m ready for the next hail storm, or something like that about how that might be the next problem to worry about.

It seems weird thinking about it being March (and that’s without even delving into the weirdness of the pandemic and how that kind of hit my life in March 2020), but after the cold snap we had a couple weeks ago (or Arctic vortex or whatever that was about), it’s been warmer lately, with highs in the 40s and 50s, so that’s been pleasant. Less enjoyable has been the melt, due to all of the snow and ice we had melting, so the ground has been saturated. It’s not all a muddy mess, but there are definitely patches that are awful.

As far as work, I’ve been working a lot lately, and not exactly enjoying it! Someone got fired last Sunday, so I “got” to pick up several shifts she had been scheduled to work, and I think someone else didn’t show up yesterday, so I didn’t get a weekend off after all, despite being scheduled to have Saturday and Sunday off this weekend. Instead, I got a call from the assistant manager yesterday asking if I could work 8 to close last night, and after some texting yesterday evening, I agreed to work 1 to 6 pm today. I had the opportunity to only work 6 to close, but I wasn’t “jazzed” about that idea considering I already close just about every day this week, and it was nice being home a few minutes after sunset instead of at 11:45 pm, or whenever I usually get home. Overtime will help me financially, I guess, though I’d rather just go back to working 35 hours a week instead of 43 or whatever I have been and/or am due for. It’d be nice if we could hire some people, but I don’t know where we stand on that front (and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were stupid reasons, like not having the labor hour budget to support hiring more people or something dumb like that).

I’d like to take up a project or something, but I’m also not really sure what to do. I have a few story ideas, or I could begin playing a game or something, but what I’d really like is a few days off work so I can sort of forget that I’m employed, or at least just relax at home and not have to be anywhere. A vacation would be nice, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards in the near future.

In other news, I happened to think recently that late February 2015 is when I started talking to my now-ex-girlfriend, which made me wonder what I’ll be doing in 6 years. Fingers crossed, some things will be different (and maybe even better!)

US Election 2020

We live in interesting times, don’t we?

On the one hand, with Election Day tomorrow, I’d like to read a bunch of articles about what might unfold, whatever the result.

On the other hand, I’ve also read enough to suspect that if Trump loses, or manages to cast enough doubt on the result of the election, there might be uncertainty and violence. I highly doubt that Trump will follow the precedent of peacefully conceding the election and working in good faith to transition to the Biden administration, because it seems much more likely that he’d do whatever he could to actively screw things up for the incoming Biden team, never mind the option of simply refusing to cede power. If there was some kind of corrupt bargain worked out where he wouldn’t be subject to criminal penalties and he was persuaded that ceding power would be in his best interests, he might go along with it, but losing or any kind of defeat seems antithetical to his character- this is, after all, the president that refused to advocate for wearing a mask until, what was it, two hundred thousand people died of COVID-19? Or was it merely 150,000? I don’t remember.

Biden is far from my favorite candidate, and I keep thinking it’s funny hearing Republican political ads trying to paint a Democratic candidate for US Senate from a neighboring state as “Too Liberal For [this state]”, like claiming that she’s in favor of open borders and defunding the police, and I wish she were that cool! More likely, I suspect, she’s probably within the Democratic mainstream (at least in the sense of “maybe not give big businesses as many tax cuts” and “let’s not set up concentration camps for immigrants and be nakedly xenophobic”). I haven’t paid much attention, since after all I’m not voting in that election, but I plan to vote tomorrow and I’ll have to refresh my memory of the candidates and whatever ballot propositions are being voted on. I know my state’s Senators are not up for election this round, but there is a US House race to vote in – do I vote for the Republican from my small hometown who’s been in Washington for 20 years, or do I vote for the latest Democratic challenger from the big city? What a decision! Haha.

Unfortunately, just like the last several presidential elections, I of course work tomorrow, so I won’t be able to keep up much with the results. I remember working in 2012 after voting and, as I left work, hearing on the radio in the car that Obama had won and Romney was conceding, and I think I remember hearing something similar in 2016 as I was leaving work that Trump had won and Clinton was conceding. This week, I imagine, might be a bit messier (and that’s being slightly optimistic and assuming there won’t be a mass shooting at a polling place or something stupid like that).

I’m not sure how to approach reading articles about the election. Of course, there’s also the approach of not reading articles about the election, and simply not paying attention until tomorrow or until results start coming up or until tomorrow night when I can catch up with the results and analysis.

The fact that this election is in any way close seems unfortunate, but I guess that’s what you get when one of the two dominant parties fully backs the incumbent candidate and the other party pushes forward a centrist, uninspiring, experienced candidate as the challenger instead of someone more interesting and unconventional who might have radical ideas like “reducing funding for the military-industrial complex” and “being less business-friendly”.

ex ruminations

When did I write here last? Oh well, it doesn’t matter.

I can’t particularly think of any recent major news in my life. I’m still working the same job (and not particularly satisfied), I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind on my PC after buying it a couple weeks ago, and I’ve had a few social events, though unfortunately none this weekend. Last weekend, though, I had a virtual movie night with a couple friends and I went over to another friends’ house for some board games, and that was fun.

At a certain point, things should probably stop reminding me of my ex. Well, maybe not- it seems like a sudden hard and fast decision to make, to say something like that, and it has been close to three years since we broke up (and getting closer to that milestone by the day), but there are still reminders. I suspect if we were still on speaking terms, she might enjoy hearing that I still think of her occasionally. Or perhaps not- she’s married and pregnant and a homeowner now, so she’s sort of moved on, or at least on a slightly different trajectory than my current circumstances.

Last week, it seemed the main thing that made me think of her was driving back from playing board games at a friends’ house. Aside from this being the mutual friend who introduced me to my ex, driving from the small college town to home reminded me of the times I would visit during the summer and Christmas vacations, which would invariably involve making plans and going on at least one date in that small town during the few days I was in the area, such as going to see a movie and going out to eat, which also suddenly seems weird to think about amid the still-ongoing pandemic.

Earlier this week, I remembered the times that my ex would text me months after we broke up to, I presume, test the lines of communication. I probably shouldn’t have replied, but I did. Now of course she doesn’t have my phone number (and hasn’t for a couple years and two phones now), but even if she did I doubt we’d talk much. If nothing else, she once said that her now-husband didn’t like it when she talked to me, which is understandable.

Today, as usual, I was reminded of her when I logged into Netflix. Now, I don’t usually watch much Netflix, but the fact that I can see various movies and TV shows that I remember watching together seems- maybe not flawed, but maybe poignant. It’d be one thing if we had just broke up, or even if we were watching some shows together as friends, but considering it’s been 4 months since I’ve heard from her and over a year since we’ve talked about anything on Netflix or any shows or movies, it seems slightly ridiculous that I can see, for example, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or the Trolls Movie or Star Trek: The Original Series or Supernatural and remember watching it together. Or, if you want “extra” credit, The Umbrella Academy, which she told me about shortly before we made plans to watch Netflix together in February 2019 and she canceled once the appointed time came. Apparently there’s a new season of that, though I first watched the show last fall, I think.

I suppose that could be an argument that I need to watch more Netflix to move some of those things out of my sight, and there may be options to change the selection available or hide certain series, but I also don’t see any particular reason to exercise that choice and find those options.

Of course, I also don’t have any expectation that anyone will be interested in talking to me any time soon, which is its own frustration, but I don’t really know what to do about that.

In other news, this morning two of our dogs woke me up after I’d had slightly over two hours of sleep so I could let them out at sunrise, as they’re accustomed to, and then I was never able to fall back asleep despite trying for a couple hours. Fortunately it hasn’t been much of an issue today, but I’d like to have more than two hours of sleep tonight. Insomnia is frustrating, though sometimes poor sleep hygiene (or caffeine or alcohol) is to blame. Lately I haven’t had too much trouble falling asleep, but when I do, it’s usually been due to caffeine or alcohol throwing neurochemistry (I guess) out of whack in contrast to my preference/desire of having conscious control over physiological functions such as “sleep”. Alas.

Victoria II

Victoria II is a historical strategy and economic simulator game from Paradox Interactive that was released in August 2010 and allows the player to control any country between 1836 and 1935. I purchased the game on August 22, and in 17.7 hours (according to Steam) so far I have finished two games. I haven’t bought any of the two expansions yet, but so far I’ve played one game as Sweden, where I successfully finished the game on December 31 1935, and the second game as Oman, which I involuntarily finished last night due to France invading and annexing me in 1919. Aside from my failing to Westernize because I was unable to get my military score high enough (I had achieved every other requirement long before 1919), another issue I had faced as everything fell apart and French soldiers overwhelmed my army was that I had a Communist insurrection in Mogadishu, my only remaining African colony. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but Portugal had taken most of my African colonies in the late 1830s or early 1840s, so I only had to deal with Mogadishu, and really I hadn’t had too many problems.

Once thirty thousand Somali farmers raised the red flag of revolution and overwhelmed the infantry brigade of three thousand men garrisoned in Mogadishu, though, I had a problem. I had been trying to retake my colony, and sending fifteen thousand men (some cavalry, infantry, and artillery) hadn’t succeeded and my invasion had been repelled, so I was working on rebuilding and reinforcing my army to try again when the French declared war and invaded. For some reason, in that game/timeline, France had invaded and taken over most of Persia before they annexed Abu Dhabi (or, as it’s currently known in our world, the UAE and Bahrain), which sort of stole my thunder as I had already conquered Nejd and was planning an annexation of Abu Dhabi before the French invaded. Dastardly imperialists.

Half the fun of Victoria, if you ask me, and arguably any Paradox strategy game, is seeing the alternate history hijinks ensue. In my Oman game, for example, Mexico colonized Oklahoma, and the US never took California, New Mexico, Arizona, etc. from Mexico, as happened in our timeline. I’m not sure why. I think it might have been the Oman game, but at one point I saw Communist Liberia, and in my Sweden game Krakow and Wurttemburg fell to the Communists. At another point in the Oman game, Bolivia had become an absolute monarchy before some rebels turned it into a democracy.

As of now, my plan is to buy the expansion packs at some point in the very near future (I get paid Friday) and continue 19th century imperialist and/or industrial hijinks. I haven’t decided who I want to play as next- I’ve been thinking about playing as the Federal Republic of Central America and trying to keep that united, but I also like the idea of playing as the US or some other country that’s slightly more powerful and has more resources. Oman, for example, produced mainly opium and agricultural goods, which is fine and dandy except for when you want to industrialize (or can’t because you’re “uncivilized”, but I digress). Sweden, at least, produced timber, coal, and steel (among others) which are significantly more helpful when you’re wanting to industrialize.

Since I’ve played in Europe and West Asia, maybe I ought to give the Americas a try? Brazil or Argentina (or both) could be interesting. Of course, there’s also the US or Mexico, but it might be too easy as the US, and Mexico would have to deal with the US and Texas one way or another. If I really wanted a challenge, I suppose I could always try Texas.