Life, uh, finds a way

It’s been a minute since I’ve written here, it’s true. For the most part, I’ve been well- global pandemic and the presence of COVID-19 in the area for almost a month aside, I’ve thought that seeing how people react has been weird. Among other things, I’ve thought it funny that all the commercials I’ve seen and heard these days (at least from local businesses) seem to fall into the categories of either “we are temporarily closed and look forward to serving you once this crisis is over” or “we’re still open, and we’re taking special precautions to continue to serve you!”

There have been a few changes at work- as a convenience store “team member”, I apparently count as an essential employee, so that’s been fun*! I can write more about that another time, though. Fortunately, I guess I can count my blessings that at least I still have a job, and since I was already taking an online class this semester Before Everything Changed, there haven’t really been any major disruptions. I was already socially isolated before it was cool! Er, wait. Hahaha.

Anyway, I have been glad that at least I haven’t had to deal with transitioning from physical meetings to online classes (I’ve seen it written somewhere that this has been the largest distance learning experiment in history, which I think makes sense- I doubt that schools everywhere would try this on such a large scale without some major incentive, like, oh, I don’t know, a pandemic!), and while my current living situation may not be “optimal”, at least I don’t have to worry about any kids, roommates, or significant others adding stress. I can certainly and unfortunately imagine that if something like this had happened a few years ago, either my then-girlfriend would have exerted additional pressure to move in together, or I would be juggling having to stay in contact with her and worrying about her health in addition to my own stresses. Of course, another possibility I’ve contemplated is being stuck living with a significant other and wanting out, but again, fortunately I don’t have to deal with that.

Anyway, brief life update aside, recently my hours at work have been cut, so it’s been nice working a bit less. Working half the hours that I was working a couple months ago, well, that’s less ideal from a financial perspective, but oh well. This past weekend I spent some time tinkering with a computer so I could work on an assignment, and I got it set up, as well as reinstalling Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, a grand strategy game made by Paradox Interactive back in the early 2000s. I don’t remember offhand when the game came out- maybe 2004? Anyway, I’ve been playing it recently, which has been fun. Unlike, say, Hearts of Iron or some of their other games, Victoria primarily focuses on economics and politics, so war and military technology isn’t as much of a focus. Sure, there is some, but the basic unit types are infantry, cavalry, dragoons, heavy ships, light ships, and transport ships- the main differences are in their stats, not necessarily their appearance. If you’re looking at the game when it starts in 1836 and near the game’s end in 1935, it’s going to look pretty similar, and you’d have to drill down a little bit (or look at the animated unit icons for your navy) to notice much difference between the Napoleonic flintlock muzzle loader-armed army of 1835 and the interwar bolt-action rifle and machine gun-armed army of 1935.

My first game Sunday night was playing as Persia (Iran), which was slightly fun. I didn’t do much, but I “westernized” fairly early, and aside from crushing frequent rebellions, not much happened. I stayed out of war for the most part, aside from joining a Russian war against my Ottoman neighbors in the late 1910s, and near the end of the game I did expand a little bit (taking half of Afghanistan and a piece of the modern United Arab Emirates, for example). Since I was mostly watching time pass, that allowed me to occasionally catch glimpses of what happened in the rest of the world, such as the US going fascist after the fascists won an election in 1921, the socialists winning several US elections in the 1800s, Denmark and Sweden uniting to form Scandinavia, the United States of Central America staying united, and Italy colonizing a vast area in Africa. Also, apparently Italy was unified from the south in that timeline, rather than the north.

The second game I started yesterday was playing as the United States of Central America, which historically fell apart after civil war in the late 1830s. I had a similar thing happen in my game, as when I’ve played as Central America in the past, but this time I managed to survive, and after the reactionary aristocrat rebels took the capital, they apparently decided to install a monarchy, which then somehow became a constitutional monarchy (not sure why, maybe the events fired at the same time or something). Anyway, alternate historical weirdness like this is what I always enjoy about historical strategy games like this (“what if Germany didn’t unite? What if the US joined Texas in a war against Mexico in 1836? What if Scandinavia united in the 1800s?”), and after playing that game as Persia, aside from wanting to play a game of Victoria 2 (which I don’t own yet, but I’ve been thinking about buying now that I have a Windows computer), I’ve been thinking that I have these settings, but I don’t know how to use them.

There probably are stories that could be told in that world (an alternate history fiction where, e.g., Russia controls half the Middle East and the other Great Powers are trying to protect their interests in Asia), but I don’t have any particular ideas at the moment. Of course, I have a few other ideas that I’ve been wanting to pursue, and at the moment laziness or distraction seems to be my main problem, particularly since I’m currently down to working less than 20 hours a week rather than almost 40.

Of course, there’s also always the job search which I should be working on, as I’ve been saying for months.

My birthday is later this week- perhaps I’ll write again here later.

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