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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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?

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.

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”.

After-Action Report: Aurek-28

Star Wars: Empire at War is a computer strategy game released in 2006 that allows players to play land or space battles as either the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars “Galaxy Far, Far, Away”. In terms of chronology, the original game (as opposed to its expansion pack) covers a short time before the destruction of the first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin and could go as late as the Battle of Hoth, more or less, three standard years later.

Earlier this year, after not playing it for some time (probably a few years, minimum), I installed my copy on my Windows PC and rediscovered it.

After moving back in with my parents last month and getting my Windows PC set up again, I’ve been playing Empire at War again sporadically for the last, oh, couple of weeks or so.

After finishing the Imperial “Galactic Conquest” game I had started in May, I decided to try my hand playing as the Rebel Alliance. It has gone… poorly.

As of right now, I control only a few planets and have a meager credit income, while my AI-controlled Imperial opponent can bury me in Stormtroopers, AT-ATs, AT-AAs, Broadside cruisers, and Tartan patrol cruisers.

So, it’s pretty accurate to the “canon” Galactic Civil War!

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated of late, and earlier I was thinking that, instead of continuing to play and getting increasingly mad, I could instead abandon that game and start a new one at a lower difficult level. Instead of “medium”, I could try “easy” and attempt to learn from my various mistakes. Originally, this blog post was going to be a pseudo-fan fiction ‘after-action report’ from the perspective of a Rebel officer discussing the failure of this particular simulation and lessons learned.

Among my mistakes, in hindsight, has been a failure to play in accordance with the differences between Imperial and Alliance doctrine and strategy. Continue reading

Grief

Once again, I’m going to try a slightly more focused entry. This morning I woke up listening to the news on NPR, and of course my state and the next closest state apparently saw new COVID-19 records (number of new cases and number of hospitalizations respectively, if I remember correctly), so my state’s Department of Education is apparently working on guidelines to allow schools to be open this fall. There was a plan mentioned for schools to have some students attend in the morning and some in the afternoon, which sounds logistically complicated and makes me glad I’m not currently in elementary or high school and don’t have any kids. After the local headlines, the national news started, and it was more of the same- the Trump administration wants schools to be open in the fall, but is not really doing anything about the ongoing pandemic (or if the federal government is responding, I think they could do and need to be doing more). This ongoing disaster (for lack of any better word) successfully made me angry for most of the rest of the afternoon before I went to work and got to briefly forget about the disasterous pandemic response by the richest nation in history and the most powerful nation on the planet.

Alright, deep breath. Brief digression aside, now for the real reason for this entry.

I had a friend from high school pass away this past weekend. She was a couple years younger than me, but we were in a lot of the same activities and we were close when I was in high school. I don’t remember the last time I talked to her or saw her. I think I saw on Snapchat that I had sent her something a couple months ago (though I don’t remember what), and I had sent her a funny screenshot of a tweet in a Facebook message back in late 2019, so clearly it had been a while. We exchanged birthday wishes earlier this year (her birthday was in February and mine is in April), but “happy birthday!” “thanks!” does not a substantial conversation make. I imagine the last time I saw her in person might have been a couple years ago, possibly at my sister’s high school graduation in 2018 (or my brother’s in 2014).

It’s probably futile, but I wish I had talked to her more recently. Continue reading

Longer apart than together

I think I’ve recently thought about how I should post here again. I wasn’t aware until a few days ago that I apparently haven’t written here since late April, or nearly 2 months ago. While I could probably write about the last couple months (spoiler alert: not much has happened in my life), instead I’m going to write about ancient history!

I’m joking. This entry, specifically, I’m going to try to keep somewhat focused on my ex-girlfriend. While I could probably spill lots of ink on this topic, suffice it to say that, as of mid-March of this year, we have officially been apart longer than we were together. Continue reading

A Simple Day

I haven’t done much today. Last night was stressful at work mainly due to a superior (specifically, the store manager’s boss’s boss) coming in before my shift and saying all the ovens needed cleaned. I feel like there are better ways to go about doing things (like saying “oh, this needs done ASAP, but after looking at the numbers and available resources I know Sundays are usually busy so do what you can” rather than “do this immediately, I don’t know or care if this will cause you additional stress since trying to do extra cleaning on a weekend with the usual number of minimal staff is difficult at best”), but with help from kitchen manager and coworkers we managed to get the ovens cleaned. I know there’s slightly more to it, but it seems middle management only exists to make everyone’s life more difficult! At least, that’s my flippant and non-serious reaction after hearing of unrealistic expectations (but I’m also cynical, so there is that). The slightly funny thing is that Saturday I had been wondering what was going to happen when some authority figure came in and said we needed to do extra cleaning, despite recently having fewer hours and fewer people than we used to. Also Saturday I cut my thumbnail, but fortunately other than some bleeding right after it happened, that hasn’t been too much trouble. Fortunately now I have a few days off, which I should probably use better than I did today.

Today I slept in, had some cereal for “breakfast” (about 2:30 pm), did some dishes, watched some YouTube, and eventually cooked dinner. I had some hamburger thawing in my fridge, which I cooked, and after draining it I mixed some of the meat with corn, some canned beans, and spinach and had that with rice. Not the most sophisticated or complex meal, but at least it was some vegetables, a starch, and a complete protein. I thought it sort of seemed like peasant fare, but since I haven’t been grocery shopping as much, I see nothing wrong with using what I have on hand (as opposed to, say, going to the grocery store “in these trying times”). After dinner I talked to my mom and sister, and I ventured outside my apartment to take out my garbage. While working on tying up the garbage bag, I happened to think of the phrase “quarantine chic”, which amused me.

I know I’ve read a little bit about people “self-isolating” in their apartments and whatnot recently. From talking to friends and family, there are some people who are still working, but others who are working and/or studying from home. As an employee in an “essential business” (gas station), I don’t know what it’s like to be stuck at home for weeks without seeing another human! At most I’ve gone about 4 days (and that’s if you’re not counting Facebook or video calls, which I guess don’t really count). I know I’ve read a couple things where people are talking about how bras, tights, and some other things (mainly things women have to deal with, now that I think about it) shouldn’t survive, but the phrase “quarantine chic” to me does sort of imply barely getting dressed, and maybe just sitting around your apartment in your pajamas and/or underwear. Or even less, depending on your particular circumstances.

If you’re living by yourself, or perhaps with your significant other, then you probably could get away with wearing whatever minimum amount of clothing you’re comfortable in. However, if you’re living with relatives or children (or videoconferencing with people for work or school), you should probably wear at least some minimum of clothing, even if only enough to be “decent” and not accidentally indecent on your work video call (for example).

Thinking of “quarantine chic” also was making me wonder about “quarantine diet”, which seems like it could go badly- either subsisting on canned food, eating exclusively takeout or delivery, or trying to, for example, learn how to bake, so you’re making lots of bread (as I’ve read people are doing, according to Twitter). There probably could be other examples of quarantine entertainments (again, depending on living circumstances)- I imagine a young couple being quarantined in their apartment might come up with different entertainments than, say, a family living in a house or an extended family holed up in their vacation home. Of course, at least streaming is a thing now, so people can always Netflix and Disney+ and whatever to their heart’s content rather than being limited to their video collections or listening to the radio (or merely reading books or playing board games).

I remember recently thinking about how it would be interesting to try living like someone during the 1918 flu epidemic (or any other pandemic in history, for that matter). It might be difficult now that I think about it- for one thing, they didn’t have the Internet in 1918, so your entertainment choices would be limited to reading books, playing cards, board games (at least, anything invented before 1920), and maybe going outside, but you certainly wouldn’t have Netflix, Wikipedia, the Internet, YouTube, or myriad other things. I suppose they did have records in 1918, so you might be able to argue that you could listen to music, but that would of course limit you to your physical media collection (none of this “streaming” nonsense).

I can’t particularly think of anything else I wanted to write here, so I suppose I’ll return with more random thoughts at a later time.

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.