2 Pokes

I got my 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, hooray! Both times I visited the “Supersite” in Morden, and it was efficient and pleasant and the staff were very nice.

10/10 would recommend to mitigate effects of disastrous global pandemic!

There are anecdotes of people experiencing a wave of relief, people breaking down in tears, and so on. I have to admit I haven’t felt that. Mostly because

  • I still have to wait a couple of weeks for it to be maximum effective,
  • Even when it’s in effect I still have to obey mask / distancing / store capacity regulations
  • The province is doing better, but still Not Great and there will probably continue to be restrictions on gatherings for the foreseeable future
  • And if I’m being honest, I’ve been very privileged to be shielded from the worst effects of the pandemic.

Still, it’s nice to do, get the vaccine. For myself and for others, and for the future of our communities. I think, anyway! I had to strongly resist the urge to be snarky or glib when I posted to social media today; I wanted my post to be an encouragement for folks, not preaching to the converted about “those people” (conspiracy-minded anti-vaxxers) who think I’m magnetized now or something.

Did you ever have an imaginary friend as a child? I hadn’t thought about the idea for a long time until I was reminded of it recently, and remembered my own childhood. I did, but there are two main things I remember about the experience: it was short-lived, and unless I’m entirely wrong, it was a performance. As in, I conjured up stories of an “imaginary friend” and told them to my family because I remember thinking that it was a thing that all kids did. That might be kind of a weird distinction, but I don’t at all remember having an imaginary friend because I particularly loved the idea. Like, some people can still remember their friend’s name, adventures they thought up, and so on. I can’t. Because I’m pretty sure I was faking it, with the idea that it was something all kids were supposed to do.

I’m sure this says something about my essential nature, but right now I can’t figure it out. I will say that it seems very on-brand for me.

Thing I Saw: This excellent, mind-boggling text adventure game called You Are Jeff Bezos. In it, you play as Jeff Bezos, the Amazon guy, and it’s your job to spend all of his money. This proves surprisingly difficult. On account of, you know, the vast quantities of it.

Thing I Learned: Some spiders have fewer than eight eyes. This thanks to Cassidy, who was wondering, and then made me fact-check myself when I insisted that it was always eight, end of story.

I’m Grateful For: my 2nd vaccine dose!

I’m Dreaming Of: A complete Metroid series playthrough to prepare my mind and body for the recently announced Metroid Dread. I have dramatically reduced the scope of this project for feasibility purposes, but a man can dream. (Right now I think I’ll just try to do Zero Mission, AM2R even though I own the remake of Samus Returns, Super, and Fusion. Mayyyybe mix a Prime in there somewhere. But the mainest mainline titles are actually fairly short, so I think I have a shot of pulling this off by October.

Lori recently found this entire song, which I didn’t even know was a song to be found. You get 1200 internet points if you know where I know this from. Redeem them in the Internet Store!

Hi-diddly-ho, Neighborino

So, how was the week for you? Mine flew right by. The beginning of the week was rough, again; I was exhausted and declared to Lori that I was “tired of having opinions about things.” By which, I meant that I was really bummed out about the seemingly increasing polarization around discussion of like…every issue currently facing our community? And world? I know this isn’t a new drum to be banging on, but it really got to me. How do we find common ground and work together to make the world better when it seems like we can’t even agree on what’s…real?

I expressed this to some friends that I play online games with on a roughly weekly basis, and one of them gave me a valuable reminder. He said that disagreeing with a neighbour doesn’t necessarily make them a bad neighbour. People can have nutty views and still be decent people. I know that for some issues and some neighbours, disagreement doesn’t just mean “we don’t see eye to eye” but more like “my neighbour doesn’t think I should exist” which is very different. But I’ve been reflecting on what my friend said in the days since and realizing that I’d gotten to a place where I was getting afraid to learn anything about anybody. I was getting scared that any divergence on issues I care about would somehow “poison” the relationship altogether.

I mean, as a Christian, I don’t really suppose that Jesus called us to only hang out with the people we already agree with. But it’s scarrryyyyy

Anyway, I often get in my own head about having to have the Right and Most Convincing answers for people I disagree with (see: posts about trying to “script” difficult conversations) and this is just another good reminder from a friend that I can let that anxiety go. And that it’s okay to have and express my own thoughts about things. One conversation with someone doesn’t have to change their entire worldview. Even my daughter’s Dog Man comics reminded me in the past few days that you don’t have to be able to move the whole tree at once; sometimes just one branch can make all the difference.

Thing I Saw: Lori and I are working our way through WandaVision and we really like it. I’d like it to be about 20% creepier, but there you are.

Thing I Learned: [Content warning: this is about the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School] So, another friend of mine works for the city administration. Our city, like many across Canada, decided to collect and display 215 pairs of shoes in front of city hall to memorialize the horrible discovery announced at the end of May. My friend told me that apparently this display had garnered some vehemently negative feedback on social media; I wasn’t told the specifics, but knowing that people could be angry about this small acknowledgement was troubling enough. In response, I told them about the article I’d recently read, in which archaeologists and researchers talked about the painstaking process of finding these mass burial sites. They said that because these things can be so difficult to find after time has passed, they start with primary sources: they interview survivors, the people who attended these schools as children. Because very often, the children were made to dig the graves that their peers were buried in.

With that fact in mind, I have only profane words on my mind for those who would complain about a small acknowledgement of a horrendous tragedy. I don’t want to reprint them here.

I’m Grateful For: Wise friends.

I’m Dreaming Of: A Skor McFlurry from McDonalds, to be honest

I love BDG, and as somebody who’s also watching his way through the Backstreet Boys video catalog with his wife, I can tell you that his moves and voice are on point

Best of the Best

Baby Update 2021! He was born March 29th, is named Avery, and is a baby. He looks completely astonished a lot of the time, and started out very barfy but we’ve brought that down with some lil’ probiotic drops. A bottle of which is surprisingly expensive! He’s smiling more regularly and (I think) making intentional “glgg” sounds when we coo and burble at him. This has been Baby Update!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated last. I’ve got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and I’m waiting for eligibility to expand for 2nd doses. My city and surrounding area have the worst vaccination and per-capita infection rates in the province, and the province is currently the hardest-hit (per capita) for COVID cases in North America! We’re on another lockdown as we endure the Third Wave of infections. We did it, reddit!

That last bit is usually said very tongue-in-cheek, but it reminded me that I’ve actually had to step away from the Winnipeg subreddit recently. After our local area has hit provincial and national news a few times, those articles of course make their way to r/Winnipeg and with it…a lot of vitriolic comments. I understand logically that the members of this subreddit represent a tiny fraction of the provincial population, but still, the sentiment I saw more than once was a real downer. Basically, when articles mention that a.)our region is suffering and b.)people won’t get the vaccine, the comments often went along the lines of “good! buncha idiots! if they won’t protect themselves then good riddance”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but the actual comments were not much more nuanced. It hurt! Because many of us here are disappointed with those who reject health guidelines and vaccines, and many of us have family and friends who are vulnerable or suffering every day because of the pandemic. And rather than wade into every comments section to post #NotAllSouthernManitobans forever and ever, I just left the subreddit. I briefly wrestled with whether to message the moderators but decided against it.

Anyway, I’m kinda just checking back in for now. I was starting to do these weekly before our new baby, and if I want to get that going again, I need to tell myself it’s okay to keep them short. I know I said I’d write about Tales from the Loop. I’ll get there yet. Possibly.

Thing I Saw: Record-high temperatures in the past few days. Unofficially, we got to 42.5 degrees celcius here yesterday. Thanks, climate change!

Thing I Learned: Manitoba’s largest export is not agricultural products as I would have guessed but…pharmaceuticals! Huh!

I’m Grateful For: Air conditioning ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m Dreaming Of: Running through a complete game of Long Haul 1983, a solo journalling/rpg experience I discovered yesterday. I want to do it. I might do it. If I do…I probably won’t post the results anywhere that anyone can see them.

A little pandemic lockdown encouragement

Behbeh

One of the more unnerving things about having multiple pets, especially pets of a different species from one another, is the way they can both sit and stare at you expectantly when you come around the corner. You seem like you both want me to do something, but what could that be? What would a decrepit Yorkshire Terrier and a weirdly-still-pretty-healthy Cat agree on? Or is it a disagreement, and you’re waiting to see what I end up doing? Either way, it almost always stops me in my tracks.

So anyway, the past several weeks have just rolled right along and suddenly we’re days away from our baby’s due date. Now, I’m told by reliable sources that only about 10% of babies actually arrive on their due date, so we’re actually in the “really could be anytime now” phase.

WHOA HOLD UP I’m using my site’s search feature and thinking maybe I never actually wrote down that we’re expecting. I did take a big break from blogging last year, so I’m thinking it never came up. I don’t remember when we started to tell people, and it’s happened more than once that if you don’t tell someone in that window of time, you start assuming everybody knows and you never actually get around it.

Yes! We are expecting a baby boy. Any day now. The room is prepped, I reinstalled the baby car seat yesterday, and Lori’s made packing lists for everybody’s Go Bags when it’s time to cart Cassidy and the dog off to my in-laws and head to the hospital.

None of this was even what I was going to talk about, when I started from that big drop-cap S, but here we are now.

Lori seems to be doing about as well as can be expected, but is more than ready to get on with having the baby. I’m in a similar place, though obviously not to the same degree of intensity, but yeah. I don’t like having it hanging over my head. My emotions about it run back and forth, based on the day I’m having. Some days it’s anxiety, some day’s it’s impatience, some days it’s eagerness and excitement to meet this lil’ person that’s been rolling around in my wife for these last bunch of months.

Cassidy is interested, but I’m pretty sure she’s going to lose that interest when she realizes just how little a baby really does for the first…while. I think she’s expecting a little minion that she can order around (or as she would have it, teach things to) but I honestly can’t predict what their dynamic is going to be as they get older. I am however hoping fervently that when they’re adults, they at least have a sort of distant fondness for one another. I don’t need them to be besties — if they can be genuinely pleasant at family gatherings I will consider it a total parenting success, even if they don’t communicate much otherwise. Anything beyond that is extra gravy.

Let me quickly recap how the pregnancy has gone, for preservation reasons; first trimester was heck for Lori. She was really sick and I did my best to take up slack and keep the household going. There was also a lot of anxiety about things…ending prematurely, as they did in 2019. Once we got past those milestones and turned the corner into 2nd trimester, things got much better. Nothing much to report there, or at least that I can recall. Third has been much the same, but as we’ve reached the due date, it’s once again gotten much harder for Lori to do things and I’m once again trying to step up my husband/father game to compensate.

Oh! I came back around to the original topic! That’s why the last few weeks have rolled on with not much to report. I’ve pretty much just been doing husband/father things, sneaking in video games and books when I can, and waiting. When friends ask me what I’ve “been up to lately”, for the first time in a while I’m at a total loss. Usually what comes out after quite a lot of hemming and hawing is something about some mundane house task I crossed off recently.

It’s good, though. I think. Usually? Yeah, it’s good.

Thing I Saw: The final episode of Tales from the Loop on Amazon Prime, and it is not an exaggeration to say that it emotionally wrecked me. If I can be so honest, I don’t think I’ve sobbed like that since the night I wrote my mother’s eulogy. It is a slow, lyrical, and very pretty journey that is not going to resonate with everybody. And not every episode was an absolute winner. The payoff moved me profoundly, but I can’t say that everybody who watches it will be similarly moved. Oddly, I still cannot say why the last episode hit so hard. Note to self: next blog entry, write about it until you figure it out or get tired

Thing I Learned: Accordion straps are weirdly expensive. Speaking of my mom, I inherited her gorgeous accordion on the condition that I learn at least one song. I still haven’t done that, largely because the straps do not fit my gigantic manly body. Turns out: “nice” new ones are like, a hundred bucks and up!! So I’m trying to source some El Cheapos lol

I’m Grateful For: Some great new restaurants that opened up in the area recently, with some menus outside of our deluge of “chicken and burgers and pizza” places. We can get butter chicken and fresh naan bread delivered now!!!

I’m Dreaming Of: Getting time on a VR rig and playing Rez Infinite with a keyboard while sitting cross-legged on the floor, living out my cyberpunk fantasies.

When Twin Peaks is good it’s fantastic. No I haven’t seen The Return.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this post

No Ticket

Well folks, this is an entry where I don’t have a solid topic idea going in. I’m hoping something tumbles out as I go. Let’s see: Daft Punk broke up a few weeks ago, which is still weird. I was stunned but not exactly emotional; they released albums so sporadically that it’s going to be a while before I really “miss” them, I think. Discovery is one of my all-time favourite albums, and it’s still around when I need it. And at this point I wasn’t hoping to see them live anymore anyway.

Actually to be honest, I don’t really want to see anybody play live anymore. I had this attitude pre-pandemic already. I’ve seen Sloan, my actual favourite band, a few times, and almost nobody else rates highly enough for me to bother. And before you jump to conclusions about me, it’s about me, not the bands. The bands are great. Shows are fun. Go (when it’s safe again), get immersed, shout yourself hoarse, buy expensive merch. It’s good. The problem for me is that the bands I like to see tend to take the stage late in the evening, so I’m already exhausted and overwhelmed by the noise and the crowd halfway through the set of whoever I actually came to see. Then I want to get out, and the whole thing seems like a waste of effort and money. Because the other thing is that everybody I’ve wanted to see plays in Winnipeg, so unless I’m staying for night, I’ve got a long drive back.

The last show I very much wanted to see was in 2019, when Sloan was touring for the anniversary of Navy Blues, my favourite album of theirs. Unfortunately, the date conflicted with my work for Elections Canada, and it was with very heavy heart that I didn’t even bother to get tickets. Then a global pandemic happened and nobody plays live anymore, and I slowly came to realize that I haven’t missed it.

I might go see Sloan again though.

Thing I Saw: An ASL guide stamped on part of the inclusive playground not terribly far from where we live. That’s super neat. Cassidy and I were even trying a few letters. The rest of the playground is designed to “accommodate physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities”, so that kids of all ability levels can play side-by-side. I understand it was pretty expensive to build and maintain, but as a taxpayer: I don’t mind.

Thing I Learned: It’s been slightly more than a year since this whole “global pandemic” craze took off. For some reason, it feels like it has been both more than a year and less at the same time. I’d always suspected Time is Fake, and now I know it

I’m Grateful For: Pleasant weather on the weekends so that Cassidy and I can head outside and cavort around. I end the days exhausted, but in a good way.

I’m Dreaming Of: hanging out with friends. I mean, I’ve literally been dreaming of this, off-and-on for the past few weeks. Oftentimes some other crazy Dream Things happen, but a recurring theme has just been…being with my circle of friends. One time we were just watching a funny internet video together and laughing. I want to say we’ll get it back someday, but doing that feels like the sort of promise people make to each other movies, both knowing it can never happen. “We’ll make it to California someday,” kind of thing.

A song for feeling wistful about the people you miss.

Beyond Me

I now have confirmation that at at least three people read this blog. That’s like, the big time! Look for a book deal soon. I write these with the same expectation that I have for all of my art, which is that it’s for me first and foremost. I’m gratified that other people seem to enjoy my work, but also a little puzzled. This next may sound like false humility, but when I sit down to really think about it, I have trouble understanding why anyone…like…pays attention? To me? I try to imagine the sort of person who says things or makes things with the expectation that people will pay attention and take them to heart, and I really can’t do it. I believe those people exist, but I don’t understand them.

I’m saying that I’m glad you’re here. Let’s leave it there.

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after NASA’s Peseverance rover landed on Mars, there was a livestream. Different engineers spoke about the rover, about how the landing went, about what’s coming next. I follow space news with mild curiosity but usually nothing approaching real interest, but I happened to tune into the livestream while I worked. What grabbed my attention was when one person explained that for the first time they’d been able to attach microphones to the rover. Then, they played a recording:

I was in awe. I know that it’s “just” wind noise. Sounds just the same as standing out on your driveway, recording with your phone. But for just a moment, the scale of human achievement was impressed upon me — this is the sound of the wind on another planet. The technological progress to make this happen is staggering! To get the rover there, safely, and be able to send back something like this still amazes me. Especially considering that folks only got really serious about space travel like…seventy years ago.

So anyway I’m following the rover on twitter now.

This kind of ties into something else I’ve been thinking about since reading it on tumblr, of all places. I don’t know where the original post is so I’ll paraphrase. Let’s say it’s a few hundred years ago and you’re a village blacksmith. You can be pretty sure that your children, if you have any, will take on work similar to your own, and so will their children, and so forth. You can picture the world as it will be in several generations’ time, and be pretty on the mark.

But now, technological progress has become so rapid that this isn’t really possible anymore. My Dad’s college experience in the 70s, to pick an example, is vastly different from mine in the early 2000s, and mine will be completely different again from my daughter’s (should she decide to pursue post-secondary education). The tumblr user wasn’t saying this is a positive or negative, exactly, it’s just something that is.

A commenter then chimed in with something reassuring; if you’re feeling overwhelmed by change, look for the things that stay the same across time. Behaviours, tools, so on. They example they used was if somebody with an iPad Pro and one of those Apple Pencils was writing next to somebody from ancient times carving letters out of a stone tablet. It’d be something the person from ancient times could look across at and say oh, hey, same. I see what you’re doing there.

I think that’s pretty comforting, somehow!

Thing I Saw: I’m nearly done the Tales From The Loop series on Amazon Prime, and something I’ve never experienced before is being intimately familiar with the backdrop of a fictional show. It’s supposed to be set in Ohio, but it was filmed in Manitoba, with neighbouring-town-and-sometimes-my-home Morden playing the town’s Main Street. It’s very difficult to make the substitution; every time I see it on screen I’m like “oh! there’s the jeweller where I got our wedding rings”. New Yorkers and Vancouverites probably deal with this all the time. Side note: I was aware of the filming and there was a casting call for extras, but I didn’t fit the physical profile they wanted. So I never even checked out the sets ๐Ÿ™

Thing I Learned: Fossils are protected under Manitoba provincial law as a “heritage object”, and if you find one, you have to give it to the proper authorities for study and preservation. I learned this because my daughter really wanted to look for fossils in our yard. She wants to do that because of a general interest in dinosaurs, and a book that said that in some places you get to keep what you find. Not here, kiddo!

I’m Grateful For: Slowly diminishing COVID case numbers in our area! We’ve been under fairly heavy restrictions since last fall, and they’re gradually easing up again. I may get to see my board games group again one day, Lord willin’ and the cases don’t rise!

I’m Dreaming Of: Starting regular Twitch streams in which my whole thing is that I work through the Jupiter-developed Picross games and explain my method as I go.

One of my favourite tracks from the soundtrack, which is also excellent reading music

Lost & Found

After a few days of sifting through my Liked Songs, I found the song that I was looking for in the previous post. Since this isn’t actually the first time I’ve tried to find it, I’ve added it to a Spotify playlist called “That Song You Can’t Remember The Name Of”. I’ll link it as my usual YouTube at the end of this post.

The last week went pretty well, and pretty quickly. Of note: Lori and I are transferring our church membership to a church that we’ve been attending for about a year. Part of this process is having an informal interview-of-sorts with an existing member, so they can make a formal recommendation to the rest of the congregation on our behalf. After putting it off for a while I reached out to somebody that used to teach English in my high school, though I never had him myself. We’ve had some pleasant interactions but it turns out we have more in common than I might have thought, especially when it comes to struggling with cynicism and doubt.

We had an excellent, energizing Zoom conversation on Thursday night, one that I had been anxious about earlier in the week. I found myself thinking of the interview as a sort of job application rather than the encouragement / excuse for connection that it really is. I worried that I hadn’t memorized enough verses, or didn’t have a serious enough daily practice to be a “real Christian”. I know it sounds ridiculous saying out loud, but I was sure getting low-grade nervous about it. Finally I noticed what I was doing to myself, said “Just Worrying” about it, and spent the rest of the week being generally fine with it.

I think we’ve found a good place. The congregation is small, but very welcoming; sermons are thought-provoking and a good source of discussion for myself and Lori; and people seem interested in digging into difficult issues and tough questions, while not necessarily coming up with One Answer for Everybody. It checks a lot of the boxes we had when we departed our previous church and started looking for a new place. I’m looking forward to growing there.

Thing I Saw: Entirely too much grass (not enough snow) for a February in Southern Manitoba. Our winter has been mild to a degree that would be nice if it weren’t making me concerned about climate change.

Thing I Learned: Aliens is streaming on Disney+, which seemed like a weird fit until I remembered that Disney owns the Fox catalog.

I’m Grateful For: Tools to communicate instantly with people halfway across the world. Work on the Low German textbook I was doing illustrations for has picked up again, but this time I’m armed with the ability to WhatsApp the author and layout person for translations and guidance. I used to be able to email, but turnaround times were slow; now I can get the answers I need almost instantly. Amazing.

I’m Dreaming Of: Going to the two Korean grocery stores I can think of in Winnipeg, and buying every box of Hotteok mix I can find. Just look at these saucy devils:

What you can’t see is the delicious melty brown sugar / peanut filling

Song of the Moment:

I watched this video and thought “‘sa bit Lynchian, innit” and then read the description and was proven right! Huzzah!

We’re Back! A Tired Father’s Story

Hi y’all, I’m hoping to get this habit going again but who knows. Let’s see. It’s been quite a while, and I’ve spent the last bunch of weeks thinking “I should blog again” but then just playing more Control on my Xbox Series X (yes! I got one a few days after launch! that was a big hanging plot thread from last season!)

[admin edit, march 6th 2021 — I had mistakenly identified my new console as the Xbox One X when it is in fact the Series X. See, the naming convention is so subpar that even I, an owner, cannot keep it straight.]

So let’s start off light. I’m sitting on the couch, and Spotify’s on shuffle because I’m sifting through my Liked Songs trying to find one in particular. I know some lyrics and the tune but can’t remember the name or band, and Google’s not bringing me any hits from the lyrics that I remember. Every so often, while writing this, I’ll switch over to Spotify and try a few more songs I don’t entirely recognize. No luck yet. If I get it by the end of this post, I’ll post it as my usual song link.

Maybe I’ve talked about this in the past, but I often run conversations in my head as some sort of…”preparation”, I think it’s meant to be. From heated arguments to benign things like visits to the doctor, I often try to visualize what I’m going to say and and anticipate responses so I can feel prepared, I suppose. But lately I’ve come to realize that even the conversations that don’t really stress me out — picking on the doctor’s office visit again — are just another form of worrying. I think I’m worried that I won’t say the “right” thing, or waste someone else’s time. Things like that.

The thing of it is — as meticulously as I prepare my script in my head, it almost always flies right out the window in the moment. Or the situation I prepared for never even happens. My preparing is usually a waste of energy that takes me away from wherever I currently am, which is sad because I do a lot of visualizing while I’m taking nice hot showers. Think of all the nice hot showers I’ve not been present for, or actually come out of more stressed because I’ve gotten into an argument in my head again.

All that to say; I’m going to try adding my habit of Conversational Prep to the umbrella of things I can label with Just Worrying. (This is a very good technique, and very simple: please check it out. I particularly like this PDF’s summation at the top: “Saying hello to the worry, but don’t stop to chat”)

Thing I Saw: A sort of lockdown protest vehicle caravan around town today. Caravan might be overstating things — it was like four or five vehicles making a racket. One was a truck with a “FREEDOM” banner across the front, pulling a trailer that had a sign. The sign had an all-caps message to Manitobans, urging them to stand up and revolt? I guess?? against the COVID measures our government has taken. “THIS ENDS WHEN YOU SAY IT ENDS” the sign urged. Oh! I had no idea we, collectively, had the power to say a global pandemic was just “over” because we didn’t feel like doing it anymore. I shook my head at them and considered honking my horn in dismay, but they probably would’ve taken it as support.

Thing I Learned: I’m reading The City We Became right now, and looking up pictures and maps of New York City to try and actually understand where the boroughs are in relation to each other, and get a sense of their look and character. It’s fun! I really want to visit NYC now!

I’m Grateful For: A healthy pregnancy for Lori so far. We’re just under a month until the due date, and while it certainly hasn’t been easy for her, it’s at least been medically normal!

This is not the song I was trying to find, but it came up in my shuffle and it’s amazing

Afraid of the Boredom

Two things have occurred to me recently, about myself, and I’ve no idea how significant they are. But I’m writing them down here.

A long time back my counselor suggested, and I’m going to paraphrase, that it seemed to him I was “easily bored”. I wasn’t sure I agreed, at the time, but it’s sat in the back of my mind for quite a while. I pushed back against this at first because I see myself as a person who likes routine, who likes things to be a certain way. A “boring” way! “Interesting Times”, the name of my comics, is meant to be ironic because I’ve always joked that in real life I’m very un-interesting. My counselor George was speaking to my periodic dissatisfaction with my work, among other things; suggesting that I need new challenges to stimulate me.

No, I thought. Challenges take energy that I don’t enjoy expending.

But here’s the thing; over the course of 2020 and nearly every year of my adult life before that, I’ve picked up projects, dabbled with them for a bit, and put them down. I’m back on my YouTube videos right now. Can’t say for how long. Earlier this year I was all heated up about volunteering with LibriVox, which is a group turning public domain books into audiobooks for free distribution. I got the equipment I needed, set everything up, submitted a few chapters, fixed whatever small errors I made, and haven’t felt compelled to sign up for more in…weeks now.

Thinking back on that, it’s finally dawned on me that my counselor was…right? On reflection, it seems the real excitement for doing LibriVox was in setting everything up, and figuring out how I was going to do it. Once my setup was ready and I’d submitted a few chapters without major incident, the project became…known. Something I understood and could now do comfortably. And thus the interest has drained away.

I think back to all the times I’ve bought a new gadget and looked forward to setting it up. I’ve got a Raspberry Pi; I’ll happily spend a Saturday afternoon trying out a new software image, setting it up, tweaking it, and then never touching it until months later when I start all over again.

Do I…do I need challenge? Do I need to find things to expend my energy on? What does it mean when contrasted with the story I’ve told about myself? How can I find motivation to keep going on projects, and not just abandoning them once they’re ‘familiar’?

I don’t know! I’m still turning this stuff over in my brain.

The other thing, not brought up by my counselor but something I hadn’t named until recently, is good old-fashioned FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. This manifests in a few ways, but mostly I’ve been thinking about my gaming habits. I read tons of forum chatter and gaming news, and I’m down to try almost anything that people say is good — to the extent of reinstalling games I’ve already tried and didn’t like, just to give them another chance. If somebody’s having a good time, I want to do that as well! I want to try all the things, because I don’t want to miss anything extraordinary! Even if it means disregarding my own tastes and preferences, which of course is not going to work!

Thanks to Game Pass (Microsoft’s version of Netflix, but for games) my Xbox hard drive is littered with saves from games I’ve played for an hour and moved on from. Even things I really like are difficult to see through to completion, because I keep wanting to try the new things that are coming out on a regular basis. Or I buy things to play “sometime” because the deal was just too good. Like a lot of people who play games as a hobby, I have a backlog, but I think I’m a little unique in that I’ve sampled almost everything in my backlog. It’s like a person having a shelf full of books that they’ve read the first chapter of.

You can see how this also calls back to the First Thing, which seems to be boredom with the known, and how the two together try to make me Get More Games. Always. Hardly finish any of them, but hey.

Again! I’ve no idea if realizing either of these things is significant. I just wanted to write down where I’m at these days.

Thing I Saw: Beautiful orange and yellow trees on my in-laws’ street. Our street is still relatively new and our trees are small, but theirs are gorgeous and showing full fall colours.

Thing I Learned: Weirdly, I’m reading reviews and watching video clips of the new Super Mario 3D All-Stars game due out tomorrow for Switch, and…I don’t need it? Not yet, anyway. It’s supposed to be removed from stores next spring, and I’ll probably grab a copy before that happens. Thanks FOMO

I’m Grateful For: Sleeping through the night. Lately I’ve been up most nights at least once, because Cassidy’s had a bad dream or something, and while she drifts off again almost immediately, I’m usually up for the next hour, wide awake. But when I sleep soundly, a whole night through? It’s glorious.

Big summer vibes for me

Look Up, Wayyyy Up

This isn’t a joke: I’ve been admiring trees lately. Yes, I’ve been sober while doing so — no more than a cup of coffee in my body as far as substances go. Trees, around here, are just…so tall. And they start so tiny. They’re incredible. They’re beautiful and make a pleasing noise when there’s a bit of wind, and because we don’t have a lot of very tall buildings in our area, they’re the biggest things around. I wish I could be more articulate than that. I guess it goes with spending more time outside this summer than usual, given that our church services take place on the lawn outside the building, and Cassidy would probably live outside if she could. I’ve just enjoyed sitting there and looking up, and up, at the top of a tree looking down at us from on high.

Again, I cannot stress enough that I am not under the influence of dangerous or illegal substances with doing so. Probably this feeling will pass eventually. But trees: I appreciate you!

COVID-19 tiny update: I overlooked writing about Phase 3, and now we’re just into Phase 4, which was supposed to be pretty expansive but got rolled back to like 3.5 levels when our cases started ticking up in the province again. We went a long time, something like two weeks in July, without any new cases, but now they’re starting to happen and it’s making some folks nervous. Phase 4 allowed more non-essential businesses to reopen (at reduced capacity), eased capacity restrictions that were already in place, and was going to entirely drop the idea of self-quarantining after travel. But there was a lot of feedback by Manitobans and the last thing was adjusted back to Phase 3 levels. (Self-quarantine if you came from the East, but not the West for some reason)

Things have felt mostly normal around here for quite a number of weeks; almost too normal, as if we’re forgetting that anything was wrong. I’m concerned that another wave is going to bowl us over again, because while we don’t have a vaccine, it WILL keep coming back.

Lastly, an update to my musings from last blog post about selling my collection; I’ve sorta been doing it! Slowly and with no particular goal in mind.

What happened is this: I had a copy of Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch that I’d purchased around Christmastime, more or less on impulse. I had used it less than half a dozen times, and while it’s good and well-made, it was a Whole Thing to clear a space every time I wanted to exercise. (The TV is in the corner of our rec room, so I have to move furniture and pick up very many small toys)

All the lockdown stuff earlier this year made the Switch very popular and Ring Fit pretty popular as well, as a way for people to stay fit indoors. So I thought well, this should be pretty easy to get rid of for at least what I paid. I saw multiple posts on ResetERA about people trying desperately to get copies, and that the game had been sold out with online retailers for weeks and weeks.

Well, VarageSale (the local online classifieds) was a bust. No takers after a few weeks. Tried some local game stores, and they either weren’t interested or offered a pittance for it. Finally, I took to eBay; I’ve had an account for almost twenty years but mostly bought things off-and-on and sold very little. Lo and behold, the auction ended at over what I’d paid, and all I had to do was box it up and ship it off.

eBay is lovely right now for me, because I’ve always hated the negotiation that comes with selling things via classifieds. Mainly over price, but even just figuring out when and where to meet for the exchange; I don’t like any of it. If I turn off the “Make an Offer” feature, and I do, there’s no negotiating, no deciding. The auction ends where it ends and practically everything else is automated. There’s maybe a little more setup to get the auction off and running, because I like to be detailed in my descriptions, but when it’s done? Just pop the thing into a box and bring it to the post office. Done and done.

Since Ring Fit went so well, I took a look at my consoles and realized my Atari 2600 no longer sparked joy. It was something I picked up on impulse when I worked at the game store, and I have no real nostalgia for it. Onto eBay it went, with no real expectations about price; but it fetched more than I thought.

At this exact moment I’m listing a TurboGrafx-16 and games, which I hope will do pretty well. I have no solid plans for the next thing to sell. But I like this idea of just sort of…chipping away at stuff that no longer seems necessary to keep. Thinking about boxing up and listing everything at once was super overwhelming; this is a manageable (and kinda fun??) way to target parts of my collection. The proceeds are going to an Xbox Series X, which, I’m saying it here:

For the first time ever I’m going to try getting a console on launch day?!?! I’m really looking forward to this thing, is what I’m saying.

Thing I Saw: Our seemingly endless blue prairie skies, dotted with perfectly fluffy lil’ clouds.

Thing I Learned: Not to hold my breath, even a little, for The Doors of Stone, the third book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles series. My brother Lloyd and I shared enjoyment of the first two novels, but the 2nd installment came out in 2011 and there’s been nothing ever since. Recently, his editor took to social media to address some swirling rumours and basically confirmed that even she hadn’t seen anything about the book in years. It’s frustrating, because many giant and intriguing plot threads will be left unresolved, but I totally sympathize with Pat; if he doesn’t want to write it, then I don’t want to read it. I’ll live, and I know he owes us nothing.

I’m Grateful For: Being able to do mostly normal summer things for at least a little while this summer, while things were calm in our province.