TBD(estroyed)

One of the other boxes we had to move out of Cassidy’s closet was a banker’s box labeled “EA STUFF”. This means it’s supposed to be stuff from 2006-08, when I was a high school educational assistant. It turned out, the top layer is also stuff from when I went back to University to attempt getting my education degree. (This was right after I was an EA, so 08-09.)

Those papers are jarring to look at. As in, education went so poorly for me that even looking at my notes and photocopies, twelve years later, makes me uneasy. It’s clear that back then I just chucked everything into a box and told myself some combination of “you’ll sort it out eventually” and “this could be useful again sometime” and then neither of those things ended up being true.

I haven’t really written at length about my Bachelor of Ed. days, though I’ve told other people the story plenty of times since my experience there. After working as an educational assistant, and already having an undergraduate degree in English, the next logical step was to become a teacher myself. I’d always respected the profession and I seem to have a patient way with people, particularly kids. So I applied and was accepted.

The courses went fine. The in-school practicum did not. At my request I was placed in a rural school not far from my folks’ place, so I stayed there for the duration (although my bedroom had by this point been turned into an office, so I slept around the corner). The kids were great, the other staff and practice teacher were welcoming, and despite everything I went through what I have later come to realize was a major depressive episode.

editor’s note: at this point I went into detail about how exactly things were going but it wasn’t necessary. suffice it to say I was in a dark place for several weeks. I hit pretty much all your common signs & symptoms.

In any case, thanks to the gentle encouragement of my faculty advisor, I stuck it out and finished my practicum blocks as well as I could. I really made every effort, because as the adviser put it, if I didn’t, I’d always wonder if it was just a question of motivation and willpower toward the work. It wasn’t. It was my (lack of) heart for the job and my personality that held me back. But things had to get very, very bad for me in my head before I’d actually open up to ask for help from others; something I’ve slowly been getting better at ever since.

So! All that is to say that when I look at the assignments I made up for my grade fives, I still feel a complicated mix of mostly negative sensations and emotions creep over me. As such, I’d resolved to burn everything in the box and purge it from my life. Then my green conscience got the better of me, and I’ve been going through and laboriously removing the staples so I can recycle everything instead.

Thing I Saw: Outer Wilds, one of my GOAT games, is getting new story DLC in September and there was a trailer that look super cool and I’m hyped.

Thing I Learned: Even though we can know and infer a lot about the dinosaurs, we really have no idea exactly how they looked and sounded. Neat??

I’m Grateful For: Every little bit of rain we’ve gotten this summer so far. I’ve never cared so much about rainfall before, but before last fall we didn’t have a bunch of expensive new shrubs and trees in our backyard either.

I’m Dreaming Of: Getting a cheap PS4, even though I have an enormous backlog of games I mean to finish, and then a boatload of games on Game Pass beyond that. Still, I wanna play the Last Guardian, gimme

This album probably didn’t do the depression any favours but there are some pretty good songs on it

Days Go By

I’m going to try and get a little heavy today. Real introspective. Bear with me, or you know, skip this post and come back another time.

We reorganized Cassidy’s closet, and that meant hauling everything out of there that had lurked in it since we’d moved into the house. One of those things was my Box of Memories, a sturdy box full of a disorganized mess of pictures, documents, souvenirs, and other carefully collected useless junk. I haven’t opened this box in quite a while and Cassidy was, naturally, quite curious about it. One of the artifacts within was a fake book filled with printed photos from 2001-02, which I began poring over in earnest. (She lost interest and started pawing through the rest of the box almost immediately. She is four, after all)

The photos were of me at twentyish, getting my first car, my first apartment, going on road trips, goofing off with friends. My mom is in a couple of them, healthy and smiling. I have memories of this time, but they aren’t as specific and full-colour as photos tend to be. And there are things and people I haven’t thought about in a long time. So going over these was certainly making me feel ways about stuff.

A day or two later I was having lunch with my family, and somehow we got to talking about memory and the passage of time with Cassidy. I still had these photos on my mind, I suppose. And I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I was trying to articulate to her that things can be a long time ago and still feel like they just happened recently. I knew it was futile, but she asks a lot of questions, and we’ve always tried to give honest answers in ways that she can understand.

In trying to find the words for this effect, I suddenly teared up, and couldn’t speak. All I could do was sit at the table and silently cry, making small hand gestures, and eventually giving up. I’ve often been profoundly affected by things that remind me of the passage of time in this way. Cassidy asked me why I was crying, and I truthfully answered that I didn’t know.

“Are you sad?” she asked. No, I replied, that wasn’t it, not exactly. And that’s actually the feeling I’m probing at right now. There’s I think an element of sadness to the feeling, but it’s more. A little overwhelmed, maybe, at the rush of memories when I really get to thinking about my entire life to this point. All the things that come back, places I’ve never been back to, people I’ve not seen in years. But with it, the good times, too. I was free in ways I’m not now.

Part of the feeling is awe at the beauty and mystery and twists and turns of life. I don’t know a more concise way to put it. That guy, back there, he has no idea about what’s coming, and the profound ways he’ll change, or the unexpected directions he’ll go in. And this guy, right here in 2021 has no idea what the next twenty years (Lord willing) have in store. 2041-me is going to look back here in the same way as I’m looking back at 2001-me, saying oh, you sweet summer child, please enjoy all you can while you can. Good things are coming, to be sure, but there are things you have that you will miss one day.

So we finally come around to Tales from the Loop, and the post I threatened to write months ago. For being a sci-fi anthology show it is surprisingly, deeply interested in grief and the ways we change and grow over time. And sometimes, as in episode 4, there are no flashy science-fictiony tricks that will save the day; sometimes, someone you love will be go away and there is simply nothing you can do, even if you know what’s going to happen.

In the finale, a young boy named Cole disappears for a number of years, although no time passes for him. Early in the episode, before his disappearance, Cole and his mother share a moment where she sees he’s reading a book that she signed out of the library as a child some decades earlier. “Does it feel like a long time ago?” he asks. “Blink of an eye,” she replies.

When he’s returned to his mother, he’s still as young as the day of his disappearance, though she’s aged noticeably and quite a lot has happened in her life, as we see in a series of dialogue-free flashbacks through her life. Rebecca Hall, who plays Cole’s mother Loretta, is an incredible actor in these scenes, and the events of the episode put me in a highly emotional headspace, even though I was only following along peripherally, working on my illustrations while it played on a second screen. Although I admit that as things went on I ended up turning my attention away from my drawings entirely.

The final scene hit me like an emotional truck. We the viewers suddenly time-jump forward, and Cole is in his forties, with a wife and child of his own, standing outside of the house he grew up in. His wife mentions this fact, and his son asks, again, if it feels like a long time ago. Backed by the series’ excellent music, Cole shakes his head slightly and says: “Blink of an eye.”

Reader, that is the line that wrecked me. Because it’s true! So much has happened, and will happen, and yet somehow the present moment often feels like it’s the way things have always been. And I know a lot of art has been made about this exact phenomenon, and I’m far from the first person to have been affected by the idea that time marches on. But goodness gracious, I don’t mind telling you that I full-out sobbed for several minutes while the credits rolled and the show’s beautiful score played the series out.

It’s life, I guess. It’s strange and beautiful and sad, but it’s also good, and it’s the one we have. You realize that time goes fast, sang the Flaming Lips. It’s hard to make the good things last. Enjoy what you can, while you can.

(Looking over this post I really don’t know if I’m any further on understanding why I reacted the way I did, but maybe I’ll understand things better one day)

Thing I Saw: A fascinating speedrun of GeoGuessr, of all things! This last week was Summer Games Done Quick, a marathon of speedruns benefiting Doctors Without Borders. I watch as much as I can during the week it’s on, but almost nobody I know does, so I end up excitedly trying to contextualize my hype levels to anyone in earshot. Or as I put it on twitter,

Best part is that nobody reacted at all to this tweet, so I had to show it to my wife and say “was this good? did I do a good joke?” she said yes

Thing I Learned: You can soak ground flaxseed in water for like 15+ minutes, and hey presto, you’ve got a nice egg substitute for your crepes recipe. Attempted this morning when we only had one egg left, and I needed one more.

I’m Grateful For: Being Vaxxed + 14 days as of last Monday, so I am now officially Totes Vaxxed. Made going to the zoo yesterday a bit less stressful, because despite the heat there were a good number of people. I’m also grateful that Cassidy is seemingly not bothered by having to wear masks in certain areas, and has never made a fuss about it.

I’m Dreaming Of: Finishing my Nathan Plays Silent Hill 2 series. I cracked the project files open for the first time in a long time, just recently.

I’ve never seen the video for this and it’s freaking me out

Invaded!

Canada Day was on a Thursday, and felt like a Saturday. Then today, Friday, I didn’t do any work either, so it felt like another Saturday. Tomorrow, confusingly, is also Saturday. It’s fine. I’ll figure it out.

I have a Canada Day tradition of playing Super Metroid to completion. Sometimes with an audience, sometimes not. Last year I streamed it. Canada Day is as good a day as any to do this sort of thing, because one usually has the day off and most shops are closed.

Side note! I mainly started this tradition because I felt like, as an adult, I didn’t have any good traditions. Much like the Imaginary Friend I wrote about earlier, I suppose I started doing this because I felt as though I “should”. Again, on-brand for me.

This year, I hadn’t decided if I was going to play it until about half an hour before I actually did. I’m most of the way through Metroid Zero Mission so I felt like my Metroidy itch was being adequately scratched, plus it had been a lengthy (and hot) day overall. I hadn’t made the space to do it before putting Cassidy to bed, and bedtime with her is often an epic, multi-hour test of will and determination that had been a bit draining overall.

Side note the second! One of those bedtime sessions is happening as I write this post! It’s taking me quite a long time to do even a few words, because she’s quite distracting!

Anyway, my daughter was finally winding down, and a couple of friends had asked if I was doing it, and I thought what the hey. Let’s grab an Adult Beverage, slap a stream together, and play the game. I decided that if nobody was watching by the time I got to about the Maridia (underwater) section I would probably call it a night. Maridia isn’t terrible, but the pace of things slows down and it’s usually where my runs go to die if my heart isn’t in the game.

So, I let me friends know I was doing the thing and went live at around 9:30pm. For about the first half hour of the game there were…2 viewers, one of which I was pretty sure was me on a second PC as I occasionally made sure the stream was working correctly. I was trying to keep talking and sip my beverage, but there was absolutely nobody chatting back. About a half hour into the session, I got a notification that I was being raided.

Explainer! On twitch.tv, where I stream my things, streamers can “raid” others by designating another stream that the audience will be magically shifted over to. This is often done at the end of your stream; if there’s still a decent number of watchers, you can sort of pass them off to another streamer and the viewers can keep the fun going. (Or not. Viewers are warned and can opt out of the raid, or just, you know, close the tab)

The raid was by a channel called “Neebs Gaming“, and suddenly, over 700 new viewers flooded into my stream, spamming my chat with greetings and emotes I didn’t recognize. They were, by and large, super positive and supportive, and exactly the kind of audience that would go along with someone like me casually playing through Super Metroid as I bantered with them. They were mostly North American, but at least one person was from Norway, which is crazy!

Eventually I gathered that the Neebs Gaming streamers had wanted to raid a Canadian streamer in honour of Canada Day, and I was the lucky recipient. And I had a blast! Sailed right through Maridia and onward to the end of the game, answering questions, making it weird at times, and continuing to drink adult beverages in a responsible manner. After about two and a half hours I was at the finale of the game, and down to about 100 people left but even that completely eclipses any amount of viewers I’ve ever had. Honestly it’s probably more than I’ll ever have again.

But you know what? It’s really turned me on to streaming again. Lori pointed out that I seem quite energized after most of my streams, even if they only draw a few people. I was positively buzzing on this one well through the day today, messaging my friends to brag about the party they missed. Again, I know that the energy of future streams will probably not be quite like this. But if there’s just two or three people chatting with me while I do something I love, it seems to make all the difference to me. I have a lot of fun with it, and I come away happier than when I started. I want to do that some more, on a regular basis!

So! I’m talking with Lori about how we can make even a weekly, part-time stream work. I’m definitely not planning to quit everything and go fulltime, but I want to do this more, again. We’ll see what happens!

Thing I Saw: The ending of the 5th book in the Dog Man series. These are deeply silly graphic novels for kids about a Cop with the head of a Dog who is also the Best Crime Fighter of Ever. They started out quite random and crude, and as they’ve gone on, the crudeness has diminished in favour of a remarkable amount of heart and good lessons for kids. The silliness very much remains. But the introduction of a tiny, adorable clone of the main villain marked a real turning point for the series, and as they keep reminding readers, you’ve always got the choice to do something good in the world. I kind of love them.

Thing I Learned: Metroid Zero Mission is almost perfect to play on bathroom breaks, because the frequency of save rooms means you can play in 5-10 minute sessions easily. This is probably by design, because almost any GBA game you can name is set up to be played in short bursts given the nature of the system.

I’m Grateful For: The streamers and community of Neebs Gaming for making my Canada Day one to remember πŸ™‚

I’m Dreaming Of: A new phone. Not because mine (an LG G7 ThinQ) has anything wrong with it, I just like shiny new things. We recently changed phone providers at work, and since this is a work phone I could have used the opportunity for an upgrade. Unfortunately, my brother Lloyd, who handles such things, says he specifically asked me if I wanted an upgrade already and I said “No, I’m fine”. I don’t remember doing this. He and my Dad are getting new phones. Bleh.

Summer drive vibes for ya

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™

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!