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 🙁

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.

The Purge?

Lately I’ve been considering getting rid of my retro game collection. I tried starting a blog post about this earlier in the week but my thoughts were too jumbled, and I had trouble even beginning the post.

I have a large PlayStation-branded cabinet full of cartridges, CDs, DVDs, boxes & what have you. The cabinet was recovered from a Canadian Tire, where it was being thrown out as they stopped carrying video games.

Life Pro Tip! Get a friend to work at a large retailer like Canadian Tire who also doesn’t mind doing some dumpster diving. It’s possible their policies have changed, but years ago CTire threw away piles of returned items that were either usable or needed only a little fixing to be perfectly fine. It’s apparently more cost-effective than shipping it back to the manufacturer, which is sad. Anyway!

I keep the related hardware for these games in large storage tubs, stacked near to the cabinet. I’ve also kept a large Sony CRT screen in an old entertainment unit for the purposes of playing, although I did try to get rid of the screen when we moved into our new house, with no takers. The CRT falls out of use for long stretches of time, because it’s more convenient to just hook things into my newer flatscreen, even if the picture quality suffers.

Life Pro Tip! Images from older consoles were designed for CRT screens, so pixelated images will look better / more naturally blended AND you won’t experience the kind of input lag you get on an LCD screen.

The problem is that Lori and I are not especially good at managing space in our household, and the cabinet, tubs, and entertainment unit feat. CRT TV take up a substantial footprint together. Also, I’ve been asking myself why I’m holding on to all these things, and it’s tougher to answer. I used to collect more or less indiscriminately, but I’ve pared a lot of my older collections down to just the things I loved or that made an impact. Digital storefronts, backwards compatibility and emulation have continued to grow in prominence and availability. If I’ve had the impulse to play something in my collection, I’ve brought out all the hardware because I have it, not necessarily because I want to use it. Does that make sense? I’d often rather use modern, convenient options, but I’ve felt compelled to drag out the old stuff because…well, why did I keep it otherwise?

I’ve kept some of it because, like I said, the games meant a lot to me. I like the idea of a physical copy of something that I enjoyed, because I like to look at and be reminded of those experiences by looking over my collection. I like the tangibility of them. But what of it am I actually going to set up and play again? Also, the original impact of those experiences will never come back; chasing that feeling is a fool’s errand. And letting go of a cartridge or disc doesn’t mean that my original experience with it didn’t happen.

I’ve been down this road before and always decided to keep the collection, but the other day I asked myself what I would do if somebody appeared at my door with a big bag of cash and offered to haul everything away. If I’m being honest I’d hang on to my SNES and a couple of games…and probably let the rest go. I’m pretty sure that in a month or two I’d have real trouble remembering what I’d given up. I’d be hard-pressed to name everything now. So I think what’s mostly held me back is, well, effort. It will take a lot of work to properly catalog and sell everything, even if sold in lots. Easier to just let things sit there, and then eventually forget about the decision until it comes around again.

Something my counsellor said to me a little while ago was to apply “gentle persistence” to problems or uncomfortable parts of my life. I have a well-honed ability to let my mind slide off of any problem that takes more than a little effort; same as difficult conversations, where I tend to mentally check out when there are too many feelings to sort out. But it’s been helpful to remind myself to Gently Persist; not necessarily to power through and solve the problem all in one go, but just to try a little more. So this blog post is me Gently Persisting, and when I have a chance again, I think I’ll keep filling my Google Doc with game titles so that I can offer them to my friends before hauling the remainder away.

That, or, somehow I’ll figure a better and more compact storage solution for all the hardware, and just get rid of the stupid TV.

Thing I Saw: I’ve been obsessed with the BIGTOP BURGER series by animator Worthikids. All of the episodes released so far have been a treat, but this is the one I’ve gone back to multiple times–

Thing I Learned: A pony is not a baby horse, because a baby horse is a foal. A pony is just a little horse. Look, I’m not kidding about this. I never realized the distinction until a few weeks ago, when a social media post asked how old you were when you learned that fact and I said to myself “Well, 37. I guess.”

You in Your Small Corner, and I In Mine

It’s been a month since I’ve written anything last. Let’s do an update on The Pandemic, because I was sorta trying to keep tabs on that for…posterity I guess.

When last I wrote we were just about to start Phase 1 of re-opening services, which went really well overall. Phase 2 began yesterday, so restaurant dining rooms can operate at half capacity, gathering sizes are increased (25 people indoors, 50 outdoors, provided of course social distancing and other health guidelines can be followed), some outdoor sport programs and things can maybe resume I guess. Parks & playgrounds can carefully admit people again. A friend asked if I was “excited” about this development, but honestly there’s not much I’ve been burning to do, lately, that I haven’t been able to. So no, not really.

I have a nice mask made by somebody local that Lori knows, and I’ve worn it out and about a couple of times, but around here there is decidedly a Low Emphasis on mask-wearing when out at the shops. Makes me feel a bit weird but I dunno, I’m trying to do my part.

Manitoba has been a remarkably safe province overall so I’m glad that we can relax in some ways, but there’s still lots of opportunity for a 2nd wave to roll through, and I’ve almost no doubt it will.

I’m getting my hair cut Thursday morning. While scheduling the appointment I was asked several questions about my overall health and recent history of travel or interacting with unsafe/infected people. I was expecting this, and now that I think about it, it’s interesting how normal the conversation seemed. A year ago such questions would have seemed strange, maybe even invasive. New normal indeed.

Since I’m writing about big events I’d be remiss not to mention the huge protests going on daily all over the United States, as well as here in Canada and around the world. On May 25th, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer during an arrest. The officer held Floyd to the ground with a knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, and a video showed George exclaiming “I can’t breathe!” among other things before going unresponsive.

There is video circulating, taken by a bystander. I haven’t seen it. The whole thing is so brutal, and so senseless, and so tragic. Outrage boiled over into protesting almost immediately in Minneapolis, and the rest of the nation, then the world, have joined in.

I’ve been struggling with maintaining my sense of optimism and hope for the future, but I’m so privileged in so many ways. I have no idea what it’s like to deal with systemic racism and injustice, and to see tragedy after tragedy befall my community and loved ones while the wider world continually tries to walk past it and “move on”.

So I hope and I pray that meaningful, lasting change can come from all of this unrest. Reading back what I’ve written doesn’t seem like I’ve said enough, but I don’t have enough words or insight. Take this opportunity, if you can, to research and learn about the names listed alongside George Floyd, as victims of police brutality. There are so many names. Or, find and follow creators and writers of colour on your favourite social media platforms. Or, donate to nonprofits and organizations that are trying to make the world better. I personally supported this one, a Canadian initiative to bring low-or-no-cost mental health counseling to the Black community of Toronto. As they put it,

It is not enough to “not be racist,” we have to be actively anti-racist by striving to rededicate ourselves, love our neighbours, and become the change we wish to see.

Thing I Saw: My own list of Recently Completed games, an ongoing attempt to catalog everything I’ve played to completion since the beginning of 2019. I try to find a nice representative screenshot and write a lil’ capsule review of the game. Everything on that list has something positive about it, because if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t play it all the way through, I guess. If you want game recommendations, go look.

Thing I Learned: Despite owning and driving our green 2000 Honda Civic for a while, I’ve never known to push the hood lever back in after opening the hood. I always thought there was something wrong the the latch and the hood had to be shut multiple times before it ‘caught’ – turns out I can close it instantly with One Weird Trick. (Lori has owned the car for longer, and had no idea either)

I’m Grateful For: Games that draw me in and remind me why I like to play them so much. Currently, that’s Nier: Automata.

Under The Bus

First, quick COVID-19 lifestyle update — we’ve been continuing to stay home as much as possible. Our province’s numbers of new cases have stayed very low. 280 confirmed and probable cases as of today. “Re-opening” things has been the hot topic for the past few weeks, and Phase 1 of the plan begins Monday, with certain non-essential businesses being allowed to open if they follow certain restrictions. These include limiting the number of customers and workers onsite, emphasizing delivery and curbside pickup options, and cleanliness standards for employees. The provincial authorities and local media are saying over and over that this doesn’t mean things can go “back to normal” anytime soon — whatever normal looks like after all this — but we can carefully begin to do some of the things we miss. Like get haircuts.

Summer festivals in the province are cancelled, which will feel very strange come August. The closure that hit me hardest was actually the shuttering of our long-running Winkler Times newspaper by its parent company PostMedia. I mean, it’s complicated. Papers have been struggling for relevancy in the age of digital for ages now, but the Times soldiered on, until now. Whether or not I took the time to read it, it’s always been around, for my entire life. And next week is the last issue. I’m genuinely going to miss it.

What I really wanted to write about was two stories of our 3-year-old daughter expertly trolling us. These both happened within the last few days.

Incident One: Lori asked me if I knew the origin of a joke Cassidy had been repeating; something to the effect of

What kind of Tiger rakes the yard?
An ordinary one.

We often check in with each other if she confuses us individually, just in case one of us happens to know the show or song or other place that Cassidy gets this stuff from. I laughed and shrugged. Cassidy was around the corner having a snack. Lori called out the question to her to see if she’d repeat the punchline for me. “Cassidy,” she said again, “What kind of tiger rakes the yard?”

“Mom, you’re being silly,” came the casual reply.

Incident Two: Over the past few months we’ve learned a silly song that Cassidy made up called “Han Is A Ladybug”. I have the chords worked out on my uke and we’ve sung it together many times (it’s short but pretty catchy). Often, when Lori and I try to sing the words back to her she’s loudly corrected us, but for the most part we’ve practiced to a pretty consistent version of the song.

Until the other day, when I sang the version we’ve all sung dozens of times, and Cassidy dismissively said “Daddy, that doesn’t even rhyme.”

We learned it from you, kiddo!!

Thing I Saw: Arrival, finally. I read the short story on my honeymoon in 2012 and really liked it, and the movie’s been on Netflix forever, but sometimes…it’s one of those things where there’s just always something you want to watch a little more. Lori and I talked about how some of the events of the movie — a mysterious outside force causing widespread panic and lockdown around the world — took on a new, accidental relevance in our current world. But then, maybe all the media we take in is going to be recontextualised right now.

Thing I Learned: I kept my giant, extraordinarily heavy old Sony CRT around for a good reason. I’m in the mood for retro games while I use my recumbent exercise bicycle, so I dragged the thing into the games room and have been playing with different older systems that I keep around. And y’all! That TV still looks great! Also, and keep this under your hat, but I might actually get around to finishing Majora’s Mask of these days. Better 20 years late than never??

I’m Grateful For: A relatively safe community and province. We’re flattening the curve!

No special significance, it’s just what I’m listening to while I write