On Break, Back in 10

As you may have guessed from my last post, I’ve lost a family member recently in a half-unexpected fashion. I’ve been trying to get back to normal since then, but the aftermath, both emotional and logistical, has been messy. The way things have been going, I’ve barely had time to pay attention to the blog, and when I have found the space, either to write or to read others, I haven’t been able to engage the way I usually do.

Last time I went on a hiatus due to life happening, I didn’t announce it or anything, I just disappeared for a while. I wanted to be a bit more organized with it this time. Hence, this post. I’ve always been a big advocate on the occasions people have been bringing up that your blog has to work for you. It has to be fun or fulfilling, just the experience of it, without all the glitz and glamour and fame and huge audiences and those big blogging bucks for this whole experience to be worth it. And I do love blogging and I’ve got several posts roiling around in my head right now that I want to write, but I rarely have time to get into the word processor right now, and when I do, it’s just not fun at the moment. It’s not just blogging, lots of things aren’t fun at the moment, that’s just the way of grieving. It’s been the same with reading other people’s posts, I really want to, but I can’t find the time and I can’t make it fun right now.

So, deliberately here, I’m going to take a bit of a break. I intend to come back, once life gets back to normal, once I get out of this funk, and once I can find the fulfillment in this again. And I hope it’s quick. A matter of weeks or a month or so, is what I’m envisioning. But I do know it’ll take me some time yet to get there, and I don’t know for sure how long. But, as I said, for blogging to be worth anything, the base exercise of it has to be fulfilling to me, and I need to sort some things out to get to that point.

So, I’ll be around. In time. All of you take care of yourselves until then.

Untitled, 2022

Life is a fickle mistress.

I mention it here sometimes. In real life, I’m a case manager. Which is a job title that probably doesn’t mean much to most anybody, particularly as it’s one that’s used for a lot of very different jobs. Basically, I’m supposed to work with people on public assistance and help them get jobs. But the thing about jobs is that they are so intertwined with everything else that goes on in life that there’s often a lot of other things I have to address to help people get there. Over the years, piling training on top of training and building it up with experience, I’ve gotten to the point where I can help people work through a lot of very serious things and make it out the other side. I’ve defused suicide crises. I’ve helped people start the road to substance abuse recovery. I’ve triggered people separating from their abusers. I’m not always qualified to deal with a lot of the heavy stuff fully, but I can keep crises from crashing down and I can get people to take individual steps in the right direction. It’s hard, it’s stressful, but I’ve been able to do some amazing things with it.

Oftentimes, the stuff I help with professionally pops up in my personal circles as well, with my friends and family. And I’ve tried to help the same way. Because there’s a reason I have the job I do, and a reason I still stick with it, and it’s given me these abilities and if I don’t use them to help those close to me, what’s the point of doing it at all? But it doesn’t work. Professionally, I can help people work out the necessary steps and move towards the end of their depression. Personally, I can be there for people, I can talk with them, support them, but the minute I try to prompt action, work in terms of values or future self, or any of the other things that are effective for me on the job, the walls come up. I have been a key figure in helping several people break out of their alcoholism and find life on the other side. But when it comes to my friends and family, I’ve been absolutely helpless, unable to do more than stay by them and watch as they eventually break themselves and die from it.

The roles are different in these relationships. Which makes the rules different, I am learning. When people come to me, at my profession, they’re looking for a change. Open to it. And we may go beyond the comfort zone, we may break some boundaries, but, to them, that is what I’m here for. The whole purpose of my relationship with them is to do these things if needed, towards the goal of getting them gainfully, long-term employed. Because I am their case manager. But with friends, with family, I’m not their case manager. I’m any of a hundred other things. And with all those things, that largely closes the door to that type of help. I can suggest someone gets assistance, I can try to talk with them about it, but nobody wants to get into the weeds and work out their mental health struggles with the same person whose relationship is largely all about just getting together and having fun with. Nobody wants to hash out their life direction with they guy who used to be that weird kid doing wrestling moves on their trampoline. Nobody wants to unspool the deepest, darkest issues of themselves with someone they mostly know from the family gatherings and holidays. There are things I can do, sure. But they’re the sort of things most people do. Once I’ve reached that personal level with someone, I have to help them according to the rules of that role, not everything I have available to me as a case manager. If I try to get more active with them, bring those techniques and abilities to bear, the boundaries slam up.

It’s something I have to get used to. And with most applications, I am, and I can at least use my enhanced awareness to get people to someone who can help them the way I help others, in a pinch. But sometimes, things come crashing down. And it’s hard. Sitting there, watching, and knowing that I can help strangers with these things, but sometimes, I’m just going to lose those close to me to them, and I can not save them, just by virtue of that closeness.

Cooking with Testosterone: Ahi Tuna Steak

For those who only started hanging around here in the past couple of years, I occasionally do an overhyped cooking post for the amusement of my family and friends on Facebook. It’s been a few years since the last one, but crossposting here in case anyone might be entertained by this.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these cooking posts.  Not because I’ve stopped cooking awesome things, no.  Far from it.  I just haven’t really been sure you guys deserve any more of these posts.  But, everyone says that God gives us a grace we don’t deserve, and now I’m doing the same thing to all of you.  One of the very many ways in which you could say that I am god-like.  

Our subject for today is ahi tuna steak.  You may remember tuna from all those sandwiches you ate when you were a kid.  That’s not what we’re making here.  You may not know it, but tuna steak is one of the most hardcore foods there is.  Full of protein, which you need to build muscles, which you may recognize as those things you use to slay your enemies.  It’s also full of Omega 3’s which is helpful in keeping you healthy so you can continue slaying your enemies for years to come.  And it’s also something we are going to fry to an extreme and eat raw like a caveman AT THE SAME TIME.  Physics need not apply here.  And not only that, but tuna steaks are way cheaper than many other cuts of meat, and this cooks up way quick, so if you play your cards right, this is a way more accessible meal than most.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you make the world a much better place through your mere presence.  And if you’re not like me, you certainly wish you were.  You’ve got a long way to go, but you can start being more like me by making sure to source your tuna properly.  Lots of tuna are either overfished or caught using methods that also kill turtles and a bunch of other sea creatures that young women coo over, so you’ve got to use your big brain and probably that supercomputer you’re carrying in your pocket throughout the grocery store to make sure it comes from a place that’s safe to get tuna from.  Otherwise, you’re making the world a worse place, and nothing could be less like me.  

Anyways, once you get ready to eat your tuna steak, first step is to put it in your refrigerator. Because you bought that sucker frozen.  It’ll need to wait in there for about a day before it’s ready for you, so you’ll need to plan ahead.  Use that genius brain of yours to figure out “Hmm, I might want something awesome tomorrow” to let you know when you’ll be ready for it.  

Then, an hour before it’s dinnertime (again, use your giant brain to figure out when that’ll be) you’re going to want to get your marinade going.  Now we’re making Ahi Tuna Steak.  Ahi is what the Japanese call the yellowfin variety of tuna. Which means we need to use Asian flavorings for it.  Because if you don’t, then it’s just a Yellowfin Tuna Steak, and who wants that?  Now, you may recognize Asia as the place where we get all the ninjas, kung fu, and highly stylized pop singers from.  We’re going to bring a smorgasboard of flavors together on this, because my greatness knows no boundaries.  Even in cooking.  

So for the marinade, we start with soy sauce.  Soy sauce is like the ketchup of Asia.  Low sodium soy sauce, because we’re already extending your life by getting you those omega 3’s, we’re not going to shorten it by pumping you full of salt.  It goes with everything, full of flavor, and carries a salt-forward flavor profile incorporating four of the five flavor categories in a pleasant balance.  So maybe it’s nothing like ketchup, but shut up, we’re moving on.  Then, you add in a bit of toasted sesame oil.   This stuff is key.  I will throw this in to all my Asian recipes at the slightest opportunity.  It is so great, I want a candle that smells like toasted sesame oil.  Sometimes I’ll just open the bottle to take a good whiff on its own, even when I’m not using it.  It adds a good bit of umami flavor to our mix.  Umami is the Japanese word for “this tastes good but I don’t know how to describe it.”  Third key ingredient, whenever we’re making a soy sauce marinade, we want to add something sweet to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce, as the marinading process will bring the salt forward more than the other flavors.  Either brown sugar or honey are typically good counterparts to soy sauce.  I went with honey in this one, but it’s really a judgement call.  Just recognize that my judgement is flawless.  And finally, I want a bit of a kick to it, so we add a bit of cayenne pepper, and to give it some more body of flavor to match the mouthfeel of the tuna steak, we’re going to crack some black pepper into it.  A lot of black pepper.  More than you think you’ll need.  Trust me, its hard to have too much fresh cracked black pepper.  

So you mix that all up.  You’re going to have to work hard at that too.  Because neither honey nor brown sugar dissolve into the soy sauce+oil concoction we’ve made easily.  I have the strength of ten men, so I got it done pretty easily, but you’ll have to put some work into it.  When you’re done, you pat your thawed tuna steak dry so it can absorb the marinade more readily, then put most of the marinade and the steak into a plastic bag together for an hour.  Save a little bit of the marinade, though.  You can use that as a glaze/sauce once it’s done.  

Towards the end of the hour, get yourself a pan, and get yourself some oil, and make it hot.  Very hot.  Almost as hot as me.  You want that oil furious at you as soon as something enters it.  Because we are going to take that tuna steak, and we are going to sear the hell out of that bad mother.  You want to cook it as hot as the passion that rages within you.  You could even get a small amount of char on it, and still be doing it right.  So cook it hot and fast on one side, for a couple minutes at most, then flip it over, and do it again on the other.  Again, a few minutes max.  Yes, it’s still going to be raw in the middle.  That’s the point of cooking it so hot.  That’s what makes this dish so hardcore.  And also so delicious.  When you’re done, you pull it off and let it sit for a few minutes, then slice it up, pour that marinade you saved over it, and marvel at yourself about how you made yourself an awesome dinner with like ten minutes worth of work.  In fact, I’ve spent more time typing up this post than I did actually cooking it.  You all better be grateful for this glimpse into my majesty.

As for serving it goes, you’ll want some sides to go with.  I had it with a bed of white rice and some sigeumchi namul.  I make a mean sigeumchi namul, but I’m not going into that recipe here, because see what I said at the top about deserving this.  The white rice will add some carbs to this, make it more filling and probably remind you a bit of sushi, and will also make this dish pair well with a glass of sake on the side.  Because rice, rice wine, they might have a flavor connection or something.  You figure it out.

Anyways, at this, hopefully you have a better understanding of how awesome I eat.  And as they say, you are what you eat.  So I’ll see everybody in another year or two.  Maybe I’ll grace you with something like this again, then.  

Playing with the Main Man

Really busy lately, so this post will be pretty quick. Although I don’t have much to say here that won’t be a repeat of this post, so check that if you want to see me run my mouth a bit more.

Anyways, life is complicated, stuff comes and goes, priorities shift, and sometimes people need to drop things out of our schedule. As you may know if you’ve been following me for a while, I’ve been running a long-term D&D game. And, once again, we’ve had a player need to put other things in their life higher than our Sunday afternoon games, so we’ve got an opening we’re currently recruiting for fill. If you’re interested in playing some D&D 5e, and would be up for a roleplay-heavy post-apocalyptic fantasy sort of deal, you can check out where we’re currently recruiting, online here. I think you might need a Roll20 account to view that, so if you’re not sure if you’re up for that just to get the summary, you can check out that prior post I linked for more of a description of our game. We’re hoping to invite someone to our game within a couple of days, so get word in fast if you’re up to it. And although all of you reading this are my dearest, deepest friends, of course, I’m only one of four voices picking our next player, so I can’t really promise a spot to anyone. No matter how much I love you.

Vaccine Adventures

We’re going to interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast this week for more talk about dumb life stuff. You know, real life. That place where you keep all your video games when you’re not playing them. And we talk about it, because as I’ve mentioned many times before, this is not a video games blog. This is an Aether blog. And Aether’s life has been too busy to talk about video games lately. So we’ll talk about life. If you don’t like it, go complain about it in the comments of the last YouTube video you watched.

Your main man got the COVID vaccination over the weekend. And lets talk about that for a bit. Most medical professionals in charge of saying things say that you should get whatever COVID vaccine is offered to you, as soon as it’s offered to you. And the rollout for who’s getting the vaccine is kind of messed up. So! I didn’t take that advice at first. This isn’t the first time I’ve been offered the vaccine. As I’ve mentioned in previous life posts, I work for our local government, the same local government in charge of getting that vaccine out in our community in the first place. In fact, that department basically shares my workspace. So I get so see, somewhat second hand, some of the weird things that ends up going on in getting that vaccine out. And there’s some really odd complications there. But that’s besides the point.

So I had an earlier opportunity to get the vaccine. After they finished the phase where they were getting all the top priority people vaccinated, but before they started the second phase, I got notice that I should go in for a vaccine. And I didn’t. I was struggling with the morals of that at the time. I’m young. I’m strong. I don’t have any major risk factors. And I didn’t want to take a spot from someone who was more at risk than myself. It would be great to be safe from COVID, liberated from some of the overhanging worries we’re all facing in this situation, more able to operate in public and I didn’t want to add to how messed up the distribution of it was. And it was messed up. In talking with people about my conflicts there, I learned that there were plenty of folks in the medical system who never had any contact with patients yet still leveraged a technicality to get them in, or even that there were people who took that opportunity at my own organization, yet still announced they would refuse to come into the office or have any public contact no matter how many safety measures were in place. So yeah, essentially, I wasn’t wanting to be another of those delaying the virus from getting to the people who, at least in my view, needed it more than me. I reached out to a number of people I know and trust, and people informed on the whole vaccine distribution timeline and goals, and what not, and every single person, down to a one, told me that they understood my ethical complications with it, and it was really for the best that I just went ahead and got it. And again, this is not from people who are selfishly minded. If it’s offered, you need to take it. Apparently, that holds through.

So the next time, when the Public Health department told me that a newly eligible category for the vaccine applied to me even though I wouldn’t have applied it to myself, I trusted the judgement of those I talked to earlier and went and got it. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which I imagine is going to be the most available vaccine as the rollout continues. Mildly less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna ones, which is putting some people off, which is somewhat ridiculous. Take what the vaccine that’s offered to you. It’s herd immunity that’s going to get us out of the danger we’re in now, not one person having a 10% higher chance of protection. Anyways, J&J is a one shot vaccine. Everyone makes a lot about the side effects, which were significant. Had a fever and chills the same night I got the vaccine. And lightheaded. That’s a side effect that’s apparently common but nobody talks about it. That stuck with me for a couple of days.

And now, so far, not much is different. People congratulate me for being vaccinated. As if it’s something I earned by merit and not by luck of being in a job that fell into the right category. I know a lot of people look at it as a sort of status thing, when it’s really not there. Although, I supposed with recent CDC guidances, it is making us something of a separate class of people as far as social distance requirements ago. Either way, the most important part is that I’m one more step to us kicking this COVID’s ass down to the annals of history alongside the Black Plague, Spanish Flu, and all these other massive outbreaks that are barely a thing now. So yeah. Everyone, get your vaccines, when you get the chance. Let’s fight this back together.

Looking For Group

I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts that I’ve got a D&D game going. Recently, one of our players had to drop out due to an out of game conflict, and we’ve elected to put out an open call to add a player to our group. Our big concern is finding someone who gets along with all of us and the way we play and adds some fun to our game. I figured, those of you reading this here probably already have a sense of my style, at least, so if anyone here would be interested in playing D&D with the big man, well, this connection may lead to us being more likely to find people that mesh with what we’ve got going on.

Anyways, if anyone’s up for joining a D&D game, what I’m running is a sort of post-apocalyptic dark fantasy based on the likes of Kingdom Death: Monster and Berserk, although if you’re familiar with Kingdom Death: Monster, my habit of ripping off that game when I run out of ideas is probably going to be irritating to you. I try to have a good focus on the story and really try to make the world seem very full and alive, although as a post-apocalyptic thing it’s not all that full or alive at all. But yeah. I try to be big on the details. Long form storytelling, good mix of combat and challenge encounters, and consistent and vibrant details are things I try to prioritize, at least. The players do a really good job of getting in character and acting things out as appropriate, and really prioritize that over gamesmanship or tactical soundness. It used to be I had a hard time getting all of them in the same place for the big battles, as they all had their own separate priorities and ways of reacting to new stimulus that would often lead to them splitting and hunting things down differently. It made the fights more difficult, but it’s been beautiful from a storytelling perspective. Party also has a habit of completing their objectives, but not exactly doing the stuff they need to get them done well, so you’d probably have to be both flexible with character interactions and combat situations and very patient with suboptimal or outright bad outcomes to get the most out of this. But hey, maybe you’ll be a good influence on them. They could probably really use that.

We have games in English on Roll20 with voice chat over Discord. We’re open to new players, and this is the group I learned to play with in the first place, so I know they’re good at that. That said, this is midway through a long-form campaign, and you’d be starting at level 8, so you’d essentially be getting thrown into the deep end of the D&D pool. Games take place Sundays, currently around 3:30 MST. You can use your favorite time zone converter to figure out what time that is for you. However, given that some of our players are in countries that have Daylight Savings and some aren’t, we do occassionally have to fudge the time by an hour or so, so if you’ve got the schedule flexibility to do that, that’d be optimal. Games usually last for about three hours.

If you’d be interested in giving it a shot, you can find more information in this LFG post, and can submit yourself as a potential addition to our group in the topic there. We’re all getting input into who we end up bringing on so although I love you all, I’m not going to be able to promise anything myself. However, if you do know me from here and end up putting something in, let me know directly so I can give things in context for them when we’re talking things out. Either way, I’ll see you all in the new year.

On Resilience

Man, 2020 is an absolutely cursed year. A ruinous global pandemic that’s been going on far longer than we all imagined it would. A plague of murder hornets. The social war erupting with the dumbest people getting the loudest voices. Jay White cheating Kota Ibushi out of the G1 #1 contender’s contract. It’s hard to see how the year could get worse. And yet its going to.

As I may have mentioned previously, I work in the Human Services department of our local government institution, and I’ve been part of some of the meetings we’ve been having to organize our Coronavirus response. And now, levels are worse than they’ve ever been before, lockdowns are looming, and it’s largely being driven by people who know better or should know better. People who have just stopped taking precautions seriously. There are, of course, some people who never took them seriously, or at least, never took them as seriously as they should have. And those were people we’ve known our messaging and measures we’re going to have little impact as long as we weren’t willing to cross a punitive line. But the ones that I, at least, find most interesting, are the ones who’ve started out the pandemic being very careful not to be a transmission vector, but now, have just stopped taking precautions.

We haven’t explored why they’ve stopped, which I feel is a rich area for progress, but resources are limited, so I won’t have answers there for the near future anyways. But I can posit. I’m a case manager, and a lot of what I work with people on is understanding just how their emotions come into play in their decision-making, and I see that all over the place here. Most didn’t expect to need to put restrictions on themselves for this long, and whether they did or not, the same feelings are likely setting in. Exhaustion. Desperation. Anxiety. Loneliness, and a distinct, long-term existence outside of their comfort zone.

Traditional social views around persistent negative emotions like these lie on endurance. You need to tough it out and last through these emotions to get safely to the other side. And it’s not necessarily a wrong perspective. But it is an incomplete one. Rather, it needs to go hand in hand with what’s been a rather fashionable concept of late, that being resilience. Which, if you’re in the type of field I’m in, there’s a whole bunch of psycho-babble to go along with it, but essentially, it’s the recovery aspect. With resilience, you don’t just tough out the bad times, you focus on getting better. Crap happens, you deal, then you get your emotional state back to normal, possibly while crap is going on.

So in essence, you don’t just sit in the badness because that’s how you tough it out, you acknowledge the badness and do something to make it better. Whatever that is depends a lot on the specifics of the situation and how you operate. Personally, I haven’t had that hard of a time, comparatively, with the pandemic. Friends and family and work contacts have noted how chill and steady I’ve been, so it’s not just me saying that. A lot of that comes from my deep, encompassing belief that I am absolutely magnificent no matter what happens. But I’d say most of it just come from what I’ve been doing for my resilience. In my case, most of it’s been physical fitness, because I’ve not yet encountered a problem I can’t make better by doing deadlifts. But that’s what works for me. What works for you may be different.

And in the case of thousands of people in my locality, what they’ve been doing for their resilience has been meeting with people and spreading the virus around. That’s been a problem. Bad resilience choices.

So, there’s not a single right way to manage your resilience. But apparently there’s a whole bunch of wrong ones. And in pursuit of living their best lives and recovering from the horrors of 2020, a lot of people are individually making the wrong resilience choices that are collectively keeping them from living their best lives.

And we’re going to be seeing more and more of that coming up, too. With American Thanksgiving in a few days, people are going to be taking the calculated risk of coming together, and that coin is not going to be coming up heads for everybody, which is going to drive things further. And the likely vaccine candidates are both a blessing and a curse right now, as the situation is not going to be progressing as quickly and solidly as people feel it should and that exhaustion is going to be felt more acutely than ever. And when people start taking one risk and it works out, they feel more comfortable taking more, so this all will have a cascading effect.

This next month is going to be incredibly hard. Early 2021 will be incredibly hard. Wrestle Kingdom might not end with Kota Ibushi kicking Jay White’s face in. And also the Coronapocalypse will likely be hitting incredibly hard, I guess. And yet, all this, it’s what you make of it. You can choose to make this better for yourself. And I don’t mean that in a touchy-feely “You can choose how to feel about it! :)” way. You can make choices with your resilience in mind. The outbreak is a horrible situation, and I’m glad I stopped doing my apocalypse logs because they’d be downright dour by this point. So many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed. And yet, this is also a gift and opportunity. You can make it such. You can take this time to do things you wouldn’t have done in the normal ages. Everyone deserves to feel as magnificent about themselves as I do, and you can take this time to make the choices that’ll take you there. For myself, this has been an incredibly productive year. I’ve been one of the few case managers in my statewide program that’s been as successful in the pandemic as I have, and I’ve been getting a lot of recognition for that. I’ve found a lot more time to study my almost-second language. I’ve enrolled in dance classes. I’ve gotten a lot more time for gaming. My Dungeons and Dragons game has never had all members there as consistently as it has these past 8 months. I’ve enrolled in dance classes. I’ve put on 20 pounds of muscle mass and have been breaking a lot of personal fitness records. That’s what’s been working for me, but there’s tons of openings for you, too. Don’t just endure. Rebound. Be resilient. And in so doing, make the right choices for your resiliency.

And remember, as dark as things get, as harshly as Jay White has been taking it to Ibushi, there’s always the light of hope. After all, it sure seems that Testuya Naito has had Evil’s number, and Evil’s been cheating even harder than Jay White ever did.

Apocalypse Log: Part 3

Again, crossposting the stuff I’ve been writing to amuse myself and my family to hopefully amuse you guys too.

Apocalypse Log: Day 18

Scavenged at the grocery store today. Barely escaped with my life. Mutants were everywhere.

Apocalypse Log: Day 19

Apparently Chaos Demons feed off of each other. When you separate them, you have considerably less Chaos Energy to dispel. Without her younger sister, the older one periodically decides to just clean the house when she gets bored. Or she’ll do her homework. She’s generally out of the way. This is amazing. Takes me back to a fonder day, one I can barely remember now.

Apocalypse Log: Day 25

I had to drive to Denver today. For essential business, yes, but it’s always a pain going to Denver. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Denver is what, in the old world, we used to call a city. It runs younger and more hipstery than most, and has inexplicably summoned a murderous horse-devil to a place of honor in its airport, but otherwise, mostly typical. It does have one fatal flaw however. Some years ago, as far as I can tell, Denver decided it didn’t have enough space in its schedule for both drivers ed classes and its autoerotic asphyxiation course, so apparently it decided to just teach people to do both at the same time the way everyone in Denver drives.

So, even though there was only a fraction of the usual traffic on the road, two times, I still had to combat mutants driving two ton death machines trying to murder me. I’m not sure whether that’s because of the apocalypse, or just business as usual for Denver.

Apocalypse Log: Day 31

Went scavenging at Costco today. Supplies were surprisingly intact, likely because Costco itself exists inside a separate dimension of which only the select few may enter with their sanity intact. Costco can be very dangerous in the best of times. The Madness of Stuff it instills can drive a strong soul to a sobbing quiver. It is impossible to accurately describe to one who has not already endured it. Costco is a test of character, it likely has what you desire, but you must walk the shifting halls in a realm where time has no meaning while gremlins offer you samples seeking to fill your shallow physical needs to distract you on the path there. There is no rhyme or reason to that place. Shredded cheese is not located near the sliced cheese. Fresh fruits are in a garage connected to the butcher’s station. Port existed there last week, it’s gone now. You could die in Costco, and nobody would ever notice in those winding halls.

It is a true peril to your physical life and your mortal soul, but it was fully stocked with supplies, so I unlocked the dimensional portal with my membership card and headed inside. In spite of the cabal’s initial advice that this was utterly useless, now, we’re supposed to wear masks, I assume so the mutants don’t see how beautiful we are and attack us out of jealousy of what they have lost. Following this guidance, I shrouded myself in an American Flag bandanna and put on my leather gloves for safety. Thus dressed like I was going to rob the place, I walked into the portal as if I was going to rob the place. Nobody batted an eye. I assume because they’ve been robbed plenty of times since the apocalypse started already. I did not proceed to rob the place.

It seems a few of the mutants have glommed onto the idea that those of use still clean have started to wear masks, but don’t quite seem to understand why. I spotted one older mutant wearing what was clearly a pair of Pokemon underpants as a mask. An odd sight, but it makes me stand out less, so I rolled with it. Walking among the mutants was a strange experience, but not an eventful one. I did manage to escape intact, but not entirely successful. Costco has still buried my port under the waves of time.

Apocalypse Log: Day 32

As part of my employer’s efforts to make me a hero and save people from being cast out into the cold, probably Infected streets, I’ve talked to hundreds of people with our emergency assistance interview processes. I’ve started to notice that perhaps there’s a tell, in this stranger apocalypse where you never know who is truly safe to be around, as to what affiliation they might belong to. Many, many people will answer the questions “Do you have any children living with you?” with something along the lines of “Oh yeah, I have my dog/cat/mongoose/whatever.” Those people are almost certainly Toilet Paper Hoarders and should be either avoided or exterminated with extreme prejudice. If they refer to their pets as “furbabies” in their answer to that question, they are probably also mutants.

Take this information. Use it to survive. Be a Survivor.

Apocalypse Log: Day 35

Ended my week of helping people with emergency assistance by approving a rather significant amount of money for someone I’m pretty sure was outright lying to me about their need, but I had to approve anyways because I have no way within the constraints we’re working with of knowing with certainty.

Being in customer service mode all day long has left me totally fine with staying in the stronghold all day, because I don’t want to deal with the people in the outside world anymore anyways.

The Benefits Rant

This is not going to be a fun post.  It’s not even a post for any of you.  This is one for me.  I need to vent my feelings about something for a bit, and I can’t do it on any channels that bear my slave name for fear of the local press picking up on it, so here it is.  Feel free to ignore this one, and we’ll get right back to the usual fun, entertainment-oriented content next week.

If you’ve been following my Apocalypse Log bits, you may have seen that I’ve started helping my employer, a local government agency, process applications for emergency assistance in the Corona Crisis.  I’m actually really proud of that, I enjoy actually being able to help so directly in this situation.  Basically, my agency set aside a bunch of money to help with April’s rents and major living expenses, thousands of people applied to it, and I follow up on applications and conduct interviews to determine if they get financial help and how much they get.  It’s good work.  It’s also pretty stressful, but it’s not necessarily a bad kind of stress.  But there’s one thing that’s just sticking in my craw.

Most people get denied. And its getting to be frustrating.  Really frustrating.  I got to approve two people for funding today, and that’s the first I’ve been able to all week.  After processing a couple of dozen cases.  There are hordes and hordes of people applying for benefits that are completely ineligible in the first place.  And on the one hand, in my usual job, I’m usually all for having people apply to what they could reasonably get, and not having them pre-sort themselves out unless it’s clear they wouldn’t get it.  That’s having some rather serious consequences, here.  We are slow to respond just because of the sheer amount of cases on there.  A few weeks on, and we’re still working through the applications we got just three days after we opened it, most of whom we cannot help.  There are tons of people on this list who do actually need the help, but we cannot reach them yet just because we’re still having to sort through the massive amount of people who don’t.  Particularly as April’s rent is a week past due in some cases, us not being able to reach these people in time is having some dire consequences as landlords start trying for eviction proceedings.

Some people are just coming for help at the wrong place.  We’re not paying rents for people when there are already other programs with state or federal funding that can help them.  So the tons of people with children coming to me, I have to deny and refer to another program that can directly pay their rent, because that one’s designed to help people with kids and this one we need to stretch the available funding as far as we can for the people that can’t get help elsewhere.  It is a major task to reach out to them and make sure they’re getting to the right place, but I can understand it because it’s not like these people have the same encyclopedic knowledge of available benefits and resources like I have to maintain for my usual job.  For a lot of them, this is the first point of contact with the system they’ve had, and they apply here because they don’t know where they’re really supposed to go.  It’s still a burden on our system, and it’s still keeping us from being able to help the people who really need it, but I can understand where their coming from.

What I’m really starting to burn from is the people who have the means to pay their expenses yet apply anyways.  Again, I can understand where this is coming from.  I’ve never been unemployed, I’ve had the right combination of skills, choices, and luck to avoid that.  But I work entirely with people who are, and I know how worrying and panic inducing it is, particularly when you’re dealing with a system with no end in sight.  Moreover, if I was faced with having my savings rapidly exhausted and an uncertain future, I’m sure I’d be on the lookout for potential sources of help as well.  As I said, I understand.

But I don’t sympathize.  The past couple of weeks, hundreds of people learned I don’t care about sparing their savings.  A statement said to me today; “So the fact that I’m only going to have $200 left at the end of this month, that means nothing to you?” That’s right.  It doesn’t.  Nor am I swayed by the many people I’ve talked to who say that they need help now even though they can pay their rent and all expenses for the next several months because who knows what the future will bring, or who have accounts set aside that they don’t want to dip into, or who have already paid their rents and want us to pay them back.  Nor am I going to spare you from awkward conversations.  If you haven’t yet, you will still need to have a probably not-fun talk with your bank in which you discuss your options for keeping your home or car, and it’s only if there aren’t any options there that I will step in.  If you haven’t been working on getting unemployment, I’m going to ask about it, and push you in that direction if applicable. We need to stretch these funds as far as possible, because frankly, we may not even have enough already for everyone who’s applied.   And moreover, as is always a factor with government, all the dollars we’re putting towards this have to come from somewhere.  In giving money out like this, we’re either going to have to recoup through taxes or cut other, beneficial programs later.  This is all going to have ripple effects that we’re not even sure of yet.

So yeah, I have tons of people on my application list, far, far more than those who are actually facing the kind of need we can actually help with, who are clogging up our systems and keeping us from using our time to really help people.  I’ve gotten pretty good at denying people.  And many are really good with it, still remaining understanding and friendly even when told help is not forthcoming from us.  What really chafes me are those who have the gall to act out when told they don’t qualify.  Tons of people getting surly with me, or argumentative, on being told that they have to pay their own rent.  Not only are they making life worse for others by clogging up our systems in mass and keeping us from reaching them, they feel so entitled to this money that will neither have an immediate effect of keeping them from being homeless or making sure they can return to work once the world isn’t an apocalypse that they try to engage with verbal battle with me in a vain hope of… I don’t even know what they think is going to happen with it.  And I’m in good customer service mode then, so I have to use my verbal jujitsu skills to gently end the conversation rather than salting the earth and shattering the most dearly held parts of their self-image.

And the funny part of it is that you can’t tell for sure in advance who is safe to discount, because people are absolute shite at filling out applications, apparently.  It’s not like ours are even hard.  So, people suck, so we have to be careful of discounting people en masse and still have to spend the time talking with them, yet we have to do so knowing that our job is more to find the needle in the haystack than it is to be the giant money cannon.  And our job is that way, because it turns out that when you say “Hey here’s some money come get some if you need it” the line between need and want may as well not exist.

So yeah, everyone out there facing homelessness in my community who I’m hoping are not actually able to find this, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to swoop in and keep you afloat.  I would love to do so, but I have literally thousands of people standing between me and you that shouldn’t be there.

And now I’m done whining.  Next time, we’ll go back to something fun and probably super dumb in the best way.

Apocalypse Log: Part 2

Because using my snarking as an outlet produces content that works both for my social media here as well as the stuff I use my slave name for, here’s some more of those Facebook posts I’ve been putting out venting about the current Coronapocalypse.

Apocalypse Log: Day 8

As is standard, school is not in session during the post-apocalypse. This poses several problems, foremost of which is that it unleashes those Chaos Demons I had summoned into this world upon us, all the time. And while our bodies may be at risk from the mutants, the Infected, and the toilet paper hoarders from the outside, our very minds are at risk from the ever present threat of the Chaos Demons and their attacks on our sanity from the inside.

As is usual, I spend much of my weekends with the Chaos Demons alone. The smaller of them awoke at 5:30-ish in the morning, and rather than joining her elder sister in their traditional Saturday morning ritual of destroying my living room while I slept peacefully because who would be awake at that Godforsaken hour, she instead decided to spend the next half hour screaming at me for milk, then waiting long enough for me to lull back into the first stages of precious sleep before screaming again. When I finally relented and got her milk from the fridge, she took one sip before falling peacefully asleep.

I’ve changed my mind on what we’re eating first once we run out of food.

Apocalypse Log: Day 10

I managed to scavenge some fortune cookies. Given the current situation, the fortunes therein seem like the universe is truly mocking me.


I ventured outside today. Not on a scavenging run, not seeking to make a preemptive strike in defense of the stronghold, just scouting out the landscape. At first, the thought of doing so without weapons gave me pause, but then I remembered that I had to get an open carry permit for my arms because our local government professionals declared that they were, and I quote, “total cannons”. The outside world is a surreal place. When the weather is warm, there are only children outside. No adults. When I go outside on a beautiful day, I only encounter those 18 and under, for whatever reason. The adults only seem to emerge in the snow or rain, when the children vanish. I assume that this is related to the mutations they’re all undoubtedly going through. Maybe its related to worms, only emerging into the open air when there’s precipitation because it enables them to breathe through their skin.. I’ll have to investigate this further. I did spot several adults out there in vehicles. I have been unable to ascertain their current state of physical form, whether mutant, Infected, or TP Hoarder.

My partner, for reasons unbeknownst to me, has doused the floor of my war room liberally with vinegar. I would like to assume that she’s doing so to purify any ghosts entering the stronghold, but we’re not at the point in the apocalypse that we’re at significant risk of that, and she did not concoct the vinegar solution with sufficient herbs to serve as a good purifying agent. I have to assume she would know better, but that leaves little reason that presents itself. I worry that isolation is beginning to have effects on her.

It has rained or snowed each of the past several days. With the way things have been growing, I’m just grateful that it’s not fire that’s falling from the sky.

We are out of port. Situation currently looks grim.

Apocalypse Log: Day 11

I fear I may have let my guard down today, with fatal consequences. Encouraged by my success at venturing outside yesterday, I went out for a run today. About halfway through my run, my body temperature started to rise, and some time afterwards, I felt rather short of breath. As I recall, those are both symptoms of the disease we’re all defending against. I fear my long tenure of successfully being a survivor is coming to an end, and soon, I shall join the ranks of the Infected. I will wait for confirmation before taking drastic action, but I remain prepared to cast myself out into the wastes at the slightest sign of this progressing.

I pray someone shall take care of my family once I am gone. Chaos demons and all.

Apocalypse Log: Day 12

There’s a time to be a hero. And there’s a time to be a survivor.

Today, I’m a hero. Yesterday, my employer, our local government, had set aside some money to help people in this apocalypse with nowhere else to turn. Today, my employer imbued in me the power over the lives of the people applying for it, charging me to approve or deny their requests for assistance according to my merest whim. Well, and also a set of guidelines and standards, but mostly my merest whim.

Most were denied. This aid is only for people with truly nowhere else to turn. Most were eligible for some other program that could help them, which fair enough, they probably didn’t know about it, so I hooked them up. Some went straight for this last ditch hail mary pass by their county without exploring all the other options available to them, which, sorry, we’re not paying for the things you can just make go away elsewhere. Some applied for help even though they’ve already got the savings and income coming to meet their expenses. At least they were honest about it.

You know who did get help? The people who already had their budget worked out, and knew just what bills they had coming, what resources they had available, and exactly where their gaps were. Those who didn’t weaken themselves with children that made them eligible for other (better, but shhhh!) programs. Those who were already committing their resources to fill their needs to the greatest extent they could, and needed solely something to take care of the rest. That’s right. Those most successful at this were the Survivors. Just like me.

I worked hard at it. And as the fruit of 8 hours of labor between myself and others, we managed to complete most of the applications we had received in the first fifteen minutes that program was open. ……..this is going to be a long week, isn’t it?

Apocalypse Log: Day 13

My girlfriend has scavenged us up a bottle of port and Costco quantities of scotch, thus reminding me why I date her. It’s the little things in this apocalypse that touch you the most.


Apocalypse Log: Day 15

I’ve talked to probably around a hundred people the past two weeks, all of them either over the phone or on the other side of a webcam. Particularly with the cabal tightening their martial law and not allowing us out of the home but for certain, approved purposes, I barely even see anyone walking on the sidewalk outside, or come across them on my runs. The only people I talk to face to face are my partner and the Chaos Demons in my stronghold. I’m starting to get the strange sense, what if no one else is real? What if the apocalypse has been even worse than I feared, and the only ones left not mutated or, hopefully, Infected are those of us in my stronghold? What if everyone I’m talking to on the phone or chat is just a simulation put together by the cabal, to make us think that things are still mostly normal? How would I know?

An unrelated thought, although our organization-issued laptops come with webcams, almost none of my coworkers will turn them on for video chats. I suspect it’s to hide that fact that nobody changes out of their pajamas anymore.

Apocalypse Log: Day 17

Let’s play a game.

I live in a world where the government has mandated that we are not allowed to go outside. Nearly everyone’s lives revolve around multifunctional pieces of advanced technology that both the government and giant megacorporations with loose morals use to spy on us, which is widely known but generally accepted. Contact with other humans is hazardous to your health. Everyone carries a general air of depression about them. I spend my evenings hooked up to a virtual reality machine just so I can feel what being outside and talking to another person face to face is like, because I haven’t done either in so long I have forgotten.

Am I a character in a dystopian cyberpunk story, or am I Aether in the modern age? Is there even a difference anymore?