Categories
Personal Update

Depress the clutch, release the clutch.

Just a short one, this time.

I’m learning how to drive a manual transmission car, by way of being blessed with one recently.

I’m doing reasonably well with the concept, and with further thought, I think that if I ever need to buy another car and it’s not all electric, I could buy a stick now, and not feel hopelessly lost. I stall much less than I used to, and have only ground the gears once, where I thought I had the clutch depressed but had let go too soon.

Not so bad for someone who has never successfully driven a manual transmission until just recently. 🙂

Next on the list: spark plugs, wiper blades, and possibly some of those LED DRLs with flowing turn signal lights.

Categories
Personal Rant Update

A ponderance on new hosting digs…

Well… I’m starting to ponder a change of hosting.

In theory, I could move most of my stuff to my recently configured Scaleway Stardust instance, as I’m using it to learn Caddy. Caddy has been extra easy, thus far, though I am not sure how I would handle the equivalent of Apache’s mod_rewrite rules, which I’ve been used to over time and appreciate the clean URLs.

But, there’s also a couple of other things floating around that I would like to flush away.

Namely, I have one .US domain, from back when I loved particularly did not mind registering them. It was the past, where WHOIS privacy was a paid thing that no-one who is a hobbyist could afford, and so any domain basically revealed your real, personal information.

Eventually, registrars started offering WHOIS cloaking, making it much harder for people to just casually throw a command at a terminal or wander off to a search engine to find out someone’s real world address, phone number and so on.

EXCEPT for .US domains. Those are not allowed the protection and privacy that the WHOIS cloaks were providing, so if one were determined enough to go searching, they can get too much information about someone with near zero effort!

I really don’t like that. At all.

So I largely stopped using that domain for major and even minor things. I’m working my way through email, seeing my way through changing anything that used the .US domain for login to use my .blue domain which kindly gives me that layer of privacy. Something that doesn’t casually say “Here’s Xial’s home address in its entirety, along with phone number. Have fun!”

Because I know someone’s going to think it: Be a person that’s part of a marginalized community. You value what modicum of a barrier betwixt you and the world that you can get. If it means adding a step or twelve between a casual WHOIS search and where I live, of course I’m going to do it.

That said, as I start all of this, I’m also considering whether I want to continue with my current webhost, who thinks that instead of properly emailing clients that they have a working relationship, the client should subscribe to their blog that they post these things in…

I’ve seen every damn status issue, as opposed to issues tailored specifically to my shared hosting server. It’s like being asked to clean out a tiny janitor closet, but when you open the door, there’s a 12,000 square foot warehouse on the other side. I don’t need all of that, and seeing everything instead of a custom stream starts to remove the inspiration of confidence that once was held.

Candidly, it makes me miss the days I was on Surpass Hosting. If I could afford them again, I’d go back, believe me. But here’s that hobbyist thing sticking its head up again — my websites are just my blog and little hobby-work I’ve done, and they don’t make me money.

Hell, even when I’ve monetized the occasional Amazon link, like when I told people that discounted Amazon Prime is a thing if you have EBT, and added proper disclosures that I may receive compensation to said links, I am lucky to even get anything. Whether it’s because it’s stripped off by some random bigger thing, or who knows? I just know I don’t make money off my sites. It’s just a hobby, and keeping hobby costs reasonable (especially in the face of my vanity domain habit) is a thing I have to try for.

So, I’m starting my search early, trying to find a host that is reasonably priced for a hobbyist, isn’t going to get it twisted over a drawn image gallery that includes a small amount of adult-oriented art, offers a reasonable amount of storage (~20 GB), absolutely will let me SSH in to work on things because that’s what I’m seriously used to, and lets me point my domains there for email purposes as well.

This will be a journey, but hopefully nowhere near as rough as the shit I went through with Bigfoot Hosting a bit back.

Let’s go. 🌙

Categories
Life Personal

A reflection upon the past, part two.

Where I last left off in writing, I had just managed to secure transitional housing at a men’s shelter after being rendered homeless by my family.

I start part two with a bold, honest statement:

I do not, in the slightest, fault or begrudge my aunt for the action she took which rendered me unhoused.

If anything, she did me the biggest favor possible, by teaching me fear, combined with a lack of complacency. It sounds a strange thing to thank someone for, but, had she not kicked me as hard as she did when she did, I’d probably still be working some absolute dead-end of a job, living with family, and not trying my absolute hardest to show the world that I am more than what they make of me by looking skin deep.

I won’t say that my near two years in the transitional housing program was a cakewalk, not in the slightest, but it did teach me a series of lessons that basically made me much stronger and significantly more resilient to bullshit.

I learned how to make every cent stretch further than it might’ve had any right to stretch. Whether it was couponing, truly shrugging off the purchase of name brand items, watching the papers for sales that I could stack… These lessons took me through all of that time in the shelter, making my paychecks last longer, putting funds away so I could eventually afford a deposit to pay for a place to stay.

I also had to learn to tolerate a shared living environment consisting entirely of strangers that I shared no blood relation to. This was what took the most initial adjustment, both in the downstairs main shelter, and up in the transitional housing program.

For the most part, it was not too hard to adjust, as people largely kept to themselves, might say hello, how you doin’, but otherwise just kept their heads to the grind.

The more talkative ones would try to get to know you, and maybe make a friend or two in the shelter, someone that would keep an eye open for you and your stuff. This is how I met several people that I would eventually call friends or at least acquaintances.

It was in this shelter that I met a guy who would become my housemate. He enjoyed playing bass guitar and smoking. Tobacco, weed, didn’t matter. We both ended up being victims of someone going through our shit in the shelter and stealing things. Both of us had scrounged up enough cash to each buy an Xbox360, so we could have our own thing for entertainment when we weren’t working. Both of our 360s went missing in the shelter.

Much, much later, we would find out that it was one of the staff members that we were asked to trust that was going through our lockers and stealing things that were valuable enough to be resold.

I just hope that whoever bought my 360 off the guy got their pound of flesh because I reported it stolen to the police, and to Microsoft, so the console would be banned from Live. 🙂 After all, I was compulsive in recording serial numbers.

Prior to the rampant theft, along with several other guys, we became decent friends, and on weekends, would gather out in the upstairs hallway with a few TVs and a monitor, and play Call of Duty 3 together. They hated me for my tactic, but couldn’t deny it worked: I would always pick the rocket launcher, which carried two shots. If I didn’t decimate you with the shot from the launcher, I’d club you like a baby seal with the weapon, guaranteeing a kill.

Look. It was a valid tactic. It got me a good number of kills over time.

Eventually, though, I had pulled together enough for a deposit, a month’s rent, and some incidentals that was needed, as had he, and we found an apartment together in North Tampa.

We were both working, had decent working history, references from the transitional housing program we were in, showing that we always paid our rent on time and caused no trouble.

But this gets me into my first apartment. Shared, but it was a place I could say was home, without family around.

At that point, I had been in the call center world for a couple of years, still liking what I did, knowing I was helping people with their computer stuff and being paid for it.

With the move to North Tampa, it added a lot of travel time to my day. Hours of my personal day were consumed by traveling by bus. I stayed too far away to just cycle to work, unlike my housemate, who could just burn it down the road on his bike and back. This also preceded the age of commonly available electric bicycles, so my options were to either buy a car (too expensive!), or find a 49.5cc gas powered scooter.

I bought a scooter. Fat enby on a tiny Wildfire scooter. Yep. But I got to work in 30 minutes at top speed. Now my commute’s just an hour round trip, compared to 75 minutes one way on the bus. It lasted a year or so, but $500 spent is TONS saved, both in time and money.

I ended up buying another 49.5cc scooter, a Verucci VC-50-FS 4S. Much larger scooter, as befit an enby of my size at the time.

I stayed with that company for nearly seven years, over a number of contracts, through good economy and bad, finding out I had diabetes and adjusting to the change in lifestyle and diet that was required…

There was just a lot that we’re fast forwarding through, because much of it deserves its own story.

Categories
Personal Update

*grmbl*

The one thing that gets me about open source projects is that while many of them are becoming simpler, others are turning up the complication factor beyond a comfortable level.

Maybe this time… MAYBE… Maybe Lick the Blue Things will announce its presence on the Fediverse.

Categories
Update

An attempt to fix things…

So, reviewing my plugins a little closer for WordPress, it appears the old way I was doing things for federating to Mastodon might have been long broken and had been fixed with different plugins that I had installed, but not set up.

I’ll know fairly soon if this works…

If so, hello, Fediverse. 🙂

Categories
Life Personal Update

A reflection upon the past, part one.

I really don’t talk about this one much, because it’s a story of a darker past. So, as fair note, beyond the cut, I talk a little about the time I spent unhoused in my twenties, along with the loss of family.

Content warnings: Cancer, Death, Homelessness, Depression, Anger, Mentions of substance abuse.

Categories
Personal Rant

Moving dislike of Walgreens from Passive to Active.

Who the fuck are you to tell me to just “not worry” about a separate discount card that my medical practice suggested I use for a new medicine?

Sure, it might “only” save me $15 on this refill, which you might think is inconsequential, but to me, that was also the cost of NEXT month’s refill and a most of the cost of a container of glucose tablets to have on hand.

Then again, this is the same pharmacist with a sour fucking attitude that I had to deal with on a previous visit, giving one of her fellow pharmacists shit over being asked to do something.

I wish I didn’t have to fucking deal with Walgreens when I wanted a local fill of my medicine, but when you have Distress Scripts, this is what you fucking get.

Categories
Life Personal Rant

I didn’t ask to wake up black.

This post will be short, but unusual compared to my typical content (or sparseness thereof). Normally, I’d hide it behind a cut, but honestly, no, you need to see this.

There are people in this society who think it their right to cause mental anguish to someone else because of the tone of their skin, or the language they speak. Writing racial epithets on their property and leaving behind calling cards reminiscent of the days of yore, in which many a man were found swinging from a tree is an act of cowardice.

Just because a person has physical differences doesn’t give any of us the right to berate them, make them feel unsafe, unloved, or unwanted.

People that have a need to spend energy on things like this need to find a different outlet. Take that excess energy, go put together some food boxes. Haul a bag of kibble to an animal shelter. Go magnet fishing and clean up your local river or lake. Help the elderly couple down the street get some yardwork done.

We’ve already had enough hate and derision, more than enough to last me two lifetimes and change.

Can we have love, care, and camraderie for a long while, please?

Categories
Rant Update

Porch Piracy, Pharmaceutical Perils, Mandatory Mailed Mayhem.

Or, “Another reason that I strongly prefer to pick up prescriptions at a local pharmacy of my choosing.”

In 2019, I shared a story with you all about having to go mail order for my prescriptions, or go to the local Walgreens. The situation has not particularly changed, because I need to launch a letter over the bow of my employer’s HR department so they get a proper understanding what damage mail order pharmacy can wreak upon their employees.

In December 2020, I allowed one of my prescriptions to be refilled by mail order, which as you’ll see shortly, is a mistake.

This is a medicine I take for my anxiety in the evenings, so that I can actually get to sleep in my own bed, as opposed to the living room or the local hospital because the panic wells up strongly enough to trigger cardiac symptoms. Express Scripts (hereafter known as Distress Scripts) shipped these pills to me with standard shipping. I never received the pills, however.

Why?

Porch Piracy, plain and simple. Our postal workers and parcel delivery agents are often stretched beyond their limits in these times. They don’t even have the time to ding-dong before they ditch the package somewhere on your property as of late, it seems.

So, my pills were dropped off at some point during the day, but I never got them.

I do hope that whomever walked off without them has a need for them, be it for self or for friend. But this means I had to call Distress Scripts and explain to the rep that picked up… twice… that I didn’t get the package.

It just feels like a system intended to frustrate all but the most obstinate of callers and get them to hang up.

This is something that could’ve been mitigated, of course, if I could have chosen a pharmacy that I wanted, because I’m a mile away from a HealthMart pharmacy, which is somewhere that I can get to relatively quickly and safely on my bicycle or my electric scooter, once it’s back in commission. A pharmacy trip that I could even complete on my lunch, if I needed to.

Since I work from home, currently, if someone were to ring my doorbell, I would be able to retrieve a package fairly quickly between work phone calls, meaning that exposure to porch piracy is minimized to a handful of minutes if the doorbell is rung so that someone here’s aware that a package has arrived.

Further, there’s usually someone that is home throughout the day, be it myself while working, the owner of this place, his partner, or at least one of my other housemates.

But, when no-one rings the doorbell, no-one at home knows the post has been dropped off unless they’re obsessively watching for an email from the US Postal Service, if a package is to be dropped off by them, and not even that for other carriers.

I’m supposed to trust my insulin and GLP-1 agonist deliveries to THAT, Distress Scripts?

I can’t sit in my living room all day to wait for a carrier. I have to actually work for a living, and my work is helping people get to their own medical appointments and needs on a daily basis.

People that get treated better on their state-funded medical program than I do on my commercial plan, to be blunt. They only get 30 day supplies, but they can use any pharmacy they want, and they even get rides TO and FROM the pharmacy of their choosing at no out of pocket cost.

I’d be happy with that setup. Really happy with that. I wonder why my state’s Medicaid program went with that… Perhaps because they understand the perils of creating pharmaceutical deserts

On the other hand: my commercial coverage does not offer anything for transportation, nor does it allow me a choice of pharmacies for the majority of my medicines.

It allows me to wallow in distress, figure out how to get to the farthest away pharmacy on an already limited bus system, spend extra time out and about when I could have just had a leisurely 23 minute round trip bicycle ride to get my meds and be home.

Or, better, a safe, handed off to a human delivery of my pharmaceuticals, every simgle time with HealthMart. End to end custody of meds that are important to my wellbeing, without a porch shaped questionmark added to the equation.

As long as Distress Scripts is allowed to do business the way they want, I’ll never have that surety as long as my employer uses them for prescription benefits.

Categories
Update

Back to School!?

It’s happening.

I signed up to go back to school, finally, and will be working toward my Associates Degree in Business Administration. I’ll be starting classes next Wednesday night, and this has me rather nervous when you get down to it.

Here I am, a person in my late 30s, going back to school and also juggling a full time job at the same time. I do have fewer things to deal with for now, compared to 20 years ago, but I’m also older, and more tired more often.

This will be an interesting experience, though, as I’ve grown significantly as a person, and have more patience and discipline under my belt than I did when I was 18. I was impulsive and somewhat impetuous as a late teen. I’m just more observant of things for now.

What’s great is that everything will be online, no campus time or anything, through the University of the People, and the pricing is something I can afford without incurring an untenable amount of debt. This keeps me sane and calm, knowing I can improve my lot, and make myself more desirable to employers.

I’m still a bundle of nerves, though! 🙂