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! 🙂

Categories
Update

Unexpected downtime and removed plugins.

I had removed a WordPress plugin called WordFence a while back, and all was well. Today, however, some leftover components from WordFence reared their head and brought my no-name blog down.

This is why SSH should be a standard feature of any hosting package. I was able to shell in, find the offending files and edit them with nano, and get out.

Welcome back. 🙂

Categories
Rant

On freedom of choice in pharmacies.

I’ll keep this one shorter than usual.

I advocate for the freedom to choose which pharmacy you can go to. Being told you can only use certain pharmacies does not encourage good care.

When a doctor prescribes a medicine for the patient to pick up ASAP, if they are locked into just one pharmacy chain and that pharmacy doesn’t have the medicine in stock, this presents a problem: That patient cannot get their medicine in a timely manner. Mail order doesn’t solve that problem: it exacerbates the hell out of it.

For maintenance medicines, I am only allowed to use mail order or Walgreens pharmacies, at the corner of Overworked and Burnt Out. All other medicines that are basically one-offs, I can still fill elsewhere, like at the local FredMeyer that saved my bacon in 2019 when I had that mail order fiasco in two parts, or the HealthMart pharmacy that I still get my non-maintenance medicines at and am on first name basis with half the staff.

I was prescribed a new medicine on Thursday, and, forgetting that the initial run was NOT a maintenance med, stupidly had it sent to Walgreens.

If this were the easy story, it’d have been sent to FredMeyer, and I’d be taking medicine today.

Nope, Walgreens did not have it in stock at all, and would need to order it. The communication of how long I would have to wait did not happen until I called them the next day and asked if it was ready. No, they’ll have it in stock in about a week, come pick it up on the 8th.

That is not acceptable. That’s nearly as slow as mail order.

Freddy’s will have it in on Monday. Three days faster than that national chain pharmacy, and with a day later start. FredMeyer to the rescue once more.

It’s pharmacy lock-ins that are dangerous for the consumer AND the pharmacists. When one health plan in the area has a lot of patients and mandates only one chain can be used, it dumps a lot of pressure on the shoulders of that pharmacy’s staff, and this means things can be missed, or fall behind, that care that I grew up with at a pharmacy is omitted for the sake of trying to not drown under the weight of concentrated work.

This is another reason that Pharmaceutical Benefit ManglersManagement companies shouldn’t be allowed to continue existing in this way.

Categories
My SARS-CoV-2 Life Personal Rant Update

Top of October, and what goes.

This goes a bit deep into burnt out noodles territory. For those of you who need it, a content warning about the state of my mental health.

Categories
Rant Update

We on that #DeleteFacebook trend train again.

I took a look at Twitter today, as is my refreshed routine during this pandemic, and I see people are on the #DeleteFacebook trend.

Okay, let me help y’all out.

The primary reason many people claim they cannot delete Facebook is “But my friends/family/partner are on there and it’s the easy way to keep up with them.”

I have solutions for that! If you want quick traction and feedback, we often walk around with a supercomputer shoved in our pocket handbag, or somewhere else. Yes, I’m talking about that damn cellphone in which you’re paying $50+ a month in device payments for the next two years, #iPhoneGang. Try using that newfangled PHONE feature on it. Or send your person a text. Or send them an email. Email isn’t owned by any one entity. If you’re self-hosting your own email, you’re kilometers ahead of the curve in keeping control over your end of the chain. Do that instead of Facebook.

Or maybe, just maybe, mail them a letter if it’s something that doesn’t need an immediate reaction in this instant gratification society. Give them something to look forward to in the mailbox that isn’t another damned bill.

There are alternate venues to socially interact and share thoughts publicly aside Facebook, when you just want a casual place to post your thoughts. Remember blogging? Neither do I </snark>. Whether it’s a full-fat system like a privately hosted WordPress instance with IndieWeb, or something bite sized like Mastodon, GNU Social, Pleroma or the like, we have other ways to share our thoughts with the world. And, upside, you often don’t have to deal with random ads from companies that you don’t support, and you’re not making some random company rich for selling your data to the world.

I deleted Facebook five years ago, and it has been refreshing. I never got into (or signed up for) Instagram, don’t use WhatsApp (haven’t ever seen it, actually), own no hardware that is pwned by Facebook (looking at you with a bucket of acetone, Oculus).

When I want to post pictures, I blog. When I want to chat with folks, I’m rather Discordant, or send them a Telegram. When I want to socially share, I’m tooting on Mastodon or tweeting. I am waiting to see what becomes popular in the 3D VR wear realms, particularly after Oculus shot themselves in the foot — I hope that we’ll see an increase in hardware options for people who refuse to be shotgun wedding’d into a Facebook relationship to just play with some stuff in 3D.

As before, in summary, we have choices. We just need to exercise them. The first step, of course, is to analyze how much we have linked to a Facebook account, unlink it all, and #DELETEFACEBOOK.

Categories
Life Personal Rant

I have the keys to a broken kingdom.

Originally, I tweeted this, but I think I may wish to expand upon a couple of points.

The unrolled tweet for those who can’t be assed to read it on Twitter (not that I blame you):

A thought, in several lengths:

I’m nearly 40. I am considered a millenial or xennial, though I come in on the decidedly early side of things. I remember the Challenger disaster. I had graduated from high school before Sep 11 happened. I got screwed by the ’08 recession: paycuts.

As a ‘millenial’, I’m being handed the keys to a broken kingdom, with so much that needs repair. Rights that have been shat upon need rescuing. Equality that we’re aware of its needed existence being stripped. Our collective noses are in locations that don’t serve the need.

To make things more concerning, it feels like the previous generation or two is out to actively take the keys back from my generation, wanting to hold that control for as long as they can manage. It fees as if there is no room for improvement being allowed, and that isn’t right.

So, bluntly:

Black Lives Matter. We say it not as an exception to the process that suggests all lives matter, but as clarification and reminder, since America seems to forget this.

Trans Lives Matter. They are no less a person than the next soul sauntering down the sidewalk, and if you disagree with this statement, they are frankly greater than you. These are folks that already know the truth.

Electric Vehicles are one such future.
Fuel cells are also coming. You’d think America would be leading the way to fuel self reliance with our blatant as hell xenophobia, but oh, making sense, I know better.

Alternate Protein sources are another future for us. You want sustainability? You should be looking at things like Impossible, Beyond, and the like.

A thought. I label it “Microphone drop.” and stop tweeting.

Originally tweeted by Xial, better heard on vulpine.club/@xial (@Xial) on 24 Jul 2020.

On the Lives Matter bits, as I tweeted, it’s not an exception to the thought that all lives matter. It’s a reminder, because we all know that there are folks out there who will preach all lives matter in one breath, and in the very next one, except <insert group here>. Sad thing is, I am not wrong on that statement. We’re having to verbally highlight that Black Lives Matter. Trans Lives Matter. Latinx Lives Matter. because there are so many people set in the thought that “all” is mainly them, their family, their friends, and folks who give them money.

People seem to forget that we’re all sailing around in space on this big rock that has the necessary conditions for us to exist, and we don’t have the luxury to just leave when we want, be what we want, see where we want. Instead of spending money on space travel and science, and medicine that benefits all humankind, we’re engaged in pointless dick-waving conflicts for the last two decades.

Instead of being able to work on the next great battery chemistry that could bring big solutions to renewable energy, we’re spending cash on killing each other. I mean, could you imagine your local utility offering affordable PODS-sized batteries that can reside on your property, and a discount for being host to one or two so that excess renewable power can be stored and released into the grid as needed? Especially once you get to chemistries that are less likely to be a firefighter’s nightmare?

And hell, find some room in an apartment complex to stick four or eight of these things, which would be amazing.

I can imagine things like that, but I have little hope of seeing something like that come to fruition before I break this body’s uptime score.

We want things like this. We have a lot of these capabilities, if we could just stop getting slapped down for daring to do different things.

An extra thought: I, a ‘millenial’ or ‘xennial’ was raised by a parent from the Greatest Generation and a parent from the Silent Generation. I was raised to work hard, refuse to be told that I cannot do something great.

I felt a little like I was failing my parents, but when you sit down and analyze everything around yourself and realize how much of it is opportunities denied, it makes you think, “Screw this. I’ll make my own damned opportunities. You’ll never give me good ones anyway.”

Be safe out there. Remember: If you’re going to protests, generic masks are the best. The gas station specials will serve you much better than that super special Etsy designed mask: no facial fingerprint. Also, clear reflective tape. You know why. And leave your actual cellphone at home. You still may wish to have a phone with you, but you are safer not using your actual daily device.

With love and safety,

Xial

Categories
My SARS-CoV-2 Life Personal Rant

Whimsywear, or The Art of Disarming Face Masks.

So, I poisoned my mind last night, reading stuff on Twitter about how a county out here in Oregon has mandatory mask wearing, except if you’re a person of color.

There are a lot of folks with their bits in various types of twists over this, but I may as well chime in as someone who is physically a county or so over from this place with a bit of mind meal.

Hi again. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I am a person of color, if we must use a category. For this conversation, we’ll use the category, because it’s an integral component to understanding this.

For folks like myself, masks cause a level of worry: depending on the material, the color, the pattern, the way we wear it, among a number of myriad elements and uncontrollable provocation steps outside of our immediate sphere of influence, a mask can represent a clear and present danger.

As example, I would NEVER wear a bandana tied over my face, no matter how much you attempted to convince me. Why? I fear the folks who would immediately jump to the conclusion that I am about to commit some any type of crime. It’s more likely that someone would just start off being verbally hostile. I also fear the types of folks who attack first, question eventually in situations like this, because that’s instant escalation.

I’m more likely to just stay home, to hopefully minimize my potential exposure to things like this, because it is, relatively speaking, the safer choice. It’s no absolute guarantee of safety, and I only have to Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor, to illustrate one recent event that can explain the fear.

But, I do have to leave the house now and again. I need groceries, medicines, and the occasional check-in with work so they know I’m still breathing, hungering, and keep me on the payroll.

When I leave the house, as such, I wear a face mask that clearly looks like a face mask, but isn’t just a solid, plain color. I have a series of masks that are either whimsical in nature, such as a large set of teeth with a piece of spinach stuck in them or a blushing cat face mask, or have a distinct appearance, like my grumpy bear mask, or are very graphical in their designs, such as an exit sign mask based on a sign from Tiny Speck’s Glitch.

All of these masks elicit positive responses from folks around me, which is a desired trait in a mask, though it may seem strange. If people are positively interacting with me, talking with me for a minute or two, complimenting my mask… I have a perception of lowered localized threat. People, while they can’t see my resting bitch face, are suitably disarmed because they’ve spoken with me. I’m no longer some potential burden on the system, a possible attacker bent on damage or destruction. I’m just a person sitting here, checking email and waiting to pick up my heart monitor, or waiting for the next paratransit bus home.

That said, I find Lincoln County, Oregon’s approach, removing the mandatory obligation to wear a mask sad, but understandable. While I may have found a solution that, at least for now, works for me, there are real and valid fears at play from other folks who share my skin tone range, and I cannot fault them one bit for not wanting to risk their existence for a face mask.

As before, be safe in what you do, when you do it. Wash your hands with genuine soap and water, and have a glass of water afterwards. You’re dehydrated.

Categories
Life Rant

Righteous Energy, Wrongly Directed.

I’m going to expend one of my Politics points for the year on this post.

This will leave me with 2 points when I’m done and this is posted. I’m fairly good at keeping politically charged statements to a minimum, so this won’t become the new norm.

You’re welcome to scroll on past, but I’d like it if you slowed down and gave it a read.

Also, this post is being monetized by Coil, if you have it. If you don’t, that’s okay: this is still something that should be read. Thank you.

To start, if I wanted to put myself in one of the containers out there, I am a person of color, a minority. I don’t care to, so I’m just a person, generally speaking. I’m also afraid on a daily basis, because I could end up not existing at the drop of a hat, just because I look different.

I end up typically eschewing politics in my country of residence, because they’re done poorly. Our voting system is designed in such a way to squelch the voices of the ones who need to be heard most, through gerrymandering districts to make their collective voices inaudible, revocation of the right to vote through means both creative and non-, through foul tactics designed to drive those who would try to earn their place to help their fellow countrymen out of politick, among other things.

We have a broken voting system that encourages that, with what little voice we have, to choose between evil blatant and evil cloaked, and not even try voting for that one voice of dissent and reason, with sound logic presented in a factual, fair manner. Why? Because the vote would be a throwaway with the current mindset of so many other voters in these jury-rigged districts.

It is of little wonder that voting feels useless in this age.

The entire voting system needs a burn-down and rebuild, stronger and better than it has been. A voting system that allows the people to rank their choices of candidates would be a good start in burning down a mental barrier for people to finally vote for a candidate they actually believe in.

A voting system that allowed for all people to submit their ballots via mail or designated drop-off points throughout their city or state, with no regard to reason for actually voting this way would be great. This is how the state of Oregon handles ballots: Every vote is cast by mail-in or drop-off site. We do not have polling booths that you have to gather at. There is no need, in the age of COVID-19, to have someone sanitize or fog or however you’d manage the cleaning process a ridiculous number of times in a day a voting booth. People can fill in their ballot in the privacy of their home, affording them the same (or honestly, greater) level of privacy that one would ask of a voting booth.

Even better, we have the time and tools available to us in the modern age to research an issue on the ballot, or a candidate, without dealing with snipe sign spinners standing outside as close to the polling places as they legally can, hoping to sway someone’s thoughts in a last second bid for attention.

Voting by mail and drop box should become the norm nationwide, rather than the exception. In areas where it just isn’t feasible to vote by mail (limited mail service, as example), another option would be needed. Whether it’s keeping the current go-to-the-polls setup, or developing and deploying something new, it’s something that needs to be gnawed at, feasted upon, and digested. We need to do better, and we are now in a time that brokers no argument to the matter. We must do better.

Until we can push and prod the system to go the right way, we must push the system with what tools we have. Voting is more than just a “Vote for this person to be our president” situation. They are a figurehead that can be noisome, yes, but until we remember to go back to every home game and away game — that means anytime something’s in the polls that we can vote for, research it and VOTE — we’re throwing away a chance to pull the power back into the hands of the people. We’re tossing our chances to actually change things away, and we need to stop blaming the folks who are capitalizing on it.

That’s my political point spent, and I get two more for the year.

Be safe, wear appropriate protection in all things you do, and take care.

Categories
My SARS-CoV-2 Life Update

The power of e-scooters.

Since we’ve all been asked to stay home, stay healthy, or any permutation of those words due to the current pandemiscape, I’ve been sitting here and mulling over my biggest issue.

I’ve been wanting to get a new e-bike or similar so that I can get around town easier, because I do have to occasionally go out to buy groceries or pick up prescriptions.

Since I refuse to do mail order on anything that could be considered seriously essential, like my insulin and my glucose sensors, that means I have to be able to get to places to get those. I have access to our paratransit services, but trips have to be planned in advance, and the return trip often leaves me waiting at the store for 30-45 minutes when I just want to be back home, in relative safety.

I had mulled over an e-bike or two, since the disbursement of the stimulus checks, but what I kept coming up with bothered me: I’d get either a bike that is physically smaller than what I need, or I’d pay enough to have thrown funds at a used car with car insurance and fuel costs covered for three to six months.

I had looked at things like the RadRunner 1, which, while it’s certainly a nice looking, approachable bike, worries me because I’m near their suggested upper weight limit before I start using the bike for what I want to use it for: Picking up groceries and my prescriptions. Their RadWagon, while it offered a slightly larger payload capacity, is currently sold out.

I rejected any e-bike with a 36 volt battery system, because I’ve already had 36 volts. It gets you started in the world of electric bicycles, but you can quickly tell that the bulk of the bikes have anemic drivetrains and no real energy to help you in the spots that you could use it the most, like needing to cycle up onto the connector bridge in my neighborhood. So this took a lot of the inexpensive bargain imports off the board, like Ancheer, Nakto, and Ecotric.

Likewise, I rejected any folding bike, because I’m large and the folding hinge is an extra weak point on a bike that I don’t need if I’m not going to fold it very often, if at all.

While mulling those over, I also started giving thought to the e-scooters that are out there, particularly the sit down models. More of those are designed to support additional weight, often up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms), and offer travel ranges between 20 and 40 miles on a single charge.

I looked at kick e-scooters as well, but just about all of them (a few brands excluded) all suffer a “Maximum Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)” limit. This makes them unsuitable for my purpose, being above that weight by a decent amount.

I found one kick scooter, though, that boasted a maximum load of 320 pounds (145 kg), which would do for mixed mode transportation to cover short runs to the closest pharmacy and back, or to the bus stop a mile away to get to one of the two nearest grocery stores.

I won’t bless or curse the company with a name here, however: I bought one of their refurbished models, and it arrived physically broken. Not cosmetic damage, as they implied on their site, but broken latch, so I couldn’t even unfold the handlebar into a usable position. I paid UPS $10 to pick it back up next day and ship it back to the company, who decided they’ll repair it, and should be sending it back to me.

So, while that was going on, I kept eyeballing some of the sit down scooters, and kept coming across these fat tire units, usually with the name CityCoco attached.

I decided that, well, hell with it, I’ll bite the bullet, and bought one from EBikeWholesaler. It arrived a couple of days ago, neatly crated and ready for me to have a go at assembly, what little of it I needed to do.

Once I rolled it out of the crate, grunting at the weight (about 130 pounds or so), and assembled the few items I needed to put on, I dropped it on the charger that it shipped with. Remarkably, it’s a charger with a fan in it, something I don’t see all that often, but a nice touch nonetheless.

Yesterday, I took it out for a ride.

Since I have been furloughed, I went to check in with my employer, a mile away. The scooter is FAST. It took maybe five minutes to get over to work, of which the hardest part was a right turn that’s really tight on something with a not too sharp turning radius. I’ll likely take one of my alternate routes to work, now that I’ve tried it.

From there, I headed back to go to the pharmacy, since I had a pickup to do and they wouldn’t be able to deliver until Monday otherwise, and then up to Macca’s for a whip through the drive-thru and collected a breakfast before coming back home. All of this was done inside an hour, and I even took my time.

Later that day, I was going to have a salad for dinner, but I had no dressing for it whatsoever. That would have meant no salad, or an hour plus bus trip for the item I forgot to order on my last delivery request via Rosie, but I hopped out onto the scooter and headed over to that store a mile away.

I got my dressing, some ready to eat chicken to add to the salad, and a few more incidentals while I was there so I wouldn’t have to make the run again for a few days, and got back home.

When I looked at the clock… only thirty minutes had elapsed.

THIRTY. MINUTES.

Having had my trip times either pegged to the fixed route buses, the delays of waiting for paratransit, or walking or cycling to everything, this was mindbending in its glory.

Future me is going to have to spend a bit of time calculating how much I’ve saved in time and money on transportation, and figure out my return on investment. It’ll add up quick, I’m certain, whether I do the math based on trips on Lyft, or trip legs on paratransit, or time saved.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy not sharing a vehicle with others while going out to get groceries and meds.

Categories
My SARS-CoV-2 Life Update

Lay low, wash your hands, ride the furlough.

These times are new and rough for many of us, not knowing exactly how to navigate our new pandemiscape.

I’m going to say first that I’m actually thankful for being furloughed from my job at this time. It IS hard to deal with, being used to working and working and working, then told nope, go home, and stay there until we pull you back in. Occasionally, yes, I need a break or vacation of sorts, but the way this is happening is beyond the mindset of folks my age.

I’m choosing to look at this in the least stressful manner possible: I’m using the time off to recuperate and mentally recharge as much as I can. On one hand, the impact to my budget is definitely present at the moment, as I am only collecting the state unemployment benefit, but I look at it from the other side: I’m also going fewer places, spending less cash overall because I want to know I have the power to pay bills as necessary. So, the smaller payments are still survivable at this time.

I had paid for a new computer prior to this furlough, thinking things would pan out in such a way that I’d be considered essential and/or vital to operations and having the time off wouldn’t happen. But then, the furlough nation attacked, and I’ve been pretty much home bound for the last two and a half weeks.

I’ve done some house cleaning, need to do a bunch more, may want to ask our landlord to up-size our waste bin for the next month so I can be rid of much more crap without dominating the garbage from everyone.

I’ve actually worked on a project of mine that I didn’t think would be one until yesterday: I have an old Chuwi Hi10 Pro tablet that had its digitizer shattered on an Amtrak train last year. At first, I thought it’d be useless, because finding a replacement digitizer for the thing was not panning out well, and additionally, getting this thing apart and a new one on would be tedious at best.

Welcome to my first blog post from the old Hi10 Pro: I didn’t replace the screen. I replaced the entire operating system stack with Lubuntu 19.10, using a keyboard dock for it, and installed NoMachine on it so I can remote in. I am considering replacing the keyboard dock with a USB Type C hub, so that I can plug in either a better wi-fi adapter, or if the hub has Ethernet, a proper Ethernet cable as the onboard wi-fi in this thing is godawful.

There’s an actual use case for me to do this: There are several things that I could easily offload to a low powered machine, like I used to do back when I still used my Wyse Winterm 9455XL. Further, I would like to see if I can get one of the Android emulators running on this remotely: I have smart lights, and occasionally want to adjust them when I don’t have my phone on me.

I’m waiting for my unemployment benefits to come in, because I really would like to mount some shelves in my bedroom. It’s my biggest annoyance: Not enough flat surfaces for items, so they stay in boxes for a ridiculously long time.

Could I buy shelves right now? Yeah, I could, but I have a mental aversion to spending on something less essential than medicine or food.

For now, though, I’m going to have to go for walks around the block so I don’t go stir crazy sitting here at home for the next month or so, and get cracking on some of these projects.

Until then, be safe, wash your hands, wear a mask in public, and don’t buy 64 damned rolls of toilet paper unless you have a real need.

Be safe out there.

Base, clear.