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
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
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
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
Personal

Bonus Day Digital Self-Care!

Well! Since we have an extra day in this month, take a little time to do a little digital self-care.

We talk about taking care of ourselves, getting away from our machines, putting down our phones, and just getting some time away from things to give our minds a minute to come back to focus.

But we should also take a little time to take care of our digital forefront, as well.

Here are a few things that you can do to take care of yourself:

  • Declutter your Twitter following list.
    • That means heading to twitter.com in a web browser, logging in, clicking on Profile on the left side, and next to your following count, click the word Following.
    • Evaluate the list of folks you’re following. If seeing their tweets gives you a case of the dry heaves and you’d feel better not seeing them? Unfollow them.
      • Bonus action: you can also temporarily block someone, then unblock them to remove a follow-back if one exists. Not a required action, but it’s handy if you want to protect your timeline and don’t want to grandfather in some accounts.
    • If you want to keep following someone, but don’t give a damn about their retweets, hit their profile, go into the three dot menu next to their profile pic, and TURN OFF RETWEETS.
  • Clean out your email inbox. That means…
    • Go on an unsubscription jag. Get emails from services that you don’t particularly care about? UNSUBSCRIBE.
    • Go delete those old password reset emails. You know the ones from 10 years ago.
    • Delete those old sale ads. That Newegg sale from a decade ago doesn’t apply and you don’t need to reference it.
  • Back up your important stuff.
    • I’m going to hand you some sage advice that I gave customers at least a decade ago when I worked for a rather large computer company: If you don’t have at least two separately stored backups of your data, it is clearly not important to you.
      • Two, not one. What happens if something breaks both your original file on your computer and breaks the first storage device you’ve put your files on? If those are your company’s accounting files for the last ten years, you want as many possible ways to recover from catastrophic failure. Losing two weeks worth of your data is significantly less painful than losing a full decade.
    • Back up your files on media you have control over. That means external hard drives, removable USB media, burn to optical media (DVD-R, CD-R, BD-R), dump to tape, store on a NAS… just choose at least two of these options.
    • Make a regular habit of reviewing your backups. If your backups are corrupted, infected, or otherwise, it’s pointless.
  • Play a video game.
    • Something fun and relaxing for you — doesn’t have to be anything that’s super involved. Just fun.

And with that, February’s about over. See you in March!

Categories
Personal Update

Make of things what you will.

I’ve decided that the resolution I will try to keep this year is a little different than usual. Normally, I joke, “1920 x 1080” — my screen resolution on my desktop.

This year has a list to go with a tweet:

” If I have to have a New Year’s Resolution of some sort this year… it’s to find my maker’s spirit again and complete a project every three months. That’s four projects in a year.
What are my project goals for this year? “
  1. Make cardboard bricks for fireplace burning from waste paper/boxes.
  2. Get a welder, materials to make a sturdy cargo scooter and ACTUALLY MAKE the scooter.
  3. Try to assemble this 3D printer I bought last year, print some battery boxes.
  4. Make a rain-resistant cycling cape.

Each one of these has a related challenge, typically financial in nature for the larger ones. The 3D printer is more patience-related. How patient can I be in trying to assemble this thing, and get it right? It’s been started for MONTHS, but every time I touch it, I put something on backward despite following the instructions.

The cardboard/paper bricks would benefit from a briquette press or similar hardware, either hand built or purchased. I just cannot find a prebuilt press for a reasonable price; I’m working on a bill of materials needed to build my own based on a guide I found on Leland Hite’s site, because we throw away so much that could be reused in some shape or form. Said press can also be used for things like sawdust, from what I see, and formed wood burns rather well from what I’m finding in research.

Welding’s the tricky one, as I’ve never welded metals. Plastics, sure, a little bit, but that’s chemical/heat welding, and a different process. But, I have guides I’ve picked up from Atomic Zombie for scooter and bike designs, and I’m sure that once I get the initial few welds in place and understand what I’m doing, I can start cranking out things that are useful. An electric cargo scooter would be great for getting to and from the store, and gets around the stigma that folks seem to associate with electric scooters from companies like Bird and Lime.

By eye, the outlay on the scooter project is going to be several hundred dollars. I’d need the welder, and even an cheapo one is $100-$200. Materials will likely set me back another hundred. I’ll need a few other tools, and last but not least, a 36 volt lithium chemistry based battery to attach to my existing hub motor is needed.

The riding cape will likely be a hundred dollars, whether pre-fab or bought on the internets, because of the amount of material needed, plus treating it for water resistance. It would probably be expedient to buy one, but I would like one, sooner rather than later, whether I make it or not.

Now to go plan each of these things out in more detail.