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
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.