Churning Heart

Shattered by the dawn,
Dancing fire of first light,
Stumbling into the world,
Pinched by reality–
Of sober cold tomorrows,
Encounter with fantasy,
The redundant heartache,
Hours become days,
Crushed under regret.

A dance by moonlight,
Green eyes that shine,
Hands clutching close,
Turn and together,
Awoken, vanished–
Her fragrance still wearing him,
Palm heat fading,
The moment recedes.

Hearts with wings,
Held back in cages barred,
The taste of sky–
Days become years,
The yearning goes silent,
A key neglectfully lost.

Rushing into the void–
Left by the sickness of want,
Churning deep chests,
Flutter to be bound,
Whispered kisses,
Tears, sighs–
The brutal seconds peeling,
Destined to despair,
The wish of remembering–
A starlit love undone.

Shiver

Boy am I glad to be done with today. I was barely hanging in there. The boredom was severe, and the tasks were few and far between. I handled 20 calls, which is about half yesterday’s volume, and most of that came in the beginning of the day. The afternoon was dreadfully dull and the evening was dead. In case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t like having nothing to do at work. It sucks. I’d much rather be busy with things to do. Not only does that help me feel more productive and useful, but it also makes the time fly. Which I like. Today felt like 14 hours of staring at my computer screen waiting for the next call to come in. Not a fan of that.

Well, even though today was not very productive, it is still a mini Friday for me, as I do not work tomorrow. It’s the first day of 2015, and what better way to kick off the new year than to not be at work? I can’t think of anything is rather be doing. I’m going to go see the third Hobbit movie tomorrow, The Battle Of The Five Armies. I am a resident expert in all things Tolkien, and so far I have been somewhat disgruntled at how Peter Jackson has added so much mindless, ridiculous action to this story. There was no falling down a crevasse in Moria riding a destroyed goblin bridge. There was no orcs attacking the dwarves while they rode the barrels out of Murkwood to safety. There was no orc attack on Bard’s house in Laketown with Legolas showing up to save the day. These things are fabrications, and are implemented by Jackson to make a short narrative into a lengthy, sprawling epic. I imagine the next film will have a new preposterously off-base moment that I will be critical of. Hollywood fucks everything up.

It’s frightfully cold in my apartment. I have given some thought to sleep, but I don’t know if I can. I caught myself singing in the truck on the way home, which is how I know my mood is headed back in the right direction. Things are improving.

Tonight I’m thinking about my life, and wondering if I need to spice it up somehow. I’m content with things being boring. But is that going to last? I’ve pooped out before, but I have never before been in so stable a place as I am now. My job is still fun, if not challenging sometimes. I get to solve problems every day, and for a fixer such as I am, I take great joy in that. But between work and home I do very little. My evenings are short and capped off with an early bedtime. I don’t drink. I don’t go dancing or go to clubs. I don’t watch TV because 95% of it is crap. I read articles on science issues, the curiosity rover, and I frequent the USGS website to keep track of what earthquakes have happened in my region. I do live on the pacific tectonic plate, you know, the one that’s moving northwest? I sit in front of my computer and watch the weatherspark radar when a storm hits town. I go to Wikipedia and read about our recent history of large meteors that have exploded in the atmosphere. I’m basically the most well informed boring person you know.

Goodnight blog. Happy new year.

The Footsteps Of Rain

Stormy weather continues for us today, as the rain has been falling all night and the snow accumulating in the mountains. I would go drive out there and throw myself on it like I did last year, but I remember how bad it hurt when I landed on that rock and bruised my rib. Besides, there’s no one to share it with.

I’m doing better today. I had a nice long sleep and woke up in the cold, but ready to go. I shaved and used my new French press to make coffee, and it was delicious. Thick, frothy, warm, and tasty. I finished writing a post about a good Age Of Empires III game I had a few nights ago. When I was feeling depressed I deleted it and got discouraged about finishing it. I tend to shut-down when I get sad. I don’t reach out and I don’t have any desire to say much of anything. Sometimes I go through cycles: I feel good for a week or more, then dip down into depression for several days, then back out of it. If my downward journeys become long stays I know there is a problem, and I should start being proactive about correcting it. So far, I have only had to wait a few days and then I come back out of it again.

I think I’m just reeling from the long break and loads of family I had over the holidays. That whole thing was just so much fun. It was awesome to see all the kids running around smashing each other with those inflatable hammers my sister bought. And all the baby news from my cousins that are now expecting. I’m not really interested in having one, but other people having one is fine by me. I can play with their kids and not have any of the responsibility of raising them. Sweet!

It’s going to be another busy day today. People are calling in to pay their January bill, and have other issues that they put off until after Christmas, I suppose. I have been quite busy, really only letting up sometime after 4 pm. Most people on the east coast are done for the day, and will probably just call back the next day.

I’m here in my truck listening to the rain drops falling on my roof, and I’m happy. I don’t have any bad thoughts in my head right now, and I’m keeping a close watch on my feelings. Something that Feminine and Feline posted on her blog really hit home for me. The devastation of being forsaken by your lover, and the pain of a dying relationship. Yeah I totally get that. I just lived it, and basically still am living it. My heart is not done breaking yet, because I still loved her, even though she didn’t love me anymore. Sometimes I sit here in my solitude and wish I had her back. Or that there was something I could do to win her love. In truth, I know that being involved with Jax was more bad than good. I didn’t do enough research on her before combining my life with hers. I know she has moved on to a better place, and so have I. Wherever she is, I hope she has found happiness. I struggle, but that’s what life is about: the obstacles and the way we get through them. And so on.

**UPDATE 11:45 am**

So instead of busy it has been very slow. I have had under 10 calls all day so far. And a lot of guys are stepping out early to go home for the day. I’m going to stay until the end, as I need the income. And I’m one of 3 guys on after 5, so it’s kinda important that I stay. I would love to be able to get up high and look east at the snow-covered mountains, but there is no vista anywhere nearby. I was talking with Will earlier about the Edain mod, which we are both getting excited about. I’m also going to go see the third Hobbit movie tomorrow with my parents. Should be good.

Anyway, today is simply crawling. I have a short list of websites to visit as football season is over, and there’s no need to check those pages anymore. The bracket game is starting up, and at least in that contest I have done well. I have 4 victories, tied with my sister for the lead. I’d like to win this year and be all alone in first. A boy can dream.

So adieu for now. I should be around this evening for a New Year’s Eve post. But I won’t stay up to see it. I have a bedtime to keep.

**UPDATE 3:30 pm**

Just ridiculous how slow it is out there. Things are moving along at a molasses drip. I’m so bored, and have been reading various articles to keep myself occupied. I’ve handled one call in the last several hours. I really can’t wait to be home. I just want this boring day to be over. I’m not going to bail out early, but holy shit am I tempted.

The Americans on Large California (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

This one started off on shaky ground, but with a little help from a standing army protecting the perimeter, I was able to stomp the AI into the mud. The computer tends to send many attacks as a native civ, and early, which is where I was caught off guard. I had enemies in my base at the 8 minute mark and they foolishly ran right to my town center and were devoured by the structure then garrisoned with all my frightened villagers. I had very few standing troops at that time, and resolved to change that in case new attacks were on the horizon. I used a home city shipment to get myself some outlaw pistoleros, and had the barracks working double-time on marines and colonial militia. Once I was protected to some extent, I built my command post and proceeded to ship (over the course of the game) 11 armies of 6 redcoats. With a ranged attack of 25 at age 2, they were one of the more powerful units I had at my disposal. By the time they had mustered and were ready to march (in age 5) their ranged attack had gone up to 48, with a hefty siege attack as well. Riflemen at the same age had a ranged attack of 25, just to put things in perspective. I believe there are 2-3 home city cards which boos all ranged unit’s attacks in the American deck, and possibly more to come once the export cards are removed.

 

Victory was well in hand when I made the turn at age 4, and I was soon to sent 3 battalions of (mostly) ranged infantry into enemy territory to finish the job. Even though I made it to age 5, I did not buy any unit upgrades. I was managing my offensive and figured I had the thing won, with or without the unit improvements. I had two factories cranking coin and food, so my unit supply was always peaking. I had 3 total town centers, all with an envoy gathering fame, so those precious redcoats were easy to amass. They went in and annihilated standing units in the enemy base, killing a great deal of villagers who were trying to flee the fighting, but ran into my western approach army first. Rapidly, the two town centers the AI had constructed were down. I had two gatling guns but they were hardly used. In all, I believe I could have marched late age 3 and met just as little resistance as I did when I sat back and gave the AI time. They continued to attack with less than a full battalion of melee cavalry and archers, which were all met with death and removed quickly from my side of the battle-line. I don’t understand the AI moving in on my town center with only 3-5 cavalry. There’s no way a force that small will even survive the defensive capabilities of my town center, let alone destroy it. It was a foolish gesture, in what was a resounding victory. Seeing all hope lost very early into the demolition, the AI surrendered after losing only 7 buildings, 2 of which were town centers. I am starting to long for a human opponent, because the AI is disappointing, and on Expert difficulty, it must surely cheat and attacks very, very early and goes into “rapidly kill all villagers” style gameplay, which I hate.

 

There are some more games that will be coming out here in the next couple of months. The Edain mod will soon release Edain 4.0 which is a complete overhaul of The Battle For Middle Earth II: The Rise Of The Witch King. It completely changes the resource system, building mechanics, and units. Total conversion, and a lot based off the heroes and legends of the J.R.R. Tolkien lore in the appendices of The Return Of The King, and other historical publications. I just got the game reinstalled on my PC, a fresh install, so when he mod comes out, I can just patch-up and play.

 

I will, no doubt, have many a tale to tell once that adventure gets started.

 

FINAL SCORE (42:37 gametime)

Egregious (Americans) = 1011

AI Hard (Sioux) = 145

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 38170
Wood: 25812
Coin: 30206

AI
Food: 24045
Wood: 11780
Coin: 11323

MILITARY

Units: 252 (66 Redcoats)
Units Killed: 312
Units Lost: 107
Buildings Razed: 7
Buildings Lost: 0

The Snug Is In

I’m at the end of a long and busy day. I took 38 calls, which is above metrics (and the goals don’t really apply to me since I have the closing shift and my call volume is automatically lower) I’m pleased to say. I kept busy, mostly with billing issues, as that queue took well over 500 incoming calls. DTOC’s busiest queue was under 200 on the day, if that puts things into perspective. My contribution is necessary, but only a tiny fraction of the total. Anyway, today was a fast day. The trouble was, that I was feeling so depressed. I still kinda do, but I retreated to my bed as soon as I got home and generally feel better about things. Between my sheets is a magical land of warmth and harmony. I feel most safe here, and somewhat detached from the suffering of my disposition. I can tell you that I’m struggling, but managing.

I’m committed to being a solo project for a good long time, and that has the part of me that wants to be in love again all wrinkled up. It remembers how good it felt to love someone. Hey, it’s kinda hard to forget. But that part of me is yearning, and I figure that’s what it is supposed to be doing. I can’t be mad about that totally legitimate reaction to being alone. All things in perspective: I’ve come a long way and I don’t intend to set aside my goals in order to be in love. It’s not an option. I’ve seen only the calamity and none of the stability. I would need there to be a massive deviation from history in order to consider anything else. And I’m not looking for it at all. So that’s pretty final.

I know my mood will lift back up again as the days go by. I get a mini-break for New Year’s Day and then right back after it. I also work 3 additional weekends this month, so my paychecks should be healthy. I have a lot of things going for me: I have a loving family who always seems to have my back. I have a job that I enjoy and have not grown tired of. I have financial independence and I lean on no one to hold myself up anymore. I have a great apartment in a place I enjoy living, even if the driveway is crazy steep. I have a good life, and I really should be thankful for it. And I am. However, this does not make my feelings just poof away. I would never expect that to be the case. Instead, I respect my sadness and my loneliness so that even they have a chance to be understood or expressed. I’m not trying to live on one side of the coin.

It has been nice to sit here and rehash some thoughts. It’s going to get frigid tonight, measurably below freezing. Snow expected in the mountains. Winter is coming.

Encroaching Cold

A storm is on its way into my part of the world. It will bring cold rain and snow to many parts of the desert southwest.

I’m not doing so great. I feel a heaviness in my heart, and my disposition is gloomy. I feel sad, isolated and lonely. I’m not really interested in rectifying that with a relationship though. It seems like everyone around me is pairing off and finding their partners, while I am not. I don’t want this, but also don’t really like being so alone. I guess I’m complaining.

It’s always a big let-down after Christmas. With all that fun and family reaching a peak, then sliding away. Back to the monotony of life, with its occasional distractions. I am holding on to a few things which still make me happy: I have my rocks in the tumblers which will be done this Sunday. I also have bought myself a French press which I will use daily, I’m sure. I have my family, who are going to be in town for a bit before hitting the road again in the spring. I have my games, which are kept interesting by a vibrant modding community. I have my blog, which I have been trying to post to but found myself rescinding previous posts because they were abhorrent and negative.

I have a lot on my mind. I guess this is part of the process. Everyone at work here is sick or getting sick. I’d rather not go through that. But I may have no choice in this regard. If the bug is going to get me, it will. I’m trying to keep my spirits up, but it’s hard. I’m an effusive guy and I have to put a cork in it most of the time. I have no one in my inner-circle. Everyone who has been in there has later decided they’d rather be somewhere else. I’m the kind of guy who would rather be right than liked. That generally alienates me from most, but also insulates me against the rampant stupidity of the world.

I’ve been trying to write all day. It’s been a struggle to get through, but I am. I will be in work-mode, coffee, work, eat, sleep, coffee, work…

I hope your day is going better than mine.

End Of The Line

The weekend of family and festivity is now over, and back we go to the proverbial grindstone to labor away long into the next year. I am not disparaging, just commenting. I lost last night in the fantasy football championship, as I predicted I would, but only by 1.4 points, which is a tough one to swallow. That’s just one play, one catch, one fumble from victory. But it was not meant to be, I guess. My cousins were quick to comment on the stinging defeat, though I didn’t even think it would be that close. My opponent’s team was a juggernaut and I really never had a chance from the get go. But it’s not official until Thursday, in the event that a stat correction could swing the score. But the probability of that happening is next to none. I should just accept my defeat and get ready for next year.

 

My break was relaxing, yes, and had lots of cool interactions with family from far off places. It was nice to see everyone again. One way or the other, we all find a way to get together for Christmas. Just about all of us, anyway. There is another big family reunion scheduled for early May back down at the beach house like it was last year. The family really liked that whole thing, so they are going o do it over again. I will try to sneak away from work for long enough to enjoy it, but I have a full time gig, and probably can’t afford to spend much time not working.

 

I’m doing fine. A little sad to have come so close to glory and fall short. But that’s life for you: unpredictable and unforgiving. We just have to smile and move on, as that’s the only option other then to pout and waste time lamenting. Work is going to be slamming again today, as no doubt everyone with an issue will be calling in to get help, after having waited until the holidays were over. I don’t really count new year’s day as a holiday because who takes that day off anyway?

 

We turned the rocks over in the tumblers and got them going on the aluminum oxide polish on 3 barrels, but the fourth barrel will have to wait because one of our tumblers is dying and needs it’s motor replaced. We were only able to set up one barrel on that one, and will have to wait until next week to finish the other. But 3 barrels to look at next weekend will be very nice indeed. I have already seen how rounded and colorful the stones are, which is well beyond my expectations for beach-gathering. There’s no telling where the stones came from, only that they are beautiful and have come out looking splendid. I am eagerly awaiting next weekend, and a chance to post some photographs of the stones. I believe you will agree with me about their quality and color.

So blog: it’s the beginning of a new week, and I’m getting off to a somewhat slow start, but will surely be busy as the influx of calls is already email worthy. Mike sent out a message to get us on task and in the queues to get the volume handled. I haven’t even clocked in yet and already there’s a rush. It’s Monday for sure.

Take care blog. I’ll see you after work today.

**UPDATE 12:45 pm**

I’m feeling pretty exhausted. Today has been pretty non stop since I clicked in. I have had something to do every second until just now when I stopped to eat my sandwich. I have been on the phone all morning solving problems.

I guess I’m feeling deflated. All the cool hanging out with family raised me up, and now that it is over I’m crashing back down to reality. Fantasy football is over, and I won’t get another shot to redeem myself until another year. Poop. Also, I am back to living my solitary life, which I guess is a little sad. Meh. This is my lot. Work hard, quietly.

I don’t have much to look forward to anymore. The events have gone by, and the celebration is over. I am holding on to my desire to see the rocks come out of the tumbler, which should be fun. And shocking. But really, that’s about it for the fun. I maybe need some more things to do with my life so that I don’t feel disappointed by it. I didn’t get to hang out with Will. He is sick. All the family have gone home. The party is over.

I have more than half of my day left to go. I’m wishing I could be home curled up beneath my sheets and blocking out the unforgiving world. But I can’t go do that. I have to get up and go handle my life like a responsible person should, no matter if it sucks or doesn’t.

**UPDATE 3:05 pm**

Today has moved by pretty fast. I had my head down the whole time, going from one task to the other. I’m in a poor mood overall. I’m not ready to be back cranking at 100% speed like I had to today. I really had no choice. I could either quit and be ashamed or prevail and swallow the pain. I don’t have the luxury of being able to sulk. My mood will change as the days go by. It just sucks.

**UPDATE 4:15 pm**

I’m going over to my parent’s place tonight. I can’t stand the thought of being alone with this mood. I’m struggling through the slow half of my day. I can’t seem to think a happy thought, even though I keep trying to concentrate on positive things I have going for me. I want to be excited about my life again, but right now I can’t really see it. There is a cloud in front of me and nothing gets through it. This will change as soon as I get off work. I will be in a better state of mind and be fine again for tomorrow.

The Portuguese On Large Deccan (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

The Portuguese are deadly efficient for a European faction, and I say that because I believe Europeans to be much slower than Native or Asian civs. They are helped by several valuable home city cards, and having four town centers by late in the game. Their military is in its artillery and infantry, at least, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t use any cavalry units at all and don’t even build them if the native settlements offer them. I keep it simple, and with a certain ratio of melee and ranged in my armies, and it never fails. Tonight was no exception.

By the time I started research on age 2, the score was my 41 to AI’s 21 which makes it about as high a score during that span than I ever had before. I have started being way more fluid with my villagers. I get them moving around the map and switching resources all the time. If I’m at age, I can grab the majority of my food villagers and put them on wood, because in the next age I will need wood in order to erect the new buildings I have access to, as well as houses. I have started micro managing my villagers in order to have more control of my growth as a colony early on.

But the computer was quick to attack, and the first cluster came from the north around the perimeter of the plateau. I had amassed some musketeers near the native trading posts in the center, and they had to scramble over there. I tried ringing the town bell, but I still lost some villagers on the way in. After that incursion was halted, I sent all my units to the north, thinking the AI had chosen the shortest distance between our bases and would use that way again. I set my command post units to the center despite that though. The beautiful thing about the Portuguese in the Improvement Mod is the way they accrue fame. A town center at every age means by age 2 the game trickle has doubled and then tripled by age 3. I was able to buy the level 3 armies from the command post, which were comprised of 12 cassadors and two culverin. I hit that one at least three times before I made my first push.

I rallied another cluster of units to the south, for fear of simply leaving an avenue of approach into my base undefended. So I put maybe 25 units down there. And I had crossbowmen and cassadors to the north, and tiger claws from the Bhakti native settlements in the center. The tiger claws were largely ineffective and the longbowmen ate them for lunch. But once I established a perimeter defense I was set. I grabbed two trading posts and both native settlements. I had control of more than 50% of the map, and had driven off all attempts by the AI to gather resources in the center. They were smart and did build a fort up there on the plateau but I turned my three armies loose on it and it was razed to the ground. I just parked the remaining units in the center and rebuilt units on the northern and southern fronts as well. But that 65% takeover of the map happened towards the end. My ranged infantry were being kited back into the enemy base one by one, so I just swarmed in. I had five or six culverin which works wonders on opposing artillery and villagers. My army cleared out the standing units in a hurry. It was the strangle hold. They couldn’t collect any resources because I was killing all villagers in sight, and razing all the town centers they had constructed. Surrender came earlier than expected.

FINAL SCORE (35:05 gametime)

Egregious (Portuguese) = 696

AI Hard (French) = 201

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 25383
Wood: 21208
Coin: 20205

AI
Food: 16477
Wood: 12989
Coin: 11826

MILITARY

Units: 287 (69 Cassadors)
Units Killed: 203
Units Lost: 169
Buildings Razed: 21
Buildings Lost: 1

**UPDATE 12/29/14 8:15 am**

I have been thinking back on this game. I’ve been building armies around cassadors, but in reality musketeers have a better ranged attack at 41 when upgraded. Cassadors from the same age and upgrades bought only do 30 ranged damage. Obviously mercenaries are really nice, and can have just amazing DPS outputs. The mercenaries (I believe) are map driven, not standard per faction. I like having the flexibility of summoning new mercenary units from the command post as well as the fame armies. It makes for a diverse military front, which is a cornerstone of establishing map dominance. You’re never going to hold much land with all the same units. It’s a well known fact. When the AI or human opponent discovers what unit you’ve built, it will counter and destroy you. Ranged infantry and melee infantry can’t stand long in front of artillery. Cavalry have a hard time with other cavalry and melee infantry. The list of counters goes on.

Point being: I have noticed that for the sake of diversity and power I’ve been employing the help of more and more mercenaries. They do disproportionate amounts of damage, and with the Portuguese getting several upgrades to their ranged infantry attack, those mercenaries only get better with time. Highlanders and fusiliers are among two of my favorites, because the ranged damage they inflict is off the charts. Highlanders a bit weaker, but still better than a cassador. But subsequently, the mercenaries are hard to get in blocks because of the high coin price for every unit. Sometimes I plan for this and get 30 villagers on plantations by mid game. But this can be interrupted. Factories help when you get them producing coin, but that is often towards the end anyway and the game is usually over.

Mercenaries aren’t just a novelty. They are integral to the DPS yield of your fighting front. Standing on their own they will be wiped out, but as part of a much larger force, they add essential damage to the equation and make your army solid and potent. There are so many new mercenaries introduced by the mod as well. It seems foolish to pass them by like I may have in previous iterations of this game. I all but ignored them in the unmodded game. Seriously.

Scattered To The Wind

We have family from all over. Helena Montana, Chicago Illinois, Boise Idaho, Dallas Texas… and the starting point in San Diego California. Our family is big. I have 13 cousins, and 6 aunts and uncles (counting the spouses as family). We all make it a point to get together frequently. When I was growing up, we would typically drive out the 50 miles east from where we lived and go to the ranch where my grandparents had set up residence, in Boulevard California, which might as well be in the exact center of nowhere. It is a 70 mile trip to get to the nearest grocery store from there. Truly out there. But Saturday morning we would all pile in the car and drive out there. My uncle Joe used to live in two trailers on the property with his family to avoid having to pay property tax. Three of my cousins were raised there. We made regular pilgrimages, and so did the other uncle’s and aunts. The brought their kids and we would all go down in the basement (see carpeted entertainment room with a pool table and lots of stuff to play with) and have adventures. Or you could brave the mountain elements at 3,800 feet and investigate the sheer enormity of the property. The used to raise pigs and rabbits for eating as well. Meat has been a huge part of my family’s existence. Rotisserie prime rib, breakfast steaks, sausage and bacon, seafood like you wouldn’t believe: bbq oysters, Scottish salmon, ruby red ahi, whole steamed crab and freshly caught lobster. We are a family of food, and drink, and general merrymaking. We don’t think it’s weird to give each other meat as a Christmas present. It’s quite a sign of respect, actually.

When the family celebrates, we do it with class. Overflowing with fine wine, beer and spirits. Slathered in sauces and seasonings. Cooked slowly in its own juices. We know how to party, and the knowledge of how to do so has been passed on down to the next generation. Fuck man. We even made crepes after dinner. Maybe 20 to 25 of them. They all got eaten, amazingly enough. We all love food.

Tonight was no exception. We were in full form, as the new generation (of which there are 6 currently) of kids played at our feet. A number that will be going up by 3 very soon. Two cousins announced that they were pregnant: my cousin Jessica (her first) and my cousin Bruce’s wife Megan (her second). My cousin Lauren is well on her way to number two, and very close together (only 6 months between birth and getting pregnant again). Our name will go on. And the genetic sequence will be preserved on into the years and be spread to generation after generation. So soon there will be 9 total kids. Wow. I don’t know if they’re going to get past our mark of 13 but anything is possible. It’s just so enriching and rejuvenating to be around all those fresh faces. Chloe is such a little princess. Christian is Bam Bam reborn with the drooliest face you ever saw. Kid just doesn’t swallow.

Anyway. I was given baseball steaks (which I had never heard of before), queen’s oats, Russian tea cakes, chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies, and sour cream cinnamon bread, and I consider these to be very excellent gifts. The gift of food is to say: here, eat this yummy thing and may it bring you sustenance, excellent flavors and many other good feelings. How could that be a bad thing? Apparently, it is not the norm for people to give each other fine top sirloin as a Christmas present. Some people also may not have a good idea of what a bond it is to sit and enjoy good food with the people you love. And hear nothing but laughter and chewing noises all night long, occasionally augmented by the giggles of happiness that little kids make as they run and play.

So Christmas dinner was a smash hit. We bbqed a 7 bone prime rib for a good long while. My uncle has a digital meat thermometer sensor that monitors the core temperature and the outside temperature of the meat at all times and sends the data to a little handheld display that fits in your pocket. So he was watching the meat slowly increase in temperature until he had it cooked just right, tender and rare, very rare. We like our meat bloody and covered it its own juices. This is the only way I know how to do it, and I’ve tried well done meat, and it tastes dead, dry and uninteresting. Rare meat is tender, juicy and flavorful. We had twice-cooked potatoes and a green salad, spinach casserole with French onions and bacon on top. An my aunt Chrissy made Swedish meatballs. Damn. It. What a feast.

My evil grandparents came, despite all the general pessimism around that possibility. My dad was sure that they’d bail, but sure enough, they were there for dinner. All 19 of us, having a great time and eating wonderful food. If which I am currently full of. To the brim.

I hope you out there got a chance to spend time with whoever it is that you love, and had fun today. If there’s anything to be learned, it’s that the bonds of family transcend distance and time. We all know when to come back together again and rejoice. Even if our lives have scattered is to the wind, we are always together.

Feliz Navidad

I hope that you are having fun, regardless of what the holiday may mean to you. We are never going to have a white Christmas here in the desert southwest, but we do have a wet Christmas, as the rain is falling today. And much to our surprise, considering how this was to be a bit of a winter heatwave. Sporadic showers are about as close as I’m going to get to snow. Sigh.

My mom drew a picture for me, and I’m going to hang it in my house somewhere. Haven’t decided yet. I got a small mountain of Christmas goodies. Cookies of various flavors, queen’s oats, sour cream bread. The works. I’m going to have to work my ass off to get out from under the burden of Christmas goodies. But I don’t mind. It only happens once a year.

Happy holidays to you all.

Hey Santa

I’ve had that little Christmas jingle rolling around in my brain all afternoon… I know, aren’t I lucky? I’m wishing with all my might that another Christmas song will get stuck in there so I don’t have to listen to Hey Santa anymore.

Tonight was casual dinner at my evil grandparent’s house with all the dysfunctional family in tow. My grandma (who is slowly but surely losing her grip on reality) had to interrupt the conversation about Cuban cigars to tell us all about some cigar-related trauma she had experienced, then proceeded to sob uncontrollably as we all pondered what new insane thing would happen next. My scuzzy aunt Renee kept trying to get me to sneak off with her and smoke some dope. But I don’t like her at all, and don’t want to do that with her. Then later she redeemed herself by giving me a can of cranberry sauce. Divine! I have a demented love for the stuff and eat it greedily with a spoon from its original container. But then later she tried to give me a doobie even though I told her that I did not smoke at my house, as this puts my occupation in jeopardy by violating my rental agreement. So I turned her down and drove myself home. That side of the family (my mom’s) is abusive, deceitful, violent and awkward. They have a long history of abusing my mom, but she really dotes on them all like they were royalty or something. I don’t quite understand her continued interest in them. They are generally not nice and lately have been bordering on crazy. So I got there at about 6:15 and hung out for an hour and 15 minutes before the gathering began to collapse and I too jumped ship. It was like being exposed to radioactive waste, but only for a little while.

Today at work was mind-numbingly slow. I took 7 total calls today. Seven? I usually take upwards of 30, so this was a dramatic change in business and an invitation to (seemingly) unending boredom. As a result of having very little to do, I got some annoying Christmas music stuck in my head and also read about every fantasy football article I could find. I was able to handle my responsibilities, and by the end of my shift, it was just Kaiser and I in the entire building. He said he knew how to lock up and declined my offer for help in shutting down. Most everyone had an early day today. I’ve never been the only car left in the entire parking lot before. That was weird.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and we are closed. Queues are already in holiday mode, and no incoming calls will be answered. People should be gathered around trees and tearing through wrapping paper, not calling us about their drive thru being offline. Take a break once a year, I think you can handle that. Personally, I like to be with my family on Christmas. I generally want for nothing, so I don’t do gifts anymore. I can’t afford to be spending my limited resources on presents for other people. It seems silly to do so. I intend to stuff myself with cookies and sour cream cinnamon bread. Basically I’m going to derail the healthy train and go berserk. And why not? It’s Christmas. It happens once a year. It’s not the end of the world to eat some cookies.

I hope you have a good holiday wherever you choose to spend it. Merry Christmas blog. Happy holidays.

Strength

I have just driven 82 miles round trip to go up to Carlsbad to celebrate my uncle’s retirement. I saw my cousins, and spouses who I consider cousins now as well. Mike, the commissioner of the family fantasy football league was there, and his wife (my actual cousin) Jessica as well. And Jess announced that she is pregnant! Another family member on the way. That will make 7 grandkids when she gives birth. Zero from me or my sister, who is not inclined to settle down and make babies. Neither am I. Point being, the family continues to grow. And that is a good thing. I saw my cousin John and his wife Jessica (I know, two in the same room… confusing). It’s been a while since I’ve seen John. I used to live with him and three other guys in a 5 bedroom house in Santa Barbara. But that was 10 years ago. Holy shit. That’s a long time. It feels so much closer than that, maybe because that’s really when my mental health journey began. Right about then, I started showing the symptoms of bipolar disorder and sought treatment. Seeing him brings back painful memories of my troubling past. It reminds me of how far I have fallen, and how I’ve grown since. But he doesn’t know much about how I have changed, only what I did in the past. Mike and Jess are both players in the fantasy football league. I eliminated Jess in the final regular season game to advance to the playoffs. Then I snuck by the first round opponent to end up in the championship. They are both rooting for me, but I’ve already conceded. I’m going to get blown apart on Sunday, and my season will be over. I gave it my best shot, and came up short. I don’t know what I need to do better in order to win, I really don’t. I guess I’ll have several months to think about it.

Seeing them was great. Even if it was for only an hour and a half. I had a long way to drive to get back home, and I’m already up past my bedtime. But I have had a remarkable turnaround in my mood. I’m doing better by leaps and bounds. I almost bailed on tonight, when I got to thinking about the 1.5 hours it was going to take to get up there. Which it did take that long because of the traffic. But I try not to listen to that voice, because he leads me astray. I shut-down and become hollow when I listen to him. He does not help me feel better, he makes the darkness linger and grow. But he is difficult to ignore, and when he is powerful I am often struggling. He wanted me to not go out and see my family tonight, and I know now that doing that would have been a disaster. I would be wallowing in suffering and feeling no end of guilt to have not been there.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that there are people out there who care, and that I am being thought of. I can get to feeling like I don’t exist, because no one cares that I am alive. But family reminds me of all the people who do know me and wonder about what I am doing with my life. It forces me out of my shell and makes me feel human again. In some meaningful way, I am helped by them.

But this shift came mostly while I was sitting in the car thinking. I slowly built a soundproof box around that unwelcome voice and stopped the badness at the source. Sometimes I really just need to stop and think about where I am, and who I am. I get so caught up in my surroundings that I forget to look at where I’m putting my feet. I’m endeavoring to be more mindful, and I still have plenty of work to do. Have a good night. Thanks for listening.

Courage

I’m fighting with depression today, and it is winning. I left work early pretending I had a migraine, but in reality I’m just very down and have no zest or excess energy to go around. I’m sad inside, over my solitary, one-dimensional life. I live in a hole; cut off from others and internally focused. I don’t socialize very much at work. I don’t go anywhere or do anything of consequence during the week. I feel utterly alone.

And this is because everyone who has ever loved me has been driven off by my dysfunctional personality. Or my stubbornness and general callousness. I am stranded on a lifeless island having scorched all precious things around me into ash. I have nothing left to offer. I dwell in solitude. I have been rejected by many, scorned by a few. I have more enemies than friends.

I’m going up to Carlsbad today, leaving here around 5:30 and likely being snarled in traffic for hours. Then I will get there late and have 10 minutes to socialize before I have to turn around and go home. To get up tomorrow and go to an early therapy session. Good timing too, considering the shabby state my mind is in.

I don’t know what to do to help myself. I tried playing a game but I grew immediately frustrated with it. Then I tried watching a movie, but all I can think about is how I’m stupid and that I suck. And no one wants anything to do with me. And no one cares what I have to say. I’m as irrelevant as a bag of garbage waiting on a curb to be collected and dumped.

I’m not happy anymore. I’m frustrated that my life is so meaningless. I strive for no one but myself. I endure suffering and receive no reward. I benefit from my deeds alone and receive no breaks from fate or chance. I’m headed in a downward direction. I feel like I already reached the peak of my success and have been sliding down into obscurity since. I’m meaningless.

I don’t know how I am going to face them all tonight. I feel like the hatchet of shame is buried in my back. I have nothing to bring, little to say and few are the reasons for caring about me at all. My parents care, but it’s their job to care. No one else will take the job. And even if you do, it’s only a matter of time before I drive you off too.

I know I can be better than this. I’m just very sad and disappointed by my life. I don’t know what there is to say about it. I’m knee-deep in the mud. I know things will get better. Eventually. I just have to be brave, and survive the storm.

Mercurial

Crestfallen daze
The gamble of promise
Trust in contempt
Bothered by sorrow–
Deep turning blade
Transition into silence
Apart from reason
A bastion burns–
In the night

Simple in remorse
The beguiling word
A shadow passes
Cold hollow air
Squeezing the breath
Closed and constricted
Gasp for tomorrow
Poised to fall

Downward course
Away from the sunrise
Dropped the power
Sacred the broken chalice
Scattered like memories
Abandoned to dust
Wearing the shroud–
Of sadness

Settle Down There Turbo

I just had to vomit that out there. Disappointed: yes. But all things in perspective. So my fun hobby that I was doing is now over. Moving on. I’ve got to find something new to do with the time I won’t be pouring over player data and matchup ratings. I’ve had an itch to play an old favorite: Katamari Damacy. A sensationally Japanese game. The Katamari is a sphere that when rolled on the ground, will pick up anything smaller than it and stick it to the outside. And keep rolling and picking up new things, and increasing in size as more things stick to you. Eventually you roll up little mice and dogs and cows then people and eventually elephants. And they flail about hopelessly in a futile effort to escape the unshakable grasp of the Katamari. So I had some other playstation 1 & 2 memory cards with all my saves on them and they seem to now be gone. So I bought two more, but I now have to go in there and beat all my games again. Because I have no saved data. So I’m starting over in Katamari Damacy and I only play a few minutes a day. I really should sit down and grind out a few challenges. Get my groove back. It’s very fun, ridiculous and always entertaining.

I’m keeping it real with you. I prefer it that way. I’d rather not hide the acute emotional reactions I go through. Because I am coping with them too. And I have only you internets to share my sorrow with. Or joy, or whatever tepid state I find myself.

Work is going to be fine. I haven’t done anything wrong, and that error report has been strangely absent this week. Why I do not know. I would love to see my name stricken from the ledger once more. At least I still have my hobbies and pastimes. Speaking of: I have a feeling the 5.5 release of The Improvement Mod will be coming out soon. I think that’s why Mandosrex has been concentrating on other parts of the mod and not just the United States faction. The details surrounding the patch are murky at best. I’m not sure if new content is going to be added, possibly new maps?

Thanks for hearing me vent.

Loser

I lost big tonight in fantasy football. In the league I run I was eliminated the first week of the playoffs. In the family league I now trail and will likely lose there too next week. So I gave it my best shot, and I have failed yet again. Ruined by AJ Green’s injury and complete absence from tonight’s game. Zero fantasy points. I lose.

Today people felt it especially necessary to treat me like shit. I was hung up on, disregarded and otherwise ignored. I tried to give simple instructions on how to identify the information they need to give me and she flat out refused to help. Nope. Couldn’t be bothered. I was having a pretty sour day until my fantasy season came crashing to a halt. 14-1? Who gives a shit. Can’t win when it counts, you are a loser. Go join the nameless rabble who are not remembered.

A really rock solid day today, all around. Tomorrow I am driving to Carlsbad for my uncle’s retirement party. I will be up there for a few hours, then right back after it the next day. And the very next day after Christmas you better bet I’m working then too. And the Saturday after. Then I get to come home and watch my team be executed in the public square by my opponent on Sunday. That will be the final cherry on the cake of my failed season. Another opportunity squandered, another substandard finish to an exemplary year. But it all means nothing. I didn’t win. I’m eliminated. My season is now over. Boo.

Have a good night. Hopefully you didn’t have 20 weeks of work go to complete fucking waste. I wish I had the time back. Fuck losing. I lose every year. I never win shit. This is fucking horse-shit. So be it football gods, so be it. Your most faithful servant rendered humble before you once more. Tell me, almighty football gods, why have you smote me so many times? Do you derive pleasure from torturing a devoted follower?

Goodnight.

Between Two Feelings

This morning’s commute was pretty nuts. Not one blob of traffic the whole way. I imagine most people are doing their holiday vacations right about now, and are nowhere to be seen for those of us headed into work.

I find myself in a mixed state today: both proud and sad. I was reminded of how well I am doing by a simple thing in paying the cell phone bill. I have (seemingly) great sums of money in my account and only really spend it on necessities. I did buy myself some playstation 2 memory cards, but not a major expense by any stretch. I’ve been able to stockpile my money and keep my financial future strong. I’m simultaneously sad that I have no one to share this success with. But am I actually doing anything about that sadness? Not really. I can feel it and not need to rush out and fix it with a relationship. It is hard doing this alone, but I need to in order to preserve the kind of life that I deserve. Relationships muddy the water. I am in no state of mind to invite the inevitable compromise that comes with a partnership. Frankly, I really like the way I’m doing things, and have no want to tamper with that. The more I think about it the less interested in sadness I become. It’s a misguided feeling; conveying a useless message for no good reason. If love came up to my door and invited itself in, how could I dare gamble my success on that? Why would I tie my life to someone else’s when I should learn how to stand alone? I have gone so far proving to myself that I am all I need… to go back on that and get in a relationship after that is treason.

I think disparagingly sometimes about myself, and I guess the need is for someone to somehow be unendingly compassionate and understanding of my circumstance. But not necessary. It’s a hollow place inside me that yearns to be full and active again. But love is more trouble than it is worth. I go back to see Margaret on Christmas Eve, and I’m imagining telling her about this conflict. There’s not really much to it though. The logical side of me wins out every time. I’m not about to let emotions rule my actions.

Somehow I know that this solo project is going to come to an end at some point. I will find myself in a desirable permutation of the original need and take appropriate action. I don’t know how it will happen (duh) but it will eventually. I’m living a promising life, with stability and safety to pass around. I just have to keep applying myself in my life and keep my positive attitude and exemplary work ethic. I’m not bored or complacent like I have been and can sometimes become. I have a feeling that my languishing had a great deal to do with the depression caused by my disappointment in partnership choices. I grew really depressed in my relationships because I knew they were not what I wanted. I was crushed that I had locked myself in with people I didn’t really get along with, or could not share the more important aspects of companionship with. I’ve set myself up for failure, and learned the hard way that hardly anyone is willing to change who they are for someone else. Another duh. Maybe I have learned to have higher standards, and to not just dive at the first person who comes along and shows interest. Selectivity leads to sustainability.

I guess I’ve talked myself out of feeling sad. I miss the cute things she used to do, but that’s wholly detached from the real memory. I hurt myself with feelings taken out of context, as if to say “boy, don’t you miss that?” But in honesty I don’t because I’ve proven to myself with facts that I do better alone than with someone. I have never been more on-target and true to course and heading. I know where I’m going and what I want, and no one can derail me but me. And I’m not planning to.

**UPDATE 11:30 am**

Yeah it sucks to have a mix of emotions and thoughts going around. But I’m handling my feelings in a productive fashion. I guess it’s just a very snugly time of year and I long for someone to snug. But the work involved in making that a reality is far from the direction of my life. I’m doing a good job keeping my shit in order. The last thing I want to do is mess that all up with a relationship. So I’m off the market indefinitely, and of my own free will. I do so with the intention of living as trouble-free a life as I can. I have no chance of being crushed by a partner who bails out of the relationship. I have no emotional risk that could otherwise hurt me if things were to change. I have no one to disagree with and feel misunderstood by. I guess I like my way less complicated life, and that will be a lonely road at times. But I have such great friends and family for support. I never get too down about it.

Sunday Sunday Sunday!!

I had my second consecutive day off today, and boy did that feel nice. I went down to the rock tumblers early with Moo and saw the stones in stage 2 of 4. They look glassy (because they were all wet), translucent and highly colorful. I have never seen so many good jasper and jadeite samples in one place before. The mineral inclusions and overall clarity of the stones are really something special. She scored on this most recent rockhounding trip up the coast. Those coastal ranges have some cool stones locked away in them, only sending a sample down the river to the sea. What makes it down that far in the alluvial plain is largely a mystery though in reference to actual origin. I couldn’t tell you for sure where a lot of those stones came from, but I know what areas they may have been eroded out of, given time and the right conditions. So they will remain somewhat unexplained, but nevertheless beautiful. Today they got the 500 grit aluminum oxide to effectively pre-polish the stones ahead of next week’s changeover. I’m super excited to see how they finish up. They are just so amazing, and only getting better.

I hung with my parents for a little while after that. I watched my numbers come in. All told, this was a bad week for big performances, but I had a couple on my family league roster, boosting me to a 9 point lead with 1 player to go and he still has one. We have the wide receivers in tomorrow night’s football game, I with AJ Green and he with Demaryus Thomas. It’s going to be a close finish, which is all I’m asking for ahead of the final week of the NFL. I want to be close do that if I make a move there will be only one outcome: a victory. Right now in the family league I’m guaranteed at least my entry fee plus $20, but to have a shot at the big kahuna ($100) for the title, and that is truly extraordinary. I never thought in a dozen years that at the end of week 12 when I was in third place looking up at Kevin and Jessica that I would not only leapfrog them both for the division crown and #2 seed the very next week, but then string together three more wins after that was like out of the question and beyond possible. I hadn’t won two games in a row all year, and suddenly I’m on fire winning 4 in a row with the final to be decided Monday. But holy shit what a ride it’s been. In the league I run at work, I have a 10 point lead with AJ Green going tomorrow, while Tony has Seattle’s DEF/ST going tonight. I will likely need to crawl out of a 10 – 15 point hole on Monday in order to advance to the championship. The probability of that happening are unknown. I’ve never had both teams in my two leagues go to the championship game before. If I can get past Tony for the fourth time this year, it will happen. Even if AJ Green lets me down and I do not advance in either league, I still will have completed two of my most successful campaigns as a fantasy football manager. I guided my personal league team to a nearly unbeaten record at 14-1, and got hot when it counted must in the family league and have an edge in the championship game. Hell to the yes.

I had some great feedback from the developer of The Improvement Mod (Mandosrex): he thanked me for my comments, and proclaimed that I had “saved the American” civ. well gee, thanks! Speaking of the Americans, I used them today and Mandosrex did two things I like: he added a block of 5 redcoats for 200 fame at the command center, and gave the Americans falconets, which came in handy for the push to victory. The redcoats had to have been the backbone of my standing army, with riflemen and halberdiers filling in the gaps. They swarmed and crushed, especially when I brought in the five falconets I had been sitting on. They dismantled the Dutch who I was facing at the time. But the Americans are working again, and Mandosrex has promised to take the broken home city cards out that were for export or consulate improvements. Once that is done and he adds in some new troop shipments in age 3 or 4, I will be satisfied that his comments are true. I do want to be the guy who saves the civ. it’s too cool and too well done so far to throw it out. They are historically appropriate as well, as this game is set in the 1400s through the late 1800s as far as I can figure. That would make the United States a historically relevant option.

FACTION USAGE (Games Played)
1. Aztecs (30%)
2. Portuguese (20%)
3. Americans (15%)
4. Japanese (10%)
5. Ottomans (10%)
6. Dutch (5%)
7. Sioux (5%)
8. French (5%)
9. British (0%)
10. Chinese (0%)
11. Germans (0%)
12. Indians (0%)
13. Russians (0%)
14. Iroquois (0%)
15. Spanish (0%)

It’s been a restful and relaxing weekend. I again feel like I am ready to get back to work, and do my job effectively. I am really looking forward to that error report coming out and seeing if I made more than one mistake so far. I’ve been pretty good about double checking my work, but there’s always a chance something slipped through the cracks. I’m fine with it. I’m clearly not the target of that report and it’s really geared to correct the guys who are just fucking in up more often then not like Steven, Ryan and Theo. those guys don’t really care if they do the orders right or not, as long as someone else is there to clean up their mess. It’s all very silly, and largely not my issue.

I am feeling good. My fantasy football has gone about as unexpectedly as it could go, but I’m still in it! I just have to pray to the football gods that AJ Green has a decent night, and seals me in for the win. It would be, truly amazing. Have a great night, and wish me luck!

It’s Saturday

It feels nice to have a day off. I didn’t really do more than my appointed responsibilities, and that’s fine. I had a couple of games of Age Of Empires III. On that subject: I actually engaged The Improvement Mod’s developer in a cool conversation. I told him about the Americans not having plantations or any way to spend the fame they collect. You can build a command post, but it doesn’t have any fame units in it. So I thought that was kind of dumb, and makes the Americans somehow broken when compared to other civs. They also have a consulate but no place to track export on their HUD. So I registered these two issues on the mod’s page on ModDB. and he was quick to reply saying that he would add plantations back into the build list and remove the consulate. He also said he would add fame units to the command post, which I thought was all well and good. He took my feedback and will release a new patch updating the American civ with my changes implemented. I think that’s pretty awesome. I’ve had a lot of fun playing this mod, and the litany of bug fixes, retextures, animation updates, new units and technologies that come along with it. It has fully restructured the core game into a pure state, which I can imagine is a blast in multiplayer. The AI can’t keep pace with me, and on expert it’s not beatable. I’ve tried. They attack at somewhere around 6 minutes and by then I have nothing to defend myself with. This is Age Of Empires, after all. Game length should be between 30 – 45 minutes. Not 6. At six minutes I’m just starting to develop an economy and raise my villager population to something respectable. Not the time to be going to war.

My fantasy football fate will be largely decided tomorrow, as the bulk of my players will be going. Philip has already thrown two interceptions, one a pick-six. Sigh. No playoffs for the Chargers this year. Gack city.

Anyway. I’m doing fine. Had a bit of an early start today. Did my laundry and wend shopping. I am cleaning my floors and then my bbq. It needs a good scrub apparently. I am planning on depositing my last DoR check next weekend and taking out the cashier’s check I make out to Jan every month for rent. I like paying my rent, it makes me feel responsible. Because I have my shit together. I can handle that.

I’m glad to be enjoying a day of (primarily) rest. I’m having fun and taking some time off work and other work related thoughts. My battery is recharging.

**UPDATE 7:15 pm**

The mod developer just wrote back to me saying he went ahead and implemented the changes we were discussing. He also gave better access to the revolt function and technologies. He added fame armies to the command post, while removing the consulate and the export resource. He also gave the Americans access to plantations (which seems historically accurate as well). I am truly happy to have been responded to so respectfully and rapidly. I made a pretty cogent comment, and that got something done. I look forward to trying out the Americans tomorrow.

**UPDATE 12/21/14 @ 9:00 am**

Remember how I said I was going to try out the American civ? I did, but didn’t complete a game before I noticed something more that could be changed. Since removing the consulate, the home city deck still had 3 cards that gave export or made consulate improvements cheaper/faster. So there was no need for these 3 cards and I pointed that out to the developer. He quickly replied that I had “saved the American civ” and was glad I had said something. Now the U.S. Will be a useful and effective civilization choice going forward. I’m just so pleased that my comments became gameplay changes. That’s fucking awesome. I love this mid, and will continue to play it for the foreseeable future.

12/12 And Bonus Nerd Content!

Hello! It’s my night off! Hooray!

I went over to see my mom and dad, and we watched A Christmas Story (1983) and it’s by far the best version of that film. Truly intelligent satire on a time of our evolving American family. So it was my request and I just had to see it. I had Scott Farkus stuck in my head for some reason.

Anyway, I’m listening to The Nutcracker (composed by Andre Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and relaxing. I just had a splendid game against the AI, but I will get to that shortly. We had salmon for dinner and a salad, and boy was it yummy. Then my mom brought out the peanut-butter fudge, and holy shit, is that some goodness. Made with peanut butter, but still rich and chocolatey like fudge should be. I was not silly and had a mere two chunks, but I could have had more blog, there was a whole jar of it sitting right there. Sigh. It just doesn’t even sound good to scarf on it, it’s like liquid nitrogen that shit. Only in small doses can I handle thee, for the sake of this sadly out of shape body I must. And my mom was suckering me in to indulging by eating a shitload of cookies this weekend. I’m going to have to seriously bust my ass if I’m ever going to gain any ground this winter. I feel like it’s appropriate to insulate the body against harmfully cold weather, but I live in Southern California, so I have no reason to be bulky. Maybe in some colder climate it would be acceptable… winter here is almost always a laughably mild event, with perhaps 3 inches of total precipitation, more in the mountains. It might be more, I haven’t fact checked, and I just gave it a google and nothing conclusive came up. But whatever, my point is, I need to continue to push myself every morning to be active until I become exhausted and my muscles are “done.” I intend to increase the amount of this as I progress through the slow trudge out of the pit of obesity. And Christmas could easily equal my doom if I am not SUPER CAUTIOUS. Remember, I take lithium, and I will grab on to every single carbohydrate that comes into my body and somehow turn it into fat. I live a primarily sedentary life, spending 8 hours a day in a small office chair sitting answering the phone. So I’ve got to! Right?

 

Mood wise I’m doing great. I have a day of catching up on my chores and watching football sporadically. Hopefully the Chargers don’t get annihilated tomorrow night. I don’t know how that one is going to go down. But the Niners have nothing to play for. Thanks for all of your positive comments lately, they have been super helpful and complementary as well. I pride myself in my coherency, despite huge handicaps. I appreciate you guys.

 

**NERDS ONLY EXTRA**

The Aztecs on Large Carolina (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

Tonight, I was hell bent on slaughtering someone. So I blasted the French away with my trump card, the shiny, beautiful, deadly, Aztecs. I Had the lead right from the get go, as I got a fire pit and warrior priest on production speed immediately. It never let up. There were three trade posts, two native settlements (One Cherokee, the other Seminole), and lots and lots of trees. I had the center early with just a few coyote runners and puma spearmen. Nothing major. But About half way into age 3 I lost my entire standing army in the center, and my trading post there was destroyed. I quickly switched my fire pit from xp back to unit production rate and had a standing army again in no time.

 

I ended up with a ton of villagers, had 30 on coin for most of the second half of the game (plantations). I saw their army sneak around behind my houses, where they began razing buildings. They tried, anyway. I didn’t lose another building the rest of the game after surrendering that trading post in the center. I rallied, took it back, and then began sending units there in waves. By age 4 I had farms and plantations-a-plenty. I had 25 just hacking trees because the unit upgrade requirements for the units are all wood, and lots of it. I had just WAY too many good units by the time I marched. I had the fire pit with 20 dancers producing just skill nights every 12 seconds or so. I had a sum of them ready at hand when it came to burning down the perimeter defenses. They had a fort, which I demolished rapidly with the first wave (which I was not at all expecting, thinking that I had WAY too few units to bring down a fort…). Next I brought the jaguar prowl knights, and they obliterated artillery and standing units. They leaned on falconets early, but those fast jaguar prowl knights just burn those units down, and their fire rate is every few seconds, whereas the knight has hit you three or more times already. It’s not reasonable to expect the artillery to survive in those conditions, and they did not. This was their downfall, because they had completely run out of standing infantry, and were down to the structures with me keeping them from gathering resources to fend off the attackers. Skull nights have an area attack, which damages multiple units with one swing, and I just think they might be the best infantry unit in this game. They’re really ahrd to stop, like and AOE cavalry unit that doesn’t move as fast as a cavalry unit. Just thinking out loud here. I had gobs of units sacking the ciy, but ended up with more prowl knights than anything else. He was down to the last few coureur des bois as they emptied from the down center in the fall of the capital. They had no chance… death ensued. Victory.

FINAL SCORE 2 (34:50 gametime)

Egregious (Aztecs) = 912

French = 171

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 33466
Wood: 25853
Coin: 23970

French
Food: 11194
Wood: 24724
Coin: 18302

MILITARY

Units: 315 (79 Jaguar Prowl Knights)Enemy Units: 172
Units Killed: 231
Units Lost: 192
FINAL SCORE (39:49 gametime)

Egregious (Aztecs) = 846

Ottomans = 240

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 29495
Wood: 23436
Coin: 19714

Ottomans
Food: 7050
Wood: 28947
Coin: 13916

MILITARY

Units: 327 (64 Jaguar Prowl Knights)
Enemy Units: 143
Units Killed: 206
Units Lost: 99

11/12

Oh so very close to a break. It was an eventful day: I concluded timer training and am now a jack-of-all-trades in the DTOC. I can take a call on just about any issue and see it through to a resolution. I worked quite a bit on my billing handout, which covers common issues and procedures for the training I will be giving in the coming weeks. I don’t think the situations are all that complicated, but it’s a lot of new steps in Oracle for these reps and I want to give them instruction on things they will actually need to know in order to do it right. I received four hours of training and most of it I never used on the phones. My instruction will change all that.

I had a 45 minute conversation with my best friend Will, who currently lives in the Bay Area and has a job and an apartment up there. He has been offered another job in Portland Oregon though he is debating about what to do. We caught up on each other’s lives and had a great talk. I don’t give people advice about what they should do with their lives. Who am I to tell you how to live? I sympathize and discuss the possible outcomes of decisions. It’s nice to be in demand as he is. I know the feeling quite well. So that was good to hear from him. I hope he figures out what it is that will make him happy.

I’m chugging along here blog, and boy do I feel the battery level plummeting. Today I literally sat in my truck at lunch and stared blankly at my leg after I had inhaled my sandwich. I just couldn’t think or move or do deny thing at all. I was only half way through my day, and I was getting really crunchy. But I didn’t back down and run from that feeling, I pulled myself up and got after it. My body has also been tired because I’ve been working out. I’m so fucking out of shape. I can only do it until my muscles ache, then I stop. And the next day, I can go a little bit longer. My idea is to build up endurance and stamina so that I can make it a full 30 minutes or more. Right now I’m not even close to that, but I will be.

Emotionally I’m doing great. It’s my energy level that is in the outhouse. But I have just one more day to go before two days off in a row! And the first weekend of the championship in the family league. I’m not optimistic about my chances. In the league that I run, round one of the playoffs starts today and concludes Monday. I will either be eliminated, or advance to the championship to be decided in both leagues on week 17. I have a much better chance of winning the crown at work, where my team is stacked and ready to rock. In the family league, it would take a minor miracle to get me there.

I’m going to bed. I can’t wait to write that 12/12 post tomorrow. Free at last.

On Sadness

Shining brilliance of sunrise,
Aptly aware in oranges,
Cuts through the thin air,
Stirring the cold of night.

Indifferent are the clouds,
As they melt away into nothing,
Knowing they will be back again,
Displaced but not forgotten.

A cycle repeated,
Familiar to the senses,
Unchallenged in occurrence,
Forever bound to duty,
Unbroken in the groove of ages.

No matter how scattered the old dream,
And despite the history of storms,
There will be an end to the darkness,
The promise of a new day,
Even if veiled,
Somewhere, the light is pure.

Everlasting…
Caught in glimpses,
Rescued by certainty,
The dawn is coming.

10/12

Another day of work with no break. My brain is utterly spent after two hours of training on timers today, and some genuinely tough issues to resolve on the phones. I feel deeply exhausted. My mind is leaking out of my ears and making a mess on the floor. The good news is that despite being clubbed to death by fatigue, I have continued to elevate my wellness. I have resisted temptation and eaten just my sandwich for lunch this week. I started exercising in the mornings, and that seems to bring a surge of energy along with it. My abs and arms might be sore, but that’s the good kind of pain; the kind where I know I’m doing a positive thing for myself.

I have a confession to make, however: I was looking at my wordpress stats page and the most frequent commenter other than myself was Jax. I clicked on her name and an instant later I was on her blog. I shouldn’t have done that, because I know there’s no point in reading anything she has to say. I actually just skimmed, and only the first couple of things. I didn’t dig in or go sniffing around. I caught myself and aborted. I didn’t learn anything, as I should have expected. I wonder if she does the same thing I just did. Who knows. It makes no difference if she reads here or doesn’t. Our lives are apart, now and forever. The days of her needing to make angry comments on my blog are over. And I kept them, because this place is about acceptance, even if the words are negative or hard to comprehend. I’m vowing to not ever go back and rudely intrude on her life. It’s none of my business.

Work has been intense. Lots of new things coming at me all the time. I find it makes the time go, but simultaneously renders me into a dry autumn leaf. I am gaining valuable skills here, and I will be soon embarking on a new adventure: teaching. There will be several classes over the course of a few weeks, and I have already started building my curriculum. I intend to teach the theory behind billing first, then break down the actual processes involved in being able to resolve issues on the phone. I am honored that they are considering me to handle this responsibility. It’s a sign that I’m a member of the team, and a valuable one at that.

I’m going to go to my parent’s RV on Friday and celebrate 12/12. It will be fun to write that post as well. I’m looking forward to these 12 consecutive days of work concluding. I’m running out of go-juice. I’m literally opening my door, scarfing some food, pills, clothes off, bed. I’m waking up every morning at 6:30 am so that I have that first half hour or however long it takes me to get tired of exercising. I’m in poor shape. What I don’t want to do is burn myself out by doing too much, then becoming discouraged and dropping it altogether. I am going to slowly dial up the intensity as my body gets used to being worked out. I want this to last, not crash and burn.

I hope you have a good night. I keep telling myself: you can do two more days. You’re almost there! Don’t give up! I was so close to leaving today too. But I stuck with it and finished my shift. Boom. Ten down, two to go.

9/12

So I’m nearing the mid way point of the week, but in reality, it’s more like the final stretch before the finish. I’ve worked 9 consecutive days now that today is in the books, with 3 more to go. I don’t recall ever working more than 8 days in a row in the various jobs I’ve held, so this run is historic as well. I’m glad to be making these sorts of posts, because it just goes to show how I am busting my ass and handling my responsibilities. I’m a proud boy right now.

Today was a tad slow, but I got stuck on a tough Mbox call late in the day and didn’t get out until 5 after, and the new rainfall (see wet roads) led to a subpar trip time home. I opened my door at 6:42 which is a solid 12 minutes deviation from baseline. I quickly scarfed dinner and have fully retired into bed-mode. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than sleep.

But this presents a problem: has my life become one dimensional because of how hard I’m working? I think it has to some degree. I’m holding my face to the grindstone, and have recently been accepting every weekend hour that has drifted my way. Oscar offered me this coming Saturday when I walked into work today. I bit my tongue and declined. I really do need a day off. Kaiser came up to me today and asked me how I was doing. He knows I’m working 12 straight and he’s likely gone for longer. He said that he works constantly until he starts to go a little crazy, then tells Dave that he needs a week off. He doesn’t want to see me get burned-out so I thanked him for his concern. It’s nice to be looked out for. And people see what I’m doing. I like that.

And this is the guy who not more than four months ago was living under an RV awning crying himself to sleep with sadness and a general feeling of having beef defeated by life. As chance would have it, an interview came my way, and I picked myself up out of the puddle and made the most of it. And when I was presented with the opportunity to prove my value, I took it and ran. I’m mentally ill, and have a debilitating handicap which requires that I fight THAT MUCH HARDER to reach normal. To go above normal and into excellence is truly amazing. My next two week paycheck will be well over $1000 and that’s just one reward of many. I have pride now. For the first time in a long while I look at myself in the mirror and say “yeah buddy.”

I’m doing good, despite living at my desk and using my apartment as a pit stop on the way back to work. My mental state has been stable and positive for many days in a row. I’m taking care of myself and my home. Things are going really well for me right now.

I’m fading fast. Have a good night blog. I’ll be glad when Saturday gets here.

Retaining

I have been given a lot of new material to learn in recent weeks, and I think I’m doing a good job retaining it. I was just troubleshooting an Mbox with a customer last night and managed to handle the process from start to finish without assistance. That’s RMAing a new unit and ordering another one as well. I’m still learning my way through the process but it’s coming along nicely. I’ve managed to process several orders and haven’t had one kicked back at me yet, even though I know there were some mistakes on them. Probably corrected by more experienced agents and processed regardless.

So I’ve had 1 order with 1 error on it for the last two weeks of order entry. My name was on the spreadsheet at first, then stricken from record the second time around. That’s the way it aught to be. I don’t want to be known for making mistakes or not including all the necessary information on my orders. I haven’t had one kickback from order review in more than a month. Nice, right? That’s because I’m not screwing around most of the time or doing as little as possible in the effort department.

I went over and grabbed some Christmas music from my parents. That was fun. I watched as my family league fantasy football team seal the victory and push me on to the championship. It’s me vs the 12-1 team. But that 1 loss he has came at my hands, when I beat him week 3. So it is still possible that I’m due for a repeat, but not all that likely. His team is a juggernaut. But he lost the central component in DeMarco Murray to hand surgery, and he will likely miss week 16 possibly week 17. That would give me a fighting chance. I need my receivers to all have breakout performances because his running backs are still elite and could dismantle me. So my hopes are not high, but I will still give it my best shot.

I cleaned my house before I left. My parents are coming over to make The Queen’s Oats, which are downright amazing. In the holiday cooking category, they are certainly my favorite baked good my family produces. They are fantastic, and irresistibly delicious.

I’m tired, and I think that my sadness is getting more attention because my defenses and attitude are vulnerable. I’m not mired in it or anything, but I realize it’s there and don’t want to fall in to it and be stuck. I take the time to express my feelings here on the blog, because I figure it’s a good way to let that sadness have the spotlight temporarily and allow it to be understood and subsequently processed. It’s a better solution than ignoring it or stuffing it back down where it came from.

I have no secrets from you. When I feel confused or sad, you will hear about it. I could make this blog artificial by showing you only what I want you to see, but that defeats the purpose of introspection. How is it helping me to show you only the positive stuff? It’s not. I’m deluding you and myself if I think I can put on rose-colored glasses and see the world though them (and somehow convince you to do so as well). It’s folly, and leads only to an explosion of unrecognized feelings later on down the road. That’s the exact event I am endeavoring to avoid.

So it’s really a mixed bag with me. You never know what thing has popped into my brain and requires attention. It could be anything, and sometimes it’s nothing at all. But it’s all me and all accurate as I can manage. Hope you enjoy the ride!

**UPDATE 12:30 pm **

It’s been a slow day. I’m out here listening to Christmas music on my phone and watching the raindrops hit my windshield. The radar says there is a big thunderstorm off our coast headed inland, but likely to make landfall near Oceanside or some other part of north county. There is another cell that could congeal into a thunderstorm that would drift right over us, but it looks to be deteriorating instead of getting stronger.

I’m happy. This time of year is always so uplifting. To be with family and friends to enjoy a season of giving and sharing. I’m not buying presents for anyone as this is not part of my budget, but I will be spending time with people that I love. That is the reward in a nutshell. It was raining hard a second ago, but it has now stopped. I’m going to run back in the building before it starts up again. See ya.

The Portuguese On Large Saguenay (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

I decided to play a game tonight and I’m glad I did. It was a basic tutorial on effective countering. The AI made armies comprised of units that I had a response to. Every time. Allow me to elaborate…

The AI was the Chinese and for army composition they amassed chu-ko-nu archers and mortars and that firework rocket artillery thing. They had a mix of those units, and just dialed up the quantity. I had only to build units which put a stop to those three.

I was not the initiator, my troops were holding ground when they were engaged. The attacks started late age 2 and continued in regular six minute intervals. They brought some cavalry later (maybe 20:00 in), but not with any support; about six in a single grouping.

I had an ever increasing sum of units at the choke point, coming out of two barracks, a command post, and a siege building. Nothing ever got through them. I divided my infantry into two groups, melee and ranged, and had a ratio of 1:3 respectively. The ranged were musketeers and cassadors. The melee was halberdiers and crossbowmen (who, in truth, I was using as meat-shields for the ranged units). This worked surprisingly well on everything they ran into. I began adding culverins and upgraded grenadiers later on, and that was the frosting on the cake.

When I went on the offensive, I was surprised that The AI had villagers gathering wood on the forest nearest to the battle line. I can’t think of an easier way to lose a bunch of villagers. Why he should not have been gathering out there that late in the game is clearly something only a human would understand. You can’t teach the computer to gather on the fringes from the start and work your way in as the ages go by. By the 4th age, he should have been down to farms and plantations, or rice paddies in his case. Whatever.

That example is a microcosm of the mistakes the AI made. I flanked his villagers and 6 buildings in to demolishing his base, he surrendered. I’ve had a European AI go down to the last few unit producing buildings and four villagers before giving up. But I guess he knew what was coming. I had six or more culverins making short work of opposing artillery and standing infantry units (who, as it turns out, don’t like being hit by a cannonball).

The final score:
The Portuguese (Egregious) = 825
The Chinese (AI) = 209

My collected resources in 38:37 of game time:
Food = 26064 (beat AI by about 10000)
Wood = 24191 (beat AI by only 1000)
Coin = 21949 (beat AI by about 7000)

My military stats:
Unit count = 221 (68 cassadors)
Units killed = 236
Units lost = 90

That map eliminates any sort of northern approach because of the body of water between the bases. I set up at the trough of the lake and started mustering units there. I grabbed the southern second trading post between the bases and he never challenged me down there. I had 7 halberdiers garrisoned; he would have crushed them. But like I said.

So a good game because I managed to hold the score 90% of the game. He had me momentarily between age 1 and 2. But once I had it I never let go until 825. So the Portuguese are just phenomenal at range. They have a full set of special armory improvements and three easily available ranged units, which includes a mercenary. They combined to kill most any unit with four or five of them in individual targets. Their DPS was fantastic. I wish the game kept track of that kinda shit.

I’ll try this faction again and hopefully draw a European civ.

The Slow Blade

I remember things. It’s hard to chase all these memories from my head. They come back at me, deep in the water of regret and overshadowed by a poisoned context. The narrative is utterly lost, and these disjointed fragments are all that is left of my love for her.

In the storm of thoughts, her face is like lightning, and my yearning the thunder. I often wonder about where she is, or what her world is like now that it is distinct from mine. Has she moved beyond that ache? Does she regret? There is only brief contact, when I am in possession of something she needs. I provide, and she vanishes back into the darkness.

Then there are those fantastic moments where we were so close, so deep. Where I could feel every part of her, and breathing in nothing but the rush of that passion. I wonder sometimes if it will ever be like that again. But it’s clearly not a priority to restore the fire to my life. That heat is both amazing and dangerous. The flame consumes all in its path.

I yearn in old memories. Days that have faded from relevance and reason. The time when they filled me is quiet, dormant. The fire has been replaced by the steady heat of embers. I’ve found I don’t need to burn to survive, but nothing can replace the intoxication of those days. A past that was just as much fun as it was recklessly destructive. It pains me to see the compromises I made, the mistakes and misguided actions. I did so many stupid things.

I’m clearly not fully healed. I often go back on my memories and look. I find a lot of pain, and passion, and insanity. I see my mind being twisted and pulled in vastly different directions. My own prerogatives lost, smothered, stuffed and forgotten. It has been a truly trying road I’ve traveled. But I have gained knowledge just as I have lost love. I am of two distinct minds, one of regret and one of advancement, and compromise is not inevitable but needed.

8/12

Here we are on a cold Monday morning that really does feel like a Monday. I’m not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever.

I’m going over to my parent’s RV this evening to steal some more Christmas music. We dug a bunch of it out of storage when we took the unit apart a couple weekends ago. Speaking of the storage unit, Moo set the tumblers, so by next Sunday we should know what shape the stones will take. Then comes the fun part: polishing. Some of the fine agates I have seen in there are going to look just spectacular when the task is done. And colorful chalcedony and jasper. Damn. I can’t wait until Sunday. I really want to have a look at them after this step. This will be their (roughly) final size. And we’ll know which ones are going to be ideal for jewelry.

I’m winning in the first round of the fantasy playoffs in the family league, and can really only lose it if Drew Brees is hurt and can’t play and subsequently Mark Ingram is worth over 30. It could still happen, but not all that likely. At work, week 15 is the final week of the regular season, and I have a 101 point lead over Tony, but he still has 3 players going. So that one is far from over. Fingers crossed. I’m the 1 seed anyway, but I’d like to end the year riding a 12 game winning streak.

I was feeling forlorn last night. I was missing human contact, more importantly, family contact. I was rushed to get my chores done yesterday after work: I had to fill up the truck with gas again, go do a medium sized grocery shopping trip and then run two loads of laundry. I was up past 6:30 waiting for the second load to dry (which had my sheets in it, so that had to get done). I watched the Sunday night game, which was interesting. But I was disconnected. I tried playing a game, but found I just had no patience for it. That should be different tonight, as I will not have any major things hanging over my head waiting to be accomplished.

I’ll be logging updates on this post through the day to keep track of my mood. Thanks for reading.

**UPDATE 11:00 am**

So the order entry error report came out today. If you recall, last week I had 1 error on 1 order, and I was not happy to be on the list. Today, my name was nowhere to be found on the error report, meaning that zero errors were present on the countless orders I put in the system over the last week. Some repeat offenders were on the report, again, with maybe 7 orders and a total of 10 errors or more. Ryan had 4 orders that had errors, but every one of them had three or more things wrong with it. So it keeps track of the order that goes into Oracle, plus about 7 distinct areas where one could make a mistake putting that order in. So I’m pretty stoked. I had 1 total error last week, and zero this week. I do my job very well, it can be said. And I do it (nearly) mistake free. This is a huge confidence boost for me right now. All that hard work I put in every day is absolutely paying off. This report proves I know what I’m doing, and I do it right. Yes!!

**UPDATE 12:30 pm**

I’m wishing it was the end of the day and I could be free. I want to get in a game of Age Of Empires III tonight. I’ve had fun mauling the AI with the Aztecs and just recently with the Japanese. I did rather well building up a mountain of coin and buying dozens of high-powered mercenaries. Arsonists bring down buildings in a hurry.

I’ve been busy so far today, but not overly so. It’s given me some time to sit and think. I know I’m doing ok. I check in with myself often, and I’m not plagued by negative thoughts or sadness. I’m tired right down to the core of my brain. Which is a tough obstacle sometimes, especially when I’m trying to keep my name off the error report. Still pretty stoked about that. I guess I just need to give myself a break, perhaps more often than I have. I’m still mentally ill, and subjecting myself to stress is a great way to relapse.

My blog rolled over the 10,000 views threshold sometime this weekend. I’m not entirely sure what that implies. I guess I’m not a terrible writer, or unpopular. It took me 2 years, but there you have it.

**UPDATE 3:00 pm **

So I saw on the Doppler that there is an isolated thunderstorm off our coast heading east, with the onset of another storm close behind. They are thinking that we will get more than a half inch. I have my doubts. But the rain is welcome in this drought stricken land. Our reservoirs are pathetically low. The desert encroaches.

I’m on my last break. I just reviewed my time card for this last two weeks I logged 80 full time hours plus 16 overtime hours, 8 of which were double time. 96 hours in two weeks. Yikes. I don’t think I’ll be going at that speed for the duration. But in short controlled burst I can manage.

It’s going to be a cold and rainy night. I wish I had a roof over my head so I could hear it falling. It’s a truly amazing noise. Have a great rest of your day blog. I’m going to have a kick-back second half and go see my parents. Huzzah!

Oh and they upgraded our precipitation estimated to .74 tomorrow. Hell yes.

Buckets Of Stuff

I’m past the half way point in my long block. 12 straight days. 54 hours on the clock this week and 104 total. I know some people work way more than I do, but I seriously don’t know how you guys do it. I’m feeling pretty tired after 9 hours today. Good news being I think I have that stomach bug beat. Hooray.

I’m a little sad, but I think it’s because I’m feeling really strung out. I’m not dwelling on anything in particular or even thinking about negative things. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Fantasy football is far from decided. I’m in the lead, but that could all change in an instant. We will know more after Monday night’s game. I’m doing my laundry and its past sundown. I really worked too much. I don’t have the time to do my regular weekend chores when most of my time I spent in the office. I guess when that paycheck comes in, I’ll understand why I busted my ass.

I’m going to have to stay up for a while because my sheets are in the second load currently sitting in the washer.

My cousin invited me to a Palringo chat group where people just share poetry. I didn’t know my cousin wrote poems, but he does. The contributors on the chat all have such vastly different styles: some prefer cadence or rhyme, some take a more literal/descriptive approach. I find my own poetry is largely imagery with ties to emotions or feelings. I posted Cry For You in there. I figure that would be a fair look at how I write. But my poetry is always changing, as my emotions and thoughts do. It’s not something I typically brag about, but this group seems geared for listening so I figured “why not?”

I’ve been writing this post as I was doing my laundry and watching football. But I’m not going to stay up much longer. I was active at 5 am, and in a hurry to get to work by six. I got there with five minutes to spare, and I had to deactivate the alarm again and turn the lights on at the fuse box. I was thinking that I was running late. Turns out I was the first poor sap there. And it was a longer than normal day because we all choked down an hour lunch. I was plum bored by the midway point. But I did field a ton of issues. I took 30 calls, and that’s insane for a Sunday. Really? 30? That is like a regular weekday sum. Not appropriate for what I thought was supposed to be a kick-back shift. But whatever. It was all double time.

Tomorrow I start day 8, concluding with day 12 on Friday. Just five more kid, and you get a full two off in a row even. Jesus won’t that be nice.

Nattering Notations On Nothing

Tomorrow I need to be up at 5 because my shift starts at 6. It’s pretty much just me and Oscar, because (apparently) Theo doesn’t do shit. I will be half way through my shift before the morning games come on. Then I will watch the bulk of my fantasy football fate be decided. Will I win a third consecutive week in the family league and advance to the championship? That’s at least a 2nd place finish, because it would take a miracle to get past the 1 seed. Even if I do advance, I’m doomed in two weeks., I reckon. But however it shakes out, I’ve had a great year. 20-8 combined both teams. And 7 of the 8 were one team. And I won first place in the division WITH A LOSING RECORD! I’m like the 2014 Atlanta Falcons in first place with a 5-8 record (my mark was one better, I finished 6-7) Just crazy this NFL season.

I’ve been thinking about my situation and I can’t help but be grateful. I have a stable job that I enjoy, plenty of opportunity for advancement, and a well balanced neurochemestry. I’m doing a good job keeping myself afloat. I was over at the RV hanging with my parents after we changed the grit in the tumblers. The stones are really shaping up nicely. Some of the colors of those agates and jaspers were quite breathtaking. The jasper has quartz inclusions and they look very striking. And of the yellow and green variety. Truly remarkable specimens. Anyway, my mom accidentally got the tumbler wet and it wouldn’t start at the storage unit so we took it to the RV to do surgery on. Turns out the tumbler is fine. So I left special instructions with my mom on how to set them back up and get them going tomorrow. Then we will have to check back in a week and see how they did finishing the shaping process under the 120/220 grit. Then all that’s really left to do is polish them for two weeks. They come out glassy, and flamboyant with colors, unique with inclusions. They represent combinations of minerals, and are a truly diverse set of original samples. No one can reproduce them; they are as random as chaos itself. And these ones had already been rounded to cabochons before we ever had a chance to polish them. What nature started, we finished, by peeling back the outmost layer of the stones and shining up a brand new surface revealed for the first time, and preserved in all its luster and clarity. So this most recent batch looked just awesome. A great collection of fire agate, moonstone, pink chalcedony, agate, brown, yellow and green jasper. I could go on. The jadeite she found is clear and green. Some of the moss agates in there are amazing, and not just white but orange and pink ones too. So I called over there just now and verified my instructions and confirmed that they will be fired up tomorrow. So then one week Sunday I’ll be checking in on them again and admiring their newest transformation.

You can tell I really like rocks, right? And not just rocks, but the minerals that comprise them.

Nerd.

Anyway. I had some more soup. I hope I beat this bug soon. I’d like my diet to be something a tad more interesting. Other than that, I’m in great spirits. I’m looking forward to double time tomorrow, making for one nice fat paycheck in a couple of weeks. I’m thinking that one will set a new high water mark. With a whole bunch of overtime this pay period, I’m thinking yeah. Oscar offered me his shift today, which is why I was in there for five hours. It’s all fine by me. Besides, I have nothing to lose. My weekends are usually spent waiting until kickoff during the winter. And playing Age Of Empires III.

Speaking of: I just had a sensational game as the Ottomans. On Large Carolina: I started off with the early lead, but maybe only because I used 200 of my starting 400 wood on houses. The rest on a market. I figured: I’m making villagers whether I want to or not, so I might as well have a hefty supply of them on hand come age 2 and the next chance to raise the population ceiling. Soon after age 2 I had a second town center closer to the gold supply on the map. I actually kept the population pretty low. For whatever reason, I was moving along well enough to get through to age 4 before really making a push. I had a 260 population cap, and just cranked on abus guns and janissaries. They were surely the bulk of my army. Next I sprinkled in some spahi and native troops (Cherokee Rifleman and Seminole Sharktooth Bowmen) to put the icing on the cake. I took them in several waves, sending the infantry first which did quite a number on the villagers. In the post game I saw their population reduced by 85% as the first troops entered their base. They surrendered shortly after I had decimated the main base, having then located a second town center and started in with the artillery. I out resourced him, even though he collected about 2000 more wood than I did. I believe my final resource line was around 19000 food, 17000 coin and 13000 wood for a 38 minute game. I razed 49 buildings to his 3. I killed over 250 units and lost under 150. I was out villagered, but I guess that’s ok. I also lost a lot of fame because I failed to recruit a second envoy as I built that extra town center. Eventually I figured it out, but I could have had so much more. the post game summary doesn’t keep track of fame. Only export. If you have it. But I don’t know why you would want to keep track of it. I collects at the same rate no matter what faction you play and only ever changes if you build another town center and task an envoy to it. Then it’s just x2 instead of X1 trickle. It’s fun though, and brings more units into play. I like it. Anyway, that was a one-sided affair from early on. I took 2 of 4 trading posts right from the get go and had him under duress on the 3rd. I destroyed it more than once while just massing troops in the area. From there I just sent clusters to the south and northeast to guard agains edge rushers and to protect the native settlement trading posts. But ultimately there was no need for this. Their small army snuck between my troops and managed to destroy 3 houses before 5 jaeger mercenaries took out the halberdiers and culverins that were causing the problem, and I didn’t lose one of them, even though they were hit repeatedly with cannon fire. I was never threatened again after that. The score must have been over 800 to under 300 by the time it was over.

Goodnight blog. Pleasant dreams.

Season Of…

I’m a little sad to not be in a relationship around this time of year. It’s a family togetherness thing, where every day feels like a long hug. I get lost thinking about Jax and how she ate that entire loaf of sour cream bread. I had this cute picture of her with her mouth attached to the corner of an uneaten loaf. It was gone shortly after that. Ha. Christmas is fun when you have someone you love.

But things change. I will be working more this holiday than enjoying time off. I think this is an acceptable distraction from my loneliness. I’m turning my solitude in to money. And lots of it.

I started playing the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I really hate skaters, but I adore this game. When I was in high school, I used to go get stoned with my friend Beanjo and play this game for hours. It was one of the more fond memories of my turbulent childhood. We’d laugh our asses off the whole time.

I guess I miss Jax in a lot of ways. Though with how much I work, I’d probably never see her. We’d have dinner at 6:30 every night, and I’d rant on and on about my day. I’d buy her tons of jewelry supplies with all the extra money I make. We’d go on rockhounding adventures this winter, and good ones because of all the rain we’ve had. But I would end up blathering about where the rocks came from in geologic time and lose her attention. And we’d get home and disagree about what music to listen to. Or fight about something that could have been avoided if only I would have listened to her feelings.

I reminisce, and I’m well aware that it does me no good. But I can’t help feeling lonely. I though I was going to be married to her for the rest of my life. We were together for a year and 5 months instead. That’s not what I thought was going to happen.

It’s pretty slow here at work. Blog, sometimes I really wish I had someone to hold. I guess I’m not thinking very realistically about things. I am aware of this. It doesn’t stop me from feeling a bit heartsick at this season of firelight and hospitality.

12 Consecutive Days

I picked up a shift this Saturday and was already on the schedule for Sunday. So since December 8th I will have worked every day until Saturday the 20th. And some of that will be overtime, which is why I’m willing to do this. I’m a single guy with very few friends and no social life, so working my ass off fits right into the plan. I’m making more money per paycheck than I have since I was just starting college and working as an editor for an environmental document production company. And I must say that I’m doing WAY better at this job than that one. At least, it’s clear I’m making more progress in my current occupation. My bank account has never looked better. And I pay all my bills and there is no question about my security. So the sacrifices I make are well worth it. Even if they tire me out a bit.

Working the weekends is usually pretty laid back. I dress casual, wear my hoodie and sneakers. On Saturday, after I get off work, the rocks we put in the tumblers will need to have their grit changed, which presents us with a chance to see the progress they’ve made through the first week. This is a really fun and exciting thing to do, and some of the agates and chalcedony my mom picked up are quite impressive. I look forward to seeing how they shaped after the 60/90 grit had a week to work on them. The rocks will lose size, but expose a new surface not pitted and rounded by weather. It will also remove matrix or other material stuck to the stones, or break them apart, which will happen to a few of them. But I’m really eager to see them. And so is my mom, who is meeting me down there after I get off work.

Tomorrow I will have to do my laundry, and there is no escaping the need to run two loads. I try to get it all in one but my sheets are going to push me over the edge. So probably four hours of laundry are in store for me. Huzzah. But at least my stuff will be clean and not smelling like armpit boy. I don’t think I smell, but I’m big and the bigger you are, the smellier you are.

Today we had a huge Christmas celebration. They raffled off a tv, two kindle fires and all kinds of good shit. I didn’t win anything. But I already have everything I want, so it’s not like I’m bummed out. I’m glad some of those guys got to win some shit. They even handed out all these fake little Christmas trees which I was in no way interested in owning. Come to think of it, I’m glad I didn’t win anything… where the fuck would I put my loot?

My meeting with Dr. Judge was good this morning. I told her how well I was doing and informed her that this may be our last meeting. Since I have healthcare now, I’m disqualified from using the free clinic. She gave me two refills and sent me on my way. I will also have to conclude therapy with Margaret soon, as I can’t keep going back there anymore. But things change. Time has a way of altering the landscape. But I still need therapy and meds so I will have to get after it in January when my plan kicks in. I will miss Margaret. Kinda sad. But a change that demonstrates how strong my life is, and how secure.

So I’m retiring early and getting ready around 7:30 to be at work by 9:00 am. I’ll finish my day at 2:30, since I’m only really picking up a partial shift from Oscar. I’m not even going to take a damn lunch. I’ll just hammer it out then scoot over to storage and play with the new rocks. Have a great night blog. And thanks for reading.

Agony Alone

Footsteps by moonlight,
Eyes wide, taking in the night,
The wetness of rounded stones,
A bitter tear drying on soft cheeks.
Crumbling hills of shale,
Tired and groaning in the wind,
Whispering secrets in dust,
Shifting in the wake of time.
Desperate leaves on trees, barren,
The soot of life on the floor of the Earth,
Bare limbs reaching for a fading sun,
Cold winter sealed with a kiss.
The way summer fades and is gone,
Seasons of rain and storm,
Buried beneath the peat and muck,
A memory fades into nothing,
Dissolving into the endless dream of death.
The fire rages on somewhere distant,
In the burning violence of lust,
Leaving cinders, destroying, moving on.
The hollow space filled with empty promises,
Carried off in the breath of forgetting.

Newness And Sickness

I’m doing lots of new things at work, and admittedly, doing them at an accuracy rate of around 85%. I just started in on this aspect of the business and my learning curve has been rapid, and necessarily so, because we need help handling those problems, especially on the evening shift when there are usually just 3 of us. I’m already fielding calls and handling issues when I really could have been training still. It took me 3 days to process all the new information I had been given, while other guys who are learning this material took 2 weeks to learn the it. I credit my instructors Wayne and Reggie for cramming as much information as they could into my eager brain. I’m handling minor issues and can troubleshoot the boxes easily now. I am pretty proud of this, as I am rapidly becoming the most versatile employee in the call center. I do drive thru, billing and trusonic now, and very soon I will be learning timers and I can stop handing those calls off to techs who know more about that equipment. Once I have a handle on that, I will have the ability to handle any kind of call we could possibly receive at the DTOC. I’m going to go through the training in the next week or so, and Mike told me that as soon as everyone goes through the timer training, I will then be pulling people aside to do billing. I’ve started developing an organized curriculum so that I’m not just winging-it, but rather, making the issues a billing rep will face less daunting with strategically organized knowledge. I know billing was brutal for me, just doing it after 4 hours of training that did not impart the necessary information in order to be successful at it. In fact, much of what we spent time learning I have never EVER had to use. I’m not sure what they were thinking, but there you have it. The progress I have made since that woeful start has been all on me, and due in large part to my need to learn the processes in order to survive. And there are SO MANY intricacies. It’s nuts.

I went over to my parent’s RV last night and got in a dinner and bragging session with them. Sadly, I do believe they have poisoned me by feeding me undercooked flank steak. I’ve had indigestion and loose stool all day, and I even ate a sandwich at lunch thinking that would be no problem. WRONG-O. My body is currently rejecting all solid food, and I will be fasting until I starve out this foul sickness that has taken over my digestion. Whatever it is, I make it worse by eating. So here we go with a few days of no food.

 

I go see Dr. Judge tomorrow, and I’m going to ask her for 3 months of refills, as this is my last psychiatric appointment at the clinic. I have health coverage now, and I don’t belong there anymore. That service is for people who don’t have any kind of healthcare and need help. I’m a high-functioning client who will need to get a new psychiatrist and keep feeding my brain the medications that I know are working, with the occasional tweak needed in order to keep me level and stable. I’m doing great in that department. I have no poor news in the mental health area to report. I’ve been high-energy, composed, strong and balanced. I’m solid yo.

 

These little check-ins I do help keep me sane. I find that I need to write in order to get the things that run around in my mind out of my head and into the internets. I don’t expect anything, because why would I need to? This place is a thought-faucet, as I have described it in the past. It’s not organized, or worth anything to anyone but me. I appreciate the 550+ followers who seem to gather something of worth from my insane nattering. I think that’s all bonus, frankly. I don’t do this for you, I do it so I don’t go crazy. I’m glad you are there, however. Have a good night doing whatever it is you do.

 

The Promise – When In Rome

If you need a friend
Don’t look to a stranger
You know in the end, I’ll always be there
But when you’re in doubt
And when you’re in danger
Take a look all around, and I’ll be there

I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I’ll make you fall for me
I promise, I promise you I will

When your day is through
And so is your temper
You know what to do
I’m gonna always be there
Sometimes if I shout
It’s not what’s intended
These words just come out
With no gripe to bear

I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I’ll make you fall for me
I promise you, I promise you

I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be
And if I had to walk the world, I’d make you fall for me
I promise you, I promise you I will

Ceaseless

The thunder of waves,
Gnashing cold black stones,
Churning a violent hiss,
The ceaseless tumult.

Desperation like lifeboats,
At the mercy of currents,
Lips cracked and dry–
Pining for foundation.
Rocking in the swell,
Inching closer to the fangs of the sea.

Heartsick and lost in the spray,
The journey at its end,
Met by violence–
Rendered to driftwood by circumstance,
Nothing left but surrender,
Lost, sinking, gone
Crushed under the pressure,
Without breath–
The pounding fury takes another down,
A cold, forgotten grave.

Living In Dreamland

I try to keep things realistic in my life. I’ve been down the road of pretending everything was rad when it actually was not, and that lie eventually dries up and creates a catastrophe. So I might be a tad more boring than most, and not base my prosperity on radically inaccurate conceptualizations of my situation… but I do feel like I have a good handle on my existence for the first time in many years, as a result of my diligence.

I do a great sum of internal thinking, asking myself tough questions, and not avoiding the real world implications. It took lots of small steps to earn the position I am in now, and I have not forgotten that fact now that I have arrived at stability. I don’t take it for granted like I used to, or feel dependent on anyone else for any reason. I’m standing alone, and very much in touch with reality.

I admit to sometimes vacationing in dreamland, but a sojourn only. I reminisce and yearn, but these feelings are a part of the full spectrum of life, and not to be relegated to obscurity or forgotten. They are important too, even if they are misguided and not useful. We humans have a multitude of responses to events in our lives, and if I generate a real feeling, I don’t pack it away for later or stuff it down into obscurity. I cope in real-time, and integrate reactions into the template of understanding. Negative or positive, they all get a fair shake.

The reason for this rant is to solidify my stance and independent strength as a person. I’m not deluding myself in this permutation of my life; I’m building a house of bricks rather than a house of cards. It takes WAY less time to make a house of cards, and it is more fun and not much work… but does it stand the test of time and weather? If reality shifts into some unforeseen direction, will my house still stand upright? Building it out of brick is much harder and takes way longer, but the reward is strength of stability and the capability to endure storms of circumstance. I’ve done the easy thing in the past, and seen my whole world collapse. I’ve vowed not to repeat this mistake.

So blog, this post is really just another affirmation of my course and heading. I need to do this sometimes, because my world is mine alone to comprehend and sometimes I need to just “talk things out” so that I don’t go crazy. I value the work I have done to achieve the place I am in now. I will continue to reenforce positive things in my world, and respect the negatives when they arise, acknowledge their presence, and move forward. I hope you can see what a transformation I have undergone in the last few months, and appreciate the wisdom in my experiences. For what it’s worth.

Let’s Review

Today was perhaps the single fastest day at work that I can recall in my several months of being there. The first four hours was gone before I even had time to come up for air. I learned a lot today about the three distinct web-based interfaces we use to keep track of Mbox related things. I will, undoubtedly, start fielding issues tomorrow, which I am not overly concerned about. I generally don’t like not knowing what I’m talking about. I prefer to be direct and concise, and not ramble on like an idiot. At least, that’s how I feel about it. Be prepared, don’t just wing it.

I go back to see Dr. Judge on Friday, and I will have only good things to report to her. My mood has been excellent of late. My energy level is nominal, my sleep is regular, my diet is primarily good and my mental health is at a record-breaking level of goodness. I can concentrate at work well enough to get by, but I really have to work to reel my monkey mind in sometimes. I’ll be doing an order and suddenly start typing what I was thinking about instead of what I was actually supposed to be doing. It bothers me a little. But I always catch myself, and sometimes I’ll even go back over an order that I just finished and doublecheck it to make sure I didn’t wander off and forget something. Oh, that error report came out on Monday and most everyone had a list of orders that had some issues. My name was on there, and out of the roughly 30 orders I put in, one had an error. And it was a simple fix, I just forgot to choose the proper shipping method. Duh. But that’s ok. I was hoping I would have no errors at all, but I’ll settle for one. Just to give you some idea, most everyone had from 3 to 9 orders that had mistakes, some orders had multiple errors, as the report lists all the different ways an order can be fucked up. I had one error on one sales order. Nearly everyone else was in it WAY deeper than I was. Steven had at least ten, and they all had multiple errors on every order. These guys have been here longer than I have. I figured they knew what they were doing. Assuming makes an ass of you and me. Nar har har.

So concentration has been my only real mental struggle. I don’t want to take meds for my ADD anymore because they fuck up my mood more than they help me focus. Riddilin caused me to get angry when it wore off. Aderall just never managed to cut the fog for more than an hour. I guess I will go largely untreated for this aspect of my disorder, but I can discipline myself to focus harder and not lose my train of thought. It is not easy, but possible.

My parents snuck into my apartment today and decorated it and brought me a Christmas tree. I saw this multicolored glow coming from within my living room as I walked up to my door and I was thinking: you bonehead. You left the kitchen light on all day? Pleasantly surprised to see tinsel everywhere and a three foot tree with ornaments and lights all over it. Hooray for Christmas! Have a good night blog.

Perky

I’m having a much better morning. I woke up on time and feel alert rather than tired. Yesterday was hard because I never got “on track.” But today I’m doing fine. I was awake fully this morning and feel ready to tackle my day.

I’m lingering at my house for longer in the mornings because I don’t like getting to work absurdly early and having nothing to do. So I luxuriate at my apartment and go when the traffic is good.

I will be updating this post through the day. I’m off to a much better start though.

**UPDATE 1:30 pm**

Training day two concluded. I have a fairly good handle on the new material. The overall attitude of my coworkers leaves much to be desired. Wayne is solid, and a good person to learn from because he does it right. Some of these guys are trying their hardest to do as little actual work as possible. They don’t create notes in Oracle for others to see, and find ways to pass off the responsibility of solving the problem to someone else. I can only speak for myself. I have no intention of half-assing it so that my job is easier. Boo to that. I’d rather go home and know that I did it right.

Hope you all have a good afternoon. My day is moving right along. I might squeeze in a check up in the evening when things slow down.

**UPDATE 3:00 pm**

Hey blog. I’m at my desk hoping something happens soon. I am having a good day, not a particularly eventful one, but positive. I’m looking forward to getting into the queue for Mbox and helping figure out those problems. But that might have to wait until I get done with training, probably tomorrow. Which works out nicely, because I have my regularly scheduled break from billing that day, and will be able to concentrate on those trusonic calls.

I struggle with loneliness sometimes. I get caught in a snare thinking about being in love, and how magical it is. There’s such s rush that you get from it; that feeling of being enamored in someone else and fascinated by them. I’ve never had that feeling last very long. In the end it gave way to angst, frustration and feeling misunderstood. I’m a complicated guy, so I get that I might be confusing. But the realization of how irreconcilably different we were hasn’t been lost amidst all this loneliness. I suffered, and deluded myself that I actually was doing fine. I told everyone I was ok, and that was not true. But I’ve learned.

I may be on my own, and get sad, but that’s totally natural for me. I can’t expect to live a 100% happy life. There is no such thing. We endure pain because it is contrast; a necessary parameter to understanding things like hope and love.

Have a contemplative afternoon.

F****** Tired

It never fails. On the evening commute when I most want to get home quickly, I get stuck in a snarl of traffic. The commute took a solid 14 minutes longer than normal, with snail-crawl action on the 15 headed out of mission valley. Sigh. But I don’t get frustrated by traffic or angry about it at all. I just would rather have been home.

Work was nice today. I spent the whole morning until 2:00 pm with Wayne learning Mbox, our two online ticketing systems Kana and ServiceChannel, as well as VAR Admin. These are all totally new concepts for me, and I may only get one more day of training before I have to start taking calls. In other related news, Mike (my boss) came up to me today to ask me officially if I could start training people in billing. I will be taking agents aside and going through the basics of what kinds of issues I run into with the company’s billing. I don’t think I’ll have more that three hours of material to go through. Maybe less. There’s no need to conference anyone in on my calls, the bulk of the issues they will face are repeatable actions within Oracle like printing an invoice or taking a payment. Issues such as those I will be able to show them right on my computer screen. And another supervisor from Austin, Laurel, made a flow chart that details what actions we need to take when certain issues arise. The chart has saved me multiple times when I otherwise would have fucked up my translation of customer request into action. I’m looking forward to starting my role as teacher, and hope I manage to do a good job.

So I’m curled up beneath my comforter. I open my windows at night and turn the fan on at the foot of my bed. I like my room to be cold, so when I go under the blankets I don’t overheat. I stay in a controlled bubble of temperate conditions. I had a brain-tiring day and I’m ready for sleep. Goodnight blog.

Dragging

I’m doing everything in my power to stay frosty, but I’m having a rough go of it. My energy level has been low today. I was training for nearly half the day and then back in the queue right as things were beginning to slow down. So it’s not going to be an eventful night at work. I’m yawning and can only think about when I next get to go to bed (hopefully soon). There is a football game to watch but I seriously doubt if I will be able to make it through the whole thing.

I fired up my playstation 2 after finding it in storage. I seem to have lost all my memory cards though, so I had to go order a new one. I had complete save games for Final Fantasy X, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and both Katamari Damacy games. I had some epic records on those games, and now I will have to go back and set them all again. Not to worry though. I will probably have fun doing it.

So an early bedtime for me. And hopefully one not followed by more sad dreams. I hate waking up feeling depressed for no good reason. I have been having fun playing Age Of Empires III, but I don’t think I will tonight, I’m just so fucking tired. Can’t explain it. My muscles hurt because of the the torment I put them through on Saturday. I sit for an hour then stand up and groan. Sigh.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

It’s another Monday and I’m here before work writing another check-in post. I had really sad dreams last night, even though I can’t clearly remember what they were about. I know that someone I loved was gone, and I was trying to find a way to get them back but it was not possible. I woke up feeling off, and I haven’t felt right all morning. I actually feel vaguely stomach sick but I got myself to work anyway. I contemplated calling in, but nah. I don’t have a good reason to stay.

My weekend was both exhausting and rewarding. We totally unpacked the storage unit on Saturday and took two truckloads of stuff to goodwill and another truckload to the dump. We also set the rock tumblers going on the bounty of agates and chalcedony Moo found while visiting the north coast of California. So I will now have a regular obligation to go down there on Saturday and change the grit over the next 3 weekends. But in that time, those rocks will be renovated and beautiful. They are some of the best agates I’ve ever seen, and jasper of varying colors. Truly great loads. And soon we will see their buried secrets underneath all that pitting and weathering.

In fantasy football news, the playoffs started for me in the family league. Each round of the playoffs is two weeks long, so one must win two weeks in a row to advance to the final. I haven’t been able to put two wins together all year. But last week I beat my cousin Jessica to make it to the postseason, and this week, I built a 58 point lead and my opponent still has one player going (Julio Jones). This will likely reduce my lead to 20 or so. He’s a dynamite WR and I fear him. He’s probably not going to cover the margin, but he will cover most of it. In the work league I’ve rattled of 11 in a row now and just overcame a huge 100 point deficit on Thursday night to win by 33. I had AJ Green on both teams, who exploded for 11catches, 224 yards and a touchdown. In my work league he was worth 42 points.

All told I’m doing fine. I feel a bit off today, but I’ll probably get over it. My muscles are sore from all the insane work I did on Saturday. I was going to exercise but I’m in pain and will wait until I am not in pain to do my thing. I got a workout mat out of storage and a medicine ball too. I’m in good shape to get in better shape. Lol.

Have a good day, and happy Monday.

**UPDATE 1:30 pm**

I’m on lunch. I’ve been training on Mbox and the ticketing system we use to keep track of tasks all morning. The time has really zoomed by. I’m pretty tired still, and somehow chemically not right. I’m straining to keep with it, but I am and will. I’m hoping that I survive the night in fantasy football. I’d rather have a lead going into week 2 than not. Duh. But hanging in there.

My Alternate Factions (Age Of Empires III -Game Notes)

The Americans: They are hard to use for games that go over 30 minutes. They don’t have plantations, so once the map coin is gone, you need both factories and the trading posts on coin or your economy will dry up. I’ve won by doing it this way, so it is possible. Plus The Americans get troops by fame (from the command post) and by export (through the consulate). So the need to lean on coin to make most decent units is limited. I typically pair The Americans with The French at the consulate, giving me access to skirmishers and cuirassiers, which help to balance the theme of ranged infantry and melee cavalry to provide the upfront distraction. I use a mix of maybe 20% cavalry, 30% melee and ranged mercenaries, and 50% ranged infantry. The DPS is key to winning, and firing off at villagers that wander by is a great way to shut down your enemy while they are reeling from the attack. Games with The Americans are closer than they should be, but still fun.

The Ottomans: So not having to ever build s villager is nice. But you end up with more of them than you need. I had 25 on wood, and that’s too many. I didn’t need all the wood I ended up with. But they have janissaries and abus guns which are easily two of my favorite infantry units of all time. Plus they have spahis which can tank the front lines and do gobs of damage while the ranged infantry and light artillery do the heavy lifting. This combo is more effective than trying to do the same thing with The Americans because The Ottomans have better DPS units. I also get grenadiers which add a little spice to the front. Cavalry archers do the cleanup for the spahis. This combo is not as fast as The Americans, but is generally harder to stop because of how much damage abus guns do to buildings also.

The Japanese: This faction is so very different from the others. You don’t hunt food, you build shrines and animals are attracted to them. The more animals at the shrine the better resource gather rate they have. Shrines also raise the polar ion cap by 10, so they gather a resource of your choosing AND are a house. The Japanese level by building mini-wonders which are just big buildings with a unique benefit for whichever one you chose to build. They also can level and still produce villagers which is fucking awesome. Samurai are very good in substantial numbers. They work well when given some ranged infantry in the form of ashigaru musketeers and a few yumi archers. There are multiple home city cards which make the musketeers better, and I typically pair them with America at the consulate, because I can ship rifleman and gatling guns. They have rice paddies, which can produce either food or coin, and I’ll typically get four for free from shipments, and just have to assign the villagers to go work them. Those shipments also increase gather rates at the rice paddies, and having 50 or so villagers tasked to them is an easy way to have a rocking economy.

The Portuguese: I like the cassador as an effective DPS ranged unit. I also like how many upgrades they have to ranged damage and to halberdiers. An army of 40% melee 60% ranged is hard to stop. They get a town center at every age, so the fame income is always high. But the lowest cost command post unit bunch is all crossbowmen, which I don’t like. Then the second one is culverins and more crossbowmen. So that’s unfortunate, because they only effectively counter infantry. Musketeers and cassadors comprise my ranged attack, with pikemen and halberdiers dicing people up at melee range. Another all infantry approach, and just as deadly as my other strategies. They have one shipment which improves villager build time, but the multiple town centers helps to increase production rates for your economy. The more villagers the better, since European civs are kinda locked in to slowly making them. I find I’ve been spoiled by this faction; having multiple town centers is awesome. So is not having to pay 600 wood for them.

The French: The cuirassier is an amazing cavalry unit, and when paired with hussars and others, create an unbeatable front of heavy troops. Coureur des bois are quite awesome as well, as they harvest resources faster, and survive longer when pestered. Though at 120 food, is is unwise to risk them far from your town center. They are too valuable to lose them like villagers might be in excursions far from center. But with such formidable cavalry, this faction is slow to get going, and nearly impossible to stop once peaking. Their shipments tend to lean on cavalry improvements and economic benefits, though there are also lots of improvements to native warriors (which is a gamble, because one never really knows if they will get decent ones, per map). But if you can crank food and gold, these guys are tough to beat. Cavalry units just have SO MANY hit points.

The Aztecs On Large Siberia (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

I concluded a game this morning where I faced The British. It’s nice that Aztecs start with a warrior priest on this map, because I can task him to the fire pit and have an instant 20% increased villager production rate. In the first age, I had 10 villagers on food, 5 on wood. When I got to age 2, I had enough resources on hand to build a market and two more houses. The population cap increase is vital, because I make the fire pit produce more warrior priests and they will stop if the population hits the max.

I typically expand villager population from the 15 I started with to around 30, doing resource gathering. I use all the map resources I can before switching to farms and plantations, as the gather rate on these is much slower. I send 10 villager clusters out to the fringes of my control and mine all the silver/gold I can. Usually two groups of 10 doing that and two groups of 10 hunting. I kill every wild animal within striking distance, and towards the end of age 2 I get a standing army on the field, comprised of (typically) macehualtins and puma spearmen with just a few coyote runners. The enemy brings a mix of melee infantry, cavalry and ranged infantry. I don’t have a good counter for melee infantry at this stage. Coyote runners are somewhat effective, but only in large numbers. They die quickly and can’t DPS for long enough to take down many units.

In the game I played this morning, they came at me from the north side of my base, dodging my standing army and they got into my wood gatherers and killed 4 or 5 of them before I could ring the bell and get anyone over there. I used the fire pit to call out free archers (who lose hit points every second until they get down to 1) and managed to destroy their army, after losing a couple houses. I did not hesitate to rebuild, and raised my cap by 50 or more and started mustering more troops, stationed on the northern and western fronts. I aged after my villager population was over 50, and built two noble’s huts on the fronts. I had the fire pit produce skull knights, and got 25 gatherers dancing around the fire pit (10 of which were warrior priests). They were making a new skull night every 10 seconds. And increasing attack damage by an alarming 43%. I had my cap raised to 260 after I built a second town center to produce additional wood gatherers. After my population capped out, and I had thwarted several attacks, I moved in with two battalions comprised of jaguar prowl knights, puma spearmen and others in smaller quantities. I ran into their fort, switched the fire pit to increase attack damage, and let them loose. They demolished the fort rapidly, and then we’re on attack-move into the enemy base.

They go for units first on attack-move and kill all villagers they can find. When there are no more standing units, they switch and start destroying buildings. At the point in which I had two full battalions in their base, surrender was inevitable. My units were doing an insane amount of damage to everything and I quickly razed all troop production buildings to prevent any possibility of countering my attack. In the end, The British offered surrender with 50% of their base destroyed.

I had more puma spearmen than anything else (57), but I imagine jaguar prowl knights were a close second. There was no need to hit the big buttons, as two battalions was more than enough to get the win. I could have produced nearly 250 standing units but this would have been overkill. It’s is fun to push all those buttons though, and see the units come pouring out of the town center.

Aztecs are hard to stop. If you let them get too far along, they have an amazing amount of power. I have my best economies with the Aztecs. By far. And biggest armies. There are plenty of chances to derail my dominance in the early stages, but the AI never brings enough things. My home city deck is mostly troop shipments. Specifically, the shipments that cost gold, deliver troops AND provide a universal benefit to all units of that type. I have troop shipments in the 2nd age and a ton in 3rd and 4th. Age four has the jaguar prowl knight and the skull knight shipments which cost a lot of coin but are totally worth it. They complete the circle of domination that encompasses the Aztec empire.

Affirmations

I had another good therapy session with Margaret. I expressed that while I was temporarily engaged in a solo rebuilding project, I know that eventually I will want companionship. This is a fairly radical shift in my stance. I was also clear about my awareness of the dangers involved in this want. I’ve been blinded by passion and lust before, and all the while, the relationship was rotting away underneath my feet. I have been willing to compromise my core beliefs before because I thought: she’ll change, and everything will work out. I’ve been guilty of far more absurd lines of thinking in relationships. But not anymore. I’ve learned a few things from my failures, and I know better than to stuff my dismay and proceed anyway. I would need to meet a truly rare individual, someone who conforms to a substantive list of requirements. I kinda have to be this picky; I’ve floundered miserably with past decisions, and I have no desire to repeat the same mistakes.

I’m not planning on dating anyone for a good long while. I need to harvest consistency and flourish in stability. I would be likely to jeopardize everything if I became enmeshed now. It’s a trial I know I will go through again, but I have no rush. I need plenty of time to think this out before acting.

Work was busy today as several people were training others on Mbox troubleshooting. So there were fewer of us around to take incoming calls. It was supposed to be my break from the billing queue, but I ended up taking 29 calls anyway because we were short handed. They announced that there will be a new report that comes out in which people who don’t put their orders in correctly will be identified and asked to correct their transgressions. I haven’t had a kickback from order review in ages. I know my name will not be on that list when it comes out. Billing on the other hand… monkey fuck-fest. I got the word from Mike that I will be the lead on training people to do billing, which I am excited and nervous about. There are really only a few things that one needs to know how to do consistently, like reprinting invoices or taking payments. That’s all pretty self explanatory. It’s the ones that have murky issues that get me. Or the ones that clearly need to speak to their account manager (who will not answer their phone). Those ones bug me because they hardly ever end in a resolution that I hear about. It vanishes into cyberspace and I never know what actually happened. That is frustrating for a fixer like me. I can’t fix that, I just have to hand the ball off and hope for the best.

My parents are coming over tomorrow night to watch football and make dinner. That should be fun. They will get here before I even get off work, and will be waiting for me when I get home. Rad.

I’ve got lots of things on my brain. I hope you can find some tranquility, as I intend to.

Wilted Are The Forgotten

Through the unending dark,
A fire of discord consumes.
Wasted in dying romance,
Tossed aside like crumpled newspapers,
Tattered by the ceaseless gale,
Then nothing remains.

The strain of trial,
Too great a burden for assumed love,
An ember gone cold,
Masked by the soot of differences.
Two unequal parts,
Jarred free of dependence–
Wary of trauma yet revealed.
A test failed,
The ache deep and sorrowful.

Standing amidst despair,
The tired sunset beneath cold clouds,
A hollow rush of air,
Bringing down the walls of memory,
Reduced and broken,
Sad in the shadow of longing,
Bound but not forgotten,
Eclipsed by reason,
Drying out in the open,
Again, in measured steps.

‘Twas The Night Before Therapy

I sometimes feel like I don’t use my time wisely in therapy if I don’t have an issue to report. What ends up happening is that I get some validation that what I am doing is working, and we discuss ways that my circumstance could improve. Though, I have a pretty good thing going here; I’m hard pressed to find the flaws in it. Though one thing I must add to my routine is exercise. I need to break the monotony of my sedentary life with some basic aerobics. I’m doing the other part (eating healthy) consistently, yet there is plenty of room to advance. As my past posts have indicated, I was sick for most of a week and in no condition to physically exert myself. But I’m better now, and can begin exercising starting tomorrow morning. What a great thing to be able to report to Margaret.

I had a big spinach and assorted greens salad for dinner. There’s no lettuce in there, it’s all good shit. I add a little oil and vinegar to improve my grazing experience, but the nutritional content stays high.

I think a lot about Jax, and the things about her that I miss. It was fun having someone close who I could share my day with, talk trash about people at work to, and gain perspective from. I used to consider her a valuable friend, who would understand my plight and have my back even if no one else did. I remember the way she used to just comfort me as I started to spiral into depression. She would just hug me and let me cry. Out of all the partners I have been with, she was the most understanding of the inexplicable sadness of my dark times. She never judged me (that I am aware of) for being weak, she, if anything, understood it. I took her for granted in this area. I was also in denial over the onset of depression. I couldn’t see the warning signs, like my smoking, abuse of junk food, and poor mental stability. I didn’t know the Effexor had given up entirely until the very end. But I’m glossing the nostalgia. I can recall just as many times when I felt totally incomprehended or otherwise relegated to disregard. I remember a time when I borrowed a couple CDs from my dad, and thought to myself: you know, Birdy might actually like this artist. I know she’s into anti folk, and this is folky. I put on the album and she said to me: this is the worst thing you’ve ever played for me. I recall thinking that I was not surprised, because she hated nearly all of my music. And I detested nearly all of hers, though I did get in to Two Door Cinema Club and Mumford & Sons. I tried, anyway. And I never told her I hated her music. I let her play it all the time, even when I wanted to hear something else. It’s another microcosm of our dysfunctional relationship. I fell in love with her, but I could only see her outmost layer. We dated on Skype and she moved here to live with me having no idea what I smelled like. It was a fantastical dream, that two mentally ill people could find love and comfort in commonalities. But I grew to see how vastly different we were, and how irreconcilable the gap was. We had different core priorities, and the ways we were distinct ended up shredding our fragile relationship into nothing. Them when I had my suicide attempt, she didn’t want to be with me anymore. I put the pressure on a destroyed bond and, naturally, it collapsed. She cheated on me the night she came to visit me in the hospital, and she even asked me to let her go. What was I going to say? No? If she wanted out, there was no going back. It was over. And she took that and ran with it. I was crushed, mostly because it was all so easy to ditch me and find someone else. I would need months to rebuild, but for her, she found someone, then someone else, and eventually settled with a new partner and moved on entirely. I’m no where near that stable. I could never commit to another relationship, given my history of finding ways to destroy them. I took responsibility for what I had done. I know that it will take me a long time before I even go looking for companionship again. Maybe never.

Life is funny the way it can do randomly deal change. It seems to have no regard for norms and can flip a bitch in a split second. I know better now how I need to improve as a person, and look at all the things I have done as a result of that disaster. I’m stronger now than I ever was, at any point, with Jax. I guess I needed to have someone with me in the big scary world, but in the last 7 months I’ve stuck to my plan of forging my own trail. I live to a standard I set for myself, and my pride is at stake; I must be able to look at myself in the mirror and not be ashamed. I am so easily a victim of my wrongdoings, and am absurdly critical of my mistakes. But I’ve learned so much, and changed myself in a way I never thought possible, and I have the end of my relationship with Jax to thank for that. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am if I had stayed with her. As condemning as that is of my decision making, it is a truth I cannot avoid.

My day was pretty busy. 32 calls today, and nearly all of them were contract exchanges. Which I love because I can do an order with my eyes closed and it only takes me about 7 minutes from start to finish. I never fuck them up. The order review department hasn’t sent me an email in two months. I don’t make mistakes on my Oracle tasks, and no matter the variables involved, I always get it right. Even with billing; since that email I sent to Laurel about all the fucked up things that other departments were doing, I’ve been flawless. I’m excelling at work, and my new life direction and personal prerogative are to be thanked. I’ve never done better at my job, at any time that I can remember. And I’m making A LOT of money. More income than I know what to do with. I don’t buy shit unnecessarily and generally just save the excess monthly income.

I hope you have a good night. I’ve clearly got some things on my mind. But that’s the beauty of having a therapy session tomorrow morning: what lingering thoughts I have will be fuel for the conversation fire.

Rain

At long last my desolate and dry corner of the United States is getting some rain. Long overdue precipitation began accumulating around 9 am this morning and has been inconsistently falling since. Los Angeles and Santa Barbara are taking the brunt of the rain right now, but I expect that will head south as the day wears on. I can’t describe how welcoming it is to have measurable rainfall again. It’s a huge sigh of relief for our drought-stricken county. But the best is yet to come.

A change in the weather always gets me a little excited. It’s a new routine and a welcome diversion from the norm of hot and dry. I know most of you are like: yeah, big freaking deal. But it rains consistently where you are in the winter, and that is not the case here. We are the desert southwest, and rain is an event, not a regular (expected) occurrence.

I’m doing fine. I have a headache that won’t give up no matter what I do, but I’m coping through it. What else can I do? So I’ve taken maybe 10 – 15 calls today so far, pretty steady. I’ve had a chance to watch the Doppler radar to see when the next rain will be. Maybe not for another 30 minutes or more, as we are between cells. Maybe longer. I just ate my lunch and my headache has lessened. I feel like a bug under those halogen lights and in front of my glowing computer screen. I get 2 weekends of work coming up this month, on the 14th and the 27th. Another weird week for Christmas, where I will get two days off with two days of work between them. Not ideal, but I need the money and the cred.

I hope you find weather as exciting as I do. It’s really quite fun to study and predict. I’m a science nerd though so maybe this doesn’t get you off like it does for me. Be well.

**UPDATE 4:30 pm**

The big wave of rain is rapidly approaching, after dropping 2 inches on Santa Barbara and an inch on Los Angeles. It’s losing steam, but should be a decent saturation. I’m hopeful for an overnight downpour leading in to a wet tomorrow. I have therapy in the morning and it should be a soggy commute.

The Mondays

I don’t really understand this notion. I guess this is for people who hate their jobs, and the thought of enduring a full week of work is somehow unbearable. But I generally like what I do, and can’t complain about it. It is hard sometimes, but ever since they added those 30 agents to the billing queue, things have not been overwhelming. Not at all. I spend vast stretches of time just pouring over my fantasy football numbers (maybe part of my unprecedented success this year).

So I’m at work now and having a medium busy day. Definitely not an arduous occasion. It COULD be really nasty, but it’s not. It’s nice instead. I’m quite happy with the way work is going.

I don’t think there is going to be a festive football gathering tonight, even though my fantasy playoff hopes are at stake. If Miami’s defense has a respectable night, I win! Yay. So if they are worth -3 points total I’m screwed and I’m out of the playoffs.

My mood has been good. I have had my moments where I get acutely lonely about my lot, but it doesn’t last and doesn’t drag me down. Sadness about my solitude is ever-present but not constricting my ability to function. I could get all worked up about it. But why bother wasting the energy?

Have a great day. Hopefully you got over your case of the Mondays.

Evaluative

I find that a lot of the random impulses to do things I experience should be filtered. I’m not about to go do half (or more) of the ideas that pop into my head. A lot of these things are undoubtedly destructive in nature, and why they expect to get listened to is beyond me. I guess it’s not fair to judge my baseline mental state on these momentary reactions because they are not indicative of any form of thoughtful process, and that’s what counts. I generally wish I didn’t have to deal with these impulses, but I figure it’s all the more a test of my willpower.

I think loads of destructive things: should I go get some junk food to eat? Should I sleep in until I feel like waking up? I find that there are many more that clearly lead to a path of indulgence and disregard for my wellbeing. Should you go read Jax’s blog and find out what she’s up to? I’ve come to understand that giving in to these impulses hurts me more in the long run, because the penalties of guilt and regret are soon to haunt me after acknowledging one of these impulses. I know better than to go do something now that I will wish I hadn’t done later on. I will feel bad that I ate junk food and gained weight. I will not be sated from my emotional turmoil by reading about Jax’s life. In the end, I will feel down and worse overall for having caved.

So I try to squelch these impulses with a judgement before they ever gain much traction as an idea. If they gather support, they might get looked at. So I’m sure to not let this happen by issuing a decree that they are toxic or otherwise damaging to the final goal of good mental/physical health. It’s an easy decision to make right at the introduction of the impulse, because the longer it lingers without being judged, the more powerful and influential it becomes. I hope these examples make sense. I struggle with this concept sometimes, do you do something similar? It’s hard to ignore them all. Sometimes I do go get a tasty treat from the corner store. But I do not give in to things I’m sure will lead to more emotional damage. I wonder if you have a coping mechanism in place for your own impulses?