May is a busy month for us

I’ve been pretty preoccupied with politics lately. It’s taken over my twitter feed, and it’s made me more active on Facebook than I have been in a long time. I’ve been signing petitions like a mad man lately, and making phone calls, and emailing representatives. I’m trying to find a balance between staying informed and letting it keep me perpetually pissed off all day long

Still working on that one. It might be time to do a politics purge again.

On a related note, my game time has taken a serious hit. Between the politicsing and working on the teardrop, there hasn’t been much time for gaming. I fired up Steam and played a few hours of DOD last night. Still a really kick ass game. A few weeks ago, one of my RPG groups verified that Roll20.net finally has their A/V issues sorted out, so last night I reinstated my account and I’m hoping to start playing at least one game a week. I’d really like to run some one shot games, on various systems, but the time just isn’t there. That may be more of a winter activity. I do have three active games right now and I’m playing about every other weekend.

The teardrop is coming along. It is progressing much slower than I hoped but I’m making slow, steady progress, and I still expect to have it done in plenty of time to be able to camp it this summer. I’ll give a proper update on that this weekend.

Heather is moving back in with us. Her teaching job did not pan out like she’d hoped, and the experience has been… unpleasant for her. So she’s in the process of selling her house and will be moving back in with us, probably some time in June. This means I’ll be moving the nerd cave, again. Fortunately, not into the garage. We’re playing a game of musical bedrooms in the house right now. CJ moved out when he went off to college, so Evan moved into his room. Shortly after that, Heather moved away, so I moved my nerd cave out of the garage and into her old room, which was originally the nerd cave. So now, Heather will be moving back into that room, and I’ll be moving the nerd cave downstairs, into Evan’s old room.

Make sense?

Laure and I spent a Saturday afternoon taping up and priming the nerd-cave-to-be, then a few days later I got two of the walls painted. Sometime in the next week or two, I’ll finish painting down there, and then start relocating all of my crap.

Evan’s birthday is next week, but we’re celebrating it this weekend, since the following weekend is Memorial day weekend, which is always spent at a lake about an hour north of here, with lots of family, food, music, board games, and napping.

It’s a busy month for us in general, right now.

Laure, in one of the cabins where we stay every Memorial day weekend.

Busy-ness, and my dog.

The time has really flown by these last few weeks.

I’ve been busy working on the teardrop during the weekends, and two or three evenings a week. I’m trying to keep from doing it every night so that I don’t get burnt out on it. Getting the side walls up feels like it’s taking forever and is getting a bit tedious, but I expected that. I think I’m just about done with them, barring any more unforeseen issues.

Laure and I are already making camping plans for this summer, and we got out and worked in the yard a bit this last Sunday. There is always a lot of clean up to do in the spring. We have some flowers ready to plant and we need to get those in the ground soon. Also, our raspberry bush has already started budding, which is pretty cool.

Lots of political developments. We’re seeing just how ridiculous the GOP is willing to let things get, and there is no sign of the ridiculous train slowing down any time soon. Even the possibility of nukes flying through the air doesn’t seem to encourage anyone to maybe step in and start taking some action. Although it does appear that most of what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks is just a lot of dick waving.

Missoula is coming to life again, spring seems to be driving people out doors more, which is always nice to see. I’m still not convinced that we’ve seen the last freeze of the year though. I’m afraid to turn on the water to our yard just yet.

That’s all for today. I have three half typed blog posts, mostly about my own life observations, but I’m not sure if I’ll get around to finishing one of them or not. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here is my dog.

Trump’s attack on Syria was yet another smoke screen

So as it turns out, this Syria attack was pointless to everyone but Trump.

Trump did not consult congress before ordering the attack, because he knew they would tell him it was a waste of time and resources. He did consult Putin though. Putin then notified President Assad, who began moving aircraft and personnel away from that air base, which explains why only six people were killed in a barrage of fifty-eight tomahawk missiles.

There is also the fact that Russia’s air defenses in Syria didn’t fire a single shot, or make any other attempt to take down those tomahawk missiles.

The damage to Syria’s military capabilities by this attack are minimal. The threat to Russia’s national security, also minimal. So this is not the start of WW3. In fact this was a completely ineffectual and militarily pointless attack.

However, what is everyone talking about this morning? Syria.

What isn’t everyone talking about this morning? The Trump administration’s ties to Russia.

So guess what the real reason for this attack was.

Go ahead. Guess.

 

My birthday was last Thursday

I turned forty-one. It was a good birthday. We didn’t do much of anything celebratory that day, except both of us took the day off together. I really enjoyed that. We slept in, way in, went out to lunch, ran a few errands. I took a few photos of Laure, which reminded me of just how out of practice I am with my photography. We got a few good photos but I can see all kinds of mistakes I made. Still, it was great to spend the whole day alone with her.

Saturday afternoon we had an official birthday dinner with some friends, then came home and watched “Dr Strange” with Heather. It was a really good movie. I kind of lost interest in the whole Marvel thing the last few years but I really enjoyed this movie. Heather spent the night, we had a big breakfast Saturday morning and then she headed home.

For some reason I spent a whole lot of time during year forty, thinking about death. Not in the creepy, I-want-to-watch-everyone-die kinda way, but just a contemplative thing. I dropped christianity like a sack of rotten potatoes, damn near twenty years ago. I no longer believe in a god, or heaven, or hell. I also don’t believe that there is simply nothing after death. There are just too many things that science is barely tapping into, to suggest that this state of existence is all there is. I dunno, I’m sure I’ll find out though.

I think forty-one is going to be pretty good. I’ve been working out consistently, my motivation and interest in my bagillion hobbies has come back, things are good.

I’ve been spending less time focusing on politics but that has taken a bit of work to do. Shit is so completely fucked right now, but I’m trying to focus on the long term and hoping that this will end up being a positive thing.

Um… that’s all I’ve got right now. I’ve been awfully busy and neglecting my blog, so I wanted to get something up here.

Pantsless, yelling at trees, and flipping off little kids

I think I’ve actually been grieving for my country.

I know, that sounds really dramatic but hear me out here. I don’t think it’s what you think it is. It isn’t because of Trump. He’s just the icing on the cake. He might be what amounts to the last straw for me, or maybe he’s near the last and who the fuck knows what we’re in for next.

When I read political arguments, I’m usually only seeing people looking as far back as Obama. In rare cases, I’ll see people skipping Bush entirely (which doesn’t make any sense at all) and pointing to Bill Clinton. For me though, the shit really started with Richard Nixon. That seems to be when the train to hell really got rolling.

I’d love to go into the reasons for this belief, but most people these days haven’t got the attention span for that. It’s not something I could explain in one paragraph, or even one page, or in fifty pages. There is a LOT to it. The US has been very, VERY busy meddling in the affairs of other governments for a very long time, and it’s all finally coming back to bite us in the ass. Exactly how we got to this point is quite the confusing, convoluted mess. I sometimes have to sit down and write shit down, drawing up little timelines just to make sense of it.

Doing a bit of research on your own, you could muddle through it in an afternoon and have a decent grasp on the state of this country. Start by googling the relationship between oil and the US dollar, the history behind that, and then move into exactly how the US dollar currently maintains it’s supposed value. If you can set aside any blind patriotism you might have, and try to look at things objectively, you’ll begin to understand what is really going on in the world, and just how fucked the US is if it’s people don’t pull their heads out of their asses and re-take their country.

No, electing a good president is not going to fix a fucking thing. You’re starting at the wrong end of the pyramid there folks.

Anyway, back to the Nixon administration, and the 1970’s. Economically, the US was at it’s peak then. In spite of all of our technological advances since, we have been on a slow, steady decline. That is, as a whole, as a nation, we have been on the decline. A small group of people that is now referred to as the 1%, they’ve been doing better and better, and the media has been doing a fantastic job of making us think that because they’re doing better, so are the rest of us.

We’re not. The average American family is only one paycheck away from total financial disaster.

Most families don’t have much of anything in the way of savings. Most families are upside down in their finances, owing tremendously more than they’re worth (economically speaking). It may not appear that way because a lot of people, myself included, live in decent houses, have numerous personal computers, gaming/entertainment devices, massive flat screen TVs, several vehicles, etc, etc… That standard of living however, is quite shallow, and quite fragile. I will explain why.

Speaking for my own family, all of our value is tied up in our home, which we still owe quite a bit on. Looking at the market, our home is worth a decent amount more than what we owe on it. That difference is commonly referred to as “equity”. The last time we tallied things up, our equity was somewhere between four and five times more than what we owe in other debt, such as small personal loans and credit cards.

Now, so long as the market doesn’t crash again (which is imminent, I fucking promise you), we’re doing alright. If we wanted to, we have a reasonably decent chance of selling our house, paying off the loan on it, and using the profit from that to pay off that miscellaneous debt, and then still have a little bit left over to move into some shitty apartment somewhere. In any case, as it stands, we have a positive net worth. Not much of one, but it’s there.

In that regard, we are miles ahead of the average American family right now, which is a sad statement.

However, that is a very fragile condition, for several reasons. Chiefly, that condition depends on the state of the US market. If housing prices were to crash again (again, going to happen soon) we’d end up in big trouble. How much trouble depends on how far the price of our home dropped. If things drop like they did in 2008, we could find ourselves close to $100K in the hole, literally over night. As long as we both hung onto our jobs, we could weather such a collapse and probably recover in a few years.

Again, that sounds all fine and dandy, right? You’d be wrong again. With no savings, and nothing else of concrete value to fall back on, we’d eventually find ourselves back at zero again. Zero, as in owing about as much as we’re worth. If we were both in our early to mid-twenties, that wouldn’t really be a big deal. We are not in our mid-twenties.

See, this already happened to us once, in 2009, except it didn’t go well. Not at all. The value of our house plummeted. Only a few weeks later, I lost my job, as did a staggering number of other Americans. We spent the next year burning through our savings, then my retirement, trying to hang on to our house, which we ended up losing to foreclosure anyway when all of that ran out. Indeed, the system is designed so that what would have made much more financial sense, would have been to shirk our responsibilities regarding our home loan, and just stopped making the payments as soon as I lost my job. We would have come out of that whole ordeal in a lot better shape than we did.

That was 2010, and we lost everything. I eventually found another, good job, one somewhat more secure than the one I lost, but we started off at zero again, this time in our thirties. In a few weeks, I’ll be forty-one years old. My current retirement plan has me retiring some time in my 70’s, right around the age that, statistically speaking, most American men die. Again though, that all depends on the US economy managing to stay viable until after I die, which isn’t likely under the current conditions. In all likelihood, I will work full time, in debt, until I die. Even that is optimistic, because most American men are nearly unemployable after the age of sixty, due to health concerns and the way our dumb-ass insurance/health care system works. If I lost my job after sixty, without a savings or some kind of retirement plan, neither of which would cut it at that point… I don’t even fucking know what what would happen then. I can say that I’ve seen America’s public nursing homes, and they’re fucking scary folks. They’re limping along on social security, medicaid and medicare, all of which will be long gone by the time I would become illegible for any of them. Again, shit is bleak for the vast majority of my generation, and the generations following.

The fact is that my parents’ generation was the last American generation to actually live the American dream. The rest of us are surviving entirely on debt, and that isn’t sustainable for very much longer.

It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s the one that most Americans are seeing right now. Instead of working together to deal with the real enemy, the real cause of all of these problems, we’re lashing out at each other and getting more divided every day.

I could go on for pages, hours, about what I think is in store for this country but it would basically just be me, standing in a park, pants-less, wearing only a white t-shirt, yelling at trees, and flipping off little kids.

No one would pay any attention because they would think I was crazy.

But looking at all of this, having been neck deep in the reality of it at one point, and seeing it coming at us again, I’m having a very difficult time seeing the USA as anything but lost. I grieve for my country.

Are you sure you want to follow me?

Because I keep getting followed by christians and right wing whack-jobs on twitter, that clearly haven’t bothered to go through my feed, this post is primarily aimed at you, just so you understand who you’ve added. This may also be helpful for people that followed me because they agreed with some of my political tweets, but you may not want me showing up in your feed.

1) I swear. A lot. I follow porn actors, alt models, and often re-tweet what they post. So if you follow me, you’re going to see boobs in your feed.

2) I am not a Christian. I was, for twenty-five years. I grew up with it. I’ve seen christianity for what it really is. I’ll never go back. Keep your religious bullshit to yourself. I’m not interested.

3) I am not a republican or a democrat, and comparing those two parties is like comparing two bowls of steaming dog shit. On most issues I’m pretty far on the left, on some I’m on the right, on others I’m middle of the road. I’m best described as “unaffiliated”. C’mon, what are our alternatives? The tea party is just a more extreme, bat shit fucking crazy version of the republican party. Personally, I make no distinction between the two. The green party… yeah, right. As far as the libertarian party… we already have a great example of a libertarian nation in the world. No gun control, not much in the way of taxes, very little government, everyone is responsible for themselves, the weak get eaten alive by the strong… it’s called Somalia. Feel free to vacation there and see what you think.

Face it folks, the only parties that matter in this country are the democrats and the republicans, because they’ve engineered the system to be that way. It isn’t a theory, it isn’t a secret, they haven’t even tried to hide it. Most people just aren’t paying enough attention to notice how the system has been rigged right out in the open.

Our two party system is a complete joke, and has been one continuous train wreck for more than half a century.

4) The GOP has firmly convinced me that they are predominately corrupt, hate filled, racist, sexist, elitist bigots, trying to shove corporate America’s cock firmly up the ass of the average American citizen, all the while convincing them that they’re getting the better end of the deal. Sadly, they’re succeeding and somehow finding ways to blame the economic state of this country on the very citizens they’re fucking in the ass. The Democrats are ultimately just as owned by corporate America as the GOP, and most of those that aren’t are too spineless to try and do anything about it.

5) I believe “the gays” should have all the same rights and privileges as any other US citizen. THEY ARE U.S. CITIZENS. Why the hell are their rights even a debate?

6) I seem to be one of the few people in this country that understands that capitalism is an economic system, not a form of government. The GOP has the general public very confused about this fact. Capitalism does not equal democracy and it certainly does not equal freedom. What the US refers to as capitalism is a perverted, lobotomized version of a system that used to work for the American people. Now it’s just a tool to exploit them.

7) Gun violence is not a gun problem, it is a mental health problem, an education problem, and an economic problem. People were killing each other long before guns came along. Get rid of guns and they’ll find other ways to do it. I’m a gun owner myself, but that being said, I do believe in sensible gun control.

8) I believe socialized medicine is the way to go. Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s not “free”, our taxes might go up to pay for it, unless we get the wealthy to pay their fair share, and we close a lot of other tax loop holes. Even if my taxes do go up in such a case, this doesn’t bother me because a) I can do basic math and b) I’ve taken the time to get the facts from the US government board of education web site, the world health organization website, numerous medical journals, and NOT from Fox news. Our health care system is an industry, designed to make money. As a money making industry, it’s an astounding success. As a health care system, it’s a colossal failure.

I have a college degree, a reasonably well paying job, great insurance, I’m a home owner, I’m a veteran, and I’m pointing all of this out so that you understand that I’m not looking for what the right sees as a “hand out”. We will go a hell of a lot farther working together and helping each other, than we will being a nation of selfish assholes.

9) Donald Fucking Trump is the same stupid, childish, narcissistic, lying, corporate elitist sack of shit he was before the election. I see so many people posting about how they regret having voting for him, and while I’m grateful that you people have come around, I have a really difficult time understanding how you didn’t see him for what he was when you filled in that little oval. I do understand though, that there was no good outcome to this election, there was just a slightly less messy and fucked up one, which I would have gladly taken. But who knows, as I’ve said in other posts, President Trump might actually be just the kick in the balls that this country needed to get it’s shit together and be one country again, if it isn’t already too late for that.

So then.

If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, you probably quit reading this a long time ago because you decided that I’m an evil, fascist, socialist, anti-american, terrorist sympathizing, nazi that wants to turn your children gay and euthanize your parents when they turn sixty-five.

In any case, if you’ve made it this far, you now have enough information to make an educated decision about whether following me on twitter was the prudent thing to do. I’m a grown up, I won’t be upset if you unfollow me.

Sincerely,

@deadtom

Red Velvet Cake

I woke up exhausted today. It took a good twenty minutes to talk myself out of bed. I managed to get to work and be relatively productive until about an hour ago. I’m completely drained and pretty much checked out for the day.

Must get to bed early tonight.

Saturday, Laure made red velvet cake. She’s been working on a dairy free (for me), gluten free (for her) recipe for quite a while now and nearly has it perfect. We all loved the cake but she insists that “it was too eggy”, and needs work.

Here’s the thing about red velvet cake. Red velvet is a flavor, a unique flavor all it’s own. Most of what you buy at bakeries and grocery stores is not red velvet cake, it’s chocolate cake that has simply been dyed red and called “Red velvet cake”. That is some serious horse shit right there, and I think it needs to be made illegal.

She also made some cream cheese danishes, which I can’t eat but they certainly smelled good. Something went wrong with the dough, and they didn’t turn out very well. She’s going to try again this coming weekend.

My brother’s birthday is today but he dropped by the house yesterday and we celebrated then, with red velvet cake of course.

Speaking of this weekend, I have a Rifts game on Saturday afternoon, which we’ll be broadcasting on Youtube. I’m going to tinker with OBS and see if I can broadcast multiple streams with it. I’d like to stream to Twitch and to Youtube. I may try opening two instances of it and see if that works. I have a Twitch account that I keep meaning to make use of, but just haven’t made it happen.

Along that same vein, I’ve been getting more familiar with Roll20.net, from the GM’s perspective. I plan on running some one shot games for a variety of systems, and started putting together an album of images for back grounds, since I’m not a big map user in my RPGs. I think maps tend to turn it into more of a board game, rather than an RPG. I generally only employ them when necessary, and avoid them when I can.

What else… My twitter feed has become quite political in the last few weeks. I’m aware of that. I need to back off and try to ignore it all for a while but there is so much going on. Trump is digging away at his hole with unparalleled exuberance, the GOP wants to sell off our public lands, the illegal muslim ban, boobs… there are a lot of boobs on twitter.

I got the results back on the biopsies from the two moles they shaved off of me a few weeks ago. The one on my abdomen was completely benign. The one on my head did have some atypical cells though, which is nothing new for me. I’m to keep an eye on it and set up an appointment if another mole starts to grow back in it’s place. Regardless though, I have an appointment in six months to get checked out again, and see if they need to remove more skin from the area where that mole was, or hopefully confirm that they got it all.

That’s about it. I don’t have much of anything interesting to write about today. I really am seriously fucking tired and I wanted to get something posted today.

 

Here’s Laure, working up a recipe for red velvet cake.

Something beautiful

I’ve found it pretty difficult not to get sucked into politics this week. I feel it’s important to spread a lot of the actual, verifiable information moving about the internet. At the same time though, it’s taking over my social media feeds. Then I woke up this morning feeling the need to withdraw from it all again, like I did over the summer. Withdraw into my games and my hobbies, and just let what ever is going to happen, happen.

I do believe that, in the long run, Trump might just be good for this country. No, not his policies (he doesn’t really have any) or any direct action he takes. It’s the backlash that will be good, finally having a frame of reference. It will certainly suck in the mean time, but as I’ve been saying since Bush was in office, in order for this country to finally pull together and get it’s priorities straight, things are going to have to decline. Things are going to have to get bad, really bad. People need a slap in the face with reality.

The GOP is much easier to be angry with because they don’t even pretend to give a shit. Democrats are only different in that they hide it better. They are better liars, that’s all. No Democrats, as far as I know, have been very, openly anti-gay, only to be caught having a gay affairs. Republicans, on the other hand… they have. More than once. It doesn’t mean the Dems aren’t equally hypocritical, it just means less of them have been caught.

Our two party system is a joke. America’s version of capitalism is a giant, well oiled scam. Our government is bought and owned by our corporations, and I don’t know what the answer is.

There’s been enough ugliness, so here is something beautiful.

Political Discourse

I’ve been avoiding political discussions online for months now. It really is generally pointless. The vast majority of the time, no one is able to source any of their claims and things deteriorate to petty name calling pretty quickly.

Today for example, someone posted a meme about the whole “we won, get over it” bullshit that is all over the place. People that feel this way miss the point entirely, and it irritates the shit out of me every time I see something like that posted.

So today, I commented on this meme. I was courteous and respectful, I didn’t put down the poster, or the meme, or the opinion. I stated in two small paragraphs what I think is wrong with that way of thinking. The response, from the original poster and from her friends, was immediate and over whelming.

Not one person responded to anything I actually said. Instead, I was immediately hit with a barrage of insults. This went on for quite a while. I made one more comment, pointing out that I had not been disrespectful in anyway, was just stating my opinion, and was met with more of the same. Again though, not one person actually had any responses to any part of my comment. Insults, that’s all it was.

So I muted the post to keep from getting anymore alerts about it, and left it at alone.

Everyone involved appeared to be a grown adult, close to my own age. I find it baffling that people behave this way. I don’t understand it at all. I guess it explains a lot though. A bunch of thin skinned people, with no coherent explanation for their opinions, willing to believe any lie that further bolsters those opinions, voting for an even more thin skinned narcissist who covers up his lies with even more lies, then resorts to deflection and insults when confronted with those lies.

I have a lot of reasons for feeling that this sort of discourse was probably inevitable, but it doesn’t matter. This is where we are.

I’m trying to be the better man about it and not drop to that level. But goddammit, it’s so hard some times.

In other news, I bought a suspension boom for my microphone. I spend a lot of time talking online, and the little mic stand on my desk was really getting in the way. It does look pretty spiffy though, doesn’t it?

encouragement

I wish I had something encouraging to say.

I don’t.

The only bit of hope I can hang onto, is that he’ll dig himself into a hole so deep, and so fast, that even his GOP supporters will have to turn on him. Even then, his VP will be there to assume the crown. It’s debatable, whether this would be better or worse.

All we can hope for is that he and his entirely republican controlled government don’t do too much damage between now and the next general election, but that they do enough damage to mobilize all the assholes that didn’t vote, and light a fire under their asses.

The last time the GOP was running everything, they nearly destroyed our economy, and got us into a war that they made a shit ton of money off of, and then succeeded in making the general public forget all about.

Then, their sitting president was merely stupid. Now, they have a mad man at the wheel.

To my non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-christian friends, including the ones I haven’t met yet, stay strong. Stick together. Hold on. It’s not going to be good.

The shit hasn’t even begun yet.

I wish I had something encouraging to say.

I don’t.