Category Archives: Random

Why Wearing a Mask Sucks: Blood Oxygen Levels?

Wearing a mask is terrible. This should be common knowledge by now (unless you’re one of those people that think mask wearing infringes on your ‘Murkian Freedoms or something), especially now that we’re well into the hot and humid summer months. Masks are hot, sweaty, steamy, uncomfortable, annoying, and stinky, as the first thing I noticed upon wearing a mask was that my breath was fucking terrible. Even an hour after brushing my teeth, my breath trapped in my mask fucking reeked. There is nothing remotely enjoyable about wearing a mask.

But by far the worst part about wearing a mask is that they are difficult to breathe in, thereby lowering your blood’s oxygen content. This could be dangerous to anyone with anemia or breathing issues, and might even lead to passing out or fainting. Breathing and oxygen are kinda important things for your body, and masks fuck all of this up.

Except…except that last paragraph is total bullshit. I made it up. Or rather I took the stereotypical dumbasses’ talking-points and recreated them to the best of my abilities. Hopefully this “alternative fact” has been thoroughly debunked by the many photos we’ve all maybe seen recently on social media. I’ve seen a few photos and videos of people wearing masks for literal hours while checking their blood oxygen levels to see if they go down at all. No, they stay right where they are, meaning the mask doesn’t do shit to your oxygen levels.

Photo from here. (Which is apparently from a Dr. Megan Hall on Facebook) Note the SpO2 at 99%.

So why do masks feel suffocating if they’re not actually suffocating you?

A Quirk of the Human Body

A few years ago while bored at work I got into this challenge to see how long I could hold my breath. As always, why the fuck not? Work can be incredibly boring. I’d exhale deeply and take a massive, lung-filling breath and see how long I could hold it. My record was just over a minute, maybe a minute-and-a-half, but this was about as long as I could hold it. Doing some research I discovered the world record for breath holding was something like 24 minutes: how the fuck was that possible?

This is possible because us humans have some stupid system in place in our bodies that we, for some reason, only feel the need to breathe not when our oxygen runs out but when carbon dioxide (CO2) builds up to a certain level. Isn’t that fascinating? Evolution isn’t perfect and we’ve survived just fine even having this seemingly silly system in place. By expelling as much CO2 out of your body by hyperventilating you can “trick” your body into thinking it’s not running out of precious oxygen. By hyperventilating and getting those CO2 levels as low as possible initially you can hold your breath much longer.

It’s this reason why oxygen masks on planes are so important. When an airplane depressurizes you don’t really notice much — no suffocation or difficulties breathing — despite your body being only seconds away from losing consciousness and minutes away from death. This is also why breathing in helium (or any other non-oxygen gas) is dangerous; you can quickly displace blood oxygen and not even be aware of it until you pass out or die. Once again you won’t feel ‘suffocated’ because you’re still exhaling CO2 and your body feels perfectly fine. Fun, isn’t it?

So, what are some symptoms of high blood CO2? The medical term from this is hypercapnia and I’ve linked Wikipedia if you feel like going down the rabbit hole. Here are some of the early symptoms of hypercapnia: breathlessness, headache, confusion, and lethargy. There are more severe symptoms but I’m not going to include them because I think this should be enough to show what I think is going on. Granted, I don’t know this for fact, but I think it sounds logical enough:

Masks trap a small amount of exhaled carbon dioxide near your face. When you inhale the first half-second you’re taking in CO2 which could lead to increased blood CO2 levels despite having adequate oxygen.

I think people by not being aware of the CO2 blood level and its relation to feeling like you’re suffocating mistake these mild symptoms as not them having enough oxygen. It makes sense and I’ve felt this way with a mask on — it really can feel like you’re not breathing enough — but the home experiments people have done show this to not be the case. Sure, some people might have medical conditions where a simple mask could be enough to put their bodies out of whack (emphysema, those missing a lung, etc.), but for most (and by most I mean like 99.5% of everybody) a mask is only a moderate discomfort and cannot ‘suffocate’ you to any realistic or dangerous degree.

What to do About It?

Masks do take some adjusting in how you breathe and this makes sense if my whole ‘CO2 trapped in mask when you first inhale’ idea is true. I’ve notice that while wearing a mask I do breathe slightly different. My breaths have become deeper and more deliberate and I think this is to bring in enough oxygen to adjust to the initial CO2 also being inhaled. My exhales are also more deliberate, as if I’m trying to get a tiny bit more CO2 out of my body because I know I’ll inhale a small portion on the next breath. (Note: I tried to find a link to a proper ‘how to breathe in a mask’ article; I couldn’t find one. The ones I did find only had vague tips like “be mindful of how you breathe” and “be calm.”)

So sure, mask are terrible to wear, but we all know that. That’s luckily about as bad as it gets. If you don’t have an underlying medical condition (a real one, not a fake-ass one) you’ll be fine. You won’t suffocate or die. Sure, you won’t be running a marathon in record time with one on, but for everyday things like working or shopping you’re not going to suffocate. This suffocating feeling is most likely caused by the mask trapping some exhaled CO2 close to your face that is inhaled before fresh air can make it to your mouth/nose. People have shown that blood O2 levels remain constant while wearing a mask and it’s only the elevated CO2 levels that make you feel suffocated. This is due to some silly quirk in our bodies that links the feeling of suffocation to CO2 levels and not oxygen levels. But above all: WEAR YOUR FUCKING MASK. It might somewhat protect yourself, it definitely protects others, and let’s all just please play along with coronavirus protocols so we can all get back to a normal life as soon as possible.

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Stray Cats Suck

Anytime I walk outside I’m greeted by a clan of cats. I never know how many cats are actually around — sometimes I see like two or three, other times ten or more — but they’re all over the damn place. We have so many stray cats lurking around our house that I can’t even recall what they’ve been named. Supposedly we have names for some of them — like Militia, Sean, Pumpkin, Shira, Bibbers Jr. and so on — but I can’t ever remember who is who. They’re all feral cats and have a general bland grey color, they all look similar, and they’re all about the same size: scrawny. These cats are everywhere. I can’t even drive up our driveway without having three cats lazily lying in front of my car. Some of them don’t even move as I drive up to them, forcing me to get out of my car and shoo them away before parking. It’s a nightmare of felines.

Cats…

It’s not my fault or my wife’s fault either. The main problem here is our stupid-ass neighbor, some lady by the name of Lori that I’ve simply been calling “The Cat Lady” for obvious reasons. These cats are all her problem and she’s getting all the blame for it. You might remember her from this post. I was sitting outside one night trying to be at peace with the universe and she kept annoying me by calling to her cats. Totally killing my vibe. That was The Cat Lady, and this post is about her too.

She’s one of those people that you’re not sure how they even survived as long as they did. She seems so damn ignorant and clueless that I’m surprised someone like her made it to their middle ages. I don’t know her history (and don’t care to either), but I find it difficult to believe she ever graduated high school or did anything in life. She seems so naive and clueless and acts like an eight or ten-year-old most of the times. She doesn’t have a car, rides her bike to the local dollar store, and seems oblivious to nearly everything in the world. Her entire life consists of feeding the damn cats, begging us for money to feed the cats, and talking about the cats. If I stop being so harsh and critical I should have some sympathy for her, but I’m a cold-hearted bastard and she (and her strays) just annoys the fuck out of me 97% of the time.

What bothers me the most about her is her total cluelessness to how populations and food chains work. She’s fucking oblivious. I know she loves the stray cats and doesn’t want them to starve — which is noble — but this is where her knowledge stops. A few years ago our neighborhood used to only have a few strays and she fed them like the kind-hearted soul she is and housed them in her garage. Fun fact (and a fact that she wasn’t and still isn’t aware of): when you feed strays, there is no pressure against them reproducing! The couple of strays had a few litters of kittens, turning into like ten cats, and then they reproduced, increasing the amount of cats needlessly wandering around our house. She gave some of them away but kept feeding the rest, and they kept reproducing like you’d expect them to do. So now we have a legit army of cats lurking around the house just wondering who will feed them next.

I don’t know if this makes me smart, or her stupid, but this seems like such an obvious conclusion to a problem that should’ve been evident from the start. You feed two cats, they’ll turn into ten, and so on, until you’re dishing out literal hundreds of dollars to feed the entire family until their population meets the capacity of their available food supply. It’s how the world works and is why I discouraged my wife feeding them out of sympathy. Sure, you’re trying to help a few cats, but that will only spiral out of control until you’re feeding an indefinite about of cats until they run out of food and the population can’t support itself.

Apparently Cat Lady’s boyfriend laid down the law yesterday and forced her to stop feeding them. Luckily I wasn’t home at the time, but she came over crying asking my wife if she could feed them. Well, this is your problem lady, but whatever. So now, today, when going outside, I was greeted with the entire extended family of cats lurking around our house. It’s like they could smell the food and knew who would be feeding them for the next week or so. Fuck me, fuck my life, fuck everything. These cats are smart, probably smarter than the lady feeding them, and they knew where the food was.

Look, I love cats and don’t like to see them suffer or starve, especially when cute kittens are involved, but damn if it isn’t frustrating to see them constantly reproducing, begging for food anytime you walk outside, or casually lying in the driveway when you come home from work. The worst part is that I don’t see any obvious way out of this problem that’s been created by our neighbor. We can’t foot the bill to get all the females spayed or the males neutered, and we surely don’t want to pay $20 per cat to give them to a shelter (not sure if that’s true, but it’s what The Cat Lady said), but they keep lurking around and shitting in the yard. There is no easy way out. The cats are here, they’re ever-present, and it seems like something we just have to deal with. Stray cats fucking suck.

The Davenport Trip Sucked

What to say about my weekend? Yes, it’s Friday — the weekend was literally like 5 days ago (or tomorrow) — but I’m still thinking about it. Processing it. Trying to figure out what it all meant. Not that it really means anything, but how do I think about it in a way to extract meaning, personal meaning, for myself?

I jotted down a quick post about having to wake up early and drive two hours to Davenport, Iowa to help move my sister out of her wife’s house. And her house too, but, well, you can see this was and still is a messy situation. Consider this post a continuation of that one.

I had quite a bit of emotional conflict on Route 2 between Rockford (where I live) and Sterling/Rock Falls where my wife and I would get on interstate 88 to continue on to Davenport, Iowa. I love helping people and I was on my way to help my sister move out of her soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home, but I didn’t feel good about it at all. Sure I was helping, but in this situation I didn’t want to help at all. The greater good in the world wasn’t being served by this and I hoped and wished that this never actually occurred. Why couldn’t they just work out? Why couldn’t she find True Love and just Be Happy?

I was sleep deprived and feeling really anxious about life in general. Total discomfort in the first twenty minutes of the two-hour drive. I wanted the day to be over, the adventure to be over, but it was just starting. I was on my way to help my sister move, and then I’d have to pull off another two-hour drive to get back home.

And what is it with adventure anyways? I always think I want adventure, some grand quest to go on, but whenever I find myself outside of my usual routine and comfort zone I become really uncomfortable. Maybe one of my values is daily routine where I have a safe zone to operate in, comfort, and even if I gripe about being bored, maybe boredom is where I truly belong. Maybe I’m not the adventuring sort after all.

I forced myself to slip into some faux-Buddhist mindset where I was accepting of the present. All discomfort comes from either focusing on the past or looking forward to the future, and I was totally looking forward to the future. I wanted to be home, to be bored, to play Dark Souls, to do nothing with my day, to be a total loser/failure, and outside of this I felt uncomfortable. I just wanted the day to be over, I thought at 10:30 a.m., barely a quarter of the way to Davenport. But I summoned some sort of acceptance of the situation, some semblance of comfort that, yes, this too shall pass. Before I knew it I’d be back at home with The Mission Accomplished and able to feel comfortable and safe. The present is hopelessly temporary and while this is bittersweet in regards to happiness it offers immense benefit when it comes to uncomfortable situations. I pressed on with the drive and tried not to think about the long day ahead of me.

Time passes in a strange way when you’re driving. It seems like time doesn’t move at all, but before you know it you’ve driven hundreds of miles over countless hours and you find yourself in the future. You’ve arrived. Through days and weeks and seemingly years of driving with time at a standstill it jumps forward and you find yourself there in the future which is the present.

She had all of her at her apartment and ready to be unloaded. It would be an easy assignment hauling her stuff up two floors which contrasted nicely with moving my mother’s literal truckloads of shit three times in two years. This wouldn’t be difficult at all. So we set out hauling boxes and furniture the short way up to her new apartment.

When that was done, we went and picked up a few tables from a local family. They were nice enough, and there isn’t much to say about that. Then we went to Target, my sister being focused on trying to figure out all the tiny and forgettable items that are essential to living on your own. Things you forget about until you notice you don’t have them. Trash bags, trash cans, toilet paper, brooms, soap, mops, and other items like that.

And then that was over. I agreed to take my sister’s cat from the house as she could only have one cat at the apartment. One issue here: we’d have to go back to her old house where her ex-wife/current-wife/whatever you want to call her and that sent my anxiety into overdrive. I hate awkward situations and I don’t know anything much more awkward than that. And it got worse! We turned the corner on the street the house was on, and her ex-wife’s girlfriend and two kids were also there. I started nervously laughing and saying, “Oh nooo, oh noo! Oh geez…Awkward. This is going to be so awkward,” as some form to cope with the situation.

Our new cat: BIGGIE! She’s a crazy and insane kitty, and probably the most bipolar cat I’ve ever had. Purring and loving the pets one moment and then clawing the hell out of you the next.

I hopped out of the moving van and walked behind the van to procrastinate a few more seconds before the inevitable awkward encounter that was about to take place. And…and probably because I was terribly nervous I don’t remember much.

My sister went inside the house while her wife was kinda a bitch about finally getting her shit and moving out. Her new girlfriend stood awkwardly outside while her kids acted stupid and loud like all kids do, totally aware of how fucked up the situation actually was. The ignorance of childhood: how everything is perfectly normal and fine. Nothing is strange, unusual or horrible. Just another day: mom moving in with some new girl she met and is in love with. No thoughts about how my sister’s life has been totally fucked up, her spirits crushed, and how everything is falling apart for her. Who is this girl who is sulking around, what is her story? I feel bad for those two children.

Everything was mostly civil besides the hositility my sister’s ex showed towards her. She was going to charge my sister for everyday that she was still there despite legally not being able to do so: they both legally own the house and are still married. And how if my sister didn’t give the keys to her she’d charge her until she gave the keys back, once again with no legal ability or leverage to do so. Just trying to kick my passive sister around some more. Just being a dick for some reason that isn’t clear to myself or my sister or my wife.

And those were some bad vibes to deal with. Seriously. I don’t understand how you can love someone, get married, buy a home, spend years together, and act so cold towards them. Let’s be clear here too: my sister did not cheat. She didn’t do anything obviously wrong. Her wife found someone else and is the one who fucked up. She is the cheater. Look, I understand people’s feelings can change and that maybe you can fall out of love with someone, but there seems like there still should be some decency or appreciation of the other person to not treat them worse than you’d treat a stranger. I think that’s what I struggle with the most here, how someone can disregard another human being in such a dramatic manner. No kindness, no honor, no love, no appreciation, just a total coldness that you’d treat a stray dog with.

On the way home I struggled with these thoughts. My wife demonized the ex as being a total selfish bitch, or other perfectly fine things to call someone who had done these things. But something still seemed off to me. I really think people act in ways they think are correct and that no one is evil for the sake of being evil. Selfish maybe, but not evil. In everyone’s mind I think they’re always trying to do the right thing for them and even if people do get stepped on, they’re still trying to do good or something. Despite her action, my sister’s ex, in her mind, seriously thinks she’s doing the right thing for herself. But what are those reasons? I tried to frame the situation in her mind and it still didn’t make sense. My sister hilariously pointed out this new girl isn’t even pretty or attractive, and as mean and as senseless as that is, she isn’t wrong. She’s maybe like a 2 or 3/10, seriously. I saw her in person so…! She apparently deals drugs too, so make whatever you’d like of that information. I’m all for the “entrepreneurial drive” or whatever, but drug dealing still seems, I don’t know, scummy? Dishonorable? She wasn’t dressed well either: tight, ill-fitting black pants that didn’t benefit her at all and a grey hoodie that said PINK on the front of it. Or something. She seems “trashy,” as harshly stereotypical as I’m being. Basically, she doesn’t appear to be “a catch” at least not as much as I view my sister to be. She works a full-time union job at UPS, doesn’t blow money, is nice and understanding — perhaps I’m biased — but my sister is in general a good person. I don’t see what is good about this new girl. Maybe she has the best personality or sense of humor ever, but I doubt it. If anything this new relationship seems like it’s doomed from the start, and the tiny bit of me that loves schadenfreude is pretty excited about stalking these two on Facebook over the next few years.

And that was my Saturday. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t bad either. It was nice to help a loved one escape a bad situation. To help them move on. I went home and had eight beers to process everything, and I just now came to some conclusion that isn’t much of a conclusion at all: the world is a fucked up place and sometimes you can’t make sense out of a damn thing, and oh why do I try to make sense out of everything? More bad vibes about how some things don’t make sense and I’ll forever be ignorant about life.

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The Wattpad Writing Contest Sucks

Two weeks ago I recieved a message from the Wattpad staff about some writing contest. Something about writing a short story about “a time where you stood up for the truth” or something. I totally disregarded it. If you’ve read any of my writings over at my other blog you should be well aware that there is no “truth” to anything I write. Everything is foggy, unclear, hidden, and there usually isn’t any sort of plot, theme, or reason behind any of my writings. It seems I channel my useless and directionless feelings into my stories so any idea about me writing about “a time where I stood up for the truth” was a lost cause.

Let’s also gripe about how the contest required a story that’s less than 500 words. This is nothing and with my typical paragraphs of about 100 words meant I’d have to write a story of only five paragraphs. How can you write a story about the truth in five fucking paragraphs?

Anyways, I ignored it for a week and then received another message from Wattpad: the same message about a writing contest. Well, would there be any downside to writing some 500-word drivel just for the fuck of it? There was nothing to lose besides time, and maybe I could churn something out in 30 minutes or so. I thought about it for a few days but didn’t care too much about it.

And then something happened on Thursday while I was sitting at my computer. The thoughts started to flow, the YOLO channeled through me, the idea that there was nothing to lose by bullshitting 500 words about “the truth” taking hold of me or some shit. I set to work carefully crafting a 500 word “story” about losing your mind on drugs, having a crisis, questioning the fabric of everything, and coming to no conclusion whatsoever. If you’d like you can read the final product here: I’d love to have some viewer support in this failed endeavour.

A fun thing happened when I checked the story on Wattpad today. It was ranked #142 in the tagged stories for the contest. Huh? That’s pretty high, isn’t it? Surely thousands and maybe millions of people submitted something so how the fuck was I #142? There was no way that was correct. I clicked the link to view my ranking and the #142 was out of like only 288 stories in total. What?! Shouldn’t there be thousands of thirsty people chasing after the glory of winning a contest? Apparently not.

It reminds me of a few other writing contests I somehow won before really pretending to be a writer, both at my local community college. The first one was about “what college meant to me” or some shit. I bullshitted an essay and won like third place or something. How? Why? I don’t know. I wrote something about college “making me into the person I was meant to be” or something. Once again, I don’t know. And there was another writing contest, one from an organisation called Transform Rockford which was hell-bent on turning our shitty run-down town into something of note here in the midwest. I wrote an essay complaining about the “lack of community” by noting that there’s a lack of grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and anything else to note in my predominantly African-American side of town, while also noting that liquor stores and bars seemed to exist in a greater frequency. Totally shitting all over the positive vibes that Transform Rockford seemed to be going for.

And I won…something. Second place, third place, I don’t recall. I won $50 which was the first cash I ever received for writing something. Even worse, I had to read my essay at the college in front of people. Jesus. That was awful, but luckily I was in speech class and knew that pretending I was a confident badass who had a point to make was just as good as actually being a confident badass who had a point to make. I read my critical essay, got a round of applause, awkwardly shook some hands, and walked back to my seat.

One of the my more awkward photos. Obviously. But I should be proud I guess.

I wondered why I won something in these two contests, once again thinking it surely wasn’t due to talent or skill or anything. And I think I’ve stumbled upon a slight bit of truth to why I won because of this silly Wattpad contest: no one actually submits anything.

The rules of the Wattpad contest are straightforward enough, but also convoluted enough that I assume a bunch of people halfass reading the actual requirements misunderstood it. The message links you to a page that gives the rules of the contest, and this page gives a link to a tag that you must click on to properly tag your story with. Basically, writing a story and manually tagging it doesn’t seem to fulfill the contest requirements. How many people wrote a submission and failed to read the rules and tag it properly? Thousands? I don’t know. Maybe people are just slackers and think they’re failures and don’t even submit anything.

So the chances are improved by people not reading the rules like a lawyer would or being too sheepish to even try. 288 people? That’s all I’m up against? Well, fuck, I might have a shot based on pure chance alone. A 1/288 chance is magnitudes better than the fucking lottery, and any skill you actually have only improves your chances. And simply submitting something and overcoming your natural self-hatred and suspicions that others are miles better than yourself also improves your chances. Maybe everyone thinks they’re shit and how many people are discouraged and never submit anything? I really don’t think I’ll win, but any thought I have about the matter is out of my hands. I got off my ass, wrote something, submitted it (properly too!), and put myself out there. As with the other contests that I somehow placed in, I think the fact that I actually tried was a huge factor in being successful. If you never try, you’ll never win, right?

My Sister’s Parents Suck

It’s 8:46 a.m. — about three hours before I naturally wake up — and here I am typing a quick blog post before I start on my “adventure.” It’s not going to be an enjoyable adventure and I didn’t get much sleep dreading the waking up early (a terrible form of anxiety to have) and the drive to Davenport, Iowa. To tell the truth I don’t even know how long it’ll take me to get there. 90 miles I think? An hour and a half about? I don’t know. There isn’t much of plan here. Leave by 9:30 or 10 a.m.? Who knows. Earlier is always better.

This mission, should I choose to accept it (I did), is to help my sister move out from her house — the house her cheating wife has somehow taken command of — into her new apartment. The entire thing is a mess and I feel so bad for her I can’t even explain in. Even worse is the fact that this situation has sort of happened before year ago. In fact, my sister seems to have “a type” of person she’s attracted too: dominating, strong-willed, controlling, selfish, and let’s say “bitchy” (as hard as “bitchy” is to quantify). As everyone knows, you can’t help being attracted to “a type” and her’s is a terrible type indeed.

I suppose there were signs of this not ending well. Without much of the family knowing she was in a relationship, they told us about a courthouse wedding a week prior to their marriage. Holy shit, my sister is getting married?! Wow, okay. We were supportive though — what they want to do is what they want to do so who cares — and it was a quaint and peaceful little wedding, if a bit of a surprise. Her wife seemed nice then but looking back maybe my intuition was trying to tell me something, although I still can’t put a finger on it. Maybe I’m just trying to pretend like I knew all along.

I think what really tipped me off was when I helped the two of them move out of my dad’s house years ago. I was drunk (you have to drink when you help people move) and far into the evening they started arguing about something. Her wife seemed really dominating and controlling while my sister was passive and appeasing to her demands. My reaction was one of utter depression — something I thought was pure and unadulterated love seemed cruel — but I attributed this to me being drunk and making too much out of a one-time scenario. Even though I brushed it off at the time, apparently I saw some cracks that now seem obvious.

8:57 now, and let’s move forward. Her current wife (soon to be ex-wife) has found a new girlfriend and has been cheating on her. She (the soon-to-be-ex-wife) doesn’t even live in their home anymore but is taking charge of the situation and kicking my sister out. Like true fashion with our family, she is being passive and compliant trying to not make much of a fuss in this trying time and only wants to move on to another part of her life, and quickly. Everything is shit for her. Her life is basically falling apart. She doesn’t know what to do. Hell, she probably had COVID a few months ago by displaying nearly every symptom despite getting a negative test result which her wife then blamed her for being lazy by not working. I’m ranting again. Her wife turned out to be a total bitch which seems surprisingly like her last girlfriend was. Total bitches are my sister’s type, and she seems powerless to change it.

She did have one really nice and cool girlfriend, but “something was lacking” in their relationship. Perhaps she wasn’t bitchy and controlling enough to be my sister’s type. That’s my working theory at least and damn if I’m not positive I’m correct.

Why is she this way? Why am I the way I am? Our Goddamn Parents Again, another thing I’m sure of. We were raised in the same household and went through the same shit only staggered by five years, and it formed us without us knowing. I’ve ranted about that stuff here. The only differences between her and I are ourselves, our uniqueness, which I think explains the differences in how we processed our childhood. Same experiences, slightly different outcomes based on us being individuals. Luckily I ended up with a severe thirst for acceptance and social approval and not picking partners that are totally awful people. We do both have a lack of confidence and self-esteem if that makes you guys feel a little better.

Let me digress for a bit, mostly because I’m running out of time and I have a point I need to make. My wife and her daughter (my step-daughter to make it clear) had quite a falling out last night. The step-kid, who recently turned 18 a week ago, said my wife was “mentally abusive” and that turned into a big fight apparently. I was at work thankfully so only heard about it without experiencing the mess, but walked into the fallout after work. This was curious because my wife is notably not mentally abusive and everyone else in the house agrees with this. If anything I feel she is too lenient on the kids. What was going on to where the oldest kid felt “mentally abused”?

After hours of playing Dark Souls and mulling over what to do about the situation I realized that Oldest Step-Kid is like me in many ways. I love to write out my problems so had (well, told her sister to tell her) her write out how she felt. It was a mess, a mess of truthfulness from her point-of-view, but a mess nonetheless. Apparently she has taken this “parents fucked me up irreparably” view (like me) only cranked it to the max. Everything wrong with her is due to her mom and her dad and how they fucked her up. There is no ownership of the problem I guess. She’s the victim of life and she can’t help how awful she feels at her situation. It was depressing to read due to how much blame she was dishing out but how there was no talk of how she’s dealing with it or trying to deal with it.

It’s nice to see a path your going down to the extreme. I’ve been “blaming” my parents for a few months now on this blog, but it was never my intention to play the victim. I’m becoming a very proactive person who only wants to do things to help themself and the people around me. Be a big fucking shining beacon of hope to anyone struggling with mental health issues. If I can work through my shit, anyone can. And to fix any problem you need to first understand the problem, but the entire goal is fixing the problem and not placing blame. Blame, or more precisely finding the cause, is the initial step to solving the problem. If some dickhead drunk driver hits your car you can be mad and you can blame him for it, but it’s still up to you to deal with it. It’s up to you to take your new information (my car is fucked because Jim-Bob had too many PBRs) and figure out how to move forward (So, do I sue the shit out of Jim-Bob? Buy a junker car? Ride my bike to work?).

There’s a lot going on here that I don’t have time to really elaborate on, and I hope you appreciate all the curious things here. My sister and I being different in many ways but similar given our upbringings. My insecurities versus her attraction to “bitchy” women. How stubborn you are to changing “your type” even if you know they’re toxic. How if you take the parental blame too far you take away any empowerment you have. How you still need to take responsibility for how you respond in life. How one person might see their childhood as “mentally abusive” while their siblings are perfectly happy with theirs.

And at 9:21 a.m. and with way too much on my mind I close off this blog post and head to Davenport, Iowa to help my sister move out of her own home.

1,000 Monthly Views is Awesome

Back to writing I guess. The past half-week has been a mess regarding any structure and motivation in my life. It’s been total chaos with me having some sort of alcohol and cough medicine fueled breakdown that’s left the past few days a total blur to me. Thinking past that, I’m trying to put together how my life was before all of that so I can discover the past and what my path forward should be. I think I was in a pretty good mood last week? My gratitude journaling has kept mostly strong and had my mood decent for the past two weeks. And was I working on stories or something? I don’t really remember. Where did all of that past positivity go?

Oh, I did write a post about dyeing my hair; I’m glad I could at least toss that together before everything fell apart. But maybe it was obvious everything was about to fall apart because I was dyeing my hair in the first place. Since I wrote it on Sunday I was pretty drunk so don’t recall that one very much. I think it’s fitting to transition into my weekend and the small signs that I’m breaking down or really on edge for some reason. I really think it’s the COVID getting to me. Besides dyeing my hair, I also let one of the kids paint my nails. I cut my hair pretty short a few weeks ago. Doing tiny little things that I haven’t thought through with the likely motivation to get away from myself or something. Reckless decisions to cope with whatever is bothering me so much in such a subtle but undeniable way.

So whiskey on Sunday and a terribly confusing hangover Monday: the typical Monday dread and anxiety, but worse. And I felt like I couldn’t cope again. A random idea popped into my head: maybe I should call into work for the second time in three weeks, get totally drunk again, and go live in the woods for a week. I’ve been wanting to live in the woods for the past few months but never got around to doing it. A reckless idea that would surely lead me to enlightenment, self-discovery, or at the very least being so isolated and bored that I’d write an entire book in a few days. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So that’s what I did. Lived in the woods for a week single fucking night. I’ll make a few posts about that misadventure later, because nearly everything about this grand idea fell apart quickly. I was miserable. I was super depressed. And the next morning, Tuesday, with only a few hours of sleep and being even more hungover and anxious, I had a full-fledged panic attack. And that’s still terrifying to process even days later. Panic attacks never seem threatening when you’re feeling fine — obviously you can make yourself chill out through pure willpower — but in the moment it’s nearly impossible to do. It really does feel like you’re life is falling apart and you’re losing everything you enjoy. It feels like you’re losing your sanity. I managed to dragged myself to work functioned somewhat and went back home to sleep in a real bed and be around people. It was a dark few days. Literally. The woods are dark, lonely, and depressing at 3 a.m. Panic attacks are dark and terrifying. I’m glad it’s all over and I can write a blog post and go to work just like I always do.

I feel fine now. Once again trying to peice together whatever structure in life I had, recalling what goals I have and what I need to work on. I fucked up the Morrowind story again this weekend and I’m trying to not hate myself too much for it. Just move onto the next week. And here at this blog I remembered I was supposed to give an update on that magical goal of having 1,000 views in a month.

Yeah, I did it. I did it! As shitty as I feel about my poor work ethic it’s nice to actually reach a goal. One thing I noticed while reflecting on my New Year’s goals was how most of them are recurring goals and how much those fucking suck. Compliment someone daily: failed. Post weekly on my Morrowind story: failed. Drink only on Sunday: failed. The problem is when you commit yourself to doing something weekly — 52 times a year — or even worse, daily — 365 times a year — you’re going to fail at least once, probably more. It’s hard to pick yourself up and move on after having “failed” even if you mostly did good. Sure, compliment people for a month straight and miss a single day and you can hate on yourself all you want, doing what people naturally do and see the negatives while disregarding the positives. It wasn’t 30 days of success with a single day of failure. No, you failed the goal. You’re a failure, end of story.

So it was nice to actually reach a goal that is a clearcut and singular goal, none of this recurring bullshit. I can check it off, I succeeded, and I can live with feeling proud about it for a day or two, which as long since passed.

Now the question is, what do I do now?

My first idea was to chill out on this blog and focus on my short stories or whatever other creative writing I’m trying to do. This takes notably more motivation to do and while I know it’s what I should pivot towards, I’m a total slacker at actually doing it. Maybe that was part of my reasoning behind living in the woods. This blog still tempts me though, especially by seemingly failing upwards somehow. I haven’t done a damn thing this month and I think I’m already past 350 views; it seems the more I slack off the more my views go up. I know this is just a temporary fluke and if I slack off long enough my views will tank, but it is amusing to watch. But this blog tempts me; if I’m already at 350 a week into the month, how many views can I have if I do just a few more posts?! Chasing those views sure is addictive. The high of having more views with little effort is immediately appealing compared to writing fictional stories and not getting many views.

So, whatever that rant was is over. In short I made it to 1,000 monthly views and can actually check off one of my yearly goals. It’s a nice victory to have, to be able to point at something you’ve wanted to do and say, “I did what I set out to do. Good job for me. I can feel proud,” even if the high of it is depressingly temporary. But life is all about moving forward and accomplishing one goal means you must think about what your next step will be, and sadly I haven’t thought that far ahead. I thought I’d reach 1,000 towards the end of the year and not in April. Maybe that’s why I’ve been spiraling out of control the past week. Who knows. I don’t.

And obviously thank you to anyone who reads my writings!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Donating Blood Sucks

“I’m bored, so…?”

I donated blood yesterday. Why? Because I was bored. There’s no fantasy dwelling in my head that I’m a hero or some other bullshit motivation for donating. I was bored. I was bored last week when I finally answered the blood banks near daily calls, and I knew I’d be bored this week when I had the appointment. Let’s get right into the bitching, shall we? They call all the damn time to pester you into donating. I understand why they do it — they need blood, platelets, and plasma and have no other way to obtain them — but this doesn’t make me happy when I’m browsing Reddit, listening to music doing very important things and I’m interrupted. Most of the time I ignore the call and mute it, not for any good reason, just I don’t want to deal with it at the time, but I finally answered the call last week out of boredom. They got me.

Boredom makes people do crazy shit. I was bored at work and decided to really see if our hand sanitizer was pure alcohol like it smelled like it was. It was. Afterwards I borrowed a cigarette lighter from a friend to make an impromptu flamethrower from the spray bottle because why the hell not? I’ve heard antifreeze is really sweet and that’s why dogs drink it. It is sweet because I was bored and tasted a small amount of it. A month ago I was so bored I cut down a medium sized tree with a hatchet. We have a chainsaw but where’s the fun in that? Lately I’ve been fucking around with solar power because, once again and as always, I’m fucking bored.

I remember a Vsauce/Mind Field video where bored people purposefully shocked themselves despite it being painful because they couldn’t wait in a room for a half hour without ducking around with something like electricity shocking themselves. Humans are a fucked up species.

It’s a long video, but the relevant part begins at 2:00.

It’s fitting because boredom is the reason I donated blood in the first place over a decade ago. The details are fuzzy, but I recall it was a snow day and school (or college) was cancelled. I was stuck at home alone with nothing to do and was bored. I always knew donating blood was the noble and right thing to do but never got around to actually donating. Until that snow day. I drove a mile to the blood center and told them I wanted to donate blood. They were as enthusiastic as you could imagine. Most regular blood donors seem to be old people, maybe playing into this idea that boredom makes people do crazy shit they normally wouldn’t do. If you’re old, bored, and sick of watching soap operas/shitty Hallmark movies, why not donate every six weeks or so? The blood center people were overjoyed to have a teenager stroll into their lair. To begin on a lifelong journey of doing the right thing and being a good citizen. To give something precious to your community. To pay it forward. To help the stranger that they didn’t personally know but still existed just like them. People in need and literally dying for a blood transfusion. Heroes without capes. And so on.

So they were shocked when they asked me what brought me in on that cold and snowy day to become a hero. “Do you have family in the hospital? Did you want to help save lives? Did you see one of our blood drives at your work or school? Are you religious?”

“No. They cancelled school today and I was bored so figured, eh, why not?”

They gave me a quizzical look and said, “Well, that’s the first time we’ve heard that before…” totally skeptical that anyone would really donate blood just to kill time.

And that started me on my journey of donating blood as frequently as possible for no noble reason at all. Sure I was helping, sure I was doing a good thing, but it’s always been something for me to do periodically. I didn’t care about the “gifts” they’d usually forget to give me, or the free snacks, or those stupid ass window stickers that brag to everyone how many gallons you’ve donated. Who cares? You’re not a hero because you can sit with a needle in your arm for ten minutes; give heroin addicts their own window stickers if that’s all it takes.

The First Donation

I should probably give a quick overview of the donation process so this post is somewhat informative to those looking for a look into the process. I’m sure every place is different, but I also assume the donation process doesn’t vary too much from place to place.

I break the donation process down into four phases. Firstly, they check your general health: temperature, weight, height, blood iron levels, and blood pressure. This is to ensure that you’re not obviously sick or anything. Then they ask you questions (or have you answer them on a paper or computer screen) about your health history: Are you feeling healthy and well today? Have you taken asprin in the past 48 hours? Do you take any medications on the deferral list? Have you ever had cancer? Are you pregnant? Do you have HIV/AIDS? Do you shoot up drugs? Have you taken money as payment for sex? Have you had sex with another man, even once, since 1980? Questions like those. If everything looks good, you actually donate blood. Finally, you’re basically forced to go eat free snacks, have a drink (not that kind of drink sadly), and are forced to socialize with those super outgoing people that seem to haunt the blood donor snack table. You know the type: the old, friendly, grandparenty type that want to talk about the news, weather, or whatever other boring mundane topic to talk to you about. More stereotyping here; I think this is the demographic that is most likely to donate. Old, bored people trying to help that have a slightly inflated sense of “community” or something. Maybe they’re more likely to have underlying health issues that make them in tune with the needs and struggles of strangers. It’s not terrible, but most times I just want to eat my goddamn granola bar in silence.

Actually donating blood is the most interesting and obviously terrifying aspect of donating blood (duh). It’s the part where they stick a giant needle into your arm and drain a pint of blood from your body. I’m not going to lie either — the needle is a massive needle. Most of us are aware of the needles used for vaccines and IV lines and they’re not too imposing. They’re tiny needles. The blood bank uses a needle that has a width of maybe two or three millimeters and imagining that being jabbed into your vein is unsettling. Luckily they’re sharp and while it does hurt the pain isn’t unbearable. After the needle is inserted the nurse or whatever always ask me, “Does everything feel okay?” I usually say, “It feels like a giant needle is in my vein, but other than that, yeah.”

They take some samples of your blood to test and then start collecting. This part is easy: you sit in a chair, squeeze a ball every few seconds, and let your body naturally bleed into a bag. It’s as easy as dying I guess.

I nearly passed out during my first donation. They told me to let them know if I didn’t feel okay, and after a few minutes I started to feel “funny.” I still felt “okay” just funny. Sounds became fuzzy and muted and it reminded me of what sounds are like underwater, if that makes sense. And my vision started to do the same thing, kinda wash out and blur but in a way where I didn’t feel sick or anything, only things seemed strange. So I looked at the nurse and said, “Uh. I feel kinda funny.” She ran over and tilted the chair back to force blood back into my head. Apparently what happens when your body thinks it’s bleeding to death is to transfer blood to your core to protect your main organs. It makes sense for general survival. Once the chair was tilted I ceased to feel “funny,” at least no more “funny” than I typically felt.

So that day I learned that bleeding to death wouldn’t be a terrible way to die. It’s just “feeling funny” before you pass out and die. Good to know. Maybe I won’t panic if I ever experience sudden loss of blood in the future.

They wrap your arm up, make sure you can stand up okay, and send you over to the snack area after telling you to leave the bandage on for four hours. Eat plenty of food and drink plenty of water. If you feel faint or dizzy, sit down and put your head between your knees. Then you small-talk and snack with the old people until you’ve had enough and can’t take it anymore and must escape the place.

And donating blood makes you tired. It’s a different type of tired or exhausted from doing physical labor. You literally feel drained. It makes sense seeing as a sizeable fraction of your blood — the oxygen transportation system for your entire body — is missing so it’s no surprise you feel drained. I noticed I felt really sleepy, yawned all the time, and felt like I was half asleep for the rest of the day. Just unwilling and unable to really participate in life, work, or whatever else was going on. It was kinda peaceful in a way. So if you do donate, don’t plan on helping your friend move or try to run a 10k or anything. As the people at the blood bank would probably say: No shit. Why would you even try to do that?

All in all, being a “hero” is a great way to kill an hour in an otherwise boring day and gives you an excuse to eat like a fucking pig and be lazy. Can’t do physical work if you’re missing some blood! No heavy lifting for me! 6/10: would recommend to anyone suffering from boredom even if it isn’t the funnest thing you could possibly do.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Rambling Writings About COVID Anxiety

Note: This post is an objective mess. It’s mostly me rambling about whatever. I don’t know what my main topic is, although I think it’s something to do with anxiety. Since the post is so chaotic maybe it’s a prefect example of anxiety at work. At least that’s how I’m going to justify posting this utter piece of rambling garbage. Also, 1,000 monthly views! I’ll write a post about that sometime soon.

I think I’d be prepared for a zombie apocalypse. Or even a nuclear one, the world ending event where you and everyone else is blatantly aware that shit is, in fact, going down in a real way. Where you can and must drop your daily routine and go into survival mode. Or helpful mode. Or war mode. Kill to defend your family. Kill and forage to eat. Money doesn’t matter. Form into tribes, get weapons, tap into the dormant instinct to survive that is tucked deep down within us, but also hiding dangerously close to the surface looking for a reason to escape when needed. The fracturing of society and the collapse of all the bullshit things that we keep ourselves busy with, replaced by one thing: survival.

I wasn’t ready for this, whatever the hell it is. Is it a future collapse of society, the precursor to a world war, or the first rumbling of the next great depression? Or is this our Spanish Flu and in a few months we’ll be back to normal saying “Phew. It’s over,” where we can finally reflect on what actually happened? Nobody knows. It’s undefinable. I don’t know whether to dump money into stocks or stock up on camping equipment and canned food (Record unemployment, tanking oil prices, yet stonks only go up for some reason; it makes zero sense). Do I save up a store of cash or buy random shit for my hobbies on Amazon? None of us know anything and I think that’s the real anxiety inducing thing about COVID-19.

And sorry for another post about COVID, but this is the hot topic of our time, probably rivaling the attacks of September 11th. Already more people have died due to COVID than the attacks themselves: over 50,000 60,000 70,000 compared to 3,000 and the only real difference is no actual person is to blame. I don’t think there’ll be any geopolitical fallout over COVID so maybe it’s impact will be less than the September 11th attacks despite the massive loss of life. But without anyone to blame it’s even scarier in a way; it’s just the universe doing what it does best, which is moving forward without giving a damn about us lowly humans. Were small and insignificant and this entire thing makes it stark. I saw a post on Facebook asking…well…let me find it and screencap it:

The comments are even better. Would’ve screencapped the whole thing but editing the names and faces out was too much work.

I’ve never been more comfortable with my “soft-atheism” than I am now. Sure, I’ll give credence to the idea of a “greater power” or whatever, but a kind, loving God? Nah. Hard pass on that, especially now. And if it is all “just a test of our faith” or some other bullshit rationalization, I’ll pass on the faith entirely. If this is the God we have that requires blind faith and worship, killing tens of thousands of people for reasons, surely there is a greater one truly worth of worship out there somewhere.

(Note: Nothing against religious people here, to stress that. If you get fulfillment and enlightenment and your life is improved by believing in something, I’m all for it. You do your thing and I don’t really care.)

Rant aside, we’re a species on this fine planet of ours competing with everyone other species to do exactly what were doing: survive. Sometimes the especially nimbly evolving ones get a new random upgrade thanks to genetics, the flu flukes it’s way into COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands of people die. There is no one to blame — this is simply how shit works.

And I think it’d be easier to blame someone. China, the president, and sure while things can always be made worse through total ineptitude of our leadership and mixed messages, there is nobody to place direct blame on for COVID. As always, if you think this is a Chinese weapon, or a Democratic hoax to tank the stonk market, go feck right off.

I thought I had a point I was trying to make here. Oh yeah, I’m still mildly freaking out. Maybe more than mildly. I don’t know. I’m having a difficult time explaining how I actually feel currently. The world is not the same that it was and I have mild terror over it. It’s such a slow and creeping change compared to the sudden DEAL WITH IT OR DIE change that zombies or nukes would do. Is this the final month of the outbreak or are we just getting started? Is the curve flattening or are cases underreported? Are we going to have a round two of this thing? Will it become the new and upgraded seasonal flu? Even more than usual the future is foggier than it typically is, which is pretty fucking foggy by default.

I’ve realized I’m a terribly insecure and anxious person, although I think I hide it well sometimes. I love my routines and being able to expect a certain normalcy from life. I have anxiety over the weekend wondering what my job assignment will be during the upcoming week. If I know before Saturday, I’m fine, but not knowing lets my mind wander around and play mental chess trying to analyze every single possibility that will face me at work. Not that this has anything to do with COVID — I’m just proving my anxiety here — and COVID only makes it worse.

I hate change. I hate insecurity. I hate not knowing. I’m really curious if this is a human thing to have or if it’s just me. Does anyone really like change, like really? Or is it just varying degrees of opposition to change? I don’t know. Help me out here guys. I want to do a massive post on change and how I hate it despite knowing it’s good in some vague “personal growth” way (I read a book called Who Moved My Cheese which was all about accepting change and how it’s good), but the post just isn’t coming together. There’s too much to write about regarding change.

So COVID has taken my already anxious and insecure personality traits and cranked them up in a subtle but noticeable way. My work routine is fucked. My shopping routine is fucked. Tiny changes everywhere I look that aren’t a big deal but when they all pile up and are viewed together, they seem like massive changes. The way I naturally keep six feet away from people now, or try not to breathe too heavily, or the lines outside Walmart, or the constant ads for facemasks, things like that. I’m donating blood today and have anxiety about all the tiny policy changes that they may or may not have enacted. Will they make me wear a mask? Will I be sent away if I don’t bring my own mask? Will there be COVID questions to answer? Will they have to stay six feet away from me as they jam a massive needle into my arm? I don’t know anything and I hate not knowing.

I’d say the worst is work though. It’s where I spend nearly all of my time when I’m not at home (because there’s nowhere else to go) but the fact that work hasn’t changed much has it straddling the fine line between being comforting having a routine like a job but terrifying due to all the little changes taking place there. My safe spaces, the routines I take comfort in are now changed, altered, or not present anymore. Work is still work, but it’s also not quite the same as it used to be.

We have 11-person vans we ride around in. Some people take tugs to grab equipment and stuff while the others ride around in the van, myself included. I’m a big fan of the van because it’s where I get nearly all of my social interactions in my life. It’s where I listen to music with others and where I talk to my friends. Thanks to COVID, the van — such a tiny aspect of work but somehow my comfortable zone to exist in — now has a limit of four people. Some of us ‘van people’ must get tugs and sit in isolation for most of the day. It’s oppressing in a way when you’re used to a certain amount of socializing and you’re removed from it. Even the possibility of not being in a van puts me on edge. I’m a total introvert but this doesn’t mean I don’t need social interaction. Sometimes I think I require more. Even if I haven’t been cast to the tugs decisively and am still ‘defending my van seat,’ I have a great deal of insecurity about it. Every day before work I stress out about if I’ll be able to sit in the van or if I should just give up and grab a tug. Take one for the team. Sacrifice myself to the tugs so others can enjoy the van.

The tugs are also shit because while having two seats only one person is allowed in a tug. If I did end up in a tug I can’t even have a buddy ride around with me. I can’t ride with someone else. I can’t give rides to people who are walking. I’ve realized I enjoy helping people and doing these little favors for people like offering them a ride makes me feel useful and appreciated, like I’m doing something small and good to help the world, and this has been taken away.

Or even in the plane pushing cans! We all have to wear a mask/bandana when we’re in the airplane which doesn’t sound terrible, but you’ve probably never realized how often you use facial cues when talking to someone until you have a conversation where you can only see the other person’s eyes. It’s almost like talking over a phone — something seems lacking like it isn’t real interaction — and it just doesn’t feel like talking to a person should feel. It’s like you’re detached from them while standing and talking to them. You say something and smile and no one can really notice it as much. Are they aware you were being sarcastic and joking or does your lack of a visible smile make you seem like an asshole? Usually you can tell and it’s not that hard, but not seeing someone’s mouth or cheeks when their talking does throw you off a bit. I almost think everyone feels this way because nearly everyone in conversation pulls their mask down to talk, probably unconsciously, so their mouths are seen. Once again, another small change thanks to COVID that makes me slightly uncomfortable and insecure.

There’s too many small examples to explain.

And I feel like I can’t properly complain about it or say how I feel because it’s so fucking stupid. I sound like a whining crybaby talking about my fucked up routines and how the things I use to anchor myself to life have been fucked up. Who cares? People are literally dying and I’m worried about not being able to give people rides in a tug. People are out of a job and I’m complaining about where I’ll sit in a van at work. At work at a job that has had zero impact from COVID. I’m lucky. Somehow I stumbled into the perfect job for a pandemic. “Essential Employee”: that’s me. But I can’t help how I feel, and figured I’d whine about it a bit. I think the entire “social isolation” thing didn’t get me worried much, and now that I’ve been living with it for the past two months, I’m surprised that I’m actually breaking down really fucking slowly.

It’s not all bad though. I’ve finally realized that everything “bad” doesn’t need to be seen as bad at all. Whatever you view as bad says something about yourself and how you view the world. Through this COVID bullshit I’ve realized that, yes, I love my friends and coworkers. I love talking to them. I love being around them. Even sitting in the van with a group of friends and listening to music is wonderful. I never realized it before until it was taken away. The “bad” isn’t what happened; it’s how I view the situation. And apparently I love helping people, doing tiny little insignificant things to make their lives easier. Pick up my coworkers from the guard shack on friday, bring my bluetooth stereo into work for the music, offer rides in tugs, buying gum from Amazon for people, and so on. So maybe when all of this is over I can take these few gems I learned about myself and apply them. This is who I am, and I probably shouldn’t deny it.

Gratitude is Actually Pretty Cool

First, let me do a quick update on the state of my blog. After my streak last month I haven’t done a damn thing here in April. I think this is only the third or fourth post this month. I was prepared for my views to tank due to my lack of consistent posting, but the universe has decided to totally fuck me over once again and has me on track to maybe reach that mythical goal of 1,000 despite the minimal effort I’ve put into blogging recently. The past 25 days of April I didn’t care — I’d save my effort for another month to reach my goal — but now I find myself wondering if maybe I can pull it off with some desperate posting in the next four or five days. I suddenly give a damn again and I’m upset about it.

I’m proud of this though. I’m proud of myself. As much as I like to shit on myself, I can allow myself to be proud of it. And I’m thankful for those who stumble upon my content and actually read/enjoy it. Which leads me to the actual topic of this post: gratitude.

A friend at work who I consider my impromptu unofficial self-help/self-discovery guru started some fitness plan with a few other coworkers. Luckily I wasn’t included in the actual program because I’m a total slacker, but she was thoughtful enough to email me the .pfds of the program. If I wanted to I could get off my ass and ‘unofficially’ do the entire thing, but once again my motivation was/is shit and I couldn’t pull it off. And I don’t think I want to pull it off either. I have a hard enough time writing blog posts and stories to take on the task of getting my entire life in order. I’m a slacker and I fully admit to it, something about loving yourself despite your flaws.

The program seems to consists of three major aspects of health: eating right, working out, and getting your mindset straight. I’m sure you can imagine which one I put the most emphasis on. I think mental health is the cornerstone for any healthy life because if you feel like shit and are constantly depressed you can’t pull anything else together. You mental state is how you process the world — it is your reality — so even if you have the perfect life depression will make you blind to that fact. And while you can eat healthy or exercise when fighting depression everything is a constant struggle that you must use pure willpower to make any progress. For me at least, mental health always take precedence over anything else.

Not that all aspects of health don’t work together in synergy (God, I hate that word). Exercise as well as healthy eating can help your mental state. I also think everyone is well aware of what the need to improve on with those; sitting on the couch eating cheeseburgers all day is not healthy. Improving your mental state is really vague and hard to work on, a lot harder than not eating cheeseburgers/pizza all day.

I read the ‘gratitude’ .pdf and liked the gist of it. The reasoning behind it seems to be that if you start your day off by making a list and actually thinking about what you’re grateful for you’ll improve your entire outlook for the day. You put your brain into a positive mental state which sows tiny seeds that can grow throughout the day. Not that shitty things still don’t happen, but you’re much more likely to think about your gratitude and hold a positive mindset during these times if you’ve written down something earlier.

I used to sort of do these things on the drive to work. Kinda hype myself up for the day. Tell myself that it’ll be a good day, or look in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this. It’ll be a good day. Stop worrying.” In the bathroom a few days ago at work I looked in the mirror and said, “I look good today. I feel good today. Let’s do this.” Tiny shit like that. Obviously anything as spontaneous as this works somewhat, but not as well as anything with structure would do. This ‘gratitude journal’ seemed like the structure that I needed while having stumbled upon the general idea of ‘the power of positive thought’ earlier. Maybe I’d give it a shot.

So I did, begrudgingly. Listed three things I was grateful for. Listed two ways to make the day better. And came home from work and listed three things that were good during the day. And a singular way to make the next day better. Whatever. Bedtime, hours of Reddit, and eventually sleep as the sun came up. The following day I dragged my ass back to the computer to start day two. This time I made a dedicated .doc file for my journal and wrote the questions down so I could simply copy and paste them into the next day’s entry.

I knew it would work, but damn if it isn’t nice to surprise your persistent inner pessimist that it actually does work. It’s so uplifting after a “bad day” to sit down at the computer and uncover two things that actually were good about it. We fixate on the bad so much that it dictates our entire mood for some reason. Capping the day off by writing down two nice things brings your mind back into positive territory where you can enjoy the fact that good shit does infact happen. Daily, too. Wow, who would’ve thought? Days are always a mixed bag of good and bad, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad and you admit that it was a “good day”, but most of the time we only see the bad. By writing down the good you’re forced to acknowledge it.

And writing down positive things at the start of the day also helps, but in a more subtle way. You start the day by acknowledging the good you have and this uplifts your mood slightly during the day. I’m not going to say it fixes the day for you, but it does add that little edge-up on life that might make the difference between you totally spiraling into anxiety/depression/anger or letting it die and wither away before it really gets a hold on your mental state.

Today was the fourth day I’ve done it, and there’s another nice aspect of it; by plopping down at my computer to write things that I’m grateful for I’m setting myself up to actually write. The hardest part about writing seems to be getting the computer and turning it on, and a gratituide journal takes care of this for you. I didn’t really want to write this post, but I had my computer open and had already typed in the journal, so going to WordPress and actually writing was much easier.

As a challenge to anyone who reads this, what are you grateful for? See if you can list three things that you’re grateful for and see if your mood improves slightly during the day. And at the end of the day, try writing down a few good things about the day. Every day offers gems and it’s only our incessant focusing on the shit that makes us think there are no gems in life: every single day has gems if you care to notice them.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Solar Power Sucks: Powering a Home?

I suppose this is a continuation of my solar phone charger post and my broken solar panel post.

First let me digress on how this quarantine is making people crazy. It’s a subtle kind of crazy — nothing too obvious — but everyone seems so damn anxious being trapped inside. Knowing you can’t do random trips to the stores or grab a bite to eat at a sit-down restaurant. Being off of work and stuck at home. Hanging out with your friends has been put on hold. The entire world is in limbo and everyone is waiting for that unknown time in the future where we can get back to normal.

Everyone is coping differently (spiraling into alcoholism, doing home improvement projects, gardening, lawn care, reading, binge watching Netflix, etc.) but my mode of coping seems to be gaming and doing stupid random projects more than usual. I’m thinking about making hand sanitizer for my work buddies. I’m thinking about selling vape juice online. I’m making random purchases of things on Amazon to give myself projects to do. I was thinking of brewing wine to give to my friends. In the past week I’ve made five gallons of window washer fluid for the cars; I should be stocked up for nearly a half-year. And as I’ve written in the previously cited two posts, lately I’ve been fucking around with solar power.

At first I wanted to charge my phone with solar power, but these projects take on a life of their own once you get started. My tiny 10 watt solar panel wasn’t charging it fast enough so I purchased a big 100 watt panel. The one I received was defective and didn’t provide any power, so I returned it and got a replacement panel last Sunday. This one works like a champ and I charged my vape using only solar power for three days straight. It’s not like it’s saving the house electricity really, but it’s still fun to think about. The only problem I’ve had with vape charging is I cannot leave the vape on the charger long enough to top it off.

The panel being 100 watts is a bit overkill for phone/vape charging and the natural question to ask is “What else can I do with this?” Well, power as much shit as I can with it, obviously! Consider this panel can rake in about ten hours of power per day: this will give me 1 kilowatt-hour of energy in a day. Also consider the shitty 10 Watt LED bulbs placed around your house: each one of these ran for 10 hours requires 100 watt-hours. I should be able to run ten of these fuckers per day. Since each room has a most three of these, I should still have power to spare.

And how much power does our household use anyway? I was bored enough thanks to the quarantine and it being Saturday that I looked: about 2,000 kWh per month: this is an average of about 65 kWh per day. Shit, that’s a lot of power. I blame most of this on our shitty 240 Volt electric clothes dryer. Anything that makes heat from electricity is notoriously bad with power consumption so if we stopped using this bastard and air-dried our clothes I bet we could cut this in half. Anyways, since each panel can provide up to 1 kWh per day, I’d need like 65 of them to power the entire house along with enough car batteries to store all the power. Fuck. Each panel is about $100 (everything being around an even number makes the math so much easier) so it would cost about $6,500 to buy all the panels! Jeez. But since our electric bill is about $300 this investment would pay for itself in under two years.

I’m not really trying to power the entire house off solar — that’s too big of a project — and am just trying to get some numbers to get a feel for how much a solar panel can do. I do think I’ll try to power a room or two though and if this works keep upgrading the system as my boredom allows. My plan is to hook an extension cord into an inverter (which takes 12 Volt car-battery stored power and turns it into 120 Volt AC) and plug that into the wall via an extension cord. By turning off the room circuit breaker I can isolate the room from the main power supply while supplying 120 Volt power to the room from the inverter. ElectroBoom did a video with this general idea (without solar power but the idea is the same): check it out if you’d like. Not that there’s anything else for you to do now, right?

And appreciate the fact how all of this started by me trying to charge my phone with solar power so I could go hide in the woods for a week. And now I’m seriously considering powering part of the house with a fleet of solar panels. This is my madness during the quarantine. This is how I’m spiraling. But considering some other ways to cope I think I’m doing pretty damn good indeed. I’m still only drinking on Sunday. If only Amazon would hurry the fuck up and ship my goddamn inverter…