Depression in Stardew Valley Sucks: Part Two

Part One is here.

After platinuming Death Stranding (something I recommend only masochists do) I started Grand Theft Auto V. I had played it a year or so ago but never fully got into it. I was doing good for about a month — it’s a fantastic game — but it couldn’t stand up to the release of Stardew Valley version 1.5. This updates adds a whole new area to the game as well as local multiplayer on the Nintendo Switch. My wife and I started a game and me being the old pro at the game proceeded to boss her until she got the gist of the game. This has been my all-consuming addiction the past two or three weeks.

I can’t shrug off the feeling I get mid/late game though. I get depressed and bored while playing it. I already made a post complaining about video games endings and how games like Stardew Valley are especially depressing because they don’t have a hard ending. You can play the game literally forever raking in cash, fucking around, and whatever else you can find to do. Eventually nihilism comes in and you wonder what exactly it’s all for; does your in-game person even have a purpose in their life or is it just to make as much money before you die get bored and quit?

Having already written about that particular topic I didn’t think I’d have much more to say about it, but Stardew gives me a few more things to muse about because it tosses a bunch of capitalism and automation into the “everything is pointless” nihilism of late-game.

Stardew Valley, if you’ve never played, is a farming simulator. On it’s surface it’s a kid’s game; it’s easy, you can’t really die or fail the game, and if you want you can ignore your farm and fuck off the entire game with zero penalties. Sure, you’ll be poor, but since you don’t need to eat food or anything it’s fine. The music is cute, the art style is that of mid 1990s SNES games, and the whole thing basically shits cute/friendly/laid-back vibes. Until you get to the plot that is.

You inherit your farm from your dead grandpa. You leave your soulless, life-draining corporate job at Joja Mart (basically a stand-in for Walmart/greedy capitalism in general) to farm in Stardew Valley. The game stresses the importance of hard work and community, making real connections with real people doing fulfilling manual labor to contribute to your society. If you look slightly past the pretty/cute surface, the game emits anti-capitalism vibes and seems to be a statement against our current society where making money seems to be the most important thing to do in life. Why can’t we all leave our Joja Mart jobs and go farm in Stardew Valley?!

Now I don’t know if this is intentional on the video game creator’s part, but it seems most playthroughs end with you becoming exactly what you’ve been fighting against the whole time. Somehow I don’t think this was intentional. Game progression has to come from somewhere and starting with a quaint farm and turning it into a fucking money making machine makes sense progression-wise. But looking back on my current playthrough I wonder what the real message of Stardew Valley is, intentional or not. Is it that you can’t escape the rat-race? That every wonderful dream-fulfilling career turns into a slog? That there’s no escape from this? That eventually all you care about is making as much money as efficiently as possible? That you want to make the farm as easy to manage and as automated as possible because work fucking sucks?

At the start of the game, you’re a hard working farmer. You only have about 20 plants and you need to water them every day. You chop down trees, water, harvest the plants, and go to bed at like 5 p.m. because you’re so damn exhausted. This is fun for the first few seasons, but as the farm grows the work load increases. The chores start to feel like chores. You naturally want to make as much money as possible — who doesn’t? — so you upgrade your tools to make the job easier. You can eventually water 3, 5, and 9 plants in one go, so you expand the cropland. You now have 100-200 plants and diversify your farm into animals and artisan products. You make some fish ponds, start brewing wine and aging it, and before you know it you’re rolling in more money than you know what to do with. You endlessly farm for iridium ore so you can make the best damn watering sprinklers in the game — you’re sick of watering the damn crops everyday and just want enough sprinklers so you don’t have to do a damn thing on the farm anymore.

You also start doing a bunch of math to find out the best crops on a gold per day basis; some crops just aren’t worth fucking around with. You start growing only one or two crops to maximize your income. You know not to turn iridium-tier goat milk into cheese because you’ll take a slight loss on it. Let’s not forget the opportunity cost of making cheese either! You install junimo huts on the farm so you don’t even need to harvest the produce anymore: let the illegals junimos do all the work! You invest in the ‘auto-grabber’ tool so you don’t need to pick up eggs or milk the cows anymore. Hell, there’s even an ‘auto-petter’ that loves on the farm animals so you don’t even need to interact with them to keep them happy anymore. In a few short years you become Capitalism Incarnate.

Yesterday while playing my wife took care of everything on the farm and mentioned that she didn’t use any energy in the day. It was time for bed, she had been busy, but her energy bar was still maxed out. Holy shit, what happened? Remember the good ole days when we had to actually work on the farm and chop trees and pick vegetables? It was only a few years ago, but now our farm is so automated and easy to run that there’s not even a game to play anymore. Everything is a chore; you wake up, check the wine casks in the basement, sell and restock as necessary and that’s about it. I think that’s the point I’m trying to make here. The game wants you to use these fancy upgrades because that’s how it shows progression, but the progression is all about making the game easier and you lazier as time goes on. And as this happens you just don’t care anymore. As the work becomes easier, it becomes less fulfilling, and after the end of the third year you can’t help but feel that something went wrong, that this wasn’t the dream you had, and that you’re working another Joja Mart-type job, and worse, it’s a fate you walked into thinking it’d be better for your mental and spiritual health.

Like I said, I don’t think think this is exactly what Concerned Ape, the creator of the game, was trying to say, but the game is saying it anyway, and is saying it better than any other games trying to make this point. You try to escape corporate hell by farming but end up making your farm into a massive cash-making machine. All you care about is how big you can make that number at the top of the screen even if you have nothing to spend it on. You’re just as bad as Joja Mart, aren’t you? And by making things easier for yourself with better tools/automation, you take the achievement out of what you’re doing, but you’ve been wanting to get out of work all along, weren’t you? But now that the hard work is past you realize you don’t have shit to do, so you do what I’ve been doing in game. You set up a bonfire and some chairs around it in a quiet, unused portion of your farm, and sit ponding your purpose at 3 p.m. “My life in Stardew Valley sucks now. I’m rich but I’m bored. What the hell am I supposed to do now…?”

Not sure why I have three other chairs; I have no friends in Stardew Valley.

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February Sucks

February. FebRUary. Feb-YOU-airy. To start this post, just look at the word. I’ll write it one more time. FEBRUARY. Really look at how the letters actually form the word. February. It’s a classic example of a word that if you look at it too long it starts to seem wrong. It just doesn’t look right. And say it too. You probably pronounce it ‘feb-you-airy‘ if you’re like me. Maybe this is a defect of my Midwesterner’s accent; we pronounce all kinds of things all silly-like. (The only two I can think of right now is ‘milk’ as ‘melk‘ and ‘lawyer’ as ‘loy-yer‘) Now look at February again. Why in the fuck is there that R at the beginning? It doesn’t seem right and I had to look up the spelling just to be certain it was spelled correctly. It’s not a good look if you spell the topic of your blog post incorrectly. Anyways, grab a computer and type out February. See how clunky the word feels on a keyboard. It’s like driving down a bumpy road in keyboard form. February. It takes me five seconds to type it despite having an average pace of over 100 words per minute. I’m going to just copy it and past it when I need to type it again. Do you know how to spell February? ‘Ctrl+V’.

Let’s run through the rest of the months together to prove my point.

January. NOT JanRuary.

March. One syllable.

April. Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it? This is why people are named April and not MARCH.

May. It’s the ! of the calendar. MAY!

June. Nice.

July. Nice.

August. A bit longer at two syllables than the previous three, but thank you first Emperor of Rome. (Just imagine still having a month named after you 2,000 years after your death. That’s mad crazy.)

September. Fun fact: sept- is the prefix for seven.

October. Fun fact: octo- is the prefix for eight. Octopus. Octagon. October.

November. Fun fact: non- is the prefix for nine.

December. Fun fact: deca- is the prefix for ten. Ten months in a year…cool huh? Read about the Romans to learn more Fun Calendar Facts!

Februrary (sic). I mean, c’mon.

AAAANYWAYS…..Let’s get to the real post without as much shitposting.

The Vibes…

Months to me always have ‘vibes’ to them. For example June has connotations of warm and friendly summers when it hasn’t gotten too damn hot and summer is enjoyable still. July: hot and muggy, but not as bad as August. August is summer in all of it’s hot and muggy miserable hellishness. October? Kinda depressing. Everything is dying, the days are getting shorter, and it’s getting cold out. I don’t want to get into all of them but let’s give January a shout-out because it’s a shitty winter month just like February. But unlike February January feels new I guess. It’s the first month of a new year and winter has yet to really set in and kick everyone’s’ asses. January feels clean and crisp whereas February feels like the mud in the yard once the snow starts melting. Cold, miserable, squishy, disgusting, and looking exactly like dog shit. Not that there is melting snow in February, but that’s what the month feels like.

The Cold…

Through a thing called seasonal lag most of us Northerners get the worst winter has to offer in February. Even though December 21/22 is the shortest day of the year, the sun’s heat doesn’t really come back despite February being two months later. February is cold. February is frigid. February has the kinds of temps (or lack of temps) that make you want to lay down and die when you’re outside for more than ten minutes. February is snowy, and by the time the month begins I’ve already given up on shoveling. It’s easier to wait the season out a few more weeks than to fuck around with shoveling anymore. It’s my own fault, but February means sheets of ice wherever I park the cars. It means getting stuck countless times on my way to work. It means grey salt specks all over my car. It’s trying to spray window wash on my car and watching it freeze instantly or not come out at all.

Making all of this worse is the fact that the days are getting longer. The sun is out longer than it has been since October, but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like a tease — there’s the bright sun and it’s out for quite a while — but it doesn’t actually warm anything up. “Boy, it looks nice outside! Look at how sunny and clear it is!” Then you walk outside to be greeted by -40 degree air. It doesn’t matter if this is Fahrenheit or Celsius because -40 is the same in F or C.

The 28 Day Month…

February is also the only awkward month with 28 days. This is kinda cool in a way — it’s an even four weeks — but when you’re struggling to remember if a month has 30 or 31 days what in the ever fuck is February doing with 28? Hell, add two days to February and take away one day from two of the months with 31 days, whatever those months are. This would make more 30-day months which would be easier on the mind to remember.

The Leap Days…

And leap days. The rare February 29th every four years, but not actually every four years! Any other 29th day of the month isn’t a crazy thing, but here is February 29th being all strange and rare. What if we did what I suggested in the previous paragraph and tack on a February 31st as a leap day? February could have 30 AND 31 days! Wouldn’t that be fun!

The Valentine’s Day…

February is also home to Valentine’s Day. V-Day has always been the bane of my existence ever since I was an awkward and lonely teenager, and I’ve never fully forgotten how awful the day is. Even now, being married, I hate the day. What the hell are you supposed to do for V-Day in February? My wife and I are pretty shy, reserved, and don’t like to be around large crowds. We like going to the parks and walking. How do you think this works out in the coldest month of a year? And remember, this isn’t just cold, it’s a frigid you-stay-outside-too-long-you-lose-extremities-and-perhaps-die sort of cold. Walking to the car to eat at a restaurant is painful. Waiting for the car to warm up is uncomfortable. We usually sit around the house feeling antsy like we should be out doing something but have no clue what to actually do because fuck going outside.

Really, why is the prime ‘romantic day’ of the year in February? I don’t think the ‘holiday’ has any historical basis or anything (but I could be wrong), so what’s wrong with putting it in the summer or something? Spring and summer feel more like “seasons of love” than winter does. Is this okay to do? Can the National Valentine’s Day Committee please hear my request and pass a resolution moving Valentine’s Day to May or June? Maybe I should start a crowdfunding campaign to get it moved…

In Closing…

Remember how I said that December, according to prefixes, should be the tenth month? Yeah. So if that’s the tenth month, what would the “first” month be? March. What about January and February? We stole our calendar from the Romans (who dictated a bunch of shit our western culture still holds dear) and they didn’t have January and February. Like, holy shit, how cool/dumb were these people to have an entire ten month calendar that was somehow ~60 days short and they just didn’t give a shit to fix it? Apparently people in Rome just didn’t count these days because winter is a useless time of year and they just existed without a calendar until March. That really makes a ton of sense seeing as one of the skipped months was/is now February. Even they knew February would suck so just didn’t even give it name or recognize it. Let’s go back to that! Fuck February. Seriously, the month can straight-up fuck right off. It’s spelled funny, it’s cold, it’s dark, it has bad vibes, it only has 28 days for some stupid reason, leap day is awkward, and Valentine’s Day is in February. February fucking sucks.

BIG NOTE HERE: According to Wikipedia, the old Roman Calendar existence is disputed by some. Apparently this calendar was called the ‘Legendary 10 Month Roman Calendar‘ and people aren’t totally sure it was a real thing. I still like the story of it though and didn’t want to pass on misinformation. Read into it yourself if you’re really curious.

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Trading Stonks Sucks

I find myself the Stock Guru at UPS now. It’s cool — I love that people are into investing now — but seeing a coworker with a two-week-old Robinhood account tossing money into some penny stock with a 2 BILLION DOLLAR MARKET CAP and 20 employees and making 175% returns on his $200 account makes me sort of want to die. This will not end well! Dude stumbles into the market, buys some ZOM and SNDL shares, doubles his money and instantly thinks he’s good at trading, attributing beginner’s luck to personal skill or something. Eventually he’ll YOLO his whole account on something stupid, his luck/”personal skill” will fail to materialize, and then he’ll be up at 8:30 a.m. after two restless hours of sleep realizing a whopping 90% loss on his account. I’ve lived that hell myself; that’s what stock trading is — getting cocky and blowing up your account — and realizing that, holy hell, it isn’t actually free money.

Andy will probably blow his account up if he ever gets the balls to invest more than a few hundred dollars. Dominic sold his Dogecoins for a hefty loss and recently bought some SNDL shares; today they’re down like 30%! James is still holding AMC for some reason and he’s probably down 50% on that play, but he said he “bought it for the meme” so I think he’s not expecting to actually get rich. Enrique, even if he doesn’t say a whole lot, still mumbles to Andy and Dominic about biotech penny stocks with names that you’ve never heard of and never will hear of. I’ll make up a few names now so you get the idea of what a biotech penny stock sounds like: Trevelex, ZambiTech, Velero Pharmaceuticals, and Xetezic Diagnostics. Caleb is still waiting for ANVX to drop below $10 to load up and warning the others to not invest in Bitcoin at $56,000 (wise moves from someone not trading at all) while my sister is asking me about call options and strike prices on General Motors of all things. If I want anyone to not blow their account up it’d be her. Allison continually says, “Jeremy! You need to teach me how to do stocks!” and my old coworker from years ago texted me asking, “Guess I’m curious what you use to buy stocks.”

This is all confusing to me because I don’t think I’m that good at trading. This year I’m up $5,000 on a $16,000 account — a whopping 30% return in a month — but I don’t think this is my doing. If anything I’ve been lucky and trading cautiously, trying to remember one of the holy rules of the stock market; don’t lose money! It’s hard to gain money if you keep losing it. Even though I’m doing great this year I vividly remember past years where I’ve made some very stupid moves. I blew up my account to the tune of $10,000 during which I call the XIVpocalypse. Seriously, go look up XIV and see what happened a few years ago. That was me riding it all the way down thinking I found a a way to print money for free or something. There’s been countless earnings plays where I also lost thousands of dollars, stupidly betting half my account on a stock either going up or down. It’s dangerous and it’s stupid and it will bite you. And now? I’m lucky and I’m cautious of pushing my luck too far. Maybe this is exactly what a good trader is?

I think that’s the appeal of the market to these blind novices; the stock market is as close to free money as you can get. These guys see 50-100% returns in a single day if they strike the right stock at the right time; how does this compare with slaving away at UPS for $15 per hour. The math isn’t hard to do: dump $5,000 into the market, hit a 50-100% return (or higher), and you’ll have $7,500-10,000 in a single day or week. Do this a few times and you’ve made your yearly pay doing absolutely nothing but clicking buttons on your phone. Very quickly you get to the point of asking yourself why you’re working at all. It’s easier to just trade. Take all your money, dump it into your brokerage account and trade. Roll profits into large plays and profits and before you know it you have two commas in your net worth and can retire. And easy it is when you’re lucking out with 50% gains everyday.

It’s hard to talk about the dark side of trading to these n00bs. They’re making gains all day, everyday, all week long. They’re excited, they’re energized, and they’ve found a new and interesting hobby. How can you possibly be like, “Yeah, that’s cool, but the market will move against you eventually, and it doesn’t feel good when you lose money, so don’t get cocky. Take gains when you can and stay humble. Above else: be lucky.” When Andy is making bank off penny stocks, do I really want to tell him about SPY and it’s tasty 2% dividend? Or JNK with its massive 5% dividend? Or the benefits of long-term investing? Hell no.

I guess I’m torn between these two extremes. On one hand I do feel like my trading is acting like a second job for me; whatever I’ve been doing the past couple of month is working, while on the other hand it doesn’t seem as easy or a rosy as I’m sure these newbz like to think it is. Investing is a great thing to get into that many people, especially poor people, are too scared or hesitant to get into. There’s a big rant here about the US’s population being especially financially illiterate (but I’ll hold off on that) so a bunch of new people being interested in STONKS is a great change. Yes, invest in your future. Make passive income. Be an owner of a company and not a customer. Use your money for you and not to blow on the newest and hottest electronic device.

Free money? Yes, but not really. There does seem to be some work, some price to pay for the cash. Regular jobs involve boredom, dealing with idiot coworkers, and actual labor. With trading to make MASSIVE GAINS I think what you give up is your psychological well-being. It’s checking your account every 10 minutes even though the markets are closed. It’s laying awake at 3 a.m. wondering if you’ll have more or less money in your account in five hours. It’s insomnia and stress. It’s pondering randomly throughout the day what your future plays will be. It’s a mental mess deciding to sell for a profit or to let it ride. Will it go up or down? Play it safe or risky? It’s being bored out of your mind on the weekend unable to enjoy yourself because you can’t trade at all! It’s being upset and restless during holidays for the same reason. It’s having an abstract idea of money as simple numbers on a screen and a detachment to the value of it. Maybe I’m taking this to the extreme, but trading the past few weeks — despite the free money of my gains — is a subtle form of hell. When I think about it it doesn’t seem like free money at all. There’s a cost to it, just a different sort of cost than time/boredom/hard labor that is typical work.

Which is good in a way. By trading and seeing your worth fluctuate wildly during market hours you become stoic in a way. GameStop is down like 70% from when you bought it? You’ve lost thousands of dollars? Oh well. You somehow have to put this to the back of your mind ignoring the money you’ve lost (which is really hard to do) and live your life the best you can. You still have to eat, sleep, have friends, go to work, and be happy all while having this massive dirty-feeling cloud over your head. With time you can get pretty good at it to.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to say here. The stock market is free money and a good thing to invest in, but know exactly what you’re investing for or what your goals are. If you want to dump part of your paycheck into a wide-market ETF like SPY go right ahead: it’s a fucking smart choice long term and you’ll eventually turn your money into a big pile of cash. It’ll just take forever and it’ll be boring. You won’t get the excitement of seeing your account double or triple in a day or two (or the stress and anxiety of seeing it get cut in half either) but this is what investing is. If you’re trading — looking to make a quick buck or generate income equal to a second job — you’re in for a world of shit. You’ll be consistently checking your accounts, trying to find new plays, struggling with bagholding and deciding when to sell for profits. You’re sleep will be trash and lows are immense. One day you’ll feel like King Midas and the next you’ll feel like a fucking idiot not selling when you felt like King Midas. It’s not fun, it’s all consuming, and it takes some pretty hefty mental fortitude to pull it off properly. And as stated before it also takes a good amount of luck and the appreciation that luck can actually play in day to day life. This is what I don’t think the novices at work are prepared for.

Note: By the time I posted this Andy finally sold his SNDL shares for a $90 loss. Remember, he was up 175% last week. Think about how you’d feel not selling at the correct time and eventually taking a loss.

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Life‌ ‌Protips‌ ‌#1:‌ ‌Protips‌ ‌for‌ ‌Life‌ ‌(The‌ ‌First‌ ‌One)‌

A friend at work mentioned he was tossing around the idea for a “life protips” series on YouTube in a very tentative, brainstormy kinda way. I guess I thought about it enough that my insomnia-riddled brain at 3 a.m. started coming up with my own list of life protips. It’s a stupid enough idea to make a quick post about it here.

Number blog posts even if there isn’t a series. Just put a #1 at the start to save yourself the trouble even if you never make a second post.

Check the toilet paper before you ‘get started!’ When you first enter a bathroom make sure there is enough toilet paper to clean yourself. You can always enter another stall or quickly grab another roll, but once your ass has shit all over it you’re stuck on the toilet unless you want to get shit in your underwear. Do yourself a favor and check before you use the toilet.

Check the seat before you sit down! Who knows what sort of fluids are on the toilet. Before you drop your pants and plop down, inspect the seat and clean it as needed. No one wants to sit in some stranger’s piss.

Check the shopping cart before you enter the store! No one wants to load their cart up with a hundred pounds of food and junk to find out one wheel is shit, drags, and pulls to one side. Check it before you start shopping and get a better cart right away. Save your wrist and back from constantly steering to one side to go straight.

Load heavy shit in the back of your shopping cart! Yes, another shopping cart protip. Because shopping is such a pain in the ass experience you want to make it as easy on yourself as possible. By putting heavy shit in the rear of your cart you’re minimizing the angular momentum when you need to turn the cart. There’s some physics involved here, but by moving heavy stuff closer to the center of rotation (the rear wheels) you minimize how much force it takes to turn the cart. Try it out and thank me later.

Always get a shopping cart! This is the last tip about shopping carts, I promise. Never grab those shitty little baskets you have to carry. Sure, you think you’re going in the store for milk, eggs, and bread, but you know your hungry ass is going to load up with way more food than you initially planned for. Do you want to haul twenty pounds of heavy shit in a basket? No. There is no downside to grabbing a cart even if you’re “only grabbing a few items.” Carts have wheels, baskets don’t, so just grab a fucking cart.

Use the self-checkouts near the pharmacy, not near the grocery section! All Walmart’s seem to have this setup: groceries on one end of the store and the pharmacy on the other. Both sides of the store have similar self-checkout lanes with one key difference; most people are at the store to buy food, not lightbulbs/toys/toothpaste. Everyone goes to the lanes nearest to the grocery section because most people are stupid. Take the time to walk down to the other end of the store to check-out and you’ll save five or ten minutes not waiting in line.

Leave a dedicated roll of paper towels in the garage! These do not leave the garage! If they run out, replace them. You never know when you’re going to get your hands dirty fucking around with the random shit in a garage. Need to air the car tires up? Well now you have brake dust and road grime on your fingertips even if it was a simple task. They’re also great for spontaneous window cleaning when you’re bored in the summer or for changing oil. This also saves your sink from being destroyed.

Speaking of paper towels, use their empty cardboard rolls to wrap Christmas lights around! Put the female cord in one end, wrap the strand around the roll, and you’ll be treated to tangle-free lights 9-10 months later. I learned this from my grandpa who I thought was a goddamn genius for using this method. As with all amazing protips, it’s a lifesaver with zero downside. Just fucking do it.

Open bananas from the bottom! Don’t open them from the stalk — this is the tough section of a banana and usually just smashes the fruit to a pulp before you can get it open. Pinch the bottom and start peeling for an unblemished banana experience. Big thanks to my old boss Coach Dave at Sam’s Club for this protip. He was kind of a douche at times, but I’ll always be fond of his banana protip.

Only charge your phone to 70-80%! Lithium batteries wear out faster if you constantly charge them to 100%. Phone companies don’t want you to know this and don’t lock their batteries at 80% charge because you’ll fork over money on a new phone in two years after you’ve wrecked your battery. Battery swaps are difficult with sealed phones, so stick it to Big Electronics and save your phone’s battery life. (Big post about this coming soon…)

Do not put knives into the soapy water! I learned this one from my mom and my grandma. Grandma would always put knives in the dishwater with everything else and blindly reaching into the water would give her fingers a nasty cut every week or two. How many times do you need to cut yourself before you figure out a better technique to not get injured? Anyways, my mom would stress to me the importance of not putting the sharp objects into the sudsy water and it’s such a good idea why would you do it any other way? Set the damn knives aside and wash them individually, unless you enjoy washing your dishes with bloody water for some reason.

Clean ceiling vans by turning them on reverse! Have a fan covered in cat/dog hair and dust on the windward side of the blades? Too lazy to get a ladder and properly clean them? Fans have a switch on them that reverses their rotation; if you do this and crank the speed to ‘high’ most of the dust will fall into the floor like dirty, disgusting snow flakes. Vacuum these up and your fan will be kind of clean. It won’t be spotless (thanks to something called the ‘boundary layer’) but it’s good enough if you’re lazy.

Clean coffee makers with vinegar. Hard water builds up in the internal plumbing and can quickly turn your coffee maker into a useless item for your garbage can. You do not want to wake up unable to make coffee. Run some vinegar through the thing monthly to have a clean and efficient coffee maker that won’t give you a severe caffeine-withdrawal headache when it spontaneously shits out.

Make Kool-Aid/powdered drinks with hot water. Not a lot of hot water — just enough to dissolve all of the sugar — and you’ll have an easy time at it. Sugar dissolves slower in cold water meaning you need to stir your Lipton tea forever until you drink it. Fill up the cup/jug about 25%, add hot water, and mix in the powder. Once dissolved, add cold water. Sure it won’t be as cold as it could be, but it saves a few minutes of frustratingly stirring waiting for it to dissolve.

Uhhhhhh….that’s all I have right now.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

My First YouTube Video Sucks

Editing videos fucking sucks. I knew it would but didn’t know the extent that it would. Part of it is my fault. My computer is shitty, about four or five years old, and isn’t meant to do anything more than act as a word processor. That’s why I bought it — I wanted to blog — so I purchased the cheapest, barest-minimum piece of trash I could. Apparently it’s not ideal for video editing. The damn thing crashed and froze up about three or four times during editing. Sometimes the audio on the video cut out, and good luck trying to edit all the quiet/boring parts out of a video when you can’t hear anything. I had to reload the project constantly to fix the problem.

Editing took me about three hours, all for a nine minute video. That took a long time! I knew this would be a thing because doing something the first time always takes longer than you expect. Once again to bring up the blogging analogy, our first blog posts probably take days and maybe weeks of writing, editing, being too terrified to publish because you think what you’ve written is shit, writing and editing some more, and finally you’re done. After you’ve done that a few times you get into a habit/flow where you know what the next step is and you don’t fumble around as much as you used too.

Anyways, since I talked about this in the last post I figured I’d plop the video up for you guys. This feels more awkward than publishing the video in the first place. As a blogger, no one has heard my voice or seen me outside of my crappy profile picture. Like putting the real person who talks and has mannerisms, the dude behind all of these posts, out there in the world makes me feel strange. There’s some anonymity behind blogging; you get to hide behind words and don’t have to worry about the inflection of your tone/voice or how you’re dressed or what your surroundings are. Well, enough rambling about nothing, here’s the damn video. Obligatory “Yo yo yo! If you liked this video smash that ‘like’ button, subscribe, and hit that fuckin’ bell for notifications my bros!”

Our Own Worst Enemies

Like everyone I’m probably more critical about the end result than anyone else is. First off, my sniffles are the most annoying thing in the world. I noticed this when I was editing. I sound like a person coming off a cocaine binge or something. Apparently I put in a ton of sniffs in the place of “uhhs” and “ahhhs” and “umms,” you know those “thinking words” to fill silence when you’re trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to say next. Going forward: no more sniffling!

One time in the video I told my wife “stop” to stop recording. Apparently I didn’t edit this out and was too lazy to go back and fix the problem. Going forward: check your work!

I’m obviously nervous talking to a camera. Hopefully that goes away with some practice. Going forward: relax and just talk like a normal person!

My voice is shit. I hate it. In my mind I know the sound of my voice and my real voice is nothing like that. Sure, the voice I think I have is awful enough, but my real, recorded voice is holy fucking hell disgusting. No one else probably thinks this though because that’s how they hear me all the time so I’m trying not to think of it too much. Going forward: try not to think of it too much!

There’s no backing music, no cool animations, no intro video, no cool logos, no nothing. Going forward: who gives a shit?

But being totally honest I’m happy with the result. It’s not perfect but it’s not awful. It’s a start. The worst YouTube videos I’ve seen are usually car repair videos. To start, they’re terribly edited. “First, we’ll take off the lug nuts,” and then you have to sit through five minutes of some guy taking off lug nuts. There’s five lug nuts my guy! We get what you’re doing after the first one! Edit that shit out bro! The camera work is also ass because half the time you can’t even see what they’re talking about. “This bolt right here…well it’s kinda dark but trust me it’s there…” as the camera is showing you a black fucking screen. Anyways, end rant, but I’m glad I went above and beyond that sort of video. I edited out all the boring parts, tried to be informative, and tried to add a bit of dry humor to the video. That part was easy as I kept fucking things up accidentally. The end result isn’t professional quite yet, but I have an idea of what I’m trying to do.

That should be all for blogging about YouTube videos for awhile. In truth I hate it. Why read a blog about YouTube videos instead of watching YouTube videos? I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled bitching and griping shortly. Thanks for reading and/or watching!

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Making YouTube Videos Sucks

I’ve been tossing around the idea for starting a YouTube channel for awhile. I think part of the appeal is that it’s easy, at least on the surface. We know all these famous YouTubers who have millions of views and followers that make bank off YouTube. Many of these play video games and make money off that. Hell I can sit around and play video games and get paid for it!

Thankfully I’m not stupid. I know I couldn’t find success playing video games because I wouldn’t offer anything to anyone. My humor is probably shit, I don’t have a fancy PC setup, I don’t play a wide range of games, and the field is crowded already. I’d also be weary of turning video games into a job where they wouldn’t be relaxing or enjoyable anymore. Moreso creating anything for popularity or money is folly. Besides being a total sellout you also need some passion behind your projects to keep you going. 

I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, because I’m a blogger. You’re probably a blogger yourself. No one gets into this to make money or be popular and if you do you’ll probably fall flat on your face when you realize people aren’t tossing money at you and the first four posts you awkwardly publish. It’s a constant fight to write, edit, and publish that quickly overshadows any serious thoughts about monitizimg. At least for me that’s how it is, maybe you guys are popular bloggers or something. Fuck the money. If it comes, fine, but that’s not why I’m writing any of this.

It’d probably help to make money if I could focus more and rant less by the way. Anyways.

I wrote a few silly posts about solar power. It’s a hobby of mine creating a small off-grid solar setup to power my phone, WiFi, and anything else I want to power. I detailed it here, but it started off with trying to make a solar phone charger. This idea quickly became complicated and got out of hand to where I now have two 100 Watt panels hooked up to five lead-acid batteries all powering a 750 Watt inverter. Solar power and green energy is much more hands on and doesn’t fit well into the blog format. Let’s be honest here, this blog isn’t meant to be a green energy blog anyways, so why get too involved? I doubt most of my regular readers give a shit about making their own solar setup but if you do, cool!

YouTube is perfect for this as videos are more hands on. I have actual information to tell people and by being a totally clueless dipshit amateur I can help other dipshit amateurs navigate their own renewable setups. I think I have something to offer which is why I’m going to do it. Plus since I’m constantly upgrading and tweaking things with my cobblejob of a setup I’ll never run out of content to make. It also gives me incentive to add new things to my setup because this means more videos to make.

Like blogging, doing anything new is a fucking pain in the ass. I know absolutley nothing about YouTube and it took a day to figure out how to make a channel. Think of making your first blogging domain or whatever; you’re clueless and have no idea what you’re doing. YouTube has a “personal channel” for everyone but I didn’t want my channel name to be my real name. How does my name have anything to do with renewable energy? By navigating through a bunch of menus you find a “brand account” or something which you can tack onto your personal account. I’m not going to give info on how to do that yourself as there are actual informative pages on the internet about that if you’re interesting. I’m just bitching here.

Video editing is something else I’m clueless on and there will be a steep learning curve trying to make even the most basic videos. I have a general idea of cutting raw clips and pasting them together but the mechanics of it I’m clueless on.

I downloaded Shotcut, a free video editing software, loaded a few clips into it and did what I always do best: fuck around trying to figure out how the thing works. I think I have cutting sections of videos out, and maybe even rotating clips as my phone decided they’re supposed to be recorded like Tik Toks or something, but beyond that I’m clueless. Think of your favorite YouTubers and some of their video editing skills. Animations over audio? Audio over video pulled from other videos? Backing music? I have no clue how to do these things yet. Like everything else you just start simple and add complexity as you go on I suppose.

By far the worst is the awkwardness of talking to yourself on camera. I’ve been doing great with being sober but had some drinks this weekend over the stress of recording videos for this project. I needed a six-pack just to reward myself for actually recording something. You feel like a total asshole taking a video and talking to your phone. Give it a shot if you don’t believe me.. Narrating to your phone feels like the most narcisstic thing in the world, “Look at me! I’m so cool! I’m talking to myself as I do a thing because people are going to watch me!” Its…it’s bad. I know it’s something you’ll probably get used to — just act natural and talk — but damn is it awkward. It also doesn’t help when your family is sitting in the other room sniggering as you record like a bunch of assholes.

That’s what’s going on now. Taking on a new project with all the inspiration you’ll ever have and looking up at a massive mountain trying to figure out how to take your first clueless baby steps. I know it’s hard starting out on anything new, but knowing and experiencing are different things. It’s fun though, and I hope everyone leaps into something new just to try it out. Give your random dreams and ideas a shot, see how it pans out over time. Paint, write, draw, podcast, blog, YouTube, whatever. You might be good at it but you don’t know until you try.

The Great GameStop Short Squeeze of 2021

I haven’t slept well in three days. My typical day consists of reading from midnight until 4 a.m., taking either a benadryl or melatonin (both?), and finally falling asleep at 5 a.m. I then wake a few hours later around 9 a.m. stressed and anxious and fall back asleep around 10. That lasts until noon or 1 and then it’s time to pound coffee and head to work.

What’s with the waking up at 9 a.m.? Stocks, that’s why. I’m sure you’ve heard about this little company called GameStop that has dominated the news and social media the past week. I’m sure you have a vague idea what “short selling” is, know how evil hedge funds are, know that small investors are using Rohinhood to finish the crusade that Occupy Wall Street failed so miserably at before, how millions are finally righting the wrongs of the Great Recession, and so on. There’s so much to cover that everyone has already covered that I’m not sure what to say about it. Any kinda “factual” reporting here seems boring and pointless. How about an insiders perspective? Someone who’s been on the WallStreetBets sub-Reddit for quite some time, someone who’s blown their account up a few times (long $ROPE), someone who finally figured out how options work, and from someone who saw the GameStop hype brewing about a month ago.

(Shameless plug here: I wrote a book about trading options. Check it out if you’re interested.)

Looking at my past orders I purchased 100 shares of GameStop on December 28th 2020. r/wallstreetbets, the now infamous subreddit, was my go-to source for hot stocks to consider. My strategy that has been working pretty well: find hot stocks that that my fellow idiots on WSB were buying options on and sell options to them. So I loaded up on 100 GameStop shares and sold a thing called a covered call. This gives you a few hundred dollars and is kinda like a “guaranteed sell” if the stock goes above the options strike price which inevitably caps any gains you can make. I’m a proud member of theta gang — people who sell options for modest profit over risky YOLO trades — so I did what any theta gang member naturally does: rake in that sweet options premium.

I want to point out that GameStop wasn’t very special at the beginning of year. It was turning into WSB’s darling, but that was all. Everyone knew it was heavily-shorted but no one at the time was trying to force a short squeeze or knew how culturally massive GameStop would be in a few weeks. I had 400 shares at one point and was gladly selling covered calls against them. Buy 100 shares at $18, sell a call for $20, and collect my free money. Repeat as often as you can. Once it popped past $30 I basically ignored it. That was the then-fabled short squeeze and I made a few thousand off it. Time to move onto the next hot meme stock. Hmm…maybe AMC? Blackberry was also talked about a lot too…

But GameStop kept going up! It went from $30 to $80, then up to $150, and then near $500. “Holy shit,” I thought, “I really messed up here.” Had I held the 400 shares I had I’d have $100,000 in my name, all in the course of a few days. One thing you learn to deal with in the market is to quickly banish those “what if?” thoughts that can kick your ass. Yes, I could’ve made $50,000 off Tesla last year. Yes, I missed a once in a lifetime $100,000 on GameStop. Oh well, at least I earned a few thousand and didn’t lose anything.

Everyone around me has taken notice and has been asking me about it. Last week my sister asked me about investing which she had no interest in before. Work is even crazier with everyone asking me about GameStop, AMC, Blackberry, and whatever other hot stock is in the news. I’ve went from the guy who sometimes trades, a person who happily mentions the hundreds of dollars I lose occasionally, to everyone’s stock market guru somehow. Even coworkers who aren’t interested in the market are asking me about it. A newer employee I haven’t talked to really was showing me Tik Toks about GameStop. People are constantly showing me memes on Reddit and Twitter. Two other coworkers opened up Robinhood accounts and are snagging up AMC and BB shares with the small amount of cash they chucked into it. One friend on vacation texted me a few days ago saying, “Please tell me you’re fucking rich off GameStop.” (Hint: I wasn’t. Thanks covered calls.) Best of all was Thursday when I found myself and a coworker on break trading Dogecoin of all things together. I made out with a cool $100 and he made $25. Hours later one of the new investor guys came up and asked us about Dogecoin. Three people trading dogecoin while on break at UPS? Come to find out later, he held and took some losses over the next few days. Better to learn the lesson sooner than later.

I left work Thursday totally destroyed. I’m not big on socializing and having people constantly asking me about GameStop, AMC, and how to buy and sell stocks was surprisingly exhausting. What are the tax implications? How much have you made in a single day? How much have you lost in a single day? What are limit orders and market orders? And so on. It was exhausting to talk about stocks as much as I did, being used to minor comments here and there about my trades. It’s cool though — I’ve always wanted people to be more financially literate and to invest — but this is insane and I’m not prepared for the hype and popularity of it all! 

I’m also worried for all the newbs who jumped into the market the past month or so thinking they can simply buy stocks and make a ton of money. GameStop can move higher I think — the shorts still haven’t covered — but these people buying in at $300 and $400 have a long way down if the stock decides to move that way. It’s great so many are interested in investing, but riding GameStop down to double digits and losing 60% of their cash isn’t going to be a good introductory investing experience for them.

What’s really blowing my mind with The GameStop Short Squeeze is how it’s taken on a life of its own. As stated, even two or three weeks ago the “investors” at WallStreetBets weren’t trying to fuck over hedge funds or make some grand statement about societal change; they just want to make some money. Once GameStop exploded the zeitgeist of the sub grew and morphed into something much greater than making money. It wasn’t about that anymore, it was about fixing the flawed financial system. Letting the little guy have his share, taking the power back from the 1%ers, giving back to your family and community. A bunch of recent posts detail Redditors buying Nintendo Switches for children’s hospitals. One person donated $5,000 to a charity. Another literally brought bags of peanuts into a local GameStop store with $100 bills attached to them. I plan on chucking $500 at the local food bank in the name and glory of GameStop. WallStreetBets is actually pretty generous with their earnings because they’re the little guys. They don’t care about their second yacht or a fifth vacation beach home. No, when you’re living off $30 or $40,000 per year, making $500,000 in a week means you can piss it all away by helping people. You’re well aware you don’t need it so large chunks can be given away. You damn well the hedge funds aren’t as generous with their gains.

The consensus on the sub now is one of millions of people on a mission: fuck over Wall Street. Everyone is snagging up GameStop shares wherever they can find them and they’re stubbornly holding. No one is giving into the temptation of cashing out for thousands or millions of dollars because it’s suddenly bigger than any one person. We’re all on a mission and that mission is HOLD, DO NOT SELL UNTIL GME IS $5,000 $10,000 PER SHARE! Nearly every comment consists of diamond and hand emojis and (having “diamond hands” mean you won’t sell when things seem iffy. Compare that to “paper hands” someone who sells at the first sign of risk or danger.) WSBers have taken out a few billboard and even airplane banner ads directing people to NEVER SELL!

Our hero u/DeepFuckingValue. Source.

I’m not sure how all of this is going to end, but damn is the journey a hell of a one. I bought back in with five shares at a price of $330 just to go along for the ride a bit more. I’m not trying to get rich or anything, I just want to say I was holding with diamond hands like everyone else. No one knows what the next few weeks will hold and it really feels like we’re living through a notable time, something that is literally making history as we witness it. I never expected this to happen with stocks or investing or fucking GameStop of all companies but here we are. HOLD HOLD HOLD and DO NOT SELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems 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 also sometimes post stories.

Twilight Sucks

It’s over. It’s finished. After a week of subtly torturing myself I can look forward to moving on with my life. Working on myself. Improving. Taking up hobbies. Learning to enjoy being alive. Do thing I enjoy doing. Cherish my existence.

I finished Twilight.

Twilight, in case you’re not aware, is a popular teen book about a girl who falls in love with a vampire writer by Stephenie Meyer. It was stupidly successful in the 2000s and had a whole series of films come out that were also stupidly successful. I saw the first movie years and I don’t remember much. Bella, vampires, love, drama, danger, etc. I have the vague memory of it being okay/decent but also really cringy for some reason.

One of the kids asked for the series for Christmas which I immediately jumped on. Books? Good. Reading? Fantastic. A book series? Even better; anything to promote reading is sometime I get get on board with. Plus books are cheap!

She read the first book and wouldn’t shut the hell up about how amazing Edward, Bella’s vampiric love interest, is. “He’s so sweet! He’s so romantic!” She’d also talk shit about this other dude Jacob for some reason. Since I had finished the Narnia series I was yearning for something to read, anything really, to ward off the drinking urges. She suggested Twilight thinking I would never read it, but fuck it, why not?

(Check out my post on ranking the Narnia books!)

I went into it with an open mind. A book this popular can’t be all that bad, right? Sure it might not be exactly what I enjoy reading, but I was expecting to get sucked in against my will and fall in love with the story. But…no. It’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s cringy. It’s poorly written. It’s hilarious at times, but usually not purposefully so. It was a struggle to read and I found that I couldn’t read more than a few chapters at a time. My coworkers even commented on this saying, “You only read for 20 minutes and put the book down. You were plowing through the Narnia books for hours at a time!” To which I said, “The Narnia books are good though. This is fucking torture.”

This post will be a mess because I have so much to complain about and I know it’ll just be a rant about the book. I’ll try to be somewhat coherent.

It’s Boring…

Literally nothing happens in the first 60 or 70% of the book. Bella meets Edward at school and they talk and fall in love and what not. This is literally the majority of the book. It’s like a case study of falling in love in high school when your hormones are raging and everything is so damn important and dramatic! I have to admit this did give me some painful flashback to my own time in high-school and these weren’t fun at all. You know, feeling that one person, the first person you meet and “fall in love with”, is your world and you can’t survive without them. Naive shit like that that most people grow out of by their early 20s (hopefully).

Not that that stuff is bad by default, it just doesn’t need to take up 60% of the book. We get it: they’re in love. We get it: he’s a vampire. Yes I know he’s tempted to eat her and she’s in danger, but is anything going to happen besides Bella going to school and being swooned from Edward’s presence? Sure. Eventually. If you can hang in there that long.

This probably plays into the ‘boring’ aspect, but the book is also long, way longer than it has any right to be. Twilight is a whopping 498 pages long and I think it could be a good book at half that length. The story itself, the general idea behind it, is good and the last 30-40% (starting around page 375) almost turns into a page-turner in it’s danger and intensity but by that time it’s way to late. If it was cleaned up and condensed down it’d be a hell of a lot better. 

Plotholes Like Potholes in Spring…

Let’s not forget the random plotholes too. A few times throughout the book I was confused why the characters would make such stupid choices. Bella finds out Edward is a vampire and, I assume like no one would do in a realistic world, doesn’t question this at all. You’re telling me a seventeen year old girl who likes some boy and discovers he’s a vampire is going to accept it? She’s not going to say, “Haha, good one. There’s no vampires you jackass. So what’s really so strange about you?” Nope, in Twilight she has a hunch he’s a vampire, asks him, he confirms her suspicion, and she’s cool with it. She’s about as blown away at discovering mythical vampires actually exist as you would be to find out your friend is actually Puerto Rican instead of Mexican.

Towards the end Bella is being hunted by a Bad Vampire, and her vampire friends concoct a plan to hide her. Well, Bad Vampire calls saying he has her mom hostage, and that she needs to escape the Good Vampires and give herself up so he can eat her. Now vampires are stupidly fast, powerful, dangerous, and have high-end senses in the world of Twilight, so what does Bella do? She blindly follows along with his plan and abandons her Good Vampire protectors despite how insanely powerful they are. No, Bella, tell your vampire friends, all five of them, what this guy’s plan is and let them protect you and you hostage mom. Also Bella is somehow successful in escaping from the Good Vampires who swore to protect her easily. Like, no way, they’d know exactly what you’re doing and are so fast and strong they’d fucking catch you instantly. Nope. Let’s not forget that one of the vampires can see the future and doesn’t seem to be able to piece together what Bella is up to. The author paints the vampires as these incredible people only to make them seem stupid and gullible during the climax of the book.

Oh yeah, vampires glitter in the sunlight too. Fun little fact. But they all go to the airport at 9 a.m. in Phoenix Arizona of all places without mention to how they stayed out of the sunlight and obviously give themselves up as just a bit strange. I thought maybe this day was cloudy — it wasn’t specified really — but a chapter or two later Bella is running in blinding sunlight reflecting off the pavement. Somehow the vampire clan travel through populated and sunny Phoenix without issue despite their trait of glittering magnificently in the sunlight.

There’s also the whole possibility of turning Bella into a vampire to solve nearly every problem in the book. This isn’t necessarily a plot hole because it delves into the characters and their emotions/motivations, but the book would make a fuckton more sense if they did. Edward wants to eat Bella because she smells so good? Vampire her and you’re fine. Vampire is hunting Bella because she smells so good? Turn her into a vampire and he wont want to eat her. Edward keeps wanting to protect Bella from all the dangers in the world and keep her alive existing? Turn her into a damn vampire! I’m pretty sure later in the series she does become a vampire so her actually being bitten by Bad Vampire and saved by Edward sucking the venom out seems kind of pointless overall.

But The Main Problem…

When I first started reading I didn’t know why I didn’t like it. The first few chapters nothing too egregious happened but the book seemed off for some reason. Before I found all the other obvious glaring problems with this book I had no idea what exactly it was. It took some time to find it, but it’s this: it’s just poorly written and cringy.

The tenses fluctuate around here and there. Not as much as someone writing their first story, but they did change quite a bit. I kept trying to figure out if it was all past-tense or happening as I was reading it. It’s not blatantly obvious but it still throws you off by making the story feel somehow disjointed.

This is Edward.

There were countless times I had to hear about how muscular, handsome, and wonderfully beautiful Edward is. Okay, I get it. Once again the author didn’t hold back. At least once per chapter she’d have to mention Edward ‘looking like a Greek God/statue’ or something similar. I swear anytime she compared Edward to Adonis (the god of beauty and desire, of course) I wanted to throw the goddamn book. And it happens multiple times!

Stephen King in On Writing pointed out one thing that really applies to Twilight: he hates adverbs and adjectives, especially in dialogue. I didn’t even know this was a problem or was so awful to witness until I read this book. Here, take a look at this short passage.

“And you still want to know why you can’t see me hunt?” He seemed solemn, but I thought I saw a trace of humor deep in his eyes.

“Well,” I clarified, “I was mostly wondering about your reaction.”

“Did I frighten you?” Yes, there was definitely humor there.

“No,” I lied. He didn’t buy it.

Twilight, page 224.

Seemed solemn. Clarified. There was humor there. He didn’t buy it. It’s exhausting. Meyers needs to remind us after every line how the character sounds or what emotion their displaying. Like King said, we get it, there’s no need to flourish each line with a descriptor. 

There’s also this gem which is the low point of the book for me, the part where I knew how terrible the rest of the book would be, where I gazed upon the hell that would haunt me for the next 420 (lol) pages:

When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It was a long process, and it would keep me busy. While I was simmering the onions and chilies, the phone rang. I was almost afraid to answer it, but it might be Charlie or my mom.

Twilight, page 78.

Chicken enchiladas. Bella is cooking chicken enchiladas. When I read this paragraph I stopped, put my head in my hands and groaned a massive groan of disappointment. Do we need to know this? Does it pertain to anything? Is it relevant to the story or the plot at all? Is her dad going to get food poisoning and die or something? The answer is no. It’s just there. It’s especially jarring because it follows a pretty dramatic interaction between Bella and Edward, and after that drama? Chicken fucking enchiladas!

Look, this is fine to do if it serves a purpose. If someone writes about going through a McDonald’s drive through, cool, but they better be writing a stoner buddy comedy or a depressing satire on everyday adult life. Maybe I’m overreacting here on how bad the enchilada paragraph is, or missing the point of it being here (her needing to keep busy?), but it totally broke the flow of reading for me. It was jarring and hilariously pointless to anything regarding the story.

The 498 pages and days of my time weren’t totally wasted; in fact I think this was the most interesting book I read this year (ignoring East of Eden that is). It taught me more than the Narnia series did. The Narnia series and East of Eden shit on me because they were so good: I could never be a writer like those guys, the giants that are Steinbeck and C.S. Lewis. Might as well pack it up and find a 9-5 job and do that until I die. But this book? This book told me “Jeremy, hey, I know you have confidence issues but if this got published, what the fuck are you doing?! Get to writing! You can do better than this!” And I almost want to do better than Twilight because I know for a fact I can if I just get my ass in gear. Twilight was so bad I want to write just to spite it, to prove it wrong, to hold my shitty stories up to the world and say, “Still a better love story than Twilight!Twilight is the perfect book to show you how not to write and it’s not a book that teaches you numbered lessons or facts; it shows them to you, shoves your face in them, smears your face in shit and makes you hate the flaws so much as to never commit them yourself. Twilight fucking sucked but at least it has some lessons to teach, not that they’re the lessons the author probably wanted to teach you, but lessons none the less.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems 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 also sometimes post stories.

The Narnia Series Ranked

I last read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a kid. I’m pretty certain The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is standard reading in school, or at least it was in the ’90s, but most people probably don’t get around to reading the entire series. It’s seven books long and to a kid that is a massive series to read. That’s how it feels in retrospect: epic. Not as much as an adult though.

I ordered the series a month ago as a cheap Christmas gift to myself. After a few weeks Amazon notified me that the USPS lost my books and offered to ship a new set to me, free of charge of course. Long story short, my Narnia books showed up a few weeks ago, long after I initially ordered them.

I opened the box and was surprised at how tiny the books and the series were. That was it? I leafed through the pages and the print was big, the books only had a few hundred pages to them (if that), and I had forgotten all about the cute little drawings at the beginnings of each chapter. And short they were. I timed myself and averaged about a page per minute. Given these books are about 200 pages long it’d take about three and a half hours to finish a single one. One night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. I plowed through The Silver Chair in one go. Maybe my math was a bit off but my point is these books are quite a bit shorter than the massive Wheel of Time books which take me about two weeks to read.

Since I’m plowing my way through a childhood adventure fantasy series that is basically a classic, I figured it’d be fun to rank them. Rankings are always fun, right? And while I’m at it I can bitch about some thing that irked me while praising a few other things about the books as I go. And at the end I’ll jerk myself off over how amazing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is.

#7: Prince Caspian

Before making this list I read other peoples lists mostly as a way to confirmation-bias my way into knowing for a fact that Dawn Treader was the best book in the entire series. Surprisingly Prince Caspian was always near the top, usually #3 or #2, and this upset me greatly. I hated Prince Caspian. I don’t remember reading it as a kid but that’s kinda my point here; Prince Caspian is forgettable.

The kids come into Narnia, find their derelict castle and realize that thousands of years have passed. Enter some exposition from Trumpkin the Dwarf (despite the name he’s a cool guy) about Caspian being the true king and how he escaped his Evil Uncle™. Caspian meets the Narnian talking animals, the Pevensie kids save the day (again), end of story. I don’t see why Prince Caspian is held in such high regard. While the book did kinda suck, it was only bad in the context of the entire Narnia series. Anyways, fuck Prince Caspian.

#6: The Horse and His Boy

This is another relatively “meh” book in the series. Just like Prince Caspian I didn’t remember much of the book. But the story itself was good. It was nice to learn about the often-mention but never-elaborated-upon country of Calormen and a desert adventure was a nice change from all the “European” geography of the rest of the series.

But the plot is totally unrelated to Narnia at all. It’s like a side-story, a good story but with zero lasting effects on the series as a whole. The plot: Prince Cor comes back to Archenland and becomes king (eventually). Archenland, like Calormen, is another country in the grand world of Narnia, but doesn’t come into play much at all. In general the Horse and His Boy was a good book, but didn’t add much to the series as a whole. It’s just kinda there and anyone could skip without consequence. Sure you might not get a paragraph-long reference in The Silver Chair, but you won’t even notice that you missed it.

#5: The Last Battle

The last book in the series and the most depressing by far. The Narnia series itself is pretty uplifting; sure bad things happen but they’re always outweighed by good eventually. That isn’t the case in The Last Battle where everything shitty seems to happen. A ‘false Aslan’ comes to Narnia, promptly fucks everything up, and King Tirian, the last king of Narnia, tries his best to fix things. Tirian somehow manages to make every wrong choice possible and there are countless times in the book where one subtle change would’ve stopped Narnia from spiraling towards the end. He even mentions something like he’s ‘the unluckiest king ever.’

The book is depressing and the last half turns into some Christian fever-dream about the end of the world and heaven. Aslan eventually shows up in some parallel Narnia thought a stable door, and him and the kids from all the other books get to watch him bring an end to the world. The parallel Narnia turns out to be the real Narnia and, spoiler alert, the kids all died in a train wreck IRL so they’re basically in heaven! But even this Narnia has a deeper Narnia in it and this connects to England and apparently any other worlds in the universe. As a kid I had no fucking clue what was going on in the last quarter of the book but this time through it made slightly more sense.

I’m putting this book so low because Narnia is all about adventure and unrelenting hope and The Last Battle just shits all over it. Sure it ends nicely because they’re all in heaven — the real Narnia — but that doesn’t change the fact that the ‘false Aslan’ was totally successful in fucking Narnia up so bad that Aslan decided to end the world. Like, fuck that is some bleak shit.

#4: The Magician’s Nephew

I read this second to last as it was written by Lewis. Think of watching Star Wars in the order it was released and not the chronological order of the films. I didn’t think this would benefit me much but surprisingly it did. By Lewis writing the “first” novel before the last one, you can see he was in the process of wrapping up the Narnia series. Before then it didn’t have a proper beginning to the world having started abruptly with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I’d like to think this helped him prepare himself for the ending of the Narnia world with the next book The Last Battle.

The book was pretty good as I apparently love any sort of creation stories. While it’s not as mind-bending as the beginning of the world in The Silmarillion (due to following a Christianesque creation event because it’s C.S. Lewis for fucks sake) it’s still interesting to read. It gives the White Witch some back story which serves to make you despise/admire her even more and describes how the first King and Queen of Narnia got there. You also get to learn why all the damn animals are able to talk.

One gripe: since this book was written nearly last, some of the things in the story are unused. One guy, Uncle Andrew, drops some money which quickly grows into gold and silver trees. These don’t appear in any other stories (except the final story and only in passing) and you’d think that trees of literal gold and silver might be noteworthy in Narnia’s lore and history as time moves forward. The same is true for the magical, protective apple tree that Digory plants; it’s meant to protect Narnia from Jadis (The White Witch) but it isn’t mentioned at all in the “following” books. Did the long winter under her reign kill the gold, silver, and apple trees? Did she corrupt the trees? Were they cut down? Who knows, and I suppose this is a big problem when anyone tries to write prequels after you’ve written nearly the entire series.

#3: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

TLTWaTW (I’m not writing that all out each time), what can anyone say about it? It’s probably the first, maybe only book, that get people into the Narnian universe, so there isn’t much to say about it. It was pretty damn good, but by this time I know exactly what happens so most of the wonder is gone. Wardrobe takes you to Narnia, there’s an evil witch ruling the land, and Edmund is a piece of shit traitor. Aslan saves the day, sacrifices himself, and comes back to life because he’s Narnian Jesus and the witch doesn’t know that’s a thing. Peter and his kin and made kings and queens and they go back home. Oh, and Santa Claus brings them weapons to murder people with!

The Christian overtones are a bit obvious and heavy-handed at times, but it’s Narnia so you should be expecting this. I doubt any kid would notice this and would only see it as an adventure story. But I gotta say the story and the pacing is spot on here. The wonder as Lucy finds a new world inside a wardrobe, the character arc of Edmund from traitor to king is amazing, and the tension as he betrays his family out of spite is immense. The plot also gets pretty fucking dark as the witch murders Aslan as he’s bound right in front of Lucy and Susan. Like hell, it’s a kids book and it takes some grim turns along the way.
It’s a great story, but by this time it’s almost boring to read.

#2: The Silver Chair

Last time I read this I got the feeling that Lewis wasn’t much into writing the story. It seemed like it had large gaps where time jumps forward without much explanation. The moors to the north of Narnia seem huge on a map, but Eustace and Jill traverse them in a single chapter. The same happens after they cross the giant bridge into the mountains. What you assume would be an arduous adventure flashes by instantly. I didn’t get the feeling quite like before, but it was still there, at least initially.

Another gripe about the book: the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She’s the main antagonist and is a witch similar to The White Witch, but besides that we know nothing about her. She’s a good villain and a dangerously sly and seductive one, but she has zero back story. This late into the Narnian series you’d expect her to be mentioned somewhere earlier, being an evil witch living in the north for (assuming) quite a long time, so it’s like she just appears in this book, tries to fuck everything up, and is defeated. Who is she? Where did she come from? Why/how is she a snake? There are so many questions about her that aren’t answered at all.

But the book was great. I loved the entire last half where they’re underground with the creepy pale dudes. The fact that an entire civilization is living underground is terrifying, amazing, and disturbing all at the same time. If you’ve ever been in a cave you know how disturbingly wrong it feels being used to light, sound, and the sky, and imagining yourself along with the characters is jarring. And learning the creepy pale dudes came from an even deeper land called Bism, a land of lava and fire, just blew my mind.

There’s also a guy called Puddleglum, a Marsh-Wiggle who apparently has a minor drinking problem, and he’s one of my favorite dudes in the series (after Reepicheep of course). He’s fucking hilarious. If you read the book be on the lookout for this hilarious word: Respectowiggle. There’s also a part of the book where, after a night of heavy drinking, Eustace mentions that Puddleglum “Has a headache.” He’s also a relatively complex character as well. He’s hopelessly pessimistic when the kids first meet him but shows quite a bit of wisdom and courage when it counts most. Puddleglum is a cool motherfucker indeed.

#1: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

While looking at other Narnia rankings I was upset (meaning angry) to find that Dawn Treader was consistently ranked #2 behind TLTWaTW. I mean that book is rather good and is usually anyone’s first, maybe only, adventure in the Narnian universe. But I swear that I will personally fight anyone who disagrees with me that Dawn Treader is the best fucking book in the whole series. TLTWaTW can go fuck right off being everyone’s #1.

The Dawn Treader is an adventure book. A shameless adventure book that doesn’t give a shit about antagonists or anything else. It’s all about Caspian wanting to sail to the end of the world because he fucking can: he’s the king! Sure there is the primary plot of saving the seven lords that were banished under his Evil Uncle’s™ reign, but this just feels like some half-assed excuse to sail to the end of the world. Caspian really didn’t care about the lords, he just wanted to fuck around on a boat in the ocean, and Lewis needed a reasonable excuse for him to do so.

There’s something fascinating about sailing to the end of the world, and apparently I have a soft spot for adventuring, especially on boats, that I don’t fully understand. Were my ancestors sailors or something? Because as a person who was born and grew up in Illinois, nearly as far away from the ocean as possible, I’ve never been on a real boat or been around the ocean for more than a few hours on vacation. But The Wind Waker, The Terror, The Mountains of Madness, Cast Away, and Moana all have that sense of a big ocean adventure that is so appealing to me that I can’t really explain. Sure adventures across land (ala Lord of the Rings) sound good, but a fucking boat sailing to unknown lands in strange latitudes and longitudes is amazing.

Dawn Treader fills this wonderfully. There are no unknown lands on Earth anymore. No grand adventures to sail on. There’s also no magic. As Caspian, Reepicheep, and company sail across the ocean you really get the feeling that they’re going off to strange and unknown lands where anything can happen. Narnia is a strange world full of magic, so you know the Eastern Ocean is going to have some weird shit in it. The book doesn’t disappoint. You’re introduced to islands that have all but forgotten their king, islands full of invisible and strange (and immensely stupid) creatures, get to meet a retired star, and be along with Lucy as she sees merpeople under the waves. A lake that turns things to gold and an island where your dreams (more like nightmares) come true? And dragons? Holy shit, sign me up! And finally the voyage to the end of the world, the literal end to it where Reepicheep sails into Aslan’s Country? Damn. If only we lived in a world where you could literally sail to heaven and never come back.

My only complaint about this book: Reepicheep the Mouse. It was the first and only book that Reepicheep was really a character in, and you hate to see the little fucker go. He’s probably my favorite Narnian character, what with his small size, inflated sense of valor and honor, and always wanting to charge into battle against dragons and sea serpents. Reepicheep does not give a fuck and I love it. His and Eustace’s friendship arc is also amazing as Eustace turns from a little annoying shit into a hero as Reep’s badassness rubs off on him. But Reepicheep, why’d he have to sail over the end of the world? Why did such a good character have to leave? I wish he was in more books and you can’t help but feel the loss as he sails over the waves to never return.


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Trump Sucks: The Worst President Ever

I have a long-standing rule on this blog to never write about politics. Why? Because no one wants to hear hot opinions from some random blogger, especially when everyone’s Facebook feeds are already filled with hot political opinions from dumbass family members. Politics was exhausting, especially over the last four looooong years. But today is yesterday was a different day. As I write this Joe Biden is now our current president. Do I like the guy? Sure, he’s okay. I was more of a Bernie fan during the primaries, but Joe Biden isn’t a bad guy by a long shot. I think he’ll be a “boring” president, but boring is exactly what we need right now. Hell, anyone not Donald Trump would be a blessing. I’d take a baked potato over Donald Trump. At least the potato wouldn’t fuck anything up or tweet anything stupid.

(Fun face: I wrote a blog post in late 2016 about “The Biden Memes” on my old blog. I was proud of it and it’s probably the oldest post I’ve ever linked to.)

Me yesterday.

Basically what I’m saying is: It’s Over. It’s finally over. It’s like we’re all Sam and Frodo and collectively tossed that cursed ring into Mt. Doom where it belongs. It’s the end of a terrible four year adventure through Mordor, so let’s all breathe a sigh of relief.

Before we set out on the next four years of a Biden/Harris administration I really want to get Donald Trump out of my system and just shamelessly bitch about the guy. I’ve hated him about as much as you can hate someone as he’s diametrically opposed to my own values. I value truth and love to admit when I’m wrong. I love science. I love progress. I have solar panels and shit outside my home. Coal sucks, climate change is a real threat, and so on endlessly. I like the Mexican family that lives next to us. I hate conspiracy theories. I’m fairly humble, shy, soft-spoken, and eat pizza without a fork. I check my spelling before I post anything. He’s just…well we all know how he is.

I remember election day in 2016. I was at work, happy, and looking forward to heading home to watching the assclown that is Donald Jay Trump get totally decimated by Hillary Clinton. An hour before I left the internet had some not good new: Trump was actually doing pretty well. Huh, that’s strange. On my way home I picked up a case of beer and proceeded to get very pessimistically drunk that night. Eventually the election was called in Trump’s favor and I continued to hopelessly drinking.

The next day I awoke with severe hangxiety coupled with good-ole dread for the future. My mood was so shitty that I called into work that night as I couldn’t stand to be around any of my “fellow Americans” who might want to talk about the election, or worse, gloat about Trump’s victory. I drank again that night.

There was also quite a bit of drama on Facebook as acquaintances and family members we’re being strangely supportive of the guy. “Give him a chance!” they said. “He might be a good president!” “We need to give him our support!” Okay, fine, sure, I replied. I was hopeful that maybe the entire 2016 election was a show and since Trump finally won he’d be a proper adult and not so much of an assclown. Maybe he would be a good president? I’d love to be wrong about Trump being a bad president — no one wins when we’re all suffering — but I didn’t have high hopes.

Well, I was right. I love to say “I told you so. Duh. What did you expect?” and I’ll never not say “I told you so.” regarding Donald Trump. Once he was sworn in the first thing he did was bitch about how the media was wrong about his inauguration crowd size. This was classic pre-election Trump and no one should’ve been surprised; this wasn’t pre-election Trump, this was just Donald Trump as he naturally is. It was about that time I knew all of my dread from November was totally justified. All the bitching I did on Facebook about him being totally unfit for president, so obviously bad character-wise that I was shocked at how anyone could see him on the campaign trail and think, “Yes, this guy for president please!” I admit I was massively wrong about one thing: nuclear war. I was for certain Trump would nuke someone and I’m so happy I was wrong.

What did Trump do for four years? Nothing: Trump didn’t get a fucking thing done in office. How’s the swamp? Is it drained yet? How’s that border wall coming along? Have the Mexicans paid for it yet? What about Hillary Clinton? Is she in jail yet? Is Obamacare repealed yet? Is the budget balanced? And the long-running joke that no one in the political sphere can ever forget: Is it Infrastructure Week again? So soon? Seriously, with republicans in control of the presidency, the house, and the senate, nothing was accomplished except a (mostly) corporate tax-cut. And don’t even get me started about the rights crusade against abortion; they didn’t do shit to follow up on that either.

Obviously he’s done some other immensely stupid shit while president. I already mentioned bitching about his crowd sizes, but Trump bitching about anything factual is par for the course. Speaking of par; this motherfucker golfed more than any other president before him. Remember him bitching about Obama golfing so much and saying that ‘he’d be so busy working he’d have to time to golf’? Yeah, I remember, but this is just one of the thousands of silly bullshit things he’s spouted off over the past decade that his braindead supporters can’t connect the dots to. We also have him to thank for drawing on a hurricane prediction map with a sharpie, the magical word that is ‘covfefe’, the other wonderful word ‘hamberders’, and the suggestion that nuking a hurricane might be a good idea. Because that’s how weather works. The list goes on: raking the forest to stop fires, Hurricane Florence being ‘the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water‘, ‘National Emergency: two very big wooooords’, ‘Gyna’, ‘look, having nuclear…‘, injecting bleach or UV radiation to stop COVID, and chucking fucking paper towels at hurricane victims. I’m sure there’s more but fuck it, let’s get on with the bitchfest.


He’s go down in history as the most hilarious president but this is overshadowed by all of the really dark shit that he’s responsible for, but I don’t even want to get into it. 400,000 dead from COVID is the best example. Democratic hoax my ass; that’s why you took credit for the vaccine, right? Because it’s all a hoax. Oh yeah! A hoax that he caught himself. What a fucking clown. The corruption, the grifting, let’s ignore all of that too. I think Donald Trump is hurt more by people laughing at him than being mad at him. (Remember him at the UN when everyone laughed at him? “Didn’t expect that reaction, but it’s okay.”) Being mad at Trump won’t fix any of the things he fucked up, so let’s really get under his skin and laugh at him. Clowns are supposed to be laughed at, right?

At least the Trump memes are good.

The one thing that I think will hang around in my mind forever concerning Donald Trump is “Why?” Seriously, why this guy? Why did a huge portion of the country throw their support behind this moron? I don’t think I’m the best judge of character, but even I could see he was a fucking idiot, dipshit, clown, jackass after hearing a few sentences long before he was actually president. But people love this fucking guy! Why, why, why? Why did a bunch of supporters raid the Capital January 6th to keep this guy in office? Why did they put their lives at risk to support him? It doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Despite this guy being the worst of the worst, a narcissist straight out of a badly-written and unbelievable TV show script, a liar with no regard of what can easily be proven true, and a ‘businessman’ who filed for bankruptcy six fucking times (he failed at casinos: where you literally take money from people), he somehow failed his way into the presidency. It’s like he trips on the first step in a flight of stairs and somehow rolls all the way up to the top floor. You gotta admit that is some talent there and I’d like to be a massive fucking clown and fail upwards. But fuck me, here I am writing a blog post bitching about the guy a few minutes before I have to leave for work, trying to work hard and actually make some coherent point along the way.

Before Trump I held the view that any real fascist would be dangerously charismatic. Like if I imagined myself in late 1920s and early ’30s Germany I wouldn’t be certain that I wouldn’t fall for Hitler’s bullshit. Not to say I’d love the racism and scapegoating the Jews, but still, the guy was charismatic as fuck and maybe the slow creep towards genocide wouldn’t be obvious and I’d be sucked in like everyone else at the time. I always thought Hitler was such an evil and dangerous guy because he was so charismatic. The people you have to watch out for, the real fascists, seem like great people at first.

Annnnd Trump. A fucking moron from the first fucking moment. This guy couldn’t get people to follow him because he’s so fucking stupid, right? No, wrong. Apparently 30% of the country loves the guy, thinks he’s done an outstanding job, and is the savior to the US. Hell, some religious people literally put him up there with Jesus. Mr. “Grab ’em by the pussy!” I suppose this makes me feel a bit better about myself: at least I’m not that fucking stupid. But I live here with these people and they do vote. They have a say in how my/our country is run, and that’s terrifying. They’re gullible as hell, resistant to facts or logic, and live in their own reality. Trump isn’t dangerous, it’s the cult he somehow tapped into that’s dangerous. And once again I have no clue how or why these morons are so enamored with the guy. Look at him for fucks sake! This is the guy everyone went all in on? The guy the GOP catered to for over four years? Him?

Our Lord and Savior, Mr. Spray Tan.

Obviously I’m lacking a good conclusion to this post. I think the “Why Donald Trump?” Is a question that can only fully be answered by some academic scholar’s book a few years or decades from now. I have an idea though. It’s probably due to years of right-wing propaganda from FOX and the like. And it probably has something to do with social media and how everyone can hole up in echo chambers and make their own realities, and ignore facts and truth. Toss in some Russian propaganda into social media for good measure. Maybe the problem goes deeper: maybe people are hopeless and latched onto Trump and the MAGA cult as a way to actually have purpose in life. Everyone likes to be on a team and this is why cults are a thing. They prey on the downtrodden and rejected of us, and maybe MAGA is a political version of this. Maybe it has something to do with the loss of jobs or poverty in manufacturing sectors — a hope to reclaim what has been lost over the decades. And hell, maybe it’s due to plain good ole racism, a way for those “The South will rise again!” idiots to live their fantasies. Maybe it’s a little bit of all of that, but I’m no expert.

It was a bit rambly of a post, but Fuck You Donald Trump. You represented the worst of what America has to offer, did nothing to support or protect the citizens, and only looked out for your own fragile ego. But you’re gone and I’m going to savor the next four years not having to hear about your stupid ass all the time. Good. Fucking. Riddance.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems 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 also sometimes post stories.