Category: holidailies 2017

Black & White 4: Chairs

Black & White 4: Chairs

I spend way too much time in this room, mostly in the chair at the far end of the room facing the camera. It’s long and narrow, and when it’s a day when the room is full, it can get a bit claustrophobic. The weirdness of the room is because it used to be the waiting room and reception area of a doctor’s office.

But in black and white, it looks artsy.

(LJ/Dreamwidth readers: The crossposter I use for both these services does not attach the featured image, so you will have to click through the link at the bottom of the post to see the image.)

On Patriotism

On Patriotism

I don’t like to talk much about politics in public places, and none is more public than my blog. Even though I have a disclaimer, I’m searching for a job and there’s some worries that if I disclose my political beliefs, it might cost me a job. But I can’t write about this subject without saying it. I’m left of center and a Democrat. There are reasons for these stances, but I don’t want to get too deep in those weeds right now.

Anyway. I want to say that I’m tired of the insinuation that because I’m on the left side of the political system, I cannot be a patriot. Even more offensive are the ones that say that I’m not a “real American”, when I can trace my roots to the Mayflower or, in another direction, the Bering Land Bridge. I’ve had ancestors on this soil long before this country existed. Telling me I’m not a “real American” because of my political stance simply ticks me off.

I am a patriot. I love this country. I’m proud to be an American, just as I’m proud to be a Californian. I still attempt to hit the high notes in the Star Spangled Banner. I’ll admit I loved poking through the airplanes the Air Force and the Navy would bring to the airshow, and cheer as the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds went through their paces.

From the beginning, we were a beacon of new ideas. The French Revolution — the call of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité — has its roots in the American revolution. A fledgling nation, trying an entirely new way of governing, became an inspiration for people around the world.

Where I depart from those who say that they are patriots is that I am capable of understanding that (gasp) America isn’t perfect. For all the good this country has brought into the world, there are ways in which we have completely failed. The stain of slavery is woven into our founding documents, and the resulting treatment of African-Americans to this day perpetuates that great sin. There’s the internment camps of World War II, taking American citizens and putting them behind barbed wire for no other reason than that they were ethnically Japanese, assuming that none of them were actually American. There is the way we’ve treated Native Americans, the ones that were here first. And last, don’t forget the numerous governments around the world that we’ve destabilized or outright overthrew. We have brought light to the world, but we have also brought hideous darkness.

No nation — no person — stands at the pinnacle of perfection. Even heroes have feet of clay. The United States is no exception in this matter. We’ve done amazing good across the world; we’ve perpetuated some dark deeds. How can I be a patriot and think this way? Very simple:

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Senator Carl Schurz ended a speech on the Senate floor in response to Senator Matthew Carpenter’s use of the first half of the phrase. But the phrase has a kernel of truth that connects to something I was taught in therapy. I learned about the juxtaposition of two important thoughts: “I am good enough.” and “I can be better”. While those thoughts seem to be contradictory, there is truth. I am good enough, but I can always strive to be better.

I feel the same about my country. The United States is good enough, even great. But she can strive to be better — we can strive to be better, because the United States is the sum of all of us. Such is the nature of a republic.

I prefer to think of it as a thoughtful and nuanced patriotism, as opposed to simple “Love it or leave it!” rhetoric. But I am just as much a patriot as any right-winger, and I am not going to give ground simply because I happen to be on the lefty side of politics.

Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner

Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner

I can cook a few things. One of the things I can cook is stew, and that’s what I made for dinner tonight. I promise it actually was more appetizing than it looks in a black and white picture. I experimented with potato sizing on this batch and ended up with a thick potato sludge, which means that I cut them too small. I’m still trying to hunt down a happy medium.

However, I hate stew in the very end stages, when it’s boiling through all that thickness. At that point, it turns into a mudpot of the sort they have in Yellowstone or Lassen. The nasty thing about it is that it spits boiling hot stew goop onto the unfortunate hand stirring the pot. I have to wear an oven mitt to stir. It’s crazy.

But it was good. We have leftovers!

Prior posts in this series:

(Note to LJ and Dreamwidth users: The crossposter I’m using does not allow featured images to come through. If you would like to see the post, you will need to click through to the blog post.)

Black & White 1: My buddy

Black & White 1: My buddy

There’s a challenge going around on Facebook to spend a week taking a black and white photo of your life. The catch (besides that it must be in black and white) is that it must have no people in it. I figured it gives me something to blog about.

The picture on this post is Winter, our grey and white kitten (he’s seven months old), who came into our life at the beginning of July and brought joy to a house that had none. He’s part, if not full, Maine Coon, and we know he’s going to be a big boy if he looks like a full-grown cat at seven months. (He looked full-grown at six months, but we know he’s got a bit more to go because his paws are still a little big for the rest of him.)

But he’s my buddy and my fuzzy boy. Okay, technically, he’s my sister’s cat, but I love him and call him mine.

Unravelled

Unravelled

No, that’s not a statement on my life at the moment, or a statement of my interest in the fabric arts.

It’s actually about a neat little game I’ve been playing called Unravel. It’s available for Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. This has been a game I’ve wanted to get since it first came out in 2015, but I caught it on sale for five dollars and pulled the trigger.

I’m glad I did. The premise of the game is about memories — in the opening cut scene, you’re introduced to a grandmother who is straightening pictures of her grandkids and sighing. It’s obvious they don’t come around much anymore. I’m not entirely sure why — if they’re grown up, or if it’s something sadder. But a red ball of yarn rolls out and from that we meet the character we play.

It’s amazing how simple the mechanic of a little yarn guy (called Yarnie) unravelling himself to get through the various worlds. He can use his yarn as a lasso, or as a way to climb back up into spots. He can tie knots to various posts, and can use them to make a bridge so he can jump higher or transport objects. To get more yarn, he crosses through spools, which serve as the checkpoints of the game.

But I think what amazes me most is simply the background and interactive graphics. Here, let me show you some of the screenshots I’ve collected.

Read More Read More

gamer geek…

gamer geek…

Oe of the things I like to do for fun is to play video games. I’m not very good at them, but I like playing them. I go in fits and starts where I’m playing obsessively for a while, and then lag off for a while, and then pick it up again. My favorites are generally puzzlers, two dimensional side scrollers, and large sandbox worlds.

I cut my teeth on the original NES, which probably gives you a rough idea of how old I am, and I’ve still got a lot of love for those old eight bit games. My system of choice right now is an Xbox One, but I keep looking at the Switch.

I don’t generally play button mashers, which a lot of fighting and first person shooters involve, and I rarely do online gaming — partially because I’m not that good at them, and partially because I don’t need the aggravation. That said, if you give me a first person shooter with a giant sandbox world and don’t railroad me to stay on course, I may end up enjoying it.

I could be here all night telling you about my favorite games and why, but I think I’ll go with this short list.

  • Legend of Zelda series — have to go with Windwaker as my favorite, although I haven’t gotten to play Breath of the Wild yet. No spoilers!
  • Grand Theft Auto — it has that sandbox feel of “let’s see where this goes” along with the fact there’s a cheat code for a rocket launcher and a police helicopter to shoot out of the sky…look, I know, in real life,
    it’s not a good idea to shoot police helicopters with rocket launchers. Or green laser pointers for that matter.
  • Mario Kart — racing with your friends in cars driven by Nintendo characters. Plus, the controls aren’t overly detailed, so it’s easy even for a newbie to get the hang of.
  • Amimal Crossing — There’s so much to do, and some sharp humor. Also, I love Blathers.
  • Portal — A first person shooter after my own Companion Cube. There’s a gun. It shoots orange portals and blue portals. Things go in the blue portal and out the orange portal (or vice versa). It’s surprising how this game with such simple dynamics stole my heart, but it’s witty, touching, and puzzling all at the same time. The second game is more of the same, with a few new dynamics to puzzle through.

In my next post, I’ll talk about a new game I’ve encountered that’s won my heart. In the meantime, what’s your favorite game, if you’re into video games?

(Picture by David Mulder (davidmulder61) on Flickr (original link) CC BY-ND 2.0

It’s a bit dusty in here.

It’s a bit dusty in here.

blow

cough cough

Yuck, didn’t realize there was so much dust in here. I also seem to have acquired a nice colony of web spiders…

Anyway, I’m trying to blog every day this month for a project called Holidalies, ran by my good friends Richard and Jennifer. So far, it’s going about as well as NaNoWriMo did, which is to say not very well.

So I’m going to need some help here. Is there anything anybody wants to hear about from me? I’m willing to give any subject a go.

Hopefully this’ll mean that my blog gets used again.

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