Crazy Times Got Crazier

Saturday, May 30th, 2020 No comments

I haven’t mentioned COVID-19 on here in 2 months. While March felt like it lasted forever, April and May have flown by. I think that’s a sign that quarantine life has become normal.

The monotony of daily life is still there. The Zoom activities have helped. I started watching Drag Race weekly with people from Out in Tech. I’ve been streaming on Twitch more and that’s been a lot of fun.

People are starting to relax. The county I live in is entering Phase 1 of reopening in 2 days. The county that encompasses most of Portland will follow in a couple of weeks. Most of the state and many parts of the country have already reopened. I actually went to a park in the city yesterday. I was nice to be outside for an extended period of time.

This past week has been tough and intense. Another black male killed by police officers. The President’s bad leadership made the situation worse. Protesting and riots are happening all across the country. There’s been protesting here in Portland the past couple of days and even longer in other cities. Police are often using force to break up crowds. It feels like we could be on the brink of some major here. It is promising to see the entire country so fed up with racism. Whatever happens, I hope Trump loses in November and we can start to heal as a nation.

RIP Bailey

Saturday, April 4th, 2020 No comments

Last week I found out that one of my furry friends had passed away the week before on March 18. He was almost 13. Bailey was my roommate’s dog. I lived with him from 2007 to 2008 and got to take care of him a time or two even after he moved out. He’s probably the first dog I really made a connection with. The last time I saw him was in 2015. He remembered me and licked the top of my head like he used to do. I mention him in a few entries on this blog.

Happy trails, little fella.

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COVID-19 and Me

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 No comments

So this is what living through a global pandemic is like.

I think most people in the US are beginning their 3rd week of quarantine. I had already started canceling and skipping events about 2 weeks before then. If my memory is correct, I haven’t had any in-person social activity since the end of February. Trips to get food don’t count. I am going crazy over here. The dogs are great, but it’s not the same as being around humans. The loneliness and depression have definitely crept in. It was already bad from not working, but not being able to go out has made it worse. I envy people who are in relationships and don’t have to quarantine alone. Maybe they envy me.

I’ve had video chats with friends and I’ve arranged some online events with PDX Gaymers, so that has helped.

My trip to the UK and France in the beginning of May has been postponed. Once Expedia gets caught up, I should be getting a voucher that I can use up until April 30, 2021.

Other than inconveniences, things have been pretty good. I’ve made good progress on some video games, TV shows, and books. I’ve seen a lot of movies. I’ve done so much cleaning and organizing.

I got pretty sick a a few weeks ago. I think it was the first full weekend of the month, but this month has felt like a year, so who knows. It started out as puking and feeling lightheaded. I couldn’t sit up for long and I was sleeping pretty much all day. I figured it was food poisoning because I ate something the night before it started that didn’t quite taste right. A couple of days later I started sniffling and I had a sore throat. I was all better within days. I don’t know if it was coronavirus or not. Coronavirus seems to affect people differently. I’ve had some tightness in my chest most days for the past 3 weeks and sniffles. Could just be allergies. Could be paranoia. I had one of my daylong colds yesterday, but I’m all good now.

I think coronavirus started to hit home for a lot of people when celebrities started getting sick. Most of us I would imagine don’t know someone who has tested positive for it or has died from it. I’m thinking that before this is over, we’ll all know someone who has. I’m worried about my friend Xander who works in hospitals. He told me the other day that he had to perform CPR on someone who they think has coronavirus. They were waiting for test results to come back the last I heard. I’m hoping that he remains healthy and safe.

Not the downplay the serious of the virus and the lives lost, but I guess it could be worse overall. I don’t want to get too much into how our president mishandled the situation, but he it could be even better. Hopefully, this will pass soon and we can get back to some sense of normalcy.

What Day is It?

Saturday, February 29th, 2020 No comments

One thing about being unemployed is that it’s hard sometimes to remember what day it is.

Not much has happened on that front. It seems like companies are starting to hire again, but I’m just getting the same B.S. as before.

I came down sick last weekend. Cold, flu? Not really sure. I’m feeling better now. I was on the couch all day for 3 days.

February was a very busy month for PDX Gaymers. So much fun. I had to cancel 2 events because I was sick, but there were still so many. Attendance has gotten so much better.

My trip to Europe in May is being planned. I’m going to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Paris with Matt A, Matt H, and Mel. Hopefully, we won’t have to cancel because of coronavirus.

Hoping for good news and good times in the coming weeks.

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Wizard World Portland 2020

Friday, January 31st, 2020 No comments

This past weekend Wizard World Comic Con came to town. I didn’t realize it until the 1st day, but I hadn’t been to a Wizard World Comic Con since 2014. Something’s always coming up. They think they changed the time of year a few times and maybe it was cancelled one year, but I’m glad it’s back in January.

I went Friday late afternoon and the 1st thing I noticed how short the lines to get in were and how few people were there overall compared to Rose City Comic Con and to the last time I attended. They weren’t using up nearly as much of the convention floor and were not using the big rooms for panels. It makes me wonder if Portland just can’t support 2 big conventions like this or if of Portland is just more loyal to the locally founded RCCC. Whatever the case, I hope Wizard World continues to come back.

One thing I liked about this con compared to Rose City is that it felt far more laid back. You didn’t have as many people screaming orders and herding you the whole time. The celebrities seemed more accessible. I saw John Glover go watch the band play on the entertainment stage and he started dancing. The food court area was near the bathrooms everyone was using on the floor. Sometimes I would sit there and relax if I had a long break in my schedule. I saw people like Chandler Riggs, Sam Levine, Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance, and Laura Vandervoort go to the bathrooms that everyone else was using. No I didn’t bother them because I didn’t want to be creepy. I’m just used to the celebrities at cons being out of sight unless they were on a panel or doing an autograph signing or photo op and secreted off when they were done. There weren’t people or signs saying to not take photos of people at their tables and I feel like I could’ve gone up to anyone to say hi. I didn’t though.

They had an entertainment stage at the entrance where they would have bands playing, karaoke, trivia, etc. I didn’t realize until after the first day that the person MCing the events and dancing around was Kato Kaelin, who gained notoriety during the OJ trial. I went to see panels featuring Chandler Riggs, Ross Marquand, Holly Marie Combs, Emily Swann, Smallville cast members Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, John Glover, Erica Durance, and Laura Vandervoort, and Craig Parker. I had my picture taken with Thomas Dekker and the Smallville cast. I ended up missing panels with Thomas Dekker, Sam Levine, and James Marsters so I get my Smallville cast photo done on Saturday so I could skip the last day of the con. There just wasn’t enough going on and I needed a rest.

On Saturday night Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum did their Smallville Nights show that they have been doing in different cities. There’s no recording of any kind allowed at these. That apparently is the reason why Tom was convinced to do it. He’s more of an introvert and I don’t think he really likes conventions, but this allows him to be himself.
There were a couple of times where Michael was goofing off and would get right in my face and yell, but it was all in fun. They told stories, acted out scenes from the show, and then would direct audience members in acting out those same scenes. I got picked to play Lana Lang in the graveyard scene in the pilot while someone else played Clark. I think Tom thought it would be funny for me to wear a wig, not realizing it wasn’t my first time in a wig. They all thought I looked good.

I spent over $500 on Smallville experiences that weekend. I don’t regret it at all. The online communities around Smallville, Heroes, LOST, and other shows helped me get through hard times when I was feeling lonely and different back in Mississippi. I made many friends and continue to be friends with them to this day. I’ve met many in person, traveled with them, and we’ve stayed in each other’s homes. I don’t mind spending money to spend a little time with some of the cast members that helped make it possible.

I had a lot of fun at Wizard World Portland this year. It was low key and I liked that. The first day I didn’t even take my DSLR with me. Once I saw how low key it was, I decided not to bring it the rest of the weekend. All of my pics and videos were made using my Pixel 4. It was nice not having to carry my big camera around and not feeling stressed to get as many good pictures as possible.

Christmas 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

Wow! I had so little Christmas spirit this year! Between not working, being by myself so much, and the warm weather, it didn’t feel like Christmas. I didn’t start listening to Christmas music until Christmas morning and after that I was done with it.

Like Thanksgiving, I thought I was going to be spending the day hanging out alone with the dogs. Two days before, my friend Nir invited me to a Chinese dinner and a movie night he was organizing. The day after this I was invited to dinner at my former co-worker Aaron’s house, but I had to turn them down. My friend Jer and a guy named Dallas who I had recently met at a PDX Gaymers event were there for Chinese dinner, as well as some people that I had never met. I knew that people went out to restaurants on Christmas, but I didn’t know Chinese dinner on Christmas Day was a thing. This dinner was an experience. Some people’s orders weren’t quite right. The water tasted bad. I was pretty much told I couldn’t have what I wanted and I was told what I would get instead. After dinner, we saw Little Women, which was really good. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.

A few days after Christmas, we had a holiday party at Alex and Robert Lee-Olson’s house. It was a great time. I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in while. I’ve been a little bit of a hermit lately and some people’s schedules or location make it hard to get together often.

I don’t care what people say, presents are one of the parts of Christmas I still enjoy. What did I get this year? I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

  • dog treats for Max and Reese
  • a book on dog massages
  • Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
  • The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss
  • a Black Panther build a bear
  • Astral Chain
  • a cross
  • Thor, Dr Strange, and Tony Stark pop vinyls
  • Reese’s candy
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
  • many wonderful cards
  • some stuff I treated myself to
    • a web camera
    • board games Pret-a-Porter, Ecos, 7th Continent, Shadows of Brimstone, Anomia

2019 was a tough year. Two of my closest Portland friends moved away, Xander and then Cody. I don’t think I ever wrote about Cody leaving. I lost my job a few months after being promoted. I got sick with a bad sinus infection in October and have been sick pretty much since. I’m feeling the effects of not eating well and not exercising. Sitting here at home all day has taken a physical and emotional toll on me. I remember writing about how optimistic I was earlier in the year, but all that optimism left for a while. I’m feeling optimistic again about the new year, but if things don’t change soon, I could be right where I was.

I decided to set goals for next year. Since I successfully completed every goal the last time I did this, I think one reason I stopped doing it for a while was so I wouldn’t fail. Here’s my list.

  • Lose at least 30 lbs
  • Go on at least 1 date
  • Arrange at least 1 dog play date
  • Leave the state of Oregon at least 3 times
  • Beat at least 3 video games
  • Learn at least 1 new board game
  • Attend at least 1 Meetup I haven’t been to before
  • Buy a new bike and ride it
  • Go to a convention or festival that’s new to me
  • Arrange a photoshoot so I can put my photography equipment to good use
  • Don’t be so self conscious about how I look. Post at least 12 pics of myself on social media

We enter a new decade tomorrow. This past decade has been great to me. I spent the first 2 years in Starkville and last 8 years in Portland. Deciding to take a risk, uproot my life, and move to Portland was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This decade has had some struggles: heartbreak, unhappiness with health and career, and some bouts of loneliness and depression. But overall it’s been great. Don’t they say your 30s are the best years of your life? So far I can’t disagree with that. Some of things I’ve done in this past decade:

  • moved across the country
  • met a lot of online friends, traveled with them, stayed in each other’s homes
  • became a social butterfly
  • traveled out of country for the first time
  • did a lot more traveling than I did before
  • became a leader at work and in the community
  • became a dog parent for the 2nd time
  • started podcasting
  • worked for one of the top tech companies in the world
  • dated a guy for the first time
  • started going to conventions
  • took up new hobbies
  • made many great local friends

I hope everyone has a happy New Year and a great decade! Take care of each other!

15th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

The first weekend in October my friend Matt A. from California came up to visit. I know Matt through podcasting and I met him in person at the Twin Peaks festival a few years ago, but hadn’t seen him since. He had presented the idea a few weeks earlier of him coming up here and traveling to Seattle for the GPB Festival. I was all for it.

Matt flew in from Denver (I think) on that Friday night, where he had attended another festival. From what I understand, Matt works for a chain of stores and helps decide which beers and how much they stock. So this is like work for him. We watched that Stephen King movie In the Tall Grass, which had just debuted on Netflix.

We got up pretty early Saturday and got some donuts from Voodoo Donuts before heading to Seattle. We stopped at a brewery at met someone Matt knows, I think it was the manager. We then went to the festival which was a lot of fun. We drank sample after sample of pumpkin beer for hours. Since Matt knew some of the people there (I think they worked for one of the breweries), we got extra drink tickets. There’s a giant pumpkin beer filled with beer. Later in the day they had a costume contest near this giant pumpkin and later on a parade. After the parade they tap the pumpkin and served beer from the pumpkin. Leading up to them tapping the pumpkin, the excitement is building up. They had music playing. People (including Matt and myself) were holding cornstalks, dancing to the music, and chanting “TAP THAT GOURD!” It was kind of crazy, but fun to be a part of. After we left the festival, we had dinner with Jonathon Pope, a Washington resident who I know from podcasting but had never met before.

Sunday we drove back to Portland. We visited a couple of breweries around here. I took him to Powell’s. At this point Matt was feeling sick, probably from all the traveling, and I was starting to get sniffly too. He tried to get his return flight moved to Monday instead of Tuesday, but it was going to be too expensive. Matt wanted to play board games on this trip. We played one game at one of the breweries earlier and we ended the night playing board games with some of my local friends at the Lucky Lab.

On Monday, we didn’t do much. I remember going to a brewery, playing a game there, and getting a tour of the brewery’s expansion. That night we watch Hereditary and Midsommar.

On Tuesday, I had an interview so I had to take Matt to the airport earlier than I would have liked. We stopped at the library in Hillsboro and played a couple of games before heading to the airport.

I’m so glad Matt got to come visit, see Portland, meet my dogs, and play some board games. I wish more people would come visit -hint-hint-. The only negative is that once the sickness he gave me fully kicked in, I was miserable and out of commission for 2 weeks. Oh well, it happens.

ESPN Turned 40

Monday, December 30th, 2019 No comments

In early September, ESPN celebrated its 40th anniversary. I’ve hardly watched over the past 20 or so years, but in the 90s I watched it pretty religiously when I had access to it.

I especially enjoyed SportsCenter. I loved the anchors like Chris Berman, Keith Olberman, and Dan Patrick. I thought it was amazing when they brought on Linda Cohn. There were days when I watched pretty much every airing of SportCenter, even when it was on for hours at a time and they were pretty much just repeating the same stories each episode.

In addition to SportsCenter, I watched Baseball Tonight and a lot of Sunday night baseball games.

I guess it was sometime during or after high school that I stopped watching ESPN. Every once in a while I would come across it and watch it for a few minutes before moving on or if there was a football game I really wanted tosee, I’d watch it on one of their stations. Sometimes I would put a game on just for background noise. I never got around to watching 30 for 30 like I promised myself I would. A few months ago I actually did start watching SportsCenter a few nights a week while I was in bed. That’s how I knew the anniversary was coming up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Linda Cohn was still doing SportsCenter. My newfound interest in ESPN didn’t last long, however.

Now that Disney+ is out, I have the bundle that also gives you ESPN+ and Hulu. I think I have access to the entire 30 for 30 catalog. I’ll be giving that a try starting in the new year and possibly slipping back into some regular SportsCenter viewing.

Happy belated anniversary to ESPN. You were a big part of my childhood and will hopefully be a big part of my adulthood.

Goodbye Xfinity, Hello Frontier

Friday, December 27th, 2019 No comments

It’s getting close to the end of the year, so I figured now would be a good time to get around to some of the writing I’ve been meaning to do over the past few months.

I signed up for Xfinity from Comcast when I first moved to Oregon almost 8 years ago. I remember planning it out to that the installer would be here the day after I arrived. Over the years, I’ve had very few problems with their service and I’ve barely spoken to their customer service. They’ve increased my speed a few times without any extra charge. I’m the kind of person who likes having a long relationship with companies and won’t switch if I don’t have to. Some people complain about Xfinity, but I know that the quality of service you get often depends on where you live.

Over the years, I may have looked into other services, but I never found a compelling reason to switch. Xfinity was fast and reliable and I couldn’t get matching speeds from the top contender, Frontier, in my neighborhood. A few years ago, however, Xfinity implemented monthly bandwidth limits. They gave customers 2 free courtesy months where we wouldn’t be charged if we went over our limit. I periodically checked my bandwidth usage on their site. I rarely came close to the limit, even when Xander was here and we were both using the Internet. There were a few months where it was really close. Then last November, Xander and I went quite a bit over. I blamed it on streaming more and a lot of new video game releases . After that things went back to normal. Then earlier this year, I believe it was August, I went way over by myself. That was my first month of not going into the office every day after finding out I was being laid off. I was streaming CNN every day, streaming on Twitch a lot, and downloading and uploading a lot of videos. Also, a bunch of new games were released. A few weeks earlier a Frontier representative had knocked on my door with a new offer. They had upgraded their service in my neighbor and for quite a bit less than Xfinity, I could get twice the download speed and over 30 times the upload speed. I said ‘no’ at the time because I didn’t know how reliable Frontier is, but I did keep the representative’s business card. After I went over the 2nd time, I decided I should probably say goodbye to Xfinity. I didn’t want to pay overage fees to them and their unlimited plan is an extra $50/month. Frontier had no bandwidth caps.

I talked to friends of mine who are Frontier customers and posted in Nextdoor asking for opinion. It seems that some people had great experiences with Frontier and some didn’t. Once again, it probably all depended on where you lived. I scheduled an appointment, which was scheduled for around the middle of September. Installation was quick. They removed the old Verizon FIOS box that was left here by the previous occupants. Apparently Frontier had bought all the Verizon lines. Frontier’s service has been really good. There were a few times early on that I lost my connection, but that could partially be because I updated my router firmware at the same time that I switched ISPs. The speed is great. I’ve been uploading videos to YouTube and it’s so much faster. I’m glad that I rook the chance. I was afraid that the service would be terrible and I’d end up wanting to switch back. Luckily, that hasn’t happened.

Thanksgiving 2019

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 No comments

Thanksgiving was fairly low key this year. Since most of my friends were planning to spend time with their families either out of state or in this area, I had resigned to spending Thanksgiving alone, working on the fish tanks and playing video games. A few days before Thanksgiving, however, my former co-worker Aaron invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family. I was happy, because although I’m not big on holidays, I still think you shouldn’t spend Thanksgiving and Christmas alone if you don’t want to.

I had to do some last unexpected shopping for sweet potato pie ingredients. It ended up not turning out well. I didn’t start cooking until a couple of hours before I went to Aaron’s and I tried to make it without dairy products. I don’t know if that was the difference or not, but it seemed mushy and under cooked. Since I was running late anyway, I decided to just take a game to share. For dinner we had Aaron and his wife Marissa, Aaron’s brother and his wife and her daughter, and someone named Zeke who knew everybody but I was never sure how he was related to everyone. A couple of guests ended up not coming. The food and conversation was good and we played the game I brought, Anomia, and had fun. Everyone left shortly afterward.

After I left I kept up my Thanksgiving Day movie tradition by going to see Knives Out. It’s such a good movie, one of the best I’ve seen this year.

I’m glad I ended up celebrating Thanksgiving. Bring on Christmas! Even though I feel lonely at times and don’t have a job, I have a feeling this is going to be a fun holiday season. There won’t be someone around who hates the holidays dragging my mood down. I’m looking forward to Christmas and the New Year so much!