Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Anniversary

I have worked for The State for 10 years.

That's 120 months.

520 weeks.

3650 days.

Or 87600 hours.

During that time I have been at work approximately 20800 hours. (I'm counting any vacation or sick or furlough time because those are things my job gives or forces on me.)

That's 960 days.

137 full weeks.

31.65 months.

Or 2.64 years.

I will retire in approximately 28.58 real years.

That's 343 months.

1486 full weeks.

10404 days.

Or 249704 hours.

Actual time working before I retire is approximately 59446.4 hours.

That's 2476.93 days.

353.85 weeks.

81.66 months.

Or 6.80 years.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

On Chocolate Chips

A few months ago I bought an ice cream maker. One that has a tub you freeze overnight before you churn. It's a good ice cream maker that's dangerous, but creates much deliciousness.

I tackled the big three right away -- vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry -- with no problems. The next on the top five list seemed easy. Make vanilla and add mini chocolate chips because big ones get too tough to chew.


Except not really.

The mini chocolate chips are easier to chew, but not by that much. Also, because the chips are frozen I couldn't really taste the chocolate.

One of the joys of chocolate is that it melts at body temperature. When it melts in your mouth is when you taste that singular flavor. Shoveling it in with frozen cream does not allow for much melt and therefore not much flavor.

Store bought chocolate chip ice cream doesn't have that problem, though. The chips melt fine and every bite is nicely balanced between the vanilla of the cream and the chocolate of the chip. What makes them chips so special?

The last time I was at the store, I looked at the ingredients of a chocolate chip ice cream: cream, sugar, blah, blah, blah, chocolate flavored chips.

Chocolate flavored chips?

Fortunately, modern ingredient lists also list the ingredients for the ingredients and I learned that chocolate flavored chips are made with bittersweet chocolate (like standard cookie chips) and coconut oil, non-hydrogenated. (In other brands it may be some other kind of oil.)

My brain went DING.

Coconut oil is solid until about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and then starts melting. Mixing the coconut oil with the chocolate brings the melting point of the chocolate down and, if you don't buy the super organic oil (oops), it doesn't taste too different. Not as strong as bittersweet chips, but more chocolaty than milk chocolate.

I felt stupid. I've been making homemade Magic Shell for over a year now. It's mostly chocolate and coconut oil. This keeps the concoction liquid at, relatively, cool temperatures and then it freezes on the scoop of ice cream (or frozen strawberry or ice cube or frozen spoon, however you take your chocolate).

The chips work, too. Now the question is what's the perfect ratio of oil to chocolate?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Old Friend

I'm writing this today, in part, to apologize. I have not tried hard to remain in contact with you. I don't write you regular e-mail. I don't drive to your location to simply visit you. I don't call you one the phone or text you. I don't even know if I have your phone number. This is on me.

To be fair, though, it's on you, too.

When I have written in the past you responded with only a sentence or two and after I wrote back you didn't. You never seem to be the first to send an e-mail. Why is that?

When I've been near where you live, I have let you know so that I could visit with you. You never seem to be near where I live. Those few times you have been near, you haven't always let me know. Why is that?

I rarely call or text anyone. If I don't have your phone number I haven't asked you for it. Which would be the same reason you don't have mine. If you asked, I would give it to you, but I'm not going to call. I have issues with myself that don't allow me to call you. Do you have similar issues?

The other part of why I'm writing this is because I think I'm done calling you/thinking of you as "friend."

"Friend" should be more than a person who can see your Facebook feed. It should be more than hitting a "like" button or posting a comment on a picture. I don't know what that more is, but friend should be more. Maybe regular reconnection through thoughtful communication to see how we've both changed and how we've stayed the same and how we're still compatible, but in a new way. We haven't done this in a very long time.

Maybe it's because you've changed so much more than I have in "grown-up" ways: spouses, children, mortgages. In my mind I can't picture myself with the first two and the third is only a possibility of a possibility. And when you have spouses, children, and mortgages those thing are what should be important to you. I understand that. I know that's how it should be. Just because I don't have those experiences doesn't mean I don't understand them or that I don't want to understand them.

Do you remember the last time I visited you? I was horribly uncomfortable. I don’t know what to talk to you about. Your life seems so focused because you have these outside things to focus on that are also intimate and personal. My life isn’t. I have no focus and my interests are not personal at all. For how long can I force the conversation into deconstruction of pop culture things that I’m interested in and you may or may not be before I wear out my welcome?

I want you to understand that this isn't a spur of the moment thing. I don't want you to think that I suddenly got tired of you posting pictures of your children. There's been thought about this.

Several weeks ago, one of my cousins got married. The person he wanted to have as his best man, his step-brother, couldn't be there because of Army. My cousin's step-father stood in as best man. Neither person was chosen out of obligation. Both were asked because of love and friendship. That's also why they accepted.

I sat there wondering if I were to ever get married, who would I have to step in as my best man? I had no answer for that. When I wondered who I would ask to be my best man in the first place, I had no answer for that either. Maybe one of my brothers, who would have to do it out of family obligation. Maybe not.

Fifteen years ago I know who I would have asked. Ten years ago I would have asked a different person, but I knew who. Five years ago I'm not so sure. Today, there is no one I could ask and not feel like I was backing them into a corner. A position like best man shouldn't feel to either party like its being forced.

This has been coming on for a long time. I remember when I felt like I was an afterthought. The person who was called only when you realized that I wasn't already there and an extra body was needed to play a good game of Risk. Not long after, I wasn't even a thought. I was a person who wasn't even invited to a party in his own home. Asked days and weeks later why I wasn't there and told I was a liar when I said no one told me. How could you not be told about a party where you live? I was asked. How, indeed.

Part of me wishes that I could be cocky and cruel about this. I wish that I could say I replaced you with someone and your friendship hasn't been necessary for years. That's not true, though. I haven't made a new friend in at least eighteen years. Me choosing to no longer call you friend leaves me with no friends. No friends.

Those words were not easy to write and I paused for a minute or two before I continued.

"No man is an island," John Donne wrote. "Every man is a piece of a continent." Many people use the first four lines of that poem to talk about friendship and togetherness without actually reading the rest of the poem and seeing that it's about people dying and how each death, no matter if one knew the dead personally, is a blow to mankind. As with so much poetry, we tend to ignore the words and meaning of the whole to focus on out of context bits.

I don't know if I'm an island. Or a rock. I do know that the longer I live, the less I desire to try to make, or keep, any kind of interpersonal connections. I can't remember ever desiring children. It's been nearly a decade since I wanted a spouse. Much of this blog has been about my lack of ability to make friends. Now, I don't have the drive to make friend, nor do I have the desire to pretend that people from my past are still friends. No matter what you may think. I can't control that. I am, however, sorry if I have offended you. It wasn't my intention, but I can see how it may be a possibility.

Last week I found a psychiatric term for who/what I am. Beyond the depression thing. It starts with a horrifying word, but the meaning of the whole title isn't as scary. It is me, though. And I know it's dangerous to self-diagnose, but in the age of the Internewts it's hard not to. Also, I don't think me finding a label is a bad thing. It makes me feel less unique to know that I'm not the only, let alone the first, to be the way I am, in a good way.

I seem the brain doctor on Tuesday. I keep wondering if I should bring this label up to him and if so, how to bring it up. There are a couple of problems, though. The first is, he is completely retiring at the end of the year and I will probably see him only one or two more times before he's done. I also doubt that I'll be seeing another brain doctor after him because there aren't any nearby who accept my insurance. There are several an hour+ drive from where I live, and that's where my current brain doctor is, but I don't like making the drive and the one on one talk seems to be mostly me manipulating the brain doctor to not ask me certain questions. (Now that I've been with him for three years, I'm much better at doing it than I used to be.) The second reason is that there isn't really any fix for this personality disorder. Drugs can be used to lessen depression that may or may not have to do with this, but it only works on depression which makes one want to kill oneself less, but doesn't really do anything to the other stuff. There's talk of group therapy maybe working, but for group therapy to be effective for someone like me the group needs to understand that I won't participate much, if at all, for months. The third reason is do I want to change. Am I unhappy being the way I am? Does it cause me to be depressed? Most people learning that I am friendless probably assume that I am lonely, except that I'm not. By myself I'm almost never lonely. In a crowd is when I feel a loneliness so crushing that I'm surprised my bones don't crack under the pressure. What happens if I lose the ability to be alone?

If this is wrong, then who am I when I'm right? Am I at all?

I don't know. In the end, I don't know if it really matters, either.

I thought you should know all of this. I thought you should know because I wanted to be clear that while I accept that it's mostly me, and it is mostly me, it's partially you, too. I also want you to know that I understand that it's not malicious. You've simply changed to accommodate things that I won't have, that I don't want.

So, when you see on Facebook or here that I was in or near your neck of the woods and I said nothing about it, this is why. I'm done making efforts. I'm done trying. I'm simply going to be me.

Be well,


Friday, July 17, 2015

The Internets

I'm reading about how this guy believes that the gods of the acient Sumerians comes from an extra planet in the solar system, beyond Pluto. He states that this planet has an orbital period of 3600 years and I wonder just how big of an orbit that is. (Pluto takes about 250 years to complete an orbit around the Sun.)

I think what the hell and go to Google for a search. BAM! Several calcuators for orbital period.

So, if the planet is out there and Earth sized then it's a little less than 250 astronomical units away from the Sun.

The internets is a strange, sometimes wonderful, place.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

5/4 Decision

I've been trying to sleep for the last 45 minutes but this stuff keeps rattling in my head and I have to get it out. I can't post it to Facebook because I'm sick of both the blind devotion and the blind hate. So, for the few who read this, please pardon the disjointed randomness along with all the grammar and spelling error I'm sure to ignore.

This morning, when I heard that the Supreme Court of the United States of America decided that all the states had to allow same sex couples to marry and recognize those marriage I was thrilled. I had expected the Supreme Court to rule that states must recognize all marriages that take place in other states, but I didn't expect them to force all the states to allow same sex couples to marry. My second thought was to wonder how long before some asshole with a gun shoots up a church because two men or two women had a marriage ceremony there? I hope it never happens, but I bet it will. This is a very cynical thought for a day when so many are celebrating good news. But what will happen when that asshole comes along? Who will celebrate that? How will that be rectified? It's been 51 years since Brown V. Board of Education said that segregation in schools was wrong (which, incidentally is when South Carolina decided to put the Confederate flag on its capital building) and we don't have any racial problems in the US anymore.

And then there's the Facebook crap. Most of the people I'm "friends" with are very happy about the ruling. Like me, they lean to the left on social issues. The problem is that most of them look at this and seem to say that the problem is over and things will be great from her on out. To me, that's blind optimism. Things are rarely that simple, even if we want them to be. And I don't want to burst their happiness bubbles. I did that years ago when Obama first ran for president. I told them that no matter what the man said, things would pretty much stay the same even with all the hope and belief in the world. I was pretty much called a heartless cynic for saying that. Of course a couple years later they were saying it on their own.

The thing that really bothers me is this sort of conversation that went on between my Sister-In-Law (SIL) and Grandma:

SIL: I can just sit there And keep liking all the post all day long. Soo happy. To know, to get close to, have seen so many gay friends with their love, passion, sacrifice for each other, no one, with a tiniest heart left in them can stand depriving that right from them. No. Because love is love. You can feel it cross culture, language, ethnicity. Yes Yes yes. :')

Grandma: I have never had a problem with anyone, who wanted too, getting married but I do have a problem with the groups that go to small businesses who choose, for whatever reason, not to serve them. The group then sues these businesses and the expense runs them out of business. This is so wrong. If some one didn't want to sell to me I would say it was their right. Today the rights only go one way and I am sick of it!!!!!

SIL: Well, I wouldn't be ok with people not selling me stuff or hire me because I am Asian.

Grandma: It has always been, if someone won't do business with me, I'll take my business elsewhere. These people are targeting these businesses and are making a big deal of serve me or else. In one case the group came from another state. Anybody should marry anybody but they have no right to then ruin other peoples lives. This morning they made a big deal about not interfering with the belief of others. That is an out and out lie. For eons people have been exchanging their vows on mountain tops under the full moon and in many other inventive ways but they have never tried to change the beliefs of others. When I was a child two ladies exchanged vows and no one said one word. That was in the USA . . . in the 1940s. ♥
The idea that every single gay couple getting married really bothers me. I've heard it before and I don't believe it. Yes, businesses have been sued for not being willing to serve homosexuals who want to buy a wedding cake, but that's the extreme minority. Most homosexual couples, like most heterosexual couples, will simply move on to another store if they are refused service because why would they want to give money to a store where their money isn't wanted? Most don't. A vocal few will make a fuss, but how is that different from the vocal few of dark skin who demanded to be served at lunch counters who didn't want to serve "colored" people? How would the world react if SIL went to buy a cake and was refused service because she's Asian?

Have to say, though, that I agree that bakeries shouldn't be sued because they don't want to make a wedding cake for the wedding of a same sex couple. Owners of business should have the right to refuse to accept money. That said, I do think that boycotting those establishments is a great idea. Why isn't there an online list of all the bakeries and flower shops and other whatnots that won't serve gay couples so that I know who I don't want to give my money to? (Probably because this suing thing has really only happened two or three times and isn't going to destroy thousands of businesses.) Choices like this can be made. I choose to never set foot into a Hobby Lobby because they won't provide insurance that covers birth control for women but will cover penis pumps for men. I wish more people would make that choice and hit Hobby Lobby in the pocket. I hope that it's what'll happen if suddenly most of the wedding industry decides it won't serve same sex couples who want to get married.

The thing that really gets me is when Grandma call the gay couples "these people." She may be doing it unconsciously, but by calling a group "these people" she's separating them and implying that the gay couples who sue are different and wrong and other. "These people" are not other, their neighbors and parents and friends and coworkers. "These people" are us and we are "these people," too.\

Grandma's story at the end misses the whole point. Yes, I do believe that in the small town in which she grew up two women who vowed to love and honor each other until death happened. I believe that these women were probably left alone because where Grandma grew up it was very live-and-let-live and if the two women weren't hurting other people then the community would leave them alone to be who they were. I don't believe that no one said a word, though, because juicy gossip is always talked about. People still whisper about these things today.

Besides, the real point isn't that gay people get to marry, it's that they get the protections and benefits that are governed by law that they couldn't get as domestic partners. Most importantly, they are allowed to legally be parents to their children. Did you know that only one parent in a same sex couple could be their child's legal guardian? That only one parent could make medical decisions? That one parent wasn't allowed to yes to life saving procedures? That if the couple split the non-guardian could be denied visitation because he or she wasn't a legal parent? For me, the most important part of this decision is now there is equal protection for the children of gay parents and hopefully that will improve the world a little bit.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Working Report

I just learned that on July 1 I get promoted. This will likely be the last promotion I ever receive. Everything after this level involves supervising/managing. I don't want to do either of those things

Halfway through September, I will have worked for The State for 10 years. 3652 days.

The best I can say about it is that the pay has been more that I've ever been paid, but lower than I'd like and the pay has been steady.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Four or so weeks ago I went to this mini conference thing for the local community college. It was a lunch with the business teachers and local schools and businesses. I was there as a representative for the prison I work at and spent most of the time shouting that people, not just the youth, need to be taught how to fill out an application properly (a waitress who writes "I waited on tables" does not actually tell me what she did) and have fuckin' manners on the phone (no, I am not here to take your abuse and I'm not going to fill out the application for you nor will I take the exam for you).

This year also included instructors from the computer science-ish type classes. This way we could also talk technology and the programs that student's will be using once they enter the industry of, hopefully, their choice. One of the instructors was a teacher I had nearly 15 years ago. I took three classes from her all based around graphic design. I did two classes on Adobe Illustrator and one for InDesign. (The second semester of InDesign was with a different teacher.)

I spoke with her before the lunch and the talk began. Mostly, we talked about her classes. She's still doing the Illustrator and InDesign, but she's also teaching Photoshop (which she taught way back when, but I wasn't interested in taking), an computer aided animation, not Flash, and 3D modeling in Maya. All of it excited me. We did get around to talking about me. She seemed... well... disappointed with where I was in my life.

I was, too.

Ever since that day, going to work and staying at work has been very hard for me to do.

I have spent much time looking at the classes she offers, but most are during the day now. Way back when she was only a part time teacher and her classes all took place in the evening. But how do I justify to my boss and then her boss, the Warden, missing six hours of work each week? Especially for classes that would do nothing for promotional purposes? How do I make those hours up without wanting to poke my eyes out? Should I use 90 hours (more than two work weeks worth of time) of vacation time over a semester to take a class? I don't know!

Not since I was little did I really know what I wanted to do as an adult. For a time, I thought I could be a professional story teller, or at least a semi-professional. That idea was squashed out of me in college. The closest I came to finding something that really interested me was the graphic design. I moved from Cowtown to Cowcity to continue design courses. It was just starting in Cowtown, but Cowcity had a real curriculum and was building a 3D modeling/animation curriculum at that time. Eventually, I didn't get enough hours working at a coffee shop and couldn't afford to live there anymore. (You can actually read about this time on this blog by clicking through 2004 and 2005 through September or October. Crazy.) I ended up back in Cowtown, where I didn't have to pay rent, and looked for a job that would actually pay me money and I wouldn't have to live with my parents or a roommate. That's how I ended up with the State in September 2005. In 3 1/2 months I will have finished my tenth year with the state. Fuck.

Most of the ten years have been okay. Just a job. Stuff I do for money. Unfortunately, I've never done a lot outside of the job stuff because of the depression thing. So, I just worked at work that was work that didn't make me more miserable. Work I didn't hate. Work I still don't hate. The problem is that I was reminded about something that I liked that could have lead somewhere, or not. Like I wrote, it's been hard to go to work and then stay there for the full day.

And along with all that it's been really easy to want to quit, give up, and go away.