#603 – Hello 2018! and Taking a Stand Against Racism

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So it took me half the month to get here, but let me catch you up on things.

The trip to Florida went well. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in a long time, we had some time in the hotel room on our own so we didn’t have to be “on” all the time (the reason sucked – there was apparently a bout of food poisoning that went through the family and we were asked to stay away for a day), and on the last full day we were there we went to LEGOLAND Florida.

We started out the day going through the park with my brother- and sister-in-law and their two kids. I wanted to be there for that, because I wanted to get photos of my nephew and niece enjoying the day. We also kept an eye on the kids while the adults went on adult rides. My nephew had a complete meltdown every time Mom walked away, but it was worth it to see how ecstatic he was when she came back around.

We split off to spend most of our time at Miniland USA, where they had tons of cityscapes from around Florida and the United States, as well as a section devoted to the Star Wars saga. Altogether, I took almost four gigabytes’ worth of photos and videos and probably spent close to two hours just taking in the builds.

We headed back to the hotel and met up with a friend of ours that we hadn’t seen in a couple years and her wife, who we hadn’t yet met. We had a wonderful dinner together before heading back to the hotel for the night to pack.

I cannot overstate how big this is for me. A year ago, it was all I could do to leave the house for doctors’ appointments, and now I’m happily going through a major theme park with no anxiety, no stress (except for the nephew, but even that was tolerable) and no incidents.

We came back home and started prepping for school and the move at the end of the month. All my books and supplies are bought, and everything’s done for the move with the exception of actually, you know … packing. That’s taking a while and we keep putting it off, and we’re running out of time, so things are getting a little tense around the house right now.

And that’ brings us, more or less, to today.

A little bit of background for the highlight of the day. I’m on a few Discord servers (Discord is a text and voice client geared for gamers. Our radio station was my introduction to Discord.) and one of them has had issues with a member not playing well with others. Constant one-upmanship, lie after lie (he couldn’t keep them straight and he would often contradict himself), subtle trolling, moving the goalposts in arguments – he was the personification of everything you don’t want to deal with in a social situation. The thing is, he would always stop just short of being a disciplinary issue. Many people complained about him, but there was nothing they could really do, despite wanting to.

Until tonight.

Earlier today, the guy posted a link to a game called Comedy Night. It’s a game where the player performs comedy over voice, and a live audience reacts to the routine. It’s a great concept in theory, but in practice it is apparently a haven for racial insults and hardcore trolling. That’s not my thing, so I mentioned that it would be interesting if not for the racial problems. And the guy tried to defend people’s right to be racist.

Now, understand that I abhor conflict. Nothing gives me impostor syndrome faster than getting into an argument. I always think that the other person can run rings around my argument and punch holes all through it.

But I just could not let this guy say the things he was saying. So I put my foot down. And things escalated.

Eventually the guy all but openly defended racism, and that’s when the moderators got involved.

After reviewing our conversation, they banned the guy. Every trace of his presence disappeared from the server.

There’s more! The guy immediately created a new account and was immediately banned for trying to circumvent the ban. And he did it again. And again. And again.

The best part is the names he was coming up with. His original handle was The Phenomenal One. He first came back as Simply Glorious. The next name was Chosen One. The guy was rather full of himself.

If he comes back, they’ll know. He’s got a definite pattern to his naming and his conversation, and he was prolific, talking mostly at people rather than to them.

The most important thing is that I stood up for what was right and prevailed. And it feels amazing. To be fair, I still get the willies thinking about the conflict. But it was worth it.

I fortunately haven’t had much occasion to speak up against racism – the circle of people I associate are very inclusive and it’s just not something that ever comes up. But it’s nice to know that I’m capable of being a more active and effective ally when the need presents itself.

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#602 – Goodbye 2017!

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This will be my last post this year. I am packing for a flight to Orlando to spend some time with my wife’s family for a few days. We leave very, very early in the morning so tonight’s post is going to be short, but important.

One of my first posts of 2017 was on January 21, where I talked a bit about what everyday life was like for me. I was barely being social, I was pretty much a shut-in, I was only driving if it was absolutely necessary, and I was very prone to anxiety attacks at the drop of a hat. I was still pretty early in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Sixth Edition, and my meds were keeping my mood low but stable.

Fast forward to today. I’ve completed the Workbook and had my meds tweaked to a super effective combination, and together they’ve allowed me to make progress that I could never have foreseen in January. I’ve recently completed my first semester in college, with both classes being taught in the classroom and not online. I started driving pretty much anywhere and going to stores on my own. My confidence started to come back, although it still has a ways to go. I have far more good days than bad. My mood is usually fairly medium but it’s easy for it to spike and rare for it to plummet even for a brief time.

This has been nothing short of a transformative year for me, and I’m hoping that 2018 is going to be more of the same. I’ve got a hell of a workload in the spring semester that starts next month, and just at the beginning of it I’m moving, but if I can get through that with mostly A’s and the occasional B, then I’ll consider myself very prepared for anything else that college – and life – can throw my way.

I want to thank you for following me through this banner year. Your words of encouragement and wisdom mean the world to me, and I appreciate every one of you for taking time out of your day to read my (sometimes nonsensical) musings about my life.

See you folks next year. Enjoy the turn of the calendar and all the promise and hope it brings.

#601 – What a Lovely Day

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Today was a fantastic day. I got to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite people, and when I picked my wife up from work found out that she had an even better day after a conversation with her supervisor.

The evening’s been spent lying in bed and goofing off on the computer. I’ll enjoy this little bit of respite. We’re going to be packing tomorrow night for a flight to Orlando Saturday morning to spend time with my wife’s family for New Year’s. Once we get back, the packing and preparation for our move is going to start in earnest, and it won’t be many days before I’ll be back in school.

Gotta enjoy the downtime while I can. There’s not a lot of it on the horizon.

#600 – Playing Around

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So I was going to write a bit longer today about what’s been going on lately. The morning was quiet, but the afternoon and evening were very busy. I went to run errands with our house guest after my wife’s lunch break, and only came back home for a few minutes before going to pick my wife up from work. We were home for a little while, but went out to eat with another friend we all know. We had a great time, and afterwards all came back to our place for a couple games. We own one of them, but the one our friend brought was one of the most amazing concepts I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s called DropMix, and it uses an electronic base, NFC-enabled cards, and a phone app to create unique musical mixes for points. There’s a competitive mode and a cooperative mode, and the songs involved use various tracks from popular songs to create a sometimes surprising and always creative, ever-changing mix of music. We both decided that we have to own this game, so hopefully after we’ve settled into the new apartment we’ll be able to pick it up.

I’d write more but we have to be up early to get my wife to work and then go straightaway to the airport to drop off our house guest, and I could use the sleep.

#599 – Hotspot Hero

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I’m writing today to say that it’s been a good day, I had a lot of fun, and our internet has been out for the majority of the evening. I’m logged into my hotspot on my phone just long enough to get this out and apologize for not writing more or earlier. I’ll have more tomorrow, provided the internet connection allows.

#598 – Holiday Wishes

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This is late, I know, but I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas had a good one today. No matter what you celebrate this winter, I wish you prosperity, good cheer, and peace.

I’ll write more tomorrow. Today was a good day, but I’m exhausted and my head and back are killing me, and I want to go lie down.

 

#597 – Gotta Catch ‘Em All, But This One In Particular

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Today my wife, our house guest, and I drove two and a half hours one way for the chance to catch a very specific Pokémon.

Some folks might think this to be a little excessive, but bear with me, it was warranted.

Pokémon Go has hundreds of Pokémon available in the game, but not all of them are available everywhere. Each continent has its own regional-exclusive critters that you can’t catch anywhere else in the world. If you happen to have one of those regional Pokémon from a different continent, it’s almost always a sign that someone’s been traveling.

Our house guest is very much into the game, and as such has found ways of tracking specific Pokémon almost in real time. His research showed that there was a bit of an anomaly with one of the regional Pokémon – the South American regional, Heracross, is only available south of the 29th parallel.

That parallel crosses south Texas, which means that some places in Texas have been reporting Heracross sightings and captures.

Our trip today took us to Victoria, Texas, where Heracross has been popping up regularly. We spent hours setting lures and traveling between them to see what the lures attracted. We went to many places in town that had Heracross sightings, hitting Pokéstops along the way for supplies.

The trip was very productive. I restocked my supplies and caught several new-to-me Pokémon during the day. Both my wife and our guest had similar results, although our guest didn’t catch as many new Pokémon, since he’s much more active in game than either my wife or I. But despite getting advice from players in town, we didn’t find a Heracross.

Eventually we decided we needed to make the trip back to Austin, so we grabbed a bite to eat, checked a couple more places, and then headed home. While we were heading out of town, our guest was checking our route, and as we approached one corner, he called out “HERACROSS!”

We pulled into the convenience store and frantically pulled up our game clients in order to catch this elusive prize. It took some of us a few tries, some of us only one, but all three of us eventually captured the Heracross. Triumphant, we wrapped up the game and drove home.

It was a fun day and a good time was had by all.