atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 29th, 2014 12:56 pm)
The work situation wasn't getting any better and, past the midway point in the semester, I know that final papers are going to be a real issue if I'm tight on time, so I went on 'seasonal' work designation so I can walk away for a while with no real ramifications. Put my scant PTO in and walked. If I want extra money when I'm on break, I can come back. If I can't stand the place, I never have to go back. Most of the dock has already walked and they're having something of a desperate time - serves them right.

The movement to only school, all the time has been good for my productivity, and it comes at just the right time.

There's a lot that I love about being in an academic setting, but being back also reminds me of all the things that frustrated me when I was there in undergrad. The teaching is generally fine, the community isn't my issue, but the infrastructure is clearly rotting at a national level. The division between the business end of universities and the academic end is wide, the treatment of education as a commodity instead of as a right, or at least a public good is as distressing as everyone says.

At first, I wasn't really sure that I belonged back. I felt that the gulf between myself and my peers would already be noticeably large and difficult to overcome. The problem really wasn't that I was behind in knowledge, which makes sense if you consider that we're working at the same collective general level. The issue is that, on top of become more acquainted with the idea of the systhesis of knowledge and helping build a greater understanding of literature (or other media, really, since the lines are beginning to blur), Masters/PhD programs are designed to train and acculturate new academics.

I don't have any real illusion that there's going to be a change to this in the near future - at least, not one that I'd have a part in. The best of my understanding has always been that this is a bad system that needs to change, but it mirrors the overall cultural system that has been built by people with the power to create new or insinuate themselves into existing institutions that govern our perception of what is normal and allowed. That means that the education I'm involved with is tied into a problematic system, and it's not a system that I like, and the education itself could be acquired by myself, but this problematic system both facilitates (in a crude, damaged way) my entrance into a field I'm interested in and allows me the time and oppertunity to participate (albeit on terms I'm not entirely comfortable with and terms I don't really have much of a choice in).

So, like, all of this shit is kind of fucked up. I'm glad to be where I'm at, though, all things considered and at least I'm doing well. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 13th, 2014 02:31 pm)
It's been an interesting few months for me at work. There have been times when I've been pretty circumspect about my work situation (Boeing), times when I've been extremely loquatious (Cal Johnson's Phone Service), and times when I've vacilated between the two extremes in my private life. Right now I work at Weekend's Only, a third-rate furniture shop located in the St Louis area, and I've mostly kept it out of my day to day writing because it hasn't really been a job I've taken home with me until the last few months or so.

I don't have any intention of turning this into a tell-all, if only because that'd take fucking forever. This place has eaten up enough of my time, anyhow. At the end of summer, our old manager was moved and replaced with a different one without any direct operations (read: warehouse team) experience. She leap-frogged our supervisor who had been working directly with our manager for over five years in preperation for taking over management of the warehouse and display teams when our manager was promoted, moved, or left and immediately kind of proceeded to drive day to day operations into the side of a cliff.

The movement came at a point in time where operations were already pretty troubled. We're changing the structure of our labor distribution store wide. Our team is already short-handed - in a market where turnover is already averaged at a year mark and in a business where we experience a 90% turnover on the sales floor per year, until two weeks ago, the newest members of our operations team had been there 9 months and the second newest was myself, at almost two years. I've personally remained there much longer than I anticipated, to something of a detriment to my scholastic pursuits, even into this semester. There's a great deal of loyalty to the team, even if the greater department logistics are severely troubled.

Morale has gotten so bad, lately, that many members of the team are close to walking. To that end, almost all of us have found second jobs, re-enrolled in classes, or are interviewing at different businesses. The straw that breaks the camel's back might be wage disparity amoung the warehouse personnel, though. It's already a problem that the team with our immediate managers were struggling to solve in an equitable way. I feel like we've been extremely patient in working with the chain of command as we've been asked to do, but nothing has been resolved. When two departments were combined into one, wages weren't changed to reflect the new baseline for entrance into the department. The difference in wages are substantial, and management has become very aggressive in trying to get operations members to cease in our discussions of what our wages are and what we think is appropriate amoung ourselves.

Which is flat out illegal, I might add.

When asked to cease personally, I responded that I was well within my rights to continue to do so and that I could not, actually be stopped or even asked to cease. I was summarily brought back and talked to in a seperate room, surrounded on two sides by managers, about my aggressive and insubordinate tendancies. Something, I should probably note, which has never been an issue before - specifically that I have been noted for my easy-going demeanor, upstanding attitude towards other members of my team, and extensive patience with even the most aggressive customers. So, why now? Tempers are at a boil, and we're extremely frustrated at the lack of action in regards to safety and health hazards, poor management overall, and underhanded or downright fraudulent business tactics. Not only that, but we've just discovered that those new guys who were just hired make more than several people who have been there over a year and as much as I do after well over a year on the job. (Not to mention that the two people paid the least never had their wages modified after joining the team with a good deal of experience already, they're both people of color, and the person who makes the least is a black woman, which is almost steriotypical discrimination).

So, there's a meeting on Wednesday that I may or may not be able to make depending on what remains of my coursework for the week. Regardless, I'll find out what the results are. There's a fair chance that, without dramatic positive steps on managements part, upwards of 6 members of an already dramatically understaffed team could be walking off the job right before we open for business on the weekend and maybe even before we get our weekly mattress shipments in.
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 25th, 2014 10:37 pm)

I'm working about 35 hours per week in the warehouse and going back to school.

Grad school is both, where I'm at, less structured and more intense, but the expectations set for me - while very real - actually, initially, are less than what I probably would have set for myself. We haven't gotten into the paper writing, which will raise the ante considerably.

So much has happened, recently.


There's a lot to process. Before I went back to class, I said I was making a lot of changes. Most of those are things you can't actually see. They were explicitly conceptual in nature. I've been thinking really, really hard about how I want to express myself, where I'll do it, what I want, and how I think about myself. It's also difficult, literally physically, to follow through, to find the time, to make those thoughts real because my habits are to run myself into the ground. I've switched from getting blackout drunk to getting blackout exhausted.

I've been very aggressive with myself. I've been very aggressive with my expectations. I set them always a little higher than I can meet. I found myself out in the yard before class in the heat with a weedeater and lawn mower attacking the yard; my shirt was literally stuck to my chest and back and I thought, "This is terrible." then, "If I work at every moment, then I can look anyone in the eye with dignity." The work ethos is there, but there's something toxic in that. It's a little like eating the apple to the core, the little seed pips like bitter almonds.

There's time for rest, of course. But respite from labor comes when the job is done.

atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 5th, 2014 10:00 pm)
Just one entry in July. It's the 5th and we're at one for August, so at least that's parity.

Work has been steady, and because of... things*, my days off during the week are separated by several days full of fairly rigorous manual labor in high temperature, high humidity environments. I'm physically tired most of the time. Right now, I'm pretty generally exhausted.

Okay. But.

For a little more than a month, I've kind of put my life into an intentional neutral where I was still doing stuff, but not really thinking too much about it. House work, yard work, being really bad at Civ 5... basically nothing important. I'd finished everything I really could on my end of the grad student admissions process, and was really working at not thinking too much about it. Meanwhile, upper management at the place I've been working at for the past year-point-five decided that all tolerable things eventually come to an end and started dicking around with department structures and our immediate manager and supervisor configuration in our department.

I mean, we're warehouse workers, so unless you have a particular reason to start dicking around with management and your logistical infrastructure, you should probably leave it alone. They don't, though, and they aren't, so things have taken a dramatic turn for the shit pile. My job is as straight forward as it's ever been, but it's a little more stressful now. There are a lot of my co-workers that have suddenly hit the end-stage of the retail job life cycle simultaneously, culminating in a lot of us having cemented plans to leave or be forced to cut our hours dramatically including, but not limited to: new jobs, full time schooling, part-time schooling, and looking for better paying, full time, or otherwise alternate work. There haven't been any new hires since November 2013 (turnover is surprisingly low in our department), but that's biting our management in the ass now, since there's nobody who can replace the more experienced team members and our new manager doesn't actually know anything about operations department processes or management.

I'm getting out at the right time. I'll do part time work for a while, but I'm not hitching my star to this low-rent trash gig.

So, I'm officially unofficially approved for graduate studies at SIU Edwardsville. There's not much time between now and classes starting, which is really more the fault of how long it took admissions to process me, but there's nothing I can do about that. It's not optimal, but I'll take it.

I won't really say that it's good news or bad news. It's what I'm doing. I've said in the past that I have a limited number of options, but I do know that if I'm thinking outside the normal parameters, there really are a lot of different things I could be doing - a lot of directions I could be taking things in. A lot of people are really positive about this, but others are less so for good reasons. This is a major life goal of mine, though, so I'm still excited as well as pretty nervous.

So that's my break in radio silence.

* Basically boring workplace logistics, not something ominous. Even if I could make it interesting, it's not really worth my time or yours. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 20th, 2014 08:49 am)
Most times, you don't get the raw scoop here. It's pretty canned. Sometimes it's really raw, like when I'm crashing, or when I wrote that hangover bit, or something like that, but for the most part you're getting something I've thought about a lot and kind of rehearsed and not off the cuff. That gets stale, sure, but I like to control my own message. I'm just kind of spitballing today, though. Kay switched gigs from Office Max to Weekend's Only for a 300 dollar bonus, a $0.75 per hour wage increase, and slightly more hours, but no assumptions that the job itself is actually better. In retail, one job is fundamentally similar to another, but co-workers and management can make heaven a hell and a hell... well, not heaven. Purgatory, maybe. Anyhow, all that means is we both got up at 6 AM out of solidarity, but I don't have to be in until 10, so I'm letting myself kill the time today.

So, it's a fairly candid status update kind of day. I did a few entries in a row a little while ago, let it go for about a week, and you'll probably get a few in a row now, too, so I hope you enjoy this kind of thing.

I feel like Katie and I have both cooled our heels in Limbo for a few years too long, really. I think I was ready to shake that shit off in 2010, 11, or something like that and go do something with myself, but we both got trapped in no-wage/low-wage hell, which is something I've seen stick a pretty goodly number of my generation. It can last for a few years - if you're lucky. Every day feels like an eternity but looking back on it feels like it was an undifferentiated morass. As a lifestyle, it sucks at your heels and pulls on your hems, because it feels like society really doesn't even want you to break out of that. Looking at it more objectively, our economy right now is really leaning on technically capable, low wage earners, so we say you're supposed to break out, but the tools are deliberately faulty and the signs are misleading. There's a pile or corpses at the bottom of the morass. You have to hope that their cooling bodies are sturdy enough to stand on as you foist yourself out. These bootstraps are extremely morbid.

Not everyone shares this admittedly bleak outlook, but if you can't admit that even the most meagre personal success rests on the backs of people stuck in miserable positions we depend on but, societally, we refuse to support in turn, you're simply wrong. If you want out of the pit, the ladder's made of bones. You don't have the luxury of deciding the material. You neither add to the pile or build the ladder, but you either climb it or you stay there. Capitalism is inherently predatory; you might not be the butcher, but you're still eating meat.

Don't get the wrong impression, though. Not everyone likes my metaphor, and it's easy to assume I'm feeling down about my situation, but it's actually the best it's been in a long time. Kay might be getting a crummy, but living-wage paying job in the near future. Everything's in for my grad student application, so I'm just cooling my heels for a little while and waiting on the results of that and my loan application. We're still poor and stressed, but we're marginally less poor and stressed than we've been, which is an amazing difference in quality of life. And my bean and tomato plants are looking really good. So I'm in a pretty good mood. On a day to day, I'm in a better mood than I've been in for literal years.

It just is what it is.

I've been doing a few things for fun, lately. I finally sprung for Civilization 5, after over 200 hours over a pretty good span of time on Civ 4. Civ 5 is intense. It's significantly different from 4, too. I bought it yesterday, clocked a few hours on it, and it's good. I'll try not to lose too many hours to it in the coming days, but it's Civilization, so, you know. Wish me luck. I started playing Persona 2: Innocent Sin. There's another long game. I finished Mass Effect and immediately went to Civ and Persona, so you know I'm a glutton for these time sink games. Persona's a series I have strong feelings about. I've finished 1, Eternal Punishment, 3, The Answer, and 4. Even Arena, for what it's worth, though I hear there's a new one. Innocent Sin is really the only traditional Persona I haven't gotten to, so I figured it was about time. I bought it over a year ago. My media backlog is huge. I haven't even tried to watch TV shows in a long time.

I'm reading Godel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid, which doesn't synch with what I'm traditionally adept at. It's heavy on logic structures and it's a dense fucking read. I went for Comp Sci in college and tanked it, because I'm balls at math, so I'm reading the book but I'm intentionally not focused on grokking it - really internalizing it - so much as I'm taking in the words, determining what's in the book, and more or less just moving on. I'm filing away a detailed understanding of what kind of information the book contains in the event that something catalyzes in me and I understand it in a flash of data structure based enlightenment. I don't really enjoy reading it, but I want to have already read it. It's just that the only way there is to do it, so whatever.

So that's that. For now, anyhow.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 7th, 2014 10:25 am)
I'm pretty much doing some clean up, today. This entry is going to look a lot like a list of things I've kind of wrapped up already and a little bit of my very next steps in what I'm planning in the next few days. I've put off really digging into new gaming mechanics for about a week since there's not much that needs to be done right away - the projects have been on hiatus for probably about a year since I was kind of hoping to compare my notes to Exalted 3 realty - so I figured they could wait just a little longer while I wrapped up some stuff that needed doing around here.

There's a lot of stuff that needs doing with our yard to get it to where we'll want it to be. We're basically starting in at ground zero now, after the work I've done on the front and back. When Katie got the house several years ago, nobody really mentioned how much of a problem some of this stuff was gonna be. 'Decorative' creeping vines in a plot in the front, crabgrass in the decorative rock beds near untended bushes in the front, pokeberry vines that come up every year in the back. The last shed foundation is a wreck, and had a lot of wooden debris. Sticks, yeah, but also old gardening beds and stuff. We've been out there daily cutting back pokeberry to nothing, tearing up the roots, removing debris, cutting back, bagging, and then digging up vines to create space for flowers, and using a little from our marginal spending money to build a few small gardening plots which are working fairly well.

Probably the only success we'll see in terms of gardening is some good herb growth, especially cilantro, sage, and mint, and some very nice looking bean plants. The tomato plants look okay, but I don't know how we'll they'll do in the long term. They look much better than when we first purchased them, though. I'm only planning one more planter box this year, and that's around the apple tree in back, and it's only to contain mulch and earth, so as the tree gradually gets larger, the box will probably eventually come down. However, everything after that will be set for the next step again in yardscaping plans.

Everything is in from me in regards to applying for grad school at SIUE. I feel pretty hopeful about it, but I'm going to call them on Tuesday when I'm off to see what they've received and if I need to do anything else. I'm trying to make projections, but the data is still pretty nonexistent, so I have very little idea what to expect from this situation in the long term. At this point, I'm not even really what you'd call hopeful or anxious. I'm just in 'wait and see' mode.

I just finished Mass Effect 3, by the way, which brings me to the end of a huge gaming cycle. Of the three games, I think Mass Effect 2 was probably the best executed of the lot, but there's enough going on with the entirety of the series that it probably deserves a few different posts to break down my thoughts on different aspects of what was going on, from the ending, to the mandatory DLC/multiplayer, romance options, mechanical differences between games, et al. I finished a really small indie game called 'To the Moon' last night, which was a gift from Jenna, and I guess that might get a post. I'm tackling 'Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid' in earnest, which doesn't come naturally to me, but I'm at about 180 pages in of, like 700.

I'm still waiting for Exalted 3 to come out. I'm dying to run a game for our group out here, because I haven't really played a good game in... well, over a year. Getting Mikey, Frank, and The J-Man around a table for some dice rolling sounds pretty good, but it's really going to depend on scheduling and interest. In terms of other gaming projects, you'll no doubt here about that, too.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jan. 11th, 2014 01:23 pm)
Hey. I haven't been around for a while. I scrolled down pretty briefly to see what's been going on since I last posted, but I haven't really read any of the postings just yet. I'm eager to be getting around to it. I was on a few days ago, but only very briefly; I'd been thinking about posting but I came up dry when I sat down. I have a little while before work and I don't feel like starting up Silent Hill 4 just at the moment, so I'm hoping I feel up to it when I get back. I'll probably force myself to relax and try to get into it for maybe a half hour or so.

I've been trying to do several things at once, with a limited amount of success. Some of that stuff is coming together really well and some of it is lagging behind. I've had a website that's been up for quite a while and like a lot of personal sites, it's suffered from a lack up updates. It's got some of my old projects and some projects I worked with Brent a little on. It's not anything special, but I'm kind of starting to use it as a personal portal to work I'm doing that's stored somewhere on the web. Because of Google's document integration and stuff like that, it's easy to just transcribe a lot of my stuff to a place on the internet and access it from there. I guess what I'm saying is that even though it's a public site (and you can access stuff I'm doing there, which may or may not be interesting to you), it's largely something I'm using to keep myself organized. - There. That's where it's at. I'm leery at going through the effort to write code that makes an effective private website on my own domain until I really am adding a decent amount of content and links to the page, so Google sites it remains. I am extremely aware of how little work has been done on it, but that doesn't bother me. If I do something I'm proud of, it'll be linked there. Pathfinder wikis are probably going to be linked to from there. I have very limited physical space, but I've come to realize that I have an almost infinite amount of space on the internet that's even free. But just like a physical shelf and desktop, I have to organize it or I'll lose it and never find it again.

Pathfinder. I really want to run this game. Most of my friends have been very good at getting back to me. I live with one. One person had technical issues receiving my mail that we never adequately troubleshot, but we did find an acceptable workaround. One guy just never responded. I like him but if I can't reach him, I'm gonna drop him. I'll organize our meetup separately. That's nothing personal, but scheduling is tough enough. If I can't get people together even once, I'm not going to mess around with a gaming Wiki. First thing's really first on this. I've done a lot of work on the game in terms of planning, but I'm not going to start writing a dungeon without people to play in it.  
2013 was a big year for me. The consensus I've seen from many of my friends and acquaintances is that is was, largely, a bad year for them. For us, it was busy and stressful, but it was also considerably better than 2012 or '11. It wasn't even close.

Many of my years have been utterly terrible. I don't know that they really bear going into in-depth, here. I've also had a few pretty good ones, but I think that since I've reached the age of majority, life has been very difficult for me. I want to say, specifically, that I'm glad I'm still here; there are far too many people who can't say the same thing.

This year started out with me finally finding employment. There's the old adage, "This food is terrible, and there's not enough of it!" Well, my job isn't especially great and I don't always get enough hours, but I've had jobs that made me miserable to a truly dangerous degree, and this one doesn't. Kay and I are paying our bills. This is the year we're both working in tandem. We're paying our bills and getting ahead a little. For me, that's really better than anything. The relief we feel is palpable. My greatest hope for 2014 is that this minimum status quo won't be threatened. Our needs are really very meagre, but I can say that we're presently pretty happy with our current situation.

2013 was the year we tried to get Stand Alone Media to flourish and we didn't succeed. Maybe the problems we ran are obvious now, in retrospect, but the company did not take off. As with our focus in organizing and restructuring our living environment, though, we're reconsidering our strengths as a two person operation and using Stand Alone as a potential side job to bring in supplementary income. We already owe for the equipment we've purchased, but it's a sunk cost. Aside from that, there is literally no overhead. It's possible we won't return on even our very small investment for a long time, but the experience didn't sink us, so at least we learned a lot from the attempt.

Last year was also the year of our wedding ceremony. It's hard to believe we've been married for a year and a half, and it's been since last spring since we've had the event. It's been a hell of a few years. Kay and I figure that if anything should have prevented our relationship from working, it was the intense frustration and nerves from our very first year of dating while incredibly broke.

Kay's parents paid the house off, which was an incredible, slightly unbelievable moment of generosity. It probably wouldn't have happened it we weren't so broke that we risked defaulting and tanking Kay's parents credit rating before their retirement, but not having to pay the house payment is what makes our living situation not just possible but fruitful right now. In a strange way, our being utterly broke might work out to our long term benefit only because of this, then, since life would be very difficult otherwise. In those terms, we're happy enough to eat part of the cost of the wedding ceremony.

Those are the really big moments. At first, I didn't think I'd have any particular resolutions for the new year, but there are two concrete things I want to do and one thing I want to resolve to maintain that are important enough for me to mention them. The first thing, which I've already been working hard on, is to control my alcohol intake and drink more responsibly. I've been doing this for months, mostly successfully but with some occasional utter cockups. It's for my health, and knowing that I have a family history of suicidal depression, mania, and alcoholism made me realize that I needed to act a little more responsibly. I feel better, sleep better, and my mental faculties are sharper. I'm also concerned about how I treat my friends, and I know that I've been a problem for them in the past, so I'm moving in the right direction.

The other two resolutions are almost simple issues of planning and putting that into practice. I want to go on vacation to New York (the city and the state in general) during the upcoming spring season and put my application in for graduate school to several locations for fall semester. I'm finally in the place I need to be at for both of these things, and that's very exciting for me. 
Can I tell you how glad I am that the major holiday season is over? Because I am. Ye gods, am I glad.

I'm never very fussed about new year stuff. The first of the year is as good a time to double down on existing goals as any other, but I already have my personal resolutions and goals, and I'm working on them now. I'll probably 'officially' re-dedicate myself to some of this stuff, which always seems like a nice sentiment. I have a lot of goals and a lot of room for personal improvement, and this is stuff that takes time to internalize and really make happen, but I've seen good progress in my day to day life, and that's actually pretty exciting.

With the holiday season over and tax season approaching, that's where my work'll pick up. I actually welcome that, even though I dislike the cold and the early mornings. (Read: I don't actually care for the 'job' part of it.) Most of the screwy scheduling that comes from the Christmas through New Years will be gone, I'll be working 40 hours, but it'll be more or less regular shifts. I've already got a handle on that, so it's not a problem for me.

I'll probably see you on the New Years, then!
I realized something today regarding why I feel that a lot of my personal journal entries both for here and on paper are so dull. That is, I sit down and feel like I want to write something and end up feeling like I need to write everything, and I end up with something nebulous that really doesn't convey anything at all. I usually hit some surface thoughts, feel unsatisfied, and usually delete the entry. Sometimes I leave it just so there's something there. That's the process for just about everything I write.

My life is, actually, pretty dull most of the time. I mean, on the surface and at a distance. Close up, it's pocked with lots of grooves and irregularities. Details. Those are what makes it different and interesting. I'm worried about sharing those details with people because I'm concerned that you'll be bored, that you'll find my life uninteresting, but the stuff I'm putting up is already not interesting compared to what I could be posting. There's also the concern of over-sharing. That's clearly a different issue altogether, but as long as I'm on the subject, I'm largely concerned about being mocked or having my experiences disregarded. On the other hand, I'm about as irrelevant to others as I've ever been since maybe ever with some important exceptions, so I'd say that I don't have much to lose on that subject, but in my experience there's always something new.

Man, very mopey! I just mean that this isn't exactly anonymous, here. I can't just mouth off and not expect a certain amount of fallout, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to elaborate on stuff in my life because it might not be interesting to everyone.

I've been trying to write more, lately. It's not easy to do. I've never been a great fiction writer, but it's nice to shake the dust off a little. The first thing I wrote in a long time was basically fan fiction porn. Like, that's not my first choice. I did it on a dare, uh, by request. I'm editing it now. I re-read it and I was sitting there shaking my head going, "This is not my best work.", and it's not because it's pretty far out of my writing experience. I didn't feel like I was embarrassed about sex, but I ended up being embarrassed about writing about sex. After I realized that, I thought it was funny. I didn't take it as seriously. I'm editing it because I have a certain amount of pride in creating a finished work, even if nobody is really going to see it but, after a while, I don't know if I'll care. It'll just be like, "Yeah, I wrote this at one point. It was kind of a strange way, at the time, of breaking out of my writing funk but I promised I'd do it so I just wrote it."

I mentioned I was writing some poetry, I think. This is also pretty tough. I used to write a fair amount of mediocre poetry that didn't make it out of notebooks except for classes. I'd write on a prompt and tuck the piece away, and a lot of it just vanished. I didn't intentionally delete it. It's probably out there somewhere. Poetry is short. I suspect that it's short because it's fairly close to music and I suspect that's why the rules for some types of poetry become fairly elaborate; because you're creating a structure for reading something aloud and you're not writing it according to sheet music but you do have iambic pentameter (for example), and that creates its own sound. You can break the rules if you want to. Nobody can stop you, really. I'm going back to a lot of the rules though because I've forgotten a lot of poetry forms I used to know.

I've given myself some unusual challenges to follow, and I've discovered that writing poetry can be really easy, and that's usually not all that meaningful to you, or it can be difficult because you're mining your life for something interesting to write about that's going to make an impact in a very short space. You try to find all these words that create the reaction in others that you experienced in your own life, so you're sitting somewhere reliving the same moment over and over again trying to find the right word, and sometimes trying to fit that experience into a very arbitrary box so your life experience is both moving and appealing. I don't even really know if people still find poetry important to their daily life, but it's a personal excercise. I think it's very possible that nobody will ever read something I've written for fun or that I will never be published, but for me writing is something that I did and I want it to be something that I do. Writing has always been a part of who I am, so at this point I'm trying to dictate which part of me it will be.
atolnon: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2013 06:57 pm)
There's not really so much going on that I've felt the need to update here. Stuff does happen every day. Nice things or things that are really frustrating or, maybe just stuff that's kind of amusing. Stuff that's amusing to everyone or, maybe things that need so much contextual information that only someone who was there would be interested. What's frustrating for me is that when I sit down to write something, I can't think of anything interesting to write. It's got to be interesting to write here, and I can't think of anything except for the same old stuff. November and December are busy months, so it's like, "Well, work is pretty intense. Covered in warehouse dust again." or something like that.

So, I dunno.

I'm reading this book, "Working" by Studs Terkel. It was released in the late 70's. At the time it was published, it was a pretty big deal and it's a pretty hefty tome that's just full of short interviews with regular people from a lot of different walks of life where the author just kind of let them talk about what it was like to do what they do and how it makes them feel. My opinion on it is almost universally good. I mean, it's really a pretty amazing book. What I was really struck with is the similarity between then and now in terms of how people feel about their work. Feelings like alienation, hopelessness, and pride are pretty common. Resignation is common. There's a lot of people who express that they feel they're waiting their job out until they can retire. Some are already aware that there's no likelihood of real retirement for them. If you think it sounds like a dull premise, it really isn't. One of the really interesting bits is how people talk and how stilted dialog is in most books in comparison. I feel like I understand people a little better after reading a solid amount of this, so I guess if you're the kind of person who writes dialog or does a fair amount of role-playing, this is almost a reference document for you, but I'd recommend reading it to anyone who's interested in people, really.

Anyway, I turned 30 last Friday, which was Black Friday for those of you paying attention to that sort of thing. What did we do as celebration? Nada. We - I mean, Kay and I specifically - work in retail and you pretty much just work on Black Friday. It wasn't really that bad. I work at a furniture store in the warehouse and Kay works at an OfficeMax and both of them wanted us there but most shoppers were fixated on totally different things. So, you know, long hours but nothing exceptional. Still, scheduling means that Katie and I don't have a day together for kind of a while.

How do I feel about 30? I don't really care. I have a lot of stuff to deal with and an arbitrary date describing how old I am doesn't really hold my attention. I feel mildly distressed about it because I feel like I should have met more of my goals by now, that I should be farther along on the path I've selected for myself, but I've also thought long and hard about what I want and what I've already dealt with, and I'm more concerned with dealing with what's in front of me right now than I am that I've turned the big three-oh. I think I got a lot of my concerns out of the way at 29, though. Right now, our financial situation's very stressful, but only in that I'm constantly managing it. It's worlds better than it was last year, and if I had any Thanksgiving statement, I'd probably say that I'm just really thankful that Katie and I both have jobs that aren't great but, at least, are pretty solid. We're making our payments and getting by, and soon we'll be doing pretty well and just being able to look out at the future a little bit and actually see how your life will improve isn't something that I've been able to do in a tangible way for too long.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 5th, 2013 05:41 pm)
I know I've been pretty quiet this month. Everything's fine. Probably better than normal, actually. I haven't been writing here because I've been writing in the paper journal and while I make it a point to write daily, I usually only take the time to write in one of the two places.There might be something in the paper edition you'd find interesting, but probably not.

The holiday season is always busy for me. I like Halloween (but didn't do anything, sadly) and Thanksgiving isn't too bad, but Black Friday is an abomination and I don't like the Christmas season at all. I don't go to stores much and I really haven't even had the scratch to go out very often. Even though the latter bit's changing since our finances have improved, except for the harsher work conditions and thankfully longer hours, I don't see too much of Christmas. Others tell me the stores are already be-decked with tinsel and candy canes.

What I like: house parties, winter and fall drinks, popular winter and fall foods, coffee and tea always being appropriate. What I don't like: social obligations, capitalism, snow. So, now you know.

So, stuff I've done.

I failed to improve on the taste of Frank's Bourbon Furnace. I made a syrup of brown sugar and steeped cinnamon sticks, and it's too sweet. The cinnamon doesn't seep through enough. I shouldn't have used brown sugar, even though the taste is pretty good. White or natural sugar probably would have been the better bet, and adding more cinnamon sticks should have done it. I don't know if I mentioned it here, but it's really just a mix of bourbon and apple cider, with cinnamon and maybe nutmeg. The problem I'm trying to dodge is the issue of sediment on glasses. After a few, you really don't care, but it's frustrating the morning after.

I could also just buy cinnamon syrup, but that's not any fun. We had guests over recently and they brought over a Penzy's sugar and cinnamon mix that was delicious, and it was nice to bring out a bottle of syrup I made. Plus, making simple syrup is pretty much the easiest thing there is. It's anywhere from 1 to 2 parts of a sugar you want per 1 part water, brought to a boil until sugar is totally dissolved, allowed to cool enough, than bottle. Don't buy simple syrup, for gods sake. It's literally just sugar water.

There was some fiction I wrote for Katie that won't ever see the light of day. I mean, I'll still edit it in a week, it was just written especially for Katie, so. I don't really trust my fiction writing skills anymore, but it's November and that's when all of the super lame kids are writing their super lame fiction. Don't mind me, I'm just jealous since I've never finished a NaNo. There's no question that NaNo generates a large amount of really awful prose, though. I've never been good at writing like that, either, though. For me, I'm just taking November aside to write as much as I can. Katie asked me to write two things way back when and I agreed - probably because I was drinking. One was anything about Cowboy Bebop and the other was something from Scott Pilgrim. I did the Pilgrim thing. I feel okay about writing something about Cowboy Bebop. I don't really write fan fiction. It's not really my bag. But I mean, what the hell. If you can't do it for our spouse, who will you agree to write for, right?

I've had some trouble getting my shit together for running Exalted and Pathfinder. I want to run both, but Exalted is really questionable right now, just because the group is having a really hard time getting together. Times are very busy for Jenna, who's doing the grad student thing and Brent's wife is really, unfortunately ill. We're all generically adult busy, too. Shit is postponed. We're not doing Burning Wheel or the planned podcast, either. Not yet, anyhow.

We're in the middle of painting a side room, which will match the bathroom. Hopefully, we'll get to the hallway and bedroom, then the living room and kitchen. We don't have a lot of money for redoing the house, but since things are improving and paint is cheap, it's a big morale boost. 
Now that's i've got something on my stomach, and I'm dressed and showered, I'm in better shape to make sense of my earlier observations. This is really sketchy, and it's not that it'll come to any particular use per say, but it's been a little while since I posted anything, anyhow so here it goes.

Earlier last week, I was playing Civilization 4, which you're more or less forced to do as an enigmatic, faceless, immortal dictator-for-life and was, as is my wont, sending excess troops into the hungry maw of a new world (aka, basically a woodchipper) far away from the lands they were born (aka, built) in, in order to suborn independant but unrelated civilizations (aka, barbarian nation states) and fold them into my empire so that I can achieve global domination through control of most of the world's landmasses. I turned to Katie and said, "You know, this would be a really horrific thing that I'm doing, if this were real."

But it's not real. In Civilization, you're playing a game, you're not really building a civilization. You're trying to win. I mean, you win by building the most successful Civilization at one of several victory conditions, so you need to wipe all the civilizations off the map, or send someone to Alpha Centauri, or generate a ridiculously successful culture rating, or control a huge swath of the landmass. It's not enough to create a series of successful civilizations, you actually have to win. In real life, I don't care if we send someone to Mars first or if China does, I'm just excited someone got to Mars. But someone cares. Someone important cares. Because it's about claiming resources for our nation-state. Even if that's true, we acknowledge (when we're doing a little better as a culture) that no matter what we do to other people, we're doing it to other people. So when we exploit people, we know, somehow, that we're exploiting them. A lot of times, it's in the name of Empire, but these days, it's in the name of the almighty Dollar.

I'd say, we're not something to be played. We are not a game. But we are. We are a game.

There would always be people who are content to drive the actions of others in order to win. Sometimes, it's for glory or nationalism, but these days it's for the consolidation of capital. The people at the top - the very, very top, are wealthy beyond the dreams of anyone living in the 99% and even most of the 1%. Most of the wealthy in the 1% is not in the hands of the majority of that 1%, but in the hands of 1% of that, still.

I mean, at the level these people are playing at, Mitt Romney's millions are a joke. It's not just their personal fortunes they're playing with; when you're operating at that high a level, it's all numbers. It's difficult to do anything productive. Do you think these guys work? No way, man. But the glitch in the system is that it's almost impossible to stop your money from making more money automatically. There are people they've never met, working diligently all hours of the day and night to make that happen. It's an accident. They may not even be aware of what they're doing.

But that makes their actions very little different from those of a deranged sociopath trying to accumulate more numbers because they need the most. The only goal is to make more numbers. The results of those actions are never seen. Do you think that third-world despots ever interact with the desperately poor they've created? No man, they're insulated from that.

So, I thought, "Man alive. The biggest difference between Grand Theft Auto and Civilization, in theme, is scale."
atolnon: (Default)
( Sep. 1st, 2013 10:03 am)
Halfway through the workweek for me - I get a full 8 hours for Labor Day and because Labor Day's tomorrow and Sunday isn't the end of the week, I get an extra hour today, too. That's what Labor Day means, right? Out upper management doesn't understand the irony, so my amused chortling was lost on them.

I've gotten two letters in! It's a new month, so that's a good time to start writing back. I don't know how I feel about Syria, yet, [ profile] writer_lynn. I know I'm the kind of person who should have an informed opinion already for you, but I'm deeply burnt out these days on stuff like that. I'll read up a little bit and I'll give you the full scoop on paper. I don't feel obligated to get cool stationary for writing letters, I just think it'd be fun. On the scale of things that cost money, it's not especially high, anyhow.

I'm finishing up my list of stuff I'm supposed to do before I make another ambitious list of stuff I'm supposed to do, but it's going well. I've done most of the easy stuff, in any case, so now we're to the parts that have been a long time in the making - re-arranging several rooms of the house, finishing some writing bits. I once made a promise that I'd write fan fiction for Kay of all things to promise. It's for Scott Pilgrim, and the prompt I have is really not safe for work, and it's really likely it's never making it out of this house, but it's a writing project between 2k and 5k words depending on how I feel about it.

I finished up my old reading list except for Oryx and Crake which recently came back to the library here in Belleville. I'm reading the Euthanatos book for Mage, O&C, and just finished Good Omens. I have a lot of opinions about Mage, and I'm not going to do the WIR again, but if anyone wants to hear them, I'll post some (after I finish the splat book).

My notes for running a D&D/Pathfinder game are looking more positive. I have two people who might want to play, I promised a third way back that I'd talk to them if I was going to run one so I owe her a call (or message, as the case may be). I'd like between 4 and 6 people if I can get it going, but there's been some unpleasant drama lately. I've talked to Frank about gaming events, but he's said he's really busy. I know he's running at least one Exalted gaming session on occasion, and I don't know if he's playing, but I suppose that would do it. It's a shame, really. I was playing in two and suddenly they're not being run anymore, and I can't for the life of me think of why. Honestly, though, that level of gaming plus work is probably going to mean he doesn't have time for another sessions, and he's never been much for the whole rules suite, anyhow. Mikey, what do you think about you and Megan? I don't know if you're still reading these or how busy you two already are. I might have to buzz you about it, sometime.
Whining )

Anyhow, I made dinner last night. A friend came in from the airport and had dinner with us on the way back to southern Illinois where she's residing. Italian herb roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts with shallots and bacon. It was terrific. I don't want to heap praise on myself, because potatoes are dead simple and the thick cut bacon from the farmer's market is local and makes anything taste excellent. Bacon - and I was over the bacon-on-everything nerd fetish way before it even started - but bacon is basically like a cheat code for cooks. It's high-fat, which makes a dry burger suddenly taste good anyhow. It's smokey and adds that umami taste to pretty much anything you make. I don't like to over-use it because it's not exactly great for you, but we bought it for a GISHWHES thing and there's no sense in letting a bounty like that go to waste. Besides, brussel sprouts and bacon are pretty much the perfect classic combo. It went over really well, and I was super pleased with how much everyone enjoyed it.

And, to make sure this isn't a total waste, let me tell you how to make the potatoes because like I said, they're dead easy and they make you look like a better cook than maybe you are! (I'm not saying anything about you, mind, I'm just saying if you can't cook you'll still look like you can!)

First, pre-heat your oven to something like 450. People will tell you different temperatures, but it doesn't honestly matter all that much. They're supposed to be fork-tender and the skin should be crispy, and that's how you know. Just cook them until that's what's going on.

Cut up your potatoes - any number of potatoes that are going to fit in a pan that can go in the oven, preferably without too much potato not touching the pan. Try to keep them no more than, like, I guess an inch thick. And don't fucking skin the potatoes, you know? There's a lot of nutrients in the skin, and it crisps up and tastes fucking great. Someone might be like, "Oh, yeah, peel the potatoes." That person is a liar.

The kind of potatoes you use doesn't really matter. Sure, it'll effect the taste, obviously. Yukon's are a little waxy and they've got a thin skin. Red's are quite waxy, indeed, and I like to use them for a lot of stuff people tell you to use other potatoes for. I love red potatoes, though. Russets are mealy and, in my opinion, when they crisp up, they've got the best skin. It's like, kind of crunchy and the texture differs a lot from the rest of the potato. Russets are my favorite for this, actually, but we used Yukon Gold because that's what we had. Don't go out and buy different potatoes for this - this is the kind of thing you do when you don't have anything else around anyhow and want to give someone a decent meal (or you're too lazy, like me, to run to the store!).

Spices, people. Don't be afraid of herbs and spices. It's not a trick! Just pile them on there. I used just one of those Italian Herbs mixes you get in the store. It was on sale. You can literally use anything. Everything tastes good with potatoes. Italian herbs, salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, (don't use fresh garlic, actually! It'll burn up way before your potatoes are done. Waste of perfectly delicious garlic.) onion powder, and paprika. I think I put some turmeric on there because it turns everything yellow and I cheat because people in my house seem to love that yellow color on food. It does add to taste, though. I just coat the whole thing until it's literally covered in herbs, pour a bunch of olive oil on it (yeah, a bunch. Do it until it's covered. I didn't measure it, and you don't have to either.) Mess it around some, mix it up. Put more herbs on. Mess it up again, kind of try to make sure most of it is touching the bottom of the pan.

Put it in the oven for about 15-ish minutes, I guess. Pop it out, turn the potatoes over or, if you're me, just shake them up some. Put it in for 10-15 minutes and check the skin and tenderness. They're probably done. Let 'em cool for a bit and serve them. If you're broke, they're a great main. If you're rolling in dough, or are serving beef or something, they're an excellent side. If you've got, like, a stew or a really hearty soup that's done (and I mean done, like, it's done cooking. You don't want to put these potatoes in a cooking soup, you'll mess them up), you can put these in the bowl that the soup's being served in.

They're good. You'll look good when you serve them. Enjoy your ill-deserved accolades!
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 19th, 2013 04:25 pm)
Burning Wheel appears to be cancelled, so I've got a little more time. I haven't checked exactly what we managed to finish for GISHWHES, exactly. Something like 65%, or so? Some of the really preposterous items in the hunt seemed very likely but didn't pan out (the CEO of ThinkGeek, for example, would have done the All the Single Ladies prompt, but had to travel and was too busy and we didn't have anyone who was able to make it to the Fermilab tour in time) but we did an awful lot of other things. Katie wants to win. I almost think that the trip would be something of a bother, but it would be an all expenses paid trip to Vancouver. An lot of people participated, though. I think whoever was able to get the sky writing prompt will probably win.

Did you know that, like, only two groups in the US do sky writing and it's ridiculously expensive? Getting them to do 8 letters is something along the lines of 5,000 dollars. Yeah, I didn't know that. You learn something new every day.

One of my rewards for doing enough things without catching on fire was being able to start Good Omens. Most of the others are nonsensical equipment pieces in HabitRPG, which is generally what I spend my points on because I don't really usually want to start new media when I'm on a backlog of old stuff I need to spend time on. I accidentally checked of Good Omens, so I'm reading it diligently because I can't take the points back. Woe is me.

It's a very funny book so far, which I am now obligated to read to completion.

Because this scavenger hunt isn't causing Katie to beat down my door with requests to do other forms of script and copy writing (or transport, or whatever), and because a lot of the stuff around me is shaping up, I have a little more time to work on personal projects. I'm brainstorming for two gaming projects (which I created nicknames for when I was at work because there's not much to do with your brain when you're moving freight by yourself) called Deep Thought and Uneasy Sunrise. These names are technically clues. They are not formally on my to-do list until they form more coherently and because I absolutely do not need another incentive to spend time on that when I have a lot of stuff that just needs to be finished up around the house before life looks reasonable again.

I promised an end to G-M C though, so you'll probably get two more NWoD themed posts in that line, probably after the week has ended.

Today's dinner - bacon wrapped steak filets with fried mushrooms and onions, baby kale salad. The steaks are very small, but pretty nice. This is basically a reward for finishing the week without causing a melt-down. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2013 12:09 pm)
I'll probably finish up the residual WIR on Monday. I checked it off my to-do list, so now it only counts as journalling on my to-do's and it's not exactly my top priority. I've been totally swamped this whole last week helping Katie do GISHWHES or whatever acronym it is. It's a weird, very large scavenger hunt that I was not initially going to have anything to do with, but I'm on the team now, so whatever. It is fun, but it's stressful. Katie's basically running 18 hour days, I'm doing the housework and trying to keep up, and I've written some of the copy and scripts for our team. Some of it is stuff I'm actually pretty proud of, and the team is generally busting their ass.

Different things get you different points, and there's absolutely no way to know your standing until it's through. I'll post what we ended up completing when it ends on Sunday. You might get a chuckle out of it.

I've been trying diligently to keep a lid on my anxiety, which is threatening to break the door down and eat my lunch, which means a lot of angst-ridden personal journal entries about me feeling bad for literally no reason, a tremendous amount of tea, and being surprisingly anxious to go to work to give myself something physical to do. I've written my letters and mailed them out. I'm chipping away at my slowly growing HabitRPG to-do list in general, which grows by dint of need and which I make flailing, occasionally successful attempts to resolve daily. I feel like I regret everything I say to people, and comb my own speech for evidence of failures and over-reaching personal space; I really have to fight the urge to basically completely turtle up, lock the door, and avoid contact on even the most marginal terms. That's kind of what stress does to me.

All that aside, the weather is really nice right now and has been for the last few days. Remember, I'm just venting and I'm actually just fine. I'm getting by okay, and all of the objective things are looking alright, so I'm looking to those things for my guidance on where I'm at. Perspective is an odd thing - you can feel like you'll never finish something and suddenly it's done.

I've also really been enjoying writing the daily horoscopes I've been posting on tumblr and Facebook. I was surprised when a lot of my friends didn't realize I was actually the one penning those. I haven't been posting them here because I don't want to spam everyone's wall with daily Thanatos like that (it doesn't really seem like the proper venue), but they've gone over well and that makes me feel surprisingly good about myself. A few people have mentioned it to me, and yeah, they have totally been inspired by the Welcome to Night Vale podcasts. Actually, everyone who reads my journal is a good candidate for someone who would enjoy that particular bi-weekly podcast, so I'll end this post with a suggestion to go check it out!
I know I said I was going to stop spamming you, and I intend to. Really! But I'm doing this thing, and part of the thing is posting to social media. 10 social medias. That might as well be all of them, geeze! I have to tell you about this word. The word is 'absnosome'.

What is abnosome? Technically, it's made up, but let's not get all prescriptivist here. It means to be 'abnormal in an awesome way'. It's your first cup of coffee on a blistering hot summer day. It's the fifth straight month of Christmas carols in the mall. It's eerily reminiscent of taco spices in a crowded bus where you're like, "Damn, I could go for a taco. What smells like tacos in here? I don't see any tacos."

It's effervescent. Or maybe it's Evanescence. I get those two confused.

In any event, it's obligatory, so here it is. 3 down, 7 to go.
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 13th, 2013 12:04 pm)
To the great relief of everyone, I'm going to spend a few days away from the WIR process and stop spamming everyone's LJ feed in order to do literally every other thing I need to do. I checked the WIR off my to-do list, since the Core book was arduous enough, and I'm going to probably change the format radically for G-M:C because 9 posts regarding a thin volume of straightforward rules is downright goofy.

I spent the larger part of the evening drinking and playing Burning Wheel, and we're getting fairly close to finishing the arc. I don't know if we're going to finish the whole game, but we're approaching a big milestone. I've tried to write about the games before, and it's been difficult to know what to post. We've been playing for a long time now, off and on, and sometimes we're playing weekly and sometimes we play once a year. I've only ever played one character with these rules. We're over Skype. We're in different time zones, and we started playing with one extra person in a college-provided apartment several years ago. I've largely given up trying to dedicate a spot to it here, and I've been finding my meta-game writing a little lackluster. I'm only doing the WIR now because I said I was gonna.

Kay's doing stuff for GISHWHES, which means I'm on the team. It stands for "Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen". It has a website. I'm not, like, particularly helpful but I'm doing a few of the things where somebody writes something. I kind of serve a logistical role, because a lot of the stuff is asking people about preposterous things and kind of making a scene. I really appreciate that kind of thing, but it terrifies me to actually do it. I'll write weird horoscopes or copy, but don't ask me to make phone calls - I'm terrible at it. (Ironically, from someone who's worked a lot of customer service.)

Also, I have no idea where my envelopes are. I haven't mailed my letters out and it's driving me nuts. If I can't find them by the end of the day, I'm just buying new ones.
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 12th, 2013 06:43 pm)
One of my favorite things, no fucking lie, is putting together something to eat on the spur of the moment and it coming out delicious.

There aren't a lot of culinary skill sets that I actually possess. I can read a cookbook and extrapolate a bit from an existing recipe, but I'm still in the training stage of most cookery. I'm practicing! But I don't exactly expect to open a restaurant, so I guess there's no hurry. One of the things I've gotten a little bit of practice in is probably stir-frying, though. For me, it's easy because it's so basic. You get a big ass pan or wok really, really hot, put some high-temperature oil into it, and then cook stuff really, really fast.

There's a knack to a lot of it that I haven't gotten 100% down yet; it's all trial and error for me, but today I put together something pretty tasty.

Kay had already eaten and I was trying to figure out something to whip up. I mean, I'm cooking for one and lately we've been buying as close to all whole food as we can, which means that even when I want something quick I usually have to make it from base ingredients. This is great for taste and health, but it can be pretty bad for time.

I took a ground beef patty we'd frozen and put it in a good quality plastic bag. I thawed it until it was soft, but left it in the bag and turned the heat up gently until it turned a little gray. That means it got up to temperature, but I knew it wasn't cooked through. I set it, bag in, into a bowl of water to hit room temperature.

I washed some kale with their stems and chopped them really roughly, then dried them. Then I chopped some mushrooms and scallions and put 'em in a bowl. I figured, "what the hell, right?" and finely chopped a little ginger and a few cloves of garlic too, and set them with the onions. Now that I had all the greens chopped and off the board, I brought the hamburger and chopped it roughly into squares and put it into a dish with soy sauce, mirin, cumin seeds, chili flakes, ground pepper, kosher salt, stir-fry oil (which is just oil infused with ginger, garlic, and sesame) and sesame seed oil, and I just let it sit for a little while.

When I decided to get cooking, I put some grapeseed oil into the wok. It's more expensive than other oils, but it's got a clean taste and the cooking temp is high, so that makes it good for wok temperatures. I put that bad boy on Max (we've got a gas stove) and waited for it to get ripping hot. Not always so nice during the summer... Also, as a totally unrelated side-note, never cook fish sauce in a room with poor ventilation. It smells like hot garbage, which it kind of technically is. Just take my word for it.

I threw the meat in and cooked it quick, then put it in a separate dish to wait. I quickly tossed the kale and mushrooms in, tossed them around a little bit, dropped some soy sauce and a little water in, and put a circular metal pizza dish on top to trap the moisture. I only had the dish on for about 30 seconds when I removed it. The kale took on the steamed look I hoped and I rapidly tossed the meat back in, then followed that with the garlic, ginger, and onions.

I always do that stuff last these days - onions wilt so easy and garlic burns at low temperatures, so to keep the taste and color vibrant, I do that bit at the very end. All you need to do is fold it in, and that's the whole meal pretty much.

It used to be that I'd throw it all in at the same time, and it tasted okay, but the little differences add up. The taste was really good and it even looked really pretty. I felt really good, because it was all on the spur of the moment with no planning, and it really made me feel accomplished - like all the times I'd practiced or learned little alterations is worth it. I guess I'm posting this here because no matter what people say about posting what you've eaten on Facebook, this makes me proud and I like to share flavors. If I can't cook for others, I can at least share what I did.


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