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2022 Continues to Be Okay I Guess

I didn’t mean to leave you hanging this long. My apologies. In my last post I said I’d come down with “something” that may or may not have been COVID.

Long story short, I don’t know if it was COVID but it only lasted a week or so and I feel fine now. I did end up finding a way to get tested, though. The kid’s school has a deal with some testing sites and he and I went to one, waited three hours, and got a swab shoved into our nostrils so far it came out our ears.

No, not really. It just felt like it. Of course, I went first to show him it was no big deal. He was very brave, especially after the first nostril. We got ice cream after, as you do.

We both tested negative, so who knows? He did end up up getting sick too and lost his sense of taste and smell for a couple days, which seemed like COVID to me. But again, he tested negative so we’ll never really know I guess.

We’re both fully vaxxed, by the way. If we did have COVID, I’ll assume that’s why we didn’t have more serious symptoms. I’m must glad it wasn’t more serious no matter the reason.

Since then, we’ve avoided any more sickness at the house and Summer is a month away. Fingers crossed we make it without further incident. The kid continues to wear a mask at school, even though it’s not “mandatory” anymore.

Removing the mask mandate was yet another fucking stupid decision on the part of our government, but I’lll try to keep my rants to a minimum this week. No promises, though.

Let’s just say I’m still not impressed with the way our governments, Federal, State and local, have handled the pandemic. We’re just lucky it wasn’t much worse. Of course, tell that to the families and friends of all the people who’ve died from COVID. They’re probably not too impressed either.

And as if we didn’t have enough problems, it looks like man-child Elon Musk is buying Twitter. I’m sure he’ll make it a much better place to socialize. Yeah, no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Yeah . . .

In unrelated news I’ve started to explore alternatives to Twitter. So far, I’ve landed at Micro.blog. I’m @ChrisU on there, just like on Twitter, so I should be easy to find. You may want to check it out.

I’m also making The Flickcast podcast every week with my pal Joe Dilworth. It’s going great and still fun, so I plan to continue doing it until people tell me to fuck off. So far, so good.

Finally, I’ve started drawing and painting again. I was inspired by my friend Dave Caolo, some books I saw on Urban Sketching and the Urban Sketching World website. Basically, you go to a place (city street, cool building, wherever) and sketch/draw it with pen and ink and then add some color with watercolor paint.

It’s really been fun, even though I’m not very good at it (and that’s being kind). Still, art of any kind is wonderful. It’s also great therapy and allows you to free your mind and not think about horrible shit all the time. Not that I do that.

I only think about horrible shit the appropriate amount of time.

Okay. I’ll try not to make the time between posts so long from now on. I know you all miss me when I’m gone too long.

Oh, that’s one of my drawings at the top of this post. It’s a photo of it from my sketchbook. Yes, I have a sketchbook. I’m an artist now, don’t you know.

It’s not the worst I’ve done and I don’t hate it, so that’s something. I’ll keep at it.

Okay. Gotta go. Until next time, be kind to each other.

A 2020 Short Story

I posted this on Twitter, but I thought I’d put it on here too. Why not? Although, I realize by posting it here it will also be posted back to Twitter. The circle of life . . .

Head Down ‘Til 2021

It seems the optimistic tone of my previous post about 2020 was a wee bit premature. Because, yeah, COVID 19 pandemic and all that.

So, now things suck. And we’ve been quarantined at home for a few months. And we can’t go to work, get a haircut, go to the movies or generally be within six feet of others without a mask or even greater forms of personal protection. And it seems things are gonna legit continue to suck for quite some time.

And yes, I don’t feel great about it most of the time. And yes, that’s a lot of “and” at the start of sentences. I get that. Did I mention the pandemic? I’m not exactly at my best. And I’m sure most of you aren’t either.

But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling and to pretty much deal with this shit however you need to, short of hurting others, or yourself, of course.

Even though things look bleak, one thing is for sure, we will get through it. The pandemic will end. A vaccine will be developed and administered and life will get back to “normal.”

Will it be the same normal we were used to before? Nope. Might things still kinda suck for a long time? Maybe. Will it start to suck a bit less as time goes on? I sure hope so. I think it will suck for some time after but I also think we will start to feel better and eventually be okay.

It will just take some time. And that’s cool. I’m not going anywhere. And neither should you. Let’s just wait it out together. Okay? Cool.

And now I’m done. Try to be kind to each other while we’re in the middle of this shit. And heck, why not try it after we’re on the other side too?

Couldn’t hurt.

Happy 2020

Well, friends, we made it. It’s the new year and with it new opportunities to do things right. Or, better. Or, whatever. You get the idea. It’s new, okay?

With all that’s going on in the world, and I won’t get too much into that now, I admit I’ve taken some time to reflect and maybe practice a bit of what the kids call “self care.” In other words, I’ve taken some time off from this site and, to be honest, from a lot of other things too.

But now, here I am. Ready? Cool, let’s get to it.

I’m not a person who makes resolutions when new years roll around. I think it only leads to eventual disappointment when you can’t keep them. I do, however, try to think of one or two things I would like to do differently, or be better at, in the new year.

I want to expand my skills and knowledge as much as possible. And I think that’s a good thing. Not just this year, but every year. Every day, if possible.

So, what are the areas I would like to improve in 2020? Well, glad you asked. For one, I’m going to stop hiding. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’ll just use that one. I’ve been hiding.

It’s not like I’ve withdrawn from society completely and am currently filling jars with my urine and stacking them neatly in the corner of my bedroom. I still go places and see people and whatever. I’m just not as engaged in all of it as I used to be and I definitely don’t do it as often.

In fact, I find myself trying to avoid it a lot of the time, for no real reason other than I’d rather stay home and being around other people is a lot of work. You have to talk and listen and pretend to care about what they’re saying. Who has time for that? I’m exaggerating, of course. But you get the idea.

I’ve also stopped exercising and most of the work on my various writing and photography projects. My book has been at about 45000 words for the last six months, at least. I need to get back to it and back out to the trails to hike or, at the very least, clear the clothes hanging on the treadmill and walk a bit. Gotta move, man!

There’s a lot of reasons for the hiding, but let’s just say it’s a lot of personal shit and I won’t really get into it. The real take away here is I’m aware of the problem and I’m going to try to fix it.

No. I’m going to fix it. Yoda doesn’t like it when you say “try,” and he was a Jedi master, so I guess I’ll listen to him.

The second area I’m going to put in some word on is dealing with anger and frustration. The current situation we have in this country has caused me a great deal of frustration and anger. I see things going in a direction I don’t think is healthy and I often feel powerless to do anything about it. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

I don’t know exactly how to fix the country (cough cough impeachment cough cough) but I do know I can deal with my anger and frustration a lot better than I do. So, I will.

New 2020 Chris will not let things get to him as much and will not dwell on the total asshats currently in charge in Washington. Or with the idiots on social media spouting their bullshit or with any random stranger (or friend for that matter) saying stupid shit.

I will be tolerant and discuss issues in an intelligent and adult manner. Or, I’ll block their ass. But whatever I do, I’ll do it calmly and without frustration or anger. I’ll be fucking Zen about the whole damn thing. I know it won’t be easy, but it needs to happen.

Well, that’s it. This was fun, at least for me. I hope you got something out of it too.

Who knows, perhaps you’ll join me in selecting one or two areas of personal change for yourself? Or you can just go through 2020 being the same asshole you always were.

Either way, we’re cool.

The Family Way

It’s been awhile. Yes, I know, you’ve missed me. I get it. I’ve missed you too. We used to have a pretty good relationship. And then I went and messed it up by not being around for, what, almost a year? Sorry about that.

It doesn’t really seem like its been that long. But time flies. Oh yes it does. In case you’ve forgotten what’s happened recently, here’s a bit of a refresher. I left LA/California and now live in Austin, TX. I’m a father. It’s a boy. He’s three. I’m semi-retired and stay home with him, which basically makes me a stay-at-home dad.

I love my life. I do, however, sometimes miss work. It was fun (mostly) and I’ll probably do it again one of these days. But I can’t complain, my kid is awesome and I get to watch him grow up every day. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that.

Also, I still do a podcast called The Flickcast with Joe Dilworth, my awesome co-host. And I take photographs, make things from wood and occasionally write. That pretty much catches us up.

Well, there is one other (pretty big) thing that’s happened since we last got together. As some of you may know, I’m adopted. Both of my adoptive parents are no longer alive and I miss them every day. I especially miss them when I want to ask parenting questions, but pretty much the rest of the time too.

I realize I’m far from perfect, but I think they did a pretty good job with me considering how much of a pain I was growing up. Spoiled only child and all that. Yes, I was quite the troublemaker. But in the end, I think I turned out okay. I only hope I can do the job half as well as they did. I’ll keep working on it.

But that’s not the big news. This big news is I’ve found my biological mother. Well, actually, H found her. H is good with stuff like that. But found she is and contact we have had. Quite a bit, actually. She’s great and we’ve discussed all sorts of things.

I’ve been to see her twice so far and plan on going again soon. I’m looking forward to it. But wait, as Steve Jobs used to say, there’s one more thing (at least). I’ve also got a brother and sister. And a niece. I know, right? A whole new family I never knew about.

I’ve spent time with my new Bro and Sis too. They’re terrific people and I look forward to getting to know them more. Actually, my sister, her husband and their daughter (the niece I mentioned) just visited us. And yes, a good time was had by all.

Just when I think life can’t get any better . . .

Go East Young(ish) Man

AustinSkyline

You know the old saying “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, I’m experiencing a bit of that now.

Fortunately, what I wished for in this case is pretty cool, so the fact it’s going to come true isn’t really a bad thing. Actually, it’s a really good thing.

I could go on like this for a bit longer, being all cryptic and such, but many of you will start to wonder “What the hell is he talking about?” or even begin to wander off and look for shiny objects. So, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer: I am leaving the Los Angeles/Orange County Metroplex and moving to Austin.

Yes, that’s right, the one in Texas. H got a great work opportunity, and I can do what I do from almost anywhere with an Internet connection, so we’re packing up our crap in a giant truck and heading East. Well, in truth, movers will be packing our crap in a giant truck.

I don’t rent a U-Haul and move myself anymore. Those days are in the past, along with my healthy back.

And what about Max, you may wonder? How does he feel about the pending change of address? Well, he doesn’t really get a vote. But if he did, I’m sure he’d agree this is a great opportunity for the family and be all for it.

But like I said, he doesn’t get a vote. He’s just a baby, after all. That would be silly.

As for me, I’m excited about this new adventure and the possibilities it brings. I’m also excited about potentialy having a bit more space. Don’t get me wrong, I like our current house. It’s just a bit close to the neighbors for my taste.

So, we will be looking for a new place in Austin with a bit more land around it. Who knows, we may even end up in the country? Could happen. But don’t tell H, I’m not sure she would go for it.

Being born and raised in California, I will miss a lot of things about “The Golden State.” But the truth is, there’s also a lot of things I won’t miss. I also know Austin and Texas aren’t perfect either and will likley have their fair share of annoyances.

But that’s okay. I like a challenge and I’m ready for it. And no, I won’t be buying cowboy boots or a ten gallon hat.

Well, maybe a hat.

Really Living With Less

living-with-less

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reducing the amount of stuff I have. I’m guilty of accumulating a lot of things over the years, as many people are, but I’ve realized I can live with far less.

That doesn’t mean giving up everything, but it does mean trying to reduce what I have to the more like just the essentials. A good rule I’ve heard, and this may not be new to you, is that if you haven’t seen, used or played with something in a year, you should probably get rid of it.

I like the idea and am starting to consider many of the things I have in those terms. Of course, some people have really taken that idea to a whole new level.

I don’t know if I could live like this, but the concept and execution are still quite impressive.

More Useful and Interesting Things

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It’s the weekend so many of you are probably out doing weekend-type things. Good for you. Enjoy yourselves.

In the interest of enjoyment, or in some cases entertainment or information to enhance your lives, here’s another list of useful and/or interesting things I’ve found this week.

• I don’t know about you, but I loved arcades as a kid. In fact, I worked in one for almost a year while I was in High School. Games like Asteroids, Missile Command, Galaga and Pac-Man helped shape my childhood. It also cost me a hell of a lot of quarters.

But that’s okay, it was great fun and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Sadly, it seems future generations may not have the same opportunity for fun as I did. The Verge spells out the situation in a must-read article for anyone who loved these places as a kid.

• Once again the folks at Lifehacker come through with some good info. This time it’s what to do before and after a disaster.

• Do you blog? Do you have an iPhone or other iOS device? If so, you may want to check out this great piece of software called Poster. I’m trying it out now and so far, I like it. You might like it too.

• Tired of paying through the nose (or other orifice) for a wireless plan and smartphone? If so, you might want to check out Republic Wireless. It’s a very interesting approach and something I’m going to be looking into in more detail soon.

That’s it for now. Once again, enjoy your weekend. I know I will.

Some Useful And Interesting Things

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I guess I might reconsider the title of this post and perhaps change it to something like “Things That Are Useful to Me” or even “Things That Are Useful And Interesting to Me.” Although, because I’m the only one writing here (at least as far as I know), I guess it’s pretty much implied that anything I list in a “useful” or “interesting” post is, or has been, useful or interesting to me personally.

That’s not to say you won’t find these items useful or interesting too, you may. In fact, I hope you do. Anyway, here we go. . .

• Because everyone seems to be getting sick these days, Lifehacker has a no-nonsense, non-alarmist, essential guide to Flu and how to deal with it. Useful indeed.

• The California State University system is going to give online courses a big test and offer a lot of them online during a trial program at San Jose State University. This could save the state quite a bit of money. I wonder how it will go?

• Facebook unveiled a new search feature today which will allow users to search, well, Facebook. The new feature, called “Graph Search,” is designed to allow users to search for content on Facebook such as news posts, status updates, photos, locations and more within the Facebook Social Graph. Sure, why not?

• Over at Sprouted Kitchen, Hugh details his Chemex brewing method. If you like coffee as I do, this is a great way to make it. To make things even easier, he’s put together a video demonstrating the process. Check it out below.

The photo above is also from Hugh’s article. Just wanted to mention that.

All I Want for Christmas Is . . . Nothing

With both Christmas and my birthday fast approaching, I thought it would be prudent to share some thoughts I have about the holidays that will hopefully answer the question I frequently get asked around this time of year: “What do you want for Christmas and/or your birthday?”

The short answer is I don’t really want anything. That’s right, I don’t want you (or anyone else) to get me anything.

Confused? Allow me to elaborate.

I don’t need anything — The truth is I already have pretty much everything I need. If I do really want or need something I don’t already have, I’m extremely fortunate enough to be in the position to just go ahead and buy it for myself.

If there is something I haven’t already bought that I really want, it’s probably very expensive and definitely not something I would ever expect anyone to buy for me. Or, as it is in a lot of cases, I just don’t need it that bad and am willing to go without.

I already have too much stuff — In fact, I’m really trying to downsize the amount of stuff I already have, so adding new stuff is not really a priority. Plus, I am currently looking for a new place to live, which may or may not have more space than I currently have, so I really can’t be adding a lot of new until that’s sorted out.

Although, even if I did end up with a lot more space, I would likely still be trying to downsize. The simple fact is I realized a few years ago I can live with less. It was a terrific realization and I’ve tried to stick with it. So far, I’ve been pretty successful.

I could go on with more reasons, but those are the big ones. I have a good life and I’m thankful for it. I’m also extremely satisfied with the current quantity and quality of “things” in my life.

Although, if someone did want to buy me one of these, or one of these, or one of these (perhaps all three?), I might find a way to make an exception.

Until then, I’m just gonna sit over here on my more than adequate pile of stuff.