Since there is so much time spent indoors with family during this time of crisis, my son and I have picked up our once-favorite TCG: Pokémon! Right now, we have a pretty large glut of old cards, but only a few of the newer sets (Sword & Shield). For one of my wellness wins, I decided to pick up an “Elite Trainer Box” for Sword & Shield to try and outfox my son’s impressive decks.

Right now, I’ve been looking on TCGPlayer for good cards to fit a theme. I’d like to try some control with a sleep-styled deck, but since the stadium card that forces your opponent to flip twice for wakeup checks is out of standard, I’m rethinking that. I don’t like building tourney decks, because they end up being really technical or just not fun to play against.

If anyone has any ideas, drop me a line.

Education Rants

Online Coursework Sucks*

I have a love/hate relationship with online coursework, especially college. I love it because it frees up time that could otherwise be wrapped up in potentially boring classroom lecturing, travel or administrivia. Additionally, it allows you to digitally access resources without having to fumble with paper and other physical assets. On the other hand; For many classes, teachers put the minium effort into them. Not that this can’t happen in a physical setting, but at least there they have to dress up and show up. Also, you don’t get any personal interaction with anyone. The other classmates posting in discussion boards may as well be bots; Faceless names with randomly generated text.

All of these are the reasons that I primarily pick courses around my physical availability. If I’m paying premium for education, I want my ass in a physical location being taught be an actual human being who has to at least show up. However, things are changing with education that are pushing some colleges to look at being more online.

COVID Online Coursework

COVID-19. The big ugly mess of late 2019 and most of 2020 so far. As far as schools go, it has thrown pretty much all of them into a tizzy. My son’s school system had to basically throw together a whole online education system wrapped around Microsoft Teams (angst aside, they’re doing pretty well with that, I have to say). For my college courses, I had to end this semester with online coursework, which sucks. It gets out of sight and out of mind quickly. I feel less involved and the course work just feels like a chore.

I know some colleges offer only online courses. I actually “attended” Phoenix University for a semester. While the work was easy enough, I was getting exactly nothing out of it. Most classes just required you check in by posting something to the discussion board. I feel like we’re moving the needle in that direction with all this distance learning being spun up.

The push to move more online also feels like a cop out in a system already looking for more ways to water down the experience for the most money. Colleges are rife with adjuncts who could care less about teaching, so long as they get some side work. Course materials are skyrocketing and classrooms are left with second-hand tech that is run by overworked IT people just trying to keep their Rube-Goldberg machine running until the end of the semester.

Look: I like college. For a lot of people it’s a great avenue to get the knowledge to work in any number of fields. However, I don’t find that I’m getting a lot out of it. I learn by doing. Going online is just going to make the rest of this Bachelor’s degree a slog.

*: For me.

Feelings Media Politics Rants

Political Apathy

This year has been longer, in many respects, than any I can remember. It’s not just the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s everything. When you have lots of stuff to do and things to occupy your time, news cycles and information tends to be a little more sporadic, a little more manageable. Even with all of that, I tended to pare it down to just the things I’m interested.

Now that we’re all stuck inside and dealing with the fallout of how our leaders have responded to the crisis (good or bad), the news seems more in-your-face. No longer can I go days without hearing what this person said or how that political party is messing things up. All we get now is news, concentrated and brimming with information that just makes me want to push it away more.

I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking, either. We, I should say Americans, but it’s more than just that; Have it good. We’re well taken care of in many respects and while things can always be better, we still feel good about how our systems work. Though this is a whole topic itself. The point I’m trying to make here is that we’re pampered to the point where we don’t feel the need to protest things in large numbers anymore, we don’t strike or demand better politics. We have fallen in love with the two party system and are more than willing to take sides.

Political Escape

I used to watch the Daily Show as a way to escape, to laugh at the absurdity of the circus that is professional politics. I used to be invested in helping decide who we should elect to lead us. I used to join the voices for justice when wrong was discovered.

Now? Now I just sit home and sleep. I repeat the same daily actions. I don’t even know (or frankly, care) what our sad excuse for a leader is doing to appease the bullies and paranoid supporters who seem ready to die or kill for him. I just want out. I’m tired and I just don’t care anymore. If this is where we have decided to go, collectively. I want out.


Weekly Blur

Today is… Wednesday. Yes. That seems correct. Honestly, without checking the calendar, I don’t know the days of the week anymore. I know that there are two days of time off every interval, but most of the days have been blurring together.

I think this is because of the weird schedule I’ve been keeping with regard to work and my location. Normally, whatever that means anymore, I would wake up, take a shower, get dressed, eat, prep, go to work; Come home, clean, eat, sleep; Repeat.

Right now, we spend a lot of time doing whatever needs to be done at the time. Sometimes that’s work, sometimes that’s entertaining ourselves, sometimes that’s cleaning up a mess in the house. The distinction is not really made clear.

The only time it is clear is when I’m rotated into going to the office. Since I’m “essential”, I spend some time in the office doing mostly office things. This schedule feels familiar, but I don’t care much for it. Getting extra rest instead of commuting was nicer.

I’m not sure if this whole telework thing is for me, permanently, but I do know that right now, I prefer it. I think a lot of introverts like me are enjoying the “safer-at-home” lifestyle, if they didn’t already live it prior to this whole pandemic mess. I also think it’s going to change the way we think about work. Some for good, some for bad.

Honestly, a lot of the work we do is now able to be done remotely, so long as the infrastructure exists to support it. This has been a live-fire test showing that lots of companies can support it. Whether we do or not going forward will be up to us all.


What I’m Feeling

The world is getting a face full of COVID-19 and is not taking it well. Many places are closed or have changed their procedures. Places like Starbucks have gone to drive through only. Other places where people congregate have just closed altogether. Techy companies are moving any available workers to remote-work.

Except me. I’m here in the office. I was actually looking forward to working from home, since it’s a much more comfortable environment and I could get some stuff done. I’m a home-body, so I think I would have really enjoyed it.

Well, I’m somehow deemed “critical”. So much for that staycation.

Additionally, Animal Crossing is delayed delivery due to this stupid virus. Our anniversary trip to Disney is canceled. Our Disney cruise is also similarly canceled. My son now has to take his instruction via the web and even my goddamn weigh loss group is going to Zoom.

Work is also piling on. We have constant meetings with Microsoft regarding issues with their Outlook client. Demanding logs of all shapes and sizes be uploaded and proof, undeniable proof, is levied before they lift a finger. I also have been conscripted to develop PowerShell scripts that I’ve never done before, and for deployment to masses of users.

I feel beat down. Burnt out. Tired.

I tried to take a walk. I was interrupted for more work.

I finally got outside. It feels like a middle-finger seeing all the people out, having a good time, walking and talking to friends. Basically the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing.

I just don’t care anymore.