China Trouble Coronavirus Visa and More

As most of you know, I have been working in China for the past 18 months or so, and now I am having some trouble with the Coronavirus and my visa. To be fair, there were difficulties even before the growing epidemic struck.

First, I intended to return to the States for the winter holiday on Jan 6 and return on Feb 3rd. Well, there was a problem on my employer’s end, so I had to visit the States on Jan 1st. I was still set to return on the 3rd of February, assuming I had a new visa, but then China trouble struck in the terms of the coronavirus. So now, I am waiting news of when and if I get to return to the country I have called home for the past year and a half or so.

On one hand, this is bothersome. It bothers me that my life is essentially in limbo right now. And, it bothers me that I have no real idea of when it will end. Furthermore, I left a bunch of stuff there, and a messy kitchen, and want it back. I don’t know if I will get it. I could do without cleaning the kitchen; necessary evil, I suppose.

On the other hand, my issues are not terrible. Sure, they seem awful to me, but then I’m living them. They pale in comparison to what the people of Wuhan and the people of China are large are going through. Spare a thought for them if you can. And also, please refrain from racist jokes about them and their dietary habits.

What do this China trouble with coronavirus and visa mean? That my future is uncertain. But then, aren’t they all?

Beating China Trouble Coronavirus and visa

So what am I doing now in the States. Well, aside from indulging too much in too much booze and food, I am writing. I know, you wouldn’t think it if you’ve been checking on this blog. I haven’t written here for over a month, and for that I apologize. The thing is, since returning to the States, I’ve been tired, and creating. And it’s hard to create while tired. Hell, it’s hard to do anything when you’re tired. That’s why sleep is so important.

What have I been creating to keep my mind off of China trouble, coronavirus, and visa issues? I’m glad you asked.

The biggest thing I’ve created this year (2020) was finishing a short story for a competition. I’m certain I won’t win, but I am proud of myself nonetheless. G I Joe taught us that knowing is half the battle. Well, here’s that in action: I know my works won’t find publication if I don’t finish them. Besides, completing a short story, or illustration, or any other work of art is fantastic. It grows confidence and reminds us that yes we can do this. I don’t make new year resolutions, but I do resolve to finish more projects this year. Even if the end result stinks.

Other creations include a comic story I’m working on. I just started thinking about it a few days ago, but I have notes and ideas to spare. I’ll be using the Comic Experience Guide to Writing Comics as a guide, appropriately, in this endeavor.

The image shows Comics Experience guide to writing comics, the book I am using to write a comic book to withstand China trouble, coronavirus, and visa
One of my comic book writing resources

I’ve been doing some reading and watching some movies, but otherwise life has been mostly relaxing during this time, despite the trouble I’ve been having with my China visa and the effect of the Coronavirus on world travel.

Thanks for reading. Comment below.

Adventures in Chinese Banking: It Stinks

I’ve written about my adventures in Chinese banking before, and now I have another story. Yesterday, I took a bunch of RMB to a bank in order to exchange it for USD. I am going home in January, and would like to have some money. Or rather, I would like to have some money I can actually spend. Now, you might think it would be easy to accomplish this goal. After all, one only needs to take the cash to the bank, hand over the money for exchange, and get the dollar bills back.

The image shows some Chinese RMB that I wanted to exchange for USD in my newest Adventures in Chinese Banking.

And in a sane world and a sane system, you’d be correct. However, Chinese banking is not sane, as my adventures in it have shown. I did some research before heading to the bank because I know the system here will screw you any chance it gets. (Also, the info I found turned out not to apply to those working in China.) Sadly, I wasn’t able to find out a whole lot, but I knew that I needed a Chinese citizen with me. Thankfully, the university has a foreign liaison this semester, and she was willing to accompany me. So, we made plans to have lunch and then head to the bank.

The first bank we went to didn’t have the USD on hand because we didn’t call first. Okay, there’s something good to know: call the bank first if you want to exchange money. We then called another branch, but they also didn’t have enough USD on hand. Finally, we decided to call China National Bank: the big bank of China. It was our last hope. They had the cash on hand. We were feeling good about things.

Adventures in Chinese Banking: Even Citizens Jump Through Hoops

Well, we felt good about things, until we actually got to the bank. Unrelated, but an indication of how things would go: the parking attendant was rude to us. When we asked him how to get out of the parking garage on foot, he just shrugged and said walk around. Super helpful.

So, we get into the bank and find someone to help us. After a long discussion between my liaison and the bank worker, we ended up nowhere. See, the problem is I can’t just go in and exchange the money. I need a copy of my contract and my tax information, neither of which I have. Well, I have a copy of my contract, but I didn’t have it with me. I don’t have a copy of my tax information because my company takes care of my taxes.

The next thought was to have the liaison just exchange the cash for me. After all, she’s Chinese, so that shouldn’t be a problem, right? Again, in a sane world and sane system, you’d be right. But this is not a sane world or system. They told her that she could exchange the cash, but if she didn’t go to the US soon, she could get into trouble.

Now, I didn’t want that to happen so I told her not to worry about it, and that we’d figure something else out. As we were leaving the bank, she decided to call the first bank we visited to ask the person there if they would have the USD by Monday. I leave on Tuesday. He told her they wouldn’t but that they had the same policy. He also told her that she could always change her mind about traveling once she changed the money.

The System Almost Won

Armed with this knowledge, and her willingness to take a chance, my liaison returned to the bank and exchanged the money. My nerves were on fire as I waited in the lobby for her to completer the transaction. We’d just been in there trying to do what we were now doing. Would they let us? Was trouble in the cards for one or both of us?

After the exchange, we left the bank. I worried the security guard would stop us and take my money and send us to speak to the police. Not really, but that’s the thing about places like this. You just never know what will happen. We hadn’t broken any laws, but then that doesn’t always matter.

So, that’s the latest of my adventures in Chinese banking. Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned a little about what my life here is like.

Suicidal Ideation: Thinking About Killing Yourself

A few weeks ago, I read an article that got me thinking about suicidal ideation. It’s a really good article, and you should click on the link and read it. Put simply, in that article, Anna Borges describes suicidal ideation as treading water in the middle of the ocean. And that, my friends, is a damn fine description.

You may wonder why I am talking about this now. That’s a valid question. First, I don’t want you to worry. I don’t have any plans to hurt or kill myself right now. But then, that’s kind of the point concerning this condition. SI is a passive form of suicide. It allows for thoughts of self harm to live in the mind, whether or not active plans are present. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’ve suffered from depression for most of my life. I have never gone on medication, mainly because I’m scared. I’m scared of what the medication might do to me, and how it will change me.

I don’t define myself by my depression and thoughts of suicide, but they are a part of me. Sure, they’re an unhealthy part that hold hold me back, but there they are. Does it seem silly to worry about how feeling better will change me? Of course it does, but that doesn’t change my feelings. I often think that I should just go for it, but I always stop myself.

Anyway, back to why I am bringing this up at the moment. One, it’s the holiday season and that is a difficult time for many people. Though, according to this healthline article, suicide rates actually drop during the holidays and increase in Spring. This is interesting, considering the standard myth of most suicides occur during the holidays.

Suicidal Ideation is a State of Being

However, just because most suicides don’t happen during the holiday season, doesn’t mean those thoughts aren’t there. In fact, (again according to the healthline article) those thoughts probably are there. However, many people can ignore the thoughts because of interactions with others. Holiday parties, family gathering, and seasonal cheer might stave off suicidal action. Also, there is the idea that we don’t want to ruin the season for others. Suicide is already often considered a selfish act by many, and the holidays are for giving.

Second, and this goes back to the article by Anna Borges, we need to talk about suicidal ideation. The mystery and complex feeling surrounding suicide makes it difficult to talk about. If we tell our friends or family, there’s no telling how they will react. Some of them might get angry. Others might get scared. Most likely, there will be a combination of emotions. And I understand that. Listening to someone tell you they feel like hurting themselves or killing themselves is hard. It’s scary, and anxiety inducing, and can leave you feeling helpless.

Our friends and family care about us, and to that end they might want to solve what they see as the problem of our contemplation. The trouble with that, though, is they may not be able to solve it. In fact, they probably won’t be. And then they might get mad at their failure. Or, we will let them think that everything is okay while we suffer. Why would we do that? Because we care about them as much as they care about us and we don’t want them to worry.

And that’s the crux, isn’t it? We don’t want our loved ones to worry. So we remain silent.

Silence is Harmful and Unhelpful

But staying silent does more harm than good. It closes people off from us, and creates feelings of isolation. It also prevents us from working through our emotions. I’ve rarely expressed my suicidal ideation to my friends and family, but when I have, I’ve been lucky. No one has freaked out or gotten angry with me for expressing these thoughts. But, I still felt fear when doing so. Just as I feel fear now, writing this post.

But I am doing it because Anna Borges inspired me to be a bit more vocal about my feelings. I am not asking for help, advice, or sympathy. I am just asking anyone reading this to understand that many people have these thoughts. In fact, you, dear reader, may be feeling something similar at this moment. And that’s okay.

It’s okay to have these feelings. And it’s okay to not feel okay. Furthermore, it’s even okay to not want to share these feelings with others. But you know what else is okay? Wanting to and needing to share these feelings. Humans are social creatures. We need people we can trust in our lives, and we need to express ourselves. There is no shame in sharing your dark thoughts.

If you don’t think you have someone you can talk to about this, there are plenty of online resources. One example is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Phone number: 1-800-273-8255.

You can also comment here, and I will listen. Though, I understand if you don’t want to.

As for me, I’ve been feeling blue, so I bought myself a new pillow. It’s a silly thing and it won’t stop my suicidal ideation, but I needed one. And sometimes getting things that we need and want can help keep the darkness at bay.

The image shows my new pillow, something I bought for myself to stay happy and prevent suicidal ideation.

Listen and Be There Without Judgement

If someone comes to you with feelings of darkness, be kind. Understand it took a lot for them to open up. You can experience anxiety and anger and fear, but later. Let them tell their story. Open your ears and your heart. Close your mouth and your rational mind. There will be time for all of that later. But listening is so important. Many people don’t feel heard, and that adds to the pain. When we don’t feel heard, we don’t feel valued. And when we don’t feel valued by others, we often have difficulty valuing ourselves.

I’m not saying we need others to validate us before we can validate ourselves. However, I know when I feel down and worthless, it is nice to hear others express their feelings of love for me. It feels good to be valued by others. Additionally, by listening to your friend who is going through a rough patch without judging them or giving them advice, you show them that they aren’t a burden.

This is important because so many people don’t share for fear of burdening the listener. And yeah, it can be hard work listening to someone talk about suicide. It can also feel burdensome if your friend keeps telling you the same thing without changing. At that point, it sounds like complaining. But, remember, this is a process. It’s okay as the listener to feel like you can’t take it all. You don’t have to be there all the time, but be there when you can. Help when and how you can. It matters more than you think.

Thank you for reading. I love you, even if I don’t know you.

Three Versions of Stagger Lee: Waits, Cave, Hurt

When I taught Czech university students I played them three versions of Stagger Lee. And, since it was a conversation class, I had them discus the similarities and differences before telling them my thoughts. As an ESL teacher, it’s important to avoid injecting your own bias as much as possible. I’m not always successful, but I try.

The first of the three versions of Stagger Lee I played was Mississipi John Hurt’s (Stack O’ Lee). Many consider this version the definitive story of Stagger and William DeLyons. And that makes sense. It did come out in 1928, after all. Things of note in this version: Stack strikes fear in the community. He’s a cruel man and a bad man, and the cops can’t, don’t, or won’t arrest him. The myth of Stack or Stag as pure evil is on full display here. Also notable, Billy steals Stack’s stetson hat, and Stack kills him for it. Keep this detail in mind for later. Also of note, Stack uses a .44 to kill Billy. Something else to keep in mind. Finally, in this version, the law hangs Stack, and everyone is happy.

So, to recap, this first version of the story is the oldest and sets the template. All other tellings of this story owe it. At some point, though no mention of it occurs in this telling, the story evolves into a gambling disagreement. In some of those variations, Billy cheats Stagger Lee, and Stag kills him for it. Still, no matter how you slice it, the core of the story is that Stack/Stag is a menace to his community. People fear him and the police are powerless. He’s the Boogeyman, only real. In his telling, Nick Cave takes this theme to the extreme.

Three Versions of Stagger Lee: Nick Cave Gets Explicit

If Mississippi John Hurt gives us the menace that is Stack O Lee, Nick Cave gives us the terror of that man. Hurt’s version is subtle and understated. Cave’s version is everything but that. Stagger Lee, as interpreted by Cave is a brash and vile murderer. He’s also making a name for himself as evidenced by him having to tell the bartender who he is.

He’s a killer and a rapist. He is as immoral as they come, but still somehow cool. If Tarantino wrote songs, he would share co-writing credit with Cave.

It was interesting playing this second of the three versions of Stagger Lee to my class because it is so different. They were college students, and I warned them of the explicit nature. Still, I did worry that I was crossing the line of good taste. Of course, Nick Cave and good taste don’t go hand in hand. Thankfully, my students didn’t report me to the bosses.

And, they drew the obvious connections: Pork pie hat, bad man. But they also noticed the differences: in Cave’s rendition, Stag is much sexier (explicit). Seriously, listen to that groove, and tell me it doesn’t ooze sex. You can’t.

Another difference between this telling and Hurt’s is that Stag gets away with it. The song ends with Stagger forcing Billy to perform fellatio and then killing him. In an extended version, which I didn’t play for my students, Stagger is worse. He rapes the devil if you can believe it.

Nearly a century passed between Hurt’s version and Cave’s version, which accounts for the visceral difference. Of course, others were playing around with the legend of Stagger Lee in between, and that leads me to Waits’ Small Change.

Tom Waits’ Small Change Is A Different Telling of the Same Story

Now, in all my admittedly limited, research, I’ve yet to find anyone else connecting Small Change to Stagger Lee. But I stand by the connection. Both Stack O Lee by MJH and Stagger Lee by NC tell the story of a bad man with a hat and a gun. Sure, this isn’t much to go on, but the similarities to Small change are too close to deny. All three versions of Stagger Lee mention a hat, a gun, and the general fear of the community. The big difference is Hurt and Cave concern themselves with how nasty the titular character is.

Waits, on the other hand, acknowledges he’s nasty, but adds some optimism to the story. In Small Change, the communal menace gets killed on the street. And the killer uses his own gun, a .38. Here’s something interesting, in Hurt’s version it’s a .44. In Cave’s version it’s a .45. The caliber of the weapon grows in accordance with the menace. Yeah, Hurt’s version is a bad and cruel man, but he is only a simple murderer. Cave’s .45 wielding maniac is a rapist, a terror, and larger than life. Of course he wields the biggest weapon of the three versions of Stagger Lee I am discussing.

Small Change is Billy, Not Stagger Lee

That was the argument made by a student when I played these three songs. She argued that Small Change was Billy. Her reasons: the name, the hat, and the gun. Basically, Small Change, with his .38 is the odd man out. Not only is his name not Stagger or Stack, he’s got a pea shooter. Yes, Small Change terrorizes the neighborhood, but he’s fallible. It’s not the police who capture him, and he doesn’t live. In fact, his killer remains unknown. “Someone will head south until this whole thing cools off.” He doesn’t exude the overall menace of the other two. I am [paraphrasing because it’s been years, but that’s the gist.

On one hand, I can see this. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I can see it. More importantly, I appreciated this amount of thought and consideration from my student, and she made a logical and compelling argument. It happens to be one I think doesn’t hold up, but one I still think about nearly 10 years later.

Small Change is a Version of Stagger Lee

While I respect my student’s idea about this, I disagree. For one, in Small Change people are happy to see him die, just as they are in the other songs. In none of these three versions are people happy at Billy’s death.

Two, his death offers a chance at a better life: “The dreams aren’t broken now, they’re waling with a limp. Now that Small Change got rained on with his own .38.” Billy’s death would do no such thing.

Third, the newsboy steal the hat. If Stagger Lee were alive, that newsboy would be dead.

So, there you have my thoughts on three different versions of Stagger Lee as filtered through a teaching experience I once had. I hope you enjoyed reading this long diatribe.

The image shows the cover of a Stagger Lee comic, which is a fourth version of the three Stagger Lee stories in this post
Order the book and learn more. I don’t get any money if you purchase through that link. I’m not an affiliate.

Rise of Skywalker Review: Overstuffed With Fun

So, I saw Rise of Skywalker and here is my review. Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but that isn’t to say it didn’t have its problems. In fact, it had tons of problems. However, I felt they were fun problems to have, rather than dumb or uninteresting ones. I do think, though, that the ideas presented in The Last Jedi were more interesting in total, but that’s okay. This is a different movie.

For the curious, I will try to keep my Rise of Skywalker review as spoiler free as possible. If you’re reading this its presumably because you want to see the movie. To that end, I don’t want to spoil things for you.

I will say that the movie starts off in frantic fashion and never really slows down. Director JJ Abrams has a lot of ground to cover, and it shows. The first quarter of the movie just feels like a bunch of jump cuts and table setting. Not that there aren’t some cool things there: good action, humor, exotic locales.

Unfortunately all of this kinetic screen time kept me from investing in the film. At least right away. While the pace doesn’t really slow down much, it does offer a few points to catch your breath. And those are important beats. Star Wars, at its core, has always been about character and heart. Sure, epic space battles and laser swords are great, but it’s character that matters. This movie seems to forget that at first, but remembers in time. Or at least, it remembers enough in time.

Rise of Skywalker Review: Not Quite a Nostalgia Factory

Surprisingly, this is not the nostalgia engine I expected it to be. Yes, it has a lot of nostalgic elements in it. And yes, it makes callbacks to itself, to other movies in this trilogy, and to the other movies in the saga. However, I rarely felt annoyed by the callbacks. That might change after subsequent viewings, but this time all was good.

The image shows a First Order Stormtrooper, the bad guys in Rise of Skywalker, which this blog post offers review of
First Order Stormtrooper Statue in the theater here in China

Aside from the pacing, I have a few other complaints, but they verge on spoiler territory, so I won’t mention them.

I will mention, that John Williams’ score was fantastic, as always. And there were a few twists and turns I enjoyed. I think the main conceit of the movie is a little silly, but that’s okay. Star Wars has always been a little silly, so it’s only fitting that the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga follows suit.

While this isn’t my favorite Star Wars movie of the new ones (hello Rogue One), I did like it. There are some things I wish hadn’t happened. And there are some pacing issues. Still, it felt like a Star Wars movie, and that’s a argument for it.

Your mileage may vary, but if you check it out, I hope you like it. And let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading my Rise of Skywalker review.

I’m Sick of Baby Yoda: And I Haven’t Watched Much

I’ve still only seen the first episode of the Mandalorian, but already I’m sick of Baby Yoda. Does that make me a monster? In the eyes of the Internet, probably. Everyone seems to be going crazy over the character, sharing gifs and memes and their overall enjoyment. To them, I say, I am glad they’re enjoying the character. I’m sick of Baby Yoda because he’s inescapable. All I see on the internet is people talking about him. And now I’m doing it, too and I hate myself for it.

Look, I want to be clear that there’s nothing wrong with sharing what you love. The world is so dark that we need to find joy where we can. I’m not even asking people to stop sharing stuff about him. And, I’m not saying there haven’t been a few things I’ve seen and appreciated concerning him. One was a Lone Wolf and Cub cover with the Mandalorian and BY instead of Ogami Itto and Daigoro. It is awesome . Overall, though the obsession wiht BY feels like it’s too much for me.

The image shows a mock cover of Lone Wolf and Cub with the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda, who I'm sick of.

I don’t mind that he’s cute. I like cute things. And I love Yoda and think it’s neat that Star Wars is bringing in another one of his species. I mean, clearly the character is not really the Jedi Master, but that’s what the world has dubbed him.

I know I must sound like a curmudgeon. The thing is, because I’m sick of Baby Yoda, I kind of don’t want to watch the series. Which is a shame because I was looking forward to it. Yes, this is my own issue, I need to get past.

I’m Sick of Baby Yoda, But That Could Change

I still plan on watching the rest of the Mandalorian, and giving Baby Yoda a chance. I am not THAT closed minded. Still, it has been difficult for me to find the motivation to watch the series. Not all of that has to do with the green child, but a lot of it does.

I am sorry if I have upset anyone with this thread. It is not my intent to be a dick to people who love the character. As I wrote earlier, we can love what we want, and I am happy that people share that love. So, please, if you comment, don’t be too cruel. We are all allowed to have opinions, and disagreements, but let’s try to be respectful when we do. Thanks for reading.

Dryvember Day 30: Can I Drink Yet?

Well, here it is. Dryvember day 30. I made it. Or did I? I know I’ve been quiet on the blog recently, which is a bit of a shame. Posting about my experience during No Drink November felt good, and it kept me honest in terms of putting ass to chair and writing. So, what happened? Well, I got busy at work. And, I started to feel like I had nothing to say. We all know the saying about if you have nothing to say keep your trap shut, right?

Plus, I got bust at work, and had a slight bout of depression. Everything’s okay now, basically. I’m still feeling a bit depressed and work is still busy. But, I’m writing again. And that’s good. Furthermore, it’s not like I haven’t been nurturing my creative juices. I haven’t written anything, but I have made some notes about a few things. That’s not enough, I know, but it’s a start.

In the creative bummer department, though, I was unable to finish a short story in time for submission earlier this month. That hurt more than a rejection would’ve, and I know it would have been rejected. But, not finishing it hurts more because I didn’t give myself a chance for rejection. Oh well, I got it started and now I can finish it. The place I wanted to submit to runs open submissions every few months, so I am not completely out in the cold.

At any rate, it’s Dryvember day 30. It’s just after 7pm on a Saturday night here, and I am debating whether or not to drink. I bought some beer at the store earlier. Clearly, I was thinking about having a drink.

If I Drink Before Dryvember Day 30 Ends, Do I Fail?

Now, however, I’m not sure if I want a drink. There are a some reasons for this. One, is it cheating? I mean, I have 5 hours until December 1st, so if I drink before then, did I fail the 30 day Dryvember challenge? Technically speaking, the answer would have to be yes. But, does five hours make that much of a difference in these matters? I don’t know.

Two, if I drink now, or after midnight, what was the point of not drinking for thirty days? At the beginning, I said I was doing this to see if I could. And now that I have (essentially) done it, what do I do? Do I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself by cracking open a cold one? Or do I take a deep breath and bask in my victory for a little while? The last time I did this, I made it a few days past the deadline, which was nice. But then I started drinking again, anyway. I’m not ready to quit drinking entirely, and I don’t know if I ever will be. But again, I am forced to ask what is the point if I’m just going to tip some back as soon as the month ends?

Big Questions, Difficult Answers

There aren’t any easy answers to this question. I would like to say that the doing is the point. Thirty days (shy five or so hours) is nothing to shake a stick at. I can be proud of what I accomplished. Or, I can get down on myself for immediately falling into old patters. I do feel like I earned a drink after abstaining for the month. But is that what it’s really about? I don’t know. My gut says that maybe I don’t want to drink, and that’s why I’m having this discussion with myself. While my mind acknowledges what my gut’s saying, it says, “To hell with it. Have a drink. You only live once.” Both raise valid points.

Three, while I don’t have a lot to do tomorrow, I do have some things. And, waking up without hangovers (even if just on the weekends) has been nice. Then there is the danger of slipping back into heavy drinking again. I don’t see that happening tonight, but it’s a definite possibility. Though, they do say that those who abstain from alcohol for a month tend to drink less in the future. I haven’t necessarily found that to be true for me, but it’s possible.

Another consideration is that I have lost weight. It may not look like it, but I can feel it. And that feels good. I don’t generally get down on myself for my weight, but sometimes I do. Body issues are a thing for me on occasion, but I feel pretty good about myself right now. Sure, I’m still overweight, and I ate too much sugar this month. Have to replace the booze somehow.

Well, thanks for reading. I haven’t decided if I will drink tonight before midnight. But, if I do, I will be enjoying this:

The image shows a bottle of delirium tremens beer, the beer I will drink to celebrate my victory over Dryvember Day 30

So, that’s it for Dryvember and Day 30 in particular. Thanks for taking this journey with me and for reading along. This blog will soon return to regular irregular posting of reviews, weird thoughts, and other things. If you have something you want to say, say it in the comments. Until next time, may you have peace, love, and happiness in your lives.

Dryvember Day Nineteen Taking Compliments

I’m back for Dryvember day Nineteen, and I’m working on taking compliments. For context: One of my big bosses observed a class today. Usually, they tell us observations are happening a few days in advance, but today she told me about 3 hours before. No big deal, I’m a professional. So, she came and observed. The class went well, or so I felt.

After class, she sent me a message saying that my lecturing was excellent. Now, that surprised me. It also made me happy. I don’t doubt my teaching abilities, at least most of the time. But, I do think I constantly walk with lack of confidence by my side. Human nature, of course, but that doesn’t make it any better. So when she said that, I was pleased. Of course, I was waiting for more. In fact, I was waiting for the “BUT” that always seems to comes in those situations. “You’re and excellent lecturer, BUT you spoke too much,” or “You did a good job of presenting the material, BUT your students spent too much time on their phones.” And so on.

Thankfully, there was no BUT. Rather, just a few examples of what I did well. That also pleases me. Though, I am not sure there won’t be some kind of constructive criticism she files with the school. And you know what? I’m okay with that. I don’t have an issue with constructive criticism. It’s one of the most helpful ways of learning how to make changes. Making those changes, is, a different matter entirely.

Dryvember Day Nineteen Taking Compliments Is Important

Anyone who knows me, knows that I try to shrug off a compliment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I just don’t know how to accept them. At least, not without feeling awkward. Sure, I’ll sing my praises on occasion, and even get full of myself. But, I try not to. So, today on Dryvember Day nineteen I had more practice taking compliments. And, I got a good reminder of why it is important.

Having someone pay you a compliment doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Nor does it mean everyone thinks the same. It does mean, however, that someone appreciates you enough to take the time to brighten your day. I know I’m discussing a work situation here, but the point stands. Learning to accept others’ praise is important because it help us think better of ourselves. It gives us a window through which to look. Through the compliments we receive, we can start to look at ourselves differently. Is this always the case? Of course not. Does it always work? Again, no. But it can help shift our mindset, and afford us the opportunity to start thinking better of ourselves. Compliments assist us in loving who we are as well as helping us focus on who we want to be. There’s nothing wrong with taking compliments, and I remembered that on Dryvember day nineteen.

What Was I Doing on Days Seventeen and Eighteen?

Well, on Sunday, I I decided to go for a walk instead of blogging. I like blogging and discussing my journey of No Drink November, but I felt like I needed a break. And Sunday was the perfect day to do so. After a rainy morning, the sun came out (fittingly) and I went for a walk. It wasn’t a long walk, and I wore the right socks. I passed some new street art, which was nice. Street art isn’t something you see much of in this town. Or least, I haven’t seen much of it.

The image shows some painted balloons I saw when I went for a walk a few days before Dryvember day nineteen
Would I float if I went in there?

And then yesterday, I spent all afternoon playing Skyrim for Nintendo Switch. Old school, I know. I played it a little on PS3, but not much since. When I bought my Switch in February, Skyrim was one of the games I got to go with it. I haven’t been playing it much, though, because I didn’t have my charging dock. It was too bulky to bring with me. The lack of a dock meant relegation to handheld mode. Which I love! But Skyrim is too hard to see sometimes in handheld mode. Well, I have my dock with me, and a TV to hook it up to. So, yesterday I played until it was time to go to bed. It’s ridiculous how much time I spent on my ass in front of the TV yesterday. But that’s okay. I deserved it.

So, that’s about all that’s been going on with me the past few days. Thanks to all who keep reading this, and sorry for my brief absence. Stay well.

The Mandalorian S01 E01 An Auspicious Start

I finally watched The Mandalorian S01 E01, and I have to say I liked it. As a first episode, it does a lot of heavy lifting, and quite fluidly. The episode introduces quite a bit of information, but it doesn’t explain much of it. In an era where so many pieces of entertainment explain things to their audience, this is refreshing. Sure, the jargon might put people off, but this is Star Wars, and Star Wars has always had weird jargon. You just have to go with it.

The image shows the title card from the Mandalorian S01 E01

In fact, that was something else I really enjoyed about The Mandalorian S01 E01: It felt like Star Wars. Sure, it looked sleeker than the original trilogy, having that Disney sheen. But the feel of the storytelling, and the characters felt very much like Star Wars. I can’t express how much I appreciated that. This type of Star Wars story has been a long time coming.

I like the films, though the original trilogy will of course always be my favorite. But the problem is, most of the movies focus on the same story and characters. Even Rogue One (the best of the Disney films in my opinion) was too connected to the OT. If The Mandalorian S01 E01 is any indication, this series is going to grow the scope of the Star Wars universe, and that is a good thing.

Sure, there are callbacks and easter eggs, but we can expect that. Just because it’s forging new ground, doesn’t mean it’s leaving everything behind.

So far though, everything is working really well. I know, only one episode, but it’s off to a great start. There is humor, but not too much. And lot sof action.

The Mandalorian S01 E01 Is Full of Mystery

As is befitting a Western style story with a Bounty Hunter at the center, there is plenty of mystery in this episode. The Mandalorian himself is mysterious. He has no name. We know he is an orphan, but beyond that, we know very little. Oh, we know he’s a badass and he doesn’t like droids. All of these are good threads the storytellers set up, and I hope they follow through.

Beyond the main character, other mysteries abound. The Mandalorians have returned, but who are they? Who were they? As a fan of the franchise and someone who read a lot of the legacy works, I have an idea. But casual fans, or people relatively new to Star Wars might not. And that’s okay. It all adds to the feeling of the show. As for what the over arching story will be, I have no clue. But, I can’t wait to find out.

Clearly, there is something special about who he finds at the end. Speaking of the end (don’t worry, no spoilers) I am not sure how I feel about it. Sure, it adds to the sense of the galaxy as a larger place. But at the same time, it shrinks things. I don’t know why it had to be that species, though I am sure we will find out.

This Episode Had Nearly Everything I Wanted

We got action, excitement, and some cool locations. There wasn’t a space battle, but I am holding out for hope on that. We also got to see some disturbing scenes perfect for Star Wars.

Crispilicious Crumb?

And there were some good strange creatures and supporting characters. Nick Nolte’s Ugnaught was a highlight for me. “I have spoken.”

Overall, I really liked The Mandalorian S01 E01. While there is room for it to grow, this first episode did everything it needed to do and more.

My only real complaint is there were a few times the CGI looked a little silly: the ice attack, and riding the Bluurgs. But even those weren’t too bad. I eagerly anticipate watching episode two.

Have you watched this episode? Did you like it. Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Dryvember Day Sixteen Wrong Socks

Anyone who walks for long periods of time knows the importance of good shoes and socks. Well, on Dryvember day sixteen I had the right shoes, but I had the wrong socks. And it’s totally my fault. I know these socks suck and I should just throw them away, but I always forget. Why am I talking about socks? Because I have blisters on my feet after my long walk today. These blisters are the result of wearing the wrong socks.

What makes these socks wrong? Well, they’re too thin. Basically, I might as well wear toilet paper instead of socks. That’s how effective they are. In fact, I am throwing them away now before I forget. How do I know it’s the socks and not the shoes? After all, isn’t it the shoes that usually cause blisters? Or is it the socks? Well according to the University of Utah it’s actually friction. This friction seems to be from how our feet slide against our shoes. And thin socks can cause more friction. So there, you go. It was the socks that helped these blisters come into existence. Stupid thin socks. I hate them.

Aside from the blisters, today has been better than yesterday and the day before. I got some good sleep last night, and had a relaxing morning. Sure, I put off doing grading papers, but that’s what Sundays are for.

And the walk was lovely. The weather was cool today, and misty. It had the character of one of those days where rain approaches but never actually comes. Furthermore, the air quality was good; it’s been pretty foul recently.

The picture shows a statue of Ant-Man from the movie that I saw on Dryvember day sixteen as I cried about wearing the wrong socks.

Plus, I came across this statue of Ant-Man, and I couldn’t resist taking a picture. So yeah, not a bad Dryvember day sixteen despite the the wrong socks.