Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 27th 2017: Problems

"You can't underestimate how much of an effect scarcity would have had on the people hearing these stories for the first time"

This was a line one of my profs said in seminary and it has stuck with me to this day. We were having a discussion about one of the stories in the gospel of John and as we discussed it, my professor raised the point that these people were living in what he called a starvation economy where every day the need to get enough to food to survive into the next day was an ever present concern for a lot of the people listening. You have to read the Bible with a sense of what a person with a constantly grumbling stomach might think as they go through these stories.

I still think about that a lot because when I read the Bible, I read it with my own selfish perspective. Whenever you read anything you're always thinking "what does this have to say to me" and the Bible is no different. As I'm reading, I'm thinking about all of the problems and concerns that I'm having and I want to know how what I am reading speaks to those problems. Sometimes it doesn't have anything to say about them and then I get to thinking that the Bible doesn't have anything to say to me.

In these times I have to remind myself that the things I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about are often very abstract and they're things I think about only because I am so far removed from that starvation economy that I have time to think about things like sexuality in a really abstract way because I'm not thinking about where to get food from. That doesn't mean that the things I'm thinking about aren't important. The Bible has things to say about this stuff and they're human issues that require thought and consideration. But I always have to slow myself down a little and remind myself that the world is an interesting place right now and the problems that we're wrestling with are problems only because we have solved so many others.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23rd 2017: Oscillations

In the last week or so I've been dragging myself out of bed pretty late in the day. Pretty late for me is like 8 AM, but that makes me feel like much of the day has already gone by. For most people that doesn't mean anything, but I pay close attention to things like this because I'm trying to understand myself.

For most of my adult life I have gone through annual oscillations of energy. In the summer I am productive and active and as winter sets in I slow down until I get a little burst of energy around January only to be torn down by February and then reemerge when the weather improves. I thought I was like a sunlight thing or a school thing. More recently I am thinking it may be something wrong with my mind or my brain somewhere because the oscillations have gotten shorter and I've started to pay greater attention to them. Sometimes I have a ton of energy and I get lots of things done and I'm not sleepy. Some weeks I just stare at my computer screen and don't want to do much of anything. I notice a difference now between the two states because I don't beat up on myself like I once did. I used to say "I'm so lazy", but now I see that I'm not always like that. Sometimes I'm really good and completing goals and getting things done. Sometimes I don't touch videogames for weeks because I'm more interested in other stuff. Other weeks all I do on my days off is play Destiny for eight hours and then go to bed and sleep in a lot the next day.

As I've paid more attention to my behaviour and my energy level I don't think I've come to any universal conclusion. I think everyone's reasons for their behaviour is different. Some people are legitimately lazy. Some people just lack proper motivation. Everyone is different. What I do think I've learned though is that if you tell yourself "I shouldn't be this way" it makes it harder to catch what is going on in your mind. Yes maybe I shouldn't want to play so many videogames, but if I let that play out then what happens? Do things change over time? Do I lose interest? Are my motivations revealed after some time? Paying attention to what you're doing can be helpful. That's all for now. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December 19th, 2017: Waiting for Part of the Day

Note: Sorry I've been missing for a couple of days. I am trying to track my mood and one of the side effects of that is that sometimes I find it very difficult to think of things to write. I've got something today though so let's continue.

There are two ways to look at life. The first way is to look at life as though it supports a very specific part of your life. Let's say that you love to read and that's your favourite thing in the world. You could contort your life in such a way that "reading" was what you considered to be the real joy in your day and everything else was just a support. Your time at work was just to make money so you had time and a place to read. Your family was just there so someone could help support your reading. Every moment in your life is spent enduring just so you can get back home alone and read.

I think a lot of people live this way. I certainly have at times (including some days recently). It is easy to become dissatisfied with whatever things you're doing and focus only on the bad parts of them. In doing that, the things you do become poisoned in your mind and it becomes difficult to see any positive qualities in them and so they become something to endure instead of a moment to live in.

The second way is to take enjoyment out of each part of your day. To find something in each thing that you do that makes you feel as though that is valuable. So even if you don't love your job, you find things in it that make you feel good. You try to love the people you work with or the people you serve. When you do chores you try to draw some level of satisfaction out of it. When you recreate you really try to enjoy those moments for the temporary joy that they are. This way instead of feeling like part of the day belongs to you and the rest of the day is stolen by everyone else, you can feel that each part of the day belongs to you because you choose how you interpret each part of it.

I recognize that there are some things in life that are just automatically terrible, but starting with the presupposition that parts of your day have been stolen from you is just a recipe for unhappiness. I am learning this lately.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 14th, 2017: It Takes Time

I've been cooking a lot more in the last two months. We subscribed to this dinner service where they send you all the ingredients for dinner in a bag with a recipe and then you just have to cook it. What I have loved about this is it eliminates the need to go to the grocery store which can be a challenge, it cuts down on waste, and the recipes are good so you always know it will take you a short time to cook which is good.

That being said, I spend way more time in the kitchen now just doing basic stuff than I did when we were just eating out all the time. Cooking takes time and then you make a big mess with all the dishes that you have to clean up later. It takes so much time.

And this reminds me of something else. I missed my day off this week because of something at work, and I'm really feeling it because there's a big pile of laundry, things are a little disorganized and I just haven't had time to tidy things up. I reminds me of a line from Fight Club where one character says "the things you own end up owning you". Maintaining a state of order at home takes time and energy. I have always known this but I find it helpful to express it publicly to remind people that yes regular life takes some level of energy and planning that takes away from other things and that can be a challenge at times.

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11th, 2017: The 67th Minute

On Saturday I watched the MLS Cup Final with two friends. In true bandwagon fashion this is the first TFC game I have watched all year, but TFC is Toronto's team and after last year's heartbreaking loss in the final I really wanted to see them win the whole thing this year. TFC fans suffered for a long time with virtually no success and so to see the team do well is an exciting thing.

I don't know if you saw or not, but they won the game yesterday. They didn't just win the game they put on a clinic for how to absolutely dominate a soccer match. Seattle didn't even come close to scoring in the entire game. However this is what happened last year, and the game ended in a scoreless draw followed by penalties where Toronto lost. As we watched the first half of the match, the thought that the same thing could have happened lingered in our minds. What if we just don't score again and things go the same way they did last year? That would be excruciating. The tension built in the game.

One of my favourite sports moments in Toronto from the last ten years is when Jose Bautista did his bat flip a few years ago. I actually have a poster of it over my desk because I love that moment so much. Sure, the move itself is kind of great, but it's also an amazing moment because the Blue Jays were terrible for years with Bautista in the lineup before they got to that moment. It was years of empty promises where they Jays just couldn't break into the playoffs. There was always something that got in the way of their success. Things would go okay and then something would go wrong and the whole thing would just slip away. That was happening in that baseball game. It seemed like the whole thing was slipping away. But then Jose hit that home run and the years of anticipation were let out in a singular moment and you can see it on Bautaista's face as he flips that bat.

In the 67th minute of that TFC game a similar moment happened. In a beautiful passing play, the ball is passed out to Jozy Altidore who is running just a bit too fast for the defenders to catch him and the keeper comes out to challenge just a bit to far and Altidore flips the ball over the keeper and they score. Everyone in the bar went insane when that happened. It was amazing.

You can go and watch the highlights and see the goal now. It really was pretty. But watching the goal doesn't grant you the same experience as watching the whole game. There was 67 minutes of baited breath before that moment of relief. And watching that game doesn't compare to following the TFC for the previous two seasons or since their inception. The longer you follow a team, the more that sense of anticipation builds. The more that builds the greater tension there is waiting for release. And when that release comes, how sweet it is. In the 67th minute, the TFC got that release. Toronto got that release. This is why people watch sports. To wait ten or fifteen years for that one moment of catharsis to talk about for the rest of your life.

So when the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, Toronto might explode.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10th, 2017: Saying Nothing

I get on twitter once every month and tweet at one of the many left-leaning accounts that I follow that tweets about something relating to Trumpism. This week it was someone who usually does movie criticism and commentary reposting a video of the host of Infowars asking  an Amazon Echo questions and then claiming it was a sign Echo’s are a brainwashing plan by Amazon (you shouldn’t buy an Echo, but only because that technology does not work as advertised yet, not because of a corporate conspiracy).

As this guy tweeted (for a laugh mainly) about how stupid a point this was, I was reminded again of something I often say about right-wing populism in the United States; there isn’t a debate or a changing of sides, there are only increasing and decreasing levels of engagement. Right now I don’t see any meaningful attempt by the left to try and understand why populism is so powerful and develop a proper communication response. Instead what happens is there are moments where the left repeats the same things its been saying at a louder volume before quieting down a bit.

I stay out of the conversation mostly. I figure if I want to say something politically, it best be something that tries to engage both sides meaningfully instead of looking like some kind of schoolyard argument between kids calling each other stupid and evil over and over again. Right now Twitter looks like that. I’m still waiting for the moment when that can change. Maybe it never will. But until it does, I’d rather say nothing by saying nothing. It takes less effort.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December 7th, 2017: What does my hair have to do with the book of Jonah?

Every once in a while, someone at work complements my hair. I've been growing it out for just over two years now, and in growing it out I have discovered that my hair is pretty healthy all by itself without me doing much. It's got some nice natural waves in it. My ponytail looks like I curled it when I was at work and all I have to do is wash it and let it air dry and it looks pretty good. I was saying to Amanda the other day that having long hair is one of my favourite things right now. I've passed through the awkward time where it's simply annoying to the time where I really like both the way that it feels and looks.

The thing is that I had nothing to do with this. My hair looks like this because of genetics. My hair is not falling out because of genetics. I haven't had to do a whole lot in order to enjoy my own hair in this way. The whole thing has just sort of happened.

In the book of Jonah (the one where the guy gets swallowed up by the whale) there's a scene at the very end that I think about a lot. Jonah is sitting on a hill overlooking the city of Nineveh which has just repented of all its sins. Jonah still believes that Nineveh will be destroyed by God because he hates it passionately. As he sits up on this hill seething with rage and wishing the city would catch on fire, God sense a vine to grow up where Jonah is sitting so it can shade him. The vine grows up and Jonah gets to enjoy the cool shade while he sits there wishing to wipe Nineveh off the face of the earth. A short time later God sends a worm to kill the vine, and then God makes the sun more intense so that Jonah is baking out in the sun on his hilltop perch. Jonah complains to God

"Why did you take my vine away? It's better if I just die now!" God turns around to Jonah and says.

"You didn't do anything to grow this vine, so what are you so upset about? You care so much about this vine, which you did nothing for, but there's a whole city of people down there that I care about that you want dead. Lighten up Jonah. Have some compassion."

This story always reminds me of how much we have in life is a gift. I didn't do anything to be born, it just happened. I happened into a lot of the good things in my life right now (the church where I work, the Starbucks I work at, the wife I have, the apartment I live in, my hair). The things in my life are all gifts from someone else. Sometimes I lament when I lost things. I think "Why did that get taken away from me?" but the reality is that I didn't do anything to gain it in the first place and if it goes away, that's okay.

With my hair, when I think about it, someday it's not going to look the way that it does now. And that's okay because I'll enjoy it while it's here and when it's gone I'll remember God's words to Jonah. How I didn't do anything to get it, and to have some compassion on others instead of being so focused on myself.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5th, 2017: Well Embodied

I waffle back and forth a lot in my behaviour. My work schedule lately has flipped back and forth between a week of early mornings followed by a week of training someone later in the day. On the training weeks I sleep more, but feel I have a less structured day because I spend so "much" of the morning sleeping (i.e. I get up at 6 instead of 3....). On the early morning weeks I tend to have a day or two where I get a lot done in the morning, but it's balanced out by other mornings where I go back to sleep for an hour because I'm too tired to function when I initially wake up.

Believe it or not, sometimes I feel lazy when I get up at 4 AM. I've developed these unrealistic goals about how much I can get done in the mornings before work and what makes me feel like I've used that time effectively, because sometimes I really can cram a lot in in those pre-work hours before I return home and look like a zombie for the rest of the day. I definitely think I can always do something before work, even if it's just doing a bit of Bible reading, but it may be unreasonable for me to expect to always be able to read, write, exercise, study Hebrew, and play video games all before running out of the house at 5 AM.

I'm hard on myself about this sort of thing. I want to be the kind of person who follows through on goals and behaviours, but being human means that you're not full of energy 100% of the time and part of following through on things means figuring out how to get your body to cooperate with the things that you want to do. It's like you're tricking it into liking the things that your brain likes. I think successful people are really good at that. They know how to be embodied well.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 4th, 2017: Goals

What's really important? I mean really really important to you? There's this everyday level of importance that I walk around with that says which activities are worth my time, which are a waste of time, and which are valuable but solely leisurely activities. If I look at my goals for the year which I made this time last year, I can see what things I think are valuable (or at least what I want to be valuable). I put a big emphasis on physical health, reading books, financial health, and spiritual health. There are many aspects to these things, but each goal I set "feels good". That is to say that the items in there feel like they are important to me and worthy of my time.

More recently I'm asking myself the question why I think those things are important. Why is taking care of my body important to me? What is good about reading? What will these things do for my future? Mainly the reason why I am thinking about this is most of my goals for the year are things which are done in solitude. I exercise alone. I read alone. I spend money alone. I did set a single target of making visits with people every week but I haven't even come close to meeting that one. Really what reviewing my goals for the year tells me is that self-improvement is important to me.

This leads me to try and find time to do all of these things which I've listed in the goals, but which have very little to do with how I spend most of my days. Really on a day when I'm working, I'm alone and able to work on those goals for maybe two hours over the course of the day. That's a very small number.

As I start to think about what goals I will work on for next year, I am thinking about how I can change that so that what is important to me matches the way that I spend my time more carefully. Maybe next year I can have a list of goals that I can work on all the time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3rd, 2017: Consistency

We were clearly very on the ball yesterday. On a normal day I work early in the mornings. That means I get up around 3 AM and spend that time before work reading, doing exercise, playing video games, and generally enjoying a few quiet moments before work. It also tends to be the time when I am most on track. I won't get caught in a death spiral of web browsing and tend to complete a lot of things that I have "goals" for. Like I said a couple of days ago, a short amount of time alone does a lot for my energy level and sanity over the rest of the day.

I got flipped yesterday though. We had a work meeting at 1:30 PM and then I worked a closing shift after that meaning my morning involved sleeping in and then trying to figure out what to do before I went to work. I did some productive stuff. I walked the dog, and read a bunch and cleaned up some things around the house. I just forgot to write. It happens. I'm still not used to this.

It's amazing how difficult it can be to swap between two different kinds of day. If you work evenings and mornings alternatively your body screams at you when your sleep schedule changes and it's just disorienting to try and adjust being active from one part of the day into another. My greatest frustration about it though is it prevents you from establishing any kind of daily routine. You can have a weekly routine but the idea that every day would look similar is just destroyed because you can't necessarily transpose the same patterns onto different parts of the day.

I hope there's a world where people can have some consistency in scheduling. In my own life, I'm pretty close. I usually work mornings unless something drastic has changed. I hope there's a way for the same thing to happen to others.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1st, 2017: Are Other People Even Human?

I talked yesterday about how in the past I've thought about what the world would be like if I was the only real person and everyone else was part of some sort of grand illusion or simulation controlled by God. When all you can understand is yourself, anyone can become a kind of two dimensional character controlled by someone else. It's all the same to you. That plays into my life at work at lot. Sometimes I view people pretty two dimensionally.

I just finished reading this book about this older advertising executive who gets downsized and through a series of events ends up working at Starbucks. He's a pretty good writer and one of the things I liked about the book was the vivid way which he described his customers. This guy was pretty good at making conversation and learning things about the customers in his store and he recounts a lot of those details in the book. It highlights something unique about Starbucks which is that the partners in the store try to build community within the place that they work.

When I think about the customers in my store, with a few exceptions I mainly think of them as fairly flat personalities. They want coffee or something from me, they aren't really interested in talking too much, and their interest in Starbucks doesn't extend to the community building aspect. They have their community already. They just need coffee. My store has been massively successful in spite of all this because people REALLY want Starbucks products even though they desire none of the Starbucks experience. As a partner there I find that challenging because I feel pretty dehumanized in that experience. I am really just a conduit for Americanos for these people.

I'm guilty of the same thing I'm accusing my customers of though when I do this. I'm guilty of becoming inhuman and treating them solely as if my interested in them is limited to what I can sell them. By assuming that we're just having a business transaction and not a reasonably polite conversation, I take away the chance for them to demonstrate their humanity to me and for to demonstrate mine to them. We are solely in a business-type transaction world.

All of this to say that I really do think other people are human and I hope they think I'm human, it's just challenging to remember that in some contexts especially when your relationship is based on exchanging money.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 30, 2017: God's Gift to Everyone but Yourself

Yesterday in a conversation, I was asked a question I don't think I've ever been asked before. We were talking about how we have been experiencing God in our lives and in the course of my answer I was asked

"Would other people say you are a gift from God to them?"

"God's gift to the world" is one of those phrases that people throw around with sarcasm to cut down someone who has a high view of themselves. No one wants to be accused of think that they're God's gift to the world because that makes it sound like you believe you are the greatest person alive. No one wants to be accused of that sort of thing. But that's not what we were talking about when I was asked this question. Instead we were talking about how we see God working and the question was framed in such a way that it shifted my perspective about where God is in the world.

Some time ago I had a thought about the world. I thought "What if the whole world around me is controlled by God and I am the only agent within that with truly free will?" Thinking about this is sort of like asking if we're living in a simulation. It's an interesting thought experiment but you can only go so far down the rabbit hole before you need to call yourself back before the floor falls out from under you. I asked the question though because it's so easy to look at my own actions as controlled entirely by myself. This is only partially true. I have some level of control over what I do, but I am also the sum of my influences to this point. My actions are affected by things I can't control like how well I sleep, how the other people in my life are doing, my childhood development, the economics of the place where I live. These are all things I can't control and are things that are really up to God to watch over. But my experience of my life leads me to believe that I'm in control of my own actions and so I often don't think about God working through me or being active in my life. I can generally only see him working through other people.

When you flip the question around though as happened in this conversation, you're imagining how other people would interpret their own experience where you are an outside person in their lives. Is it possible that they could look at what you do for them, not understanding your inner life, and attribute your help in their life to God? When I go to work and I do a good job, could someone I work with say that's God helping them through me? Yes, definitely. So when you turn the question around that way, you start to see that maybe God is doing things through you that don't seem like a big deal but that are a result of the way your whole life has been constructed. From their perspective, you're part of the rest of the world that God is in control of and so you can be God's gift to them in some way.

I found that pretty encouraging. First of all because it helps me to see God working in the world more and second because it helps me to see God working through me. And even if I can't see God's work in my life sometimes, seeing him work in other people's lives helps me to believe that he is working and giving people as his own gift to others.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29, 2017: Always Solitary

Note: I'm going to attempt to start writing every day again. You can help me with this by bothering me if you see I have missed a day of writing.

I've been at home alone for a few days now. The dog is at my in-laws and has been for a week and a half so I haven't had something whining at my feet for two hours a day lately. Amanda is away visiting graduate schools so the house has been totally empty for the last five or six days. And I'm conflicted. I'm conflicted because it's been really nice. I've gotten to clean up the apartment. I've had enough time to do stuff that I'm getting on to some projects that I've wanted to tackle for a while but never gotten to the point where they were high on my priority list. I've watched some TV. I've been reasonably healthy and have still been cooking while Amanda's been away. It's almost been like a vacation.

Sometimes when I'm on vacation I'll get in touch with friends or family in the city and let them know that I'd like to hang out and do stuff. But this week, I haven't done that. I've been content to enjoy the empty space at home so that I'm free to do what I want for a little bit. I've become kind of protective of this solitary time and place because I don't know when it will come around again. I don't know how often this kind of timeline is possible so I get guarded and a bit selfish.

From a thoughts perspective, I don't think it's good for me to be alone all the time and avoid contact with other people outside of work. I don't want to be a hermit and I'd like to think that I'm available for other people. I'm a bit nervous about how much I've enjoyed the last week because it makes me think that maybe I'm just selfish and a terrible person who just wants to be solitary all the time. As I reflected on this today I had a thought about why this might be the case.

The thing about being alone that appeals to me is that it eliminates your need to please other people or meet expectations. When you're with someone else there is a constant dialogue both audible and inaudible about what you should be doing. Your attention is drawn to what they're doing, your behaviour is modified to match what is publicly acceptable. Even when you're with someone in an intimate relationship (spouse, good friend, family) you may still want to do things that you feel self conscious about in public life. I feel this. I feel that there are some things I like to do when no one's home that aren't really for when people are around.

There's a certain school of people that might say "everyone should accept whatever your truest expression of self is". The idea behind this idea being that the solution to this problem is to just do whatever you feel is most "you", and other people should be accepting of that (within proper boundaries...looking at you Louis C.K.). While I think there's merit to some parts of that idea, I think compartmentalizing your life may not necessarily be a bad thing.

There are lots of temporary experiences that feel great in the moment but cannot last forever. Even the experience of human relationships is one of these kinds of experiences. People only last for so long. This sunrise only lasts for so long. This trip is only for ten days. These times are temporary. And while they may be the truest expression of ourselves, we recognize that it's not possible to engage in these things forever. A useful skill becomes enjoying these experiences in the moment, and then keeping them in memory in such a way that we can still enjoy them while recognizing that they were temporary experiences.

So maybe a healthier antidote for my desire for solitude is to enjoy it as it comes, and to reflect on those experiences in solitude in such a way that I can carry the joy of them back into public life. Maybe if I become skilled enough at this kind of compartmentalization, I can learn to enjoy even just an hour alone and use that time to carry me through a day filled with people and with public life.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Moment in Video Games: The Endgame of Destiny 2

The following piece will include lots of jargon. For reader ease, scroll to the bottom of this piece and read through a short list of definitions and then come back to the top if you're not familliar with the Destiny 2 community or with terms related to long-term multiplayer games.

Destiny 2* has been out for about a month now. I think it's actually three weeks but it's been out for a little while. Those players who have been able to spend a significant number of hours in the game have started to reach max power levels* and a significant discussion has erupted in the community over whether or not the endgame* of this iteration of Destiny is an improvement over the previous version or if it's left players with nothing to do. Last week Datto* released a video outlining his problems with the state of the current endgame of Destiny 2 and his position is pretty much correct. There is no significant meaningful long-term grind in Destiny 2's endgame. You can access pretty much everything the game has to offer with about three weeks worth of intense play. That's not a very long time in persistent online game* terms but I think it's a more sensible length of time in terms of the damage the game does on people who play it, and in terms of the companies need to pay for continued upkeep of the game over its lifespan. Let me explain what I mean by both of these things.

In Destiny 1, I put in 835 hours over the span of two and a half years. That's about six and a half hours a week or an average of an hour a day. That's a long time. That's 35 days of continuous play. Over the course of that time, there were numerous moments where I said to myself "this game is sucking up too much of my time". Friends of mine made jokes about how it was basically the only thing that I was playing for a long time which was true. When there was nothing to do I would turn on Destiny because there was always some kind of project to work on. Always something to work towards. There was a weapon to earn or a reward to complete or some achievement to work towards. It wasn't healthy.

With Destiny 2, a lot of those extremely long term slot-machine style rewards are gone. I can actually run out of stuff to do over the course of the week. I'll sit down to play for 2 hours a week and at the end of that time I'm ready to do something else. It's very refreshing because I feel like I have a much healthier relationship with the game compared to what it has been like in the past. I can go read a book or take our dog for a walk and not feel drawn towards the PlayStation all the time.

I can't be the only one feeling this way. I think the game is more sustainable and builds a healthier relationship with its players when it rewards a moderate amount of playtime instead of an excessive amount of playtime. This is a situation where if the game included more long term grind, it would satisfy its top 2% of players, but create problems for the other 99%.

Then from a business standpoint, it just makes more sense to have players give a more reasonable amount of time to games. If the player base is too large for too long after a release, it becomes expensive to maintain the place where those players can play the game. If I need 100 servers* for 3 months, that's going to be a lot more expensive than 10 servers for 3 months. It's better to keep a smaller long term player base with occasional peaks around new releases of content because it's cheaper to run the game in the long run.

I think Datto's right. There is no endgame. Lots of people are sad about that. I'm not one of them. I understand why they might want to do things this way, and I think it's better for the majority of people that play their game. Sure, they could add more activities which they will with future updates and patches, but for now I think the game is good for what it is. Something to sink your teeth into for an hour a week but something you can walk away from easily.

Destiny 2 - A video game designed by Bungie which takes place on various planets and moons in our solar system. The gameplay revolves around shooting things and using abilities which are best described as "space magic". It's previous iteration, Destiny, was first released in 2014.

Power Level - A measure of how strong your character is in Destiny 2. Destiny 2 has a maximum power level of ~300 with most players being able to reach around 265 easily.

Endgame - A term used for activities in a game which a player engages in once they have completed the main "progression" part of the game or the part where they have completed the story and upgraded their character to a certain point. Endgame activities are usually very hard, very rewarding, and require a lot of player investment.

Datto - A youtuber, and twitch streamer who produces a lot of content focusing on Destiny 2. He is generally well respected in the Destiny Community.

Persistent Online Game - A game which has a world that many players share in which they can encounter each other and participate in activities together. These types of games have experiences which can be enjoyed by a single person, but are meant to be played with others over a longer period of time.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

On Food

As I spent the last couple of months wondering what was keeping me glued to the couch every time I came home, I realized that I wasn't actually eating a lot. Amanda will sometimes accuse me of being undernourished when I seem to be particularly miserable and when this happens I reflect back on the food I've taken in over the course of the day and discover that she's usually right. I'll have had maybe a piece of toast for breakfast. If I'm at work maybe a breakfast sandwich or a bagel. And then nothing for hours afterward. I ride along for much of the day on the fumes of sugar and a few tiny morsels.

The challenge is that I am legitimately not hungry a lot of the time, and for much of the rest of the time my stomach is too queasy to keep down much real food. I know this is probably foreign to a lot of people, but the act of getting food in my stomach is a serious challenge for me. And there's a bunch of ancillary thoughts that go along with this. I think about how much the food I might eat costs. I think about the ecological impact of what I'm eating. What could have taken a few seconds turns into a process that sometimes makes me just not eat food.

Over the last two weeks I've been intentionally eating more food when I'm hungry. I've been ignoring the thoughts about cost and nutrition and environmental impact and just trying to eat food when my body has been hungry. I noticed this most dramatically when I came home from church one Sunday (when I used to skip breakfast all the time) and told Amanda "I don't feel terrible after church today and I'm pretty sure it's because I ate breakfast". I was referring to the fact that I often come home from church feeling like I need a four hour nap even though I haven't done anything while there and breakfast seems to fix this.My mood has picked up a little bit over the last couple of weeks and so I think food is part of that process. Eating when my stomach tells me too instead of constantly ignoring it might actually be keeping me going.

I guess I just never thought there might be a connection about how my brain works and what's going in my mouth. If I didn't feel like eating, not eating was okay. Now I'm starting to think that if I don't eat, I can't think clearly enough and the cycle repeats.

Monday, July 3, 2017

"I generally don't feel very good at all maam"

I have started seeing a counsellor recently. It came about because I had a few too many conversations that included the phrase "you don't seem like yourself". At some point I decided that was true and at midnight on a Friday last week I called a phone number that Starbucks has to help you set up an appointment with a counsellor.

As I prepared for my first appointment, I thought about what I would tell the counsellor about why I was there. I decided I would focus on one aspect of my life, but if I had tried to tell them about exactly how I was feeling I wouldn't really know how to explain it. "I don't feel good" was about as far as I had gotten. I couldn't explain specifics about what was different. I couldn't really define what normal felt like for me. I couldn't describe what had changed. Things just seemed difficult generally.

The kinds of things I'd use to describe what had changed wouldn't even be that helpful. Like I would say that in January I felt good. I was doing a lot of things, I was going to the gym, I was reading books, I was visiting with people, I was keeping things clean at home. Then February hit and I got sick and I never really recovered mentally from being sick. Sure things in life were stressful and that might explain part of it, but not all of it. It wouldn't explain the endless staring at the title screen of video games that has happened too many times.

They say that men are less likely to seek help for depression than women are. I don't know why that is, but I know that in my case if what I'm experiencing or what I have experienced is depression its because it feels so nebulous. It isn't like when I go to the doctor and tell him that my knees hurt. All I can really offer to a professional is "I don't like how I feel and I think I feel different at other times".

I'm doing a bit better now. The house is cleaner, I'm not as upset about work, I'm going to the gym, and I'm reading. But I still don't even know how to explain what was going on.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Three Paragraphs: Cookies

Today is Canada Day. Like all good statutory holidays, I worked today. To help celebrate everyone wore red or something Canada 150 themed. We have these t-shirts that say "Canada 150" but are also Starbucks branded on the back. I like when you're encouraged to wear a t-shirt to work. My Store Manager also brought in cookies that were Canada themed. They had white buttercream icing and they were really flaky shortbread. I ate one and it was delicious. So I said to myself "I'm going to eat another one".

About halfway through my second cookie, I immediately realized that I did not want to eat that cookie. The first cookie left me wanting more. This second cookie left me wanting it all to end. This happens to me with sweet things a lot. I open a coke and I enjoy it. Then I finish and I open a second coke and about halfway through I realize that this was a bad idea. I start an episode of television and then I start a second one and about halfway through I start to lose interest.

I think it's better to leave an experience wanting more than to take seconds and regret it later. I think the first cooking is a wise choice and the second cookie is a mistake. Moderation is key. That's what I think about Canada Day Cookies.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

20 Minutes

Let's simplify the world for a moment and imagine that there are two kinds of relationships; those that require small talk and those that do not. The former category covers most relationships. Big news requires a period of introduction and adjustment to develop a rapport with the person and after a time you can begin to talk about serious things. In the latter category that sometimes happens but isn't necessary. You can drop directly from "How are things?" to a discussion of the things that are most important to you without having to have a lot of introduction.

So when you only have two days in which to pack all of the visiting in that you possibly can and there's a whole bunch of other things going on, maybe think about people who are part of that second category and carve out space for them. You're close so it doesn't need to be two hours, but if you can find twenty minutes somewhere maybe the two of you can drop into that level of intimacy in conversation that you've built up over years of conversation.

And let's be honest. It's easier to find twenty minutes than two hours.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Three Paragraphs: Routine

*Chair Squeals* Well it's been a week since I got that cold thing I was talking about last time. I was looking through the log sheets I built to keep track of my progress on my goals for this year and there's eight days missing inexplicably. Actually that's the wrong word. It's easy to explain but if I were a spinning top right now I'd be wobbling pretty hard right now.

I find routines to be important. When I manage to do something for a few weeks in a row I feel like I'm making real changes in my life. I feel like things are happening. These reinforcing good feelings only get better as times goes on because I can't actually remember the individual moments of each day anymore. If memory is like a pen placing dots on a page as it rolls by, then my pen isn't dotting as often anymore and I can feel it. My replacement for this is to make each day as similar as possible so there's less I have to remember. If every day is the same then I can start to remember the differences instead of having to remember every part of the day.

Except that it seems that every time I get a good routine going, a cold comes along and shoves all of that aside and throws it in the garbage. I have no idea what is happening in my life right now because I haven't followed any of the usual routines for a week and a half. My dotting pen can't even find the page to dot on these days. And no amount of routine can fix the fact that when my alarm goes off I'm simply rolling over and going back to bed. Cold, I shake my fist at you.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Three Paragraphs: My Weakness

I got a cold this week. It came on some time around Monday when I was in the middle of a closing shift at work. I could feel the tickle in the back of my through that told me that my nose was starting to run. I could feel the words become hard and harder to get out of my throat. I could feel sleep start to chase me even though it was only 9 PM and I still had an hour and a half to go. I got home and headed to bed with the intention of getting up at 4 AM and heading to the gym before anyone else got there and continue working on my New Year's Resolution to bulk up in the lower body area by lifting heavy weights.

The next morning I woke up at 9 AM just barely and only because I had to get up to go to an appointment with Amanda. There was no lifting of heavy weights. Okay, I told myself that I'd just do it Wednesday morning instead. Except on Wednesday I woke up and felt like I was breathing through a straw and so I figured I should wait until Friday to go back again. At 3 AM on Friday morning I awoke after three hours of fitful sleep and decided to take drugs and go back to bed. I awoke at 8 AM and didn't lift anything heavier than a coffee mug.

Does this make me weak? Am I making excuses? I want to go to the gym but 4 AM is really the only time it's empty enough for me to not be afraid of working out, and there are an awful lot of reasons why it doesn't always work out for me to wake up then. I don't think it makes me weak, I think it makes me realistic. I'm not going to win any awards or anything but with very little practice, I'm already 60% of the way towards hitting my weight targets for this year so maybe I can take things a bit easier. Yes this is my weakness but I'm not really into self-flagellation.