Study Humanities and you’ll be poor for life

I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to study Journalism at university. I didn’t have a second choice.

My parents weren’t impressed. My dad, a lawyer, said that if I studied anything in the realm of Humanities, I’d be poor for life. Which was ironic because my mother was a teacher. A religion teacher. With a degree in Theology. Teaching at a college for the Arts. So you’d expect that she’d back me up right?

She said this to me. I remember it clearly. “You are a better writer right now than many of the students who graduate from our college. Take a course that will help you build a career, and when you’re well off, then you can write.” That sounds like good, logical advice, right? Listen to your parents they said, right? So I did. I was a good student, fortunately, and my university exam scores let me pick any field of study I wanted. After a failed excursion into the sciences, I finished a degree in finance.

Follow the money, they said. For the last twenty-five years, I’ve been hounded by the creative career that I knew I wanted but never actively pursued. While I’ve been good at my various finance jobs, none of them felt comfortable. Every year, I reevaluate my life, and find that I’m not happy with work. It’s led to changing jobs a lot in search of the one where I’ll find what I’m looking for. With every change, I’ve been pulled by the gravity of wanting to create content. It’s not an unusual story. Stay with a career in an unfulfilling job because it pays well, or give it up and chase what you know in your heart you want to do, despite the damage you know it will do to the life you already have.

So here’s the note. Don’t listen to your parents. Do what you know in your heart you were meant to do. If you make a mistake, make it when you’re young, when you don’t have people depending on you to support them. When you’re free to change your life without significant consequences.


This post is a response to the Discover Prompt of April 23, 2020.

The Mission

Cue Gabriel’s Oboe. Int. Home Base.

I pulled on my well-worn distressed black Jag jeans and paired it with a long-sleeved thick cotton shirt. The shirt was also black, a battered old thing from the eighties, emblazoned with the faded album cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. My handheld computer-cum-communicator went into my left pocket, my conveyance activator into the right. A small bottle of disinfectant gel followed it. I donned my earpieces, which also served as the microphone for the communicator. Plexiglass goggles and a filtration mask that covered the lower half of my face completed my gear. I would normally be blasting Led Zeppelin or AC/DC, but this wasn’t the proper occasion. The enemy can’t be seen, or as our leaders hoped, shot dead. It kills invisibly and silently.

The Apocalypse wasn’t what we expected it to be. Pestilence walked among men, but she walked slowly, lazily, touching the living randomly. Death followed in her wake, taking many of the elderly and infirm. Famine was patient, waiting for leaders to fail to feed those in their charge. War, uncharacteristically, was content to watch and wait. After all, there will always be war when famine, and pestilence, and death walked among the living.

The job was a simple resupply, to forestall Famine, and therefore Death. However, a resupply mission meant that Pestilence would be a threat, no matter how much gear or how many precautions were taken. Risk and reward, constants in life. It is ironic that our leaders, with their uniform apathy, lack of foresight, or malevolence, foist this situation on us all. Our lack of desire of ability to replace them with competence is confounding. But that is for another time. For today, survival is the objective.

My steel combustion engine-powered steed takes me to the resupply point. Many others are here, all looking to purchase goods. Some are geared, some are not. Some are alert to the fact that others are not adequately geared. We all give each other a wide berth, and shoot dagger looks at the apathetic and unprepared. If Pestilence comes, she will come for them.

There is a long wait for entrance to the supply depot, to reduce the ease at which disease may spread if an unlucky one most unfortunately finds his/her/its way into the premises. Guardians mist the air, and us, with disinfectant aerosols. It is an empty gesture, a placebo, as this will not prevent the transmission of the disease. My turn comes and I enter the supply area, taking a battered wheeled cart and pushing forward.

I swiftly circle the aisles, sweeping bottles and cans and packages and all manner of supplies. It is an obstacle course to avoid the others milling about and filling their own receptacles. I swerve away from any oncoming traffic, particularly if the individual is not properly geared. No goggles is poor judgement. No filtration mask is inexcusable, and should be punishable by law. But this is not the situation to engage this malfeasance, not when the goal is to avoid the Plague. I steer away and give these miscreants a wide berth, even if it takes me out of the way of my objectives.

My communicator’s screen casts a baleful glare at my eyes as I tick off the items on the list. I also take some things that are not on the list, goods overlooked or forgotten in the planning of the mission. Once in a while I need to contact Mission Control to clarify a detail or two, to ensure that even the most minor objectives are met, maximizing the effort and resources of orchestrating this perilous sojourn.

My cart full, I roll into the exit area, where further lines have formed. I pull out my special-issue azure card, which allows me to use an exclusive portal. The wait is shorter here, and soon my spoils are being packaged and prepared for transport. My account is credited, and I push past the egress and toward my conveyance with alacrity. It has been three hours since I departed Mission Control. I pass the dispensary, and make a final stop to acquire pharmaceuticals. They have zero stock of protective equipment, which is both expected and distressing. I sweep the drugs into my cart.

The journey back is uneventful. I pass a military barricade but they wave me through after seeing the credentials prominently displayed on my forward view port. Others were not as fortunate and I saw them pulled over, having to deal with the authorities and therefore hazard infection.

I pulled into the Mission Control docking bay and unloaded the supplies. Each item would need to be individually disinfected before it could be brought into Home Base and stored. I moved to the main entrance and stripped off everything I was wearing, leaving me in black compression shorts. My communicator, footwear and other gear would be thoroughly disinfected as well. The disposable gear such as the filtration mask would be incinerated. I walked straight towards the sanitation module, not touching anything, barely breathing. Once there I stepped straight into the hydrojets, lathering up the anti-bacterial foam (knowing that the Plague was viral and not bacteria-based) and two full cycles of ethyl cleansing. Thirty minutes later, I’m as clean as we can manage in a residential setting. All we can do is hope that it’s enough, and that the Plague doesn’t get lucky and find its way to our family.

It’s 2020. I lived this. This is the new normal.


This post is a response to the Discover Prompt of April 10, 2020.

The Joke is on You

We have met the enemy.

The enemy is us. You and me. An orange billionaire with false hair. A malevolent dictator with an iron fist. A cartoon bear gone bad that set the world on fire with a deadly disease. They are all us. We are them. The world is our responsibility. We have all failed.

Now Earth will clean herself up. The cleanup will include the ones that were slowly murdering her.

We can’t be the cure because we are the disease.

What a joke.


This post is a response to the Discover Prompt of April 1, 2020.

They Come in Twos

“Are you ok, Thomas?” My lungs were working hard. My palms were sweating, forcing me to adjust my grips on my pistols. Penance and Forgiveness I called them. They were both empty.

My twin brother wiped the blood from his eyes. Two gashes were opened on his forehead. Damage from the battle. “I’m fine Gerald. Are you sure it’s dead?” He got back to his feet, gripping the back of a chair with both hands to steady himself.

“Yeah it’s dead,” I replied. I’d made sure, plugging both the creature’s eyes with armor piercing rounds. The creature’s claws glinted in the weak light. Two claws to each of its arms. That was what caused Thomas’s injury. That and his feet slipping on the damp floor. The floor that was now coated with the creature’s pooling ichor.

Thomas picked up both his swords, Hack and Slash, off of the floor. They were caked with gunk. He proceeded to wipe the blades off with two-ply paper towels that he found in the lower drawer of the double-doored armoire. “I thought these things hunted in pairs. Where’s the other one?”

“Good question.” I lit two flares and tossed one to Thomas. Using the reddish light I scanned the room, making sure that all the nooks and crannies were clear. I listened at the door we came in through. Nothing but silence.

“Gerald.” My brother was standing beside the armoire, which has slid over to the right. There was a second door behind it. I double-bolted the first door and went over to join my twin. He’d moved the heavy furniture partway, but it took both of us straining to shift it all the way to reveal the hidden portal completely.

The wood had a symbol carved into it – “II”.

We looked at each other and nodded simultaneously. Thomas drew Hack and Slash while I shoved fresh clips into Penance and Forgiveness. Thomas would open the door. I would cover him.

“Time for the other shoe to drop,” I said. Thomas grinned. “Touché”.

He opened the door. We heard the scuffling of two clawed feet in the darkness. “Together,” my twin whispered, as we advanced into the second battle.


This post is a response to the Discover Prompt of April 9, 2020.

Meaningless Symbiosis

Straight towards the sun
We wheeled
In an oblivious dance of death.

I pulled you
You pushed me
We plummeted into the Heavens.

Death’s door opened
The Grim Reaper was not home
And so we waited.

Your eyes flashed incoherence
My hand twisted your wrist
So our symphony continued.

Heartbeats in a jar
Far below where we’d flown
How could we forget?

It is such nonsense
That we came this far together
Only to fall in perfect harmony.

So it is that two mortals
In their quest for immortality
Find nothing but dust.

- R
(Meaningless Symbiosis)
(The Daily Post)

Grand slams are great, but they’re not always walk-offs

From today’s Daily Prompt:

Grand Slam: In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)”

This is all over the place with baseball jargon. First of all, a “Grand Slam” is a bases-loaded home run, which generates four runs and clears the bases. A “walk-off” anything is a scoring play that wins the game immediately (hence, you get to walk off the field right after it happens). This usually occurs in the bottom of the ninth or extra inning. Sure, a walk-off home run is dramatic, but not more so than say a walk-off steal of home for the winning run. By the way, a grand slam doesn’t always win the game. You can hit one down by eight runs and you’d still be way behind.

“Last minute” has no bearing on baseball, the only major sport with no time limitations. (Sorry, I don’t consider cricket a major sport, even if my Commonwealth friends will kill me.) “Back against the wall” implies a must-win situation. I’d consider a walk-off as a clutch play, but not back against the wall unless it is a win-or-go-home situation (like say the bottom of the ninth in a wild card elimination game, with your team down one and the tying run on first, you’re down to your last out and have two strikes).

Sorry Daily Prompt, you got my sports jargon hackles up. 🙂  In real life, any successful roll of the dice in a situation with the odds firmly against you can be considered a walk-off play. I always like to plan anything I do, so I always know the risks and odds of any situation I get myself into. If I need a clutch play to win, either it’s premeditated and the damage of losing isn’t significant, or I’m doing it very wrong.

Play ball!

Virtual Worlds

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From the time I was a child I enjoyed games. I grew up on word and card games, moved on to pen-and-paper roleplaying games and had a substantial collection of designer boardgames which I wrote about previously. The challenge with those kinds of games is that they all require someone else across the table. In many cases, particularly for roleplaying games, they also require a substantial amount of time investment for all the people involved in the game. (It’s a huge time sink for the game master in particular.)

Enter the computer, and all the games that have come through since the heady days of the dedicated consoles through the current incarnations of game machine. In parallel, you have the PC master race, descended from its ancestors in the green-screen CRT age. When I can’t get a group of friends together, and that is far more true today than it ever has been, I turn to videogames to manage depression, stress and the outside world. This is my most-favored escape.

I need to make mention of the virtual World of Warcraft. I’ve enjoyed various online worlds before, from the beginnings of Ultima Online, a bit of Everquest, a bit of Second Life. Nothing really stuck until I got a job that required me to study World of Warcraft. The office paid for my account and subscription for six months. Like so many games that give you an alter ego, this one is no different. It’s that the world around your avatar grows and changes, and you’re thrust into new stories. It’s always a battle between good (you) and evil (the other side). Most times, you win.

I’ve scaled back my play these days, to fit my current circumstances. The nice thing is that the alternate universe remains, fortunately, because it is shared by enough people that the company that runs the world continues to support it. There was a time that I didn’t see that world for over two years. When the depression started crushing my psyche again, it was there to return to. I’m grateful for that little corner of that digital universe that’s mine, with all the friends I’ve made that are now real-world friends. In the future, when the world disappears, as all of these virtual worlds eventually will, I will remember it fondly.


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 9, 2015.

“We all have things we need to do to keep an even keel — blogging, exercising, reading, cooking. What’s yours?”

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Too Late to Be Early

“6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?”

Six in the morning is good, but five in the morning is far better. That’s when you can start to see the sun rise. The world is just beginning to wake up, but I’ve already been up for an hour or so. You’ve heard it from me many times before, so I’ll stop now.

3:00AM will never be my bedtime as long as I have any control over it.

The picture above was taken at just after 6:00AM. I love morning flights.


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 25, 2015.

 

Titles

I wrote about the title of this blog, “Rideo, Ergo Supero” on my “about page“. Just so happens that today’s prompt asks us to explore the blog title, so there you go.

It’s been around seven years since I created this blog and its title, and just over half a year since I started writing in it again. This is the longest that I’ve stuck to more-or-less consistent updates. Blogging has changed a lot since I first put up a Geocities site and started posting things I’d written in HTML. Even the early years of Blogger are now far in the rearview mirror. I’m able to sustain posting these days due to the extension of blogging to multimedia, and the availability of the tools. My phone cam allows me to take pictures to post. YouTube and Spotify allow me to share video and music. Smartphones and tablets allow me, and everyone else who reads blogs, to read, post and comment anytime, anywhere. I used to be ecstatic when I learned how to post to my Blogger account via email using my Blackberry in the early 2000s. Now it’s the way many people do their posting.

All that means is that I continue to survive, and the blog is definitely helping. What’s also helping immensely is the community. Those of you who come through and have a look at the posts, maybe hit the like button or leave a comment, you’re all essential to helping this little venture along. I always thought that I wrote for myself, but it’s never a bad thing to know that some people like the stuff that I do. I enjoy the “comment conversations” that pop up, and will continue this for the foreseeable future.

To those who stop by, thank you.


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 21, 2015.

“Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.”

Learning Out of the Box

As a kid that was really good at academics, I enjoyed school a lot. When I graduated and started working, I longed for those summer months where I had no responsibilities. That time was filled with reading books, playing games, watching television and listening to music. School was also easy, at least when it came to the “work”. I had little trouble with most subjects, perhaps excepting Calculus. I blame the teacher, because he blew me off when I asked the most important question. “Please explain what the practical, everyday use of Calculus is?” I didn’t fail the subject but I had very little interest in imaginary numbers.

These days, I have occasional dreams of eventually being an educator. Not a professor or teacher, though I could see myself doing that. (I’m already a sometime instructor in my current career.) I’m interested in being an educator. Build a school. Design educational frameworks. And the way I would do it isn’t like anything in the world today. (The Finns appear to be at the forefront of education reform.)

I’d do away with “specialist” subjects that are core to many of today’s educational frameworks (bye, Calculus and Trigonometry). I’d revise the way certain subjects are taught (really, local and world history can be interesting if properly presented). I’d add in life skills to core “curriculum” topics, like cooking and accounting and writing and dancing and listening to people and music and at least two languages that aren’t your native ones. (Most kids these days appear to be bilingual by reason of parentage, geography and/or affinity.) And I’d make sure that kids aren’t stuck in school buildings all the time. There somehow, someway has to be travel to foreign places as part of education. It’s necessary. Appreciation and understanding of world history and cultures and situations is essential to a true education. We would teach religion,

I don’t know how to do a competitive grading environment in this theoretical education regime. I personally feel that competition is essential to education. It drives kids to excel. It’s also a true reflection of the world. When the kids grow up they can opt in or out of the rat race if they so choose, but it’s important that they see and experience it in an environment where they can’t get permanently hurt.

So yeah. I would want to return to school in the future. This would be my agenda.


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 19, 2015.

“If you’re in school, are you enjoying your classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?”