DotA2

I became interested in DotA2 back when I lived in Toledo, OH and taught 3D animation at BGSU. My students were interested in 3D animation for games, and in my research I found out about competitive esports. ESPN3 was broadcasting live, ongoing coverage of the DotA2 International 5, at which a 15 year old player (SumaiL) led his team (Evil Geniuses) to dramatic victory. I didn’t understand the game, but I was hooked.

Now there are five major tournaments a year, plus minors and others. I follow the NA teams mostly, but there are players and teams from around the world that I like to follow and watch.

I don’t play the game, I just watch it. I follow it via Twitch, the streaming platform. My favorite streamers are high rank pros without teams. They stream their play and some of their strategy. They play almost every night. BSJ, ccnc, mason, monkeys- and others have become my daily companions. I root or their teams and hope the best for them.

When they say funny things on stream, I like to make twitch graphics for them. This one is for BSJ’s channel, and PMA means Positive Mental Attitude.

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Sunset walk

I was always a good person, I just didn’t know how to act.

I was more open and honest, than was normal for a kid my age.

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imaginary life

It turns out that my life was largely imaginary. I imagined it. I dreamed it. I lived it only accidentally, or in passing.

I never found the partner I was looking for, or the deep and abiding love that might have convinced me to trust and make family.

I found the friends, I think, and felt well understood. I was useful, for a time, to a few, and that was good.

I was meant to teach. I felt that strongly. I’m surprised it didn’t work out better. At my two real jobs I made strong connections, met great professors and students. But I also endured some of my life’s most profound humiliations.

Then the cancer, which ended my ambitions. The way that the cancer itself ruined me physically was just the first brutal phase in crushing my dreams. The treatments have been the second part, eroding me such that a return to normalcy is impossible.

I don’t know what’s left to dream. I think service, usefulness, but I’m tired. So tired.

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Full shade

I ended up deciding on completely covering the structure with 50% shade. It gives varying amounts of sun relief to the four beds. It’ll be interesting to see what grows best in each.

The dirt patch on this side of the potato trench has been seeded with wild flower and buckwheat. Things have sprouted readily, I’m hopeful for a flowering meadow in the coming months.

I’ve been watering twice a week for four hours or more. The beds are retaining water effectively, and with the sunshade even the seeded ground appears to be retaining some moisture.

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Vermicomposting

I started my first worm bin in Brooklyn about 10 years ago. For me it’s the best way to compost if you do flower pot gardening. The worms convert your table scraps directly into castings directly usable in pots and flower boxes.

Now that I have a full back yard, I still keep a worm bin. Every time I plant something new, worm castings are part of the mix.

Here in Phoenix we are lucky to have a great local worm farm. Even as a veteran vermicompster, I learned a lot from their class and tour.

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health insurance terrorism

I have cancer. I have insurance. Thank Obama for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise, I wouldn’t be insured at all, since I’ve had to change insurance twice for employment reasons since I was diagnosed.

Mostly I worry about bankrupting my mother. My insurance premiums are about $500 a month with the health benefit from the ACA. I have co-pays and deductables and some things they don’t cover that amounts to another $5000+ a year. So it’s costing me about $11-12k a year to have cancer.

I can’t pay it. I can no longer work as a direct result of my cancer treatment. That’s right, it’s the treatment that is debilitating. The treatment I’m paying for. I’m lucky that my family can absorb the expenses, for now. But either my condition will need to improve such that I can work, or I’ll need to die so that cancer doesn’t bankrupt us all.

The next step is possibly to go on some kind of disability. There are phone calls to make, applications to fill out, questions to ask and answer. The disability route feels like a path you only go down if you don’t plan to come back. It might not be that way, but it feels that way.

I get surprise bills all the time. Most of them are for smallish amounts, but they never end. It’s hard to tell if they are legitimate. The bills usually get sent to collection before insurance has definitively paid its part. The phone rings from strange numbers all over the country. Sometimes I get calls that threaten to jail me.

The piles of opened and unopened letters, notifications, bills, and the like continue to grow. Periodically, I break down and ask a close friend to help me face them. Mostly it’s just deciding to pay things without knowing if I really owe it.

When the doctor recommends more tests, I agree because what else can I do. I’m allowed to refuse treatment, but it feels unwise to refuse a cancer treatment that is working. I’m afraid to use my insurance, even though I have it. Even though the costs are somewhat contained. I think that because I can’t actually afford it, that it’s not me who is paying for it, the insurance feels like it’s not even mine, that it doesn’t really work, that it’s all about to cost more and more and more.

This is health insurance terrorism. I’m sick of it.

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Open morning

Now that I don’t have to be awake or doing anything in the morning, I find myself gravitating to an early schedule. I’m in bed at 10pm a lot of nights. I’m up at 7:30am sometimes. But usually I’m 11pm to 9am. A lot of sleep, if I were asleep the whole time.

It’s the garden work that gets me up early. I try to work for an hour, rest for an hour. Plug away. Move things forward. Things that can only be done in the day.

Every morning I’m excited to come out and see what’s changed. What’s come up in the garden, how the ground cover and wild flowers are doing. Today, a new purple bloom.

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Pile turn

After 5 days of 140F+ the pile had shrunken significantly. Today I turned it, found dark, warm and musty chunks throughout. White fungus of some kind that had grown stalks.

I added two large bins of cut weeds soaked in water. I thoroughly soaked the pile. Next I have some cardboard to cut and soak.

5th day above 140F

5th day above 140F

after turning and soaking

after turning and soaking

The Expanse

I just finished watching season 3 last night. Totally solid SF. I remember having my mind blown reading the books considering how much the series changes when the true nature of the ring is discovered. Where the end of the third season brings us is truly a new beginning.

My favorite thing about the show is the imagination of a populated solar system: the earth, mars and the belt as distinct human societies with histories, values and even bodily traits. It’s an enjoyable universe to consider that feels within the realm of the possible.

The evolution of the show from the protomolecule, its properties as a weapon and the political drama it causes, to the post-ring solar system is a stunning transformation. The scope and scale of the show increase fantastically.

One of my favorite moments from the books is when the belter kid goes through the ring. I was impressed with out the show handled that moment. Very surprising and satisfying.

My least favorite thing from season 1 was the clunky gravity system. I’m not sure if it’s just better in season 3, but it’s certainly less annoying and even plays into the narrative usefully from time to time.

If you like sci-fi and your’re looking for a satisfying new imagination of the solar system to explore, try The Expanse.

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Shade structure up

Studying the sun to determine the exact placement. Since it’s the equinox, the sun will rise higher towards summer. Maybe offset the sunshade?

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Shade structure coming together

It’s a carport frame that will be covered with 50% shade cloth. According to my friends at the Arizona Worm Farm, full sun here will fry my plants. Especially necessary is to protect from afternoon sun.

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Cooking again

After giving my pile a good mix with my new pitchfork, I added a significant amount of new greens and browns, then thoroughly watered it. We are cooking again, up to 150F.

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College entrance scandal

The news this week is full of discussion about an illegal college entrance scheme for children of wealthy parents. Basically, the parents make a charitable donation to a 501c3 organization set up to launder these nefarious payments, then the scheme’s inventor would take actions to ensure the wealthy students’ entrances into their preferred schools. The types of benefits ranged from paying coaches to get students into obscure athletic teams for sports they didn’t even play, to literally faking test scores.

The best hot take I heard was along the lines of, “Wow, the privileges of whiteness and wealth aren’t enough for some of these folks. They want the playing field tilted even further in their favor.”

The issue has got me thinking about credentialing. It seems to me that much of the impetus behind this kind of fraud is about building one’s pedigree, resume and credentials. This makes sense in the context of Yale and Stanford, two of the schools mentioned in reporting on the matter. But how does that make sense for UCLA or USC? Large state schools are typically not that hard to get in to. Wait, how dumb are these rich kids? They need scams to get into state schools? Yikes.

It could also be argued that the drive behind this scheme is the experience that the student has as a student — that the education, opportunities, communities, etc. at Yale and Stanford are materially better. Again, this makes sense at an elite school, but not at a state school.

In my first semester as a visiting assistant professor at Davidson College (a small elite liberal arts college outside of Charlottee, NC), I was told I had to attend Fall Convocation. In this ceremony, the faculty wore their academic robes and regalia, every sash, rope, badge and medal an emblem of academic credentials. As someone who never coveted academic prestige, I wore a plain black borrowed robe and felt bad about it. Maybe I should have been more conscious of these things as a student? I wasn’t as concerned with collecting awards and distinctions as I was having an experience. There is privilege in this.

During that Fall Convocation, an ornate wooden scepter was on the stage, presented to us all, wielded by the dean of faculty during a moment girded by prayers and meaningful latin phrases. It occurred to me at that moment what an incredible house of cards the whole higher education pyramid is. Here we sit, wearing our monk’s vestments, propping up the institution with reverence to the ancient scepter, giving blessings to the inculcated.

The parents and students in attendance are the central audience for this performance, but it’s designed to affect me too. The magic scepter and robes symbolize the long lineage of authority that stems from the first professors to us, and from us onto your students. The ceremony consecrates the agreement between us. Our predecessors must have known.that the enterprise was shaky. Why would anyone trust us with their children? Why would they pay us to tell their children what we think? Why should these young people respect us? How can I convince people that I should be respected and believed?

Credentialing.

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What was the thing….?

What was the thing I was going to write about? It was political and cool and something I’ve been meaning to say. It’s has slipped. Is this the Lupron? Faulty memory as a structure, a device.

In the meantime, keeping busy.

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