Testing, testing. Is this thing on?
It probably isn’t, but here I am anyway.
A lot has happened over the course of the year since I last wrote here.
My wife Jade and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this month, not with fancy gifts but with several special dates over the course of this past week. Notably, we stuffed ourselves senseless at Willie & Reds in Hagerstown, Indiana; I had never heard of the place before, much less eaten there, but their smörgåsbord’s food was delicious, the selection right up my alley. I’m glad Jade introduced me to it! It was, I think, our second choice; I wanted to revisit the restaurant we ate at in Metamora, Indiana, on our wedding day, but they’ve since closed down.
Three years doesn’t seem like such a long time, but Jade and I have been together since my daughter was about a year and a half old; she’s five now, so damn near literally, Jade and I have been together for a lifetime, if not our own lifetime, yet.
In that time, we have grown as a family, with Jade providing many different perspectives on so much that goes into parenting, given that our upbringings and adult lives were different from each other. In many ways, we balance each other out, and it’s my daughter who reaps the benefits. She doesn’t remember a life before Jade, and it is my hope that she never has to experience life without her.
It’s been a joy watching the two of them grow together, and so often, Jade has been the impetus in pushing me forward as a parent or in helping Anya take her next steps, whether it was encouraging me to hide the pacifiers or in taking a weekend with Anya while I was having to work to get her pretty much potty trained in anticipation of her rapidly approaching first day of preschool.
For my part, I know I’m not always the easiest person with which to get along; for example, I can be rather direct or blunt in my casual speech, which can easily be interpreted as impatience or frustration, and I know that gets on Jade’s nerves. I know her continued giving of trust to me has been an uphill battle in the aftermath of my post-faith crisis of self back in mid 12012 to early 12014. 1 For all of that, I am extremely grateful and count myself fortunate to have Jade in not only my life but my daughter’s as well.
Not a lot has changed in my life, though. My gadgets have gotten cooler, my car repairs have become more frequent, and I’ve actually begun completing more of my video games rather than simply collecting them to try briefly prior to letting them collect dust on a shelf.2
I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky a lot lately. I was an early adopter of the game last year, despite knowing very little about the game or the hype surrounding it. What little I knew about the game (“endless exploration of an infinite universe” would sum up all I knew, actually) had me extremely hyped, and the game delivered on that promise, and for several weeks after it came out, I enjoyed it, even talking one of my best friends into getting it as well.3 However, it seemed as though the consensus opinion about the game was that it was unfinished and underwhelming. In retrospect, I can understand why; tons of features were advertised to have been in the game which were completely absent when the title launched.
It’s been over a year now, and developer Hello Games has released several massive updates to the game, bettering already present features, adding expansive new features, and in general making their project seem like an all-new game, much closer to what was originally promised with more content coming. Also, they’ve released all of these updates for free, doing their absolute best to fix what has been nearly universally regarded as a completely broken project. It is this dedication, combined with how much I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky, which will have me watching for whatever comes next from Hello Games.
Oh, and Donald Trump has become the President of the United States. War — nuclear war — with North Korea is a distinct possibility. People of color are still protesting for fair justice, and far too much of America, including our President, dismisses them as being disrespectful to a song and a piece of cloth. Mass shootings happen just about daily in the United States; when they are big enough, they capture the public conversation for a few day, then we forget about them. A total solar eclipse was visible across America in a stripe beginning in the northwest and ending in the east, and the event brought to light just how sorely needed better science education is in America, as people across the nation not only looked directly at the eclipse with the naked eye (oh, the President did that too) but plenty of people wondered how we could predict eclipses so perfectly so far in advance.4 Modern day Nazis and Klansmen march openly in the streets of some areas of the United States; and oh, our President defends them. Popular marches for science and women took place earlier this year, and we’ve promptly moved past them because safe marches and protests that you’d feel comfortable bringing children to are protests and marches that can safely be ignored by those in charge; marches and protests must be so much more than a social gathering with clever signs and endless photo opportunities. The President insists that he’ll end the horrible persecution faced by Christians in America. Sexual assault allegations against one of the formerly most powerful men in Hollywood have come out, and because he’s a Democrat, conservatives are blasting him, despite making Donald “Grab ‘Em by the Pussy” Trump the leader of their party. And. So. Much. More.
Growing up, history never was my forte; I struggled to remember people, places, dates, and events on test days, and I tended to put all the bad stuff we learned about squarely in the past. It never occurred to me because I rarely dwelled on history long enough that all the bad stuff was the same bad stuff over and over in different historical contexts.
And now we’re living through that bad stuff: racists and religious fanatics are doing all that they can to fracture America irrevocably. We’ve allowed being elected to President a man who has worked tirelessly on the days when he isn’t golfing, watching TV, tweeting, or otherwise not working to undo all the progress made by a man who is in every way his better: President Barack Obama.
We live under a President who would enshrine Christianity as law, make fealty to America and its symbols mandatory, enforce his agenda with nuclear warheads, create state-run media to replace the free market of ideas, and so much more. While it is fortunate that our government doesn’t allow a President to simply burn America to the ground in such a fashion, it is deeply disconcerting just how many of citizens still support Trump and approve of the things he says.
Interesting times abound, and I often feel guilty for not using my platform here to speak out on the matters at hand, nor do I tend to the #SecularNow project like I’d like to.
I need to fix that. Donald Trump walked away with the United States presidency not because he won more votes5 but because too many liberals chose to remain silent during not only election day but during the entire process.
Voting is not enough. We must make noise. We must be willing to not only teach but to view the proud hate, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, ignorance, and so much more as the diseases that they are.
We must all speak up. We must drown out the worst parts of human society lest we remain forever divided or worse.
- Why a five-digit year? Simple: Human history shouldn’t be defined by the birth of a man who likely never existed. History is broader than Christendom, and so a five-digit year is used to recognize the approximate beginning of the human era, as well as the fact that human history is much longer than just a few thousand years. The calendar is called the Holocene calendar, and we should all be using it.
- Some people collect stamps; others collect dolls. I tend to collect media, be it games or books or (more rarely) movies. I don’t collect for value’s sake, though, meaning I never have any reason to actually be bored.
- This, naturally, meant that not only did he buy the game but he became far more proficient at it than I had. Flash forward a year, and now my brother has done just that as well. I trust that given the opportunity, I could defeat them in Mario Kart 64 or GoldenEye 007 without breaking a sweat; that’s enough for me.
- Predicting eclipses has been within our ability for millennia; in ancient times, such predictions were how astrologers proved their salt to their patrons.
- He didn’t. Not by a long shot.