The Quarantine is Ruining Everything

Let’s face it, folks. This whole quarantine thing is the pits. It’s ruining all the important things in life. I mean, zombie apocalypse movies? Totally ruined now. Every time I watch one, I’m just going to think about all the things they got wrong about the apocalypse. If they show a single grocery store scene, and it’s got toilet paper anywhere in sight?

Totally unbelievable.

And if I ever become a zombie, I now know to avoid going to places most zombie apocalypse movies focus on. Forget cities. People apparently flock to beaches to ride out the apocalypse by giving as many germs to each other as possible. And what zombie apocalypse movie would be complete in the future if it doesn’t feature a “Zombie Plague Party,” where people get together to give each other the plague so that they can develop herd immunity to it.

Are you making notes, Hollywood?

Also ruined? Any and all time loop movies. That’s right, woodchuck-chuckers: Groundhog Day is doomed. Because now everyone knows what it’s like to wake up and live the same day over, and over, and over. Seriously. Phil Connors goes through the entire film without a single Zoom meeting, and I for one find that highly suspect. The time loop I’m currently stuck in features at least three Zoom meetings a day, and that’s if I’m lucky. Get it right, movie makers!

Also spoiled? The ability to complain about anything. I mean, at this point if we ever get back to normal, I fear I’m never going to be able to whine about simple things without some doofus saying, “Hey! At least we’re not in quarantine.” And when I try to whine about things while I’m in quarantine, I’m reminded that loads of people have had it worse than me over the course of history. Which is totally true, and completely valid, but you know what? We’re allowed to have a struggle with all this crap-o-la without being made to feel guilty we’re struggling.

Which leads me to the next big thing to fall to this quarantine: logic. I mean, it already fell somewhat when people decided to panic buy toilet paper, but that was just the first domino. Now people are saying things like, “It’s okay if just 3% of the country dies, as long as the economy stays strong.” They’re also making arguments like “The flu kills way more people than this each year, so why is this a big deal?”

You know what never killed anybody? Shoe bombs. And yet, back when I was allowed to travel, I had to X-ray my shoes every single time I got on a plane because some dipstick had a concept that maybe a shoe bomb would work. You know what killed “only a few thousand people”? 9/11. And what moron would get up and say, “I don’t know why you people are so worried about a couple of planes crashing into a building. Way more people die in car crashes every day, and nobody looks at it like a tragedy. Get over it.”

Nope. Reasoning isn’t going to get us anywhere, except to maybe one of those hawt beach parties happening in Florida a week ago. Instead, I get to watch in horror as Trump’s approval rating somehow goes up, with people happy about the job he’s doing. And I wonder if I’m in some sort of bizzaro world, or if everyone’s watching the same news I’m watching. (Clearly not.) Right now, Trump is King of the Frogs, sitting in a pot of water that’s getting hotter and hotter, and claiming the fire underneath that pot is going to magically disappear any moment.

Ugh. Don’t get me started. I have no desire to get into a Facebook argument with people over this, so if you disagree, go you. Go out and lick a hand railing or something. Whatever it is you feel you need to do to prove to the world this disease is overhyped. (Actually, no. No licking hand railings. Unless you sanitize it afterward for the rest of us.)

Sorry folks. I’ve been stuck inside for a while now, and my mind space is all over the place. Maybe sidle on by and catch me after the weekend, which I’m sure will feel way different than the week has felt.

It has to. I’ll be in half as many zoom meetings, tops.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Increasing My Internet

Up until this quarantine situation, I was paying for 15mbps (down, 1mbps up) of internet at my house. Specifically using Consolidated Communications (the company that took over for Fairpoint a while ago). It was DSL, and it was adequate for my needs. I paid about $43/month for it.

Once I saw the writing on the wall for the next month (or more) of life at home, however, I quickly decided 15mbps wasn’t going to cut it. I’m a self-confessed technophile, and it’s rubbed off on my family. Here’s a list of internet-consuming devices in my household:

  • 4 laptops
  • 1 desktop
  • 3 iPhones
  • 4 iPads
  • 2 smartwatches
  • 1 Nintendo 3DS
  • 1 Nintendo Switch
  • 1 PS3
  • 1 Apple TV
  • 3 Kindles
  • 3 Kindle Fires
  • 1 Internet phone

I might be forgetting a couple. Mind you, a lot of those devices are older (quite a few hand-me-downs on that list), but they all at least sip some internet. And when an Apple system update comes down the pike? Fuhgeddaboudit. We were already to the point most evenings where I’d go around the house, pestering the kids to make sure they’d turned all their devices to airplane mode, just so I could ensure Denisa and I had a decent picture when we were streaming video in the evening.

15mbps wasn’t going to be enough. I could either cut out some devices, or I could increase the speed. Seeing as how the internet has suddenly become the main avenue for my job, Denisa’s teaching, and all the kids’ learning, simply cutting devices wasn’t an option, either.

It was time to pony up the money.

Because I live in rural Maine, my options are limited. I could increase the speed of my DSL to 40mbps, which would bump the cost up to around $65/month. Or I could switch back to cable, going with Beeline, which offered 125mbps (8mbps up) for $79. I used to be with Beeline years ago, but I left them because their internet speeds tanked each evening, when everyone was online. This time, I asked around on Facebook to hear what other people were using locally. Some of the other internet hungry folks had gone back to Beeline. Yes, it was almost twice what I was paying now, but it was a serious speed increase, as opposed to the DSL bump, which would be only modest.

I wanted them to come sooner, rather than later, because quarantine. I wasn’t sure how long companies would be allowed to send crews out to futz around with people’s internet. Maybe it would always be considered essential. Maybe it wouldn’t. I’d rather not test it. I called them up Friday, and they were here on Tuesday.

Overall, I’m already very pleased with the upgrade. During the day, I clock speeds of around 145mbps down, 9.5mbps up. More than what I’m paying for. Up in my addition, it’s slower, because the way I’m getting my internet up to that part of the house is over the power lines, but it’s still 20mbps. (I’m going to look into figuring out a better way to extend the internet across my property. When I have time to focus on it, which isn’t now.)

The best part about it all? I can stop pestering the kids to turn off their devices. Everyone can use the internet, things can autoupdate without me having to ration things out, the internet quality has been excellent.

I’ve run some tests in the evening, and there are still periodic times when the speeds slow down inexplicably, but even when they slow, it’s not an issue, because everything’s so fast in general. All the updates that have to run, run overnight. All told, I’m happy. Not happy with what I’m paying, but it comes with the territory, I’m afraid.

Out of curiosity, what do you pay for the speed you’re getting, wherever you are? Go ahead, make me insanely jealous.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Quarantine Movie Review: Titanic

True story: up until last night, I had never seen Titanic. Obviously I had picked up a lot about the movie over the years, but it came out when I was on my mission. It was all over the place then. Even in the small city where I was serving in Germany, I heard Celine Dion belting out from practically every store front. Often enough that I had “My Heart Will Go On” memorized, despite the fact missionaries weren’t allowed to listen to pop music.

Titanic was everywhere.

When I got back from my mission, I never really got around to watching the movie, simply because I figured I already knew what happened in it, and it was really long. (By that logic, I should never have watched any of the LOTR movies, though. Right?) It just became one of those holes in my pop culture knowledge, and I was at peace with that, for the most part. Then, about two years ago, I bought the movie in 3D, thinking that would be a fun way to watch it. Then I forgot I bought it on disc until I found it for the next Christmas, and then I wrapped it and forgot we owned it at all, because I never unwrapped it.

Clearly it wasn’t high on my to do list.

However, there’s no time like a current disaster to watch a classic disaster movie, right? Right. So Denisa and I popped on our 3D glasses and went back to 1912 over the past few nights. Now that I’ve watched it, I’m very glad I did. For one thing, it was eerie to see the connections between the way they recognized a disaster was coming in the movie, and the way we’ve recognized a disaster is here in the present day. All the same reactions are played out on the screen. (I’m just hoping we haven’t passed the “the ship is going to sink no matter what” stage of the virus.)

It was also great to watch how Cameron used the historical facts of the event as an asset to his movie instead of a liability. He leads out right in the beginning with the shipwreck. He even gives a general overview of how it sank. Then we go back in time and meet some of the characters and get to like them, so that when the disaster happens, it means something. And because we know what happens and the order it happens, all that scientific description at the beginning becomes much more ominous when you see it played out in real life. Superb.

I know some people had said the movie was overrated. 11 Oscars, tons of money, and it wasn’t worth the hype. I disagree. I thought the effects were incredible (especially in 3D), the story engaging, the acting well done (though not as strong as the rest of the movie), but the way it made history come alive was fantastic. Really, my one complaint about it was the way they threw in nudity for no particularly good reason. It’s not a movie I feel like I can watch with my family because of that, and I don’t think it made it a stronger movie with its inclusion. (I had somehow thought it was just a brief flash of nudity in the movie. I was wrong. Not that it’s there for a ton of time, but still.)

Interestingly, my one real interaction with the film previous to this was on my mission, when a young woman in the branch asked me to draw her a picture of Leonardo and Kate. I happily complied, not having any idea the role drawing played in the movie. I don’t think I would have done that if I’d seen the movie. Not that there was anything salacious about it, but it definitely would have felt much more awkward had I known. (Yay for ignorance!)

Anyway. The country isn’t sinking at least, and we don’t have to worry about hypothermia any time soon, so if you’re looking for an “at least it isn’t that bad” sort of an escape, go ahead and give Titanic another shot. 9/10

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Cult Classic Movie Review: Strange Brew

Look, people. We’re stuck at home for the next who knows how long. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so over the weekend, I hit the emergency button. I’d had it with all the doom and gloom, and I wanted to introduce my family to what has to be the most absurd Hamlet adaptation ever filmed.

I’m speaking, of course, of Strange Brew.

In a perfect world, this review would not be necessary, because everyone would already be aware of Strange Brew. In fact, I feel a little sheepish even writing this, because a big part of me wonders if the majority of you aren’t just rolling your eyes. “Strange Brew,” you’re saying. “What does he think we’ve done with our lives? Lived in a cave?” But considering the movie is something like 37 years old at this point, I’m thinking a significant number of you might not have just not seen Strange Brew. You don’t even know it exists.

Let me set the stage: two Canadian brothers decide to get free beer by taking a bottle of beer with a mouse in it to the Elsinore beer factory, claiming they bought it that way in the store. There, they discover something fishy’s afoot: the owner of the beer company died, and his wife married his brother soon after. Hilarity ensues.

There’s not really a way to encapsulate the true majesty of a movie about two brothers who just want to drink beer, and lots of it. It sounds inane, and it is. But it’s inanity raised to an art form. Rick Moranis(!) and Dave Thomas are perfection. They don’t just star in the movie. They wrote the movie. They didn’t just write the movie. They directed the movie. Talk about true auteurs. They even got Max von Sydow to play the villain.

If you haven’t heard of this movie before, don’t feel too bad. My first experience with it was going to a midnight movie showing of it at BYU my freshman year. My friends swore it was hilarious. I went along for the ride. They attended in full Bob & Doug costume: huge overcoats, knit hats, and t-shirts. It was a blast.

I was extremely pleased to see just how well the movie’s held up since then. It’s been a while since I watched it, and my expectations weren’t incredibly high. They were blown away, however. Zany fun throughout, with great one liners, and a plot that you keep thinking can’t get any more insane, until it does.

If you’ve never seen the movie before, and you’re up for some mindless fun that will really take your mind off the present blah, this is definitely worth the time. If you have seen it before, but it’s been a while, I encourage you to watch it again. My whole family loved it, except for MC, who thought it was too scary. So maybe . . . 10 and up? Assuming you’re okay with a movie that shows two people drinking beer almost constantly. 9/10

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Year of Perfect Crosswords

I started doing the New York Times crossword each day starting in May of 2018. I’ve kept the practice up since then, enjoying the time when I can just sit there and think through the puzzle and not think about anything else. It’s somehow therapeutic, in a way.

I’m also, quite frankly, hooked. The new puzzle releases at 10pm the night before each new day, and there are many (most) times when I wait up just to be able to do it as soon as it releases. Sleep? Who needs that when there’s a crossword to complete?

I also discovered that the NYT app gives you a gold star if you complete the puzzle without turning on the clue checker. If you just complete it late or with hints, you only get a blue star. Worse yet, they keep track of how many days in a row you’ve gotten the gold star. (Never mind the fact that they let subscribers peek at the answer key, so you could theoretically just copy the whole crossword every day.)

Because I’m always goal-oriented, I decided I wanted to get 365 gold stars in a row. An entire year of perfect crosswords. Today, I finally reached that goal, and (despite the fact that tomorrow’s puzzle is a Tuesday, and I’m sure I could get a gold star easily), I’ve also decided that I’m going to deliberately throw the puzzle tomorrow. That’s right: I’m going to get a blue star on purpose.

Why?

Because I don’t want to think about gold stars any more. It’s not a corona thing. I’m still planning on doing the crossword each day, but I don’t want to have to worry about gold or blue stars, and I think my low level OCD will be fine looking at my “Highest streak earned” as being “365” for the next ever.

Getting a gold star every day has not been easy, but it’s been more of a logistical challenge than a real one. I decided early on that I just don’t have the time to pound my head against each puzzle for hours on end. (Saturdays in particular can be really hard for me still.) So I often (gasp!) cheated when I needed to be done. Anything to get that gold star. Now, I’ll just turn on the auto check, and who cares about the color of the star? But beyond that, having access to the NYT crossword each day has been tough to always get. European vacation? Camping trips? Bad cellphone coverage? I came close to losing the streak all the time, and the closer I got to 365, the more I worried about it.

(Yes. I’m stupid. I worry about silly things. Just because I know it’s silly doesn’t mean I can force myself to stop worrying.)

So now, I’ve got the right number, and I can ride off into the crossword sunset. Hooray for that. (These days, even the small victories feel like big wins.)

Stay healthy, folks. And stay occupied!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

%d bloggers like this: