An Ode to Entering Standard Time

Well everyone, it’s that “magical” time of year where we mess up or Circadian rhythms for a reason no amount of Googling has ever been able to adequately explain (its not to help farmers that’s all I know), it gets dark before 5pm, and I like countless meme’s on the subject. Sure one extra hour of sleep for one night is nice, but at what cost?

I could go on a long rant as to the ill effects of changing time back and forth: in the spring people literally die from it, the darkness in the fall leads to an increase in crime, seasonal affective disorder, and so on, but instead I’ve written a poem. It’s to the tune of “Sounds of Silence” and inspired by one of the many, meme’s I have liked. Without further ado, I present “Sight of Darkness”

Hello darkness my old friend
Why are you here? It’s 5pm!
Because we’ve left Daylight Savings Time
And have now entered standard time
But the desire to see the sun after work
Still remains
Within the sight of darkness

After work I walk alone
Cannot see where the sidewalk broke
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my headphones on to a podcast
When my eyes were stabbed by a flash of a cars headlight
Split the night
And touched sight of darkness

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand cars maybe more
Cars driving without stopping
Even though there is a stop sign
Cars turning right on red even though there’s a sign
That says not to
Cause we all drive worse in darkness

Fools said i you do not know
Though it’s dark it’s 5pm
People need to walk their dogs still
Children may want to play outside still
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of darkness

And the people bowed and prayed
To the traditions they had made
And Arizona flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
It said it makes no sense to change the time twice a year.
Doesn’t save light
And whispered in the sight of darkness

I Followed the Rules, So I Don’t Understand Why I Still Have To Do This

Hi All, It’s been a bit. I was, probably like you, spending my summer slowly but surely getting back out in the world again. Eating at an outside patio, eating indoors (gasps!), seeing family and friends in real freaking life. I went on vacation. I got on a plane (clutches pearls!). I met new babies of the human and fur variety. It was wonderful!!

Now there’s Delta and I’m angry. I got optimistic and perhaps thought we were out of the woods. I thought people would just keep getting vaccinated and cases would keep going down. Obviously I was mistaken. I’m angry, because, this didn’t need to be so bad. I’m angry, because, the misinformation still out there is still insane. I’m angry, because, I know kids under 12 who have to go to school in person with cases higher than they’ve been in months. I’m angry, because, I’d really just like to meet my coworkers! I’m angry, because, I’d like to be able to do all the things I did in February of 2020 without potentially contributing to a situation that’s killed about as many Americans as the Civil War. I’m angry because we’re having the same fights we’ve had for a year and a half and there’s no end in sight. I’m angry because I can’t move on.

I did all the things. I stayed at home. I wore a mask. I delayed so many things. I had meh versions of every single holiday because that was the right thing to do. I drove half way across the city to get my shot as soon as I was able to.

We were told it would get better once we all got vaccinated and it’s not. This isn’t because the shots don’t work. It’s because enough people decided they didn’t need to get vaccinated, so we didn’t hit that glorious herd immunity, so Delta took hold. This was not necessary.

I think it’s almost harder now because we had a taste of freedom. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel only to realize we were just heading into another tunnel. I realized how much I lost this past year and I don’t want to lose it again and really I don’t need to.

I don’t mind putting a mask back on. It was never really 100% off anyway. I also don’t plan (at this point) of being as isolated as I was pre-vaccine. But the fear that I might have to again is still there. Last winter was one of the darkest winters of my life and I don’t want to have to go through that again. Does anyone?

We’ve always had a choice to turn things around with Covid. So, let’s actually freaking take it. Let’s wear our masks regardless of vaccination status, as a fully vaccinated person can spread the delta variant as easily as a non-vaccinated person. Let’s actually care about the children (I hear they’re our future). Let’s do unto others as we would have them do unto us (I think my boy JC said something similar).

I know those of you reading this are probably already doing the things, so keep trucking! I do have to think this will one day come to an end. Until then, stay safe!

Circle, Circle, Square, Square, Stopping the Spread of Covid-19 Everywhere

As I write this I am less than 24 hours away from being fully vaccinated! On May 3rd, (yes, Polish Constitution Day) at 8:54 am it will be 2 weeks after my second shot, giving me full immunity from the Rona! To quote Uncle Nicky from This is Us, “I got vaccinated twice.” Also, if you’d like to read my long unnecessary tangent on This is Us see the bottom of this post.

For those of you who haven’t gotten your second shot yet, some warning, yes, the side-effects will suck. I found the actual jab hurt the second time, but not the first. I was completely exhausted within about 2 hours. I had a headache, was very cold, a little achy, and had a fever for about an hour the second day. I felt much better by the 3rd day, but have experienced some swollen lymph nodes. Now, the fun thing about the Covid shot, is that much like Covid, the symptoms can be anything, from fever and chills to nausea, to joint aches, to muscle pain, you name it it’s a side effect. So be on the look out for anything to go wrong, and stay hydrated. Obviously, you should still get the shot, because two days of feeling blah, is worth not getting Covid, knowing that you are protecting your loved ones, and helping the world open up again.

Some pro tips, if you can take the day of and the day after your shot off, you should. Pick some movies you’d like to watch and have yourself a fun day on the couch. I finally watched the final two Avengers movies. (Side note, why couldn’t Chris Pratt keep it together and not slap Thanos. We could have avoided the snap and saved Black Widow and Iron Man. I know Dr. Strange said there’s only one scenario they saw where they won, but I have to believe it’s because he saw no scenario where Chris Pratt wasn’t an idiot). If you are a manager, don’t decide that your staff needs to log in on the day of their shot, despite their taking PTO, to do the annual sexual harassment training that isn’t actually due that day. Just chill and let your team chill when they get their shot.

So now that full immunity is upon me, I have to begin the arduous process of returning to the world. It’s exciting, its scary, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and I’m completing dreading it. I’m the last person in my family to get vaccinated, so we’ll all be immune. We’re celebrating by going to eat at the patio of a restaurant. We haven’t really eaten out since March 2020. It’s going to be a baby steps situation. I have a dental appointment on the 4th, so that’s another time out. I’m planning some other minor stuff like going to the store to make a purchase.

It’s weird to think that now I can start doing all the things I’ve been putting off. I have a little bit of social anxiety, so not having to do things call and make appointments and meet strangers has been nice. It’s pretty scary to start doing that again. We’ve spent more than a year telling ourselves that being anywhere indoors that wasn’t our home was dangerous. All of the sudden it’s not and it’s going to be an adjustment.

My Long and Unnecessary Tangent on This is US

I’m fine with the fact that Uncle Nicky really wasn’t dead all these years. It was an exciting plot twist, helped Kevin connect with another family member who suffers from alcoholism, showed that Super Dad Jack Pearson, was in fact not perfect, and highlighted the mental health and other issues our veteran’s face. I don’t get the point of making it so that Randall’s birth mother didn’t die giving birth to him. It just doesn’t seem plausible. When she is revived, neither she, the paramedics, nor the cops lets William know the mother of his child is alive. She goes to prison rather than call her rich father who could get her the help she needs. She never once writes William. Then, when Randall learns all this he just feels that his mother loved him. Good for him, but I don’t know how anything she did constituted love.

But I’m really here to talk about Miguel. I’m fine with Miguel in theory. I think it’s nice that Rebecca can grow old with someone who knew her for most of her life. It’s kind of sweet. My problem is with the actual person Miguel. The writers spent too much time making young Miguel look like a jerk. The Goofus to Jacks Gallant. Young Miguel cheats on his wife and kind of wants Jack. Young Miguel tries to convince Jack that he should golf on the weekends instead of spend time with his children, because Miguel hates spending time with his children. The writers then gaslight us and talk about how Miguel golfed to make better sales, nope, he never talks to Jack about improving sales when mentioning golf, he talks to Jack about how awful having a family is. Miguel’s adult children refuse to have much of a relationship with him. He goes off on them at one point about how he’s tired trying with them. Their your kids bro, you never should stop trying.

Older Miguel is a good husband to Rebecca, but other than that a jerk. When Jack dies he helps around the house, which is nice, but maybe like try to repair your relationship with your children. He regularly complains about how he doesn’t feel like he’s a part of the family. Well maybe if you didn’t tell your step kids dad to spend less time with them they’d like you more. Also, don’t have a group text where you bitch about your step kids with their spouses. That’ is shady AF!

Finally, but possibly most importantly in my heart there’s Pilgrim Rick. Now, Pilgrim Rick is a Pearson Family Thanksgiving tradition where their dad would dress up like Pilgrim Rick and tell them the story of Thanksgiving. After he dies, his sons rotate taking turns portraying Pilgrim Rick. The sons don’t get along so I feel like developing a rotational schedule was a lot of work for them. Miguel wants to be Pilgrim Rick, taking something his steps sons do to connect them to their father and take it away. He doesn’t ask himself, because he’s a punk, he gets his wife to ask her sons to abandon their well thought out rotating schedule so Miguel can put on the hat and tell the story. If you think you’re worthy of being Pilgrim Rick at least have the stones to ask yourself. So in conclusion, Miguel is not great. If the writers want us to like him stop pretending like he was always a great guy and showing him putting in the work to improve himself, at the very least a montage of him in therapy.

If George R.R. Martin Spent Half as Much Time Writing as I Have Reading, Then I Wouldn’t Be Done with the GoT Books

Well it actually happened, I finished all 5 Game of Thrones books and we’re still in a pandemic! Over 5000 pages read and I honestly am not quite sure what I’m going to do to occupy my time now. The good news is that while the TV show is over the books are still being written, so I still probably have at least one more book to go. While some events from the TV show will for sure happen in the books (Bran becomes King, Jon Snow is really a Targaryen) others I don’t think are, so it will be interesting to see what events transpire.

Now, fans of the blog will recall, that the 4th book focused on characters that are around King’s Landing and this book focuses on characters that are not around King’s Landing. It does catch up to the 4th book and then follows all the characters for a little bit at the end. It’s a little confusing, but what are you going to do.

As I feel like happens with any book series to screen adaptation, the farther I’ve gotten in the book series, the more than TV show diverges. There’s a lot more characters, which on the one hand is great because it creates a richer story, and on the other hand you figure if the character didn’t even make the TV show, then they can’t be all that important.

So here are some big differences. Tyrion’s story is so incredibly different. He does run away across the Narrow Sea, but he’s not with Varys and he never meets up with Dany. Tyrion first is taken in Illyrio Mopatis, aka the nice merchant from the beginning who arranges for Dany to marry Khal Drogo. Eventually, he travels with a bunch of other random people. These people wind up being the folks protecting Rhaegar Targaryen’s son Aegon Targaryen. Now, I know reader what you’re thinking, didn’t Aegon die in the war with his mother and sister. No, reader, he did not! It was another baby boy’s body they presented to Robert. They snuck him out of the country and he’s been raised by dJon Connington (Rhaegar’s bestie and possible lover who was banished), a guy who claims he ‘s half a maester, and a Septa, who definitely has a slutty past. So Aegon’s plan is to wed Dany and travel across the Narrow Sea and conquer Westeros with Fire and Blood!

Apparently everyone wants to marry Dany because Quentyn Martell, Doran Martell’s son, is also traveling across the Narrow Sea to marry Dany and then conquer Westeros with Fire and Blood! Also, Euron Greyjoy wants to marry Dany and then conquer Westeros with Fire and Blood! He sends his brother, Victarion Greyjoy, who decides he should marry Dany and then conquer Westeros with Fire and Blood!

However, much to everyone’s dismay, Dany is staying in Meereen to rule there. Much like the TV show, the former masters of Meereen are pissed she’s there freeing everyone, but also the Yunkai are back to slaving and want to conquer Meereen. Just about everyone in the region wants to conquer Meereen. To try and make peace Dany does marry that dude who she’s only engaged to in the TV show, (He may or may not have tried to kill the day when Drogon shows up and she flies away). When Quentyn shows up Dany is basically like sorry bro, you came too late. So after Dany leaves Quentyn decides to ride a dragon (not an euphemism), so obviously he burns to death. Don’t worry that the Dornish are out of the game though. Doran gets the Sand Snakes on board with his plans to destroy the Lannisters and one will be joining the Small Council.

Now our boy Aegon doesn’t even bother going to Meereen. He decides to take the sell swords he’s hooked up and sail back to Westeros and conquer it with Fire and Blood! Side note, not sure who has the better claim to the throne Dany as a daughter of the former king or Aegon as the son of the crown prince.

Now Tyrion isn’t with Aegon anymore because he gets kidnapped by Jorah Mormont (like in the books), they do get sold as slaves (like in the books), but its a Yunkai slaver, so they never hook up with Dany. Tyrion did maneuver their way into a sell sword company. Also, Tyrion met up with another dwarf named Penny. One of the ones who performed at Joffrey’s wedding. So Tyrion is around another dwarf for the first time in his life, and I’m kind of happy for him to learn more about being a dwarf. Luckily Jorah doesn’t get greyscale, but Jon Connington does.

Leaving Dany and her suitors, Jon Snow’s life is a bit more similar to what happened in the books. Stannis is much more involved in the Night’s Watch than he is in the TV show. In fact his wife, daughter, and Melisandre stay at Castle Black. With Stannis’s approval, Jon brings in a bunch of wildlings to defend the wall and, like the show gets stabbed to death. This is where we leave Jon, so I’m glad I had to TV show to know that the death doesn’t stick. Some differences are that Mance Rayder doesn’t die. Stannis has him burned but it’s actually another wildling and Melisandre used some magic to make that guy look like Mance and Mance look like the other guy. Mance is behaving because he thinks his baby son is at Castle Black. Of course, it’s actually Gilly’s baby. Also, how fun is it that Jon is lying about the parentage of two children, when he’s been lied to about his own parentage. Kind of a fun Stark family tradition.

Melisandre has Mance go to Winterfell to rescue Arya from her marriage to Ramsay Bolton. It’s actually not Arya, but one of Sansa’s friends (Sansa is still in the Vale pretending to be Littlefinger’s daughter). So on the one hand, yea for Sansa having less trauma in the books, but sad for her friend who has to be married to Ramsay. It doesn’t go well for her. Theon’s there as Reek. We don’t actually have to read about his torture as graphically as we do on TV, which I was very excited about. It’s more like Theon lamenting how hard it is to eat when you’ve lost most your teeth and walk when you’ve lost toes and hold a sword when you’ve lost fingers. It’s not fully established he lost his “power source” but he discusses how his days with whores are done, so I guess it’s implied. Theon and fake Arya do escape and wind up with Stannis.

Stannis is trying to conquer Winterfell with a decent amount of help from the North, but there’s a crazy snow storm. He hasn’t sacrificed his daughter to the flames to stop the snow as she is leagues away at Castle Black. I’m so mad that they actually wrote that into the TV show, especially since it doesn’t seem likely it will happen. I mean who does that! Seriously!

Bran has met up with the Three Eyed Raven. He’s taken by a guy called Cold Hands, who I’m fairly certain is zombie Uncle Benjen. Bran never figures it out. They travel together for days. I give you he’s wearing a scarf, but this is literally the only Uncle Bran has met. How do you not recognize him? How can you become the all seeing Three Eyed Raven if you can’t even recognize your own Uncle! I feel like if one of my Uncles was leading me through the woods to the Three Eyed Raven, undead or not, I’d recognize him!

Finally, back at King’s Landing Cersei is still in prison. She still does the shame walk. Margaery Tyrell does not because all of her alleged lovers admit that Cersei put them up to saying they slept with her. Cersei has basically lost all her power. She has the Mountain, but that’s it. Uncle Kevan Lannister (aka Tywin’s brother) was going to send her to Casterly Rock after her trial, but he and Grandmaester Pycell get killed by none other than Varys. That’s literally all Varys has done for two books.

Anyway, I’m really happy I read the books and would recommend them to any fan of the show. It really helped pass the time during quarantine. About 90% of the time it helped me sleep as basically everyone in the book’s problems are far worse then mine.

Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot, I Finally Got My Covid Shot

It finally happened people! After a little more than a year in lockdown, I got my first dose of the vaccine this past Monday and am thrilled. It’s been a long road. I know most people don’t have their shot yet, and I don’t mean to brag. I’ve certainly felt exasperation as I’ve seen others posting their joy over getting their shots and don’t hold it against you if you feel that way reading this. Saying that, I really think I should have gotten my shot sooner. I’m sure every state, county, city has their group of people who doesn’t get prioritized as quickly as should be and for Illinois, specifically Cook County and even more specifically Chicago, it’s been people under 65 with pre-existing conditions.

I don’t understand why a perfectly healthy 65 year old has such a higher risk for Covid that they can get their shot months before a 64 year old on dialysis, but those are the rules. Initially, my group was able to get our shots on March 29th, then Illinois changed it to Feb 25th. I was elated, I could resume my life a whole month earlier! Then, Chicago said we’re not doing that, then Cook County. I was devastated. In February I tried looking at sites not run by the city or county, like Walgreens but they’d always ask for a zip code and then say I didn’t qualify. Eventually, the rules changed that you could get a shot if you were under 65 with a pre-existing condition at the United Center earlier. On March 7th, I logged on my computer 10 minutes before the shot was available and we could already pick our appointments. I clicked on one in the next week and by the time I finished it said the appointment was unavailable. After a few times of doing this, I clicked on the last day listed and got an appointment at 9am. Please note, a few days after this, the UC decided to only schedule new appointments to people in certain underserved zip codes.

Between the time of scheduling my appointment and getting my shot, I was petrified that something would go wrong. They’d cancel it or I’d show up and they’d say I really didn’t quality. Nothing like this happened of course, but I brought medical papers with me proving I had health issues.

Getting the shot itself was not bad. I think the longest part was waiting for the appointment time to first be let it. It was a lot of walking from tent to tent. The shot itself didn’t even hurt. The side effects are real though. My arm started hurting during the 15 minute waiting period. I was exhausted by 3pm that day. The next day, my arm hurt so badly, I kept checking for a bruise that didn’t exist. The next day, I felt fine.

After the shot I was an emotional mess. I’ve been through enough in my life to know I process trauma by waiting until the initial danger is over and then experiencing a flood of emotions. Apparently my subconscious decided that getting the first dose meant the initial danger was over. I cried most of the car ride home and I honestly couldn’t have told you why at the time. I cried after I finished working that night. I had no idea how much I had been holding onto for the past year. I can’t begin to explain to you what it’s like to be told when you’re 20, after we start radiation your lungs and heart won’t be the same again. To accept that, cause you have to, move on with your life and 10ish years later find out that a disease is floating around that attacks the very systems you had to let get damaged to survive. I didn’t realize how much stress I had been under this past year. It felt good to let it out.

It’s nice to have some immunity, and I am looking forward to my second shot and then fully immunity on May 3rd. My first venture into the world fully vaccinated will be a dental appointment on May the 4th (be with you).

As you may know, I’ve been marking this pandemic by not wearing pants with a button or a zipper, in solidarity (with whom I’m not sure). It became a way to show that I am not living in my normal life. This is a different time, where I am doing different things, things that do not require nice pants. I can’t go to a restaurant, because I can’t wear nice pants (and indoor dining requires you to take your mask off indoors which isn’t a great idea). I decided to wear jeans to my first vaccine appointment, marking that the initial danger was over. I was happy they fit. They weren’t as uncomfortable as I thought they’d be, but they were off within an hour of my getting home.

I have decided sweat pants are superior to jeans. They’re more comfy. The pockets are way bigger. Have bigger pockets, ladies jeans! Pockets should be able to comfortably fit your phone and keys. When you watch shows that take place in the future no one is wearing jeans and I get it. I say we move towards that beautiful future.

Since about two-third of US adults are not vaccinated I want to offer some tips on how to successfully get a Covid shot.

  1. Check with any doctor you have ever been to if their hospital is offering the shot. Some hospitals automatically put you in a lottery and call you if you win, but if there are steps you need to take you should know. Don’t count of these lotteries though. You could be waiting a long time.
  2. Get registered with your county and city. At some sites it’s the only way to get a shot.
  3. When you hear of new blocks of appointments available at a mass vaccination site, log in a few minutes before the time in case they release early.
  4. Check pharmacy websites at the right time. People seem to have luck with first thing in the morning. I’ve heard midnight is when they add appointments at many places. I’ve also heard Walgreens releases new appointments at 6am on a Tuesday. So try at those times.
  5. When you see a block of appointments available, go straight to the last day listed and try appointments then. Humans are inherently lazy and will click on the first available date. No one, unless they’ve read this blog or talked to my Uncle Mike who supplied this tip, will think to click on the last day.
  6. Hang around vaccination sites right before they close. It feels a bit dystopian/soviet, but most vaccination sites have groups of people lurking around before closing waiting to see if there are extra shots. You need to get there like an hour early. They may give them out first according to priority order and then placement in line. So if someone over 65 is second in line and a teacher is first in line and one shot is available, it will go to the over 65 person.
  7. Make sure you have your second shot scheduled before you leave your first shot. I think places are getting better about this, but I do know of some people who didn’t get their second shot scheduled and had to hunt for an appointment all over again.
  8. If you win the lottery at your hospital and they call you to tell you, ask if anyone else in your household who qualifies can get vaccinated. The worst that can happen is say no.
  9. Watch the local news. They will announce changes in vaccine requirements. It’s important to be up to date as it is a dynamic situation. Local news will also do human interest pieces about things like 12 members of a family getting their shot on the same day. This story typically will also include important information on the vaccine site, making it easier to Google that site to look for appointments.
  10. Be my Dad. My Dad won the lottery at 3 hospital systems! He could be fully vaccinated 3 times by now, which I imagine would have either turned him into some sort of senior citizen superhero or given him immunity from Covid-20 and 21.

It’s important to get vaccinated as soon as you can, so we can get out of this crisis faster. It’s a long frustrating process to get a shot, but definitely worth it. Good luck!

The Month of Jeb

If you’re anything like me, you start off the new year with great plans. You’re going to eat healthier, exercise more, clean more, get organized, get a Covid shot, or whatever and suddenly (well not really suddenly cause time just moves differently in a pandemic) February is over and you’ve already lost two months of the year. I am pleased to inform you not to fear, because you’re only missed one month, the month of Jeb.

I first encountered Jeb (the combination of January and February) a few years ago when I was a project manager for a large public opinion study on health insurers. The survey was in field all year, every year. Every year they would make changes to the survey to launch in January, and every year we would tell them the deadline to give us those changes, remind them of it on our weekly meetings, and every year we watched that deadline pass. Then we watched the real deadlines pass, because obviously we gave the client a much earlier deadline than the real one. So we obviously didn’t start fielding the survey on January 1st, but we usually got it going right before the end of January. We therefore couldn’t deliver a January data file (as we delivered data on a monthly basis), but we’d combine January and February and deliver a Jeb file.

I really like Jeb. When you think about, January and February are basically the same. They’re cold, they’re dark, they’re full of snow. Jeb makes it just so you have one month between the post-Christmas slump and the hope that spring just might actually appear. One month just seems more tolerable than two (I mean its literally half) especially in a year like this. A year where we’ll all spend months waiting around to get our Covid vaccines so we can finally move on with our lives and do the things we haven’t been able to do. Waiting one less month, regardless of how many months it is, just seem more tolerable. So if you’re not as far in your 2021 goals as you’d like to be, be kind to yourself, only the month of Jeb has passed.

I Finished the 4th Game of Thrones Book and Dany Isn’t Even in it!

Jon Snow is barely seen, no Bran (which makes his not being in an entire season of the show make more sense) and no Tyrion. George RR Martin decided to split the 4th and 5th books into events close to Kingslanding and events not close to Kingslanding, which is a choice. So we focused on Jaime, Sam, Sansa, Arya, Cersei (who finally gets to narrate!), Brienne (who also gets to narrate), whatever is going on in the Iron Islands, and the Dornish drama. 

Let’s start with Cersei. Girl is crazy paranoid! We eventually find out that when she was a kid she got her fortune told by a witch, who says her kids will die, we all knew that from TV though. What they left out of the show is that the witch said her brother would kill her. She assumes its Tyrion. So when Tyrion kills her father and confesses to killing Joffrey, she understandably freaks. But does this mean that Jaime is going to kill her in the books as a fakeout, will Tyrion do it and remove a potential plot twice, an unknown bastard of Tywin. If George RR Martin doesn’t get to writing we may never know.

I need to give Lena Headey a lot of respect for how she played Cersei. Reading Cersei’s narration, I think it would have been very easy to play her very one dimensionally. She’s consumed with power and does a pretty terrible job of ruling, so I feel like it would have been pretty easy to just play her as a mad power hungry woman.

Cersei wants to be near Tommen, which is understandable, however Uncle Kevan, who in the show is just generic old man to Tywin’s right, won’t serve as hand if she stays with Tommen. So he leaves to help Lancel who just got some lands through marriage (unforunately Lancel joins the Sparrows). Cersei picks a horrible Hand and pretty much every other position on the small council. She wants to keep the Tyrell’s away. When Tommen wants to learn how to joust form Loras, she flips out. She hates Margery and convinced she’s sleeping around. Also important to mention, Tommen in 8, so their marriage is most definitely not consummated. What’s really dumb is Cersei actually trusts one of Margery’s people as an informant, who I’m fairly certain is playing her, but time will tell. Anyway, Cersei does get Margery thrown into prison for cheating on Tommen (not sure if she does) but one of Margery’s “lovers” confesses to sleeping with Cersei, which gets her thrown in prison.

A bit about the High Sparrow. Cersei does not put him in power. The Septons vote on it, like with the Pope, and he wins. There’s been this movement of Sparrows as so many people have lost everything in all of the wars and find religion. Cersei does give him the power to arrest people and fight, which everyone says is a stupid idea and proves to be so. Also, Loras is wounded in battle, not arrested by the Sparrows. He and Renly are never really established as lovers. Loras’s sexuality is more hinted at, like one might say they’d be shocked if Loras brought a girlfriend to the wedding.

Sansa meanwhile does not go to Winterfell and marry Ramsey (yay!). She’s stuck with Littlefinger in the Eyrie, engaged to her cousin Robin (boo!). Robin definitely has epilepsy and is most likely being poisoned by Littlefinger. She’s pretending she’s Littlefinger’s bastard, but he’s still into her, so its creepy af!

Arya’s in Braavos, like before, but the Faceless Men really don’t think she should join them. They are like we will send you literally anywhere and let you be literally anyone and she says no! How dumb is that! Anyway, they send to spend part of her time selling shellfish and gaining information and part of her time serving in the House of Black and White. Also, the other young girl there looks like a young girl, but is really 35. Arya kills a man who desserted the Night’s Watch and when the Faceless Men find out they poison her so she goes blind (ostensibly because she’s not giving up her identity because Arya cares about deserts of the Night’s Watch, but A Girl does not). Also our boy, Jaqen, H’ghar, isn’t there, but more on him later. Arya also has a chance encounter with Sam. I’m hoping Sam is to the Stark children’s story lines what Pizza Planet is to Pixar Movies in that he will serve a role in every one.

So, like in the books, Jon orders Sam to go to Old Town to become a Maester. That’s where the similarities end with the TV show. Sam doesn’t want to go! Seriously Sam, you can just read, and learn stuff, which is all you want to do! No one will make you fight or make you feel like a craven. But he’s like my Dad won’t like it. Your Dad sent you away. You are not really is son anymore, buddy chill out! Jon also sends Maester Aemon, whos 102 on this voyage to Old Town and Gilly. Now, Mance Rayder had a baby, the mother died in childbirth and Gilly was nursing it. Because the Red Woman wants King’s blood, Jon and Maester Aemon design a plan where Gilly will leave her baby at Castle Black and take Rayder’s (who has King’s blood). Gilly is obviously not happy about this and cries most of the trip. Maester Aemon goes too because he’s a Targaryen, and, due to events, could have been King if he weren’t a Maester. Sidebar, can someone write some fan fic about Westeros being really well run if Maester Aemon become King Aemon? I’d read it. Anyway, they travel by boat, wind up in Braavos, where they stay a bit as Maester Aemon is sick and another sworn Brother deserts (the one Arya kills). He also freaks out after him and Gilly get together because of his vows, which is different than TV Sam who is like well she’s not my wife so the vow is not broken. Maester Aemon dies, but does learn about Dany and believes that she needs a Maester to help her and guide her. He’s sad he’ll die and not be the one to do ti.

Onto the Iron Islands. Balon Greyjoy actually has a bunch of brothers and there’s a different one who would be a better ruler than Euron. Another brother who is a priest, decides they’ll just vote on it (you know, like plunderer’s do) and Asha (Yara on TV) puts her candidacy up, but loses. Euron wins and promises he’s going to plunder the crap out of Westeros and will marry the Dragon Queen. He does not try to kill Asha, but she runs off anyway. Theon is presumed dead.

Some minor differences before we get into the DRAMA! Jaime relearns to fight from Ilyn Payne, not Bronn. Bronn marries this “slow” woman who during that riot against Joffrey gets raped and pregnant. Cersei convinced Bronn is helping Tyrion gets this woman’s younger sister and her husband to fight Bronn. They don’t succeed. It does not end well for them.

Onto some drama! Brienne is looking for Sansa at Jaime’s command. Podrick, who is a young boy, so sadly we’ll never find out what he did to those whores to make them give him his money back, follows her and she eventually takes him on. She winds up learning that the Hound has Sansa and pursues him. It is believed that the Hound pillaging like crazy. In her pursuit, she ends up on this island with a bunch of monks, she’s told the Hound is dead, so whoever is pillaging is just posing as him. My guess is the Hound is on the island, so like the Hound is dead, but Sandor Clegane is not, so the head monk wasn’t really lying. Anyway, eventually they get kidnapped while saving a bunch of kids from the New Hound by Lady Stoneheart’s (zombie Catleyn Stark) men. Gendry is one of them. Anyway, she’s super upset that Brienne has orders from Tommen to find Sansa and believes Brienne is going to hurt her, despite Brienne’s protests. Lady Stoneheart is going to hang her and Pod but doesn’t when Brienne agrees to find and kill Jaime!! I know, right!

I had to read some stuff on the internet, cause I got confused, but I think Jaqen is posing as a student studying with the Maester’s in Old Town. In the prologue there’s this student who gets killed, but then he magically appears with Sam in Old Town, at the end of the book but is a little different. So not sure what’s going on there, but I’m very concerned for Sam.

The real good tea, as the kids would say, is in Dorne! Everything is crazy different in Dorne. Oberlyn’s daughter’s are understandably upset their father is dead. Prince Doran Martell has them locked up before they can mess everything up. Ellaria Sand isn’t around and her children with Oberlyn are little and not involved. But, Doran’s daughter, who is heir to Dorne, because they get that the patriarchy is nonsense, wants to name Myrcella Queen of Westeros. She believes her younger brother, not the one engaged to Myrcella, is across the Narrow Sea trying to buy an army to take her claim. She thinks if Myrcella is Queen there’s a small chance he will be successful. She seduces Myrcella’s guard, win’s his trust and gets him to take her to be coronated. The plan gets thwarted, Myrcella gets hurt, but doesn’t die. When Doran finally talks to his daughter after she is captured, we find out Doran has been playing the long game. He was going to defeat Tywin (before he died) for ordering his sister murdered, but first was going to destory everything he holds dear. He was going to marry his daughter to Viserys Targaryen, but he died. So now he sending his son to marry Dany, so they can help her retake her claim to the Iron Throne. And that is some tea!

How Exactly Do We Move Forward From Here?

Wow, everybody! It has been a week!! Events have transpired! I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m depressed. I’ve spent the past few days rotating between thinking I should move to Canada (once they let us in) and join the CIA. I got a little bit of perspective this weekend and I’d like to share my thoughts.

You can only control yourself. It’s a tough lesson, but it’s true. I spent years working with adults with intellectual disabilities. I could not control my clients behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I wrote behavioral plans for a living. So, while I gave them the tools they needed to succeed, I could not make those changes happen. I could only control how what I did and how I felt. Without violating HIPAA, some examples. I spent 10 minutes arguing with a client because I wanted him to do something now and he wanted to do it in 10 minutes. So once it hit the time he wanted we stopped arguing. I learned that I could not make clients stop stealing from other clients (insert beautifully written tangent about the horrors of institutionalization and how those behaviors still linger decades later). I could make sure their awesome cross-disciplinary behavioral plan was followed as best I could, which, decreased that behavior.

This is a long way to say, there are things I want to happen now, but there’s little I can do to make it happen. I want the government to spend an absurd amount of money and time catching every single person who went into the Capitol Building. I want every single one charged with a felony. Anyone who took anything, or broke anything charged with some serious crimes along the lines of terroism and insurrection. I want the RNC to theaten every single elected Republican that if they do not release a statement that there was no wide spread fraud in the 2020 election they will not receive funding. I want Trump Impeached, again, or the 25th Ammendment invoked.

I can’t make any of those things happen. I can, and should, sign petitions. I can not vote for extreme candidates. I can donate to candidates who oppose extreme candidates. I can donate to causes that fight white supremacy. I can donate to causes that fight domestic terrorism.

I can also work to stop the spread of false information online. I can make sure that every article I share or comment on is something I’ve actually read and from a source I believe to be true. I can’t think that just because my friend shared it that it must be fact. Even if I trust this friend. They may not have read it either.

I can not spread misleading headlines, even if the article is factual. Now, we’re all getting really into some weird stuff during the pandemic. I’m choosing Star Wars (as opposed to political conspiracies). So I see an article that has the headline along the lines of “Kathleen Kennedy Says Mandalorian is Lucky to Get a Second Season”. So you know, Kathleen Kennedy is the new head of Star Wars and some people do not like her, but they love the Mandalorian (so do I, I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now with Grogu, aka Baby Yoda on it as I type this). I read the article, and she says the Mandalorian is lucky to get a second season shot before the pandemic, so season 2 could air as scheduled. Now that’s obviously a lot different than the headline. Reading the comments, more than 50% we’re people being like “God I hate Kathleen Kennedy, Mando is the best thing to happen to Star Wars and she’s an idiot for trying to kill it.” So, here are all these people getting worked up over a misleading headline. Now this is a relatively benign example, but imagine if this was politically related information. People could get so worked up they might like storm Congress or something.

Now, I can’t make journalists write responsible headlines, but I can not share articles like this (Star Wars, political, Covid, and other non Star Wars related topics). When I see articles like this, instead of believing it, I can investigate it myself. I can read the article, and do some research, especially if I am not familiar with the website it was posted on. Make American Google Again (MAGA, too soon?, not soon enough?).

I can not aruge with people on the interent. I’ve never seen anyone change their mind based on a fight in the comments. Have you? I can post articles, from respected news sources. I can share my opinions (clearly labeled as such) and hope that people may change their minds based on that. But arguing just makes people angry and anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering (this is a Yoda quote, again I’m really leaning into Star Wars in 2021). If someone you know on the internet makes you so angry you want to verbally spar with them either unfriend or unfollow them. Not just if they piss you off politically. But that girl you maybe had English with who wants you to join her pyramid scheme business, unfriend her. That guy from junior high who is a cancer truther, unfriend him. It improves yoru internet experience.

I can condemn whenever protests turn violent, even if I agree with the general stance of the protesters. Violence is not the right answer. It’s not helping the protesters point and it never will.

If we all actually did these things we might be able to get some of this extremism under control. It wouldn’t fix everything, I’m not that naieve, but it sure would help.

Until next time. Take care of yourself and make good choices. Even though I can’t actually make you do that.

Happy New Year…I Guess

Well, we made it, 2021! Normally, I’m excited about new year, the plans that I have, the goals that I make, and often don’t keep. This year not so much.

My NYE was pretty low key this year, which is not typical for me. It was fun, but quite possibly the first NYE at spent at home just with my immediate family. Since I was a kid we either had parties or went to a party. As I got older, I started going out to bowling alleys, bars, and most recently the zoo (which is quite fun, relatively cheap, and not too cold if you dress appropriately).

The holidays are basically over. I mean I can try to make Epiphany hella lit, but then what. I’m staring into an abyss of days where its so cold my nose hairs freeze together, where I’ll be working, alone, staring at a screen that is damaging my eyes for the few hours a day where we have daylight, to then spend my nights staring at either a larger or smaller screen until it’s time to go to bed and do the whole thing all over again. Also, deaths from Covid will increase for a few weeks, there’s a new, more contagious strain, and if we’re being honest, I don’t like that we don’t know if we got all the murder hornets. They kind of feels like White Walkers, nobody paid that much attention initially, and then they were a BIG deal. Happy 2021 indeed!

So with that in my future, I’ve found myself getting a little hopeless, these past few days. I know that better things will come this year. I’ll get a Covid vaccine (and write the blog post, “Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot, Now I got my Covid Shot”). I’ll start interacting with the larger world again, see friends, family, and let me chin be visible from a radius closer than 6 feet (and write the blog post with the working title “I’ve Been Wearing a Chewbacca Onesie All Winter, How Can You Expect Me to Interact with Society Now?).

But all of that feels too far away for my hopeless brain to get excited about it. Luckily I remembered something I read on the internet once. Now, as my favorite Abraham Lincoln quote goes “You can’t trust everything you read on the internet.” (Get it, because there was no internet in Abraham Lincoln’s time, everyone knows Al Gore invented it (I read that on the internet too (get it, so meta!))) Anyway, I read that someone said you don’t have to be excited about the future, there just has be things that you’re mildly curious to see. So, while I can’t get excited right now about maybe letting my chin be visible at some unknown future point, I can be mildly curious about things. Also, I highly recommend this if you’re also feeling a little hopeless (if you are feeling depressed or are feeling this way for 2+ weeks, please see a licensed professional and don’t follow the advice on someone from the internet because of the aforementioned Abraham Lincoln quote). I find when I get hopeless I repeat some things I’m mildly curious about over and over and then I do feel better. It’s a little Sound of Music-y, but it works.

My list is below if you need help thinking of stuff. It’s super nerdy, because while some get politically radicalized during this pandemic, I’ve gotten super into my nerdier interests:

  • Watch “The Mandalorian” documentary
  • Watch the various Star Wars cartoon shows
  • Finish the two hook rugs I’m working on
  • Rewatch the Harry Potter movies
  • Finish the Song of Fire and Ice (aka Game of Thrones) books
  • I signed up for a 1000 mile virtual race in 2021, I’m curious to see how I do
  • I’m gonna read the additional “Catholic” books of the Bible this year. (Yes Cahtolics, the rest of us don’t have as much to read)
  • I submitted a question to The Office Ladies podcast and I’m curious to see if it gets answered.
  • The results of my AncestryDNA test (and write the blog post “I Just Took A DNA test, turn out I’m…”

It’s not much, but it’s something to help keep me going as we get through these dark (literal and figurative) few months.

You’re Going to Have a Not So Great Christmas, and That’s Ok.

Hi again! The holidays are upon us what was unthinkable in March is still here. Covid-19 is raging across our country. We’re losing well over 2,000 Americans a day. It’s scary, but what scares me the most is how many people care so little right now. I get it (not really) the holidays are here and you want to spend time with your loved ones, you want to do all the traditional crowded, non-pandemic safe things you’re used to doing. I often have not one, but two 20+ people gatherings involving hugs, eating, and not maintaining social distance. I see a Christmasy play every single year. The vast majority of my holiday will have to be different. It’s going to be a weird Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) and as someone who is an expert in weird and/or bad Christmases, let me tell you it’s going to be ok.

For the vast majority of these weird Christmases everything is fine. You’ll still fell like it’s Christmas, you’ll still get that warm fuzzy feeling of peace on Earth, good will to men, and not thinking Tiny Tim’s life is expendable because he has a pre-existing condition (see what I did there). In some respects they’re even more memorable. So baby’s first Christmas, first Christmas married, or first Christmas in the new house (maybe all 3, I don’t know your life) will be weird but it will be memorable. You’ll appreciate what’s really important even more and the next, presumably normal Christmas will feel even more special.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, why should I trust you Katie? How are you an expert in weird and/or bad Christmases? How dare you imply that Christmas will be ok, if I don’t insert high risk Covid activity? While this Christmas will definitely crack my top 3 weirdest Christmases, maybe the top 2, I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I know it will be ok. Here are my weirdest Christmases as more proof.

Honorable Mention: The Christmas Grandma Dislocated her Shoulder. Grandma slipped in the bathroom on Christmas Eve (which is when we celebrate with that side of the family) and my mom and my aunt had to take her to the ER. In order to try and keep the food going they had everyone else do some more intensive cooking prep. Pro tip: if your aunt puts a bunch of potatoes in front of you and says peel the potatoes, she doesn’t actually want you to peel all the potatoes. She will be mad when you do it, but will never be able to tell you approximately what percentage of the potatoes peeled will be appropriate. Grandma made it home safely, we still ate all the foods, and potato-gate led to many a potato pancake eaten between Christmas and New Years.

Third Weirdest Christmas: The Christmas Grandma was in Orthopedic Rehab Leg Surgery. First of all, don’t worry different Grandma than the last Christmas Injury Grandma. Second of all worry because the woman has so much metal in her legs she cannot float and her bones have been described as “Styrofoam” by a medical professional. I digress, Grandma had one of her many leg surgeries around Christmas and was still in rehab for the holiday. We gathered in the hallway of the rehab center. They gave us a conference room to put our food in. I don’t know if you’ve ever made your Christmas plate near a larger office printer but it is something else. We had to keep quiet due to the other patients. We couldn’t really mingle. My aunt tried to hook my sister and I up with a nice nurse to the extent that he finally had to mention his wife. But again, it was fine.

Second Weirdest Christmas: The Christmas Where I Finished Radiation. So back in the day, I spent from about right before Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve (so basically the whole holiday season) getting radiation. The particular type of radiation I got was not available in Chicago at the time, so my mom and I traveled out of state to get it. I was mostly away from my dad and my sister, let alone extended family, throughout the holiday season (sound familiar). I got my last treatment on Christmas Eve and my family drove the 6+ hours to Chicago through the snow. I can tell you two equally true stories about that holiday season. I can tell you one where we made it despite the snow, my energy held up throughout Christmas, total strangers helped our family, my Grandma independently cooked what may have been her last Christmas dish before she passed the baton on to make sure I had something soft enough to eat, and I got so much stuff for Christmas (people give you whatever you want when you might be dying). I can tell you another story about how I was so exhausted I basically just napped for weeks. My esophagus was so messed up from the radiation that I basically couldn’t eat any leftovers and lived on ensure for 6 weeks. I was under the constant fear that I was going to die. I know what it’s like to be Sick (big S) for Christmas. I do not recommend it. I’ll always love and cherish that year, but I do not wish it upon anyone. You want to do all you can to avoid this happening to you or anyone else.

Weirdest Christmas: The Christmas Where Grandpa Died. So, 5 years later, my Grandpa died on Christmas. I had been greatly looking forward to that Christmas as in the cancer survivor community, 5 years is more or less an all clear. But life had other plans. Grandpa had been sick, but really took a turn. I went to the hospital to visit him on Christmas Eve and then went to visit the other side of the family as we usually do. He passed a little after midnight on Christmas Day. It was awful. It did ruin Christmas that year. There were no warm fuzzy feelings. It kicked off what I can only describe as the Winter of the Dead Grandfathers (that is plural) and which reached its climax at the Weekend of the Grandfathers’ Funerals (again, that is plural). Losing two loved ones close together, as often happens with Covid, is terrible. I would not wish that upon anyone. You want to do what you can to avoid it.

So the good news is, while I had all these awful Christmases. I still love Christmas. It’s still my favorite holiday by far. One or five weird holidays isn’t going to mess it up forever. It’s just going to mess up this year. And to be quite honest, as long as you’re not dying, you can make the most of it. It’s harsh, but it’s true. Focus on what you have this year and try new traditions. Christmas has always been a marathon in my family, and I’m looking forward to having a relaxing time as opposed to the usual running around.

But you need to do the things. You need to wear a mask every time you’re within 6 feet of someone not in your bubble, even if it’s Christmas. You need to not gather indoors with people who aren’t in your bubble, even if it’s Christmas. The whole point of the holidays are to care about our fellow humans, so actually do it.