chukichi

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About chukichigeek

I'm lazy and I eat too much.

This. Fucking. Week. — Part Three (Finally)

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Cake.  I promised to talk about cake.  But first, let’s talk about Robin’s birthday activity.

For years, we have all been wanting to visit Noah’s Ark.  Robin is crazy about animals, especially cats, so an animal sanctuary famous for its big cats was too good to pass up.   If you’re not familiar with this little animal sanctuary in the middle of Georgia, it became famous for their “BLT” trio:  a bear, lion, and tiger.  From their website:

BALOO THE AMERICAN BLACK BEAR (URSUS AMERICANUS), LEO THE AFRICAN LION (PANTHERA LEO), AND SHERE KHAN THE BENGAL TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS TIGRIS); KNOWN AS “THE BLT” CAME TO NOAH’S ARK IN 2001 AFTER THEY WERE DISCOVERED BY POLICE OFFICERS IN A BASEMENT OF AN ATLANTA HOME DURING A DRUG RAID. AT ONLY A FEW MONTHS OLD, ALL THREE CUBS WERE FRIGHTENED, MALNOURISHED, AND INFECTED WITH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PARASITES WHEN THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES BROUGHT THEM TO NOAH’S ARK.

The trio became quite famous for their bond and it’s one of our greatest regrets that we didn’t get a chance to see them in their prime.  Unfortunately Leo the lion passed away in 2016 and Shere Khan followed in 2018.

Baloo, an American black bear, was in the worst condition of the three cubs rescued with a severely ingrown harness digging into his flesh because it was never loosened as he grew in size. The harness was so ingrown that his flesh had begun to grow over and around it, and surgical intervention was required to remove the harness and clean his deep, infected wounds. During Baloo’s surgery was the only time the three BLT brothers have ever been separated from one another, and Shere Khan (tiger) and Leo (lion) became extremely agitated because of it, pacing and vocalizing for the lost member of their family to return. After his surgery, Baloo was returned to his brothers and the three have been together ever since, with hardly a quarrel between them. […] We have a bereavement plan in place for Baloo and will be monitoring him closely to ensure that loosing his last brother doesnt take an adverse physical toll on his health. He was with Shere Khan this morning every step of the way and will be present for his burial as well, just like he was for Leos burial.

The weather for the week of Robin’s birthday was wasn’t bad except for her actual birthday.  The temperature in middle Georgia that day was in the high 90s and we were very ill prepared to walk the outdoor animal sanctuary.  Never mind that it was only about a mile to a mile and a half of trails.  We were overheating like crazy and I genuinely thought I or the kids were going to get literal heat stroke.  They were NOT sweating and just turning red; luckily, I was sweating like a pig.

This was literally the first exhibit. The looks of horror on my children’s faces when we explained they were having sex. HAPPY TRAUMATIC BIRTHDAY!

Most of my pictures are of fences with animals waaaay off in the background which is fine. That means they’re not crammed up to be gawked at by slack jawed yokels like me.

I desperately wanted to cuddle, even in the heat.

It’s not the fanciest place considering you can go for free—yes, FREE.  They run entirely on donations, proceeds from their gift shop, and other products that directly benefit the animals.  You know you want to buy a lion or tiger an indestructible toy ball!  A slow pace and making bee lines to shaded bench areas was all that was getting us through.  Being the complete idiot I am, I didn’t think at all that we’d need water because of how short the trail was.  There were no fountains along the trail or in the gift shop that I could remember.   All of the water from the park comes directly from a well on the property.  A sulfur well.  So not only was it lukewarm well water, it also smelled of rotten eggs.

That explained the bathroom smell, at least.

Bottled water from the lone vending machine was $2 each for which we eagerly paid.   Seeing the animals was a great experience but overall the weather absolutely ruined it.

The price of admission is really reflected in terms of the general feeling of wear throughout the property, but for the most part, the animals have large open spaces to move about.  It’s far from perfect, but leagues better than some other so-called sanctuaries we’ve visited in the past.  For the record, we did give a monetary donation and bought the kids some tee shirts, magnets, and stickers, most of which have since been lost.

One plus was the local Burger King/gas station combo.  It sounds silly but that place was HEAVEN.  The bathrooms were HUGE and clean, there was a waiting area to cool off and recharge figuratively and literally with comfortable lounge chairs and couches with accessible outlets to charge devices.  It was near the highway so they were built specifically for highway traffic.  Standard Burger King fare and gas station tchotchkes of course, but 10/10 would recommend stopping on a scorchingly hot birthday excursion.

This. Fucking. Week. — Part Two

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Tuesday.  Tuesday was going to be my day.  My plan was high frustration, but high payoff.  First, I had to drop my car off at the dealership for a diagnostic.  Back in November 2018, I was finally able to trade in my (13 year old!) car for newer wheels.  I’m now the owner of my third red car, a 2015 Chevy Equinox.

My car, having a good, thoughtful stare out into the sea…

The 13 year old car was a silver 2005 Saturn Vue bought new when I was young and determined to prove that I had become a Real Adult.  Obviously that whole ‘adult’ thing never happened and while buying new is kind of financially terrible, driving it to the very end of 13 years really does make it cost effective.  And honestly, if Saturn hadn’t gone out of business and I could get parts more reliably I’d probably still be driving it.  That Saturn lasted me through multiple accidents (none of which were my fault, thankyouverymuch), thousands of hours of commuting, buying my first (and only) house, and two babies and everything that comes with that.

Though it was sad to see him go, I love this new (to me) car.  I love that the interior is chocolate and black with red stitching.  I love that the air conditioner is not only functional, but efficient!  I love that it can hold about three or four more gallons of gas than my old car so my low fuel light come on fractionally less.  I especially love that when the hatch to the trunk is opened, it stays open—a luxury that I lived without for years in my previous vehicle.  Bonus:  auxiliary port for my cell phone, cup holder arm rest in the back, remote start which is borderline Kitt/Christine magic.  I’M LIVING IN 2015!

Jogging back up the beach after a quick splash…

However, used cars always have that hint of lemon freshness to them and this car has had electrical issues from day one.  Issues with the information screen (it has an information screen!) having long delays connecting, speaker volume cutting in and out, collision alarm going off for absolutely no reason on a completely open stretch of road.  The biggest and most annoying issue is the passenger seat belt alarm triggering regardless of what is in the seat.  Groceries?  ALARM.  Cell phone?  ALARM.  Heavy backpack?  ALARM.  Oxygen molecules?

MOTHER

FUCKING

ALARM

MOTHER

FUCKER.

Earlier this year I scheduled an oil change and asked the service center to check on a very specific issue:  my car creaks.  Like, a 100 pound kid can hop in and the frame squeaks and creaks.  If-this-car’s-a-rockin’ type squeaks.  I also asked about the sensitivity of the passenger seat belt alarm and was immediately shut down about that one with the excuse that it’s “sensitive” and everyone complains about it.

Okay, sure.

The service people said there was nothing actually wrong with the frame or suspension and to just ignore the creaking.  Again, okay, sure.  But a few weeks ago my car died in the parking lot at Josh’s Korean class.  This may come as a shock, but my car died because my battery died.  Even more shocking?  The shit battery was the biggest culprit of all of my electrical issues as it was completely past its life span when it was sold to me.

If they hadn’t blown off my concerns 6 months ago, I would not have been stuck dead in a parking lot in 100 degree heat because my battery would have already been replaced.  For the record, the Chevy Equinox’s battery is completely stupid to replace and is under computer sensors and just generally more complicated than any other car I’ve had in the past.

Circled is the actual invisible ninja battery.

 

Oh, the good ol’ days where you didn’t have to move heaven and earth just to get to your car battery.  For the record, circled below is where you can jump start the battery, labeled 1 and 2 in the previous picture.

Also, car batteries have a life of about 3 years, depending on the battery.  I purchased this car in November of 2018, to past the 3 year mark.  It may seem like a small issue, but it obviously led to a real pain in the ass and I’m lucky it wasn’t a worse situation.

So now that all that backstory has been laid out, Tuesday was the first day I could get an appointment at the dealership for a diagnostic.  I was still having sporadic electrical issues even after changing the battery.  I was very specific:

  • These issues are occurring even after the new battery was installed
  • These issues are sporadic and unpredictable.  Random.  Arbitrary.  Haphazard.  Other synonyms.

Their initial diagnostic came from OnStar which gave a detail of all the electrical issues I’ve been having…but no date stamp?  So maybe these issues were from yesterday, last month, or last year!  What an amazing and useless service.  Fact:  OnStar is useless if your battery dies.

Also a fact: my dealership service center is useless.  After all of the necessary detail and discussion, the Mr. still got a call asking if these issues happened before or after the battery change.  They then proceeded to tell him that they couldn’t do anything unless they knew how these problems were being triggered because saying that the issues were sporadic and unpredictable wasn’t clear enough, I guess.  They also kept my car overnight and didn’t bother to call and let me know.  The service center closes at 6 PM and after multiple calls, the Mr. finally got a text saying they didn’t find anything wrong and would have to keep it all day Wednesday.  No, they  would not be offering a rental through our warranty plan as they were still unsure of the cause of the issues and therefore it couldn’t be determined if it was a warranty issue.

Hard pass, we said we’d pick it up on Wednesday because fuck it.  Who needs a reliable electrical system?

Let me tell you, that $3,000 bumper to bumper warranty is just paying for itself.

Not having a vehicle in the midst of this whirlwind life was shit.  I know this is absolutely a first world problem but fuck that, I live in this first world and suddenly not having access to something that I’ve had almost daily for 24 years is debilitating.  Even if the car was going to be unavailable for most of the day, nothing indicated that it would be a full day/overnight/next day thing.

But if that were the only frustration on Tuesday I probably would not be writing about it.  My stress about the new office and Robin’s birthday were still very raw and only exacerbated when I received my shipment in from Party City.  Somehow, I only got one pack each of dinner plates, dessert plates, and dessert napkins.  I also ordered balloons in error—we decided to ban helium balloons this year because my local Party City is shit.

Even though I’m dumb, the stuff was still cute.

Tangent:  in college, there was a greasy spoon called Pancake City and everyone called it Pancake Shitty.  Isn’t college is just the center of creativity and wit?  Something I learned quickly:  do not order anything except breakfast there or you’re gonna have a bad time.

So Party Shitty is thusly named because they never have balloons in stock.  They always have something just off—no red star balloons, but they have heart balloons.  Or they have two yellow balloons when you need a dozen.  They also run out of helium a lot and then store use their disposable helium cans so you can’t buy those instead.  Oh, this giant pyramid of helium tanks?  Not for sale.  This has added to birthday stress in the past and between that and the rising cost of mylar and latex, we cut out the balloons completely.

Honestly, I don’t know why I only got one of everything.  I want to believe it’s a never-ending conspiracy of the universe to follow the old adage of when it rains, it pours.  But more likely is that in my last-minute panic and hurry I just fucked up the order.  I did go out to get additional plates, napkins and tchotchkes on Wednesday after I got my car back.  I also stopped by Office Depot to pick up the printed copies of party games I made and submitted online the night before.  How long could it possibly take to print out about 20 color pages?

Well, according to Office Depot, 24 hours.  I read my paper wrong and thought 12 hours—7 AM the next day after submitting (and paying for) my order at 7 PM the night before.  As Hitler once said, my bad.  The lady was nice and said they could probably be done by noon or 1 and that they’d call me when it was done.

You know where this is going, right?

3 PM came and went.  Since the order was placed under the Mr.’s account I had him call that evening to check on it.  After talking to an obviously surprised and flustered print department employee, they assured us it would be done by 7 PM and they’d call us when it was ready.

You know how this story is going to turn out, right?  I mean, I’m going to finish it, but I feel like I’m being painfully predictable here.

No call, no text, but miraculously, an email showed up notifying us that the order was ready for pick up.  At 8:50 PM.  Office Depot closes at 9 PM.

I haven’t even gotten to the cake yet.

A Topical Post?

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A lovely Wednesday morning, 64 degrees and it finally feels like October.  At least it will feel that way for a few more minutes.  I went to bed this morning at 6 AM and woke up at 8:30 AM bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world!

I mean, I will be after I finish this giant ass mug of coffee and HOW CUTE ARE THESE KRISPY KREMES!

And oh…yeah…this mug that I made in 2015…with the Hearthstone logo on one side and my Warcraft guild banner on the other.  Good times.

First, I need to establish the fact that I’m a total hipster when it comes to hating Blizzard:  I broke up with Blizzard way before it was cool and I didn’t need to scream it from the rooftops because I don’t need the universe’s  validation.  Conversely,

PLEASE LIKE AND COMMENT AND FOLLOW THIS BLOG AND SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS OMG I NEED THE VALIDATION.

I was a Vanilla WoW player and originally quit due to babies and time and I knew that I would have little to no self-control when it came to gaming.  I was young and all I did at the time was work and then come home to play video games with the Mr.  You can Google “baby dies from neglect video games” and there is no shortage of horror stories.  I didn’t think that would neglect my children, but definitely I would tell the rest of my life to fuck off if I was still enmeshed with Warcraft.  With my first baby I was scared of everything.  In fact, I learned about pregnancy and listeria and didn’t have a cold sandwich for my entire pregnancy.  I was so psychologically terrified that I began having an intense fear of a zombie apocalypse primarily, I think, to distract myself from my fear of everything that could actually go wrong during a pregnancy.

The second time I quit was because of how much it was interfering with my marriage; this awesome game that originally pitted me and the Mr.  against the entire world of Azeroth and beyond had imperceptibly over time become a huge wedge between us.  In our desperate need to escape from problems in the real world, we did so separately and nearly destroyed our marriage.  When we fixed our marriage (or at least that aspect) and found our way back out WoW, something was just different.  It was definitely a bigger time sink (fuck you, LFR queue for dps) but the player environment was more toxic as well.  Everything was a mindless grind because the more time it took to complete every goal was more money in Blizzard’s pocket.  Don’t get me wrong, obviously they want you to play more/pay more but at least make it fun or interesting.

But this isn’t a post about how crazy or not crazy I am, nor is it about how I researched the cost of bulk canned water.  It especially is not about how I ultimately calmed my zombie fears by reasoning that a biological zombie outbreak would end rather quickly considering how fast insects and carrion feeders would eliminate the zombie threat, but the fact that Blizzard is once again being a piece of shit.

This all comes on the heels of the big news about Blizzard and the pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung (holy shit, is that a great name).  Literally every article out there can detail the controversy better than I ever could, but basically, Blitzchung is a professional Hearthstone player and in a post-match interview he made a political statement regarding his support for Hong Kong’s protesting citizens.  Blizzard was like NOPE and promptly fired him, rescinded all of his tournament winnings and banned him from Hearthstone professional matches for 12 months.

Personal disclaimer:  I am half-Chinese (half-Thai!) but 100% disconnected from my “roots”.  I speak more Spanish than I do any Asian language, I can’t make a proper dumpling or bao but I make the fucking best Thanksgiving turkey EVER.  Better than the Mr.’s grandmother’s and that’s a big statement in The South.  I don’t have a solid opinion on Hong Kong because I’m 1.) completely ignorant regarding politics in general, world politics even more so, and 2.) very aware of how this can all be manipulated and stirred up by rogue agents from all over the world.  Ultimately, I think the vast majority of Hong Kong protesters are genuine in what they believe in and I have no doubt the violence is very, very real.  However, I’m wary of the media (as everyone should be) and “first hand accounts” are mostly unreliable because you can’t vet and verify it.  I see posts on reddit, imgur, all over social media and if I don’t personally know the poster, how can I be sure it’s not a professional rabble rouser?  Part of a shadow government pulling strings?  While comical and humorous, I suspect most political protests start like this:

Unpopular opinion:  Blizzard is well within their rights and interests to fire Blitzchung.  The wording in their contracts are purposefully vague—they aren’t paying all that money to contract lawyers for nothing.  Nothing that Blizzard had done is in any way illegal, an infringement on Blitzchung’s rights, or against anything that makes them a company.

Just because they have the right to do it doesn’t make it right.

I hate these trends where everyone is suddenly shocked and appalled at corporations being…corporations.  They are financially obligated to their shareholders to MAKE MONEY.  That’s how corporations work.    Blizzard had “the best year ever” and simultaneously laid off 800 employees?  MAKE MONEY.  Pissing off China will be a significant detriment to their ability to MAKE MONEY.  In the second quarter of 2019, Activision Blizzard earned $173 million from the Asia Pacific region, about 12 percent of its $1.4 billion worldwide total revenues.  Just because a company can afford something has no bearing whatsoever on whether they will afford something.

I personally feel like everyone has their nostalgia glasses on and are desperately clinging to early 2000’s Blizzard, rather than the reality of Activision-Blizzard of 2019.  The company that Blizzard was is definitely not the company Activision is.  Like so many others, I want to romanticize Blizzard and remember them in the frame that I created for them:  cool, innovative, involved with their customer base of gamers.  I remember being able to chat with GM’s in the actual game!  Blue text posts were something to look forward to and the people that worked there were (or at least did an amazing job of acting) invested in not only the game that they’d worked on but also how it was received by their audience that mirrored them in joy and passion.  I think it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about any Blizzard game and even longer since Blizzard was interested in their original culture.

Unpopular opinion 2:  Blitzchung’s right to free speech has not been infringed.  He is absolutely free to say whatever he wants; he is not, however, free from consequences that come from what he says.  My personal opinion is that he’s not an idiot and knew that speaking out would be controversial. He lives in Hong Kong, not the United States, so any argument of US Constitutionality is really a moot point.  Blitzchung’s response and demeanor after Blizzard’s decision tells me that he was not surprised by the outcome and seemed mentally and emotionally prepared for the aftermath.  Like so many voices over the internet have stated, this blow up has just brought more attention to the cause and hopefully at least a portion of this attention will result in actual education rather than coat-tailing.

I’m an old cynical lady.  I know someone that can make a career out of esports isn’t going to go broke and die in this environment.  As much as I want to believe that this all comes from a place of true concern for Hong Kong, I wonder if there was ulterior motive for his action.  Maybe he wanted out of his contract?  Maybe he had an offer from another company that was more lucrative?  Maybe Bart Simpson paid him a good chunk of change to start a riot in the bank?

In my opinion, regardless of Blitzchung’s motive, at the end of the day, Blizzard is still shit and has been for a long time.  I’m glad I haven’t paid them any money in a long time and I’m especially glad that I haven’t gotten sucked back in under the lure of Classic WoW.  I am not going to bandwagon and tell anyone to #boycottBlizzard.  Other people need to make a living either directly or peripherally and as noble as the cause is, eating, paying rent, caring for your family—those are absolutely more important.  No one really wants to be a martyr.  The right or wrong of it, the solution to even one of any of the hundreds of aspects of this?  Good luck, because you sure as hell won’t find it here.

More than anything I hope Blitzchung and those he cares about stay safe and successful.  I hope the employees at Blizzard continue to do what they can without compromising themselves in the process.  More than anything, I hope things don’t get as bad as we all think they will.