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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.

On being hungry

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Well damn.  I take a nap and the whole country is at war.  Again.  About food.

Abraham is rethinking his life choices.

Social media is attacking everyone on their opinion about the White House dinner for Clemson’s football team (sooooo much, just Google that mess).  Basically, fast food is garbage to serve people vs. ‘real’ Americans love fast food, cater them a proper meal vs. tax payers shouldn’t pay for meals for college athletes, they loved the meal! vs. they thought this was a joke!

It is definitely a new level of absurdity that an entire group of people traveled to the White House, dressed up, and ate fast food served on historical solid silver platters during the longest government shutdown to date.  I tried to understand who pays for these invitations–if the President invites you to hang out, does the taxpayer buy plane tickets?  Is it up to the individual?  I assume it’s like going out on a traditional date:  the person doing the asking should be the person doing the paying (unless the person being asked feels more comfortable paying their own way but does so in quarters because she’s broke but doesn’t want to be obligated on this outing that she really, really wants to be a date but isn’t sure is a date because no one ever said it was a date-date, not that that’s ever happened to me or anything).  According to this 2014 article from the Guardian, “The cost of meals for some White House events, including state dinners and receptions, is picked up by the State Department or political parties….For private events, presidents pay for food and beverages, use of waiters and servers and setup and cleanup crews. Taxpayers are only supposed to pay for official government functions.”  So…are athlete dinners official or just a fancy, expensive date?

The hands make this picture look really tense for some reason.

Why is food such a divisive and controversial subject?  Food is weaponized against every group, every class, every person in this country.  If you have allergies to dairy or gluten then you’re just pretentious, if you eat fast food you’re uncultured trash, if you try to eat a healthier, more organic diet you’re a hippy, if you’re overweight then you’re just the worst across the board–crank that up by 1000 if you’re overweight and on any public assistance like SNAP.

Articles like this one from The Atlantic are popping up (again) announcing what a lot of already know or already experienced:  college students are not getting enough food, especially student athletes.  From Thanks for nothing: NCAA leaving athletes hurt and hungry:

“I called my coach after opening an empty fridge and told him “ Coach I ain’t got no food , no money , I’m about to do something stupid.” Arian Foster added.

 

“Our stadium had like 107,000 seats, 107,000 people buying the ticket to come and watch us play…I go to my dorm, open the fridge and there’s nothing in the fridge.… Why don’t I have something to show for what I did…. It’s total bullshit, but you don’t say anything because if you say anything, you step out of line and that will hurt your chances of getting to that next level.”

All of this has really struck a chord with me today.  This entire day has been a reflection on gratitude, and how different my life is today than it was 20 years ago.  Also, reflecting on my life 20 years ago makes me feel incredibly ancient.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I home school my kids for reasons and Fridays are more of an independent/fun/hands on type day.  Of course, today was Monday which meant that even my “easy” day fell apart but whatever.  Fridays are for cooking and food science which is a wonderful way to incorporate literally anything you want into hanging out in the kitchen.  Our previous classes covered easier things like kitchen safety, reading a recipe, fractions (baking), chemical reactions (baking) or how yeast is just farting into our bread and how that’s great (more baking).  Now we’re moving on to eggs (understanding and labeling the biological structure), where our food comes from and how we process food in America vs. other countries.  Today we discussed amino acids and how heat changes their structure. Boiling eggs doesn’t sound particularly fun, but it was and delicious.  As an aside, watch/read (on hiatus) Silver Spoon because it’s wonderful and explains agriculture in a very gross and delightful way.

Here is where I am reminded of my current place in life and how different it is now.  We boiled 18 eggs to observe the stages of denaturation.  I bought a portable induction cook top specifically for use with the kids which is safer than them both perched on kitchen chairs over an open flame gas stove but also maybe kind of indulgent?  The fact that I do not have to work and that I have the absolute luxury of teaching my kids at home.  I’m living the whitest, middle classist, soccer mommy-est dream ever.  And I know it.

I love eggs

I talk about all of this because when I hear all of this garbage in the news about food and food quality and how suspiciously people look upon those who do not have any I am amazed.  I wonder if those people have ever been hungry–truly hungry.  I have been hungry in blessedly short stints–days and weeks where I’ve had little to no food.  I vividly remember the pain and sickness that comes from eating even a little bit after days of not eating.  I can’t imagine long-term hunger because it never lasted long enough to do serious damage to my body.  Long term starvation destroys muscle and brain tissue but usually the body is so weakened that the immune system shuts down first and infectious disease runs rampant.  What a memory, to be grateful for only being hungry and not starving; short term sickness instead of long term damage.  Thinking of having just one egg, let alone 18 WHOLE EGGS was at the time, completely out of reach.  Protein is expensive and carbohydrates are cheap.

Specifically, I remember being down to one last bagel.

not fancy bagels like these, though

Long story short, I was broke, and my $5 per hour part time minimum wage job wasn’t doing enough to pay my $200 rent AND pay for utilities AND keep a car to go to work AND keep me in any sort of mental state to stay in college.  Typical paycheck gone-before-received scenario and the last food in my apartment was a bag of 6 Wal-Mart (where I was working, of course) blueberry bagels.  I am guessing it was about a dollar for the bag, as a current bag of bagels at Wal-Mart are $1.64.  These 6 bagels were going to last me at least 6 days but on the first day I made the mistake of eating the first bagel like…a bagel.  Cut in half, toasted in the oven (because who can afford a toaster?!) and devoured in its entirety in about 10 seconds.  The biggest problem was eating that bagel didn’t take any time whatsoever.  I eventually went to half a bagel a day but my genius moment was when I decided to slice the bagel into chips, bake them, and eat them one or two at a time throughout the day.  It spread out my “meals” and gave me the mental security that I would have something for later, even if it was just a bite.

And that’s how I lived for a while.

Another time I remember driving up to the store to buy two of the tiniest cans of tomato sauce for 44 cents each.  I had enough money to buy two and if I remember correctly, they were the 8 oz. sized cans (about half of a normal sized can).  It was humiliating because this was where I worked–people I knew saw me, saw what I was buying and in proper form roasted the hell out of me for it.  I played it off as if I had just ran out and only needed a little bit.  I’m sure I cried after the fact, not just from the situation but also probably because the three strands of spaghetti were shit.

Moving to a different state, getting different jobs, the scenario stayed the same.  If you’re sneaky, you can eat leftovers out of a trash can or steal expired canned food out of the break room cabinet once you’re sure no one remembers who put it in there.  No one expects bank workers to not have money and not have food.  I feel like my life was saved when I landed a job at a medical practice that paid decently, was closer to where I worked, but also regularly received catered lunches from pharmaceutical sales representatives.  That was before I got married and was the last time I have ever been hungry.  I think of all of this often because I don’t want to forget what that was like; how it felt physically or emotionally.  Time and distance can make terrible experiences soften but forgetting would be a failure to yourself.

Would I change the past if I could?  In a lot of ways, yes, of course.  But that’s such a ridiculous point.  I can’t, so I choose to be grateful for the compassion it taught me for others, for the intense desire to never let my own children have an experience remotely like that, and the internal voice to do my best to help others when I can.

In the mean time, I’m going to continue living this ridiculous dream life and keep trying to be grateful for all of it.

Chris Cornell

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Before I begin, please, if you’re feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 in the US.  Here is a list of crisis lines by country.  Or fucking send me a message, my sleep is garbage anyway.

I wanted to take a break from my usual and talk about Chris Cornell, and I’m writing this so that maybe I’ll stop thinking about him.  I’m not writing this to debate or speculate if he intended to commit suicide or if his prescription medication altered his state of mind.  The ultimate fact is that he is gone painfully too soon.

I would never say I was his biggest fan by far, but I enjoyed his work and loved how talented and versatile he was.  His voice resonated with me from my youth to my current old bitterness.  And his passing pains me more than I ever thought it would.  I don’t know if it’s the shock and the suddenness.  I’m being quite selfish here, because the tragedy of a stranger is making me talk about myself, but so be it.  As a person that has fought with depression and suicide there are days where I feel like I’m barely hanging on.  And I’m angry about that because my life is good right now.  So good I want to freeze time.  I want to seal this moment forever because I’m terrified of the future.  I am under a doctor’s care, I take medication, I am not suicidal.  Right now.  That’s the terrifying part–once you’ve been there, you never really leave, at least not for me.

You remember these slides, right?  This is how I feel like my life is.  Maybe I started at the top like everyone else.  In the sun, happy.  But I found myself sliding down into the dark and I try to stop.  You have to use both hands, both feet.  And you get so fucking tired.  So you try to climb back up to the top, where everyone else is, where the sunshine and air is.  If you have people at the top, maybe they can lend a hand.  Maybe medicine will make you strong and you can climb back up.  But over time, you get so tired, and you feel things pulling at you, weighing you down.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back up there.  I’m not sliding down, but I feel like I’m very consciously holding on.   And some days even with all the help you just get so damn tired and you know it would be so easy to let go and just slide down.  It would be a relief.  Even if the slide had no end or even a horrible end at least you wouldn’t be struggling so hard or hanging on to other people so heavily.  That’s how I feel with depression.  It feels like it’s always looming and it makes me a fraud.  Because I can function and talk and make jokes and take care of my kids and my family and enjoy things and all the while I’m screaming inside because maybe it’s all fake and I’m lying to myself.  Maybe I’ve learned how to put on a pretty good show.

To be clear, I feel firmly held right now, but I’m always aware and always afraid.  Maybe it’s just how my life is and will have to be.

So when I hear about Chris Cornell, who by all accounts should be happy, like I should be happy…how could he slide down?  How the hell can I hold on while someone who outwardly has everything cannot hold himself up or have the strength to hang on to someone else’s hand.  What hope is there for me, when someone like him has lost all?  I used to think that suicide was so selfish and it made me angry.  It is selfish, but the weight that some people have, the demons that pull them down, are just too much.  I feel robbed, as the whole world does, as his family and friends do.  But I’m also selfishly afraid.

That’s really all.  I just wanted to vent.  Here are some videos.

“One” lyrics by Metallica, music by U2  Note:  The lyrics have been slightly altered to fit with the music, so the lyrics below are not exact.  You can hear “One” by Metallica here and “One” by U2 (original music video) here.  Both amazing and haunting songs on their own.  The video for Metallica’s video comes from the book and subsequent movie “Johnny Got His Gun” which is a whole other level of surreal.

I can’t remember anything
Can’t tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops me

Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up, I cannot see
That there’s not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Back in the womb it’s much too real
In pumps life that I must feel
But can’t look forward to reveal
Look to the time when I’ll live

Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Now the world is gone, I’m just one
Oh God, help me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, help me

Darkness
Imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Landmine
Has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell

“One” lyrics by U2, for reference.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say…

One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s…

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One…

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One…life

One