Longest Ramble In A While…

I’m not gonna link to either of them, but yesterday evening when I was catching up on the news on Twitter, I came across two different things that really bothered me. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Both of them were in Michigan, and both were part of a protest against the physical distancing / stay at home orders that have been put in place due to Michigan being one of the most affected states in regards to coronavirus / COVID-19.

I wanna start by saying that I do get why people are frustrated and want to be heard. ๐Ÿฅบ In fact, they’re more frustrated than I can even empathize with because they’ve been off work, losing their jobs, their businesses going under, and that’s obviously gonna take a toll on people. ๐Ÿ™ I know that I have days where it even gets to me more than I’d expect it to, so when people are unable to pay their bills, their rent, medical bills, etc.

But the first part of the protest that caught my eye were the hundreds of people who forced their way into one of the government buildings. I’m not sure if it was the state house, but it’s where the politicians were trying to do their jobs while protesters were shouting and screaming at law enforcement, banging on doors and walls, demanding that they bet let in. ๐Ÿ˜ณ I think most people would expect a protest like that eventually, but this one went further – because many of the protesters were also dressed up like militia and were carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles. ๐Ÿ˜ง

When you look at the video footage, I hate to say it, but those people looked and acted like you’d expect those kinds of folks to look and act… meaning, people who show up with guns when there’s no apparent reason to do so. ๐Ÿ˜’ And the ones who didn’t have guns, it’s not like they were discouraging the ones who did. Common sense says they brought their guns with them so they would be more intimidating, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the only protests they’ve really paid attention to are ones regarding gun control issues, where it would sorta make sense to “bear arms” while protesting… and maybe that made them think that all protests require dozens of armed people. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ 

But yeah, you can look it up if you wanna see or read more about it. But with the way tensions were, I think they’re very lucky that there wasn’t even an accidental discharge of a weapon – which would have lit the very short fuse on that powder keg. It’s just sad, the smug look that you could see on some of their faces as they stood with their rifles, in the area above where the politicians worked. ๐Ÿ˜” And if their goal was truly to be heard, their stunt backfired… because all that people are talking about are the “white guys with guns” who occupied that building without so much as a ticket for ignoring social distancing rules, and questioning what may have happened if that group had been young black men instead. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I don’t like doing those “what if” scenarios normally, but the way all those folks chose to act… ๐Ÿ˜’ oh, and because of something that I saw in the second topic that caught my eye. For another part of the protest there was a stage set up where people were speaking against the current rules, talking about the damage that it has done… understandable stuff. But then they had a performance by a couple of girls who looked as if they couldn’t have even been teenagers, wearing skimpy little dance outfits and halloween type masks. ๐Ÿค” One of them being of a black man with exaggerated features. (Looks like they could have been Trump & Obama masks.)

They were doing a dance routine to the old song “Candy Man” but it sounded as if the lyrics had been changed to comment on the current situation. That’s unfortunate enough, where children are essentially being used by their parents to make political statements… but as these little girls were dancing, you could hear men and women in the crowd hooting and hollering as if it were some kind of burlesque show – with people even shouting “TAKE IT OFF!” as these poor little kids did their routine. ๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿฅบ๐Ÿ˜”

It honestly made me sick to my stomach. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Not just because the kids were being used in that manner, or that gross people were shouting sexual things at them, but also because nobody else in the crowd said anything, stuck up for them, or did anything to show their disapproval. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ (At least not in the clips that I saw.) I understand that people can start “thinking as a group” when caught in a moment, but even when it comes to something as disgusting as that? It’s not a good look for whatever message you were trying to send. ๐Ÿ˜ 

If you’d ask a bunch of those first folks why they felt the need to bring rifles to a peaceful protest and dress in camo… the answers would probably be of the “bEcAUsE wE CAn!” variety. ๐Ÿ˜ But that display with the girls, I wonder if any protesters would try to defend or normalize that as well. It makes me feel bad for the “normal” citizens of Michigan, because it makes the state look pretty awful – and I know they’ve got to be angry and embarrassed by all of it, the way it makes their citizens look to the rest of the country. ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

One might ask why I allow myself get caught up in “news” like this. I ask that of myself too, honestly. ๐Ÿ˜ But I dunno… I do try to limit my exposure in general, since 99% of what gets reported seems to be negative, but I guess I just feel like everyone should try to keep up on the more important things – especially if they want to have an opinion and have conversations with others about any of it. ๐Ÿคจ So with things being as wacky as they’ve been over the past four years, even just “normal” news can trigger someone’s anxiety… and stumbling across “extra” stuff on Twitter, like the topics in this entry, is almost unavoidable. ๐Ÿ˜•

But I look back on old news articles and broadcasts from when Mom and Dad were young, and I see different protests, via different methods, at different locations, for different reasons… and I can’t remember learning about any of them and thinking, “Good grief… those people were idiots.” ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ I’m sure “dumb” protests did happen, so maybe the news was just less interested in covering sensationalism back then? ๐Ÿค” But hell… Today? I don’t think a day passes where I don’t read about or see something that makes me grumble, “Good grief, those people are idiots.” I think they were also lucky back then, getting their news (and only a couple hours each day) from either ABC, NBC, or CBS – and that was it. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Not enough “room” to cover the stupids. Thanks to the internet though, we now have an endless supply that we have to work to avoid.

Alone Together

I like when people make weird things like this, since I, myself, am a weird thing. ๐Ÿ˜

I’ve been coming across more and more articles that talk about taking care of your brain during this stressful phase of “locking ourselves away” but this is the first animation that I’ve come across – and it’s made in a way that speaks to me probably more than it would most folks. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Now, whether or not I’ll follow any of its advice, that’s another story. (Although, I gotta do something… the past couple days have been particularly bleh.)

Tnx, Easter Bunny (Bok Bok!)

The Easter Bunny totally spoiled me again this year. ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿ˜ƒ It was probably the combination of a bunch of candy, lots of little neat / weird / random goodies, some scrunchy / puffy catnip dolls for Maven, and then all of it coming during this time when we’re all bored of seeing and doing the same thing day after day, meaning that whenever anything new and unexpected gets thrown into the mix it’s gonna be a nice treat. ๐Ÿ˜Œ I won’t even get into the details of the “goodies” in the basket, since they’d probably seem rather strange to someone that didn’t know me and Genesee… er… me and the Easter Bunny, rather… ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜ but it’s a perfect little collection of weird stuff for the sake of mental distraction.

I think the EB also caught word that I don’t exactly keep my shelves and fridge stocked with “real” food, so along with the regular basket of goodies I also got two huge bags of food from The Olive Garden. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿคค I ate the cheese sticks as soon as I unpacked stuff, but then there are five more entrees waiting for me, a couple more salads, a ton of bread sticks, and a big piece of cheesecake. ๐Ÿ˜ I had no idea that any of it was coming, other than being told to expect a delivery, so it was a great addition to the other stuff from the bunny.

I can’t think of anything I’ve done lately that should merit me getting spoiled like this, and I do feel bad that I haven’t been able to include Dad in the surprise company and surprise food, but it’s sure gonna be nice to have that “real” food for most of the days coming up this week. ๐Ÿ˜Œ Like I told Gen, I really am stocked up on foodstuffs. ๐Ÿค” Frozen stuff, canned stuff, boxed stuff, etc… and I would have been okay with only that… but this was just really good timing and I really appreciate it.

In other news, a few days ago Wendi had me download Facebook Messenger, that way she could video-chat me and I could see one-month-old Matthew Jr live and in person. ๐Ÿคค And after telling Wendi that I’d “try to get back on Facebook” soon… I’d swear that my words got picked up by the wind and were subliminally scattered to my friends. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ Because not long after, I had two different friends “find me” on YouTube and Twitter, and then a couple different friends texted me directly… all wanting to know if I was okay, if I was gonna get back on FB, etc – since I really have neglected folks for a long time. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

(Honestly, I think that re-installing Messenger after so long may have caused notifications like “Robert Batina logged on for the first time in six months. Say hello!” or some similar shit like that. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ)

On average my anxiety is still high, but I’m trying to handle the bits of each day in little chunks – rather than worrying about all of them from the moment I wake up. ๐Ÿ˜ณ Cousin Jimmy was another one that hit me up after a couple of months off, and he helped ease my concerns regarding getting back into the social swing of things. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคจ He reminded me that everyone on Facebook is now dealing withย at least one shitty, significant “life” thing –ย so I might be able to sneak back in without any fuss or questions about why I vanished. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ I may get into that here sometime, but I’m hoping to keep my eventual return to FB quick and painless.

Okeydoke, enough rambling… heh… I was (good) wired after the surprise company from my cousins yesterday, and now I’m feeling (good) wired from the Easter Bunny totally hooking me up with goodies and a ridiculous amount of food food this year. ๐Ÿ˜… But it is starting to get late, so I should go ahead and shift my brain into neutral and start getting ready for bed sometime here in the next one to eight hours. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I know everything kinda sucks right now, and it feels nearly unavoidable… but I hope y’all had at least a little unexpected good stuff pop into one of your recent days like it did mine today. ๐Ÿ˜Šย Take care, stay safe. โœŠ๐Ÿป

Display.Land Tests

I fell asleep around 7p last night, woke up a few times during the night, but didn’t truly wake up until 7a. Twelve hours of sleep… finally. Between that and the nice day, I decided to grab my phone and get to work making some crude 3D models (w/improving results) with this photogrammetry app called Display.Land

(Sorry about the vertical video… it’s the only way it’ll spit ’em out. I suggest going full screen.)

It’s easy to collect the images that are used to build the models, as it works on video rather than photos… I mean, it uses still images from that video, but it’s all done in the cloud so you don’t need to leave your phone open to do all of the calculations. Once the render is done, you do have to go and crop each one in 3D space and create a camera path “trailer” for app users to see. (If you make your scans public.)

If someone sees your preview and thinks it looks interesting, they can click on it and be presented with the actual 3D model that they can pan, scan, zoom, etc at their own whim. I dunno, another totally not-useful thing that I’m trying to get better at. It has been a nice little distraction throughout the day though.

Anxiety Dreams

Third night in a row that I had a “too real” dream revolving around COVID-19, isolation, distancing, etc. ๐Ÿ˜’ And it’s getting old. ๐Ÿ˜  Plus last night I only got about four hours sleep again, although that’s partially my fault since I’m taking half-hour naps during the day. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ But man, this “stay at home” crap is actually starting to get to me, even though “stay at home” is basically what I did anyway before all of this.

I usually pick a video on YouTube (on the TV) and then let the auto-recommend / auto-play take over as I’m falling asleep, and I know for a fact that what I’m hearing (in my sleep) from those videos ends up leaking into my dreams and influencing them. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ So I’m gonna have to start avoiding the news once it’s a little later in the evening, and probably switch over to playing music instead of “random TV” as I fall asleep. ๐Ÿค”

I wish I was one of those folks who can sleep in complete silence, but this house just makes too many weird noises that would wake me up. ๐Ÿ˜ Clunky compressor on the fridge when it shuts off, pinging water heater… which, by the way, stopped leaking and acting like it was going to die. (I’m still gonna have it replaced, but I’m not in a rush about it at the moment.) But yeah, I need at least sound, if not light and sound. ๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ“บ Ooh… I think I’ll break out that sound machine that I got from Amazon last year. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜ƒ It’s supposed to be pretty good, and it never fully made it into my routine after I bought it.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got for the past 24 hours or so… ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚ ย stay safe, all.

Get A Hobby

Bad dreams ended up waking me last night around 3am, and I’ve been up ever since. Kinda doesn’t matter what sleep schedule I keep these days, given that I’m not going anywhere and I didn’t even realize what day it was today. Not meaning April Fools Day, just meaning that I didn’t realize it was Wednesday. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ Point being, anxiety filled sleep, waking up early… it didn’t lead to much of a day for me. I did text with Dad and Genesee a bit, and she got me thinking about playing the keyboard again. ๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽน๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I forget what she said, but it reminded me that thanks to the YouTube Music app searching my own videos for music to add… I ran across this old video of me playing Don’t Wake Me by Skillet. ๐Ÿ˜Ž And when I did, I realized that if you put that keyboard in front of me now I’d have no idea how to play it. Elton John made a comment on his Melbourne Symphony album, that he was playing some songs that were so old that he had to re-learn them as well for that concert. ๐Ÿ™‚ So that’s one thing I’m gonna try to make time for… “keyboard dickin’ around time” every now and then.

And then thanks to NASCAR and iRacing running these virtual races on the weekend… and apparently a dirt track / winged-car race tonight… that’s got my mind back on video games. ๐Ÿค“๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿ“บ I’ve got an XBOX One and a Playstation 4, yet it’s probably been at least six months since I’ve even turned either of them on. ๐Ÿ˜• Once I got into a funk a while back, my brain just never seemed interested in reminding me that I’ve got kewl shit that I could play. So I’m gonna go through my games tonight and figure out which system I’ve got the best racing games for, and I’ll probably try to re-familiarize myself with all that. ๐Ÿค” I used to be good. Years ago I was really layin’ ’em down at the road courses, or at least it felt that way. (Wow, that was from 2013…)

I don’t wanna get ahead of myself, since I’ve already got a couple options there, but I’m probably gonna play around with time-lapse and long-exposure phone photography like I usually do each spring… plus I’ve got a couple new photogrammetry apps for creating 3D models from a series of regular digital photos, so that might keep my attention as well. Meh… we’ll see, I guess.

Don’t mind me… just doing a little more “talking out loud” to hopefully burn these ideas into my brain a little more effectively. ๐Ÿคฏ It’s not like I’m making valuable use of my time otherwise, so I might as well be doing something that I used to consider fun, eh? ๐Ÿ˜ All this time stuck in the house might help me figure out where “old me” went. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Sunny Sunday

It sure was a beautiful day today. Almost unfair, considering that we’re not really supposed to be out in it… at least not around other folks. 72 degrees, sunny, big poofy clouds, and lots of gusty wind to blow through the house. I ran out of pop last night, so I knew I was gonna have to go somewhere today, and that somewhere ended up being the gas station / quicky mart up the road.

They had the front double doors and the side door propped open, so the wind was blowing through the store just like it was outside. They also had signs that let people know that they only wanted five people at a time in the store, and asked folks to wait outside until someone left if the store was already “full.”

There was only one other customer inside the store when I went in, and she was over in the Subway part of the store. (I can guarantee you that I’m not buying a sub with fresh, cold, been-sitting-out-in-a-bin-all-day toppings on it.) So I grabbed some pop, some pretzels, some smokes, and then hit the road. The fella behind the counter didn’t seem too stressed, even though we both stood back from the counter except for the few moments when it was unavoidable.

But I was so distracted by the amazing weather that I found myself just sitting out on the porch, messing around with the phone to make a crude 3D scan of the houseย (works best w/touch interface), taking the cat out to smell the trees and the grass, and generally not doing anything productive the whole day. It really felt like a weekend day.

Oh, I did watch the iRacing NASCAR 125 race from “virtual” Texas in the afternoon, and it was pretty darn good like last weekend’s was. The race even had a sponsor, although I can’t remember who it was, and it looked like drivers and teams had some sponsorship deals going on as well. Looks like it might be sticking around for a while.

So yeah, it was nice to “waste” a day when it was as nice as it was, and when there was good stuff on the TV to distract. Getting ready to watch “Bad Boys for Life” here in a few, and then I’ll gather up all my mail and bills and shit so it’ll be ready for me sometime tomorrow after the grumpy from waking up wears off. I hope y’all were able to have a decent day as well.