Solo Shuffle

RTX has been ongoing this entire weekend, and last month, my sister was lucky enough to get to visit some friends at Dreamhack Dallas. I, on the other hand, have yet to make it to my very first convention. And that honestly makes me a little sad.

Back in early 2020, before the pandemic really hit hard, I was planning to make Indiana Comic-Con my first convention. Both because it was local and I figured it wouldn’t have been so huge that it would be overwhelming for an introverted first-timer like myself. As the pandemic started getting really ugly though, that convention was obviously canceled and I got my money back instead of waiting to use my tickets for whenever it was able to come back. Things with this pandemic have been so uncertain that I didn’t really know if conventions would ever come back, so I was playing it safe. Indy Comic-Con did eventually make its return, but I still haven’t been able to bring myself to attend. Not from fear of COVID, but because my anxiety and depression have probably been at all-time highs over the past year. But the last few weeks, especially seeing all the photos from RTX, getting to talk to friends and family from Dreamhack, and doing some little things like going to the theater to see movies by myself, have convinced me that it’s time to start getting back out there and doing things that I want to do again.

It’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll find the money or be able to take the time off from work to go to TwitchCon this year. That event is my ultimate goal, not just as a Twitch streamer myself, but also because so many other streamers that I love and admire would be there to meet as well. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make that happen in 2023. For the remainder of this year though, I’m turning my attention toward another local event: GenCon! I don’t know what the event will be like, and since I don’t have many friends or family who would go with me, I may be attending it by myself. But truth be told, as nervous as it makes me, that’s also part of the excitement. Having recently flown solo to see a couple movies, I’ve learned that it may be possible that I enjoy the experience better alone. There’s nobody chatting in your ear during crucial moments, it’s fantastic! Maybe going to a convention alone will be an excellent experience as well? I’ll be able to avoid being dragged to anything that disinterests me, after all, and when my own internal battery starts reaching critical levels, I can simply pick up and leave without disappointing the people I’m with. So whether I wind up attending the event alone or with someone else, it seems like a win-win and I’m excited to see what things will be like once the event takes place next month!

Over the last couple of months, my doctor and I have been adjusting my medication. While I feel like FOMO is definitely tugging at me pretty hard, I’m hoping that the new levels of my meds are helping me feel like it’s time to start getting out and socializing again. Either way, it feels like the world maybe hasn’t ended just yet so maybe I should keep living in it while I can. Maybe I’ll see some of you while I’m doing just that.

Until next time…

Mind Your Business

In case you live under a rock and are somehow unable to receive news in a timely fashion, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade yesterday in a landmark decision that will now allow states to outlaw abortion. I didn’t write about the decision immediately because I needed a little bit of time to collect my thoughts on the matter first. And here’s what I’ve got to say: The Supreme Court — and everyone else, for that matter — needs to mind their own business. And I say this as someone who doesn’t even have a uterus.

Abortion is sometimes necessary, medically speaking, for the person carrying the child in the first place. Some of these people may have just learned that they’re facing a death sentence if they live in a state that will immediately ban abortion. I’ve seen a lot of right-wing extremists insensitively argue that a woman could just “keep her legs closed” as well, but what if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of sexual assault or rape? How is it fair that she now has to give birth to her rapist’s offspring? Not to mention bringing a child into the world today has its own set of extremely terrifying realities (baby formula shortages, school shootings, etc.). All of these are a few of the many reasons why my personal beliefs on the matter are pro-choice.

But here’s what’s really up: It doesn’t matter what my beliefs are. As someone who is not seeking and will not in the future need to seek an abortion, my opinion is off the table. I don’t know what it’s like to feel like my life is in danger because I’ve become pregnant. And guess what? A majority of the Supreme Court is in the same position that I am. They’re mostly old men who will never find themselves in a position to need an abortion. They’re people we had no direct say in electing to the Supreme Court who will be there until the day they die. Is it fair that they should get to enforce their views on the subject to a majority that opposes the decision? Quite frankly, I don’t think that it is. They need to mind their business and stay out of the personal affairs of American citizens.

Clarence Thomas has already said that the Supreme Court should re-evaluate further topics such as contraception and LGBTQIA+ marriage next. The same thought applies to these things as well: Leave people alone. Mind your own business. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. If you don’t want gay marriage, don’t get gay married. It’s really that simple, and I don’t understand why our country keeps repeatedly failing that concept. Why do we need to get involved with other people’s lives on such personal levels? It’s a question I keep posing and never seem to get a straight answer. It’s beyond frustrating.

I’ll leave you all with a bit of humor from Twitter about the entire situation:

Until next time…

Use These

So I’ve stumbled into this bad habit of looking up other blogs and websites when I’m in need of inspiration. This morning’s ultimate find was, a blog that interviews people to primarily sus out what hardware and software they use to make them successful at what they do. I also saw where Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress (the software that runs this blog!), created a post of his favorite apps instead of sharing what was in his backpack again back in 2020. These two things got me thinking about doing a post of my own. I spend nearly my entire life online between working remotely, going to school online, and streaming and gaming in my free time. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of tools to share!

Without further adieu, here’s everything that I use in a given day:

  • Social Media: Twitter and Instagram are probably the two platforms that I spend the most time on, though I try to live-stream directly on Twitch whenever I have the time to do so. Twitch streams can also sometimes lead to recycling content for TikTok and other platforms.
  • Chat & Communication: My family has widely adopted Discord for almost all chatting, web sharing, video conferencing, and screen-sharing, though I also still utilize Messenger and plain ol’ phone calls and texting for some friends and family. Very rarely I’ll also need to use Zoom for virtual meetings.
  • Design: I love the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of products that includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, etc., but I’m also no professional when it comes to design, so I’ve been known to throw together quick graphics and documents in Canva, especially since Adobe is SO expensive.
  • Web Presence: I use WordPress pretty much exclusively for all my web development needs, but my main “hub” is generated through the quick-and-easy one-page maker Carrd.
  • Music & Podcasts: Spotify is pretty much our one-stop shop. We have a family account. I’ve been known to throw on some tunes from YouTube in a pinch though.
  • Productivity: If I don’t need to use Microsoft for some reason, I tend to prefer Google’s ecosystem of products: Drive, Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. If you need to write it down by hand, make sure you grab yourself a Rocketbook. I own two of them along with a rainbow assortment of FriXion writing utensils to go with it!
  • Note-Taking: In addition to the aforementioned Rocketbook, there are also digital note apps. I’ve made major use of both Evernote and OneNote for all kinds of facets of my life.
  • Twitch Streaming: I use StreamElements and their version of OBS to broadcast to Twitch. Along with my NZXT PC, I also use a Logitech Brio webcam, Sony ZX110NC noise-canceling headphones, Elgato Stream Deck, and the Elgato Wave:3 microphone as hardware. I get my copyright-free music from Pretzel Rocks and the Wave:3 allows me to use Elgato’s proprietary WaveLink software as a digital audio mixer as well.
  • On-the-Go: My mobile device is a Google Pixel 4 XL, which is no longer one of the current Pixel phones. I’m thinking of upgrading to the Pixel 6 Pro soon, but I’ve heard rumblings that the Pixel 7 is coming soon, so I may need to wait. I’ve been without earbuds for a little while, but I’ve got my eye on a sharp set of RayCons that I just may purchase soon…
  • For When I Just Can’t: DoorDash or GrubHub for meal delivery, Shipt for grocery delivery, GreenPal for yard work, and TaskRabbit for everything else.
  • For Gaming: Steam is primarily where I keep my digital library of video games, but I’ve also got accounts on the Epic Games store,, and Origin.
  • For Work: At work, we use Microsoft Office 365. You know the deal: Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, Outlook for email, Teams for chat and communication, etc. We also use some Cisco and Adobe products, but pretty much everything else is contained in Office.
  • For School: I highly suggest installing Grammarly on your web browser and everywhere else it’s possible. It will make your writing better almost overnight. As for solving complicated math, which I’m completely horrible at, there’s thankfully a mobile app called Photomath. Take a photo of those math equations and it will not only tell you the answer, but it will also tell you how to get the answer, which is the most important part! I’ve also got to give Khan Academy and their video tutorials a glowing recommendation!

And since Matt Mullenweg’s post also included his favorite purchases from Amazon, I’ll share that mine from this first half of 2022 has been my new Keurig K-Duo Coffee Maker. It makes single-serve cups of coffee from K-cups and an entire carafe if I’m really needing to fuel up. The only other two favorite items I’ve acquired from Amazon so far this year are my NZXT Lift & Function keyboard and mouse to match my PC. I love the experience both peripherals provide while I’m working at my computer!

There you have it! Let me know what you use in the comment section. Especially if you think it’s superior to what I’m using here.

Until next time…

The Cat Guy

At some point in the last decade, I became what some would refer to as a “crazy cat lady.” I’m not actually a lady, and it also isn’t cool to refer to people as “crazy,” so I’ve decided on and resigned to simply being The Cat Guy that most people in my circles know.

My nephew Andrew hugging Tigger.

It all started back in late 2013 when my nephew, brother, and I took a trip to the local animal shelter. Truth be told, for as long as I can remember, our family had always been “dog people,” so we were actually looking for a new pupper to add to the family. We looked for a while, but couldn’t find any dogs at the time that we thought would make good additions to our family. Before leaving the shelter entirely though, I sighed and said to them, “Let’s at least look at the cats…” So we were taken to the cat area and were suddenly overwhelmed by crates stacked upon crates of cats and kittens who needed a good home. It was seriously depressing to see the number of cats versus dogs that were homeless. Everyone loves a good dog, and dogs are considered the most popular pet to have in the United States, but I think there’s still a large number of people who remain skeptical of felines.

As depressing as it was, I still wasn’t convinced to take home a pet kitty until we started to pass one crate where a paw reached out and grabbed hold of my shoulder. I stopped and took a look inside to see the most gorgeous big cat in the room. His name was Tigger, the cat that I wrote about not too long ago. After opening his crate and holding him for a little while, I knew that we would be bringing him home. The family didn’t object much and even grew to love the big guy themselves.

And that was the start of my downfall. My addiction to all things related to cats started with Tigger, but certainly didn’t end there. A few years later, in the spring of 2016, a friend of my dad’s had an acquaintance who had two kittens. This woman, horrific as it sounds, was being evicted from her apartment and was prepared to simply release the two kittens to fend for themselves on the streets of Louisville in the process. Dad knew that wasn’t cool and knew that I wouldn’t stand for it either and he asked, “Do you want these kittens?”

Rufus the snuggle bug.

Tigger had been an only child for a few years now so I wasn’t sure how he would react to having other animals in the house, but I also knew that I couldn’t let this woman just abandon two kittens on the street. Ultimately deciding to do the right thing, he and his friend took a trip down to Louisville to retrieve the two kittens and brought them home to us. That’s when we added Rufus and Oliver to our family. About a month later, Oliver sadly got unexpectedly sick and needed to be euthanized on what might be one of the most emotionally difficult days of my life. Seeing as what caused the sickness could have been genetic, I was worried that Rufus might eventually suffer the same fate, but he has instead been with us for the last six years and appears to be just fine. More than fine, in fact. After losing his brother, he became something of my shadow and sleeps next to me in my bed each and every single night. He’s my little snuggle bug!

After the heartbreaking loss of Oliver and then years spent loving Tigger and Rufus, we were convinced that we didn’t need any more pets. As much as I would love to have the time, money, and resources to save every single dog and cat in the world, we were content with what we had.

Then in the early months of 2021 when it was still especially cold in Kansas where my sister lives, she took in a cat that appeared to be homeless and was wandering around out in the snow. The cat, whom she decided to name Karen due to her ill temperament around her other animals, turned out to be pregnant and had six kittens in their home. Having recalled that I once said I always wanted to be like Babette on Gilmore Girls and have an orange cat named Cinnamon, my sister decided that one of the orange kittens from Karen’s litter was destined to be ours. She kept three of the cats from the litter herself, and the other two went to my nephew. A few months later, when my sister and brother-in-law came to Indiana for a visit, they brought Cinnamon to us and he’s been a part of the brood ever since.

Hurricane Cinnamon!

And let me be the first to tell you that Cinnamon is a little bit of a hurricane.

We got extraordinarily lucky and a little bit spoiled with Tigger and Rufus. Both are mild-mannered and calm cats that want nothing more than to eat, sleep, and be loved. Cinnamon, on the other hand, sometimes seems like he just wants to watch the world burn. He’s energetic and destructive without meaning to be. He always wants our food when we’re eating meals. He gets the zoomies like nobody’s business. He chases poor Rufus through the house when Rufus just wants to be left alone. But despite his rambunctiousness, I love Cinnamon just the same. He’s a playful baby and you can’t really fault him for that. He came to us socialized and bouncing off of five other kittens his age, while Rufus was never socialized with other cats at all with the exception of his only brother who was gone too soon.

Their relationship is one we’re still trying to work on. They may, truthfully, never get along with one another, but as long as they can at least co-exist, I’m happy with how things turned out. Even though it means that I consistently have cat fur on my clothing and that I’m cleaning up hairballs at 3:30 AM some mornings, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now do me a favor and tell me about your pets! You can even post photos of them for me in the comments. I’d love to see them all.

Until next time…

Going Remote

I started working for my current employer in 2014. It originally started out in an office in Downtown Indianapolis. Though our offices are still there and operate Monday through Friday as normal, I was one of the many employees who transitioned to working remotely from home towards the start of the pandemic back in 2020. While I would never praise the pandemic in itself for bringing about an era of global fear and uncertainty, I must admit that some of the changes that it brought about aren’t so bad. And one of those changes is the ability to work from home.

I’ve always wanted to work from home, even before the pandemic. I’m really just a big homebody. I can generally be in my element and be the most productive version of myself when I’m in my own space. I think there’s a large contingent of the world’s workforce that feels the same way because nobody wants to go back to the office. And believe it or not, there’s plenty of reason why we don’t want to go back, too.

First and foremost in my mind is the skyrocketing cost of gas. Commuting back and forth to the physical office is completely off my radar for the time being until gas falls back to a reasonable price (if it ever even does!). Whether you agree with the current political climate or not, who can honestly say that they are okay with those prices at the pump? Secondly, I can’t imagine going back to the distressing beige or gray cubicle walls when I can be here to pet my cats anytime things start getting stressful.

There are plenty of reasons why I would think that a company would want to embrace remote working as well. Less overhead, for starters! We’re not there consuming electricity, internet, water, or coffee. Hell, if the entire office were transitioned to working remotely, you could close the physical office completely and stop spending so much on a physical location! Logistics may sound like a nightmare, but it shouldn’t be — there are successful companies that have a distributed workforce all over the world. Plus, the hiring process might get a lot easier if you considered candidates from anywhere instead of staying local.

Want to get into the nitty-gritty? It’s easier and less expensive to head to your own kitchen for lunch than trying to figure out something to eat in the office. Your own bathroom is much more comfortable than sharing one with a bunch of other people. Your own bed is even nearby in the event that you need to take a quick nap during your break. And since you aren’t really dressing for anyone but yourself, feel free to keep those pajamas on, baby! Unless you have an unexpected video call, nobody is ever going to know the difference.

I’ve preferred every moment of working from home versus working in a physical office. So I guess the reason why I’m writing about it is to pose a question to the world: If it can be done from home, why isn’t it?

Until next time…

The Friend in Me

Last weekend, I went on a little shopping trip. These don’t happen often because we mostly have groceries and things delivered to us these days, but for some reason, you still can’t have alcohol delivered to your door in the state of Indiana, and I wanted to pick up some for our Memorial Day cookout. While at the store, I picked up a book of 1,000 writing prompts from Piccadilly Inc. Mostly because I was planning on doing more writing here, but also because I love books like these since I also find that writing prompts can serve as conversation starters!

Since these are prompts, I want to encourage anyone who’s reading to respond to the prompts as well. You can do so here in the comments section or on your own page if you have one. Either way, I’d love to read everyone’s responses! (And if you’re interested in doing this regularly, bookmark the Prompts category to easily find more of these posts in the future!)

So the first prompt in this book is…

“Write something you really want to say to someone but don’t have the courage to.”

The reason I haven’t written my response to this prompt before now is that I have been thinking about it for a long time. For some reason, I feel like most people’s responses would be to tell someone that they love them or that they’re sorry. I think those are two of the hardest things in the world to say to someone. And right now, I can’t exactly say that there’s anyone that I’m feeling overly apologetic towards, nor am I harboring any kind of unrequited love anywhere.

If anything, I think the thing I’ve been longing for the most is friendship. A lot of my closest friends are busy now that we’re in our mid-to-late thirties or older being married, being parents, or just plain being busy. Which I understand isn’t entirely their fault — I work later than the traditional 9-to-5 hours myself, so when most people are doing things, I’m sadly still on the clock. The pandemic also threw a major wrench in planning things with people in person for a while, given the varying levels of safety places were enforcing or that people were keeping themselves.

But virtual get-togethers aren’t completely ridiculous, are they? I’m more than happy to hop on Zoom or Discord and kick it with people in my free time. In some cases, I’ve actually joined in dinners and chit-chat with friends on a video call, but my anxiety and depression a lot of times prevent me from initiating calls or messages myself. I just want the kind of friends that I can talk to whenever about whatever. I don’t necessarily need friends because I want to trauma dump all over them, but rather, I’d like to have friends whose DMs I can slide into in order to share a funny meme or share a salty joke with at all hours. I might even be in search of a best friend. Why are they so hard to come by? I swear I don’t bite!

So I guess the thing I would say to someone but don’t have the courage to is to go up to some of the people I’m only sort of acquainted with from work, school, or my online gaming and streaming and say: BE MY FRIEND!!!

Now, what about you? Sound off, folks!

The Miseducation of Jiggyflyjoe

Since my previous post was a little bit of a downer, I thought I would take today as an opportunity to share what is hopefully a little bit brighter news: I’m going back to school!

That should actually say that I’m trying to go back to school.

Until around this time last year, I was enrolled at a local community college as a part-time student studying Visual Communications. I was actually quite enjoying it and was looking forward to completing my Associate’s Degree and maybe even transferring to a university to finish a four-year degree when my time was cut short by the financial aid department. For whatever silly reason, they have rules in place where, if you’re a student for so long and still haven’t graduated, they place you on a hold where you can no longer use financial aid to pay for your classes. I tried to reason with them, but they weren’t interested in hearing anything unless I went through an “appeals process” in which I had to prove that I had some extenuating circumstances as to why it was taking me “so long” to complete.

Keep in mind that I was only going part-time because I also have to work and sleep like a normal functioning adult. I had also changed my program (I was initially going for Software Development), which slowed my progress down a touch. But I was very nearly complete — I think I still need to take my college-level math courses and a photography class to finish up. Now that it’s been a year, I’m hoping that they’ll let me re-enroll and actually use some financial aid to finish up. If not, then perhaps figuring out a “payment plan” for my last couple of classes won’t hurt my wallet too badly. I have a meeting with my advisor this evening, so hopefully, I’ll be able to figure it all out then.

I really enjoy going to school so I’m looking forward to the possibility of going back. The last couple of semesters were especially fun since I got to learn how to do a lot of the basics of filming and editing video in Adobe Premiere Pro and graphic design in Adobe Illustrator, both of which were really up my alley and were taught by a couple of really cool teachers. The photography class that I still have yet to take sounds like it would be a blast as well, though I don’t look forward to having to finally complete my college math courses. Math is the one class that gives me the biggest anxiety — and I’ve already completed two remedial math classes to catch up to being college-level. I’m looking forward to it being finished though so I never have to take another math class again!

All things considered, I know we live in a society based on capitalism, but I’ve really got my fingers crossed that the government decides to cancel student debt. The thought of eventually having to pay all that money makes my stomach hurt. Why is college so remarkably expensive, anyway? That’s a story for a different day though, I suppose.

Until next time…

You Can Still Be Free

For the last couple of months, my oldest cat Tigger has been having some health issues. After having a couple of episodes that can only be described as seizures, we took him to our local emergency vet only for them to do some expensive bloodwork that came back inconclusive. The next step for them to diagnose what could be causing his seizures was to do an MRI, which we were initially quoted at being between $800 – $1,200 on top of the hundreds we had already spent in having him seen by the emergency/specialty doctors and the bloodwork.

After bringing him home and figuring out my next steps so that I could afford that additional amount, we were then told it would actually be between $2,800 – $3,000. It was quite a jump and we were more than a little surprised.

Tigger while relaxing.

In what I assumed was a genius move on my part, I had secured a loan to help me consolidate my credit card debt as well as pay for the MRI with what I had left over, but after we received the new price, we still weren’t able to do it. Especially given that, if Tigger’s seizures were being caused by my worst fear — a brain tumor — we’d likely have to spend thousands more on surgery and/or cancer treatment.

If Tigger were a human child, I would be able to use my insurance from work to have him saved. But insurance in the pet world is still pretty far behind the insurance we get for ourselves and, even if I wanted to add-on to the insurance I already have for Tigger now, it might be considered an “existing condition,” in which case it’s too little, too late.

I love my pets like they’re my own children, but we just can’t afford it.

Our only option is to continue giving Tigger the anti-seizure medication we were initially told to give him — which seems to help but has not completely rid him of them — and to keep him as comfortable as possible.

Tigger’s a very big cat — we’ve even jokingly told strangers that he’s part bobcat — but he’s also very docile. If you were to describe him as a “gentle giant,” it would be highly applicable. He is the first cat I’ve ever seen who doesn’t mind a single thing you do to him. Hug him! Rough up his fur to make him look feral! Pick him up! Give him a huge wet kiss right on his face! He might not love it, but he hardly ever objects. If the photos haven’t given it away, he’s very handsome, too. He has big, soulful eyes that are easy to see the world reflected back in.

Tig & Me

Though we do our best to keep our cats indoor-only, Tigger sometimes escapes us and slips outside. He never goes very far, usually only into the bushes in front of our house where he plays as “king of the jungle.” While there are plenty of domestic cats in this world who love to go outside, keeping them indoors is generally considered the safest option for both them and the environment. Despite this, it’s hard to watch him and his brothers yearn to be free when they really can’t be. It’s a scary world filled with automobiles, predators, disease, and really mean people that sometimes do harm for no good reason at all.

It’s my hope that he feels safe and loved and free in his home here with us. He is the king of our jungle after all, and I’m not sure what any of us would do without him.

Until next time…

The New, New Blog

About a month ago, I decided to start blogging again. Mostly personal blogs, but I was sure that I would write about things happening in the spaces that I was interested in as well. I made the mistake of starting said blog on Blogger though. As a seasoned WordPress user, I should have known better. Blogger, while perfectly fine for a novice user, is very restrictive when it comes to themes and plugins and everything else one might need WordPress for instead. Seeing as Blogger is now owned by the great and almighty Google, you would think they would have superpowered the service by now, but alas — it somehow still sits as it was decades ago.

A sad and cautionary tale.

So while I wanted to stay simple with this blog, I decided to go ahead and get the domain and do the WordPress. So here we are. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get things transferred over from the Blogger site either, so we’re starting from scratch. Which is also fine, since I was only like four entries deep into that site anyway. We aren’t really losing a whole lot. If you’re really that interested though, you can deep dive into those four entries on the original page. I don’t want it to go anywhere just yet. You know, for archival purposes or something. But also know that you can find new updates here and not there.

That being said, WordPress has changed considerably since the last time I used it regularly, so if you see anything looking kinda funky, feel free to let me know so I can fix it. Cool? Cool.

Until next time…