My ability to read the news has suffered a lot this week. Not surprising, considering what’s in it. But that’s okay, because I’m an adult, which means I can play video games and watch TV whenever I want!
I’m positively drowning in good video games. Most recently I picked up Horizon Forbidden West, which I’d been waiting for for years. I absolutely loved the first game, which I got following a recommendation from one of you, so, thanks for that, whoever you were. Hoping this one ascends to similar heights.
TV-wise, Archive 81 on Netflix is pretty fun, if you’re into horror. A little ludicrous at times but it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. I wish I had some lighter fare to watch, though. I burned through all my sitcoms, including a rewatch of 30 Rock, which holds up great. So if anybody has suggestions…
Lastly, it’s finally time for me to put in a plug for a short story of mine. This was published in November but I wanted to give it a little space and then confirm that I don’t hate it. Good news: I don’t. So if you’re in the mood for some fantasy, feel free to check it out. The Unlucky Few Who Must Not Cast tells the story of a youngish mage being forced to attend twelve-step meetings for magic dependence.
Samwise, by the way, is doing great.
I just love his little pillow. As does he.
Consider this an open thread for non-news discussion!
My county finally dropped from the red zone into orange and I celebrated with a haircut. Aaaaah! I needed that!
His little pillow resembles a pie crust.
Looking forward to reading your story, M4.
Major Major Major Major
@SiubhanDuinne: it’s a sandwich cookie. And thanks! Hope you like.
Currently sitting in LAX reading the 4th MURDERBOT book. Perfect for this place. Thanks for the recommendation.
I will read your story – thanks for sharing!
Major Major Major Major
@JoyceH: woohoo! Our case load is lower now than it was over the summer so I’m feeling pretty safe.
Samwise looks so content on his little pillow! So cute.
Loved the story–thanks for sharing.
Yesterday Ohio Son’s job coach stopped by the house — I’d spent the previous two days cleaning like mad in preparation. Such a pleasure to wake up to a half-cleaned house (the bedrooms are still a mess).
And Ohio Dad just came back from the mailbox, announcing he has a fat letter from Social Security, so maybe they finished processing his retirement application. Fixed-income lifestyle, here we come!
Major Major Major Major
@Ohio Mom: Is the Social Security good news?
Apparently my area is getting new electric poles. A huge truck came by this morning and dropped them off at various places. I’m not super excited about this because not too far away there are electric poles that have just been sitting by the road for over a year. They block drainage and increase flooding risk.
My ability to play video games has suffered for a long time. I was playing Battletech on steam because its Battletech. Now I just run the 3D printer 24×7 and print Battletech.
Is there a reason he didn’t apply online? It’s so easy and very quick.
On the lighter side of things I recommend Peacemaker & both the CBS & BBC versions of Ghosts.
If you like your comedy bitter & dark, Gemstones on HBO is real dark, but well acted.
That recommendation was probably me. I 100% the original New Game+, ultra-hard, plus the DLC. I think it’s absolutely the best open world AAA game out there, and it’s not even close. Daughter and I are also playing Forbidden West. We’re about ⅓ of the way through. Each day she tells me how far she’s gone on the story, and then I catch up that day. We’re currently taking a few non-story days to upgrade equipment and backfill some casual elements.
Story-wise it absolutely ascends to the first one. I’m very pleased there was a direction I’d hoped they’d take the story, and they did take it. The writing, dialogue, voice acting, and animations are astoundingly good.
A few notes:
But on a PS5, it’s beautiful, fun, and I can’t wait to get my turn. And Aloy understands her station in this world and it shows. Best video game protagonist ever.
@CROAKER: The best thing about 3d printing is being able to get whatever mini’s you want for your old games where the various companies have stopped making the minis.
Also too, all the patreons of minis files full of “we resemble but are intellectually distinct from..”
I don’t watch much TV (especially now that daughter and I have a full-time video game job) but wife and I watched ‘Wolf Like Me’ and I really liked it. Its only 6 episodes, but it’s really well acted.
Tried Abbot Elementary, but it hit too close to home to be funny. I think it’s well done, but where it was easy to laugh at a dysfunctional office supply company, it’s hard for me to laugh at an equally well done show about public education. I suspect most people would connect with it better than me.
When I applied for my social security (2014) you had to show up in person at your regional office for your initial application. There are offices less than 30 minutes away from me but my regional office is almost two hours away. ?
Maybe it is less strict now with COVID protocols but in 2014 it was a pain.
ETA: And I see that you can apply online now.
Gary in Chicago
As a lighthearted mystery (in other words, not especially gory or procedural), I would recommend the Murdoch Mysteries. The array of historical characters that parade through the story-lines is amazing and the inventions that either Murdoch comes up with to help solve cases, or the inventions that are alluded to by other characters, is extremely creative. It will take a while to plod through, since the series has been running for 15 seasons, each with 12 or so episodes, so you can enjoy for months to come.
Major Major Major Major
@Gary in Chicago: oh that sounds right up my alley.
Dorothy A. Winsor
Really clever premise on that story, 4M
Have been slogging through “A Handmaid’s Tale” and needing a break, switched to “Pam and Tommy” which is a frickin’ hoot and 1/the other show. Feel they treat Pam with warranted respect, especially considering the general public response to her back in the day (the Leno show clips provide a perfect representation of how shoddily she was treated).
“Handmaid’s Tale” is relentlessly depressing in every way possible but seems kind of required viewing to gain a sense of how today’s Republicans would, I’ll say it: literally choose to run the U.S. if given unfettered power to do so. The acting is universally top-notch but the direction, I have many issues with.
@Major Major Major Major: Can that be purchased or did someone make that adorable sandwich cookie pillow?
Well, it’s not at all respite for you, but I had my very first anxiety attack yesterday morning. I wish I had gone my whole lifetime without one.
Last week my housemate told me that when she came to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I was screaming and yelling “No” at the top of my lungs and she was unable to wake me up. Every day after that I started getting short of breath unless I held perfectly still.
By Friday morning I was convinced I would die of asphyxiation eating a tiny bite of toast, so I called my doctor and exploded all over the nurse about
By this time I’m sobbing convulsively and trying to get air to keep going through. She was super nice and calm, promising me I will live through the day, just drink water and eat what I can. She wrote up a list of my symptoms that the doctor can help with and promised someone would get back to me. They indeed did, saying SOB does come with anxiety, but not wheezing, so they gave me a three-day Rx for anxiety and will set up a phone appointment for Monday or Tuesday with one of the doctors.
I seem to remember when John started having anxiety attacks and wrote some good posts about it, but I cannot find them, does anyone have a link, or am I dreaming?
@Mary G: I’m sorry Mary, that sounds awful. You are not wrong about John’s anxiety attacks. Not sure if I can dig those posts up, but I will try. What is SOB?
Oh Mary. Big hugs to you.
“Murderville” on Netflix is great.
@Mary G: I’m glad you got a prescription! I have had two panic attacks in my life: once due to altitude while hiking and once driving. Luckily I was not alone while hiking and my friend helped me through the hyperventilation. When I was driving I was alone, and it was terrifying on I-40. My parents came and got me.
It sucks. Wishing good results from the dr visit for you.
Just finished your story, M4. Good work! I enjoyed it. Your writing just gets better and better.
@Mary G: I searched and didn’t have a lot of luck, but I texted cole to see if he can give me a timeframe for when he would have written those. In the meantime, I found these. Not exactly what you were looking for, but maybe something.
Anne Laurie post on living with anxiety.
Please Take Care of Yourselves
@WaterGirl: Shortness of Breath? Also Son Of a Bitch, but I don’t think that is it here.
@brendancalling: What is murderville about?
@Mary G: Oh, Mary G, that sounds awful. I’m so sorry.
I’ve been working my way through Adventure Time. It’s fun and silly with quite a bit of adult humor. Murder They Hope (and the three original episodes) cute light comedy/detective show on BritBox. Also on BritBox: Sister Boniface, the nun version of Father Brown plus new episodes of Vera.
I live across the alley from a branch of the Social Security office. Been weird to see an empty parking lot for so long. Still remains mostly empty so I assume it is mostly work from home. I’d guess it’s appointment only because I don’t really see anybody hanging around smoking like usual
Still waiting to hear from the hospital for my monoclonal antibody shots.
@delk: You have covid? I missed that!
@Mary G: Big hugs. Those panic attacks are not fun at all.
@Major Major Major Major: That cat is happy on his tuffet. It’s called a tuffet.
@eclare: Yes! Ohio Dad is officially retired!
Joy in FL
@Mary G: I hope you feel better soon. Sending supportive energy in your direction.
@Ohio Mom: Yay!
I was a mental health professional prior to my current life as a retired person. Please get a referral from your doctor to a therapist or other mental health professional to help you manage your panic attacks.
I did a quick check online and found good information and recommendations on the Cleveland Clinic website.
Managing your breathing is the key to slowing the panic attack because the shallow breathing sets off the body’s fight-or-flight response. That website gives some basic instructions on how to manage your breathing during a panic attack.
I hope you find someone who can help you and give you effective techniques to help you manage your anxiety and panic.
Sending you good thoughts and strength.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Mary G: I’m so sorry. Sound off to us if it helps any time
@delk: Regarding Social Security: we needed some paperwork after my MIL passed away; we contacted the Indianapolis office where she had gotten mailings from in the past. The service rep was working from home and explained that they’d send the paperwork to the printers at the Soc Security offices, and a skeleton crew working there would get the papers into the mail. When we gave our Seattle mailing address they laughed and said we could have called any Social Security office.
@Scout211: It was all online for Mrs H and me in December. We had to wrestle “the system” to the ground over a non-issue with her Part B payment history, but our local office delivered exemplary service (unlike the national call line) and it got sorted correctly.
@HinTN: Little Miss Muffet…
@Mary G: Mary, I am so very sorry you are going through this. Panic attacks are scary as hell, especially the first time a person experiences one.
One thing that might explain the wheezing – sometimes people with very mild or under-the-radar / previously undiagnosed asthma find their asthma kicks up during or right after a panic attack. Says the lady with the inhaler in her purse for above reason…
Sending you a big hug.
Major Major Major Major
@Dorothy A. Winsor: danke
Major Major Major Major
@WaterGirl: it’s Japanese… might have a picture of the tag I can dig up.
@debbie: Ohio Dad did apply online but there were weird snafus along way, including a announcement via his online account a week or two ago that his benefit would be $0 (!).
@eclare: no, I don’t (thankfully) have Covid. it’s pre-exposure prophylaxis. I’m immunocompromised. .
@Scout211: The Social Security offices have all been closed since the start of Covid. There is a rumor that they will be opening soon but who knows?
Major Major Major Major
@Miss Bianca: thanks!!
@Major Major Major Major: Miss Willow will appreciate it if you do. :-)
@Ohio Mom: Sounds familiar. They were going to withhold Mrs H’s “unpaid medical premiums” through July until we demonstrated full, on time payment from the date she became eligible. What a system (I wanted to say racket).
“Never give a inch!”
“Adventure Time” was one of my kid’s favorites and she has good taste, so carry on! Also, too, “Gravity Falls.”
Dad was pretty hapless grasping her attempts to give me context for watching a random episode, I can tell you that.
@Major Major Major Major: Samwise on a cookie throne is just perfection. He is such a handsome kitty.
Have you watched “Resident Alien” (on SyFy, and also streaming on Peacock, I think)? The trailer doesn’t do it justice. It’s a really good mix of scifi, humor and pathos.
@HinTN: Yeah, we’ve been thinking that Ohio Dad paying his first Medicare premium out-of-pocket before applying for retirement is what knotted things up. I don’t know how really elderly people deal with these systems.
@Mary G: Oh, Mary. That sounds awful. I’m so sorry. In addition to other things you’re doing you might look into meditation apps. A friend of mine suffers from anxiety and really likes Insight Timer and Headspace. There are meditations that are just a minute or two long so it’s not like you have to spend tons of time doing it.
@Mary G: Oh No! hope you get your anxiety under control quickly. I had a panic attack attack once, brought on by a reaction to codeine, prescribed for a stubborn cough. It was the middle of the night and it is not a good memory.
One thing on your side is that this isn’t one of those mystery set of symptoms, your doctor can get you started on medication right away and will know how to monitor you.
Major Major Major Major
@WaterGirl: I thiiink it’s from these guys. But it was a prize from a crane game. Good luck haha https://fans-made.jp
The “pixel remaster” of Final Fantasy 6 just dropped a couple days ago and I have to say I love it. It’s the best FF game, so I’m thrilled that the graphics are slightly updated and the music has been improved, but is still recognizable. Totally worth your time.
Also, Horizon Forbidden West IS pretty great, M4. Hope you enjoy it, as the first was one of my favorite games too.
I have been enjoying The Gilded Age on HBO. Yeah, a show primarily about wealthy robber barons. But I know the era and always enjoy a show that deals with the history of New York City and a pivotal period of American history when industrialization rocketed to new heights.
Carrie Coon is great as Bertha Russell, a fictionalized version of the Mrs Vanderbilt of the era.
I like little touches, such as one wealthy matron having a Degas sculpture in her home that you now see in the Museum of Modern Art.
I also tremendously enjoy scenes showing the middle class black community of the era in Brooklyn, and the scenes with a little lady Mrs Barton trying to get a new organization, the Red Cross, off the ground.
One of the weird side notes about this series is the fact that some reviewers are simply incompetent. One Vulture reviewer noted that he didn’t know anything about social history or art history or fashion, so you wondered why he was even assigned to write about the show. He could write dazzling and snarky, but empty, paragraphs, so maybe that was it.
Major Major Major Major
@Mary G: ugh… so sorry… hang in there…
Panic/anxiety attacks are just horrible. Really. I’m very much no kind of expert but I’ll give you my tuppence worth of wisdom.
When I had mine it was about 10 years ago. The boy was still knocking about in my Better Half’s womb back then, so I can only assume that the panic attacks I started suffering from stemmed from subconscious worry about the whole ‘becoming a father’ thing.
Lying in bed one perfectly normal night my leg started to shake. Proper spasmodic shudders, like it had just been dumped into sub-zero temperatures. Then the other leg joined in and I was lying there thinking “WTF? Am I having a stroke or something?” My girlfriend was calmness personified and ensured me that I was just having a panic attack and I just had to breathe calmly until it passed, but that only helped a tiny bit. I was shaken up pretty badly and took literally forever to drop off to sleep.
That was it then. It was like all of my reserves of calm had been bled dry and I was only ever a gnat’s cough away from the onset of an attack. Heart pounding. Skin clammy. Mind racing. Dread, that formless conviction that something very bad was going to happen, riding my back like wings of cold stone. It was bloody horrible and it could happen anywhere. The slightest twinge of mild concern about anything could set it off and nothing I did could stop it.
So I made an appointment through my doctor and went to see someone. One session, just talking to a professional for half an hour. No major breakthrough, no revelation about repressed memories, just a friendly chat with a nice lady who told me that no, I wasn’t having heart problems, I was just suffering from anxiety. It wouldn’t kill me, it was just my body dealing with fear of something and the symptoms I was describing were perfectly normal and would be recognised by millions of people who also weren’t going to die from them. They happen, it’s shit, then they go away. Don’t sweat it, you’ll be fine.
After that, it was like a switch had been flicked. I still had attacks for a bit longer with exactly the same symptoms, but instead of terrifying me, they were now just something that was happening that I understood and could almost watch from afar while impatiently waiting for it to pass. For me, it was like the attacks were a bully that I wasn’t scared of anymore. “Go on, then, take your best shot. I bet you I’m still standing when you’re done.” And I was, and every time I proved to myself that I didn’t have to panic about the panic I was feeling, I panicked a little bit less.
The best way I can describe it is that the attacks went from incidents of existential horror to the equivalent of hiccups as soon as I stopped being scared that they were something that would keep happening until they killed me. When they just became an inconvenience, they pretty quickly stopped happening. Haven’t had one in years, and if I did have one I wouldn’t be too bothered. It’s just my body dealing with fear in the way its supposed to, and that’s just fine. Shows that everything is working as it should.
Obviously, everyone’s experiences are different, but for me, getting my head around the fact that my body’s physical responses to my unique experiences were very much universal in nature helped a hell of a lot.
I hope this helps you a bit.
@Mary G: I hate that you’ve joined this club of ours. It’s real, and it’s rough.
I can’t say that I have any curative advice for you. What’s worked for me is to try and identify the situations/events that cause my anxiety to spike and give myself permission to avoid them until I can get on top of this. It’s not permanent, it’s just ‘not now’. Self care gets very difficult because nothing feels particularly helpful.
A lot of my struggle was that my analytical thinking was completely out of phase with my emotions. Things I should feel thankful for, I wasn’t. Things I should enjoy, I didn’t. I could say ‘I have a good life’ but I didn’t feel like I had a good life. Some of it was, to the best of my ability at the time, to keep restating the analytical stuff – sometimes out loud, or maybe in writing, not just in my head – and then leaning into it. The stuff I should enjoy I did, even if I didn’t feel like I was enjoying it. Some of it is just reforming habits. Some of it is reconditioning yourself to a ‘normal’ state.
Meditation helps a lot. Awareness helps a lot. Just sitting still and focusing on what was around me. I kind of forgot what birds sounded like – I was filtering that out. Avoided the news to some degree for a while. Avoided social media to some degree for a while. Listening to music helped.
In a lot of cases, anxiety/panic attacks are a response to the feeling you don’t have control of your situation, even when you full well may. Try and figure out what that might be coming from, and try and address that. TFG created a lot of it – this situation that seems impervious to public pressure, where the things you thought you could rely on as a check to the system turned out to, well, not actually function. Some of that is turning to the things you can control, and trying to accept that the stuff you can’t control, well, you can’t control. You don’t have to like it or even accept it, you just need to tolerate it, at least for the moment.
Don’t hate me, but I applied on a Sunday, was asked to mail my W4 to my local office (which I did that same day), and discovered a check deposited to my account nine days later. Seriously.
Hope you get connected to help that makes you feel better. I’ve had one anxiety attack and it was on a rush hour NYC subway. I echo whoever said breathing is key. Also, knowing that it’s an anxiety attack makes it easier to get through one.
No hate. Just envy.
I guess 2014 was back in ancient times . . .
Hang in there. Hopefully, the resources available to you will help.
@JoyceH: My county dropped to green! I ‘m still masking on public. I hate colds and flu.
@Major Major Major Major: I looked at the site. Yeah, no that’s not gonna happen.
Oh well, adorable cookie. Just small enough that Samwise doesn’t know it’s for him, he surely thinks he has claimed something – that was for another purpose – as his own.
That fog-pelted gentleman mogget is a sight to behold atop his cushion. I would pet that cat if given half a chance.