I Had a Great Year – You May Have, Also – and 2016 Was Still Terrible

I posted on Facebook about the Standing Rock action by the Corps of Engineers and, as I did here, noted it as a sliver of good news in an otherwise shit year.

Someone commented:

“I know you are talking about the election when you say “shit year” – or at least I hope you are saying that just for dramatic affect. Because from my perspective- It isn’t a shit year- So… I get where you are coming from- but for me- in the entire grand scheme of things- any day that I have healthy kids, any day or year that my parents are still alive and any year that Bryan and I are healthy, alive and working at jobs we like- well- I call that a pretty damn good year!!

Here’s the thing: if you’re saying “based on my healthy kids, my still-living parents, and the health of my spouse and myself, it was a great year,” then by definition it is not “in the entire grand scheme of things.”

The Grand Scheme of things includes MORE than just you and your family.

2016, even without the election, is like the montage at the start of an apocalypse movie, explaining how things got as bad as they are when the movie opens. To pick only ONE topic, the backwards steps combating climate change and the accelerating heating trends at the poles, far ahead of predictions, mean we have a lifetime of work to give our GRANDkids even a moderate chance to turn things around.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of good days, and by any measure, every day has good things in it, even if it’s bad on-balance.

But when I say it’s a bad year, I mean more than just how the year itself turned out, from January 1 to December 31. I mean the impact the events in that year will have on our lives going forward. I look at lasting harm, and what I then need to do.

In other words, when I talk about the year, I’m not just talking about how things went inside my house, and with my immediate family. If I did that, then yeah, 2016 was a banner year. Of course it was. I’m a straight white dude and my family is financially well off. I’m great.

But that point of view is dangerously myopic, and makes it too easy to think everything is going to be fine.

When I have a good day with my daughters, I fight harder to have women’s rights and health defended.

When I have a good weekend with my son, I fight harder for fair and well-funded education systems, with counseling backed by science, led by people earning a good wage, who can help kids when they struggle to succeed (or even make it through a day).

If I have a great Thanksgiving with my family, it means I’m going to fight harder to ensure all of my family have the same rights, and the same protections, everywhere in the country.

Good things don’t make me say “Y’know, over all, I have my health, and things aren’t that bad, and hey WE are having a great year, so why worry about what’s going on over there?”

Good things strengthen my resolve.

One of the best parts of my weekend was when I saw the breaking news on Standing Rock while I was with Sean. Not because of the news itself (which was great), but because it gave me the chance to explain how someone can be happy and crying at the same time, even if they’re guys. Especially if.

I’m not an optimist. That’s established.

I plan for the worst, and most of the time, when it’s not THAT bad, I enjoy myself all the more because I’ve seriously considered how it might have turned out badly.

And when it is just as bad as I thought, I’m prepared.

This year, I’ve been adequately prepared far more than pleasantly surprised.

I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Like wearing a Hug

Our OT suggested a weighted pressure vest for Sean last week, as we start to get a handle on his SPD. The effect has been dramatic. The weekend was great, and even with only a day in the vest last week, his teachers already noticed improvements.

It just grounds him (which I suppose is funny, given what it is), but man what an effect; not a different kid, but him, at his best.

Most importantly, he likes it.

Why Weighted Sensory Pressure Vests Have a Calming Effect for Children – Day 2 Day Parenting
Sensory pressure vests provide constant, even deep pressure to children when their body is craving this important calming and organizing proprioceptive input. Pressure vests promote self-calming, balance, and increased body awareness by enhancing proprioceptive feedback. Children with proprioceptive and tactile integration dysfunction benefit from the sensory feedback they receive when wearing the vest, because it gives the child the input … R…

A New Arrival in the Testerman Tech Family

I've been very, very happy with my MacBook Air, which I picked up in 2013 and which sailed by its three-year milestone with flying colors, no less capable now than it was when I first got it. It is, without a doubt, the best all around computer I've ever bought. That's not to say it's the most powerful (it isn't, and never was) or best featured (though it might be, if I consider all the apps I use on it that simply don't exist for Windows or Linux). However, for writing and all but the most demanding video stuff I do with a computer, it is my preferred machine. (It's been so good I invested in additional desktop Macs that I otherwise wouldn't have looked at twice.)

With that said, I'm not sure it's the absolute best value-to-cost computer we have in the house. It's a near thing, because I do use use the heck out of the Air, but I think the award might have to go to the Chromebook we picked up a few years ago for Sean. Like the Air, it's been around for a few years, is aging gracefully, and gets more and more use as time goes on and Sean grows more adept with it (so its cost-to-value ratio grows ever more favorable). It cost us $150 bucks at the time (thanks to some Amex points we had stored up), and it's been great.

This Christmas will see a new contender for the Value-to-Cost throne in our house, as we're getting a new Chromebook. It just showed up today, I had a chance to play with it check it out and get it set up for its intended users.

The machine in question is an Acer R11 Convertible. It's a solid Chromebook (same brand as Sean's current machine, though smaller) with (basically) a 10-inch touchscreen that you can flip over and use as a tent display or a nice tablet, with 4GB of memory, and 32 gig drive, all for less than $300.

Two USB ports, HDMI mini out and SD card slot. Battery life is supposed to be in the 10 hour range (we'll see).

And, as a huge bonus, this is one of the models that can run Android apps natively, which means I can install stuff like Jotterpad, Firefox, Skype, Lightroom, and even some cool Android ports of games like Final Fantasy Tactics. (!!!)

All of which is to say that if you’ve been waiting for a perfectly good Chromebook that you can also use as a perfectly good tablet, for under $300, this thing looks pretty good.

Amazon.com: Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6-Inch HD Touch, Intel Celeron N3150, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-132T-C1LK: Computers & Accessories
Amazon.com: Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6-Inch HD Touch, Intel Celeron N3150, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-132T-C1LK: Computers & Accessories

Every October, I get obsessed with a Tech Project

All of my domains renew annually or biannually, somewhere in October. RandomWiki and http://fireflywiki.net are the same.

Changes to backend platforms. New programming projects… I built an online campus/forum/archive for my MFA program during one such binge.

I don't remember what grabbed my attention last year (probably nothing, since I was hip-deep in new house projects – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DoyceTesterman/posts/NTreF1eetYS), but 2014 was a massive project to automate the collection/archiving of my blog and social media posts as they were created.

This kind of bug always – always bites me right when I'm supposed to be prepping for a big writing project of one kind of another. Always.

This year, I've wandered down the rabbithole of website creation and hosting using a combination of Jekyll (markdown-based blogging platform) and github. It's become a situation where I hit a roadblock, back up, try it from another angle, and hit the same massive barrier from another direction.

The basic problem is, I'd like to collect the material from both of my main blogs into one unified one, with all the posts stored in markdown/plaintext, and while Jekyll can do it and Github supports it, the fact that I want to add sixteen years worth of previous blog posts brings the whole thing screeching to a halt – either Github gets mad when I try to put more than a thousand files into the same directory, or Jekyll refuses to build the site when there are so many source files – basically, I can import back to about 2014 (or 2013 if I never write another new post :P) which is roughly 20 to 25% of the stuff I want to include.

(And when that failed, trying to import the same .md files into a fresh install Day One turned out to be a total sandtrap as well.)

I don't know why it's always October, but there it is. Writing this out so I can at least avoid revisiting the same project in a year.

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