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Another Year, Another Post

Everybody's been saying that 2016 was terrible due to all of the celebrity deaths. I'm not so sure that 2016 was worse than any other year. I think it's more likely that the largest demographic of social media users have reached an age where they are familiar with the celebrities who died.

However, instead of dwelling upon the passing of people I don't know, I'm going to do my (sometimes) annual New Year's Post. How was my 2016?

The year was pretty good overall. I finished a major project at work that has been hanging over my head since 2013. I started running, and worked my way up from couch potato to guy who can run three miles. I got out of credit card debt around April. I maintained my self-imposed exile from Facebook, mostly stayed off of GameFAQs, broke a bad habit, and made a ton of progress on projects around the house.

Of course, it wasn't all good. I stopped running when it got cold while also stuffing myself with food and treats around the holidays and lost all of the fitness I had gained. Did some things I regret that might come back to haunt me. Immediately went back into debt after getting caught up on the credit card. I read fewer books in 2016 than I did in 2015, did not keep up on mowing the lawn, and I started slacking off on my hobby projects.

I haven't posted in either of my blogs since my New Year's Post last year. My 2016 New Year's Resolution to develop a video game was a total failure. I didn't even lift a finger towards that goal. Thought about it a lot, but did not put in any actual work.

Some bad things happened in my life during 2016:

Grandfather died.

November was extremely stressful, so I unplugged my brain for the month.

Graphic Novel Club ended because the woman who organized it moved away.

Unofficially (accidentally?) quit playing Magic: the Gathering and became a bit of a hermit.

Goals for 2017:

Get finances in order (again).

Continue reading.

Resume exercising regularly.

Finish my current household projects.

Be nicer to my wife. She finally has a work schedule that allows me to spend time with her, but it's taken a bit of time for me to adjust. There is room for improvement.

2017 New Year's Resolution: Don't Waste Time

While working on household projects, I've noticed that things get done relatively quickly if I start working on them, but they take forever if I sit and think about how daunting the task appears to be. I want to spend my time doing things rather than drowning in anxiety. If what I am doing is not something I enjoy or working towards something I desire, I need to stop doing it. You never know how much time you have; why waste it? Maybe that's all I need to make the most of 2017.

2^10 + 2^9 + 2^8 + 2^7 + 2^6 + 2^5 ...

Counting down to a new year. Doing it alone this time. House to myself. No invitations to go anywhere else. A bit disappointed, but not unhappy; I'm enjoying a quiet evening alone. It's a good time to reflect upon the past year and look toward the future.

My big new year's resolution for 2015 was to stop using Facebook. I decided that it was too much of a distraction in my personal and professional life. I was not completing projects or doing things I enjoy. I thought I'd cave after a month, but I disabled my account a year ago and have not logged in since.

The hard part was losing my connection to other people. Of my 100+ Facebook friends, fewer than 10 people requested a way to contact me, and only a handful of people have invited me to do anything in the past year. At least I know who my real friends are.

Later in 2015, I broke my addiction to another productivity sapping internet vice: GameFAQs - an internet discussion forum about video games. I signed out sometime this summer, and only had one relapse that lasted for a day.

Since I was no longer spending hours sifting through clickbait posts, arguing about the prize structures of local gaming events, or explaining why Zelda is not considered an RPG, I had a lot of free time to pursue other interests. What did I do?

I read books. I used to read a lot of books, but I only read 5 books in 2013 and 3 in 2014. In 2015, I read 32 books. Granted, all but 10 were graphic novels, but I also didn't really get back into reading until spring/summer.

I did chores. Lame as it sounds, I managed to keep up on mowing the lawn this year, and I made significant gains toward getting the house in order following the move. There is still a long way to go and a never-ending list of things that need doing, but I am quite pleased with the progress made in 2015.

I got out. In addition to my weekly Magic: the Gathering booster draft, I joined a graphic novel book club and attended numerous cooking classes. I meet great people at all of these events, and the social interaction keeps me in reality.

I learned. I got myself to sit down outside of work and teach myself a new skill for the first time in perhaps a decade. That skill being M68000 assembly language. I'm only planning to use it for tinkering with Sega Genesis development as a hobby, but every new skill opens doors.

I wrote. I updated here and on Red Grenade, my video game blog, and I've also written some long emails. Writing with sentences and paragraphs is far more mentally stimulating than social media updates, but I'm still trying to shake off the rust.

I gave back. I became the staff advisor for Push Button, Receive Combo, a student group dedicated to fighting games. I am also in the process of becoming the staff advisor for Dreamscapes, a student group for role-playing games. Both groups are pretty self-sufficient, but I am glad to help out however I can. I am especially excited about Dreamscapes because that group meant a lot to me when I was a student.

2015 also saw some sensible improvements in how I spend my money. In years past, I've paid full price for several video games that I still haven't played and which can now be purchased in bargain bins. This year, I skipped several games I'd normally have pre-ordered. Likewise, I've reduced my involvement with Magic: the Gathering to limited events. A booster draft is $15 per week, but it's a great social activity and I end up playing with more than 50% of the cards I buy. Much more sensible than spending hundreds to open packs and stuff the cards into binders where maybe 1% of them get used in constructed decks. Can't be spending money on toys I don't have time to play with.

I'm pretty happy with 2015. I feel like it was a huge step in the right direction after many years going the wrong way or standing still. Likewise, instead of approaching the coming year with a resigned sigh, I'm excited about where I am and how I can further improve in 2016.

Goals for 2016:

Get personal finances in order. The changes I made in 2015 only prevented my money problems from getting worse. My goal is to get out of a hole I dug by April and stay out.

Get family finances in order. 2015 was a standstill. That is not good enough. There will be major expenses in the future that we must prepare for.

Read more books. My goal for 2016 is to read 30 books including 12 that are not graphic novels.

Finish unpacking. We can't afford to fill each room with furniture, but I'd like to get away from having boxes on the floor.

Stay in touch with friends. Now that I know who my friends are, I don't want to lose them. Maybe I can even make some new ones.

Continue avoiding the things I cut from my life in 2015. Time is all I have, I can't afford to waste it.

2016 New Year's Resolution: Write My Game

I've got an idea for a video game that I think is quite unique. I won't know if it's actually fun until I write it, but I intend to find out.

This is a major challenge I've given myself, but, honestly, it might not be as difficult as breaking my addictions to Facebook and GameFAQs. It also wouldn't be possible if I hadn't freed myself of those addictions.

Hopefully I can tell you all about it a year from now!

Saving the World

Deep down inside, everybody knows how to save the world. Most villains in popular fiction have it figured out, but the hero always stops them because the solution is too drastic. If you want to save the world, you have to kill most of the people.

Just imagine if half of the people suddenly ceased to exist. Half as much human excrement, half as many factories churning out products for consumers, half as much livestock farting holes in the ozone layer, and half as many cars on your commute to work. Everything would be notably improved for those who remain.

However, half isn't the target. Check out the Georgia Guidestones - "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." 500 million. There are almost 7.5 billion people on earth right now, this is suggesting that only 1 in 15 people will remain.

Let's assume that whatever person or group created the Georgia Guidestones also has the power to make this a reality. How does one get rid of 7 billion people? How are the survivors selected?

Perhaps the most humane option is to restrict reproduction because it doesn't require killing anybody. There are countless conspiracy theories about how this would be accomplished. Genetically modified food, riders in a vaccine, or water additives that chemically sterilize the population. Then, people who prove themselves competent could apply for a temporary sterilization antidote and have a child - perhaps two if they score well on extremely biased standardized tests. However, this is too slow and cumbersome to be the final answer.

War is another great way to reduce the population, and powerful people have used war to achieve their goals for as long as history has been recorded. However, even an inefficient invasion like Normandy in World War II still produced a baby boom when the surviving soldiers returned home. War is too unpredictable and messy; it will continue being used to slow growth until the solution is implemented, but it is not the solution.

The actual solution will be a global catastrophe. Perhaps a plague or chemical weapon. We will probably never learn the full truth behind it. When I say "we" I mean the survivors; 14:1 odds say that you and I will be dead.

Taking about odds is misleading. It won't be a random lottery. People will be deliberately selected and protected from the disaster. Imagine a group of self-proclaimed geniuses trying to engineer the perfect society. What composition do the 500 million survivors need? 100,000 computer programmers? 1 million farmers? 3 million custodians? Not exact numbers, but you get the idea.

It is easier to figure out who will not be given a ticket to the new world. The engineers of the future have access to everything. Medical records, police records, school records, employment history, credit card purchases, etc. Unemployed? Dead. Welfare? Dead. Poor health? Dead. Poorly educated? Dead. Criminal history? Dead. Drug addiction? Dead. People who are a burden rather than a boon will not be welcome.

If you pass that initial screening, you will live or die based on merit and need. You're one of the top 100,000 computer programmers in the world? Should be safe. One of the top million farmers? Good to go. Chairman of the One Direction fan club? Sorry. All of the data will be processed by a computer algorithm and the survivors will be chosen. Unfortunately, they're going to mess it up.

Mr. Privileged has a free pass. There won't be 500,000,000 survivors chosen. There will be 499,999,999 survivors and that guy. Except it isn't just one guy. There could be hundreds, thousands, or millions of free passes. "My daughter's boyfriend's dad is a computer programmer. Let's put him on the white-list. Oh, his wife too, she's a dear."

After a bunch of slots are reserved for nepotism and cronyism, you still have a problem. The remaining slots are filled by roles that a small number of people consider important. What if they are wrong? Ever play a role-playing game without a healer in the party? You lose. Who will these brilliant social architects exclude from the party? Artists? Eskimos? Protestants? Democrats? Tuvan Throat Singers? They'll include everything that is needed to keep the gears turning, but, through bias or ignorance, we will lose diversity and pieces of our culture.

That's the new world: A group of logical sociopaths, their friends, their families, and a bunch of computer-selected servants. No useless people like minority rights advocates, controversial filmmakers, or whistleblowers. Nepotism and cronyism are your most realistic shots at survival, so go make friends with the Illuminati, Elders of Zion, or Bilderberg Group if you want to live!

Bringing Back Caveat Emptor

In high school, I was taught a couple Latin words that I've somehow managed to remember for the past twenty years:

Caveat emptor - buyer beware.

Caveat emptor is the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

It's about personal responsibility. If you buy the wrong item or a poor quality item, that is your fault. You made a poor decision - deal with it. The incentive for sellers to not rip people off is that selling is probably their livelihood. Too many unhappy customers will put a seller out of business. This keeps buyers and sellers in check. The system has worked for a long time.

eBay changed all that. If the buyers are afraid to purchase items on eBay, eBay and their PayPal subsidiary don't make money. These companies don't care about the buyers or the sellers as long as they are transacting. They also know that the sellers are likely to continue selling, despite the risks. As such, they have turned the tables on sellers.

Caveat vendit - seller beware.

Simply put, the seller gets screwed if there is a problem. PayPal gives the money back to the buyer, and the seller often doesn't even get their item returned. This eliminates the fear of purchasing from strangers online. Unfortunately, buyers are free to swap broken items for functional items, file fraudulent PayPal chargebacks, and employ numerous other scams. eBay and PayPal will side with the buyer nearly every time.

This is similar to the perils of running an online business that accepts credit cards. A certain percentage of customers are going to scam them by filing fraudulent chargebacks, and businesses must factor this when setting their profit margins. It is considered a cost of doing business.

Here's the problem: many sellers on eBay are not businesses; they are individuals selling a rare, old, or unique item that cannot easily be replaced. If somebody is selling an Earthbound Super Nintendo game cartridge or a Black Lotus card from Magic: the Gathering, they probably cannot recover their money or replace the item if the buyer rips them off. It is no longer a cost of doing business, it's plain robbery.

There is nothing to keep buyers in check. It is not even possible to leave negative feedback for buyers anymore, so sellers are forced to enter their transactions blindly with no knowledge of a buyer's true reputation. Anything that might prevent people from transacting doesn't jive with eBay's business model.

Fortunately, I have a solution. A new take on buyer beware. A new service that will keep buyers honest without preventing them from transacting.

Here's how it works: Sellers can opt to give this service a percentage of their eBay selling price. If they do, and the buyer scams the seller, goons will be sent to the buyer's house to beat the crap out of them. This service would be called PainPal.

Problem solved?

Sexes and Allies

I recently received an email inviting me to join NMU ALLIES. ALLIES is a group on campus that shows support for a subset of the population. Specifically, the Bee Gees, the Elles, and the Tease.

My initial thoughts: "Cool! Some of my co-workers are members and have a decal displayed on their office windows. Maybe I should do the same." Then I continued reading and something made me pause.

Decals are issued ONLY to individual members, not departments or offices, so that GLBT people can be assured of support and confidentiality from the person displaying the decal.

Support and confidentiality? That's part of my job. For everybody. It doesn't matter which combination of colors, ethnicities, beliefs, sexual preferences, and gender identities come to me for help. If the help they are requesting falls within my job duties, I will help them. If not, I will direct them to somebody who can.

I'm left wondering why I should display a decal advertising that I'll treat a subset of the population the same as everybody else? I've asked around a bit, and received great answers like, "It really helps!" and "That's just how things are now." Thanks.

Furthermore, why don't other subsets of the population need me to display a decal? Gamers? They've always been outcasts. Straight white people who shave their heads and hate differences? They're not welcome when they come to town. Italians? They face ridicule and stereotypes just for having cool names and awesome food. There are so many different people that there wouldn't be enough window space if everybody had a decal, so why does this one group need one?

Can anybody give me a logical explanation?

Little Things That Kill

During the past couple months, I became familiar with the intensive care unit at our local hospital. Fortunately for me, I was not the guest of honor; I was merely visiting. Unfortunately, my father-in-law has been having a really tough time there, and he was recently flown to a more advanced hospital. Any prayers, magic spells, or other rituals you may wish to perform for his benefit would surely be appreciated.

My father-in-law's situation has been a roller coaster of happiness, disappointment, fear, relief, tears, joy, nausea, exhaustion, and near-death experiences. At one especially bad point in this process, I found myself surrounded by crying family members watching an unconscious man's chest rising and falling in time with the attached ventilator, and he was expected to die within the hour. I hated everything about the situation. The looming death, the overwhelming sadness, the sounds of the machines, the smell of the room, the tangle of tubes, wires, and hoses, the fatigue, and the tension. It's times like this when I find it useful to focus on smaller things, and ignore peripheral sights and thoughts for a bit.

A nurse was kind enough to bring me some water. I focused on that. I tasted it. I adjusted the height of the straw. I tipped the cup from hand to hand, feeling it's weight shift as the fluid sloshed around. I inhaled the cup's smell. I ran my fingers over the surface, squeezed gently, and noted it's texture and rigidity. Then I asked myself: Why the fuck are they using styrofoam?

Environmental concerns aside, styrofoam is not good. It's widely known that hot liquids leech dangerous chemicals from styrofoam containers. Being a hospital, you would think they wouldn't expose their visitors, employees, and/or patients to harmful substances. Before you point out that I was safe because my drink was cold, I'd like to mention that the styrofoam cups were kept next to the coffee dispenser; they were intended to hold hot liquids. Furthermore, I drink a lot of water, and this water had a very distinct taste: It tasted like water that was in a styrofoam cup. Don't believe the PR man from the styrofoam cup factory; that stuff contaminates any drink, hot or cold.

After we endured several hours of collective agony, my father-in-law's vital signs improved and the visiting family members left the room for a break. I threw away most of my poisoned water and fell asleep in a waiting lounge. When I opened my eyes hours later, everybody was talking about getting breakfast. Wide awake, I began imagining all of the choices: Sweetwater? Donckers? A&M Cafe? Coachlight? Jeffries? Cue sound of record scratching. We were going to eat in the hospital cafeteria.

The hospital cafeteria was about what I expected. A bunch of nationally advertised pre-packaged highly processed junk foods, and a few bits of real food scattered about. Still, I tried to make the most of the situation. I picked up a bag of Sun Chips. They are believed to be healthy because they are baked rather than fried. Regardless of their nutritional merits, the bag was marked as a three-serving bag. Now, why would they do that? Smaller single-serving bags exist. How many people have the knowledge, willpower, and foresight to eat 1/3 of the bag, seal it up, and finish it in two more eating sessions on subsequent days? Pretty much nobody.

There were bags of peanuts near the chips. Frito-Lay brand. Once again, 3-serving bags instead of the smaller single-serving bags. I've actually had these peanuts before. They taste good, but are ridiculously salty. In fact, they're coated in some additional oil that allows more salt to stick to the peanuts. I passed soda machines, ill-looking danishes, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, butter substitutes, highly sweetened Kellogg's cereals, and bagels with cream cheese. Now, I love a cream-cheesed bagel as much as anybody, but this all just sounds like an organ failure starter kit.

I eventually saw some freshly made foods. There was a vat of putrid looking oatmeal that was crusty on top and mushy on the inside. An Egg McMuffin buffet where you could scoop some limp egg mixture onto an english muffin and combine it with the soggy bacon and sausage that was glistening beneath heat lamps. I finally settled upon a fruit cup that contained grapes, pineapple, and melons. They were nearly flavorless, but it was something.

Perhaps I sound like a food snob, but you have to remember that this is a hospital. The options were mostly unhealthy or disgusting. They were displaying a blatant disregard for what they fed people, and it was difficult for somebody to eat a healthy meal. Doesn't the hospital employ nutritionists? Shouldn't they poke their heads in and say something? Why would the hospital have so many unhealthy choices and low food standards in their cafeteria? The answer might be too obvious: It's good for business.

Worthless Heroes

I've got an amazing collection of interpersonal interactions that I could have handled better, but I'm usually the only victim of my social blunders. Feeling foolish, being ridiculed, missing opportunities to make new friends, etc. However, one incident recently resurfaced in my memory where others were potentially harmed due to my social shortcomings.

This story takes place half my lifetime ago. I was 18 or 19, in or around my first or second year in college. It was 1996, so few people had cell phones to bail themselves out of trouble. Anyway, Scott, Todd, and I were joking, laughing, and having fun around my car in front of Todd's place on Bluff Street. I was still extremely shy and nearly incapable of speaking to girls, so, of course, some girls appeared and started talking to us. Damsels in distress it turned out.

"Hi, you guys seem cool," followed by introductions.

"A couple guys brought us to the house over there, but they're refusing to bring us home and they're being total assholes."

"How are they being assholes?"

"They... they're just being assholes. They're crazy!"

"They're taking their clothes off and chasing us around the house."

"We had to get out of there."

Instead of asking the obvious question, I froze up while Todd made some throwaway remarks. The girls uncomfortably shifted about looking anxious. I eventually came to my senses, looked at Scott, looked at the car, and looked back at Scott. We nodded to each other. I reached into my pocket and nervously jingled my keys while trying to formulate the essential inquiry: May we offer you a ride?

"Do... um... would...?"

"Hey! What are you doing over there," yelled two shirtless hulking brutes fast approaching.

"Sorry, we have to go back before you guys get hurt," said one girl as they turned and ran.

"What did you tell them about us?"

"Nothing, we were just saying hi," assured the more talkative of the girls as she placed a hand on him to halt the advance.

"Come on, let's go back inside."

The two guys scowled at us for a moment, then slowly turned back.

I looked from my car keys to the two girls reluctantly walking into the house with those animals and felt pretty terrible. We discussed the event. Todd's attitude was basically, "Who gives a fuck?" Scott and I agreed that we screwed up. We had an opportunity to speak up and offer a ride to safety, but could not find our wits in time.

Having a Ball

For those who are out of state or oblivious, Michigan recently repealed the law requiring a helmet on a motorcycle. I had this conversation with a co-worker today:

Co: I'm still not used to seeing people without helmets on motorcycles.

Me: A lot of people prefer that.

Co: They should have the freedom, but I would not make that choice.

Me: Understood. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think freedom should only apply to things they agree with.

Co: I guess I would skip a helmet if I was running to the store for milk.

Me: I hear bikers enjoy feeling the breeze through their hair.

Co: I'd like to feel the breeze on my balls.

Me: Maybe try a kilt? That's probably the closest you can get without being arrested.

Co: Wearing a kilt on a motorcycle would be interesting.

Me: Your balls would be bouncing on the seat.

Co: Hot.

Me: Lift up the kilt, and it would look like a lottery drawing.

Show and Tell

My friend Laurie visited in December to bake cookies, and it became my duty to entertain her six-year-old daughter. I don't consider this a bad thing; I like children, believe they are the future, and want some of my own, but I have very little recent experience interacting with them.

I took the easy route. I went to my wall-of-video-games-that-looked-interesting-but-I-never-had-time-to-play, and tore the plastic off Super Paper Mario; henceforth SPM. I believed this game would be age-appropriate in terms of both content and game complexity. SPM plays like a 2D Super Mario Bros. game, but allows you to switch to a 3D perspective. This is either a clever idea implemented poorly, or a poor idea implemented as well as can be expected.

Despite the concept's apparent potential, it boils down to this: Play 2D Super Mario Bros. Reach a dead end. Switch to 3D. Bypass obstacle. Return to 2D. Perhaps it gets more involved in later stages. The 2D sections I played were dull and uninspired. The 3D sections weren't any better, suffering from poor controls and a perspective that made it difficult to do basic things like jump on enemies.

If that wasn't enough, SPM is also a Role-Playing Game. RPG is a genre I sometimes love, but they are too often allowed to be absolute shit because, regardless of quality, fans will play them to see their favorite characters. I could make a game where people play leap-frog while holding a vibrating controller in their ass, and it would be successful as long as it was a Final Fantasy crossover featuring a gay love triangle between Cloud, Cecil, and Donald Duck mixed with lots of level grinding and cross dressing. I could be rich if somebody hadn't already made Kingdom Hearts.

In the case of SPM, the RPG elements resulted in you and the enemies having hit-points which necessitated stomping on basic enemies multiple times, and you could take countless hits and still clear a stage. The excitement and tension of a traditional Mario game was replaced with tedium and sloppy play. Even worse was all the talking. Blah blah blah. You'd have to read six paragraphs of crap to get a door unlocked, and there were minutes of bad-guy banter before each stage.

The talking wasn't a big deal at first. I've played many modern games where the developers attempt to add depth by having everybody talk too much. They weren't so cruel as to deny me the courtesy of a skip button, so I might have clicked through it without complaint. Then something happened.

That six-year-old girl, remember her? She asked me to read the writing aloud. I tried to paraphrase because most of the dialogue was long-winded nothingness or sounded like innuendo. "The black void is exchanging implied potty humor with the talking turtle?" Having to take it all in, the writing soon reached a level of stupidity I could not ignore.

I walked across a desert, found a temple, and went inside. Then the game narrated as I will paraphrase now: "Mario crossed the desert and went into the temple."

NO FUCKING SHIT! I just spend the last fifteen minutes crossing the desert so I could reach the temple. Did they really need to tell me this?

One thing that separates video game stories from book stories is that portions, preferably all, of a video game story can be told through the gameplay. One thing every writing instructor will say is "Show, don't tell." When I walked across the desert and entered the temple, that became a part of this particular princess-rescuing tale. It was shown. If telling is worse than showing, showing AND telling must be the ultimate literary crime. Did they think, perhaps, that somebody playing this game would not be cognizant of their actions?

I later realized that SPM showing and telling the story is a lot like reality TV.

Sara watches a video of her boyfriend Billy banging all three of her sisters. Sara walks up to Billy and slaps him. Sara runs away crying. The scene is shown. Then there is an aside where Sara is crying and tells the camera, "I am sad because my boyfriend Billy had sex with all three of my sisters and posted the video on YouTube! I clicked dislike! I am mad at him for cheating on me, so I slapped him!" Well, duh.

Another reality show might have people bidding on storage units so they can resell the items for profit. It is entertaining to see what sorts of items are in these storage units. Unfortunately, half of the show is asides where people say things like, "I came to this auction so I could bid on stuff and win! Yeah!" Thanks, now I know why people attend auctions.

I'm not sure if the purpose of these asides is to pad a 30 minute show into a full hour for ad revenue, to cover for the character's inability to properly act and show emotion, to satisfy a public demand for cry porn, or because they think their viewers are dumb and cannot interpret a character's mood and motivation without being explicitly told. Whichever reason is most correct, it doesn't say much for this form of entertainment, and I was disappointed to feel the same way playing SPM.

To continue the theme of restating the obvious: Super Paper Mario sucks. Do not buy it.

Triple Header

I like to remain at my desk at work in the early morning because I am rather frightened by the ghosts, hobos, and mannequins shuffling about the building. That's why I tried to ignore the doorbell on Tuesday. Somebody else usually opens the door anyway. Minutes later, it rang three times in rapid succession. I was the only person in the building, and, recalling the furious winds outside, I ran to open the employee entrance.

As fate would have it, I slipped on the stairs. Having just come out of winter, I used a trick that often works when slipping on ice. I hopped. The intent here is that a small hop when slipping gives me a chance to re-plant my feet instead of falling. The reality is that the staircase has a low ceiling in the very spot where I happened to be, and this maneuver resulted in a very painful head injury.

At my other job on Wednesday, I mentioned that I smashed my head on a ceiling. Their response shocked me. "I have no idea how you could smash your head on a ceiling," and "Were you on a trampoline or something?" I was surprised by this reaction because smashing my head on structures above me was about as common as falling into lakes and rivers. It just has to happen sometimes! Here are two more:

Grandparent's house. A doorway conceals a staircase to the second floor. I am small, young, and grew up in a one-story home so this fascinates me. I jump off the first step to the floor. Whee! I jump off the second step to the floor. Yay! Repeat until I am on the fifth step and jump. Smash my head on the top of the door frame. Done playing.

Help Desk on campus. A girl I knew needed help in a classroom. Instead of walking around the desk, I leapt out the window into the hallway where the classrooms are located. This was something I did almost daily. This particular day, however, somebody did not roll the metal shutter all the way to the top. It was about 16 inches lower than usual. Head, pain, etc. "Yeah, I'm alright!"

While following her to the classroom, I reach up with my left hand and it came away red. Not good. I could feel dampness spreading across my scalp. Fortunately, the tasks she needed help with could be completed quickly with my right hand on the mouse. I kept my left hand hidden, got into a bathroom, and made myself presentable enough to complete my shift.

I landed (and remained) on my feet each time.