I’ve had all day to think about Trump’e election, and I’m still not sure how to process it.
Right now, I’m mostly just angry. Angry at Trump, and all the people who voted for him. Angry at Gary Johnson and his supporters for taking votes away from Hillary. Angry at the DNC who went out of their way to make things harder for Bernie Sanders, a man who (in my impossible-to-prove opinion) would have had a much easier time winning. Angry at Hillary for calling Trump’s supporters deplorables and for using a private email server way back when. Angry at James Comey, who didn’t help matters now. Angry at the electoral college for existing. Angry at the gun lobby who now has a President in their pocket. Angry at the pollsters who got it all wrong. Angry at the media for legitimizing Trump and giving him so much coverage that it made his ascent inevitable.
Angry at myself for not doing more to prevent this from happening.
I’m also disappointed. Disappointed that we’ve elected a man with absolutely no experience to be our next Commander in Chief. Disappointed that so many people thought he was a better choice than the most qualified candidate to ever run. Disappointed that nasty nicknames and conspiracy theories won out over facts and truths. Disappointed that people heard what Trump said about women and still voted for him. Disappointed in all the people who will tell you they’re not racist or sexist, but sure as hell don’t want to take orders from a black person or a woman. Disappointed that so many people are hurting and angry, despite all of the good that came out of the Obama administration—an administration that, let’s remember, began amid the fallout of a huge economic disaster that was set into motion many years before.
Disappointed that the country was robbed of a historic moment.
Electing a black President didn’t end racism in this country, and electing a woman wouldn’t have ended sexism. But it would have been a positive step forward. Instead, this country has taken a major step backwards.
Then I try to look at the bright side. Maybe Trump actually is some kind of genius. He won the nomination and the election despite tremendous odds… and he did it without the usual donations, celebrity endorsements, or even widespread support from his own party. Maybe he really does know what he’s doing. Maybe he can improve the economy. Maybe he can fix the healthcare system. Maybe he can destroy ISIS and keep America safe. Maybe he isn’t simply the world’s most successful con man, who’s sole agenda in life is furthering his own interests.
Hell, I hope so. I don’t want to root against this land that I love. But the thing is, besides being angry and disappointed, what I am most is afraid. The mood in New York City today was downright depressing. It may seem extreme to compare 11/9/16 to 9/11/01, and of course the days aren’t directly analogous; there was a loss of life on one, and Americans did the damage to ourselves on the other. But that day fifteen years ago was honestly the last time I felt this scared about the future of my country. I’ve heard plenty of people saying that President Trump won’t affect our day-to-day lives, and that may be true—though it’s worth noting that’s certainly more likely for those of us who happen to be straight white men. Things are already getting scary for people who aren’t so lucky. And it’s frightening to think how a new Supreme Court appointee could undo a lot of the progress we’ve made over the last few decades. And scarier, considering Trump’s temperament and apparent willingness to use the nuclear option, I worry about him starting a devastating war. His anti-Muslim sentiment is exactly the kind of thing that motivates ISIS, and New York City is Trump’s home. The city and the state didn’t vote for him, but will that matter?
So I’m angry, disappointed, and afraid. I’d love to be able to say something profound and inspirational (like this beautifully written letter from Aaron Sorkin or this hilarious one from the fictional Leslie Knope), but I’m just not ready. Life goes on, and this country has endured some great challenges throughout our history. I really hope we can all survive this one.
Nintendo has announced its next system. It’s called the Switch, and it looks incredible.
The basic concept is that the Switch is neither a home console or a portable system—it’s both. Nintendo toyed with the concept with the WiiU, which had a controller with a built-in screen. But that controller was tethered to the system; in other words, you couldn’t use it to play a game outside of the house. The above video makes a strong point of showing how the Switch can be played at home, in a park, on a plane… anywhere.
The video also shows off a variety of ways you can control your game as well; using the detachable “Joy-Con” controllers in a variety of permutations, or with a separate controller altogether. There is an emphasis on people playing together, which is not surprising at all from the Big N. In addition to the previously announced The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there’s footage of (presumably new) Super Mario, Mario Kart, and Splatoon games. Oh, and Nintendo announced support from a huge list of third party companies as well.
So yeah. This looks awesome.
The WiiU, Nintendo’s current console, didn’t connect with a wide audience. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a great system—it certainly is, with lots of fun games and a pretty cool concept. But it had limitations, and Nintendo seems to be ditching the motion-controls of the Wii and is instead doubling down on portability. The company has always been great at handhelds (the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS, and 3DS series have all been successes), and now they can focus on delivering games that work for one system that is both meant to be played at home *and* on the go. People look at their phones/tablets/smart devices on their couches and when they’re far from home. Why should gaming be any different?
Important launch details such as price, games available, and exact date are still to come. And there are other questions: is the screen a touch screen? How will the system handle backwards compatibility? What will become of Virtual Console purchases? And why oh why are they launching in March, three months AFTER Nick’s Marathon?
Answers to those burning questions notwithstanding, it certainly appears that Nintendo has come up with a nifty new way to game. I’m in.
Back around Memorial Day, I wrote about seven resolutions I had for the summer. So now that Labor Day has come and gone, it’s time to take stock of how I did.
1. Get back to blogging. My goal was to write at least one new post here a week. In the 13 weeks that followed, I wrote eight posts, which translates to 62%. That’s a FAIL.
2. Exercise. It’s not my fault! The treadmill wasn’t working! And since that’s the only possible way to burn calories, what could I do? I have since fixed the treadmill, but I haven’t really ran on it. So… FAIL.
3. Take Meatball for long walks. Well, there was that three week stretch when I did not do this at all. But since we got him back I have been quite good about walking the pup. I’m calling this one a PASS.
4. Write. I could have done more, sure, but I have been working on some other projects—including having launched a new podcast. That’s not writing per se (though it does involve some scripting and writing episode descriptions), but is still another creative outlet. So I say this is a PASS.
5. Read “Ready Player One.” Done! PASS.
6. Go on dates. We went on a few, including a concert—on a weeknight! I’d have preferred to do more, but I’m going to call this one a DRAW.
7. Put the house back together. Oh yes. PASS.
Final tally: 4-2-1. Even if you take out the “draw,” I still get a 67%, which is a passing grade! There’s room for improvement; here’s hoping I can keep/improve my momentum for the fall.
Last August, we went on a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was a lovely trip, but when we got home, after driving for two days, we found our house in a most unwelcome state.
As I opened the door, I heard two very disconcerting sounds: a loud hiss, and an alarm beeping. I ran from room to room trying to figure out what was causing the noise. The hiss seemed to be coming from behind the refrigerator, but I wasn’t able to slide the fridge out to see what was leaking. The fact that the floor was soaking wet didn’t help matters. As I was wrestling with the appliance, Courtney came inside with the kids, and as I saw them, I realized that the alarm that was still beeping could be any number of terrible things.
So I panicked.
“Get them out of the house,” I yelled.
Before I joined the family in the backyard, I noticed that our basement was flooded, far worse than the kitchen was. And the beeping sound appeared to be coming from our carbon monoxide detector.
Once outside, I called the local fire department. To their credit, they arrived in no time, and quickly figured out what had happened.
The tiny plastic tube that carried water into the ice maker had sprung a leak, which had caused the leak in the kitchen, which then spilled down to the basement. The carbon monoxide detector was beeping because of the water that had been dripping on it—the air was safe in the house. (Believe me, I asked the guy to check it six times.) That was the good news.
The bad news was that our kitchen was a mess.
The worse news was that our basement was destroyed.
The good news is that we had insurance.
Over the next few months, we began repairs and renovations. We tackled the kitchen first, getting a new floor a new fridge. (Man, you should have heard the noise the old one started to make before we scrapped it…) We also used the flood as an excuse to get Courtney the pantry and kitchen “peninsula” she always wanted. (It’s like an island, except it connects to the wall. Eye roll.) Our amazing friend Aaron spent a long, grueling weekend helping us install everything, going far above and beyond and helping us save a ton of money. By the end of 2015, our kitchen was back and better than ever.
The basement, however, was a much slower process. We had a tough time finding a contractor company that would actually return our calls. For many, our job was too small. One place wanted us to sign over our entire insurance check. The people who came over right after the flood said they would be back later in the week, then they ghosted on us. Fortunately, the nice fellow who installed our kitchen floor was starting his own business as an independent contractor, and he offered to help us out. He worked within our budget, always called back, and always showed up when he was supposed to.
Even still, it was a big project. The bathroom had to be gutted and completely redone. Most of the walls had to be replaced. New stairs. A new drop ceiling. (The last one had gotten soaked and, quite literally, dropped.) And Courtney and I only made matters worse, slowing things down as we changed our minds repeatedly about how we wanted things to be. Aaron came back for another weekend to help us install a new basement floor, and his father, an electrician, put in new lights for us. I painted. Courtney and I assembled furniture. It all slowly came together.
For the pièce de résistance, I consulted a local custom cabinet company about a place to put my video games. Over the years, I’ve amassed a decent-sized collection of games, systems, and accessories. In Basement 1.0, some of the old games were on display, but the systems themselves were in storage. My vision for Basement 2.0 was to make it a place where anyone could grab any old game, pop it in any old system, and play.
Today, just about one year exactly since we came home and found a flood, I am happy to say that everything is finally finished. Of course, it will never be truly “done,” as we’ll continue to decorate and add accouterments here and there. But for now, we have the kitchen Courtney wanted and the game room I’ve dreamed about.
C’mon over some time and play, won’t you?
I haven’t said anything about this for a while now, because I kept hoping there’d be a happy ending to the story. But after two weeks, that feels less and less likely.
For our big summer vacation this year, we went to Country Pond, a spot in New Hampshire where Courtney’s family has a house. We’ve been there before, and it’s one of those vacation destinations where it’s easy to bring the family dog with us. We’ve brought both Sherlock and Meatball along to Country Pond over the years without incident.
But this year, early on the morning of July 2, Meatball ran away.
Courtney let him outside to pee, something must have caught his nose, and he bolted. Immediately we set out to find him, fanning out in every direction. We walked, hiked, drove. We yelled and screamed his name. But no luck.
Every day for the rest of our trip we tried to find him. I went hiking in the woods and got eaten alive by every kind of insect that was hiding in the brush. We called every animal control and police department we could think of. We reached out to an amazing Facebook group whose sole purpose is helping lost animals find their way home. I organized search parties with some unbelievably kind people who were willing to give up their free time to help search and put up signs for Meatball.
And, in between all of this madness, we also tried to maintain some sense of normalcy by giving the kids a fun vacation.
After over a week of fruitless searches, we made the painful decision to head back to New York without Meatball. Then as we were driving back, we got a tip. Someone had heard a dog (that sounded like a beagle) barking incessantly, then they saw one of our signs and gave me a call. The kids were asleep and we were halfway home, but we turned around and went back to New Hampshire to investigate, hoping that our best and only lead might actually help us find our missing pup. Sadly, we once again came up empty handed.
The house feels empty without Meatball. We all miss him, but no one more than Grace. He was her doggy, and suddenly he’s not around for her to run up and hug. The other day, the very first thing she said to me when she woke up was, “I miss Meatball.” That felt like a punch in the heart. Sometimes she says that Meatball doesn’t know how to get home but the birds will help him. Who knows—maybe she’s right.
The way I see it, there are three possibilities:
1) Meatball is a far more resourceful pup than we realized and he’s living off the land, eating bunnies and drinking pond water, and trying to find his way back to a friendly face.
2) Someone picked him up and has decided to keep him. I don’t know why someone would do that, but he’s friendly enough to probably go along with it. If he’s being taken care of, I suppose that isn’t the worst thing.
3) He didn’t make it.
I’m fighting to keep some optimism because yes, the area he ran off in is remote, but there are plenty of people around. We have signs everywhere. Every dog catcher in the county has his picture. And he is microchipped, so we should get a call if someone turns him in. The Facebook page I mentioned earlier regularly has stories about dogs who have reunited with their people after weeks and months of being gone, so maybe that will happen with Meatball.
I truly hope so.