Yet Another Bullshit Metric

You’ve heard of spoon theory, and here I come with “bullshit theory”.

As I was relaxing and looking forward to two weeks off, finally starting to relax, my hubby had a minor medical emergency that was scary when it happened but no big deal after it all got sorted. It was ‘An Bullshit’: One item of really annoying, scary, surprising, unavoidable, semi-in/sufferable rigmarole involving lots of tension and a car trip. And at this early stage of a vacation where I am trying to recover from burnout, it was my allotment for the day.

I feel like, generally, I can handle two bullshits a day and I have a backup bullshit mitigation kit in my purse. Previously, if there was a trip or some event that was making my anxiety flare up, I’d pack a few extra bullshit mitigation kits and keep an eye on dates to make sure two things that were likely to involve some extra bullshit weren’t happening at the same time. I feel I can also pre-deal with some of the more predictable bullshit, which basically involves the bullshit of travel-planning and time-blocking and setting appointments and such.

If I encounter bullshit beyond my limit and resources, it basically is left to chance. I might be able to handle it like any other bullshit, I might have a panic attack, I might call someone to distract/empathize/advise, I might flee, I might fight. My responses at that point are unpredictable and unreliable and thus I try to keep below my limit.

Prior to this time off, I realized I was having unpredictable responses upon reaching the second bullshit of the day. It was semi-surprising, but then I realized that I had only been dealing with my usual half-a-bullshit-a-day from work (that I get paid for) and I wasn’t dealing with the usual extra bullshit that accompanies a commute in Atlanta. But it also meant when I sat down to try and pre-plan around bullshit for a multi-day birthday road trip, well in advance, I didn’t have the energy/grace/thoughtfulness to deal with basic travel planning. Because travel right now seems extra bullshitty because of *gestures at news cycle late May 2022*… I decided to scuttle the trip and just use the free time to see if I could recover.

This week has involved a lot of waking up semi-exhausted but less irritable, I have learned to call this mood “Unclenched”. I have also noticed I’m not getting bored at all. I have another week of no planned upcoming bullshit and the hope is by the end of it I am back to handling maybe two bullshits a day… but I am not sure… we’ll just have to see.

“Busy; but never precocious”

I am about a week away from two weeks of planned leave from work. It’s my “Birthday Time off” which conveniently lands near Memorial Day Weekend. I feel like I planned it in early January when I got more familiar with my workplace’s “Use or Lose calculator” which calculates the amount of Annual Leave you have to take (or donate) by the end of a given year lest you ‘lose’ it. I chose two weeks because I was also seeing lots of “Hey, take time off, lots of it, burnout is a real thing and it’s actually harder to distance yourself from work if you work remotely” communications from work, alongside lots of top-down “if you ask for leave you’re not going to experience pushback.”

Because I took two whole weeks, and because I didn’t want to plan anything super-extravagant, I figured “I should do a road-trip” and the place that seemed the best was Austin/Dallas because it’s at the edge of day-trip limits and I had multiple people I knew there but usually only talk to via the Internet. All I had to do was contact them and plan out the schedule.

That trip has since been cancelled. Turns out a nasty side-effect of burnout, is that the amount of energy that needs to go towards “work” stuff (communicating with multiple people about complicated processes with shifting schedules and to try and find the thing that works best for everyone) is low and not replenishing quickly. Thus, I would spend my energy doing work things… and then sit down to look at maps and hotel pricing and reach out to people and feel in my bones that I wanted to do ANYTHING else. When my husband asked me reasonable questions like “Well, what do you want to do when we’re not hanging out with people, as there are some big gaps marked as ‘free time’, because if we don’t have a loose plan we tend to go stir-crazy and get cabin fever.” I would get snappish and super-defensive.

The other thing I’m noticing is that a bunch of people are going through the sorts of experiences in Spring/Summer 2022 that we had when we attended Dragon*Con in Summer/Fall of 2021: Going to these big conventions and trips hoping for the carefree experiences they had pre-covid… and instead realizing all the indignities they were used-to pre-covid (traffic, grumpy/overworked/burnt-out volunteers/staff, bathrooms-that-are-not-yours, kitchens that are not yours, the ‘I’m hungry but I don’t want to eat that’ dance, and the ‘wait, where is my ID/Vaccination/Multipass’ dance) are back and worse. Add to that my usual raging anxiety and Covid-19 being the complimentary con crud, and I figure it’s best for me this time to “staycation” and “not add to the problem”. While I’m slinging cliche’s, let me also toss in “I don’t want my lack of planning to be other people’s emergencies.”

But hey, it’s gonna be two weeks off. And if I’m in a mode where I just need to not plan to do anything and maybe just go walk myself around in nature and find better ways to self-sooth my anxieties without making it everyone else’s problem… so be it.

“And for gods’ sakes, download Signal”

Waaaaay back in the day (Around 2000), I enjoyed AOL Instant Messenger. I remember being flabbergasted/impressed that I could voice-call a friend at their university while I was at my university with a mic and some headphones instead of paying for long distance or using up cellphone minutes (And me and a lot of my friends were using Sprint phones, so we didn’t even use SMS messages, but this was the era of “pay extra for 200”). AIM was what I mostly used for a good long while there until Facebook Messenger became a thing occasionally using GChat and SMS/MMS if people wanted to use that instead (As Sprint finally had SMS/MMS available by the time Android phones were a thing and unlimited texts were rolled in with unlimited data)… and then I remember trying to use Meebo for a hot minute which basically consolidated all the various messengers into one API, but for whatever reason it died

Up until relatively recently I was mostly using SMS/MMS and Facebook Messenger (Or Instagram Messenger, which, as far as I can tell, is FBM trying to be snapchat). I knew it was mining all my data and it was occasionally getting annoying how I would mention that a toilet was being weird and then being stalked by ads for Kohler and American Standard for a few weeks… But then I was researching Timnit Gebru for our Black History Month presentation at work, and I followed her on Twitter, and one of the things she retweeted was Alex Hanna’s excellent resignation letter from Google (basically confirming what is well known which is that Google has some Diversity and Inclusion ISSUES). Alex ended the letter with “and for gods’ sakes, download Signal”

Timnit Gebru and Alex Hanna are well vested in Ways Big Tech Companies are Gross right now (seriously, follow @timnitgebru on twitter and you’ll get a week lead-time on what is about to be the new big tech scandal). Also, I reached out to a very smart friend I hadn’t talked-to in a while and THEY were like “Hey, can we use Signal instead?” So when all these smart people I know or wish I knew are like “Hey, use this app because it doesn’t suck”… I’m gonna try.

From what I can tell, Signal will behave like iMessage or Android’s Messages apps when they are talking to other iMessage or Android Messages Devices: Initial contact uses a phone number, messages will be encrypted, there are read receipts and ‘so and so is typing’ notifs, there is no limit on size, you can send stickers and gifs and files, you can voice-chat and video chat (also encrypted). It tends to use WiFi and Cell Data but can also use SMS/MMS architecture and will let you know when it’s the only option available. Thus, instead of suffering the trials and tribulations of the dreaded “green dots” in iMessage or Android Messages suddenly dropping out of “chat”, you get the “I am talking to someone using the same client” behavior all the time.

Also, in addition to i/padOS and Android clients, Signal has clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You can get the same sort of “I want a physical full size keyboard” experience you had with logging into various websites or dedicated computer apps. It has a similar “log into this desktop signal client by scanning a QRCode with your phone” that I’ve seen in Android Messages. Signal is also security conscious in that when you set up a desktop computer app… it WONT pull in all of your previous chat-history. That means you can log into a Signal client on a shared computer in new locations without worrying about all your old conversations suddenly being downloaded and saved to a file somewhere. It also has the disappearing messages feature which are important to some security minded folks.

Finally, Signal is a non-profit that’s running off user donations. It doesn’t ask to keep and sell your data, its code is open source, its algorithms and security procedures are available for scrutiny, and from what I can tell it’s got poison pills against being bought by some other big tech company if it becomes more popular. This means the features are very user-focused and security focused and not just “we’re going to keep adding stuff no-one asked for because we’re scared you’re going to leave for other apps.This makes it that much better than similar security-minded apps like Telegram (owned by some Russian entrepreneur) and WhatsApp (Owned by Meta).

So yeah, should you reach out to me via some sort of messenger, I’ll probably ask if we can switch to Signal, and if you ask why… well, here’s this post.

It’s like Roadkill/Vice-Grip-Garage but for a website.

The equivalent of finding my old site in a junkyard and getting it running well enough to drive home for further tinkering.

However many months (years) ago, I noticed that the wordpress installation I had in godaddy since the mid-aughts stopped working, and it looked like it was pretty badly hacked. This isn’t surprising, I never had SSL set up, and I was pretty much spending all my time in social media having abandoned my plan of “I’ll post most of my thoughts to my website and then just link to them and if anyone is interested in what I have to say/think they can click a link.”

(As an aside, mucking about in old website wiring VERY MUCH makes me feel my age)

I got this new site mostly set up last year and ignored it… and then this last month I noticed the SSL/HTTPS certificate expired and in the rigmarole to get a new certificate I noticed that AWS doesn’t really provide mail-handling like GoDaddy used-to which meant the scripted wordpress site was using “user@example.com” because it couldn’t confirm the email I actually wanted to use. Thus, over the last few days with the help of this MetaBlog article on how to wire Lightsail AWS WordPress to Amazon’s Simple Email Service and this Lightsail documentation on how to use the bncert script that will automatically install free rotating “lets encrypt” SSL certs. Now we’re ‘back in business’ so to speak.

The initial transfer out of GoDaddy/Dotster/DynDNS to AWS stuff a year ago was the equivalent of new tires, semi-functional brakes, transmission that reverses AND advances… and engine running. This latest set of tinkering is the equivalent of stopping at a gas-station/friend’s conveniently located shop mid-trip to replace the fuel filter and zip-tie down some things that were rubbing/squeaking. Now I consider the website “home” and able to start detailing/rust-stop.

Now that it’s home, I feel a bit pressured to actually DO stuff with this website. I still have old podcast files and such and I figured I could upload “archive” episodes as an exercise of listening to myself from 10+ years ago to see how I’ve changed (and also perform pre-allocution with “I understand this opinion I held in 2009 when I was 28 is terrible and cringey” warnings). But it’s also where I can write little essays about the hows and whys of my various moves about the Internet. It’s also nice to have in the garage in case I suddenly want/need to have it become the fulcrum of all my business/hobby needs going forward (at which point I can attach Full Domain email which I consider the equivalent of Air Conditioning).

*dust dust dust* *cough cough*

The post-pandemic urge to center more of my content into An Actual Website that I own/control is starting to hit critical mass: The ideas for fun and self-revealing pages and posts are building in my head, plans for what to do with old podcasts that got eaten when the old website was hacked, ways to crosslink my creative projects like fibercraft (Knitting, crocheting, spinning plarn) are taking hold and seem enticing enough to overcome the Activation Energy involved with, well, setting up and maintaining a website (even a very easy one, thanks WordPress) with any semblance of regularity.

One of the bigger things I’ll need to be okay-with is that this will most likely be For-Me. I’m not going to expect people (even my husband and besties) to regularly seek-it-out and even if they do, it’s going to be because I linked to a post/dive from my other socials. I’m not really seeking for it to become popular (or goodness forbid go viral) or make me money or even get me that much attention… and if it does become popular by itself or by relation to other things I have done, I’ll have to reassess what to do with it. I do have some fantasies of “Oh good, I’ve gotten myself a pack of trolls, I can have THEM go dig up all the problematic shit I’ve said/done over the years ago rather than having to go seek it out myself, that’ll make it much easier to address. Also, the moment trolls realize that they’re doing work for me for free, they’ll probably piss-off.”

But yeah, Hello again. My name is Peter. ‘Epilonious’ is a name I made up because I wanted to have the same moniker across 32354234635 different websites because my dabbling in Database Science showed me it’s always great to have a GUID. I’ve been on the Internet in it’s various forms for over 25 years, and It’s been a ride, lemme tell yah.

No really, sit down, ask. I will tell you.

You had me; you lost me: Regular Car Reviews

I don’t remember when I first saw RCR. I can’t remember whether it was the Miata (Track Day Bro) or the Corvette C4 (seauxoooo fahuunnnseaaaaa). I’m sure YouTube remembers, but I don’t want to dig through the metadata to find out and give Alphabet the satisfaction of letting me think their algorithms and tracking were helping Not Just Them.

Needless to say, as someone who has a Miata, and with a friend who was restoring a C4, I was hooked. Mr. Regular (nee. Brian) and Roman (nee. Nick) were perfect at not just describing what made a car wonderful, but the cultures around them too. They didn’t pull many punches on some of the things that made those cars and cultures suck as well. I followed and subscribed and joined the Reddit and bought merch and spent some money to have questions answered during the Youtube Live Streams… I considered joining the Patreon, I sent emails offering the Merkur up for review and was a bit to late as they had just finished a tour of the Southern US when I found his channel (and has only been back to get a Toyota Sera from ATL Imports and make fun of one of the car shows here).

Unfortunately, I was developing quite the classic Parasocial Relationship: I felt like the makers of RCR (especially Mr Regular) were becoming friends and I started to feel personally hurt when they offered up shitty reviews. And they started offering up a lot of shitty reviews, so many that it became a stereotype: If the car is a car that would have been loved/lauded if made between 1985 and 2003…. but made AFTER 2003… They’ll hate it. Oh and anything Mazda that isn’t a Miata.

Suddenly, thrifty and sensible appliance-cars are boring and nannying all the fun out of driving. They hate on the Kia Soul and the little-engined Mazda3. They would make a post bitching about the lack of flavor anything Nissan makes in the same channel they laud a well-kept Plymouth Horizon and an early 90’s Toyota Corolla.

Thus, RCR became something that used to cheer me up whenever I saw it, to something I had to be In a Good Mood to watch, and still sometimes had to steel myself incase it was a review that Mr. Regular made when he was grumpy because he drank too much and fucked up his bowels. And that’s not an over-reach on my part. The status of Mr Regular’s intestines is so prominent in his reviews that his bowels might as well be a third contributor to the show, which kinda sucks because it seems like Roman is probably the more solid writer of the two and The Really Shitty reviews seem like they are the times Roman took a break or otherwise couldn’t break Mr. R out of a funk.

I think the biggest reason I have grown afoul of Regular Car Reviews is that Mr. R reminds so much of myself, but a shittier version of myself I left behind a decade ago. He’s what I would be if I got more into my creative projects as a career and didn’t go as hard into Government/Tech, and it’s a weird juxtaposition because you’d think that my relative stability means I’d be the one to be more rant-ey and grumpy and less caring of what other people thought, but he’s the one that will skewer a car a lot of people like because the company that made it turned out a bad one his friend drove when he was in High School.

It’s not all bad, They started a secondary channel that doesn’t seem to be on a schedule or any sort of money. Therefore it drops all the pretention and excoriation and weirdness that I think most people have associated with RCR. It has more of the weird stuff that just happens to be going on in the creators life, and I haven’t had a “Ugh, that was a stinker and now I feel bad” reaction to any of those videos.


They Don’t Know Archive: Ep 92

This is an archive (read: old-ass) episode where Katie visits and we suffer through eating pizza rolls because mBmBaM. Eric also appears.

This is the first archive episode ever posted on the New Site… so it probably looks the most janky and has the weirdest description.