Direction

This is supposedly my last semester of my Master’s degree and thus ever as I will never be convinced to go for a PhD. I may some day take a class in my spare time to help me world-build or just for the fun of it, but I’ll never be a full time student again. Assuming I finish all my work this semester. The task seems so daunting, I really don’t like thinking about it, and yet I can’t escape it either. Every day I look at what I’ve accomplished and what still lies ahead of me and almost pee a little.

And the further down this path of engineering I go, the more I realize I think I chose the wrong way and that the crossroads is so far behind me it would be better to keep trucking on in the vain hope that maybe there’s an intersection up ahead. But the metaphorical road is probably actually an illusion, knowing me, and I’m just wearing blinders. Perhaps there is no road at all, the direction completely up to me where I can go. Who crafted those blinders? Society? My parents? Me? And what would I do with that freedom, if I was aware of its existence? I know what I want to do in life, but getting there and succeeding in it are different matters. And thus the road, or maybe the blinders. It gives me a direction, at the very least, and a promise of a reward which may prove empty but is there nonetheless.

I just want that goddamn carrot and to get away from the whip cracking over my ass.

Featured Image from Death to The Stock Photo’s Patrick Chin

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USPS Fuck Fest

With a title like that, you know I’m going to be impartial, right?

Several weeks ago, I ordered a couple of minifigures from Hero Forge, an awesome new-ish company that lets you design minifigures through their website. I’ve been wanting some of these minifigures for a long time and finally decided to reward myself for putting up with all this bullshit in my life without murdering anyone yet. Little did I know the real treat I was in for as the delightful service of the United States motherfucking Postal Service promptly transported my goodies all the way from New York, home of the mighty Shapeways, up to the frozen, god-forsaken land of Alaska. I didn’t even know my parts had printed, let alone shipped. I was goofing around one Cyber Monday afternoon and decided to check Hero Forge to see if it had any deals. There being none, I felt satisfied in not waiting for my purchase and decided to explore what I could of their website out of boredom and the strong desire to not do my homework. Oh, look, I have an account page I wasn’t even aware of. Oh, look, order history, cool! OH, LOOK, IT’S SHIPPED AND THERE’S TRACKING!! OH, FUCKING LOOK, IT SUPPOSEDLY ALREADY ARRIVED BUT FUCKING USPS DEEMED MY HOUSE UNWORTHY OF DELIVERY AND SO THEY JUST SHIPPED IT BACK TO SENDER BY GROUND WITHOUT TRACKING SO THAT IT WILL TAKE FUCKING FOREVER FOR IT TO REACH THE SENDER BEFORE IT CAN MAKE ITS SLOW CRAWL BACK TO FUCKING ALASKA FROM NEW YORK!! FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!

So you may have noticed I’m a bit peeved. I ordered in time for my package to arrive before the craziness-of-everyone-trying-to-desperately-buy-love-from-people-by-sending-them-worthless-shit time. But now I’ll be lucky to get it this year. Or even at all. Because of a thing called UAA.

For those of you who don’t know what UAA is, just wait, it will probably happen to you too at some point, and then you too will get to experience the efficiency of the well-oiled machine that is our government postal service. UAA stands for Undeliverable as Addressed, which is a somewhat ambiguous phrase meaning, “Some little detail on your mail didn’t meet our criteria for us actually doing our jobs.” It can be anything from the legit reason of the address label getting so scraped up during transit it isn’t legible anymore to I didn’t feel good that day, so I didn’t want to do my job but still get paid anyway. Apparently. (I apologize to any of my readers who may be a mail carrier with the same enthusiasm I received from the customer service agents, yes, plural, that I talked to in the fruitless attempt to get answers.) The excuse I was given by the third person to try to appease me when I tried to get an answer for when the fuck can I expect my package to arrive was that I hadn’t declared that I lived there, so it’s actually my fault.

Uh, excuse me. . .? So why, then, is everyone else able to deliver to me except the USPS? Are you trying to tell me you delayed my package by another month for my “protection”? Yeah, I’m gonna call bullshit on that. And get this, the USPS wastes millions of dollars, nay, billions on UAAs. So not only do they get the satisfaction of fucking you over, they get the satisfaction of fucking themselves over. Oh, wait, but papa government can just give them more. So really, they’re just fucking us all over. Some of us twice.

You’d think if this was such a problem, they’d try to fix it. Like, maybe just change their policy so that they deliver things like how the private sector does? This was the first time I had a problem, and that’s because I’ve mainly received packages from FedEx and UPS. As soon as I try to get a package from USPS, everything falls to shit. If they had held my package even for a couple of days, I still would not have gone there in time, but I wouldn’t be so pissed off at them at least. And if they had decided to just contact the shipper who could have then contacted me, it would have saved so much time and money and I wouldn’t have felt the need to burn down every USPS within a 50 mile radius of me.

So really what I’m saying is, it isn’t my fault all those people were cremated alive. Not only should I be released immediately, but I should also have my package found, probably somewhere in Illinois or some such, and it should be flown in by helicopter to my address and placed gently into my waiting, eager hands by Megan Brennan. That isn’t too much to ask, I think.

Campaign (3): Courtyard Caper

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The creaking of the ship as it gently rocked made Evalyn uneasy at first. She was accustomed to sleeping lightly, keeping an ear out for such sounds, and now she attempted to tune out those would-be warnings. Soon, there would be the rolling nature of the ship to add to her discomfort. And yet, she was eager for the ship to depart.

The morning fog fled the sun’s touch, and the docks teemed with townspeople again. Evalyn stood on the top deck, left hand resting on her short sword’s pommel, waiting for the remaining two members of their new gang. The elf stood with her, occasionally commenting in an attempt to goad her into conversation, but she ignored him for the most part. He was prattling on now about the beauty of nature or some such. She watched as burly men (now there was some beauty of nature) loaded supply crates onto their ship, many of the crates those purchased by her new employer the previous day.

As if summoned by her thoughts and announced by great clanking as loud as any king’s trumpeters, up came Jack from the bowels of the ship, strapping his long sword to his hip. Unforn followed from a distance hauling an unhappy Turchak.

“Are you ready?” Evalyn asked Jack.

“Of course.” His voice betrayed nothing other than excitement. He seemed to fidget but not from nerves, she guessed. He practically bounced on the balls of his feet; she imagined he would be jumping if his armor was suddenly removed and chuckled at the thought.

“What’s going on? Why are you laughing?” Trev asked, glancing back and forth between Evalyn and Jack.

“Jack has a duel in about an hour or so,” Unforn answered, placing Turchak on the deck. The wolf perked up after standing in open air.

“Oh. And I assume we can leave after that?”

Evalyn stared at Turchak and then pointedly at the elf. “Hey, aren’t you a druid?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“This guy isn’t a druid and has a wolf. You’re telling me you don’t have an animal?”

Jack laughed and said, “Yeah, what kind of druid are you?”

“Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to meet my friend,” he replied and then made a loud, shrill cry. A hawk swooped down and landed on his staff, tilting its head back and forth to take everyone in.

On closer inspection, Evalyn noted he was a ferruginous hawk, and memories of her father flooded in unbidden. She shook her head to clear it. “What’s his name?”

The druid made a noise, a combination of clicks and shrieks. The bird stood taller, and Trev grinned proudly. Birdbrained elf.

“Sorry I asked,” she replied, rubbing her ear as if pained. Trev didn’t seem to notice or care as he presumably conversed with his hawk. “Shall we?” she asked, turning to Jack.

“After you.”

They wormed their way through the crowd to the less infested streets. After wandering many alleyways, they found the plaza as the sun reached its zenith. As they approached, so too did Marus and his seconds. Evalyn noted his helm was indeed quite impressive.

“Good to see at least one of Ern’s followers has a spine. My men did not believe you would show your face,” Marus’ deep voice rang through the suddenly silent space. The tension was nearly tangible, and Evalyn was happy she wasn’t the fool about to duel the imposing man some thirty feet away; a mile would be too close for comfort.

“Yes, we all know you talk big, but let’s see how well you fight,” Jack bellowed back, drawing his blade and readying his shield. Marus appeared to attempt a smile though the result was more of a disdainful grimace. He dawned his helm and likewise prepared himself.

Evalyn barely heard the crunch of rock on rock through the clatter of the metal clad men approaching one another when three Darkblades burst forth from an alley, instantly the center of everyone’s attention. They quickly took stock and drew their weapons upon the sight of her.

“You are interrupting a fight of honor. Stand down,” Marus growled, clearly irritated by the intrusion.

“These people have been harassing my companions quite stubbornly. I doubt they’ll stop now,” Jack responded. As if to confirm his point, two additional Darkblades tried to slip in and would have succeeded had the area not been so scrutinized. Evalyn drew her short sword and stretched her offhand to check the dart up her sleeve.

“Give us the woman and we’ll cause you no more trouble,” the closest one demanded, voice muffled by the mask each of them now wore. Jack and Marus exchanged incredulous glances. Without saying a word, they both changed their stances to face the new threat.

The Darkblades quickly caught on, and the late comers moved to flank. Anticipating their maneuver, Evalyn flung her dart at one and missed, but he became hesitant to continue his movement. She hadn’t waited to see how fared her aim and launched into her attack on the nearest foe. Her blow connected but only seemed to focus her would-be victim as his armor blocked any damage from getting through. She was vaguely aware that Unforn and Turchak had entered the fray and that Trev had most certainly not, choosing instead to back away and observe. She could hardly blame him.

The two paladins made short work of all that opposed them, and she herself took out a couple with some well placed backstabs. The battle ended within a few minutes, every Darkblade dead on the street. Evalyn sighed. I wanted to avoid this, but you were all so persistent. Look where your greed and ambition got you, she thought as she sifted through their pockets. Only five gold among you?! Shouldn’t have paid that guard so much, you morons.

“Uh, Evalyn?” Jack asked. She looked up and noticed Marus’ disgust and Jack’s feigned indifference. Trev had rejoined them and looked surprised and concerned.

“What?”

“You’re pretty quick to go pilfering the dead. . .”

“Oh. Well, it isn’t exactly ‘pilfering’ now, is it. Does ownership really exceed death?”

“Nope!” Unforn happily proclaimed, and she turned her attention his way to see him systematically stripping their deceased assailants and placing their armor, weapons, and various other items in a heap.

She turned back to the paladins and said, “And you’re giving me a hard time.”

Marus, disgruntled, rumbled, “You fought well, for one of Ern’s. We need not duel today, but the next time I see you, perhaps then we will cross swords.”

“I look forward to it,” Jack replied as Marus tromped away.

All but the diligent Unforn watched his exit, and when he and his were out of sight, Trev quietly inquired, “So now that your fighting thing is done, what’s next on today’s list?”

“A visit to some armor and weapon merchants, obviously,” Unforn answered.

Rant on Education

I am a testament to the inadequacy of the education system, on multiple levels. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering, concentration in Aerospace, minor in Mathematics. Sounds impressive all together, doesn’t it? And yet, what do I know of a car engine? Ventilation? Air foil design? Very little. And it isn’t even because I forgot about it; I was never taught it. Perhaps it is my school, which isn’t a prestigious one by any means. But my school is accredited. My degree actually means something to someone.

And here I am, back in the system working on my Master’s degree. I know how the system is complete bullshit, and yet. . . here I am. Here’s the secret to being an engineering student: make good friends with your colleagues, do your homework, memorize what you need to, pass the tests, and then dump all the information. Repeat every semester for every class, and boom! You’re crossing a stage in front of thousands of people, grabbing an empty, fancy folder, shaking hands, wondering what the hell happened to those 4+ years of your life, your head only a little fuller than it was before you poured time and money into this thing called higher education.

Our high schools, middle schools, hell even elementary schools cram it down our throats that we need to go to college. Going to college will guarantee us a job. Going to college is worth the cost, no matter what degree you get. Just go to college and your future will be secure or you’ll figure out your life or you’ll at least meet new people who will stick with you for the rest of your life. Why is that? What does college give us? I can tell you one thing it guarantees: money out of our hands. If you have no idea what you’re going to do with your life, the last thing you should do is commit to going to college. Find a shitty job, work, earn money, pay rent.

College can teach you a lot of things, it’s true; and some of those things can even get you lai- I mean, paid. But is it worth it? Depending on what you want to do, maybe, but probably not. It will suck up your money and time and leave you questioning your purpose every day if my experience is the norm, and in the end, all you have to show for it is a piece of paper that says you know how to jump through hoops and hop when an authority figure says frog. It doesn’t mean you’ll know how to do the things your degree implies you should know how to do.

The standards are low for teachers, at least in my department at my university. Only a select few know how to teach in an effective manner and convey information in a way as to promote learning. The testing methods are laughable. I was never really taught the principles of subjects; just memorize this equation, use this method when this key word appears. But perhaps I simply don’t have the mind for it, in which case the system should reveal that. It should be something I have to overcome in order to succeed. As it is, I can surpass those who know the material far better than myself because I know how to test. I know how to jump through hoops, how to hop when an authority figure says frog.

I know how to bullshit. And that’s all my college experience has ever been. Bullshit. Do I regret it? No. Would I recommend it? Hell no.

Featured image from Faustin Tuyambaze of Unsplash.com

~I mean, come on, the more people getting college degrees, the more competition everyone else has for job hunting. The college degree has been watered down to shit. Why aren’t skilled labor careers suggested?~