Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
May 03

The Definitive Ranking Of All the Shitty States I Traveled Through On My Way to California

So, guys. I did a thing! I went to California (San Jose). I went via train (well, technically, a bus and three trains that sucked away 55 hours of my life!). Thanks, California Zephyr!

California Zephyr Map

Considering traveling cross country by train? I’ll tell you when to sleep.

I haven’t written about it yet for some reason (hint: I suck at blogging). I plan to eventually post a couple photos here with some comments.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the album on Facebook if you’re my friend and have missed it. Though, I don’t see how you could, given that I had to upload in multiple posts! LOL

I also think the following ranking of the states I traveled to and through will help you navigate your own travels in the future. You’re welcome very much!

6. Iowa

It’s really fuckin’ hard to decide whether Iowa or Nebraska is worse. But Iowa was a flat, empty shithole devoid of cell service and we didn’t even stop in the one city! For that alone, Iowa ranks lowest on this list. Sorrynotsorry.

Also, the state was humid as fuck. What gives?

I highly suggest Iowa change its slogan to “Abandon hope all ye who enter.”

5. Nebraska

I really thought I was going to see the country and think, “Wow, how beautiful!.” But I took very few photos in Nebraska or Iowa. There’s just nothing to look at. We made a few more stops in Nebraska, and at least the state has multiple cities that I can name. Buuut that’s only good enough to rank slightly higher than Iowa. Nebraska is a shithole. I am not sure why anyone would visit the state let alone live there. I really feel grateful to live in a lush state such as Wisconsin after seeing this hellhole.

If Iowa’s slogan should be straight out of Dante (and it should), then Nebraska should strongly consider going with “At least we’re not Iowa.”

4. Utah

Listen, Utah is spare. Bare. Desolate even. But you can’t really appreciate it until you’re in it. The only thing it has going for it is Salt Lake City. And did you know their population is something like 200,000 people? That’s it?! That’s it! It’s smaller than Madison. I know, I know. It’s not very populated, but I figured maybe the one place that did have people would, you know, have people. Nope.

I do have to give Utah some credit where it’s due. The rock formations are nice. But it was hard to appreciate them because Utah was mostly no service, and I was traveling through it during the period when restlessness really set in. It wasn’t my own, either. Everyone in my train car felt the same. Okay, we’ve seen Utah. Can we get the hell out of it or at least to the next smoke break (and I don’t even smoke!).

3. Colorado

I was so excited to see THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS on my trip. This is the big draw, right? You go through them and, for a six-mile stretch, under them. And as the mountains grew, changing from rocky to wooded to snowy, it was an interesting view. But it was a little underwhelming. I think this is due to two things.

I awoke in Colorado on the first morning to a super pink sky and a sliver of moon. I was ready to do this! We pulled into Denver pretty early, and I noticed that there isn’t much in Colorado. The parts that aren’t a city or the mountains are, well, nothing.

And going through the Rockies just wasn’t what I expected. I think I might have been more impressed looking at them from a lower elevation to really get the full impression of the mountains looming in the distance.

I didn’t hate Colorado, though, it just didn’t do as much for me as the next state.

2. Nevada

Nevada is a desert, right? And you can see it with a wide expanse of scrub brush that someone from the lush state of Wisconsin might find laughable to call “plants.” But it makes the perfect juxtaposition with the Sierra Nevadas in the background.

I woke up in this state on the second day and was pretty much in love. The sky was pink, and I could still see the moon in the distance. The snowcapped mountains were slightly closer, and the desert lay right outside the train.

It was like real life parallax. I didn’t mind when I didn’t have reception,

1. California

I know that California has terrain that’s different from anything I ever experienced, but the knowledge wasn’t the same as actually being in it.

As we left Nevada, the mountains became rolling, green hills. The snow thinned, and the trees grew taller. Boy, did I miss trees! The further inland we moved, the more farms we saw — a few vineyards, too.

Then, came the cities. Big and uniquely laid out around bodies of water like the SF Bay. Everything was so large and alive — and there were so many portals!

But that wasn’t everything. California had museums and rose gardens, and you can’t forget the ocean! The Pacific from California (Half Moon Bay, to be specific) is so different than anything I experienced in Japan. And California had it all, which is why it tops my list.

I just realized that I didn’t include Illinois in this list. I’ve traveled through the state both east-west and north-south. It’s definitely less aggravating when you’re going the short way and you see fewer wind farms. My feelings from Illinois have changed from “Worst state ever” to “Not half bad when compared to Iowa.”

It sure as hell no Wisconsin, though.


Apr 29

A Sentimental Saturday Morning

I guess it’s not often that I post anything really personal, but I’m feeling sentimental, introspective and morose, so here I am.

I spent some time with friends tonight. It was fun. Different. During the process, someone said something that jogged a hazy memory of an inside joke. I muttered the words, and Ashe knew it immediately. Soon, we had laughed ourselves to tears. I needed that, I think. It was so unexpected. Wonderful. Truly.

I couldn’t recall who we had shared the joke with or when. My brain brought up a person and a time that didn’t jive. I think, perhaps, that we had thought about this a few years ago, and that’s the connection that my brain made.

But, no. It didn’t start then. In fact, this joke had started in high school if you can believe it. It was a commentary on A Streetcar Named Desire. Yep. In the lunchroom, a friend that I had long forgotten donned a faux southern accent and motioned while making a joke that could only happen once. A joke that would have us laughing yourself to tears some 15 years later. I mean, damn.

I found myself reminiscing and in a good mood as I walked home. I wanted to look up this friend. We haven’t talked for a few good years. The last time I saw him, we were in a bar, drunk. We were excited to see one another, but he was so drunk that he kept telling me how cool his friend Cole from high school was. A weird experience but talk about flattering!

I looked him up on Facebook, excited to reconnect. But my hopes were dashed when I saw that his page was a memorial page. He passed away in January. I was three months too late to tell him that I love him, miss him, wish we talked more.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how (diabetes). In the process, I saw how loved he was. People remembered his wit (yup!) and love of music.

I went back further than this year. I wanted to see what he talked about (politics, HRC, puns) and how. At one point, I saw him reply to something with “lololol,” the response I use instead of “lmfao” more often than not. I couldn’t help but see our similarities, and that made the hurt all the more real.

So, I’m feeling pretty sad right now. I wish I had made more of an effort to be his friend as an adult. I think we would have gotten along swimmingly. I would have enjoyed him and hope he would have felt the same.

But, you know, judging from our last interaction, I impacted him pretty strongly. That’s something that I appreciate immensely as I remember him.

I wonder if he ever thought of me, remembered our good times. Perhaps he didn’t even remember the inside joke. That’s okay.

I did for a minute, and it made my life better. I think I can only laugh and smile at the memories, no matter how foggy.

Because no matter how much I look at his profile and his photos or try to piece together his life from posts on social media, it can’t bring him back. It won’t make us closer.

But it does teach me a lesson about my time here and how I need to use it. So I’m going to wrap up this post and send a few messages to people who are here to see them.

Oh, by the way. I love you, dear reader.


Mar 28

What I Want From My Podcasts

Podcast listening has taken over my life. I mean, okay. Not literally. But I’ve more than doubled the number of podcasts that I subscribe to in recent weeks, and not all of the new additions were hits. A podcast has to hit all the right spots to be a hit with me

The Host

A good podcast host needs to embody several qualities:

  • Have a pleasing voice
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Guide the show along and keep pace

Rarely will I tune into a podcast more than once if I don’t enjoy the host’s voice and pretty much never at all if the host is distracted or unable to shape to lead the episode with the proper guidance.

Production Values

I don’t need intros and outros. Simpler is better. But sound production needs to be up to par. Sync up volume between the host and guest, for example, so the show doesn’t suddenly become louder or quieter when the person who is talking switches.

Time Block

For the life of me, I cannot understand why any podcast is over an hour long. Even when listening on double speed, this is painfully long. Furthermore, a few shows seem to be pretty inconsistent in terms of length. While one show may be only 30 minutes, another may be well over an hour. Not cool, guys. (Yes, I’m talking ’bout Planetary Radio).

Guests

Lexicon Valley hasn’t had many guests since the host switch in summer, and the quality has surely declined. It’s nearly unbearable to listen to the same single person speak week after week. If the podcast has multiples hosts, it’s easier to swallow, but I like guests.

I don’t have any hard and fast preferences regarding guests. Celebrities might be a perk (I enjoyed Aziz Ansari and Trevor Noah on Freakonomics, for example), but they’re not necessary. The guest simply needs to be interesting enough — and the host needs to make that apparent — if it’s an episode about the guest, or the guest needs to have authority and knowledge on the subject that the episode is on.

This brings me to my final point.

Education

Save for a single podcast (We Paid to See This), all of my subscriptions exist to teach me something about the world or, perhaps, myself. I want to learn. There’s an endless array of podcasts out there if you want to laugh, cry, listen to stories or simply be amused. And while I enjoy the water cooler talk of some podcasts, what I want is to talk away smarter.

So while some podcasts are fun and funny, they’re just not my thing. And I’m not their intended audience.

That’s why I’ve loved Freakonomics for over a year (in fact, I like the podcast better than the books!), subscribe to Lexicon Valley, listen to space policy episodes of Planetary Radio and tune in to Sex Out Loud.

Most of those podcasts manage to check off all the boxes, but none of them miss more than one (at least not consistently).

Oh! If you think you can recommend a podcast that I’d like based on this post, let me know in the comments!


Mar 09

How to Fix Infinitely Loading Videos When Streaming from Plex to the Wii U

Plex fan here. I enjoy this program and have used it for years. I typically stream to my PS3, but an issue with transcoding prevents me from enjoying one of my favorite channels on the system. No problem, I can just use my Wii U, right?

I’d never connected to Plex from my Wii U before. You need to log in from the browser and not the app. Again, no problem. All my channels and media were listed.

But anytime I tried to load a video, I’d just see the orange spinning disc forever. It never stopped.

This seems to be an issue that started after a specific update last year. It has to do with the amount of memory required by Plex, which may sometimes be too much for the Wii U.

But it’s not actually loading forever. In fact, your streaming video isn’t loading at all. Plex doesn’t autoload, and you need to touch the loading disc on the screen to kickstart the video.

That’s all.

Awesome, right?


Jan 30

How to Imitate My Signature

It has just dawned on me that I put absolutely no effort into my signature. It doesn’t look like cursive. I don’t even try, honestly. It’s been this way for a while, though, so I doubt anything will change.

The plus side? Anyone who actually forges my signature as a name is going to be painfully obvious.

In case you wanted to try it for yourself, here’s the 411 straight from the horse’s mouth.

Don’t write my name in cursive. Don’t you dare.

I would never do this. Try this, instead.

  • Draw a hump (or two, there’s room for creative license) to create that first N.
  • Follow it up with some squiggly lines.
  • Break up the first and last name with a space
  • Draw another hump or two for that M.
  • Finish up with some squigglies that end, more or less, in a straight line.
  • Pull it all together with a superscript dot somewhere over the first “word.” Alternatively, you can throw a cross (stem) somewhere over one of the squiggles in the second name. You must never under any circumstance do both. Got it?!

 


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