PC talk system recommendations blog Facebook YouTube articles and guides links bio
game screensots rabb1t's ramblings podcast email
Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 3: oh noes

This is my journal I wrote during the time I was homeless. It is broken up by week for easier reading. Feel free to read it on the web or download the complete .pdf version and print it for reading offline.

Week 105

Day 729 - 6/30 - Final day of year 2

I've been trying to think of a good way to end the year and I can't. Most everything I could say I've said before. I suppose the only way to end this year/book is in the same manner it has gone so far - by simply recording what I think and feel about my terrible journey today.

Despite the impending doom of my homeless days to come I feel strangely at peace and happy today. Maybe it's because of the warmer weather. Maybe I got more sleep than usual last night. Maybe it's that I shared lols with some coworkers and friends. Maybe it's because a very cute girl at work stood very close to me a few times today. Maybe it's because I should be able to order my netbook upgrade tonight and I finally shouldn't have to worry all the time about being short on money. I think though it is just me being at peace with accepting what I can't control and living for today. Not that my life is "out of control". It certainly is much more in control than when my terrible journey started. It still isn't "in" control though. I'm sending out applications when I can, but they are few and far between. School doesn't seem to be helping, as I'm finding other obstacles in my way towards a new career. I may have to search in new directions once we get further into summer and schools are looking to hire for the school session once again. I am being surrounded by an occasional new person, but true new friends seem like they will be very rare.

In more current/short-term thoughts; I am getting more hours at work, so I may be closer to 25+ hours per week during the summer. Today I will have worked about 9.25. My netbook upgrade should be ordered soon, probably tonight at just past midnight, and it should be here in a few days, though I'm very tempted to see what overnight shipping would cost to avoid the possibility of my free two day shipping getting delayed until an arrival mid next week due to the holiday. I'll very seriously be looking at upgrading my phone (probably) to the Droid X sometime between late July and mid August. Though expensive it will replace my aging phone, and from everything I've seen it will be $30 a month for the plan (compared to my current one at $23 for just 60 monthly minutes and nothing else.) It would get me unlimited phone time, unlimited Internet time, and unlimited texting. Also it will upgrade my camera for both still shots and movies, which would allow me to sell my current one. Plus, it has a g.p.s. which will be nice to have, a real alarm clock instead of a single ring timer that my current phone has, and lots of other cool things. Along with my netbook that will be my first life upgrade in five years or so. I think my phone is closer to six or more years old at this point, so in terms of features and plan it's quite a bit behind.

Other than that I can't really think of how to close the year. I am still amazed it has gone on more than a year, and it boggles my mind we are now ending the second year. I am still hopeful about my future, yet my recovery is really still out of my hands. I persist and try and manage as best as I can because it's all that I can do.

As always I hope everyone out there reading is safe, sheltered, warm, happy, can enjoy life, and is at peace with those around you. And I hope that you never take things for granted, for it is the seemingly smallest things that don't seem to matter which are, in fact, the most important things that you should never forget.

Day 730 - 7/1/2010 - Begin again

This book/year is off to a hopeful start. Last night at 12:15 I put in the order for my netbook. I had to get it to go overnight, but with my special membership thing it only cost $8 for shipping. The paycheck was what I predicted though, so the netbook and ram was all that was safe to get for the moment. After I sell my current netbook I should be able to get a new game. I don't expect that to happen for about a week though, as I do want a little overlap of having both, and what with most going out for the holiday I expect noone will check auction boards until about Wednesday.

I need to pay C&H back for the car sometime today too, so I'll also be starting the Fail year by paying off debt, so that's positive too.

Not much to say so far. It's my morning 8:30-10:30 shift, so not much has happened today. This is my only work shift for today, so the rest of the day will be me going to the ex-house storage to set up the disks I need to move to the new netbook tomorrow and the rest of the day will be spent at the not-sis' place (save for getting C&H's money to them.)

I hope everyone is enjoying their 4th holiday time and are safe and happy. Though my life is typically sad I still remain hopeful that I can someday return to a "normal" life and live with happiness, friends, and love once more.

Day 731 - 7/2 - Installing

I got my netbook. I loves me my new netbook. So far I've only watched a movie. Reinstalling all my games will take quite a while, possibly more time than I have here during my shift tonight since I've only 2 hours left and barely begun installation. I was right about the bigger size and resolution with my initial feelings way back in the day. The 12" screen seems plenty big enough for mobile gaming. Though I did run into a bit of trouble trying to install the 2 gig ram stick I got. After removing the back panel I found there was only one slot, and it was being used by the current 2 gig stick. It looks like I either have to open up the back completely or it may only have a single ram slot. Since people bought these two items together it seems likely that the site woulnd't recommend it if people had to return the extra ram. Well, the good news is that when I do find the second slot I'll have 4 gig, which is really what I recommend as a minimum these days.

That's really all for my day, save for sharing some lols at work, seeing the cutest lifeguard, and being visited by C&H so they could get their monies. Adult people were so sad when their little one said to me, "See you tonight when you get home." He's only like 7 so he's too young to grasp what's going on with me and why I was there in the spare room for months and now I can't be.

I'll probably be super happy the next few days but not have much to say as I'll be reinstalling stuff and moving my life to the new netbook.

Work seems to need me for more gym coverage, so that's good. I'd guess my hours will go up to 25-30 per week, possibly more. This week I'm at around 35. Of course that's only for the summer, so once we get to late August / early September things will drop back down again.

Oh, I'm almost certain I'll upgrade my phone to the Droid X soonish. What with the extra hours I'll have plenty to do that and still have $500 or more. The upgrade will only be about $100 after I sell my camera, and the monthly bill increase is only $7, so it's very worth it for what I get. This is not counting the fact that it would give me unlimited time as far as I can tell, compared my current plan having 60 minutes and charging me like $0.50 per minute beyond that if I go over.

Well, guess that's it. Installing is going much faster with this system (as expected), but it will still be a while. Night peeps.

Day 732 - 7/3 - Second impressions

I've been installing stuff on the new netbook for several hours now. I'm almost done though. I had a chance to do some light testing though, and on second impression it does seem really great for non-gaming, but still gimped for gaming. I found Mass Effect 2 to be just about unplayable during the tutorial fights. I may try a lower resolution than native, but it is already at the lowest settings for effects. A quick peek at Dragon Age seemed fine, so I'll likely do that one for my off-line play. Though I have a feeling the more intense battles will be quite a struggle. WoW is still patching, but it should be fine. I also found out that my model doesn't have the normal two slots for memory, so unless I want to pay $150 for a single 4 gig stick I can't upgrade my memory. That's just too much. That kind of money would be better spent selling the netbook back and just getting a better system overall. The good news is that now I'll eventually get back the $45 for the extra 2 gig stick that I ordered and don't need. I haven't got my email set up right either. It's detecting something differently, so I'll have to research that.

This phase is done, time for more testing and setting up. Bye for now.

Day 733 - 7/4 - Pew pew day

Pretty good day so far. It's early evening and I'm alone in the hottish not-sis' house. The not-sis left with her kids and her new boyfriend. I'll be cooking dinner soon and watching shows and movies for the rest of the night.

I got my email working, so I should be all transferred over. I still haven't gotten too many chances to test the full gaming capabilities yet, but it seems some games will do ok and some will choke pretty badly. It's more than I had before, far more, and I didn't have more to spend on a full gaming system. I mean sure, if I had waited until later in the summer I would have the money. But I really don't have the spare to have dropped $500+ more on a real gaming system. That money is better left as spare or money for an HDTV or desktop upgrade once I'm re-established in a home.

I guess that's really all for today. Happy pew pew day everyone!

Day 734 - 7/5 - Relaxed day

Today was good I suppose, but odd. It was a relaxing day of no work - the third in a row for me. I haven't had that many days off with no school or work in I don't know how long, probably since winter some six months ago. I just relaxed and messed around on my netbook cruising sights, watched a show, and played some games.

My brain still seems sleepy, confused, and somewhat off all the time. Last night I thought that it seems like I'm running on automatic, in an almost purely reactive mode. I suppose it's just survival mode due to being homeless. It's probably too that since I'm not in a home I can't stop worrying or being stressed over things. I can't just relax and stop in the sense that while not in a home there are so many things I worry about that everyone in a home takes for granted.

That's all I can really think of. Tomorrow is sort of a bit back onto a regular schedule. I've got just two hours of work then I'll be doing some strange stuff - putting away netbook bits. I have to remember to get the ram to return.

My hours will be going up a touch in the future I think. I may be closer to 30 regular hours during the summer. Last week I did 35 and this will be 30. Next paycheck will likely be closer to triple than not. I may have enough even to get my phone upgrade and put a little bit into savings.

C&H sent good news. They are going on vacation for about a week and a half starting on the 19th. So, a few days after the not-sis leaves and I no longer have shelter here I'll be able to stay at C&H's for a bit. That will help quite a bit. I can have a normal life again for a little while. With the early morning times at work the morning commute may be difficult, but with sleeping in a bed I should be able to make the sleep up quickly.

That's all I can think of for now. I still feel more odd than sad lately about my homelessness, but that's likely just due to the excitement of my upgrades. I have a very strange feeling that once we hit the end of July when I'm back on the street that the overwhelming sadness will return. Even now there are times I feel like crying even though I know, at least for now, I have shelter.

Day 735 - 7/6 - Oops day

It's just past midnight; time to try and sleep. I guess there was a bit of an oops today in that I was apparently supposed to be at work. The thing is, in my over two years working there, in the over 1.25 years my direct boss has been my boss, she's never scheduled me on a day without letting me know. With all the 4th of July changes and what with my moving everything to my new netbook I didn't bother to check the schedule until I noticed a call from the super boss that he was wondering where I was. I guess with all the excitement from the children and the not-sis' boyfriend about it being his birthday I somehow completely missed three phone calls. Well, both my direct boss and super boss will likely understand. I have never missed other shifts, or canceled, or even asked for one off after I'd been scheduled. I'll have to double check my schedule very carefully in the future and take even more meticulous notes. Once I upgrade to my Droid X I'm sure I'll have a calendar feature that will make tracking this a whole lot easier than my little note paper system I currently use, both to record information as well as to look it up.

Other than that it was a fairly regular day. That and a special fancy dinner for the not-sis' boyfriend was it. No jobs were available to search, as there really were no posts for the holidays. And, as I only (thought I) had the short 2 hour shift in the morning there really wasn't anything at work to speak of that happened.

Well, time to try and sleep. Night peeps.

Week 106

Day 736 - 7/7 - Third impressions

I'm still loving my new netbook. I love its size, its color, its weight, even its mostly quiet operation. However, I can't help but feel some applications, notably those in 2D, such as web browsing and web video streaming, are heavily CPU restricted, and I wonder if games in the future will be unplayable due to increases in the requirements (since they are already seemingly a 50/50 prospect now.) I am very tempted to return it (and only get 85% back) within my 30-day window and switch to an Alienware M11x. It would be a vastly more powerful system overall. (It gets solid gaming benchmarks, getting around a 6,000 value compared to my new netbook's sub-2,000.) The drawback is that it's over $1,000, more than double the cost of my new netbook. It would take me until early August at the soonest to get that much money. I've thought and thought and thought about this for the past couple of days now and I think that I've settled on some facts and a conclusion. Fact: I would be far better served by that $500+ difference in cash, either to help get me re-established in a home or as a life upgrade by using it for an HDTV or desktop upgrade. Fact: I can play some of my games just fine. I don't really need flawless play of all games (since I'll be able to game on my desktop at least once a week while it's at C&H's.) While WoW is still a struggle for the new system even at lower settings (I now get 20-30 FPS compared to before at 4-15 FPS) I do ok for now. Fact: The system will hold its value well enough that I can get 85% of new value for probably a year by selling it on my own, so the 30-day return window is a moot point. Conclusion: I think I'm ok with a 'wait and see' approach. I can wait and see if in, say, six months when we near X-mas if the games I want to play are unplayable on my netbook or if I'm still ok and happy with what I can play. I can wait and see if my life is, or is not, progressing towards home life. If so, saving the money is better. If not, maybe the M11x will be even more powerful for the money. At the end of summer (by roughly mid-September) I should be able to have saved about $1250-1500, so dropping over $1,000 to upgrade then later recovering $400 or so by selling my current system won't be as tough of a prospect as it would be to return it now and save up the money to buy the M11x one month from now. I think I'm ok with that even though some of the heavy struggling I wanted to remove still persists.

I suppose that is one positive thing all this suffering has helped me with - waiting and having more options is better. I have always had a lot of patients when forced to, but these trials have helped me a bit more with that.

Day 737 - 7/8 - These aren't the droids I'm looking for

Doing a mini work shift. It's unexpected, as this was a shift someone was supposed to get back, but it looks like I may be keeping it a while. More monies for me.

I went looking for Droid info today and was pretty much blown off by the sales guy. I was worried because I'd seen conflicting price info last night. It looked like about $70 a month as minimum for unlimited stuff with around $45 a month minimum with limited use. I told him I heard it was around $30, a figure I saw in a preview, but he said that was wrong and I should add $30 to any plan I was looking at. The basic voice plan at $40 plus the $30 would be vastly higher than my current $23 a month plan. He basically said 'k thx bye'. He didn't even try to convince me why it was worth it to take a pre-order. (The phone doesn't come out until the 15th.) I just boggled in amazement at his lack of a sales pitch and walked out. It's like if he isn't willing to discuss lower priced plans then forget him. Even in the booklet with prices it looked as if I could do a limited plan at $45 a month, which while expensive might be worth considering. I'll be going to a different store or going online to order I think. He did not make me feel welcome or treated well as a potential customer. If, however, changing my phone/plan would be much more than $50 a month I think that would just be too much. Some people here at mini work were saying they had unlimited plans that were $125+ a month. Good god that seems crazy. If that's the case I may look at older model phones that do what I want that could be run on my current $23 a month plan, or something that isn't too much more expensive at least. Really all I want to do is have a calendar, a clock with a real alarm feature, and a GPS (though I'd only maybe use it 1-2 hours every few months, and I don't need it really.) I don't think I'd really use the texting or Internets. At least not until I have a sweetie who wants to message me or if I could use the phone as a wireless connection for my netbook.

That's really it today. Just work and a little bit of a pause at the not-sis' between shifts. Bye for now.

Time passes

Well, it seems the sales guy was right (in pricing). I called the 800 number to the carrier and they confirmed that the unlimited data plan is required for any of the new fancy phones because they are constantly attached to the Internets. After adding on the lowest value voice and texting plans the total was $80 a month. That is just too much of an increase over my current $23 a month. Sooooo sad. Such a sexy device.

Day 738 - 7/9 - Strange thoughts

I had some strange thoughts yesterday while getting a chance to play the StarCraft 2 beta on the new netbook. Even ignoring the fact that I had to put the game on its lowest settings causing it to look like poo, even though the system still struggled to run the game, I think I would have little to no desire to play it on a screen this small. While the screen is perfect for portable movie and show watching, while I'm fine with shooter games, as a top-down view game the elements just get too small. It's like watching an ant farm.

It seems that is yet another unplayable game. In total now that's Mass Effect 2 and Dragon age, the two games I want to play most that I own, and now StarCraft 2, which are all effectively so crippled on the netbook that they are unplayable. Yes, there are times here and there that they do ok, but for the most part the frame rate is just too low to play. While WoW is much more playable at 20-30 FPS at 1366x768 resolution compared to the previous netbook at 4-15 FPS at 1024x600 res, it is still borderline frustrating during the slow times. While Portal, Evil Genius, and Thief 3 may run fine I am seriously doubting the netbook can really game. I had my doubts, but more hopes, but after doing my own testing it seems underpowered. Also, as a mobile device it sacrifices battery life because it can't switch off the graphics card. So I've gone from potentially 5 hours of use down to about 3. Quite a reduction for non-gaming use. I am still wondering if I should switch back to my old netbook and hold out for the Alienware M11x. I'd have no problem gaming with the M11x, and with a switchable graphics chip it would increase to a reported 6+ hours of non-gaming use, double that of my current netbook and possibly even more than my old netbook. It seems in some ways the new netbook is no better than my last one. In others it just can't do what it tries to do. But in a few ways I totally love it. I'm going to leave it up to Fate I think. I'll see how one final game test goes, see if my old netbook sells before I get paid next Wednesday at midnight, see how my money builds during the next few months, and decide what to do in time. I'm not sure if I'll revert to my old system for a month and return this system, or if I'll hold onto it and see if the M11x gets a better screen and/or better graphics chip over the next few months and upgrade closer to Xmas. Or, who knows, I could be re-established in a home in a few months and be able to use the money for an HDTV or desktop upgrade.

Too much of my life is still in the air to decide anything really. Heck, much of the time lately I can barely think straight from being so tired and my day being so busy (yet not really having time to focus and do things like job searches.) At least I have tomorrow off and can sleep in and rest. Sunday I'll be up early, but then I can sleep at C&H's in a bed, play on my desktop, and sleep in Monday and play until about 2. During the day at work when I'm about with my Internet connection available things seem ok. But when I'm still at night and my mind is not distracted I find myself being sad and dreading the cold lonely nights in my car.

Day 739 - 7/10 - Hope and disappointment

My old netbook isn't selling. I guess sometimes I live with a bit too much hope. I try to live life with no expectations. I find if you let life surprise you that life is more enjoyable than requiring certain conditions be met. However, sometimes things don't surprise you. Sometimes all the hope and wishful thinking in the world doesn't work. In doing research on my new system - research I probably should have done before my purchase - I'm finding evidence that it does indeed heavily struggle in games. Prior to my purchase I trusted reviews which showed acceptable frame rates. Due to my old netbook not yet selling, I think I'll go ahead and return the new one when I start staying at C&H's. Since I'll have access to my desktop (for gaming and Internet show watching) for a week and a half that's the perfect time to switch back to my old netbook and move forward to an M11x. From the research I did today, I'm seeing additional proof/evidence (beyond reviews) that the M11x can handle everything I want with flying colors. And more importantly, it should be able to hold solid for new games for several years to come if need be. Plus, since its graphics are switchable, I'll be back to having a max of 6+ hours of battery life when non-gaming.

It's sad that I'll have to spend closer to $1,000 to get a gaming capable laptop instead of playing ok on the new netbook I got. The simple truth is that as much as I love some aspects the core reasons and desires behind my upgrade can't be met by it. It simply is still underpowered for my gaming and heavier web needs.

Now, there will still be about five weeks between now and when I could order the M11x, so there is still a window to change my mind. I will be open-minded, but it seems clear with today's game testing and research that it really isn't an improvement in terms of performance. I expect to make the transition, but I will be mindful to keep all options open during my transition window until the order goes in during mid-August.

I hope my life does not prove to be on a similar path. I do hope I'm not overestimating my abilities and that I am capable of getting back into a home. I did give the netbook a fair chance, and I haven't been given one by jobs, so I suppose in that regard we are different. But I wonder; am I not being realistic about my skills? Am I not being realistic in being able to perform in ways desirable to employers? Are there enough others that I simply won't be thought of as a good fit for the tasks at hand?

I still wonder if I will ever find my fit at a job, with a sweetie, and with friends. Those who have should consider themselves blessed, for all I can see before me right now is a long road of lonely struggle.

Day 740 - 7/11 - My pen

It's pretty late at C&H's. I'm getting ready to sleep in a bed. Unfortunately they are watching their TV and doing stuff so it may be tough to sleep. But, I have a bed for the night, and no work until 3:45 tomorrow, so I can sleep in for quite a while. I had access to my desktop, though I didn't play much.

C&H are going out a touch earlier than expected, so I can come over on the 18th. I don't think I have work, so I'll have all of that Sunday to play and do whatever. Since I'll probably be on the street I may come here then wind up going back to sleep for a while.

I may have a deal for a new phone. Someone at work said he'd give me his old one if I wanted. I didn't look into it too much for fear of what the plan would cost. This morning I called and asked just for the heck of it, and my current carrier said I would only need to do a $15 data add as an increase. At only a $15 increase to my bill (for under $40 total) that is definitely worth looking at. If I can't get the phone for free from the work peep the customer service guy said I may be able to get one free from them depending on which model I was looking at getting. So, good news there but I won't look at any changes until late Wednesday night / Thursday when I get paid.

My pen is still here - the one I used to write Epic Fail with when I was here. It was here on what I used as a nightstand. How odd to have forgotten I left one here. How much odder to think I have a place for my stuff, a place things belong, a place where I keep them. Such a simple thing in a home, yet it seems so foreign to me now.

Day 741 - 7/12 - Getting through today

All I can think about lately is 'how can I get through today?' My mind wanders to homeless days to come, but I still have a lot of struggles now. 'What are my physical needs? What are my emotional needs? Can I improve my life in some way?' Days are filled with thoughs about where I need to go for my work shift. Working at three different locations with shifts averaging closer to 2-3 hours than not can be confusing. My days are also filled with thoughts of changing my system and possibly a phone upgrade - things that help me feel "normal", things that help me appear normal.

I know in only a few weeks the fear will return. What can be visible in the car, what can't be, will I be seen at the old spot, can I still be invisible, can I hide at school and try and sleep in during the mornings; all these questions and old fears return.

I don't know how I'll do it again. These past six and a half months or so I've had shelter at the not-sis and C&H's. Now that I've lost C&H's shelter save for roughly once a week, now that the not-sis is moving at the end of the week, where will I go? Life was so horrible and difficult without these shelters. I don't know how I'll be able to return to that knowing they are no longer an option.

I suppose I did make it those first 1.5 years with no help, so I should be able to again. But this time the car is different, I am different. In some ways I feel more fearful that I can't do it, that I feel less safe, less healthy, less secure about my possessions. I should feel the reverse of those, but I don't.

Maybe hope is fading. Maybe the belief that I am failing and will never get out is beginning to sink in.

Day 742 - 7/13 - Reverted

It's a quiet moment here at the not-sis' place. Everyone is gone away to do a family movie night, so I'm here alone with the dog, cat, and lizards.

I decided since I had most of the day free today that I'd revert back to the old netbook and send the new one away to get my refund faster. There really wasn't much point in keeping it an extra day or two longer.

I guess I feel ok about life at the moment, but I know that is just for today. While my mind is quickly occupied by thoughts and dreams of my impending gaming laptop upgrade, and often distracted with thoughts of a possible phone upgrade, so many times it falls to thoughts of sadness; of long days with little to do, of evenings of killing time when most places are closed, of nights and mornings hiding from police and prying eyes. Where will I eat? Where will I stay during the day? Where will I sleep? What will become of my work hours when summer is over - will it be just the 8 hours a week again?

Thoughts of sadness fill my mind, but a few shining hopeful and happy thoughts keep me distracted... for now.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2010
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

flash required for the logo
best viewed at 1280 wide resolution or higher