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Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 5: Life online

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 219

Day 1527 - 9/5 - Blue screen of doom

Today was pretty bad, but not like physically bad, emotionally sad kind of bad. The system is still having some critically bad issues. It booted up in the morning fine the first time. No odd sounds, no issues. I napped, so my pre-restaurant time was short. But it ran web stuff and my game as normal for about 2 hours. I packed up and moved to the restaurant. Again it seemed to boot up fine. It wasn't until 8 hours later that it did it's 'pause for a minute and do nothing' thing. I sighed, but it seemed to pass without too much issue. But a few minutes later it blue screen crashed and said it could not correctly dump the memory. So, something is definitely up. I'm still not ready to give up and order a new hard drive. The fact that the tests come back all clean make me worried that it's not a hard drive issue. I guess I can run some memory tests tomorrow and see if they come back clean. Things are pointing towards hard drive, so I do have that on my wish list ready to go.

I'm also hesitant to do the change because of how flakey laptop drivers are. I'm worried that a full rebuild of the software may miss something, or something won't work right. I suppose I will still have the old drive to go back to if I need unless, of course, they suffer final death before I do the swap.

When the system was running normally it was an ok day. There were no jobs to apply for, but it's not terribly surprising due to the holiday. There were a few I looked at, which is rare. I watched some shows and played my game for a bit. Outside of the worry and crash it was a fairly regular day.

Oh, I did finally go tell school to give me my money back. Though I guess they have some dumb rule about keeping it until two weeks after the semester has started, so I won't get it until mid-October.

I did pick up and air can and blow out the system's vents. I did just see a video on how someone blew out his system just a bit ago, but it was the total opposite of how you'd think to do it. But he was right and a few dust bunnies popped out when I did it, where they had not previously been blown out with the blowing I did this morning. It took two tries, but I also managed t get another backup run. I'll definitely run that once a week or so until things are stable again.

I guess all I can hope is that tomorrow is a better day.

Day 1528 - 9/6 - Could have been sparks

Today was actually pretty good in that nothing bad happened. It started with a lot of extra rest at school. I was still worried about my system, so sleep overall last night / this morning was difficult. But in total I probably got about 9 hours. So I got a little caught up, which I'll need as I can't sleep in the morning for the next three days basically.

I got to the restaurant and the system started normally, within the normal amount of time. It wasn't slow, it wasn't making noises, and it didn't fail. As the day went on and I monitored temperatures several things were different. Web stuff ranged from as low as the 60c range to highs of low 70s, whereas before it was basically around 75c no matter what. In gaming it only hit a high of 85c, vastly down from the average 100c with highs of 110c+. So it was a huge improvement. Also, when I tabbed out it rapidly cooled off, which it didn't used to do. Within about two minutes it would drop from it's about 85c to about 75c, whereas before when I would tab, regardless of how long I tabbed for, it would never drop below 80c. So, it seems temperatures are vastly improved.

There were no hard drive issues or other weirdness at all. Temperatures on the keyboard barely got above warm for the entire 10 hours the system was on, and the rear of the system was blowing air that was barely warm. So, it is possible the dust bunnies that got pushed out of the system were causing some kind of short, or they were slowing down the fans bad enough that heat just made things in the system terrble overall. If it was heat or a short caused by the dust we may never know, but if things remain trouble free that's all that matters.

Day 1529 - 9/7 - Just in case

Today went surprisingly well. I did my podcasting in the morning, and since the laptop has been acting normally I did it on that instead of the netbook like I thought I might. Everything went smooth, and temperatures were down while the fans also stayed super quiet. It was like the old days.

After, I went to the coffee shop. I played my game and had a pretty fun time doing crafting things. I watched shows and played my game more from the restaurant. A quick job check revealed nothing new.

At work the laptop again booted and acted normally for the most part. There was a bit of the very very faint screeching when the hard drive would run, but I can't entirely discount the possibility of that being poor line noise on the power at work. Screeching does happen with bad power on even perfect systems. So, the screeching, which was barely audible to even my super ears, may be nothing. I edited the podcast and made a second copy of it and other necessary files for posting, just in case something did go bad before it was up.

But, this is now the second day after blowing out the system that it seems to be back to normal. While I am still ready for it to die I don't know that I'm quite so worried that it may happen soon.

Day 1530 - 9/8 - Coughing up yuck

Today was pretty good. I put up my podcast and it went fine. I played and stuff and the system was up for about 11 hours total and there were zero errors. It was booted three times, and it is currently running a backup. The only issues there were was one backup showed corrupt data, but I've narrowed that down to also being a conflict with that very same Microsoft anti-virus that causes the other issues. If it weren't a base feature of Windows I'd just uninstall it completely instead of manually shutting it down when I need to.

Part of my play time was even with my friends who I haven't seen in forever. They showed up around, I think, 4:30 my time and left about 7:30. So that was lot of fun. I think it's been nearly two weeks since I saw them last.

I guess emotionally today was ok when I was alone. I was very sad though that I'm still homeless. Food is not agreeing with me much lately, and I have to eat foods when I'd rather cook different food. Physically I think I am getting sick. I was sneezing the past few days, and yesterday for about half the day I'd get dizzy if I was standing up. Today I've started coughing up yuck, so that seems bad.

I guess though for a homeless day today was pretty good. My system seems fine again, so I can watch my shows and play my games seemingly without fear. (It was even cold when watching a show something that hasn't happened since it was new.) And, I got to see my friends for a bit.

Day 1531 - 9/9 - Ability spam

Today was ok. It was a blur pretty much. I did watch a movie (online) and a show, but the rest of the day I basically played my game. It was reasonably fun, but I played more than I really wanted because I had to do something. The sad was continually in the back of my mind, so I had to stay distracted. I did the first two dungeons in the easy mode, and as I feared there didn't really seem to be any strategy. It just seemed like everyone was spamming abilities. The biggest strategy was when people did too much melee damage you just stay at range. I think it has to do with the overall pace of the game, but I guess I'll see if I do more. So far, not a fan of the dungeon design.

Mostly today I was sad. I wanted to be in a home not wearing outside cloths, not wearing headphones. Since I'm still sick it would have been nice to sleep in, take a nice relaxing shower, rest on my bed and watch stuff on TV, and most of all cook just the right amount of healthy foods. It would have been nice to have peace and quiet with noone walking around causing allergy attacks. But I don't know how long it will be before I can change into house cloths, before I can feel fresh foods in my hands to prepare, before I have a shower that is in a small private space, where I can play on a desktop system and have good audio quality on voice chat with no background noise. In a regular life these are things you don't ever give a thought too, but in mine they are all distant memories that may never be part of my life again.

Day 1532 - 9/10 - So tired, no nap

Today I am so very tired. I was going to settle in to sleep extra at school, but some dumb maintenance guy was close by talking into one of the things that beeps every time. When he did finally shut it someone arrived and they went into the shop room and started making saw noise. I decided at that point I'd lost nearly half my possible napping time and just gave up.

I got into a big event with Guild Wars 2 today. Much like the dungeons I didn't agree with the up and down style of play. Action style is fine, but abilities cycle so fast that you really just spam them. And with 15-25 others around, forget it. Everything is just a big splat of abilities and you can barely keep track of who is where, let alone what is going on. I most certainly prefer a slower, more strategic, more calculable, and accurate style. I really think something like Neverwinter, which combines action with strategic playing, will be the 'next big MMO' for me. When I heard the Guild Wars 2 devs say they expected and planned for you to die a lot during dungeons I had my doubts. Sure, it's a fun game and all, but I don't think it's strategic enough to hold my attention for long.

I got a different dinner than I wanted because it was super hot out and I couldn't keep cold stuff in my car. I suppose I could have taken it in to the laundry with me. I guess maybe next week I'll do that. I had planned on watching a movie if I had bandwidth, which I did, but it turns out I'd actually already seen the movie.

I guess today was ok. The system worked totally fine, but I am so completely tired, and I am very sad my life is not really very close to what I would like it to be.

Day 1533 - 9/11 - Remembrance day

Today is just starting, but kind of sad already. First, it's 911, so there's that. But I just did some podcasting and the system was being weird again. It was taking forever to boot and get set up and I heard the disk doing weird incorrectly running things. It would go, 'woop... EEEeeeeeehhhhh' like it was being kicked into starting spinning the drive, but it just couldn't engage / hold proper speed. (Much like the noise when you put in a DVD and it can't read it.) After maybe 5 minutes of it not fully loading the desktop I restarted it. It complained it wanted to do the DOS disk check after, but I skipped that because it was unplugged and would have taken too much power. It did seem normal after that though, and I did do some quick podcast stuff.

I'm very tired today. I had strange dreams. I did sleep in at school, but I woke up after only one hour of a possible 3 I could have slept. I got maybe 7 hours total all night (and probably fewer than 6 last night.)

Today should be an official holiday. It should be 'Rememberance Day'; a day to remember the fallen, like how Memorial Day is for soldiers, but for everyone.

Hopefully the system just had a hiccup and will be fine again. But this is about the sixth time it's had hard drive issues bad enough that it wanted to do a check. While it would be nice to have an awesome solid state drive that I could pull into a desktop, should I recover from being homeless soon enough, the thought of needing to fully recover on a laptop worries me. I've had far too many driver issues to not fear the process. Plus, I really don't have the money. It would take all of my savings.

I'm still pretty sick. Lately I've been coughing and there is yuck in my throat and lungs. There is little I can do besides take decongestant type cold medicine.

So tired. My ramblings probably don't make much sense. Hopefully the rest of the day will be ok, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Week 220

Day 1534 - 9/12 - Sore and swollen

Today was ok I guess, though I felt very sad and lonely. I couldn't sleep in at school, as it seemed something may have been going on. There were event parking signs up, which may have been left from last night, but a fire truck was driving in right before me, which is extremely unusual. I passed on the nap 'just to be safe'.

I did play my game and actually watched some shows without issue, but I didn't really talk to anyone. And, with all my sad feelings and thoughts of not being in a home, I felt very alone and lost.

The system was mostly fine. The only issue it had was it didn't seem to be shutting down when I went to leave the restaurant. It sat at 'shutting down' for a good 5 minutes or more before I pushed the button to force shut it down. I've decided, since I have heard a few screeches, that if there is even just one more boot up failure, of any kind, I'll go ahead and get the solid state disk and restore everything. It will be a huge pain, but it really seems more of a question of when will the hard drive fail than if.

For a few days now, possibly a week or more, my joints have felt swollen, particularly where my lymph nodes are. I'm hoping it's just due to the cold, but I can't help but worry if it's some kind of allergy that has gone beyond the itchiness. Also, for at least a week, my muscles seem to cramp easily. As example, my fingers and shoulder are pretty sore from just the 10 minutes so far I've been holding my phone as a light. It seems lately if I stretch wrong I could cramp something. Again, I worry if it's connected to the swelling / itchiness.

There were no jobs to apply to today, and that doesn't help with my sad feelings. While very fun, I don't really like to stay at the restaurant all day. It still feels weird 'living there'. But then what else am I to do? My only other options are be somewhere (with inferior connections) or just sit in my car somewhere. But I have to keep myself distracted. I have to be playing something, or watch something, or doing something. I suppose it's a form of self-soothing, showing myself that everything is 'still normal', that 'I'm ok', etc..

I don't know how long my life will remain stable. How long my hard drive will last. How long my stuff can stay at the ex-garage. How long I really will be welcome to spend those 10 hour days at the restaurant. How long my job will hold. How long my car will last. While I am thankful these things are stable, none of them will last forever. But so far it seems my homelessness will. And the combination of those things worry me greatly.

Day 1535 - 9/13 - More signs

This morning I was disappointed by there again being signs at school for an event. I'd have ignored it as just something they forgot to take down, but they were in different places than before, so they had to be new. It seems unlikely that I'll get to nap and get extra sleep until Monday. Not only can I not get some at school on the weekend these days, but I have extra shifts both Saturday and Sunday morning.

The system was mostly fine with just a touch of weirdness. It did take extra long to boot and shut down, and iTunes seemingly completely forgot where all its data was (thus wiping nearly everything off my phone when it synced.) Other than that it was ok. As bad as this sounds, it's kind of like a cancer patient. I know it will die eventually, but as long as the symptoms are in remission I'd like to have as many good days as I can. While my life seems unlikely to change I always try and keep my hopes up that change is just around the corner.

I guess today was ok. I got to play my game most of the day. There was only one show to watch, so I checked a few episodes of Big Bang Theory season 5 which I recently got. (So far I've seen them all before, but it's ok.) There were no jobs to apply to, so that was sad.

I was again pretty lonely. There weren't many people online and my friends were busy. Oh, there was some PC hardware news, so I got to update my site with some cool info about that. I guess that was it. Still kind of sick. Congestion in my lungs, ears are ringing a bit, pretty tired and low energy, but there isn't anything I can really do to help recover. All I can do is try and keep myself distracted and dream of a better tomorrow.

Day 1536 - 9/14 - Almost ordered

Today was unusual. I was really hoping to nap at school, but again there were event signs. Added to that fact that normally on a Friday noone is there, I decided to skip my nap. I decided since I needed to post the podcast early I would try and record it, and then at the coffee shop I edited it. The system was weird and a few times I almost ordered the new hard drive. Things really seem tied to that Microsoft anti-virus though. I don't know if it's become corrupt somehow or if it just is that my system's hard drive just isn't taxed enough to present issues outside of that. I suppose that is all the more reason to get it replaced sooner. There seem to be many small hints that it has been dying for as long as a few months now. I think a big decision point will be in about three weeks when I'm expecting two new games. I have one coming Tuesday, but I expect I'll finish it pretty quick, so if I need to replace the drive and lost any save games it probably wouldn't be an issue.

I guess today was ok. Outside of the morning it was a pretty average work day.

As always, how different my life would be in a home is always on my mind. It is getting harder and harder to keep sad things at bay.

Day 1537 - 9/15 - Even happy times are sad

Today was ok, but pretty sad. It started with an extra work shift, so that was good. Though most of the shift there was enough bandwidth to play my game and I had fun. I couldn't help but think though I shouldn't have this job. I should be sleeping in. I should have a bed. I should be able to get up when I want on the weekend. I should be able to shower and play and have regular breakfast and lunch foods when I want. And when I break for dinner and maybe a movie or show I should be able to watch it on my entertainment system.

I got to see my friends for a bit today, which made me smiley. But... my sads are so sad lately. Even though my friends were on and we were having fun I was still sad. I was reminded my voice chat sounds bad. There were people around me making noise. I was not able to eat good food that I cooked myself. I still have swollen parts and am congested, and I did not get to sleep in and rest.

While there are some happy times and things in my life, for which I am super grateful, there are still so many sad things. And lately it seems no matter how happy the happy things are, I cannot stop thinking about the sad things.

Day 1538 - 9/16 - Ok to sad to ok

Today was okish overall I guess. At work I had bandwidth, so I played my game. After work, when I got to the restaurant, there were people at my table. Their stuff was packed up, so instead of unpacking my stuff I just waited for them to leave. And waited. Aaannnddd waited more. It wasn't until 45 minutes later that they finally left. By then I was sad and my day was kind of ruined. I certainly wouldn't have waited if I knew it was going to be that long. After finally getting my spot I watched some shows and did general web stuff. My friends came on and we got to play together for about two hours.

I guess today was more ok than not, but again it was a day where I was not happy with things and I felt like nothing will ever change and my life will just continue to slowly deteriorate.

Day 1539 - 9/17 - A chore

Today felt like a chore. Though all I had today was laundry and a work shift, things seemed like extra work and effort. It started with no nap. Again there were event signs. I wouldn't be surprised if there were orientations all this week. While I don't mind regular students possibly seeing me sleep, irregular ones coming to events would be disruptive and worrisome. They one chore of laundry seemed quickly ruined. Any nice smells generated by the clean clothes are quickly masked by smells of work, people around me with various scents, and the smells of any location I go to. Driving places seemed a bother today. I'm always moving, always driving. I don't get to stop, stay, and not worry about moving. Even places I can stay longer I must eventually move on before the night is over.

Today seemed sad. Today seemed yet another reminder of what I don't have and how very differently my life must be because of that.

Day 1540 - 9/18 - The final straw; time to order

It's early. Again there were signs at school that there was an event, so no sleeping in. It seems today was the final straw with my hard drive. But why did it have to be today? The day I'm set to get a new game. I settled in at the coffee shop and it immediately came up with the DOS style disk check error. Outside of failing to install an iTunes update correctly the past few days the system has been running fine. Well, when it's done I'll hope that is indeed all that is wrong and order the solid state drive. It probably won't get here until Thursday. All I can do is hope my game installs ok in the meantime and that the disk goes back to being mostly functional.

Outside of the system failures and apparent required replacement / upgrade I suppose things are as ok as they can be. I am very unhappy with where my life is these days. Though I have had more friends lately than I probably have in the past 15 years, everything else in my life seems sad. I am not in a good job (in that it's only a few hours with zero growth potential), and I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will be. Because of that I have no health insurance, which means medicines are difficult and there is no dental or other coverage at all. And because of those I have no home at all right now, and for the most part I am sick all the time. I'm starting to worry about me all the time, even with my happy distractions. But there is nothing I can do about it until I get an opportunity and it is done... or I am done.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2013
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

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