I wrote this back in October (I think it was actually a response on someone’s Facebook post) and copied it here to post later. But, of course, I never did. However, I came across it today and, it’s still relevant. I know the idea that the fighting and name-calling and unceasing selfishness may never end, but I have to believe that we are better than this. Remember: there are more of US than there are of THEM. And the only THEM we should ever acknowledge as OTHER are those in power forcing us to fight each other so that they can get rich and do whatever they want.
For a poll to be effective, it has to use a large enough sample size, randomly selected. It’s the same methodology that stores use when they ask you for your zip code or address. They’re trying to determine where their shoppers are coming from to determine if they need to open another store closer to their base.
It’s also how drug testing works. Test on a large enough sample and you can get an idea as to the effectiveness and severity of side effects.
Just because you’ve never been polled doesn’t mean anything. Most people don’t answer surveys by phone or mail because they don’t want to be bothered.
That said, polls can be manipulated just like any statistic. On the flip side, just because a poll disagrees with your (the royal “your”, not any specific “your”) viewpoint and you don’t know anyone else that was polled (again, royal “you”), doesn’t mean the poll is incorrect. It’s natural to be in the minority on a particular subject and still feel like the majority because we tend to surround ourselves with people that think like we do.
It’s why herd mentality and groupthink are so effectively dangerous. We’re too busy fighting against “the other team” to figure out what we have in common and work toward that. It’s how our political system has divided us for decades to allow corporate interests to supersede personal interests. Our country has always been a democracy fighting against its own innate nature to transition to an oligarchy. But most people are too stupid or too easily distracted to fight those pulling the strings. They’d rather righteously declare themselves “correct” than admit that the side they’ve chosen doesn’t care about them at all.
UPDATE: After nearly 3 hours on hold, I got through to a very helpful customer service representative that helped me cancel the bundle subscription that was created on a new account, request a refund, and explain-like-I’m-five how to make sure this didn’t happen again. The server is having sign-in issues now, so I will have to follow-up with signing up tomorrow, but at least I have made some progress.
Before I begin this diatribe, let me be up front by saying that I realize that I could have prevented all of this disaster by simply not signing up for Disney+ on day one, waiting until I could find detailed answers to all my questions. But, I didn’t, because I was excited to watch The Mandalorian, the first Star Wars property since Rebels to make me feel like I’m watching stories set in the same universe as the original trilogy.
That said, the cascading failure of my Disney online services experience is worth noting for anyone else out there in a similar situation.
On August 23rd, I received an email from Marvel telling me that my Marvel account would soon (as in, 4 days, soon) be merged with my Disney account. Unfortunately, the Disney account that they were going to merge was not my active Disney account, but some account that had likely been created by accident years ago when trying to sign up for some service or another. Instead, I wanted to merge my Marvel account with the Disney account I had been using with the Disney Movie Rewards program for years.
I emailed Marvel support to ask how to merge the accounts correctly, but got back crickets. With the pending merge date looming, I tried to trick the system by changing the email addresses for the accounts so that the account I didn’t want to use had an unused email and the account I wanted to keep had the email address for my Marvel account. Turns out, that was a colossal mistake.
The merge date comes and my Marvel account merges into the Disney account with an unused email address (we’ll just call it Email U from here on out) and my other Disney account containing my Disney Movie Rewards goes right on living.
No big deal, I decide. I’ll just change the email addresses back and lose the Disney Movie Rewards. There’s not much there, and the Marvel digital comics library is worth more anyway.
Except that I can’t. Now, for some reason, the account that I changed to Email U won’t let me go back to the email address it had been because it says that email address is already in use. And when I log in to the merged account, it still uses my primary email for the login, instead of Email U.
Fast forward to today: Disney+ launch day. During the sign-up process, I tried to sign in to my existing account using my primary email, but instead it created a third account, completely separate from the other two. Worse, since the email address I used to create a new account didn’t match my Hulu+ account, I’m now getting billed full price instead of receiving my discount on the Disney+, Hulu+, ESPN+ bundle.
Strap in, because this is the part where I make things worse.
In an attempt to fix the issue myself, since support had egregious wait times, I tried deleting the account that I had inadvertently created this morning. At first, this didn’t seem to do anything. I could still log into disneyplus.com and see my account. I could still try to contact support to submit a ticket about my issue. Then, once I got home from work, excited to finally dig into the Disney+ catalog, I saw that I had received an email. My billing process had been completed. Turns out that, since my Hulu+ account had a different email than my Disney+ account, it had been determined that I didn’t have one and I was not getting the discount.
Again, I wasn’t too worried. I figured I could just watch The Mandalorian tonight and deal with this tomorrow or the next day, when support wait times came down a bit. At the very least, I’ll see if I can start a chat session on my computer while watching a show. So, I signed in to disneyplus.com andâ€¦ this:👇🏻
So now, even though I’ve PAID for Disney+, Hulu+, and ESPN+, I can’t actually sign into my account and use it while trying to get this whole mess sorted out, because logging in tells me I have to contact customer service by phone (which I’m currently trying to do, but have been on hold for nearly 90 minutes and counting). So, yeahâ€¦ happy Disney+ Day, everybody. I’m gonna go watch Netflix like a plebe, I guessâ€¦
I just blinked my eyes and my baby was all grown up.
I can’t believe that 18 years ago today my cousin and I ran around a campground with toy guns and made our very first movie together. A lot has happened since then (most notably, the lack of becoming famous). But I still look back fondly on those days. Though filmmaking never became a part of my daily routine, it’s responsible for a large portion of how I view things creatively. I still write with a cinematic mindset and I even develop scenes as a dungeon master as though my players are experiencing them both onscreen and as the audience.
So, as a tribute to the impact that the first Ripcord had on me as an adult, I present it to you all without shame or fear of judgment.
Okay, maybe just a little fear of judgment. Be nice to me. I was a child.
Last year, I started playing D&D with my cousin and a few friends. Two of them had never played D&D before and some had only played a handful of times. A session or two later and my teenage son joined in the fun. As we neared the end of Lost Mine of Phandelver (yes, it took us a year; we are still figuring out ways to improve our combat efficiency so that they don’t take as long), two more players joined us, bringing our party total to 7 (I do say, that’s an auspicious number).
Spoilers for Lost Mine of Phandelver after the breakâ€¦
I find myself thinking back to a time, recent yet oh so long ago. A time when the family I choseâ€”not the family I was givenâ€”lived across a small stretch of pavement and grass. When there stretched a vast, wondrous playground just beyond the doors of my home. When my loves shared so small a space and yet wanted for so little. When joy and laughter were nestled away, across the street, in a familiar, cozy place. Or just past the shed, where the flames licked the low-hanging branches of trees older than â€œOne small step for manâ€¦â€ Or right in front, curled up on a sofa, all together, all one. Where even frustrations at the age and structure of home were easily forgiven when reminded of the wondrous, happy memories made within.
There are days I wish I could go home again, even if Iâ€™m already here.
This summer, I started running my own Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends using the 5th edition starter campaign, Lost Mine of Phandelver. It’s a pretty solid opening campaign, especially for a group of people that range from haven’t played in several years to “What’s a d20?” There are plenty of opportunities to learn the ins-and-outs of the Forgotten Realms, how to solve a problem without violence, and what to do when the players go off the rails for a bit. I’ve learned a lot and my players have been really enjoying themselves.
One of the greatest struggles of any D&D campaign, however, is scheduling. With five players and a DM/father to four children, trying to align schedules can be akin to befriending a beholder. Especially during the holidays. After more than a month with no opportunities to play together, we managed to lay our schedules upon the altar of good fortune in a runic pattern capable of opening a gateway to Toril in the Prime Material Plane so that my adventurers could continue their journey. Alas, it was not to be.
Our Druid managed to injure her back and apparently the D&D books don’t actually give you magical powers, despite everything I was told as a child. As such, healing her was not an option and we decided to find an alternate activity for the evening.
Luckily, my cousin (one of my players) decided he would run a one-off campaign for the rest of us. We quickly rolled up a few characters (or grabbed a pre-gen from Wizards’ website) and dove into an Adventurer’s League campaign for a night of mayhem.
One of my favorite aspects of D&D is the collaborative nature of the experience. While the Dungeon Master sets out to guide the players on a journey with delineated plot points, adventure hooks, and designated goals, once the game starts it becomes a joint effort to tell the story. Players often find ways to alter the course of the adventure and force the DM to think on his or her feet. In this particular instance, while being mobbed by a swarm of miniaturized goblins, I decided to keep one as a pet by shoving it in my bags. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that its curse would soon wear off and he would restore to full size. In an effort to keep my new companion, I asked the DM if I could determine the nature of the curse and make it permanent. While explicitly stated within the pages of the adventure that the curse would wear off in time, my cousin let me put the goblin in a confined space and make a Strength check (a die roll with my character’s Strength used to add a bonus on top of that roll) to keep the goblin compressed when the curse wore off, preventing him from returning to full size. My new companion, Pocket the Goblin, gets to travel with me on my journey, all because the DM decided to “Yes, and” instead of “No, but”.
In the end, my character’s choices won’t bear much significance, as our next session will return us to our regularly scheduled campaign. But I still had a blast playing again and have some great ideas for future encounters for my players, thanks to my brief stint as an adventurer. I’m looking forward to digging out the Dwarven Warlock, Thu’udin Hjalgrim, for his next excursion, whatever it may be. He was a lot of fun to play, and I hope his future journeys are filled with laughter in the face of darkness.
Eleven years ago today, I married the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, and embarked on a remarkable journey that is still in its infancy. Like the great odysseys of yore, this journey has had setbacks and challenges, victories and celebratory joys, and days of endless plodding forward, trudging ever onward.
Marriage isn’t a straight line. It’s a circuitous path, circling back on itself in a fashion that must appear to be a strange doodle when viewed from above. But within that path are intersections where the struggles meet the successes and that is where the greatest moments of a marriage are born.
Eleven is an auspicious number. Celebrations of tenth anniversaries are as common as they come. The number 12 has a special place in my heart, but eleven is the first double-digit prime. It’s also an incredible visual representation of marriage. The two individuals (both the numeral 1) becoming a single entity, the number 11. I am so grateful that my “other number 1” in life is my wife Autumn. I could not have asked for a better partner in crime. I am well and truly blessed today.