• Member Since 22nd Oct, 2017
  • offline last seen Last Wednesday

Shadow_8472


I'm a practising Seventh-Day Adventist Christian trying to improve his stroy writing and drawing skills.

More Blog Posts21

  • 112 weeks
    "Equestria, My Home" Extended Lyrics

    Good Morning from my Writing Lair! This is Shadow_8472, and today, I am sharing my extended lyrics for "Equestria My Home." Let's get started!

    Equestria, the land I love
    a land of harmony
    Our flag does wave from high above
    for ponykind to see

    Equestria, a land of friends
    where ponykind do roam
    They say true friendship never ends
    Equestria, my home!

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    6 comments · 152 views
  • 117 weeks
    Pulp Crossover: Fluttershy Joins the Dark Side

    Good Morning from my Writing Lair! This is Shadow_8472, and today, I am exploring a crossover my sister suggested. I had a false start writing it as a first draft, but it didn’t feel like it could go anywhere. I’m iterating ideas faster than I can record them. Hopefully, I can come up with something worth someone editing into a story. Let’s get started!

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    2 comments · 108 views
  • 121 weeks
    Blog Reformat

    Good Morning from my Writing Lair! This is Shadow_8472, and this month, I've stepped back from weekly posts here. Let's get started!

    As I said before, maintaining both a robotics blog and a writing blog is just a little too much for me long-term. I still want to do a little writing, so here I am, now on a monthly basis.

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    0 comments · 69 views
  • 127 weeks
    KSC's New Manager Reconsidered

    Good morning from my Writing Lair! This is Shadow_8472, and today, I am continuing thinking about my KSP crossover. Let's get started!

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    0 comments · 86 views
  • 128 weeks
    KSC's New Manager

    Good Morning from my Writing Lair. This is Shadow_8472, and today, I'm going to try writing a scene for a prospective fanfiction I want to at least toy around with without committing to a full first chapeter. Let's get started.

    I've recently gotten the DLC for Kerbal Space Program. I want to try writing a scene or two and see if it turns into anything.

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    0 comments · 87 views
Nov
4th
2019

My Week as a Fire Evacuee · 11:18am Nov 4th, 2019

Good Morning from my Writing Lair! This is Shadow_8472, and today, I’m covering something a little different. This post is cross posted on my robotics blog. Let’s get started.

Fuel. Air. Spark. Master any one of these elements during a combustion process, and you have one of man’s most important tools. Neglect them together, and you have a recipe for a destructive force of nature.

Last time we went through a nearby fire, we spent a week under evacuation warning. Our two cars and van were loaded with our most irreplaceable positions: pictures from growing up, souvenirs from trips we’ve been on, computers we’re basically paralyzed without nowadays.

Day 1

It was Sabbath morning. I was getting ready for a special church service to celebrate a major anniversary with a speaker from the North American Division and planned activities all afternoon. I was looking forwars to helping on sound.

I was still at home when I got an Emergency Alert System warning on my phone. At first, I thought it was a sick joke. Wilefire had come nearby a couple years ago, so I sort of had an untouchable mentality. Another alert came through. I was desperately hoping it was basically a “never mind” type thing. No luck. Spanish translation of same alert.

Needless to say, the church service was canceled. I mentally shut down, scared, while others around me hurried to pack for who knows how long. After asking for prayers from different Christian groups online, I was able to help with some things, but not others. After wrangling the computers, I started collecting sentimental items as impulse grabs, ignoring restrictions on bringing both Derpy and my other Linux server.

The idea that I may be coming home to a pile of charcoal and ash felt unreal. With only two operational vehicles, the massive photo trunk from my grandparents’ house had to stay behind. People, critters, and basic necessities tend to trump things like that when faced with a knapsack problem like this.

With our payload set, we set off down south toward San Francisco in heavy traffic as literally everyone fled along with us. It took hours longer than usual to reach the city.

We heard from a friend to save any and all reciepts. Insurance may cover “loss of use,” basically anything extra we spend because of being evacuated, we can get reimbursed, but only if we have the reciepts. We missed one tank of gas, but after that, if we got a paper documenting a purchase, it got stuffed away for later.

Saturday night, we crashed at our grandparents’ house (not the ones with the chest) with four cats and three dogs, two of whom are service dogs. We spent the night safe in relative discomfort.

Day 2

I normally sleep until 10 AM. My grandpa likes to get up early for a walk. I like spending time with Grandpa when I can. I got up earlier than usual, setting a pattern for the next several days.

Sunday evening, we spent looking for a place to sleep that accommodated all our special needs: three beds with at least one in another room. There weren’t any available; everywhere was already filled up with fire evacuees. We even shared a couple sodas with a fellow evacuee family with small kids.

One place said no vacancy, but they were converting to more of an appartment model. They might have worked, but we would have shared a wall with someone who’s scared of dogs, and we have two service dogs.

We eventually crashed into this “newly refurbished” motel. It was clean. If first impressions were everything, they would have had my stamp of approval.

We ate out for most meals on the road, and supper was actually a pretty tasty potato-based lasagna from a Greek restaurant, at least for me.

Night 2

This one gets its own section. Remember that motel? While we were first evaluating it, my sister had a few concerns. Even the tail end of my first impression before supper was a bit sketchy when one of the comforters had a little oil on it from when it fell on the parking lot, or so said Rose, the lady working the place (name changed to protect her identity and because I honestly don’t remember).

also gave us a hard time about an extra $10 for having dogs in the room. “That charge is illegal,” we told her.

We went back and forth a few times. From her point of view, Rose had a boss who would be ticked if she dropped the charge, and as my sister put it, she “took the moral high ground” saying we should be grateful they were accepting our dogs for just a low cleaning fee.

I looked it up while this was going on, and I found something I was not expecting. According to the document I found on ada.gov, service dogs MUST be accepted and MUST be exempted from any animal fee, but a cleaning fee is permissible, so long as a non-disabled person would be charged the same fee. I was not expecting that one.

NOTE: later in our trip, I took a closer look at that document, and found it was replaced by legislation that exempts service dogs from normal cleaning charges as well.

We had to book two rooms, but the more time we spent there, the less sure we felt. The kitchenette refrigerators made a horrendous noise. The outside doors felt as light as an interior door, and had half a key and chain lock system between the two rooms.

Things only got worse after lights out. For reference, I was in the single bed room alone. I found my bathroom door wouldn’t close for getting stuck on the tile floor. Back in the main room, the front door was warped, letting in a ribbon of light. I lost count at five times checking to make sure it was actually latched.

With everything adding up, I didn’t feel safe enough to even get undressed for a shower. I didn’t really want to trust the sheets either, so I planned on just wrapping up in my polar fleece space quilt. Comet, my service dog, had his mat from home, and I moved it closer to the door.

Comet, is usually a good boy. He must have noticed I was feeling scared, so he about insisted on doing a “Jump on” to the bed as I was working on last week’s robotics blog post. And no, he wasn’t going to settle for anything less than full body cuddle when I normally have to insist. Normlly, I’d correct barks at strange noises, such as someone else checking in, but that night, I didn’t. I actually found it a bit comforting.

Day 3

A car alarm woke everyone up around 5:00 am. I made it back to sleep for a couple hours. I found out later that I was the only one.

Comet had stayed cuddled the whole night. Even though the place looked warm and inviting again with the morning light, I would not be caught re-entering my room after leaving it. I rejoined my family to regroup while things were packed after our one night there.

I would not consider staying there again. Eventually, the fridge got to me or something, and I left that room as well, opting to study some of the succulent hedge plants they had growing. Different buds of even the same plant were at different spots in a cycle of growth. I found the fractals interesting to look at.

We ate out for breakfast, and traveled for a place to stay the next night. Most of our travel time, I was riding in the car with my father. I had recently gotten this exponential numbers game on my tablet, and I have a really weak spot for those. Normally, it would have been a bad thing for me, but a simple game that’s remarkably battery friendly was just what I needed.

That night, we found a two bedroom suite in a hotel chain we like. For some reason, we only booked one night there and made reservations in a similar place nearby.

We heard on the way to the first proper hotel that one of the pools was out of service. We were a little relieved when our one-night place didn’t have its pool open. Wouldn’t want those three swimsuits I ended up with to go to waste! Impulse grabs.

Supper, we went to a Siam/Thai place just as they were finishing for the night. Minutes remained until the cook was going to leave, and I made a recommendation we all have my favorite dish from when I went on mission trip to Thailand: pad thai. I didn’t get too good of a look at the menus, but I think I would have gone for an option other than orange sauce. But that food sure tasted authentic!

One of the other patrons had a problem with dogs, and the owner asked us if we could move outside making for another ADA surprise. I decided to take that closer look later. It didn’t come to anything, but the owner was much more diplomatic than Rose.

NOTE: While I later found that when someone with a service dog and someone with dog problems must be in the same area, such as for a work setting or an evacuation center, they should be placed in separate rooms or opposet ends of the same area if possible.

Day 4

I got myself up for the hotel breakfast in the lobby full of stuff I rarely get at home. Personally, I had a big waffle on one plate, and two English muffins with scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa on my other.

Travel details get a little fuzzy as to which day what happened, but I think this day was the day we went shopping. I stayed in the van, and a backup alarm really messed with me to the point I had to get out of there. I had planty of time to dash away from there so I wouldn’t have to keep getting overloaded by that painful noise.

My sister kept me safe, pointing out that the vehicle backing into the spot next to us could possibly have stepped on the gas instead of the break. She convinced the driver to park in a nearby spot. I don’t remember much else, except that the driver didn’t seem to understand and I was playing my game, like usual.

We got to the hotel we were planning on staying at for the foreseeable future. I made myself at home as best I could. My room had a small desk, but that didn’t keep me from squeezing my dual monitor computer setup onto it. I didn’t ever get a good mouse pad, so I was always fighting it. I set my moon lamp I got last year as a birthday gift on a bedatand. My quilt really brought everything together.

The pool was closs here as well, but there was a weekly grill by the courtyard firepit. It was quiet, not too many people were there at once, and the lady grilling enjoyed her job at the hotel where she could meet people.

As a vegetarian, I didn’t gorge myself on the grilled chicken, but the potatoe salad and barbecue chips were tasty. I had a good time.

Supper was a homemade soup. The bowls that came with the room were tiny, but it was all good.

Day 5

This was a much needed down day. We still weren’t sure if we’d be coming home to a pile of ashes, but I still got myself up for a similar breakfast with four small waffles. My sister and I took food up to our mother since she wasn’t feeling the best.

This day was very much needed. With the decor I imported, I could easily see us living there for anywhere up to a week, as some estimates were landing us.

I pretty much spent the day watching YouTube I could use for trivia fodder later. I also caught up with the protests Hong Kong is having over the premature erosion of their democracy. Eventually, I even managed to write a sentence or two toward my next FimFiction story about Cheerilee.

For once, I don’t remember supper! Probably because it was a disorganized jumble involving cheese, crackers, and leftovers.

Day 6

Halloween. Breakfast was the same fare as before. They had a skeleton in a scrub working the front desk. I was informed “Slim” wouldn’t be working there for too much longer because didn’t meet the dress code.

It was also the day we returned home, as insurance wouldn’t likely cover anything that wasn’t part of the mandatory evacuation. I was supposed to ride shotgun with my mother as she was feeling a little better, but not so well as to not want a backup driver.

Remember when I said I usually sleep in? Well, at the university, Ilearned that I can get up early for breakfast, but doing so for long periods tends to make me fall almost asleep for an hour or two; I was useless for packing, especially when a stereo on wheels parked itself outside our window.

We split up for fetching our critters. While I really wanted to help with our cats, I ended up with the car, picking up our pet dog. She came back all nice and groomed and her sitter gave us the nnews that our little diva held out for the raw beef the other dogs were having. So much for kibble ever again.

Smoke. We got home hours before the van. The firefighters saved the vast majority of the town, but the smoke was terrible, and I didn’t know which N95 mask was mine, nor did I know where an unused one was.

Inside the house was about twice as smoky as outside, so we aired it out. Seemingly long stretches of time are reduced to two single words: unpleasant, and smoke.

Our next objective for the evening was to obtain air improvement devices. While I would have rather personally joined in on the search, I stayed home in case the utility company came by to turn our gas back on.

I ended up orchestrating some smoke-quality furnace filters and a few HEPA filters for in-room use. Coudos to the store manager who ordered extra furnace filters in anticipation of the sudden spike in demand. We got six. When they arrived, I decided to layer one with a lower quality filter so the good one could do its job of catching finer particles better.

Supper for my mother and me was a nicely sized pizza. I called no fewer than three or four places before I found an open one, and when I did get one, it was a 45 minute wait. Turns out they had the orders of three locations being forwarded to their place, and a bunch of hungry evacuees were returning.

We did get one ser of trick-or-treaters. After I had to turn them away, –the porch light was on for the utility guys– I made a sign explaining things.

The gas did not appear that night, so I was double glad I had a shower that morning.

Aftermath

We spent the night with filters going on max in our bedrooms. When we got up, the smoke was pretty bad in the rest of the house. Ever since then, I’ve been scared of smoke damage seeping from the walls and ruining our lungs. I can’t wait until a professional comes through and tells us what needs to happen of if we are all good. I doubt I’ll be able to rest fully until then.

Throught the whole week, I don't think anything really felt real. Not until I saw a map of the burn zone reaching within walking distance. The evacuation gave the firefighters the room they needed to save everything they did. Maybe it still isn't real to me even now. All I know now is that since getting home, I haven't been able to get the initiative to get fully set up again in case we have to leave for any reason.

Just because there's a disaster going on doesn't mean your whole life just takes a pause. Sure, I wasn't able to meet up with a friend who otherwise would have come through on Sunday, but I still made contact with people I normally do online, just not as frequently. I'd like to thank everyone who prayed for us and the first responders. God really took care of us this week. As of noon the following Monday (daylight savings time is over, by the way), the evacuation warning is over, but not all the fires are out.

Lessons we’ve learned this past week: first, keep all receipts during an evacuation if you even think you have loss of use, and second, call your insurance adjuster on your way out. They can help you find space for you and boarding for any critters.

Final question: have you ever lived through a natural disaster? Ever been evacuated for one?

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