Those Old, Unfamiliar Places

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To keep my sanity during the Pandemic, I take a drive to see places I used to go before COVID-19. I go past apartments I used to live in, stores I used to frequent, or parks I liked to hang out at. These drives remind me of what went on before and what can again.

If a place is safely outdoors, I may even take a walk. Vaccinated, double-masked, avoiding people, I pass silently through places I miss. If an area looks to be filled with people, or if I see reckless behavior, I avoid it. It hurts to avoid places I loved.

It also hurts me that so much has changed in a year or three.

Stores I knew are gone. Apartments have sprouted up in places I’ve never seen. New shops have opened with hope and caution. I’m passing through a world I know that is totally alien to me.

What happened? What is this place? Who are these people? Where did this place go? I want to know what happened, I crave the story of the year gone.

A joke passed among my anime-loving friends is that when we finally have conventions, it’ll be like an Anime Timeskip. Everyone will have aged a few years, everyone will be different. The metaphor is funny, but it also acknowledges there will be stories of what happened. There will be a narrative because we can talk and because we kept in touch as best we could.

The empty buildings and new places where I used to go tell no stories. I didn’t witness their shutting down or going up. I wasn’t able to say goodbye or hello. They’re tales I can’t grasp quickly, and seeking them may be risky.

I feel a gap in the way the landscape of my life changed. People need narratives, we need to understand why something is and what happened. We are also creatures of place and context, from a comfy den to a favorite coffee shop. But places and their tales are different after the Pandemic, and there are holes in the story.

So I pass by and through these old, unfamiliar places. I want to know, I want to understand, I want to connect. I cannot.

I am a masked a ghost haunted by the new things and dead years.

Steven Savage

Why I Eat (Mostly) Vegetarian

As most people know I’m a “mostly vegetarian” – I have meat or eggs once or twice a week, for some reason usually in the form of pepperoni or sausage because pizza.  Also because I do like to “keep in touch” with meat on a culinary level, if that makes any sense, though that’s usually when I do some insanely unhealthy thing like trying to make pepperoni pizza dip.

Most of my diet is vegetarian with carefully-chosen milk products (low-fat yogurt).  It’s pretty much been the reason for over 2/3 of my weight loss from when I was 30 lbs over weight (and yes, due to my weird build it was hard to tell until the doctor pointed it out – both sides of my family can wear extra pounds well).  It’s also frankly left me feeling better.

(The rest was calorie control, careful eating, and walking more)

But there’s a lot of reasons I eat vegetarian.

Actually I wanted to discuss them.  I also wanted to discuss them as a “person” because it seems many people have this image of the vegetarian scold.  In my experience that’s an almost entirely-false image, but the idea is still there of some vegetarian being all self-righteous, snippy, and dull.  I think we project those days mom wanted us to eat our broccoli (pro tip for kids – point out to mom there’s many great ways to prepare it!).

So here’s the reasons in no particular order.

It’s Inevitable: Not your most noble point, but the thing is the food industry as we know it has a lot of unsustainable practices, issues with antibiotics, inefficiencies, and so forth.  Which is a shame, because there’s also some amazing technology out there that people forget about that let us do incredible things to raise food.  But in the end meat is pretty inefficient and is associated with some unhealthy practices, so I see it getting pricier and more troublesome, and going mostly vegetarian was getting a jump on an inevitability.

The Environment: Part of “the inevitable” is that a lot of our food practices are really bad for the environment and thus us.  I feel a lot better participating in that less – and I think as noted we’ll have less choice.

It Can Be Healthier – In A Lazy Way:  From everything I can find out you can eat meat and animal products in moderation and be healthy – it just takes a little planning and awareness.  On the other hand I found by going vegetarian made it just plain easier to cut out unhealthy food and opportunities because they’re less likely to be there – so I filled my plate with vegetarian stuff I liked.  Note however that preparing food yourself and being aware of nutritional value is a big part of this.

It’s Healthier – Processing: Also to be honest a lot of the meat industry makes me unsettled.  Between questionable practices, breeding, hormones, and of course misuse of antibiotics, I’m really not trusting a lot of meat right now that isn’t extremely treated and prepared.  Sure I have to be careful with milk and eggs but really, I get concerned.

Expanded Cooking Repertoire: There’s a lot of vegetarian cooking in the world and it’s delicious – but when you’re “meat-centric” you can miss it.  I think a focus on meat in our diets limits our culinary options.  Since I started cooking vegetarian I’ve discovered a much wider range of tastes and interests – some of that due to new experiences, some of that due to nutritional balancing.

The Examination: Going vegetarian made me ask why some things taste good – like a burger, or a steak, and so on.  Switching made me think and learn about what we like and how it tastes.  Another case where going flexitarian or temporarily vegetarian may be educational to people.

It Can Be Cheaper: I found that I save money if I use little to no meat and limited animal products.  It’s actually a bit less than I expected – also I think the gain occurs the more people you cook for.  As I expect costs of meat to go up, I expect the cheapness to be a factor in the future.

It Has Ethical Benefits: I don’t consider eating meat a bad thing; in fact, I don’t want people to give it up completely just due to culinary history and so forth.  But I’m really finding the way we raise meat is disturbing in what it does to animals, the environment, and ourselves.  The inefficiency of the meat industry as it is is something I don’t want to support.  So this feels more ethically appropriate.

It’s a Shock To The System: A switch to vegetarianism or mostly vegetarianism/flexitarianism really makes you think.  Like any dietary shift it can be educational, but as it has other benefits, I’ve found it very enjoyable to shake myself up – and I’m working to do it still with new ingredients or influences.

Ready For a Crisis: I figure if there’s ever a disaster (I do live in an Earthquake zone) it’s easier to know how to rely on vegetables than meat – and hey, there’s canned stuff.  Also if there’s ever a local disaster and I try to help out, I got the cooking skills to lend a hand feeding people.

Ready To Help: Any crises aside, the fact I can cook effective healthy food means it’s great for potlucks, charity events, and so on.

Peace Of Mind: I find that eating vegetarian or mostly so clears up so many issues it gives me more peace of mind.

High Fiber: Look, let’s get down to it.  Eating more vegetables means regularity and better health.  If you’re not thinking about such things, well, juuust wait until you’re older. Just wait.

So those are my reasons.  I hope they give you an idea of why I do what I do and give you some things to think about!

– Steven Savage

I’m Starting To Think Like a Librarian . . .

Over the last few years of moving, divorcing, cleaning, etc. I’ve cleaned out a lot of old books, videos, and more.  I am trying to keep things that are only truly meaningful, truly useful, and truly re-readable.  I’ve . . . succeeded reasonably well.

But as I think of purchasing new books, new videos, I find myself asking what I will do when I am done.  Do I keep them?  Sell them?  Gift them?  Will I reuse them?  Are they worth it?

This has me wondering what legacy I will leave in my life in the form of my own personal library.  I realized in fact that what I have is a personal library.

Each book, each DVD, each manga, each thing I place in it is not just for me – it’s for friends, relatives, and those to come.  When I am gone, it will be there.

This is also part of my motivation in turning my eBook only Focused Fandom books into print.  It’s about a solid legacy.

We should all think like Librarians.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at