Writing The Second Draft

Documenting the Journey as I become who I want to be.

Get Home Bag

Many survivalists these days seem to idolize the Bug Out Bag.  That is, survival kit generally housed in a backpack or other easily portable pack that you have in case you ever have to ‘bug out’ that is, escape, evacuate, or otherwise flee your home. Some people have them set up to help them survive 72 hrs  or to help them get to either a bug out location or to just get them far enough from civilization to go live off the land in the woods.

I’m not here to talk about bugging out though. My current situation is that I see only a few potential emergencies that would make me want to bug out and abandon my prepped home for an unknown or unprepared location and their likelihoods are pretty small. What a more realistic situation would be say, ending up stranded on the road or at work due to car trouble or  inclement weather perhaps. Or even in case of another type of emergency, my biggest worry is about getting home. Home is where I’m prepped. Oh sure I know the general bushcraft style survival stuff. If I got stuck in the woods overnight I’d be just fine. But I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to run out of my house and head for the hills. But I’ll have to explain my thoughts on bugging out vs bugging in on another post  haha. I keep veering off topic.

What I’m trying to talk about right now is what I call a “Get Home Bag” and the reason I keep bring up b.o.b’s is because they’re generally similar. They’re both survival kits with a specific purpose: to help you travel safely.

Now, when you build a Get Home Bag, you’re going to want to consider a few things

What is your Origin point?

That is, where is it most likely that you’re going to be traveling FROM to get home?

For me, that’s work. It’s the only place I go to nearly every day, not to mention it’s probably the farthest I travel. Which it’s only about 15 minutes away by car so I guess that tells you quite a bit about how often I get out of the house P: It’s about 6 miles from my home.

What is your fitness level?

Now, I’m not a fantastic survivalist or anything. I’m overweight and out of shape (though I’ve been exercising just about every day it’s a slow process to get fit) . And While my work is only about 6 miles away, that’s not a distance I’m used to walking, and depending on the emergency I might have to take a route with rougher terrain than I’m used to if I want to avoid main roads and such.

If I am walking at a comfortable pace on flat terrain I go about 1.5 miles in 30 minutes. In an emergency situation I’m sure it’ll be a bit different but let’s use this as a base for now.  At my normal walking pace it’ll take me about 2 hours to get home in ideal conditions. But even on rough terrain and inclement weather I don’t expect it to take me more than half a day to get home.  So as you can guess, the pack I’ve chosen for my ‘get home’ bag is relatively small and it’s most important feature is that it’s a hydration pack.

Your Pack

My pack is a High Sierra pack, (Replenish model iirc) that I picked up several years ago at costco for about $20-$30. My brother ended up using it more than I did until it got packed away and lost in his storage until we cleaned it out last year. He had his own hydration pack by then and so he gave it back to me.  It’s got a 2 liter reservoir, and 550 cubic inch capacity. It’s got quite a few nifty features too. It’s obviously specifically made as a biker’s pack (what with the helmet mesh and the bicycle pump sleeve) but I think it’ll work for my purposes as well.

What will you need?

Or rather, what do you think you will need?

Even though I’ve established that it wont’ take me longer than maybe half a day, I still want to be prepared in case something drastic happens. So the top 5 things of survival are what?  Water, Food, Shelter, Fire, Safety.

Now, with my pack, I’ve got 2 liters of water. Less than the suggested 1gal/day but I do tend to have at least one other water bottle that holds roughly a liter, so at 3 liter’s that’s pretty darn close.

Water, Check.

For food I’ve packed a couple fiber/protein bars a pack of ramen and a pack of beef jerky. The ramen is in case I am stuck either overnight or in rough weather to the point where it’s safer to camp out than to keep going. But I do intend to add some more ready to eat foods that require no prep whatsoever.  None of this is meant to sustain me for an extended period of time or anything, just keep my belly full so I can keep my head clear.

Food, Check.

I’m not expecting to need shelter, but even so if somehow it’s a worst-case-scenario and the weather is inclement enough that it’s safer to stay put for a while I have some plans in place. Right now, in my bag, I only have two of those ’emergency blankets’  which will do in a pinch. I also have several yards of cordage (I have some standard woven nylon and some paracord.). These alone are adequate enough to make a primitive shelter and if nothing else I can use one of the blankets to keep from getting too wet or cold.  However I don’t feel that this is good enough so I plan to add a tarp and military poncho which I already own but are not with me at the moment, they’re packed in some boxes I need to have shipped, but those items will go into my g.h.b as soon as they are back in my possession.

Shelter, Mostly Check.

Once again I’m not expecting to need fire, but just in case I do have a ‘fire kit’, it’s an altoids tin that I have several fire-starting options in. Firestraws, a mini bic lighter, char cloth, and storm matches.  I intend to also add a tube of carmex as I hear that it can extend the burn period of tinders but of course I’ll probably test that out on my own first. Now, outside the fire kit, the main purpose of fire (in my opinion) is warmth, and since I’m not expecting to have to find a place to make a fire, I am expecting to need warmth, so I’m also planning to add some of those hand/foot warming packets or maybe even one of those zippo hand warmers.

Fire, Check

Now, Safety covers kind of a broad range. It can be signaling, navigation, security, etc. Whatever you need it to be to make sure you get home safe. In this section I have my first aid kit, nothing spectacular but just a small one I picked up somewhere.  I have a combination Whistle/Compass/signal mirror contraption. I don’t have any weapon at the moment but I intend to add a handgun when I can afford it.  I don’t really have to worry about navigation as I know my area pretty well, but if I have to take roundabout paths a map would come in handy so I’m planning to add that too.

Safety, semicheck

How will you travel?

Another thing to think about is just how you plan to get home. In case you can’t tell I’m more or less prepped to hike it. But if your main transportation you’re counting on will be a car make sure you account for problems that could arise. It would also be prudent to keep a separate car-emergency kit in your trunk (which I’ll probably discuss when I put mine together) filled with things like road flares/signals, fix-a-flat, etc. Same goes for if you’re on a bike or whatever, keep a patch and repair kit, air pump, whatever you think you’ll need.

<enter a few pictures here>

So just by going through these questions and going over those 5 key areas I can see what I need to do to make my get home bag better. Also, just because we’re prepping for the worst-case scenario doesn’t mean we should neglect the more likely small things. For example I also keep cash in small bills in case I can get home with just a taxi or if I need to get some gas.   Adjust your kit to fit your needs, otherwise you’ll be carrying a bunch of junk you just won’t use. And don’t be afraid to start small. Remember: The best survival gear is the gear you have with you.  Something is better than nothing.


Wallet-Making Take 2

So, I didn’t have enough left of that nice thick dark leather that I was planning to make my billfold wallet out of. But I do have this lighter, thinner leather that I think would make a nice minimalist pocket style wallet.

Something like the Journeyman offered by Tanner Goods [Here] would be ideal.

Seriously go take a look at that fancy shit, it’s beautiful. Now obviously I’m not expecting mine to come out so nicely. After all this is my first time doing any sort of leatherwork really. You can’t expect to paint a masterpiece the first time you pick up a brush :U  In any case I decided to base my design off of this since it looks easy enough, and being mechanically minded as I am I figured how it’s put together pretty easily.

For my wallet, just cut up two pieces and matched them up as best I could but uh… Now I know why the pros use a hydraulic press with a cutting mold, whereas I used a metal straightedge and a box cutter. So the mirror image isn’t exactly there, close enough though.  Next I cut up two more sheets to act as the outside ‘pockets’.  One I accidentally cut horribly short  and while I realized that I could totally flip it and make a sort of sideways pocket, I opted for the lazy/minimalist option and decided that one outside ‘pocket’ was good enough for me P:

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Next came the all important part of puncturing the leather for the needle and thread to get through!

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I pulled out my awl and mowed through the bottom edge of my first big piece, using only the awl and a whack with the palm of my hand. Now I know why the pros also have either strong ass sewing machines or a the very least rawhide mallets. Ow. So then I realized that I had to make sure somehow that these would line up right with the other pieces.

For the first line I just lined up the pieces as well as I could, inside out, and stuck my sewing needle through the holes in my first piece, to lightly puncture the second piece. I would use these little holes as a reference were to place the awl and punch through.

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You can see pretty good the difference in size of the awl holes and the needle marks. The next step was to pin the corners together using some thumbtacks pops had lying around and poke the rest of the holes to match the second piece, and then follow suit with the sides of the pockets that would get stitching.

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The thread I’m using is a durable heavyduty thread in a sort of steely silver that I’ve used in the past to stitch simple book bindings early last year (the books didn’t warrant such a thread but my mother was pretty adamant). And I think it’ll contrast nicely with the color of leather that I have. So after punching through the leather scraps, it was time to sew them together!

I did this by hand as I don’t have any kind of sewing machine at the moment, not to mention i don’t even know you can do this kind of thing with a sewing machine. The stitching may not be perfect but it’s more than strong enough to hold this thing together hopefully for a long time! Or at least long enough for me to purchase more leather and try again =D

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Now, unfortunately when I got to the ends I had no idea how to knot them up properly. So I just tried to wing it. But uh… That proved itself a bad idea pretty quick as one of the knots started coming undone immediately. So I resorted to supergluing the knots into place.  Next time I’ll put more research into that part =w=;;;.

It should hold for a good while though and I can re-stitch it if need be. The only thing I need to figure out now is sealing the outside edges together so they don’t pull up. I noticed when I put them in my pocket one of the layers on the corner likes to catch and pull up so I’ll have to figure out how that’s done.

But, a project  completed and I’m super pleased with the result!


Survival How-to: Fire Straws

The other day I was planning to have a little bonfire in the back yard but… nope. The weather was raining off and on all day so, bonfire for entertainment purposes not so good an idea. I was tempted to try anyways but I would be the only one out there and the firepit’s already been set up for family enjoyment. (one of my bros already set up logs and stuff. ) So instead, I did a little crafting inside, I made fire straws!

I first read about these a couple years ago, and it’s a really simple premise!  You take a plastic straw cut to whatever length you want,  melt one end shut, fill it with something, and melt the other end shut!

I’ve seen these used for things like a single dose of neosporin or toothpaste or other things too. But the use that interested me most was the ‘fire straw’ where it’s filled with some type of tinder. So here’s what I did, step-by-step so you can make some too!

You will need:

Plastic Straws
Needlenose Pliers

Lighter (or other open-flame)

1.  Take your straw and cut it to your desired length mine were roughly an inch.
2.  Pinch one end with your pliers and hold it shut with a little bit overhanging the end of the pliers

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3.  Run your flame under  the overhanging bit to melt it together. While it’s still malleable you can pinch down the seal with your pliers to make it flat.

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4.  Take your cotton ball and pull it apart into more manageable strips of fluff.

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5.  Take the fluff and a toothpick and stuff your straw with the fluff!  Be careful not to use too much pressure or your toothpick could puncture a side, defeating the purpose of keeping your tinder waterproof!

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6.  Fill it up until you have just enough space to pinch down the end with your pliers with a bit of overhang once again.

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7.  Repeat step 3 on this other end and ta-da! You’ve got a fire straw!

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The purpose of firestraws is to keep a bit of tinder dry in your kit (I keep mine in my fire kit which I try to have waterproofed anyways, but they’re so small they can fit just about anywhere you want to stash ’em)  I made a total of 6 of these and have those in my kit right now.  One thing I have read is that some people will dip their cotton in petroleum jelly to make it burn longer and that kind of thing, but I haven’t tried that yet.


So why don’t you try and make your own firestraws and tell me how it goes! Or if you’ve made your own before or have other ideas of what to store in these mini-containers leave a comment!

Michigan Renaissance Festival!

So, on September 14th I went with my brothers and a couple of their friends to the Michigan Renaissance Festival for the very first time… and it was just ridiculously awesome. I’ve wanted to go since I first heard about it when I went to highschool out here, but for reasons of money and transportation I was never able to go. So I was pretty excited at the prospect when I heard that it was coming up. I would have liked to dress up and such, but I didn’t have that much to spend beforehand and had to save up so that I could get some stuff at the actual event too.  In the end I spent about a hundred bucks (Including ticket and gas money) and it was worth every penny.  The first thing I did, of course, was purchase a drinking horn and something to drink from it haha! I found a beer I enjoyed (Killian’s Irish Red) and we wandered about to take in all the sights. We hadn’t gotten there in time to see any of the shows, so I sort of go the barebones tour. But it was really nice not to be rushed by schedules to see different things and just to kind of enjoy the atmosphere.

My phone died before we got there unfortunately so I didn’t get any pictures of anything. But it was amazing. So much bigger than I thought it would be. We looked in a lot of the little shops but I knew I didn’t want to spend too much money so I kind of held myself back from looking everywhere. We mostly looked in the leather shops and the weapons shops. One store there had just beautiful swords and I would’ve loved to take one home with me but the cost was more than I’d prepared for this year (200ish), maybe I’ll have that much saved by next year… And there was a pretty nice axe too but that was about 300 and to be honest I think I could make my own for that much. Now I admit it wouldn’t be nearly as pretty but I’d probably feel a lot more comfortable chopping wood with it haha.

As far as food went, we’d eaten before we left as we were expecting food to be expensive, which actually the prices were about what I’d expect to pay in CA as a normal price so I was pleasantly surprised on that front! At one point I tried to get a turkey leg I’d seen people carrying around but the stall we found was all sold out! In sadness and hunger I went to the next stall and bought what they had, which was a hamburger. Surprisingly good quality for this kind of event though!

Then we found the archery lanes and I shot an arrow for the first time! It was pretty cool, they had a bunch of lanes and a bunch of bows and arrows and you pay for the number of arrows you use.  it was only $2 for 5 arrows  so that’s what I did.  My brother gave me a little instruction on how to hold and nock the arrow and told me to do like he’d shown me to do with the bow I bought from him. I missed my target on every arrow but the last. With the last one I finally hit it so I was pretty pleased haha. My interest has been severely renewed and so I’m checking my budget to see if I can get some arrows and some range time though I probably won’t be able to until next month.

It was very exciting though and I can’t wait to go again!

Time Flies for Family Visits

These last couple weeks have been kinda busy so I haven’t really had time to take care of the things I want to haha.  My poor wallet has been lying around in pieces since I was just so tired I didn’t finish it up like I’d intended =3= .

On August 28th, pops his gf and I all drove on over to visit my grandma. Along the way we stopped by the airport to pick up my sister and niece so that gma could finally see her newest great-grandchild! It was a great time, but we were running pretty much every day, and when we weren’t running we had a 2.6 year old to entertain and contend with. We visited a lot of family, ate a lot of food (but not as much as I used to, I tried to do well!), and had a ton of fun.
It all seems like a blur looking back on it, but we did a lot haha.  One day we drove around the local Amish community one day to find the general store to pick up some stuff and yums. (I got beef jerky and soap.) It was really nice just driving around the woods and waving cornfields. Unfortunately I didn’t think  to take any pictures until we were already driving home and well past all the Amish houses and such.  Another day we took the little one to a small local Zoo which was pretty fun.  It was just running all week, and me generally catering to my sister’s whims so that we could have a peaceful visit. I don’t dislike my sister per se, but she’s a very stressful person to be around, and medically speaking, I don’t handle stress very well at all. So suffice to say by the time the week was up I was very happy to be coming home haha.

I took Wednesday off from work as well, taking an extra day to catch up on sleep and kind of recover. “No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” You know how it goes haha.

I’d intended to, over the weekend,  get outside a bit, finish my wallet, maybe do some other cool stuff to tell you guys about. Instead I slept in, got some kind of shiatsu massage on Saturday. I’d been complaining about my back hurting (Hunched over staring at  a laptop at work every day and all that.) and my dad’s gf told me about this lady so she took me to go see her on saturday. I came out of there feeling like I could lift a truck, but as the day progressed my back got really sore as though I’d been working out hardcore or something. So I stayed in and ended up playing skyrim all day haha.

Sunday I was still pretty sore and spent most of the day generally lounging P:

This week rolled by pretty damn quick and before I really knew it it was the weekend again! Well, this weekend I had plans and went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival for the first time which I think will warrant a post all it’s own. Hopefully I can get that posted up sometime this week.

On Doubt and Deity

So, let me start this with: I have a godphone.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s generally an internal non-divination way to ‘speak’ with one’s deities. For me I hear them in my mind’s ear (Kind of like when you imagine something in your ‘minds eye’, how you can see it but you’re not physically seeing it? If you can understand what I’m trying to get at.   For me it’s like when I’m reading something I ‘hear’ myself reading it, only, in my head.  Well, for me, godphoning is like that except it’s not my voice.  Sometimes the ‘signal’ is fuzzy and I can’t tell who/what it is, or even if it is mine or not.  But other times it’s almost crystal and I know it isn’t mine.

Disclaimer! This is just how it seems to work for me,  I can’t claim knowledge about anyone else’s experiences and it’s not the only way this thing occurs.

Anyways! When I was doing my pagan microblogging thing over on tumblr I never really spoke of it except something of amusement in passing. I firmly believe in the “If you can’t handle having your authority questioned, you shouldn’t have any authority” type thing So I don’t talk about it. I don’t want the scrutiny and I don’t want to be told that I’m delusional or something because my experiences of dealing with X Deity or Y Deity are different than another, perhaps more experienced person’s. This is still something I worry about but I’m kind of sick of not sharing my experiences due to that kind of fear.

To be honest, as far as this stuff goes I have a hard enough time telling what of this stuff is ‘legit’ and what is just my own imagination.

When I first started, I was trying to find an animal spirit mentor.  I did the meditation several times over but kept seeing a fox, a popular animal and so my thought process was that obviously since this is a popular guide animal, this wasn’t a ‘real’ meditation and that the fox wasn’t my ‘real’ spirit mentor and I was just imagining something I wanted. And I have always, always had a very clear very strong imagination. So I continued,  after 3 or so times I didn’t see the fox anymore and most of the time I saw nothing.

And then it happened. I went into the meditative space and it caught my attention. I saw the one creature that I would never have imagined or picked on purpose.


Because I know that I would never EVER consciously pick this creature, I accepted it more or less without question and he has helped me greatly through some situations. His aspects mesh surprisingly well with my own values and so on.

But now I think about it a lot what if I missed out on a different experience because of my distrust of myself, my doubt?

Later on I began to work with a few specific Deity. Almost from the beginning I heard and communicated with them rather quickly and clearly. I can’t say that I have exact proof that they are who they say they are. And I know that deities don’t have the same morality and many will lie and swindle humans, but I have faith that they are who they say. I have been working with them for about three years now and I have made no oaths and they have requested no oaths from me. Although one does say they claimed be at my birth but again I can’t verify such things.

I’ve only really opened up about my dealings with these deities to a handful of people, most of which either aren’t really versed in this pagany stuff to begin with and only two of which even deal in the same pantheon all and at the very least they don’t grill or bother me too much about it though they have helped me identify a few imposter issues I’d had. (I kept bumping into a loki that wasn’t well, Loki) But I’m kind of sick of hiding it just from my own insecurities, so I guess this is my rambling introductory post on the issue.  If my deities give me the okay I’ll tell you guys more on them and so on but at the very least you can probably look forward to hearing about those adventures even if I end up using nicknames which seems to be pretty popular haha.

As a small side note I’m on vacation this week, so if I can I might post some interesting things when I’m back home next week, and post pictures if I remember to take any haha.

Busy busy busy

I was initially planning for my next post to be about my next wallet attempt but it’s been a little over a week since then and I haven’t had the time or opportunity to reattempt.

Look forward to it though, I’m sure looking forward to making a new wallet haha!

In any case I’ve been busy mostly with work during the weeks which I anticipated. But I didn’t anticipate so much to be happening over the weekends for this month! Last weekend pops and I headed out to visit my grandmother from the 9th to the 11th. It was a short trip because well, pops was really only going for an event and his lady hasn’t been feeling well so she was staying home this time. We head out again the 28th iirc and we’ll stay for a whole week with some of my other family members coming up to visit.

So the morning of the 9th we woke up bright and early and got on the road by 9 am. Drove a good 500mi (well, pops drove. I played with the radio and we talked lots.) and arrived by 7pm. Chicago traffic was hell it took us 3 hours to get through the city whereas usually it only takes us an hour and a half… We arrived in time to still get in on some good ol’ Wisconsin Friday Night Fish Fry (I had catfish) and pops was complimented on all the weight he’s lost and I was complimented on finding work so quickly.

A few relatives stopped by gma’s house on the 10th to see us and see gma and have lunch and all that good stuff. I ended up falling asleep on the sofa whilst we were visiting but I woke up in time to see them go so no one held it against me haha. (They provided me the excuses of being tired from work, and from the drive, which were both true, but regardless.)

Then the morning of the 11th came and we were on the road by roughly the same time I suppose, I don’t remember exactly. But the time change wasn’t on our side for returning home so we just ate awful things, drive thru, etc, and got home in time to crash for Monday morning.

A fast and exhausting weekend to be sure!

After that, it’s simply been back to work and taking care of general life stuff so I haven’t had time to craft. Monday I drove around to find an item for another project Ive been working on, Tuesday was grocery shopping, and Wednesday I went to a friend’s book event! Yesterday was the uninteresting but oh so necessary cleaning day.  So perhaps today or saturday since sunday I’ve got plans too!

August is such a busy month!

Technical difficulties with analog crafts

So I had some scrap leather I purchased (though if I’d known just how ‘scrap’ it was I never would have paid money for it.) and I recently read this post by artofmanliness.com. So, having some energy and free time this evening I decided to try my hand at it! I printed out the blueprints full size and cut the D piece out of my nicest biggest scrap using a simple box cutter.  I had one of those nice fiskar self-healing cutting mats underneath it too. It started pretty well and my cuts were clean… but then I noticed something…


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Now, this piece is supposed to be the outermost layer of the wallet and thus the biggest piece. When I realized that it was roughly the size of a dollar, I also realized i had made a horrible mistake.  Upon rechecking things out I found out that what I printed was pretty much completely off-scale and to top it off, after realizing this, adjusting, and checking it against my scraps again, I didn’t have any solid scraps big enough for that largest piece :T

So suffice to say I’m a bit disappointed, and I’ve added Leather to the list of things I’m going to buy when I get paid haha.

Although I’ll be checking my other pieces to see if I can’t make another type. Maybe a phone pocket slim wallet or something other than a billfold but we’ll see!

I am a badass

Alright, you don’t know me but suffice to say, I am a badass.  I’ll give you a little bit of background so you’re not completely lost before I put up my About page.  I’m Seth, 24 years old, and I recently moved halfway across the country to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

I’ve been here for about… three weeks, I guess, but this week I procured and started my first job.  That’s right, my first job ever. Now, you might be thinking “Isn’t 24 a little late to be just getting your first job?” and you might be right. But I did do my stint in college for a while, although it didn’t exactly agree with me for reasons that will be expounded upon at a later date I’m sure.

In any case, finding a job isn’t why I’m a badass, I’ll be honest, my pops actually got me in to this location.  He works as a programmer and I was brought in to test software for what we’re working on. Which I will tell y’all about when it’s done and I’ll point you to where you can get your hands on some if it’s the kinda thing you need but I digress.

No, I’m a badass because I’ve been on the job 9-5, for two days. I went in a couple half days earlier in the week, helped out a little just to see if the bossman would find me useful and decide to hire me.  Tuesday pops said he was kinda waffling so I didn’t go in wednesday, y’know, give them a day to miss me P: . Well, it worked. Pops comes home that evening and says “Hey, <Bossman> wants you in 9am tomorrow.”

Thursday morning I go in and we talk, make a plan that I’ll come in 3 days a week for software testing and whatever else they happen to need and if I could pick up some of the programming language and help with that, that’d be great. So I spend thursday connecting computer networks and learning some XML,  pops has the Java covered but can’t seem to pick up the XML dialect of Android for the layouts to look proper.

It takes me most of the day but, staff of doom, I got this. Anyways I go in on Friday and we discuss my direction with the company before I get some additional tasks for the day.  So I get my shit done, connect printers, code some XML, test the software, debug, write up some information,  etc. My co-workers, there’s only two of them (aside from my pops),  didn’t show up today. This isn’t new and, from what I’ve been hearing, happens quite a lot. So they’re starting to get on the Bossman’s shitlist and I’m looking pretty damn good right about now. Bossman turns to me and tells me that he wants me in every day next week, and that I’m getting promoted to General Administrative Manager (fancy title) and that he’s gonna count on me to keep things in order and that basically I’ll be boss to the two that didn’t show today. As well as additional responsibilities, helping customers, etc.

So while this could just be ploy to light a fire under the asses of his other workers, I’m still getting double the hours I was gonna get and well, let’s get to the point:

Promotion to management position, after 2 days’ work, on my first (ever) job. 

Hello, my name’s Seth and yessir, I am a badass.

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