Things for which I am thankful: A Thanksgiving Day post

Like many of you, I’ve found it really tough to be thankful for 2016. Almost from the first day, this year has thrown so much bad news at us. It’d almost seem weird if we don’t all have some level of depression.

But today, at least in the US, we’ve set aside a day to give thanks. Even in the darkest times, there is still some light. Here’s a short and woefully incomplete list of things for which I am thankful. Some may be silly, some may be profound.

  1. I’ve discovered I really like Kettle Pepperoncini potato chips. Just discovered that this week, actually. They’re yummy.

    View post on

  2. Of course, of course, I’m thankful for my friends. I don’t get to see any of them nearly often enough, but thanks to the miracle of always-on internet they’re never far away. My closest friends are close because they know me well, after having spent years, even decades, with me. And from them knowing me, I’ve learned more about myself.
  3. I’m thankful for video games. Much more involving than movies or books, games have given me moments of beauty, moments of sadness, and moments of triumph. Oh, that I could write as well as some of the stories that I’ve lived through and agonized over decisions for.
    Found an unbound dremora wandering the halls of the College of Winterhold.
    This unbound dremora wandering the halls of the College of Winterhold seems almost… bored.

    In particular, I’m thankful for Skyrim above all others. I’ve spent over 1,100 hours playing around in it, and the design of its open world has created some encounters that I’m sure were never dreamed of by its designers. I should write about those someday.

  4. I’m thankful for my dad, and my sister, and the family that surrounds both of them. They’ve all known me my entire life, have seen me through wins and losses, and never fail to help me when they can. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.
  5. I’m thankful for computers, without which I may have had to get a real job. I like using them, I often like tinkering with them to see what else I can make them do, and I especially like showing other people how to use them or fix them. I love knowing things (I am a white male in late capitalist America, after all) but what good is knowing things if I can’t share that knowledge?
  6. I’m thankful for the weird people in my city, the ones who protest abuse and corruption, the ones who write and dance and sing and paint because they couldn’t not do it, the ones who think opening a business catering specifically to cats or selling that one delicious thing they know how to make is the best idea. The folks who glue thousands of things to an old car and drive around just because. I love you all, and this city, and the world, would be a poorer place without you.
  7. I’m thankful that despite everything, including (let’s be real) my own laziness and poor decision-making, I still have a roof over my head in a part of town I love. Next year I may have to leave this cheap run-down apartment in Sellwood, but for now, for today and the near future, I am here. It’s my base of operations from which I plan and dream and observe this crazy world. I’ve lived here longer than any other place in my life, and it, more than any other place, is home.

I could go on, but that’s a good start for now. I need to get showered and dressed and drive across the river to see people I love, eat too much food, and avoid talking about politics, in the grand tradition of our country.

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone and everyone reading this. May you always have a roof over your head, good food to eat, and friends and family that love you, until the end of days.

The 13 Parts of My Work Day, Which Occur Daily, or in Some Cases Weekly at the Least, to Which I Most Look Forward (Chronological Order)

1. The brief moments of being warm in bed, having woken up before the alarm goes off, wondering why I even bother setting an alarm if my brain is just going to wake me up anyway, but knowing if I didn’t, I would sleep in too late and miss work, because brains are mysterious and mischievous.
2. Taking a hot shower.

3. Smelling the coffee being brewed.

4. Drinking coffee, especially that first sip. This is listed separately because it might not happen until #5 or later. 

5. The calm 5-10 minutes before leaving for work, sitting in my dark office bathed in the glow of my computer screen.

6. The actual drive to work, listening to music or podcasts, enjoying the lack of traffic at 5:00 AM.

7. Hearing people’s accents from around the country, but especially Tennessee.

8. Bacon from the cafeteria on my first break.

9. Being able to explain something to someone in a way that helps them understand said thing in a way they didn’t previously, and particularly their delight in response.

10. The chicken strips from the cafeteria on my second break, which is basically my lunch time, since my second break (in an 8 hour shift) is at 11:30 AM, which are delicious and cheap, especially with ranch dressing or barbecue sauce.

11. Not the drive home itself, since there is more traffic and requires more attention, but the fact that I am driving home, instead of taking the bus or riding my bike, primarily because of how much less time it takes.

12. Getting home while there is still plenty of daylight outside if I feel like going out there and doing things.

13. Getting paid. 

Lunar Obverse Virtual Garage Sale

Got some items I’m selling to raise a little cash. It’s like an online garage sale!

Links go to the eBay auctions for the items. Make a bid there, or make me an offer by going to my About page and choosing email, Twitter, or Facebook to contact me.

  • Mid-2014 15-inch MacBook Pro: 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 2.5GHz Intel i7, NVIDIA graphics, AppleCare until 3/2018. Auction ends 4:30 PM PDT Saturday 18 June 2016.
  • Yeti Blue USB Condenser Microphone, Blackout Edition: perfect for gaming, podcasting, or recording videos. Auction ends 2:00 PM PDT Thursday 16 June 2016.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit: Two rulebooks, 19 adventure modules, and some extra bits and pieces, all from the early days of the game. Tons of ideas, monsters, traps, and locations to spark your own creativity. Auction ends around 4 PM PDT Wednesday 15 June 2016.
  • Four rare, signed, Tim Powers books:
    • Expiration Date: hardcover, first edition, inscribed by the author. Auction ends 7:35 PM PDT Tuesday 14 June 2016.
    • Earthquake Weather: hardcover, first edition, inscribed by the author. Auction ends 7:35 PM PDT Tuesday 14 June 2016.
    • Declare: hardcover, first edition, inscribed by the author. Auction ends 7:34 PM PDT Tuesday 14 June 2016.
    • Three Days to Never: hardcover, first edition, inscribed by the author. Auction ends 7:33 PM PDT Tuesday 14 June 2016.


More items coming! Watch this space!

Me, Grocery Shopping

There are two grocery stores in my neighborhood, in walking distance of my apartment. I don’t own a car. One store is closer but generally more expensive; the farther one, while still expensive, is a longer walk.

I almost always buy bacon. I just do. It’s part of my favorite breakfast. I’ve been buying the same kind of bacon for a long time. Both of the stores carry it, and their prices (and sale prices) are generally in sync. If it’s on sale at the close store, it’s probably also on sale at the farther store, and at a lower price.

Last weekend, being out of bacon, I went to the close store to get some things, and saw that bacon was on sale. I didn’t buy any, because I wanted to get it at the best price. Today I had some time to shop, so I headed out for the farther store. A nice walk in the warm summer sun.

The bacon was also on sale… at a higher price than the closer store, by about 50¢.

That bacon was my main reason for going out of my way. Do I pick up the other things on my list and the bacon and call it good?

No. No, I do not.

I only picked up the items that are cheaper. Looks like I’ll be making another trip back to the first store.

Hope that that sale price is still good and wasn’t a weekend special. Sigh.

If only there was an app for these things.

Fallout: Willamette Wasteland

Because I’m stressed and probably should be working, I find my thoughts turning to a favorite mental landscape: my beloved Portland, OR, transformed into the Willamette Wasteland via the lens of the Fallout universe. A river of radiated sludge bisecting the shattered downtown towers on the west side from the sprawling shantytowns on the east side, under green clouds of acid rain, a gloomy, muggy nightmare.

I’d love to run an RPG set in the Fallout universe, and of course I would set it in my hometown. And because of all the election follies of America’s real-world silly season 2016, I’ve got an idea for a central storyline.

Some of the scattered tribes of Old Portland have been struggling to find some way to choose a leader. The selection process has lasted for years, perhaps decades, and has devolved into fighting, raids, and guerrilla warfare. Some of the more power tribes include:

  • The Hill People: Residing in restored mansions in the West Hills live a handful of relatively wealthy and diverse families who have accumulated their stashes of food, weapons, and bottlecaps by strongarming other smaller raider groups into paying taxes or face extinction. In return, the raider tribes get access to Welfare Centers: meal halls and communal housing, open to any and all as long as they pay their taxes.
  • The Berners: An idealistic group of primarily young and old men living in several camps on the east side of the river. The Berners take umbrage at the two tiered class system created by the Hill People. They find themselves outnumbered and outgunned but remain highly confident that they can locate the secret location of the Hill People Repository, break in, and redistribute the cache among all the people of the Willamette Wasteland.
  • The Orangeheads: These folk protect themselves from dangerous acid rains and radstorms with a thick orange paste under their tattered Old World suits and dresses. Their goals are chaotic and random, but mostly they want to destroy all other tribes, or at least intimidate them all into fleeing the valley. They once attempted to get a group of roving Deathclaws to build a wall around the downtown area, which did not go well for them and greatly reduced their numbers.

That’s just off the top of my head. It’s all so silly. Would anyone buy in to such an off-kilter environment?

It’s Hard to Ask for Help


Although I’ve been working two jobs since late last year, plus writing when I have time or energy, unfortunately, it’s not enough. I’m in that gray area now where I make too much money for public assistance but not enough money to cover the bills. I’ve fallen behind on my rent and am in increasing danger of losing the home I’ve lived in for over 17 years, the longest I’ve spent in one spot in my whole life.

I’m ashamed I’ve been unable to fix this on my own, and my close friends and family have already been more than generous to me, and I am thankful for them. It’s not enough, unfortunately, and I have to turn to you, kind friends, for help.

There are, however, many ways you can help. Nothing is too little. Here’s a list.

  • Buy my writing! As Gloria Steinem once said, writing is the thing that, when I’m doing it, I don’t think I should be doing anything else. I have this blog to show my range, but if you don’t want to browse through 12 years and 2400+ posts, you can find selected clippings here. I charge reasonable rates and quick turnaround, and am particularly good at explaining technical subjects for a general audience with empathy and patience.
  • Help me find a better day job! I have 20+ years of tech support experience, having been on the phone and the front lines of the information economy. Again, I bring humility and compassion, and am fluent in talking straight to someone and helping them find a solution. Email me for a copy of my resume, or find me on LinkedIn, or pass along my info to any Portland-area companies that need a support specialist.
  • I can also fix or improve you computer! If you have trouble with your PC, Mac, smart phone or tablet, or know someone who needs help, let me know, or let them know about me.
  • Donate! If you are feeling generous, I will happily and gratefully accept any donation you can spare. There’s a PayPal button below this post, or email me if you prefer a different donation method.
  • Share this post! In fact, share any post I make. Get the word out! Post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram. Tell your friends about the services I offer. Let your co-workers, neighbors, bartenders and baristas know about me.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for any assistance you can spare, even if it’s copying and pasting a link to this page. I often write and post in solitude, but I know you’re all out there.

PayPal Donate Button

Ferguson Humanitarian Foundation International, Inc.

I’ve been helping out Christi Roehn, Social Media Director for the Ferguson Humanitarian Foundation International, primarily doing copy-editing for their blog posts and such, and today they featured me as a small thank you on their Facebook page.

Volunteer Highlight: Brian Moon
“Brian Moon lends us his copy writing skills to help us with our website, and post our blogs.”

I’m grateful to be able to help in whatever ways I can, and encourage you to look into their programs if their goals align with yours. They are primarily focused on improving education for young women in India and around the world.

Guessing Wrong on Purpose

I was sitting in the warm sun in my parent’s yard next to my mom, watching my dad grill a chicken with a beer can up its butt and my Aunt Carol working in the garden, when I realized that every conversation I had with her could be my last one. It was a Sunday afternoon, May 27, 2001, and she had been fighting lung cancer for about 4 years, but she was 72 and the fight was difficult and it had become clear to me that she would lose, and probably soon. I was right; mom would be dead just 13 days later.

Mom was always very skinny, our family inside joke made fun of her “chicken legs”, which sounds mean now that I type it out. But having her lungs fill up with tumor and not being increasingly unable to breathe had accentuated her thinness. But not frailty. She had a fierceness that showed in her sharp humor. She accepted our teasing and returned it and it felt like love sometimes.

I remember the moment I decided to set aside denial about her dying very clearly.

“What, if anything, do you wish you could have done?” I asked her.

Her face turned to me but I couldn’t see her eyes directly; she was wearing giant movie-star sunglasses and a floppy hat to shade her pale skin and white hair from the light. She didn’t smile, and she didn’t frown.

“I always wanted to be a torch singer.”

I did laugh. “But you can’t really sing.”

“Like in that movie, the one with the Bridges brothers, that actress, you know.”

“Julia Roberts?”

She swatted at me. “Don’t do that.” I would often guess wrong on purpose whenever she asked me to remember a piece of trivia.

“Sandra Bullock?”

“Brian. You know who I mean.”

“Michelle Pfeiffer. The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

She settled back in her lawn chair. “Yes. So glamorous. On the stage, a piano, a spotlight.”

“You could have learned. Taken singing lessons.”

“No, I couldn’t.”

Mom was the second-oldest of 13 children, and her parents, straining to raise so many kids, had apparently married her off young, 16 or 17, to her first husband, Bud Bodvin. They had a daughter, Donna, my half-sister, but the marriage ended in the late ‘50s and she returned to her parent’s home, a divorced woman with a daughter, at a time when that was seen as a scandal. Single moms didn’t go out in sequined gowns to sing torch songs in nightclubs then, not even in progressive Portland.

“Things would have turned out different, for sure. What ever happened to Bud, anyway? You never talk about it.”

She gave me a sideways glance. Said nothing.

“I might not get another chance to ask you.”

She waved her hand, brushing away memories. “It was a long time ago. He was so much older than I was. I was 17. It didn’t work out.”

I kept watching her face. She didn’t turn to look at me, watching dad at the grill, who was talking to Aunt Carol, mom’s younger sister, who had moved in to the house after the first round of cancer, to help with cooking and chores.

“What was he like? Was he tall? Short? Blonde? Dark? What did he do?” She scoffed. “If it was so long ago, then the details don’t matter now. It’s a story. I like stories.” I pleaded.

“He was… rough. He had a temper. I couldn’t stay. My father didn’t approve.” Her jaw was set. I had pressed as much as I could. That was all she would say, I could tell.

“So you met dad. I’ve heard that story.”

Dad had been traveling across country selling magazines in 1959, and one night at a diner in Portland, OR, waiting for a buddy who was trying to get a job in the kitchen, dad had struck up a conversation with the waitress, my mom. In the late spring sun, I saw my dad, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and flip flops, wearing out, graying hair, hands rough from a lifetime of pulling wire as an electrician.

“What did you see in him?”

“He was so charming.” Mom’s voice held a tiny note of surprise, and a tiny note of regret. “He was funny, and persistent. And dad loved him.”

“He asked you out, and showed up at your house.”

“And I wasn’t there.”

“You weren’t? Where were you?”

“I was out on another date. You knew this.”

“I did not! On another date? With who?”

“A dentist! I can’t remember his name now. But when I got home, there your father was, sitting in the front room with Grampa. ‘You’re going out with Bob tomorrow night,’ he told me. I was so angry. I never saw the dentist again.”

I tried to imagine dad as a charming young man. Although I can easily picture it now, at the time, our relationship was much more strained and distant right then. One of the reasons for that, which mom and I both knew but did not normally speak aloud, could be inferred by the staging of this scene: me and mom at one end of the yard, dad and Carol at the other end.

Mom was dying. I was, and am, an atheist. I know that there is no life after this one, and as a consequence, I know that every moment with someone else could be the last time I see them, or speak to them. If there is something I want to tell someone, I need to tell them, I need to not hide or wait, because the moment could be gone.

Mom and I watched dad and Carol for a moment.

“You know, right?” I asked.

“She’s my sister. Of course I know.”

“It’s awful. It seems so… disrespectful.” My eyes were filling with angry tears.

“I don’t have any interest in it, not anymore. I’m not going to be around forever.”

I was silent, my face hot. I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t look at her.

“At least he’ll be with someone, and if it has to be someone, it’s better that it’s my sister.” She reached over and held my hand. Her voice was steel, not from meanness or teasing, but a simple statement of fact, aimed at her youngest son, hoping I could hear her.

“They won’t be lonely. They’ll have each other.”

It has taken me years to hear her.

I wrote this post on Mother’s Day, 8 May 2016. I didn’t post it right away because I wanted to run it past my family first, give them a head’s up, because I touch on some family issues. But my main point wasn’t to dredge up old secrets, it was to remember how clearly mom saw things (and to remind myself that I didn’t, and who does, one hundred percent of the time, really?) 

Ghosts of Brian

A photo posted by Brian Moon (@lunarobverse) on

Last night, because of an odd-for-me schedule, I found myself downtown in Portland, on a warm May Friday evening, around 8 or 9 PM. For a lot of boring reasons, I haven’t spent a lot of time downtown, wandering, with no particular place to be, not recently. My normal mode lately is to go, get what I need done, and return to Sellwood, my home neighborhood, as quickly as possible.

There was a time, several times, in my life, however, when that was not the case. Downtown Portland was a destination and a playground for me and my friends. Simply hanging out at Pioneer Courthouse Square, or walking or driving up and down Broadway. Movie theaters. There were late-night bookstores, bars, and dance clubs. I could write a book. Many books.
Last night, in an introspective mood, I went looking for that same feeling. I started by going to Powell’s City of Books, still a world-class bookstore, one of the largest in the country and possibly the world, on several measures. No matter where you are in the world, if you’re a reader, you may know of Powell’s, since it’s an online bookstore that rivals Amazon and is often mentioned in the same breath. That website came after the physical bookstore chain, which itself started by taking over an entire city block, expanding out and up and down and becoming a weird maze of shelves and books and cranky, furtive, hippy, diverse, booksellers.
Powell’s is not the only place I wandered as a kid, far from it. Just stepping off a bus, or waiting on the bus mall for a trip back to the suburbs, or, later, parking the car and wandering around. I could talk about the Broadway Theater or the Fox Theater, The Metro, the Blue Aardvark dance club, the Virginia Cafe (the original one, tucked away on SW Park between Morrison and Yamhill, not the new one across from Central Library), the X-Ray Lounge or Satyricon or Roseland, or Tom McCall Waterfront Park, on a summer night on the river.
Powell’s, though, Powell’s is central.
My beautiful readers, the story of Powell’s could fill a room full of books all by itself. It’s difficult to settle on just one. And my life history is entwined with it, too, and not just as shopper and shop. For an all-too-short time, two years, summer 1992 until summer 1994, I was an employee, until I was fired. It was a rough time in my life, and the main reasons were that I was still trying to get a handle on this “being an adult” thing. Paying my bills, doing my job, not blowing all my money on strippers and pizza. I was in my late 20s, and I was a mess. I was crushed by being fired, but honestly, looking back, I deserved it. I would tell early-90s Brian so many things, but I am not sure he would listen, because I would only be telling him the same things my co-workers, friends, and family were telling him. As my dad said at the time, after I told him I was fired, “I’ve been fired from jobs before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been fired from a job I loved before.”
Losing that job broke my heart, tossed me into a pit, and cost me several friendships. Shortly after, I was forced out of the basement apartment for failing to pay my rent, prompting me to live out of my car and hiding my shame from everyone around me, although I’m pretty sure they all knew. I would shower at my parent’s house, carefully timing it when my dad was at work, because mom was more sympathetic.
Eventually I did get a new job, but it took a few months. I got hired on as a temporary worker at Intel, putting replacement Pentium chips into boxes, to repay customers who had purchased flawed Pentiums, on a swing shift. From there, I made the transition to technical work, and began my career. But it was a rough and rocky time, beautiful people. I get the sads just thinking about it.
I had been fired from Powell’s 22 years ago, but I never stopped going there. Even after being cast out for failure to adult, the idea of that giant multi-level building carved from the heart of liberal Portland was too enticing to avoid. Through the years I’ve seen it grow and modernize. The architecture has become more refined. Instead of writing prices in pencil on the first page, computer printed labels with bar codes tell if a book is new or used.
But there are still faces in the aisles that I recognize as co-workers from those summers two decades or more ago. It’s easy for me to imagine 28 year old Brian straightening up, flying right, and becoming a lifer there. A different life but maybe a very similar Brian, in a more stable place and state of mind?

A short bio

How does this sound as a short bio for me?

Brian Moon was born in Portland, OR, and has lived most of his life in Sellwood, a neighborhood of working-class bars, coffee shops, antique shops, and city parks, and grew up thinking that his last name destined him for space, which has not happened yet. He’s been reading and writing since his earliest memories, and enjoys telling stories, explaining things simply, and making others’ words shine in their own voice.