#344: The Halo, Part 2

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This post is a continuation from my previous one, so if you haven’t read that one yet, you might want to so that this one makes sense to you.

Halo 3 forge mode changed my life, the same way playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare made me one with the cool kids at school I wanted to be friends with. It felt like I was on the same level as them, and my skill in this game mattered to them in some ways. If I did well in Call of Duty or Halo, that meant I was skilled and they would respect me in some way. Video games were then an avenue towards social acceptance. My parents likely didn’t realize this connection at the time, but when I was online playing multiplayer matches on my Xbox on the living room TV, it was because I saw it as a way for me to make unlikely friends. Even to this day, video games have brought together people and communities I didn’t realize were possible.

Halo is where all my high school friends played. It feels so nostalgic to me not necessarily because of the game’s quality, but because it represents something to me, an era of gaming, that’s passed and won’t be repeated again. We’ve all moved on and lead different lives than we did then, and I don’t have the contacts of everyone I used to have. Joe, for example, and Steve are nearly impossible to communicate with these days, and they were both a huge part of that time period of my life. It’s odd to think back on those days and the people I spoke with then, how drastically that has changed from here to now. I talk to different online friends, and times have changed with my habits and proclivities.

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#343: The Halo, Part 1

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Well, I had to write about the Halo series for my 343rd blog post. It’s only fitting.

For those not in the know, 343 is from 343 guilty spark, a character in Halo. It also was then taken as the name for 343 Industries, the game developer studio that creates and manages the entire Halo series. I haven’t owned an Xbox since the 360, back when I used to play on Xbox Live years ago, but those times have passed. I didn’t really have much interest in buying an Xbox One or a PS4 this generation, not until Persona 5 and Monster Hunter: World, which appropriately took over my world. I had a gaming PC for awhile and that was the most important gaming system I owned. It wasn’t worth it to spend time saving up money for a modern gaming console otherwise. I had my priorities set, pretty much.

However, every time a new Halo comes out I definitely have to switch over and figure out what’s going on with it. The series has always captivated me. I played a ton of Halo 3 online, zombie mode, ranked and competitive, team slayer, whatever was out there. I consumed Halo and Halo consumed me, back in the day. I loved the sticky grenades (or plasma grenades, as I think they were called) and I used to make tons of sick plays involving them, usually throwing them cross map and landing on someone unexpectedly. And then there’s the Forge! Nothing compares to that game’s creator mode. You could literally make anything happen there, and the game modes were unreal. I played a little bit of Halo: Reach online but it never stuck with me as much.

There’s also the campaign, which was rad and had four difficulty options, along with some “skulls” that added hidden effects and easter eggs to the campaign. You unlocked achievements for completing them all.

#342: The Zam

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Zzaam, as I think it’s called, is a Korean BBQ place in Hamden that is absolutely fantastic. It’s like Subway or Chipotle but for Korean BBQ, and the options are plentiful and tasty. I usually get the Korean tacos while I’m there, filled with spicy chicken, pork, and beef. Alex got a kimchi burrito last time, even though it goes against her diet, because we just love zzaam so much and don’t get the chance to eat there often. It’s one of the few downsides to living in Stamford. There are some great Korean BBQ places around us, it’s just they don’t have the same ease of access and convenience that this one has. Nothing else around us has the same Chipote-like fast convenience and affordability.

One time, Alex and I went to a Korean BBQ place around us and it was super fancy. Even though we both weren’t exactly dressed for the occasion, it still was a great experience. I think back to it whenever we get Korean. There’s also the place we went to whose name I can’t remember. It was in the same town as the massage place we used to go to more regularly, when it was in its first location. I think back to that whenever we go to get a massage, how great the food was right nearby. When your back is totally aligned and perfected, and you get to sit down with some spicy beef. What’s a better experience than that?

Hopefully, by writing this blog post, I’ve convinced Alex (who reads this blog) to go to Korean BBQ again with me. It would be excellent, and I know she won’t take too much convincing because she loves it too. It’s just a matter of time, but hopefully it’s coming sooner than later.

#341: The Failure

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It’s difficult to fail. (Have I started all my blog posts recently with the sentence structure of “it’s difficult to do X”? It seems like it.)

But true to the word, failing is difficult. I don’t like doing something and feeling like it’s too difficult for me. But sometimes, I have to give up and there’s nothing else I can do about it. When I recently applied to teach remotely with an English-teaching company based in China, I realized that it would be a fantastic opportunity for me to explore. I love the idea of teaching remotely rather than having to leave the comfort of my home, but I also love the idea of having a supplemental income on top of my current part-time job. It would give us an added boost to our monthly income and would help us pay off our car insurance, which has been going up recently because of some unfortunate accidents that weren’t our fault. It’s really annoying how things that aren’t our fault end up causing more trouble for us than they’re worth. I get extra nervous now when on the road, and I’m extra careful around other people because of it.

But all that’s beside the point, which is that I didn’t end up wanting to go through with this English-teaching company. They’re nice and all, but their style doesn’t really match mine as much as I wish it would. I would do whatever it takes for some extra money and the leisure to work from home, but sometime I can’t just do whatever it takes. It’s just not in me to do that. Does that make sense? I don’t actually know if it does, but it does to me. I should’ve known from the beginning that this wouldn’t jive well with me, but I tried it anyway because I was feeling a bit desperate.

#340: The Late Run

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I recently wrote a blog titled “The Run,” so here’s another one along the same lines, called “The Late Run.”

This is going to be about those nights when I really need to fulfill my sugar craving, or ice cream craving, or gum craving. That last one probably only happens to me, but I love gum a whole bunch and could chew it pretty much all day if I had enough supply to last that long. Gum is awesome, cleans your teeth, and keeps your mouth fresh. It’s a triple-whammy.

This is going to be about those nights when I really have to go to CVS, even though I don’t want to drive the car this late at night and while raining outside. The conditions really aren’t ideal, but I still need to fulfill that urge, one way or another. I guess it’s time to go to CVS.

I begrudgingly press the down key on the elevator and wait patiently as I can hear the elevator’s chimes along the chute as it rises up to the sixth floor. The door opens slowly. I can hear someone’s dog clawing at the elevator’s hand bar. Just my luck.

Near the entrance to CVS, a woman is pacing back and forth with both her hands covering her ears. She’s talking on the phone to someone loudly, probably because she can’t hear too well, probably because she’s also covering her ears. Nothing can stop me as I walk into the store, except for the lack of available carts and baskets. I look needlessly at the cashier who obviously has no idea where the baskets are either. I walk around the store carrying a bunch of snacks at my chest, looking like a spoiled child with too many toys. It’s the thought that counts, you know.

#339: The Prop

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Have you ever used props for any reason or context? Sometimes I feel like props are essential to telling the story you’re trying to tell, as they assist in relaying your overall message and theme. But their overall effectiveness can be a bit difficult to gauge and apply. I’m not the kind of person to use props while teaching, mostly because it can feel a bit unnatural and forced to just pull out a white board in front of you and start writing on it, but it’s nice to know that other people use them for their own reasons. Not everyone needs to be the same type of teacher.

The reason I mention props is because, as someone currently applying to be a teacher with VIPKID, one of their requirements in the interview process is using props to relay your message and lesson. I brought home some whiteboards and index cards from school to help me get across my general ideas. I’m hoping that this actually works and I’m accepted, because more than anything, a little bit of supplemental income every once in awhile could go a long way! Alex and I’s car insurance recently went up, and we’re hoping that we can cover that with some of the extra money afforded by this side job.

In the meantime, I’m also contemplating where my future leads. On the one hand, I’ve been in the field of education for a long time and have the most experience there. But on the other hand, I know that education might not be the best choice for me. It might be better to focus instead on other career paths so that I can broaden my experience while I’m still young and have time to do that. I know this is off-topic on the idea of props, but it’s still relevant to my overall psyche.

#338: The Crossword

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Back in the day, when Alex and I first started dating, one of our best routines was hanging out on a Wednesday night and completing the Hamden newspaper’s weekly crossword puzzle together. I remember buying her a book of crossword puzzles back then, probably for a special occasion as one of our series of gifts, and we still have that book and plan on using it again tonight, hopefully. Being in touch with our former selves is a good way of rekindling past memories, and it brings character and nostalgia to our lives. I strongly support doing as many joint activities like that as you can with your partner as a way of building your relationship and making sure it has special attachments to certain things. Our mug collection, for example, has a lot attached to it and each individual mug could be its own blog post on this. Maybe one day I’ll do something like that… As a way of preserving their origins before we inevitably forget them.

Regardless, completing crosswords is romantic to us. I know that sounds super nerdy, and it is, but it’s the kind of activity we can do together that keeps our attention and uses our brains. It’s perfect for the two of us, and it allows us to collaborate and cooperate on an end goal: that is, completing the objective that is the crossword puzzle in front of us. Some puzzles are notoriously difficult and come down to the wire, where we end up having to look up a clue because we simply wouldn’t be able to figure it out with all the available hints and letters. In those moments, we don’t feel too much shame in completing the puzzle; it’s a matter of our knowledge being limited for the time being. That’s all.

#337: The Job

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Finding a new job can be difficult. First of all, you need to start assessing what you expect from a new job, the kind of atmosphere you want to have there. You have to think of what questions to ask during an interview, and how to handle yourself throughout that process. In terms of long-term jobs, the longest I’ve worked in one place was when I was a high school teacher, because that lasted over a year. But I didn’t enjoy myself there, for many reasons discussed previously in this blog. I’ve also talked about how to ask pertinent questions during the interview process to make sure you get what you want afterwards. It’s a difficult, complicated process, but nothing comes easy in the job hunt.

It might come as a surprise to some people that I’m looking for a new job, but to me, it’s about that time. I feel exhausted doing the same thing every day, and even though my job is mostly fine, I’m starting to realize the hypocrisies and oxymorons that govern what we do. I also feel bad about not having a union, insurance, or a contract of my own, but still being manipulated and exploited regardless of that status. I feel bad about being treated like someone less than a teacher by teachers, because they have agendas to fulfill and aren’t willing to lower themselves down from their pedestals even a little bit. Imagine having a full-time (well, technically part-time) assistant with you 24/7 to make copies and enforce discipline in your class with you? Imagine not having to come up with plans because everything’s already been planned for you? Imagine being that kind of a teacher, and then still thinking you have the right to look down on other assistants. It’s maddening and, more than anything, it makes me want to leave. I don’t need to be here.

#336: The Run

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It’s difficult for me to run these days. I know that’s weird to hear coming from someone who’s 24 years old and supposed to be in my physical prime, but realistically, I’m not. Let’s just be honest with ourselves for a bit.

Running, though, is difficult. I like to walk quickly when I go to the gym, rather than run, because first of all, I don’t like sweating all over the place, which most definitely would happen if I started to pick up the pace much more, but secondly, I like the relaxed pace of walking and getting my steps in while still working out, technically. I’m working on my cardio. When I was in college, I took a class called Walking as my required physical education class for the teaching program. It was fantastic, and we actually walked pretty frequently and got lots of steps in. I didn’t do very much there and I didn’t make many friends in that class, but at the very least I didn’t have to pass a class like fencing or kick-boxing like some other people. (That being said, I’ve been meaning to get back into kick-boxing ever since I quit karate. I’d love to try something like that again.)

There are also “runs” of things. Like running a dungeon, or doing a dungeon run, which incidentally mean two different things. Video games and their lingo are totally confusing and I don’t blame anyone for feeling like it’s too much to grasp at once. Dungeon run is a special game mode in Hearthstone, and running a dungeon is the act of signing up for and completing a 5-player instanced dungeon in World of Warcraft. Is the distinction really necessary? Absolutely not. But it exists regardless and that’s all that matters. Running is just running to me.

#335: The Pepper

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Sometimes I like to eat peppers. Not like, raw peppers but some green peppers on my sandwich can go a really long way towards improving the flavor profile. (Did I just use the term flavor profile unironically? I’ve never done that before…) Peppers are a fantastic addition to a sandwich, along with jalapenos, to boost its spicy, crunchy taste. Realistically, I don’t eat peppers that often, and the last time I had one was probably the last time I went to Subway or the last time I ate stuffed peppers for dinner, whichever comes first. My taste in peppers comes mostly from my taste in spicy foods in general. I just love anything that has a buffalo scent to it. It’s how I’ve been introduced to a lot of foods for the first time, through buffalo or hot variants of them. For a long time, I’ve been kind of a picky eater, so to try a hamburger for the first time in years, for example, was huge. I remember my cousins bought hot sauce from their local Trader Joe’s for me because they knew I loved it. It was very sweet of them.

I love peppers mostly for the heat they bring to a meal, but in reality I do also enjoy the other aspects of them. The crunch when you bite in, how natural and juicy it tastes. It’s unlike the other fruits in that I wouldn’t eat it alone, but I’m fine eating it with other things as an addition, as I talked about earlier in this. Peppers allow for interesting combinations of flavors in foods that might need the addition.

Did I make you hungry all of a sudden? Sorry about that, that wasn’t exactly my intent in writing this. I just wanted to discuss a topic I’ve never really talked much about before!