#499: The Virus

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It should go without saying that the hottest topic in the news these days (at least, while I’m still writing this, although it doesn’t look like this is about to disappear any time soon) is the coronavirus. As such, I wanted to write about it a little bit, with hopes that I can explain some of my feelings about it before the 500th blog post. I would hate to commemorate 500 blogs with a notice about a virus; that would be hardly fitting after all the work I’ve done to get to this point.

So, without further ado, the virus began in China, but has since spread throughout the world, infecting over 70 countries at the time of me writing this. It’s become an increasingly difficult virus to contain, and it seems as if having a federal pandemic team on staff would be helpful during these times. Unfortunately, that team was fired two years ago, so now everyone is scrambling to figure out what to do. It’s become more and more stressful over time, figuring out how to deal with this public health crisis. For me at least, I was in the process of interviewing for a job that would’ve been perfect for me, and then the company instituted a hiring freeze because of the crisis. As such, it’ll be difficult for me to ever really get a job while this is all still going on. I don’t think I’ll be so lucky until it’s over, at least.

What that means is that for the interim, I have to continue quarantining myself, which I’ve basically been doing already. I haven’t done much to make myself socially active, aside from hanging out with a couple of friends every once in awhile. The friends I hang out with don’t show any symptoms though, so we’re good! At least for now.

#498: The Counter

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So, I sometimes run a deck that has a lot of good counterspells in it. No one seems to know what to do when they face it one-on-one, because it’s just so obnoxious to deal with. It reminds us always of a friend who we used to play with constantly, who always ran counterspells and loved the colors blue, black, and red in Magic. Those colors generally run with annoying spells, so it’s sensible that people wouldn’t feel that great playing against it in games. It’s like playing against control decks in Hearthstone; you never really want to do it, because you know they’re just going to ruin your whole game plan for the duration of the game. It’s part of their strategy, and it’s basically how they plan on winning, by disrupting you so much that you no longer have the combo pieces required to win how you would expect to.

Today I’m writing about counters because, as it happens to be, yesterday I spent some time with my friends playing magic and we discussed what it’s like to play against the Bolas deck, as it’s called. It’s my grixis-colored commander deck, and it’s known for being especially obnoxious to play against, especially if you’re playing Dan’s selesnya-colored commander deck. He doesn’t run much blue hate in that deck, and it’s pretty much exclusively good at out-doing other fat decks that rely on big creatures. My Lord Windgrace deck gets countered pretty hard by Dan’s deck, but whenever I seem to play the Bolas one, it seems to come out on top in spite of it being less good, in my opinion. It doesn’t have the same options and I haven’t put as much money into it as I did the other decks. Sometimes simple is better, at least in this case.

#497: The Reaper

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The data reaper is a series of Hearthstone reports put out by an organization called Vicious Syndicate, a group of elite Hearthstone players and personalities, all of whom are dedicated to accruing the most up-to-date data on the Hearthstone ranked ladder at all levels of play. This includes ranks Legend through 25, and it even includes both Wild and Standard formats, though the Wild data reapers usually take a bit longer to update considering the popularity of the format compared to Standard.

Above all, it’s nice to have a resource anyone can look at, that’s publicly available and for free, that you can use to look up the meta in Hearthstone. The game itself is such a meta-dependent game, in that you need to have an up-to-date understanding of each of the decks that might ravage the format in order to best understand what’s going to hose you down in a few minutes. If you’re not aware of the decks, you won’t know how to handle their aggressive or controlling strategies, and thus it will prove difficult for you to figure out how to beat them. It’s a simple sort of dynamic that Vicious Syndicate has created, and speaking as someone who’s never reached Legend rank but has gotten close a few times, I would be nowhere without those people and their resources. I regularly send my data over to them, though I don’t play enough for it to be that relevant, unfortunately. I hope, in the future, should I play more and eventually reach Legend, that the popularity of this website continues to grow and eventually lead to even more advanced strategies and builds for decks. Even now I’m pretty sure people are still optimizing the decklists that are put out by VS, and people will make them their own in their own different ways.

#496: The Shower

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I can’t believe it’s been four hundred and ninety six blog posts and I haven’t written about the joyful bliss that is taking a shower before. I mean I think I mentioned in one post about the spot I used to have in our old apartment in Stamford, how I used to lay down and relax there during a shower for peak comfort. I still have a spot like that here in Northford, at the old yet new place, but I don’t use it as much. When I take a shower here, I’m more likely to just get in, do my business, and leave. I don’t usually linger as much as I used to. I don’t know why that is; perhaps it’s because my mom told me before I moved in that they had to fix some of the walls because the water and heat from the shower was eroding things. Perhaps I’m making the right decision for everyone this time! It’d be nice to think of things that way, at least, but I’m not sure that’s the reason either.

Realistically, I enjoy taking a shower because it’s a moment to myself where I don’t need to worry about anything else going on. It’s an anxiety-free, stress-free experience, punctuated by the fact that I have to clean myself and all that stuff obviously, but none of that really bothers me or ruins the experience. In fact, it makes it more of a self-care experience more than anything else. It feels like when you need to take a breather and step outside for a bit, not that you need to do that for any other reason than to just be calm, be collected, and be yourself for a bit of time.

I like taking showers and I wish I never had to leave them, but that’s for another day.

#495: The Worthy

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The new season in Destiny 2 is called “The Season of the Worthy,” and today I’ll be talking a little bit about it in an effort to explain it while I work on completing a few of the objectives for it at the same time. Pretty crazy how that works, but we’ll try it anyway.

Essentially, every new season, if you own the season pass, you get access to a leveling system that goes on top of the existing leveling system. It’s the “season rank,” and with it you can unlock great rewards like exotic engrams and zone currencies and ascendant shards and what have you. It’s a nice little system that they added, that rewards you for playing their game on top of the stuff they already reward you with for playing their game. Unfortunately, I had to purchase the season pass independently of everything else this time because I was given access to the last season for free by purchasing Shadowkeep around that time. Now that the season has changed, I had to get something new. It’s really that simple.

Right now, I’m running around the Tower hoping to reach Zavala before I reach the end of this sentence. Zavala is the commander of the Vanguard, basically the heroic organization of this game, and he’s in charge of how this operation goes down. When you talk with him he unlocks certain Strike-related bounties that are, of course, only available to be completed in Strikes, most of the time at least. Today, as I talk with Zavala, he tells me about the bunkers where Rasputin is housing ancient weapons that can help us take down the Cabal. It feels like how the initial Red War campaign went down, except this time it’s involving us being in the Tower instead of operating from the Farm.

#494: The Drama

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The more dramatic the moment, the more frustrating it ends up being. That’s the rationale I’ve always had when it comes to drama and mischief in social media communities. It’s not my fault when things blow up in my face; it’s the fault of the people who decided so little was enough to cause them to change their entire indictments of my character. It’s frustrating and very damning of them more than it is me.

But drama is drama. I can’t change myself for other people when the people trying to get me to change would rather hold their ambitions over my head than actually be constructive or positive about anything.

This whole post is kind of one big ramble, and I’m sorry for anyone reading it out of context (i.e., almost everyone who will inevitably read this except for me). It’s just something I need to vent and get out of my head. I don’t feel comfortable in the community I once was a part of, and a result of that, I feel completely unwelcome and like a stranger in a strange land. I no longer want to be friends with the people I used to be friends with, and I no longer have any ambitions related to the video game we once all liked and shared an interest in. I don’t like when people decide that they would rather put themselves before compromising and mediating. It shows more about the people who are involved than it shows about me. It’s something I really wish wasn’t this way, but I’m not interested in this any more. I need to move on and focus on professional stuff, and I need to move on and be a more productive member of society again. I can’t let this era of my life define me.

#493: The Hiatus, Part 2

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So, I realized while writing the last blog post, somewhere near the end, that I was distracting myself from writing about what I actually said I was going to write about. Oh well, I can do that now.

Essentially, I had been writing a story for a few months now, but I took a two month break recently and my readers have been incredibly supportive of my return to form. It feels like what I imagine being a professional author is like, except again, I’m writing a derivative work. It’s not something that could ever be published on its own, even though I’ve put more work into writing this than any other piece of fiction I’ve tried to write. (Is that true? I’m actually not sure, I did try my hand at original writing before this.)

Regardless, it feels good to be back in the swing of things, receiving kudos from friends and actually getting their approval after reading what I wrote. It’s like reaching a level of personal satisfaction with one’s own writing that I never imagined reaching. I know this blog post is about going on a hiatus, but realistically, I can’t imagine going back on hiatus after putting so much effort into making a return. It would be like if I tried to form a band and stopped performing before I finishing our first album or record. I can’t just leave people hanging like that.

I should mention that one of the primary reasons I took a break is because I had spent a lot of time writing while at work, and in early February I stopped working for my previous school. I moved on and made out on my own, fresh and anew, but unfortunately I found it difficult to write while at home. It wasn’t the same.

#492: The Hiatus, Part 1

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For a long time, I had neglected writing and updating my ongoing story. I don’t
post it here because it’s not really an original piece of fiction; it’s derivative, and thus requires knowledge of the source material to properly understand the characters and context surroundings events. You can probably guess based off of what topics I generally write about on here what the story is based on.

With this all being said, I took some time off from writing and updating it. Two months of time off, in fact. Now, to be fair, I did keep this blog updated throughout my hiatus, out of a necessary obligation to keep myself writing at least in some general capacity while I was undergoing a lot of personal and professional turmoil. I had a difficult January, a troublesome February, and so far March has been hopeful. Hopeful in the sense that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot that I had been putting off, while also making progress on the job hunt. It’s not the end of the world, being unemployed, but I definitely would prefer making money on my own. I think there’s a stigma for unemployed people that they don’t want to leave free money, that they’re just riding the system and not actively doing anything to fix their status. There’s no dignity in not being a working, producing citizen of society. I wouldn’t want things to stay like this forever, as a matter of fact, and I think most people like me would agree with me, that they had dreams originally and either became disillusioned or perhaps something came up in their lives, like in my case. Not everyone has it easy out there, and I find more often than not that the people leading easy lives tend to be the ones with the most money. More on that later.

#491: The Incomparable

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Jace is an incomparable little monster, and I love him to bits, but he’s still a monster that needs to be tamed from time to time. Just imagining him running and rushing through the room last night, tearing into the chair and jumping on top of it and messing with Chris’s feet beneath the bean bag chair. He’s a relentless beast and no matter how much you try to rein him in, he steps in and seems to have something else in mind, some other tenacious plan that he needs to enact before moving on to his next big idea. Jace is the kind of cat that loves moving from place to place quickly, and even though he’s also full of energy when people are around him, he loves nothing more than to lounge lazily while people aren’t around. He’s calm, collected, and normal under any other circumstances. He’s a stupid little boy but he’s my stupid little boy, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I decided to title this blog post “the incomparable” because he is an incomparable animal. He doesn’t share a lot of traits that most cats have, and he’s by no means normal. He likes lounging around but as soon as he’s surrounded by people, like I said, he seems to go crazy. It’s like it activates an instinct for him to seek attention and become the center of their communications. I don’t think he even minds being pushed around a little bit when people inevitably get tired of his antics and start pushing back against them. Alex has compared him to a dog before, which is funny because even though he has dog-like traits, he definitely acts like a cat sometimes too. It’s funny how all the animals I end up having end up acting different from what you would expect of them.

#490: The Token, Part 2

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So, this blog post is a continuation of the previous one, so again, if you haven’t looked at that one first, you may want to in order for it all to make sense. Alright then, let’s continue.

So, tokens are what they are. I won’t say much more about them aside from that they’re really quite nice and more complicated than they seem. Certain spells specify whether or not they affect tokens or nontoken creatures, and other spells affect creatures based on their CMC, or Converted Mana Cost, of which tokens have 0, because no mana was spent directly to create them. Similarly, tokens all have a specified color that they belong to: black and green wolves, red goblins, black vampires, white soldiers, and so on. Color is important with regards to devotion as a mechanic, as well as protection. My friend Dan commonly plays a card that gives protection from two specific colors to an equipped creature, and if I had tokens of those colors, they would be unable to block or defend against the protected creature.

The cool thing about tokens, though, has always been how I interpret playing them. I have a bunch of trading cards from other card games around and I like to use those as stand-ins for the actual token cards. Danny Haren from the St. Louis Cardinals, in baseball card form, often becomes a red and green elemental for my Lord Windgrace commander deck. CC Sabathia tends to end up being 1/1 elves, as well. I have Pokemon cards that can substitute for plant tokens, generated by a lot of cards from Lord Windgrace.

To put it simply, I like substituting for cards with other cards, giving them different names, and playing a bit of pretend. It’s fun to make stories out of them and pretend that they really are a certain way when they’re not.