#475: The Alchemy

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So, MBMBAM was advertising their upcoming show in Mashantucket on Facebook when I realized that they generally advertise with the tagline: “We’re taking your questions and turning them, alchemy-like, into wisdom.”

When I visited Brooklyn with Alex last October, we went to see MBMBAM live and I wrote about it on here a couple times. It was hilarious and worth it, though we only stayed for the full show for MBMBAM. In retrospect, my decision to have us return early, during the halftime intermission of The Adventure Zone, probably soured things between us more than I realized at the time. I just wanted to be home early to get to work on time the next day, but maybe for the long-term it would’ve been better to stay. Who knows now, the past is in the past and I shouldn’t even be dwelling on it now. Sometimes I can’t help it.

What I originally wanted to write this blog post about though is the use of the word “alchemy” and what it denotes. In World of Warcraft, I sometimes learn Alchemy as a profession, which means that I craft potions or elixirs that are useful in and out of battle. Some speed up the production of items, others increase the rate at which you gather materials in the outdoors. Alchemy is an invaluable profession and has been pretty much the best to use since the inception of the game, and it’s useful regardless of the expansion.

This all being said, I really should listen to more MBMBAM. I think that’s where I wanted this post to go from the beginning, that I’ve kinda left my podcast-listening side go away after the breakup. It’d be smart to restore some of my general well-being and happiness with the assistance of some comedic brothers.

#474: The Trash Can

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When I woke up this morning, Jace was sniffing around the trash can, pawing at it and putting himself neck deep in the can while he made his way under my computer desk. Jace is the kind of cat who loves getting himself in the middle of everything, putting himself in front of people’s faces and making sure they know he’s there. He wants to be seen and he wants to make sure other people know he’s there immediately upon entering any situation. He’s an attention hog, but he’s my attention hog and I love him for it.

That all being said, he also pawed his way through the trash can this morning, which is a big no from me. I had to dump it out as soon as I woke up, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled about that because I wasn’t ready yet to get up. He has a tendency towards waking me up when I don’t want to be and making sure he’s right in my face at all possible times. But that’s Jace!

I dumped out the trash can, and then I put Jace in the carrier case I have for him. He needed to be there because I was about to take a shower and I didn’t want him roaming around making more of a mess. He had to learn his lesson somehow, and I wasn’t exactly sure how to teach him what he needed to find out. I think I got the point across though, as he was meowing quite a lot when I returned back to the room after the shower.

The trash can exists so that I can use it to put my stuff in, but I don’t want to have to regulate everything I put in there. I guess that’s a part of what it’s like to have a pet, after all. I’ll get used to it eventually.

#473: The Support

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Support conversations in Fire Emblem: Three Houses are probably some of my favorite parts of the game, even though they tend to overload really quickly. By that I just mean, the way I play the game lends itself to lots of supports coming available at once all over the place. You have a thousand little exclamation marks showing up in the corner of your screen in the character journal, and it’s tempting you to finish them so that you can see all the neat little character interactions that take place during the game. The characters are what sell me on how good Fire Emblem is, after all. I loved Black Eagles mostly because the characters are so interesting to me, and they seem so real and fleshed-out compared to other games which don’t have the same depth to their stories.

I’m currently watching, at the behest of one of my friends, the support conversations between Annette and Felix. I haven’t watched much of the Blue Lions at all, mostly because I haven’t played their route and I wasn’t able to recruit many of them during my Crimson Flower run. She makes him blush and vice versa, which adds to their romantic feelings for each other obviously. I love being able to see their characters a bit more in-depth, especially the ones I don’t know too well. These characters feel so hollow to me until I get the chance to see their supports, and then everything changes and I feel so much more in love with them.

Speaking of music, though, the game also has a wonderful soundtrack, especially the end credits theme which reminds me of the end credits theme to Persona 5. I was listening to that, too, recently, while writing these posts out.

How crazy is it that I’ve been doing this whole blogging thing for so long?

#472: The Moon

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Recently, as in blog post #457, I wrote about the moon tapestry that Alex and I used to have together, which now hangs above my bed in Northford, where Jace now sits and stares at it occasionally. He likes to see it from time to time, and he sometimes goes up and touches it. Jace is the type of cat to explore and explore and never really give up his tenacious nature until he absolutely has whatever it is he’s after. He pushes forward in spite of the danger and even in spite of me yelling at him not to do whatever it is he’s about to do. He’s a tenacious little dude, like I mentioned.

But this blog post wasn’t meant to be about Jace, even though he has a habit of taking over whatever it is I’m talking about and making it about him. He’s wonderful in that sense. But initially I wanted to discuss the tapestry as well as its connection to a theme song I was reminded of recently, the theme of the moon level in the Duck Tales video game. I don’t have the same nostalgia as other people when it comes to that game because I never played it as a kid, but I can feel the same energy that they feel upon hearing that song. You should listen to it if you never have. Whether it’s the version from the remastered game or the original, you should check it out just to listen to the great music. It’s a reminder of the melodies that computers are capable of generating, the short but sweet melodies you remember hearing from ancient SNES games and titles. There’s something magical about them that’s unparalleled by other music. It’s nostalgic of an era in the past, even though you may not have experienced much of it yourself.

#471: The Orchestra

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Ever hear a song with an orchestra that’s absolutely empowering and powerful in the best kind of way? That’s what I’m listening to as I write this blog post. I wasn’t sure what title to give this daily entry, then I heard a particular song, and it all came together for me in an instant. Obviously I would write this next post about the orchestra, the bombastic sound that emits from your speakers as you listen to a song that uplifts and inspires you beyond your imagination. The inspiration that comes from listening to music is enough to lift me from any kind of depressive episode I might be experiencing and pushing towards a better future, wherever that may be. You just have to push forward regardless and hope that things will get better over time.

Now, not every song has the potential to do this, and if you’re listening to the same song over and over again, it’s very possible you’ll feel not as inspired any more. There’s a residual effect of repetition, of listening to something so often and so frequently that you no longer feel the same emotions you felt at the beginning. The repetition overloads you, making you feel like it’s just a shadow of its former self. I guess this blog post is now about how music tends to feel repetitive after awhile, especially if you’re listening to a loop like I currently am, but I still enjoy the song regardless. It’s the sheer power of the trumpets and horns and violins, how radiant the sound ends up being, and how it forces you into a position of pure energy. I don’t mind it at all; in fact, sometimes I crave that kind of energy. It’s enough to propel me to want to put it into my own writing.

#470: The Spray Bottle

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Having a spray bottle handy has made it easy to help Jace out with learning what to chew and what not to chew on. When he’s feeling especially active and spry, he runs around like crazy, gets the zoomies, and starts chewing on whatever he can fit in his mouth. Sometimes that’s the lever on the desk chair, other times it’s the wicker baskets underneath the bookshelf. Regardless of what it is, or whether it’s tasty or anything like that, Jace seems to have other things in mind. He just doesn’t care about the taste at all; it’s the sensation of biting something and fitting it in his mouth that he loves the most. I stop him mostly because I don’t want him chewing and potentially digesting something that will make him sick. For example, if he gets the wicker down his throat, that’s obviously a bad thing, and he doesn’t know any better so it’s my job to come in and stop that before it becomes a bigger problem.

In these situations, the spray bottle comes in handy. It’s what I deploy when he seems to be getting a little too feisty and needs correcting. Just a light tap of water in his direction gets him to stop. Nowadays, all I have to do is shake the bottle and he starts to notice that he’s doing something wrong. He recognizes the shake and sound of the spray bottle as evidence that he should probably be doing something else. I wasn’t really sure if it would work from the beginning, but I’m glad it’s at least helping us make some progress. He’s been less likely to do that after I started using it. He also knows sometimes that maybe he should take a break and start to relax a bit more.

#469: The Ping

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A ping is when you deal a small amount of damage with a particular item or card or weapon or whatever method at an enemy. Pings are known to be small and usually inconsequential, hence the name “ping.” It’s supposed to sound extra basic, like it’s something you hear off in the distance but can barely make out. A light sound, and then it’s gone. The naming convention makes sense in this case.

No, this blog post won’t actually be about ping pong or anything like that. It’s about a nickname used in the context of playing Magic: the Gathering sometimes. If I have a creature that deals one damage with its tapped ability, that’s something I can ping with. It’s mostly inconsequential, because there’s at least 20 life in a standard game and 40 in a commander game, but it exists enough for it to be counted and tabulated.

The other day, while playing an especially long game of EDH free-for-all with Dan and Alex, I beat Dan’s deck with a ping. It felt great and hilarious to end the game with such a small, seemingly pointless move, but it worked and it ended the game pretty much here and there. One damage can really separate a win from a loss, in the end, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when you forget to ping someone for damage. It could always backfire if you don’t plan far enough ahead.

This is also the same game where Dan asked if we knew the rules for infect in commander, which was pretty funny to us because the rules are no different in commander than they are in any other format. I guess that’s what he meant to highlight to us, that it’s the same even if you expect it to be different. Either way, it made us laugh.

#468: The Vet

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Bringing Jace to the vet for the first time was an interesting experience. He had to get his nails clipped, and they needed to look in his ears and his mouth, both of which made him anxious and caused him to lash out a little bit. He’s a tough cookie and he dislikes being handled in any sort of way, but when it comes to being at the vet, he’s especially devious and difficult I found. It’s in his nature, though, and I’m not surprised to hear it and also see it.

In the next few days, they’re planning on calling me back so that I can schedule for him to go in to get his teeth cleaned. Apparently there’s plaque building up in his teeth, causing inflammation and poor health up in his gums. That needs to be fixed, obviously, so they’re planning on giving him anesthesia so that he can relax while they do it. He’s not the kind of cat to just sit there and let you do whatever you want to him, unfortunately, so the extra cost from the anesthesia is going to suck but oh well. It’s necessary to keep this guy healthy and looking clean in all ways.

When Alex and I took Angus to the vet, it was a bit different because we had the two of us there. We supported each other and made sure there weren’t any complications that could make the visit worse than it needed to be. Bringing Jace alone was a challenge, but it’s a responsibility I’m willing to agree to so that I can have this companion with me. Even now, just looking at him sitting on the couch across from me, it feels like we were meant to be friends together like this. It’s a perfect combination.

#466: The Spreadsheet

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When I was still working as a literacy interventionist in Norwalk, I made a spreadsheet that kept track of my students’ test scores as well as their previous scores and anything else that would be relevant to that. I used spreadsheets as an English teacher as well, as they helped me formulate my ideas and make sure I kept all my plans in line. I also used them to keep track of IEPs and 504s and other important legal documentation. As a teacher, there’s no shortage of important documentation you have to keep on you at all times. The profession has become incredibly stressful in that sense, and you’re always expected to have some deep knowledge of every single person who walks through the door. Just realistically speaking, that’s impossible for one human brain to handle at one time. Fortunately for me, I left teaching before it became too much of a burden on my psyche. I got out before it got me, essentially. Hopefully things stay that way in the future while I look for another job in the meantime.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of jobs seem to ask for intricate knowledge of spreadsheets and Excel, as well as Microsoft Office. It’s an important skill to have knowledge of if you’re trying to market yourself.

I’m no expert when it comes to manipulating data and spreadsheets, but I’m definitely familiar with them and the software that accompanies them. They’re basically hardwired into my brain as the most efficient way of organizing information in an online software. Being the kind of person who’s a bit disorganized in the head from time to time, it can be nice to have something out there that actually serves to help you, instead of hinder you and the way your brain tends to work.

#465: The Hazelnut Shot

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When I go to Dunkin Donuts, I usually order an extra-large hot coffee with almond milk and a hazelnut shot. It’s been my go-to order for awhile now, although sometimes I get in the mood for a different type of drink, maybe one with espresso or whatever else is available. The reason I’m writing this blog post more specifically about the hazelnut shot is because there are times when I’m ordering coffee when the order doesn’t come out right, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell when that is. The flavor is more syrupy, more sugary, and it’s not as tasty. In situations like that, I usually still end up drinking the coffee anyway, but I do so a bit begrudgingly. The syrupy taste isn’t pleasant and definitely lessens the enjoyment of drinking the coffee. Plus, I have to know how many sugars are probably polluting the drink. Overall, it’s not great and I have trouble justifying spending money on coffee that’s like that.

That’s why I always make sure to say, while ordering, that I’m looking for a coffee with “unsweetened hazelnut.” If you say “hazelnut shot,” generally that’s supposed to mean unsweetened versus when it’s a “hazelnut swirl.” But not all the people working at Dunkin recognize that immediately, and that’s not an insult towards the people working there, it’s just the reality of things. You just have to be extra specific while ordering to make sure you get exactly what it is you’re looking for. There’s always a chance it blows up in your face regardless, as it has happened to me before, but it’s a more likely hit than saying hazelnut shot.

I know this was probably a really specific and uninteresting blog, but it came to mind as I’m staring at my coffee across the desk from me. It’s just how it is.