#486: The Fat Pack

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Sometimes, when buying Magic: the Gathering cards, I pick up what’s called a fat pack, which is the nickname given to a group of ten packs stuffed together in a long, horizontal box. It’s useful for when you need to buff up your collection of cards and want something new on top of that. I buy them sometimes to have space to put all my cards in, while also increasing the value of my collection by buying fresh cards, without any of the wear and tear of buying cards online and having them shipped to you. Sometimes I prefer the latter method, but other times I have to stick with the classic way of things, and that’s the fat pack.

Fat packs are these grand, elaborate items that sell for about $40 MSRP. They come with ten packs, a big box, a die, and some other goodies. I like the large dice that comes with the fat pack because I get to collect them, and the bigger they are, the sturdier and more useful they are when it comes to deciding who goes first in a game, or counting complicated life totals in commander. In the latter format, life totals can get out of control and absurd, so it’s totally reasonable to see that happening.

I mention this because today, after getting my haircut, I walked next door to the Gamestop and purchased a fat pack of Magic 2020, not the most recent set but still a good set nonetheless. It’s one that has a lot of value in it despite the fact that it’s no longer that relevant as the “newest set.” I’m hoping to find stuff to pump into my commander decks, as I have plenty of decks that could use the cards available there. Let’s hope I get something good!

#477: The Root, Part 1

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Similarly to my last blog post, this post will be about a conversation I had with a friend recently that made me think about things a bit differently. As always, the conversations I have with friends seem to restore and reinvigorate my spirit a bit, making me feel like I’m on top of the world, or at least that I can work out the problems I have in front of me, whatever they might be. The root of the problem is, I lack the self-confidence sometimes to motivate myself to make the necessary changes I need to make in my life. This goes for dieting, exercise, maintaining positive relationships with friends, making good and efficient use of time, stuff like that. Stuff you would think people have figured out by the time you reach my age, or at least you would think so. More than anything, I just want to make sure that I’m happy and living a happy life. I’ve tried my best to apply to lots of jobs outside of my comfort zone, in areas I’m maybe not entirely familiar with, hoping that someone will see my application and get back to me in time with a message of support. It’s never easy, but I have to expand my horizons in order to fulfill that part of myself. And I need to expand my horizons in order to leave the profession I feel like I’m tied down to, in the first place. If I don’t make an effort to leave, how will I ever actually say that I’ve made any progress?

That’s it for now. I’ll get into the actual conversation I had with my friend in the next blog post, so this will be a two parter. That’s usually how it goes: I ramble for too long and it turns into two parts.

#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?

#375: The Console

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Back when I first started playing video games, I would always request consoles for Christmas. It became an annual tradition to wake up and see some new video game console under the tree, whether it was an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, DS, whatever, you name it. There was always something there, and I made it a habit of requesting consoles because it opened up the amount of gaming opportunities I had in front of me. Whether it was playing Call of Duty online with friends on Xbox Live, or whether it was playing Assassins Creed: Brotherhood online multiplayer on my PS3, there were tons of new things for me to do that were opened up thanks to having new consoles at my disposal. I didn’t use them all as well as I probably should have, but in the end, it’s the experience that matters.

The first console I was given was the Nintendo 64, and I remember my uncle giving it to me when I was around 5. It became a huge part of my life almost immediately. I was whisked away into the world of Super Mario 64 and made it my mission to beat the game, even though I never officially completed it as a kid. I had high aspirations, but those Bowser levels were super tough back then. I remember also playing lots of racing games with my dad, who loved the opportunity to bond with me back then. Cruisin’ Exotica, for example, was a family favorite, along with the other Cruisin’ games. I remember my dad loving the main theme song. We also played this off-road racing game, whose name I forget. But basically, racing games are in my blood for that reason.

Those were fun times, but my dad and I didn’t play much together after that. Not until Wii Sports, which he tried his best at.

#305: The Work Study

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Bella, my youngest sister, just texted me that she got a work study job at college. She’s a freshman and having on-campus work that early is impressive and awesome for her. I’m hopeful she can keep this job for awhile, as it can be a valuable resource throughout the rest of college. When I lost my one consistent work study job, it stung, and I had to look elsewhere. Thankfully, I found a better job that helped with my degree and made me a better teacher in the process. But having that one work study job for the time I had it really allowed me to enjoy college without worries. When it was suddenly upended from me, I worried that my senior year of college wouldn’t be as enjoyable and liberating as the previous ones.

I used to work as a resident life assistant for my freshman year. My friend Sam introduced me to the job, though we never ended up working together. It was pretty demeaning, to be honest. I made coffee and copies for people and talked to supervisors who treated me like I was a child. I didn’t much enjoy my time there, and I didn’t even end up getting an RA job like I was hoping I’d be able to. I remember walking across campus to let people into their dorms; that was pretty much my job in a nutshell, along with answering phone calls. Sometimes I would get phone calls from people who needed to be let into their dorms. Sometimes those phone calls were from friends, and so we had fun memories like that. I remember once letting Sam into his dorm, and I stayed around his room to watch him play Fortune Street for awhile before heading back to my job. It was gnarly. I was a typical college student, what can I say?

#300: The Good Boy

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I’m dedicating blog post #300 to the good boy himself, Ango. He’s been a consistently great part of my life, despite his tendency to be a bit of a butt from time to time, and I don’t write enough blog posts about him. So today, it’s Ango time. Well-deserved, little dude.

Earlier in the day, when Alex and I were about to leave for the gym, Alex had Angus’s kong in his hand with a treat inside, and Angus jumped up and put his front paws on the table, knocking over all the magazines we had stacked up there. We were in the middle of talking about how Angus had been a good boy recently as this unfolded, which was perfectly ironic.

Angus is a wonderful dog, and I’ve learned some of his sweet spots too. If you rub his ears and head and push him towards you, he loves it. He just loves being pet and having rubs all over his head. When he leans into you, and his head is almost right up next to yours, that’s also a sign that he loves it and wants more. He really takes it all to heart. I love when I pet him on a specific spot, and then seconds later he rubs himself on that spot, either with his paws or mouth. It’s like he’s asking for it again but is only able to do a half-hearted job with his own two paws. A shame, but he tries his best and that’s what matters.

If Angus had the ability to pet himself wherever he wanted, he would definitely do so. He’s the type of dog who would definitely do whatever it takes to get there. Sometimes I get the chance to see what that reality would be like when he really gets into the self-petting.

#299: The Kombucha

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I love Kevita’s Master Brew Kombucha. I could drink it pretty much every day. The flavor is fizzy and tart, sometimes bitter, but more often than not it tastes great. It depends on which brand you buy from and which flavor you buy from that brand, but I think I’ve found the jackpot with Kevita. Unfortunately, their kombuchas have added sugars, so they’re not great for when I’m dieting, but right now, I feel great drinking these.

When I used to be a full-time teacher, I would take bottles of the kombucha into work with me and sometimes leave them around my desk. Students would ask me about them and say how they love kombucha as well, though I never asked what kind they drank. I probably could’ve solicited great feedback from them if I tried to. I still have memories of drinking it during class, while students were writing their midterm exams, and enjoying the energizing feeling. I’ve been bringing it to work more frequently, too, as a way of keeping me energized during lunchtime. I need that extra kick to get my day moving, when coffee isn’t enough to do the trick on its own.

Kombucha, and all of its fizzy probiotics inside, is fantastic at helping my stomach digest food. Sometimes I have trouble digesting, for whatever reason, and I need something to fill up the acidic waste that is my stomach. Kombucha fills that void well.

Of course, kombucha is technically fermented. One of my friends and I have been really interested in this new brew called Kombrewcha. Though I’m not much of a drinker, I still love this one. It’s tangy, tasty, and all kinds of good. I might need to pick some more up this weekend to make sure we don’t run out any time soon.

#238: The Grind

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The Grind. When it comes to grinding out experience, reputation, currency, gold, whatever I need in order to push forward in World of Warcraft, I’m used to it. Back when Burning Crusade was current content, I remember the first grind I participated in was the Shattered Sun Offensive reputation grind. You had to hit exalted in order to get all the good stuff, so obviously I wanted to get there pretty badly. As a kid in middle school, I didn’t realize the predatory practices of games at the time, and I didn’t quite understand how the rep grind was designed to make me want to play the game more and more, incentivizing total commitment to the game every day in order to maximize the reputation I earned each day. That’s what life on current World of Warcraft is like, too, now that they’ve added two new reputations and two new zones to explore: Nazjatar and the Ankoan, and Mechagon and the Rustbolt Resistance. (Rustbolt almost sounds like Rustbelt, which is kind of funny.)

(Coffee beans are all I could find when searching “grind,” even though it’s unrelated to the topic. I like having unrelated pictures attached to these blog posts, though.)

In other words, the grind is a long, arduous process of completing monotonous tasks over and over again in order to achieve a result that’s gated in some way by an arbitrary restriction, such as reputation or gold or something like that. In this case, in order to get flying on all my characters in the new areas, I need to hit revered with both of the new factions and then explore each new island, too. It’s a process, but I’m used to it by this point. I’ve done it on almost all of my characters, so there’s nothing holding me back.

#237: The Fireworks

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Today is July 4th, which means today is fireworks day. Fireworks all night long, across the city skyline and heard from our apartment regardless of distance. Fireworks blaring upward into the air, exploding in an instant or in bursts, and then descending quickly back to the earth, to pollute the streets with firework residue. Imagine being on the streets of Stamford watching the fireworks at 8pm, only to then be a sanitation worker the next day, forced by the city to clean up the endless parade of messiness on the ground. I would hate to be that person, but I can relate to them very much so.

When I was younger, my father loved the fourth of July. It was probably his favorite holiday. We used to have a large house together, with a large backyard where we invited pretty much everyone we knew to come over for a large party. Hot dogs, bounce castles, outdoor pool, radio music, tents and food and more. They were a lot of fun, and I got to hang out with my friends over the summer so that made it all worth it, but perhaps the biggest waste of all was my father’s incessant need to fill up the sky with fireworks. He bought thousands of dollars worth of fireworks every year, every fourth of July, just to impress his friends with how much money he was willing to throw away into the sky for big explosions. Imagine if he had saved that for our college educations instead? What if? Hmm.

It seems self-serving, but ultimately it was for us, too. We wanted the fireworks just as much as he did. It represented something special to us, a sort of familial tradition passed through time. It doesn’t happen any more, for obvious reasons, but when it did, it was special.

#201: The Recap

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Today I’ll be outlining some small stories about Alex and I, from two years ago. Back when Alex and I first started dating, we would send each other recaps of our days. We would alternate responsibilities; one night it would be my turn to write the recap, the next night it would be her turn to do it. Over long weekends, such as weekends that we spent together or sleeping in each other’s rooms, or weekends when I would visit her up in Boston or Syracuse, the responsibility to write a recap was threefold: you had to write one for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Granted, we came up with this unjust system all on our own, and we were the ones enforcing it on each other every night to make sure it was done for the next day. But it was a blast to do, and I sometimes miss doing it. There’s so much rushing and moving around during the day, it became nice to look forward to a recap of the events afterwards. Reflection and relaxation combined here.

At times, I would forget about the recap, and Alex would remind me in the morning and I’d hurry to finish one in the shower before work. Back when I was teaching at a different school, I would dread writing recaps at night because I had so much work to do, and I felt like writing another 300-word review of the day wasn’t exactly necessary as a use of my time. But looking back, and seeing all the recaps from our first year collected together in a nice book, it was absolutely worth it, and I would do it again if I could. We only stopped because, well, we moved in together, so most of our days were spent together anyway. We would “recap” before dinner, or before bed, but not in the same formal fashion that it took before we moved in. That’s a vestige of our relationship during earlier times.