#508: The Quarantine, Part 3

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I’d like to talk about the picture I chose for this blog post first, before going into what I’ve been doing during this quarantine. The picture above states, “Stay home if you’re sick!” however I’d probably amend that just to say, “Stay home in general!” The way this virus works, you can be infected and still be asymptomatic. The responsible thing to do for all of us is to make sure we’re practicing social distancing so that, if for whatever reason we are actually infected, we don’t unintentionally spread it to the people around us who are more vulnerable and at risk. That’s one of the subjects we discussed at our round-table family meeting recently. I’m practicing social distancing and effectively quarantining myself even though I don’t have a cough or any of the other symptoms you would expect from the virus. Other people should be doing that, too, and I don’t think it’s wise for us to go out in public and romp around the world expecting everything to be the same as it once was. We need to be cautious and upfront about our symptoms so that other people know what to expect from us. Even as I write this I question a little bit whether I’m making the right call for everyone, but I hope it’s right.

As for me, I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s an addicting, incredibly thrilling MMORPG that has gripped my attention through this whole endeavor and I’m super happy about the ending of the most recent expansion, Shadowbringers. It was fantastic. I know people in the future are likely going to think, you were playing video games during this crisis? But guess what, what else am I supposed to be doing? It worked for me to keep me from going outside and being around people.

#507: The Quarantine, Part 2

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This post is a continuation of my previous daily blog, in which I wrote about life in quarantine and how it’s been. I think part of me is interested in writing about this subject because I hope to elucidate a sense of the daily life of someone in America under these circumstances. Not that my experience is unique or memorable or anything like that, just as a sort of normal snapshot.

I’m also writing this out of a sense of obligation, I think, because looking back years from now I think people will want to know how I handled this experience, and what I did during it. By that I mean, my kids (if I ever have any) and future generations might be curious about this, and that’s about it. Not that I expect people will care specifically about my story otherwise.

Now that I’ve justified why I’m writing about this subject, I guess it’s finally time to dive in and begin, right? Living in quarantine has been interesting in the sense that I haven’t done much different from what I usually do. I just kind of shutter myself away from the world downstairs and wait for this all to be over, like anyone else. I don’t go outside unless to pick up a coffee from Dunkin every once in awhile, and I try to limit my money I spend considering I’m still unemployed and looking for work at the moment. Just thinking about all the people who lost their jobs because of this crisis is absolutely maddening to me, and the economy has already tanked so hard because of this.

People are worried about their jobs and how they’re going to survive this thing once it’s over. I hope it ends quickly, but I also hope we take care of what needs to be taken care of before it’s too late.

#506: The Quarantine, Part 1

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Living in quarantine hasn’t been easy, and recently we decided as a family to
impose some restrictions on each other to make sure we’re acting responsibly and don’t accidentally spread the infection to each other. I think it’s all fair and makes sense. What I’m wondering is when the end of this will come about, and what to expect of life after it ends.

I was reading on Twitter recently how certain people in the White House want to restart the economy and weigh the benefits and risks of tanking the economy to prevent the spread of the infection. It’s absolutely cynical and baseless, and if it goes through, it will lead to even more deaths. It’s unbelievable that it’s even being considered seriously, but then again, who’s surprised by this kind of rhetoric anymore? It’s all about saving the election in November, and it’s all about making sure the economy is stable in spite of everything. Economy be damned, if people are dying that’s all that needs to be said! Italy is a cautionary tale for how things can look here if things don’t improve on our end, and they may end up in that capacity regardless of how we act, if we aren’t quick enough. If we let things spiral out of control with incompetent management of the crisis, I worry how it will all look when this is over and done with.

Being in quarantine, though, has reminded me of a few things. It’s reminded me of how it feels to have no real professional direction at the moment. I’m really just waiting for the tide of this virus to end so that I can return to normalcy, and hopefully find a job that isn’t entirely shuttered and destroyed by this virus. Hopefully things start to look up soon.

#500: The Milestone

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Well, I did it. I got to at least 500 blog posts without repeating a title. Everything else has been brand new, with no overlapping topics. I’ve kept this going for over a year now and I feel pretty good about the lasting impact of this whole process on my writing skills. I believe I’m a better writer now than I was when I started this whole thing, and it’s great to go back and look at myself, look at what I did back when this blog was in its nascent stages, and learn from it. Even today, while I was reading the blog back a bit, I saw a post saying “An Apology for Inactivity,” back in 2014. That was a whole six or seven years ago at this point, and yet I was apologizing for being inactive then. Now I’m active every single day, practically, and show no signs of letting up or stopping any time soon. That’s what blogging does to you; it makes you motivated to keep going, and you want to push yourself to achieve higher milestones. Even now, while looking at the title of this blog post, I think to myself: what will I name the blog I write when I get to #1000? Will that also be a milestone worth writing about? Maybe I should title this “Part 1,” so as to motivate myself to keep writing so that I know I have to get to “Part 2,” that being #1000? I’ve never written a two-parter so separate from each other before. It’s all so new and interesting to think about!

Nevertheless, I’ve made it this far. I genuinely thought about quitting this thing for good after my breakup, considering how much of the 100s, 200s, and 300s are about a person that’s no longer a part of my life. But I want to keep going. At this point, I really have to.

#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.

#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.

#487: The Disconnect

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While writing the last blog post about getting a fat pack of cards, I disconnected from a game of Hearthstone. I like to play that game while still having time to do other things, like Destiny, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, or writing blog posts. Whatever the occasion, I like the opportunity to multi-task and accomplish two things at once, if possible. Most of the reason why I end up writing so many blog posts about the same subjects — the games I play — is because I end up writing while doing those things. It’s just the natural way of how I write.

Now, when I’m trying to pay attention and actually home in on a particular idea, in those cases I definitely don’t multi-task. Like if I’m writing a story or a chapter, I find that I have to commit myself to only writing that story or chapter in order for it to make sense. In any other circumstance, it’s just straight up impossible. There’s sometimes a disconnect between how I write and how I play, but above all it’s caused by my brain and how it manages itself. More than anything, I’m not the kind of person to just let things pass me by, and I want to commit to writing this blog with my full attention at times.

The disconnect is what happens when I lose a game of Hearthstone because the Internet connection here is a bit unstable and doesn’t always like to cooperate. The disconnect is how I handle frustration, and it’s also how I handle situations that are just straight up difficult to manage on my own. I disconnect from them, and I move away, like I did this January. It’s crazy to think it’s still been two months since what happened changed everything.

#481: The Land

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Land-based decks are some of my favorite in the world of Magic: the Gathering, and in today’s blog post, I’d like to discuss them a bit more in depth. This is partially inspired by the fact that the last time that my friend Dan came over to play Magic, I beat him twice with my land-based deck. It ended up being a lot more powerful and potent than I thought it would be, during both fights. What happens is, I start the game with some form of powerful land recursion or land generation from my deck, and then I ramp up to lots and lots of mana at once, culminating in a major move that usually wins me the game. Sometimes it’s Multani, other times it’s a really large Torment of Hailfire boosted by an absurdly powerful effect like the one that comes from Nyxbloom Ancient, a card that debuted in the most recent Theros set. (This post is going to seem ancient really soon, as soon as the next set comes out, right?)

Land decks are especially interesting to me because they focus around one of the key components of any deck: the mana base. If your deck doesn’t have a consistent way of ramping up mana, or perhaps they just don’t care about mana ramping at all, they’re likely going to falter in a format like commander, which is the one I’m trying to describe here. The landscape of the format pretty much depends on some form of cheap, reliable mana ramping. Without it, you’re going to be left in the dust by other people who are accelerating much faster into their game plans than you are. Even just including small cards like Sol Ring go a long way. That card is crazy busted by the way and wins games if you get it out early enough.