Life in a Post-COVID World

To say that the worst is behind us would be wishful thinking.

There’s debate that the virus will continue on, or perhaps go a bit dormant during the summer months only to come back with a vengeance or mutate by the fall. Opponents of this viewpoint tend to believe that this is an elaborate hoax, or perhaps that the numbers have been blown out of proportion. We were told to wear masks, then we were told to shelter in place. Many people (including those I know on a personal level) have decided that our rights were being hampered by the stay at home order. People complained about nearly everything while we were on lockdown, and now much of life has returned to normal. Or so we thought.

Some racist piece of shit killed a guy for no reason. Apparently there were other similar stories that I hadn’t heard of, but the end result is still the same. At the end of the day, the Black Lives Matter movement happened a few years back, but it seems that nothing has changed. Protests have sprung up around the country and despite living in a small town we still had our own. Apparently some businesses were smashed up and looted. Videos of similar violence and illogical behavior can be readily viewed online.

I don’t have a stance here. I think it was a good idea for us to shelter in place. I’m thankful that the government came through with stimulus money and additional unemployment money. I’m thankful my job didn’t go out of business. I’m thankful no one I know personally was infected and generally speaking most of the people I know ended up coming out better off financially at the end of lock down. I didn’t think my rights were infringed upon, in fact I felt it was my duty to stay home and not risk infection or spread. I don’t think racist cops should be allowed badges, and I don’t think anyone deserves to die with a knee in their neck. But I also don’t have any sort of idea what can be done about any of these things.

I went back to work last week. The last week of quarantine was a busy one, as I did some car shopping and ended up with the car of my dreams. It’s not new, but it’s the car I have always wanted. I was cautiously relieved to go back to work. It’s nice getting back into a normal routine, despite the fact that my work hours suck. The biggest hurdle now is having to wear a mask while performing my work, but I am starting to become accustomed to it. I’m thankful to still have a job, but I do miss the break already. You’re nuts if you didn’t prefer getting paid to do the things you enjoy without any other requirements.

I’ve be playing games still, along with some purchasing some new hardware that I want to go into more detail about, but I thought I’d jot down some things in the meantime because it’s been a while since my last post. Me and my best friend got back into Borderlands 3 after I completed The Outer Worlds and it has been a blast. I’m not sure how we got sidetracked away from it, but I have enjoyed getting further into the game. We’re both in our 30’s now, so I’d say we’re beyond the halfway point, but from my prior knowledge of the series I tend to beat the game before hitting level 40. To hit the level cap usually requires a second playthrough which I’ve done in the past, but I’m unsure if we’ll end up doing the same thing again. I also know there are two DLCs out for the game already, but I’m not going to bother with them if my friend doesn’t pony up the cash as well.

I hit a wall with the FF7 Remake. It’s such a good looking game and I like how it hits me in the feels but the goddamn combat is annoying at times which has kind of turned me off of it for the time being. Going to focus on BL3 and perhaps get back to it afterwards. I also picked up copy of Battletech on Steam a while back and grabbed Gran Turismo Sport which I’ve wanted for a while, but it’s now a “greatest hits” title so it was only $20. This month’s free Playstation Plus games are also more interesting for a change, one being Call of Duty WWII which I’ve not played but that era of game seemed to be one of the best for the series. The other title is Star Wars: Battlefront 2, which I know got shitty reviews but it’s free to I’ll give it a whirl. I enjoyed the original so we’ll see what happens.

With work being a thing again, I’ll most likely be back to minimal posts, but I’ll try to stick to a couple a week as time permits. I have a lot to share so I’ll be back soon.

Adulting During Quarantine

It’s been a few days since the whole Blapril 2020 thing wound down (though I guess it went past when I called it done, but I still qualify for having “completed” the challenge to my knowledge) and I took a little bit of a break from blogging because I was running out of things to talk about and needed to recharge a bit. The marathon of blogging every day for a month takes its toll despite the fact that I have done it on multiple occasions. I know I can do it, but I prefer a more lax “write when you have something meaningful to write” approach. To each their own, I guess. Whatever the case, I have been playing games, doing adult stuff and have built up a set of drafts that I’d like to publish in the near future. Today, rather than talking about games or MTG, instead I have some IRL updates for you.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it on the blog already, if not I definitely mentioned it on social media. I moved my family into a house back at the beginning of the year, and one of the positives was it had a nice sized back yard for my dog to occupy. The front yard had grass that was mostly dead, but with all of the rain we had over the course of the last couple of months, things got hairy pretty quick. Soon enough I had several foot tall weeds in the back yard, and the front yard was starting to look horrendous as well. When it first started getting out of control, I borrowed my friend’s lawnmower to get things handled, but unfortunately his machine was a bit old and in disrepair. We couldn’t get it to work no matter what we tried. Option #2 was to pick up a weed eater from a local hardware store and at least try and knock the bulk of it down. We did that, and though it wasn’t pretty at least the front was presentable again, though the back yard managed to eat up the remaining line I had. Eventually I knew it was time to bite the bullet and buy a proper lawn mower. So that’s what I did, though the story doesn’t end there. I went to the local Home Depot to get one and due to the COVID-19 madness, there was a line just to get into the store. As such I turned to Amazon, who came through with the Craftsman mower pictured here, and delivered it within a week. I still had to look at my shabby yard during that time, but once it finally showed and I put it together, I ran through the rest of the project and have mowed again since. It’s definitely nicer to maintain it and I’m glad I can do so now.

Another purchase that needed to be made but we had gone without, was for the front room. When I got my new computer desk setup in my office, I still had the old one ready to be used, so it became our makeshift TV stand. As much as it worked and wasn’t really an issue, I have always wanted a big TV (which I got earlier this year) on a proper entertainment center where I could hook up my multitude of consoles in one spot so they could all be easily enjoyed. We ended up going for a little more expensive of a selection just to make sure it was higher quality. I wanted something that would be comparable to the computer desk I selected a few months prior. When it arrived and I started putting it together though, I realized that it was going to be a bit of an undertaking to get everything set up. Also, we these build it yourself pieces of furniture, they are usually pretty easy to put together, but this one required so much screwdriver work that I decided it was probably time to also invest in a power drill.

My local hardware store had a good selection of drills, but I finally narrowed it down to this DeWalt. I’ve used the brand in the past and they’ve always seemed a good value. The pack I picked came with a battery, charger and case, but I also had to spend a little extra on a set of bits for it. I guess I’m getting pretty old, when buying tools and furniture is actually exciting. Whatever the case, I had stopped mid-build on the entertainment center to pick this bad boy up, so I came back home and got back to work. The rest of the assembly was a breeze with the help of this drill along with my lovely lady. Soon enough it was put together and I set up my PS4 on it. As you can see above, it was pretty bare bones at this point.

Having purchased this entertainment center with the explicit intention of having all of my consoles on deck, I picked this one because it not only had hidden shelves inside the cabinets, but also the premade holes on the back of the unit for cable management. But after getting them all set up I realized two things. A: I would need an HDMI switch because my TV only has 2 inputs, and B: I would need a larger surge protector in order to plug everything in. I only had a 6-outlet protector at that moment, so I ended up purchasing a 12-outlet one along with a 5 input HDMI switch. The final piece of the puzzle arrived yesterday, as I already had the switch and consoles set up for the past couple of days. I hooked up the surge protector and plugged everything in, and I thought I’d share the test run with you here:

Here you’ll see the switch, my console setup, and me swapping through all of the inputs. We start with the PS4, switch over to the PS3 (which had just rebooted from a system software update), on to the NES Classic and SNES Classic (both of which were on screen saver mode, showing the intro movies to various games) and finally my At Games Genesis mini, then back to the PS4. It works great, is a sleek/solid design and quite compact to boot. The only thing I still want to add to the setup is a sound bar with subwoofer for the TV, which will be great for all consoles along with movie watching, etc. Overall I’m happy with the purchase, and the ability to finally have all of these great consoles out and usable. The mini systems and my PS3 have been collecting dust for some time, and there’s some great games installed on all of these platforms. Time to start a retro gaming series I suppose!

These Four Walls

Today is Easter. Happy Easter, if that’s your thing. For me it’s a bit of a hollow holiday, in the sense that I’m not religious so it really doesn’t mean all that much to me. I suppose it isn’t for me anymore either. The boy had his egg hunt, earned some v-bucks for his trouble, and life has moved on. Memories had.

I just realized that today is the 12th of April. The last day I worked was the 18th of March, so I’m coming up on a month of quarantine. Is it just me, or did that go by pretty damn fast? I know the saying goes time flies when you’re having fun but have I really been having that much fun? In a sense, not much has changed. I still get up, do some things around the house or make supply runs. I’ve still been watching YouTube and Netflix and the LCS. I’ve played new games and completed some. More are on the to-do list. Surprisingly I haven’t been playing Magic as often as I was before quarantine, but that’s mainly because I have also spent more time watching shows and things. I guess when you have a plethora of options and these are things you would normally do, it’s not much different. I definitely feel weird not working, but to this point not struggling with financial issues has made it rather relaxing at the same time.

That’s not to say that I’m in a position to do this for the longer term. For now I am not stressed, but a lot is riding on the government coming through the way they say they will. Fingers are still crossed that we can go back to work on the 1st. It will be a relief and I’ll be able to go back to vegging out and getting fatter, while knowing I’m secure. Whatever the case, I’m choosing not to worry and instead look at the bright side. And that bright side is having a place to live, food to eat, a family that loves me and isn’t it amazing that we still have the Internet?

It’s easy to try and make comparisons to being stuck in a cell. These four walls surround us for many more hours per day than usual, and many are going stir crazy. Initially I wasn’t all that worried about the virus or its implications on my life but watching the world succumb to it has brought it closer to home. We have been taking the stay at home order seriously, and I only go out to get what’s needed. I’m still not worried that anyone in my household will get it, but the isolation has started to weigh on me a bit. I’ve been invited to things that I’ve declined and our normal family dinners with my best friend/others haven’t happened in a while either. I’ve still had voice chat communications with people but overall it’s felt a little more lonely. I’m thankful to be in a relationship with my best friend who keeps me sane as much as she drives me insane. Our crazy works.

I didn’t have anything exciting to share today, so I thought I’d do an IRL check-in. Things are largely the same, but also boring. But also fun. It’s a weird experience that’s hard to put into words.

Quarantini

I thought I’d take a break from our normally scheduled shenanigans to address the elephant in the room.

The title of this post should be indicative of the subject matter to follow, but is still poking some light-hearted fun into an otherwise deadly-serious topic.

The Corona Virus, or COVID-19 when its feeling all fancy pants, has hit the shores of all continents here on Earth. It’s a pandemic. It’s a version of a flu virus that they talk about before the world plunges into darkness. And yet, here in the States, life hasn’t changed much. Sure, there are panic buyers, those who are not satisfied with owning ten year supplies of toilet paper along with several gallons of hand sanitizer. Those who stock up on water bottles when they could literally fill up the old ones with *gasp* tap water. We still have power, we still have gas, we still have Internet — for now.

Depends on who you listen to, what you choose to research and what you choose to believe I suppose. I guess this is a Public Service Announcement in a way. You should probably get your information from a legitimate source. Remember when they said Wikipedia wasn’t good enough for citations in college? Remember when current events were only gleaned via news outlets such as the papers or what they play on cable TV? 2020 is a whole different animal. Think of it like this: The national news media (print and film) is now Wikipedia.

Social media will turn things around on its head really quickly. Do you think it’s scary that this new virus has mutated from an animal virus and has since mutated to spread rapidly and replicate itself quickly? If you think that’s fast, just think about how rapidly stupidity flies around the world via these applications? I hear about new confirmed cases every single day, and most of the time they are getting closer and closer to where I live. I’ve heard several reports of COVID-19 in my town. But a quick search of the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) website finds zero cases in our town and very few in the county. I’m just saying, do your homework people. Don’t freak out. Maybe wash your dirty ass more often, because your lack of TP is assaulting my nostrils.

The place of business in which I find myself employed has been deemed non-essential, so we closed our doors about a week ago. The plan was simple: open back up come April 1st, everyone gets paid for the time off, and life will go back to normal. During this past week I’ve had a much needed vacation, and I count it as a blessing not needing to use my PTO for the break. Rumors started that other similar places of business would probably stay closed longer term. Today I received word that we too, would have an extended break, until April 13th. Now we do have to use some PTO and I’m glad that I ended up having plenty to spare, but if this continues on there will be financial implications. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that this thing passes sooner than later. I will have enjoyed the time off without losing everything in the process. If we’re still talking about closures come May 1st, there’s going to be issues.

Stress is at a high all over, and yet this is a great time to really disconnect from the worry, stay at home and reconnect with our loved ones.

I was fortunate to be gifted a couple of new games during this time and have dug in. I have much that I want to write about in the coming weeks.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay at home as much as possible. Take up or reinvest into hobbies. Soon life will go back to normal and we can live our stress again. For now, let’s all just take a deep breath and relax. Cheers.

A Ramble for Friday

I sat down at my computer this morning to write something, but upon inspection of my drafts folder, there are two articles that I have yet to work on and little else. One of those articles is about the launch of Season 4 for Apex Legends, but I really don’t have a lot to say given that I haven’t really played more than a handful of games this season. I didn’t buy the battle pass either, because I haven’t been playing so I don’t see the point in paying money for something I won’t get enjoyment out of. It’s not that I’m disillusioned with the game, I still think it’s the best battle royale game on the market and I still enjoy the world and character design. It’s still a great shooter at its core as well. I did have enough in-game currency to unlock the new character immediately, and I’ve played enough games to see the changes to the map. There are still rotating limited time game modes and apparently there will be a portion of time where we go back to King’s Canyon (the original map). I still have friends playing regularly, but with my interest shifting back towards League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics, I don’t have time to play both with any sort of regularity.

The other draft in my folder is a Magic: The Gathering EDH deck brew, one that I’ve been working on for quite some time. When Throne of Eldraine released, the preconstructed Brawl decks came out as well, and there was one character that I was interested in building around. I finally got my hands on the Chulane deck, and I brewed it up immediately. Thankfully many of the more expensive cards I want to put into the deck are already in my collection, but there are still several cards needed and I don’t think I can build it out just yet. Also, in the subsequent months there was the release of the next set, Theros: Beyond Death and that changed my brew a little bit. It seems at least for me that very few decks are ever “finished.” Instead, they are a more fluid evolving thing — new sets introduce new cards and new combos and new synergies and sometimes a deck that started out fairly focused on one theme ends up taking a completely different turn. As such, I’ve broken up decks to make new ones and as I play more I find that some of my decks just weren’t very good, or another project comes up where I want to pull good cards out of substandard decks to put into a new one.

For instance, I just built a deck around Klothys which is one of the new Gods from Theros, and initially it just didn’t perform the way I would have thought. I already know that there are some better cards I could buy that would replace some lesser versions but I didn’t want to spend a ton to finish the deck off, so it’s a budget build for now. Regardless, it has still yet to perform after a handful of games, and I’ve already gone through and swapped out about 20 cards. I guess it has something to do with matchups in that I have played against other decks that are doing the same sort of thing better, or just combo off faster (for reference, this deck doesn’t depend on combos, just value and big stuff to finish a game). Perhaps it will see a game where it shines, but for now I’m starting to focus on other decks I have and how I can improve them, along with looking ahead to new brews. We also know that the next set of commander decks comes out in the next couple of months, so I assume there will be new projects I’ll want to take on. Whatever the case, between the couple of games I’m playing and MTG, I haven’t had a bunch to write about.

There are new games on the horizon. DOOM Eternal releases soon. Final Fantasy VII Remake as well. Those are two I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. The latest Metro game is no longer an Epic Games Store exclusive, so being able to buy it on Steam has me tempted. I do still have a few games I bought within the last few months that I have yet to complete, so once I get around to those I’ll have more to write about. Whatever the case I’ve been in the mood to write more often, but then I sit and realize I don’t really have anything substantial to say and skip it. I honestly thought I would have gotten more posts in this month but as I said, when you play the same couple of games all month it’s not super exciting to write about nor great for readers. I can tell you that I started my ranked journey in TFT and after being placed in Iron III I’ve worked up to Iron I. Bronze to come. I have yet to play ranked in LoL, but I intend to give it a whirl again. Perhaps I’ll get back to the same level I used to be at. I’ll also be playing MTG as much as I can, and though I’ve had a ton of great experiences it’s hard to translate that into blog posts. Perhaps I’ll start streaming or recording so that I can share some epic games. It’s an idea I’ve been toying with, but I’ll make it official ahead of time if I decide to start doing that.

So yeah, I’m still around, just having trouble getting the words onto the page. I’ll try to do more posts like this if this persists, just to check in.