How Drinking Habits Change

Let me preface today’s post with an IRL anecdote:

I woke up this morning to go to work at my normal time, 2:30 am. Today was my first day back to work after nine days off, so you can imagine my mood at that time. As I got into my car, it wouldn’t start. It almost started, clicked a bunch and well, I knew my battery was toast. What was strange about this is that there wasn’t any sort of warning. Sure, I didn’t drive my car for the three days I was gone, but I did drive it several times after being home — enough you’d think the alternator was keeping it charged. There was no hesitation yesterday when I made a few stops, but it is what it is. Thankfully my girlfriend tends to wake up when my alarm goes off, so she hadn’t yet drifted back to sleep and allowed me to take her car to work. I asked my mom to give her a ride to work and to get our son to school and that was that. The day was a standard Monday otherwise and nothing overly eventful happened. After work I had to go get this battery taken care of, so I took the old one out of my car and loaded it into hers. They couldn’t find my warranty information at AutoZone despite the fact that I know I bought it there, probably about four years ago. Whatever the case, I needed a battery so I got a new one, but would you believe they cost $150 these days? I remember the days when you could pick up a half-decent video card for that price. Anyway, I got the battery put in and all is well with the world again. It did sour my mood on writing a bit, hence the later in the day post.

Having had that sort of day, I decided to browse some of the community’s posts before trying to jot something down myself. I came across this post by Roger from Contains Moderate Peril, and I thought I could offer some thoughts on the topic as well.

Like Roger, I tend to get seasonal beers when their seasons come around, but I don’t tend to every really drink light beers (pilsners and the like). If you go back to the beginnings of my drinking career, I didn’t even drink beer. We mostly bought bottles of cheap spirits and drowned them in juice or soda and got our kicks that way. At some point I was introduced to “good” beer, which prior to I hadn’t had much outside of the big ones like Budweiser or Miller. Some early roommates of mine introduced me to Heineken and other “skunky” brews that I took a liking to, eventually graduating to things like Sam Adams (and a variety of their seasonal brews) and Guinness. I still enjoy the latter two, but I tend to only drink dark beers, outside of IPAs.

That was a more recent addition the repertoire. When I met my girlfriend, I remember still buying 12 to 18 packs of Miller Lite and other watery beers, and we would drink and drink and pee and pee and well, you get the picture. At some point someone bought her some Lagunitas IPAs and from there she was hooked. I didn’t immediately enjoy them, but had tried and enjoyed a few IPAs in my day, so I started an experimental phase and found a number of great tasting IPAs that I buy on a regular basis. I also found beers like the Old Rasputin Russian beer that is fabulous – it’s dark, it’s strong, and it tastes good.

The main reason for enjoying IPAs though is less about the flavor and more about the alcohol percentage. See, with your typical Bud Light you’re probably getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5% alcohol per volume. Most IPAs start around 6%, so you’re already doubling up on the percentage and are able to drink less beers, hence less bathroom breaks. It also means only needing to pick up a 6 pack for that gathering, rather than an 18 pack, and yeah,  you’ll probably have to be that guy who doesn’t share but fuck em, right? It was BYOB and you handled shit son! Anyway, many of the IPAs that I drink are in the 7.5-9% range, and I find that I don’t have to drink too many to get a nice buzz, and when you have to nap in the middle of the day, that’s a good way to bring it on. If nothing else, I’m now a cheaper date. I’m sure my lady appreciates that.

Let Vacation Begin

It’s been a while since I’ve done an IRL check-in, and well, things have progressed.

I’m still satisfied with my job. It’s a breeze, but it’s busy work to the point where you don’t realize the time has gone by. As much as I wake up at 2:30 am and hate my life decisions, I blink a couple of times and I’m coming home. I feel like the routine has set in to the point where I can have a semblance of a normal life despite having to do much of my sleeping during the day. However, as most good jobs go, there are benefits that make up for these hours. One of those benefits is PTO time that racks up rather quickly. I have nearly 100 hours banked already after just six months, and I’m just about to use 40 of those. The Magic Fest convention is next week, so I’ll be there from the 22nd to the 25th, but my normal days off are Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t see the point in two days off, working a day and then having six more days off, so I opted to take the additional day for a total of nine days off. Vacation started today, and though it’s plenty of time I already know it will fly by. I just hope to get as much fun and relaxation in as possible.

For the next couple of days I have to be productive in that there are last minute things to take care of, some chores to do before I go, along with at least four days worth of blog posts I’ll have to get scheduled (on top of writing the three prior to leaving). Then I’ll be back to normal come Monday, where I’ll do my normal things and hopefully feel like I had a great time before heading back to work on Wednesday. Excitement for the convention is setting in. I have other plans for Vegas as well, so I’m looking forward to a multitude of things and I haven’t even left yet.

Once this vacation is over though, it’s time for hard core savings mode. We have to move by the end of the year or attempt to buy the house we’re living in, so I have a lot of pressure coming up. I’m not going to go into more detail as I’m trying to escape responsibility/reality for the next few days. But I know that life is coming, and it’s coming hard for me. I intend on spending my free time while not in Vegas playing more video games. There are several that I started within the last couple of months that I have not completed, so I’m going to try and strike some off of the list. Should hopefully provide some more blog fodder.

I have some drafts lined up, so there should be a good variety coming soon. Looking at a post about rewatching older TV shows, some MTG brews, the coming football season and of course more gaming stuff. Blaugust is past the 50% mark and I’ve successfully kept up, so I’m not going to give up now, but honestly today I looked at my drafts and just didn’t want to write about any of it. I’m sure I will be recharged after a good night’s rest though, so I’ll get some more stuff out there for your eyeballs to read in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by.

Let The Scapegoating Begin (Again)

As much as this has become the norm in America, to the point where most people shrug this off despite the fact that at any random moment, you could eventually be in the wrong place at the wrong time, becoming a victim of this very same phenomenon. Of course the phenomenon I’m speaking of is the proliferation of mass shooting sprees that have become more commonplace all throughout the country. I’m not going to go into my thoughts about gun laws or gun control — it’s an argument I don’t feel like having at this moment. But seeing two mass shootings occur in under 24 hours just a week ago brings these topics to the forefront. Clearly there is a problem, it’s clear that other countries seem to have found alternate progress, it’s clear that the majority of people in this country don’t see a problem, and that leads to the point of this article.

When a country is unable to find a way to either get rid of something that is causing an issue or finding a solution that will curb the negative consequences, the next step is to find a scapegoat. This isn’t a new concept, you can ask minorities, LGBT’s, other groups along with inanimate objects how things have been pinned on them that they really had nothing to do with. There are still preachers out there teaching people that atrocities and natural disasters are attributed to butt sex for fuck’s sake. There are clearly more Nazis and the like in this country that have shown their true colors since the turn of the century. Apparently no one showed them American History X.

What first caught my attention was a couple of articles about big companies essentially throwing video games under the bus. First, Walmart has decided to drop any and all advertising for “violent video games,” and yet they are one of the country’s largest firearms retailers, and they aren’t pulling those from shelves. Nope. Never that. Not in ‘Merica.

Next, despite seeing advertisements hyping another eSports televised event, ESPN delays the next Apex Legends tournament saying:

“Out of respect for the victims and all those impacted by the recent shootings, ABC will no longer air ‘EXP Invitational APEX Legends at X Games’ on Sunday,”

I understand “respect” but I don’t see how a video game tournament encourages racist assholes to shoot up markets, schools or concerts. I understand that there are people in pain, but how does advertisements at Walmart about video games or video games being on TV do anything about the real problem? I, and millions of people just like me, have been playing video games for years, or decades and have not committed violent crimes. Most gamers I know don’t even own a gun. I’m not saying I know what causes people to go out and shoot a ton of strangers, but I honestly can’t see it being games, Marilyn Manson, or The Sopranos. Culturally, violence has been glorified since the dawn of time. But to live in a society, we must learn to get along. Governments, laws, borders and all of that doesn’t really mean a thing when it comes down to it, and yet we place so much value on these things. Humans deserve a chance to live a happy life. It’s unfortunate that this usually means taking from others.

I found an interesting piece about the scapegoating of video games throughout the years, and it has literally been since their inception. I’d read that, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Random Friday Ramble

I already posted once today, but I thought I should get one more in today due to the fact that I haven’t been writing much of anything lately and want to get my post count for the month up just a bit. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, I still feel the urge quite often as a matter of fact, but I haven’t been gaming as much either lately, so that makes it harder to have things to share with you. Sometimes these sorts of posts are therapeutic and allow me to gather my thoughts and thereby come to a decision.

So why am I not gaming as much lately? I want to place most of the blame on my work schedule, but I know that’s not entirely true. It is a fact that I work graveyard/early morning hours, so things like sleep have to be done during the day. We also get released at different times each day, though the average is about 10 am. On days when I’m off early, I think about all of the games I could be playing and therefore writing about, but once I’m home and settled I’m usually no longer in the mood. There are days when errands need ran and/or family obligations take up my free time. Sometimes I have visitors and other times I go to little social gatherings. My social life has improved since moving back out here, but that does detract from hobby time. I’m good with a fairly even split, but lately it feels like real life has taken more of a toll and I’m tired and grumpy most of the time, which is probably a drag for those around me. I’m coming to grip with different parts of my life and the changes that have come along with them, and these things take time.

Another part that makes me sad is the lack of frequency in which I play Magic: The Gathering. A couple of years ago I had a regular play group of 3/4 guys and we played once a week, rarely missing — this went on for at least a year or thereabouts. Then one of the guys moved and we were down to two regulars including myself. 1v1 MTG is fine, but it’s not the format we prefer so this meant going to local game stores to try and find more people to play with. We did that for a while and then it too tapered off to the point where we played maybe once a month. We had our third player out a couple of times and went to Vegas last year, but overall my time with the game is down when it comes to actually playing. I do still find the time to make new brews, keep up on news and new sets, and of course write about it — but it’s just not the same. Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend come to visit on occasion so I do still end up playing here and there, and I did make one trip out to play with my old roommate this year; Vegas is also upcoming again this summer. But outside of these rare gatherings I’m not playing much and I want that to change. I’m seriously considering finding an LGS that I can go to more often. Fingers crossed for me.

I think one reason I’m not gaming as much is because I’m not hooked on anything right now. All of the games I own aren’t doing anything for me at present. I know I have a backlog that I have made some progress through but it’s still a tall task. I was playing Destiny 2 pretty regularly but I’ve gotten bored of it, shy of completing Forsaken. There’s already rumors of a Destiny 3 in the works, so there’s the whole prospect of starting all over again by next year and I’m not sure I even want to. I wanted to grab RAGE 2 so I had something new to play on my PC which has been collecting dust lately, but then it ended up with some bad reviews and I just don’t know if it’s worth my $60. Thinking I’ll wait for a sale there. On the horizon are the Crash Team Racing Remake, DOOM Eternal, and Borderlands 3 that I’m definitely into, but they aren’t out yet so that doesn’t help. I’ve been paying attention to my wish list and Steam, we know the Summer Sale is coming soon, and I see that I could grab Battletech or XCOM2’s expansion on the cheap, but I’m not sure I want to do that either. The Steamworld series just got a new entry as well with Steamworld Quest, and that looks pretty good too for the money, but again, my malaise has been sticking for a while.

Perhaps another purge is in order. Just delete the games I’ll never feasibly see the end of and pretend they don’t exist. I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Then perhaps a shorter list will provide some answers. Or maybe I just have to buy my happiness. Whatever the case, thanks for hanging out and listening to me ramble.

Life in 2019

It’s been a couple of months since I did an IRL check-in and because the amount of blogging I’ve been doing has tapered off a bit, I thought I’d take some time on my Sunday evening (which is actually Wednesday, but such is life when you work at a 24 hour establishment) to talk a little bit about what’s been going on. First, a quick recap:

We decided to move away from LA due to crazy cost of living to a more inland location which is a place I had lived a good portion of my life. This happened back in September of 2018. We knew that we were going to move by the end of December, and though I started looking for work starting back in September, I didn’t really get much in the way of progress going until December, in which I took a few days off of work to come out here and have some interviews. I essentially applied and had the interview for my current job all within the same month, but I didn’t have any solid answers about if I actually got the position by the time we had moved out here. Things were tense. Money was tight.

I kept looking for work, but then in mid-January I was called by my current employer who asked me to go in for a drug test. I was told I would be contacted by Backgrounds next, but the call didn’t come for a couple of anxious weeks. Once I received that call it was time to produce documents, get finger printed and jump through any other hoops they deemed necessary. Thankfully I passed all of the tests and was hired at the beginning of this month, and well, that should explain some of my absence.

I work a graveyard/early morning shift. The position is salary so there are days when I get to go home early and still get paid for my eight hours, which is a plus. There’s paid benefits, retirement, etc. The hours aren’t great but the salary is decent and cost of living is way down compared to where we were, so all in all its a move in the right direction. My girlfriend has managed to get some income as well, so we are doing well again, and the stress that I had has been relieved. My schedule however is another beast. I’m pretty much used to it by now, but it is a daunting task to go to bed in the afternoon. Sometimes I come home and take a nap followed by a waking period followed by another nap before I get up at 2 am to head in to the job. Other times I stay up until the evening and then get one bigger chunk of sleep. Neither has really been a preference, and being able to have that flexibility means I can always get things done or sleep, whichever comes first.

So bottom line, I appreciate your patience with me, I hope to get back into the swing of things, but blogging on the regular is hard when you don’t have as much time to play games to blog about. I had one advantage at my last job and that was the ability to occasionally blog at work, which will never happen here. It’s not a big deal though, I have had major life changes many times over the life of this blog, so I know I’ll settle into a new routine and find the balance once again. I haven’t had as much time to game/blog, but I have been doing some stuff, so I’ll break that down for you now, as it should outline near future posts.

I didn’t have the financial ability to attend the prerelease for Ravnica: Allegiance due to the above described scenario, but having an income again means the ability to dink and dunk my way into more Magic Cards. I still have a dozen or so decks in the works and I’m always finding cards from the new sets to brew around, or cards to add to my existing decks. As such, I purchased a Fat Pack, the Guild Kits and some extra packs from the new set, and I’m happy with the purchase. I happened into Teysa Karlov and Judith, the Scourge Diva which are two decks I’ve written about recently wanting to build, and the guild kits are excellent ways to supplement your collection along with packing in cool dice, stickers and pins. My girl also got me one of those mystery cubes they sell at the box stores and I got a handful of cool cards out of that as well.

I started a big MTG card organization project. I had done this is the past where I separated all of my commons/uncommons into boxes based on colors and took the rares/mythics out and put them into a binder. Over the course of the last few sets, I acquired a good amount of cards that I had thrown into a single box and needed to sort through. I completed step one of this today by getting those commons/uncommons into their appropriate boxes, and now the other box has mainly EDH staples and things I see myself actually using in it. Next up is going through those cards to put them into current decks and those in progress. Then I’ll have to pick the next deck I want to finish and purchase the singles necessary, though I have a wishlist a mile long for singles as it is, just to have them while they’re less expensive than they’ll eventually be.

On the gaming front, I’ve been crawling my way through Resident Evil 2, and haven’t played as much as I would have liked. I intend to play more this evening. It’s been a blast from the past so far, and I intend to share my thoughts once I complete both Leon and Claire’s campaigns. I’ve also played more Apex Legends, but not as much as my best friend. I went to his house the other day and we were taking turns on his account and rolled over level 26, while I’m a lowly 13. Apparently I’ve created a monster, as I was level 4 or 5 when I first saw him jump on. We’ve found another of our local friends that plays as well, so I might just have a dedicated team of three to play with so that’s promising. I have a pretty good knowledge of the map at this point and have had a few dozen kills spread about a few characters. Still have only managed one win to this point though, but I’ve been top 5 multiple times.

A while back on Twitter I bitched about wanting my job to start because I had RE2 and Magic cards and Anthem to buy, and obviously I accomplished the former two things, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on Anthem yet. I still think it looks like a great game, but there has been a fair share of positive and negative reviews along with plenty of opinion on how it could be better or why it’s the worst. I’m completely torn about it at this point, mainly because it’s a $60 title. I could justify buying it with my next pay check, and though some bloggers I trust have said good things, I’ve also fallen into this trap before with games like No Man’s Sky or Monster Hunter World. I don’t want to end up regretting the purchase, so I’m still on the fence. Plus, I haven’t completed the last two Bioware games, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda are still on my hard drive ready to go… perhaps I should finish them first?

Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. At this point I’m just enjoying myself as much as possible in my free time, and I’m hoping to get more settled to where I can blog more often and potentially podcast again. Thanks for hanging out while I checked-in. Happy gaming, where ever you find yourself.