So Long, 2020

Well damn, that was a year, wasn’t it?

Honestly I fell into a funk when it came to blogging, and though I tried to get the ball rolling again last month that didn’t quite work out. There’s still tons of things I could share, but instead I’ve been focused on just doing the things. Experiencing things. I really wish I had more free time and could make a living off of content creation, but it’s probably not in the cards.

I have been pondering Podcast/YouTube things again, but I already know I don’t really have the time to devote to it. I’m honestly not sure how I used to work a full-time job, play a ton of games and produce audio and video content on top of blogging regularly. These days I’m tired when I get home and I don’t want to do anything except play MTG or a game or just sit and drink a beer and watch something on the tube. Some of my friends were very gung-ho on producing video and audio content with an MTG focus, but that too seemed to fall by the wayside. I already know what goes into producing these things, and I can’t claim to have been very good at it. I’d love to do it, and I’d love to improve, but sometimes it’s easier to just sit down and bang some written words out on a keyboard.

I’d love to promise that big things are coming, but I’m not sure. I’m not entirely happy at my job and I have been contemplating a change. If that change happens and manages to align with extra free time that would enable me to do something creative, so be it. If nothing else, I’d love to get back to regular posting, and I think part of that will be easier if I stop trying to over produce things, and just bang out some random bullshit a couple of times a week. Perhaps just getting the wheels turning again will inspire me to do more. I’m not the type to do New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m in a spot where I want to do something. And I’m leaning more towards audio/video. I know I’d likely have to start a whole new branding campaign to even do something like that though, and perhaps that would lead to the shuttering or reduced capacity of this blog. I’m at an impasse.

Whatever the case, I hope you all have a great 2021, and hopefully I’ll have something exciting to share in the future.

So Long, 2020.

Two Months Later…

So. Yeah. It’s been almost two months since my last post. I honestly don’t know where my motivation to write went, and over the first few weeks of my time away, I wasn’t even really thinking about it. That nagging feeling that I have things to say and should write them down has come back around over the last week or so, and though it doesn’t really matter to many, I think it does help my mental state to jot things down, however irrelevant it may be.

Life changes happened a while back. I was let go from one job, and then started another. It included a pay raise, so that’s nice, but it’s also a more strenuous position so I have had less energy to devote to hobbies. I’m also back among the living, in that I no longer work a night shift, and instead work a normal 9-5 with Fridays and Saturdays off. This is a boon to my sleep patterns, but has adjusted my free time. Previously I was able to come home from work, and outside of adult responsibilities, I had the time to blog and watch YouTube and play Magic and play video games. Later I’d do dinner and then head off to bed before getting up early in the morning to work. Being on a new schedule is nice as I get more time at home with the family where I’m actually awake, but I also no longer have the same days off nor does my time off line up with the playgroup and other friends I used to spend my free time with.

As such, my typical work day ends at about 6:30 when I get home, and I usually just hang out before bed. I’ve watched more TV and YouTube than anything, but have played some games here and there. I almost solely play MTG on my days off, as it’s the only time players I know are around. Most of the guys I’ve played with throughout the course of this year are either east coast US or in Europe so they’re off to bed by the time I could play during the week. I suppose I could play with randoms, but I do prefer playing with at least one friend when I get the chance.

So this isn’t to say that I’ve haven’t had things to say, it’s definitely been more of a lack of motivation to sit down and do this. The last post I wrote was about MTG and the first one I want to post beyond this is about spoilers for the next set. I’ve brewed and played a bunch of new decks that I’d like to share as well. I’ve also been playing Apex Legends semi-regularly again, and have some commentary about a bunch of games I haven’t talked about here on the blog. I’m not sure how fast I’ll get around to these things, and honestly I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to do it. I don’t want to get to a point where this feels like work again, I’d prefer to keep it cathartic.

I’m working on a post for Commander Legends, which has been fully spoiled and I have thoughts. I have a bunch of drafts I’m going to try and clean up, as they are still sort of relevant. Also, I should note that I won’t be bothering with my football column this year as it’s already halfway through the season. Anyway, I’ll be back soon with stuff. Hello to those of you still around!

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.