All Hallows 2017

Halloween has always been one of my more favored holidays — when we’re kids we trick or treat and get loads of candy, later on in life we attend parties and dress up. It’s a great way to leave reality behind for a night and pretend to be someone or something else. The older we get it seems that we don’t participate as often as we used to. I don’t see the wild Halloween parties raging all night anymore, but we still hold to traditions, don’t we?

I spent part of the weekend in fall/halloween mode. We carved pumpkins on Sunday with the roommates and then started up a fire in the backyard and made s’mores. Drinking around a fire is something I hadn’t done in a long time and it was relaxing!

My contribution to the pumpkin display

This evening we’ll be taking my girlfriend’s son trick or treating and that will be the end of the festivities. I didn’t really put together a costume but found a t-shirt that will keep me on theme with the rugrat. I thought I’d take this time to say Happy Halloween to everyone, and also to share some of my favorite on-theme musical tracks for the holiday. Enjoy!

AFI – Fall Children

The Misfits – Halloween

The Black Dahlia Murder – A Shrine to Madness

The Next Chapter

As I mentioned in my last post, the big move was this past weekend. I managed to get everything packed up and my boss was gracious enough to let me utilize the work truck to move, so we had the plan set.

By 10 am I was ready to go. Shortly thereafter, my co-worker arrived with the truck and we had it loaded within 30 minutes. A short drive later, we were loading up my girlfriend’s last bits of furniture and an even shorter drive after that, we were at the new place. I had only seen it for the first time the night before, but I was happy with our new digs and we already had somewhat of a game plan to set up the rooms we were taking over. Throwing everything inside went quickly and after the truck was emptied we paid my friend with a pastrami sandwich from The Hat, and sent him on his way.

The rest of the day was spent trying to figure out where to squirrel away all of our shit. My girlfriend has a ridiculous amount of clothes and we had very little hanging space in our closet, so we had to make some adjustments. Regardless, we managed to basically set up our room and her son’s room before the end of the night. We did call it a little early so we could drink some beers, and we ended up crashing out shortly thereafter.

It’s amazing how much shit goes into moving house. Not only is there the packing and physical moving aspect, but you forget just how much shit you need after you have settled in. For instance, the shower head in my bathroom was garbage, so we had to buy a new one of those. We had to go grocery shopping to get the fridge full again, and we had to buy some other assorted odds and ends to accommodate our things. By mid day we had our stuff situated, but our roommates (with a much larger house and more stuff) were still working on things when I left for work this morning. They’ll likely not be completely done for a while, but they are buying the house so it’s not like they have to rush.

There’s no Internet just yet. Apparently the appointment is tomorrow, which is why I’m writing this post from work. I have a bunch of address changing to do but it is so much easier on the web so I’m just going to wait til this weekend (or one evening) to worry about it. There are locks being changed this week as well, so I should have my set of keys soon. All in all the move went fairly smooth, but given my professional experience with moving, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Looking ahead, I think I’m going to have more spare time to devote to gaming and other creative endeavors. Blogging should hopefully be a more regular thing as well. One of the guys I just moved in with is interested in podcasting, as is one of his friends so we might get started on that within the next couple of months. I’m also toying with the idea of reviving Couch Podtatoes, mainly because the other podcast is likely to be very specific, and I still want my broad gaming/culture outlet. CP I can start on my own and keep going by myself so I’m less worried about it. The other podcast is going to take some work to get going, so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to completely overload myself either, so time will tell.

For now, you can rest assured that I will have more content coming in many of the forms I used to provide. Thank you for supporting me during my lull.

The End of an Era

Tonight marks the last night I will be staying at my current place. A new chapter is being written in my book, and with it the last page of the last chapter of the last book is coming to a close.

Just last month I passed my 3 year anniversary of when I first moved to Los Angeles from Riverside. I suppose there is more backstory and facts that could be presented, but suffice to say that I have lived in the two areas nearly my whole life, having gone back and forth between the two due to divorced parents. I had been out there longer than any other one city/town in my whole life up until I moved 3 years ago (from high school until my early 30’s).

The past 3 years have been wonderful in many aspects. Not only did I move out of the shitty podunk town in which I used to live, but I began getting my shit back together. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that I had hit rock bottom and I have pulled myself up out of the ashes and have begun to move forward with my life. Starting over is difficult, but I have managed to go from an unlicensed and unemployed single person living with family to a licensed and employed person who is moving in with his girlfriend tomorrow.

The new place is just another stepping stone in a long line of stepping stones. It was about 5 or 6 years ago that I decided to go back to school and pursue higher education. I finished my Associates degree pretty readily but have had some pitfalls in the time since. I really don’t have all that much left to do to finish my Bachelors degree, and that is the first bit on my itinerary once I’m moved — I want to finish my education.

From there, the goal is to get a better job. We are going to have roommates at the current place and one of them happens to work for the school district, so I’m going to keep my ear to the ground and perhaps I’ll be able to get a job working there, which would be an improvement over my current employment. Again, stepping stones. My lady an I also want to eventually have our own place without roommates (which is so damn hard out here due to how high the cost of living is) so that will be our goal once we have both found better, higher paying jobs.

After that, the sky is the limit. We have spoken about the possibility of moving out of state, and that is something that other members of my family have also made mention of, so there is a real possibility that I will move out of California within a few years. That’s still up for debate, but if I could find a decent wage and it would go farther along with having a more temperate climate I’m all for it. I don’t really care where I live as long as there is fast Internet.

So I have to finish packing the remaining bits and bobs tonight, and tomorrow my boss is letting me borrow the truck to move my shit over to the new place. I’m really looking forward to a new chapter in my life and having it turn back around in a few short years. If all works out as I expect I should be doing really well by the time I’m 40, and that’s only 5 years away.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Wall of Text Version 2.0

I was going to make this into a State of the Game post, but since I’m writing from work and I don’t have any screenshots or other goodies to spice it up, I decided a wall of text post was in order. I have a bunch of mini-updates about my various activities and thought a random stream-of-consciousness style of post was in order. So here goes.

I’m not sure if you guys caught it, but I made mention earlier in the month of a coming event that would change up my personal life a bit. For the past year and a half (or maybe a bit more) I’ve been dating a woman off and on. Things have had their ups and downs as most relationships go, but we have soldiered on and are stronger for it. She has lived with one of her long term friends for almost a year now, and since she moved in there, I have become friends with her roommates. Her friend’s husband is the one who got me back into Magic, and that has grown into a full on weekly playgroup and has been a blast.

Recently it was brought to our attention that the married couple put in an offer on a house. It’s not far from where they live currently, which in turn is not too far from my current house or my work. The house they are buying is in escrow until September, so this isn’t a done deal just yet, but at one point they approached my girlfriend about her intentions going forward. They wanted her to move with them but wanted to see where she stood, at which point she brought up the possibility of me moving in as well. It’s not the optimal situation in that I would prefer to live on my own without roommates, but it is going to get me out on my own again after living with family for nearly three years, and for that I was open to the idea. Things have progressed nicely in my relationship, and this is the next logical step. As such, we are looking forward to this next chapter in our lives and the big change will come soon.

How does that affect other parts of my life? Well I think once I’m moved and settled, I’ll be able to devote more time to gaming and in turn more time to creative outlets. I’ve kept up the blog but I have a more limited output than in years past. I have other aspirations as well, so I think being settled and having all my shit (and people) in one place will help to give me more time to devote to these things. It turns out that two of the members of my Magic playgroup are interested in giving podcasting (and perhaps other media creation) a whirl, so I may finally be getting back on the airwaves. It seems they are bent on making the podcast about MTG, but I may still be able to convince them to do other bits, or perhaps I’ll make the magic bit only certain episodes and do the rest solo. I will figure out the details soon, but I’d expect to see something new from me on that front before the end of the year.

We got together for our weekly session last night and I was able to debut my newly minted Locust God deck. It performed rather well, and I was able to pull off both the infinite combo with Ashnod’s Altar + Skullclamp, and a beatdown win with Shared Animosity. It was glorious. I played a round with Temmet and Molimo as well but those games didn’t go in my favor. Overall it was a fun night but we all want to play more games more often. It really is cardboard crack.

On the gaming front, I’ve spent the last month really digging into Killing Floor 2. At this point I’ve earned all but two of the trophies: One for reaching perk level 25 (maxing out one of the classes) and one for winning a round on the “hell on earth” difficulty (the hardest one available). I’m not far from being able to do both, and then I’ll have yet another platinum trophy for the collection. Recently they also added a carnival themed summer event where all of the monsters look like carnival “freaks” and they even added a new carnival map. There are some mini-tasks to complete that reward cosmetics — to this point I’ve earned a pig mask. Woo.

SMITE recently patched for the summer as well, which means new summer-themed skins and some quests to do. Quests in this game are fairly straight forward, requiring wins, or a number of kills/assists, etc. but they net various rewards during these seasonal events. Skins are usually only available for RMT. The biggest change though was that the account level cap was removed, so 30 is no longer the maximum level — it’s something over 100 now. The XP curve was leveled out and any XP earned post level 30 was automatically added, so I logged in and was instantly level 49. I assume there will be other benefits for leveling, but for now all I saw was a few new achievements, though they are in-game only and don’t net trophies. I’m at about 60 Gods mastered now, and only need a handful of trophies to “finish” this game off as well though I doubt I’ll stop playing it anytime soon.

Lastly, I’ve been spending my other free time in Final Fantasy XV. I’m about level 15 now, have made it into chapter 3 of the main storyline and have successfully cleared all of the side quests and hunts that are at or below my current level. I’m going the completionist route just because you get more trophies that way, and because the side quests give a decent amount of XP and gil, which makes traveling through the game that much easier. So far I love it. I even picked up the season pass, as a couple of episodic DLCs have released and the multiplayer expansion is coming soon. I’m curious to see how that affects the game.

That’s all for me for today. Just wanted to get some updates in and make another post before the month was over. Until next time, happy gaming!

Finding Life’s Balance

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about my personal goings-on, and since I’m lacking anything else of substance to write about I figured I’d do so now.

I’m partially inspired by Belghast’s recent post about needing a break. I’ve never been on any sort of regular schedule, and his ability to go for years posting every day is admirable, but as he noted in his post, sometimes you start to feel like it’s a job, and that’s no good. Also, it seems that more you post, if it feels forced, the content isn’t really all that great. I’ve had plenty of times during my twelve and a half years writing this blog that I wasn’t putting out the greatest content. Recently I’ve read over some of my older blog posts and have found some gems, where I was really hitting my stride and there was a bunch of community feedback as well. Lately, I’ve been talking about games and Magic, and though most of my audience is familiar with the former, I seriously doubt many are interested in the latter.

That comes down to the notion that I write for myself, not for an audience. However, writing for myself still brought about an audience, and that was multiplied through my involvement in the NBI, along with having run a podcast for a couple of years that helped to feed the blog. From what I know, the NBI didn’t happen this year, and my Podcast has been dead for almost a year. It’s clear that both of those facets had an impact on my traffic and involvement with the community, because blog stats show that I’m back to pre-NBI numbers and the decline has an effect on the desire to continue.

This isn’t an “I quit” blog post. Despite having written those words before, I always end up coming back, and I have faithfully posted a minimum amount of posts per month since my full-fledged return to blogging about four years ago. Granted, my return coincided with a period of unemployment, so I had more time to devote to writing, and in turn more time to devote to creating and running a podcast for two years. At this point I don’t have the same amount of time, having a full time job along with other life responsibilities, a girlfriend and a weekly Magic group. At the end of the day, my time has to be split between many things and I can’t focus on everything all the time. This means less time for gaming, so there’s less to write about and so on. It’s a cycle that has been on-going for my entire blogging career, and generally I don’t mind spending less time on it, though I still want to keep it going.

Going forward, I think some changes are in order. First of all, I have paused my Humble Monthly subscription. The service is a great value, but I keep getting games I already own or games that I’m not interested in to the point where it feels like it’s not really worth it. I’m just piling games onto the collection where they won’t get played. I may unpause if the next early unlock is worth my time, but otherwise I think I might be done with it. I’ll still be getting free games from my Playstation Plus subscription, so it’s not a total loss. As such, you can count those monthly posts out. I will be keeping my War Report (MTG) and State of the Game (gaming roundup) posts going, on no particular schedule, because they are long running and I feel like they serve their purpose. Of course there will still be filler posts in between when something comes up that is worth writing about.

There is something on the horizon that might change up the amount of free time I have. I have also been in talks with a friend about the whole Podcast thing, as I really want to start a new one but it’s been something I’ve procrastinated about. If the big change happens, it’s possible that it will come to fruition, finally. I should also have more time to devote to my hobbies, which include gaming and writing, so you may see more activity from me in the coming months. If not, you can expect the handful of posts that I’ve stuck to for the past few months. Needless to say I’m not going anywhere, just wanting to be open about what is to come.

I’ve also spent some time cleaning up the blog a bit. There were some dead links on my sidebar and I’ve added some new bits to the top navigation, which will allow you to see my major columns without any of the filler. I’m only leaving the Couch Podtatoes stuff up for the time being until I figure out the next podcast, and then those bits will be updated. Perhaps if I get back to paying for hosting, I’ll upload the old episodes so they are back online again. Time will tell.

I spent more time cleaning up my Steam and Playstation libraries. I’ve gone through and deleted a bunch of games I’m simply never going to play. There were a lot of those — games that I picked up on sale with the intention of playing but never got around to it. I used to get hung up on making sure that I beat every game I purchased; at this point it’s easy for me to realize that I’m not going to play something, or that I simply don’t like it and away it goes. With nearly 350 games on Steam, it’s clear that those that have been beaten can be removed from my hard drive, and those that won’t ever be played should also be parted with. There are games that I want to play through that will stay, but I’m going to make efforts to start clearing them out because it’s time to stop spending the money and not actually enjoy the games I’m buying. I’m also spending more money on Magic than I’d like to admit, so that cuts into gaming funds, so perhaps this will keep me from buying new games and just play the ones that I have. So perhaps a new series about clearing the backlog is in order. We’ll see what I come up with.

Just wanted to touch bases with everyone. Glad to see that some familiar faces are still around, and I hope that you all find enjoyment in your free time. Happy gaming!