Category Archives: Thoughts

My musings.

A Long Rant About A Game I Used To Love

“This year is going to be different,” I told myself. “This year I’m going to set some challenging yet attainable New Years Resolutions and actually stick to them. No excuses, no delays…just doing what I want to achieve, and what I can achieve.”

Well, so much for that, eh? I blame my wisdom tooth. It was extracted on the 20th Feb and between the initial pain (bad), the dry socket (worse, much worse), and the subsequent removal of the emergency dressing (not so painful, but the horrible aftertaste lasted forever), it took over three weeks to recover. Doesn’t explain the time before the surgery, nor the period between recovery and now…but hey, I’ve been busy working, and playing Gears, and watching Supernatural, all super important tasks (Supernatural especially, for a special reason I’ll announce eventually – perhaps next month when I discuss my other TV obsession), so when did I even have the time?

Yep…totally justifiable delays. Besides, I can just change the goal posts, and say by January, I meant 20th March (when better to restart than the one month anniversary of losing my tooth?). Boom Nailed it.

Ahem.

So today’s post (or this month’s post, if I am to stick to my plan), is about gaming. And how, despite my efforts to become a professional Gears of War 4 player, I am, in many ways, falling out of love with my favorite pastime.

I should preface this by saying, my attitude towards gaming could and should (I hope) change in a matter of hours when Mass Effect Andromeda comes out. I’m expecting it to be awesome, and if it is, then everything in the world is great again and I’ll be super happy. Hours* away, guys! I’m seriously hyped right now. I can’t even stand it!

And yet, reality grounds me. As much as I love the Mass Effect series, the potential greatness of Andromeda will not change the fact that I’ve been largely unimpressed by the recent standard of mainstream games, and my general apathy to new games means I view even this upcoming launch with apprehension.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t good games on the market, nor am I saying the industry as a whole is regressing, just that the games I’ve bought in the past couple of years have disappointed me. Gears of War 4 aside (a game that is also far from perfect; were it not for the competitive scene I’d probably have stopped bothering with it), I haven’t loved a new game for a long time. In fact, on the Xbox One, I’d say there’s only been two games that have really drawn me in – Dragon Age Inquisition and Sunset Overdrive. Everything else I’ve played has either immediately or gradually pushed me away.

Annoyingly, I can’t really explain why I feel this way. Perhaps it is inevitable now that I’m working, my time is more valuable so I have to become more selective over games. By necessity, my standards are much higher than when I was a feckless teen with time to kill. It would make sense. The games I criticize the most (more on that shortly) are supremely popular games. Millions of people enjoy them, and I feel like an older version of me would be included in those millions. Therefore, it must be me.

But then again, is having higher standards my fault? My problem, sure, but when my biggest issues aren’t to do with superficial issues like the graphics, but core features of the game, such as the plot or character development, I think I’m right to be critical. True, in the past, I could have bypassed a ‘meh’ story to play a game (looking at you, Army of Two sequels), but when a game is attempting to motivate me with a powerful narrative, and that narrative is fundamentally flawed, I can’t be blamed for losing interest. Nor can I be blamed for voicing my disapproval at such a poorly written/devised game, a point which brings me to the worst offender on my personal hate list…Fallout 4.

Now, I will preface this by saying I never completed Fallout 4 and it’s been a long time since I played it. However, I did commit over 50 hours before reaching my breaking point, and I have in spoken at length to a fellow gamer who did complete Fallout 4 yet agreed with my criticisms, so I think I’m on solid ground here. If you disagree, please tell me why. If you haven’t played Fallout 4 but want to read on anyway, be warned that there are some SPOILERS ahead. And if you have no interest in Fallout 4, or gaming in general, I apologize, as this blog post probably isn’t for you. Unless you really enjoy a good story, then you should read on regardless so you can comprehend my anger.

Urgh, Fallout 4. So much promise. If you were around me prior to the game’s release, you would have known how giddily eager I was to play. Once it came out, that’s all I did. I was immediately encapsulated with the world, even more so than I was with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. It was my biggest obsession for weeks. It wasn’t perfect, there were flaws, but I loved it…until those cracks in the game’s foundation became too big to ignore. Despite my best efforts to use my mind canon to fix them (mind canon is like Sherlock Holmes’ mind palace, just it only revolves around making my experience within a game make sense), the damage was done. Fallout 4 no longer appealed to me. I stopped playing completely. And though there are aspects of it I still think of fondly, I don’t think I’ll ever reload my save. Quite the damning statement, no?

So, what was wrong? Well, as I indicated earlier, the story was fundamentally broken, and only got progressively worse. How so? Well, let me break it down for you!

Issue 1: Story contradicts gameplay

First, a rough plot summary: after a nuclear war is initiated, you enter the safety of a vault with your partner and son, only to see your love shot and your son kidnapped while you drift into cryogenic sleep. You then wake up some undetermined time later with one goal: find your son. Pretty straightforward, right?

*sighs*

Now, I should explain that Fallout is a game series known for exploration. Fallout 4 is no different. You are encouraged to wander the radioactive wasteland, create settlements for other survivors, and kill every hostile force that dares to attack you in future Boston. This type of gameplay is what Bethesda arguably does best. However, this ideology downright conflicts with the premise of Fallout 4.

Admittedly, I’m not a parent so I could be wrong here, but I imagine if my baby was taken from me, I would spend every waking second searching for him. I wouldn’t be helping strangers unnecessarily, clearing out old buildings or helping the minutemen retake back their HQ. No, I would be entirely mission-orientated, an approach which is the complete opposite to how you’re supposed to play a Fallout game.

For someone who obsesses like I do, this contradiction is bloody horrible. I spent many fun hours going after side quests and building settlements, yet I could never displace the thought that I shouldn’t be doing this, I should be looking for my son. I tried to use my mind canon to explain why I was spending an insane amount of time building a junk wall around my primitive looking Sanctuary, but was largely unsuccessful in my efforts.

So, why didn’t I just do the story? Well, as I said, that would have been super boring and would mean ignoring Fallout 4’s greatest features. Besides, when I tried to get into finding my son, I ran into another problem…

Issue 2: The main story starts badly, doesn’t improve much

Another bit of background: after escaping the vault, you head back home and on the way, you save some settlers (or something like that, I forget). In this group is Mama Murphy, an old hag who happens to be a psychic. You give her some drugs, and she tells you to go to Diamond City, as that’s where your son was taken to first. Begin your quest!
Uh, no. No. Get out. I don’t care what gaming universe you are in, using a damn psychic to kick start your search is a load of crap. There is no bypassing her stupid prediction either – Mama Murphy literally initiates the bloody plot. It made me so angry, especially as Diamond City is the biggest settlement in the Commonwealth, and they could have done literally anything else (I know I’m overusing literally here, but that’s how utterly stupid this concept was) to get you to go there. You could have found a random dude and said “hey, I’m looking for my son, any ideas?” and after you shot him in the gut for trying to steal your stuff, he would have told you “never saw him, but he was probably taken to Diamond City because that’s pretty much the only place that isn’t filled with death, desperation and creepy dudes like me.”

Urgh.

Sadly, the story doesn’t get much better. You meet an investigator and track the man who took your son in a highly improbable way (I know dogs are great and all, but I don’t believe for a second even the best sniffer dog could follow a vague trail for miles, especially when a decent amount of time has passed since the dude went), and then…more things happen. I’m not entirely sure when I stopped caring, but it didn’t take long for the main story to mean nothing to me. I blame Mama Murphy for putting me on the wrong path. Well, the right path but you know what I mean.

To be fair, it isn’t all her fault. Another part of the problem is the dialogue tree. For Fallout 4, Bethesda took a Mass Effect approach to dialogue, giving their character a voice instead of block text at the bottom of the screen. I would generally approve of this, but it was too simplistic in Fallout 4. I could never ask the questions I wanted to ask, questions I feel I may have been given as an option if the protagonist was silent. And when I’m not given the option to ask questions, nor am I given the answers to these fairly obvious yet unspoken questions, I begin to ask myself questions instead, such as “why am I still bothering with this?”

The biggest example of wasted potential is the key plot to the story. Early on you are introduced to the idea of the Institute, a shady group that are suspected of replacing people with synthetic lookalikes. Their motives are unknown, but everybody is incredibly paranoid/scared of synthetics taking over. And even though I can’t ask an ousted synth some logical questions about how he exists (you go over some of it briefly, but nothing much in detail), I loved this angle. You can’t beat a good body snatching mystery!

Frustratingly, it doesn’t go anywhere. Even when you finally meet the Institute leader, the reasoning for their actions is never explored. You don’t get any answers as to why they are doing what they are doing. Or if you do, it happens after I hit my quitting threshold. After being told that I would learn the truth and promptly learning nothing despite completing at least 3 or 4 biggish quests for them, I gave up on the game. Sorry, but LOST, though I love it, took away all my goodwill towards never-ending mysteries. You need to give me some answers or I’ll find something better to do.

Now, this complaint is probably more of a story writing issue, or lack thereof, than it is about having a speaking protagonist (who should theoretically pull me deeper into the game…so much for that), but I do think the emotive yet uninformative dialogue tree hindered my enjoyment/understanding of the game. It wouldn’t, however, have helped with the biggest problem Fallout 4 has, which is…

Issue 3: There is no villain, and thus there is no point.

Fallout 4 tries to replicate the success of Fallout New Vegas by giving you factions to fight alongside. You have the Minutemen (a group that you lead, yet do every irrelevant task for because evidently nobody else can be bothered), the Railroad (who want to save the synths, and make you do irrelevant side quests despite being the only person who can achieve their goals), the Brotherhood of Steel (they want to take down the Institute by making you do everything), and the Institute.

Unlike Fallout New Vegas though, none of this really matters. There is no motive to care. The Institute, the apparent bad guys in the game, fail to really drive their evilness to you. As I indicated before, it isn’t explained. Are they even bad? I have absolutely no clue. I suspect Bethesda did this purposely so you could pick a side without being a bad person. Not everything is black or white in their world, and by leaving the story open and grey, the team you choose is effectively your interpretation of who you think is best. A neat concept but ambiguity is a detriment when the factions in Fallout 4 have no depth. Having checked the wiki page, it appears the end goal of the game is picking a side to destroy the others. Therefore, the worst response you can incite in your gamer is complete indifference to all your factions, because without the drive to pick a side, there is no reason for them to finish your bloody game. So they’ll stop playing.

And that’s what I did.

Annoyingly, explaining the Institute’s motives, even if showed them to be despicable human beings, wouldn’t have fixed the issue. Having an inherently evil group would have been great, obviously, and it would have helped me to pick a side. Not necessarily against them either – maybe I’m cool with being on the villains side. But the keystone of this issue is that, regardless of motivation, I need to make a choice. Bethesda had to force my hand and they never did. I got deep into the story without annoying a single one of the four factions, despite deliberately acting against two of them. The game was so determined to ensure I still had a choice, it actually showed me there was no consequences to my actions, and thus no point to playing.

How bad was it? Well, I intentionally screwed up two major Institute missions, categorically picking the other side, and yet they still wanted me to be their leader. What the hell?! In contrast, Fallout New Vegas provided a choice early on the game and I decided to shoot up one faction. From that point, I was their enemy. Even if I wanted to be their friend, I couldn’t, and that was awesome because it showed there was some meaning to my actions. Even if it screws my game up, I need consequences. Otherwise, what’s the point?

*deep breath*

BONUS NON-STORY ISSUE: The game never ends.

Fallout 4 boasted that even when the story is complete, you can continue to explore the wasteland. This isn’t a good idea. Games, even though we don’t want them to have one sometimes, need an ending. Yes, if you want to attempt to create the best settlement in the world, you should be able to do that. However, extending the runtime of the game by giving me the same side quest over and over again only causes me to hate you, Bethesda. It proves everything I do is meaningless (and I already know that, I don’t need the game to shove it in my face, thanks very much) because there is no consequence to my actions and nothing changes. Telling me to help the same settlement repeatedly, despite the fact I put fifty turrets around a junk wall that physically stops intruders, doesn’t tell me the game lives on, it tells me I’m stupid for still paying it.

Stories, even shoddy ones, need an ending, because there is no satisfaction or resolution without one. That’s why I’ll always pick Dragon Age over Skyrim, Mass Effect over Fallout. The fact that the Bioware games end with you wanting more is a damn sight more appealing than constantly clearing out the same cave or saving the same dopey settlers from ghouls for eternity. I’m not having it, Bethesda. I see through your bullshit. Preston Garvey, you can take your “settlement needs your help” crap elsewhere. I’m done.

*deep breath*

And that’s Fallout 4. A game that I once loved but ended up hating. Weak story, unchallenging gameplay (started fun, but got too easy) and infuriating bugs with my settlements just made it unenjoyable and unplayable. Maybe Fallout 5 will be better, eh?

*checks word count*

Boy, this got out of hand. I was going to also hate on Destiny, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Halo 5, but guess they’ll have to wait for another day. Sorry. My anger and disappointment at Fallout 4 ran deeper than I thought.

On the plus side, in less than two hours I can start playing Mass Effect Andromeda. Hopefully it’ll be everything I ever wanted. If not…well, shit.

Alex

——————————————-

*I wanted to post this blog post before Andromeda’s release, but because I’m an idiot, I didn’t start it until 5pm, 6 hours before release. And because I refuse to delay publication until a later date, this is effectively a first draft copy I’m sharing with you all. So, if the writing is poor in places (highly likely), or I waffle on too much (already know that one from the word count), I apologize. I promise I’ll edit next month’s post before publishing (if I don’t forget about it or get sidetracked) which will also be a more positive piece, as I’ll be talking about my new favorite show of all time, and of course, our big Supernatural news!

Until then,

Alex

My New Lab Coat Life

So after a two month hiatus, I have jumped back onto the working life treadmill (thanks for that phrase dad), and already I’m sick of it. Seriously it’s just…

Nah, it’s fine. I do admit going from having all the free time in the world to ‘here, have a few hours before you crash into a coma sleep’ has been an adjustment, but otherwise it’s been good. Next week (tomorrow; urgh, where did the weekend go?!) will be my fourth at Marshfield Food Safety, and it’s going well. It’s a completely different job to what I’ve done in the past, which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing. I’m not entirely sure what I can say about the job, but essentially we complete a variety of tests to ensure our client’s products are up to standard. It’s busy but I enjoy it.  Science has always interested me, so I enjoy learning more about the biology/chemistry side of food safety.

I also get to wear a lab coat everyday which is cool. Between that, the purple gloves and the safety glasses, I’m like a bona fide scientist. I even act like a scientist, what with my pipetting, plate counting, and, uh…other sciency things that I do. And my job title is Lab Analyst, so yeah, I’m all about the science.

Admittedly it might not be as glamorous as I’m portraying it, but it’s a good job. There is a lot of standing around mind, which wouldn’t be so bad if the benches were designed for tall people, but that’s probably still better for my posture than being slouched in an office chair, staring at a computer screen for eight hours.

I currently work 2nd shift, which is 11:00 to 19:30 (often goes beyond that, but thankfully I have only had to stay until 20:30 once). It isn’t too bad – I’m not a morning person so I love the lie ins – but I still need to find a balance to my leisure time. Currently I eat, play Gears for a bit and then watch Supernatural. I like doing that, but I really should find time for my book. Maybe if I only watch 2 episodes of Supernatural…hmm.

Anyway, what else can I say? Well, everyone has been very nice to me so far and there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which will be important later this year(big news coming up, just waiting for confirmation). Only disadvantage is that I work every third weekend, meaning I’ll might miss Chelsea play if they have a later kick off. Other than that though, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It’s a paying job and it’s a paying job I like. Yay for me, right?

Guess that’s it for now. There will be more updates coming up soon though. Our 2nd year anniversary is on Tuesday, and later this month Vanna starts college. Both momentous occasions that signify to me that the good things in life for us are only just beginning.  It doesn’t end there though, as in September we have a Trivium gig and a paintballing weekend marked in the calendar. And then there is the big news I mentioned earlier, which is in some ways far bigger than anything else in this paragraph. I can’t wait!

Alex

 

 

 

The Day I Set Fire To The Microwave…

I blame GQ magazine for the fire. A few years ago I had a yearly subscription to GQ because the boy Vanna used to care for was offering various magazine deals to raise funds for school. I actually wanted a gaming or football magazine, but as they weren’t available, I went for GQ instead.  I vaguely remembered reading a copy once, and it was cheap, so why not? Maybe I’d enjoy them.

As it happens, I only read 3 of the 12 magazines sent to me (turns out they are mostly about men’s fashion and grooming; two things I have no interest in whatsoever) but I did take one piece of advice. It was from an article on…something. Doesn’t matter; the helpful suggestion, however, was regarding dish sponges. Apparently they aren’t very hygienic, and you shouldn’t use them more than once. But if you aren’t a rich bachelor with money to spare (GQ’s target audience; again, not exactly me) and prefer to hold onto your sponges for more than ten minutes, they recommend you microwave them after each wash. It prolongs their life expectancy, you see.

So, for the past couple of years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wash the dishes and then bung the sponge in the microwave for two minutes. Sponge steam doesn’t smell too great, but at least I felt better about doing the dishes. Thanks to GQ, I was no longer a dirty commoner with a dirty sponge.  Totally worth the $24 subscription!

Cut to last week; there I am, doing the dishes like a good husband while Vanna is at work. I finish, chuck the sponge in the microwave and hit the button. I then start sweeping, because I’m a really good husband, while I wait for the magical purifying process to finish. But the regulation two minutes pass and the microwave is still going. Unfortunately I’m watching a particularly enticing episode of Border Control: Australia’s Front Line (the guy had drugs hidden on his body, I’m sure it) and don’t realize what I’ve done…until it was too late.

The smell got me first. A foul, acrid smokiness. Then I think, ‘did I hit the wrong button on the microwave?’ so I stop sweeping and head back into the kitchen. The answer? Yes, yes I bloody well did hit the wrong button on the microwave. The sponge is on fire and there is smoke everywhere. I yank open the microwave door and, uh, panic.

I don’t like fires, you see. I have no pyromania tendencies. I’ve never had a obssession with fire, or had to be warned to avoid flames. I’ve always known fire = bad. Heck, I don’t even use matches. I sit away from campfires. In fact, since an incident in my childhood when the trees bordering our property were set on fire (nothing to do with me, I hastily add), I’ve always had nightmares of my house burning down. So I can’t say I’m accustomed to dealing with open flames. This is probably why my first instinct, after a suitable injection of panic, was to blow on the sponge, like I was a 6 year old with a birthday cake and a wish to make.  Unsurprisingly, this did not put the fire out.

Thankfully my second instinct was more logical. Ignoring the fire extinguisher in our apartment (I refuse to be that guy), I grabbed an old hand towel (I wasn’t going to use a nice one, was I?), soaked it in water and then threw it onto the sponge. Boom, fire out, problem solved, I’m a hero!

Sadly, not everything turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to save the sponge; I had to throw the charred remains in the trash after one use, making me the exact person I hated to be.  And despite our best efforts, the microwave is stained. It still works, of course, but it seems the memories of my error will forever be engrained onto my favourite kitchen appliance. Every war has its casualties, I suppose.

Oh, and remember how I said smoky sponges don’t smell too great? Well it turns out burning sponges smell even worse. It took DAYS for that stench to clear. This isn’t a big apartment, folks, so it wasn’t like I could avoid it either. Granted, it was better than the residual puppy pee smell that seems to linger in the entryway, but that isn’t really saying much. Seriously, don’t burn sponges. You’ll regret it.

But we’re okay now, at least. The microwave still smells, but I’m confident a few months of zapping my leftovers will fix that. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience, one I think is worth repeating: folks, whatever you do, don’t read GQ.

All the best,

Alex

Oh, and before I go, I have news!

I have a job! Starting Monday 25th, I’m going to be a lab analyst for Marshfield Food Safety! It’s going to be very different from everything I’ve done so far, but I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.

 

 

So This Almost Happened…

Fortunately the little turd came home last night, almost 24 hours after disappearing. No idea where she went, or how she got back. All I know is that I searched for her at least ten times throughout the day (a day which had a heat advisory and tornado warnings), putting aside my daily schedule so I could find her. I knocked on houses, checked out gardens, got poison ivy…but despite the hours calling her name, got nothing in return.

Vanna had an even worse time, as she was stuck at work for ten hours. Neither of us could concentrate (I couldn’t write, couldn’t enjoy my gaming), too worried about our little kitten. When your cat is missing, the questions running through your head get worse with each passing hour. Is she trapped? Is she hurt? Did someone take her? Is she dying? Is she dead? Not knowing is a very frustrating and troubling experience. Automatically you think the worst, but until you know it for sure, there is no relief. It’s horrible.

Thankfully our story ending on a happy note, and she’s home safe. We don’t have answers (the grass was wet yet she was bone dry) but we have Anya, and that’s all that matters. However, this experience has told us that she is never going out again. We can’t risk losing our little one. Time to build the catio. She can enjoy the outside in a small space from now on.

Let’s not do that again, okay kitten?

Normal service will be resumed soon…once I’ve secured Anya’s future, and my heartbeat has returned to its usual pace.

Alex

Extended Weekend = Best Birthday Present

Howdy folks,

Happy Presidents’ Day! I love Presidents’ Day, largely because it means I don’t have to work today. A deserved break, especially after Friday’s stressful experience of working through my lunch.  How horrible is that? Not only was it the last day of the week, you know, a day when you’re supposed to ease yourself into the weekend relaxation mode, it was my birthday! Yet I had to work really hard, like it was my job or something! That’s just not right at all, is it? Pft. And, unfortunately, I think tomorrow is going to be even more hectic…

…But hey, let’s focus on the happier times; namely the events of both this weekend and last weekend. Starting with…

Ice Fishing

Good news: one of us won at the Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Bad news, it wasn’t me and it wasn’t because of our fishing skills.

As well as the fishing competition, prizes were given out for a variety of other things, like great displays found on the ice. Becky didn’t just have a prize-winning display, she also had grand prize-winning display! People came by to compliment her, take pictures of us and it, and the prize hosts interviewed her on the ice, as did the radio correspondent for the country station sponsoring the event.

Pretty cool, right? This was also the reason why this post took me a week to finish, as I wanted the official photos first and they weren’t on the internet last Sunday. Why didn’t I have my own? Well I forgot my camera and there was no way I was using my phone in those temperatures (the touch screen doesn’t recognize gloves and I wasn’t risking my fingers). Besides, the official photographer had a picture of me holding the big cheque so it was worth postponing the blog for that snap alone.

Well it would be…if I had the stupid picture. Despite my best (okay, not quite half-assed) efforts, I still can’t find the pictures online. I don’t know what is taking them so long, but I’ve looked on several of the sponsor websites and found nothing. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, or maybe they are really bad at keeping up with current events (I think 40:60 in their favour; going on the country radio website was like travelling back to the early 2000s). Whatever the reason, I have no pictures for you. Fingers crossed I can update this soon. Until then, just imagine me standing in front of a cardboard cutout (which is Tyler Lautner from Twilight dressed in army fatigues) holding one end of a big cheque. Sorry guys.

Sadly, me holding a fake cheque in a picture you can’t see is where the excitement largely ends. Here’s a breakdown of my time on the ice.

8am-12pm

Got on the ice early yet the bay already pretty populated (not sure of the turn out, but after the event was delayed a month questions were raised over the attendance; in the end, I don’t think it suffered too much). We picked our spot, got everything prepared, and waited for the gun to be fired. Nothing much to report there.

As part of the display, however, Becky had a radio playing in order to boost her chances of winning something extra. Unfortunately her radio and the massive speaker were both tuned to the country station. This would have been bad enough, but they were also out of sync, adding to my misery. Boy, it was rough. I wouldn’t care normally – country doesn’t make me angry like it does for the poor sods who’ve had to deal with it for their whole life – but the songs played that day were utter garbage, especially lyrically. I’m not expecting brilliance but…come on. The example below wasn’t the worst I heard last Saturday, but they are the lyrics from the only song I can remember as being terrible.

Saw Star Wars at least eight times
Had the Pac-Man pattern memorized
And I’ve seen the stuff they put inside
Stretch Armstrong (yeah)
I was Roger Staubach in my backyard
Had a shoebox full of baseball cards
And a couple of Evil Knievel scars
On my right arm
I was a kid when Elvis died
And my momma cried

It was nineteen seventy somethin’
And the world that I grew up in
Farrah Fawcett hairdo days
Bell bottoms and eight track tapes
Lookin’ back now I can see me
Oh man, did I look cheesy
But I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’
Oh it was nineteen seventy-somethin’

I hated every minute of it.

12pm – 1pm

Hour one of three went pretty quickly. Within seconds I saw my first person run by with a fish, which was considerably quicker than the first guy I saw last time, who carried their fish to the weigh station after a couple hours. Rather incredible timing to be honest, given that he’d somehow dropped a line, got a bite, reeled the fish in and bagged it in the time it took me to just lower my line. Probably went in sooner than noon, but whatever.

After that, the people with fish kept running by. After 5 minutes I’d spotted a couple more: at least double that in the next five…plus all the ones I missed. By half 12 there was at least 100 people in the queue behind me. Again, I saw only one person last time I was here in the full three hours…this was definitely a promising sign. Maybe even I would catch something!

1pm-2pm

Nope. Something nipped at my bait but at the same time I was sidetracked by Becky, who was losing her fishing rod to something in the water. She shouted something to me and I thought she was telling me to stop as I’d managed to hook her line. When I realized this wasn’t the case, my bite was done. And so went my involvement in the competition.

Becky did gather a crowd ten minutes later as she tried to reel in something huge…but when it then turned out to be a fish who’d drawn her line and someone else’s together, the bystanders wandered off. So much for that.

2pm-3pm

The rest of the event went without incident. The prize people went by, and Becky had her interviews and pictures. Otherwise, not a single bite or moment of excitement. My bait was super active though. Moving around the entire time, as if it was being chased. But it wasn’t. And that was about it.

4pm-

No snow on the roads meant pulling the sled up the hill and across to the car was horribly difficult. There’s no relevance to this…I just wanted to mention it.
Conclusion

So, better than last time I went, but that’s not exactly saying much once you consider how freezing and miserable 2014’s event was. Maybe 2017 will be better?

Hmm.

The most special day in February…my birthday!

Friday was definitely the hardest day of last week, mainly because of the work issues I mentioned before. After that we went to St. Cloud for an Indian meal at an Indian restaurant called Kohinoor. Ultimately this experience was fine, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t disappointing. I don’t really want to go into it, but essentially I wanted more and expected more. I miss the Indian food I used to eat in the UK!

Despite this longing, it was still a good evening. We went to the mall afterwards, where we wandered around, tried on some clothes, bought some board games (a topic for another day) and then shared a cinnamon roll. What else can I say? Birthdays are just another day for me now, only special because I receive gifts (which are gratefullly accepted, no complaints there) and can escape chores (good old ‘birthday weekend’ excuse). And to be honest, that’s enough for me.

As for yesterday, well that was spent with family. Nothing special. Between you and I, Vanna’s birthday in March is a more important day, and I’d rather do something for that than this corporate falsity of a holiday. Hopefully everything will come together in time…but I’m saying no more about that. Who knows who is reading?

Anyway, that’s the latest from our lives. Nothing much more expected in February, just work, work, and more work.

Speak to you next time!

Alex

A Short New Years Eve Post

Howdy folks,

Well I hope you all had a good Christmas break! It didn’t last long enough for my liking, but thankfully I have another three day break starting tonight. It offers much needed respite, or at least much wanted respite, and it should be a great time as I mostly plan to do absolutely nothing. Football, Xbox, lounging in my chair…oh yeah, I’m excited to do nothing, especially after the busyness of Christmas.

So what did I get up to last week? Largely what I said before; Friday and Saturday in cities, Sunday at home and with family in Brainerd. My favorite part was probably Thursday night though, eating curry and watching The Great Escape with the wife. We also opened our gifts from my folks, which was a good combination of  chocolate, British sweets, and some personal items. There was also a few other cool things we didn’t expect to get, like a personalized calendar and a Skye jigsaw that I might complete someday. It’s only 100 pieces…I’m sure I can manage that, right?

From the Vanna side, we got more food-related gifts and a cool knife which I’m looking to use at any occasion, whether it is necessary or not. The ‘big’ presents, aka my games, were bought in advance so no surprise there, though I have enjoyed playing Rise of the Tomb Raider during my Fallout 4 hiatus (it was getting too much for me, I could sense that I was losing enjoyment for it…should be good to play again after a few weeks though).

What else is going on? Well we still hope to see Daddy’s Home at some point, but that might not happen until midweek. Tonight Sharissa is coming over for New Year celebrations, and Friday we’re having dinner at Becky’s with her family. As for the rest of the weekend? Well, I think I’ve already covered that. And for the New Year? Um, I suppose I do have a few resolutions:

1) Be healthy. Couldn’t hurt to exercise and lose some weight.
2) Spend more time with Vanna. Now that she works less, we can do more things together.
3) Write every day. I need to finish my book already!

I think that’ll do. I’m not sure how far they will go – according to my work calendar, 17th is the give up day for resolutions – but I’ll do my best to be consistent, especially with 2 and 3.  They are both very important to me, and things I want to do. Eating healthy…that’s just a bonus.

Another bonus would be keeping up more regular appearances with the blog. I’ll try that too. For now though, I’m off to celebrate.  Have a happy New Year, guys. See you again in 2016!

Alex