Sunday, December 31, 2023

Go To Hell, 2023

2023 was the worst year of my life. It's not even a contest. Nothing will beat it, but I'm sure the universe will try. I won't go into too many details yet, but my life ended and my future was eradicated.

I learned some things. Life is just random. There's no reason, order, or plan to it all. It doesn't matter what anyone wants, needs, or deserves. It's just random. Whatever happens, happens. The only reason and order placed on events is put there by humans. There is no real justice, there is no real karma. 

Life isn't just unfair, it's also cruel. Happiness is so fleeting, and sadness persists. It's not a mindset thing, that's just the natural way of this world. Things like happiness, trust, and love take so much time to create and maintain, and are easily ripped away on seconds. The fact that someone can be punished for loving another should prove that point. 

Not every wound will heal. Yes, I heard this in a popular game, but it's true. Time doesn't heal all wounds. Time and effort are what heals. But that can't fix everything. Some wound can never heal, and we just learn to live with them.

If you can't understand all of this yet, or don't agree, I envy your ignorance. I, too, was happier "before". Be thankful that you don't understand.

Here's to those who went before us. You will be missed. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

My Covid Journey, Part 2

Since the first part was almost a year removed from the event, I think it would be a good idea to post an update as well.  So far, all four of my immediate family have received both shots of the vaccine.

I still advocate getting the vaccine, since it is obviously the smart thing to do at this point in time.  I preface my next part with this because my experience with the vaccine will likely make it sound quite the opposite.

The vaccine was offered to employees at my company sooner than most people, thanks to the nature of our industry.  I quickly jumped on the list.  Apparently, we were allowed to sign up our family members. Since my company is absolutely abysmal at communications, none of the people in my department even knew we could bring anyone else. It would have been great to get my wife a shot, seeing as how she was still an "essential" worker at the time. Also to help protect our two young kids at home... but nope. I guess no reason to tell us since we aren't the big wigs.

I was near furious about it, if you couldn't tell.

Anyway, the first dose was at the end of the day.  Our department was the last to actually get it.  It was pretty fitting, considering that's how they like to treat us.  Anyway, after a few false starts and changes, we were finally allowed to go over and get our first shot.  Everything was fine for a time.

After being at work for two hours the next day, the side effects started to kick in.  I got hit hard.  I think I had the whole list.  It started with chills that had me shivering in my seat.  For better or worse, no one noticed because our seating was staggered for safety.  I then got very tired, and even had some nausea throughout the rest of the day.  I got home, told my wife what was going on, laid down and went to sleep.

I got up the next day, and only felt a little better.  I called out so I could rest, and slept some more.  I honestly didn't anticipate the vaccine running me over with a truck, but there I was.  Supposedly, if you get covid, it gives you resistance to it for three months afterwards.  My vaccine dose was at the tail end of that, so it may have acted like the second shot.  Either way, I was pretty miserable.  Still far less scary than when I actually had covid, and far less coughing.  I could actually sleep lying down.

I was better enough towards the end of that day, and went back to work the next.  Almost a month later, we received our second shot.  Anticipating a worse reaction, I told my boss I would be out the next day.

Strangely, it didn't hit me quite as hard as the first.  Maybe only 90% as bad?  I had chills when I got home, and just stayed in the bed to try and get warm.  I slept as much as I could.  The next day, I was again drowsy, with some intermittent nausea.  It was easier to deal with because I had an idea what to expect after the first shot.

Very much worth it though, especially as yet another variant rampages through our society.  Now to see how the booster effects me, if I can find a place that has appointments open.  Maybe the other brand of vaccine won't hit me as hard, but only time and a little experimentation will tell.

As an aside, my job did eventually offer a booster shot to employees. On the last hour of the day. The day before Thanksgiving. And with no prior warning. Ridiculous.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

My Covid Journey, Part 1

Nearing the anniversary of this, I figure it's time to talk about it.  So, here it goes.

2020.  Wow, that was quite a crappy year.  It would be easy to think the run from 2016 to 2020 wouldn't constantly get worse and worse.  Yet it did, culminating with the utter dumpster fire that was 2020.  While there is a ton of possible things to discuss, I'm going to go with my personal journey through the biggest story of 2020, the corona virus.

I was fortunate enough to keep my job through the pandemic.  I was also able to work from home for about 2 months.  Eventually my boss required us to come in once a week, then leveraged that to be full time back in the office.  I won't go into details, but it wasn't ideal or necessary.  We were also the only department to actually do so, still to this day.  At least they bought us lunch that one time?

Anyway, we wore masks, spread out, and things were going okay.  Near the end of the year, one of our co-workers got sick.  They assured everyone it was a head cold.  Without a negative test, they had to stay out 10 days.  With a day left, they finally got a test.  Or, claimed they did.  They said it was negative, but that it didn't matter because the 10 days were up anyway.  Then, another person got sick.  She was staying out the 10 days, but couldn't get rid of her cough.  She, of course, "couldn't" get a test.  Then, I got sick for a few days.  Being responsible, I got tested.

It was positive.

It's hard to describe exactly what it felt like to see that, but I will try.  It was like time stopped for a second, and everything fell into despair.  I think I was in shock.  I could comprehend what the result meant.  I could very well die from this.  I just made a sad face and held the phone out to my wife.  Her eyes went wide.  We knew she would have to get tested, although the chances of it being the same were 99%.

She did, and it was positive.  I informed my work, and she hers.  We planned how to stay away from the kids as much as possible.  They would continue to stay in their rooms, while we would stay downstairs as much as possible.

2020 just had to get in that last kick.  On the second to last day of the year, I had finally tested positive for Covid.

My wife's work, being retail-oriented, had a plan in place to pay out 2 weeks while you stay home, after providing a positive test to some third party place.  She did that and was able to sit around and recover, in between worrying about me, the kids, herself, and cooking meals.  My work had no such safety net.  I could use all of my sick time, or try to work remotely.  Not knowing how the virus was going to affect me, I chose to work what I could, and just use sick time to fill in the gaps.  My boss agreed, and that is what happened for the next two weeks.

Thankfully, my case did not get too serious.  There was a lot of coughing, which made sleeping extremely difficult.  For the first few nights, I had to poorly sleep in the corner of my couch, and mostly upright.  Not fun.  Once I was able to sleep lying down, it got better.  Again, I'm lucky to have not needed hospitalization, or worse.  My wife fared better than I did, having an even more mild case.  My son had some symptoms for a few days, but seemed better quickly, or at least told me he was better.  My daughter didn't show or tell us about any symptoms.  I am very thankful that we got through it.

That second co-worker who was sick? She ended up getting tested after I did. Would you believe she tested positive? Because she did. I'm certain I got it from her, but I'm not sure where she got it. I don't hold it against her, since she was a friend of mine, but I really wish she got tested much earlier than she did. It's strange to be a more mature person than a woman over 55.

Whew. That was quite a ride. At least there is a tiny light of hope after November. 2020 sucked, but at least it's over. 2021 has to be better, right?


*Sees January 6, 2021*
Oh...well, damn. We're screwed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rimelands: Hammer of Thor (Switch) Review

An isometric, turn-based RPG with inspirations from Norse mythology? That was enough to get me interested in Rimelands: Hammer of Thor. When I perused the weekly sales and found it ridiculously cheap? That made it an instant buy.

What I got was a fun little rpg with some uncommon mechanics. Areas are divided into invisible grids, and each square moved is equivalent to a turn. This wasn't an issue when moving around the few town or cleared areas, but became important when an enemy was nearby. Being turn-based, enemies move or take an action when you do. Depending on speed, units may even get two turns in a row. This was great when it was to your advantage, but annoying, or at worst deadly, when not.

There are three basic types of attacks and a defense for each: melee, ranged and magic. The range for ranged and magic didn't always seem consistent. I'm not even sure it was listed anywhere. Sometimes it felt right, and sometimes I'd swear I was close enough, yet could not attack. A few times, it felt like enemies had a farther range than I did with the same abilities.  That's not good.

To resolve an attack, the aggressor rolls a number of dice based off skills and equipment.  More was always better. The die can either come up with a skull, double skull, an "x", or a shield icon. These determined the number of "attacks" done, and the damage. A skull is a hit, a double skull is a double. The other two add nothing to an attack. If the defender has any defending dice, those are then rolled. Each shield icon will block one skull, but the rest do nothing for defense. If you block all skulls, there is no damage. Otherwise, numbers appear above the target to show the HP damage done. I do not know how the damage number is calculated. It felt slightly random. I was not fond of that, but once you start getting more dice, it becomes less of an issue. Unfortunately, that feeling never went away completely.

Battles were usually over quickly, but multiple enemies or a boss made them take a lot longer. We aren't talking JRPG long though. If you are outnumbered, a fight can go south fast. Sadly, this happened a lot. I wasn't surprised that I went with a ranged character for my first run through the game, as that is usually my go-to. It's possible that affected the character's survival. I tried to offset these encounters by moving into an advantageous position whenever possible. Enemy AI isn't great either. At times they refused to follow me, despite being in the middle of combat. Other times they fled when low on HP, making them easy targets for ranged abilities. Even if multiple enemies can be very difficult, health and mana regeneration outside of combat is super fast, resulting in little time lost before the next encounter. That didn't really help with the few cheap bosses in the game though.

Your character has three separate skill trees at her disposal, and the player can choose which one(s) to put your points in. Persuing multiple trees can certainly work, but I found it much more beneficial to stick with one. I only got enough points to fill out one of the three. The skills themselves are hit or miss. Some are really great, like the the first ranged damage one. Others look great on paper, but just are not worth using. There are ranged ones that poison an enemy, or even stop them from moving. They sounded useful, but they didn't work on most of the enemies you would actually want to use it on. That's not good. Sadly I didn't know until I actually bought the skills. These bad choices didn't seem to hinder your game progress, but having an option to redistribute points would have been great.

The game also contains a pretty rudimentary crafting system. Items can be broken down into parts that can be used to make some unique equipment. The system is functional, but not very good. You can't break everything down, and the distinction seems random. You have to also pay money to break it down, as opposed to making money selling it. Most things don't give many crafting supplies, either. Even breaking down a lot of things results in being able to make maybe 1-3 good pieces of equipment. There's only a handful of recipes, so maybe that problem solves itself. Regardless, it's an area that could have been capitalized on much better.

I played the game exclusively in handheld mode, and it looked alright. Even then I could tell the graphics were pretty plain. That's not really a problem, but it's worth mentioning. What was more of a problem was how dark the game looks. The few outdoor areas were usually passable, but any of the numerous indoor areas were just too dark. Some ridiculously so. I turned up the screen brightness so I could see better, which I haven't had to do before on the Switch. I suspected it's because the areas themselves are not great looking, but I don't think that's the point. I want to be able to see where I'm going. On that note, I also would have appreciated a map. The areas were not too complex, but I'm a stickler about exploring every corner for experience and items. One last thing to note about the graphics is at least the different armors changed the look of the main character, even if it was hard to see it clearly.

The weakest part of the game was the story and dialogue. It gave a brief backstory when starting, but no real explanation for any characters, and barely anything to mention how they are connected. If I didn't have some knowledge of Medieval lore, I would have no idea who Oberon and Titania were, let alone why they would have something to do with this game's story. There's almost enough story in the game to be able to follow along with why you are doing things, but that's about it. The dialogue would be fine if it wasn't trying too hard to be funny. Every character from the main heroine, to random townsfolk, to the final boss all have to say some silly quip at some point. I'm glad the game doesn't take itself too seriously, but I think it's too far in that direction. Not every character is Bruce Campbell, but the writers really want them to be.

Overall, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor was a fun RPG. The battles are different, and done well. The skill trees and abilities can be fun to mess around with. Most other aspects are not that great, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. The game is about 6-10 hours, and offers a few dungeons after the main story. I'd definitely recommend RPG fans check it out, especially if it's on sale.

The Good:
Fun battles fill this RPG that won't take too long, and won't cost much.

The Bad:
A bit unbalanced, a bit too dark, and a story worth ignoring.

The SaHD:
Seriously, spend the dollar for this game when it's on sale. It's worth trying.

(Rimelands: Hammer of Thor was purchased by the reviewer)