Me — Feb ’19 Update

I somehow forgot to post this last week and wrote something else instead. Whoops. In any case, my life hasn’t been terribly interesting the last couple of weeks, so there isn’t a ton to say. I’m happy to report that my mood has finally started to stabilize on the higher end. It was harder to shrug this one off because the last time it got this bad (3 years ago), I changed a lot about myself—I started the blog, changed the way I dressed, and started to write more so that I didn’t feel like I was lying when I told people I was a writer. This time none of that was an option, but over time I’ve been able to breathe a little and bit by bit reclaim myself.

That said, the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, video games, reading/listening, school, and other things.

I don’t foresee any blog changes in the near future. I like the casual two posts a day. It makes me feel like I’m keeping up without forcing myself to write an insane amount. I do plan on writing about the road trip my siblings and I took to Chicago and back, but I need to go through my pictures and find all the good ones, and that’s going to be a chore because I’m not a picture person. That’s the main thing that keeps me from just writing a Saturday post travel log: I’d want to include pictures but I don’t want to do the work to find them. Either way, expect that soon.

Writing plans. I’m still going through a bit of a rut as far as that goes. I do feel like a piece of myself is missing right now because I still have the stories in my head but I have no willpower to write them. And it’s not like how it used to be where it was just difficult to get started but I’d find my flow. This time I can’t even find the power to even consider writing. It’s hard to explain, but this mental block has been getting stronger and stronger for almost a year now. I will say though: I have to write for one of my classes, and my professor and I have found a workaround to my problem. He gives me a prompt based on the last story I wrote for him, a few random words to incorporate, and a time limit. I have to write as much as I can in one hour based on his prompt and words, and the restrictive nature of that assignment has worked astonishingly well. I do think it requires somebody reading and responding to the work I’m producing, though. This strategy wouldn’t work for stand-alone short stories on the blog.

In the realm of video games, I actually have not been doing much. I’ve been playing Season 16 of Diablo 3, but I’ve pretty much expended the amount of available fun in that realm. Mostly I’ve just been playing really casual games while watching YouTube videos of streamers I enjoy. Hearthstone is a big one, but I’m also playing a simple mobile game and a casual browser game: RWBY: Amity Arena and Flight Rising respectively. The RWBY game is pretty much Clash Royale (basically a card game MOBA). Don’t know if there’s a genre associated with it. Flight Rising is basically Neopets, only you collect dragons instead of random creatures and you play games to get money and collect clothes to dress the dragons up or change their coloring. You can even make custom skins for them using Photoshop, and the game has a lot of community input to game development, which I think is neat.

I haven’t been reading or listening to anything beyond those streams. Critical Role and anything Day9 puts onto YouTube is pretty much the extent of my consumed media right now. That’s all I have to say about that.

School is going well. My intention is that this will be my final semester, to which I will have two AA’s to show for my time. At this point I’m taking exclusively theatre related classes, which is both parts fun and stressful. Another one of my plays is also being produced this semester, but apart from script edits, I’ve decided to take a back seat and let other people put their vision on it.

That’s about it. My Aleor D&D campaign is going great, more updates to come, and the cool collaborative passion project I’ve been a part of the last few months has been a ton of fun, too. This might be the first time I’ve brought it up, but I will definitely speak more of that in the future, as well!

Review — Hello Internet

Hello Internet has been a podcast that’s been on my radar for a long time, but the infrequency of post, lack of concrete topic, and length of each episode has made it a very low priority. Since I’ve had more free time to listen to audiobooks and podcasts, though I’ve been perusing them.

To sum up what the podcast is, it’s simply two guys, Brady Haran and CGP Grey talk about a myriad of topics, be it a piece of news that happened, a book they’ve both read, or a funny story one of them has to share. There’s little consistency from episode to episode, though each consecutive podcast touches on stuff that happened on the previous episode to follow up on community feedback or updates on the story.

Really, the only reason to listen to this podcast is for their personalities. They are pretty interesting people, which makes that prerequisite fine. Brady is what one might consider to be the “typical” person. He is pretty smart, but for the purposes of the podcast he serves mostly as a foil for Grey. Grey, however, is obviously different. I would describe him as a robot. He doesn’t like decorations in his house, because they serve no purpose, he doesn’t like attention (on the podcast, Brady calls him Grey, his internet persona) despite his being a public figure, and he is very careful about the things he says and the way he lives his life.

CGP Grey makes some awesome educational YouTube videos that are very informative, but I’ve found that they offer little insight to who he is as a person.

On one of the most recent episodes, he mentions that he has a whole alias for Starbucks. An entire second identity that he knows so well he can instinctively respond to this fake name, just to obfuscate any unnecessary attention he might receive. It sort of serves as a filter to the outside world. (I’ll admit, I definitely identify more closely with Grey than Brady. Part of me seriously considered making an alias for spam purposes.)

So, if you have time on your hands and you’re looking for stuff to listen to just for the personalities, I’d recommend Hello Internet. The two of them work very well together because they obviously know each other very well and like each other a lot, but their personalities are so different it’s an interesting dynamic to experience.

It’s worth noting too that they talk about some interesting things. They talk about controversial news stories and then add their own thoughts, so it’s not simply a reiteration of something we’ve already heard, and they’re introspective with themselves so they can often explain their own reasonings to their logic.

I would go so far as to say that this podcast would be the closest one resembling a podcast I would make, if that ever did happen. Just me and another person/other people talking about stuff. It’s a hard sell—the litmus test to see if you like this really is just “do you like the people”. I’d recommend watching some CGP Grey videos and if you think the topics he covers are interesting, that’s a good start.

Review — VSauce

One thing I don’t mention a lot (partly because I think it’s something a majority of western civilization does nowadays) is my YouTube use. I use it to get lots of updates on gaming news, theory crafting, funny videos by particular channels, and so on. (Interestingly enough, I don’t have a channel I just go to to watch when I have a free ten minute time slot. That’s kind of annoying, but whatever.)

I’d say of all of the channels I’m subscribed to, my favorite is VSauce. It’s a science channel that talks about interesting things and answers weird questions like “What would happen if you shot a gun in space?” or “How much does a shadow weigh?” or “Why are things creepy?” Michael Stevens, the host of the channel, makes the content really entertaining and (relatively) easy to grasp, and some of the coolest pieces of useless information I know are from watching his videos.

At this point, I’ve watched pretty much all of his videos, and several multiple times (when showing other people). He sidetracks a lot, but never in a boring direction. In fact, he sidetracks because there’s another interesting tidbit that isn’t quite related to the main idea. In his video about Earth’s movement, for example, he’ll talk about the difference between sidereal, tropical, and synodic days and years, then talk about the first clocks and how they worked, and then go on to explain how flawed our calendar system is. In every one of his videos he references lots of studies done or websites that include relevant information, so any time he talks about something you want to learn more about, you can rest easy that there is probably a link in that video that takes you right to where he got his information.

Ironically, the biggest frustration I have with his channel is that the videos are too informative. There’s so much stuff he talks about in every one of his videos I have an incredibly hard time remembering the things he talked about. Most of his videos have a question for the title, and it’s frustrating knowing I’ve seen that video and being able to remember the answer to that question! (On the plus side, it means I can watch that video and watch it all over again, I suppose.)

I think the biggest reason why I enjoy his channel over other science videos is because in a way, I feel like he thinks much the same way I do. When I’m watching other science related channels, I often feel like I’m either watching news as to “What happened in X study” or watching an educational video about “How Z process works”. Funny enough, the stuff I learn watching VSauce feels like it’s made more for entertainment than anything else. Obviously pretty much anything on YouTube is meant to entertain, but VSauce feels more genuine in this particular ‘genre’ of videos.

If you’re at all interesting in learning about things, be it space, math, physics, history, etc., VSauce is the first YouTube channel I would recommend. It’s always a lot of fun, and though new videos have always had months in between them, they’re always choc full of content that requires digesting!

Me — Day[9]

It’s impossible for me to definitively say when or where I was first introduced to Day9, but I know I’ve been watching his stuff for at least four years now. In the past he was known as a Starcraft pro (especially Brood War), and he did a lot of commentary in tournaments as well as keeping a stream of Starcraft related content (a lot of it was instructional, which I suppose is where the “Be a better gamer” slogan came from).

In more recent years, he started streaming other games. These days I’d say he’s more known for his Hearthstone streams and his “Day Off”, which is simply a game playthrough of a game that usually only takes around seven or eight hours to complete.

Now, I don’t watch streamers or YouTubers very often (or at all, really). It’s a community I don’t really enjoy, and if I’m watching somebody play a game, it’s most likely because I don’t have access to the game, and I still want to experience it. I think another reason it’s not something I do much is because when people watch YouTubers run through video games, a lot of the time it’s because it’s a high energy thing. They want to laugh, or panic alongside the person playing it. For me, though, sitting at home on the computer usually means I want to relax. Focus and be competitive, sure, but I generally want to keep a mellow tone.

Day9 fits that bill perfectly. One of the big reasons for this is that though I watch most of his stuff on YouTube, he streams everything he does and takes part in his community. Whenever he’s playing any game, he’s always watching chat and answering questions, always engaged with his audience. In fact, he messes up what he’s currently focused on a lot because he turns his attention away from the game to throw his opinion into whatever is being talked about in the chat.

He strikes me as a very genuine person, and I really connect with his humor. In fact, my favorite content of his isn’t even him playing any games. He’s made a few ‘Story Time’ videos where he talks about an interesting experience he had or some of his philosophy on life. He encourages an awesome community, and watching him play through whatever game just fills me with a sense of warmth I can’t really seem to find anywhere else. In fact it’s difficult to do homework and generally be productive when I know there’s new content Day9 has put out. It’s an easy escape, you know?

I was talking to a friend the other day, and I mentioned that there are three “famous” people who I’d want to be more like. Sean “Day9” Plott, for his humor and charm, Brandon Sanderson, for his creativity and writing capabilities, and Matt Mercer, for his creativity and acting ability. In all honesty, as far as I can tell they’re all great people and personality-wise, there’s something to be admired in all of them. I’ve talked about Brandon Sanderson before, so I suppose I should bring up Matt Mercer down the line.