Current State of Things

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Come in, come in, don’t mind the dust, nobody’s been here to clean this place up in many months. Here, let me move those old blog posts off the couch so you can take a seat. There, that’s better, isn’t it? Now, you’re probably wondering a few things. Where did I go? What have I been up to? Why am I back now? Well, here’s the Current State of Things:

 

The Current State of Me:

I’m getting used to the amount of work and stress being a special education teacher provides. Things are getting better, the workload slightly easier to manage as I become more efficient and effective with my use of time. It’s still difficult and stressful, but feels manageable. I’m finding the balance between work and play, though I may never find a perfect line to walk, things are going fairly well. Tasks don’t feel so insurmountable anymore.

We are going to Dublin, Ireland! My wife and I decided to go to Ireland over February break. We really wanted to leave the country and go somewhere, finally deciding on Ireland somewhat randomly. We are excited to see the sights of Dublin as well as the beautiful land around the city, including some old castles.

My creative writing endeavors have lagged, grown dormant and perhaps lie dead at this point. I continue to generate ideas that I would love to put pen to paper but lack the time and motivation. We will see if returning to blogging will help in that area. I plan to write a post a week, the topic of which will depend on my mood and current motivation at the time of writing. It could be a story, or a post on writing or teaching or home-brewing. We’ll see.

 

The Current State of our Dog, Habenero:

We have a dog! Having a dog is wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone who has the time and love to put into having a pet. It is indescribable, having another living thing depend on you, that provides you with love and affection unconditionally. Whenever I’m having a rough day, the thought of going home to a wiggly butt and sloppy dog kisses cheers me up. It’s impossible to be angry and upset when a creature is insanely happy to see you after a long day. It’s especially welcoming with the insanity that is happening in our country right now.

To be honest, she has had a rough time lately, getting a dog bite on her face and having to go to the Vet for stitches. She currently has to wear a cone and understandably does not enjoy it. She’s getting used to it though and we are thinking about getting pet insurance because we have had to go to the vet every month or so for a variety of reasons and it gets expensive. Something to think about, for sure.

 

The Current State of My Home-brewing Adventures:

Good news here! Though I had fallen out of the habit of homebrewing what with wedding planning, the wedding and then my new job, I have jumped back into it. I have even started Year of the Brew 2: Brew Harder with my friend and fellow homebrewer, Eric. Our first Year of the Brew was in…2015 I believe, and we brewed 12 times in 12 months. To get myself back into it, we’ve rededicated ourselves to do so once again. I have begun All-Grain Brewing as well, which has reinvigorated the hobby for me. It feels good to go All-Grain, even though it is a longer and more involved process. More homebrewing posts should be incoming, should I feel up to it. This month, I brewed an an Amber ale from the “Brew Better Beer” book by Emma Christensen. Though it hasn’t gone perfectly, I feel excited about getting back into the hobby.

 

The Current State of My Ventures in Video Games:

Not sure many care about this but oh well, feel free to skip this section! I’ve gotten back into No Man’s Sky since the new update and it feels good to explore the universe while also building a floating base on a home planet. Recently, though, it’s been crashing for seemingly no reason, hindering my progress and reducing my motivation to play. Thus, I’ve returned to Eurotruck Simulator 2, taking jobs in the UK so that I can practice driving on the wrong side of the road before we head off to Ireland. It’s actually a pretty useful way to practice, albeit on simplified roads. I’ve also begun playing Hitman: Blood Money which many people say is one of the best Hitman games out there. It is highly enjoyable, despite dated graphics, the game is incredibly fun to explore and plan out assassinations in. I may post about my exploits if they seem entertaining enough.

 

The Current State of…everything else:

It looks bad, doesn’t it? It’s the worst we feared and there seems to be little reason to see things changing for the better anytime soon. The environment is going to suffer, as will millions of Americans and others of the world. These are dark times. I’m not going to get into it in-depth at the moment, you know what’s going on. A war against facts, a war against certain people, be they women, have disabilities or a certain skin color, a war against what it means to be American..The list goes on. I feel like Frodo, telling Gandalf “I wish Trump had never become president. I wish none of this had happened.” Of course, Gandalf would say “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world besides the will of evil.” And it’s true. Just look at the amount of people in the streets, standing up for each other, coming together. Look at the lawyers helping for free at the airports, look at Airbnb, putting up people for free. We must continue to be kind, to be welcoming, and to be resistant to injustice. Many Trumpeters say we should “just accept it”, which is ridiculous. Trump is the president but that doesn’t mean we simply give up and let him do whatever he wants, not when he’s stomping on the constitution, taking away rights and acting like a tyrant. The history of America is about people resisting tyranny and injustice, over and over and over again. I don’t know the answer, but I do know what every single person can do, even if they don’t want to protest, or donate or whatever. You can be kind to others. It’s as simple as that. Be kind. I don’t know what else to say or do, but don’t feel helpless. Show kindness, help others. Unless they’re Nazis, then feel free to punch them in the face.

 

 

Exploration in Video Games: EuroTruck Simulator 2

What have I been doing when I find some time to kill but have not the willpower, nor the creative energy to write after a day or week of teaching? I enjoy playing video games, sometimes multiplayer if I’m feeling the competitive edge, when I want to use skills and strategy to overcome (or terribly lose to) an opponent.

Other times, I’ve found myself wanting to explore. I’ve always enjoyed exploring virtual worlds just as I enjoy exploring fictional realms and stories in books. In video games, there’s interactivity and you can affect and change that world to some extent. Sometimes, I enjoy affecting change, altering the world to my whims and witnessing the results of my actions.

Still other times, I simply want to see things. See other places, other worlds, other creatures. To be an observer in the world. I enjoy the simple games, where the action is perhaps not that exciting but the thrill comes from the views, the scenes, the simple pleasures, not the adrenaline rush but a pleasant joyride or a casual stroll through a virtual world.

This sort of fascination began when I caught on to the game EuroTruck Simulator 2, a simulation game where you drive a truck through a simplified (and shortened) version of Europe. You literally are in a truck, you pick up a trailer, you drive on the road avoiding other cars and following the rules of the road (mostly) until you reach your destination, wherein you drop your load off, get paid and move onto the next job. This is all it is. You drive around Europe, carting trailers of ice cream, or logs or hazardous material. There isn’t any racing, or storyline or anything. There’s just the hum of the truck, the winding roads and the landscape that goes by. Sure, there’s a management aspect, where you own a trucking company where you take out loans, hire other drivers and trucks, there’s a role-playing aspect where you gain experience as you complete jobs and work your way up to longer jobs or jobs that have a stricter time limit, etc. But that’s all just hitched alongside the game play, which is simply driving.

 

sunrise

There is excitement at times, close calls with other vehicles, taking a corner too tightly, running low on gas or sleep but needing to finish the job, etc. There can be rain and slippery roads and storms. These things happen but rarely. Most of the time you’re just driving, watching the scenery pass by, making sure you stay in your lane, that you’re not speeding, etc.

fun with colors

And I enjoy this.

big city drivin

You can turn on the radio and choose from a long list of internet radio stations from a handful of European countries as well as the good ol’ US of A itself. These stations have everything from Local Indie bands to Electronica to Drum N Bass to Country to Rap to Pop. Did you ever want to drive through along the highways of France listening to Polish Indie music? Well, you can.

 

what a lovely day for a drive

The game also has a great Camera Mode so you can pause the action, move the camera around and take a great screenshot. I enjoy this as well, becoming an amateur photographer on the spot, just to take a picture of my sick truck running down the road.

 

a lonely road at night

Some would find this game tedious, I’m sure. Repetitive, boring, useless.

spooooooooky

I find it pleasant, an escape, simple fun. You just focus on the road and the truck and the tunes and it’s good times.

sunrise or sunset?

I even saw a horse!

look at that horse!

Any traffic incidents are obviously other people’s faults (and by other people, I mean the computer game that makes the vehicles go vroom)

look at that jerk

It’s the simple experience that drives (heh) the joy of playing EuroTruck, the relatively easy and yet at times tense game play of maneuvering a big ol’ truck going down the road, taking turns and trying not to hit things, the beauty of the scenery passing by, farms, forests, mountains, lakes and rivers, etc. It’s the simple things.

thanks for reading

Time Is Not On My Side

Being a teacher has been far more difficult than I anticipated. It is rigorous, exhausting, demanding and draining. I end the day at 3:30 with the kids leaving to go home, feeling tired and yet there is likely an hour or two (or more) of paperwork, planning, grading or meetings to deal with. Mentally, this job is taking a toll.

It leaves me with little creative willpower and motivation to do other things, such as writing. I am constantly thinking of the upcoming day, week, upcoming meetings, appointments, tasks and other things that need doing. I am thinking of the classroom, how to improve it, how to be organized, and how to better manage student’s difficult behaviors. As much as I love this job, it takes a lot out of me.

I’ve found it difficult to find the time, much less the will to think of and write blog posts. I have been somewhat successful in keeping a to-do list and staying on top of things using a Bullet Journal (more on that in a future blog post but google it if you’re curious because I have no idea when the next blog post will come), but I still find myself barely keeping my head above water.

It is slowly getting better, I’m learning so much everyday and getting into the routine of this particular school and my various roles within it as English Co-Teacher, Math Co-Teacher and Special Ed. Teacher. Every week I feel slightly more competent, more in control and more prepared. Mindfulness is helping me stay grounded and calm (a future blog post on that is in the pipes as well). I just need to continue taking one step at at time. If I consider everything I need to do, it becomes overwhelming but if you just do one thing at a time and focus on that, eventually it all gets done.

All of this is simply to say I do not know when the next post will come. Writing happens sporadically, if at all. For those continuing to come and read, I appreciate it. It is nice to see the notification that some one has viewed something I wrote and is actually very motivating in pushing me to write more, so thanks for that.