The pursuit of exploration

Growing up, I didn’t travel a whole lot.  Up until I was like maybe 11 years old, my entire world revolved around the states of Virginia and Maryland, bouncing around between family visits and, family visits.  Family vacations as I aged were to places like New York, Chicago, and to Niagara Falls, where we barely crossed into Canada for a spell.

Conventions, afforded me opportunities to visit other states, although I didn’t really explore any of them outside of the respective conventions I went to, but for what it was worth, I started visiting places like California, Georgia and the Carolinas.  And when I became my best impression of a functional adult and got super into baseball, the pursuit of baseball parks has given me the best excuse to visit a whole slew of places I never imagined seeing growing up, like Seattle, Portland, Miami, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Diego.

However, aside from visits to cities in adjacent countries Canada and Mexico, I’ve never been outside of the United States.  In fact, I’ve never been out of the western hemisphere in my entire life.  For shame, when you consider the fact that I’ve never been back to the Motherland at any point, and it’s still my goal to ultimately take my mother to Korea one of these days.  I never went, or really had the opportunity for any dramatic international travel in my life; I didn’t go backpacking through Europe, nor did I ever have the aforementioned trip back to the Motherland.  And up until I was really an adult, I guess I didn’t have the financial means and/or the drive to pursue it.

Well, that changes now, because by time I post this, I’ll probably already be up in the air, on my way across the Atlantic Ocean, for a vacation in another part of the world. I haven’t really talked about this much, mostly because I’m kind of a recluse when it comes to my vacation aspirations, but also because I’m sometimes paranoid, and this was planned so far ahead in advance that I also had to deal with the distractions of the angsty summer vacation I never wanted as well that tempered some of the build up.  All that, and the fact that I don’t think I’m really that wired to get super-excited and pumped up about things, in general, despite the fact that I know this is going to be an amazing and memorable trip.

But yeah, European vacation.  I’m going to see four countries, view a lot of touristy things, take hundreds of pictures, eat all the food and drink most of the spirits.  It should also come as no surprise that League of Legends will be involved, since the mythical girlfriend and I will be attending the semi-finals as well as the finals to Worlds while we’re out there.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that without her encouragement and own travel ambitions, I probably would never have had the push to take a plunge like this in the first place.

I am excited sure, but I’m also a little nervous about the whole thing, because this is the first time I’m really leaving a comfort zone where, even in “other” countries, English is still widely accepted and understood.  I’m going somewhere where the USD is scoffed at, and I’ve already gotten reamed converting my money to Euros; this is what Canadians and Mexicans must feel like visiting the United States.

But I know that everything’s going to work out, and it’s going to be pretty incredible.

All that considered, this is going to be the last post for a while (unless I find reliable internet connectivity as well as the desire to write on vacation).  I hope my six readers and everyone back in the United States have good times while I’m away, fun and happy Halloweens, and I just realized that I can make the Wyclef Jean reference that is relevant, when I say that I’ll be Gone ’Til November.

Gross

In short: New York Mets sweep Chicago Cubs, advance to World Series.

It’s a good thing that I’ll mostly be offline throughout the next week, and if all goes really well, will basically miss the World Series.

It’s not that I hate the Mets, it’s just the fact that they’re the Mets; in the same division with the Braves,  they’re supposed to suck, LOLMets, etc, etc… and seeing them storm their way through the playoffs and now into the World Series?   Sure, there’s some jealousy, resentment, but there’s also a good bit of awe, disbelief, and wonder at the fact that the scary thing is that they’re exhibiting a lot of patterns and trends that typically go hand-in-hand with previous World Champions; all the pitching coming together to form these chains of dominance, Yoenis Cespedes has been playing out of his mind, since arriving in New York, in pursuit of both a ring as well as a huge fatty contract at season’s end.

And then there’s Daniel Murphy, whom probably nobody expected would go all Carlos Beltran on the playoffs this year; hitting home runs in six straight games at the time I’m writing this.  Surely, nobody would have imagined the guy that once had no position or role on the team, to be the biggest contributor to the offense during this entire run, but that’s what sometimes happens when the slates are wiped clean, and players have a chance to do the biggest good when the stakes are the highest.  Ironically, I’m sure this little offensive outburst isn’t necessarily going to result in a Carlos Beltran-like contract from anyone at season’s end, but it’s still a nice little story for those who are Mets and/or Daniel Murphy fans.

Did you know that one thing in common that lots of championship teams have in common are pitching rotations that miss a minimal number of starts?  And the Mets fall into that same category, with the exception of seven fairly mediocre Dillon Gee starts, having the same five pitchers, Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Niese and the ageless Bartolo Colon basically pitching every single game this season?

Yeah, all of this is gross, to me.  The fact that we’re this close to having a baseball season where the Mets could potentially be the World Champions, is just a little bit nauseating.

Imagine what it’d be like, if I were still at my most maniacal baseball fandom; I’d probably be wanting to slit my wrists and be trying to make voodoo dolls of David Wright or something.

At the time I’m writing this, the Royals and Blue Jays have yet to settle up in the ALCS; it goes without saying that I’m most definitely pulling for the Royals, and actively hoping that they go all the way; it’s rare that baseball fans get a second chance, and that’s just what the Royals might get, if they can just put the Blue Jays away, and advance to the World Series.

But a Blue Jays and Mets World Series?  Bleh.

Have one game in Las Vegas, and one game in Buffalo; the two cities intertwined between the two of them as current/former homes of their Triple-A affiliates that they basically fought over, and then maybe there would be some drama worth watching.

Regardless, I can’t help but have this sinking feeling in my gut that regardless of whomever comes out of the American League, personally, I’d have to give the edge to the Mets, because their pitching is just so locked in right now, and I’m having flashbacks to like the 2005 White Sox, where their starters just kept delivering shutout after shutout en route to the World championship, and the Mets are simply playing like a team of destiny that just might do the same.  The old adage of baseball is that good pitching always prevails over good hitting, and the Mets just made it very literal, with their dismantling of the Cubs and their lineup of supposed great young hitters.

Like I said, I’m going to be offline pretty much all of next week, so hopefully the Royals finish off the Blue Jays, and go into the World Series, defy sabermetric-Moneyball convention further, and sweep the Mets and win it all.  Barring that, hopefully the Mets get the job done quickly, while I can’t see it happen, and then the celebrations and pizazz over the World champion Mets begins is fading away by the time I get back.

Yes, we are going to talk about poop

In the very first Final Fantasy, Warmech was an enemy that could be randomly encountered on the long sky bridge preceding the fourth elemental fiend, Tiamat.  Warmech was the strongest non-boss in the game, as it had a nuclear blast attack that attacked your entire party for a tremendous amount of damage, as well as health regeneration, lots of armor and strong physical damage output.

Subsequently, it rewarded you as if it were one of the elemental fiends if you defeat it, but the existence of Warmech was one-part easter egg, being a high-tech opponent in a world of fantasy, one-part completionist challenge, being such a difficult adversary, and one-part nasty surprise, because encountering one can only happen at a very inopportune time, right before another major boss fight.

It was deduced that the chances of encountering a Warmech on the sky bridge was approximately 3/64; which equates to roughly 5% of the time, but if you’re unlucky like me, you somehow manage to run into Warmech almost every time.

Anyway, there’s a sky bridge in my place of employment.

And there’s a Warmech that patrols it.

It’s called the men’s rest room.  And there’s a guy on my floor that occupies it 3/64 of the time, although that’s probably not really that accurate because he’s there more like 33/64 of the time.  Probably because I’m unlucky, and have a high chance of encountering Warmechs regardless of the odds.

Seriously, I’m pretty sure this guy has IBS or some other medical condition, which is unfortunate for him, but he should really get it checked out or something, or maybe it’s because his entire office diet consists of nothing but microwaveable biscuit or pizza-like foods.  But the fact of the matter is that he still goes to the bathroom to unleash his own nuclear blast capable of overwhelming entire parties, like 4-5 times a day.  4-5 times a day.

I drink a lot of water throughout the day, because water is good for you, it’s good for keeping me alert and awake when I want to avoid more coffee because needing to pee is pretty good at keeping a person awake, and because I sometimes drink out of compulsive boredom.  Needless to say, I tend to have to go to the bathroom at a somewhat regular basis when I do this, and it’s borderline alarming just how often I encounter Warmech once I step into the men’s room, which by the way is literally one urinal and one stall; so there’s not a tremendous amount of room for Warmech’s blasts to disperse, unfortunately.

Sure, it’s probably a medical issue because Warmech is a man probably around or at 400 pounds, which I’m not trying to discriminate against, but for the sake of personal comfort, it does become somewhat aggravating when you just want to go to the bathroom to relieve your bladder, and someone is perpetually always there deconstructing the paint on the walls, seemingly all the time.

I have literally approached the men’s room door as slowly and carefully as possible at times as not to make any noise, and pushed the door open just a crack to see if the stall door is closed or not.  Because unlike in Final Fantasy, I have somewhat of a tiny window to possibly see if I’ll encounter Warmech or not, and have the option to turn around and try and come back later if I can hold it.

But there are times when I don’t think about it, or I’ve already held it in long enough, and go in with reckless abandon.  The random encounter sound blurts out, the screen flashes in preparation for the battle screen, and I’m face to face with a fucking Warmech fight on my hands, where I have to hold my breath, do my business and try to get the fuck out of there as fast as humanly possible.

My tolerance for cooler weather is gone

I knew it was going to inevitably happen, considering I grew up with four true seasons every year for 21 years.  And then moving to Georgia where the summers are brutal and the winters are supposedly mild, it was only a matter of time before the tolerance for cooler weather would begin to gradually chip and eat away at me, before I would inevitably look at a particular temperature and go “god damn it’s cold.”

Well, I’m there now, I think officially.  Granted, 37F degrees in October is slightly low on the spectrum of arriving fall weather, but it’s gotten to the point where I have yet to switch my home’s thermostats over to “heat,” and my home’s temperature is dropping into the low 60s, and my bedroom which is over the garage, creeps into the 50s, leading my to wake up cold and blurting expletives when stumbling out of bed in order to hit snooze.

The point remains, I’m easily cold now, vastly more than I used to be in the past.  Sure, I was more conditioned, not to mention my body’s composition was slightly tubbier back then, so say what you want about the insulating properties of blubber, but now, I’m furrowing my brow when it drops into the low 60s outside, and anything equivalent within my home is becoming “too fucking cold.”

I guess it’s not the end of the world, seeing as how I like wearing hoodies and sweatshirts, and I like a lot of the clothes I have once the weather gets colder.  But it’s undoubtedly getting to that time where I should shelve the sandals, and socks will be taking up more space in the laundry.  And complaints about cold kneecaps or feet that refuse to get warm, no matter what.

But that’s okay, in spite of my diminished tolerance for the cold, as long as I’m prepared for it, I still prefer it cool outside, rather than worrying about sweating up a storm just trying to walk around outside.

I guess I don’t think when watching television

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about how American Horror Story: Hotel is like the worst thing ever aired. All sorts of flippity-floo about how Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have gone too far in their push-the-envelope style of depictions of sex and gore, use of taboo concepts like homosexuality and transgendered people, how Lady Gaga is more or less portraying what people think Lady Gaga is, which is a weirdo who likes to do things for shock value, and how the franchise is undeniably dead with the fact that Jessica Lange (supposedly) has left.

Perhaps I don’t analyze things so much when I’m watching them, or more likely the fact that I’m just not really thinking too hard, but I haven’t had any problems with AHS:Hotel so far, and I’ve found them to be entertaining.  For baseline sake, I found Freak Show to be entertaining, in spite of the popular belief that it was the weakest of the four prior seasons.

In some regard, I think I’m a little desensitized when it comes to shock, gore and sex depicted on television, and I’m more apt to ponder on whether or not someone, be it show creators, or someone at FX is going to get in trouble for pushing the envelope as hard as they’ve been pushing it, but when I’m watching people getting their throats slit and/or sexually assaulted, I might cringe and go “Ohhhh” but it’s nothing that’s going to mentally scar me for eternity, as the rhetoric spouted by Parent Television Council sheep would have you believe it should.  If anything at all, just seeing “Murphy/Falchuk” combined with the fact that it’s on FX, by now, anyone should know that they’re going to see some pretty intense stuff

Sure, I was disappointed when it was announced that Jessica Lange was going to step away from the series, because it’s been undeniable just who had carried the franchise on her back over the last four years.  But all things eventually change, and it’s not like she left because of money, or some selfish reasons that created a massive fallout with Ryan Murphy; she simply wanted to step away and get some time back, where she wasn’t obligated to work for a show.  The door is open for her to return, and there’s already rumors that she’s going to appear as a cameo this season.

At the same time, Lange’s departure has opened the door for any one of the other show mainstays to grab the mantle and put the show on their back.  Evan Peters or Sarah Paulson, and even possibly Kathy Bates or the ageless Angela Bassett, could very well rise up and absolutely become that character whom commanded attention, and said things with such conviction and venom that maybe we’ll move on from Jessica Lange.

When Lady Gaga was announced to be in the show, I recall that there was a lot of outcry or pessimistic skepticism towards her participation in the show; or at least a very vocal camp of those who disagreed with her casting.  However, I would say that I was in the camp that was optimistic, and thought that if there was anyone who could dampen the loss of Jessica Lange, it would be someone like Lady Gaga whom sure, has never really acted in a large project like AHS, but has presence, charisma and an obvious lack of fear when it comes to doing pretty much anything on screen.  So far, I have to say that I haven’t been disappointed with her performance; to no surprise, her dialogue has been minimal, and has let visuals, intense stares and other actions do all the speaking for her.

Inevitably, the combination of Ryan Murphy’s love of musical numbers, the glam setting of the Hotel Cortez, and the show’s basic cashing in on having Lady Gaga is going to result in some sort of musical performance in the season, and it’s probably going to be really awesome.

The point is, I think people need to mellow out, turn off their brains or something, and just sit back and enjoy the program.  Overanalyzing plot and comparing this season to prior seasons results in nothing but a recipe for disappointment.  We’re just two episodes in, and it’s vastly way too soon to be casting such definitive judgment on a show that’s still not even close to blossoming yet.