The Cookie Jar

Right, so I need space to try and process and flesh out this fever dream. I’m not providing context. Just make something up. I’m also posting it now before I change my mind. Peace. Y’all take care.

It’s like, we look around and see everyone else, each with their own unique cookie jar. Some of them are beautiful ornate vases, while others are simply wooden bowls, but each one is as unique as the person eating from it. Likewise, each jar contains a unique kind of cookie only found within it. Sure, some may be similar, but they’re never the same.

We look at these people happily enjoying their cookies and their jars and we say “That looks great, I want to try that!” So we go looking for a jar of our own. Sometimes we pick and choose, waiting for what seems like the perfect jar, and sometimes we sample one at random. Maybe we like those cookies and stop for a while. Maybe we don’t, and we continue the search.

Over time we begin to draw patterns. “I like this kind of cookie.” “I don’t like that kind of cookie.” “Blue glasses vases have the best cookies.” “Wooden bowls aren’t worth it.” All manner of preconceived notions begin to affect our judgment. Still we look upon the other people in the world eating what appears to be their perfect cookie from their perfect jar and we long to feel the same way they do. We crave the joy they’re experiencing and wonder why we aren’t receiving the same thing. We question if the cookies are even worth it, or what the point of it is, and we sometimes we begin to believe that we’ll never find what they’ve found.

In our desperation, maybe we try harder, thinking that maybe we’re just not giving it enough time. We find that some jars don’t even contain cookies for us, but loaded mouse traps that spring on our fingers causing us great pain. Still, what are the odds, right, so we try again and find another trap, and another.

Maybe we found plenty of cookies in the beginning, but increasingly find traps. We question our jar, wondering what’s wrong with it. Why is it filled with these traps? Why has my jar changed?

Each person seeks their own unique solution to this newfound pain. Some continue hoping and searching, trying different jars, while others abandon their search entirely, and some keep reaching into the same jar over and over. After all, your fingers go numb after a while and it doesn’t hurt as much. There are bound to be cookies there sooner or later. Maybe you even found one or two along the way amidst all the traps, but it’s your jar so you keep reaching in. It becomes your normal and you accept that this is just how it has to be.

Then one day, somebody shares one of their cookies with you. It’s really good, and you appreciate it, and you thank them and stick with your jar because the joy they’ve shared is enough to sustain you. We slowly accumulate these friends, doing our best to share among ourselves to sustain and support each other, however long we find them in our lives.

Sometimes, eventually, we learn that no matter how many times we reach into the jar, it will never contain the cookies we need it to. That continuing to reach into it is going to cause pain, both to ourselves and those are us who must watch us endure it. We tell people how bad that jar is and how much pain it causes, after all, we did the best we could, so it must be the jar’s fault.

So, understanding that our cookies are not to be found here, we leave, and by random chance alone, we find our cookies. In a random jar we would never have chosen, or a type of cookie we didn’t even know we were missing. There, in that one beautiful moment, we begin to understand that it was never the jar. Nor was it our fault. Some jars and some people just don’t work together, and no matter how many times you reach in, it will never contain cookies for you.

That old jar is still a beautiful jar that we wanted to enjoy, though, so we move on to find our new jars and hope that someday we can support the next person who finds our jar and realizes it contains the cookies they were looking for all along.

Staying Motivated Week

I typically find this less of an issue, but trying to power through a couple of posts a day to get caught up from my weekend lull has definitely strained my willingness to write. Since most of my usually writing time has been spent watching Flame Fatales, it’s been a bit weird. I find it extremely difficult to focus on what’s happening in a speedrun and process my thoughts in a coherent manner. Especially at the same time. Many people claim to be good at multitasking, but I’m not one of those people.

I find there are a number of ways to keep going, though. Grabbing the weekly topic mid-week instead of during the weekend helps as well, though. I may consider grabbing another prompt or so tonight in order to try and get myself caught up. It’s not so much a lack of motivation as a lack of topics. I’m tired of talking about Borderlands, only doing so because there was something to actually talk about.

The largest part of the battle is just resolving to start a post. If I start, I’ll almost always post something. I won’t necessarily like it, or be happy with it, but those typically take several hours to muddle through and after a while I just give up and wrap it up.

Of course, I’m the last person that should be talking about motivation. For me personally, I just have to want to do it. Finding those individual reasons that make you want to do it is such a personal endeavor that I’m not really certain how to encourage others to do it. It’s all about staying in the middle ground where I have something interesting to talk about at the right time of day.

Speaking of, it’s about time for me to move on with my day, so y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Flame Fatales 2022

I’ve been having a decent bit of fun this week following Flame Fatales, the ongoing GamesDoneQuick event featuring women and supporting the Malala Fund. It’s not quite as busy as a normal GDQ event, as it only runs from around noon to midnight (EDT). I’m not especially familiar with the Malala Fund, nor have I ever watched one of the Fatales events. I wasn’t even aware it existed, but it’s not quite as hyped as the larger GDQ events.

In addition to admiring the skill and dedication of the individual runners, I find it’s a good showcase of games I wasn’t aware of and would probably not encounter. Some of these are titles that I just managed to miss during my childhood, like Final Fantasy Legend 2. Others are interesting twists such as the Final Fantasy 4 Free Enterprise randomizer.

It also exposes me to a variety of things I have little experience with. Puzzle games are a category that’s typically fun to see, though could be counter productive if I actually intended to play them. Having said that, most speedruns tend to completely skip story content because it takes time, so it’s a good way to gauge tone and style for things I may want to branch out into.

I’m actually a bit confused at the moment. The hosts haven’t acknowledged it, but it looks like the game that should be live while I’m writing this has fallen through. Technical issues happen though, and they handled it well because it took me a good 20 minutes to start wondering why things had stalled. Hopefully they’ll get moving along soon enough.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

New Tales from the Borderlands

While I slept on the original Tales from the Borderlands, I have to admit that I quite liked it. It’s actually the only Telltale Games title I’ve ever played. Two months from release (Oct 21), I still haven’t decided how I feel about New Tales from the Borderlands.

The main source of my reservation is the fact that it’s produced by Gearbox rather than Telltale, or whatever is left of it. I never followed them closely enough to understand how that happened given the popularity of their games. I suppose the downfall might be the fact that watching someone play one of the games on YouTube or Twitch isn’t that different an experience from playing it yourself.

Gearbox’s reputation with storytelling is, well, not stellar. The characters themselves are excellent, and the most interesting stories are the small character stories rather than the larger game plots. There’s a chance they could succeed, I suppose. I’ll certainly wait and see what the word on the street is before I bother to pay full price for it.

I also find is a curious move on their part. The original Tales introduced a lot of the supporting characters in BL3. Ones that would appear again in the “final” DLC for BL2 that bridge the gap between it and BL3 and acknowledged Tales as cannon. Something that had been debated a bit up to that point, especially the status of Scooter.

I did see a brief clip from the trailer that looked like it featured Rhys, one of the main characters from the first Tales, who was shown to be in charge of the Atlas Corporation in BL3. We also see a shot of a giant A-shaped Atlas ship that definitely gives me some Hyperion Space Station vibes. Probably because it has a giant H.

I can’t help but wonder why they’re doing it now. Is it laying groundwork for BL4? Is it just a weird experiment to pull in more cash? I just find it an odd choice. Time will tell.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Wonderlands, Playstyle, and Game Design

Now, I definitely don’t think of myself as an expert in any particular Borderlands game. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the franchise, but not nearly as much as the streamers and content creators that I watch. Many of those people have 1000s of hours in one or more titles.

As I’ve worked on achievements again recently, I’ve definitely noticed a change in my general ability to play, my overall play style, and my ability to throw together a quick skill build. Most of that change I believe I owe to Wonderlands and the time I spent there.

I noticed the change to my play style in the games first. I used to adopt a very conservative playstyle similar to a cover shooter. Part of that is also my time messing with one life challenges and the general change in difficulty curve moving into BL2’s end game. When everything seems to one shot your shields you compensate by trying not to get shot. The overall level design often suggests this as well, as most of the games have conveniently places cargo containers and crates stacked around. The few areas that exist in the open get dangerous quite fast.

While Wonderlands definitely has cover, to a point, it also trained me to use movement, speed, and momentary line of sight breaks instead. A decent portion of this is the stronger emphasis on melee combat in the game. It’s hard to hide when you’re up close. It’s actually easier to close the distance quickly and efficiently. I first noticed this in TPS as a much greater tendency to use slams and melees as an area damage and/or an interrupt. Those little staggers can buy you some precious time to reload or pop an action skill.

Another thing the game really helped with was understanding basic build construction. Most games in the series have three or more separate skill trees for any given character. This often made it harder to mentally process what was available and how to fit things together. In Wonderlands, though, you only start with one and add a second later, so it’s much easier to see what your options are and how things fit together. After a while you start to see something and remember what you’ve seen in another tree and wonder how they work together. I just found it much easier to get my head around what was going on with Wonderlands. Once I had experimented with the diet version, I find that it’s much easier to take that knowledge backward and apply it to the other games. At least to the extent that the choices I make naturally are much more in line with those seen in end game builds.

The deliberate choice to make the Wonderlands endgame easier to reach is also contributing. The ability to use chaos mode without having to do three playthroughs first placed me in the endgame much quicker than I was used to. In fact, it was the first Borderlands game where I really had any contact with the endgame. It was only yesterday that I learned BL3’s Mayhem mode is available for the other playthroughs as well, as is whatever passes for this in TPS. WL was also my first direct exposure to anoints/enchants as well.

Just looking at everything together, I feel like Wonderlands served as a sort of Borderlands training wheels. There’s a lot more to it than that, but I wonder how much of that is intentional design.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Sleep Deprivation and Achievement Completion

It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it can be to push the human body well beyond its normal operational limits. I certainly don’t make a habit of doing so, but this makes the second time in the last few months that I pushed past the 24 hours awake with a lot less effort than I expected. The first was an unfortunately timed court appearance. Those never go quickly and take place during my regular sleep hours.

This time, though, it was to help some friends get back home. Their car suffered a catastrophic failure while a couple hours from home, and it’s cheaper to cover someone’s gas for a ride than to grab a couple hour uber. I’m just glad I was able to make the trip with none of the drowsiness and nodding off that I’d been contending with most of the week.

Of course, I’m not as young as I used to be. As handy as it is, it comes with a cost. Once I finally got home and got everything settled I effectively slept for the next 13 hours straight. According to my watch, anyway. This is also a contributing factor to me falling behind on posts for a few days.

What always makes it entertaining is thinking of all the days and nights that I did this on purpose when I was younger. Much younger, in fact, as the game that almost always comes to mind is the original Final Fantasy VII on PS1.

The other part of the delay was finally finishing off the Borderlands TPS achievements. That’s officially finished and uninstalled. That’s three out of five down. My brother expressed an interest in playing BL3 so I rolled into refamiliarizing myself with that.

Y’all take care. Don’t do this at home.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Blaugust – Creative Appreciation Week – Music

Now, I don’t make a habit of speaking about my musical choices often. Just feeling like listening to music is an indicator of a heightened emotional state and anyone watching my choice of playlist could easily learn to infer my emotional state. It’s not an exact science though, as some tracks find themselves spread across a variety of lists, their tone entirely dependent upon my mood. Yet others would seem nonsensical or out of place without the emotional context surrounding it.

There has always been a few overall trends that I can see. I have a taste for both parody and reimagined covers. When I was younger this was most obvious in my fondness for Weird Al, though it included a lot of original comedic works from a random selection of others. Unfortunately, some of those artists are indies and their music is simply not available anymore as far as I can tell. They existed in a largely pre-internet age and never became popular enough to get preserved. It’s a bit sad, really.

Perhaps my favorite brand of covers right now are those made by the Melodicka Bros. Most of the songs they work with are popular and/or well known, but often in a radically different style that I find compelling. In addition to enjoying their interpretations myself, I also enjoy confusing my children with them.

I mainly chose to highlight them because I find myself listening to their tracks very regularly and it’s not like they’re a major creator. I have no idea how many people have heard of them. It’s probably not everybody’s thing either.

I’m feeling kinda odd tonight, so I’m gonna keep it short.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Borderlands TPS 100% – Optimization

When I wrote that I only had three achievements left, I was kinda hoping that number would have gone down by now. Sometimes I just forget how obnoxiously grindy some of these things can be.

The one I’m slightly stuck on is the “complete all tier 1 challenges” achievement. Most of these are fairly “easy” in the sense that it’s just using a variety of weapons. I had a round a few of those up, but that was quick. The ones that end up getting me are things like “get 20 luneshine weapons from the grinder.” Mostly because I didn’t tend to use the grinder much. I did some quick math while farming the final boss, though, and quickly realized that a 10 minute TTK only nets around 30 or so moonstones. Since a single moonstone grind (needed for luneshine) was running me about 45 moonstones each and doesn’t guarantee a luneshine result, that obviously wasn’t a very efficient method.

A quick review of farming methods on YouTube led to me the “hidden” boss near the beginning of the game. Difficulty doesn’t impact his drop rate of moonstones so I can go back to normal mode, make a quick run, and melt the thing. Then it’s just grabbing any white rarity weapons and the moonstones, doing a save quit, then repeat. Crude but effective. I’ve gone from 1/20 luneshines to 11/20 in the last few days.

I also found that the grinding process is less expensive for lower rarity weapons. The white rarity only costs about 25 per grind, speeding the process up. I typically find that filling my inventory yields about as many moonstones as it takes to grind it all, so it works out. Not sure how it all works out time wise, but it feels much faster, yielding 2-3 luneshine results per inventory.

Once that’s done I have to spend a little more time on Nisha to knock out her action skill achievement, then back to Claptrap for his. That one might be a bit time consuming as well, due to the amount of randomness involved in his action skill and the point investment needed to have access to all of them.

Either way, I’m ahead of schedule for the night and hoping I can at least get the grinder done tonight.

Y’all take care. Don’t fall asleep grinding.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Epilators and Beauty Standards or Something

It’s hard to identify an angle here, so we’ll just start and see where it goes.

I find myself balancing an interest in odd devices I didn’t know existed with an unfortunate attachment to traditional beauty standards. Now, the upside is that those standards are aimed at myself rather than others. I actually didn’t pay attention to these details on others until it became a relevant part of my life. Even then, it was more of an exercise in gauging what was “normal” for others so that I didn’t accidentally out myself. Part of the trans experience for me is learning how to manage the intersection of physical appearance and internal experience. These two are often at odds. In this specific case I’m thinking about body hair.

Now, I’m not a particularly hairy human. Whether we blame that on genetics, luck, or a borderline low testosterone level is hard to say. Probably a combination of the bunch. I do however have extremely dark body hair on an extremely light skin tone. A real upside if you’re getting laser hair removal, which I am on my facial hair. A real downside considering I absolutely despise seeing detectable amounts of body hair. To me, on my body, it looks…. wrong.

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to deal with. It’s normal and expected for some reason that women attempt to minimize such things. I would think everyone is familiar with the basics of such a thing. Shaving works, but doesn’t last long. Waxing is more effective, but requires more effort and discomfort. Nair, Veet, and other creams technically exist too. There’s always laser removal, I guess, but I have firsthand knowledge of just how expensive that actually is.

This little contraption is very special torture device that I’ve never heard about until recently. It’s a sort of electric razor meets high speed tweezers sort of thing. The drum spins and its little teeth/slots grab ahold of hair and yank it out. I suspect the reason I’d never heard of it is because that’s about as painful as it sounds. It actually works quite well, but is extremely uncomfortable. Especially for someone like me who hasn’t ever done anything particularly epilatory? Is that a word? Spellcheck says no, but I’m keeping it.

It has really helped drive home, for me, just how far we’re willing to go in order to live up to beauty standards, be it those of society at large or our own self inflicted ones. Yet here we are, with not only this crazy contraption existing in a variety of different forms, but people including myself actually using it. My condolences to anyone that’s actually used one of these things.

I do find it cool that somebody figured out how to actually make this idea work though. Of course, I feel the same way about nearly everything, from electric motors to the internal combustion engine. Maybe I just have a standing appreciation for a well engineered product.

If anyone is curious, this is what a quick halfhearted test looked like on my arm. I missed some bits, but I wasn’t trying very hard. I simply wanted to get an idea of what to expect and didn’t have a lot of time to work with. The very red and irritated portion on the right is the area I went over. That picture was around 8 hours later, but coming up on 12 hours the redness and irritation is starting to subside.

My wife got a decent bit of amusement out of my reaction, though was fortunately not home at the time. I’m sure I made some rather amusing faces during the process. I did however need to actually charge the thing, so I’ll get to more fully torture myself in the future. It’s allegedly supposed to be a lot less intense after you’ve done it a time or two.

Y’all take care, though. Don’t use a handheld device to rapidly rip out all your hair. I mean, unless you want to I guess.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.