Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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The new Animal Crossing game just debuted at E3 this week.  Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  I think I almost always hate every new title when it comes out, then it starts to grow on me, and I suppose this one will too.  At first glance, I wasn’t too impressed, but the more I’ve watched of what little info is out there, the more I’m warming up to it, and the more it’s starting to definitely look like the best Animal Crossing game, even if it will fall short of what I’ve always hoped the game could be.

In all the entries in the series that have come before it, they all kinda start out the same way.  You’re new in town.  Tom Nook hooks you up with a place to stay out of the kindness of his heart, until you find out your his debt slave for the next year or two of your actual real life.  In New Horizons you start out on a deserted Island.  I was a little skeptical of this as I really enjoy the town atmosphere of the Animal Crossing games, and I definitely don’t want to lose that.  It’s something that really holds Pocket Camp back from feeling like a real Animal Crossing experience.  But there are tents, which I assume grow into huts, and maybe then houses or whatever.  I think it will be okay.

One of the biggest pains in the butt has always been inventory management in Animal Crossing.  The touch screen made that easier, but still currently the only way to know what an item is, is to select it.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but after you’ve gone through icon by icon just looking for one specific pair of socks… it starts to get annoying.  At least now it looks like you’ll have a better visual representation of the item when you’re looking through your inventory or pockets.

Crafting is here.  Which is… fine.  I don’t hate crafting.  As long as most of the materials can generally be sourced pretty easily.  It’s when you have to have super rare materials, or materials that are incredibly expensive that it becomes annoying.  There’s no word on how all that will play out, so for now, yeah… it’s fine.

Some of the little visual details they’ve included I think will really make the game even easier to get sucked into.  The way the ocean water breaks against the rocks, clouds passing overhead leave shadows on the ground as they go by.  And generally, it all just looks very well polished and put together.  The world they showed was pretty empty, but that’s how all the Animal Crossing games start out.  It’s up to you how you want to fill that space.

Honestly, if it’s just kinda of “quality of life” improvements, I’m okay with that.  But Animal Crossing has always had the potential to connect with your real life friends and family at a really fun level.  But Nintendo is always very cautious when it comes to allowing people to communicate with each other.  And you can’t really blame them.  Humans are the worst.

My dream is an Animal Crossing place that is always there, online, living even when you’re not playing.  You can send mail from your town to your friend in another town, or you could get a friendly message from one of you fictional in game villagers on your real life phone to make you smile.

But let’s be honest.  Nintendo doesn’t have to do much to Animal Crossing to get me to buy it again. 

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See… SEE!

I told you.  I told you in the last post.  Be careful what you wish for.  I was so excited to get the last of the floor wrapped up, the Jeep put back together and be done with projects for a while.  Then what happens?

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The biggest flood since 1993.  So more projects!  Yay.  All things considered, we didn’t get it that bad.  Sooo many people around us got it so much worse.  We didn’t have any of the nasty floodwater come into our home, but we did get lots and lots of crystal clear ground water bubbling up through any nook or cranny in the basement.

It started on Friday.  It’d been raining for probably 2 weeks at this point and the flood was already forecast.  At the beginning, it was just some wet spots in the carpet.  By the end, the whole floor was drenched.

So gutting the carpet and dry wall quickly became a project on necessity.  It took a few days, but with Andrea’s help, we got everything moved out of the basement.  All the wet stuff cut out, and loaded up on the trailer.  Later today I get to make a run to the landfill… if it doesn’t rain.

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I’ve never experienced a flood first hand before.  And I think my town has to be the absolute best place to have to go through such a thing.  We live in a very small community, so everyone was pitching in, helping each other out.  Checking on each other.

Once all the sandbags were stacked, everyone as prepared as you could be for such a thing, there was just this errie calm that fell over the town.  Up and down the streets, everyone was just sitting out on their porch, waiting for it to roll in.  What else can you do?  There was an attitude of indifference about it all no matter who you talked to.  So we fell in line, pulled up some chairs, and waited.

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For Luke especially, this was an event I wanted him to see and take in.  There’s not a ton of stuff a person remembers when you’re seven or eight years old, but this is something that I bet he will remember for the rest of his life.

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It’s going to take some time, but we’ll be fine.  It’s been about a week and water is still coming into the house.  Our sump pump keeps pumping it out non stop… after it runs across the floor of course.  So it’s not like our basement is filled with water.  All the mold friendly spaces have been cut out.  So now, we just wait.

The stress hasn’t got too me too much… the only annoying thing is having half of our belongings stacked up in the garage taking up space.  Well that and all the water in my basement.  But 6 months or so from now, we’ll be back to normal.  This is just temporary, and will definitely be an experience we’ll never forget.

Careful What You Wish For

At the beginning of this year, I wrote an entry about how I wanted more projects in my life.  How I wanted to create things.  So far, mission accomplished.

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We finished our shelves down stairs.  They turned out pretty great I think.  We’ve already run out of room, but I have no regrets, as this was about as big as those shelves could fit in there.

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After that I started tearing into the Wrangler, which is still up on jack stands in the garage.  I have the feeling this is either going to end up being an easier… or much harder project than I have anticipated, but since the Wrangler is a bit of a toy, it’s been put on the back burner as we fired up all sorts of other things after it got started.

The biggest one has been the new floor, which has been pretty well documented on my Twitter feed @kartmaster.  I’ve helped putting down flooring like this before.  That snap together stuff.  But I’ve never been the dude in charge before so it was a bit intimidating.  Mostly because if I screw it up we have to live in it and look at it every day.

Sometimes people will say to me things like, “You should do that for other people and make some money.”  Here’s the thing.  This took me like a month… working after work.  Taking a day off when I just didn’t feel like it.  Getting mad.  Nah.  There’s a reason people pay other people to get this done.  And if I were to fall one way or the other from the DIY fulcrum, it would definitely be the customer side.

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We also sold the Cutlass and the red Jeep here this year too!  I’ll got into some more detail about the emotions behind all that in another post, but selling things like that is work.  I hate selling stuff, putting up with the people.  Wasting your time on the flakes.  But it’s done and I feel pretty good about how it all ended up.

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Selling those led to getting a truck.  I’ve never really needed a truck especially since we got the trailer.  Almost everything we’d need to do could be hauled around there.  But when we started riding ATVs, and as Luke gets older and we’re looking at getting a gas powered one for him, logistically it is going to be a lot easier to put his ATV in the truck, and the other two on the trailer.  Even with his little power wheels one now, loading up is a two person job to get Andrea’s beast turned sideways on the trailer.  So I’m looking forward to spending more time riding, and less time loading!

Of course days after buying the truck I was already diving into a project there.  On the test drive, I knew right away the first thing I would have to fix was going to be the seat.  It would slide around as you were driving like you were sitting on marbles.  It lead to feeling really not in control, haha.  “How hard could it be!?”  Turns out, actually, for once, not that hard.  I cobbled together some scrap pieces from around the shop, built some new bushings, put it all back together and it works great.

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I’m thankful to be able to do these sorts of things.  Thankful for Youtube mostly.  No matter what my problem, I’m NEVER the first person to have it and there’s almost always an ingenious way to fix it that I never would have thought of myself.  I’m thankful to have a wife like Andrea that trusts me to take these things on.  She used to ask me, “Are you sure we can handle something like that?” back in the day when I’d bring up a project.  Now she knows that… it may not go like we planned, but we’ll figure it out.

To be honest though, I’m ready for a break from some projects for a while.  I’m ready to get out and play.  We haven’t been riding at all this year except on the dirt roads around the house.  I have tools and piles of wood, or tires, or supplies everywhere.  I need to return to a normal resting state of existence for a while.  Careful what you wish for I guess.

My Love Letter to the Switch

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I still remember back to that moment that I got hooked on Nintendo.  I was 6 years old, we were visiting one of my Mom’s friends that lived on Avenue C in Dodge City.  The boy that lived there had an NES in his room, and we were playing Super Mario Bros.  I couldn’t believe there was this whole world to explore inside the TV!

Eventually we got our own NES at home, and I could play whenever I wanted.  Except when I had to go to school, or to the store with Mom, or to Grandma’s house, or any time anyone else wanted to watch anything at all on the TV.  In the 90’s the Gameboy was a thing, but the experiences were always so much more limited that you still kinda wished you were playing NES.  Now, exactly 30 years later, my dream is finally realized.

As I’ve grown up, gaming has waxed and waned as one of my great passions in life.  How I remember being a 15, hopelessly a slave to the N64… Mario Kart 64 Time Trials, GoldenEye Fests, 120 Star runs in Super Mario 64.  Then I said to myself, “No matter what happens, no matter how old I get, gaming will always be important to me.”  It brought me so much joy, it really did, that it was hard to imagine life without it.

That is life though, isn’t it?  Right when you think you can’t be any more happy, or any more miserable for that matter, life shows you a whole new level of it you never thought existed.  The hard part is I think we as humans have a tendency to throw ourselves at whatever the new shiny is.  At times to the extent of saying that nothing that has come before could possibly compare to what we have now.  And by extension, that what we had before must be “crap”.  I don’t know why we do these things.  We get rid of things we treasure because we are convinced that something newer is better, we will mistreat the people we love in order to win the love of new people who are basically strangers.

I don’t think that’s a fair way to treat ourselves.  It’s not fair to look at all of your past choices as mistakes or shortcomings, because of something new that you never saw coming ended up happening.

When I got that NES back in 1988…  It was wonderful.  Beautiful.  And that is an experience that I don’t feel like should be diminished because experiences now are so much richer and complex.  To extrapolate, that the feeling of holding that gold Ocarina of Time cartridge in my hand for the first time isn’t an experience I shouldn’t value, because how could it possibly compare to the birth of my children.

Unequal and valid.

So far the Switch has been becoming this common point that so many of the things that bring me joy intersect on.  It’s a place where I can play 2 player Super Mario Bros. with Lucas.  I can team up with Andrea in Rocket League.  Re-live the cookyness of Final Fantasy X-2.  I can play Ice Hockey with Dad in a hotel room.  I can re-visit old places from Ocarina of Time in Breath of the Wild.

But that’s not the best of what the Switch brings to my life.  Switch makes gaming fit into the nooks and crannies of life.  Switch doesn’t make me choose it as the most important thing.  It’s the master key that magically takes the shape of whatever you need it to be.  If I have 5 minutes before work, an hour over lunch, a 6 hour window on the weekend.  In the living room, in the car, at my desk.  It can find a way to fit, without having to push aside family, responsibility, or any of those other adult realities of life.

This “adult life” though is up to you what you make it.  You could let your responsibilities carry you away without having a choice, or live life completely to your own whims to the detriment of those around you.  Contentment is a bit of a moving target that always exists somewhere between those two extremes.  And I’m thankful that all along that spectrum, the Switch is always available to keep a part of me that brings me joy near.

 

 

So far… so good.

I had mentioned in the previous post that one of the things I really want to get back to is creating things.  Making things.  And thus far in 2019 I’m off to a pretty good start.  We built some under the stair shelves that turned out pretty great.  Not necessarily perfect, but I’m more than satisfied given the talent and tools that I had available.

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Overall since the holidays have wrapped up, I’ve been in a pretty good place mentally.  It’s so easy to stop and think about all the things you want to do, or want to have, then get sad that you don’t have them, or convince yourself that you’ve made the wrong choices to get where you are.  I think that’s a little short sighted.

Problem is that line of thinking has no end.  It’s a game with no way to win.  For example.  I want to build and make things, I also want to spend time with my family and have fun watching the kids grow up.  I want to fix up and restore the black car and the Jeep.  I want to play more games and get through some of them that I really enjoy.  I want to go see family more.  I want to ride ATVs.  I want to play D&D more.  I want to go on vacations.  I want to study Spanish. I want to stay home.

Choosing to do any one of those things, takes away from all of the others.  It’s the opportunity cost of making your choice.  Everything you choose to do comes at the cost of whatever else you COULD have done instead.  But I refuse to feel bad about these choices.  Because the option to do ALL of them was never an option at all.  You are only one person that can be in one place at a time.  To be disappointed that you can’t be everywhere with unlimited resources at all times is something silly to be upset about.

I’m putting my best effort into being thankful for the opportunities that I have to do any number of things.  To not be resentful of the experiences that I couldn’t have, but rather to be grateful for those that I did.

To Create

I need to take some more time to sit down and make things.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  Whether it’s something artistic, or something useful.  Putting something out there into the world is super rewarding.  I’m going to get there…

First things first though, you have to take care of the things you have to do.  Work, yes.  But I’m trying to weave more creativity in to my day to day hum drum tasks.  The trick is not spending too much time on it.  I work because I like my job, but I also work so that I don’t have to.  So that I can spend time with my family, so I can do some of the other things I always say I “don’t have time to do”.  But even in this time I need to find more opportunities to put a creative spin on the regular.  It’s easy with my show to try something new, see if it works or not.  Harder when you’re filling out reports or making schedules.  And I need to finish my Christmas shopping!

The internet is great for inspiration, but at some point you have to stop scrolling.  In my scrolls this morning, looking for Christmasy things to talk about on my show, I spotted a wreath made out of caution tape that someone had made for the police station they work at.  And I thought, that’s the kind of stuff I wish I could find time in my day to do!  Haha.  There’s always going to be the nay-sayers wondering if you used company time, or wasted office supplies.  But I feel like there should be a little bit of company resources dedicated to joy and comradery.

I’ve made quite a few things I’m proud of this year.  I made a mount for a light bar on my ATV, fixed and fabricated a new power steering bracket for the Wrangler.  I made a little plastic flip card for Luke’s bike that makes it sound like a motorcycle.  I made my awesome box for the trailer.  I’m just starting to feel the itch again I guess.

I want to finish our shelves in the basement.  We’ve had 3 holes in our walls for months now, and we just need to get some plywood and some trim to finish them off for what will be some really nice stepped inset shelves.  It’s a 1 day project and just need to do it!  I still want to make a MAME Arcade cabinet.  But that is a bit more of a financial restriction.  I need to build some easy storage for some of my tools and spare parts in the shop.  Most of that I can do with scraps I have laying around.  And there’s the big project of fixing the Jeep frame that I just need to start pulling things apart.  And there’s that Clarissa Explains it All podcast that I’m still looking for a dedicated co-host…

All in time.  I know.  I look back and I got more done than it “feels” like.  Not guilty or anything.  Just gotta make time for more.  Balance… balance is everything.  Balance is hard.

Fall!

Aww. Isabelle is the best. It’s nice to see some cute and safe for work Isabelle fan art for once.

I’ve been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately. Looking forward to the Switch version for sure. The seasons are changing in the game just as they are in real life too.

Luke has been super excited for Halloween. We carved our pumpkins today, I fear that by the actual holiday on Wednesday they’ll be looking a bit gnarly, but it’s always a fun tradition, made even more so by Luke’s anticipation of it all.

Also took the day on Saturday to head out and hit the trail. Might end up being the last nice weekend of the year, and boy was it beautiful.

I was just talking the week or two before about how both the ATVs have been running all year, but nobody wants to ride. Andrea and Karina went out last week and I went out this week, so I’m glad that’s happening again.

I spent a lot of time alone in this ride, just thinking about things. I guess I got it all sorted out. Either way, it was a beautiful day.

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Goofing Around

Not a long blog this time around.  Just a couple pictures of running around last night.  Andrea was stuck working, and Luke had put on his calendar over the weekend that today was the day to go to the park.  So we loaded up for a little cruise into town and decided to take the back roads.

Andrea had just washed a ton of mud off the Jeep from a muddy ride we took together on Saturday.  And we happened to hit a couple small puddles on our way into town.  Don’t worry, I cleaned up my mess, haha.

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The park was PACKED.  Was a bit refreshing to see.  People say kids don’t play outside anymore, but there was no shortage of all ages this evening.  Little itty bity babies, litter than Emma.  All the way up to the jerk teenagers.  Saw one kid tackle a girl to steal her Takis.  A kid three or four years older than Luke took great pleasure in out running Lucas all over the playground playing “tag”.  I didn’t mind though.  Luke went out pretty early.

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Kids can sure be jerks though.  And it’s a little tough to explain why to Lucas sometimes, because I really don’t know.  Heck usually the kids don’t know why they are mean.  One boy called Lucas a baby.  Luke was fairly concerned because he knew he wasn’t a baby, and it was important to him that this other kid knew that.  But the other boy was just trying to rile Luke up.  Instead of getting upset, Luke just followed this kid around the playground for about 10 minutes explaining how, objectively, he was not infact, a baby.  Haha.

The Current Things

I’m into a few things right now that I keep bouncing back and forth between.  Not enough time to enjoy all of them at once.  And I feel like chaining myself to one thing until completion makes the fun stuff feel like work.  So I do my best to remember where I left off, and dive back in when it feels right.

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Octopath Traveler is my main game of the moment.  It’s a new “old school” style RPG.  It’s very much my flavor.  It’s turn based, so there’s no timer making you sweat it out.  You can take as much time as you want in between turns to really plan out your strategy… or make another run to the beer fridge.

The story isn’t amazing per se.  There’s some really good moments and some really hard hitting lines though.  Above all else, the game is beautiful, and the MUSIC.  Oh my god.  It’s possibly one of the best sound tracks I’ve ever heard.  I love getting to a new area just to hear a brand new song.

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Cheers has been on my list for a long time.  I’ve probably been watching it on and off for a couple of years now.  There’s so many episodes.  Heck, that show was on for 10 years or more!  And I can see why.  It’s one of those legendary prime-time style TV shows that has a cast with real chemistry, and just some of the best writing in television, ever.  I’m working my way through it, and even though it’s taking forever, I’m ok with that because I’ll be sad for the day that it’s over.

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The Green Jeep.  I haven’t posted about it here yet I think.  So Andrea’s been wanting this bad boy for a long time.  Like years of talking about the somedays.  Well we’d always casually send classified posts back and forth, and one day this thing popped up and it was in our price range of about $5,000.

We went to look at it.  On the way there, I told her… if it has rust in the frame, or rust in the body mounts, I don’t want anything to do with it.  “Ok.  She said.”  We looked at it.  It had rust in the frame and the body mounts.  “It has rust in the frame and the body mounts I said.”

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“Yeah…” she said.  Well, I knew what this meant.  She still wanted it.  I mean, it looked like a Jeep!  Good enough, right!?  So I decided… okay, Matt.  If you’re going to deal with this rusty heap… what would you be willing to pay?  I offered $600 less than he was asking and he took it.  Probably thought I was a chump.  I probably am.  Haha.

Well either way, as most of these abused and neglected vehicles do in my life.  It’s grown on me.  We’ve got the stuff to fix the rust.. It’s going to be a pain in the ass, but Oh Well.  I’ll appreciate it more when it’s done.  Or something like that.

For now we’re just driving it and enjoying it for the purposes we bought it for anyway.  It can’t really get much worse in the short term.  And fixing the frame is the winter project.  I’ll learn something if nothing else.

In between it all, I’m of course working, dad-ing, and husband-ing.  I find some times for retro games still every now and then.  OH and I’ve been dedicating more attention to my Animal Crossing town.  The new game for Switch was announced a while back and it’s renewed my excitement for the game.

So right now I’ve got about 90 minutes before bedtime.  Not sure what’s on the plate.  Octopath?  GoldenEye?  Tough choice.

They’re not wrong. But it’s not for me.

I’ve spent a week without social media recently.  No twitter, no facebook, no online interaction at all.  I turned off everything.  No notifications on my phone.  It was weird at first you know.  I’d pull my phone out of my pocket at a somewhat regular interval, because it was “about time” there was something there for me to see.  Except this time there wasn’t.  And for the first couple days it was weird.  Kind of the same feeling you get when you pull off the interstate into a rest area, while the rest of the traffic screams past you on the highway at a little bit more than the fastest velocity allowed by law.  Some going left, some going right, but all pretty much following the one ahead of them in an orderly fashion, bound by rules they all acknowledge and accept.  While I meanwhile, had to stop.

You see you don’t stop at a rest area because you enjoy the amenities.  Rest stops are built out of a biological necessity.  Given the choice you’d choose a gas station where you could get a candy bar and a Mtn Dew Code Red for the miles ahead.  Or in a best case scenario, make it home, to the only bathroom on earth you can feel comfortable in naked.  But here you are, at exit 328, if nothing else for a quick pit stop to make the next leg of your journey somewhat bearable.

The rest stop analogy ends there for the most part.  I was growing weary of the amount of attention required to be given to my phone.  I once pulled my phone out of my pocket and was informed I had 22 notifications.  Twenty-Two.  At any given point along my existence up until now, I don’t think there’s any singular point where I’ve cared about 22 different things at once.  Messages, sports scores, news updates, recommendations, reviews.  There’s NO WAY I’m this important that twenty-two different people or organizations NEED input from ME.

And for the first time in my life that I can recall, it was starting to affect my real life relationships.  Not that I was spending too much time on my phone… but because I wasn’t spending ENOUGH.  At the right times.  With the right people.  Saying the right things.  Sharing the right stuff.  To the extent that it was starting to effect my REAL LIFE relationships.  And THIS really pissed me right the hell off.

You see, I exist in a pretty unique and remarkable moment in human history.  I remember when email was new.  I remember IRC, ICQ, MSN Messanger, AIM… and then later when text messaging was the thing.  Always as each new thing came out, and people used it to communicate more and more.  I still saw them as a substitute for actual interaction.  “This is the thing you can do when you can’t be together.”  It was the ‘instead’.  You used it to in the moments between the time you really wanted with a person.  Could you have meaningful conversation?  Sure.  But it was never the first choice.

I feel like I’m witnessing another remarkable moment in human history as I breath this air.  Digital interaction isn’t just as important as face to face interaction.  It’s maybe even more important.  We’ve wrapped so much of our identity and actual lives around the pixel portal we hold in our hands, that it literally is a relevant measure of who we are as a physical person.  And the fact that we have access to it at literally every living breathing millisecond of our lives makes it… completely reasonable.

Who is a person without their phone?  Does it matter if they always have a phone?

When I realized being bad a phones, meant I was being bad at relationships.  I suddenly did a full stop.  I never thought about it before, that having constant connection and constant contact, or at least the ability to do so, was a reality of my existence.  It was for better or worse, and by choice or not, a reality of how the world saw me.  I could be reached at any moment.  Therefore expected to respond at any moment.  By contrast, I could reach out at any moment.  Therefore expected to do so at any moment.  I have always said, “I’m not good at everything.  I just try to only do the things I’m good at.”  And I suck at this.

Besides.  It’s not what I want.  It’s not who I want to be.  I don’t want to be known for the sweetest links.  I don’t want to be a master of the emoji.  I don’t want to be the person who can craft the most heartwarming text.  It may be how people prefer to experience me rather than taking up their actual time and space, but to be honest, if that’s the case… I’m not sure it’s worth my actual time and space.