My Norfolk Island Pine isn’t dead so I committed to a new pot

Just before Christmas, I was in Trader Joe’s in Edgewater, NJ, getting groceries and I saw that they had small Norfolk Island pine trees for sale. We have a small apartment and we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a real tree for Christmas, so we got a fake 3-foot tree that I could stuff back into a box and put away once the holiday was over. It’s not really the same, though, and I wanted something evergreen in the house, so I bought one of the Norfolk Island pines.

Plants in a Raskog utility cart from Ikea
Plants in a Raskog utility cart from Ikea

It’s really small. There are actually five different plants, all planted close together. It doesn’t have a very strong pine smell. At first, I was disappointed by that, but if I’m going to keep the pines all year long, that’s probably a bonus. The smell of evergreen tree might get old after a while, like using the same air freshener in your car for too long.

Before last summer, I’d only had two cacti as plants. The first died when I went to basic training for the Army in 1998 and I forgot to ask someone to water it. The second died in 2013 because the apartment we were in just didn’t get enough light and I wasn’t savvy enough to know about plant growing lights and little plant aquariums for succulents. I wanted to make our current apartment more green, though, both to improve the air quality and to try to connect our concrete-jungle life to nature in some small way. Besides our cats, that is. So, I picked up a vine plant that I already forgot the name of but seems pretty hardy and does well in low. I got three stalks of lucky bamboo. And, the Norfolk Island pine was our latest addition.

The vine and bamboo are pretty hardy. I feel like I’d have to try hard to kill them. I wasn’t sure the pine tree was going to make it though, especially since there isn’t that much light during the winter here. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see it still hanging on at the beginning of this month. I decided to commit to the plant and got a new pot, good potting soil, a clamp lamp and a grow bulb to offset the low winter light.

I think it looks great. One of these days, if we decide to buy a house, maybe I’ll be able to plant it in the ground. I wonder how fast they grow?

Khajiit Dragonknight in front of unknown statue in Tamriel

Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay: Lycanthropy (plus Destiny 2 and Overwatch Gameplay)

So, I spent some time messing around with Elder Scrolls Online tonight. One of my gifts this year was the 2 volume book set of the ESO Lore. Elder Scrolls isn’t the most popular game out there. People joke that one of the hardest bosses in the game is a 1 foot wall because just walking in the game can sometimes be difficult, but I like how rich the lore is in the game, so the books were a great gift. They’re really well done, too. I’ll have to post some pictures later on.

Anyway, about two weeks I found out that you can contract vampirism or lycanthropy in the game. As I was traveling across Tamriel on my way to a castle where I was scheduled to perform a fire breathing and sword swallowing act, I ran into a werewolf shrine. I liked the idea of having lycanthropy, so I found a player whose character has it and that person helped me find someone that could infect my character with it too.

The process was a lot more involved than I expected. It had a mini questline that took me into a portal where I essentially proved my worth to Hircine, who is apparently the god of werewolves, by killing a mammoth with my bare hands and then sharing the carcass with the werewolf pack. Also, you pledge allegiance to the werewolves above all other loyalties in the game. Nifty!

So, now I’m ready to add mauling people as a werewolf to my favorite pastimes of murder, robbery, pickpocketing, and assault. I’m really enjoying the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines!

This is a live stream of me playing Destiny 2. It was not my finest hour. I’m not too familiar with the Mayhem Crucible yet, and I was trying different subclasses to see what works, but Titan overall seems to suck for it. Warlocks have what appear to be heat-seeking ultimate abilities that are just ridiculous for that type of round.

And this is a little livestreamed footage from me playing OverWatch. OverWatch doesn’t seem to play nice with Nvidia’s screen recording software and kept hanging.

SMISKI Box Insert

SMISKI Collectibles – Series 4 Box

There is a Kinokuniya bookstore across the river in Edgewater, NJ. We stumbled onto it while we were looking for the Trader Joe’s that’s a few minutes up the road. Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore. The first time I visited one was with my wife in Singapore. They have a large selection of Japanese and English language books, magazines, and manga.

The Kinokuniya in Edgewater also has a stationary consignment shop inside that is pretty nice. The shop is located in the same shopping center as Mitsuwa Shopping Center, a Japanese grocery store with a food court. Mitsuwa is pretty cool, too. I like walking down the aisles and looking at the products. They also carry items that we already enjoy like Ito Ten roasted rice green tea and Yakult, a probiotic drink.

SMISKI Series 4 Box
SMISKI Series 4 Box

Anyway, Kinokuniya is set up so that when you walk in, you’re in a section with a bunch of cute knickknacks and collectibles. One of those collectibles is called Smiski – Opens Japanese language website. It’s basically a blind-box item, where you open a box and get a random version of the collectible.

When I saw them, I was reminded of these forest spirit things from an animated movie called Princess Mononoke.

After a few visits, I decided that I wanted to buy one and open it. I don’t know why, but I like the idea of having them on my bookcases, or in random places in the apartment. It would be fun.

SMISKI Series 4 Collectible
SMISKI Series 4 Collectible

I picked a series 4 box. I was hoping to get the guy laying down with a smaller Smiski sitting on his head, but I got this guy that’s climbing up the edge of my books, which is also fun.

SMISKI Series 4 Collectible Sitting on my Books
SMISKI Series 4 Collectible Sitting on my Books

They’re supposed to glow in the dark, but I haven’t noticed that happening with mine. I don’t think it’s defective, though. The spot it’s sitting in doesn’t get much natural light.

I’m looking forward to picking up more of these. Maybe once a month?