Things to be grateful for 4/26 – 5/1

So, last week was pretty low key. That in itself is something to be grateful for given the circumstances. We’re still in one of the worst outbreak areas of COVID-19 in the world and no one in my family has gotten sick yet, thankfully. I’m a little concerned about how things are going to go with that. We’ve been having warmer weather so more people are congregating and other States are relaxing restrictions already even though they’re still on the upswing of the outbreak.

Some highlights for this week:

  • After many months, our cast iron skillet is finally developing a significant non-stick layer. We’ve baked chicken in the skillet with good results and also made filet mignon (stovetop + oven) that turned out amazing.
  • The filet mignon. We hadn’t had any since last year.
  • Got a lot of work done on last year’s taxes. I should be done with them by this weekend.
  • Got to actually binge watch a series for the first time in a few years. We found a show called “Into the Night” on Netflix that was really good. It has a lot of edge of your seat suspense that kept us reaching for the “Next Episode” button.
  • We finally found out when our stimulus deposit will hit our account.

Sitting at home all the time, I’m not doing a lot that’s exciting. I was thinking the other day that I haven’t posted anything to Instagram in a while because I haven’t been out to see anything that I felt was worth posting. But I’ve been using the time to read more, study foreign languages more, and to try to finish video games that I bought years ago and never got through.

For example, I’m about 60% of the way through “Grand Theft Auto V”. I bought the game about 7 years ago, got about 37% of the way through it and never finished it. I’m having a lot of fun watching Michael and Trevor’s bromance unfold.

Things to be grateful for 4/19 – 4/25

Dapper relaxing on the table

1. Our cats are still happy and healthy.

April 21st, 2020 tornado warning alert for the Bronx, New York City

2. We did not get wrecked by a tornado on Tuesday.

IRS “Get My Payment” tool success message

3. We finally stopped getting the “Payment Status Not Available” error and were able to enter our direct deposit information with the IRS for the stimulus deposits.

4. I talked to our ISP and got an upgrade from 100 Mbs to 300 Mbs and we’re paying $20 less a month than before. The price is locked in for two years. I’m not even sure what to do with all of that bandwidth. It might be my imagination, but streamed shows on Netflix seem to be clearer.

5. We have our health. Based on symptoms posted online, we think we probably had mild cases of COVID-19 in February. We were both experiencing the same weird symptoms at the same time, like both having weird lower back pain, muscle aches, fatigue, etc. Our social circle includes someone who had recently traveled to Hubei Province in China. I guess things could have been a lot worse for us. We’re still doing fine, though, even though we know quite a few people who aren’t.

6. I rediscovered and am having fun with some PS4 games I haven’t played in about 6 years. I never even finished GTA V and I haven’t finished the cop story in Need For Speed Rivals.

7. I’ve been seeing a lot online about mental health issues during this crisis. I was thinking about that a few days ago, wondering how being stuck inside is complicating the usual rise in mental health problems during the winter months. It’s already so gray, cold, and depressing outside and now we can’t even go outside. It felt great to just open the windows yesterday and I’m enjoying walking around in crowds in GTA V. LOL. Anyway, staying strong mentally.

Ordinary men hate solitude. But the master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.

Lao Tzu

My First FarmVille Card

A $10 FarmVille card.

Oh yes, I’m serious.  I didn’t buy this.  It was given to me as a gift.  I did certainly use it though.

You see, I’m in Georgia right now visiting relatives and I’m staying at my aunt’s house.  My mother, aunt and aunt’s mother are all FarmVille addicts.  After a few nights of laying around just surfing the net as usual, I got caught up in their constant chatter about the game.  I used to play FarmVille, over a year ago, but gave up on it as too boring.

There have apparently been some big changes since then, including bakeries, wineries and spas, as well as cooperative crop growing with benefits, all of which have done nothing but make the game far more social, and in a way, more obligatory.  It locks people in and makes them feel like they’re required to keep playing for their friends’ sakes.  It makes good sense, from a business perspective.  It snagged my attention because I used to really enjoy crafting (weird, but I did) in MMOs like UO, DAoC, FFXI and WoW.  Before I knew it I was loading up the game to see what they were talking about.

While I was overseas I heard a lot about how FarmVille was taking off, and how people were dropping real cash on FarmVille items via these cards.  I laughed it off, but now here I am with FarmVille running in full swing and 110 Farm Cash (about 20 real dollars) worth the virtual currency loaded into the thing.  Granted, I haven’t put any of my own money into it…yet.  My mom and aunt seem to think of it as an investment towards their further enjoyment of the game, but I’m probably going to be hard pressed not to grab one of these off a shelf myself sometime in the near future, after checking to make sure no one is looking first of course.

It’s oddly addictive, and yet pleasantly casual with no massive demands on my time.  Well, not too much anyway.  And what’s even more odd is that more real cash has gone into my game during the last week than I ever put out for any mainstream MMO monthly subscription.  Zynga really does have a cash cow on its hands here.

Now, whether I continue to keep up with FarmVille after I get back to NYC and start working again is up for debate, but for now… I have to go check on my grapes.