Stardew Valley

I finished Life Is Strange not too long ago, and I envy my naive self from this past post. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are planning on experiencing it yourselves, so I’ll just say… Boy, did things escalate quickly. The latter parts of episode 3 through to the end of episode 5 were composed of some of the heaviest things I’ve ever had to think about. I couldn’t help but question what my 17-year-old self would have done in Max’s situation. Probably crawled into bed in fetal position. Actually, that’s pretty much what I did after I finished the game. It left me emotionally, mentally, and (somehow) physically drained. Go play it.

SV
PC: Steam

I needed my next game to be something much more chill, and having heard rave reviews about Stardew Valley, I decided to pick it up. I have since lost all will and ability to be productive in real life. It reminds me a lot of Nintendo’s old school Harvest Moon. Except better? I often get bored of the repetitive nature of these sorts of games, but Stardew Valley does a nice job at constantly keeping you occupied. I’ve found myself lying awake at night, thinking of all the things I’ve yet to accomplish on my farm.

It’s not just about the farming and wooing of potential marriage partners (à la Harvest Moon). You have the option of completing  “quests”, a mine where you can slay various kinds of monsters, and parts of the town that remain to be unlocked. There were a lot of new elements that I was initially skeptical about, because I thought each part would be left disjointed. I mean, what does battling cave skeletons have to do with a successful farm anyway? But rest assured, the game has a pretty seamless way of connecting everything together.

I’m also convinced that the open-endedness of Stardew Valley is one of its strengths. Open-ended games normally intimidate me, as I tend to like a bit more structure and direction with what I’m doing. Skyrim* still sits neglected in my library, and I feel guilty whenever I scroll past it… The overwhelming amount of things left to do and the massive time commitment it takes always discourages me from trying. In Stardew Valley, you really can quit after wrapping up a single farm day’s work, or (if you’re like me) you can binge play through an entire season in one sitting. Either way, it felt like my choice. Even if you do decide to tackle side quests, I’ve found that most of them don’t take an obscene amount of time and/or aimless wandering, so you’re not left frustrated with things like why Haley needs a cave carrot so badly.

Two thumbs up. Maybe -0.2 of a thumb for sleep deprivation and decreased motivation in things unrelated to Stardew. That’s probably due to my own lack of self control, though.

Before I leave, I just need to say: how insane was the Villanova win on Monday?! I still get chills watching that buzzer beater. Congrats to all the Wildcats out there.

* I realize that this might be the worst comparison in the history of comparisons, but I stand by my stance on (most) open-ended games!

The Changing Seasons: March

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The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

It is was the last Wednesday of the month, which means another photo post! I’m continuing Cardinal Guzman’s monthly challenge called The Changing Seasons (V2)

March was a bit of a lazy month, in terms of any DSLR progress, so I actually had to pull these two images off of my phone. I thought they looked much more striking, sitting side-by-side; I got lucky with how a lot of the lines from one photo continue on into the next, creating a sort of fluidity. The first one was taken towards the beginning of the month. I loved the bare bone trees against the gloomy clouds, winter still hanging on to its remaining days. The photo looks almost monochromatic, save for the bright blue and red of the street sign. The second image was taken in the latter days of March when, seemingly out of nowhere, these little blue flowers began to make an appearance. The bushes are still bare, but the pops of color from random vegetation against the bright blue background of the sky screamed spring to me.

I hope everyone had a very happy Easter. How is it already April?!

Hello, Sun. Hello, Madness.

I didn’t have a chance to post last week, due to some last minute traveling plans. I live in a pretty cold part of the county, and I think my body went into a bit of shock when I landed at my noticeably hotter destination. I saw the sun. I was reminded that warmth exists. I didn’t need a jacket. My scumbag brain kept trying to have me put on a jacket anyway (force of habit). I remembered what sweating was like… And why I prefer fall and winter.

I was away for an interview, so it wasn’t exactly a vacation, but I always appreciate a chance to get away from the day-to-day cycle. Also, I probably have a vitamin D deficiency from all my time spent indoors, so sun exposure should be welcomed. Interview days are always hectic and, unfortunately, I’m fairly certain that I got to know my Uber drivers better than the current medical students at the school. Not that I didn’t have a blast swapping life stories with the Uber drives. Special shoutout to Ivan. Anyways, tip for future interviewees: always try your best to go to any meet-and-greet type events held beforehand!

I’ve also been caught up in March Madness. How’s everyone’s brackets doing? Mine has been absolutely destroyed, but I think that’s part of why it’s such a (rage-inducing) joy to watch. I never seem to learn that there’s no way of predicting who will win. Logic? What’s that? I’m pumped to see who’ll be making it to the Elite Eight tonight.

Life Is Strange

LIS
Photo credit to Steam

It is, indeed. But I’m here to talk about the video game I’ve been hooked on recently. Life Is Strange is a five episode adventure game*, where you play as a high school senior named Max. It’s set in “Arcadia Bay”, Oregon, where she attends a boarding school called Blackwell Academy. You’re brought along her journey as she works to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding her town and classmates. Oh, and she discovers she has the ability to rewind bits of time. Who hasn’t wished for a couple of redos in life?

You’re forced to make some difficult choices, as well as some seemingly innocent ones. It’s all about the butterfly effect, and I’ve already felt massive regret for some of the decisions I’ve made way back in the first episode (I’m currently on episode 3). It really makes you wonder about the effects of your own life choices. I’m sure there are a number of detailed reviews out there to sift through, so I’ll spare you my own. I will say, though, that I do believe it’s worth a try.

What particularly struck me about this game, and what I really wanted to write about, is its OST. I’m a firm believer that music often dictates the way we should/do feel about our environment, and the music here leaves you with all kinds of feels. Namely, the one I felt was nostalgia. Maybe it’s because of all the streaming sunlight (search “komorebi“). Maybe it’s because I have a fond, old connection to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe it’s because I miss high school. No matter the reason, the soundtrack did an impeccable job at setting the mood to make for a truly immersive experience.

I particularly enjoyed the instrumental pieces towards the latter part of the OST, starting at around 58:45, but the entire thing is a joy to listen to. Cue lying in bed, whilst watching the ceiling fan blades revolve:

*These are essentially like those choose-your-own-adventure books. The choices you make affect and alter your outcomes down the road. Another favorite of mine, in this genre, is Wolf Among Us.

Mr. Piggy

Somewhere along the way in my pre-med journey, I began to lose sight of why I was doing certain things beyond the purpose of padding my CV. I washed beakers, in the hopes of securing a research position. I restocked hospital cabinets, in the hopes of watching a medical procedure. I TAed classes, in the hopes of showing leadership potential. Each activity became something I ticked off of my “perfect application” checklist.

Then I began volunteering in a pediatric hospital. There were talking disco elevators, framed paintings of previous patients, nurses with Minions scrubs, and a furry green mascot (?) in the lobby. This place and its tiny, unapologetically honest patients brought color back into my life, both literally and figuratively (I was once sassily told that I was using the “wrong color” on my coloring sheet; I had used a yellow Crayon for Pikachu, when Pikachu clearly needed to be blue, he said…).

Just the other day, I was assigned to bring some paints and beads to a shy, reserved little girl. The dialogue was very much one-sided, as I helped her put together some necklaces for her family. She’d nod or point as her method of communication, while I continued to ramble, hoping to make some sort of connection. She eventually pointed at the white piggy bank I’d brought with me, and we began setting up to paint it. “Can you help me with this one? I don’t want to mess it up,” she asked quietly.

This. This is why I love volunteering here. I probably scared her off with my Cheshire Cat grin, but I was so happy that I finally got her to open up to me. She entrusted me with decorating Mr. Piggy, and that’s kind of a big deal in kid world. She even gave me a laugh when I told her that Mr. Piggy was proud of her for being so brave about getting her IV taken out. I’m still not sure if she was laughing at me or with me, but that’s beside the point. Moments like these keep me going back, and I forget about my application for a bit.

The Changing Seasons: January & February

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The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

As mentioned in my final Blogging 101 post, I’ve joined a monthly challenge called The Changing Seasons (V2). I’m hoping to post a photo on the last Wednesday of every month. I don’t have any overarching theme in mind, so we’ll see what this project eventually evolves into!

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By RIH

I missed posting for the month of January, but I wanted to share a photo for it anyway. I’ve always felt slightly bitter about this month, despite its promises of change and a fresh start. I adore the holidays, and the New Year always seems to mark its inevitable end. Every year, I hold onto the sentiments of the holidays for as long as socially acceptable (it’s still okay to have my Christmas tree up, right..?). I felt elated, and then immediately a bit sad, when I found this lone string of lights hanging from a tree in a local park. You’ll come back into focus in 10 months, my friend.

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By RIH

February. The month of reds and pinks and hearts, oh my! Although I have nothing against Valentine’s Day, I think it often overshadows the anticipation of that other thing we’re waiting for: spring. Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, which means we shan’t be needing our coats for much longer (non-North Americans, I swear we’re not crazy). I visited a greenhouse for this photo. I really enjoyed the contrast between the dark, cool-toned forefront and the bright, warm-toned background; the frigid cold outside and the warmth of spring inside. I thought it was similar to February, foreshadowing of warmer days amidst the still-winter ones. I might be a romantic after all.

Blogging 101: Zero to Hero III

For first-timers stopping by my blog: welcome! I am currently participating in a course offered by WordPress’s Blogging University called Blogging 101: Zero to Hero. Each weekday, I’ll be writing based off of an assignment posted for the class. 

SPOILER ALERT: I just realized that there’s another Blogging 101 course going on that started a couple weeks after mine did (I was a bit of a slacker and have been behind). If you’d like to keep the rest of your days’ assignments a surprise, read no further!

Day Twelve: Increase Your Commenting Confidence
Today’s task: read six posts written in response to the same prompt, and leave comments on at least two of them.
I got a bit carried away with this one. I kept going from one click to the next, reading through a wide range of perspectives from freshly independent students to parents with children of their own. It was really interesting to see how the idea of “grown up” can morph as one grows older. I wrote brief comments in parentheses by the blogs I left comments on.
THE [BERLIN] BOOK
Am I a Geek?
The World’s a Fire
Me-Who Am I?
Kosher Adobo
Julie Powell
tylershepard1991
Pepper Connection (this post was bittersweet, and it made me think about the evolution of parent-child relationships)
What Does Nelkumi Think? (this post had a refreshing interpretation of growing up)
The Jittery Goat

Day Thirteen: Try (Another) Blogging Event
Today’s task: pick a blogging event from the Community Event Listings, and participate in the next round.
I felt an instant connection with “The Changing Seasons” challenge by Cardinal Guzman. I liked the idea of being able to reflect back on the month through photographs. Unfortunately, I missed the window for January, but I’ve still got 11 months left in the year! I might actually dig through my photos from January and post something I think is representative of that month. Please let me know if you’re interested in the event, as I’d love to follow your progress! I’ll be following the V2 rules:

1) Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons.
2) Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
3) Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Day Fourteen: Extend Your Brand
Today’s task: extend your brand with one of the following: a custom site icon, a custom image widget, or a fan page.
I’m excited about putting up a custom site icon. I’m still in the process of figuring out which photo I want to use for it, though, so I’ll call this a work-in-progress.

Day Fifteen: Create a New Posting Feature
Today’s task: develop a regular feature for your blog.
I’d like to create Weekly Wednesday, starting with today! I thought about doing a weekly post with a specific theme (e.g. Photo Friday, Science Sunday, etc.), but I think I’d like to start out with a broader goal first. I’ll be doing my best to post at least once a week, every Wednesday.

And that, my friends, concludes my very first blogging course. I’ve learned and grown a lot as a blogger through completing each assignment with my fellow Blogging U peers. I experimented with things and browsed through parts of the blogging world I likely wouldn’t have done on my own. I was a bit sad for the experience to be over; so much so, that I actually went ahead and signed up for another course that begins in March. I hope to see some familiar faces (icons?) over there as well!