Infinity War

I’ve been meaning to write something up regarding Infinity War for quite a while, but I just never got around to it. I’ve seen it twice now and I feel like it’s about time that I let my thoughts loose about the movie itself and some of the contentious reviews surrounding it. As always, everyone is entitled to their opinions about whether something is good or bad, but in many of the reviews I’ve read, their issues don’t seem to stem from the movie itself, but rather what they know to be true of the world outside the MCU.

Spoilers below!

Level 33

I am officially level 33! I have earned enough experience to get myself to the next great step on the way to taking a permanent dirt nap. I feel pretty good to be honest. I’m not the model of perfection I may have hoped to be by this point in my life, but I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far. I have a house, a wife, a kid, a job, and all the other essentials it takes to feel like you’re doing pretty good in your life. I’m also exercising regularly now, which is totally new for me but such a great thing. It’s never too early to start taking care of yourself I guess.

As far as my actual level up day goes, I had such an amazing time! We had a wonderful church service that morning, then Stephanie and I went to see The Avengers: Infinity War at the Alamo Drafthouse. I loved it! It was such an amazing movie and such an awesome experience at the theatre. I would totally go back to the Alamo again. I had a couple little troubles that I won’t get into here, but it wasn’t Alamo’s fault and they were so good at making it a fun experience. The movie was unbelievable. I’ll likely go through the rollercoaster of emotions it caused me in another post.

The fun didn’t stop at seeing movies though. I came home to some wonderful Mario decorations that Sam, Jacob, and Ashley all worked on while we were out. They were so cool. Not to mention the awesome cookie cake that Stephanie made me. Oh! And the rice krispy treats! She shaped them like stars from Mario. Everything was so perfect.

They hooked me up with some phat loots as well. I got some new shoes, a fantastic leather bracelet that says “Fight in the Shade” on it, some Bowser socks, underwear, shirts, and last but definitely not least, God of War for my PS4. So that’s a ton of really adult gifts and then one gift I would have loved as a teenager and still love now. My presents are changing greatly as I level up. Not sure how I feel about that one.

It was an amazing level up day and I couldn’t have spent it with better people. I have such an amazing family. Here’s to another trip around the sun! I’m going to try to make this one even better than the last one!

My Wife Loves Me Pt 2

Last week, I wrote a post about how my wife loves me by hating me just enough to get me into the gym. This week, I’m here to talk about an entirely different kind of love. The kind of love that lets you live out your dreams without making you do things that are good for you. The kind of love that says, “You’re a complete nerd and you have habits that may kill you one day, but I’m going to let you indulge in this one because it means so much to you.”

That kind of love, ladies and gentlemen, buys you tickets to see The Avengers: Infinity War at the Alamo Drafthouse!

Yep! The Alamo Drafthouse here in Raleigh opened on April 12, just in time for one of the biggest releases of the year and the kickoff of the Summer movie season. I’m so unbelievably excited about this. The stars aligned and not only did Marvel decide to shift The Avengers release to my birthday weekend, but the Alamo Drafthouse is here for me to watch it in all it’s glory. It’s prove that God loves me and wants me to be happy.

I’ve wanted to go to an Alamo Drafthouse to see a movie since I lived in Tallahassee way back in ’08. I think that was around the time where I discovered that they existed and had some pretty intense rules for movie viewing in their establishment. They’re a place that you go if you’re a movie fan that really doesn’t have any patience for people who aren’t really there for the movie, or love to pull their phones out while you’re trying to enjoy your film. I was really keen on it a few years back because I think Tallahassee audiences were some of the worst I had ever been around. The Raleigh area hasn’t really messed me up too much when we go to see movies. I think I’ve had to tell a couple people to be quiet over the few years that we’ve been here. That being said, a set of rules that means you can get pulled out of the theatre for being obnoxious is pretty awesome.

They have a ton of food and drinks as well, so I’m excited to see how all of that works. I’m just so pumped I’m gonna die. I can’t believe Stephanie thought to do this for me on my birthday. The Avengers on my birthday at Alamo Drafthouse. Good gravy.

Here We Go Again

A while back I posted some stuff about how I was eating healthy and my life was going to change for the better. Well, my life did change. I went UP a waist size in my jeans.

I could get all downtrodden and ask for a bunch of pity over my plight, but here in the Adams household we beleive in personal responsibility. Most of the problems in a persons life is due to the way they reacted to some external force. I don’t want to react to this external force with a “woe is me” attitude so we’re just going to move past that and take the bull by the horns.

Stephanie and I have spent the last couple weeks doing pretty great at eating some decent food. She’s been doing far better than me, but she’s also a far better human than me so that’s to be expected. One of the tricks we’ve learned is making food ahead of time. For instance, I’m eating food today at work that I made either last night or on Sunday night. A healthy breakfast sandwich along with a banana to start my day, and a delicious wrap that I’ll detail in a later post for lunch.

On top of the eating right thing, I have offically put some skin in the game by paying for a gym membership. “But Stephen! You have a free gym at work!” You’re not wrong, inner-voice. I have a free gym at work but that doesn’t come with a brotato like Jacob to help me get my feet under me and do the right workouts. Jacob and I went to the gym for the first time Monday morning and everything worked out well. I have plenty to learn about how to get around a gym, but we’ll get there.

Not only is going to the gym a good exercise for my body, it’s also good for my mind. I suffer from a lot of gym anxiety as I detailed in the previous post. One of the best ways to get over that is what they call “exposure therapy.” Basically, do the thing that you’re afraid to do. It’s the only way to truly override your brains fight or flight system and get you comfortable with what is uncomfortable. The good news is that my brain is totally on board with this plan because logically I know it’s stupid. Hopefully all this becomes natural in the long term and I just become another dude that goes to the gym every other day.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Unfortunately, one gym visit did not transform me into Captain America, but we’ll get there.

My Wife Loves Me

My wife is an amazing human being. I would not be nearly the person I am without her by my side. She’s a force in my life that I need in order to be remotely successful at even breathing oxygen.

She’s also a cruel woman who loves me so much that she’s forcing me into the gym. Imagine that?! Telling someone you care about that you want them to live for as long as humanly possible so they have to eat right and exercise. It’s pure lunacy. How could she do this to me? Should I not be allowed to sustain myself on sausage biscuits, pancakes, and pizza? I totally would, but NO! I have to “take care of myself,” or some nonsense.

Seriously though, I love her to death and I need the push. I really would be a bump on a log if she wasn’t there making sure I did the right things. I’ve baby stepped my way into a level of physical fitness that is a lot less fit than I should be. I’ve never struggled with weight for the most part, but I’ve also never tried to do anything to increase my level of fitness. Barring weight at all, I just can’t do a lot of physical exercise without wearing out pretty quick. I’m a developer so I sit at a computer most of the day. My brain gets an incredible workout, but the rest of me notsomuch.

She’s decided to pull my brotato, Jacob, into this nefarious plot to make me a healthier human being and he wants to go to the gym with me. It’s important to note that I have a HUGE anxiety attack when I think about going to the gym. It’s a problem. It’s a problem that I feel is completely ridiculous and I should be able to get over it, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Also, it’s apparently not a good idea to take anti-anxiety medication and then go to the gym. I have no idea if there is truth to that, but Steph told me so I’ll just go with it. I also don’t have anti-anxiety medication so that would be a problem anyway. Jacob was just talking about the things we could do at the gym and I had to leave the room for a minute and breathe some. Oh sure, people can laugh at me over it, it’s stupid, but it’s real.

I was talking to her last night about this particular issue, and I think I came to the answer as to why I have such a negative reaction to the gym: kids are terrible. That’s it. Kids are awful human beings who can have a strong impact on the rest of your life and not even really know it. Sometimes this is a positive, but more often kids are terrible and you’re going to have a bad time. In my case, I was around a lot of kids when I was really young who were strong in areas of athletics. They were good at baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it. There was always a crew of kids that were just better at sports than me. Thanks to our school system, all kids have to play these sports during PE or whatever. The bad news is that they rarely are interested in teaching you HOW to play this stuff during those classes. So when you suck at basketball, they don’t take some time and work with you on how to get better, they just pick you last. The ADULTS in the room, let the kids publically shame you by picking you last and then just generally not throwing you the ball. It’s stupid and I hate playing sports because of it.

Back to the gym thing. Sports and the gym are one in the same for the most part. At least growing up, if you were in the gym it’s because you needed to get your body in better shape for a sport. I didn’t play sports, so the gym wasn’t a thing for me. The only people that went to the gym were the people that played the sports that I couldn’t play, and often the very same people that would let me know how bad I sucked when I tried to play. So it’s not the gym itself or the equipment or the stuff  you do there, its these people in my memory that cause me anxiety. They don’t exist in real life anymore, but they still bring back bad vibes when I think about lifting anything. When you’re a nerd like me, it’s like having to be on the constant defense of your own physical prowess. Even in the data center racking servers, “You sure you got that?” YES! Yes, I’m sure! It weighs 30 pounds, man. I can lift it, and believe it or not, I can also use a screwdriver.

-_-

Anyway, I say all this to say that I’m going to go to the gym with Jacob. I’m going to fight through the anxiety and stress, and just try to do something good for me. It might not fade right away, but over time, I’m hoping I can fight off these demons and tell them to go screw themselves because I look like Thor…minus the hair.

This post has been therapuetic. Thanks for that.

Dungeon Mastering

On Tuesday of next week, I’ll be dungeon mastering for the first time in maybe six years. I’m terrified.

I know I can do it. I’ve been a dungeon master for a game before, but this time it’s a little more complicated. We’re using Roll20 to play the game since we’re all in different states, so I have a lot more to plan for and learn. When you play a game of Dungeons and Dragons live at a table, you have a lot of options of how to make things super fun and think on your feet a bit more. When you play with an online tool, you’re fairly restricted to how the tool works and what you have available there. I can draw all over a piece of paper to make a new area of a map or create a new village out of nowhere, but I’m pretty locked in with Roll20. Not to mention we’re even playing a version of this D20 game that I’ve never ran before called Pathfinder. That was my idea though, so I can blame myself if the ruleset gets confusing.

The great news about all of this is that I’ll be playing with friends who already know that most of this is new and we have a lot to learn together. They’ve already been very supportive regarding their expectations of what the game is going to be and they know this is the first time I’ve used this tool. I couldn’t start in a better position.

We’re doing a brand new boxed adventure from Paizo, the publishers of Pathfinder, called Crownfall. It’s kind of a political intrigue game where there’s a lot of roleplaying going on. I think it’s going to be super fun for all of us, especially considering the fun cast of characters playing. I have to study up on the history and the adventure though, because there is a lot for me to digest and understand regarding the lore. There’s also a ton of little “if this then that” moments where I’ll have to think on my feet to keep the game interesting. I love boxed adventures because they are a great way to get used to the game, but there isn’t a whole lot of room to improvise since there are specific moments we need to hit. In my own stories we can go whatever direction we want, but with these there are specific beats.

I’m really excited to give this a try and see how it goes. I think everyone else is pretty pumped as well, so regardless of how much we fumble around with the story or the tools, I know we’ll have a great time.

Iron Man Holds Up

Tonight, I watched Iron Man for the first time in a long time. Stephanie and I decided that we wanted to attempt to watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, and that starts with Iron Man.

This movie came out in 2008, so there are definitely some things that would likely have been different in today’s world. There is a brief mention of MySpace which I’m sure will leave some kids shaking their heads in the future. All in all though, it does a great job of telling a story and not grounding itself in a time past. Even the CGI is great in this. I actually though the CGI in this is far better than Justice League and that just came out late last year.

Marvel took some major gambles on this one, mostly in the form of Robert Downey Jr. At the time, he wasn’t just a name in Hollywood, he was one of the names you can’t put on movies without putting up a fight. He’d had some trouble with substance abuse and was just trying to get his feet back under him. Lucky for him, he had Jon Favreau going to bat for him for this movie. So much of what this movie became depended on the casting. RDJ was a perfect fit for Tony Stark, because he IS Tony Stark. There is a surprising amount of improv in that was done in this movie all thanks to him. If I remember correctly, the writers would basically bring him the script for the day and he would toss out quite a bit in favor of his own flair.

The one major thing that didn’t work out is Terrence Howard as Rhodey. It’s one major issue with the whole franchise. I liked Terrence Howard just fine, but I’m so much more of a Don Cheadle fan. They made a great move in decided to move on. I think it was a money thing with Howard and he just wouldn’t play along. To be fair, this was at a time when Marvel was under Ike Perlmutter and he was a notorious penny pincher. In recent years, Disney has moved the Marvel Studios division out from under him and I believe it’s made them free to make better movies and better decisions since they have a seemingly endless bag of money.

While watching this, I was really amazed at the setup for the whole universe that they were doing. There was no guarantee that there would be an Iron Man 2, much less the slew of other movies that came after that. They took the chance anyway. They through in reference after reference of a bigger universe, culimating in that first post-credits scene involving Nick Fury. Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, no less. They went all in on believing that this was going to be a huge hit and usher in a new era of cinema. Now, for better or worse, everyone has a universe. Some more successful than others. Marvel did the right thing by setting out from the start to make a universe and tie everything together. They took their time, and they established every character before putting them all together. I’m looking at you DC. Get your crap together.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Iron Man again, and it made me realize that Marvel has been making good decisions since day one when it comes to these movies. The Incredible Hulk being the only possible exception. It wasn’t a bad movie per say, it just wasn’t great either. Iron Man totally holds up, and I’m excited to get to watch all of these leading up to Infinity War. I have a feeling it’s going to be so awesome.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

Photo by Andrian Valeanu on Unsplash

It’s time.

I finally moved this blog to some place that is a better example of who I am today than who I was in 2004 when I started it. It’s been a long journey and one that I look back on fondly if not with some cringing thanks to how dumb I was when I was just out of high school. I’ve dropped the site on a brand new domain, and renamed it. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Bits and Binary, but there is so much more to me than just tech news and gadgets. I can’t really remember the last time that I obsessed over a random device that I thought I needed. I like to think that I’ve transcended that a bit and now look to more long lasting stuff.

I’ve titled this with just my name and a tagline that I think defines what I’m searching for and what this life really feels like it’s about. It’s not about getting anywhere in particular, but rather about what we do while we journey from age 0 to 100. There’s so much out there to get into and we definitely owe it to ourselves to try and improve as we go. Lately I’ve been reading a ton more and trying to be a better human being. Honestly, nothing makes you want to do better than having a child who watches your every move. You stop seeing yourself through your own eyes, and instead you start considering how everything you do reflect on your kid. At least that’s how it works for me, and I’d like to think it pushed me upwards and made me grow up.

Now, all that being said, I’m totally going to post about movies and video games here when it matters. When something is mind blowing and I just need to get it out of my system. Alongside that though, I’d like to post more about books I’m reading, lessons I’ve learned, and other things that might help others. Stephanie had a revelation the other day that “no one really changes” which we both had to laugh about. I was making some joke in the car that was utterly ridiculous and both of us were sent back in time to when we were teenagers for just a minute. Turns out the core of a person never really goes anywhere, we just keep stacking stuff on top of it. Hopefully it’s stuff of value that makes those fun aspects of who we are even more focused and worthwhile.

So here’s to a new era of the blog. More of the same, but better.

My Phone is Boring

I love my iPhone. I do. It’s a thing that keeps me in touch with people, gives me cool stuff to look at when I’m standing in line, or more likely sitting on the toilet. There is an endless array of neat things to download and keep me occupied during spurts where I have nothing better to do. The truth is, however, that I have tons of things I should be doing. The iPhone is just a hit of dopamine that makes me feel good.

I took steps a couple weeks ago to remove social media from my life. I’ve been doing well without it, but I missed a critical detail regarding my phone: I still had tons of apps that kept me going to my phone. Even without social media apps, I was still finding ways to dive back into my phone and out of the real world. I decided to delete every app that I used that took me away from my moment. Any app that I could go to when I was idle had to go. The CNN app, Reddit, Instagram, all of it. I don’t even have a news app on my phone anymore.

My phone is boring and I am free.

Because of my little experiment, I have finished a book that I’ve been trying to get through for months. I have started another book and am most of the way through, I am playing with Sam instead of just being in the room with him while he plays, and I am seeking out more productive things to do with my time. All that time that I thought was just a few minutes I could steal and poke around on my phone is now being used for real growth. It’s fantastic.

I still open my phone and look at it, but everytime I do I’m met with nothing. Nothing to click on and no notifications begging for me to open some app I don’t need. You might think that I would be uninformed and a little lost on the happenings in the world. You would be right. I don’t know the day to day goings on of our government or what Kim Kardashian is wearing today. I never cared about the latter, but the former matters. I instead take some time in the morning to read news on a real computer like our grandparents did with the paper. I read it like it’s not a continuously updating stream of information. It’s just a morning review and then I get on with my life.

I have been amazed at how my life has changed since I started doing this. It’s not like some massive change in everything about me, but I’m taking control of something in my world that has had me in its clutches, and I’m proud of it. It was a problem, and I’m so thankful to have recognized and done something about it.