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September 2020 Retrospective

Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact same fucking thing over and over again expecting shit to change. That is crazy.

Wait a minute...this feels familiar...

All joking aside, this ended up being a very bizarre retrospective. When I first sat down to write a quick outline I thought back over the last month and felt that I had really shit the bed. Sure I had continued to exercise every day before work and read my books at night before bed, but in between those activities I didn't feel that I had actually done anything worthwhile. Not only did I not complete the majority of my goals for the month, I didn't even attempt to start most of them. As I fleshed out the outline for "The Bad" section it just confirmed my suspicious that I had simply repeated all my failings from the August retrospective.

I then looked over my Hobonichi journal with the hopes that I'd find at least a couple of things for "The Good" and "Honourable Mention" sections so they wouldn't be completely spartan but to my utter shock I found myself filling them out with more items than ever before. I am fairly certain this retrospective has the most positive things written down over the entire lifespan of this blog.

It was at this point during the draft that I was completely lost. Apparently one of my most positive months in a long time never actually felt that way until I looked back at it? I did watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games but why did I feel those were bad activities? Sure I could have been more productive after work or on the weekends but looking back I don't seem to regret a single thing.

These retrospectives always seem to have some variation of "I am lying to myself" but how can you lie when you don't seem to know the truth? I constantly pitch myself as some sort of underdog fighting against extenuating circumstances that force me to waste my time but is that really the case? If 10 million dollars fell out of the sky tomorrow would I really do anything differently? Is money and time really what is blocking me from doing what I want to or is there something deeper that I first need to admit to myself?

So here we are again. Another intro where I wax poetically, asking myself questions that I have no answers to. At least I'm consistent. After having written all of that it almost seems pointless to continue with this retrospective. Is documenting what TV shows I hated really going to matter five years from now? I guess the whole point about stuff like this is you really don't know what is important and just have to soldier on for posterities sake.

The Bad

I am going to start with what went wrong this month because it seems to be not only the shortest section but also the shallowest. Usually I'm trying to highlight my poor behaviour but this month I seem to only want to vent about shitty TV shows and boring sporting events.

Too much TV / Reddit / YouTube / Twitter

Just like last month I watched too much TV / YouTube, browsed too much Reddit and read far too much Twitter. But the bizarre thing is that I don't actually feel that I wasted my time. It's not like I was browsing r/awww or watching pointless music videos from the 2000s all day, every day. Most of the TV was great high quality content. There were dozens of really informative YouTube videos. Heck even Screen Time seemed to do a good job at pushing me away from too much Reddit or Twitter.

I think I am starting to finally admit that the problem isn't that I am engaging in these activities. It is that I can't find hobbies I want to do in lieu of them. I have been alluding to this for months if not years now but finding a way to motivate myself to focus my energy away from TV is the solution to this "problem", not demonizing it.

The Toronto Raptors suck!

After watching the Leafs shit the bed last month, it was very apropos for the Raptors to forget how to play basketball for their own do-or-die game. While the score may have looked close, the game was anything but. The Raptors' big guns consistently turned the ball over when it mattered most. Boston was lucky as hell to escape with the win because it honestly looked like both teams didn't really want to be there.

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy

Last month I raved about the first season of The Umbrella Academy and the comic it was based upon. Unfortunately, season two was absolute dog shit. It is a prime example of something becoming successful so the characters start making the dumbest decisions possible but still succeed for no reason.

At this point in time I have no interest in either the third season or the third comic.

2020 Russian Grand Prix

I don't know what the point of F1 is anymore after the snoozefest that was the 2020 Russian Grand Prix. The only lap that mattered was the first and only because a couple of drivers seemed to just straight up forget how to drive. Couple that with a podium that was decided by penalties incurred for incidents BEFORE the race started and you had one of the most pointless races of the season.

I wonder if the F1 brass are starting to panic at this point? What the hell is the point of the rest of the 2020 season, let alone 2021? We're 10 races in and not a single driver or car can compete with Lewis Hamilton.

Apple Event

https://twitter.com/statuses/1305930689607610369

I know the rumors said not to expect anything about new iPhones or Apple Silicon Macs, but I was still surprised at how dry this event was. Maybe the most damning thing to write is that I had to go back and Google what happened because I could only remember that new Apple Watches were announced and not even what made them different.

🤞🏻 the iPhone event in October is off the chain.

The Good

Alright I've highlighted some very trivial things that irked me this month. Let's move onto to the apparently plethora of things that I enjoyed.

Hanging out with family and friends

I'm not sure what it says about me when I ranted about how nothing good happened this month while forgetting the literal dozens of hours I spent hanging out with friends and family. I actually counted seven unique gatherings I went to in September:

Also before anyone flies off the handle we took all the necessary precautions for these covid times. Masks, staying outside, property distancing, and not a single person that I interacted with has gotten sick so put down your pitchforks.

Netflix's Dark

Dark is Netflix's first original series done entirely in German. It had been on my radar for a few years and after taking the plunge this month I've already watched 17 of its 26 episodes.

It is literally impossible for me to say anything about Dark without spoiling it. If you're in the mood for a gritty science-fiction TV show like Fringe or Stranger Things or hell even X-Files, you'll probably enjoy Dark.

I would also recommend watching it in German with subtitles because something seemed to be lost with the dubbed over audio.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Because Cyberpunk 2077 is still two months away I decided to sate my lust for the genre by finally playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong. If the description turn-based tactical game in the Shadowrun universe doesn't immediately get your blood pumping then there probably isn't much more I could say to convince you to play this game.

It is one of the most perfect examples of a kickstarted indie developer game. Obviously not as polished as a AAA game but enough content that I got a solid 18 hours of enjoyment out of it. The gameplay, the characters, the story all hit home with me and really made me wish that Harebrained Schemes could get a bit more money and time to knock a game like this out of the park. Hopefully them being acquired by Paradox Interactive will finally give them this freedom.

Two Point Hospital

23 years ago Bullfrog Productions released one of my favourite childhood games, Theme Hospital. I spent many a hours building my own hospitals to take care of the myriad of comical ailments that afflicted my patients. 21 years later, two of those original Bullfrog developers finally released a spiritual successor named Two Point Hospital and they really did hit the nail on the head.

If they idea of a hospital construction / simulation game where you cure people who have pots stuck on their heads or believe they are Freddie Mercury sounds like fun you owe it to yourself to check out Two Point Hospital.

Persepolis Rising

Even though I am a huge fan of The Expanse book series, I had to take a break after finishing the sixth book, Babylon's Ashes, back in April because it really wasn't that good. It felt like perhaps the authors were running out of ideas and I just wasn't convinced I'd like the seventh book.

Well time heals all wounds (or maybe you just forget about them), so after five months I tried the seventh book, Persepolis Rising, and sweet baby Jesus I am glad I did. It's like they have returned to their roots. This book feels like the first in the series where all the pieces are being put into place for a much grander tale that is going to take multiple books to tell. I am only a little over halfway through but you can see all of the characters slowly building things up for that obvious collision course but I have little idea what the outcome will be.

I imagine I am going to finish Persepolis Rising and then move directly onto Tiamat's Wrath before Rhythm of War launches in November.

2020 Tuscan Grand Prix

I know I have been shitting on F1 a lot but we received a lone bright spot this month in the form of the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix. If I told you the podium you'd probably think "that race couldn't have been interesting" but I assure you you'd be wrong. Definitely give it a watch because you're going to see some things that are not going to happen anytime soon.

Purchased a Blue Yeti microphone for work

This is a quick PSA about Blue Yeti microphones and how they really are much better when compared to stuff like AirPods. We're all going to be working from home for a while now so let's help each other out and invest $100 into a decent USB microphone. You could also add some better desk lighting so you're not video chatting in the dark doing your best Cigarette Smoking Man impression.

Finished organizing my desk

With the arrival of my Grovemade desk shelf and aforementioned Blue Yeti microphone I finally finished setting up my desk. It took five months but at long last my home office is complete. At this point I could probably work from home forever if I wanted.

Ran a half-marathon

I can't remember what triggered it but I looked back at my New Year's Resolutions and was reminded that I needed to run a half-marathon this year. It seems past-Reid believed he could run even on the very last day of the year but that idiot did not seem to remember that Winter is actually a thing in Canada. The temperature has been dropping so rapidly that I've even begun to doubt my ability to run for all of October. To ensure that I didn't wake up on December 31st and realize that I still had a half-marathon to run, I decided to just knock one out this month. My time was nothing to be proud of but 21.1 kilometers were covered so I can consider this resolution complete.

Honorable Mentions

Behind the scenes of Noclip's trip to Tokyo

I really wanted to visit Japan again this year so being able to live licarously through Noclip for an hour really helped As someone who desperately wanted to visit Japan this year, Noclip's video about their trip to Tokyo really helped take some of the edge off.

The launch prices of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

The PlayStation 5 launches on November 12 with two SKUs: a $499 USD Blu-Ray disc version and a $399 USD digital edition. Literally the only difference is one has a disc drive and the other does not.

The Xbox Series X launches on November 10 for $499 USD and the Xbox Series S launches on the same day for $299. The biggest differences between the two are that the Series S is has no disc drive, half the storage space (512 GB vs 1 TB) and a max output of 1440p. Essentially what Microsoft is saying without actually saying it is if you only care about 1440p then get a Series S, but if 4K is your goal then buy a Series X.

Based on these numbers and each companies first party games I would still think Sony has the upper hand. They won the last console generation by focusing on the games and that really seemed to resonate. The wildcard though is Xbox Game Pass. The ability to get over 300 games for $10 a month which includes every Microsoft published game on launch day is just something that Sony can't match. Combine that with Microsoft's commitment to backwards compatibility and not only does the Xbox Series X/S have a bigger game library but it could be cheaper as well.

If I was a betting man I would pick the Xbox to win the next console generation due to the strength of Game Pass.

Beyond Band of Brothers

I still believe that Band of Brothers is the best TV series ever created. My runner up would probably be The Wire and even it has some bad seasons. Band of Brothers is nearly perfect from beginning to end.

Dick Winters was the commanding office of Easy Company and I've had his memoirs, Beyond Band of Brothers, on my to-read list for list for years now. After finishing up the first volume of Overlord last month I decided that I'd dip my toes back into some nonfiction writing and finally learn more about what Easy Company actually went through.

On the whole I would say the book is too dry. Major Winters really goes into minute details that are maybe useful to aspiring Army commanders but felt quite superfluous to a layman. Even so, every once in a while you'd get some really interesting perspective that could only come from someone who was actually there. Every ironic moment from the TV series is touched upon and further highlights the absolute hell that Easy Company went through fighting across Europe. I don't think I can recommend the book to everyone but I am still happy that I read it.

Nier: Automata

I have absolutely no idea how to categorize Nier: Automata. I have absolutely no interest to play this game ever again and knowing what I know now I'd probably tell myself to never even start it. However, the story and world were surprisingly deep and enjoyable. But at the same time I really don't fully understand what happened. I honestly have no idea if I can recommend this game because I don't think I could accurately predict who would like it.

I have always heard that Yoko Taro's games were bonkers but I grossly underestimated what that meant. I understand now why his games can be so critically revered and detested. They aren't my cup of tea but they are so strange and unique that I'm glad they exist.

Netflix's Challenger: The Final Flight

I left Netflix's Challenger: The Final Flight out of "The Good" section because I didn't enjoy the overall tone of the documentary. It felt like it was focused on being a scathing attack on NASA rather than a detailed account of the disaster. I don't want it to sound like I am saying NASA should be let off the hook because they were definitely culpable. But I personally would have rather learned more about the science behind what happened instead of fixating on tearing open 30 year old wounds.

Finished listening to Words of Radiance on Audible

To prepare for Rhythm of War's release on November 17 I have been listening to (instead of re-reading) all of the books in The Stormlight Archive. Even though I finished The Way of Kings back in May it took until this month before I finally completed Words of Radiance. I am now 55 hours away from completing Oathbringer with only 48 days remaining. This is not going to be easy.

Played Carrion

I wrote about the power of Game Pass earlier in this retrospective and Carrion is a perfect example of it. I only played this game because it was on Game Pass. I was simply browsing on my phone for a small game to play on my Xbox, pushed the install button and by the time I got to my Xbox it was ready to play.

Carrion is basically a puzzle game where you play a horrific monster trying to escape from a facility. It should take about four hours to beat and for the price of "free with Game Pass" I will say that I found it to be completely satisfactory. Some of the puzzles were more on the frustrating or annoying side but on the whole I was glad that I played this game.

The Settlers II

Nostalgia seemed to be on my mind this month and when I went to purchase a game on GOG I noticed that they had The Settlers II. I easily put dozens if not hundreds of hours into this game as a child so I figured why not take another peek at it for like $5. Oh what a mistake that was. I think I put 17 hours into it over three days before I realized my folly and uninstalled it.

Bumblebee

https://twitter.com/statuses/1305129607117631490

Review September Goals

October Goals

Seeing as how I horribly failed most of my goals this month but still enjoyed myself I am going to try something different for October.

That's it. If I can't set achievable goals a month in advance let's see what happens if I set them only 24 hours in advance.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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