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July 2021 Retrospective

In my June retrospective I projected that Ontario would fully vaccinate at least 70% of its eligible population by the end of July and it looks like we fell less than a percentage point shy of that target. 81% have also received at least one dose which means there are still many more people to fully vaccinate. It brings me so much joy to be able to say that Canada is the most vaccinated member of the G20.

However, while Canada's vaccination rates are going up, so too are the number of new cases as provinces begin rolling back restrictions. I hope that Canadians will exercise caution but after being trapped indoors for nearly 18 months, I can empathize with all the pent up energy. It is going to be hard to show restraint sometimes but a bit more suffering now will pay off later.

My biggest fear is the pending opening of the US border on August 9th. If Canada sees a big influx in US tourists (even if they are vaccinated) we're going to be seriously testing the concept of herd immunity. With the delta variant running rampant throughout the US and Britain, it feels like we're at the precipice of another unknown hill. For the last six months we've been having "vaccines are the solution" drilled into our brains. The next 90 days are going to be the litmus test for that. I want to believe the science behind the vaccines so fingers crossed the rest of this year showcases what they can do. Canada, the US, Britain, Australia, Germany, France, all of these countries have reached varying levels of vaccination so our sample data is going to be extremely varied.

While I truly believe that the future is bright, it is still very much unknown. If you told me that in three months we'd be back in lockdown I would believe it. Just the same as if you told me by the end of 2021 we've learned to "live" with COVID-19.

The Good

Got my second dose

I am very happy to say that I am one of the nearly 70% of Ontarians who have received their second dose of the vaccine. Just like the first dose, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. The Ontario government has really done a great job at streamlining the whole process. There is no excuse for someone to not get vaccinated.

While the first dose had absolutely no affect on me except for a little pain around the injection site, the second dose knocked me on my ass. I had a severe headache for nearly 36 hours which basically put me out of commission. But after waking up on the second day I was completely fine. No lingering effects and I was back to normal.

Visited family and friends

Two weeks after getting the second dose, and with Ontario entering step 3 of its reopening plan, I was finally able to hang out with various family and friends. If there is one thing that this pandemic has shown me it is how much of an extrovert I am. I truly miss hanging out in-person and just shooting the shit.


So maybe I just gotta aim to play like 100 games in July and focus on trying to make each game as good as possible and not worry about my rating.

That was the conclusion I came to at the end of June to explain my poor string of games. I started July with a rating of 790 and after 100 rapid games I ended the month at 1100. Yes, you read that correctly. I reached a rating of one thousand, one hundred. A gain of 310 points.

I have absolutely no idea how I won so many matches. Of the 100 I played, I won 68, lost 30, and drew 2. Of the games I won, 40 of them I was playing white and the other 28 I was playing black. What is even more bizarre is that I didn't start winning consistently until halfway through the month. I played 46 games by July 16th and "only" won 27 of them. Of the remaining 54 games I won 41. That is a 76% win rate! My lifetime win rate is now sitting at 51%.

The only explanation I can come up with is that I started exclusively playing the London System as white, and nearly always used the Caro-Kann Defence (even when it probably shouldn't be used) as black. Perhaps I finally crossed that invisible line where I had just played enough games using these openings that I was able to instinctively understand the good and bad positions I could get in to. I definitely have noticed that the first 10-15 moves are a lot easier for me to make because I'm so familiar with the London and Caro-Kann. But the opening is only a small part of chess and my midgame and endgame strategies leave much to be desired. And yet for 68% of games this month I came out on top. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

So even though I gained 310 points it kinda feels like we're still at the same place we were at the end of June. Continue to try and play solid, blunder-free chess and see where that takes me. I don't think I'll stray from the London System but maybe I should brush up on the Albin Countergambit just in-case I wanna start challenging some Queen's pawn openings.

The Last Blockbuster

As someone who grew up renting VHS cassettes from Blockbuster this film really hit me in the feels. There was something truly special about walking into a Blockbuster and deciding which movie to take a risk on just by the artwork or reading the blurb on the back of the box. It boggles my mind to think that I was doing that only two decades ago and yet at the same time I can't believe that was almost two decades ago. I've gotten so old!

July Grand Sumo Tournament

This July's sumo tournament came down to the final match, on the final day. Hakuho and Terunofuji, both with 14-0 records, were vying for the rare undefeated championship, a zenshō-yūshō.

Even if you are not a fan of sumo I highly recommend you take two minutes and watch the match.

The Bad

Lack of exercise

There isn't really much to write here other than I gotta get out running again, or find a bouldering gym, or try out more Apple Fitness+. I'm still going on 60 minute walks everyday which is great but I need to push myself further or else I am not going to get any healthier. A better diet has got me to a stable weight, now better exercise can get me to an ideal body composition.

MiSTer controller hell

I bought a fully assembled MiSTer FPGA board from MiSTer Addons and an 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ controller. All the research I had done indicated that I should just be able to plug-and-play. Oh how naive I was.

I plugged in the controller, turned on the MiSTer and of course the controller was not detected. I plugged in a keyboard, hooked the MiSTer up to the Internet and updated it just in case support for this newish 8BitDo controller was only added recently. No luck. OK well what about the firmware on the 8BitDo controller? How out of date is it? It's on v3 and v5 is available. Well that doesn't sound good so let's update the controller. Hmmm still no luck. What about a generic Xbox One controller? Oh it works perfectly eh? OK time to drop down to Linux (which MiSTer is built upon) and run lsusb to see if at least Linux sees the 8BitDo controller. It does and it thinks the controller is a Nintendo Switch controller. Then why the hell can't the MiSTer software see it? New tactic, let's try a different 8BitDo controller, an N30 Pro. Sweet MiSTer recognizes it! But every button works except for the left D-pad? What the hell is going on? Alright back to the SN30 Pro+ since I spent $60 freakin' on it. People say they used it wirelessly with no issue. How do I connect it to the MiSTer via Bluetooth? I can't. I need to spend $20 on a custom 8BitDo dongle that will supposedly work with MiSTer.

Why did I want to do this again?

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse Film

Just by writing this sentence I have already spent more time on this film than it deserves. Without Remorse is an absolute dogshit movie and it pains me to see Amazon destroy the Tom Clancy franchise over and over again. No one should ever watch this film.

Honourable Mentions

Noclip's Demon's Souls documentary

I find it absolutely amazing that for remakes like this Bluepoint actually gets the old code running first and then essentially replaces every component of it but does it in a way to not change the core feel of the game. The thought of trying to take a 10 year old iOS app, get it running again, and then migrate it in chunks makes me want to eat a gun. My simple mobile developer brain just defaults to "let's rewrite this from scratch" but the dedication to keep the soul of the original game alive is admirable.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

I have played about three hours of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin and I am running into the same problem I had with the first game.

It is not a bad game by any stretch, but it also not particularly special either. Both the combat and the open world failed to capture my interest and make me want to pickup my Switch and play more. With a game like PokΓ©mon even though it is very linear there is an obvious path and clear goal to strive for. With Monster Hunter Stories 2, I already feel like the game is just boring fetch quests across a bland open world.

I am going to make a conscious effort to play a couple more hours in August to see if the game opens up. But if it fails to hook me after that I'm going to put it down because there are so many other games I could be playing.

Orcs Must Die! 3

Orcs Must Die! 3 is a bad tower defence game and a bad third-person shooter. It commits the cardinal sin of hiding new items and upgrades behind a resource that you need to grind for. I didn't buy this game because I wanted to grind to get better items. I bought it because I wanted to experiment with crazy ways to kill orcs and yet by the end of the campaign I had probably only used 1/4 of what was available.

The reason this is in the "Honourable Mentions" section instead of "The Bad" is because I still put 20 hours into it. I was that desperate for a tower defence game that even a bad $30 one was able to suffice.

Review July Goals

August Goals