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January 2023 Retrospective

Looking at the major North American markets over the month of January we see that the Nasdaq is up 11.53%, the Dow Jones is up 2.87%, the S&P 500 is up 6.6%, and the TSX is up 6.81% so apparently the recession is over. Time to party! It doesn't matter that companies are missing their earnings and laying off employees by the thousands. Just take out debt and let it ride! Interest rates can't climb any higher right?

It feels like we're at the top of the roller coaster and things are about to plummet. We seem destined to repeat the mistakes that lead to the massive interest rate hikes of the 70s and 80s. Mark my words, if either the Canadian or US central banks drop the interest rates anytime this year we will see them rise to all new highs in 2024. We cannot ride this gravy train indefinitely.

The Good

Read the first three books in the Slough House series

I absolutely adore Slow Horses on Apple TV+ so I decided to start reading the Slough House series which the show is based upon.

I don't know if it is because I am getting older but I seem to enjoy books more than their TV or film adaptations and Slough House is no exception. Being able to hear a character's inner thoughts will almost always surpass what can be conveyed in TV or film and the Slough House books do this superbly. In the show there are a couple of characters who I don't have any particularly strong feelings about, one way or the other. But the books have catalyzed incredibly visceral reactions to these characters because I am now able to see straight through to their core and what drives them.

I was so enamoured by Slough House that I managed to read the first three books (Slow Horses, Dead Lions, and Real Tigers), which totalled nearly 1000 pages, in just 27 days. I am going to force myself to take a break from the series in February so I can read Tress of the Emerald Sea but I definitely plan to come back to Slough House in March.

Model building workshop at Little Canada

I have always wanted to try painting miniatures and building models but have never had the space to do so. I have lived in poorly ventilated apartments for essentially my entire adult life and as much as I'd love to huff paint, glue, and resin fumes I still value my health.

So consider it kismet that I visited Little Canada this month and saw their advertisement for a six-week model making workshop where you get to construct a cozy little home by the sea. Elsie and I signed up immediately and are now two weeks in. I will readily admit my artistic skills are lacking (or more realistically non-existent) and this diorama is probably not going to turn out great. But it actually makes me want to do this even more, just at my own pace. Hopefully I finally get to move into my own home sometime this year and can seriously consider building a dedicated arts and crafts room.

Played Persona 3 Portable

Persona 3 Portable was finally made available on modern hardware this month and I have put 15 hours into it on my Steam Deck so far.

I am thoroughly enjoying what I have played but if you are coming to this game from Persona 5, you really need to reset your expectations. It was developed over 13 years ago and released for the PlayStation Portable! Obviously things have improved immensely since then. Not just in the physical hardware but also in quality of life improvements made to the franchise. The combat, the dungeons, and the graphics are rough around the edges. There is no denying that. But the core of what makes Persona great (at least in my opinion) remains. The story, the writing, the characters, that quintessential mystery and intrigue are all here.

Supposedly a Persona 3 remake is in the works and may even be released summer 2023. But even knowing that I still am going to finish Persona 3 Portable because I love seeing where the franchise has come from and continue to look forward to where it is going.

Netflix's Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

This month Netflix released, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street, an absolutely riveting documentary about Bernie Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme. I guarantee it will be an enthralling watch for everyone no matter what previous knowledge they have.

Watched The Mummy and The Mummy Returns

Elsie had never seen The Mummy or The Mummy Returns which I finally rectified this month.

I was so happy to see that even after 20+ years they still hold up. I miss the simple yet compelling stories of the late 90s that focused on charming characters. Combine that with mostly practical effects and I think movies like The Mummy will age better than the CGI actionfests being pumped out today.

The Bad

Jack Ryan: Season Three

If you were ever curious what happens when government agents huff glue and eat lead paint chips before going into work then season three of Jack Ryan is for you.

I wanted to give the writers and producers a bit of leeway because they obviously wrote this story before Russian's invasion of the Ukraine. But the idea that the there could be a coup in Russia to recreate the Soviet Union is just hilarious knowing how completely incompetent Russia is. But even through that lens none of the decisions made by anyone on either side make sense. The plot armour is out of control this season and the writing is in the toilet. One of the leaders of the coup literally says to the ministers of the Russian government that "Russia was once the monster that kept the world up at night" with a completely straight face. Just in case, ya know, we didn't realize they were evil yet.

Since obviously no idea is off the table for the team over at Amazon I'd like to pitch my idea for season four. North Korea has sleeper agents in China who have been infiltrating all levels of the government over the last 50 years. They unilaterally decide to launch an invasion of the US because why the fuck not? Gotta nuke something. Only Jack Ryan can save the world by travelling to China's Tiangong space station and obtaining all of the bulletproof evidence that shows the government is corrupt which then magically causes everyone to stop fighting. Pay me my millions Bezos!

Honourable Mentions

The Outpost

Not everyone is going to enjoy a war film set in Afghanistan but I really appreciated the grittiness and realism of The Outpost. It doesn't try to glorify combat. It tries to humanize soldiers. This isn't your standard hoorah murder everyone type of military films. These are Everyman characters who want to be anywhere but where they are. You're not cheering for them to kill the enemy. You're just hoping they survive.

Last day of EVGA

I don't have enough experience with other graphics card manufacturers to say that EVGA was the best. But I can say that I have only owned EVGA graphics cards over the past decade and they have been nothing short of superb.

It's been really sad watching Nvidia morph into a money-grubbing monster and treat their partner manufacturers like shit. Companies like EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI are a major part of the reason why gamers have/had such high opinions of Nvidia. But now the big green machine would like to cut the third-parties out and price gouge the customer directly.

Whenever I build my next gaming rig not only will I give a serious look at AMD graphics cards but I'll also make sure to check out what other computer components EVGA has released by then.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium is the prime example of a really well written story wrapped in a poorly designed game.

I loved the characters and the world. The story was so well paced that I don't think I ever found myself at a loss for what to do. There was always some thread to tug on that would unravel a new part of the mystery. Unfortunately I did find myself fighting the RPG mechanics of the game. Artificial barriers were constantly being thrown in front of me and only seemed designed to slow down my progress. I cannot remember a single instance where I was blocked from progressing the story and thought that was OK because there was something else to do. Instead I had to grind for experience so I could increase a specific skill just to have a second chance at moving forward.

Near the end of the game I literally had to resort to save scumming because if I failed certain skill checks I could not complete the game.

But even with all that negativity I am still very much looking froward to what ZA/UM makes next. Tweaking game mechanics is something that nearly any developer can do. But the raw talent to write a story like Disco Elysium is hard to come by.

Review January Goals

February Goals