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The "REPORT" buttons on comments and entries DO WORK. Before the downtine, they did not. Now they do! Hurray!
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This is much easier on us, on you, the general populace, and also on kittens everywhere.
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For a while, I've been working on something. It's a 100-page history of the entire world, beginning with the invention of writing in ancient Sumer and going all the way to the modern day. It has not been easy. I have been able to work on it twice a week and make 5-8 pages per session. I am 90% of the way done, and my mind is racing.
This is something that part of me has always wanted to do. I loved watching The History Channel and asking my dad about the Civil War and American Revolution when I was a kid. Even then, I always wanted to somehow categorize all this knowledge, and now I'm actually doing it. Honestly, I was bored in history class in school. I always wanted to go deeper and look at more primary documents. But at the same time, whenever I tried to do my own research, I quickly found myself overwhelmed at all the books and articles I had access to. I never knew where to start.
It is titled Elementary World History and one of the reasons I am writing it is to provide something I would have benefitted from as a child. It is a sampling of history, not going too deep into any of the topics I cover. (Getting the entirety of World War II into a single page was not easy, but I did it.) The finished book will be dedicated to my nephew, who is still a baby. I hope he grows up to love history and gets some enjoyment out of it. I'm going to print it out and put it in a binder for him.
I don't know anything about actually getting stuff published. I've written novel-length stories before that none of the publishers I reached out to wanted. Honestly, I'd say the publishing aspect is harder than actually writing the book.
Translation: A blog so big I’m a bit worried about it breaking BZP.
Greeting again pretend-friends!
Stacks of stuff from the home reno I’ve not individually posted but feel funny about doing so redundantly! Because in the excessive room-by-room Docs I planted them. But here are a few of the decorations/homey Hapi-mess projects from the farmhouse. And new projects I’ve been too absorbed in/too sick to document/edit. Sorry for over-downsized picture quality here and incoherent rambles!
Embroidery wreath pillow, 10 hrs.
The “UP” movie inspired house for my alien children-from a freezer box! Made from cardboard, leftover paper drywall tape, wood & school glues, a bunch of paint mixes I used in the home here, and twist ties. Window frames are cardboard covered in masking tape, then painted. Door knob and doorbell are felt furniture feet. UP inspired, as it’s missing the side window and roof extension. Does anyone know why the official set by LEGO does not have the side window or house side roof? Was it structurally impossible?
Hot air balloon!
The ball was a horse-toy, I think? A thick plastic ballI I found in the stables. It had to be bleached for a hot air balloon! Began by making a barn-yarn (string) macrame net. Pattern for fabric cover made by marking with electrical tape and paper drafting of the dark lines. Basket made from chopping the handle off an ordinary one and painting with KILZ primer. White balloon fabric is PUL, red is slick material from an old vest I’d made for myself (out an old vest of my dad’s). Topstitching details. Seam taped together in back, then hand ladder stitched. Wooden beads are from a rusty jar I found in our barn. Canning jar lid ring for fire area thing. Made tiny sandbags from drop cloth and added a bandana. Tree branch and plastic barn-yarn for a pulley.
What you see VS reality:
That absolutely is my mom murdering weeds with her Mother’s Day Machete.
Made by cutting out over 200 fabric cotton circles in three different sizes! Math estimate based on spacing/desired branch number. Cotton circle sewn with a little opening. Assembly line sewing style is such a pleasure! Sewn using my machine on a lapdesk on the floor, back propped against the wall. Cut apart & turned right side out while wet.
Octopus ironing board
Ironed while tucking raw seams in, then added center seam to sew together. I hand-kneaded and squished them into the 8-color mix and hung them across a paint extension cord and bucket drying rack in the basement. And yarn for stems. Later poked the holes with leather awl and handsewed each leaf on with tex 70 upholstery thread. This splendid stick was selected by my mom from a newly toppled yard tree, I miter sawed to fit. Yarn and nails on top, tiny ½” tacks and reinforcement thread on each strand to hold
Stenciled fairy flags from my ancient x-acto knife PUL stencil, cotton fabric sponge brushed with alteration tint of the kitchen wall paint & backed with PUL. Strung up with little yarn-let cuts and some of the shiny plastic spool of wire.
Motif panels are made from cotton muslin and backed with PUL. I cut/designed the stencil from an art canvas material many years ago. Foambrush sponged with extra wall paint (from another room). Sewed around each curve after drying and individually tied all threads inside. Yarn tassels, hand embroidery floss french knots.
Shutter flower pots, a birthday gift for my mom. Made from the doors of the rotting hall bath vanity, chalk painted (baking soda version). Little pots from leftover floor scraps are tiny tacked & wrapped around a giant cardboard tube (gift from family friend) that I chopped with my mini miter saw. String from the massive roll found in the barn to match the rest in the house. Flowers made from laminated copies of Wildflowers of American antique prints (my grandma sent to me a few years ago).
And my mom's birthday bounty!
Excessive decor and food photos!
Artgifts posted prior, laminated 2D flowers, cheesecake & bakes, & for it finally occurred, origami bird! Napkin, but really a paper towel! Fold Guide Made makeshift mushroom & cowbaby magnets for my mom’s birthday. Printed some scientific mushroom illustrations and laminated, wood glued onto the plastic sealed magnets I cut off of a ripped white shower curtain (the one I’d been using as a tablecloth!)
Sheet from Lawman friend/HUD house for temporary tablecloth.
Mum, there for fun
~m o r e t h a n j u s t a b e a r~
Raspberry lemon cheesecake, turmeric +raspberry drink powder tinted buttermint dough. Because it’s what I had! Fondant, transportation, and funds are far from me. Fun game to find substitutes to suit
Faux forever flowers were an impromptu b-day idea. I found an envelope of Wildflowers of America Smithsonian prints from my grandmother and it hit me. I had to scan them, print copies, cut them out and stick the scientific title on the back. Laminated and placed into the Leaning Green Barn found green vases, and these narrow “Avocado Hot Sauce” bottles from a discount grocery store. 10 cents well spent!
~Actual New Content~
The beauty of food 🥮
My mom got a freezer as she buys discount ingredients in bulk when on sale & for years our custom has been to freeze homemade meals. I love baking and freezing. And other randomness because sometimes it’s 3 am and I feel like making quiche and such.
Also, miraculously, a kind Instructables staffer told me my LEGO dress tutorial (https://www.instructables.com/LEGO-Minifigure-Fabric-Gown/?amp_page=true ) qualified for one of their contests, so bumbled into that by chance. They generously sent a gift card for being a finalist, I filled it out in my mom’s name, but she bought an Instantpot for me to experiment with. She is so unselfish!
I’m overjoyed over the fancy food tools! It's always been terribly difficult for me to use the stove asstanding was hard, but using it in a wheelchair where the burners are shoulder height is a Snow White and the Seven dwarfs experience.
My mom bought some “overripe” strawberries for groundhoggy bait, but I, being a feral scavenger who mourns waste, had no idea these were supposedly second-class strawberries and treated them as fine delicacies. ❤️ Sorry hoggies!
Salsa and vegetable dishes freeze finely in muffin containers, but the regular shape metals do work a bit better!
Chicken, grape, walnut and cream cheese pastries (lots of these are frozen in the pictures!)
Walnut oat + chocolate dough drops. Oat buns are fun!
Chocosquare cake + almond cinnabuns! Peanut caramel cube cookies! Apple pastry!
Banana breads, biscuits, oatmeal cookies, raspberry muffies, lots of cookies as they are mom’s best beloved baked burgers,
Instant pot soups frozen for easy momwork transport & heating. Jars from when she was canning the most delicious chicken in our old life. Mayo jar lids fit (and are free!) quite perfectly upon the narrowneck pints!
I adore King Arthur flour recipes as mix & match pastry bases. Buns! I've had a hard time with yeast breads since my body has been spiraling more, the rise times are hard to handle when I spontaneously crash or sleep at all hours.
Yeast rolls, buns, French breads, personal pizza, burritos.
Greens & cream pastry, quiches, potatoes and fiesta pasta. Walnut garlic Italian buns. Instapot beans are a blessing!
Impromptu cookie bake batches because tree cutting fellows were here and hungry, and mom was around for their delivery, so no photos fancy and I forgot entirely to take one of the giant chocolate chip cookie batches.
Starbiscuits! Waffellows! Yeast buns and cookies!
*Not shown: me crying from pain while cooking because it’s a grand amusement/distraction! What am I supposed to do, watch TV? Not for me. Cannot wait to be hungry and able to eat this stuff/normally again!
PS: I promise not everything I cook is bread based, these are just the pretty-picturable pastry dishes.
"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup."- infinite wisdom from Buddy the Elf.
My mom bought me a vehicle. 😎 A trolley for towels and dollies! And me to lowride slide on for a few hours when I’ve crammed my wheelchair into the tub for shower hosing it off and it’s drying. It gets quite dusty! I have no idea how other people clean their chairs..and apparently felt no need whatsoever to investigate this.
Was extremely difficult to transport thingies prior!
A bonsai tree (juniper variety) made tiny!
Pipe cleaners wrapped fabric strips then in embroidery floss (now questioning why I didn’t use yarn for less waste) and painted. Stuff felt sewn centrally and stiffened with glue. Box made from basement bits of glued wood + filler, stained and polyurethane sealed. Painted the whole tree for a hopeful look of reality. Dirt is made from coffee grounds and Elmer’s glue poured into the wooden pot lined with plastic wrap.
Norwegian inspired Birdy ornaments in honor of my mom’s roots. For tiny Christmas gifts. 3hrs each, if I remember correctly (too tired to check)?
Recycled Cards featuring my chickadee mini painting from last December.
No colored cardstock, found other stuff!
Birdhouse! Homey theme continuing. Penciled while trying to listen to an audiobook of the Pickwick papers. Delightful oddity, I have a frightful problem of beginning audiobooks, abandoning for months on end, then returning. Brain fog beckons in mindless music box melodies while making things.
15 Hrs. 8x10”.
WIP/test subject Wii MySims inspired doll from May. Because it was time for what seemed like my biannual pain + medical-exhaustion life burnout and I needed a couple hours to escape reality. Every time I play MySims game I end up making things instead of gaming, last time I made dollhouse furniture, this time a doll. I am amazed at the patience of gamers. I guess I need a weird amount of physical evidence of what I’m doing with my life to feel fulfilled.
Doll needs lots of alterations to the face and head, she’s additionally in a paper towel test dress that is quite hospital gown style.
May embroidery inspired by my mom’s tastes.
Randomness in terms of stitch, sewn into circles in case they get framed or something. Gifts for somebody, probably my mom? I’d like to give her all the things but there are a few other humans I know exist and it shreds my soul trying to figure holiday gifting out. Been trying to make one copy of each one for her to keep.
15Hrs, 12 hrs
Little yellow lassie! Like her original friend.
Either for my mom or maybe my honorary Granny. I am happier with the face on her than my first. First one scares me a wee bit.
Pumpkin friends! One by the name of Beatrice! Because I was weakflattened on the couch, conscious but not enough to coherent so tried to easy knit a bit.
The origins of Lady Beatrice (who is a pseudopumpkin and an eggplant):
Baby and baby goat, belonging to kind local foundation person and possibly harvested from their Facebook 17.5 Hrs. 8x10”
My mom! 8.5 Hrs. 8x10”
Birdy painting, a Holiday Holly Hummingbird! For putting on Christmas cards. 5x7” acrylic, colored pencil and fixatif on watercolor paper pencil sketch. 78 hrs total. Metallic gold paint details.
My floorflop sewing setup. The lapdesk on the floor posed risk of scratching up the deck painted floors, so I made slider towel socks from PUL and elastic for the foldy feet.
Two button downs for my brother, from fabrics generously gifted by new aunt J. 33 hrs for two, slow as the purple was thick knit and required much hand sewing. Hand bound buttonholes on both because my machine tends to jam on them. French seams. Hoping this pattern still fits him since he’s still a medium though has taken interest in gymnasiums.
And simply a tee from an unwanted jersey flat knit sheet that matched some Macra lace swatches from the stash. French seamed. 4hrs each because I am the snail.
Test subject dress for my mom from the lower sheet, sadly this a bit nubby knit-wide. I intended to use the wrong side of the fabric as the outer. but kept collapsing from low blood pressure during this which blocks the brain ability to French seam.
*presents mom with the Macaroni Necklace Quality dress and apologies*
I can’t calculate how to catch rainbows so I just copy them in my clothes! Hues due for mockery make me exuberant. I get colorhappy!
my mom began knitting again, so happy for her! She essentially forgot due to the PTSD of our reality.
Sweetly spun spools into leg warmers for me! Perfectly twinning with the hand-me-down sweater from my new octogenarian aunt!
Normal humans: *t shirt + jeans 😎*
Whatever feral mutant species I am: *Wearing everything weirdo wonderlandian ways instead*
Actually went outside with the sweet ride (wheelchair) once in March, prompting proof in pictures and pseudoswinging & chainclinging. Just porch pillar plops in the sun fits my function level better.
Christmas/bro birthday stash growing and wraps getting going. The hard part remains, choosing what’s for who!
And a-still-on-my-sidetable WIP in the works I’m actively updating because my body is not something I can trust in: https://www.flickr.com/photos/189713610@N04/albums/72177720310455074
Kind human playing piano at Duke cancer center (They send me there for noncancer imaging sometimes, not sure why):
Medical madness has made up the year, I truly cannot believe it’s August and I’m still here! Seven months since the stroke! Surviving! The ER sent me home without any ideas or help that day and my specialists have been helpless. Ramblings below.
-At last in June I got into a local geneticist! They only ran a connective tissue panel, hemochromatosis panel, and hereditary neuropathy panel for my SFN. Under 200 genes analyzed so not terribly helpful, but some things ruled out! Wish whole gene exome sequencing were more affordable, given that now doctors named me “extremely medically complex” and “perplexing”.
Genetics *legally confirmed* I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (type 3, the one that they haven’t IDed the genes of yet and only diagnose from clinical exams). I accurately self diagnosed with the disease in late 2020 after researching why my knee joints were clicking painfully >20 times per hour causing me to limp, and seeing this Instagram suggested post and being able to do the sign:
I got a Rheumatologist to do an unofficial Beighton test in May 2021 with a positive score, and had a UNC genetics referral place the month prior. They waitlisted me for 1 year, which turned into 2, then they were overbooked and canceled me altogether. I am not even seeing their Ehlers-Danlos page on their site anymore. EDS and its 14 subtypes are chronically changing their diagnostic criteria. I am so grateful for google and trust issues, as EDS diagnosis by doctors takes on average 10+ years.
-This is an odd addition to the Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. Since no painkillers are effective for EDS according to my geneticist, perhaps this is why the UCTD Plaquenil didn’t help the joint pain? Rheumatology took me off it after the January stroke given my drug hypersensitivity.
-The idiopathic small fiber neuropathy might be from EDS, as this is true for some.
"I'm paint and porcelain
...Sensitively, I'm not weak, but my
Bones are made of glass
And I'll break if you pass..."
~Porcelain / Em Beihold
-EDS might explain my past food allergies given the mast cell involvement.
-Still awaiting the fourth reread of my abdomen ultrasound. The one ordered after the May cardiac MRI showed that my GI arteries were “crimped”. Wonder why this is why I’ve had excruciating LUQ pain for years.
-I decided to try to consume more than 16oz fluid and the few bites of starchy food a day I’d been surviving on since the stroke-until recently when even that was getting more difficult (I didn’t speak a full sentence for a month and was barely able to drink with a straw long after it, so much function has been lost). Starvation and dehydration have been the terrifying normal for me for symptom management over the past three years (GI to this day didn’t solve my non-celiac tTG, severe GI complications, intussuseptions/intestines telescoping, the mucosal abnormality & plume of blood seen on one EDG, ulcers, SIBO, transient gastroparasis, bile reflux, idiopathic anaphylaxis, pain, etc., I was able to tolerate nothing but bullion and bread (glutinous bread for the EGDs) for 1.5 years. But I was gaining weight so nobody seemed to believe this. I kept telling them Celiac disease did not fit and was begging for help. The doctor didn’t even reply to messages most of the time, and held my imaging results when serious complex GI issues came up. Like when the Pillcam bounced off my duodenum x4 times and then stayed in my stomach. She sent me for X-rays and never told me or released the results. I found them in the back door method of accessing via the Mychart care document summary.
The post stroke was even less ingestion than prior and I lost 20lbs.I knew I couldn’t keep living like this, especially barely drinking, though my weight was stable for months. Neuropathic fire. Allergic type reactions ( same ones over the years sending me to ER) on the few days I decided to try to eat an actual meal. The same insane LUQ pain. So for the past >3 weeks I’ve been hydrating and consuming instant bullion again. Takes me 30 minutes to ingest a bowl or I collapse in pain. But it’s so delicious! Been putting green vegetables in it, absolutely glorious. Then the pain, face flushing and exhaustion sets in, an hour passes and the reactions get violent. So violent, consistently like clockwork. The more I ingest the more I reject. Never so bad before as this. Dangerous GI, skin and blood sugar reactions over a span of 2-4hrs, which is a highly useful diagnostic clue. Going to the ER would make sense for a normal human in such a situation, but they would only run labs and give IV fluids, neither thing helpful in diagnosis of my case given this has become chronic and daily and is due to me hydrating and trying to eat more.. At home orally replenishing the electrolytes and monitoring vitals is the current survival strategy amid awaiting appointments.
I thought my episodes of weakness and needing to lay supine in dizzy exhaustion every hour or so were maybe blood sugar lows, but no. My blood pressure is chronically dangerously low (hello salt, please help while I wait on medical care + POTS testing), & the always high blood sugar is baffling. My blood sugar skyrockets from ingesting everything and the spikes correlate with when I get violently sick. The pancreatic polypeptide elevations probably have a great deal to do with this.
-Waiting on the repeat-from-almost-3-years-ago endocrinology referral for the carcinoid syndrome/neuroendocrine tumor testing( that I originally myself requested from scouring research paper DDXs three years ago after my epi-triggered, resistant anaphylaxis began and face flushing. Then loads of other things, later my allergist later saying all pointed to this after ruling out things like mast cell disorders, allergies + HAE. Now some actual biomarkers that fit).. Duke has a whole separate specialty clinic for this very thing, but for reasons beyond me the GI doctor dominated my care, took two years to reluctantly agree I didn’t have Celiac, and then abandoned my case unsolved after countless Celiac disease procedures/tests. My first really kind pediatric GI PA either was fired or quit by this doctor in 2021 when my case got complex. She tried to solve me, wanted to send me to the cancer clinic for MRIs given the tumor rumors, but didn’t get the chance. I gave my current GI doctor one last chance to try/begged for basic GI care. So now thankfully she’s not my doctor anymore, I’m getting a different provider. My mom the whole time was saying it was malpractice the way she talked to me and how the case was being dragged out/neglected/the life-threatening GI complications ignored. And my old allergist, other Duke specialists and new local geneticists were all floored by the GI doctor’s actions. I thought she was actually trying. But after every appointment she left me crying. Because my case is complex, she blamed me. It was easier.
I message-system debated, disproved, and forced her to remove a mental-health misdiagnosis from 2017 she had placed in Mychart in spite of knowing its falsehood. She was using this misdiagnosis to neglect solving my case. It was initially placed on my records at UNC hospital in 2017, when I was ambulanced to their pediatric ICU and barely lived due to a summer of repeat flus, chronic mystery Illness with GI issues, and the crippling dietary limitations of Alpha-gal allergy. My heart rate dropped to 32 with severe electrolyte derangement. I’d uncontrollably lost 40lbs over the summer, the only change being adding gluten back to my diet instead of rice flour. Crazy to look back on this, they did not run bloodwork for Celiac disease then.
UNC removed their misdiagnosis in 2021 after getting my updated charts and genetics referrals.
This misdiagnosis was prior to my diseases being identified. They placed it there to legally hold me, never telling us it was on my records. Another patient saw it and told us. “ARFID”- A disorder of “extremely picky eating”. AKA, in my case: how to medically kidnap a pediatric patient with food allergies. This added insult to injury given the fact that many delicious foods would literally kill me, and it wasn’t my choice or being “picky”.The UNC doctors screamed all about how Alpha-Gal allergy didn’t exist, how they wanted to put my parents in prison. My mom told them to walk to the other side of their campus and ask the most well-known Alpha Gal researcher about it- who was a UNC allergist. On their campus. Or to call my allergist and get his lab findings. Or simply Google it. The room went silent. UNC thought my illness/allergies were fabricated by parents. Being homeschooled with learning disabilities/lower grade level than typical in school made it an even scarier situation. That’s why I had to stay impatient for three months. I was underweight so they had grounds to call CPS if my mom took me home. I was grilled by psychologists who wanted to remove me from my family on a daily basis. Everything I said was scrutinized. Even after they were educated on alpha-gal allergy, I obviously had no issues with food aside from my allergies and GI issues, and was stoked to eat (UNC hospital food is fancy!), and kept telling them I chronically felt sick. I was actually fed things I was allergic to/ordered not to be served due to upcoming/ongoing allergy tests at both UNC and countless times at the step-down hospital (they sent me there once the insurance cut coverage). They got furious with me for actually eating peanut butter when they sent it, because I wanted to speed up the allergy testing they were dragging out and see what would happen. I was fine and it was glorious! I also had genetic Ehlers-Danlos then, but we, at the time, didn’t know why I was always sick. Primary care didn’t have an answer when I went at age 9. In 2017-18 I had seizures while inpatient, was observably chronic sick and weak to the point of wheelchair use, but no one investigated it.
I stumbled across this website recently in my desperate attempts to solve my own current medical complexities: https://alphagalinformation.org/what-is-ags/#What%20Is%20Alpha-gal%20Found%20In
I feel inexpressibly not alone by reading the list-torrent of foods and products with mammal products & the infamous airborne reactions. None of this info was easy to access when I had AGS. I had to contact companies about processing and rely on a Facebook group via my mom’s account to not die from food. Bronchoconstriction from white sugar processed with bone char. That FB group kept me alive. My mom had to make our own laundry soap from washing soda. I washed my hair with a block of coconut soap.
Now I’m showing this site to doctors who are unaware of the allergy/condition. Many still haven’t heard of it. One doctor at one ER in 2020 thought I said “alpha thalassemia” instead of “past alpha gal allergy” when I was talking mid-throat closure (new idiopathic anaphylaxis) and now that’s on my permanent medical record.
My weird early medical era/The story of how I got Alpha-Gal allergy/syndrome:
The whole gluten free & peanut allergy ordeals.
When I got noticeably weak/sick initially (over half a life ago) my mom suspected non-celiac gluten intolerance (negative tTG then, ironically, a PCP sent me to a GI doctor who had no idea what to do). And at the time my brother’s ASD challenges were becoming more apparent, 1 year prior to his formal diagnosis of what was then classed as Asperger’s. So for 3 years we three were gluten-free, in hopes of helping all parties (didn’t help me but she tried so hard!). This was prior to the era of easy allergen-labeling. My mom had a time of it baking with the grainy textures of the olden-day quality certified GF brands. We loved her rice bread but it was definitely dense. I started to have fun cooking more around this era, and the dietary restrictions created odd traditions -we had one good GF pizza crust recipe, and discovered cheesecake is a great grain free option. So that became the birthday tradition dish! Around this time my dad chose to travel for work (only home on weekends), which was a bittersweet blessing because he harassed me chronically due to my sickness and allergies. My mom had two children with different disabilities, one getting sicker. Homeschooling them alone, no family or friends nearby, driving my dad back and forth to the airport in an area we’d just moved to for his local job a couple years prior. I don’t know how she didn’t break.
Then the next year I began to get hives and GI reactions after peanuts and peanut butter. Allergist bloodwork and back prick panel. All negative except dust and grass. Said it couldn’t be peanut allergy. He ordered an in office allergy challenge to confirm. Ate a lot of delicious PB, started reacting just at the end of the 2hr reaction watch period. Sick in their restroom and hives breaking out. They said it was too delayed to be from the peanuts, said to keep nuts in the diet.That was in October.
We avoided the nuts knowing this doctor wasn’t getting it.
In April, we decided to repeat the allergen test at home with Reese’s pieces (the delicacy of royals).
One handful, 30 minutes later I was on the bathroom floor gasping for breath with my throat closing off and severe GI reactions. My mom had the epipen but froze in panic-terror on the spot and just sat with me. I kept asking for water. I must have drank 20 glasses that night amid struggling for air. I don’t know how I survived that much fluid but I think it effectively, instinctively(?)flushed the allergen out of my small body. This went on until 6:00pm -12:00 am. I remember playing some kind of Draw a stickman game on my mom’s phone to cope. I wonder if my brother remembers that day. He brought a lot of water.
I couldn’t say the word “peanut” without bursting into tears for years after that.
I stopped touching doorknobs and surfaces in our kitchen because my dad refused to give up nuts-and would scare me with them intentionally. My mom couldn’t reason with him.
Strangely- 3 years after this horrific reaction-my peanut allergy inadvertently saved my life -or at least the Epi pens for it did. When I went outside to see the new fence my parents had put up, and a tick came in with me. Found it embedded in my left upper leg one day later-lone star, shining white spot. I dug it out in a panic. My mom had previously wondered if my illness was post-Lyme disease given my health decline after a move & lots of bites.
Six weeks later I began to get a little shortness of breath and hives. I first noticed it on a day I’d eaten a piece of battered chicken found in the fridge. My dad had just visited my grandma, perhaps this piece of meat had been fried in peanut oil and brought from her house? How could I have so recklessly eaten it? I asked my mom about the meat. It was mom’s cooking. I said nothing and internally quivered.
Then a day or so later I went into a worse breathing difficulty episode, this one so bad witnessed by my parents.
Then another episode so bad after I baked some blueberry muffins. Suffocating and hives 30 minutes later. My mom hit me with the Epi-pen as I screamed “NO!”, thinking it would hurt (I didn’t feel the needle at all) and to the ER we rode.
Then a few days later, I ate ( some homemade white bread, I think?) I was suffocating again with hives and ER repeat while we waited on an appointment with the new allergist. I’d made lists of everything I’d eaten on the days of the reactions. I thought perhaps it was “histamine intolerance” because I reacted to everything and was nearly starving to survive.
On the first allergist visit he asked me if I'd had any recent tick bites. My jaw dropped and I almost screamed “Yes, with a white spot on its back, on my leg! I still have the scab!?”
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?” the quiet doctor who barely could make eye contact nearly screamed in satisfaction.
I said no. Then he explained Alpha-gal allergy, and said he was almost certain that was what was happening to me.
He ran the labs and it proved true.
I was insanely hyperreactive. I’d not even had any directly dairy/mammal based food on the ER days. It was the white sugar which contained cow-bone-char from the bleaching process.
So my diet for 2.5 years was 10-20 raw/whole foods that we had to inquire about the processing of. Delicious things! Just very few of them. And every product I touched we had to contact manufacturers over. So that sums up my experience with the Alpha-Gal allergy adventure.
It's still hard for me to grasp. I was nearly medically kidnapped. After almost dying in the pediatric ICU. Removed from my home for three months. Held in the psych unit of the hospital (the patients never hurt me, but some threw things, flipped chairs, and screamed. There was this dark forest painted solitary confinement room the UNC nurses would lock the kids in when they were getting violent or rowdy. They'd give them sedative drugs, watch them via a camera and speak to them through a speaker. It was horrible to witness. I just stayed near the nurse station and did art/crafts where things were most peaceful/safe). Apparently this kind of thing/being blamed by doctors is common in children with EDS. I am so grateful this can never happen again. But I did have fun drawing people’s pets and decorating the hospitals. And the nurses adopted me. ❤️
I was (freed?) discharged in 2018, though sicker than ever and with a rather apparent abnormal stunting, but thankfully having at last outgrown the food allergies.
I would never darken the doors of doctors ever again. My age and gender have made medical care a nightmare. I was wrong. 2020 came, along with my body breaking entirely and undeniably. When my throat closed off, I was limping regularly, had seizures, and relented. So in 2020 me and my medical PTSD became a chronic customer of doctors. Thankfully by this time I’d learned how to advocate for myself (MyChart messages, photographs, printed notes), read my own results, DDXs + visit notes & do my own research. And question everything.
My disease diagnoses matter more than I can say.
The almost six years of blame…the shame-stamp of a mental health misdiagnosis that many doctors got off the diagnostic hook with. Even knowing they were wrong, I blamed myself. Hospital hostage, underage, underweight. Medical gaslighting. I hear about people with early diagnosed genetic diseases and ponder what kind of medical care they must get.
Edit: I am also so grateful for answers as my exdad used to accuse me of faking being sick for attention/because it was inconvenient for him. Then after the long hospital stay he treated me like an object of shame. I only realized last year that he never once called me during those three months, only came briefly with my mom and brother.
I so heavily relate to Amy Pond from Doctor Who.
Waiting on doctors for years
Told things weren't real
But where is the crack in the universe that was sucking my life away? There was one in my old room we could never keep patched on the left corner of the door frame, humorously. Yay for moving from that house, haha!
I’m free, my record is clean, my name is redeemed and I have a chance at equal care?!
In other glorious news, I also finally have a referral to the Duke NET clinic now. I hope they'll accept my disaster case. I’m burning down bodily daily but am like 82lbs of unrefined desire to live! Closer to proper care than ever before!
I can never express my gratitude for my mom managing all the appointments and driving me 3-4 hours (one way) on her days off every so often. And now monitoring/recording my vitals after I attempt a meal and it mugs me instead.
“Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.”
“And I don't really care if nobody else believes,
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me”
General goofery and jollytimes to attain equilibrium and good-spirits to sign off with!:
Checking out the new Masks of Power trailer made me really nostalgic for my old BZP days. I really miss the huge community we used to have. I always say I'd like to come back into the fold, but I haven't committed yet. Bionicle has always had a special place in my heart though. Not to be dramatic but I feel like it really shaped part of who I am. After everything that's happened to me, through life and work and new relationships and long gone relationships and the discovery of my true identity, I am still a Toa warrior 💙💗🤍💗💙
Today is #810nicleday and so I thought I might use this opportunity to visit this old place to once again share some of the artwork that some fantastic folks have done for the campaigns I run over in the BZPGOT Discord server!
But first things first: an invitation. If you're interested in potentially participating in any future games (or simply want to hang out with other Bionicle fans), you can click the invite link to join us!
Anyway, onto the art. Today I wanted to highlight the series of covers that I commissioned for Verdant Wind two years ago. If I've done it right, you should be able to click the image to see a higher resolution.
Verdant Wind was the ultimate culmination of five years' worth of stories. It served as a grand finale for every character and story that had appeared up to that point, and to celebrate the occasion, I commissioned several covers for it.
The first cover, done by @TBK, is the official cover of Verdant Wind. It features the leaders of three player factions standing off against the game's main antagonist, with the broken pieces of my own NPC's mask in the dirt behind them.
The first variant cover, done by @ToaTImeLord, features those same player characters standing off against each other - fitting, as Verdant Wind brought them back into conflict before bringing them together.
The second variant cover was done by @xccj. In addition to the leaders, this cover features much of the other player characters - those who made up the core cast of the Edge of Dawn arc.
The third and fifth variant covers were done by some of my IRL friends (and yes, that fifth one is watercolor!). Both feature the faction leaders.
The fourth variant cover was done by @ZippyWharrgarbl. Like Xccj's cover, this one features much of the player cast, with a couple cameos and secrets sneakily inserted as well.
The sixth variant cover was done by @Jakura Nuva. It features the three player faction leaders being crushed beneath the game's main antagonist.
The seventh variant cover is a unique one; I commissioned it later than the others, as Verdant Wind reached its halfway point (and the big twist that would come with it - one that ultimately united the entire game world together). @Akaku: Master of Flight did a fantastic job bringing it to life; it features a set of characters who together represent every era of the games up to that point, working together.
The eight variant cover is also unique. I am responsible for the design, but I take no credit for the artwork used - that's all TBK and Akaku.
Anyway, that's all for today, folks. Hope you enjoyed!
So, it's been a while since my last blog entry, and I've made some big steps in life. Thought I'd drop in and talk about it a little.
I took my 2nd year of master's classes fully online. It was a big change from living deeply within the campus culture like I had for the previous six years, but I finished it up and graduated for the 2nd time! It was a lot of work, especially trying to balance it with job applications and attempting to have some semblance of a social life, primarily with friends who lived far away from me.
It paid off though, because I did get a job! I actually interned at this same agency last summer. I'm only a month or so in, but so far I'm very satisfied. I think this will be a job I can be fulfilled at.
Getting a job also meant I had to move into my own place. Technically I lived away from my parents while at college, but this is the first time it's just me. No roommates. I picked the furniture, all the messes are mine, and I'm the only one cleaning them up. It's close enough to work for me to walk too, which I really enjoy. Still exploring the surrounding area, but I do like my apartment's location.
I also went to two Brickfairs! (Maybe I should do a highlight post like the old days?) Both were great fun. Last year, I met some people from the SCBricks LUG, which I've since joined. That's been a great ride over the last year, meeting people and going to events. Just before Brickfair this year, I did my first local show with the LUG. It was completely different from a huge convention, just being in a little library, but I think we put on an excellent show! This year's Brickfair had me bringing @T-Dawg for his first time doing the full con. Hope he enjoyed it as much as I did. I miss a lot of the old friends I hung out with at past Brickfairs, but I love all the new people I've had the chance to meet! I'd also be remiss not to shoutout @Mushy the Mushroomfor really making my Brickfair! (As well as basically keeping this site alive.) And there's one observation I made at this show that really encapsulated it:
I didn't have breadsticks at Brickfair this year, but I sure at a lot of Thai food. Sometimes old ways have to fall away to be replaced by something new and equally beautiful.
Hey y'all! Been a while since I've really given much an update here. I know there has been a lot of these sorta posts here in recent years, but I figured it's my turn to sincerely thank you all for making this considerable chunk of my childhood so enjoyable. Seriously, I'll never forget the time I spent here, however brief and distant those days now feel. That so many people gave me nothing but support to my art in its earliest, roughest years, that my fiancée and many of my best friends I still have today I all met on here, I wouldn't be the person I am today without this place
I feel that even though I was just a child, I should still apologize for much of the cringey, childish behavior I displayed back in those days. I've done a lot of growing up in the years following my first arrival here, to say the least. Rest assured, you wont have to worry about me writing such scathing set critiques as 'tahu sux', as was my very first comment on this message board, or shoehorning anymore UNSC Frigates into text based Bionicle RPGs when the GMs are asleep. Yes, I was one of those players, and I'm still deeply embarrassed (although admittedly now also amused) to think back about it.
I'm honestly glad that this place is still around, even in its much quieter state, that we can still check in on each other from time to time. Who knows, maybe with the way social media's been going lately, there'll be a resurgence in smaller web forums? Wishful thinking I know, but who knows what the future holds. Since 2011 or so every few years I've just been kinda drifting from place to place on the internet. One thing I really miss from ye olde days was that you could actually get to know people, whereas places like twitter and reddit are just so huge that even the communities within those communities just never really felt like communities, if that makes any sense. Discord is a nice sorta middleground though, I suppose.
So, what have I been up to? Well, after spending way too long trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I eventually settled on taking some very lengthy and extensive courses for making what I make best, Graphic novels and comics. Those wrapped up a few years ago, and off and on I've been working on an original story ever since. There's been a lot of hiccups along the way due to all sorts of things from personal issues to family ones, to the pandemic to construction near my apartment driving me absolutely nuts. I never thought I could hate a sound so much as I do the sound of a pile driver... Thankfully, most of that is over with now, a lot of the biggest issues in my life all kind of resolved one way or another in the past few months, which has been really nice.
If anyone's curious to learn more about the Graphic Novel I'm working on, Let me know and I'll make more posts going more in depth about it here! Long story short is it's a colonial-era fantasy/redemption themed adventure story with a good mix of serious stakes and some lighthearted humour, starring an undead knight and two adventurers that freed him from an ancient curse. Shoutout to @Inferna Firesword, @Lord Kini Hawkeye, and @Zahaki, they've all had a hand in helping me develop different aspects of it as its come along
(And while I'm mentioning people: paging @Kagha, @Aych Ehn, @Repicheep - Toa of Irony, @Japoro - Toa of Ice, @Kothra, @Gavla, @Grantaire, @Zyrnix, @Cap'n Sparrow, @DYLAN the SINKING STAR, and @.:Zero The Vampire:.; even if its years from me making this post that any of you happen to randomly log on and come across this, I would love to hear how y'all are doing these days. It might take a while, but I guarantee I'll read it and get back to you eventually! Same goes for anyone else honestly, happy to hear how everyone is doing I just called out the above folks in particular because I haven't heard from any of them in around a decade, lol.)
In any case, I think that's all for now. Hope anyone reading this has a great morning/afternoon/evening, wherever you are!
(PS: Googly eyed Tahu is a treasure, and nobody can convince me otherwise )
--Akaku: Master of Flight
i recently had an Actual Nightmare where I got banned from bzpower. like the kind where you wake up and have to check just to reassure yourself that it's not real. it's funny--it's not like i really come on here very much anymore. it's not like anyone comes on here very much anymore. if my account were to actually be banned it would make no difference in my life.
when i joined bzpower, i was eight; now i find myself uncomfortably close to thirty. thirty still seems so old to me. i could never--not as a kid or a teenager, not even in my early twenties--conceive of being thirty. i still can't. and yet the calendar insists that there are just a few years left.
as i get older, i find myself trying to hold onto tchotchkes of my childhood--things that have no functional value to me now except in the conveyance of memories. sometimes they appear in my dreams; bzpower is not unique in this regard. i want to remember who i was, where i came from, to keep from finding myself unmoored in time. when i was a teenager, i was glad that bzpower lost the old forums database and majhost went down and spared me the humiliation of knowing my awful attempts at a sprite comic or my execrable fanfictions were still out there somewhere. now i find myself saddened by their loss. no one else will mourn them, of course. (nor, frankly, should they.) none of these things had value to anyone but me.
the banning of this account would represent a final foreclosure on that past, an admittance that it's over and done. realistically, that past is gone forever anyways and there is no going back--but while it exists i can pretend, if only for a moment, that it is still 2005, still 2008, still 2012, can step back into my old selves and see the world through their eyes.
at least this blog remains, in its entirety. its first entry (actually, its first four entries) was posted the very day blogs were made available on this site. the things i wrote as a child survive, even with their atrocious spelling (faveorite???) and utterly vapid content (i was, in retrospect, not a particularly smart kid). by my teenage years i had mostly moved on from bzpower, but you can see bits and pieces of my adolescent struggle for self-actualization posted here. none of this will mean anything to any of you. this very post is nothing more than an exercise in self-indulgence. but it means something to me.
i'm glad i'm not banned.
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Recently I managed to find someone selling the Bionicle Quest for Makuta board game online. It was in pretty good condition. An excellent addition to my collection.
I also picked up a few other board games. Just something to do with the kids I work with. One of the games was Monopoly. What did I find inside the box?
A single Cordak bullet.
The evidence speaks for itself. Family game night turned violent, the Toa Mahri intervened, and there were no survivors. 😔
Open and shut case.
Bake him away, toys.
Hey, all! I'm still alive and kicking! I hope you are all doing well as I know it's been a long time since my last visit.
Life has been uh... or I guess continued to be crazy? But things are mostly pretty good right now, there is still a lot that could be better but I'm still here and trying to move forward. My last entry was 2019... so a lot has happened. I'm back in my house thankfully. It's not perfect but it's livable so that's a good thing. Housing was questionable for awhile from hotel to RV to another rental. I'm a manager at a pharmacy so that's unexpected and I guess interesting. On April 4, 2021 my father passed away so that's been tough especially as we just passed the two year anniversary of that so Tuesday was a hard day. But I met more new friends and people I care about and twoish weeks ago we hung out for the first time and that was some fun that I found was sorely needed as I haven't done something like that in a long time.
There have been ups and downs as that's life.
Lately though I've been streaming on Twitch! I've recently become a Twitch Affiliate and early in the year streamed some Lego Building.
40581 BIONICLE Tahu and Taku
40516 Everyone is Awesome
... And a couple more but one of them is unofficial... but for Bionicle fans of 2004 should be very familiar.
There is a whole tweet that announces it and hints at it right here.
I also plan to giveaway a few small sets I have during the stream. (It's nothing too huge but it's still free Lego.)
I also stream video games with a lot of friends. So if you like that kind of thing feel free to check it out.
And I'll try not to be a stranger.
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I've been wanting to get a copy of the original WALL-E set for a while now. This morning a local independent Lego store got one in and I couldn't resist!
The box is in absolutely mint condition, like it just came off the shelf - and it's staying that way! Won't be building him anytime soon, if ever. He was a bit pricey, but I traded in a few sealed sets that I had duplicates of to make the purchase more palatable.
Now I need to get the new Brickheadz version!
Dropping in again for no reason, seeing who's about. Still a few folk I remember doing similar now and again, kind of nice.
Been doing some self-reflecting recently, bit of therapy and that, you know how it is. Probably should've been doing that as a teenager but eh, better late than never. Actually brought up this place during a few sessions, was very much a place I turned to to be 'validated' when I wasn't getting that elsewhere in my life. Growing up I had nobody around who shared my interests and a lot of folk who just thought I was dumb - so BZP gave me a place to have shared interests, and be seen as 'smart' for knowing a lot of Bionicle lore. And then the 'popularity' and 'fame' I'd get leaking set pictures or kicking off for gay rights or whatever was giving me the attention I wasn't getting elsewhere. And there'd be a bit of a 'fight' mentality in all of that because of dissatisfaction elsewhere in life. A lot of the motivations and brain loops involved back then have persisted over the years - getting quieter, but when I step back and look I can still see that stuff is cycling around in my head a lot. People's opinion of me informs a lot, I do a lot to be valued by people and react badly when I even get the WHIFF that people think I might be dumb or not understand something - it's like I have to 'prove' myself in those situations. It's all able to be traced back, and seeing this stuff laid out like that and mapping it all back just makes it all a lot easier. I can see how my brain naturally functions, and why.
Wiped this blog because I mentioned it to a few people IRL and they tracked it down, them seeing how I used to be was not a comfortable thing so I panic deleted as they started reading. Bad times. It's tricky with new people, you get the fresh start with them, but having a previous version of yourself 'preserved' online for them to also see is....yeah it's weird innit.
Anyway, things are good overall. It's cool analyzing myself a bit more - always growth to be had, just trying to actively dig for it a little bit more at the minute. Pretty fun and cool.
Also, you know what I'm desperate for? A run-down of like, what happened with every BIG NAME person from BZP back in the day. I wanna know where everyone is and when they dropped off the site and why etc. I live for the GOSSIP.
Well, after a brief Invision Board-based hiatus, we're back!
Did you like that video review of Tahu and Takua? I haven't done one in a while and it was fun to dive back in, especially since, over the past year, I've moved to doing video post-production full time. I was freelancing for around a year at a couple of documentary houses until last month when I started as a staff Assistant Editor a trailer house. If you saw the trailer for Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny, that was us. I had nothing to do with that Indy trailer, but I did see a TV Spot I helped out with on TV on New Year's Eve, so that was pretty dope. There are a lot of projects in the pipe that I can't talk about (I'm NDA'd within an inch of my life) but it's super cool to, y'know, be doing this professionally.
Part of the fun of the gig is getting to see how those trailers are made and see all the ways the Editors make them work. And then learn from them and use them when cutting something else.
Like a video review for a Bionicle site.
I put more effort into this than the other reviews I did, part because it's Bionicle and part because, well, I wanted to take stuff I've learnt out on a semi-dry run. There was an AfterEffects project too to enhance the glow in the opening too, plus some foley and externally-recorded sound. Then some funky sound design too 'cuz this stuff is fun.
Because hey, I am a proper professional.
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After a season of change, I've emerged with a new set of musings gleaned from a new hobby - board games.
A new set of friends who became family (because the season of change definitely included but was not limited to marriage), have introduced me to a slew of various card/board games. Unfortunately I married into a very strategically savvy family, but fortunately they still know how to make the experience fun.
To clarify, "favorite" here equates to the combined most enjoyability and re-playability. The optimal board game for me is something just the two of us can bust out after dinner when we don't want to do dishes right away, enjoy, and move along with our evening.
In ranked order my favorites are:
- Boss Monster
- Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
- Red Dragon Inn
Games that didn't quite make the list:
- Ticket to Ride
- 7 Wonders
A bit about the "not quite" list - something they all have in common was that when I learned them the first time, they were poorly explained. The new games I ended up liking the most either were explained systematically with clear win-conditions from the start, or they were completely new to everyone so we figured it out together. I'm sure there will come a day when most, if not all of these games make it into the actual ranking list.
Honorable mentions that don't count because they are not new to me, but would still recommend:
- Settlers of Catan (shameless plug for my Bioniclized Catan)
- Catch Phrase
- "What did you knock over this time?!?", a game with the Little Peeps (below), which I must admit is not my favorite but for some reason we keep playing it. Every day. Multiple times. But look at that face.
Moving on to the reasoning behind my top choices from the actual games list. I promise this is not just a post about the cat. I hope you don't expect too much explanation or a tutorial on how to play, as this is not a game review blog. I will simply state what I found enjoyable, challenging, and frustrating - like a very subjective pros and cons list.
Common deciding factors are:
Commitment - Some games are highly enjoyable, but are also highly complex and require a larger number of players. Large time and/or social commitment detract from re-playability.
Complexity - Closely tied to commitment, but not the same. Basically, how difficult it was for me to learn. An example of a game that I would consider higher in complexity but lower commitment would be Red Dragon Inn, listed below.
Versatility in # of Players- A game that is easily playable and enjoyable both in a group or just the two of us is ideal. Yes, I'm aware there are many "two player variants" for some of the games lower on my list, but learning a new variant would up the complexity and mental commitment and thus lower the overall enjoyability for me.
Cut-Throatedness - This is where the "sore loser" aspect of this post comes in, and this is probably the most subjective measure on this list. I have learned that I am much more of a sore loser than I originally had thought. Now, this factor is somewhat related to number of players. It is also the reason why Hive and Onitama are at the bottom of my list. They are both exclusively two player games, and you must take something away from the other person to beat them, if that makes sense. I can lose in Splendor all day and feel fine, because it's more of a resource race with optional/minimal "mess with the other person in their face" mechanics. But losing so directly in Hive, losing each turn and knowing it, gets old really quickly.
1. Splendor (image source)
I'm just going to throw an x/10 rating for some of the pertinent factors, and then my 2 cents. And just keep in mind that a 10/10 in a given category may not be a good thing in my book.
Commitment: 3/10 - low time commitment is a plus for me, can definitely play this while a pot of rice simmers or something.
Complexity: 5/10 - not entirely sure how to have an accurate/consistent complexity scale. It was easy enough to learn and play, but the pattern of thinking needed to make progress is so different from my usual that it never feels boring.
Versatility: 8/10 - This is the game we play most often, just the two of us, and one we recommend most to play with friends and/or bring to family gatherings (probably tied with Codenames). The only thing I would improve is to have condensed travel-version, because playing at cafes and informal restaurants (like a pizzeria) is a favorite thing for us to do.
Cut-Throat: 4/10 - There are definitely ways for you to mess with other people in this game, or try to, but there are enough other ways for them to keep progressing or mess with you in return that it doesn't get discouraging (again, very subjective factor).
Pros: Fun, relatively simple to learn, pretty art, very tactile tokens (those things are solid), and a potentially cool Marvel version that I have yet to play.
Cons: I still haven't won a two-player game, the pieces are small enough that the kitten can easily mess up the entire board (most games have this con, now that I think about it).
2. Firefly: The Game (image source)
This game is so so great, we absolutely love it, and actually re-arranged an entire room in our house so we can more easily play this game kitten-free. That is, she gets to roam the whole house while we spread the game and various decks across multiple tables in a small room 😂. It definitely helps to have seen the TV show, which was actually recommended to me for the first time by old BZP friends back when I was in high school :) the only reason this game is #2 and not #1 is because of the effort it takes (combination of time commitment, complexity, and the low points of versatility).
Commitment: 9/10 - We have routinely set aside 3-4 hours for this game, as per instructions, but each time it has taken 4.5+ hours. The exception was playing through a fan-made scenario recently crafted specifically for a two player cooperative game.
Complexity: 7/10 - Not gonna lie, it was a lot to learn at first. So many moving parts to the game and mechanics. That said, once you learn it, it was easy to keep going and pick back up. Still complicated, but not difficult.
Versatility: 7/10 - This is great in versatility because 1 player scenarios are possible and fun, 2 player scenarios are possible and fun, etc. etc., but additionally, there are great fan-made scenarios that are playable and fun. The negatives on versatility are that once you set it up, you're stuck there for a while. There's no sane reason why you would want to take this to a coffee shop for an afternoon unless you want to lose half the tokens and pieces and cards.
Cut-Throat: 2/10 - The way the scenarios are set up, and the variety of ways you can achieve the series of goals to meet the win conditions make the game competitive in the "racing" sense, rather than the cut-throat way. Actually to the point that even I wish there were more direct ways to mess with other players. However, this is not a negative factor for me, because if there were other ways to mess with other players, I would probably be getting the short end of the straw. Both Splendor and Firefly are solid favorites because they are highly replayable with a variety of numbers of players.
Pros: Goes so well with the show! Adds a whole new layer of fun. You get to follow a story line, which is always fun. It's fast-paced enough to keep you engaged and not complex enough that you have to pay attention to every single move every single person makes, so you can relax, grab a snack or chat throughout. Also has cool expansions, or so I'm told.
Cons: Complex set up for comparatively simple gameplay, need lots of time and considerable amount of space. Also kind of expensive, but totally worth it.
3. Codenames (image source)
Don't let the low numbers in the ratings fool you, this game is one of the most enjoyable ones we have on our shelf.
Commitment: 3/10 - This one is nice because you can easily play multiple rounds without getting tired of it, or at least we can when the family gets together. And if someone gets tired or needs a break, they can step out for a round with little to no impact (depending on number of players).
Complexity: 3/10 - Very easy to pick up the gist by just watching a few rounds, although some explaining would probably be necessary before fully playing as both a team member and taking a turn as the codemaster.
Versatility: 3/10 - This is the one major drawback, we've found it best with 6+ players, 4 at the very least, as it's a team game. We haven't tried the 2-player variant yet, but it's enjoyable enough that we have plans to in the near future. It also would not be ideal for a travel game because of the 5x5 grid of small cards that are easily lost.
Cut-Throat: 5/10 - So this 5/10 is more for general competition aspect and perceived pressure during gameplay, not necessarily because of any cut-throat mechanics. Guessing and being the hint-giver/codemaster both feel relatively high pressure to me, but that's part of what makes it so enjoyable.
Pros: great combination of social deduction, word association, strategy and teamwork.
Cons: higher player number needed, so we don't play it as often as we like.
4. Coup (image source)
Coup is probably the game we've had the most laughs with, just the dynamic of how well different people bluff or don't.
Commitment: 2/10 - Pretty simple set up, don't need much table space if any, and a round can probably be as short as 5 minutes, although that somewhat depends on number of players. We probably average 10-15 minutes per round in a game with 5 players.
Complexity: 4/10 - A bit difficult to learn and keep certain rules straight, but also straightforward with refreshingly black-and-white rules compared to all the lying and bluffing the game is based around (my husband describes it as a streamlined version of poker).
Versatility: 6/10 - I would travel with this game! One of the main downsides is that it requires at least 3 players to really make it worth it, although, again, we are researching more into the 2-player variant.
Cut-Throat: 8/10 - This is the exception on the list, the game is by nature cut-throat, with the goal to be the last man standing. I think part of what helps is that the rounds go so quickly, and you tend to go out quickly when you do, so it's not a slow, inevitable defeat you have to watch unfold before you. And everyone else killing each other off after you're out is many times more entertaining and educational anyways.
Pros: Very strategic and simple once you learn it, and has a significant social aspect, which is always a fun variable to throw in.
Cons: If you're very against lying, morally, this is not a game for you.
5. Boss Monster (image source)
Commitment: 3/10 - This is another game that's easy to play in under half an hour. The setup is comparatively simple, and it's easy enough to play a second or third round if you want to.
Complexity: 4/10 - Pretty straightforward, but the variety of monster/trap rooms and combinations lend variability that keeps everything interesting.
Versatility: 7/10 - Great to play two player, because there is some element of randomness/luck involved that tables can turn quickly (something I like and annoys my husband). Also good with groups, and theoretically could be played while out and about, but probably not outside.
Cut-Throat: 4/10 - This one really depends on number of players. Even if it's just the two of you, it's possible to win without messing with the other player, which can get tiring if you're always the target. However, it's obviously not as fun if you don't play the "gotcha" cards on the other player, thus it's better as a more-than-two player game, but can be played pretty sustainably as such.
Pros: Great pixel art! I have the biggest nostalgic soft spot for pixel art. Also what I think is a creative, unique dungeon/deck-building theme that I think is just charming.
Cons: Not initially as much variety in the decks as I'd thought, we were interested in expansion packs pretty early on.
6. Azul (image source)
Commitment: 4/10 - Although we haven't played it in a while, it's pretty simple to set up, put away, etc. It can be played in under an hour, although sometimes it's extended past that. The players have the ability to trigger the last round pretty early on, so the play time can vary greatly.
Complexity: 3/10 - Pretty easy to learn and then teach. The only somewhat tricky part is learning the scoring. And a lot of the scoring turns into honors system, which is fine for adults, but if we teach the nieces I have a feeling we'll have to keep a closer eye on their score counters.
Versatility: 7/10 - Great for 2 players, great for more than that, with the only difference in set up being the number of tiles available each round. Also tactile enough to take different places without fear of it blowing away (that is, no cards), although it can take up a decent amount of space. And I'd highly caution against losing even a single tile.
Cut-Throat: 2/10 - Nice and chill, and honestly gameplay went better when we focused on our own scores. When we tried to get to the resources (tiles, in this case) that we thought everyone else wanted, instead of the ones we knew we needed, it was a much longer game with much slower progress overall. That is, a more cut-throat style of gameplay is possible, but nets an overall negative result based on our experience (of course, maybe we were doing it wrong? I'm sure it's possible to play that way and do it well. Shrug).
Pros: So pretty! Very tactile, and I would love to teach this game to our niece. And my mother. I think the fact that it doesn't look like a scary strategy game (which it's not, really), appeals to a wider player base. Also it's tactile-centric, which is always fun. Very solid tiles, and again, just beautiful, fun designs.
Cons: Honestly, the only con in this game for me is that I'm constantly stuck playing with highly strategic people who do the equivalent of counting cards, so they're just always ahead and in power the entire game. Some level of unpredictability/luck would be useful.
7. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (image source)
Commitment: 9/10 - We needed to schedule an extra 45 minutes for setup alone, essentially, although this included small talk and such. Imagine a somewhat streamlined version of D&D that's just dungeon crawling and fighting. So far it has a fun story (bonus is that you don't need a DM, the guide books/monster decks are basically the DM for you). But we needed upwards of 5 hours per scenario, every flat surface we owned, and needed to schedule the sessions with our other two players, which always becomes a logistics battle sooner or later.
Complexity: 10/10 - I'm not sure where to begin describing this complexity, so just trust me. Like, I'm sure there are much more complex games out there, in fact, I know there are. But out of the games mentioned here, this is far and away the most complicated.
Versatility: 1/10 - Not much flexibility in setup, like even if one of the various decks a player has set out gets nudged over an inch, everything feels off.
Cut-Throat: 2/10 - It's a cooperative campaign game, so that's cool. Very limited movesets for your characters, at least the level we're at. But the scenarios themselves felt pretty challenging. More than once we spent 3+ hours working our way through a room, only to fail and have to start over (usually we just called it an evening and rescheduled).
Pros: It is fun once you get going. It really is. It just takes a lot to get there. It also has an intriguing story and a cool world. It's expensive, but you get so much bang for your buck. I'm constantly amazed how much fit into the game box (and continues to fit back in).
Cons: It's just a huge effort any time we want to play. Sometimes I miss playing (it's been a few months), but the other two players in our party are busy now with holiday stuff, so it's unlikely we'll play again anytime soon.
8. Red Dragon Inn (image source)
Okay so as a bit of a disclaimer, I think I've only actually played this one once? I really enjoyed it when I did, so that should say something. But the disclaimer is to note that I have no idea how to really rate it.
Commitment: 5/10 - It felt like it took a long time, but we had a large amount of players.
Complexity: 4/10 - It was simple once I got the hang of what a turn looked like. It's a fun balancing act and "gotcha" tricks you play on other players, or tavern-goers. There's a gambling mini-game built in that I remember really hating/being confused by though.
Versatility: 5/10 - It seemed easy to play with many people (we had 7 at one point), but I imagine playing with two players would be much less fun.
Cut-Throat: 5/10 - Most of the game seemed based on playing your cards' effects on other players to their detriment, but with enough players, the effects felt spread out enough that it didn't feel cut-throat.
Pros: Great art, fun concept, you can choose a character to play as and get really into it if you want.
Cons: Unsure, but it was fun (except gambling, no idea why that gets to be a thing).
9. Hive (image source)
Commitment: 3/10 - Very easy to play even while you wait for your pizza to come out, fits on a pretty small area usually, but the hive has no boundaries and can grow in weird directions if you're not careful.
Complexity: 3/10 - I say it's like streamlined chess without a board. My husband who plays chess for fun (shudder) disagrees.
Versatility: 9/10 - This is very fun because you can really take it anywhere. We've played it outside on a mountain top, in the aforementioned pizza place, in our backyard, etc. Fun shape, fun concept, easy to teach others. Only detriment in versatility is that you don't have the option to expand past a two-player game.
Cut-Throat: 9/10 - I believe this fits the "zero sum game" category. If you progress, it's to the detriment of your opponent. Thus, the reason why I can only lose so many times in a row - you feel every inch that's taken from you. Also, it really depends on pacing. If you fall behind by one step, it's only a matter of time before you lose, and you know it within one or two turns. It is possible to draw, though.
Pros: Versatile, fun and well-designed tiles, I think it's a pretty unique concept (surround you opponent's queen bee using your other bug tiles with their specific movement abilities), easy enough to play with kids. I definitely did this and lost to a six year old not on purpose.
Cons: You can lose to a six year old.
10. Onitama (image source)
Commitment: 4/10 - This one varies in time commitment, although the surface area required is probably one of the smallest on the list, along with Hive and Coup. Games can be quick, under 10 minutes, or run over 45 minutes. It really depends on the cards you have to work with and how stubborn/careless both of you are.
Complexity: 4/10 - Simple enough concept, and interesting. It's kind of like checkers but you have a rotating set of move patterns (Tiger, Cobra etc. that you see in the picture), and the strategy involved in how the cards rotate between you and your opponent really stretched my brain. I liked it.
Versatility: 7/10 - Pretty good travel game, it comes with a roll-up mat that's like a mouse pad, and pretty solid figurines. Cards have potential to blow away though. Also can only play 2 players.
Cut-Throat: 9/10 - Again, since it's like chess/checkers, you win based on the other person losing. Sometimes it's possible to have a stalemate, but that's rare from what we've found. This is another one I can only lose so many times in a row.
Pros: Really pretty cards! I like the mythos worked in, like you see the tiger lunging forward, the cobra I think is supposed to be dancing back and forth trying to hypnotize. I find it more tolerable than chess or checkers because of the rotating moveset mechanic.
Cons: Really can drag on if you let it. Also if your game has 5 bad cards, you're kind of stuck with them for the game.
Phew. I didn't think this post would take the entire afternoon when I sat down with the idea, but here I am, one afternoon later 😅. If you stuck with me this long, thanks, and I hope it was worth your while one way or another - maybe an idea for a holiday gift or something.
I am always open to new suggestions, and of course any hints for improving this or that!
Just want to share this pic of my son playing with some Bionicle sets for the first time. It melted my heart, if anyone else will get it it's got to be you guys!
My plans to indoctrinate the babies are finally coming to fruition. 🤨
The best thing I can say right now is that the breaks between my blog entries are much, much longer than the breaks between my artistic endeavours (please imagine those two words in a more sarcastic tone). Wish I knew what was the problem, but sitting down to draw is no longer as easy nor natural as it used to be. Mostly, I am afraid, I think. Afraid of what I create not lining up with what I had in mind (a given, if I rarely try my hands at it.) Afraid of only being able to produce slightly off, slightly nightmarish vent art when really all I want to do is draw pretty things to distract myself from what's causing the vent arts in the first place.
Especially the latter point.
So what am I doing to combat that, and the accompanying feelings of hopelessness?
Two things, mostly. One is working on my mental health and resilience. Times are bad still, but I don't want to let that crush me. The other thing is moving to other creative things to do in the meantime - I've taken up crocheting, darning and other mending techniques, and painting. To keep my hands occupied, and have something to show by the end of the day, something tangible, a proof of my tiny existence in that miniscule time frame that I'm around for.
Because things will get better again.
They always do.
I come here every few years just to see what happened. It is like returning to a hometown that never existed, and all the people were fictional characters you made up as imaginary friends, and only a few straggling ghosts roam the grounds as though nothing changed.
I post this just to see if the ghosts can hear. The sensation of wandering in here ever since 2013, when I left the staff, has been haunting.
almost 16 years since I joined this site as a kid. it was a major part of my life for so long. to say that my time and the people I met here was instrumental to my development would be an understatement.
so many friendships came and went, even a relationship started and ended here, and the drama - so much drama. all the arguments, bullying right-wing bigots, carving out an identity and (infamous) reputation through so many different phases and identity crises. Laughin'Man, Scythey, Ryuujin, Serein, Heck - I changed so much from the time I started here till I faded away that it feels like I was five different people, and there's a little bit of every one that's made me who I am today.
shout out to the 3 people who might see this and think, "hey, I remember him". and to the handful of people who joined after I left who are reading this and thinking "who's this weird old guy?" just remember when you're pushing 30 the people, places, and things that got you there.
hey everybody! I decided to visit bzp last night and was really happy to see a lot of familiar usernames. I joined here back when I was only 15 years old... I'm nearly 30 now, and looking at my post history on this account it looks like I haven't regularly posted here since bionicle gen 2 was coming out. I think the best part of checking around sites I used to frequent is seeing the familiar users getting into careers they enjoy, getting really into a new hobby, or otherwise just doing new things in life.
So here's my question for everybody, whether you've been here a long time or not. What have you been up to since Bionicle ended?
As for me, I became a game developer. Not my full time gig yet, I'm working as a cook full time now too. Back during my teenage bzpower days, I always thought I would be a visual artist or novelist, but nowadays I'm way more into game dev and producing music. I can't link my project since it's fairly M-rated, but I have one game on Steam! My goal right now is to make a lot of little arcade projects in my signature garish grossout style.
Anyway, this is me procrastinating. I should be programming right now, lol. Let me know what you've been up to! See you all around! ❤️