Monday, 2 May 2022

Keep Calm and Battle On!

I was recently reminded of this blog when I made a new friend, let's call her M, at work, and showed it to her so she could get to know me better.

My last post was over a year ago. I felt I really should update it, give it some love and a fresh lick of paint.

Besides, it's been a while since I've written anything for my own enjoyment. Writing is now my job, but I want to rediscover the joys of doing it for its own sake as well.

So when inspiration struck in the form of a sudden wave of nostalgia brought about by experiencing an old childhood game in a totally new way, I decided I'd take advantage of this four-day extended weekend to pump out a new post.

Let's start from the very beginning, shall we?

The light of mana

A ball of yellow flame burst from the adventurer's hand, striking the mer-monster square in the chest.

The mer-monster, which had the tail of a fish but a hideous-looking body, staggered in pain, then retaliated, blasting the adventurer with a water spell.

The adventurer recovered and readied another ball of yellow in his hand.

"No no no, why you keep using 'Light of Mana'? This monster is weak to energy, so you should use energy spells, not light!"

A voice cuts in. A hand grabs the cursor and positions it over the "monster attributes" section of the screen, causing a popup to appear.

It displayed a dizzying array of numbers.

That was the moment I fell head-over-heels in love with computer games, especially those involving the Skinner box design philosophy of "big numbers getting bigger", with a bit of RNG thrown in for good measure.

Geeky pastime

The owner of the voice, and the hand, was my classmate.

Now, please remember that this was a long time ago. We were in Primary 3, and it was a post-exam period so we were all left to our own devices in the school's computer lab. But I'm pretty sure his name was Isaac, and back then he lived in Jalan Tiga.

He was a short, chubby boy with big, round, black-framed glasses. Exactly the sort of quiet, geeky kid who would be suffering wedgies every day at the hands of the jocks if we had been in a typical American school. Fortunately, this is the nerd capital of the world, Singapore.

We were sharing one of the school computers. He had offered to show me a computer game. I had not played computer games before that day, because I was quite deprived of life beyond academics.

"It's called BattleOn," he told me breathlessly, his eyes twinkling with excitement.

He logged into his account and showed me the basics. Click "Attack" to attack with your primary weapon, click "Spells" to choose a magical attack, click "Weapons", "Shields", "Armor", and "Pets" to change your loadout. Seemed simple enough.

I played on his account for a while, during which he taught me more about the game mechanics, such as why it's not a good strategy to spam 'Light of Mana', which was the spell he had used when demonstrating the game to me, against every monster.

Basically, most monsters conform to a certain element, which makes them weak to the opposing element. So for example, the mer-monster, whose exact name escapes me, I was fighting was a water-based creature, so its weakness was energy.

Similarly, fire creatures are weak to ice, darkness creatures are weak to light, and so on. You should tailor your attacks to exploit your opponent's weaknesses.

Eventually, Isaac popped the question.

"Do you want your own account?"

I answered yes. Less than ten minutes later, he had me all set up.

Jonathan798 was good to go.

The marijuana of computer games

I like to say that for '90s kids, BattleOn was the "gateway drug" for those of us who would eventually become hooked on computer games.

It was simple enough for our tiny, kiddy brains to handle, yet complex enough to introduce us to fundamental game mechanics and concepts such as the rock-paper-scissors approach that the combat systems of most games essentially boil down to.

And it had that potent combination of monster variety, quests and lore, and "just one more level before bed".

I've always had an addictive personality, so that "just one more level before bed" effect was very strong on me.

As I tend to do, I flung myself headlong into the game, grinding the levels day after day.

Every recess time, I would proudly report back to Isaac what level I had achieved the night before.

I think I got a bit tiresome, because one day he got a bit irritated and said: "This is not a competition."

Oops.

Rose-tinted nostalgia

I eventually graduated to bigger games like RuneScape, but I always kept Jonathan798. Every couple of years, I would revisit him and play with him again for a while.

The feeling of familiarity, of homecoming, of simpler times, never fails to bring a smile to my face.

When work stress got to me a couple of weeks ago, I took Jonathan798 out for a spin again.

I posted about it on social media. M's husband saw my post, and immediately recognised the game, declaring it a "legendary game". Damn right it is!

He said that when he was a kid, he had a Guardian account with the Blade of Awe!

WTF... Jonathan798 was about 15 years old, and level 80+, but he was not a Guardian, nor did he have the Blade of Awe.

I had wasted hours as a kid, jostling with the other free players around the world for the very limited 8,000 server places available to us.

I remember, with a tinge of disgust, repeatedly being greeted with the all-too-familiar message that the server was full, and if I really wanted to play, I should become a Guardian so I wouldn't have to queue like a poor person.

I felt like such a pleb. The situation was unacceptable. How would I remedy this?

A quick Google search later, I had my answer. A one-off payment of US$19.95 would make me a Guardian, while a one-off payment of US$24.95 would make me a Guardian with X-Boost, which is essentially a bunch of cool upgrades over the regular Guardian account type.

I thought about the fact that RuneScape is costing me just under a hundred bucks a year on a recurring membership. BattleOn's Guardianship is a permanent unlock for a single payment, and the price is very low by today's industry standards.

My mind was made up. "Go big or go home," I said to myself as I bought the higher tier. "Look who's back, to buy the thing he couldn't afford as a kid."

Breathing new life into an old hobby

First order of business: acquire the Blade of Awe. It's essentially a very powerful weapon only available to Guardians.

To get it, you have to collect five pieces of the weapon. These will spawn in rare treasure chests which randomly appear as you play.

Once you have all five weapon components, bring them to Valencia, a rare item hunter in the main city, who will assemble them for you into the complete sword.

I was expecting a long, RNG-based grind to find and collect all five pieces, but when I spoke to Valencia, she immediately said I had everything I needed and she promptly made and presented me with the Blade of Awe!

Apparently, free players are able to find the weapon pieces, just that they can't put them together, and at some point over the last 15 years, I had successfully collected all five of them.

Presenting... the Blade of Awe!

It's a very pog weapon. For me, regular attacks hit in the high two-digits or low three-digits, and it has random special attacks which can hit in the high three-digits. It also grows stronger with the player's level, and I've seen veteran players hitting thousands of damage with it!

Of course, the Blade of Awe is not the only thing Guardianship has to offer. There are lots of new classes of combat to train in, and I can also go further in depth into the older classes that were available in free-to-play on a restricted basis, now that I'm no longer subject to those limitations.

My X-Boost also netted me extra Z-Tokens, the game's premium MTX currency. So I bought a cottage.

Apparently the cottage comes with several plots of real estate for me to build stuff on for resource gathering. I'm still figuring out this part.

And of course, I now have unfettered access to every single item, quest, and location in the entire game.

Jonathan798, my trusty BattleOn account that Isaac helped me create when I was nine years old, is reborn.

A new adventure is just beginning!

Saturday, 3 April 2021

A new chapter

 On 5 April 2021, I will begin the next, and quite possibly the last, phase of my life.

I will be joining GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, as an associate in the communications department.

This job opportunity arose because I did well during my internship there in 2019, and the company offered me a full-time conversion after I had graduated.

It's a good place to work, the pay is fair, and there are nice employee benefits. Overall, I feel extremely fortunate to have landed such a plum posting. Many other people, especially those who have similarly severe medical problems as I do, aren't so lucky.

So barring any major catastrophes, such as company upheaval or if they decide to can me for some reason, I intend to stay in this position for as long as my body can hold up to the rigors of a 9-5 (technically 8:30-6) workday.

I'm under no illusions and I want to make it very clear: this is in all likelihood going to be my first and last job. I'm probably going to die in it.

With every year that passes, I get sicker and weaker. It's a classic "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" situation. Mentally and personality-wise, I've made so much progress over the past five years. It's just a shame that physically, I'm going in the opposite direction.

But while I'm still in decent working order, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to be the consummate professional. I'll get the work assigned to me done to a high standard and in a timely manner. People will come to know me as the reliable one, the go-to guy if you need something to get done. That's always been my strength and what I enjoy: getting shit done.

Here's what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to go all-out in climbing the corporate ladder. I'm not going to be one of those types who does everything possible to stand out and be noticed so that they have better promotion prospects. I'm not going to burn myself out trying to please everybody and be all things to all men. I have boundaries, and I will guard them. I'm done pandering to others. It's time to live for myself.

As they say, I'm here for a good time, not for a long time. Living on borrowed time as I have been for the past 21 years has a way of putting into perspective what's really important in life: personal relationships, satisfaction with your daily life, and doing fun stuff while you still have the ability to do so.

There's no point cutting out the time you spend with people who make you happy, turning your life into a grind, and sucking every last bit of joy out of your existence, just to get a better-sounding title and an extra couple of hundred dollars.

My plan is simple. Do my job, and do my very best at it. No less, but no more either.

That way, they can't fire me, because I'm doing my job well. But I also protect myself, and can live out the rest of my days happily.

Note: Every time I write something brutally candid like this, I feel the need to clarify in case someone panics and starts calling IMH on me. No, I don't intend to off myself. I'm just stating the facts: I feel terrible in terms of my health these days and very likely won't survive long enough for things like career-building to matter. Let me put it this way: when the inevitable medical catastrophe happens to me, I'm not going to be one of those people who fights for their life. I'll just give in and let whatever happens happen. In my case, living a long life is literally the worst thing that could happen to me, because it would condemn me to many more years of watching myself slowly die until I become nothing more than a slightly intelligent vegetable. Besides, my parents are getting old and me being around when they're really elderly or worse, dead, will be an utter disaster for all of us. No thanks, I'd rather quit while I'm ahead and go out with the remains of my dignity intact, and have my parents still hale and hearty enough to make sure my wishes are properly seen to and then they can go off and do fun stuff for the remainder of their lives. But while I'm still here, though, my number one priority is safeguarding my own happiness. That's all there is to it. And nobody is going to take that from me.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Jonathan's Year in Review 2020

I was shocked to discover recently that the decade is ending on 31 December 2020. I had been under the impression that it had ended last year, because you count from 2010 to 2019, then 2020 to 2029, and so on right? But apparently not. Between mirthful snorts of laughter at my ignorance, my father explained it to me like this: There was no year 0. The first year was 1. So the decades are counted as follows: 1 to 10, 11 to 20, ... 2011 to 2020, 2021 to 2030, and so on.

I had never felt more stupid in my life. My whole life has been a fucking lie!

Anyway, since this year is such a milestone being the end of a decade and all, I thought I should take a moment (actually several thousand moments, because this whopper of a post is going to take me quite a while to write) to look back on the year and the decade as a whole, and reflect on all that's happened.

Decade in review: 2011 to 2020

This section won't be as long as you might expect. I mean, a lot of things happen in a 10-year period, but I won't be cramming the entire decade's worth of stuff in here. And it's not for editorial reasons either. No, the reason is much more straightforward: I don't remember.

Indeed, I'm getting on in age, and feeling the effects of every single day of wear and tear on my body, mind, and spirit. So unfortunately, I do get senior moments increasingly often, including forgetfulness and the dreaded tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon where I want to say a particular word but it remains just beyond reach of my consciousness and I end up stuttering like an idiot for a few seconds until my brain kicks back into gear and catches up. A neurological disorder like spinal muscular atrophy affects only my physical health directly; that much is true. In fact, this decade has been marked by a noticeable decline in my condition and I give myself at best even odds of making it through the next decade alive and an almost 0% chance of making it to the end of the one after. But even though the mental and intellectual parts of me are not affected by the disease, when the body has to commit almost all of its resources to keeping itself running, the mind and spirit do suffer from deprivation and, as a result, they do deteriorate as well.

That's not to say I'm a dullard. I know I'm not. I'm damn good at what I do, and I have only gotten smarter over the course of the decade. A lot of this has to do with my tertiary education.

First, I took the unorthodox step of opting for a polytechnic diploma course rather than following the traditional junior college route after finishing secondary school. (For my overseas readers: Polytechnic is a bit like what the Americans call "community college". It focuses more on knowledge that is relevant to the real world. Junior college is a continuation of the traditional school system where students learn the standard subjects like calculus, chemistry, literature, and so on.)

Polytechnic was great. I studied psychology, and although many of the theories and research techniques I had to memorise have since faded into the fog of history, the important principles remain and have influenced the way I navigate social relations and the big, bad world out there. It matured me as a person, turning me from a book-smart teen who was utterly lost when asked to do anything that didn't involve examination papers into someone a little more shrewd, streetwise, and capable.

I also learned other useful skills like Microsoft Office, which is wonderful because I don't know how I would have learned it otherwise. Knowing how to use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel is a basic requirement for all office jobs, so I'm glad I had good instruction in them. It certainly saved me a lot of bungling around when I went for my internships.

Speaking of internships, I've done two. To me, the key takeaways from them were not subject-matter expertise and domain knowledge, but the more intangible aspects. I learned to trust myself more, as I consistently produced work of such quality that I ultimately got a full-time job offer from my second internship firm. I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt all my life, wondering if I will ever be "good enough", so this was a balm to my soul.

Of course, I cannot forget the relationships I formed along the way. I was so lucky to have been surrounded by colleagues who were welcoming and accommodating. They readily took me into the fold and treated me as one of their own. Even though I'm no longer working at my first internship firm, I'm still in contact with some of the colleagues I grew closer to through social media and instant messaging.

And outside of internships, how can I forget the friends that fate so kindly sent my way? Three deserve a special mention (initials are used for privacy and I have purposely written very vague details to remove potentially identifying information):

SOF, whom I randomly messaged one day because I was obsessed with a certain adorable mascot and he was a manager at the organisation the mascot represents. He turned out to be a really cool guy with quite a similar personality to me (along with matching fierce faces which don't smile easily), so we are now good friends.

LS, whose job it was to take care of me at one of the educational institutions I attended. Instead of treating me as just another case on her files, she bothered to fight through my tough exterior (didn't I mention I have a fierce face?) and get to know the awesome person trapped inside. She hasn't fled from me yet, so I guess she decided I'm not that bad.

(I only met the third friend this year, so I will talk about her in the next section.)

And that's the thing. People who do manage to break through my defences often find that I'm a pretty okay guy. It's like the old saying: "She's a bitch until you actually get to know her."

How did I become a bitch? Think of it this way. When you do a lot of manual work with your hands, you accumulate superficial damage on your skin which results in the formation of calluses, right? The same thing happens with emotions.

In my case, I have been fighting a battle that has lasted for 23 years and counting. Every day is a struggle as my banged-up body fights to sustain the increasing demands of a perfectly healthy and active mind which wants to do anything and everything. And as they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

The public only sees the "idealised" version of me through the media. They think I'm a superman who has overcome my disease and achieved amazing feats. But I haven't. As a child, I lost countless hours of sleep just lying in bed ruminating about my life, wondering "why me?", thinking of the possibilities in life that could have been, and despairing about everything I would lose out on. But those thoughts and feelings would have done me no good at all. They would have turned me into an emotional wreck that couldn't function. So I learned to shut them away in the deepest, darkest corner of my heart. And there they have mostly remained, save for the occasional incident where some of them escape and I become moody for a while until the miscreant is locked up again by the passage of time. Time does heal wounds, after all.

But bottling up my fears and sadness came at a price. I became extremely guarded against anything that might cause me distress, because I wanted to avoid triggering another wave of negativity and setting my demons free again. There was only one problem: if you think about it, "anything that might cause me distress" basically encompasses life itself. In life, shit happens. And so I expended so much energy fretting and worrying and being anxious about this, that, and the other, that I sapped my own soul and became a neurotic empty husk of a human being. This state of affairs persists until the present day. Psychologists would say I have a flattened affect: my eyes are dull and lifeless, and my face fails to convey the full range of human emotions.

So that's the story of how I became a bitch.

How, then, is it possible that there are people, whom I call my friends, who have discovered another version of me? Well, first they had to get past my flattened affect which, admittedly, is very off-putting. Communicating via messaging apps has been a godsend in this regard because they don't have to see my face. Once they had done that, they then had to convince me that it was safe to let them get close to me. The true me, the one who has spent 23 years cowering in the inner sanctum of my mind, trying to avoid getting eaten by the demons who have made it their mission to destroy him once and for all.

That's the version of me who is really nice. He's great fun, has a sense of humour, is kind, and cares a lot for the few people who get through to him. But he does all that to mask his own problems, as well as seek vicarious happiness in others and do his bit to save others from going through the same pain as him, as much as he can. He's very selective though, because he doesn't have all the time in the world to be nice to all and sundry. He does need to remain alert against those demons, you know.

Would I change the way I am? Honestly, no. I find that my bitchiness is a great filter that keeps out the riff-raff whose continued presence in my life would serve no purpose other than to weigh me down and piss me off. The people who truly matter will self-select by persevering through the facade of bitchiness. In this way, I don't have to spend time and energy looking for friends. The ones who are worth having will come to me. I make a clear distinction between acquaintances and friends and don't use the word "friend" willy-nilly. The people who get the label of "friend" have earned their stripes. I don't need or want a ton of friends. That would be extremely tiring. I'm far happier with a tiny handful of very close ones.

And that is how I try to keep my spirit healthy. At least some part of me is holding together, albeit barely.

Year in review: 2020

How can I talk about this year without mentioning the Covid-19 pandemic? I can't, so as tired as the topic has become, I won't attempt to skirt around it.

Honestly, as the world was bitching and moaning about how distressing lockdowns were to people's emotions, I was having the time of my fucking life. Yes, all things considered, I've had quite the opposite experience of 2020 than most people. It's been a good year, and I would consider it one of the most standout high points in my life.

These are three momentous occurrences that 2020 was responsible for.

I got a gastrostomy

It was in 2018 that I noticed I had started losing strength in my throat muscles which controlled the swallowing reflex. I wrote about it here. You will see that back then, I was vehemently against the idea of being tube-fed. How perspectives change in two years.

After struggling through my meals throughout the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019, I thought: "Screw it. I don't want to be spending three hours every single day for the rest of my life slaving over food. There are so many better ways to spend those three hours. Besides, I'm spending so much energy on the very act of eating that the net effect is I'm probably losing calories by burning them faster than I'm taking them in via the food, defeating the whole point of food intake!"

So I asked my doctors for a gastrostomy. It happened in 2020, and you can read about it here.

In the end, the aftermath of the procedure didn't quite go as smoothly as I described in that post. About two months after starting on the tube-feeding regimen, I developed a very wet cough that wouldn't go away. I also suddenly felt really drained of energy all the time. My ability to function in my daily life was affected, as I would have to lie in bed with my ventilator strapped to my face every time I suffered an attack of the wet cough. The lethargy was also slowing down my mind which, as you know, is the only thing on this damned body of mine that actually works properly and allows me to earn money.

I couldn't go on like that! So my doctors came and did a bunch of tests, ruling out infection. Then they more or less ran into a wall and got stumped. None of their gadgets could identify a biological reason for my symptoms. But there had to be one!

My mother remembered that when I was a child, I would get wet coughs whenever she gave me too much milk. And the formula feed I was on, Ensure Plus, was dairy-based. It was possible that I was reacting badly to it, since I was taking in 800ml of it every day.

The medical professionals were okay with my parents doing an experiment to test this hypothesis. So I began taking a reduced 600ml volume of Ensure Plus. My symptoms improved slightly but didn't totally go away. A further cutback to 400ml did the trick. After a few days on the half-diet, I felt like I was back to my old self again.

One day, the dietitian found out about a product called Isomil 3 and drew my father's attention to it. It's a dairy-free, soy-based formula for babies. I went on it for a few weeks and found that I was energetic and my lungs remained clear.

Throughout this time, my weight was fluctuating wildly. From an initial 16kg before the tube insertion, it shot up under the 800ml Ensure Plus regimen, stabilised under the 600ml one, started coming down under the 400ml one, then crashed further after the switch to Isomil. Because one of the goals that my father and the dietitian have is to keep my weight at around 20kg, they were not pleased when my weight tumbled to about 19kg. So we are still in the midst of trying to find a regimen that works optimally. But at least now we know that we need to be careful with the amount of dairy we include.

The benefits I mentioned in that post, though, endure. I don't have to fight against my failing body to eat dinner every night, so I have so much more time and energy to do other things.

Which brings me to my next momentous occurrence...

RuneScape

I know I've talked about this ad nauseam recently, especially since I've been playing it a lot during my newly freed-up evenings. But instead of waxing lyrical about the game, I'll talk about something else this time.

The wonderful thing about multiplayer role-playing games like RuneScape is the social aspect. I don't have the strength to go out and mingle with people in real life, and anyway, going anywhere is fraught with logistical complexities such as having to be transported to the destination safely and chaperoned around by an experienced caregiver, which in the vast majority of cases is my father.

So it's pretty hard for me to maintain social contact with other humans. Do I get lonely? Yeah for sure, all the time in fact, especially as I get older and see my contemporaries meet their life partners and settle down. That's something I'll never have, and although I like to look on the bright side and think about how much of my money is freed up by not having to worry about costs like a house, a car, and my children's education, allowing me to buy more nice things for myself and my loved ones in the here and now, I do sometimes wonder what would have been. I have the feeling I would've been an awesome dad, but I guess I'll never know.

We RuneScapers like to say that RuneScape is not a dating site. But what it offers me is an avenue to meet new people and make new friends. Remember the third friend I mentioned in the previous section? We met through RuneScape. Although we live very different lives on opposite sides of the planet, our values, opinions, and personalities align so closely it's actually uncanny. She's like a younger, hardier, more street-smart, and less cowardly version of me, or the baby sister I could never have.

It's also really cool finally having a friend who is around my age and not several decades older. I mean, I love my other friends like SOF and LS to bits, but I sometimes wonder at my inability to form close ties with anyone younger. Well, I don't have to wonder anymore. We get along so well, and because just like me, she is way more intelligent and keen to learn than the vast majority of our peers, we can have such deep and meaningful discussions about wide-ranging topics from culture to entertainment to current affairs. I get so exhausted making mindless small talk with airheaded people so chatting with her is extremely refreshing because she's not averse to diving into the heavy stuff. She's even willing to play Agony Aunt with me when I go all mushy and emotional, because she believes in confronting your emotions and not hiding them away. That's reflected in the music we like, which is the older type that contains meaning rather than that candy-pop Korean drivel that's so "in" these days. Have a listen to this song by a band she introduced me to which I developed a liking for.

I'm truly in awe at how fortunate I am that fate so kindly sent this very special person into my path this year. (Note: Although I have written about this friend in such glowing terms, let me make it abundantly clear that my relationship with her is strictly "BFF" in nature. This is not an Avril Lavigne song.)

I graduated and did quite well

The third momentous occurrence was when I received official confirmation that I had passed my final semester and was to be conferred my degree from the National University of Singapore, the best university in Asia and training ground of Singapore's sex offenders.

I finished with a score of 4.85 out of 5, and my degree is classed as an Honours with Highest Distinction. That was a bit of a Covid-induced fluke, to be honest. As I explained in my Facebook post announcing this happy news:

The Covid-19 pandemic gave me a better degree than I would otherwise have gotten.

My cumulative average point (CAP) was well on track to qualifying me for an Honours with Highest Distinction. But to get Honours with Highest Distinction in regular times, there was an additional hurdle: a thesis had to be written. If a student got a CAP of more than 4.5 but did not write a thesis, they would only get an Honours with Distinction, which is the class below Honours with Highest Distinction.

Such was my distaste for research, however, that I was willing to accept the lower class of Honours in return for not having to suffer through the process of writing a thesis. This was not an emotionally driven decision; I had consulted my superiors at my internship firm and they said it really did not matter career-wise whether I got the highest class of Honours or the one just below.

It turned out that in the end, this tough choice to sacrifice the glory of an Honours with Highest Distinction became moot. The pandemic and the accompanying social distancing measures caused students to face great difficulties when conducting their research. Recognising this, the Faculty waived the thesis requirement for obtaining the Honours with Highest Distinction class. Students only needed to meet the CAP requirement of at least 4.5.

So that is how I lucked into getting my Honours with Highest Distinction. But as a wise man once said: "Luck is when being prepared meets opportunity". My consistent performance through the seven semesters enabled me to maintain a very high CAP that allowed me to capitalise on the favourable circumstances when they presented themselves.

And for that, I make no apologies for saying that I am immensely pleased with myself.

So yeah, now I have a top-class degree from a very reputable university to wave around when I get into stupid fights with strangers on social media. Suck it!

I can't think of a better way to use this hallowed piece of parchment.

The ramble ends here

Okay, this post became way longer than I intended. Mad respect to you if you made it to this point. You must be really interested in the nitty-gritty of my humdrum existence. I appreciate that a lot. It's rare that anyone cares so much about my banal stories.

You might also have noticed that it is now 2021. My bad! Between laziness, procrastination, distractions, real-life goings-on, and writer's block, the process of writing this post dragged on over weeks instead of the few days I had originally anticipated.

Anyway, if you are one of the elite few who have read this whole post to the end, congratulations and thank you once again for the support! You can finally be free now to go do better things with your time.