Fragmented Memories

I remember one evening, back in October 2011, when I went shopping with a friend of mine at the big Sainsbury’s in Bath. I bought two things: a particularly large jacket potato and an angel delight. It was quite cold for early winter and we had quite a walk back to the bus stop, where we got the bus back to my friend’s home. My friend had significantly more shopping than me.

We eventually got back and popped the two jacket potatoes into the microwave. We did them for 15 minutes, I believe, which I thought was quite a long time. Afterwards, we sprinkled some grated cheese on top and started to try and eat them. Alas, they  were still very hard and not really edible. I forced myself to finish mine, but my friend threw hers out. The Inbetweeners was on the television and it was the first time I’d ever seen it.

I know that that’s quite a boring story, but I wanted to use it to illustrate a point about memory. I remember that evening because I felt happy. I remember hundreds of other evenings like that with lots of other people. I can always remember the year and month that something happened, based on the context.

Often people say that I have a good memory, but I think it only applies to memories which are connected to emotions. Memories like these are things that can make me feel happy if I look back on them – so I do do that, for that very reason. I may not remember lots of the little things, but I remember the main events and the interactions with others that were involved. These framented memories drift through my head every day and are some of the most valuable things I have as they enhance things throughout each day. For example, I’ll always gain just a little extra enjoyment of The Inbetweeners because of its connection to this memory.

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Bomberman

Though he has definitely fallen somewhat into obscurity, as I was growing up, I always thought of Bomberman as one of the icons of gaming. He was loveable and the gameplay of his games was simple and enjoyable. This was the game that started off his video game career.

Even in this very first game, you’ve got the classic Bomberman formula pretty much exactly as it would remain. You walk around in mazes full of enemies and drop bombs which explode in four directions. You have to plant them carefully so that you won’t get caught in the path of the explosion, but your enemies will. Along the way, there’ll be several destructible blocks and blowing them up can sometimes reveal power ups – these include additional bombs, increases to the size of the explosions, increased mobility and more. Once you beat all of the enemies, you have to find the exit (under a block) and leave.

It’s pretty fun. Catching the particularly speedy enemies can be very rewarding and you’ll find that you have to use different strategies for different types of enemy. It’s one of those games that actually gets easier as you progress, because the more power ups you have, the easier the game is, no matter how many powerful enemies you’re facing. Every time you die, you lose all your power ups, so you’ll find yourself being extra careful as you go on, because death carries great significance!

However, while the general concept behind this game is very good, it does have its shortcomings. Every level, for example, looks exactly the same and every level uses the exact same piece of music. Yes, it’s a nice little piece of music, but it starts to get repetitive after fifty levels! Another thing worth mentioning is that the Bomberman series is well known for it’s multiplayer, but this first game is an entirely single player experience.

Overall, it’s a nice game and quite fun. I was also very fond of its bizarre ending. But I do have to say, that it’s very simple and doesn’t offer very much in the way of variety.

Rating: 6.3/10

Buy it here for Game Boy Advance.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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MRI Scan

I had an MRI scan for the first time today. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I did know that it would take a while, so I was a bit worried that I might start to get bored. Now that it’s over, I’m pretty happy because it was a very pleasant experience overall.

So, first of all, I had to wear a hospital gown. I was a bit unsure of this, since I imagined them being very airy and too revealing. As it turns out, the hospital gown was very comfortable – more comfortable, in fact, than my own pyjamas. It makes me wish I had my own hospital gown for personal use. Nice and snug and not too revealing either.

So, anyway, onto the scan itself. I was actually strapped onto the bed which was put into the machine, which was unexpected, but surprisingly comfortable. I was then slowly moved into a mechanical tube. It was so nice and cosy. To be quite honest, it was more comfortable than my own bed and I could have slept there very happily.

I suppose, the one thing I didn’t like, was the fact that the bed suddenly moved without warning a few times, but other than that, it was totally fine. It was warm (just the right temerpature) and though there were loud noises (like sirens and alarms), they gave me headphones which blocked out the noise.

So, for me, it was a pleasant experience. If you’re ever going to have an MRI scan and feel anxious about it, remember this blog post and relieve your anxiety. You’re in for a treat. I wish houses were built with their own sleeping tubes.

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Drinks Selection

I don’t really like to drink alcohol. I mean, I don’t avoid doing so entirely, I just prefer soft drinks by quite a bit. As a result of this, I’m often quite disappointed to see that there’s always a much larger selection of alcoholic drinks than of soft drinks. It just seems to be a fact that there are more alcoholic drinks on the whole.

But why is that? Are alcoholic drinks just so much more popular that businesses don’t see any profit in the production of more soft drink options? I assume that this is the reason, which must, in turn, be a reflection of the popularity of alcohol in our culture.

I feel like having a drink when you’re thirsty can feel so much nicer than eating food when you’re hungry. I guess it’s just much more important for a person to be hydrated. I often feel that there’s not much selection when it comes to drinks in restaurants, which is a shame. Choosing something to drink that is non-alcoholic feels just as limiting as choosing something which is vegetarian friendly and I don’t think that that should be the case.

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The Waltons: Trouble on the Mountain by Robert Weverka

For generations, people have asked the question “What if two episodes of The Waltons, namely “The Typewriter” and “The Separation”, had happened at the same time?” and in The Waltons: Trouble on the Mountain, Robert Weverka answers that question. Okay, to be honest, nobody ever really asked that question before (probably not even Waltons fans) but I still thought that this was an enjoyable read.

So, for those who don’t know the synopsis of every single episode of The Waltons (like I do) the plot is as follows: John-Boy secretly borrows a typewriter from the Baldwin sisters so that he can make a typed submission to a publication he wants to have a story published in.  The reason he has to do it secretly, is that his mother and grandmother both dislike the Baldwins for unknowingly brewing a recipe which is actually bootleg whiskey. Meanwhile, the family are experiencing money troubles and there’s a very real risk of their electricity getting cut off. As a result of all this, certain tensions build between Esther and Zebulon.

I think a part of the reason that these two episodes were merged into one story, was that it meant that this book focused on all of the Walton family (rather than just two or three of them.) The way the two plots are woven together is quite clever and, at times, fills in small gaps in the plot which were left unfilled on the TV. It also provides us with an opportunity to see into the heads of the characters and know their thoughts, something which I really appreciated.

Overall, it’s a nice story which gives all of the adult Waltons a chance to do what they do best. If you’re a Waltons fan and would like to see a new take on these two stories, I suggest giving this book a try! If you kind of like The Waltons, but wouldn’t quite call yourself a fan, this is a chance to read a potentially new (for you) story about the family and if you’ve never heard of The Waltons, it’s quite a short book so you wouldn’t have much to lose by giving it a try. I certainly enjoyed it (though I do take issue with it being described as a “brand new adventure” in the blurb!)

Rating: 7/10

Buy it here.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is what it’s called when your mind wakes up, but your body remains asleep. You’re conscious, but you can’t move. It’s something which has always fascinated me, so I felt very fortunate when I experienced it for the first time recently.

Apparently, it’s an experience which can be quite distressing for a lot of people, but I was quite excited the entire time – perhaps because I was completely aware of what was happening. I guess it’s yet another case where knowledge is power.

I’m sure I opened my eyes and I was looking down at my body stretched out down the bed. I tried to move, but soon realised that I couldn’t. I tried sitting up, but it was as if I had a great weight pushing me down. I tried to resist it a few times, but I really couldn’t move at all.

What was most interesting for me, was how it felt when I tried to move my arms and legs. It felt just like I was moving them, but I could see that I was not. I suppose the easiest way to describe that would be to say that it felt like my soul was moving while my body remained still. Curiously, the further I moved these phantom limbs from their actual locations, the colder they felt – and I was feeling properly ice cold sensations when I really tried moving my hands.

Were I not familiar with sleep paralysis and the strange tricks that the human brain can play, this could have been quite a spiritual and life-changing experience for me. I can easily see how somebody might go through that and then be completely convinced about the existence of a soul and some spiritual level of existence.

Having said that, I’d hate to imply that the experience was cheapened for me at all by it not being at all spiritual. It was interesting and exciting! It opened my eyes to new things that a person can experience. I hope that I’ll have it happen again one day.

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Job Interviews

I’ve had a handful of job interviews recently – one of which was successful. What surprised me, was that while I thought that a few of them had gone well, many didn’t even respond to tell me I’d done badly. I thought that, at very least, a stock rejection email would have been appropriate. I was disappointed that so many of them had just left it up in the air and not given me a response, even after they’d told me that they would.

But today I was given what I would call the golden standard of interview responses. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get the job (which is a shame) but I was very pleased with how they let me know. I was left a voicemail, where they told me that I’d been unsuccessful, but that I’d come across very well in the interview and they said that they didn’t think that I should be disheartened. They said that I could call or email if I wanted some more detailed feedback on the interview and sent me an email just in case I didn’t get the voicemail.

I feel like once an employee has been interviewed, the employer should really do them the courtesy of giving a proper response. This was the best response I’ve ever had to an unsuccessful interview and it left me with a very positive impression of the business. It’s good to know there are businesses like that out there.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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The Mysterious Murasame Castle games:

1986: The Mysterious Murasame Castle
2012: Nintendo Land ¹
2014: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS ²

Connected Series:

Footnotes:

  1. A new game called Takamaru’s Ninja Castle is included.
  2. Takamaru appears as a non-playable character.
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My Pokémon Ranch

My Pokémon Ranch is one of only a few games that were exclusive, WiiWare games. This means that it was downloadable via the Wii Shop Channel and nowhere else. Sadly, the Wii Shop Channel is due to be discontinued soon and so I thought I had better review this game while it is still available! If you’re reading in the future, this is sadly probably going to be a game that has been lost to the ages.

Now, I know there are a lot of people who would claim that that is no real loss, however I would heartily disagree. The most common criticism directed at this game, is that it’s not really a “game” and that it, therefore, is not worth your money. I do actually kind of agree – as a standalone game, it doesn’t really work. The way I see it is that My Pokémon Ranch is an expansion to Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version and in that regard, it has a very high level of value.

The titular ranch is run by a woman named Hayley and she’ll ask you for specific Pokémon that she’d like to see added to the ranch. You transfer these Pokémon from either of the DS games mentioned above and they come through in very cute, miniature forms. You can then use toys to play with the Pokémon or add your Miis so that they can interact with them too. Watching the ranch fill up and seeing all the Pokémon playing together is very rewarding and it gives you a good incentive to keep playing Diamond and Pearl. It also provides you with a method for obtaining certain legendary Pokémon, such as Mew, which is pretty cool.

In essence, yes, it is a glorified expansion of the storage boxes in the main games, but I think it’s actually very cute and very nice, so I like it a lot. If you’re going to play either Diamond or Pearl then I recommend downloading this too. When Hayley requests specific Pokémon, she’ll tell you where you can find them and I find her guidance very useful for finding rarer Pokémon. Plus, various people can store their Pokémon in the ranch, which helps to further strengthen the social aspect of the series and lets you see your Pokémon interacting with those of your friends in a non-fight setting.

While it may be quite a simple game, it never cost very much money and I’ll always have fond memories of my many Pokémon marching past in their very cute ranch parade. I recommend it (but only to Diamond and Pearl players.)

Rating: 8/10

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Call Centre Christmas Connections

I recently started working in a call centre – it’s okay. It’s definitely not the best job I’ve had, but it’s also definitely not the worst. It’s good, simple, stress-free work and I can’t really complain about that. For today’s blog post, I’d actually like to talk about one particular positive aspect of my call centre experience.

What I do all day, is take customer orders from a catalogue. What has recently brought some small joy to my life, is the fact that they have been ordering Christmas related items. There’s a Christmas tree here, a set of fancy cutlery there and other times they order lots of presents for child-relatives.

Every time they order their Christmas products, I feel quite happy. I start imagining how they’ll be using them on Christmas day. I start thinking about how much people will love certain gifts and how the decorations will help to set the tone perfectly. It’s nice to think about people having a nice time and it’s nice to know that I will have had some small role in that – no matter how small and insignificant that role may have been.

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