I goofed.

So remember when I said, “Oh no! Work is becoming a bit too much to handle and I need to pace myself when it comes to blog writing?”

I also said I would be sticking to a new publishing-a-post-every-eight-days schedule.

I unintentionally lied.

Holy heck, did I underestimate my work load for the coming weeks, not to mention the numerous social engagements I had planned (i.e., not that many, but it just felt like a lot).

Guilt has been wracking my mind the entire time. As soon as I knew that I had missed the eight-day mark for my next post, I thought “Well, there you go. You’re a liar to the public now.”

But one of my best friends reassured me that it was no big deal if I missed out on writing a blog post for a few weeks. I’m under no obligation. Writing a blog is supposed to be fun.

The thing is, I’ve always been such a schedule-oriented person. I’ve taken a lot of pride in how disciplined I am regarding how I stick to my work and leisure agenda. So abandoning a self-prescribed schedule was akin to sacrilege.

But damn if it wasn’t nice to ease the load a bit.

In my downtime, I’ve been focusing on watching movies (saw Dune), reading books (I’m finishing Anna Karenina for the second time), and playing games (Back 4 Blood, The Artful Escape, Superliminal, Yakuza: Like a Dragon). I have posts planned for all of these.

I just need time.

So let me make another bold statement that will not be a lie (I promise).

I’m going to write in this blog when and where I want about whatever I want, and I’m not going to needlessly stress myself about it.

Pinky swear.

I’m Back and Thanks for Being Understanding!

Hello, my Above Average readers!

A few weeks ago, I took a break from posting here because of an upheaval in my life. I’m not going to elaborate on it, but what I do want to do is thank all of you for being so kind and understanding.

I’ve gotten a bunch of messages checking in on me, and I appreciate all of them. I am doing fine, and I’m glad to get back into the blogging groove once again.

Starting after this post, I’ll be back to my regular schedule. I have a bunch of things I want to write about from the past couple of weeks, and I look forward to just focusing on writing.

As always, I remain your Below Average blogger!

My Sister Has a Blog!

I’m very excited to share with you all that my sister has made a blog!

She and a friend of hers started a travel blog called “Oh, hey sis! Oasis!” and it covers cool spots to visit in the Southwestern states. I have a pitiful “Travel” section to my blog, but you can bet your buttons theirs will be absolutely above-average in comparison.

Both my sister and her friend have unique voices in writing, and the locales they visit are off-the-beaten-path types of spots.

In honor of their efforts (and as a kind of filler post because work is being just a tad overwhelming right now), I thought I would dedicate this post to directing anyone who reads my stuff to theirs. They really are cool writers and their website is a thing of beauty.

Go check it out and give them an Above Average hello!

It’s My Three-Year Anniversary!

WordPress has once again kindly reminded me that another year has gone by since I started this blog.

It’s kind of shocking to think so much time has gone by.

God, I’m getting old.

Have things changed much here since I started? Don’t know. I mean, I think I’m more comfortable saying “blog” now. That’s…improvement. Right?

All I know for sure is that since it’s my three-year anniversary, I’m going to treat myself today. I’m going to walk to Rite-Aid, get some Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, and listen to tunes while I go back home.

And then I’ll probably outline and schedule my next blog post.

You know how it is.

How To Make a Mediocre Meal

Look, let’s face it. We can’t all be Remy from Ratatouille. In fact, some of us might even be the opposite. We don’t have a little chef inside of us instructing us on how to craft delicious meals. We have a brain-dead ignoramus who can type up a pretty good blog post, but who knows absolute shit about making a decent-tasting meal.

Not to worry, my friends. I’ve got you covered. Before you utterly destroy a food item you’re attempting to cook, take a look at my FIVE EASY STEPS for prepping a meal. With these handy tips, making food for yourself will be a non-daunting task!

1. Embrace the Microwave

Technology has taken leaps and bounds since the first time a stove was invented. One of the most useful items constructed for a kitchen is the microwave. This handy device heats up food within minutes, even seconds, depending on the food.

So what if it doesn’t always heat up food evenly? Those random cold spots in your meal provide some temperature variety for your tongue to enjoy.

Ignore those hoity-toity nincompoops who scoff at you for using the microwave more than you should. Embrace the ease a microwave gives to you!

2. Accept More Cold Food into Your Diet

A lot of the difficulty in cooking comes from heating things up. Whether you’re baking something in the oven, frying something on the stove, or boiling something in a pot, the tougher aspects of cooking come from cranking the temperatures up.

Clearly, the best way to make your life easier is to eat things at room temperature or colder. Go the way of the refrigerated cheese sticks. When you grocery shop, pick items that you can simply pluck from the fridge and munch on immediately.

One day, I had a breakfast that consisted of an apple and a slice of bread, a lunch that consisted of baby carrots and a leaf of lettuce, and a dinner that consisted of cold pizza. I was in utter bliss, i.e. abject misery, the whole day.

3. Bread Should Be Your Food Foundation

There’s a reason why people say, “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” That’s because sliced bread is awesome!

There are so many ways you can eat bread, so many meals you can craft from two measly slices. You can make a PBJ sandwich. You can make toast with a variety of spreads, be it butter or jam. You can dip it into cold soup. Or you can roll it into a ball and just stuff it in your mouth.

Bread is one of the most versatile food items you can eat. It’s the unsung hero of my diet! Wait, hold on. I’m reading something about an overloading of carbs. Ah, well, it’s too long. Didn’t finish it. Anyway, bread should comprise the majority of your diet!

4. Use a Lot of Salt

Flavor is important when eating. Why? ‘Cause otherwise you’re just absorbing a bunch of tasteless nutrients into your mouth. And by far the easiest flavoring to achieve is that of the salty variety.

No matter what you’re attempting to create, it never hurts to throw a dash of salt on there. If you have a salt container of any kind, it should be the most prominent thing on your kitchen table. It should be within reach of anyone who wants to flavor up their meal.

Is there such a thing as too much salt? Maybe. Yes. No. I don’t know. Too much of anything can be bad for you. All I know is that I just put salt in my coffee and I’m experiencing whole new levels of fantastic grossness.

5. Mix Everything in a Bowl

I prefer bowls to plates because when I have a plate in front of me, I can see how sparse my prepared meals look. The gaps between my food items remind me of how empty my life really is and how I’m in this endless cycle of trying to fill up those spaces with meaningless and trivial things like baby carrots and puns and sweaters and once I realize how inept my attempts to cover these holes in my soul truly are I feel myself spiraling into this abyss of eternal torment and low self-esteem that I can’t claw my way out of so I just eat more baby carrots and wear multiple sweaters and spout off more puns until I feel like my mind will explode.

Which is why I use bowls now.

Putting your food into bowls gets rid of those nasty spaces, so you can go about your day in total peace.

The Weather Finally Got Good

Good morning, my fellow person-people!

This is going to be a short post. I’ve gotten a tad swamped with work, and it’s impacting my schedule. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or anything, and it’s not like my situation is dire. It’s just that in between proofreading, editing, and writing, I want to find some time to sit back and read a book, go for a walk, or play a video game.

And occasionally, planning out a blog post can cut into that time.

I pinky swear that this is not going to become a habit. I’ll stop half-assing these posts.

Or, well, when I do, I’ll have a very good reason for it.

Anyways, just wanted to pop in and let you Above Average readers know that the weather has finally gotten pleasant where I live. It used to be that there was a noticeable increase in temperature when I stepped outside. The last vestiges of summer were really overstaying their welcome.

But today, when I went to go take a walk around 5pm, it was actually a bit…chill.

It’s very slight, and I’m sure it’s still hovering around room temperature, but the summer has finally decided to hightail it out of here, making way for a probably very brief autumn. Where I live, autumn doesn’t really exist. At least not in an observable sense.

There are no trees that change colors pleasantly into reds and yellows. There is no extended period of time where it is only slightly chilly. I’m telling you, in a few days, it’ll just be cold, and the leaves will have died and fallen in brown clusters on the ground.

The only real way to tell it’s autumn is when the local Starbuckses (we have several) start selling that Pumpkin Spice.

So I have to enjoy this tiny grace period when the weather is just nice without being too cold, before it nosedives into winter.

Which means more sweaters.

And more coffee. That too.

I’ve Published 200 Posts!

WordPress has kindly notified me that as of my Meddling Kids book review (slash recommendation, since I didn’t really go in depth with the plot), I have published 200 posts on my Below Average Blog.

Holy moly.

Well, I’d like to thank the computer capability that makes all this possible, my enjoyment of the English language with all its incredibly sucky foibles, and my uncomfortable office chair.

But most of all, I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who has read a single thing I’ve written.

I feel like just yesterday I was writing an appreciation post, but here we go again.

Side note: See? This is what happens when WordPress sends me cute little reminders. I get overly emotional more than once.

I seriously enjoy the fact that people read what I write. It’s like the ultimate ecstasy and comfort at the same time.

So here’s to 200 more posts.

Knowing 2020 and the type of year it’s been so far though, I bet you anything this is the year the internet just stops working.

Knock on wood.

Gratitude and Moving Forward

This is going to be a short one.

I’ve written posts like this before, from time to time, so I get that you all might be tired of them.

But heckin’ heck, I just can’t stop myself from singing your praises.

Every single one of you who reads, likes, comments, or skims through my blog is incredibly awesome, and I just wanted to throw (another) thank you your way. You have made the blogging experience intensely enjoyable for me, and it wouldn’t be the same without you.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, I was hesitant to interact much with people on the blog. I was afraid it would be like a comments section for a particularly controversial YouTube video.

It’s been the exact opposite of that for me. Everyone has been really awesome, and I’ve had engaging discussions with people about the topics I love best.

In particular, I’d like to throw a thank you to these blogs:

From famine to feast: She has been one of the highlights of my reading time on WordPress, full of insightful essays and moments of self-reflection. I swear, she makes me think more about life, the universe, and everything than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And that’s saying something. She has also been one of the most supportive and kindest persons to interact with in any comments section ever.

The Orang-utan Librarian: If you have any sort of love for books, I highly recommend giving the Orang-utan a follow. With an incredibly engaging and conversational tone, every post is one that draws me in. I trust the Orang-utan’s opinions more than my own at times! Plus, there has never been a more interactive presence regarding books and opinions than with this book-keeping primate.

Art of Almost: Whenever Tom leaves a comment on one of my posts, I know I’m going to either a) learn something new, b) crack a smile, or c) begin an eager discussion about our favorite pop culture topics. His writing style is incredibly cultured, which belies the spirited and fun nature that hides behind it. I look forward to every online conversation I have with him.

In addition to these blogs, I’d also like to thank these people who don’t have their own blogs, but who support me nonetheless:

Bubba: My bestest buddy. He won’t ever tell me that he’s read my latest post. But whenever we’re playing video games or chatting online, he’ll just randomly drop tidbits into the conversation that I’ve discussed on my blog. If I had to pick anyone to show my new work to, be it a short story or that epic super-hero saga I’ve been working on, he’d be the first I’d go to.

Danny: The boyfriend. He has subscribed to my blog, so he gets email alerts every time one gets posted. He treats them so officiously too. For example, if he hasn’t seen a movie that I’m reviewing, he will wait to actually see the movie before reading my review. And he’s the one I seek to pre-read my posts before they’re published, just to check if they’re okay for the public eye.

My mom: Yup, that’s right. My mom. She is the absolute best mother in the world. She could have no idea what I’m writing about, but she will support it anyways. (Seriously, do you think she will ever play Doom Eternal? Not a chance in hell. But she will have read my review by now.) She hypes me up to all her friends, so much so that I get embarrassed. But that’s what moms do.

Moving forward, I’m already planning on what kind of posts to focus on in the future. The pandemic has clearly changed quite a few things for me. Travel posts will be few and far between, but, I mean, it’s not like they were plentiful to begin with. Movie posts might also change a bit. Less reviews of new releases, and more “deep” discussions of my favorite classics.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been neglecting my book posts. Work has swarmed up around me since the quarantine, and I’ve taken to rereading oldies-but-goodies as comfort food for my brain. However, I’ve got a delightful patch of new books that I should be finishing up soon, so expect more book posts!

Also, I have really enjoyed retelling old D&D stories of mine, so I’m thinking of ramping up how often I regale you with my party’s embarrassing tales.

The one-post-every-five-days schedule has really been working out for me, so that is going to go unchanged.

Anyways, that’s all for now. If you have any ideas for stuff I could write about, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments! See you later!

(By which I mean five days from now.)

My Shaka Brah

Bet you forgot this picture existed, huh, Bubba?

To talk about my friend Bubba is to embark on a million stories.

I’m surprised I haven’t written a post dedicated solely to him yet, but keen readers of my Below Average Blog will no doubt have seen mention of him in numerous posts. He’s traveled with me to many places, played countless games with me, and indulged my weirder habits.

He’s one of my bestest friends, and this post is for him.

Side note: Hey, Bubba! I know you’re reading this!

The first thing you should know about Bubba is that his real name isn’t actually Bubba. It’s Genaro.

The story of how he got the nickname “Bubba” is before my time. I think when he was in elementary, some friends of his just decided to call him that.

The second thing you should know about Bubba is that he’s a fantastic human being.

We kind of met during freshman year of high school. Our lunch tables were close to each other, and we were aware of each other’s existence, but we didn’t really talk.

Our friendship really started chugging along come junior year of high school.

And we reached maximum levels of buddiness during our college years.

We would have manversations while playing Halo. We tried starting a YouTube channel that hasn’t seen any activity in years now. We would stay up till early hours just talking about goddamn anything.

And I don’t know if Bubba feels this way, but I think the universe confirmed we’re supposed to be friends when it gave us jury duty at the same time.

One of the greatest things about Bubba is his sense of playfulness. There is no one (aside from my sister) who I would rather explore a new place with or try a new game with, than Bubba. He taps into my inner goofball and we can both have insane amounts of fun just being stupid together.

We played though Alien: Isolation together because I was too afraid to play it alone, and the game got so stressful for us, we set a timer for ten minutes, effectively limiting how long one of us would play before handing the controller off to another person. Eventually, we would actually throw the controller at the other person when the timer sounded, no mater if the Xenomorph was inches away from killing us.

We have gone to the beach at six in the morning, and because we’re so eager to just jump into the water, we freeze our tits off by wading in before the sun has properly come out. I remember complaining about how my recently shaved legs were blistering from the icy salt water, and as Bubba laughed at me, a perfectly timed, frigid wave just slapped him in the sack.

We once even braved an epic knife fight at a casino together while trying to escape a dreaded Oompa Loompa bonus.

Side note: I’m exaggerating, Bubba, I know. But come on! It was intense!

We’ve also waited in line after line at Disneyland together like a couple of motherflubbin’ champs.

And there is no one I would rather camp with outside of a movie theater, waiting for a premiere, for twelve hours.

The ability to be “stupid” with a person doesn’t sound like a compliment on the surface. But it’s one of the highest pieces of praise I can lay on Bubba’s shoulders. He doesn’t make me think about how I’m behaving or what words are coming out of my mouth or what my face looks like. I can be totally natural in front of Bubba, and I hope the reverse is true for him.

He is the first person I think of when I consider going out to have fun. He is one of those rare people who can truly make you forget anything wrong going on in your life. Seriously, the apocalypse could be happening, and Bubba and I would be able to laugh about it while playing Minecraft.

During this pandemic, he’s been the person keeping me sane. We play together over Xbox Live, and even though miles separate us, it feels like he’s sitting right next to me as we mess around in the Nether. I can picture his expressions perfectly.

You might be wondering at this point why this post calls him “my shaka brah.”

Well, see, I got a free download of the game Life Is Strange, in which a bunch of whiny hipster teenagers go through some trials and tribulations. At one point, the main character makes a joke and says, I shit you not, “Ready for the mosh pit, shaka brah.”

Bubba had been watching me play through this game the whole time. As soon as this line was spoken, we looked at each other and just shared the biggest groan/chuckle/screech you’ve ever heard. It was like our humor and our disgust got together, had a baby, and this was the baby’s first noise.

After that, we started calling each other “shaka brah,” you know, to be ironic.

And, well, it stuck.

It’s gotten so bad that we actually label gifts to each other as being from “shaka brah” to “shaka brah.”

And the rest is history.