Over the course of my professional career I have become quite dependent on the notebook. I have tried and used a number of digital means, (some I still do), but I have always come back to the paper page and have long stopped fighting it. My biggest fear was always “What if I lose it?!” But it hasn’t happened yet so we are going full YOLO.

Yes I have a thing for notebooks from Middle Earth.

As with anything, it takes a long time to get comfortable with a workflow. If you count when I started doing the convention, (which I do), it took a few years of bouncing around different things before I settled on what works best for me. I think it was 2017 when I really started using a notebook. It is my daily work buddy, and I trust it to remember everything I don’t. As soon as something pops in my head I write it down and then forget about it. My notebook then becomes a giant to do list of various groupings, and a way to flesh things out when I need an overview or need to explore how to lay things out.

I recently finished my second notebook (of course I save them!), and I am already blazing through my new one. I am definitely about 6 pages in, which is a lot for a new notebook. For reference, there were months maybe I would use one or two pages. The amount of projects I have going on currently is surely to blame, but as I was just looking at the book as a whole I mused about what my life might look like whenever that book is filled, probably within 2 years.

Will I have the arcade open with the team I am working with? Will the convention be back and thriving? Will I be facing a lot of failure? What new things will pop up that I surely do not expect that will be happening around me?

While the notebook is an important and essential tool for me, it is also a journey. It is also a time capsule, as I can look back on my walk through life, and see it all unfolding when I already know the outcome. I believe in digital work aids, and I swear by some of them, but for me the old pen and paper reigns supreme and it will take a lot to usurp the king.


Here’s a very simple question with a not so simple answer – How much is enough? Apply this to anything to start to grasp the meaning of the question – enough income, enough baseball cards, enough savings, enough video games, etc etc.

There has been the philosophical discussion throughout the ages of enough, and how it relates to how we as humans treat our possessions, our lives, and ourselves?

Modern society (at least American society) is extraordinarily based on consumerism. Consume, Consume, Consume. You always need this new thing. What’s that? Your old thing works fine? No, you’re wrong, this new thing is so much better and will bring all of these amazing things into your life!

I read a short essay last year about this idea as it relates to people’s psychology. The example was someone who wanted to be a runner. They get excited about the idea. They are totally into it. But instead of just going out and running they start thinking – well I am going to be a runner, so I need runner’s gear. New shoes, running shorts, a fitness tracker, an armband for my phone, and so on. All that shit is bought, and then what happens?! Items arrive, maybe they go running once and everything is never used again! Why is that?

In that person’s mind, they have already accomplished their goal. They are a runner – once they hit that “Buy” button on Amazon their brain interpreted that as accomplishing the goal. But obviously without achiveving the what that personal originally wanted to – getting healthier, having more endurance, and getting stronger physically. Oh, but it did add to the credit card bill!

The takeaway for that lesson was to trick yourself into “earning” whatever you wanted to by. You want to be a runner? Great! Go running. Do it a bunch. If you are able to keep it up (and hopefully you can) then you have proven to yourself that you are a runner. Now you can maybe get some stuff to make your running life easier. But you did the work FIRST.

I have read many stories of rich folks who have copious amounts of money, and who also wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with a crippling nightmare of them running out of money. Reasonably the chances of that happening is extraordinarily low. So why does it happen?

As mentioned above, our entire society is engineered to work off of this “never satisfied” mentality. That may be all well and good for the economy, but it also has the unfortunate effect of doing some real damage to you average person’s psyche. This process is teaching them that you can never, ever be satisfied with what you have. And this effect i felt by everyone, even people who feel that they “know better!”

Companies with more money than you and I will ever make in a lifetime (times hundreds) spend even more money to learn how to affect human psychology and bend it to their own ends. So what are we to do?

The answer is simple – thought. Mindfulness. There is so secret sauce, just learn to present in your thoughts and in your life. It is not a quick answer, a quick fix. But it will set you up to not only not fall prey to these manufactured impulses, but also build a path to happiness that is independent of material things.

One day will be the last time for everything

I woke up this morning with a feeling of melancholy that I am not fully a stranger to. While I would not call myself a full blown student of stoicism, I have been following the philosophy for quite a few years now. One of the tenants of it is to face reality like it is with courage.

So when I opened my eyes this morning a thought crossed my mind – one time that you do something or say hi to someone, anything – will be the last time that you do that. Say hi to your co-workers. Eat a tuna sandwich. Pet your dog. Kiss your spouse. All of these small things that we take for granted and probably make life worth living. One day it will be the last time that one small thing happens, and chances are you won’t even know it until afterwards.

So armed with this slightly depressing piece of reality, what are we to do? Well first, if we dig deep down inside -we know this. We know that unexpected things happen, and even if they don’t, we know that everyone grows old and dies. Is it painful to think about? Of course! Is it uncomfortable to think about? Absolutely. Does it change that it will happen? Not a chance in hell.

So what are we to do?! One option is to harp on the concept, become obsessed with impending loss and death that it stops you from experiencing life. Obviously not the preferable path. But we humans have this silly ability to dig holes for ourselves , and that line of thinking, while not good for you, is certainly understandable. Many people have done so and some of those people have let these thoughts lead them down dark paths of substance abuse, emotional abuse, and even physical abuse.

What I believe is this – do not hide from these things. But do not obsess over them either. Use this knowledge to your advantage. When you go to lunch with a friend, really BE there. Be present, appreciate the inside jokes and the conversation. When you leave your wife in the morning, kiss her and tell her you love her. Practice gratitude on a regular basis, and try to get into the habit of appreciating the things in your life you may not think about often, since they can all change at any moment. Basically, try to live your life where you would have as little regret as possible. “I just wished I would have reached out more”, “I was planning on going on this trip with this friend”, “We haven’t talked in 5 years because she stole my left sock and I’m still mad about it.” In the grand scheme of things the serious things in our mind often to turn out to be not so serious after all.

And when bad things to happen, you can feel bad. It’s normal, it’s human to feel pain, loss, and sadness. But don’t let it beat you. And deep down inside, you know that, too.


These are definitely strange times we are living in. We are experiencing day by day what will be referenced as history for all of the people to come after us. Just like the World Wars, Kennedy’s assassination, the space shuttle explosion, and 9/11.

Of course this one is different, as they all seem to be. We are being asked to collectively….just stay home. Stay put. Our lifestyle of busy busy busy that seems like it was getting to a point of exponential unsustainability is just shut off. Kaput. On indefinite hold. Ok, now what?

There is a lot of time now for self reflection, which is something I try to do at regular intervals anyway. But new experiences bring new perspectives. One of the main overarching themes I am recognizing, at least about myself, is the importance of hope. Personally I work very very hard, and I absolutely love it. I love the action, I love the experiences, and I ultimately love the output of what I do (the output being places where lots of people are happy and having fun). But right now, EVERYTHING is on hold. And I mean everything. There are no meetings. No events. No talk of planning. No action. I am finding that the underlying layer of hope which may be the driving force that propels me is missing.

I believe we as people are predicated on the ideal of hope. Now that it is absent for me, at least temporarily, I notice the immense presence it normally has in my life that I normally do not recognize.

There is a great examples of hope in fiction that always comes to mind when I think about this ideal, from The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. In this example, Morpheus (The Sandman) is missing a possession, an important tool, and it is currently in the hands of a demon. So, he heads to Hell to reclaim his property and becomes wrapped up in a game of ever increasing ideas. See below for the gist –

As the game starts –

We then come to the apex –

Which understandably, and I believe rightly leaves the demon like this –

It’s the same idea as “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The idea of hope is much more powerful than any physical force can be behind it.

So how does all this fantasy tie in to us – with this virus, and with how we feel? Why are we indoors? To feel safe, yes. But we are also doing this for hope. For hope that we will all come out of this unscathed, that loved ones will not succumb. And maybe for other reasons. Society as a whole is experiencing something it never has. Maybe there is hope that universal healthcare will become a thing here in the United States, this virus certainly has helped make the case for it. I am sure there is hope of some companies changing the way they do business, maybe favoring remote work more and/or treating their people better. Surely there is hope that comes with any wide spread challenge to any society and the wonderful kindness, solidarity and general well being for their fellow man that people are definitely capable of. The shining light of humanity in the darkness. It always seems to shine brightest in the darkest places.

One of my personal hopes is that people will use this unexpected time in positive ways. When have we ever had so much time? Never! This time can be used to fufill projects that have gone to the wayside, to catch up on personal goals, to spend time with loved ones at home you always wish you had more time for. Yes, this sucks, and yes it will not be an easy process. But along with bad also comes good, and do not forget to look for the good.

It is very likely you are missing what gives you hope right now, but that does mean it won’t ever come back. In fact, maybe it’s time to focus on the hope that your hope will come back. I mean, that is kind of how it works, isn’t it?

the meaning of fun part 2

Previously I talked about the meaning of fun and what it is as it pertains to gaming, but the discussion was mianly based upon solo playing.  This time I want to open it up a little more.

Being a gamer can often lead to more than just playing games, which is why huge communities, events, and even industries have risen from this silly fun hobby we all share.  But at what point does it all transcend from fun to not?

I am involved in the gaming event world and I have seen a lot of people come through and just not be good at what they do.  To be fair and candid about it, they were even very bad at the task they set themselves up to accomplish (this can be people that run tournaments, sub-events or even whole conventions).  It’s not that these people weren’t smart (at least I think they were), and it may not have been that they didn’t care enough.  

That got me thinking – I think for anyone to get involved in the enormity of a community/event/etc. it has to start somewhere.  A love of a specific game or genre.  A need or want to “spread the love.”  For an event or situation to go bad there is normally a number of circumstances that will lead up to it and compound.  I am sure the person or persons involved got stressed, angry, sad, and felt many other emotions.  I know it has happened to me. It can get to a point where they can’t remember the reason they got involved, and are just lost in the ridiculousness of it all.

Maybe it’s a person who discovered the tournament world, got really excited, and became disillusioned with the politics of that world. Maybe it is someone that loved an area of gaming so much that wanted to try to bring that passion to the masses. And maybe that person did not have the skills and/or support system to do what was necessary to succeed. If it all goes badly then what are they left with?

Can they still have fun? Can they still draw upon that passion that made them get involved in the first place?

I don’t have answers to these questions as the answers most likely depend on the person. The only advice I can give anyone in any of the above situations is to try to stay the course and remember the reason you are here – for the fun.

The meaning of fun (part 1)

This will probably be one of the more disorganized posts here on the blog because I am mainly brain dumping here.

What is the meaning of fun?  In this specific case as it relates to gaming.  Being a gamer these days can often involve more that just playing games.  There are many, many different platforms to play and more games than anyone can keep up with, especially us adult-like people.  Then because of that there is the act of trying to decide what to play.  Or if something is “worth” your playing time.  I can honestly say I had been having fun just picking something up and then felt guilty because I wasn’t “making progress” in an RPG or adventure game and convinced myself I was wasting my time. Anyone else get the “Netflix” syndrome where you are staring at or browsing a menu for half the time trying to decide what you should do?

In this wild and often ridiculous world of constant distractions, stress and responsibility I think I can safely say I was very wrong when my brain told me I was wasting time.  If I was having fun, isn’t that all that matters?  Is it mine (or anyone elses?) job to quantify what fun to myself is?  And if I am doing that aren’t I just turning my “fun” into “work?”

How did it work when I was younger? I definitely played my fair share of games, both with friends and without. I don’t believe there was much thought or concern as to what I was doing. Our brains have a funny way of approaching situations as adults. Do you remember a time when you heard a child say something that was so completely “on the nose” that you laughed? “Kids say the darndest thing” right?!

Well children also have the unique innocent ability to view things without all of the ridiculous complications adults feel the need to put on everything. Do you think a child is wondering if playing this game is a worthwhile invest of their time and is weighing pros and cons endlessly? Of course not!

So pick up that game. Don’t think about it, just play. It’s all for fun right? Be a kid!

YNAB or “How in the holy hell did I manage my finances before this?!”

Let’s just get this out of the way first – YNAB, or “You Need A Budget,” is one of the single greatest things to ever happen to me.  Not only that, but I know many people who say the exact same thing, so I know it’s not only me!

I originally found YNAB during a Steam sale of all things, nestled in the often looked over Applications category.  I believe it was during the holidays years ago, and it was marked down from around $50-$60 to around $15.  It promised to help organize finances and start a new chapter in my life.  “Probably bullshit,” I thought, “but what the hay I’ll give it a whirl.”

That was about 4 years ago and I have used this program religiously since then.  It’s the type of thing like electricity, where you wonder what people did before they had it.  I can tell you in 100% honesty – I have absolutely no fucking idea what I did or how I managed to do anything in my financial life before YNAB.

YNAB is essentially budgeting software, money comes in and you assign it to different categories.  This helps you know when you do or don’t have money for something and encourages you to set goals and save up for anything you want to which obviously helps you from going into debt.  In my opinion however, the single greatest thing about it is that it Makes You Face The Truth About How You Are Spending Your Money.

The human mind has this amazing ability to trick itself when it wants to.  “Oh I can eat this piece of cake I have been really good in my diet lately” (You had one healthy meal previously).  “Oh I can skip the gym I’ve been working really hard lately” (You went twice).  And so on and so on.  This especially applies to money, it’s amazing how many people (past me included!) buy things willy nilly and just assume they will have enough in the bank to pay for the essentials of life.  Like anything else in life a little planning goes a long way.

Two perfect examples.

One – Since I started using YNAB, every month I put $200 in the “Christmas” category.  Not too difficult, but when the holidays come and I have to start buying presents what would have happened in the past?  I would have spent a paycheck or two, have no money for anything else (maybe including rent!) and have some minor freak outs.  Now the holidays come and I don’t sweat it because I have an entire “fund” to pull from and I know exactly how much I can spend without going over it!

Two – I decided to take a trip to Japan with some friends.  This trip was fairly pricey for obvious reasons and was planned out a year and a half in advance.  I simply calculated what I thought I would need, divided it by the amount of months until the trip and just put that amount into a “Japan” fund.  The time came, I had all of the money and no sweats were given.

So how does this all tie to minimalism?   Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff and all that, it’s about de-cluttering your life in every way.  It’s about getting rid of the junk so you can focus on what is important and spend your energy in worthwhile ways.  YNAB is an excellent tool for de-cluttering your financial life, simplifying it, and getting you on a path to help prioritize whatever life goals you want to accomplish.

Since I started using it, YNAB has gone from a single piece of software to a web based subscription app.  It is only around $5 a month, and what it helps you do is absolutely invaluable.  You can find them here and get a free trial.

A Close Call

Yes I know I do not post on here enough.  Out of all of my side projects/businesses/whatevers this blog is the thing that is closest to my soul, probably because it is so intimate.  So what prompted me to post now?

A close call with death.

Last Sunday night my fiance and I were driving back from a convention in upstate NY (which was great) and in the middle lane of the interstate we hit a deer going about 70 mph. (We were going 70, I am going to assume the deer was not).

All kidding aside it was terrifying.  The car was totaled, we were stranded in the middle of nowhere on a cold November night and we were scared & shaken.  We were unconscious in the middle of the highway for an undetermined amount of time. Besides some bruises, back pain and a concussion from yours truly, we walked away fine.  Nothing broken, nothing long term (though hopefully this back pain goes away).

In the week that followed I had a lot of time to come to grips with what happened, and more so what didn’t happen.  A hundred different slight variables could have occurred and my fiance and I could be without each other right now.  Or we both could not be here.  Or that fucking deer could have stolen our car (humor is how I deal with things).

Oh wait this is a gaming blog right?  To tie this in, these are the thoughts that have been going through my head, besides the intense gratitude and thankfulness that I am here typing this post.  I think back to the convention itself (we were vending).  I have been part of many conventions, even running one myself, and I thought of the beauty of the whole process.

A group of people, passionate about what they are doing, essentially throwing a party for others,  The sacrifice, the work, the thankless hours put in.  And when those doors open you have a group of people who are only looking for one thing – to have a great freaking time!  No one is looking for a problem, for conflict, to right a wrong as so much of our society conducts “business” these days.  To be a part of that, to observe and participate and even sometimes have a direct hand in – it’s a wonderful thing and I am happy and honored to be a part of it.

To come out of the other side of this experience there was a lot of fear –  of driving, of getting through the pain and even to get back to normal life. Things can seem silly or frivolous when you come close to losing your life.  Why go to work?  Why keep trying? But maybe it’s those same things that make the whole thing worth it.

A famous and favorite stoic saying – “Memento Mori – You could leave life right now.”  Not so much a morbid warning, but a reminder to always be aware and grateful of the current moment.

You have my word whatever the next post is here will not be nearly as heavy 🙂

What gaming means to me now

At some point in my life, quite unexpectedly I turned 30 years old.  Then 35.  Now, I am 38 and as I am jet skiing towards 40 I sometimes reflect on my life, my hobbies, and the way they have changed.

It is no secret that from the tender age of seven years old gaming has been my “primary” hobby.  It’s been with me through elementary school in the 80s, junior high and high school in the 90s, through my own LAN center in the 2000s and now into my convention, the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo in the 2010s.  Over the course of this long journey I’ve seen the mind blowing “best graphics ever” of the SNES, the advent of 3D gaming, the rise of HD and the not so popular “I have to wait 90 minutes to play my new game I just bought because there is a 40GB patch.”

Do I see or play games the way I used to?  Surely my approach has to have changed since I am not seven years old anymore.  It is no secret that most gamers my age have “eyes bigger than their stomachs” in regards to games and thus always have a tremendous backlog, often resulting in the sale of games that have never even been opened due to lack of time.

I can say personally that while in the midst of my heaviest gaming related projects (the store and the convention) my playing definitely decreased, sometimes to the point of non-existence.  The convention has been a little better since there is some type of “off-season” (though that window has been getting shorter and shorter).  There is also the undeniable personal truth that for a while there games were boring.  I wasn’t excited for anything anymore.

Then came the Nintendo Switch.

As many gamers my age I will be the first to admit I am a sizable Nintendo fan.  Even during the Gamecube days I stuck with them.  I bought a Wii U in 2015 and barely touched it.  I knew the games were good but it just didn’t excite me.  When the Switch came out however, something clicked for me, and I think it clicked for a lot of other people as well.  The games on it weren’t just fun, but the unit itself was fun to play on.  The fact that it was extremely small, powerful, and portable definitely did not hurt either.

While some people criticized the early launch library I found it liberating,  Going back to why people have backlogs – in my mind if there is at least one more game I want to play on a system what does it matter if the system has 2 or 200 games?  If there is always one more game I want to play then I am good.  And from day one, that has been the case.  Zelda to Shovel Knight, to Blaster Master, to Mario Rabbids, to Mario Oddysey and so on and so forth.

Does this line of thinking work for everyone?  Of course not, no line of thinking does.  But for me, it’s perfect.  Because in reality, even though I am involved in so many gaming themed projects, and I have lots of exposure to the gaming world, in truth I am not much of a gamer anymore.  That doesn’t mean I don’t love the time I have playing games, but in my modern landscape I am also a guy with a full time job, multiple side projects, a convention head, and I’m someone’s fiance to boot (and boy is she understanding!)  I am also always interested in improving myself and learning things, which is a hobby in of itself.

So obviously gaming is much different to me than it was, and it’s true you can never truly go home again.  It is impossible to capture that same feeling of playing Chrono Trigger for the first time because there were so many factors involved in creating those special memories (your age, the world at the time, infancy of the internet, etc) that can never be replicated, especially if you attempt to do so.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find the new games, appreciate them for what they are and have a blast when you are able to.  You just also have to be comfortable with the fact that you may play 1/10th the amount of games you want to, and that is a-ok!

The BackLog – “A Dance with Death”

Games are great.  We all love them!  There’s nothing better than getting a new game, ripping off the packaging (or waiting for the download to finish) and digging in.  Oh, but then a week later this other game comes out that you have been wildly anticipating, shows up from Amazon and you get ready to pop it in.

But what about the original game?  And there was that 3DS game you started last month that you’re still working through.  And that Saturn game you picked up because people were raving about it.  And that NES game from when you were a kid that you have sworn a blood oath to conquer before you expire on this earth.

:deep breath:


Obviously we are dealing with a small case of overload here.  This is not something I have experienced just for myself, I would feel comfortable saying that this is now the norm for anyone that calls themselves a gamer.  Especially a “retro” gamer (We have ALL the systems to play games for!) (or a reader, a TV buff, etc.)

Now if you’re like me this can be known to induce stress levels way past the point of being comfortable.  “How am I supposed to have “fun” when I have all of this shit to play?”  It is no secret that the majority of us are not kids anymore and the seemingly endless well of time is no longer accessible.  Families, jobs, chores, obligations all get in the way.  And if you finally find some of that elusive “time” you may be so shot the idea of putting any amount of brain power towards anything is akin to smashing your face against a pane of broken glass for an hour straight.

So what’s a guy/gal to do?  Obviously everyone’s situation is different but here are some tips and tactics that may help you out.

Do you have too much stuff?

Of course this is the first place I go.  Seriously though, take a step back.  Our culture and the hobby by large is focused on accumulating things.  This may mean buying junk games, buying games as soon as they come out, or the holy quest to get every system under the sun.  I have been through facets of all of these things and here is what I have personally learned.

  • When I went for the “all the systems” approach I quickly found myself with not only too many options but also a wealth of inferior software.  Sure the 3DO was great and I was excited to get one, but did I need one forever?  Absolutely not!  I took a little bit of time with my CD burner and played a bunch of games I knew I wanted to experience and when I was done there really wasn’t much of an argument to keep the system around.  I have since moved to a “rotating” philosophy – not only am I saving money and space but focusing on one system at a time I am also limiting my options so I can narrow my focus a little.
  • Buying (or pre-ordering) new games as they come out.  This is a defninite TMG no-no.  Unless the game is something you have been dying to play (hello Trails of Cold Steel II) if you’re playing other shit just leave it.  It will only benefit you since chances are you can pick it up for cheaper on a sale down the line when you are ready to play it.  Otherwise you are paying more money for absolutely no reason.
  • Keep a list.  This one isn’t for everyone, but I have embraced it (I also love lists).  When I was feeling overwhelmed on “the backlog” and was thinking about all the crap I wanted to play I just started writing them down in my notebook one day.  I have a number of titles from the 16 bit and 32 bit eras that have always eluded me so it was nice to see everything laid out on paper.  Once you see it visually you can kind of prioritize and have fun with it. (Note – Once again I know this may sound nuts to some people.  This is just for people like me who not only love lists, but LOVE crossing shit out on them!)
  • Finally, ENJOY what you are currently playing.  Don’t look at other stuff, don’t look at sales (that’s how they get you) just have fun with what you’re doing.  Sales is how they enforce the “grass is always greener” mentality.  Here’s a secret – all of the companies (Steam, PSN, XBLive) run these stupid sales so often if you missed one on a game you wanted chances are there is one coming up soon.

Granted this all does not change the fact that in most cases we do not have enough time to play the game we want, but like anything else in life it is how you approach it.  I have my nice (long) list and have been thinking about getting a PS4 soon.  I just got a PS3 last year so I’ve barely touched that library.  And let us not forget the Nintendo Switch was just announced.

How you feel about/manage your backlog? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or do you just go full yolo?  Let me know in the comments.