Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hot Topics: The Poor Trap

I've put off doing this particular blog because its not only personal for me, but personal for many people I know. Keep in mind what I'm about to discuss is my experiences and knowledge within the United States only. If it applies elsewhere, or is still better than other places... that is not the point of this particular blog. So lets begin.

So what is a 'Poor Trap' you might wonder from the title? Its not the first time the term has been used, nor do I think it will be the last. It means in short... a trap that keeps poor people poor. The 'system' that is supposed to help and support the community, which in fact, creates a cycle that is nearly inescapable. When people (usually those who haven't been poor) say: "Its America, everyone has the same opportunity if they work hard and apply themselves," its a lie. Maybe they truly believe this lie, maybe some just say it to dismiss the subject and move on in the conversation so they don't have to face the reality. I even have family who have said these very words. I say again: its a lie.

America's foundation may have started on the concept of hard work and perseverance. America had many times in its history where this very concept is what made this country a great place. That's not what it is anymore. Most likely if you are born poor in America... you'll be stuck poor the rest of your life. If you disagree, I'll be explaining further as we go in this blog on why this is true. We aren't supposed to have a caste system where your station is based on your birth... but the way things work, this is how it turns out.

People may want to believe that if you work hard, it pays off. That one day all of that hard work will add up to you living a comfortable, sustainable life or even better. This partly stems from the days where skills were passed from parent to child, and often times the children got to learn things that could be applied later in life in a job. Now, labor jobs are limited; several companies outsource to other countries for cheaper labor. A growing population also makes demand for jobs higher. Then there is the failing health system that makes it nearly impossible for someone to work if they've gotten any kind of injury or illness. Think they can just jump on Disability? Think again. One of the hardest programs to get into is the Disability program. Its limited, its losing funding, and fraud (as in all systems) drains on its resources as well. There is also the baby boomer generation that needs SSI to live on (another thing constantly getting threatened to lose more and more funding.)

Lets say you are born into a poor family. Maybe its a single parent household, or two parents but one is injured, sick, or unable to find work. Heck, with the cost of living now, maybe even both parents work! Now, there are several factors to consider (how many children, where do you live, how is the current economy) but lets just go with a simple average one or two kids, in an average town. Minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 as of 2015. That is about $15,000 a year working full time (40hrs a week) all year. So families of two? That's below the federal poverty level. Most jobs these days wont pay more than minimum wage, and if they do, it takes about a year to start really increasing at all.

Now, imagine something happens that makes you have to call in to work on occasion. Maybe your child is sick and you have no other family to watch them. You can't afford a baby-sitter on your wage either. So you miss work. You now are going to make less than that $15,000. That's looking long term too. Most poor people have to live month to month... week to week... or even day to day. So because you or your child were sick, your paycheck will be smaller. Is your car in working order? If you're like most poor, your car was bought either used, or was a gift (if you're lucky.) You better hope that your car doesn't break down, because just having enough to pay gas to get you to work is all you can afford. Public transit? Yeah... get ready to get sick more often, be late to work several times, oh and the cost of daily public transit can sometimes add up to be more expensive in a month than just buying gas.

Have all your bills paid yet? Poor people often times have to decide what to go without, because they don't make enough each month to cover the basics of living on their wage. Food... or heat? Gas... or hot water? Then you have to remember if you have kids... they grow. They need new clothes, even if you don't. You aren't likely to make your kid go without food if you can help it... but are you getting all your meals? Research shows adult parents will -often- times (not sometimes... often) go without eating to ensure their kids can eat. Have you ever tried working a hard labor job on an empty stomach? I have. Its not easy and you're a lot more likely to faint, slow down, or get injured (not to mention your mood.) And don't get me started on the quality of food... okay fine, I will.

"But Jessimi, aren't there all sorts of resources out there for people to get food?"
Sure. You can get food stamps (about 190 a month for one adult now), and if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with these resources, you might also have food pantries that give food to the poor. Oh, but don't think that's easy either. Make sure you have time outside of work, and someone to watch your kid, so that you can go stand in a huge line (probably in the blistering heat or freezing cold, outside) just to sign up. Then you have to go back in a month to stand in that same (or worse) line to wait to get your food. Sure, its free... you aren't going to starve now. Except the food they give you is often times expired or on the verge of expired (yes, I'm not lying... I've experienced this over and over myself.) Fruit full of bruises or bug holes, bread that is beginning to get hard or will mold in probably two days, and mysteriously branded canned meats that you can't even make taste good mixed into other things. Some places might be better about this than others, but I suspect more often than not people experience the same I did. But alas... its free food... and you aren't going to starve now (and yes... poor people will be grateful for ANY food, even if its bad.) If you've never felt true hunger, then you probably can't understand why.

Its a struggle just to stay poor and not homeless. I'd bet money though that if you ask someone you know who is poor if they've ever been homeless before or know someone close who has... they'll tell you yes. In a way, its ALMOST easier to be homeless. No more worries about bills, endless paperwork, people judging you on your home or lifestyle... but then there is that every day struggle to survive. Find food, stay warm, and avoid dangerous people and places. Did you know that currently 1 in 30 children are homeless in America? Children. Hungry, scared, cold, probably dying too... children. Not to mention the adults, many of whom are Veterans who served and protected this country.

I've been homeless. If you've read some of my other blogs on personal experiences, you'll have seen a bit about it. I've been hungry, several times in my life, where I would eat -anything- edible available to me. Yes, in my youth, I even stole for food once or twice. I've been cold; my Mom and I if not sleeping in our car (which you can't afford to keep running all night with the heater) would sleep on the floor of a generous stranger's home or one time even a church roof top. We woke up soaked and near frozen due to the morning dew having soaked our sleeping bags. I've been scared and in danger of my life. On numerous occasions, the only places to stay, hang out, or rest... were places of danger. Places other homeless might go. Places shady people or drug users might go to ALSO avoid the police who arrest the homeless for where they sleep. Tents don't protect you from knives by the way. My Mom did the best she could... she worked anywhere that would let her clean a floor or some other degrading job. It was enough to feed us sometimes, and keep a tiny bit of gas in the car that we lived in.

So what if you are poor, and on the "system" in America? The system would be a mix of things like SNAP (food stamps), maybe some cash aid or WIC if you have kids, SSI if you were fortunate enough to somehow get in that system (which is near impossible), and maybe a program here or there to reduce the cost of your bills. I've already explained a little bit why this system doesn't work. Let me give you a further look into some of the things people in the "system" have to live with and why its nearly impossible to get out of.

If you look it up online, you can determine what the current cost of living is in America. That is going to change based on things like state, city, gender, children, unemployment rate... you get the point. Well maybe you are wondering why poor people don't just save up money over time, even if only a little bit. First off, saving any money is nearly IMPOSSIBLE... trust me, there is not even a penny left by the end of the month. Lets say you're lucky though and somehow had something left over. Well, in many of these "systems" you're on, you have to report any extra money you get. Doesn't matter if it was a gift, or maybe a $20 you found in your purse you somehow missed. They expect you to report all of it. Now, lets say you are an honest person and do report any and all extra bits of money here or there to them. Well... first off they'll ask you why you have extra money; how, when, and why. Then, they'll calculate any extra you got or made... and get this... deduct it from the next month's benefits you get. Yep. If you somehow goodness forbid, get AHEAD... they will take it away from you the next month so that you're no longer ahead. So there goes that great idea of saving money. And if you happen to do this too often... perhaps you make money mowing lawns on the side for example... eventually, they'll just straight cut you off your benefits. Its determined you don't need them anymore if you're able to make this "extra" money now. Well... most likely, any of this "extra" money is only temporary, and good luck getting back on the system again. Ever wonder why there is so much fraud out there?

So back to those children again. Remember earlier when I mentioned the caste system in America? Well if you happen to be unfortunate enough to be born into a poor family, you are likely to grow up this way. You will live in low income communities.

Your child's education wont be even close to the level of standard of schooling that a higher income child would get. Schools in poor communities are a joke. They're over-crowded, their teachers are under-paid and overworked, their food is usually some kind of imitation mush of whatever its called, and because of these things the students are pushed through the system whether they are learning or not, just so they can graduate and free up a spot for the next kid so the school can make their money and stay open. Not to mention the extra dangers because kids from poor families and poor communities are more likely to be around crime, and have health and mental issues. So now your children are caught up in the poor trap. They aren't going to get a good education in the K-12 system, and you can't afford to pay for them to go to college. If they want to pay for themselves, then they have to find a job. Remember those struggles on work I mentioned earlier? Good luck kid. If you do get a job, it wont be enough to pay for all your classes and books and the transportation to get to and from your job and school. (Are you getting any sleep?) If you get a degree you can afford in that community college... you better hope it was for a job in demand. I know several millennials personally who got college degrees that ended up being totally useless in this economy. But good job going to college... at least you made the effort to lessen your ignorance on many things. (I mean that sincerely, being one of those graduates myself.)

Your child in this low income community must have also survived growing up to even reach college and not just end up being one of the 1 in 30 homeless kids today.

Low income communities also have very bad health systems... which just adds further into the cycle of the poor trap. When people are unhealthy and unhappy, they're not going to be able to work as well. Have you seen how much it costs to go to a doctor now? Let alone afford meds? You better hope you don't get sick or injured. Oh and they don't care about your mental health, so don't even bother. Most insurance that the poor can even get, doesn't cover things like meds, mental health, or dental. No help for the mentally disabled? Hello increased crime, injury, and homelessness. Oh and guess where your tax dollars go... yep, paying for all those hospital emergency visits by people who can't afford to go to a clinic; or the cost of hiring police and keeping people jailed so they don't hurt you and your loved ones.

This blog is barely scratching the surface of the issues in America today regarding the caste system and our poor. I touched on some of my own personal experiences, or those of people I know. Every day is a fight for survival when you're born poor... right from birth. You can try to work hard, and educate yourself to work toward getting out of that low income system you grew up with in your house, and maybe... just maybe... you'll get lucky enough to. But for most in America, the cost of living is too high, income is too low, and there just isn't enough care in our country for the ones who struggle; because "work hard and it'll pay off" even though most low income people already work two jobs and more than 40hrs a week and are still around the federal poverty level. But working hard like that doesn't count, right?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Anime Review: Wedding Peach

Wedding Peach


I am a big fan of anime, whether it be newer things like Sword Art Online and Death Note, or older things like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Wedding Peach had been on my list of things to watch for some time, but I couldn't bring myself to binge it for a long while. Now that my computer is acting up and I can't game anymore, I figured it was a good time for anime. So I sat down, and over the next few days I binged on some Wedding Peach. It is a magical girl anime that was on around the same time as Sailor Moon. Funny enough though, you can STRONGLY see that the people who made it were big fans of Sailor Moon. Influences from Sailor Moon were seen all over the anime... going even as far as some of the items looking almost identical if you pause on them at the right moment. As a huge fan of Sailor Moon, I honestly didn't mind this. I thought it was cute and comical to see all the easter eggs.

Now onto the show itself. When I first started it... I had a really hard time pushing forward. I found it more on the corny side than on the quality side. Despite this though, I did keep watching. I'm glad I did. While it wouldn't be in my top ten favorites of all time... it turned out better than I originally expected. It even did a few things better than Sailor Moon in my opinion, such as visible battle injuries and ripped outfits. It always frustrated me when the Sailor Senshi would go through a giant battle and come out only looking a little dirty... lol. Wedding Peach also had some heart felt and serious moments which was a breath of fresh air amid all its other corniness. By the end, I'd really gotten to know the characters and their struggles... which I appreciated.

Some of the things that bothered me about the anime however was the strong wedding theme over-done. Like Sailor Moon, their transformation sequences were too frequent and too long... made worse by the fact they had 2 stages of it. I don't even remember if they explained any benefit to not just jumping into the second stage from the start. The special items/attacks they acquire later on is better, and in Wedding Peach DX their transformations are MUCH improved (sadly for only 4 episodes though.)

I do like the biblical aspect of this anime which was missing/cut out from the original Sailor Moon sadly. This anime was not afraid to go straight for Angels vs Demons. Sailor Moon's biblical influences were removed for the most part in the transition from the manga to the anime... for example how it explains people from the moon were forbidden from interacting with people of the earth. So I was grateful that Wedding Peach was not afraid to dive into this full force with no fear of critics.

So all in all, I enjoyed the anime and wish it could have been longer. Perhaps we'll get a reboot of it one day like we've been seeing with a lot of older anime. I'd watch a reboot. Would I ever claim it as one of my favorites? No. It was a bit TOO corny for my liking, but I still gave it a chance and I don't regret it. If you like the magical girl genre and don't mind some corny, then you might want to give it a try. After all, its back when the genre was still newer and can be seen now as one of the 'founder' animes of the genre.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Twitch: Tips for Streaming

I've held off writing this one, because there is a lot of great information out there already on reddit and youtube for how to be a great streamer. However, I'm going to go ahead and share some of the things I've observed, learned, and heard from other streamers on Twitch. Keep in mind I do not stream yet, so I cannot speak from personal experience. I speak as a viewer and a mod, with the dream to stream in the future. Thus learning as much as I can now is important. So... now I share it with you. I hope you find at least one thing here that perhaps you didn't think of or know that can help! Thanks for reading.


Tips for Streaming on Twitch
https://www.twitch.tv/

#1. Stop Focusing On Your Numbers!
Its easier said than done because you have it in your head that "more numbers means more success." I'm here to tell you that that's not true though. Yes, higher numbers can lead to more success... but lower numbers doesn't mean you are not already successful. Besides, the more you stress on your numbers, the less passion you'll have for your stream because it will begin to get overwhelming if you aren't getting the numbers you want. This is actually something most streamers will tell you when asked for tips on streaming. Keep an eye on your numbers... but don't get depressed or stressed if you aren't growing fast enough. It takes time to build a community; focus on making quality streams, and the numbers will come eventually.

#2. A Name Change Will Hurt You.
Sadly the changing of your stream name comes with many complications not just for you but for your viewers. Anywhere online that had your link has now become invalid. People who have you saved in their favorites can no longer use that link to find you. And no... not all users will find you again. Your numbers will drop, any articles linking you are now broken, and your viewers will have a harder time finding you again. Sure, if you had a really bad name you started to hate over time or your stream identity has evolved... its likely necessary and in the long run better to have the new name. If you choose to do that though, just keep the "side-effects" in mind. This may change in the future perhaps with redirect scripts or something... but who knows.

#3. Overlays
This is a tricky one. It raises the quality of your stream to have an overlay. Its easy to go overboard however and clutter up your stream with too busy of an overlay. Sure, there are a lot of great features lately to add to your stream... but your viewers have come to see YOU, and what YOU are doing. If you are hidden behind things, or your game can't be focused on because there are too many animated things on the stream distracting from it... it can get frustrating for a viewer. So try to find a balance and remember that less is more most of the time.

#4. Network, Don't Compete!
"Other streamers are your co-workers, not your competition." (Said by Banlish and other streamers.) In the years I've been on Twitch, I have found that streamers who embrace other streamers find more growth and success than streamers who forbid any sort of advertising of other streams. Yes... its rude for anyone to just pop into your chat and advertise themselves; that's not what I'm saying should be allowed. If you however have a regular viewer for example who you know well, you should consider giving them a shout out. If you have Discord, make a channel that lets people advertise themselves. It doesn't disrupt your live stream, but allows your community to network.

You should also host other streams when yours is over, and if you have a willing community... raid as well! A lot of people will remember that you did them the favor of a host or raid, and eventually return the favor. Sure... maybe some of your streamers might leave to go watch that other streamer instead. But when they return that favor, maybe some of their viewers come to watch you. You aren't losing people... you are networking with your co-workers. There are also programs out there that let people watch multiple streams at a time to support all their favorites at the same time.

#5. Be Honest, But Limit Negativity
You are human, and you are going to have good and bad days. You are going to have problems in your life, or not feel well. Its perfectly okay to admit this to your viewers. Most often they'll sympathize and want what is best for you, because they care and want you at your best so you can stream more. However... don't make negativity a constant thing. If you are complaining about things every time you stream, eventually that negativity is going to wear on your viewers who mainly come to Twitch for entertainment, fun, or distraction from their own problems. So while loyal viewers will still support you through your hard times... too much constant negativity will likely scare off newer viewers who might choose to go to a streamer with a more positive atmosphere. On the reverse... always pretending to be okay and that nothing ever bothers you comes off as 'fake' to some. They think you are disingenuous and putting on more of an act than being a real person. Viewers... just remember too that a streamer who is positive most of the time might just be fortunate enough to not be going through things in their life that are necessary to share with you. So just because they never mention their problems doesn't automatically mean they are being fake.

#6. Stream For Fun, Not Income
We are well aware that successful Twitch streamers can make a solid income. However, there are MANY factors that lead up to that with the main one being time. It takes time to grow, and it takes time to get some regular financial support from your viewers. There is even the chance you might never make money from it. However, its important that your reason for streaming should be about fun, information, or a social atmosphere. If you are going into it expecting money right away, you will get disappointed fast. I've seen streamers who have streamed for YEARS, who don't make a single bit or dollar on their stream. Its not because they're necessarily doing anything wrong either. Sometimes... it just doesn't happen. It doesn't mean you're a bad streamer. It just means you haven't found that right "formula" that works for you yet. Each streamer is different, as is each community. So many factors need to be considered regarding your growth and "success"; Your personality, your appearance (sad but true), what games you play, what days and times you stream (consider school hours, holidays, and real world news), the support or lack of from your mods, the quality of your equipment, do your viewers prefer a green screen or no green screen, do you use a cam, what atmosphere you encourage, how strict your rules are (or how lax), and so much more. You don't have to think about all this... but you should at least be aware that these things DO affect you, and some will be out of your control.

#7. Be a Viewer
Don't just stream and leave Twitch. Go watch other streamers... talk in their chats, get to know people, maybe take up a mod position if you have that extra time. Let other communities get to know you and who you are, and don't do it just to steal viewers or advertise yourself. If you are not genuine, people will see that. I truly mean it when I say go become part of other communities too. I'm not streaming yet, and I have more followers than some streamers I know. Why? Because I've become known in several communities, and sometimes people will follow you just so they don't lose track of you on Twitch. Then, if you stream one day, those people will notice and come to say hi or celebrate with you. You became part of their community, and in turn, they'll also become part of yours.

#8. A Great Mod Team
Last but certain not least... have great mods. If your staff support you, it will greatly impact the success or detriment of your stream. Your mods not only started off as loyal viewers who enjoyed your entertainment, but they become your eyes for chat. They will likely speak to people you might not get the chance to. They'll welcome new viewers and help them learn the rules and the atmosphere of the community, encouraging them to stay and enjoy themselves. Your mods will talk about you to others, and share your social media much more than a lot of your viewers would. They will help catch and remove toxic people from your chat before they can do too much damage... leaving you to keep providing that entertainment without interruption. In a lot of cases, those people might even become your friends. You might meet them in person, or have long conversations off stream, or enjoy some games together. Great mods will also tell you when you're being an idiot, or when something is wrong with the stream. Not because they want to be mean, but because they want to help you and see the stream succeed. Heck, some of the best community of mods I've seen are the ones where the mods are more "troll" toward the streamer than anything else... poking fun at the streamer and able to take a few jabs back at them for a good laugh. If you see a streamer and their mods picking on each other, you know that they've gotten a quality bond. So don't be afraid to add in a few mods, and get to know them over time. You'll weed out the ones who aren't doing it to support you, and one day you wont even have to worry about it because you'll have a team of mods who will remove another mod who they feel is hurting you instead of helping you.

Thank you for taking the time to read these tips. If you enjoyed them and I see the views on this increase... I may consider doing another one in the future. There are no shortages of tips and advice out there on how to improve your stream; all you have to do is look.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Twitch Review: Not Just Entertainment

Twitch Review: Not Just Entertainment
I decided to write about my experiences on this topic, and what I have witnessed over the years since I joined Twitch. Its titled 'Not Just Entertainment' because I am about to explain why Twitch is an important social tool for networking, making friends, and even therapy.

I joined Twitch thanks to my friend TheGingerGinger introducing me to it when he started streaming. My first experiences were watching him play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I got addicted to watching because the game's specialty was its unique runs every play through. This lead me to searching for other people who also played that game when Ginger was offline. That was when I found CobaltStreak and Richard_Hammer. I checked out a few others who were also playing it, but these two just had a charm about them that kept me hooked, especially when they did things together. I was now addicted to Twitch.

Before I knew it, I was "wasting" hours of my day on Twitch enthralled by all the content I could pick from. The variety of games and streamers is endless to search through, and I love it. Perhaps there is a game I like to watch, but the streamer isn't really a personality I enjoy... so I move on to another streamer playing that same game until I find one who's personality fits with me. Personally, as you've read in my other blogs possibly, I am drawn more to 'positive' vibes. Mind you, there are quite a few... ahem... questionable streamers I thoroughly enjoy as well; and they're self-proclaimed assholes.

The difference between a controversial personality I like and one I don't, is how they talk about others. A streamer who makes dirty jokes and aggressive banter with their mods and regulars is actually alluring to me because it shows a sense of trust and kinship with them. Richard_Hammer was one of these types. Then there is a streamer who curses every other word to be edgy... talks down about other streamers... makes fun of people in their chat who they don't like... THAT is a streamer I will avoid in a heartbeat. So by all means, the "asshole" persona can absolutely work on Twitch; if you do it properly. The key to that is... you can be gruff, swear sometimes, playfully trigger your chat, critique the games you play, and still treat your viewers with respect and gratitude. Being a genuine dick to your viewers will only attract trolls to your channel who want to spam the chat, make fun of you in return, and contribute nothing productive to anyone. Sure you'll still get views, follows, even money... but I doubt you'll have as much loyalty as other streamer's communities.

That leads me to touch on the main subject of this blog. Twitch communities, and how they affect people on a personal level. When I started to expand my viewing away from just Binding of Isaac, I came across my first real "community" on Twitch. This was a Dungeons and Dragons stream called HowReRoll (see my other blogs for more on this stream.) My very first impressions there were positive; the mods welcomed me, the viewers welcomed me, and the streamers welcomed me. My voice wasn't lost in an over-active chatroom this time, and it gave me the opportunity to actually get to know the people in that community with my regular visits to the stream. If it wasn't for HowReRoll, I wouldn't have the genuine friendships with some people I have now. I made several friends in that community, some of whom have aided me in my times of need, and some (such as Bane) who I actually plan to meet in person after I move because I'll be closer to them.

To be able to go into a chatroom of a stream and say hello, and have the streamer greet you back and genuinely pleased to see you... its very nice. Sure, not all streamers can do this after they have reached a certain growth in their channel (because chat becomes far too fast to properly speak to everyone), but they find other ways to keep up with their regulars such as 'Sub Only Discord' channels for example. If you are a streamer... I CANNOT express enough how important genuinely talking to people in your chat affects them. You never know what your viewers are going through or how they are feeling; its possible they are depressed or just had a really bad day. So they open your stream to distract them from their own harsh realities, and just a smile and hello from you to them could totally change their mood. Some people will be excited by the fact a streamer they enjoy actually noticed and engaged with them as a real person. That's the magic of Twitch compared to YouTube. The social connection will draw in and keep people there who might be lonely. Sure, Twitch is obviously known for its entertainment aspect. But I think people under-estimate the power of the social side. I'm certain many of you reading this blog now can say that you have either made a friend on Twitch (whether that be the streamer, or someone in the chat community), or that a stream has been a tool at helping you not feel alone because you know if you felt like chatting... there would be someone somewhere on Twitch who would chat with you.

I've witnessed over the years both friendships and relationships blossom thanks to Twitch that otherwise wouldn't have happened. I'm not even talking about just the streamer themselves. The community some streamer's build can grow into a tight knit group of people with similar interests. They'll begin recognizing each other with regular visits, and slowly get to know one another's personalities. I've seen how closely Mods can bond, and become protective of "their" streamer and community. Its amazing to me to just sit back and watch strangers bond on such a level online. I even watched a streamer named Kismet use all his tips (as told to viewers) from Twitch to take his Mods to Twitch Con with him for all their support of him and his stream. STRANGERS bonding online over games, and then coming together to support one another so they can all meet in person and enjoy a trip together for something they all love? Absolutely beautiful to me.

This is where I will touch on the 'therapy' aspect I mentioned earlier. I can personally say I have witnessed several cases of genuine despair from both streamers and viewers. For example, maybe a streamer just lost someone important in their life. You can see on their face how sad and broken they are, and yet they found the strength to still stream. Why? Because like in the physical world... being with people you know care about you can be healing. When we're facing loss, the last thing we want to do is feel alone. So a streamer turns on their stream, and usually (depending on the community) they are welcomed with genuine support and love from their viewers. That can make anyone feel better. Its not just the streamer who gets support either. If a viewer mentions in chat something they are going through, perhaps a health problem, I have seen the streamer call for a show of support for that person (in the form of positive emotes usually) to let them know they aren't alone in their struggles. I witnessed one person who was struggling with cancer and chemo treatments say that visiting that stream and its community helped get them through the constant sickness and eased a lot of their suffering. This is the positive 'therapy' social aspect of Twitch that I've witnessed, and I'm barely touching on what I've seen.

Like any place in the world, you will have your bad people/streamers too. Ones who lie or deceive their viewers into getting more money for example. Assholes are everywhere in the world though. My experiences are just a tiny fraction of the Twitch community in my years spending time there. I have seen that while there are lots of 'troll' and 'gimmick' style streamers there... if you look, you can easily find a community you can fit in to and maybe even make a friend. Smaller streams are usually better for this, as the chat's are slower and people can keep up with communications among one another easier. But don't automatically dismiss larger streamers for this; I've seen more than a handful of high view streams still have a functioning chat community and an interactive streamer who does their best to at least greet you.

So if you're lonely, and looking for more of a community style atmosphere online along with your entertainment... Twitch is a great option for you. I know it was for me. There are even 'community' categories now that cluster streamers of similar interest or personality into one place for you to find easier. My personal favorites: 'Variety Streaming', and 'Positivity'.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Twitch Streamers: Bane Blackstar

Bane Blackstar
Twitch Handle: BaneWares
BaneOfSpades


This wonderful lady is someone I met on Twitch and quickly became close to. Though we cannot meet in person (yet) I consider her a friend and someone I could talk to on a personal level if needed. I already did one blog of her at the start of the year, but a lot in her life has changed and I just felt like making a second blog on her new adventures and why I think she deserves more people checking her out.

Bane is an underappreciated talent that deserves so much more than she's gotten so far growth wise. She does both gaming and crafting on her channel. She also occasionally does streams that are for the betterment of her and anyone that wants to join her, such as discussion about life, organizing, health and more. There are plans for some stretching/yoga style streams soon as well which I personally look forward to. As my health has gone down these past couple years... I find Bane to be a personal boost of encouragement for me to try harder. She lives with chronic pain and other health issues that really interfere with her dreams and goals... yet she still pushes forward through it and keeps trying. I admire that trait in her a lot.

Streams based around positivity often draw me in on Twitch. Sure, I enjoy an occasional meme-like or troll'ish stream sometimes for a laugh, but I don't stick around those very long because it gets old and I take away nothing from them except having gotten a little laughter. This streamer has not only given me laughs, but she taught me to crochet through her streams, and I learn about more crafts by watching her processes. This is a SKILL that I can take away just from watching her streams, and possibly apply it in my own life in the future to get extra income as well. Few other streamers on Twitch can give you that.

Her gaming streams are fun too. I believe some of my favorites have been her relaxed lay-back Stardew Valley ones, her dwarven sibling World of Warcraft role play, and then her funny 100 Baby Challenge on The Sims 4. My absolute favorite streams were her Hunger Games ones of the Sims 4, which sadly had to end because the mechanics in the game changed to make it impossible to kill the sims off the way she had before. She also made really cool house creations in the game with her unique sense of style that had me in awe. She's been enjoying Don't Starve lately too. Its not a game I'm particularly into, but its still fun to watch her and her subs/patreons play it and get into random scenarios of trouble.

So please, if you are a streamer or a twitch viewer or even someone who has yet to enjoy Twitch... check this woman out for a stream or two at least. Everyone has good and bad days, but on average Bane provides great quality and genuine personality; she's very interactive with her viewers. Please enjoy a few of my favorite moments below in these Twitch Clips over the years to get a taste of Bane.

Live Clip Moments of Bane

Her Genuine Appreciation of People's Support

Bane Making Junimo's from Stardew Valley

Narrating a Sim's Fight


Amazing Hand Crafted Items by Bane

See more in her shop!!
Hats, scrunchies, sweaters, charms, etc.


Bane Social Media:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/banewares/
Personal Twitter: https://twitter.com/BaneBlackstar
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/banewares/



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

News/Autobiographical: Wild Fires

This is the first I've had internet in a couple days, yet I'm one of the lucky ones who still had power at my house. I live in Northern California, where if you have seen the news... you know that we have several devastating fires going on right now. I know friends in several of those fires who have now lost their homes. People have also lost their lives. The air at the moment is hazardous and people are advised to not only stay indoors but in the evacuated areas to also boil their water. You can get the numbers and official news online easily enough if you search... I'm going to take a moment to write down my personal experience and feelings in this blog. It may even help distract me from the pain in my lungs breathing this smoke.

My experience began at 4am the 9th when my neighbor (bless her) and someone I consider family was heard pounding on my door. I'm not exactly sure how long she had been out there knocking... but I know my dogs were barking at least a couple minutes before I relented from my sleep to get up. I still hesitated a moment, not sure who would be pounding on my door at such an hour. I've had experiences in the past where strangers need help and rush into my house for 911 followed by their assailants... so I am cautious by nature now. I finally opened the door though to hear her panicked explanation of what was going on. We had a fire not yet in town but right on the line, just north of us and it was spreading fast due to the very large wind storm we were having that night. I instantly felt empathy for her as she also went on to tell me about ANOTHER fire in the county down from us, where she has more family (and my friends) evacuating from fires as well! I later learned sadly that her daughter and their family lost their apartment. They had to evacuate with two children, one of them only recently having been born, and lost everything. The irony in that was... they were just about to move too. My heart is broken for them. So I gave her a hug and told her to come to my place if they needed water or anything, because I've stocked up just for these type situations. She returned home (a block over) and I went to check the news.

My net was down.

I had no way to check the news! Not only that, but our cable was out as well, so no news from local or state stations either. As I said before... I was one of the lucky ones to at least still have power; many of my friends were not as fortunate. I went into emergency mode and got my supplies and everything prepped by the door and in the car incase we had to leave, as well as made sure my phone was charging. That was when I remembered I could get to Facebook through my phone at least. So there, I managed to scroll through on my tiny screen (a very old LG tracfone) to try to find any news I could on the fires. It hadn't taken long for it to get worse. By morning, the fire had entered my town too, and the area the fire had started had not only been mandatorily evacuated, but several of my friends lost their homes (or are still waiting to SEE if they've lost them.) Roads were closed, and an entire section of the town was closed to the public.

Several people wisely chose to evacuate when the voluntary area was issued, however... our town and neighboring towns ran out of regular gas. Last I heard, only premium was left... and I don't know if that lasted or not. I can imagine any stores open were probably drained of their water and other resources too. Then I started to see news of looting and stabbings!! It always blows my mind that people resort to violence in these type situations. That is human nature though; fight or flight. So I also had to make sure my car and house were locked up and that if I had to go outside for any reason to take my dogs with me, just in case.

My Mom is elderly and disabled. If it came down to having to evacuate, it is not going to be easy to convince her. She has agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) which has kept her in this house for years with maybe one or two brief trips outside. Her panic attacks are brutal, and she's almost 70 now. It scares me to think that in order to keep us alive, I may very well end up killing her with the stress by having us leave. Then there are the dogs we'd need to take with us, and my poor bird... who I know for a fact would die if I took him with me from a heart attack (cockatiels are notorious haters of being moved) so I would have to abandon him too. Don't worry, I do have a plan to give him his best options of survival if it did come down to having to leave. I'd never ever leave my animals trapped in a situation they can't escape from to face a horrible death.

As I write this blog, news has said that our fire (#SulphurFire) is about 10% contained and luckily the wind died down significantly. Our neighboring fires #Tubbs and #SR as well as one to the north of us in Mendicino Counties are still going strong. The air here is so bad. I made a plan in our house that blocks off the back from the front, where we have a fireplace that is letting smoke in. So where we are in the back, the air is more tolerable at least than the front of the house and the outside. I'm sensitive to smoke... always have been. My allergies are going crazy, my head is pounding, and my lungs are burning. Mom luckily doesn't seen too affected yet which eases my stress a little. I do have to go outside sometimes for the dogs and other things, but I've limited it to only when absolutely necessary.

So there is my story, for now. Things could change at any moment still. I may have to evacuate, I may not. As time moves forward, I'll read and learn of more and more heartbreaking news about my friends and community. I have plenty of horror stories in my mind of things that can still go wrong, but I'll spare you from my neurotic worries. Thank you for taking the time to read this. My story is mild compared to others; I'm fortunate so far, and thankful. My thoughts are with everyone in California affected right now. Be safe, stay strong, look out for one another.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hot Topic: Charity

In the wake of so many natural disasters lately, I got inspired to write this blog about my views on charity. My heart aches for all the people lately affected by the fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. Not to mention the chemical plant leaks, floods, and human violence added into the mix. So a lot of us sit and watch this wishing we had some way to help those affected. Thus... we consider charity.

When someone mentions charity, most people's first thought is "Red Cross". However, I highly discourage anyone from donating to Red Cross, as they have been proven (personal experience included) to give poor service to those they are supposed to be helping... and the money often disappears or doesn't end up going toward the needs of people in the disasters. There are plenty of articles online you can read about the shadiness of this "charity" so I wont elaborate on it too much here. However, when the Red Cross came to help my county with the Valley Fire (and others) I saw and heard personal experiences of rude staff, stingy aid, and turning people away who were in need. I do not like the Red Cross now, and think they really need to re-evaluate how they provide aid.

With that said, there are countless other charities you can contribute to. Just be careful and do your research to find out if they are honest and legit. There are several scams out there pretending to be charities to rip people off of their money. The scummiest of scum. Read up on the charity; check their website, ask if people have heard about them or interacted with them before and their opinion of it. See what percentage they take for operational cost compared to what is used and given to the cause. "GoFundMe" is a good source to find a lot of charities on a site you can trust... but not all the GoFundMe causes are legit, so be careful.

You can also donate plenty of other things besides money, if you are capable.
Donate Your Time - Help at soup kitchens, help hand out water or supplies, help search and rescue with an extra pair of eyes, help clear rubble in disaster areas. Just make sure when you do these things that you aren't actually putting yourself in danger and getting in the way of emergency staff. Giving them extra people to have to save will hinder more than help things.

Donate Your Blood - Sadly this often comes to the Red Cross... but it is what it is. One of the most vital resources needed in times of disaster is blood. So if you are able, you should consider finding a venue (usually a van, or a temporary place at a fire station) to donate your blood at. It costs you nothing but a little of your energy that day, and might actually save a person's life. In some places, they might even pay you to give your blood (though that has become rare these days.)

Donate Your Items - Have some canned food, jackets, blankets, clothes, baby formula, etc. just laying around that you don't need? Look for donation bins at local stores or charity drives in your area that are collecting these things. Winter is almost here, so the need for these things is increased. You could be even be saving a child's life just by providing a jacket so they don't freeze in their heartless home this winter. You'd be surprised what you have in your house that you haven't even thought of in years, that could brighten another person's day by donating it.

Donate Yourself - Similar to donating your time, if you have a particular skill that can help others out... try volunteering your skills to help! First responder training? First aid training? Vet training? There are a lot of skills people might have that could be in short supply during a disaster, so check around and see if they are in need of any services that you might be able to aid with.

Finally, I'll end this blog by adding that every little bit of charity you give in this world helps. Even if you drop a penny into that little jar at the cash register. Give a hamburger to a hungry homeless person. Buy some toys for Toys for Tots. Visit a children's hospital to read to them or give some other form of entertainment to cheer them up and give them more hope for living. Add #charity hashtags to online movements when sponsors are donating simply for the sharing of their information. The opportunity to help is everywhere. All you have to do is open yourself up to it. If any of you have, or plan to give to charity, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a good human being. This world needs more kindness between people, and every little gesture helps.


Toys for Tots: https://www.toysfortots.org/
Blood Donations (Red Cross): http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood
And if you are on Twitch as of the time of this blog, don't forget to add the #charity hashtag when you give streamers bits, as it is donating to children right now. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Twitch Streamer Review: Drunkenuff, Tex, OCB

Multi-Streamer Review

Each of these guys deserve a separate blog of their own, but I don't want to over-saturate my readers on one day and I also don't want to delay in giving these guys some love. So now I am going to touch a bit on each streamer and why I watch them and recommend them to you. These three are getting recommended to you since I am a fan of the game 7 Days to Die which they are playing primarily right now.

Drunkenuff

Drunkenuff was actually one of the first streamers I started watching regularly for the game 7 Days to Die. He in the month I began watching him spent nearly $6,000 in giveaways for his chat in gift cards and games. It was incredibly generous and I had a great time watching his stream.

Want to watch a "real" streamer? It doesn't get much more real than Drunk! He is an Army Vet and he will tell you exactly what is on his mind and not give a crap if he offends you for it. There is nothing fake about him, and you will know it just by watching him. Like others I've talked about, he'll take time for some 'real' talk too, and you can learn a lot by listening to his stories. By the way, I love that he does a beard tug for his new people. He has a glorious beard, so if you dig them... go check out his.

At the time of this blog, he has been playing 7 Days to Die, Conan, and Everquest. I watch him primarily for his 7 Days to Die play personally, but I've been having fun watching Conan as well. His mega builds in 7 Days to Die are incredible. He has his friends build some of the most massive bases in that game I've ever seen. Their kill pits were dug out down to bedrock (a very huge feat) and then they would build a tower in the center to make it easier to kill the hordes of zombies and not lose too much loot. There is some building going on in Conan as well right now, so if you are reading this at the time of me posting it you should have a good chance of getting into his stream and seeing those cool builds. Even Kismet claims that he was inspired by Drunk's building.

He doesn't take a lot of time off and you can find him streaming fairly regularly. He's pushing for his Partnership but has recently gotten his Affiliate so if you want to support him, go throw him some bit currency or a subscription! He enjoys chatting with his viewers so go give him a hello too.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drunkenuff
Paypal: http://deepbot.tv/donations/donate.php?s=drunkenuff
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2791114
Smite Discount (keyword: drunkenuff): http://store.markeedragon.com/affiliate.php?id=508

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TexCubSF

If you are looking for a more 'chill' type streamer, Tex is the one for you. His soft voice and easy speaking can calm you and really draw you into what he's doing. Just because he's a bit more mellow though, don't think he doesn't get his humor in there. For example, his chat currency is nutz. Yep... so go watch him and grab some nutz. ;) You can even grab/steal each other's nutz!

Tex as of the time of this blog just did a charity drive for Child's Play too and raised at least $1510 for the kids. His link is here: https://donate.childsplaycharity.org/69be6352f45a5e388b688ec4c8f5a7f8 I'm happy and proud of him for doing this. Such a nice thing to help the kids! Have some spare money? Click the link and go throw some money at Child's Play too. :)

Tex does have a community sub server he plays on occasionally, as well as a 'stream' server where he plays with one or two friends, making the game that much harder and more of a challenge. He streams regularly so anytime I'm looking for a relaxing stream I enjoy turning onto Tex.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tex_sf
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBnM1ldBrqHY68gqy3fPt-g
T-Shirt & Mugs: https://www.designbyhumans.com/shop/TexCubSF/
Twitch Sub: http://twitch.tv/texcubsf/subscribe

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OilCityBattles

This is a streamer I only recently discovered through a raid from one of the others I've talked about. I immediately liked him though, and found him to be quite a friendly guy. Not only is he a good streamer, but he personally came to me and said he liked my blogs and offered to spread them around. He didn't have to do this, and the fact he offered meant a whole lot to me. So here is my turn to throw the favor back at him!

I don't have a lot of personal stories/moments I can share about OCB (OilCityBattles) yet, but I'm sure in time I will. He has given me a laugh or two while playing with/modding for other streamers though, lol. He's very funny, he laughs heartily which can be contagious, and he's not afraid to throw a dirty joke out there sometimes. So do me a favor and go check him out and see for yourself if he is someone you can enjoy! I think he is.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OilCityBattles
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oilcitybattles
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/oilcitybattles
Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/oilcitybattles
Gamewisp: https://gamewisp.com/channel/oilcitybattles/public
Donations/Tips: https://gather.operaevent.co/tips/oilcitybattles
Merchandise: https://shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/oilcitybattles?noCache=true

Twitch Streamer Review: Banlish

Also mentioned in my other blog: here


I normally wait a bit between my Twitch Review blogs, but Kismet and Banlish come as a duo to me. As you saw in the other blog if you read it, they have inspired me in many ways.

Banlish is another streamer in the positive category. If you enjoy a streamer who laughs... Banlish will not disappoint as he has a genuine, full bodied one. He constantly shouts out other streamers and encourages you to check out new people or growing streamers. He helps other streamers toward their goal of partnership, and gives everyone valuable advice on a regular basis on successfully streaming. Did I mention that as of this blog, he has streamed over 600 days IN A ROW. No breaks, he has streamed every day now for over 600 days. That is incredibly impressive to not take a day off in all that time. His goal is 1000 days and I'm certain he'll make it. He has even pre-planned the ability to stream in his future travels, lol.

At the moment his main games appear to be 7 Days to Die and Dark and Light. He has also played a lot of Fallout. He plays on multi-player servers he runs with friends and his community. Want to be on his community server? You don't have to be subscribed to him. Just watch his channel (and maybe chat a bit) for about 12 hours total and then you're welcome! Why? Because he and his community want to get to know you a little bit before you join to help discourage trolls who just want to go in and make hell for the players. Don't be a dick, and you'll enjoy yourself in their communities.

Banlish often has giveaways too. I wont say how or well, because its up to you to be there to deserve it. However, I CAN say that if you are wanting a game, a gift card, or more... watching him regularly will increase your odds, and you WONT be bored in the meantime.

If you like to collect funny clips, Banlish is really good at making silly mistakes in his games or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I have a disgusting amount of clips from his stream that still make me laugh when I watch them again. He tries to keep a positive and PG-13 stream, but that doesn't mean we don't all laugh at a bit of innuendo on occasion there. Oh, and Banlish loves puns so be sure to share goods ones when you get in there (actually he hates puns, but we all love to torture him with them anyway.) He also has hilarious and trolling mods that enjoy picking on Banlish as much as they can (he trolls back, as good friends should.) Want to give him a good scare? Check his 'jump scare' donations list below his stream. Just get ready to be called a dick or bitch (in love) as he's recovering, hehe. Feel free to tell him Jessimi recommended the scare if you like. ;) Don't like jump scares? He also has some funny/quirky sound donations too!

If you like good life advice... Banlish has some golden gems to provide. He doesn't just give other streamers shout outs, but he gives us amazing advice too on the best ways to make your stream successful. Banlish also has advice on how to get out of debt too if you ask him privately. He can't tell you certain things specifically, but he can guide you in the right direction to help and trust me... is valuable advice. Want to hear some real talk? Banlish has a lot of stories from his life to share, and health struggles that a lot of us can relate to. Regardless of his health or injuries though... he STILL streams -every- day. That deserves a lot of respect. I hope I can be half the streamer he is when I get back into myself. Thanks to him and a few others, I think I'll have a solid head start again. Thank you Banlish.

So as with these reviews, if I had something I could recommend improvement on... it would be getting distracted. He sometimes goes off on a rant, or in the middle of talking he gets distracted in his game and then forgets to finish what he was saying. Its endearing but sometimes I just want to go: "Banlish, finish what you were saying!!!" because I was so enthralled in it, lol.

At this time he is primarily an early morning/afternoon streamer (PST) so if you want to catch him (as he's on EVERY day) you can find him around that time. Here are some other places online you can also find him or support him:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Banlish
Website: http://www.banlish.com/
Discord: https://discord.gg/k5ePNbK
Blog: http://www.forum.banlish.com/index.php?/blogs/entry/4-1st-blog-post/
Gamewisp: https://gamewisp.com/banlish
Amazon U.S. Referral: link

Twitch Streamer Review: Kismet

Mentioned also in my other blog: here
Kismet

You can find him on Twitch

If you like positive streams and streamers, Kismet is up there with one of the MOST positive guys on Twitch. He's honest, he helps people with advice and networking, and he's relateable. He's also a graphic designer. As he tells his stream on occasion, due to his health condition... he could go to sleep one night and not wake up again; thus he lives each day to its fullest and enjoys the time he has. So many times I've heard a story from Kismet that jabbed me in the heart, or filled me with inspiration. He is also always full of energy, so watching his stream keeps me awake and interested. He also tends to "squirrel" as he calls it, and start rambling on something random or get distracted easily... we often laugh about this and he embraces it.

His art is great too, and you can see all sorts of really cool effects on his stream that you most likely wont see elsewhere on Twitch such as his 'stealth boy', 'love train' and 'bit cup dragon fire'. So if you are entertained by things like this, you'll adore his stream.

He plays a variety of games. At the time of this blog, his primary games are Fallout 4 and 7 Days to Die. The latter is what got me to start and continue watching him game wise. Similar to him, I hate zombies and scary movies... but 7 Days to Die is just unique in the fact you can get past the horror of the zombies and thoroughly still enjoy the game. He enjoys sandbox builder type games, and oh my goodness does he do an amazing job on his builds. He usually joins up with friends or fellow players on "teamwork" type servers he runs (he also has a community server) so these grand builds are a bit easier/quicker, but that doesn't make them any less impressive. If you want to learn how to build in one of these games, watching him will give you a ton of great tips.

As with most of these reviews, I try to pinpoint an area of "improvement" for the streamer. Kismet makes that hard, lol. So perhaps if there was anything to "improve" upon, it would be his squirreling... but I still find that endearing. His distractions do once in a while hurt his gaming or make him not finish a thought he was talking on, lol. Most of the time its just good for a laugh though, or you are in for a long talk with a golden piece of knowledge to take away with you.

He at this time is more of an evening/night (PST) streamer. He just recently got his partnership and well deserved in my opinion!! So I highly encourage you to go watch a stream or two of his, and then maybe consider giving him some support with a subscription. Even if you don't, just hanging out and watching helps him out and trust me, you wont find him boring. :)

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/kismet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KismetBP
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kismetbp/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=2571087
Gamewisp: https://gamewisp.com/kismet_ringofdestiny
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/kismetbp
Discord: https://discord.gg/0pCoAkwVGtNbcX9m


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Anime/Cartoons Review: My Little Pony FIM

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Review

Yes, this is a blog review about MLP (my little pony) and yes, I do like the show. I have watched it from start to current, including the movies. My age doesn't matter, and if that came to your mind, you should re-evaluate your way of thinking and wonder why you automatically shun something that could be entertaining, just because society says "you're too old to enjoy this."

As with ALL forms of entertainment and characters... yes, there is a creepy underground movement that likes to sexualize these characters. Look up anything you like (Mario, X-Files, Rugrats) and you'll find this disturbing trend. It is not just MLP that has this, and just because a fan is called a "brony" doesn't mean they fall into this creepy category.

The term Brony, "brother pony" or "bro pony", was created by fans as a way to find one another in a world that immediately throws hate at them. Yes, men like this show. So what? As you'll see later in this article, gender has nothing to do with appreciating what this show has to offer everyone. There is NOTHING wrong with a man liking MLP, or calling themselves a Brony. By the way, for the ladies out there, if you weren't aware... the female equivalent of Brony is called "Pegasister" (Pegasus Sister.)

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, lets move on to the reasons why this show is absolutely amazing.

The Art
The art style is done in a very 'cutesy' way, and yet if you look closer you can see SO much detail in all that vibrant color. There are also several characters made to look like famous stars who either get a voice part in the show or are fans of it. (Weird Al for example) I am a big fan of the endless amount of color in this show and the fact that no matter what scene I'm watching, there is something interesting to look at. The characters are all very unique as well, with the color combinations and "cutie marks" making each one different. I love this, and feel that it embraces the ideal of no matter our differences... we can still get along.

The Music
This is probably my favorite part of this show, but it might not be for everyone. There are several times throughout the series where the characters break out in song, similar to Disney or Musicals. Its mostly 'pop' style songs, but you'll get your alternatives in there sometimes too (Rap, Polka, Blues) and I adore it. I cannot speak anymore highly of the music than I'm writing right here, and I recommend people give the show a try even if only to hear some amazing songs.

The Story
The concept of this version of MLP is obviously focused around "friendship." Throughout the series, we get to see both the struggles and enlightenment of the characters as they are challenged with the obstacles of friendship. Sometimes, its not easy to make or even keep a friend. This show provides endless amounts of moral teachings in an entertaining way about friendship. I even learned a few things watching it, and was able to relate to several of the characters and their struggles. For example, the main character Twilight, starts out in the show as a hermit and literally has panic attacks at the very idea of having friends. She preferred her solitude and the safety it gave. I was like this as well in my younger years, and watching Twilight break out of her shell and find the value of having friends brought me to tears because her struggle was my struggle. This show might be mostly quirky and cute... but it really does have some very deep moments that will make you think and feel.

The Characters
This blog would run on endlessly if I were to talk about all the characters in this show. There are at least a hundred unique ones throughout the series. So instead, I'll touch on some of my own personal favorites in the series. Be warned, discussing some of these characters could be a spoiler for you if you have not yet reached that point in the series.

Fluttershy
(Voice: Andrea Libman) 
*also voices Pinkie Pie
This is my favorite character in the show. I relate to her on a personal level in many ways. She is a shy, timid pony who doesn't like to speak up or interrupt others even if she has something important to say. Her struggles are based around finding her inner courage and the self-confidence to speak up when she has something to say. Her 'character' is also the personification of 'Kindness' and she is always treating people how she would want to be treated, no matter who they are. This later connects with another favorite character of mine 'Discord.' She also loves and takes care of animals as her job and hobby.

Twilight Sparkle
This is the "main" character in the series. Mind you, the group of ponies are actually all the main characters, but at the start of the series the show focuses on following Twilight as she gets to Ponyville and learns to make friends. She was relatable for me in the way I already described above. It doesn't hurt that my favorite color is purple either, hehe. Twilight is a scholar and a student of Queen Celestia. She has a baby dragon companion named Spike who aids her in her journies. She starts out friendless, too focused on studies and work to make time to try to have friends. We then get to see her grow as she learns lessons about having friends and the struggles and values that come along with keeping them.

Princess Luna
This is possibly the most tragic character in the series. She broke my heart several times and I often found myself relating to her struggles and her way of thinking. We get to see a few different transformations from her, good and bad. I can't say too much about her here without giving away spoilers, which I don't wish to do. Easily however, Luna could have been my favorite character in place of Fluttershy... but Fluttershy won me out.


Discord
(Voice: John de Lancie)

Love him or hate him, this is a character that will never get boring. He starts out in the show as a villian, but you get to see a bit more about him later on in the series. This character makes me laugh more than any other and I personally love his personality. He only gets better and better as the show goes on, and I often find that my favorite episodes tend to include him.


The other main characters in the series are:
Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Queen Celestia, Spike.

Pinkie Pie was one of my least favorite characters in the show, because I found her a bit too high energy and never taking anything serious. However, she grew on me over time as I got to learn more about her past and her family. Rarity is an interesting character that I often go back and forth on if I like her. She's definitely one of the prettiest of the characters to me however. Applejack is fun and quirky... even though I find her to be a bit TOO honest sometimes (which is noted to be a flaw at times in the show.) Rainbow Dash is another character I couldn't relate to very much, but she always makes me laugh. I adore her quest for coolness and the fact that she represents loyalty, which is important to me. Queen Celestia is the ruler of the land, and an absolute beauty art wise. We don't get to know too much about her until a special that goes over the story of her and her sister Luna. Spike is a 'side kick' type character and mostly there for comic relief, but I adore the fact that we get to see his growth sometimes when he has to face his fears, or embrace who he is. And his crush on Rarity is absolutely adorable.

So there you have a brief (haha... yes, brief) overview of some of the characters in the show. That is by far no where near all of them. As the show goes on, new "main" characters show up as well. We also get several episodes with guest celebrity appearances which are always amazing (such as Wierd Al, William Shatner and Felicia Day for example.) There is a character in this show for everyone. A fan favorite is "Derpy Hooves" (named by fans on the Internet) who was seen in an early episode with a slightly 'off' eye. Fans fell in love with her and she became a permanent addition to the show even though she'd been intended to just be background in the start.

I highly recommend this show. Don't be close minded. If you HAVE to... just watch it in secret and don't let anyone know. Appreciate it for the magic that it is. I can't speak any higher of this show than I already have, and I'm very happy to have it in my life. Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Twitch Streamer Review: Aurora_Peachy

Aurora_Peachy

I'm going to review and discuss a streamer on Twitch who I try to watch every day if I'm up early enough. Aurora_Peachy!

She is a very positive person, funny, and caring about her community. She lives with her husband "Mr. P" as we call him, and her step daughter "Mini P" as well as her many adorable dogs. Her primary game on Twitch is Guild Wars 2, but you can also see her playing variety games with her Twitch friend BogOtter as well. She has played Stardew Valley, Final Fantasy, Blade and Soul, PUBG, and many indie games.

Her stream theme is peaches, with her viewers said to be the peaches in her peach orchard. Her different sub levels include Exotic Peaches, Ascended Peaches, and Legendary Peaches and the icon for them in chat are adorable. She keeps a positive, pg-13 atmosphere in her stream and encourages everyone to treat each other kindly. Malicious trolling or rudeness gets you a quick ban out of the community. A little friendly trolling is fine though, and you'll sometimes see her mods or long time subs trolling her with her $21 Katy Perry donation sound, or her $6.66 jump scare donation sound.

If you don't like to see girls cry, Peachy might not be the stream for you. She cries... a lot. But her tears are always genuine from happiness, sadness, frustration... she's an open book with her emotions and honest about them. I personally like that about her, but I know that it might make some people (men in particular) uncomfortable if she starts crying. Most of her tears come from happiness... such as kindness shown from her community, or the excitement of a new release of something she loves.

Peachy doesn't only do Twitch though. How I first discovered her was actually on YouTube, with Sailor Moon Crystal reaction videos. I watched her laugh, cry, scream... and I quickly adored her. I watched every single Sailor Moon video she made, partly because I'm also a fan of Sailor Moon, but also because she just so easily draws you in to experience and feel what she's feeling. There are also Guild Wars 2 videos, and others on her channel you can check out as well. I regret that I hadn't found her on Twitch sooner than I did seeing as how I watched her so much on YouTube.

If you play Guild Wars 2, I encourage you to watch her streams or even join in with her party. She encourages people to join her guild and dance along on her 'Peachy Party' streams with her, as she does giveaways or raids or questing. As long as you are friendly and don't troll or backseat game her, you'll likely have a good chance to join in with her on a random variety of games.

Peachy has also done several streams that donate and encourage donations to charity. For all the generosity she receives, she gives it back ten fold, and I very much respect her for that. I hope one day when I start streaming, I can be even a fraction of the wonderful person that Peachy is.

You can learn more about Peachy with the following links, and I highly suggest following her on all her social media's to keep up with her content, which she is very active with posting. Thanks for reading this review!

Social Media: 
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/aurora_peachy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuroraPeachy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuroraPeachy/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AuroraPeachy
Discord: http://discord.gg/peachyparty

Support Peachy!
(Links provided from her Stream Profile)
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/AuroraPeachy
Guild Wars 2 Referral Link: https://t.co/6LCyMZoa7k
Amazon Referral: Click Here
Amazon Referral (UK): Click Here
Amazon Wishlist: List Here
Steam Wishlist: List Here

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hot Topics: Suicide

A recent incident with a friend inspired me to write this. Before you read further, if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, there is professional help out there for you. You are not alone.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

I recently had a fight with someone who I considered a friend, and a person I looked up to. As a disabled Veteran, that automatically earned my respect. However, she's also a self-published author, and we had a lot of similarities personality and interest wise. As my friend, she stood up for me and went out of her way when my stalker was harassing me. A wonderful woman in many ways.

However, a conversation with her turned into a fight. In my eyes, I was trying to support her in a moment of sadness and a threat of erasing a project she loved dearly. In her eyes, perhaps due to the emotional state she was in at the time, she felt I was giving her 'tough love' and felt attacked. It was implied to me that I was making her want to kill herself. A cruel thing you can say to anyone, by the way, especially a friend.

I wont go into further details of that incident in this blog. However, coming away from it I felt inspired to talk about suicide and my experiences with it. Suicide is very serious, and while some people might get the mindset that people just want attention when they talk about being suicidal, that's not always the case. And even if it is... by giving them that attention they need, you are helping them remember that they are not alone.

I've unfortunately had people close to me who died from suicide. Even as recently as last year. When you lose someone you know to suicide... it is a horrible feeling. You question if there was anything you could have done different to stop it. You wonder all kinds of "what if" thoughts. It torments you for a long time and... you'll never really settle on a right answer. There is no right answer for the tragedy of someone ending their life willingly prematurely. Its only sad.

I too, am a survivor of suicide. In my teen years, I went through some very horrible experiences. I also suffered from clinical manic depression, and was seeing therapists for it and taking meds. I was a cutter... cutting myself helped bring me back to reality when my head was drowning in depression. Was it good to do? No. But at the time, I did not know healthier ways of managing my depression. I also explained to friends a few times that I was feeling suicidal. They helped pull me back from the brink many, many times. I can only imagine the fear and sadness I must have caused them then.

One day however, the depression won. I had my sleeping pills. I'd had a fight with someone that day, and was feeling particularly alone. I thought... "I'll just take this many and hope it knocks me out for several days so I don't have to face the world. If it kills me... so be it." By 'this many' I'd taken half of the pills that were left... somewhere around six or seven I think. I just wanted to escape the world and escape my mind. I was willing to risk my life to try to coma through a few days. That is when things went bad.

The sleeping pills caused me a temporary case of amnesia, as the doctor told me. This means, I literally forgot that I had taken those pills... but remembered the intention to take them originally. Thus, I ended up taking the rest of the bottle thinking it was the first time still. So I swallowed somewhere around a dozen pills, partly by accident, partly on purpose. The only reason I can tell you the rest right now is because it was told to me by my mother, and the doctor, because that day is no longer in my memory. Its just... blank. A very scary feeling.

My heart had stopped at one point, but I was revived. Eventually I was 'aware' or conscious enough that the doctors decided to use the charcoal method to empty my stomach. That means, for hours, I was vomiting liquid charcoal like the exorcist. I ruined my favorite shirt too. All I remember is waking up in the hospital, and for another hour or two apparently I asked "what happened?" to my Mom 20+ times. The amnesia was still affecting me and my memory was all kinds of messed up. I've also had some memory issues since that incident.

The reason I'm sharing my personal story here, is because I hope to help others see that I understand, and can relate to their pain. I too, have done my best to talk some of my friends back from the ledge of suicide. Its not always an easy thing to deal with emotionally, but its important that you at least try. Even if you get it wrong, you'll be satisfied that you did your personal best.

I never attempted suicide again after that, but that doesn't mean suicidal thoughts hadn't remained in my mind. I just learned ways as I got older to manage it in a healthier way. I also finally got on some medications that helped take the edge off and make it easier for me to deal with and face. I'm thankful I didn't die that day, because there is still so much more left for me to experience in life, including this moment of sharing my story with you. Maybe it will help you, or help you to help someone you care about. You might not get it right... but just trying, can often be enough for someone. It was for me.

I'd like to now share this story which I saw recently. It reflects very well the thought process of someone about to commit suicide, and it comes from two viewpoints. Hopefully it can help someone out there understand better the mindset of those fighting depression. You are not alone, no matter how much it feels like it.

Article: "I survived jumping off the golden gate bridge."