Thursday, November 29, 2018

Eliminate Distraction

The last week or so has been wonderful and terrible all at the same time. I have connected more with worthwhile people. I have also felt vulnerable and lost. Vulnerable is not my best thing in some ways.
 
I often allow myself to be emotionally or professionally vulnerable. Maybe force myself is a more accurate term. By exposing the raw feelings and inner workings of David, I allow people to get to know me in a deeper and more intimate way. This often garners trust and respect. Those are currencies worth trading in. Almost no one wants facade or bullshit. I hold a real, honest monster in much higher regard than I do a hero that hides their true intentions. 
 
Sometimes my blog is a really intimate look at my heart. More often it shows off the cold calculation in my brain with a little tiny speck of my heart represented if you read really, really carefully. When my friend Christy read my blog she criticized," I like it. It shows a lot about your thoughts. It doesn't tell me much of anything that you are doing." That was astute. 
 
My therapist similar pointed out that I approach highly emotional situations with a type of emotionally detached logic. I think in place of feeling all too often. More accurately, I feel everything keenly. I then hide those feelings behind a wall of logic. This is a self-defense mechanism, and it often is one that stunts my growth. It is a habit I am trying hard to break.
 
Because of this tendency of mine, I tend to value or devalue highly emotional people based on my mood. When I am happy, I love feelings based people. They grant me a sort of vicarious permission to explore my own feelings. When I am insanely stressed, as is the case of the last week or so, feelers frighten the hell out of me. I will quite literally run in the other direction. 
 
When I get depressed the thing I typically lose is focus and direction. I will do all of the standard actions, but I hit a sort of apathetic inertia. Since I am the most satisfied when I am engaged and involved in things this becomes a cycle of sadness. I am not doing anything and so I don't know what to do with myself. The solution always presents itself in time. Sometimes it comes from the muses. Those are the best inspirations and they often launch me into a sort of euphoria of creativity. 
 
My latest funk was broke by a friend writing her first blog post. I am going to expose her a little bit and say you can read her blog here. Her post had absolutely nothing to do with what I am writing now but look at the bravery on the page. (or don't if you feel it is voyeuristic) I envy the emotion there. I respect the flow of feelings from start to finish. It is pure, simple, unvarnished honesty. Like me, she hung the words out there for universal consumption. 
 
It also made me think. Instead of being a whiny puddle of my own emotional distress, I need to break the funk and make some small progress. I haven't put my fictional pen to the page in a long time. I have been cranking out a fair few thoughts and feelings based works (they don't all make their way to the blog, kids). I have been extremely stagnant on my fiction though. I have been stupidly entangled with distraction. 
 
I have put some time into developing my writing. I read works on the craft. I generally practice some vague tips and tricks to be a better writer. The truth of the matter is, I have been playing AT writing for a while though. It has become an outlet for me when other things are just too big.  That is not the path to writing success. To fix that I have decided to focus and codify my process for writing. Since my life reflects my art, this should translate into another wonderful journey of self-discovery. 
 
My biggest enemy on this journey is meaningless distraction. Spending hours blindly button mashing on video games is a quick example of a time-wasting distraction. The more insidious distractions come from time wasting people. Sometimes telling the difference between life-affirming interaction and someone getting you lost in the woods is so bloody difficult. I will attempt to map out what I know.
 
The spurned lover- call them your ex, baby daddy, or your bae (is this still a thing? I am getting old and my slang is slipping)- this broken relationship is an infinite source of distraction. There is a reason I put this first on the list. The problem with the spurned lover is that you actually have feelings for this person. You want to do as right as possible by them either for love or old time's sake (if said love has soured). You give of your time and your emotional bandwidth out of both habit and a sense of obligation. 
 
This is really bad for both of you. It is a form of living backward and facing yourself toward the past which has already been lived. I have enough trouble not slamming into things facing forward. Facing backward is insanely difficult (this sparks a story about walking into a parking meter that someone needs to remind me to post for a good laugh.) This person may not be a Toxic part of your life, but they are preventing you from making as much progress toward the next place you should be. 
 
If you share a child with the spurned lover there may be so much leverage for them to distract you that freedom seems impossible. You have a common goal. You made a person (or people) together. That bond is so profound as to be almost primal. I personally hate when biological tendencies try to control my thoughts and emotions. There is a reason I have higher brain function. 
 
In the typical spurned lover situation I am as much of a distraction for them as they are for me. Airing the dirty laundry and honesty about the situation typically cures the problem. Things end for a reason. If we aren't what we once were there is a reason for this. We need to stop shooting for a goal that is behind us. Whatever you do, do not sing Let It Go from Frozen. No one takes this move well. Maybe it is just my singing voice? If honesty doesn't do the trick, limit your contact to manageable bites.
 
 
The endlessly needy friend- This poor soul ALWAYS has drama in their life. They often feel the victim of fate or circumstance. They will say things like,"My life never used to be like this," or," What has happened to me?" If you could look at them from an omnipotent perspective, they have always been a tragic figure. This is no coincidence. They aren't (for the most part) cursed. They are victims of their own self-loathing. They bring about their downfall subconsciously because they feel it is deserved. Don't allow yourself to attach to them or you may find yourself falling off the ladder you were trying to help them climb. 
 
There are two solutions here. Learn to listen to the endlessly needy friend without giving any advice or offering any help. You are "there" for them but you are not entangled in their misfortune. Be sure to control any feelings of empathy or sympathy. These are the morsels that the endlessly needy friend are foraging for. Do not become a meal. 
 
The second solution is cold-blooded, but it is the suggested treatment. Banish the person from your life. The amount they will take from you can never be regained. You cannot make it up elsewhere. You only stand to lose and so you must escape the gravitational pull of their vortex of entropy. Dramatic, sure, but not inaccurate. 
 
The fun friend- now this is a dual-edged sword. That friend that we all have who is the life of every party is a valuable resource. They can drive you and inspire you. They can also completely distract you from the things that you should be doing. Their energy comes from somewhere. Is that manic energy actually being pulled from you? Do you leave this person feeling refreshed or exhausted? Psychic vampirism is a very real thing.
 
Since I have been guilty of being this person for a long time my advice may or may not be biased. I am an entertainer by heart. I feed openly on the involvement and approval of my audience. (Yep. I am doing it as you read these words.) I know I completely exhaust some of my friends. I also know I wake others up and motivate them. Am I a dangerous distraction? Absolutely!
 
The way to deal with this is to control your interactions. Do not go a step further than you want to with this person. When your energy stops building from this person take a break. Expose yourself to them in bursts than work in your favor. Use them to top up your own batteries. When you feel the drain begin, find an excuse to do something they find boring. This will probably buy you the necessary respite.
 
Now the extreme version of this fun friend is the energy leech. They never get the hint. You are their meal. They will stick around and suck all of the energy out of not only you but everyone else in the room. The tactic here is difficult. Match their energy if you can. Give them a type of emotional indigestion. This will break their want to snack on you. If that doesn't work, cut contact. The cost of their company is too high.
 
I could probably write a few thousand more words on distracting types of people. That in and of itself would be a worthy distraction. For the Message here not to be diluted I have two more things that I need to touch on: Distracting feelings and distracting activities. 
 
2018 has been a year of emotional harmonization for me. I had to admit I have feelings. Then I had to admit that I am not in control of all of them. Finally, I had to admit that all of my feelings are valid even the really bad ones. They exist, have a right to exist, are valid, and are caused by valid things. This is a work in progress, but it is helping me find a healthier, more satisfying life.
 
Some feelings are there to distract and disarm you. The biggest of these is insecurity. That niggling little voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough is really rooted in self-loathing. It tells you that you aren't good enough because it wants to be right about what a terrible person you are. It tells you that you are too fat, too skinny, too loud, too ugly, too dumb, too caustic, too bad, too evil, too boring and that your feet smell bad. To be fair, it is probably right about your feet. That is ok. Your feet are supposed to stink.
 
Insecurity is there to limit you from your potential. I equate this with sin. Sin isn't literally doing bad things. It is falling short of being the person you are capable of being. It is wasting your gifts based on the little demon that has possessed your soul for the sole purpose of keeping you from trying. Taking this literally as metaphorically as your individual faith allows.
 
To not waste time on insecurity you have to ignore the doubt. Sometimes you need to show yourself that you are capable of greatness. Other times, you need to recognize that the effort you have made is plenty good enough even if you didn't necessarily meet your goal. You answer your self-loathing with acceptance and self-love. I make it a practice to tell me how much I love myself several times a day. Occasionally this turns physical. Most healthy relationships do. (Yes, my insecurity totally poked fun at my thinly veiled joke about masturbation, but my pride at the strength of my vulnerability won out.)
 
A distinct cousin to insecurity is fear. Fear of loss is the most destructive form of fear. You will fail to tell someone how you really feel because you don't want to lose them as a friend. You won't apply for a promotion or a job because you fear being told that you aren't good enough. You fear to let go of the past because you don't know what the future holds. 
 
All of these fears are permissive. They give you the authorization to not try. They stagnate you. They surround you in a cloud of compromise and comfort. They also insidiously seduce you to continue to give up on more and more things. 
 
To combat this, you should pursue things that scare you. We learn the most from our failures in a process called trial and error. You attempt it. You botch it completely. You analyze what didn't work. You try again but change the game up. Eventually, you succeed. Insert that stupid Thomas Edison quote (or often misquote) here if it makes you hard. I won't lower myself to it. You all know that one I mean. 
 
Give yourself permission to try and fail. It is good to fail as long as you learn as much as you can from those failures. This breeds persistence, refinement, and confidence. I love fear. When I run into it there is a pretty good chance that I am about to face something that will make me grow stronger. I treat it as a harbinger of success. 
 
Finally, let's talk about distracting activities. Not everything that you do should have utility. It should all have a purpose. That is to say that everything you do should produce something within you. Television has been described as the opiate of the masses. I would extend that to cover video games and the internet. 
 
They can all be meaningless idle pursuits. On the other hand, I watched an episode of The Orville and was inspired to write a novel. That was not the purpose of watching the show. I wanted to relax and have no direction for an hour or so. The inspiration was an unintended added bonus. That means that the value of the idle time was in and of itself distraction.
 
Activities that don't intentionally drive you to distraction are the ones that are problematic. They take your mind out of the place it needs to be and makes you less productive and focused. Sex is like that for a lot of people. I am certainly one of them. I can be very focused on something and suddenly trip over a sexual attraction that derails me. It takes some serious effort to get back on task since I am rarely in a time and place to alleviate the urge. 
 
Stories are a massive distraction for me. I love to read. I love comics. I love video games. I love TV. I love podcasts. The narrative distracts me completely. I can be in the middle of a meeting at work and my brain will just start working its way through the latest run of Detective Comics. (so good since Rebirth) I can also suddenly just find myself writing my own narrative from some crumb of an idea that was thrown out to me haphazardly. In these situations, I typically have to get the idea jotted down before I can concentrate again. 
 
I am certain all humans have unique distractions. The trick to these is to learn what it takes to avoid them when they cannot be indulged. Mine are couched in ritual. I make a note to come back to the distraction later and feel as satisfied as if it is expressed. I also feed my distractions in the moments I can indulge them very heavily. 
 
I plan what stories matter to me carefully. I give myself a set amount of time (normally an hour per day) to take part in them. That sacrifice makes the rest of my time a little more focused. 
 
I don't know that Eliminate Distraction qualifies as a rule. I put it on the list. I have to think a little more on it before it is fleshed out into a fully constructed concept. It does set up my next project neatly. I am going to limit my distractions in favor of making some progress on my writing. 
 
My narrative voice is very strong right now. It needs to feed on a diet of good content. I am going to get back to reading books about writing. I am going to start with Stephen King's On Writing. The Wordsmith always motivates me and challenges me. From there I will work through some more procedural work. 
 
I think that will lead to some new short stories for the blog. They make great writing exercises. They also are quick wins that help me to feel accomplished along the road. I hope this excites my audience. 
 
For now, I have exorcized the demon of this distracting idea. I am going to try and go get some rest. Being too distracted to sleep is never fun. 
 
 
 

 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Cantrell's Law of Conservation of Energy

I am so big on rules and strategies. I consider myself a student of life. I pay close attention to the cause and effect of the universe. From these observations, I have formulated my own translation of the Law of Conservation of Energy. This "law" is a foundation upon which many of my other rules are based. Before I dive into the philosophical drives and gears lets take a moment to deal with physics.
Per Wikipedia (because I am lazy and don't want to write out my own definitions):
"In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant, it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another."
This is the idea that the dinosaurs perished and over time became crude oil. Oil is then chemically refined into gasoline. The gasoline is pumped into the tank of my Yamaha. This produces acceleration. Acceleration plus a nice curvy country road produces a rare smile on my face. This releases stress and produces the rare state of being- Happiness.
I fell away from the sciences on that one. This is my space. I will do what I want with it. Also, they are my words. I will use them as I see fit. *Ahem* I converted the science into a law for living a more satisfying life. The basic principle of Cantrell's Law of Conservation of Energy is that your time and energy are finite. Always make the most effective use of them.
It is no coincidence that I am writing this post on Thanksgiving 2018. Many people are sitting down to an expensive and elaborate meal today. That meal is the result of hours of preparation by a few members of the family. My experience has always been that the larger crowd that takes part in the festivities does very little to bring about the actual meal.
My Mom would cook all night and then all morning. When we came to the table we fed our faces and enjoyed the results. Afterward, Mom would need a good afternoon nap. She exhausted herself and spent out all her energy and effort to bring about an event. I mentioned in a past post that we are not doing holidays this year. This is a result of the realization that no matter how much effort we put into the holidays' something is going to be missing.
Our holidays of years past were also filled with TONS of cleaning, shopping, and STRESS. While the house is cleaner than it has ever been, I did not want to deal with any of the rest of that mess. I wanted today to be about gathering my energy not expending it in an inefficient way. Spending 24 hours and $300 to produce one meal borders on the insane. I don't care how many leftovers there are. The payout is not equal to the effort.
Today has been nice. I have slept a bit. Dad and I moved our big grill out of the camp area and into the front yard. We are grilling up burgers and hot dogs. It is the best, most relaxing feeling. My belly will be just as full as if the other effort had been put out. This is a hell of a lot cheaper. It is a very effective use of our Thanksgiving effort. I think it may become the new tradition.
This approach to life has been with me a very long time. I just never formalized it. Once upon a time, I was very into martial arts. I learned that you didn't have to be stronger than your opponent to win. In fact, sometimes brute strength and size work against a fighter. The smarter fighter moves out of the way of fierce punches and kicks. You exhaust your enemy. You vex them. Then, as they are breathing heavy, you use a quick, efficient attack to down them. Using this method you can fight several people at once never fully engaging with any one person until it is safe to down them.
This law requires patience. It requires thought, restraint, and an understanding of where you can apply the least amount of pressure for the biggest effect. You cannot react. You cannot base your actions on immediately gratifying your emotions. This also has the added benefit of making you incomprehensible to most people. You will appear mysterious, reserved, and powerful.
The most important place to apply this law is in the investment of your time in people. Spending energy and time on a person fruitlessly is discouraging and the worst sort of waste. To that end I categorize my people into 3 groups.
The first group of people in my life are Family. I do not use that term in the literal sense because often relatives fall more neatly into the other two categories. Family are people that bring amazing value into your life. You often leave the presence of these people feeling refreshed and recharged. They are there for you through thick and thin. When things do get complicated with Family, it is always something you can resolve. In my life, this group is very, very small.
Cast and Crew are the second category. Hopefully, most of the people in your life are in this category. These are your coworkers, the people you run into socially but don't truly connect with, and people who don't hold a place of significance. This group is very important. If you treat them shabbily they will fall from this group. The Cast and Crew should not know your secrets. They should not see your real emotions. They are the functionaries of our life. Appreciate them at a distance. Some of my very favorite people are Cast and Crew. Being a part of the Cast and Crew is important as you begin a relationship (friendship, romantic, or professional) because it gives the necessary distance to see a person's actions in clear light. Promotions to Family should be exceedingly rare.
The final group are the Toxic. All too often they fall from the Family category because you let someone in that you should not have. Toxic doesn't imply fault either. That is important to remember. They may be Toxic to you because you royally screwed them over. Once someone goes Toxic there is no fixing it. Don't waste time on it. The effort required to fix Toxicity will always far away exceed the benefits gained by fixing it.
Most of this comes back to my Spartan thought patterns. I ask a series of questions such as:
Is this person a positive influence on my life? If not, why am I wasting time, thought, or energy on them?
Is this person a necessity to a function of my life? If not, why have I not removed myself from their path?
Is this person relevant to my present circumstances? Am I living in the past?
Do I have the power to rid myself of this person and their influence? The answer to this should always be yes even if it takes patience and effort to bring about.
Does this person violate the morals, laws, and rules by which I live my life?
This blog itself has been an exercise in conserving energy. While (hopefully) you will read this in one serving, I actually wrote this post in pieces over the course of 2 days. I continued to struggle with how to sum everything up and tie the scope of the post into a succinct, memorable summation.
I guess the central point of the post is to not waste your time, energy, or emotion in pointless, fruitless, masturbatory pursuits or people. I do not want this confused with the idea of not doing things you just don't want to do. There is a massive difference.
I used to hate going to work. I wanted to spend all my time pursuing my passions. I made stupid arguments against the necessity of working at all. I approached work as a means to an end...an ugly thing that had to be hurried through to get to the sweet parts of life. 
That attitude made me a lousy employee.  I presented half assed work on my best days. I often called in. Work was super stressful. I considered the whole affair a waste of time and my involvement with it toxic.
This wrong, negative mind set made me put a lot of effort into avoiding something vital to my life. I wasted tons of energy,  thought, and emotion on avoiding something that it was easier to embrace as necessary.  I was causing myself great pain trying to avoid a little mild discomfort. 
I eventually realized there is no freedom from the grind. I'm not going to win the lottery.  I'm not going to publish a single novel and gain financial freedom from the day job. I had to work.  The effort of fighting it was harmful.  Complaining about it was just producing negativity. 
I focused my effort on embracing work and being present and focused on it. I left my passions at home and even tried not to think about my writing or art while I worked.  The difference was immediate and profound.
I relaxed. Work became fun. I saw ways to change careers and earn more for less effort.  I got to be a great employee.  The jobs became rewarding. I started looking forward to work. Necessary didn't mean unpleasant. These days work is my sanctuary from the storms in the rest of my life. I love it!
The same shift of perspective is possible for the necessary people in your life. A few of you classified your boss as Toxic. While he may or may not be actually Toxic he is necessary.  Don't spend any of your time, energy,  or effort trying to avoid him. With rare exception changing your attitude will change the dynamic.
That is the whole spirit of my law of conservation of energy.  Embrace the necessary. Rise above the trivial.  Be truly effective in your choices.

Just don't think too hard on how many words I used to belabor this simple point. I enjoy the sound of my own voice.  Conserving writing energy is such a struggle.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Holiday Humbuggery and Riding in the Wet and Cold.

Life has been interesting of late. I have found myself at these keys several times looking at the blank page of a new post and completely unable to choose what to write about. Often, I have some overall theme in mind for my posts like one of my Rules or a situation that is on my mind that demands commentary. Fleshing out one of those ideas is extremely easy.
This type of post, the general status update, for me is more difficult. I don't want to ramble aimlessly. I also don't want to preamble too much, like I am right now. When I have several things weighing on my mind organization is the most difficult thing.
Let us start with the title of the post. If you go back and read my more holiday related posts from the past you may catch a glimpse of the idea that I am not a big fan of the holiday season. Starting a week or so before Halloween I begin craving the second week of January. I have felt this way for years. It isn't that I hate the idea of the holidays, spending time with family, the big meals, the gatherings, the busier schedule, or even giving and receiving gifts. I don't enjoy the holidays because of the undercurrent of extreme stress that comes with it.
People start stressing about money and the entire list of things I just mentioned. There is a collective feeling of frustration and anxiety in the air that starts building around now and doesn't dissipate until the holiday season is closed out. Sometimes it even takes a few months after the fact for the teeter-totter of the zeitgeist to swing back to balanced. I feel that in the air and it overrides the positive aspects of the holiday season.
It is funny then that I have felt so much sadness and anxiety about my family's decision to skip this holiday season entirely. That's right, kids. No Halloween costumes. (Not that I generally do that anyway!) No Thanksgiving gathering and meal. No Christmas gathering or gifts. No Counting down the New Year. We have decided, with the caveat of giving the little one gifts, not to do holidays at all this year.
I should feel a great sense of relief. My normal "bah humbug" feelings should be satisfied. I have talked about skipping the holiday season's formal rituals in the past. The reason we are skipping it though is the death of my Mom. That has my "healthy psychology" alarms going off. I don't want to sacrifice the holidays on the altar of our sorrow and loss. At the same time, mentally and emotionally I admit that I am not in the holiday spirit. Perhaps the choice to sit this season out is the right one. More importantly, while I am fundamentally satisfied with the choice, I don't want anyone else in the family to look back and completely regret that we didn't do something.
All of that falls under the heading of worry. Worrying accomplishes nothing at all except for wasting time and producing stress. I try hard not to waste time so I try to be practical and not worry. Instead, I focus on the solutions or positive aspects of the things I cannot fix. The next month and a half should be much less stressful than normal. I will save a significant amount of money I normally spend on gifts. That breaks the routine of spending too much at the end of the year and playing catch up in the first part of the next. I have also decided to celebrate internally. I am focusing on being thankful and celebrating the spirit of the holidays emotionally and spiritually. This may end up being my favorite holiday season in spite of the fact I do miss my Mom terribly.
On a funny side note, Mom did a thing every holiday season that stressed me out completely. It started with the same basic conversation each time. "David, you know (holiday, birthday, or event) is coming up. If you want to have our normal get together I need some help cleaning up." I always agreed and imagined myself dusting, vacuuming, and moving furniture. That stuff happened, but then Mom had some project on the agenda like buying new furniture, painting the walls, tearing up and relaying the floor, or a complete remodel of the kitchen and bathrooms. She reeled everyone into this project like a pro. This may be the first holiday in my life without a major renovation project! Oh, wait, my oldest has already set one in motion. *sigh* Traditions do carry on from generation to generation.
I made the completely insane decision to attempt to ride my motorcycle year round. I adore riding. It is relaxing. It is extremely fun. It also has the side effect of me owning my first Ninja suit. I mean not literally. I just own a thermal base layer. Read that as spandex tights and shirt. For weather down into the mid-40s, a normal set of clothes, the base layer, and my riding jacket is ample protection. In the low 40s and under you need additional protection.
Motorcycle pants and jackets are bloody expensive. I even shop at the lower end of the cost ladder and could not come up with a meant-for-motorcycle riding solution under $400. Luckily, I am not completely stupid. I found a Dickie brand duck insulated coverall for $80 that does the trick and has the added bonus of being water resistant.
I tested this outfit out, without the ninja base layer, picking up a "new" motorcycle in a steady rain. The temperature ranged from 45 down to 35 degrees on the hour-long trip home. Toward the end of the trip, my fingertips got a bit tingly as did my toes. I haven't started wearing thicker socks yet. Other than that I was entirely comfortable and only a little damp.
The fingers thing is a problem I haven't quite answered. I believe, on my Versys 300 anyway, the answer is heated grips. The brush guard hand shields certainly help to keep the wind off my knuckles. My fingertips are still exposed though. Once I figure this little problem out, I think I am ready to ride through anything but ice. I really want to putter through the snow.
I am also gearing up to launch my "solo" podcast. I have decided to do things differently this go round. I want to get a dozen or more recordings completed before I begin posting anything. That should allow me to maintain the show without having to constantly record. Garin and I couldn't easily skip recording for a week without building a buffer episode or two up ahead of time. I wasn't smart enough to treat my podcast as a business then. Lesson learned.
The plan for the show is evolving all the time too. I consider it a sister project to my blog. I constantly am told that, if you know me, reading this blog is just like listening to me talk. I plan on giving my typical brand of narration with the recordings but adding in some of my friends to talk about various and sundry things. I am also recording my D&D sessions. I have plans to record my Arkham Horror campaigns. I think the gaming stuff will ultimately lead to making videos. There is nothing wrong with David's mixed multimedia platform. Like any other internet "star" eventually, the sex tape will come out. Just kidding. That is already out there for you bastards who are sick enough to look it up.
Finally, damn Wizards of the Coast. I had decided to take the plunge back into Magic the Gathering when wizards crossed over D&D and Magic while also returning to the plane of Ravnica. This shouldn't be any surprise since my last "return" to Magic was during the Return to Ravnica block. I fell in love with the Orzhov Syndicate. I was completely sad when the new Ravnica block didn't introduce Orzhov in the first set.
Then I started playing MtG Arena. Oh my god, I love Ixalan. Tribal (Orzhov) Vampires! Merfolk and Dinosaurs are amazing as well. There is a Red, White, Green Dinosaur trigger deck that gets my blood pumping! It has all the triggers, man! All of them!
As you can tell I am stupidly excited for the game. I play about an hour a day. I really look forward to the friendslist option on the game. It was clearly in development right from launch. I expect Arena to be a big platform in the long term. The only catch to that is I cannot bring myself to spend money on digital cards yet. I have that argument with comic books too. I like having digital copies of my physical stuff, but I haven't gone purely digital in anything but books. We shall see if that changes.

For now I am going to go paint some minis for next week's D&D game. My plan for it probably deserves its very own post. That will have to wait for another day though.