Friday Night Movie – Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Friday nights have become movie nights in the Hall household.

We’ve made a bit of progress since my initial post. We no longer have to get movies from the library (which is still an excellent/free option) now that we have Disney+. Below, I thought I’d give a quick updated list as to where we are in our Marvel journey:

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Skipped.
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Skipped.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Skipped.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Captain American: The Winter Soldier was the first Marvel movie Wyatt looked bored watching.

“Are they going to fight soon?”

Within minutes, Nick Fury was thankfully being pummeled by bad guys.

Quick Thoughts:

  • I love how Winter Soldier is super hero spy movie. The movie showcases how much fun the Marvel movies can be when they are coupled with another movie genre.
  • As the Marvel movies progress, especially from The Avengers on, they feel as if they are getting longer in run time and feature more and more talking. I’ve started to miss the brisk nature of the earlier films.

Moving Along:

Avengers: Age of Ultron is one of the first Marvel films I remember disliking when I first viewed it. (Well, maybe that isn’t true, I disliked Thor 2 with a passion.) The story felt like a mess, and I hated Ultron as a character. Watching the Marvel movies the second time around, I’ve enjoyed many of the films I originally liked more and have even come to appreciate/love Iron Man 3 (which I had previously hated due to the way they handled the Mandarin). Can’t wait to see if my opinion changes on Ultron.

A Weekend of Learning to Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game

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Pokémon TCG

Wyatt and I took a trip to our local game store, Three Suns Unlimited, this past weekend. I have been meaning to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game for awhile now. I figured Pokémon would be a great entry level collectible card game for us to learn. After asking the ultimate parent question in this scenario:

“What do I need to play this game?”

The knowledgeable store staff directed us to a Pokémon Sun & Moon Trainer Kit. Priced at $10, the Trainer Kit comes with everything you need to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). The kit includes:

  • A full 60-card deck that you split into two to play two player
  • Playmat (with rules on it)
  • Damage Counters (cardboard tokens)
  • Condition Markers
  • A Game Coin to flip to determine who goes first
  • And 2 Rule Books to teach you how to play your first game step-by-step

Our first game of Pokémon TCG.

Once home, we pulled out the instructions and got to playing. I was impressed at how easy the game is to learn. We ended up battling our Pokémon against each other in more than a few matches over the weekend.

Side Note: I was amused that one of the game’s rules is having to shake hands with your opponent prior to playing. This brought about a great opportunity to teach Wyatt about how men shake hands. Not too soft. Not too hard. Firm and determined.

Ready to play.

As a real man, I can admit that I got my butt kicked multiple times this weekend by a growing boy and his Pokémon. I am pleased that $10 provided the entertainment it did while allowing me to connect with Wyatt more. We’ll continue to play, refine our skills, and figure out the luck of the draw nature of the game. Who knows, maybe we’ll be ready to battle Team Rocket in the future… if we ever meet them.

From Across the Net – “Half-Life: Alyx Announcement Trailer”

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The Half-Life: Alyx Announcement Trailer looks pretty dang good. I love all the the subtle animations going on, especially how expressive Alyx’s hands are. I haven’t jumped on the VR train yet. I am not sure I ever will. But this trailer makes me interested in Half-Life again… or at least brings back some good memories.

Union Pacific’s No. 4014 – The Big Boy Visit’s Longview, Texas

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Last Sunday, after lunch had been hastily scarfed down after church, I packed the family (+inlaws) into the car. We headed down to the local train depot to welcome Union Pacific’s Big Boy No. 4014 into town.

There were so many people at the station. Many in the crowd still dressed in their Sunday finest. All held back by a fence from getting closer to the Big Boy. I have to admit, I was disappointed by the view from the depot. So we hopped back into the car, as Big Boy No. 4014 rolled out of Longview. We took a quick trip down down Highway 80 in order to get ahead of the train. One could say we had the perfect spot the second time around.

I would like to thank Union Pacific for adding a bit of history and steam to an otherwise slow Sunday afternoon. You can read more about the Big Boy here.

Adoption Update – National Adoption Month 2019

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November is National Adoption Month. In church, we’ll typically show a video or two that highlight the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Online, say on social media such as Facebook, you may see graphics highlighting the need like the one below released by Buckner International:

Tabitha and I are in the midst of the adoption process, as you may well know. A process, that we are finding, is filled with weeks and even months of silence. I was recently about to email our caseworker to see if her email address was working when she suddenly made contact. Our caseworker wanted us to know that she is still looking for us and has not found any potential matches.

If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that there are 452 kids waiting to be adopted here in Longview. But note my previous paragraph, specifically the part where no match has been found for us, even though there are a supposed 452 kids waiting. I can’t help but get a little passionate. You’d think out of that 452, which are JUST here in Longview (not across the State of Texas even), there would be one child for us.

Having attended foster/adoption classes and being certified to adopt, I realize that there are many variables in this equation:

  • Siblings Groups
  • Level of Care (we are certified for basic level)
  • Special Needs (Behavioral, Physical, Learning, Risk Factors, Emotional, Medical, Developmental)

But at the same time, I bristle a bit at the above graphic. I understand that it communicates that there is a need for families. At the same time, the longer we spend in this process (which to be honest, hasn’t been super long, only since May), the more I see that the need is not so much for adoptive families but for families to support the system through foster care.

I would hope that during National Adoption Month, that you would indeed see that while the need is great, the need is also complicated. These kids are immersed in a complicated system… What drives me nuts is that I know that Tabitha and I can provide stability. We are here to fill that need in a child’s life. There are just so many variables, so many factors, between us and our potential son or daughter.

I am amazed that the system works.

I am discouraged over finding no one on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange.

I am hanging onto the hope that the God who nudged Tabitha and I down this path is bigger than all of variables.

The End of a Father / Son Tradition – Pokémon Sword and Shield

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The release of Pokémon Sword & Shield today, on the Nintendo Switch, marks an end of an era for my son Wyatt and I.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

We first started playing Pokémon games together with the release of Pokémon X & Y–he had to have been in kindergarten, although I’m thinking more first grade.–. Armed with our 3DS systems, we’d encourage and compete against each other while playing through our separate games. Spending evenings battling each other to see who had the strongest Pokémon. I’d like to say that I won most of those matches, but I’d be lying. Wyatt is one tough Pokémon Trainer to beat.

I’ve been playing the Pokémon games since the original Pokémon Red & Blue debuted in the United States in 1998–crazy to think that I’ve been playing the same series for over two decades!–. I have owned and put time into:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Diamond
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • Pokémon Black
  • Pokémon Y
  • Pokémon Moon

Across all of those hours spent catching Pokémon, I somehow never managed to complete a single game. Playing with Wyatt gave me the competitive edge I needed to push through. Pokémon Y was my first Pokémon game to see through to the credits. I thank my son for the accomplishment of FINALLY finishing a Pokémon game. All I wanted to do was crush a little boy’s dreams by finishing the game first, typical dad stuff, right? (Wyatt won, btw.)

We moved on and battled through Pokémon Sun & Moon. At some point, hours upon hours into the game, I gave up. Wyatt went ahead and finished the game. He then completed the follow up, Pokémon Ultra Sun, by himself. We still battled in the evenings. Nothing like Pokémon fighting between a father and son.

Pokémon Sun & Moon

With the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield, Nintendo has shifted the main series from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch. In our house, we have a single Nintendo Switch console. I think that it is silly to buy another system just for the privilege of being able to play a Pokémon game. I will miss the memories and competition between Wyatt, our Pokémon, and I. Never forgetting the lesson that:

Kids have a ton of more time to play video games than a working adult. Never compete against a kid when time is required, Bryan, you’ll lose!

Coming to the end here, I am reminded of how long I’ve been playing video games with Wyatt. How I only have 8 years left with him until he graduates from high school… I hope we continue to play games together in some fashion; I can’t wait to show and introduce him to more.

Cancer Benefits

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There is nothing quite like paying someone not to listen to you.

Me: “We need to do something different. The diabetes medicine is triggering my IBS. I’m at the point where it is affecting my work.”

Doctor: “Did you know that the drug you are on has benefits for preventing cancer?”

Me: “What? I’m in the bathroom at least 4 hours a day, every few days, because of this medicine.”

Doctor: “I wish I was on the diabetes medicine you are on just for its cancer preventing abilities alone.”

Me: “You have diabetes?”

Doctor: “No, but the cancer benefits.”

Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

*The above conversation is slightly exaggerated but not too far off from the actual conversation.

After weeks of dealing with side effects from my diabetes drug, I had hoped for a new path of treatment. Instead, I was told that I am:

Doctor: “You’re doing good. Keep taking the medicine.”

So frustrating to waste time and pay someone not to listen to me. All the while they are messing with medication, and my health.

I’m hunting for a new primary care doctor. I shouldn’t have to feel like I am fighting against a domineering/non-listening doctor who doesn’t care whether I am sicker than a dog or not.