Daniel M. Perez's Blog

June 16, 2014

This past weekend I attended Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH, because a) it’s been years since I’ve gone to a game convention, and b) it’s just 2 hours away from my new home in Cincinnati! I tagged along with friends and roomies Mick Bradley and Chris Heim (with roomie Wayne Humfleet meeting us in Columbus) and off we went for four days of gaming fun.


By the title of this post I’m sure you can tell something’s up, so let me be upfront: the weekend confirmed to me that who I was in regards to gaming is not who I am now, that my life has changed, and that this is a good thing.


My last time at Gen Con, 2010, was not a good one. Mom had just died a year prior, and my personal life was not in a good place. Whatever enjoyment I got out of the con was in spite of myself, and due greatly to good friends who made a point to help me get through things. After this, I went into nursing school, and that took over my entire life. I barely had time for whatever was in front of me, let alone imaginary worlds. Cons came and went, months came and went, and I simply stopped gaming altogether. I missed it, but I made the conscious choice of putting it on the shelf in favor of dealing with nursing school, and my personal life. It’s not a choice I regret at all.


Cut to 2014: It’s been a year since I graduated, became an RN, separated then divorced, moved to Orlando and then to Cincinnati, started a new job, experienced my first winter (and a harsh one it was). I’m living a new life, finally standing on my own two feet again, so why not give gaming another shot? And seriously, living in Cincinnati puts me within driving distance of so much gaming goodness; I gotta take advantage of that!


Long story short, I had fun at Origins, but things are not the same. I wandered the halls of the convention center not knowing what was going on in the gaming world, looking at games and putting them back because they held no interest to me, feeling little of the excitement I once would feel in this environment. I would see old friends from this world and be genuinely happy to see them, but feel like we had little in common anymore. Frankly, at one point it was all just depressing and I wanted to go home.


I’m glad I didn’t because I DID have fun. I played three roleplaying game sessions that were fun and stimulating, with good game masters that draw us players into the story, and fellow players that brought their best so we could all have a great four hours of play. I also demoed a few miniatures battles games, which I really like except for the collecting expensive armies part. And when I finally decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, I had a nice evening of conversation and drinks.


I used to be up at the butt-crack of dawn to play, spend as much time in the hall as possible seeking to learn all I could about games, seek out opportunities for pick-up games, enjoy talking about games and design until passing out. This isn’t me anymore. I chose to sleep-in late, to take mid-day rests or naps, to pass on a slot of roleplaying because nothing held my interest at the moment from what was being offered, to have meals with friends instead of playing a game I was only tangentially interested in. I likened it to going back home and seeing all the buildings still standing, but the people and situations be all different. I missed home as it used to be, and some point I had to make a choice of living in the past, unfulfilled, or living in the now, accepting the new paradigm, for however long I was visiting. Which is what I did.


Don’t ask me about game design, about upcoming games, about political or sociological ideas being explored through games, about who’s working where and on what, about what I’m working on; don’t ask me because I either don’t know, or have no opinion on the subject. Ask me about my character in the games I played and I’ll tell you how awesome it was to roll dice and tell a story; about other games that called my attention and I’ll tell you about the minis I moved across a cardboard battlefield and how pretty the pre-painted figures were; about myself and I’ll tell you about how exhausting being a nurse is, how draining it is to deal with life and death daily, and how fulfilling it is to help people live (or die) better.


So yeah, Origins showed me that you can’t go back home again, but that’s fine because home is not in the past. Home is where I decide to make it, and just like I made Cincinnati home after 18 years in Miami, I can make this new relationship with games home for me from here on. I can look forward to having a new relationship with games, enjoying them for what they bring to my life now: entertainment.


In Part 2 I’ll talk about the games I played, because they were cool and deserve to be talked about!

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Published on June 16, 2014 13:26 • 7 views

February 12, 2014

Yesterday was a bad day.


Not only was I already feeling sick, when I went to work I found out State was all over our facility. I had a surveyor follow me during my morning med pass, and although I tried to be cool and just do my job, enough things went wrong that I got rattled and nervous. The State surveyor then latched on to me and started hovering, questioning everything I did, making me even more nervous, and late. Eventually he nailed me on two 8am meds that I failed to see when I did my check of the MAR after report and had to skip, since it was already 11am. This led to a citation for the facility, and a Medication Error write-up for me.


My coworkers and superiors were very nice and supportive. The administrators in particular were understanding and stood by me, even when they acknowledge that I had made an error and would be sanctioned. I still felt terrible; I hate letting others down. So now I need to do some Continuing Education credits on Med Administration before my next work day this weekend.


I was late, I admit it. I was late because of a lot of factors, starting with morning report taking an hour, to me helping out my fellow floor nurse while she was also Nurse Supervisor for the day and had to deal with call-offs, to me orienting the student nurses we had on our floor on the patients they would be able to learn the most, to me taking the time to listen to my patients as I deliver their meds. Not to mention being unit secretary and answering phone calls as well as making them for a myriad of reasons.


The really sad part? The State surveyor wasn’t even a nurse himself, so there was no understanding from him about what it takes to have 12 patients under your care.

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Published on February 12, 2014 14:13 • 22 views

January 16, 2014

2 May, 1998. Outskirts of Hogsmeade, Scotland.


The Battle of Hogwarts is over. The school lies in ruins, ancient stones that had seen generations of wizards and witches now lie in rubble, many covered in the blood of giants and spiders, Death Eaters and wizards. When the spellduel begins in the courtyard, everything else stops. When the wands explode in an eldritch fireball, everyone closes their eyes. When dust settles, everyone gasps.


The Dark Lord lives. The Boy Who Lived lives no more.


A hundred sickly-green curses fly, instantly killing every muggle-born wizard and witch visible by the front rank of Death Eaters. They miss one, the one they most wanted dead, Potter’s friend. The attack snaps everyone out of stupor, and the battle is resumed. It lasts only a few minutes, long enough for a some students to escape deep into the ruins of Hogwarts. Everyone else is summarily executed.


The Dark Lord lives. And so begins the New World Order.


Three years later, the battle has moved underground. Once known as Dumbledore’s Army, the members of the new Order of the Phoenix have scattered all across the globe, hiding in wizarding and muggle cities alike, where they organize local resistance cells, train new fighters, and act as beacons of hope to those oppressed by Voldemort’s Death Eaters.


You are one of these new recruits. Grab your wand, and join the fight.



I came across these WWII-style propaganda posters for a Harry Potter alternate universe where Voldemort wins. The creator also made these awesome WANTED posters for the kids as they would be a few years into the resistance. These are all very evocative  images, and as happy as I was with the ending of the Harry Potter series, this is an alternate universe that I think would be awesome to explore. Not being one to wrote a lot of fan fiction, I’d do it via a roleplaying game, one where the players all get to explore the world along with the characters, where we get to make things up as we encounter them and are surprised by them.


The WANTED posters gave me the idea that the players are *not* the members of the Order. They are too high-profile, too known (and in meta terms, too laden with history and expectations). They act great, however, as focal points, mentors that the characters would have met, can look up to, maybe even call on once or twice. The members of the Order are the public face, drawing attention away from those carrying on the day-to-day fight: the new bright-eyed recruits eager to join the resistance and help liberate their world.


As for Potter himself? I prefer to keep the mystery. The NWO Ministry of Magic released this WANTED poster recently, so make of that what you will.



Yes, I realize this is basically a mashup of Harry Potter and Star Wars with a dash of Lord of the Rings thrown in, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

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Published on January 16, 2014 21:08 • 14 views

On December 30th, while I was working and prepping to pass the afternoon meds, one of my residents walked inside the unit and said, “There’s a kitten outside.”


I sighed.


It was lightly snowing that day, and it was the start of a 3-in-a-row work stretch that would include the new year. A snowstorm was forecast for the next day.


I sighed again.


Back in Miami, my ex and I had three cats, all of them rescues that came to us in similar ways: kittens that somehow showed up in our lives and whom we couldn’t say no to. So when I heard there was a kitten outside, I knew the pattern quite well, and I knew better than to fight fate. So I went outside, got the kitten from under a car, put it in a box, and took it home. I had a new cat. I named it Cincy, in honor of my new city.


I cleaned it up as best I could and two days later, in the middle of the snowstorm, took it to the vet, and got the meds I needed to cure the eye infection normal to most street kittens. I also found out Cincy was a boy cat. That was two weeks ago, and as I write this, he is perched on my arm, having climbed up my leg, and attempting to swat at my fingers while I type.


I missed my cat Pippin a lot. By mutual choice, my ex and I decided he would stay with her in Miami, so as to not subject him to the trauma of a move up north. But I missed him. I knew I’d eventually get a cat, but hadn’t really made any concrete plans about it. I guess I didn’t need to; we never made plans with the other three, and Cincy would be no different. Now that I have him, I realize how much I’d missed having a cat in my life. In a city where everything is new, where I only have two friends (one I rarely get to see), having Cincy has been a blessing.


Even if he sometimes bites my nose while I’m sleeping.


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Published on January 16, 2014 19:11 • 16 views

January 8, 2014

New

CincinnatiThere’s a lot of new things in my life lately, from a new city, a new job, a new apartment, and now a new cat gotten just a day before the new year. New surrounds me. It’s fitting; in many ways, I am a new me. Oh, I’m still the same Daniel at my core, but there have been enough changes in my life in a short enough period of time that a new Me had to be created in order to survive. That’s pretty much all I did for the second half of 2013 – survive.


I’m not surviving anymore. I’m living.


Historically I’ve never been a big fan of change. In theory, it sounds grand, but in practice I tended to steer away from it. The new Me still feels a little like that, but I don’t mind it one bit anymore. I welcome it in many instances. I love seeing people’s faces when they learn that I moved from Miami/Orlando to Cincinnati for a job. They look at me like I have three eyes and fifteen horns. It makes me realize how many people are simply adverse to adventure anymore. Because that’s what this move is, an adventure. And that’s how I approach it every day, especially those days when something completely new to me shows up, whether it was my first snowstorm (the day I moved into my new apartment, no less), or the below-0° blast a couple days ago.


I’m embracing New, especially a New that honors and learns from what came before in order to improve. It’s all I really want to do in life right now, learn and improve. I want to be better than I was, I want to rectify what and who I was, so who I am from here on is better all around. It’s a daily project, and one of the worthiest of all.


I’ll be sharing about all the new things in my life, from my job to my cat, in between 12+-hour shifts at work, naps, and random explorations of Cincinnati.

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Published on January 08, 2014 18:23 • 11 views

December 29, 2013

It’s a time for change. The year is ending, we have a new Doctor Who, so what better time than right now, then?


This has been a year of changes. Big changes. Life-altering changes.


I began the year in Miami, a nursing student, an emotional mess. Along the way I graduated nursing school, achieving something I thought almost impossible at times. Along the way I also got separated from my wife, and two months later, divorced. Along the way I moved to Orlando, an emotional mess, and became a licensed RN. Along the way I became a school nurse in a high school, moved into a shared house with roommates that tried my patience on a daily basis. Along the way I lost–nay, threw away–my Judaism, then realized it was a far more integral part of me than I had thought. Along the way I fought with G-d, raged, cried, fell down, got up. Along the way I made new friends, which led me to visit Ohio, which led me to accept a job offer in Cincinnati. Along the way I packed my car, and drove 2000 miles, from Orlando, Florida, to Cincinnati, Ohio, visiting friends on my way north. Along the way I started a new job, moved into a new apartment, began a new life. I end the year in Cincinnati, a registered nurse, an emotional mess.


But I’m getting better.


One day I will make my peace with 2013. It’ll take time, but I will. In the meantime, 2014 is just three days away, and while I will continue to work in sorting out my past, it will not stop me from living my present.


It’s a time for change. I welcome it.


 

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Published on December 29, 2013 19:26 • 14 views

June 20, 2013

I am alive. I am well. I graduated nursing school; yes, I am a nurse. Not licensed yet, but a nurse.


I’m looking into a solution for this website which may mean it’ll move again in the next few days. Jut FYI.



Filed under: Editorials
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Published on June 20, 2013 12:36 • 47 views

March 4, 2013

Today I find myself in the I was a few months back. Tomorrow I take the final exam in Advanced MedSurg for the second time, and for the second time it all comes down to this test. It’s very simple: pass the final, pass the class. No other way around it.


Everything is riding in this exam. It’s not just the class, but also my continued attendance at MDC School of Nursing, since I can only retake a class one time and that’s it.


Better not to think about it.


One exam. Sink or swim.


I’m swimming. Here’s hoping I reach the shore.



Filed under: The Literary Nurse Tagged: med surg, Nursing School, The Literary Nurse
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Published on March 04, 2013 15:03 • 71 views

March 1, 2013

I cannot properly convey how tired I am.


It’s just about the end of the first half of the semester, the end of Advanced MedSurg, and I am wiped. You may see me up and about doing stuff (I try to do my best around the house even if it isn’t a lot) and studying (not today Friday, but seriously, I’ve never studied this hard ever before) and working out (I’ve been running regularly for the past three weeks), but I am beyond depleted. If I had a little battery icon like my phone, I would be in the red.


The sad thing is that I’ll get to sleep tonight and tomorrow during Shabbat, but it won’t really help. Yes, I’ll feel somewhat refreshed and renewed, but in light of the two days after, during which I need to finish studying an entire semester of Advanced MedSurg for my final on Tuesday and ATI (standardized) test on Wednesday, it will simply be a like bandage on an arterial bleed.


Still, I have no option but to continue ahead and hope copious amounts of coffee will be enough to give me energy and focus.



Filed under: The Literary Nurse Tagged: med surg, Nursing School, The Literary Nurse
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Published on March 01, 2013 13:37 • 34 views

December 16, 2012

This creamy drink might camouflague as eggnog but it is something all its own. The mixture of evaporated and condensed milk with the coconut milk and cinnamon water produces a sweet flavor that is a perfect compliment for the rum that goes along, creating a mildly sweet but deceptively strong drink perfect to share with friends. Make it ahead of time so that it gets very cold, a great refresher for tropical “winter” nights.


Ingredients

Yields 5 cups.


1 cup of coconut milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup white rum

1 cup of water

3 cinnamon sticks

4 egg yolks, well beaten

Ground cinnamon for decoration

Instructions


1. Toss the cinnamon sticks in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes, turn off the heat, then allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon sticks.


2. Combine all the milks and the rum in a blender or food processor. If you have an immersion blender (motorboat), even better.


3. Combine all the other ingredients (except the ground cinnamon) and blend until well-mixed.


4. Pour into containers and chill. Puerto Rican tradition has it coquito must be stored in glass bottles, but I have buckled tradition there a few times. I leave it up to you where you store it.


5. Serve chilled with ground cinnamon sprinkled on top.


If you want to enhance the coconut flavor, use a bit more coconut milk or use

coconut rum. Adding an extra 1/2 cup of condensed milk increases the sweetness, if you like that (and I do). You can also make the cinnamon water ahead of time and chill so that the finalized coquito has less time to go in the fridge before it is ready for drinking and sharing.


I have made coquito following the above steps and also just blending everything together at once with my immersion blender. Both times the coquito has been fantastic, so feel free to try that as well. Lastly, double up all the ingredients to make about 1/2 gallon of coquito, a perfect amount for a small party or to share a few cups with friends. If you’re having a medium to big party, be ready to make 3 or 4 times as much, because coquito goes fast. You’ve been warned.



Filed under: Editorials Tagged: coquito
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Published on December 16, 2012 17:38 • 40 views