The Conversion of Shia LaBeouf

I took a break from my blogging hiatus just to share this amazing conversation between Bishop Robert Barron and actor Shia LaBeouf.

LaBeouf is infamous as one of Hollywood’s bad boys — as he shares so openly at the point in the time he was approached by Abel Ferrara to play Padre Pio:

When I walked into this, my life was on fire. I was walking out of hell. It wasn’t like I willingly came in here on a white horse singing showtunes. I came in here on fire. My life was a complete mess. I had hurt a lot of people. I felt deep shame, deep guilt; I didn’t like to go outside much. I had a yearning to not be here anymore… My mother wanted nothing to do with me. The news that had come out was that I had been abusive to women, I was shooting dogs, that I had been willingly giving women STDs… It’s disgusting. It’s depraved.

On why Buddhism never appealed to him:

If I’m in a boat, and the boat is sinking and I don’t know how to swim; Buddhism is a book that tells you Read this and learn how to swim better!” … And at that time in my life, I didn’t want to swim anymore. I had a gun at the table. I was outta here… Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe… You don’t know where to go.

His outlook toward Catholicism as someone new to the faith is so inspiring, especially after he transitioned from just an actor researching for a role to a sinner who has a genuine conversion to the faith.

I highly recommend you check out the entire conversation — it’s gold!

Now Playing

Foundation

Totally floored by the first season of Foundation. I went into it on a whim after seeing the trailer and reading rave reviews on Reddit — totally oblivious to Isaac Asimov’s series of novels it is based on.

I personally love the entire aspect of one man’s prophecies changing the course of history. Here they seem (atleast to me) to be self-fulfilling, coming from a respected figure like Hari Seldon. Gaal Dornick’s character is the underdog, hailing from a unrespected planet and having to prove herself repeatedly. Then there’s the entire plot involving Empire: supposedly perfect genetic clones of Cleon I at different stages of life — aptly named Dawn, Day and Dusk.

If you’re a fan of Dune, Star Trek, The Expanse or similar hard sci-fi franchises, I can guarantee you’ll love Foundation. Given how much of the the final episode involved setting up what’s to come, I can hardly wait for Season 2.

Now Playing

Divinity: Original Sin 2 DE

Okay okay, I knew exactly what I to expect when I started Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition based on my experience with its predecessor, but I have to say this loud and clear.

As of writing this, D:OS2 is hands-down the best RPG I’ve played!

My party regrouping in Linder Kemm’s gardens

According to Steam, I’ve poured over 150h into this game and I relished every minute of it. D:OS2 takes everything I loved about the original and kept it the same — I can’t state how awesome that is! Turn-based combat is just as enjoyable with the weapons and spells interacting with the environment in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

Plus, it improves on so many things, like inventory management. Makes collecting and upgrading all your gear and equipment such a pleasure.

The levels are masterfully done, once again — from Fort Joy to Reaper’s Coast to The Nameless Isle to Arx — kudos to Larian Studios.

Duna, the dwarven god giving me advice
Looting one of the treasure rooms in Reaper’s Coast

Each of my party members had their own story arcs, and there are often choices you have to make that sometimes conflict with your main character’s mission. I chose Beast and had to split my party in the final chapter of the game in order to ascend to Divinity’. My other companions were Ifan Ben-Mezd, The Red Prince and Fane.

All in all, D:OS2 has raised the bar for me in terms of my expectations for a modern turn-based RPG. Larian is already generating a lot of hype with Baldur’s Gate 3, and although I’m itching to give it a try, I feel like there are few other titles I’m going to get through while they bring it out of Early Access.

Up next, possibly Wasteland 2. Then Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire, which now has Turn-Based Mode — very tempting. Wasteland 3 is also just out, so plenty of options.

Until the next one.

I just can’t believe this is the year we get to finally experience The Snyder Cut. Just a few weeks to go!

V33

To My Love, On Your 33rd Birthday

This isn’t me writing into the void.
This isn’t me writing for myself.
Or for them.

This is for you, VMF.

You’re 33 today. And we’ve known each other since we were 16, which means we’ve already spent more years together than apart! — that thought never ceases to amaze me.

How I bless the day you were born! You are one in the universe, but to me you are my universe.

You’re the best friend I could ask for. I truly mean it. Who knew you’d influence the course of my life to such a degree? Even all those years ago, you understood me like no one ever could. You knew every little thing about me — the best parts, but also the flaws and imperfections that I hid from everyone else.

I was a nobody and you saw me for the man I could become. Your support and encouragement meant everything. Even back then, you understood what it meant to love unconditionally. I had nothing to offer but promises, and though we were young, I knew we were meant to be together forever.

And I now I get to wake up each morning next to you. To get breakfast with you. You’ve given me a home and three beautiful girls, and no two days are ever the same! Every mundane moment is magical with you. What else could I ask for?

I love how you give without ever counting the cost to yourself. Nothing is too troublesome. You’re never too tired. You labor so patiently and you never look back once your hands are on the plough. This home is just a house without you.

I have a verse for you, and it is also my prayer for you today.

A good wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”

Know that you are loved immensely! You are a living blessing — one I intend to never take for granted.

Now Playing

Armello

Happy New Year!

I spent most of the holidays playing Armello — I think it was suggested by Steam based on my game history — and I’ve loved every minute of it!

Paraphrasing some of the reviews it has got, I think the best way to sum it up would be to call it a mashup between Game Of Thrones and Studio Ghibli animals. Armello mixes elements of RPGs, card games with a digitalised tabletop feel. The premise is that the King of Armello is slowing dying of Rot and each game has 4 animal tribes (one of which you control) vying for his throne.

Armello: Launch
Armello: Gameplay
Armello: Cards

The part I love the most is that each game lasts around an hour or so, making it a great way to unwind before going to bed. I’ve played around 30 hours so far, and it is still refreshingly replay-able as most of the gameplay depends on die rolls.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for low-spec, casual strategy game with intriguing mechanics and a rich aesthetic.

2020 curtain call

2020: Curtain call

2020 made me realise I have so much to be thankful for. Much of the year was spent indoors with my family; and yet it seems we accomplished so much together, and as individuals.

In contrast, I’ve heard so many stories from folks I personally know, and it’s easy to see the year has not been kind to so many. So much physical suffering, financial hardship, emotional trauma and loss of human life — I realise how privileged I am just to be alive and healthy.

I am praying that the coming year brings healing, peace and a sense of normalcy to the world as quickly as possible. That’s all we can ask for, I guess.

Christmas magic

I’ve always believed Christmas has a certain sense of peace and joy about it that is incredibly healing:

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

Norman Vincent Peale

It was Christmas as usual for us this year, keeping pandemic protocol in mind, of course. Vinnie and I just thought of different ways to make it special for the girls, and we had a great time making and baking all the Christmas goodies as a family. Keeping aside the fact that half of the treats mysteriously disappeared as they were being prepared, things turned out great!

I decided to orchestrate the whole Santa visited” show this time, and so we got the girls all excited decorating the house with the Tree and Crib. On Christmas Eve, we turned on the Star and left cookies on the window sill.

And guess what? Santa really visited! He ate up all the cookies and even left a letter for the girls!

Cookie crumbs
Santa's letter
Santa's letter 2
Santa visited!

This is perhaps my favorite Christmas memory so far — the excitement in their voices and the joy in their eyes! Sometimes children deserve to have their prayers answered. The letter took me around 2.5h in total: counting design, print runs, making the envelop and destroying all evidence of the raw materials.

The season (as has the entire year) was punctuated by multiple trips to the beach. We found a stretch nearby which was particularly deserted and spent many a relaxing evening with the sea breeze on our faces and sand between our toes.

At the beach

All in all, it’s been a refreshing break from our work and community schedules, and a nice way to end a hectic year.

Happy holidays.

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention.

So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.

The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

LR Knost

WFH Setup 2.0

After working remote fulltime for about 2 years, I finally got around to getting my workspace a minor upgrade.

There were two significant upgrades:

The MBP is excellent with its 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Retina display and Touch Bar. The only part I’m slightly concerned with is the Butterfly keyboard and how it might get affected in the long-term by the dust in my room.

I’ve been using the P27H-20 display for over a week now and the display itself is excellent. Colours are very accurate (it has a 99% sRGB rating). It’s a 27-inch QHD display, so it hits the sweet spot in terms of non-Retina pixel density which is always important to consider when you’re pairing any external monitor with an Apple laptop.

The monitor is also USB‑C, so it takes audio and video from the MBP while simultaneously keeping it charged. Most of the time. Well, there’s a firmware bug that I discovered only 2 or 3 days later, which does not affect only this model but most of the new displays Lenovo has introduced in H2 2020. Anyway, I loved this display too much to return it, and it seems Lenovo are in the final stages of developing a fix, so it should be only a matter of time before it works as intended.

Here are some photos.

No setup is complete without the customary Ikea fake plants and a few Funko vinyl figures. I only had budget leftover for one, so it had to be Scarecrow from Batman: The Animated Series. I’m collecting a rogues gallery and I have my sights set on Phantasm, The Penguin, Bane and others from DC. Marvel unfortunately only makes Funko bobbleheads, which do not interest me whatsoever.

Anyhoo, I also got a cheap two-tier desk shelf from Amazon to store the MBA when I’m not using it. It also has space for my journals and sketchbooks, so that’s pretty sweet. The right-angled USB‑C connector you see is also another useful accessory I picked up to prevent cable bend.

I guess this will be do it for now. I’ve been using the new setup for a few days now and the difference in my energy is huge!