The Power of Plastic

Jordan swiped their card and stared at the terminal until they remembered swiping didn’t work anymore. “Sorry.”

“I forget all the time.” The teller shrugged. “Just tap it on the screen.”

Jordan did and the payment terminal beeped, finally taking their payment.

As their receipt printed, Jordan jerked their head toward the rest of the store. “Amazing this place still runs.”

“Sure.” The teller shrugged again. “Stock’s different, but we still sell stuff. Helps people focus, you know?”

Jordan nodded, taking their receipt.

“Still.” The teller sighed, staring at the doors out of the store, “beats slaving away out there.”

“Yeah.”

“You good with all that?”

“I think so.”

“I could call someone…”

“No, I’ve got it.” Jordan gave a half-hearted smile, shifted the bags around, and started walking toward the exit. “Have a nice day.”

“You too.”

Jordan slowed, carefully peering out the door. The blasted ruins of cars, melted asphalt, and red haze in the air were still present. Nothing moved but plants swaying in the breeze.

Confident they were safe, Jordan hitched their mask over their face and exited the airlock. They glanced around as they walked, watching for danger and a ride away from the burned-out husk of the city. When they spotted a buggy pulled by a balding donkey, they waved it down. The elderly driver stowed Jordna’s bags and patiently waited while they fumbled with the payment terminal.

As the machine beeped to denote a payment received, the old driver chuckled. “I always figured capitalism would fail when civilization did. Thought we’d be bartering by now.”

Jordan chuckled as they climbed into their seat, brushing their iron grey hair away from their mask. “Guess it just goes to show. Peace, health, and safety are things money can’t buy. For the everything left, there’s MasterCard.”

The Costs Of Student Debt

When I moved to my current city, starting a new job in a new place at the same time that all my student loan payments had to begin, I was in dire financial straights. I hadn’t earned enough money in the six months between graduation and that move to have any kind of cushion to fall back on (all my work during those months was at ten dollars an hour which was enough to live off, but not enough to start any kind of savings or financial safety net) so I had to put the entire move on a credit card. It wasn’t that bad since I was living pretty light, tossed out the couch I had up to that point, and had a large Jeep I could hook a trailer up to instead of needing a full moving truck. Still, between that, groceries, gas, and the constant needs of living in a new place while waiting a month for my first paycheck (my job paid monthly), I racked up enough credit card debt that it made me uncomfortable.

Continue reading

Tabletop Highlights: Exploding Kittens

I’m a huge fan of The Oatmeal. His comics are wonderful, he tackles some very difficult ideas in his stories, and he helps create wonderful games. I’ve been following him for a few years and have really enjoyed most of what he’s created. When I heard that he was doing the art for a tabletop game and had helped create it, I immediately ran to Kickstarter to check it out. True to form, the Kickstarter for Exploding Kittens was chock full of The Oatmeal’s particular art, wonderfully depicting all kinds of ways cats could accidentally blow you up through cat-like behavior.

Eventually, I backed it. I got the full edition of the game along with the hilarious (and very) NSFW version of the game. Since then, I’ve stayed up to date on the game. They eventually created an expansion called “Imploding Kittens” and another game called “Bears vs. Babies” which was not quite as fun and charming as Exploding Kittens.

In Exploding Kittens, the object of the game is to be the last player left alive. There is a deck of cards that everyone draws from at the end of their turn. If they draw an exploding kitten, they die unless they can play a diffuse card (like a laser pointer or kitten therapy). Before you draw, you can plan any number of other cards to do things like skip your turn, give your turn to another player (forcing them to take two turns), steal another player’s cards, or look at the top three cards on the deck.

Once you’re out of usable cards and you draw an exploding kitten, you’re out. Don’t worry, though, it wasn’t personal. The cat was just walking on a computer console that just happened to have a nuclear launch button on it or they were playing with a hand grenade and accidentally pulled the pin while tossing it around. I’m going to avoid going into the NSFW cards because that’s not something I want to write about on this blog, but I encourage the interested parties to check it out.

The game is a ton of fun when you’re having a game night with your friends and it only gets more fun if you’re drinking a little. Don’t drink too much, though. The game is a little more complicated and strategic than you’d expect, so too much alcohol is just going to make it easier for your friends to set you up for an explosion. Which is exactly what you should be trying to do, since you can place the exploding kitten wherever you like in the deck if you play your cards right.

The biggest downside to the game is that it can really drag on for a long time if there aren’t very many players. The game has instructions on how to tailor the game to the number of players, but I’ve followed the instructions with a small group before and wound up sitting around for almost half an hour while the last two players tried to end the game. Even in larger groups, where people get eliminated faster, the first player out can wind up spending a lot of time waiting if they were just incredibly unlucky. You can always cut the deck down for smaller groups, of course, but that can be difficult to get right as some cards only work when paired with similar cards.

Either way, as long as everyone’s relaxed and participating, the game is ridiculous amounts of fun. If you want a new game that will last around an average of 15 minutes per game, I suggest picking up Exploding Kittens.