My Weekly Recommendation (#13)

My Weekly Recommendation (#13) – Upwork

For this week’s recommendation I wanted to talk a little about Upwork. It is a freelance job site that allows you to spend credits for a wide array of jobs. You can find anything from building Excel tables to writing novels, and it is incredibly simple to use. I’m not sure where my writing career would be if I hadn’t stumbled across this wonderful site and I can’t wait to hear how much it helps everyone else!

This site was what actually got my writing career under way almost five months ago. It all started with one or two small copy writing jobs before someone was kind enough to take a chance on me with a few small articles. Both of those articles were published to Medium (#1 and #2) and I could not have been more proud of myself. After a month or so working for that first company, I picked up a second gig writing summaries of Netflix shows. That has quickly evolved into detailed listicle writing and in depth breakdowns of some of my favorite video games too. 

From there came my first real writing “job” however. With a fully functioning blog site, some published articles, and a fresh resume I was able to land a sports writing job. Basically a dream come true if you ask me! So with all of that being said, for any of you who are new to writing (or even if you just aren’t sure how to land that first job), be sure to go check out Upwork.

My Weekly Recommendation (#12)

My Weekly Recommendation (#12) – The Witcher III

As I sit and wait for Netflix’s original The Witcher series, I found myself reminiscing of the days back in 2015 when The Witcher III: Wild Hunt was released. It hadn’t been long after that before I logged into my PlayStation and purchased the game, which I haven’t quit playing since. I forgot how incredible this game was, and for so many reasons too. 

Of course, my first go-round back in the day was on an Xbox, so the first thing I observed after logging in was the superior graphics. The hills, trees, and skies off in the distance are more mesmerizing than I recall. And as I mowed my way through some of the earlier creatures, I noticed how smooth the combat mechanics still were. And how could I not mention the storyline! Each and every quest builds upon the next so effortlessly. The conversations between Gerald and the NPCs throughout the story are written so well. Everything about this game is still incredible, and I can’t wait to dive deeper into it over the next few weeks.

So for all the gamers out there, I highly suggest giving The Witcher III: Wild Hunt a go as soon as you can. And for those who have already played the game, go back and play it again! The world is filled with quests and Easter eggs, and I bet there is still something new out there for you. After all, this game was given all those awards for a reason!

My Weekly Recommendation (#11)

My Weekly Recommendation (#11) – The Boys

Welcome back! On this weekly recommendation I will be discussing Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys, which was a show my dad literally got me into yesterday. Just as a warning, this show is very graphic. I’ll also do my best to give no spoilers but read at your own risk!

So for starters, the story of the show so far is extremely intriguing. It’s basically a modern day superhero show shown from a few different perspectives: 1) A normal guy who recently underwent a tragedy and makes friends with some deadly people, 2) a sup (pronounced “soup, what people with powers are called in the show) who is finally living her dream in the big leagues if you will, and 3) Other sup’s/people working with sup’s views on everything going on in the world.

They also don’t use ANY of the typical hero’s you would expect to see in the superhero genre. A lot of the characters may be knockoffs in certain ways, but it’s refreshing to see a new take on someone with say, the ability to talk to fish underwater. This show also does an incredible job showing the human nature side of things for the sup’s and that is what leads to a bunch of drama within what I have watched so far.

Along with the story’s freshness and the comedic relief that comes along with a few of the characters comes some very dark and disturbing things. I almost feel like a terrible person at times while i’m watching because something absolutely heinous will happen and I find myself getting drawn in even more because of it. And as I mentioned earlier, it is unimaginably graphic. Whether it be the sex, death, or blood, this show is one you will need to watch once the kids are asleep.

I’ve only made it about halfway through the first season so far, but I would rate this show a nine out of ten every day of the week. I strongly recommend giving it a shot even if you aren’t into shows like this typically, but for those of you who are I would guarantee you will find yourself just as sucked into the show as I am.

P.S. Keep an eye out on Summary.org for my review of season one and anticipation guide for season two! It will be released as soon as I finish the show over the next few days.

My Weekly Recommendation (#10)

My Weekly Recommendation (#10) – Avocado Bombs

Welcome back to another rendition of my weekly recommendation! This week I will be discussing avocado bombs, which I just recently tried for the first time. These green balls of heaven are typically something you will find at a Japanese or sushi restaurant. Im sure they have different names depending on where exactly you go, but no matter what you must try one the next time you decide to eat sushi.

So these avocado bombs are essentially a rolled up ball of shredded crab that is encased in avocado slices. I’m not even sure how one would get an avocado to stay in a circular shape, but I do know that the combination of flavors this brings to the table is insane. They also will typically glaze the top part of the avocado ball with some eel sauce, spicy mayo, and crunchy flakes for additional flavor. It is somewhat challenging to eat with chopsticks, even for people who usually don’t have any problems using them, but it is well worth the struggle. So get up and head to your nearest sushi joint to see if they have these bad boys because they will literally change your life forever!

P.S. if you google these images you’ll see the exact reason you need to go try them ASAP. I myself just found out that some places also will wrap the avocado in bacon… so I will be searching for a place near me that does soon. It can also be done without crab meat for those of you who aren’t seafood fans!

Three Things Harry Potter Taught Me That Changed My Life Forever (7/3/19)

[Originally published on 7/3/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

Three Things Harry Potter Taught Me That Changed My Life Forever

My first memory of reading dates all the way back to 2001, when my mom handed third grade me The Prisoner of Azkaban for the first time. I know it’s super unconventional to start a series on the third book, but I don’t think my mom ever really thought I would fall head over heels in love with the series in the first place. But, that’s exactly what I did, and a few weeks later I was begging her to buy me the rest of the books. When she finally caved, I read the first book over the course of a weekend and dove into the second. Even eighteen years later I often find myself reminiscing about those days and all the life lessons J.K Rowling taught me.

I have always been a reserved person, so making new friends isn’t always the easiest. But over the years I’ve realized I don’t need hundreds of people surrounding me to be happy, and that by keeping fewer people around I can focus more on the relationships that truly matter. The friendship that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have reminds me a lot of some of my closest friends. We’ve been through so much that we are practically family, and we all know we would do everything in our power to help one another. We would sacrifice something important to our individual selves to get something done for our friends. And we will always do what’s right for one another whether good or bad, just like when Hermione reports Harry’s Firebolt to McGonagall in book three. I’d like to think that these books molded my opinions on friendship all those years ago, and that because of them I have been able to have amazing relationships with my closest friends.

Happiness is not always easy to come by, and many of us struggle daily to remember that it all stems from our own minds. As Albus Dumbledore said in The Prisoner of Azkaban, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” This is one of my favorite quotes from not only the Harry Potter series, but of all the books I’ve read in my entire life. If I were dissecting this statement, I’d say the true meaning is that we are always in control of our own happiness and we just need to remember that in order to be happy, we simply need to be happy. Now, I realize that may be easier said than done for some of us but just think how much easier life could be if we remembered small things like this a little more often.

The final life lesson I took HP is that people aren’t always who they say they are or who they are portrayed to be, (whether by the media, friends, family, etc.) so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge one another. J.K. Rowling had plenty of examples throughout the series where this applied. We see Sirius Black portrayed as the depraved escapee of Azkaban who actually ends up being wrongfully accused of Peter Pettigrew’s crimes. A case could even be argued for Peter that he himself was misjudged as a vile creature acting on the commands of He who must not be named, but in reality he was a lonely man dying for the affection and recognition of his master. And I know all of our minds instantly go to Snape when we think of characters that we had all wrong, and for a good reason. The Potions (and Defense against the Dark Arts) professor was made to be one of Harry’s biggest nemeses for the first six books, and then in the seventh we find out he has been protecting Harry all along. We find out that he loved Lily so much his Patronus transformed into hers, and that he was the one who has been helping Harry and his companions this whole time. Obviously, Severus is the greatest example of why we shouldn’t be quick to judge as he has the largest swing of any of the aforementioned characters. But all of these examples by J.K. show us that in judging we can make things much more difficult for others as well as ourselves, and that is why we should take more time to get to know one another.

Of course, there are countless lessons to be learned and hundreds of other examples as to how this series ties directly to our lives. No matter how you look at J.K. Rowling’s work though, it’s clear that she wants us all to take something away from her characters and live our best lives. As Dumbledore says, “You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be”, and that is why in following the footsteps of Harry, Ron, and Hermione we can all grow to be amazing.

My Weekly Recommendation (#8) (7/2/19)

[Originally published on 7/2/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#8) – Wizards Unite

Good Morning Everyone! I’m sure many of you are already well into this weeks recommendation, but I still had to share why Niantic’s most recent release (Wizards Unite) is a must play for this summer.

Where do I even begin!? My excitement for this game has been palpable over the last few months. Wizards unite is an actual reality game for your phone/tablet that allows you to help save the wizarding world from “The Calamity”. It is essentially PokémonGo, but for Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts fans like myself. I was a hugeeeee fan of this new genre when Pokémon Go released in mid 2016, but I am much more of a Harry Potter fan than I am a Pokémon fan so this is huge for me.

Over the last week and a half I have logged quite a few hours into Wizards Unite, and I am not even one bit ashamed. It has brought me back to my childhood while also encouraging me to go out and explore the realm of witches and wizards that I wished I could have been a part of since the second grade. It immerses you in the wizatding world we all grew to love over the years and allows you to cast spells, create potions, and even unlock portkeys!

There are some things that I believe could be tweaked over the upcoming weeks to make the game play better (easier energy refills, more portkey backgrounds, etc.) but all in all I would rate Wizards Unite a nine out of ten! So for all of you Harry Potter geeks out there, or even people who just like AR games, go download and explore Wizards Unite now!

[P.S. For those of you looking to get the “Friends Listed” achievements, feel free to add me! My friend code is 6348 5329 0793, and my username is Perdini]

New Orleans: The Experience You Didn’t Know You Needed (6/26/19)

[Originally published on 6/26/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

New Orleans: The Experience You Didn’t Know You Needed (6/26/19)

As I was crossing Decatur Street into Jackson Square, mere minutes after stuffing my face with beignets from Cafe Du Monde, I knew I was in love. Art was hanging off every square inch of fence that surrounded me, and as I admired all of the talented people in the square, I smiled to myself knowing that I had found my favorite place on this earth. If you haven’t figured it out yet I am describing New Orleans, Louisiana, or “The Big Easy” as many call it. My trip here was four days and mainly consisted of touring the French Quarter and Garden District, yet I felt as if I could’ve spent the rest of my life there. There must be something in the air because I felt at home, almost as if I was amongst my ancestors. It was a trip I didn’t know I needed, and it now is a trip you know you must go on.  

Nuzzled in the center of the French Quarter is The Court of Two Sisters, which was where my day three brunch transpired. The meal here was magical, and the architecture of the building added a level of comfort that I would have never expected. I unfortunately did not get to eat outside in the beautiful, tree covered courtyard, but if you can get a reservation here I highly suggest requesting to sit outside. The menu differs seasonally as well as between brunch and dinner, but either way be prepared for a buffet style meal you will never forget.  

As I briefly discussed earlier, the artwork in New Orleans is to die for. You can find it across the entire city, but my personal favorite was what surrounded Jackson square. Ranging from bright, multicolored abstracts to detailed landscapes and portraits, you can find just about any style of artwork here. One of my favorite pieces (by Crystal Obeidzinski) was a massive gator, painted on a broken shutter that had come from one of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was incredible, and to hear the way she described her process behind creating the painting was spectacular.

Next up, another item mentioned in the intro: Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. This may be one of the most popular reasons people visit the French Quarter. With a line wrapping around the building and probably four to five hundred yards down Decatur, I waited for almost 45 minutes before being seated. Now a little bit about myself, I’m not a huge fan of sugary morsels for breakfast. I’d much rather have a steak with two over easy eggs and some toast, but these beignets were absolute perfection. If I remember correctly, I ate four of these bad boys in roughly two to three minutes and was drenched in powdered sugar after, but it was 1000% worth the mess.  

Another thing that you absolutely must do in Jackson Square is have your fortune told by one of the tarot card readers. The artists typically begin leaving in the late afternoon, and as dusk sets in you will find a plethora of candle-lit tables surrounded by people waiting to have their fortunes read. I was very skeptical of this at first and was not anticipating taking it one bit seriously. As the older woman is reading my girlfriend’s cards, I start to notice a change in her facial expressions. She told me after that this lady was nailing things about her that not many people knew. Sure, they were somewhat vague in certain instances, but I was more than intrigued. So, I sat down a few minutes later and was stunned at how accurate everything she said was (plus she told me that I would stumble into a lot of money soon, who can complain about that!). Even though the whole charade is a teeny tiny bit cheesy, it will still be one of the more fun things you do in NOLA.

Last but not least, po boys. You’d be doing yourself the greatest disservice of all time if you went to New Orleans and did not have an authentic po boy from one of the hundreds of places that sell them. You can find them with fried gator or with roast beef smothered in gravy. Do you like veal? What about oysters? Well they have both of those options too. You can even have your po boy made with deep fried southern catfish if you so choose. Now I know I said there was no particular order to this list, but the po boys from New Orleans definitely sit atop my NOLA Throne.

I know I’ve said a lot about New Orleans over these last few paragraphs, but if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this guide it is this; you will never find a place with as much flavor, whether it be in the food, its culture, or in its jazz, and that is the true reason why you should visit.

How to Budget as a Twenty-Something Post Grad (6/26/19)

[Originally published on 6/26/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

How to Budget as a Twenty-Something Post Grad

As a twenty-six-year-old post-grad, I understand the struggle of trying to get your bank account to not look extremely pathetic. I’ve just recently climbed out of the hole that life had put me in and decided to start planning where my money goes a little better. Now, I’m a finance guy who has always been good with numbers and planning, but life nonetheless comes at you unexpectedly sometimes and drains away what you’ve already budgeted away. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed some things that are tremendously beneficial to saving and decided I would go ahead and share them with you.

The Big Green E

Excel is a daunting piece of software to many people, but it really shouldn’t be. It is such a great tool to have and there are countless tutorials on how to effectively utilize the program. It is presently the main way I budget everything because it allows me to constantly change and tweak what I need based off of what is actually happening in my life. It also offers the flexibility of more than just a monthly check as many sites/apps do. I currently have my budget broken out by pay period so I can factor in which paychecks will be hit with the most bills. This allows me to subsequently see where and when I have the most money to save or even pay off something I didn’t think I would be able to pay off until the next month or so. And as I mentioned previously, as things change (unexpected pet bills, car problems, etc.) and Excel allows me to truly see how that affects my budget almost immediately.

Saving/Budgeting Apps

Any app or site where you can track your money can be helpful if used properly. Of course, many of our bank accounts also utilize some of these functions, but they aren’t always as fluid or easy to work with as the app versions. The app I have been using as of late is Truebill, and what drew me towards it was its recurring charges functionality. I’ll admit, I have quite a few subscriptions that hit me every month. I also had some that were coming out of my account every three months or so that I wouldn’t ever really notice due to their infrequent withdrawals. Truebill puts all of these recurring charges on one page though which makes it very easy to see what you still use and what you don’t. They also have a really neat function where they will call and cancel the items you no longer use!

The Golden Rule

Depending on who you ask the golden rule of saving/budgeting may differ, but I would guarantee you that more than two-thirds of all professionals would tell you that the 50/20/30 rule is crucial to planning for your future. This rule ultimately is that 50% of your monthly income will be applied to fixed costs (such as rent, utilities, etc.), 20% will immediately go into your savings, and the last 30% is your “fun money” or money that you have for spending. This rule works most effectively when you keep the percent’s in this order as well because you automatically account for 70% of your monthly income being gone before you spend anything. Personally, I like to break these down by pay period as well because I feel it allows me to see where and when I will be cutting it close. But whether done monthly, bi-weekly, or even quarterly, this method is a great way to start looking at how you budget your money.

Other General Advice

One of the other key things I always try to do is overestimate my outgoing expenses. Since I have started doing this, I virtually never cut myself short and always have more than enough planned out for bills. Plus, it is very nice when you approach the end of the month and see that your account is higher than you anticipated it would be! I also have weekly and bi-weekly reminders set to adjust my excel budgets just to make sure I am keeping up with my planning even during the busiest of times. My final piece of advice is to not be afraid of doing things that can save you money in the long run. I know once we are out of our parents’ houses we never want to go back, but sometimes a few months back at home can save absurd amounts of money. For example, say you are bringing in $1,000 a paycheck or $2,000 a month, and your rent is $750. That is already roughly 38% of your fixed costs for the month, and if you move back home for 6 months you just saved yourself $4,500! So, no matter what or how you are currently budgeting just know this; life can be hard sometimes, but as long as you follow a few simple tips you can always boost your bank account.

My Weekly Recommendation (#6) (6/25/19)

[Originally published on 6/25/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#6) – J. Cole

Welcome back! This week’s recommendation is based off one of my all-time favorite artists, J. Cole. I know that a lot of people aren’t the biggest Hip-Hop/R&B fans, but what Cole does is out of this world. Notice how I said he was one of my favorite artists… that is because I truly see him as an artist and not only a musician. He is one of the most talented rappers and has a way with words unlike any other person in the game today. His music is poetry in my opinion, and there is always a meaning behind every word he says. He is one of those artists that I cannot bring myself to skip when he pops up on a playlist. I find everything about him and his story so interesting. So even if you aren’t a Hip-Hop/R&B fan I suggest giving J. Cole a chance. You never know, his lyricism may surprise you just enough to actually enjoy his music!

Inspirations Behind Writing (6/24/19)

[Originally published on 6/24/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

Inspirations Behind Writing

Over my life, I have encountered numerous things that have inspired me. When I was in high school, being cut from the baseball team inspired me to lose weight. When I was cleaning pools after college, I was inspired to score higher on the GRE in order to get into graduate school. The list is almost endless, but as of late my main inspiration has been to write. This is a huge new step in my life, as I am currently a full-time financial analyst who has a psych degree, a master’s in finance, and very little writing experience. However, even though I seem to be behind the eight ball with these new goals of mine I am still beyond excited to begin this journey into the land of writing.

A Joke About Game of Thrones

The first thing that inspired me to write was actually a small joke I made to my girlfriend. As I’m sure most of you already know, roughly two months ago Game of Thrones was starting back up again. I was beyond excited, but with all that excitement came a substantial amount of worry and panic. I had so many questions on how the season would end, which of my favorite characters would end up dead, and how I would take not having any more Game of Throne Sundays to look forward to ever again. So, I sarcastically said that I was going to create my own GOT-esque realm to ease the pain that I would begin feeling the second the finale ended in mid-May. Two months later, I have five chapters complete, an entire map of my realm drawn and planned, twenty documents filled with detail that will eventually be expanded upon in the book itself, and my own website where a lot of my ideas can be found. Since that idea sprouted in my head I have done nothing but write in my spare time, and all the time I can’t use to write I still only want to write!

The Woes of Corporate Life

The next thing that really propelled me off the cliff and into the depths of writing was my job. I have been a financial analyst for two and a half years now, but I haven’t been enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I’ve always been a math guy, and I am great at my job, but I hate the fact that I have to sit behind a desk every day from 9-5. My true career goal is to at some point work remote, and with writing, I can see that happening before I land a remote finance job. The corporate world is beginning to see the benefits of allowing their employees to work from home, but it is happening at an unbearably sluggish pace. Yes, I know there are tons of places that are more innovative and flexible towards remote work or at least having a set number of remote days a year, but those jobs typically aren’t available to people with just under three years of experience. With writing though it feels different. I’ve already made more money in the first two months than I was planning on making in my entire first year, and once you have your name out there with some good pieces getting published it is much easier to land a remote writing gig. But the fact that I still have to go sit behind that desk every day and only get a few to write may be the biggest motivation for me to succeed as a writer.

My Significant Other

My last, but definitely not least, motivation is my girlfriend. She has been there since the initial spark for the book that leads to the blogging, which led to most of my post work time is devoted to writing or research for writing and hasn’t complained once. In fact, she has been so supportive it is unbelievable. She wants to see me succeed just as much as I want myself to succeed in this industry, and I couldn’t love her more for it. She pushes me to be the best that I can be, and that makes this stab at a new career that much more rewarding. I recently read a quote that was very similar to something she told me in the early stages of this journey. The quote by Louis L’Amour reads, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” When I told her my original idea for a novel and started putting words on paper, she told me to go for it. And that may be the most inspirational thing I have experienced yet in my entire life.