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Topics - Queensryche

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Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / GenCon Help
« on: February 09, 2018, 10:06:51 PM »
Alright, so I'm talking with a bunch of guys in my area about organizing a trip to GenCon for reasons I stated in an earlier topic. However, I just realized something: I've never been to GenCon and have no idea how far ahead I should make reservations/plan things.

So with that in mind, I've got three questions:

1. How far in advance should I book my flight/hotel/etc.?
2. How far in advance are passes for the con sold?
3. In general, how much should I expect to spend before I get to dropping cash on merchandise?
4. How many days in advance should I arrive to GenCon?

Any help would be appreciated!

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / FFTCG North American Circuit
« on: February 08, 2018, 06:58:23 PM »
Last year, the Final Fantasy TCG was an instant hit in North America. So much so that SquareEnix was caught completely off-guard and thus had no contingency plans for an organized competitive circuit. This resulted in Nationals being open entry..........and also limited to 200 participants. Needless to say, a LOT of people were unhappy. The fact that it was open entry also probably explains the poor performance of the four guys that qualified from North America at Worlds.

Thankfully, SquareEnix figured out that they REALLY need to organize things and today announced the competitive series for the game.

Details can be found here.

My thoughts: YES!!! GENCON!!! I've been wanting to go to GenCon, and now I have the means to be able to do so. Thing is though, I wanted to go provided there was a good enough reason for me to attend. With there being two Crystal Cup events, the reason is there. So as of now, I plan to attend GenCon and enter in both of the events. Maybe I can meet up with some of you guys who are attending.

Regarding the Local Qualifiers, I know my local store is trying to get one there. Considering that we're the hub for FFTCG in the Tri-State area, I think we'll get it. I do plan on attending that too.

Some of you may remember the (godawful) movie The Wizard starring Fred Savage. During it, there's a scene of him talking about someone scoring 50,000 on Double Dragon. That game was one of my favorites as a kid. And when I saw that it was available on the Nintendo Switch this past Thursday, I had to get it. Now I could play the game from beginning to end without having to constantly feed a cabinet quarters.

I buy the game, and then in reading about the controls, I see there's an Elbow Smash move. The controls explained that pressing jump and punch simultaneously would let you throw an elbow at an opponent. To top it off, the move was also hardwired to ZR, meaning I didn't have to time simultaneous button presses.

I begin playing, and then discover that Elbow Smash breaks the game wide open.

The AI in Double Dragon is programmed to have enemies approach you when your back is turned, to back off when you face them, and, when there's multiple enemies on the screen, to try and flank you. Smart move to make it difficult to beat the enemies. But there's just one thing: Elbow Smash attacks BEHIND you. So you'll have your back turned to an enemy, they approach, and then you throw the Elbow Smash, which they walk right into. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Furthermore, when you Elbow Smash the enemy, even though you attack behind you, the enemy is knocked FORWARD. Meaning you can just move a little bit so your back is to them, then they get up, walk to you, and you throw another Elbow Smash. The game is also programmed so that if there's a weapon on the ground, enemies will drop whatever they're doing to walk to it, pick it up, THEN approach you. So with a little bit of maneuvering, you can basically have the enemies walk into your Dusty Rhodes Bionic Elbow Smash repeatedly. It NEVER picks up what you're doing. Not that you'd expect it to, it's a game from thirty years ago, and programming back then wasn't what it is now. But still, this game bedeviled me as a little kid, and now I'm much older and see that it's pathetically easy.

On my first playthrough, I managed to get to the final stage on one credit. Due to cheap death traps and the fact that the final boss has a machine gun and WILL shoot you (causing you to instantly lose a life), I had to use a continue. After a bit more practice, I managed to beat the game without continuing. A bit more saw me do a no-death run.

So now I know how to score 50k in Double Dragon: Go all Dusty Rhodes on their asses. In fact, I managed to top 80k by doing so, and if not for the fact that I killed some enemies by knocking them into pits/water, I could've reached 90k.

I now really wish I could go back in time and tell seven-year-old me to Elbow Smash for the win. I would've been a hero at the arcades.

Sports Discussion / Comparing English Football and NFL Clubs
« on: January 15, 2018, 04:10:41 PM »
So last week, it was announced that Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium would host a Seahawks/Raiders game. So that got me thinking.......what NFL team equates to which English club? After some thought, here's what I've got:

Pittsburgh = Manchester United: The most successful in their respective leagues and perennial contenders, and both having grating, entitled fanbases.

Kansas City = Arsenal: Two clubs that tease being contenders before flaming out spectacularly, with head coaches who are stubborn and loyal to a fault to their players.

Philadelphia = West Ham: Underachievers with fanbases that're far more dangerous than the teams.

New England = Chelsea: Not notable until very recently, and also incredibly shady with their dealings.

Oakland = Millwall: Both have teams and fans that are infamous for their propensity to violent behavior.

Washington = Newcastle United: Two historical clubs in long declines, with owners that are universally despised by their respective fanbases.

NY Jets = Tottenham Hotspur: Underachievers from the big city who everyone hates for some reason that isn't evident.

Green Bay = Burnley: Smallest of markets, with historical dominance in the 60s as well as fanbases that're bigger outside the city they're based in.

Dallas = Liverpool: Storied, successful clubs, with both team management and their fanbases living 25 years in the past.

Cleveland = Sunderland: Two clubs that have declined to a degree that should be impossible for them.

Minnesota = Aston Villa: Historically snakebitten teams who are far removed from their glory days.

Cincinnati = Stoke City: Clubs consisting of a collection of talented but dirty players, but with fairly sane fanbases.

LA Rams = MK Dons: Clubs with success in the not-too-distant past that were moved from their original homes by heartless, money-grubbing owners.

That's what I've got for now. And just so people know, Tottenham Hotspur is my club, so I'm being equal in ripping everyone.

General Chat / My Year In Review
« on: January 01, 2018, 06:49:53 PM »
So it's the New Year, and I've decided to post up here my 2017 and the major things that happened in my life, as well as changes in my personal life. I invite everyone else to do so here. I'll begin:

Two Yanks At White Hart Lane
At the very beginning of 2017, my dad and I took a trip to London for five days. We did plenty there, but the main reason was to see Tottenham Hotspur play West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane. A few years ago, my dad had given that for me as a Christmas present, and after some bumps in my life, I was finally ready to go to The Lane to see Spurs. The train ride itself was an event, because my dad and I got stuck in a car with a bunch of drunk West Brom fans, and one of them ripped a fart that would've put the culprit on trial for crimes against humanity. Also, they were bewildered hearing my American accent and asked why I chose Spurs. I said it was because I didn't want to support "A megaclub like Man United, or a s**t one like West Brom!" They gave me props for the banter. The match itself was wonderful. We were close enough to the pitch that we could hear the players talking to each other. Also, seeing The Once And Future King Harry Kane score a hat trick was amazing. Also, I blew several hundred dollars at the Spurs Megastore. Worth it.
(On an unrelated note, it turns out that the UK is actually now mimicking American beer culture, in presentation, beer types, and such. Also, I discovered that "true" IPAs aren't actually bitter beers. But they've taken to the bitter brand of IPA, calling them "American-style IPA".)

Getting Back In A Game
Shortly after my trip to London, I discovered Gamers Heaven nearby. They'd been around for a year-and-a-half but I'd been totally unaware of them until I somehow found it after Googling something else and decided to check it out. It's since become one of my favorite places to visit. On my first visit, I discovered the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, which I had no idea existed. I was immediately interested, and then found out about the shortage. Eventually I did get cards and liked it enough to begin playing in the local scene there. It also turned out I was pretty good at the game: the first tournament I played in had promo Sephiroths up for grabs, and I finished 4th, good enough to claim one for myself. I've continued to have success, winning a couple tournaments and doing well overall.

But the big thing was how this game has introduced me to a new circle of friends, as well as make me closer to another friend. Regarding the former, I now consider myself a part of the scene at Gamers Heaven and have a circle of guys I play regularly and build decks with. Lately we've also been moving beyond the game and going more into our lives in general. Regarding the latter, I went up with my best friend John (Dilbert on these parts) to a Raw Deal tournament in Allentown, bringing my FFTCG cards to introduce the game to the players there. My intro went better than expected: the immediate reaction when I said I wanted to show them the game was "You have cards? Awesome!" Turns out that the Allentown crew had been interested but didn't know anyone with cards. I was literally the first person to show them the actual cards. As it ended up, I got Brian (BigPimpin) into the game, and he and I have gotten closer as a result. He was able to come my way for a tournament once, and I was able to come his way for a tournament later on in the year. Hopefully we'll have a few more meetings this coming year. His friend John Soto also wants to come my way too.

My Sister Gets Married
This past June, my sister Carolyn got married to a guy I've gotten close to. He's an Israeli-American dude named Jonathan, who's a really cool guy and also someone I was glad my sister fell in love with. Two weeks before the wedding, I took Jonathan to a day trip to the shore because he'd never been to the Jersey Shore previously. The wedding itself was a lovely event, and when it was all done, my sister said it meant a lot that I accepted Jonathan as quickly as I did and the effort that I made to make him welcome. I'd been distant from my sister previously for no reason in particular, but now we're starting to build up a strong brother/sister relationship.

Visiting Israel
A few weeks after the wedding, I went on a week-long trip to Israel to both visit various sites and also meet Jonathan's relatives and friends. It was overall a fantastic experience. I visited various historical sites (City of David, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dead Sea) as well as see what daily life in Jerusalem is like. About the only unpleasant experience I had was being in a car on Saturday that had rocks thrown at it because it was the Sabbath, and for some folks there, that's sacreligious. It also really opened up my eyes to the conflict going on there and how incredibly complex an issue it is. During the party to celebrate my sister and (now) brother-in-law's wedding, I ran into a family friend of Jonathan's........who happens to be a Chelsea fan. We went at it over our respective EPL clubs, but it was all in good fun. Also, spending a day at the Dead Sea was an experience. It was almost like an alien landscape there. It was also really hot (105 degrees Fahrenheit), but honestly not too uncomfortable. It is true that you literally cannot sink in the Dead Sea. It's also true that going in there after you shave is going to be very uncomfortable.

Becoming A Homeowner
Literally the day after I got home, I saw a condo up the street from my apartment was up for sale. I went and took a look at it and after some thought and negotiation, had an offer accepted to purchase it. Quite honestly, the whole process was quick and free of any snags. I applied for my mortgage, and was approved in quick order. After a couple weeks of preparation, I finally moved in at the end of September. At first, I thought I was fine staying where I was at, but then realized that the condo would be a better place to live, as well as better for me in the long-term. Overall, I'm glad I made that decision. I'm enjoying my condo, and wish I'd done it sooner. Also, I left on good terms with my landlord: he was so impressed with how well I cleaned up the apartment after I left that he not only refunded my security deposit, but also threw in some extra money because he didn't need to spend as much as he thought he would have to in order to clean it.

Moving Up And Forward At Work
Late last year, I began an "internship" at my employer in their Retirement Center, handling issues specific to various retirement accounts. After working through tax season, management at the Retirement Center was impressed enough to ask me to stay permanently, which in effect was a promotion and raise. After being hired, changes began. Eventually, several members of my team left, and my boss also left the company for reasons unknown to me. But eventually I got a new boss, and she's been great so far. I'm able to apply for a new position in April, so I'm going to be looking at where I should go next.

Those were the big events in my life in 2017. Hopefully 2018 is as eventful.

Sports Discussion / Move over Ronaldo and Messi..........
« on: December 26, 2017, 07:32:33 PM »
-56 goals for club and country in 2017. The first player not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo since 2009 to lead all of Europe in scoring.
-39 Premier League goals in a calendar year, breaking Alan Shearer's 22-year-old record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year.
-Six Premier League hat tricks in 2017, a new record for hat tricks in a single season.
-Eight hat tricks total for 2017, six more than anyone else in Europe.

All hail Harry Kane, the King of Europe.

LoadingReadyRun did an event involving Unstable, the third and most recent Un-Set in Magic history. During that event, M:tG reached heights it can't possibly reach again.

The height of Magic went as follows:

-Wedge, in response to Cameron's Very Cryptic Command, pays eight life to use Spike, Tournament Grinder's ability. It lets you take one banned or restricted card you own from outside the game into your hand. Then come the greatest words ever spoken in Magic history: "Could you hand me the Shahrazad that's behind you?" Cameron's face says it all.
-A bit later, Wedge decides he needs some help and casts Better Than One, which lets him choose anyone from outside the game to be his teammate. He chooses.........Mar k Rosewater. Yes, Maro was present, and yes, he became Wedge's teammate.
-After some more nonsense, Wedge casts Shahrazad. The judge present then explains how exactly the card works, but not before saying that in his entire career as a judge, he's never had to explain the card.
-Wedge and Maro win the subgame, causing Cameron to lose half his life in the main game.
-Wedge and Maro go on to win the main game.

This historical match has thankfully been preserved for future generations. The fun begins at the 9:30 mark.

What could possibly top that?

General Chat / Listen to me on the radio tomorrow!
« on: December 14, 2017, 06:26:32 PM »
Tomorrow night, from 8 PM to 10 PM EST, I will be going back to my alma mater's radio station.

When I was at Millersville University, I was a DJ for their station, WIXQ. After I graduated in 2005, I didn't return until homecoming in 2016. When I was there, I went to a social hosted by WIXQ for station alums and found out they do a fundraiser every year. Station alums donate money to WIXQ, and in turn, they get to do their old show during Finals Week. I am taking part in this, and my show is tomorrow, 8 PM to 10 PM. I'll be doing my classic rock show, "Reelin' In The Years".

You can listen in on their website, 917 The Ville.

Hope you tune in!

Professional Wrestling Discussion / Gauging Interest for a Revival
« on: December 04, 2017, 06:18:40 AM »
So now that I'm back, I'm thinking of possibly reviving the Dungeon of Doom. For those who don't know, you can read all about it here.

What I'm going to do is post up three questions here. There is no limit to how many people can answer this round. If you have answers, post 'em! Here goes:

1. I saw this video of Elias Samson and immediately thought "DAMN this guy is a heat magnet!" However, I noticed that he seems to split opinion and some classify his heat as X-Pac heat. Is it legit heat or X-Pac heat, and why do you feel that?

2. You're Eric Young. One day, you get a voicemail on your phone. It's conspiracy theorist/radio nutjob Alex Jones. He actually believes that SAnitY is an anti-Illuminati paramilitary group and has extended you an invitation to his radio show to discuss your "work". At first, you're inclined to ignore the message. But then you think about it, and you get a wonderful awful idea to mess with his.............min d? (If you can call it that). How do you troll Alex Jones?

(Caveat: Dilbert, if you decide to answer these questions, you MUST give me the answer you gave me for this one originally. You already know the "correct" answer, so you're bound to answer how you originally did.)

3. A group of 1000 people in Cesena, Italy did a cover of "Learn To Fly" by the Foo Fighters and asked Dave Grohl to play a show for them. Pick a song for these 1000 Italians to cover. Why would your choice be awesome for them to cover? (Note: Dave Grohl responded and indeed did a show for them.)

You have five days to respond. Should there be enough interest, I could very well bring back the DoD.

Today I traveled up to Randolph, NJ to take part in a prerelease tournament for the Final Fantasy TCG. It was the prerelease for Opus IV, which is hitting in less than a week. Gamers Heaven has already held two, and the last one is tomorrow, which I am attending. However, after BigPimpin (again, the Brian in this thread's title) came down for the Pauper Tournament at GH which I previously told you all about, I told him I'd get him back and come up his way for a tournament. That happened today, when I went to All-In-One Collectibles in Randolph for the event.

Brian and I got there early and we played a game. I also played a game with his friend John Soto before we began the event. The tournament was a sealed tournament, with us being given nine packs of Opus IV, along with a special prerelease version of the Cloud found in Opus IV. We cracked open our packs and got down to business. In opening my packs, I got the following Legendaries (Ultra Rares):

2 Raiden (1 Foil, 1 Non-Foil)
1 Kefka (Foil)
1 Caius
1 Lightning

The two Raidens I pulled were in the same pack, by the way. As far as I can remember that's the first time I've ever gotten the same Legendary twice in a pack. After looking at my cards, after trying to come up with some coherent strategy, I just went "Screw it" and threw together a Fire/Ice/Lightning deck with all the best cards I pulled. Then it was off to three rounds of play. As it was, Brian and I did much better this go-round. My matches:

Round 1
I ended up facing Dan Covsillos, the guy who won the FFTCG Petit Cup event in NYC a couple months ago. So it was going to be a tough match. As it was, we traded damage until I came to a critical juncture: I had Raiden and a forward in my hand and I was on four damage. Do I dump my hand to play Raiden and clear his board? Or do I play more cautiously and play the forward? I chose the latter, and it cost me. Dan proceeded to get rid of both my forwards and then hit me for the last two points of damage he needed. Afterwards, I revealed I had Raiden in my hand. He asked if I minded hearing his take on what I should've done. I never object to that, so I told him to go ahead. He then said I should've played Raiden. I would've cleared his board and would've won because he would've had no way to recover. Lesson learned.

Round 2
This was against a local player whose name I forget. This match ended up going much better for me. He hit me early, but I was able to get back in and eventually level things. Then I drew Raiden again. Knowing to not waste the opportunity, the next turn, I nuked his board and attacked. While he was able to prevent damage from being done, he expended all of his resources, and the next turn conceded because he had no way to stop me. That got me to 1-1 heading into the last round.

Round 3
Against another local player. I believe her name was Rebecca. I ended up controlling this one from start to finish. Just as she would establish a position, I'd immediately undermine it. The deck I threw together worked wonderfully. I draw Raiden again, nuke her board, game over. I finish 2-1.

For my efforts, I came in sixth place, which was good enough to earn an alternate art Kain promo. Brian did even better: he finished third and picked up a promo as well. I don't know which one he got though.

After that, I went into some constructed play with Brian and John. It ended up being very helpful, because I finally got in significant play time with my recently-built decks and managed to deepen my understanding of them and get how they're supposed to operate.

Overall, it was a fantastic day out. I was able to fulfill my promise to Brian to come by his way, and in the process I got to play a bunch of FFTCG, get some Opus 4 early, and then win a promo on top of it. I want to thank All-In-One Collectibles for hosting this event and for being a fantastic venue to play at. Also, they sprang for pizza for us, which was awesome. It was nice to meet John and play some games with him. Finally, it was great to see you again Brian. I'll let you know when the big monthly at GH is occurring in January.

To conclude this post, I have some pictures. These are photos of players holding the cards we were happiest to get.

John Soto with his foil Onion Knight

Steve Molnar (A local who'd come down to GH for the Pauper Tournament) with his Opus IV Lightning

Brian with his foil Opus IV Lightning

Me, dual-wielding my Raidens

General Chat / Can't help myself, I need to boast
« on: November 24, 2017, 08:21:32 PM »
I've been paying much more attention to the markets and I've also dabbled into investing. Besides mutual funds, I'm also investing in individual stocks. I've had temporary success (Community Health, which I bought low, more than doubled, and then dropped back down), poor choices (Chesapeake Energy, which has gone down, though not precipitously), and utter disasters (Teva Pharmaceuticals, which I bought at about $34 a share, and due to an utterly horrid quarter and dividend cut, is now sitting at around $13-$14 share). But I've had one overwhelming success and I cashed in on it partially today.

Earlier this year, I purchased 20 shares of Nintendo stock at $26/share. I bought it about a month before the Switch came out. I was looking at everything and I concluded that while it might not necessarily meet all the hype it was getting, that some of that hype was legitimate and that thus it was worth picking up some shares.

Then the Switch came out and Nintendo took off. It broke through its resistance levels big time, hitting $38/share, then getting up to $45 a share. For most of the past year, it's hovered around $40-$45/share. I held on, figuring that if Nintendo kept doing the right things and exceeding the hype like they did, it would break its resistance levels again.

A strong third quarter took it above $50/share, before it dropped back down two weeks ago. At that point, I acted. I put in a limit sell order on half my stake for $52, meaning that if the price at any point met or exceeded $52/share within the next 90 days, the order would execute at the point I set if it was met or exceeded. I figured that by hitting that point, I'd cash out half my stake, getting back my initial investment, and then playing with house money with the rest of my shares.

I checked the first price that came in today for Nintendo: $52.45/share. A minute later I got an email saying my order executed, 10 shares at $52.45/share.

Nintendo closed at $52.55 a share today, and my unsold shares are now at that price. But I got my money back and now can't lose any more than my initial investment.

As for what I'm gonna do with the money.............. I've wanted a Switch and some games. Now I can get them pretty easily. So in a sense, Nintendo essentially paid for my gaming. All in all, to quote Ice Cube, it was a good day. Nintendo's been pretty much the only thing keeping my portfolio in the green this year.

And lastly, I want to REALLY emphasize that the success I've had is not common. If a stock doubles in price, it's usually over the course of several years. Investing carries a LOT of risk. Investing in individual stock is basically like playing the lottery, only in this case, thanks to data, you're making educated guesses and hoping your analysis is correct, rather than picking blindly and hoping for utter pure luck. If you want to invest, you need to do homework to decide what stock makes sense and what stock is too speculative for your tastes. Also, starting with mutual funds might be a way to get in and mitigate risk.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / HYPE! FFTCG Opus IV
« on: November 09, 2017, 05:27:43 AM »
More spoilers are coming out for Opus IV, and what I just saw got me HYPED.


My initial thoughts:

Setzer - Pricey, but being able to search for an FFVI character and his mini-Rinoa ability make him useful
Sabin - WOW. THAT is going to see TONS of play in aggro decks. The first ability alone is amazing. His second and third abilities are more situational, but I could see Rising Phoenix enabling you to set up a quick board wipe.
Gau - .......Eh. Kinda expensive, and I am not sure you'll ever get to use Rage all that often.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / The Music of Mick Gordon
« on: November 07, 2017, 06:30:05 PM »
Since this involves video games, I figured this should go here.

I'd had praise for video game composer Jake Kaufmann for his awesome work on Double Dragon Neon and Ducktales Remastered. There's now a new star in video game music, Mick Gordon.

What really made him stand out for me was two things. First, he did the soundtrack for the rebooted Killer Instinct. And WOW is it awesome. Some of the highlights:

As soon as the main riff kicks in, it takes you WAY back
Swedish never sounded so badass
Japanese never sounded so sinister
When the singer belts out the chorus, I fully believe she's capable of backing up her threat
So awesome supporters of Panathinaikos FC in Greece sing this one during matches

Then he did the soundtrack for the rebooted DOOM. And holy s**t is it amazing! Highlights:

A classic, brought into the 21st century
Part of the instrumentation is a CHAINSAW
"I played this for my cat. It's now a lion." - YouTube comment
"Doom is a survival horror game. Only the horror is trying to survive you." - YouTube comment

Needless to say, this guy's work is awesome. And personally, I think it's worth paying for (I've certainly done so!).

Rants Forum / Don't Touch My 401(k)!
« on: October 28, 2017, 04:31:39 AM »
There's talk that Congress could possibly lower the pre-tax cap for 401(k) (and similar) plans to as low as $2400, with contributions after that being post-tax, in order to pay for tax cuts they want to pass. This is something that should be concerning to everyone, and I'm going to explain why.

401(k) plans are designed to encourage people to save for retirement because as it stands right now, a person can put up to $18,000 ($24,000 if they're 50 or older) in pre-tax money into the plan. Because the money put in is pre-tax, it reduces a person's taxable income. Save enough and you end up with a lower tax bill because your taxable income isn't as high and you get a refund of tax you've already paid. Lowering the pre-tax cap is going to screw over tons of people because they won't get nearly the tax benefit they do now, thus ending up with a higher tax bill. Further, it may encourage people to NOT save, because if they're not going to get a benefit, why bother? This will screw those people down the line when they don't have enough money saved up for retirement.

I've already passed $2400 in contributions. If this is lowered, I would be screwed because now I've suddenly got a higher income and a higher tax bill. Now in my situation this is somewhat mitigated because I could put money towards a Traditional IRA and get a deduction on what I contribute. Since employer-sponsored retirement plans (401(k), 403(b), etc.) and IRAs have separate thresholds for saving and don't interact, I can do this. However, there's a few problems.

1. The maximum for an IRA is $5500 ($6500 if you're over 50 years old)
2. Your income needs to be below a certain amount to claim a deduction

Right now my income is below the threshold to claim a deduction. However, someone like my dad would be screwed because his income is above that threshold, so he'd be putting post-tax money in a pre-tax account, and when he withdrawals it, he'd be paying taxes on it again. Lowering the threshold would especially screw over people who've already got Traditional IRAs and above the threshold, because then they wouldn't be able to do a Backdoor Roth IRA without paying taxes. To explain: Backdoor Roth is when you make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA and too much to take a Traditional IRA deduction. You contribute to a Traditional IRA, convert it to a Roth, then fill out IRS Form 8606 to report your Traditional IRA contribution as post-tax so that your conversion isn't taxed. The problem is that if you already have pre-tax money in your Traditional IRA, you can't just convert the post-tax money. It's converted pro-rata, or in proportion to how much money in your Traditional IRA is pre-tax/post-tax. So someone like my dad would be screwed over even more, because he'd get almost no tax benefit.

If you have any further questions, I can answer them. But hopefully I made this clear enough for you all to understand. Please, call your Congressperson/Senator and tell them DON'T TOUCH MY 401(k)!

Sports Discussion / **** YOU BRUCE ARENA
« on: October 10, 2017, 07:09:39 PM »
Unbelievable. Just..............w ow.

The United States for the first time in over 30 years isn't going to the World Cup. All the US needed was a single point against Trinidad & Tobago and they were in. The last-place team in the Hex. But instead, they go out and lose to them 2-1. This, combined with Honduras and Panama winning their matches means the US finishes fifth and out of the World Cup in 2018.

The US has the talent. In fact, we've got some of the best talent we've ever had in guys like Yedlin and Pulisic. And we had a fine manager in Jurgen Klinsmann, who might've been lacking tactically, but had done a phenomenal job of finding young dual-nationals and building up the youth system. But he made too many enemies with the USSF, mostly because he dared to speak the truth (ie. American players are better off playing in Europe and MLS isn't really a quality league) and make too many people within MLS upset. So he got sacked after two losses to open the qualifying.

So what does the USSF do in all their infinite wisdom? Rehire Bruce Arena, a tactical moron who can't recruit or develop players, with a healthy dose of American jingoism thrown in. Everything that comes out of that idiot's mouth ("MLS is a quality league", "Christian Pulisic is nowhere near what Landon Donovan was", "I'd like to see those European sissies manage in CONCACAF") made me hope for nothing but the worst for us. I'll admit it. I was hoping we wouldn't make it, because in my opinion, the USSF needed to pay for their short-sightedness and hyper-protective stance regarding MLS. Well, I got my wish.

It's humiliating that we couldn't get more points than Honduras or Panama. But this needed to happen. The USSF and Sunil Gulati in particular needed a hard punch to the face to demonstrate just how short-sighted they truly were. And I'll still be watching the World Cup next year, because I love football and the World Cup is an event like no other. But still, even though I wanted this to happen............. still sucks.

General Chat / One of the Internet's Greatest Mysteries..........SOLVED!
« on: September 22, 2017, 08:03:43 PM »
For anyone who's a Harry Potter fan, the words My Immortal are instantly recognizable. Even some who aren't fans of the books know about what is considered perhaps the worst best piece of fan fiction of all-time. For those who aren't, here's a primer:

My Immortal is a Harry Potter fan fiction which has a cult following on the Internet. It takes every part of bad fan fiction (disregarding canon, out-of-character portrayals, inserting oneself as a near-perfect individual, bad grammar, bad/hilarious spelling, the list goes on) and cranks it up to hilarious levels. It was written by someone calling themselves "Tara Gilesbie" and unleashed on in 2006. The story's hideousness brilliance drew many detractors......... .....and many fans as well. This was what REALLY kicked off "Dramatic Readings", and it's even spawned a web video series.

However, there were two mysteries to this that for over a decade, went unsolved:
-Who was "Tara Gilesbie"?
-Was My Immortal supposed to be taken seriously, or was it one big joke?

Two weeks ago, we got the answer: "Tara Gilesbie" is a young adult writer named Rose Christo, and the entire thing was indeed one massive joke on her part. On one hand, she regrets writing it, but not because of the story itself, because it was meant to be a joke. Rather, she regrets the grief it caused She does however appreciate people who enjoyed it and thanked them for keeping it relevant. She appreciates such people to the point that when one reader, who went so far as to roleplay Lord Voldemort in flaming her and sending her insulting emails, apologized for doing so, she told the individual to not feel sorry, because she found his flaming/nasty emails funny and one of the highlights of her time as "Tara".

I suggest you read the linked article, because it'll explain things better than I could. But hearing this news brought me back to when I first saw the infamous fanfic. I was at first disturbed.......... .then I found it hilarious. The way I viewed it, I couldn't lose: if it was meant to be taken seriously, I could laugh at how silly that idea was. If it was a joke, it was very well done. Now we know.

Just for the hell of it, I re-read some of it last night. Yep. Still hilarious.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / FFTCG US Nationals Decks
« on: September 19, 2017, 06:13:54 PM »
The US Nationals for the Final Fantasy TCG was held this weekend. The champion ended up being a player from Wisconsin, Joe Leszczynski. Top Four all qualified for Worlds in Tokyo later this year. FF Decks today got ahold of the decklists for the Top 12.

Decks can be viewed here.

Few things:
-Ice/Wind making up the finals was a massive surprise. It's not a decktype that saw much play until recently.
-A chocobo-themed deck being the championship deck was also a surprise. Guess the archtype does work, it just needs to be finely tuned.
-Legendary Bartz saw some play with the Top 12. Not bad for a card considered to be a garbage Legendary.
-Mono Water still running strong overall, as is Wind/Water.
-The third place deck is the most unique one I've seen. I think I want to try and build something like that, particularly because I want to use Legendary Ramza.

Locally, we ended up being represented well. Mike Scarbrough, a player whose home store is AU Wilmington, ended up coming in 20th overall. I believe you'd met him Pimpin.

Sports Discussion / Baker Mayfield isn't unique
« on: September 10, 2017, 04:31:39 AM »
Even though I don't watch college football or the NFL anymore, on occasion I do catch something which captures my attention.

I wake up today and saw all this stuff about Oklahoma planting flags and all the conversation it's generating. Well, I finally decide to see what the commotion is about, and sure enough, it was literal, as Baker Mayfield planted an OU flag on the Block O at The Horseshoe.

Seeing this though, I think I have a reasonable suspicion that Mayfield got inspiration from another such act.

21 years ago, in Turkish soccer, Galatasaray beat Fenerbahce for the Turkish Cup. The two are massive rivals, and matches between them are called The Intercontinental Derby (due to Galatasaray's home ground being in the European side of Istanbul while Fenerbahce's home is on the Asian side). Galatasaray had (for them) a bad season, being nowhere close to winning the Turkish Super League, while Fenerbahce won it running away. In the cup competition, the two faced off in the final, and Galatasaray scored an upset win, beating their rivals for the Turkish Cup at Fenerbahce's home ground. After the match, Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness, who'd been called a cripple by Fenerbahce's chairman due to a heart attack he'd suffered some time ago, decided some payback was in order. He went to the away section, got a Galatasaray flag, and planted it in the middle of the pitch. That event has since made what was already a heated rivalry even more heated. Full details can be found here.

Souness's act has ever since been a talking point between the two clubs, who don't hesitate to bring it up to their respective fanbases, either to remind them of the big "F**K YOU" they delivered (Galatasaray) or to remind them of how they were so brazenly insulted (Fenerbahce). I imagine that the same will occur for Oklahoma and OU. My guess is that for Ohio State fans, Oklahoma now has a permanent place on their s**tlist and that they're going to want payback in the worst way (Hurricane I imagine could confirm this), while Baker Mayfield is now a folk hero for the middle finger he delivered to OU.

I understand that Oklahoma/Ohio State isn't a regular matchup for either side. It might be now!

EDIT: BAKER Mayfield, not Blake. Told you I don't pay much attention.

General Chat / What I've been up to
« on: September 06, 2017, 05:40:16 AM »
The past couple of years, a lot changed in my life. I'd lost interest in this site and left, but after Pimpin necro'd the FFTCG thread, I felt compelled to come back. I'd like to share with you all a brief rundown of what's gone on with me since then.

I worked for a little over a year with a hearing aid company in Chadds Ford, PA until getting laid off (two days before my birthday) and finding myself looking for work again. After I got laid off, I got in touch with a previous employer and let them know I was available. Amith, the guy who was my boss, immediately accepted me back and I began working on Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement sales. This didn't last long however, because a few weeks after I began, I was contacted by a woman named Jennifer, who saw my resume and felt I'd be perfect for a contract-to-hire role with Vanguard. For those not familiar, Vanguard is an investment management company located in Malvern, PA. I'd start off doing routine account servicing, and then have a chance to possibly take the Series 6 and Series 63 tests (tests which, if passed, grant the person licenses to deal in securities). I accepted this, partially because they paid more, partially because it'd be closer to home, and mainly because Vanguard is a fantastic company to work for. I told Amith about this and he was very understanding, saying that he figured I would be sought after and that he brought me back knowing this would be the case because he liked me personally and wanted to help me out. He then mentioned that he has money with Vanguard and that he might call in someday and get me.

So I began working as a contractor for Vanguard and did well. When the call went out for licensing opportunities, I interviewed and was accepted. I'd take the tests for Series 6 and 63 and then go on as a licensed contractor before being asked to take the Series 7 and become a full-time employee. This changed a few weeks later: Vanguard was in the midst of a massive hiring push and needed people badly. So they decided that they'd skip us right to Series 7, and passing both tests would mean immediate permanent employment.

I began studying for the tests, and let me tell you that if this is something you want to do, you pretty much have to give up all of your free time and private life to study and make sure you pass. I studied long and hard and eventually the day of the Series 7 test came. I went in, took the test, and then submitted it for scoring.

The minute it took to score the test (it's a 270-question test) was one of the most agonizing minutes of my life. Passing it requires a score of 72. Finally, my results came: 87. I'd passed! I informed the lead trainer about the test result and was now hired. Passing the 7 makes the Series 63 all but academic, and I killed that one as well.

I got hired by Vanguard as an investment professional, and eventually went on rotation to their Retirement Center last November. I did a good enough job that in April, I was asked to stick around. I accepted, and now work for the Retirement Center. Now I'm taking time to consider my options as to what position I'll go for next within Vanguard.

In my personal life, the following happend:
-I took my best friend John Rebstock (Dilbert) down to Ocean City, NJ for a day, a couple weeks before his wedding, to celebrate
-I found Gamers Heaven, the local store I now play FFTCG at
-I went to London and saw Tottenham Hotspur play West Bromwich Albion. Spurs won 4-0, Harry Kane with a hat trick
-My sister got married to an Israeli-American guy named Jonathan, who I've gotten really close to. Much like Dilbert, I took him down to the shore for a day to celebrate.
-After my sister's wedding, I went to Israel for a week to visit Jonathan's parents in Jerusalem and also meet his other friends and family. Israel is really something I must say.

Tomorrow is yet another change: after renting for nine years, I'm closing on a condo half a mile from where I live now. I'll be moved in by late September.

One thing I will say about my job is that my dad, who's an investor, now views me as a source of information and asks me questions frequently about investing. Despite the fact that my dad's been in the investment game way longer than I have, the fact that he sees me as someone he can ask questions to and get guidance from gives me pride. It might be because in discussing with him about the things I was learning while I studied for my licenses, I introduced him to things about investing that he had no idea existed.

So that's what happened to me.

General Chat / We've lost a Major Dude (RIP Walter Becker)
« on: September 04, 2017, 05:22:22 AM »
My dad influenced my musical tastes at a very young age. One of my first loves in music was Steely Dan. Some of my earliest musical memories include their classics such as "Do It Again", "Reelin' In The Years", "Bodhisattva", "My Old School", "Any Major Dude Will Tell You", "Peg", the list goes on. When I did a classic rock show for my college's radio station, I called it "Reelin' In The Years" and would start off every show with a Steely Dan song.

Hearing this news hit me. It hit my dad hard too. Steely Dan rotated through personnel on a constant basis, but the two constants were Don Fagen and Walter Becker. And now one of them is gone.

Rest in peace Walter Becker. You can't buy a thrill, but you can provide them, and you were outstanding at it.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / Easy place to play FFTCG online
« on: September 03, 2017, 08:28:27 PM »
Hey everyone. At tonight's tournament, one of the locals showed me a site online where you can play the FFTCG.

It can be found at Trade Cards Online.

If anyone is interested in some online games, I'd be happy to play you!

Yesterday at Gamers Heaven in Phoenixville, PA, we held a Final Fantasy TCG pauper tournament. This meant that only common and rare cards were legal for decks. To avoid confusion, in FFTCG, "rare" means "uncommon". Actual rares are "Heroic" and ultra-rares are "Legendary". Anyway, this ended up being a big tournament. We had 35 participants. BigPimpin (the Brian in this thread's title) ended up coming down to participate with me, and we had other visitors as well. Two other guys from All-in-One Collectibles in Randolph, NJ came down to take part and also promote their tournament in early September. A contingent from Pittsburgh came, as did some guys from Harrisburg, PA and a player from Lancaster, PA. The regulars from Alternate Universes in Holmes, PA and Alternate Universes in Wilmington, DE also showed up (as they typically do for FFTCG events). Finally, we had a group of five who came all the way down from Lowell, MA to take part.

The tourney itself was a lot of fun. Five rounds of Swiss, cut to Top 8. Participation packs for everyone, with Top 20 getting promos and then Top 8 battling it out for even more packs. As for results............ this is why I said "Bogus Tourney", because Brian and I did not do particularly well. I went 1-4 playing Wind/Lightning Type-0 Cadets with unblockability as the primary theme, while Brian went 2-3 with his Water/Earth deck. I thought that maybe the concept I played just didn't work, but later other players felt that my deck was fine, just that Earth was overly dominant in the format (Opus 3 Yang and Ursula were prevalent, and getting two 9000 power forwards out for 4 Crystal Points is going to cause problems). But it was still fun, and we even got featured in some matches. Brian was twice on the store's Twitch stream for matches, and one of my matches was recorded by Bernardo from AU Wilmington for his YouTube channel. Also, due to the number of players, Andrew, the store's owner, sprang for free pizza for everyone.

I also did some commentary on the Twitch stream, commentating on the Top 8 match between Mike Hunsicker, one of the locals, and Steve Molnar, one of the players from All-in-One Collectibles in Randolph. Brian eventually joined me for some post-match commentary, where we reported on the other results, discussed FFTCG, and talked about our experiences at the tournament. Being a former Raw Deal player, I did make sure to get in one wrestling reference, in regards to Kyle, another local player who made Top 8. Specifically, I said, "Kyle was playing Mono-Earth before Mono-Earth was cool!"

I ended up giving my participation pack to Brian because I already have a playset of everything in Opus 3. Brian's pack had a foil Legendary in it (I believe it was Zodiark, Keeper of Precepts. Correct me if I'm wrong), so it was well worth it. He also bought himself a box of Opus 3 and got some nice pulls.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. Gabe Cavaliere was the one responsible for organizing the tournament and promoting it, so he deserves a lot of praise for getting the attendance he did and his tireless efforts to promote the event. Andrew Hwang, the owner of Gamers Heaven, also deserves thanks for his incredible prize support as well as hosting and providing food for us. And on a personal note, I want to thank Brian for coming down to play. It was nice to see you again, and hopefully the scene in Randolph continues to grow so that I can come by your neck of the woods and play closer to you.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / FFTCG Opus 3
« on: July 18, 2017, 02:24:35 PM »
So I've got three booster boxes of Opus 3 on the way. Has anyone else checked out the spoilers? If not, feel free to check them here.

Overall I find the Legendaries as a whole kind of disappointing. Kuja looks nice for Ice decks. Delita is pretty much a must-pack for Earth. Exdeath looks fun and is a potential finisher, and Ultima is a great removal option. Other than that, the Legendaries seem weak. Bartz in particular is disappointing, since it requires you to have at least two other forwards already out for him to be at least kind of useful.

Some of the heroics have me excited. Minerve in particular looks to be a late-game finisher, and Desperado Chaos not only looks fun but also can be used for some nice tricks. Kefka is a two-cost, 8000 power with Brave (doesn't tap to attack) with Shantotto in play, which, since it's earth, should be something any Earth-heavy deck has.

Gonna have to wait to see how this changes the meta, but overall I'm looking forward to it.

Gaming Discussion (Everything Else) / Mono-Lightning FFTCG deck
« on: June 20, 2017, 06:01:21 PM »
Hey all. Here's a deck I played last night at a FFTCG tournament in Wilmington, DE. I came in second and figured to share it with everyone. It ended up being another Mono-Lightning deck that beat me.

3 Amon
3 Kain (Opus 2 Heroic)
3 Al-Cid
3 Onion Knight
3 Gilgamesh (Opus 1 Common)
3 Edea
2 Rygdea
2 Ramza
2 Seifer
1 Zalbaag

3 Ninja (Opus 2 Common)
3 Red Mage (Opus 1)
3 Black Mage (Opus 2)
2 Summoner (Opus 1 Common)
2 Lulu (Opus 1 Rare)
1 Magus (Opus 1 Common)
1 Duke Goltanna
1 Seymour
1 Fusoya (Light)

3 Cyclops
3 Odin (7-drop)
2 Odin (4-drop)

This deck is as simple as it gets: destroy every forward the opponent brings out and attack relentlessly. Early game, we have Kain for quick damage and Al-Cid shenanigans to break the opponent's forwards and give you forward advantage. Seifer is a counter for Opus 1 Golbez: go ahead and break Golbez, then break the summoned minions with No Mercy. Amon and Edea late-game provide even more breakage and also a way to clear a path should you run out of break power.

The backups are self-explanatory. Red Mage is a must to keep your Forward pressure up, with Black Mage also weakening threats from the opponent. Fusoya is a game-changer if you can get him early, as he can consistently clear a path. From there, it's situational with what Backups to use. Sometimes Lulu's buffing will help. Other times Seymour gives you a resource and breaks a forward.

The summons all fit in as well. Cyclops is a handy way to deal with Zidane, as well as weaken problems like Legendary Vincent so you can Fusoya him. 7-drop Odin late-game can swing the match towards you, but is also a nasty EX Burst surprise. 4-drop Odin also helps, since most forwards in the meta are 4-cost or less.

Pretty self-explanatory I'd say. Feel free to comment!

Hero Of the Day / HotD: Lord Buckethead
« on: June 09, 2017, 05:54:44 PM »
So the UK had a general election recently. And of all the candidates available, one of them had perhaps the most clear and forward-thinking manifesto of them all.

Meet Lord Buckethead, the candidate for Maidenhead (UK PM Theresa May's seat).

Lord Buckethead is the candidate the world needs. Not the one it deserves. The one that shows us that in the end, politics is a circus, and Lord Buckethead is the only one honest enough to admit openly that it's a circus.

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