My Experiences During 9/11

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do about Hearthstone or gaming. More personal stuff, if you are interested.

Thought I am writing this post from Baltimore, I spent most of my life in the New York Tri-State area, having grown up in Jersey City, NJ for my pre-college life. I was actually born in New York City, and spent a considerable number of Saturdays in New York, to go to Chinese School and learn Mandarin, as my family’s native language is Cantonese.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful day, one of those days that capped out in high 70s to low 80s, with very few clouds and abundant sunshine. I remember it specifically as the second day of 7th grade, a Tuesday. Given that it was the second day of the school year, it was the first “normal” day, after the re-familiarizing the day before.

The first signs of things being unusual occurred in our math class, the second class of the day. The windows were typically open in class (given no AC), and I just heard sirens everywhere. Police sirens and ambulance sirens were just persistent. I had no idea if the teachers and staff were cognizant of what was going on across the Hudson River. Then I heard intercom announcements about calling kids who have family who worked in the World Trade Center. This happened at least twice.

I don’t ever recall hearing the World Trade Center go down, but by lunchtime, the class clown of our class, was telling us rumors of the World Trade Center being hit by planes. Being aware of the concept of terrorism was completely foreign at this time, I must have thought it was a pilot error. We didn’t get to go outside for recess. Something was up.

Shortly after lunch, school was over. Everyone was dismissed. Parents had been picking up students in our class through the day. I was one of the stragglers dismissed at the end. I remember going outside at the beautiful day to go home (2 blocks away), and just seeing smoke in the sky, and confusion amongst everyone.

When I got home a few minutes later, I realized the TV was frozen. There was an infamous image of the plane hitting the Twin Towers being frozen on the WB channel. Anyways, I remember the TV being spotty, and my learning of the destruction of the World Trade Center. I don’t think my mom worked that day, and my dad took one of the last trains out of New York City. Besides visiting the World Trade Center as a child, I remember just passing it by every Saturday for Chinese school. I took the PATH train from Journal Square to the World Trade Center stop every Saturday. My fondest memories just involve staring into the sky at any point, whether crossing the street, or whatever, and seeing the Twin Towers. Just staring into the sky and seeing a giant behemoth of architecture. I had to come to grips that it was no more.

I returned to New York City when they reopened the Holland Tunnel. I had to go to New York for Chinese School and also some other school to prepare me for the PSAT. It was about 2 weeks after 9/11. I remember just walking the streets in Lower Manhattan, and there was just dust on the ground, like a small snow accumulation. Clumps of dust blowing around like tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds of ash, concrete, asbestos, and possibly human remains. This dust was just around for weeks, and so was the resulting smoke from the smoldering remains at Ground Zero.

I also experienced the “patriotism period” in New York and New Jersey. There were just American flags everywhere, especially paper flags taped to the windows of cars. We had a few assemblies at school that commemorated the event. We saluted the flag a good deal. I had a 9/11 pin on my bookbag for the whole year.

Flash forward to today, and the World Trade Center is once again a behemoth in the sky, and all is seemingly normal again. I was around for a considerable time during the rebuilding, but it was just a slow, progressive rebuilding process. I’m not a nationalistic or patriotic person by any means, but 9/11 meant a big deal to me! Though I didn’t personally know any victims from the attacks, it had a big impact on life! My sister’s friends dad was a hero window washer in the World Trade Center who saved lives that day. I just can’t believe that happened 15 years ago. It is probably the biggest event I will ever experience, and it happened. I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

 

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Duel Monsters: A Look at my Yugi-Oh Days

Yugi-Oh first came into my life as an edgy Kids WB cartoon in post-9/11 America. I officially stopped collecting Pokémon cards by then, and I wasn’t as interested in the show as I once was. While I did not follow the Yugi-Oh show right away, there were enough reruns on for me to catch up. Though the show brought forth (now comical) extremely dire situations involving the outcome of a children’s card game, it was the greatest show I remember watching at that age.

Months went by before the Yugi-Oh TCG was released on March 2002. Because internet was only used sparingly back in the day, I wasn’t really waiting in anticipation for it. Rather, I realized the TCG was out when kids started playing it in school. Kids had the Yugi and Kaiba starter decks, but I had my eye on the booster packs. Given I didn’t have a job in the 7th grade and didn’t get allowance, money was hard to come by. The booster packs weren’t cheap either, coming in $8 per pack, more than $1 per card! I scrounged up $16 one day for the class resident gamer, “Foss,” to get me 2 packs.

The next day, Foss had a bit of a deranged-excited look saying, “dude, you can’t believe what you got.” My 14 cards, opened from their original foil packs, resided in a transparent plastic deck case. The first card I saw was a rare 2000-defense fairy, Spirit of the Harp. I could tell that was a decent card, but I didn’t think it to be worth that much excitement. I slogged through a slew of literally unplayable cards (Yugi-Oh powercreeps by the first set). Then came the card my buddy was referring to. It was shiny and magnificent. Not only did I get the rarest card in the set, I got the rarest card I would ever get.

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Tri-Horned Dragon is a card that likely has never seen competitive play, given it is powercreeped by the well-known Blue Eyes White Dragon in the same card set. But what did I know? I slotted him in my first deck, and any iterations I had, while playing against friends and other kids.

Eighth grade was pretty much dominated by Yugi-Oh from the get go. While we talked about our new acquisitions through the day, the daily action took place in the lunchroom cafeteria. I found myself dueling regularly, even participating in 2-on-2 game once. Yugi-Oh was so addictive that I even briefly retired from playing recess prisonball (a tradition since the 4th grade) to talk Yugi-Oh with Foss. I acquired a number of booster packs from the Labyrinth  of Nightmare and Pharaoh’s Servant sets that year, and I typically was known as a trapmaster, who ran a deck with a number of trap cards or restriction-based cards.

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By the time high school rolled along, nobody was visibly playing Yugi-Oh at school. Maybe it was a product of keeping an image at a new school. Maybe people tried hard to be cool. Maybe people lost interest. Anyhow, I never played Yugi-Oh in my high school. I still bought packs every so often for myself, with the hope that the game would come back some day. But it didn’t. Eventually, I found out of one of my good friends in high school collected Yugi-Oh cards as well. He had collected card sets a little past any cards I ever purchased. I wound up trading a Don Zaloog and holographic Nobleman of Crossout for a whole trove (100 or so) of cards. My Yugi-Oh TCG collecting career pretty much ended after trading 2 holographics for that whole lot of cards. I may have been content with where I was, and didn’t really have interest in collecting any of the new cards.

The Yugi-Oh TCG was the first card game I played to a decent extent. Eventually, my obsession with card games manifested itself into Hearthstone.

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Some holographics, 3/4 acquired from my big trade.
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Necrovalley deck, pretty strong graveyard interactions.
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Other holographics I found on my own.
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Pot of Greed? What does that card do?
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At some point, Harpie Lady was “nerfed.”
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This game had some weird cards. I guess there’s room when 100+ cards a released every few months.

Garrosh’s dad

Garrosh Hellscream never got along with his dad. Nope. His dad never thought he was good enough, never thought that anything he ever achieved mattered. Further he was an angry drunk who got angry easily. One day Grom Hellscream got mad.

Dad's just yelling now, but not long before he resorts to violence.
Dad’s just yelling now, but not long before he resorts to violence.

Garrosh tried to get away, tried to distract his dad with a random brawl (RIP Mana Tide Totem) but nothing worked. Eventually, he was cornered and chose death.

Fisticuffs! Let none survive
Fisticuffs! Let none survive

Snobold’s Tale

The Explosive Trap went off and Thrall died. The Frigid Snobold still had his snowball in good condition, but no master to fight for. He remained stuck from his initial position for a while. Even Rexxar left the battlefield, and everyone packed their bags and went home.

I've moved forward and I can't go back!
I’ve moved forward and I can’t go back!

The wars were over. The Snobold felt that there was more to life than a snowball. Stuck and frozen in time, he had a lot of time to think about what to do next. So he and Frost Giant decided to move out to the Howling Fjord and raise the pet Snakes.

He’s got a huge gun: a story

The Stormpike Commando has a somewhat hammy cry, and it a rather mediocre card. But sometimes he really does have a huge gun.

That is a big gun!
That is a big gun!

The fiery monstrosity took out the Stormpike Commando’s trusty sidekick instantly. Stormpike said, “I will avenge you Bob. Fireguard, It’s just you and me.” He ditched his gun in favor of a bigger gun…

Bigger gun! But Frog.
Bigger gun! But Frog.

The moral of this story is that getting a bigger gun is not always the best idea. Because you could become a frog. (Spoiler Alert: The Frog gets a banana next turn and hits Thrall in the face).