Dear Cia Column

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:46 am

Dear Grimm,

Aha!  Almost gotcha!  Razz
But thanks for correcting it in time... unlike Jeopardy, we do allow people to self-correct their responses. ^^

Anyway, that's a good Minecrafty question. Smile
I try to categorize mods between destructive, non-destructive and mega modpacks, since they all have a particular and unique function.

The easiest to get out of the way are mega modpacks -- huge compilations of mods that completely overhaul the game to the point it even uses its own unique launcher, and is far removed from the original game.  I haven't played too many of these to form a proper opinion since in general, I don't like them for various reasons having to do with sensory overload and lack of polish, but i guess for the sake of inclusiveness I'll add Agrarian Skies as my favorite modpack.  It's unique and challenging, and I even managed to recreate the world a bit (using buckets, water, lava and a lot of dirt), but it's not without its problems and it DOES get boring after a while.  -v-

Next are destructive mods... single mods that nevertheless overhaul the world with the addition of new blocks, items and biome additions/changes that's amazing and cool, but pretty much doom you to be stuck to the current version of Minecraft since the world may be largely incompatible in later versions (and heaven forbid you should open your world without the mod, phew!).  Since I love exploration, immersion, realism and lots of detail, I think this title rightfully goes to Biomes O' Plenty.  Especially when paired with Mo' Creatures (that I would have liked if not for its occasional lack of polish) and Hardcore Mode, Biomes O'Plenty would offer some of my most rewarding and fulfilling single-player adventures ever.  If not for the destructive nature of this mod, I would happily have this as part of our server.  ^^

And finally non-destructive mods... single mods that offer some amazing new core mechanics or items, but do not alter the world or only very minutely to the point where conversion and updates to later Minecraft versions are possible and safe.  Obviously Gulliver takes the cake here, I find it to be the best non-destructive Minecraft mod ever made, and clearly Mion did her homework in making it integrate so beautifully with Minecraft.  But if any other non-destructive mod deserves an honorable mention, it would be CustomNPCs, thanks to its endless customization, and opportunities for in-depth interaction and immersive gameplay as YOU create your own quests and adventures.  Plus the mod also has its own size-changing abilities as well -- and paired with Gulliver, you can easily create 1/64x or 64x NPCs if you so choose (just be careful, it gets buggy). XD

While playing Agrarian Skies, i was hoping to nominate Pam's Harvestcraft as my second-favorite mod due to its extensive array of new crops and new food recipes, and yes I salute that.  But what killed me was the completely unrealistic and biased nutritional portrayal (steak and eggs have almost NO satiety, yet tofu burgers do?!!! SRSLY?!!), so that fell out of favor really fast.  Razz


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:47 am

Dear Candy,

Ah, well with the exception of Little Blocks, few people really ask me this question, and I'm just as surprised about that as you are.  I guess it helps that we have the Little Brother server on hand, so if anyone really truly wishes to try out new and exciting mods, they can always vote it into Little Brother and try it out to see if it's all that.  This is how I learned that Aether II, despite looking really awesome, was actually very irritating to play; or how I learned that a well-reviewed food mod like Pam's Harvestcraft was actually pretty crummy.  And for all the hype that players had, Pixelmon was boring as hell, and Crazycraft crashed after only a few minutes of being up and running, lol. XD

That's really the point of having two servers... one is stable and never changes, providing a solid and secure foundation for building a home/town/masterpiece/adventure, the other is crazy and chaotic and geared towards maximum interaction and fun.  That few people take advantage of that is testament to the power of a good stable home to come home to... the slow tortoise always wins the race, after all.  Smile

But have I ever considered adding more mods to Big Sister?  Well certainly,... as I mentioned above to Grimm, I would kill to add Biomes O plenty to our world, but that would be too destructive to our map, and it would require an installation commitment that not everyone would be on board with (and besides, we import and convert biomes from it anyway, like that redwood forest near Barbary).  

And while I'm no big fan of LittleBlocks because of lag, Tarig assures me this is no longer a problem starting with the 1.6.4 version -- so if this holds true, the possibility exists that we can one day admit this little mod into Big Sister.

I've also proposed that CustomNPCs would be a wonderful mod to pair with Gulliver, given the double-size changing ability, and the fact that NPCs could be used to create quests, adventures, shops, or just some clever interaction to keep solitary players from feeling bored and lonely.  It would certainly fit closer to our ethos, although it too has some bugs that are not fully resolved until later versions.

We have Gulliver, LittleBlocks and CustomNPCs all currently hosted on Little Brother if you want to give it a try.  It sounds cool in principle, but in practice the combo is a bit of a yawner, judging by the slow uptake of Little Brother participation this month.  It matters little what mods are installed when what really matters to most people is... people.  Interaction. Socialization.  The best kind of fun there is!

And good socialization can be accomplished by one mod as easily as it can be accomplished by one hundred mods, so we can afford to take our time and think this through carefully.  Smile


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ishida on Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:24 pm

Dear Cia,

Although I have a selected major, I am currently uncertain as to what to focus on career-wise and what I should pursue doing. Do you have any tips or know of anything I should look into to get a better understanding of one's own interests/passions?

Sincerely,
Ishida

P.S. +Rep for both the letter reply earlier as well as the blog post today; they were very detailed and expressed quite the ideas! Very Happy
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:08 pm

Dear Ishida,

Today being our anniversary, I will be extra generous with questions and answers, so here's to today's #4!!!  WOOO!!!  Very Happy

Your question is a bit dangerous because, as some people who know me know, I have an ironically LOW opinion of our education system and higher education in general.  I say "ironic" because from a schooling perspective I did fairly well as far as grades, passing tests, and getting into college are concerned... even if I never felt sure of myself or what the hell was going on (that ever-present brain fog I used to have, ugh!), I still somehow managed to do well. But that doesn't mean I liked it... noooo, I hated every bit of it.  And although college was an opportunity to learn critical thinking skills, the fact I had to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars in order to do this (putting my family and myself in debt for a while), just for the luxury of living 4 years in forced poverty and sleep deprivation for some piece of paper, proved very distracting to me.  

This is why I often label myself as an "idiot", because according to my 2.3 GPA and my refusal to pursue Graduate School, I am a total dufus.  So be warned, you're seeking advice from an idiot.  Razz

Learning is learning, school is school, they are marketed as one in the same by people trying to extract money and obedience from us, but ultimately they are two totally different concepts.  If you're lucky you can learn while in school, but as you may have noticed over the years it may be quite possible to be in school but not learn, or learn but not be in school.  We have high school dropouts creating multi-billion dollar software dynasties, and astro-physicist flipping burgers.  We have admirable rule-followers in low-paying jobs, and lying bastards working as politicians, lawyers and nutritional scientists.  

The one defining characteristic of success and happiness is therefore not the school or the degree pursued, but the will of the person at the helm of his/her life to succeed at his/her goal.  This is what defines a process-oriented approach to life (living life strictly based on the dictates of others and their templates for success) versus living a goal-oriented approach (living life in the pursuit of a solid end goal based on your own terms and sensibilities, including an ability to adapt to changing circumstances).  It's what defines the kids that blindly purchase the latest fashion shoes of the day, versus those that strive towards securing an internship at the company that makes these shoes or simply go on living happy, healthy lives wearing comfortable sandals.

That being said, I won't tell you how to live your own life, that's your job and your job alone.  Smile

But of course you're asking me this precisely because you may not be sure exactly what to do,... but as is typical of me, my best piece of advice for you is to ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Because after all, smart people ask lots of questions.  :3

Here are some examples, and again these are hypothetical, these are not for you to answer here in front of everyone [unless you really want to, but, er,.. privacy]... XD


1) What is it that you want in life that you work so hard for?

For many people these days, the answer is money.  For other's its something abstract like raising a family; for other's still, it's owning some amazing Alienware rig and Oculus Rift goggles to play FPS shooters.  For me it was simply piece of mind, since I feel happiest and most fulfilled with peace and security. This is why one of my most immediate goals after graduating was to get rid of that stupid student debt, which I did, and I've never been happier -- no amount of tax deduction can ever justify lugging around that deadweight all your life. 


2) If you choose to pursue a career, is this a means to an end, or an to the means?

Do you strive to make money from something you [think] you love, or do you simply need a job to keep you fed and entertained while you pursue the things you love for real?  It's becoming ever more difficult to do either in this economy, so it often helps to view a career path as simply a ladder in the pursuit of happiness.  Otherwise, the inability to get a job, or the loss of it, can be emotionally devastating.


3) Do you expect to learn from your college what you need to achieve your reply to Question #1?  If not, can you at least use your degree to secure (or bribe?) your way into Question #2?  

That's in case you ever wondered why an environtmentalist ended up being an aspiring nutritionist, a database programmer, and a Minecraft server owner on the side.  Razz

But that's not to say the experience of going to college wasn't entirely useless to me -- but that was precisely it.  It was the EXPERIENCE that set me on the course that I have now that I am happy and content in.  It was everything that I did when I was working on satisfying my course requirements, such as getting a job, cooking for myself, going to computer labs (to save money), being considerate of my family, making friends with deep-pocketed families and connections, picking up various hobbies, hiking and exploring the campus and city (meeting all sorts of interesting people along the way), sitting in on random classes that had nothing to do with what I was studying, badgering professors, egging the stupid bursar office, dabbling in underage drinking unsuccessfully, and asking questions questions questions!  

Be like the Plains hunter downing a buffalo, and let nothing go to waste.  Not even your time here with us.  To a fine musician, everything and anything can make music.  Smile


4) Are you making the most of your time in college as you're reading this?

And that strictly depends on your definition of "the most of your time" -- for some people that means they cram as much learning experience as they can, for others its cramming as much party time as they can.  It all depends on the person, either/or can be successful at life, but the most important thing is to avoid feeling trapped, helpless and aimless.  Under such a circumstance of extreme duress, how likely are you able to make life-changing decisions? 


5) Do you have a good relationship with friends and family?

Shutting oneself from the world and immersing oneself in deep study is appealing to a small segment of the population -- but it's little guarantee of success.  As the wise saying goes, it's not "what you know but who you know that counts", and if you choose to enter the workforce as I have, you may come across that reality more often than not.  Family is important as well -- look at most of the richest people in the world, and they are almost all members of huge extended families... those that are not, supplement with a huge connection of friends.  It's almost an intentional act of sabotage that mass media promotes the disintegration of family values and a cheapening of the notion of friendship -- perhaps the goal is to eliminate as much of the competition as possible?

Since we are such social animals, give serious consideration to the notion of community, togetherness, and a sense of belonging. Based on your own needs and sensibilities, a lack of that could be detrimental to your health and goals.


6) Are you in full cognitive control of your thoughts and values?

Are you an impressionable watcher of TV and movies, and do you feel that is changing you into something you're not? Do you take medications that may be making you do strange things, or act in ways that are not normal for you?  Are you eating foods that may be inhibiting your ability to think or remember, and likewise are you avoiding foods that could help enhance your cognitive abilities?  In fact are you even considerate about your health and nutritional needs?

I know I sound like a broken record, but too many people severely underestimate, to their own detriment, just how important base metabolic functions are to us, and just how much control diet can have over cognitive function in particular.  If my early conspiratory observation is true -- that family and friendship values are intentionally diluted to thin the competition -- then it's not altogether difficult to imagine that food and water are also tampered to the same effect.  Once I lost the wheat, aside from losing the weight as well as some other mysterious chronic ailments, I also appeared to lose that horrible brain fog as well.  At the very least I'm more alert, more chipper, more smart-witted IRL, I read more books (or listen to more audiobook), and I retain more information I gather.  I dare say I feel more capable of making more ambitious decisions, although at the very least I have a more solid basis for that happy, healthy and peaceful life that I so yearn for.


And finally....

7)  Do you believe in yourself?

Sounds cliche, but it's absolutely the most fundamental question of all.  "I think, therefore I am", a common quote, to which I'll add an addendum very relevant to society today:

"But if I'm not, why should I think?"

And that I believe encompasses the very problem affecting our world today, and why there is so much pain in suffering in all circles, regardless of whether it's crushing poverty or fake prosperity.  There is a fundamental loss of the self, and with that a belief that our lives hold no value or meaning, and are not worth caring or improving.  Soul-less automatons marching towards an inevitable death, mired in sin and frivolous dreams, entertained only by the prospect of a luck streak, such as being cared for by some omnipotent benefactor.  Call it a cruel and endless game of musical chairs played on a species that at one time was fully capable of thinking for itself, changing its environment, realizing its dream, and even traveling to the stars.  

It's no surprise that these questions are in this order... I intentionally laid them out in order from most abstract and far-reaching to most immediate and fundamental.  And like a set of dominoes, if you don't really, truly, genuinely believe in yourself to make a decision for yourself, then the rest cascades accordingly (and often painfully). 

Believe in yourself, and you will find something to pursue and figure out how to make it work for your lifestyle. You may even find more things to pursue later on life, but that's okay. You are an adaptable creature, in control of your own narrative, and you can pursue these new dreams and goals to your own benefit if that's what you choose to do.

Only stop to ask questions and lots of them.


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by a4955 on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:46 pm

I like yogscast as well as gamechap, but I don't watch them very much. However, I love watching game theorists, they ruin your childhood in such a funny way. But I haven't heard of the other 2 people. Thanks for the reply!

(PS. Grim, you are soooo lucky we were on the server at the same time after I noticed you forgot to say dear cia tongue )
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:51 pm

Oh he did, he simply fixed it afterwards. Smile

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by The_Glitch on Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:11 pm

Dear Cia
At times, My close friend (we'll call her J for privacy reasons) seems to be quite down, and I've tried to talk to her about it, and she will either say nothing, she's just being honest, or I'm too young to understand (Myself being 7 months younger then her) and I feel that I could do more, but I can't seem to cheer her up, and so I wonder, is there anything you think I should try to help J, and have you had a similar experience with a friend of yours?

~ Audrey
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:41 am

Dear Audrey,
Thank you for posting your question. .. *hugs*

Wish I could have gotten to this yesterday, but I've been sicky (and pretty much slept all day XD). As soon as im all patched up, expect a heartfelt reply from me. ♥

--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Night_Lord123 on Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:15 pm

Dear Cia

Warning kind of personal

I need help, there's this girl that goes to my school that I really like and I want to ask her out, but every time I try I freeze up and walk the other way, what should I do?

P.S. hope you feel better soon
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:22 pm

Dear Audrey,

Anyway, thank you for waiting. ^^
I'm really sorry to hear... some people can feel quite down or depressed for any number of reasons, from bereavement, to family issues, relationship issues, school worries, hormonal changes, controlled substance abuse, even diet.  Sadly, unless my memory fails me (which it might), I've always been fortunate enough to have friends or family who are okay with talking or who don't stay depressed for too long.  So whatever I tell you below I'll share based on my own experience of being regularly depressed and cloistered throughout most of my life (up until recently, actually).  

Because of the changing circumstances, it's often very very hard to truly give a "solution" on how to approach it, since each circumstance requires a particular nuance.  You can't, for exmaple, expect someone in bereavement to just magically cheer up... the pain of loss can be so great, that person may simply want to retreat from the rest of the world... the only thing that would convince her otherwise would be some kind of enticement or inspiration, typically something she would like doing.  Diet-induced depression can also be challenging to address despite the simplicity of doing so -- I've heard plenty of health advice in college eerily similar to what I've learned now, but since I refused to see a relevance to my own depression I never paid it any heed (and if anything, I would think the folks were crazy).  And relationship depression is a real doozy... when one feels unloved, unwanted and useless, one doesn't feel worthy of their friend's saliva.  >.<

Whether it be the confusion about life without a loved one, or uncertainty over your worth as a person, or your body feeling desperate and unable to find out what's wrong with it, depression can stem from a feeling of helplessness and a general lack of control.  Life just seems to want to roll over you, and if all you feel you can do is lie down and take it, there seems very little point talking about it. 

Is it really that hopeless?  Not necessarily, but it is a hard nut to crack.  And you also recognize that there are some disadvantages in this situation... there may be things you don't full understand, and most likely neither does she.  I wouldn't be surprised if J herself doesn't know why she's feeling down, and perhaps she's too afraid or ashamed to admit it (at least to you).

So it's going to be hard... It's going to require patience and most likely may need to ask questions from a lot more people besides me -- if there is anyone you know that knows her, perhaps you can get more details about what happened to your friend J.  The most important thng to remember is that J is your friend, and even if it takes weeks/months/years, as a friend you will stick with her through the thin and thick of it.  If she snaps out of her duldrums some day, she may remember how well you stuck with her.

If you want to try something more practical, don't approach her directly with questions about her depression.  Be discrete and subtle, do something that's fun and distracting, talk about fun or interesting things, watch movies that are fun or inspiring.  The trick is to make her WANT to talk about her problems, and this will only happen if the circumstances and J feels ready to relate... doing it beforehand is both ineffective and counterintuitive, as she'll only feel less in control than before.

For me personally, my friends used to know how to snap me back from my own duldrums.  There is an old saying where I'm from: "Las penas con pan son menos", or "Sorrows with bread are made less" (ugh, the rhyming is lost in translation), and it definitely worked for me, albeit for the wrong reasons.  Now that I know that flour and sugar can in fact cause depression I don't have it anymore (or at least not to the crazy levels I used to) -- but other foods are still great for the body and mind, so it still applies that a good meal is a great way to lift one's spirit and improve mood over time.  While I'm not entirely worry-free, I'm happy to say I don't get depressed like I used to, and I'm definitely more willing to talk things out.  I even have this thread to answer people's questions!  This is definitely not something I would have ever dreamed of doing 5 years ago, and although I owe a lot of this change to finally taking control of my life (and diet), I definitely could not have done it without the love and patience of my friends and family who put up with my antics and gave me a reason to want to change.  

I wish you the best, my dear Audrey. ^^


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:56 pm

Dear Tex,
[oh and thank you, yeah, feel loads better now, though still tired] XD]

Oh my!  That is definitely a personal one.  XD
But no worries, a question is still a question, and I betcha there are plenty of young guys out there who are asking the same question.  ^^

Anyway, so it turns out you're a choker, aww... 
While it's not impossible to find a girl that can look past this, I have to be frank... girls REALLY like confidence.  It doesn't matter how nice, sweet or intelligent the guy is... so long as the guy isn't confident, that's practically a deal-breaker or non-starter.  This is also why "physical confidence" plays heavily into the choices girls make... so a tall, athletic, rich guy may have a much easier time getting the girls then a short, thin, modest-means guy, regardless of whether the Jolly Green Giant is an idiot, jerk, two-timer, wife-beater and what-not, and Mr. Tom Thumb is a nobel-prize winning Husband-and-Father of the Year.  You could almost make the case that makes us astonishingly-frivolous,... but I guess when you consider how much crap women put up with later in life, they have a vested interest to play it safe.

So you may have your work cut out for you, kiddo.  
I say "may" because you can always cheat and try to rehearse with friends or family how to appear cool and confident with this girl, and then ask her out.  But what happens after that?  Sure, you can probably figure it out from there, but if you're not sure yourself, the false confidence will show and that can be problematic later.  What if it doesn't work out with this girl but you find some other girl you're interested in?  Or another?  Or another?  Or a job interview?  A public presentation?  A graduation speech?  See my gist?

Seriously ask yourself why you choke up?  Are you overthinking things?  Are you afraid of rejection?  
Maybe it's a legitimate concern, but given you have a 50% chance of being rejected, you have to get used to that feeling.
Observe the guys who do get the girls, and most of them may come off as shameless brutes who are not afraid of making fools of themselves.  It seems illogical, but also very brave -- ergo, confidence.  So you can read all the books you want, ask all the advice you want, eat the right brain-building foods, watch the right movies, etc... but when push comes to shove, you have to be able to swallow your pride and put your heart out on the line.  And then you have to be brave enough to fall through if accepted, or pick yourself up and shake the dust off if rejected.

If that sounds scary, that's because it is -- only experience or shamlessness can diminish the fear.  But if you can succeed at boosting your confidence, that will help you in more ways than just finding a girl... it's a valuable skill to have with you in life, and more power to you if you build self-confidence now when you're young.  Smile

Feel free to ask follow-up questions is there's something you'd like for me to elaborate on.
Otherwise, good luck!  ^^


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by a4955 on Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:56 am

Dear Cia,
Do you play any other games (excluding minecraft)? If so, what games? Also, what playforms do you play on; pc, xbox, playstation, or nintendo consoles/handheld devices?
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:54 pm

Dear a4,

Oooh!  I'm so glad when people post more questions.  Smile
Though this one is similar to one I have answered before, there are some slight differences that warrant a new answer. ^^

To answer the first one... as of this writing... no. 
Minecraft, and especially running this server, now constitute the entirety of my gaming time.  Sometimes I'll do unique things like play with alternate mods on Little Brother, but for the most part the Big Sister server is MY game now.  Very Happy

Prior to that, I used to mainly play some quick Android games, like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, World of Goo, some RPG or too, etc... anything that was short and simple, didn't take up too much time, and was clever and inventive.  I rarely have a chance to fully invest myself in a game, and I absolutely hate killing things, so that doesn't leave much in the way of choice.  But it's all good, I'm not much of a gamer anyway... I rather spend my time finding ways to mingle out in the real world, eat delicious things, and make more money.  Smile

Might have been slightly more of a gamer when I was younger, but not by much.  I had an NES really late in the game (up till 1999), and would little time I had to play would be occupied with Mario Bros, Megaman, Kirby's Adventure (woo!) and a few other things).  Then for the brief time I inherited my brother's Sega Genesis, Sonic would be the thing!  Then I inherited my PC, and got hooked on Civilization II and SimCity 2000, and then eventually Half Life (for its awesome art direction). 

Then came a period of relatively no-gaming before finally being thrust into the Wii area, where I got to like wacky remote-wagging games like Wii Sports, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Fit, and the like.  Then more non-gaming, and then finally Minecraft.  And there you have it. XD

Now I still have the Wii although it's mainly gathering dust.  I also got a new NES console to reclaim the one I once had, I still have my old Sega Genesis, and I retroactively purchased a small SNES and Playstation to try and relive the childhood I never had.  Short-lived... true I loved going through Zelda: Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and some Tomb Raiders, but after a while I got bored and watched their Youtube endings.  

And that's pretty much what I do for gaming... watch them on Youtube.  I hate video games with no story, since I like when video games behave like books, with an interesting story, remarkable characters, and a proper ending.  But lacking the time to go through all that, I get the same interest just watching others play through them and give me the narrative I'm looking for... especially while working, this is a great way to make the day go faster (like listening to an audiobook).  Smile

So in short, with the exception of the consoles I mentioned, I play mainly Minecraft, and mainly on my Chomebook Pixel.  I do still have games on my Samsung Galaxy Note II (including Pocket Minecraft), but rarely touch them much these days.  And of course, I have a load of historical consoles that I keep for nostalgia. ^^

I WOULD like to own a Steambox, though.  Very Happy


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by ShadowScale on Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:24 pm

Dear Cia

Im currently working on my projects in college, and also want to work on my own projects alongside it. However, I have one massive problem stopping me from doing both at any reasonable speed...

Procrastination xP

Now, aside from telling me i'm a lazy bum (Which is true though xD) Do you know of any techniques that could help me when i'm feeling the lure of youtube or gaming washing over me? Its really affecting my work and I would like to get stuff done, but my weak mind is terrible when it comes to this ^_^'

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Haasman29 on Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:21 pm

Dear Cia,

I've come here to apologize. Over Steam I had told you that "I do not ask questions." and I feel like a fool for telling you that. It is a lie, and I am glad it is a lie. I want to ask you a question.

What inspires you? Like, what is your main inspiration for Spawnington and the wonderful buildings you've built there?

Thank you for your time and understanding.
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:11 am

Dear Shad,

Whoooooooops!! XD
Might be a bad time to bring up that I was a notorious procrastinator in college.  Granted I hated schoolwork of any kind, so I never felt like giving it my all regardless of how much I felt good with the subject matter... and I will admit that I seemd to be very effective with the adrenaline rush of impending doom.... But beneficial or not, I loved being distracted by things I like, including... yes... messing around with computer labs and looking at videos. XD

So I can't call you a lazy bum without feeling like a total hypocrite (not that that's ever stopped me before).  I can at least offer some explanation of "why" this happens based on my own experience.  After all, while I loved to procrastinate on school work, you know I rarely procrastinate on server stuff.  Yes, sometinmes I'll be lazy and leave something for tomorrow or later this week (or in the case of unbanning applications, much MUCH later), but for the most part I do things rather quickly.  Same with things at work, where I either like getting paid, or I'd rather get painful things out of the way now, so I can enjoy a little relaxation time later on.

First thing is interest... if the task is boring or mentally-unrewarding to us, we just won't do them.  That's how I felt about a lot of homework, and since I could always seem to get it done prior to it being due (even if it required an all-nighter), it was still better than spending and unknown number of hours beforehand and depriving myself of more stimulating activities (in your case, playing games and watching Youtube).  It's only when the activity is MORE mentally-stimulating then those fun activities (such as for me, these Dear Cia thread answers are AWESOME!!) will you feel compelled to do anything BUT procrastinate.  There is a certain amount of passion and fun that's required in order to achieve... it's no coincidence that the only class I never actively procrastinated in was Nutrition (I should have seen that as a sign).  Razz

Second is actual brain fuction... and I didn't understand this fully until recently when I learned what actually builds a smart, healthy brain.  It's no coincidence tha tyou say you have a "weak mind", and in fact you always tell me about your horrible memory retention -- likewise, I suffered from the dreaded brain fog as well, especially in college where bad diet and massive sleep deprivation would play a number on my poor brain.  ^^

I might suggest doing something about the latter before you can approach the former issue... in particular.  First, finish watching that movie I sent you (I know it's not your cup of tea, but grit your teeth and bear it), then consider a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy saturated fats, including eggs, meats (with fat), poultry (with skin), fish, viscera, nuts, avocados, coconuts, olives, butter, hard cheeses, and oils derived from these things.  If you want to skip the movie and read a book instead on the subject (or the audiobook if you prefer), I recommend "Grain Brain" by David Perlmutter M.D.  When you consider that our brains are mostly made of fat and cholesterol, rich sources of dietary fat help with production of normal brain cells; and in the absence of those, say in the case of a low-fat, high carb diet, the brain has to make due with crummy fats formed from carbohydrates through the process of lipogenesis.  This is leads to suboptimal brain growth, on top of which the higher blood sugar risks glycating portions of your brain as well (which can lead to many things, including poor memory retention).

On top of that, try and get more sleep.  I learned the hard way this week that you can be as healthy as a bee... but if you don't sleep properly, you may as well be subsisting on graham crackers and Cheetos.  XD

Point to the whole thing is to gather a healthy brain, one that will accompany you throughout your whole life well after college.  If you can sharpen your brain, there's a chance you may lose the will to procrastinate because you may in fact start to get more inspiration for things like this, be it your college projects or your own projects.  You may, in fact, see this as a challenge, and something worthy of your immediate time (the way I do these replies).  Consider it as something you can do RIGHT NOW with tangible results and very little in the way of cost or burden, and much in the way of long-term reward.  ^^

The alternative is to propose cliche strategies that sound good but you may never actually do and just feel guilty about it later.  Believe me, I've been though those too, hehe.  Razz


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:32 am

Dear Avocado,

Awwww... thank you!  <3
*hug*

Apology accepted, I knew you were capable of asking questions... and nice ones!  I always say that questions are a sign of true intelligence -- all the best geniuses in the world ask lots of questions, it's what defines them.  And since you're a smart guy, surely you would have quite a few of them; all you really needed was the reassurance that you could ask them without fear or worry, hence why I made this thread to facilitate the asking of questions to me.  Here at least, players and staff alike can see that I don't bite (always).  Smile

As for what inspires me, hmmm....
I like building, always loved building.  I used to own and play Legos all the time as a kid, I didn't like any other toy I couldn't build something with (with the exception of plushies, I do like me some good plushies <3); and I kind of saw that carry over in later gaming as I was totally hooked on games like SimCity 2000 and Civilization II.  So Minecraft was a godsend, in that I could literally build anything I wanted... easily and with a full degree of control and variety.  Smile

That's why I lean heavily towards "building" on this server, to the point I go to great lengths and pains in order to protect people's buildings, preserve buildings from other servers and mods, and pledge never to destroy any of them so lightly.  I hear horror stories of other servers casting aside people's hard work and dedication JUST BECAUSE the owner gets bored and wants a new map file from scratch.  Heck, even my old bakeries from Gunia's world are officially gone forever, after Gunia last week confirmed that she lost the server.map (I wanted a copy of it to act as a surprise gift on our anniversary).  This pains me a lot since those early buildings hold a special place in my heart, but it reaffirms my committment to not let that thing happen under my watch. 

I also try to be a realist, a perfectionist, and a practicalist... so if I'm designing the "heart" of a server, I want it to be something that suits the role.  A city of a normal size, not too big, not too small, not too intimidating, full of rich interest and variety, shops, sewers, tall overlooks... and surrounded by mighty walls, vast and ever-growing suburbs, and long winding roads stretching thoughout the far-reaches of the server map....  It's truly a place where you can relax from the crazy world that is the Big Sister server, and also ground yourself to reality, like a gateway between our server and real-life.  I love how that fits the world, and I especially love how our vast roads, tunnels, bridges and railways help symbolically connect the rest of our towns and cities together.  Considering on Gunia we hardly ever talked to eachother, this is like a physical manifestation of a close-knit discourse community, one eager to invest time and energy to physically connect our different structures into a definable "nation" of sorts, even though it's entirely unnecessary due to the presence of teleports.  And then of course there's resources like this forum, my blog, and the guides, that only help cement the notion that we are complete, detailed and something a cut above the rest....

Between the security of being able to build all they want, and seeing the backing of a strong discourse community with plenty of online communication, resources, guides, maps, development power (thank Mion and Tarig!), money and creativity, players will feel more compelled to give it their all in their own building projects as well.  You can certainly attest to this, seeing as how Lon Lon evolved from a simple ranch to a vast farm city complete with its own roads and hay fence!  It's inspiring to me seeing you guys get inspired.

And that perhaps is the answer in a nutshell.  The Golden Rule is my true inspiration for everything, both for this server and for many things I do in life.  "Do unto others as you would want to do onto yourself" -- I am simply trying to build the kind of server I would want to play in myself.  And while it's not perfect, I think we haven't done a half-bad job at it, and that helps me feel motivated to keep going and see what amazing things we can come up with next.  Smile

If you want to know more about what motivates me, feel free to read my Owner's Creed here if you haven't:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/ulzrckoedogw5eg/OwnersCreed.pdf

Thank you. ^^


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by a4955 on Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:06 pm

Dear Cia,
What are the best things you've ever cooked or baked, this could mean; best looking, best tasting, funnest thing to make, funniest thing you've made, etc.
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Jams on Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:57 pm

Dear Ciaa!

Do you enjoy decorating cakes? Because most bakerys I've visited have had cakes decorated beautifully! Im not sure how they're done but I'm sure it must've been difficult!

From Jammy!

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Mimi on Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:20 pm

Dear Cia,

Do you have a dream and is there anything that inspired/made you want to do that?

I want to be an animal rescuer, I adore animals, some people abandon their pets and that is CRUEL. It started when I saw an ad that showed me an animal becoming extinct and I felt helpless. Sad  Until I saw that I could "adopt" a tigar I did so, and got into rescuing animals.  Very Happy

~Mimi Smile
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:33 pm

Dear A4, 
YAY!  Food question!  Me favorite! XD

Hmmm... that's a hard question without a particular category.  Plus I'll be honest -- prior to a few months ago, I didn't do a whole lot of baking, and I wouldn't say I was a master chef per se.  So most of what I know and done is fairly basic.  That's slowly but surely changing, though, and especially now that I focus on recipes that are [really] healthy and nutrient-rich, and VERY low in sugar and grain.  

Regarding breads, I can toss out all the breads an pies I've done back in the bad old days before my reformation.  Not only where they not the best, but also I'll never bake with [wheat] flour again, so no sense proliferating bad advice.  >v<
But the best bread I've done to date is that "almost-paleo" almond butter bread I posted about on the Food 101 thread, made simply with almond butter, eggs, baking powder, salt and water.  Very easy, very similar to regular bread but with a lighter, richer flavor, it's very low-carb, it keeps its shape nicely, it bakes and toasts well, its EXTREMELY filling, and it can be used for many many purposes.  It used to be expensive, but I've cut the price down a lot by essentially making my own almond butter -- picking up 3lb bags of almonds from my local wholesalers, then just grinding them up in a food processor with a dash of coconut oil for about 8-12 minutes (making sure to give the machine some breaks so that it doesn't overheat).  The homemade almond butter is not only very fresh and delicious, but it allows the bread to cost the equivalent of about $5 a loaf -- a MUCH better sum than the original $15 a loaf.  Razz

I ordered some special trays so I can begin to experiment with other shapes, such as bagels, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, etc.  I might later explore its use in desserts, since I was successful in making some mini-tarts with it, and I'm sure I could get some awesome dark chocolate madeleines out of it.  And I'll also be experimenting with using other nuts such as pecan and walnut, to see what amazing properties breads with those nut butters produce (but I did make sure I wasn't allergic to these before proceeding, however). <3

Food is a bit trickier since there's so many categories to choose from!  Since I've learned to eat more beef marrow, I made a very interesting french onion soup that adds a very heavy marrow-rich beef broth with with added cream, delicious onions, extra heapings of cheese, and crispy bacon in lieu of toast.  I'm sure some french would kill me if not for the fact they love half the extra hearty fat as well.  <3
It's very delicious, but eat with care as the bone marrow helps the soup stay HOT!!!!! for a very long time.  XD

For breakfast, you can't go wrong with an awesome omelette or fritatta.  My favorite is a four-egg omelette with cheddar, pepperjack, sausage, bacon, sudjuk, peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, brocolli and assorted herbs, with a side of small buttered potatoes (or sweet potatoes) or fruit, and more recently accompanied with a wedge of almond butter bread toast (with butter).  Eggs are best obtained pastured since happy chickens produce amazing eggs, rich in vitamins and nutrients including omega-3 (the kind of fatty acid most commonly associated with healthy fish oils) -- but minus this, any egg brand that has at least a "humane-certified" label should be okay.  You can tell the difference between a healthy egg or not when the yolk is a nice deep rich yellow -- factory-farm eggs are usually pale-yellow and sickly.  But if all you have are normal eggs, that's okay too -- they won't be as nutrient-rich, but something is better than nothing (all eggs, for instance, are a great source of essential choline).  Wink
Similarly, grass-fed butter is healthier and tastier than regular pale butter, and you'll NEVER catch me eating unhealthy margarines and vegetable butter-substitute spreads again!  My favorite brand is Kerry Gold which can still be found in some major supermarkets -- it's expensive, but definitely a cut above the rest.  ^^

For lunch/dinner food, I kinda like my 40-garlic chicken recipe.  It's simple, easy to make, nutritious and [really] healthy.  You basically take a whole chicken and chop it off into small manageable pieces (sans bones, which you can use later for soup stock if you want).  Some people make a big deal about dark meat vs. white meat without knowing why, but if you want to know the difference, white meat (mainly the breast) is higher in protein and lower in chicken body fat, and dark meat is lower in protein and higher in chicken body fat.  And the skin covering the entire thing is high in chicken body fat (which I should probably point out, includes almost equal parts saturated and monounsaturated fat).  Do we throw any of this away?  Absolutely NOT -- all of this is valuable for a healthy nutrition, and those who promote that you shouldn't eat skin or dark meat are the same people forcing nutritional guidelines on the entire country that have only succeeded at making people fat and sick.  So keep the skin, keep the dark meat, and continue... Wink

Place the chicken on a deep baking tray and season the chicken with some salt and herbs (especially rosemary, yum), but don't go crazy as we're not done yet.  You then peel and separate 40 cloves of garlic sans their skin -- that sounds like a lot, but when you consider one large bulb contains 15-20 cloves each, that's not all that bad (or expensive).  Peel them till you have 40 pearly-white, rubbery little cloves, and scatter them throughout your chicken.  And at that point you're set... resist the temptation to add butter or coconut oil, because under high heat the garlic (combined with the chicken fat) will produce its own buttery-tasting liquid that's delicious.

Place this in the oven until golden brown and delicious, and enjoy!  One thing you'll notice is that heated garlic not only tastes buttery, but it becomes amazing edible as well, almost like eating salty peaches-in-syrup.  Combined with the peeping-hot pieces of chicken with their nice crackly skin, and you have yourself a fancy-yet-simple meal that's nourishing, smells great, satiates quickly, and won't break your wallet.

Pizza is something I want to perfect since it's been a bit challenging looking for a non-flour method of making stiff pizza.  Armed with the new almond butter recipe I may try something to that degree, but regardless all crust recipes may require the addition of some starchy alternate flour (such as garbanzo flour or coconut flour), and most likely cheese to maintain the crust soft and stretchy.  Once the perfect crust is made, the rest is a cinch since I can eat pretty much anything,... my ideal pizza would contain garlic-basil tomato sauce, at least three kinds of cheese, pepperoni and sudjuk (which is a king of dried beef sausage), bacon, sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach and brocolli.  If that sounds familiar, it's no surprise I call omelettes the "morning pizzas", since the principle behind both is pretty much the same.  (in fact, fritattas are almost EXACTLY like pizzas, except the crust is egg batter).  Razz

I hardly eat desserts with my new diet lifestyle -- but when I do, I eat cheesecake.  Smile
Specifically REAL cheesecake made with 100% pure cream cheese (instead of the half cream cheese and flour mix used in stores that makes these cakes tasty but bloaty), sitting on top a delicious coconut flour, honey, almond meal, and pecan meal crust that is delicious beyond belief.  For extra oompf, I would add melted dark chocolate on top with a couple of elegantly-placed strawberries each sitting on a lucious bed of low-sugar buttercream.  You generally can't eat more than a medium slice not for health reasons, but just because these things are just SO DAMN FILLING, you'll get full very easily.  If I can't have one for dessert, they also make a great quick breakfast item too.  ^^

And for something traditional, I still enjoy a homegrown recipe called "huauzontle capeado" -- huauzontle is a plant popular in traditional pre-hispanic Mexican cuisine that looks like a cross between brocolli, celery, spinach and amaranth.  Most recipes generally require flour, but this is neither authentic nor necessary with an alternative flour (such as almond or coconut) and some additional egg.  The plant needs to be boiled until cooked, then it's used to wrap around slabs of delicious Mexican white cheese (the choice of which is your own, I like "queso fresco" or "queso panela".  It's covered in the flour you end up using, then dipped in egg batter, dipped in flour again, then egg battered again, then floured again, and then pan or deep-fried (pan frying may be better).  It's almost like making fried chicken in a way, and the result is similar -- cook till golden brown and delicious, and enjoy by ripping out each individual cheesy succulant frond of the cooked huauzontle, and pass it through your teeth like dental floss, stripping out all the delicious goodness and leaving only a small empty stalk useful for composting.  It's a childhoof favorite of mine that I always love, and I love the fact I can eat it without fear of fat anymore. ^^

Anyway, I can go on and on, but you get the idea!
Kudos to you for making me feel great talking about this!  Very Happy


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by HannahChi on Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:40 pm

Dear cia,
Why does some food effect are emotions?
For example, chocolate makes us happy. And i also heard caffeine makes us more awake.

Why does this happen? How does it happen? c:

from hanana

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:10 pm

Dear Jammy Jams,

Yay!  Food question #2!!  People can read me like a book! Very Happy

There may be some overlap between this question and the last one (I strongly advise you to check that one out), but to answer your question... no.
Or rather, I never got advanced enough in baking to make whole cakes and decorate them, before I finally gave up the desire to bake normal breads.  Non-wheat breads are a lot more challenging to work with, and up until recently (when I discovered how to make the "almost-paleo" almond butter breads") I couldn't find a decent substitute that held up well.  At best, I could improvise by avoiding any kind of bready desserts altogether, and try things like [real] cheese cakes or [pecan-crusted] fruit tarts.  

As for decorations, I actually never liked them even when I was a wheat-eater... too much sugar, and I was never a big fan of sugar. XD
Most of the decorations you see are either made with frosting (sugar and egg-whites), buttercream (loads of sugar and butter), marzipan (sugar and almonds) or more recently fondant (gobs of sugar and sometimes flour, corn syrup, marshmellow or other sickly-sweet things).  The latter, fondant or "sugar paste", is becoming increasingly more popular in the baking world owing to the ease in which it can be used to make elabroate cake decorations, like those you see in those silly cake war TV programs.

But flour, sugar, corn starch, rice starch, and all these other carb-heavy, glucose-heavy and fructose-heavy things are all really really bad, probably the most unhealthiest food additives (or in the case of [wheat] flour, food staples) in the world.  It's ironic that saturated fat is the official scapegoat of obesity and chronic illnesses, and yet we're told to consume foods that make us fatter and sicker than ever before.  I was a breadaholic before (hence the name), and as much as I hated to admit it before, I have to admit it now that it DEFINITELY showed I loved bread.  I loved me my red velvet and dark forest cakes.  I loved me my conchas and cereals.  I loved my my "heart-healthy" multigrain whole wheat breads with fat-free turkey and disgusting miracle whip whenever I tried to diet the normal way.  And yes, I definitely looked the part -- even though I did NOT eat a lot of sugar, just the grains alone plumped me up like a tomato on a bicycle tire inflator  (because after all, from the body's point of view, it's all sugar).  >v>

Is the art of cake decorations difficult?  It can be depending on what you want to try to to do, but all it takes is a couple of youtube vids and some practice, and you may surprise yourself.  But I probably wouldn't do it anymore -- unless it's for non-edible decorations, in which case this stuff is awesome and fluffy.  I may start exploring alternative cakes and pies going forward... and in lieu of pies, I'll probably try my hand at elaborate fruit arrangements -- some of the tarts you see sold in bakeries are to die for!  XD
Granted fruits often contain a lot of sugar themselves, but they also contain a lot of fiber which slows down the absorption and doesn't spike your blood sugar as badly as sugar or grains.  This is why fruits have been with us for thousands and millions of years, whereas cake decorations have only been razzle-dazzling us for the last few hundred.  All things considered, I'd rather be a traditionalist.  Smile


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:34 pm

Dear Mimi,

Yay, another question from you... you always right the most insightful deep questions!  *hug* Smile

Also that's very sweet of you to like animals, that would explain that pretty avatar. Very Happy

Granted the reasons that animals can become extinct are a bit complicated -- sometimes it's not just a matter of people being evil and wanting to kill animals left and right (although that is a problem too, especially with people who believe that they own all plants and animals in the world, and have a right to hurt them because they "have no soul").  Sometimes it's done for the purpose of sustaining a very frivolous way of life that benefits a few, at the cost of the ecosystem, people's lives, and of course animal's lives.  People wanted to save the environment by making biofuels or eat less meat to "reduce ozone-depletion due to cow methane"; but since they don't control the means of producing these lifestyle changes, companies responded by hacking and slashing thousands of acres of Brazilian rainforest to make room for more corn or soy or wheat production, inefficient by design to maximize profit from the use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizes, and of course deforestation services.  And all through that, who knows how many countless rare plants and animals died or got displaced and died elsewhere, not to mention all the native people who lived there peacefully with their environment up until they were chased away.

Good intentiosn ended up causing even more damage than the original problem, mainly because the people had the good intention only, but no desire to actually do any work.  This is why on top of a good intention, we also owe it upon the things we care for to read up on facts as much as possible, and to work closely and directly with those we care for the most (ergo, becoming an animal rescuer ^^ ).  This way, we avoid forces beyond our control to manipulate and tarnish our good intentions for their own beneft, which happens a lot more often than not; this way too, you nourish the soul with the beauty of doing something you love.

As for my dreams?  I always keep them simple and achievable.  ^^
My dream growing up was to buy my parents a nice home in a nice neighborhood, close to my brother, where they can live peacefully and happily for the rest of their lives, after working so hard for so long and making countless sacrifices to give my brother and I a better future.  And believe it or not, I managed to do just that in a very short amount of time, and I feel proud and good about it.

My next dream is to become an alternative nutritionist, and spread my advice on health and nutrition to offer people the same happiness and passion I've been able to achieve in fighting back chronic illness, depression and obesity, or helping other combat diabetes, arthritis, ADD and so forth.  It's not what I imagined I'd ever do, but by gawd do I want to do it.  Smile

And beyond that... probably start a family, with kids.  More of a cliche dream, but a nice dream nonetheless. ^^

Anything beyond that?  I guess I'll figure it out when the time comes.

After all, if you ever run out of ideas, all you really to do is dream bigger.  Smile


--Cia

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Ciabatta
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:35 pm

Dear Hannah!

That's an awesome [and eerily familiar, lol] question!  I'm up to the 3-question quota for the day, so stand by for a nice long reply tomorrow! Thank you!  <3


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

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