A week past the six-month mark, and… well, other than that particular milestone, it’s been a pretty bog-standard sort of thing.
- I’ve been having fun writing my Guide to the Cardpocalypse, and plan on writing the first one that actually covers games tomorrow or Monday–it’s going to be on trick-takers–so if you have Opinions you want to Express, now’s the time.
- A lot of reading this week, but not of the book variety. Instead I read through a couple of very good Let’s Play threads. For those unfamiliar, a Let’s Play is a playthrough of a particular game–in this case, early Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games, along with the original Master of Orion–done by someone who is usually very familiar with that game. They show off the inner workings, interesting strategies, and hidden bits. Most modern Let’s Plays are done in video on YouTube; some huge Internet personalities like PewDiePie (ugh) got their start in the format. But the original form was a combination of text and screenshots in a forum (most famously the Something Awful forum, which I won’t link for… pretty much the same reasons I didn’t link PewDiePie above), and that’s the format I like the most. It’s easy to pick up and put down, and I read way faster than I watch video, even at 1.5x speed. If this sounds at all interesting to you, check out the Let’s Play Archive and find some game you’ve always been interested in.
- Also actually playing games on my own, mostly Let It Die, where I continue to delay my storming of the endgame for no good reason other than that I’m scared, but also some Dead Cells now that it’s out on consoles. Yeah, that means I bought the game twice, which is dumb, but I really like playing it on my big TV with my PS4 controller.
- Had dinner with friends not once but twice over the week, which was nice. Particularly since one of the meals was with someone who moved to Europe in the last few months–it was nice to catch up–and the other was with someone who is moving away soon; another opportunity to socialize with people before they leave is always nice.
- One of those dinners ended up being not-the-best for my diet, though, so I’ve been playing it tighter for the rest of the week. I’ve (sadly) gotten used to going to bed hungry, but it’s necessary to help get my “desire to eat everything under the eaves” under control, which (like all addictions) has a nasty habit of springing up with just the slightest provocation. I’m actually genuinely curious at this point as to how much I weigh now; I don’t know how much I had gotten up to, but I have a rough idea. I’m not going to seek out a scale, though. Regular weighing has been one of several things that has completely ruined my self-control due to over-correction.
- Other than some more time with Picross 3D Round 2, I didn’t do much in the way of puzzles… but I did finally get a lead on getting a bunch of back issues of a particular Turkish puzzle magazine that comes very highly recommended. (Don’t look at me like that. I already have a ton of Japanese puzzle magazines; why not Turkish too?) I’m waiting to hear back from the publisher/editor. The magazines themselves will be dirt cheap. It’s gonna be the shipping that’s killer.
The weather’s been uncommonly pleasant here in North Carolina, not but not crazily so, although the off-and-on rain makes it hard to enjoy. I’ll take it, though, along with the lassitude of my current lifestyle. It’s been a very different August than my last twenty or so, that’s for sure. And that’s a good thing.
Half a year in. Woof. Let’s jump right in.
- I made up for lost time on reading this past week; the first book (Ninth City Burning) was fun but slight. The second, A Dirty Job, was so good that I read the whole thing in a single sitting, something I hadn’t done in ages. Christopher Moore is always at least interesting and funny, but A Dirty Job was also very engaging, as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t put it down. Good stuff.
- As mentioned here previously, we had a game night Tuesday that led to me starting a new series of articles about card games. I’ll be writing another one up soon on card-playing etiquette before we jump into the games proper. I’m still looking for feedback on what games you think should be part of the Guide to the Cardpocalypse.
- I actually watched the tiniest bit of television this week, a single episode of Jessica Jones. It was better than the first, which was good. I have a lot of catching up to do with the Marvel Netflix series, not to mention everything else… but honestly I’d generally much rather read, play games, watch other people play games, or do puzzles.
- Speaking of puzzles, while I didn’t do a whole lot in any magazines, I picked my Nintendo 3DS back up and did a bunch more of Picross 3D: Round 2. It’s an excellent game, really hampered only by the clawlike way you have to hold the 3DS to be able to hit all the buttons; my hands actually cramp up after solving a puzzle or two, an issue I don’t have with any other puzzle games. I’m close to the end, though, so I’m likely going to try and muddle through in the coming week or two.
- I broke my diet somewhat for the first time since I started; I just really really needed some General Tso’s chicken on Thursday, and topped it off with jalapeño poppers. It was delicious, and I suspect that one moment of weakness will help make the next several months easier. I’m not really craving anything right now the way I was before… other than the always-persistent Ghost of Carbs Past moaning in the back of my head, but I’ve gotten good at ignoring that particular bugaboo.
Half a year. I’m definitely going to write something up this coming week about what it’s been like so far, but just in case you were worried: still not bored.
A pleasantly quiet week, punctuated with some quiet pleasantness.
- As mentioned in my rant earlier this week, I finished up Final Fantasy XIII after years of having it hang over my head. I then immediately started playing it again from the start. I’ll probably write a “Here’s a Thing” about it soonish, but: it’s a lot better than people think. Except for the trophies. Damn the trophies.
- We had the first extended game night in ages at Fercott Fermentables on Tuesday. We played Power Grid at Jase’s request; despite him having never played the game, he won on the first tiebreaker, with Chad in second. Power Grid is a stone cold classic board game, and I enjoy it every time I play, although in this particular game I knew I was going to lose and lose badly about halfway through. Good times, though, with great company and a good atmosphere.
- I have a big stack of books from the library but haven’t made a huge dent in them yet due to playing too many video games instead. I did finally read/look at/gape at Banksy’s Wall and Piece, which Chad kindly loaned me. It’s a gorgeous piece of art full of gorgeous (and sad, and clever, and all other sorts of things) pieces of art. One of my favorite touches: a lot of the pieces have either how long it took to paint them–sometimes crazy short amounts of time–or how long they lasted before getting painted over or removed.
- The diet continues to go well, inasmuch as I’m pretty sure I’m still losing weight and I’m definitely still managing keto. I intentionally didn’t weigh myself when I started and still haven’t, due to my tendency to obsess over slight variations in the short-term numbers when long-term trends are the important part, but the key “clothes fit better” index is going strong.
- Speaking of personal health, neither my back nor my wrists have been acting up recently, which is a very pleasant state of affairs. I suspect the former is at least partly due to the continued weight loss; not sure about the wrists, but I’m not gonna knock it either.
All in all, a pleasant week, with the sadly-too-rare pleasure of an excellent board game evening in the middle. I… should really try and do something to make those happen more often, but I’m not sure what. Now, though, it’s time to get back to reading on this quiet Saturday, which is actually a whole lot like what I would have been doing on most Saturdays before retirement anyhow. Funny how that works.
Hey, look, I’m actually writing this on Friday for a change!
- I finally, finally finished up Diablo III‘s Platinum trophy on my PS4. I promptly uninstalled the game afterwards. I need to write a post at some point about how unhealthy “trophy culture” is, particularly because just about every game has one or two absolutely idiotic trophies that make what is otherwise a delightful experience miserable. For Diablo III, that was the “do 500 bounties” trophy: it was a tremendous amount of boring busywork. Fortunately…
- …I did many of said bounties while watching Twitch. I still watch Landail on the regs, and I’ve also started watching quite a bit of Sinatar, who mostly plays old PC RPGs, for much the same reason: a chill pace and a sense of actual community in chat.
- With Diablo III done, I picked Shining in the Darkness back up again with some more seriousness. I’ve made quite a bit more progress in the game, and am still very much enjoying the act of mapping the game on actual graphing paper. There’s something deeply satisfying about looking at the stack of maps I’ve drawn that staring at a map on GameFAQs just doesn’t match.
- I’ve been reading a lot too. In fact, the only thing I picked up on Prime Day was a shiny new Kindle Paperwhite. I’m not a huge fan of it being touch-only, but I can’t deny that it is a lot easier to read thanks to the LCD backlighting. Getting all of my books onto it was a hassle, since they’re spread across my Amazon account and my computer (yes, before you tech people ask, I use Calibre), but I got everything back up and running the way I like it. That said, my current efforts are geared towards a fat stack of books I checked out from the library, including a whole lot of Christopher Moore that I missed out on in the last fifteen years or so.
- I went to a dinner thing Thursday night. The company was good and I got to play board games for the first time in something like a month, which was a pleasure, even if they were all very casual games. The Mind continues to be fascinating, and I got to play CrossTalk for the first time, which plays a lot like the old TV show Password, with the key twist being that the other team guesses when your team captain gives clues. This makes the game a fascinating game of chicken on the part of the captains. It was a lot of fun and way more interesting than even I had suspected it would be, and that was without the advanced “gamers’ rules”.
- The dentist was was fine. Expensive, but fine.
It was a pretty good week, on the balance; I cleared a couple of irritating things off of my plate and got to play board games with people, so, y’know: pretty peak retirement living.
I almost completely missed that yesterday was Friday the 13th. Thanks, Reddit!
- Finished reading The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. Like many Stephenson novels, it picks up a lot in the rear half, and I went from struggling to read more than twenty or so pages of it at a time to tearing through the last couple of hundred pages in a day. It’s Stephenson Ending Ratio is only about a 0.3 or so as well, which is a pleasant surprise; it’s still too abrupt, but it actually answered most of my questions. I suspect Nicole Gailland (the co-author) had something to do with that.
- I also finally finished Minitel: Welcome to the Internet, which was a fascinating look into a bit of technology I knew nothing about. The idea that France was effectively connected to its own private Internet in the mid-’80s is kind of amazing. It was a very slow read due to the huge numbers of footnotes–I have to read them immediately, and flipping back and forth in the book is so slow–but Minitel was one of the better Platform Studies books. Next up is the one on the Super Nintendo. I expect to be at least mildly disappointed, as I am Error (the one for the NES) is maybe my favorite volume of the series, so I’m going in with too-high expectations. Further news as events warrant.
- Played way, way too much Diablo III. I have all but one trophy for it now on the PS4, and that trophy requires a lot of boring grinding. I’ve been doing said grinding while watching people on Twitch, so it’s not all a waste of my time, but it’s moments like this that I regret ever hunting down trophies and achievements.
- Actually did some puzzles again for the first time in ages. It was mostly multi-sudoku, but I also did two Trigons. Fair warning: even “easy” Trigons are hard, and the really hard ones are damn-near impossible. It’s not uncommon for single puzzles to take me upwards of two hours of continuous solving. Said solution is all the sweeter for the result, though.
- Went through another fairly lengthy fast (no zero-calorie days, thank goodness). I think it helped with once again recalibrating my satiety. I will say that the rotisserie chicken I had from Walmart today for breakfast-and-lunch was one of the tastiest things I’ve had… but I know it’s because as of this morning just about anything was going to be delicious.
- Not a whole lot of social interaction outside of Twitch, unfortunately. My semi-regular online gaming partner has been busy with other things, we haven’t had a board game night in ages… I should probably figure out something I can do to see actual humans on a semi-regular basis. Probably.
I’m going to the dentist on Monday, which is the first big medical-y expense I’ll have had since I retired. I didn’t keep my dental insurance, so I’m… apprehensive about how expensive it’ll be. Guess we’ll find out! Other than that, though, I feel like things are going well overall. It’s as unexciting as always, but I’m still not bored, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. 23 weeks in: so far, so good.
Just gonna jump right in.
- My love affair with Planetside 2 is already over. Turned out that I was really good at gunning and really bad at the actual first-person shoot-people-with-guns bits… and while the former is useful some of the time, the latter is useful pretty much all of the time. After a bad night I realized that I just didn’t have it in me to “git gud” at the pew pews. It’s a shame, too, because I had finally convinced some friends to play with me… just in time to stop playing. Ah, well.
- On the other hand, Dead Cells is really good, and actually runs fine on my ancient Linux desktop. If you like Souls-style combat, platformers, and roguelikes, check it out. It’s coming to consoles in a few months if you’d rather not futz with Steam.
- I’m still slowly working my way through The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. It’s a bit of a slow read, like most Stephenson, although the story is captivating enough. It just sometimes requires more energy than I have available to put into the book. (It’s no Baroque Cycle, though; I remember being proud when I made it through more than 10 pages of those books in a single night. So dense. So dense.)
- I haven’t had to use my wrist braces in a couple of weeks, which has been very nice. They’re still sitting next to my chair just in case.
- I hadn’t tested my typing speed in ages, and I noticed that my mistake rate had dropped pretty significantly (of course, right now, I’m making tons of them… stupid observational effect), so I took another set of typing speed tests. I nailed 80wpm on this not-so-great Chromebook keyboard I’m typing on right now and 81wpm on my fancy mechanical keyboard, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m around that now with Colemak. That’s a ~10wpm difference from the last time I seriously tested myself, and it’s pretty much all down to error rate. It feels good to be back in the top 10% or so of typists with a whole new method, not gonna lie.
- Saw two back-to-back laser light shows last night (Friday) with friends, one for Rush’s 2112 and one that had a bunch of random famous Led Zeppelin songs. The 2112 show was better, with tighter synchronization and (in my opinion) better music, but the Zep show was definitely more of a crowd-pleaser. I had never been to a laser light show before; it was quite a treat. Chad and I immediately started musing on what modern albums we would like to see given the laser treatment. We both landed on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a really strong candidate… as long as you cut out Kanye breathing into a mic for six minutes at the end of “Runaway.”
- Keto still going strong; I haven’t had a single cheat day yet, which might be a record. The losses are a little harder to see at the moment, but I can feel it in my shirts and see it on my face when I look in the mirror, and I have a good five more months before my first obligatory cheat period (going home for the holidays), so there’s plenty of time for more improvement.
- I just watched it this morning, but Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netflix is… amazing and powerful and tough. Strong recommendation. It’s basically the only TV I’ve watched in the last couple of weeks.
Whew. That sure looks like a lot, given how little it actually feels like happened this week. That’s… good, I suppose?
Anyhow, just in case you were wondering or worried: still not bored!
It was a relatively uneventful week, other than a pair of delicious meals that effectively bookended the working chunk. I was confused enough on Monday to think it was Saturday, though, so it goes to show you that days of the week start becoming a bit nebulous once they don’t actually affect your life very much. Or I’m just very forgetful.
Or both. Why not both?
- The first meal, on Tuesday, was a going-away dinner for one of my old coworkers. I was pleasantly surprised to be invited, and had a good time chatting with all of my old teammates. The steak wasn’t bad either. (It was delicious.)
- The second meal, on Friday, was at the local Tex Mex place I frequent. I got a platter full of meat with caramelized onions, avocado, and all the taste. It was also delicious.
- In the middle, along with last weekend? So much Planetside 2. So much. According to this page, I started playing this past Sunday or Monday (the graph is a bit unclear) and have already put 61 hours into the game. That’s… a lot of game. It also doesn’t count the several hours I’ve spent on alternate characters. I wrote about it here. Yesterday I could feel the game starting to get a bit stale… but then I convinced one of my old coworkers to play Friday evening, and we both had a great time together, and that renewed my excitement. We’ll see how long it lasts.
- Alongside the videogames (well, mostly the one), I finished reading John Kessel’s The Moon and the Other. I should write a “Here’s a Book Thing” about it, and I may, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. What on the surface looks in some ways like a reaction to The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t, really. Also, those two books one after the other was a bit of a weird coincidence, given their exploration of gender roles… but I picked up the Kessel almost entirely based on the cover.
- I suspect my back is just going to hurt me a bit every morning from here on out, but at least it’s not the acute pain I was experiencing the last few weeks any more. Small blessings and all that.
Lastly, this is not really something specific that happened, but: every time I left the house, I realized how little I leave the house now. I am definitely not an errand-a-day sort of guy; if anything, I bundle them up and do them all at once, then stay home for two or three days before venturing out again. This was helped by the fact that I didn’t get a rotisserie chicken from Walmart even once this week, which usually puts me on the road for a couple of minutes every morning. It seems a little strange, as someone who spent at least some time in the car every weekday since I was sixteen or so. It’s a small but significant change to the rhythm of my life.
It’s kind of amazing to me that I’m 20 weeks, 140 days, into retirement. It both doesn’t feel that long at all–I can still remember driving into work and hunting for a parking spot, sometimes the most challenging thing I did all day–and impressively far in the past. That second part excites me; I was a little worried that the days would quickly start disappearing into a blur of nothingness, but instead I feel like I actually get quite a bit out of most of my waking hours. Sure, it’s reading, or playing games, but those are both things that I wanted to do more of in the past and didn’t have the time for. Now that I do, it’s nice. Really nice.
- I’ve officially given up on the whole USPS situation. Dealing with their international handling department is a special kind of hell. I got replacements for all of the items, so I don’t really care that much now; I’m mostly just angry I wasted time contacting them in the first place. More fool me for trying to do the right thing.
- I fasted most of this week, and I think that was successful in recalibrating my hunger levels… but then I went and ate way too much today in a sort of rebound effect. Sigh. I still stuck with the keto side of things, so I’m not worried about that, but we’ll have to see in the days ahead if I screwed it up.
- Still haven’t done much in the way of puzzles. The dot-by-dot book I got in my last order from Japan is actually really disappointing; it has a bunch of cheater art in the background of most of the puzzles, so you almost always know what the picture is going to be before you start. Boo.
- Played a whole lot of videogames this week. I finished Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction after putting it aside a couple of months ago, and tore through Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty in a single sitting the next day (it’s short, though). I still haven’t made much more progress in Shining in the Darkness, though; I’m not sure why. I was enjoying it when I was playing it. Instead I picked up the original PlayStation version of Final Fantasy Tactics digitally and started playing it on my PS3… but I think I’m gonna force myself to set that aside and get back to the Shining series.
- I’m a good chunk of the way into The Moon and the Other, which is an interesting sf novel by John Kessel. In some ways its setting is an inversion of The Handmaid’s Tale, which makes for really interesting compare-and-contrast reading. I didn’t do that intentionally… but it’s a neat result.
- Watched a whole lot of Landail on Twitch, as he was playing a game I particularly like (Tactics Ogre) most of the week. Actively spent less time in some of the other online communities I’m a part of due to frustration with some of them.
- My back’s not in great shape again yet, but it’s better every day, I feel, and I’m taking an ibuprofen every morning to help reduce the inflammation.
- On the other hand, I haven’t needed my wrist braces for days, which is very nice.
All in all, despite the frustrations I had earlier in the week, I feel pretty good about how it ended. Even the tiniest dent in my gaming backlog’s a good thing, and I’ve really been enjoying my recent reading level. Hopefully next week will continue the up and to the right trend.
A pretty quiet week, overall.
- Still very light on the TV (I watched maybe two episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and no puzzles at all.
- Video games, though, I played a lot. I spent an entire day playing Let It Die, and played a lot of it in the gaps throughout the week too. I also made a lot of progress in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood; I’ve set aside Horizon: Zero Dawn for the moment. I made some more progress in Shining in the Darkness as well, but didn’t play it a whole lot.
- I also read quite a bit. I tore through Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential for the first time; I feel that writing up an article on it is a little too much whistling past the graveyard, given his recent passing, but it’s an excellent autobiography and excoriation of the restaurant business. I never really watched any of Bourdain’s shows, but having read the book I’m actually more interested in them now.
- We had an extended game night Tuesday. It gave me something of an epiphany.
- I was more social than I usually am; along with the board games on Tuesday, I went to A Thing Saturday night, had a friend hang out most of the day Sunday, and had dinner with an old coworker just a few hours ago this Friday evening. It was nice seeing everyone.
- I spent a lot of time working on my music collection. I’m still way, way behind on having it all nice and tidy, but every little bit counts.
- Down a size on my pants: keto, woo!
Yeah; nothing terribly exciting, that’s for sure. But I’m still very content with the slow rhythms of my retirement nineteen weeks in. This bodes very well for the future.
Oh, hey, I’m actually writing this on Friday for a bit of a change.
- I’ve moved on from reading Stephen King’s crime trilogy to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I’m about halfway through. It’s excellent and dark as hell.
- I actually beat Phantasy Star this weekend. The game got very repetitive near the end, with mostly the same enemies in the last four or five dungeons. I stopped mapping the game myself and switched to using online maps in my frustration, tearing through the endgame as quickly as possible. The mid-game was a solid RPG, and the game was technically amazing; it honestly looked better than many SNES RPGs. But was it fun all the way through? Definitely not.
- I’m now playing Shining in the Darkness. It’s another “map it out on a piece of graph paper” game, but I’m enjoying it quite a bit more, at least for the time being. The levels are huge, 30×30 each; fortunately the graph paper I bought has a smaller-scale grid on the back of each sheet, so it’s not a problem to map.
- I finished the PS4 remaster of Assassin’s Creed II and started both AC: Brotherhood and Horizon: Zero Dawn. They’re good games both, if a little too similar to each other. I should pick just one to stick with for the moment.
- While I was dealing with Linux being idiotic yesterday, I was also having to fight with the USPS. They destroyed a package of board games from amazon.de, and apparently I’m going to have to fill out a bunch of forms to claim the insurance on the package, never mind the fact that they have a case file with a bunch of evidence that it is, indeed, destroyed. Sigh.
- Not a lot of TV. I watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine every couple of days, but that’s it. Same with puzzles; I don’t think I’ve solved a single one in the last week. I have been continuing my watching of Landail play games on Twitch, although at the moment it’s mostly hate-watching due to the game he’s playing.
- Keto continues apace.
It’s been something of an exhausting week, mainly due to the stress of dealing with USPS and my computer. I’m actually glad that it’s the weekend now, which is honestly a bit of a strange thing to say nowadays, but there you have it.