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.
I had a couple of conversations yesterday evening about my blog; I was at a social going-away party thing that had a lot of people I hadn’t really talked to since before I retired. And it made me realize that in some ways, yeah, this blog is exactly the sort of obligation I’m trying not to have this year. I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with something even semi-interesting to write about, and I feel that as a sort of weight around my shoulders. But I also realized that a little obligation, a little “hey, you need to do this at least a couple of times a week” is actually a good thing. Never mind the practical, useful side of it, the fact that writing here is good de-rusting for whatever future tippy-tappy endeavors I embark on. A tiny bit of discomfort that results in something that others seem to enjoy? That’s the best kind of obligation.
- I don’t think I even cracked a puzzle book once this week. That might be a first since retirement.
- It’s because almost all of my time has been spent reading. After finishing off King’s The Outsider, I immediately put his “crime trilogy” on hold at the local library. It was a long weekend, so I couldn’t get them until Tuesday, but snag them I did. I’ve already finished the first two and plan on spending the rest of today reading the third.
- I got them in large print, too. It’s nice. I had already jacked the font size way up on my Kindle back when I read the first Wheel of Time book, and having something much like that in a physical volume is handy. Unfortunately not a lot of my favorite genre (science fiction) gets large-print editions, so I’ll have to enjoy this luxury while I can.
- I didn’t really watch TV either. I did play some video games, but it’s mostly the usual free-to-play suspects.
- Keto’s going well. I still haven’t weighed myself, but I had the most important signifier Friday morning: the shorts I had been wearing off and on the last few weeks were loose enough I had to hitch them up repeatedly at Walmart. Woo!
- I saw Deadpool 2 with some good friends from work last Saturday. It was… exactly what I wanted out of Deadpool 2. If you saw the first, and thought of it as “a comic book movie cranked to 11,” then Deadpool 2 was the same thing cranked to 13 or 14.
- No further movement on the “getting rid of boardgames” front to report.
- Dove deep into reading about modern abstract boardgames again, which happens every six months or so. The result this time was some code changes to Giles to make one particular game more flexible. The desire to implement a whole new game or two has mostly passed, unfortunately, but even this little bit of programming felt good.
- Still no actual prose on a page, although stuff is aggressively percolating. Soon. Soon.
Soon. (Man. That doesn’t even look like a word to me now.)
An even quieter week than usual, which is saying something.
- My wrists are behaving better than they have in months. I got new braces to wear overnight, as the old ones were literally falling apart, and I haven’t been wearing them during the day at all for the last several days. So far so good.
- Jessica Jones‘ second season has so far failed to grab me the way the first did, which is disappointing. I’m still going to finish it up, but after the amazing Kilgrave arc, this is something of a letdown. Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth continue to be excellent viewing material, thankfully.
- I got to play Transatlantic at an extended game night this past Tuesday. It was a very solid game, if not quite up to Concordia‘s level of brilliance, and I found myself thinking about it again repeatedly over the last several days. I want to write a post about Mac Gerdts’ designs and why I find them so compelling, but I haven’t been able to arrange my thoughts in a way that I like enough to post.
- I still haven’t started on Rewind rewrites, but I got some excellent feedback on the zeroth draft from a friend that pushed me ever closer to getting started on them. It’s going to take a lot of work; the story needs to be roughly twice as long, at a minimum, and there’s a lot of guff that needs to be removed and plot threads that need to be woven more tightly. I will probably have to break down and actually do some outlining to make sure it all fits together the way I want, something I’ve avoided… well, forever, actually. Sigh. But it’s for the good of the story, I know.
- I finished reading Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, which was fine, if slight. Mostly it made me wish I was rereading his Pretties series, or Leviathan (which, no joke, I got through two of the three books to finally realize that I had already read the damn series… but I was too into it to put it aside, and finished out the re-read.) I managed to be the first person in line at the local library for the new Stephen King novel, so I look forward to reading that next; my understanding is that it’s something of a return to form for him. I’ll report back.
The new CHVRCHES album came out today; I’ve already spun it a few times and quite enjoyed it. Don’t be surprised if you see a review of… well, probably not it, but perhaps one or both of their earlier albums soon.
Anyhow: quiet. Not boring, of course–you know that by now!–but not busy. And that’s fine.
Sorry for the late update; last night was a bit rough and I had a friend over today.
- Keto is going well. I fit into a couple of pairs of shorts I haven’t been able to wear in a while, just in time for the hot summer months.
- I finished up The Punisher, which was Just Fine. Time to start Jessica Jones season 2.
- I actually watched a couple of movies recently; specifically, I caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, watching both Black Panther and Spiderman: Homecoming. Both of them were great in different ways.
- Still slowly reading Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, which hasn’t grabbed me the way most of his books do. After that I’ll go back to the Wheel of Time series, at least for one more book.
- Did a bunch of puzzles, including the single largest Kakuro I’ve completed. It took me about six hours (!), although at least two of that was because I screwed up and had to erase over half the puzzle. Ugh. I persevered, though, which made me happy; a younger Phil would have scratched through the puzzle and moved on.
- Speaking of puzzles, my latest order of Japanese magazines came in. I also ordered a pair of books for the daughter of one of my friends, who has done a bunch of Sudoku but not much else. It was fun walking her through some of the different puzzle types. I gifted her one of my precious Zebra M-402s. She’s aware that’s the only one she gets.
- My wrists are behaving way better than they had been, which is good, because my old braces finally gave up the ghost. I ordered some new ones just a few minutes ago, actually.
A pleasant, quiet week overall. I’m almost done with all of the first round of the Great Value flavor enhancers; expect to see an up-to-date review/ranking sometime this coming week.
A mostly quiet week. That’s not a bad thing.
- Keto’s going well. I’ve been eating a lot of Walmart’s rotisserie chickens, as they’re low-carb and cheap besides. And drinking tons of Atkins shakes, something I’ve been doing off and on for… a long time now, sadly. I’m not weighing myself, because hard numbers tend to be a demotivating factor for me, but I can already see that my face has slimmed down a bit. Just another 24 months or so to go…
- I’m most of the way through reading Eye of the World. It’s actually been quite a bit better than I feared, but the remaining three trillion words are still a daunting task I see ahead of me.
- I started watching Last Man on Earth just in time for the announcement that Fox is cancelling it… along with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where I’m most of the way through the second season. Why, Fox? Why? Anyhow, Last Man is actually quite good; it’s got an interesting concept, the cast is great, and it’s shot beautifully for what amounts to a weird-as-hell sitcom.
- Landail finished up Wild Arms, one of my old favorites and started playing Shining the Holy Ark, a dungeon crawler for the Sega Saturn. After watching for an hour or so I realized that I really want to play the game without having it all spoiled. But there’s a problem: I have to play games in order, which means going all the way back to the original Shining in the Darkness for the Genesis. And… I didn’t have graph paper for mapping, so I ordered some off of Amazon and started to play the original Phantasy Star in the interim. I had clearly forgotten that it, too, has first-person dungeon crawling segments. Sigh. Anyhow, the graph paper came in this morning, and I’ve already mapped several dungeons in Phantasy Star. I’m going to finish it up before shifting back to Shining in the Darkness. Maybe I’ll actually get to Shining the Holy Ark sometime before 2052.
- I have a very, very extensive music collection, carefully curated and organized in digital form on my computer and an external drive. For the first time in literally years, I spent at least a little bit each day for the last several days adding more stuff to it. It’s all things I’ve already downloaded–from Bandcamp, mostly–but it’s got to be renamed, re-encoded, and all that jazz. I hadn’t felt motivated to touch my music collection in a really long time, so this has been a pleasant resurgence. We’ll see if it lasts.
- I continue to love (most of) the Great Value drink enhancers. Expect a followup post once I finish off the original bottles I bought, probably this coming week. (I’ve already bought more raspberry lemonade, because, well, S-tier.) Quite a few flavors have shifted their rankings, and I have a Certified PhilHack(tm) to “kick it up a skooch” that I want to share.
Huh. Apparently I had a lot to say despite the quiet. Shocking, I know, particularly if you’ve ever met me.
Getting back into the groove of being home. I honestly miss being around other people… but I also really like being by myself. The eternal conflict.
- After months of very laissez-faire eating habits, I’m back on keto. I’m actually in the middle of a mini-fast; I had been eating many thousands of kilocalories more than I should have per day, and fasting is the… er… fastest way I know to get my body back to a more regular level of craving. It’s miserable, of course, but it’s also almost over. I plan on shifting to a regular ketogenic diet come Monday.
- Did quite a few puzzles, mostly Sudoku; I’m at that point in one of my puzzle books where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which means I tend to focus on it rather than the fifteen others sitting next to my chair. I think I’m going to intentionally not replace that particular book for a bit, so as to give some of the other puzzle types a bigger part of the rotation.
- Still watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine (hilarious) and The Punisher (tolerable).
- I actually wrote some small patches for Giles this week. For a brief, shining moment I thought I might be diving back into coding. Then I remembered that no one cares about Giles other than me and I have nothing to prove in re: my coding ability, so… not so much.
- Still grinding out dailies in the same four games, although I actually put some real time into Let It Die. I think I’m actually going to try and make some real forward progress this weekend or, at the latest, next week.
- We had an “extended game night” this Tuesday; it was supposed to be at Fercott Fermentables, but they were closed. One of the players stepped in at the last minute to host. Thanks, Derrick! It was an excellent game of Antike II, and one I’m still thinking about now.
- I ordered board games for the first time this year while still riding high on the high from that game night. As always, I bought way more than I should have. Sigh.
- Not a lot of reading, alas. The Eye of the World is fine, but it’s not exciting me… and I feel obligated to finish at least that first book in the Wheel of Time series before moving onto something else.
All in all, pretty much the same stuff that I was doing before the trip, plus the whole diet thing. If you find any of this surprising… you haven’t been paying attention.
It was a very split week, with Saturday and Sunday in Arkansas, Monday a grueling haul across a third of the continental United States, and most of the rest of the week recovering from said haul back in the comfort of my home. That said, there’s some things worth bulletizing, so let’s do that.
- The writeup on all the major writing I’ve done hasn’t had any responses, which is sad, but it refreshed my knowledge on all of that stuff, which was nice. Still a lot of garbage, though.
- I’ve watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine this week. Too much, to be honest; I binged it for a couple of days, a thing I’m trying not to do any more with TV. But the show has a lot of episodes, and they’re so popcorn-y, that it’s hard to resist. I’ve slowed down my consumption rate to just a couple a day now.
- I finally caught back up on GameNight!, unquestionably my favorite YouTube show about board games. I’m actually bringing CrossTalk to a thing tomorrow, along with a deck of 11 nimmt! cards we can use to play The Mind, which looks absurd and amazing.
- I haven’t talked about Colemak in a while. I’m still using it exclusively, except for once a week or so when a password gets dangerously close to failing out due to my typos. I haven’t cracked much more than 65wpm, but I also haven’t been pushing myself to type faster, either, thanks to the whole Wrist Situation. I should work on it more, though.
- Speaking of which, my wrists are much better behaved than they have been in ages. I actually spent most of today without them on, even typing some, with no discomfort. I wear the braces a lot now, and I think they’ve helped a ton. I may be able to roll back down to just wearing them to sleep.
- Did lots of puzzles, mostly sudoku, as I’m getting near the end of another book I’ve been working on for years.
- Not a lot of reading, though. I haven’t picked my Kindle back up since the end of the trip. I need to keep on with The Wheel of Time before it all slips out of my head. The size of that series is intimidating as hell, though.
The long trip was the perfect combination of “great to go, great to come back,” and I suspect I won’t be doing any serious travel again until the holidays, although you never know. Nice thing about retirement: if I decide to head off and drive around for a week or two, I can do that. Nice.
The majority of this week has been spent with an old coworker and his family in Fayetteville, AR, just hanging out. It’s the last leg of my vacation before I head back to Lenoir. As such, here’s a quick list of some stuff I’ve done:
- Ate a bunch of tasty food. Fayetteville has totally respectable Thai and Vietnamese, an excellent grilled cheese shop, and not one but two good frozen custard/concrete shops. Yum.
- Played a lot of Diablo III with said coworker via couch co-op on the PS4. It’s good, mindless fun.
- …not a whole lot of anything else. A bit of puzzling, a bit of reading, even a game of Concordia, but for the most part it’s been a nice, quiet, low-key visit. Which I’ve very much enjoyed.
As mentioned before, I plan on being back in Lenoir early next week, and hope to resume a more regular posting schedule then. See you soon!
(P.S. Still not bored.)
As the number above creeps into the double digits, I’m still in Louisiana, planning to head to Arkansas this coming Tuesday. I’m very much still taking it easy, so enjoy this (relatively) shorter synopsis.
- Binged the first two series of Broadchurch with my mom; we’re about halfway through the third. The first was still the best, but it’s an excellent show.
- Finished my reread of the Culture series and decided, against my better judgment, to start reading the Wheel of Time; I have a combined eBook of all of the books in the series from when it was up for the Hugo. My Kindle hasn’t moved from 1% on the progress bar. It’s intimidating.
- Took a couple of hours to reread two of my own novels, both science fiction. They both had some clever bits, and the writing itself was actually quite a bit better than I remembered, but they’re also both woefully incomplete.
- Ate at a local Vietnamese restaurant not once but twice. It was the first time my mother had ever had such cuisine, and I think she’s hooked. If you’re ever in Baton Rouge, check out Dang’s. Their spring rolls and pho are both amazing.
- Taught my older cousin how to solve both sudoku (at her insistence) and fill-ins (because I could). She seemed to really like the latter. It felt good.
- The usual free-to-play videogame grind.
- Managed to play card and board games with the neighbors; I’ve already played Concordia four times on this trip, which is more than any given previous six-month period in my life. It’s so good.
Now to get some sleep. The weather’s been amazing the entire time I’ve been here, cool and not too humid, but tomorrow’s going to be a total mess with thunderstorms. I knew it had to happen before I left. I’m glad it waited so long.