Eat Your Peas

“You need to eat your peas.” He can hear the smile in her voice, the calm insistence of someone who Knows What’s Best, even though he’s not looking at her. He’s looking anywhere but at her, anywhere but at the plate sitting in front of him on the dining room table, anywhere and nowhere.

“I don’t want to.” It’s a whine, and he knows it. Hates himself a little for it. He’s not a whiner. He’s a big boy, and big boys don’t whine. They obey their mothers when their mothers tell them what to do.

But. But but but.

“You need to eat them, Sammy. If you don’t, you’re not going to grow up to be big and strong like your father.”

“My father? My dad’s–” He bit his tongue, literally bit it, to keep the next words from coming out. If he didn’t say them, maybe they weren’t true. Maybe things would be better. He closed his eyes, shook his head. “I’m tired of peas. I’ve been eating peas forever.” And he hated when she called him “Sammy.” Sammy was his little kid name, and he was a big boy now. He started to say something, stopped. He was still whining. Winners don’t whine, his father would say, in his stupid dad joke voice. Sammy never laughed at all those stupid sayings, but that had never stopped them. So very dad.

His mother was silent for a long moment. He almost opened his eyes, but he knew what he would see: her standing next to the table, perfectly still, watching him closely with those bright blue eyes. And the peas. He didn’t want to see the peas. He didn’t want to see peas ever again, as long as he lived.

“You need to eat your peas.” The same invisible smile in her voice, like he hadn’t even said anything. Like everything was fine. But it wasn’t. It hadn’t been, for a long, long time.

“I’m done eating.” He sat up from the table, eyes still squeezed shut. Now he was thinking of it like a game: could he get back to his bedroom with his eyes closed without stumbling into anything? He could.
He knew every room, every corner, every shelf and table and cabinet and chair and he wouldn’t trip on any of them. He reached out; the wall was– there, no, there. A shuffle-step forward, then another, more confident, until he almost went sprawling down the two steps that separated the kitchen from the living room. A stumble, but he didn’t fall, and he didn’t open his eyes either. That would be cheating.

“But you didn’t take a single bite,” his mother said, her voice with just the faintest tinge of pleading. “You need to eat your peas.”

“I’m done!” he said, nearly shouting, as his fingers found the corner to the hallway–yes!–and then he nearly ran, ran down the smooth stone floor, socks skidding, fingers trailing on the wall. Past the first door, to the second, in, and slam!

He could open his eyes now, which was good, because he had almost stepped on his latest construction, the biggest one yet. Those pegs hurt even through his socks. And he had been working on it for weeks. He lay down on the floor, the stone cold through his thin clothes. Up close he could see the seams between the blocks, the places where he had to use pieces of different colors that didn’t quite match, although he tried to hide them as best he could. There just weren’t enough for what he wanted to build, and so he had to make do.

He always had to make do.

It was coming together, though. The shipwreck was nearly complete– if anything, he needed to take more of it apart, make it look more, well, wrecky— and the island was pretty simple anyway, just a bunch of yellow and tan blocks. It was the village that was giving him the most trouble. It used the same brown that the ship did, and there just weren’t enough pieces for it to look the way he wanted. He had tried this way and that, looked at it from every angle, and nothing quite satisfied him.

His stomach grumbled. He ignored it. It grumbled even when he ate his peas. He was used to it by now, although it hurt more than usual.

It was too big, the ship and the island and the village, too big for the floor of his bedroom, but he couldn’t build it anywhere else. The cleaning bots would just disassemble it as soon as he fell asleep, the pieces placed back in their little stacked bins on the shelf in his bedroom. His father used to be able to tell them not to do that, was supposed to show him how, but…

He shook his head. It was fine. He just had to be careful.

He dug through the bin of pieces, hoping to find just one or two more browns, knowing that there weren’t any but trying anyway. The blues were all gone too, but he had finished the water, didn’t need any more. Reds? Lots of reds, even after using a bunch of them on the internal structure, places that no one would ever see. Whites too. But no browns anywhere.

He sighed, stood up. He just wasn’t in the mood to work on it anyway. It hadn’t been very much of an argument– and hadn’t he won that? He didn’t eat his peas, after all– but he was still upset about dinner. Why did it have to be peas all the time every time? He could remember when it hadn’t been, kinda, could almost taste the sweet syrup that coated the peaches, sharp and tangy on his tongue. The grassy snap of kale, never his favorite, but right then he would have given his left arm to have some again. Anything but peas.

Maybe talking to his father would help. It didn’t, usually, but anything was better than feeling like this.

He turned towards the door. His mother could be waiting right outside, ready to coax him back to the dinner table, and that almost stopped him right there. He couldn’t face her, not right now. But, no, he would have heard her through the door, right? The whirr thunka thunka whirr of her busted wheel was unmistakable. She hadn’t been able to sneak up on him in years. Not that she did much sneaking.

Still. He pressed his ear to the door, like he had seen in movies. Nothing, no sounds other than the constant background thrum of the ventilation system and the thump thump thump of his own pulse like when he lay on his pillow in just the wrong way.

A deep breath and a twist of the handle. There was just enough room for the door to open without hitting the yellow-and-tan island. And his mother wasn’t out there waiting for him, waiting to guide him back to the kitchen table and those same damn– darn– stupid peas. He had been worried for nothing.

But he could hear her now, hear the whirr thunka thunka whirr coming from the kitchen. He sprinted further down the hallway, down to the big gray door at the end, sliding the last few feet in his socks. He thumped into the door, not hard, but the sound seemed loud in the quiet of the evening.

“Is that you, Sammy?” his mother called. “You need to come back and finish your dinner.”

Stop calling me Sammy,” he yelled, confusion and frustration and hunger flashing over into anger. “My name’s Samuel!” Yank, slide, slam.

If she answered, he couldn’t hear her. His mother never raised her voice. It just wasn’t in her programming.

It took a moment, like always, for his eyes to adjust. His father liked it dark in his room for some reason, a sharp contrast to the bright lighting everywhere else in the suite. For the first time, he thought that maybe he understood, maybe it was because of all the brightness. It felt like somewhere else, somewhere totally different.

He had been holding his breath out of habit, and he let it out, a soft phh. Took a shallow breath, then a deeper one. He could barely smell the sick any more. That was good. That was real good.

“Hey, dad,” he said. “I… Mom’s mad at me. I mean, she’s not mad, she’s never mad–” he knew, somehow, that that was wrong, that mothers were supposed to get mad sometimes– “but I just. I just couldn’t.”

He sat down in the chair next to the bed. His feet actually touched the ground, now; he didn’t have to climb up into it like a little kid any more, legs swinging as he sat there. That made him smile.

“It’s just… the peas. I’m so tired of the peas. It’s peas for breakfast, peas for lunch, peas for dinner, and I just can’t eat another pea. I’d rather…”

He stopped before he said too much, went too far. It wasn’t true anyway. He wouldn’t rather die than eat another pea, even though it sure felt like that sometimes. He hadn’t finished the village, for one. And The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was just starting to get interesting.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice low. “I know you don’t like it when I whine. Winners don’t whine, right?”

He sighed, scooted back in the chair, so that his legs dangled again like when he was younger. Swung them back and forth a bit. Took a deep breath. “I wish… I wish Mom were here.”

There. He had said it, said something he had promised himself he’d never say. His memories of her were fuzzy, like one of the blurry photographs his father would sometimes get when the motion-compensation on the camera didn’t work quite right. He couldn’t remember her voice, could barely remember her face. Just her eyes, green and sparkling. And her smile.

“You told me that I banged on the outside door for hours, when we first came here. Crying for her. That I slept on the floor there for weeks. That you slept there with me.” He rubbed his hand across his face, wiping away tears. “I wish I could remember. Remember her more.”

His stomach grumbled again.

It was harder to curl up in the chair than it used to be, but he managed somehow. It wasn’t very comfortable, but there was something about it, something about the room, that made him feel more at peace there than anywhere else.

“I miss you too, Dad,” he said, half-mumbling, as he drifted off to sleep.

Most days, his morning shower was the best thing that happened. The splash of the warm water on his skin, the white noise of the spray, the feeling of getting clean. Everything felt new again, full of promise and excitement and adventure.

As always, he ignored the carefully-folded shirt and shorts and put his pyjamas and socks back on. Who would ever wear anything else if they had a choice? he had often wondered.

But then. He took his time brushing his teeth, rinsing and spitting and rinsing again, reluctant to leave the bathroom. Drank a gulp of water from the sink, then another, but that wasn’t enough to quiet the near-constant growl from his stomach.

It was time for breakfast.

He sighed, scuffled his feet as he went down the hallway, made the turn into the living room. Looked up towards the kitchen, the table.

She was already there, of course, her bright blue eyes glowing. And on the table, a plate, steam rising.

He could smell it from there. Peas.

His mother moved towards him, whirr thunka. “I’m sorry about yesterday, Samuel,” she said, her voice more grave than he could ever remember. “You’re right. You’re a big boy now, and I was wrong to treat you the way I did.”

“It’s okay,” he said, looking down at his feet. “I was whining. And winners don’t whine.” He gulped. “I’m sorry.” He couldn’t bring himself to call her Mom, not right then.

“It’s all right.” He heard her move again, closer still, thunka whirr. “Samuel. I need to tell you something important. I’ve been waiting to tell your father, but he hasn’t left his room in one hundred and ninety-five days. He hasn’t used any of the suite’s systems since then either. Is he all right?”

“He’s fine.” He wiped his arm across his face, shook his head. “He’s fine.” If he said it enough times, maybe it would come true. “You can tell me,” he added.

“The food stocks are critically low. We would have run out already, if your father hadn’t stopped eating one hundred and seventy-eight days ago. But even with that taken into account, there isn’t very much left.”

He gulped. “How much?”

“Assuming three meals a day, and accounting for your continued growth, there is only enough food for another seventeen days.”

“Seven– /seventeen days?/” He was whining, but he couldn’t help it. “Just seventeen days until I starve to death?”

“Yes, I’m afraid,” his mother said.

Then, after a moment: “You need to eat your peas.”

[Later edit: Notes about writing this short story can be found here.]

Weekly status update [0066/????]

A surprisingly game-y week, even for me.

  • I ended up at Fercott on both Tuesday and Wednesday evening for boardgames, which was quite nice. Tuesday we played New Frontiers, which is the “traditional board game” version of Race for the Galaxy, one of my favorite games of all time. It was fine, but felt… unnecessary? That could be my huge bias in favor of Race speaking, though. Or the fact that I lost. We also played some Hokm; it was nice to get some traditional card gaming in. Wednesday had us playing a couple of Lost Cities/Keltis-family games, plus Grifters Nexus (which seems more interesting than the original) and proper Race. That last game was a tie broken by cards in hand, a very rare outcome. I got to hear someone say that they finally felt they actually understood the game as well, which is definitely one of the biggest hurdles it has.
  • Besides the real-world tabletop gaming, I’ve also continued to make fairly heavy use of If I were still gainfully employed I’d buy a subscription, but as-is I’m actually pretty okay with my base set + Renaissance set-up (thanks, rulebook!), to be perfectly honest.
  • After finally finishing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (which I wrote about earlier this week), I’ve moved onto State Tectonics by Malka Older. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, but I keep putting it down to do other stuff. It’s a fast read, it’s just not quite… engaging enough to make me sit in my chair and tear through it. I’ll be done soon anyway, though, given how zippy it is.
  • I finally decided to start watching season 2 of Westworld, mainly because of how terrible the most recent episode of A Game of Thrones was. It’s been enjoyable, more coherent than the first season, and still gorgeous as all get-out. I’m about halfway through and curious to see where it’s going to end up with several of the plot threads, along with wondering just what a third season of the show will look like.
  • On the videogame side, I went from playing Monster Hunter World heavily to becoming disenchanted with the game pretty abruptly. It started to feel way more mechanical than genuinely interesting, and I’ve put it aside for the time being. That still leaves Borderlands and Portal Knights, both of which are also pretty repetitive in their structure, but for whatever reason they don’t bother me as much.
  • I’m back on keto for the most part. I treated myself to the amazing “molcajete” at the local Tex-Mex place last night, a skillet full of delicious sizzling meat, onions, and even cactus. I ate every bite. Plus some tortillas, I’m afraid, hence the “for the most part.”

If this next episode of A Game of Thrones is as bad as episode four was, I may have to break out my emergency TV rations and finally start watching Fargo season 2 or The Deuce. Here’s hoping I don’t.

How can you have your pudding

I finally, finally finished reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius today. It was really good, absolutely deserving of the plaudits it received, and by the end I really, really just wanted it to be over already. I kept checking how many pages I had left, closing the book so I could compare “distance before the bookmark” to “distance after the bookmark,” and in general feeling like reading it was much more of a chore than anything I really wanted to do.

And yet.

I’m actually happy that I read it. Not in a “I’m glad I made it through that tortuous ordeal” sense, although there’s definitely a bit of that; as difficult life situations go, reading a book that you’re just not really feeling ranks very low. It really was good, and had a lot of interesting things to say about life in the nineties and the genuinely tragic situation that Dave Eggers found himself in. My life is better for having read it. But it was also clearly not the right book for this moment in my life, which made it painfully slow going. For someone who has been known to read three or four novels in a day, taking weeks to read a single normal-length book is a sign that there’s some deep mismatch between the two of us1.

I tend to be one of those people that like to finish novels I start, or at least ones where I get past the first ten pages or so. Part of it is because the majority of fiction I pick up I know is good; I’m basing my picks off of recommendations or reviews, and I’m a pretty easy-going reader in the first place, perfectly content to read a popcorn novel if it’s fun, so surely it gets better, right? Surely by the end I’ll be happy that I stuck it out. Honestly, though, most of it is just sheer cussedness. I have a habit of dropping projects once they get tough, but damn it I’m gonna finish this stupid novel even if it kills me. Figuratively.

I wrote a bit, ages ago, about how many of the novels I’ve tried to write during NaNoWriMo over the years end up discarded somewhere around the 4,000 word mark, when I realize that they’re less interesting (or harder to write) than what I’m willing to tolerate during the accelerated churn-out-as-much-as-you-can time period of November. My hard drive is littered with these “4K corpses2.” A few years ago I forced myself to finish one despite the overwhelming feeling that I should scrap it and write something else instead; the resulting novel is a hot mess, filled with boring anecdotes from my life (with various levels of fictional-ness slathered on top) until I hit the 50K mark and could put the damn thing away for the year. In that case, the pride of finishing is basically all about making it through the tortuous ordeal, and nothing to do with the “pleasure” of writing. It’s garbage and I know it.

But other people’s books are different, thankfully. If I still bought novels with any regularity, I’d just set it aside for some other time, but nowadays I try to get most of my reading material from the library, and keeping a list of “stuff I tried but couldn’t get into” would extend my already-near-infinite backlog that much further. So I force myself to eat my vegetables3 sometimes, and for the most part it works out for the best. Even though I feel the pain of having that backlog pushed back further and further, as days that could have contained me reading a book or two now see me barely making it a tenth of the way through some difficult work.

Fortunately I already have some delicious popcorn reading lined up next, ready to be torn through at maximum speed. At least until I hit the next weird roadblock and once again slow down to a crawl…

(Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it, you should read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s good!)

Weekly status update [0065/????]

In some ways, this week felt like more of a recovery period than last week, which makes no sense, but there you have it.

  • Speaking of which, I’m basically completely recovered from the surgery, other than my sweet sweet new scars. (I’m only being slightly facetious; the scar in my belly button is actually kinda cool, and the others are small enough that, once they’re no longer raised due to being so recent, they’ll be pretty much unnoticeable.) I’ve been taking a lot of naps and otherwise feeling pretty lethargic, which could partly be due to the surgery… or just because I’ve been eating like crap.
  • Also speaking of which, I’ve been eating like crap. I went back on keto for a couple of days and then pretty much immediately jumped back off of it. I’m giving myself until this Sunday to once again enjoy the delights of fatty starchy foods before trying to climb back on the wagon.
  • Most of my spare time has been playing videogames, and for that matter co-op stuff with friends. I played a bit of Monster Hunter World over a year ago, but the group I’ve been playing EDF with has pivoted to it and we’ve been playing it a ton. So much so that I didn’t go to bed until after 5am this morning, putting in something like ten hours last night. I also played Portal Knights for the first time on Thursday with my other co-op group, which was a fine, inoffensive take on “Minecraft with classes and levels.” And there’s still Borderlands several nights a week. It’s been really nice, actually, playing games as a socialization thing on top of the joy of just, y’know, playing.
  • There was a bit of Dominion Online this week as well, although not nearly as much as last week. That was the only boardgaming I managed to fit in.
  • Along with poking at several Everett Kaser logic puzzle games off and on throughout the week, I continued chipping away at Picross 3D Round 2. One day…
  • …and I finally made some headway in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. My plan is to read a bunch more of it today, after posting this, in hopes that I can mostly get through it and move onto the more interesting science fiction that’s hiding underneath it in my stack. If I find myself still stymied by the end of the day, I may move on anyhow, which feels a bit like defeat but more like acceptance that I’m just not that into the book.
  • My car threw a Check Engine light up last weekend. That obviously scared me, but a quick visit to Auto Zone and its OBD reader informed me that there’s something up with the gas cap. I bought a replacement; no dice. Apparently the gas cap sensor is broken. Eh. As issues go, I can live with it.
  • My new friend LisaLiisa just hit affiliate on Twitch. She was my one non-personal-friend subscriber, and she plays more regularly (and more interesting stuff) than I ever did. Check her out.

What else should I be

Sorry, folks, but I’m just not feeling up to writing something up this week. Some combination of my allergies and my recovery means I’ve been very low energy for days now, and I have my follow-up appointment tomorrow morning so I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour. (Honestly, the real challenge will be to go to bed late enough to make sure I don’t wake up at 5am.)

Weekly status update [0064/????]

Prepare for the lack of excitement.

  • I could say that I spent most of the week recovering from my surgery, and I suppose that’s technically true, but honestly it simply hasn’t been a very big deal. I went from downing ~6 ibuprofen a day to 2-3 on Monday and stopped taking it entirely on Wednesday, and I’m not completely convinced that it was ever actually doing… well… anything in the first place. There’s still a bit of a twinge of pain when I sit down and stand up, but it’s extremely minor. I have a pretty sweet enormous bruise under my belly button now too that didn’t show up until Monday. But I also ran the roads, ate what I wanted, and otherwise lived a pretty dang normal life for me. Recovering? Ehh.
  • Speaking of which, I immediately proceeded to eat a bunch of things you’re not really supposed to eat whilst recovering from having your gall bladder removed, because I wanted to know sooner rather than later if diet was going to be an issue. Given that I’ve now had fried chicken, spicy tortilla chips, deep-dish pizza, and tons of ramen, I think I can conclusively state that there’s been no meaningful change to what my body can handle. Except, of course, I don’t have gall bladder attacks any more. Woo!
  • I’m pretty sure my Twitch experiment is done for, at least the more-serious daytime streaming I did that led me to finishing Final Fantasy III and Destiny of an Emperor. The combination of low viewership (which, I know I know, grows over time) and my desire to be “engaging” made it feel much more like work than like something I was enjoying. I’ll probably still do evening PS4 streams, because those are decidedly low-effort on my part, but otherwise I suspect I’m done. A shame, too, because my emotes are pretty sweet. We’ll see how long Twitch keeps me as an affiliate despite not actually doing anything worth, y’know, being one…
  • We had a board game night at Fercott on Tuesday, which surprised the woman who runs the place, given how close it was to my procedure. It was a chance to introduce someone new to more complex games, and I used Dominion for that introduction, as I think it’s in a sweet spot of “simple core, complex strategy” that can act as a killer gateway to bigger-box games. I wrote about my trepidation regarding teaching games earlier this week; given that I was teaching a game I’ve taught something like a hundred times, though, it went just fine.
  • I also played a ton of Dominion online via the official site yesterday, an even dozen of games over several hours with quite a few different people. (All friends, though; I don’t play with random folk.) All of the games involved Renaissance, which I continue to enjoy a great deal.
  • I watched two movies on Monday: Aquaman, which was Just Fine, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which may be the best superhero movie ever made. I don’t know that I can say anything about it that hasn’t already been said online, but: if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s fantastic.
  • I may finally be reaching the end of Picross 3D Round 2; the last couple of book completions (sets of puzzles in the game) haven’t made new ones appear yet. It’s been a long haul and, as much as I’ve enjoyed the game, I’m pleased that it will actually be ending. Maybe not soon–there are still a lot of puzzles to solve–but having an end in sight may motivate me to play it faster.
  • Play of both Borderlands and Earth Defense Force 5 continues apace. I also started playing Live a Live, a SNES-era JRPG that was never brought to the States (but has a fan translation), as a follow-up to Destiny of an Emperor. I’m not streaming any more but will probably finish the game; it’s been quite interesting so far.
  • I sure should be reading this stack of books I checked out from the library when I thought I was going to be a bit more convalescent than I actually am. Hm.

So far, a strong recommendation for removing failing organs from your body. A+ would remove gall bladder again.

The lessons of ludology

This evening, I’ll be teaching a group of people how to play Dominion. This is something I have done many, many, many times before; I suspect that I have introduced the game to somewhere between fifty and a hundred people over the years. When it comes to that first game of deck crafting goodness, I have the patter down cold.

In general, though, I feel like I flounder a bit when it comes to showing people how to play new games. This may come as a surprise to some folks reading this, as I am pretty much always the Designated Teaching Authority™ if I have even the slightest passing knowledge of the game at hand. It’s not that I think I’m a bad teacher, really; it’s just that I think I could be a lot better.

Education is a hard problem in general1, and teaching people how to play comes with its own set of additional complexities that can make it even more of a challenge. Let’s go over some of those in convenient bulleted form:

  • People are being taught how to play a game because they want to play a game, and so every minute spent explaining is a minute spent not actually playing. This encourages glossing over important details, makes it easy to forget steps when you’re just trying to get to the end of the explanation, and brings in all of that “I have to keep their attention so they don’t decide to just bail” tension that makes teaching a new thing extra fun and exciting.
  • Gearing a teaching session appropriately given a mixed group can feel impossible. This is obviously a problem all teachers face, but most educational milieus have a relatively captive audience: the kids are in a structured school system, or are paying for their education, and so have incentives to stick around during an explanation they already understand–or ask questions about ones they don’t–so that they can come out the other end with, well, an education. You can always just throw your hands up, say “it’s too much,” and walk away from a board game. And there’s almost nothing more distracting to a teacher than someone pulling out a phone and poking at it because they’re finding the explanation too simple… particularly when said person asks questions because they weren’t really paying attention. Not that I’m referring to specific instances. Cough.
  • As a leisure activity, it’s not uncommon for some people at the table to not really care that they’re “doing it wrong.” Other people at the table can take this very, very poorly2. Since the majority of board games are shared experiences, different levels of engagement in terms of absorbing how the game works can have a large impact on how other people experience the game session, so finding a way to teach “the right way” without ruffling feathers or sounding insulting is something that has to be navigated constantly even once the game has started3.

Teaching something well requires a solid grasp on the subject, which means I often spend a non-trivial amount of time poring over rulebooks before first plays, but if it really is my first time playing then there’s a whole lot of guessing as to what bits need emphasis, what rules will turn out to be the most confusing or relevant, and so on. For a game like Dominion or Hanabi where I’ve played hundreds of times and seen all the common mistakes over and over again, those details are easy to incorporate, but for a big-box Eurogame I’ve only played once or twice it often feels like shots in the dark.

Still: I try. I watch facial expressions and try to gauge comprehension, I stop and ask if people have any questions, and I work on my explanations of situations both simple and complex in an attempt to make them both educational and engaging. I think I get a little bit better each time, although I can’t be sure; I try to see what parts went over peoples’ heads, what I didn’t explain well enough, and incorporate that into the next time. The proof, as always, is in the play, and I can only hope that I can keep playing to find out.

Weekly status update [0063/????]

Let’s not even pretend.

  • I had surgery to remove my gall bladder Thursday morning. One of my old coworkers was kind enough to wake up before 6am (thanks, Jon!) and take me to the hospital; I was back home before noon, and now sport four sweet incisions on my belly that look like they were sealed with Krazy Glue. (I assume it’s super expensive medical-grade Krazy Glue, but Krazy Glue nonetheless.) Apparently the doctor was quite impressed with the size of the gallstone that had started to cause me problems, so I was quite lucky that the attacks had only started very recently. Anyhow, I drove myself to Walmart Friday morning and have been up and about (barring the occasional nap) ever since I got home, using heavy duty painkillers like, uh, the over-the-counter ibuprofen I used to take every night anyway. Sure, my lower stomach hurts quite a bit every time I stand up, sit down, or otherwise flex those muscles, but, y’know, it’s just pissed that there’s bits that have gone missing. Barring some catastrophic setback, as recoveries from surgeries go, this one is gonna be easy-peasy. Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes and checking-ups, both friends and family.
  • In other news, the long darkness of NickCapricorn’s Twitch channel is over, by which I mean he finally beat the hot mess that is Final Fantasy II late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you count it). I was co-pilot for almost all of the 37+ hours he played the game, and it acted as a constant reminder of why I should never, ever touch that miserable mess ever again in my life. (It’s the worst game I’ve ever beaten, I think, and I’ve beaten it three times: the Famicom fan translation that Nick was playing, the PlayStation Origins release, and the Gameboy Advance Dawn of Souls version.) He’s moving on to Shantae next at LisaLiisa‘s request, which is a game with its own problems… but nothing like FFII.
  • As I wrote about earlier this week, I also finished up a long game of my own on my stream, one that was much better than Final Fantasy II for about ninety percent of its length and then almost as bad right there at the end. You can read about that experience (and my thoughts on a particular brand of late-’80s game design) here.
  • We had an extended board game night on Tuesday where we played Concordia, which is still my favorite board game of all time. This was the first time we played with what I’d consider significant alternate rules; we used the “wine and cloth” Senator purchase row, along with the “Ægyptus” map board, which has several special rules on top of its quirky sail-down-the-Nile layout. One of the players was new to the game but had established that he picked up this sort of thing quite easily, and everyone had a great time. (Yes, I won, but that’s not why I enjoyed it so much.)
  • Despite still being under mild anesthetic effects, I managed to play a game of Dominion Thursday night online with friends thanks to the magic of I… kinda crushed them? It was nice having a computer arbitrate all the cards rather than having to fiddle with Tabletop Simulator, that’s for sure.
  • I continue to poke at Picross 3D Round 2‘s post game slowly but surely. It’s gotten brutally hard for some puzzles; I know I could dial the difficulty down, but… no. I simply can’t.
  • Dave Eggers’ The Parade was a fine, if unexceptional, short read. I have a stack of other books I checked out from the library, expecting a longer convalescence period than I’m likely to actually have, so I’m not sure how many of them I’m going to really get to.

Now it’s mostly just a matter of recovering further. The oddest result from my anesthesia, by the way, was that I got way worse at typing for about twenty-four hours. My best explanation is that Colemak is nowhere near as “deep” in my brain as QWERTY was for most of my life, and so I kept forgetting just where the damn letters were. Seriously, though, I was typing at something like half-speed until yesterday afternoon. It was weird.