Weekly status update [0011/????]

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.)

Weekly status update [0009/????]

A quick one this week, being not at home and all.

  • Watched several movies with Mom, a few that I had seen already (Get OutHidden Figures) and a few I hadn’t (John Wick 2: The Legend of Curly’s GoldLincoln).
  • Finished up Matter, which came close to crashing my Kindle thanks to the weird table at the end.  (Great book, though.)  Next up is Surface Detail.
  • Lots of puzzles.  I even got my mother an introductory book for sudoku, which came in today, and I plan on showing her how it works this afternoon.
  • Several meals with family at yummy local restaurants, because if you’re in south Louisiana and you’re not eating out on the regs, you’re doing it wrong.  Also, y’know, family.
  • I brought Concordia with me from North Carolina and managed to get a game of it in on Monday.  I hope to make it happen at least one more time before I leave.
  • Not a lot of videogaming, although I’ve managed a bit more Let It Die than usual.
  • Being allergy free is awesome.  And the weather’s great too.  But it’s a short-lived period here in Louisiana, this spring, and I got lucky with my timing.

Weekly status update [0007/????]

This post is a day late and, given taxes and the recent stock market behavior, decidedly more than a dollar short.  It was an intentionally light week, though, so I’ll keep it brief-ish.

  • Mostly, I read.  I finished rereading Excession at 2am this morning.  I think it’s still the Culture novel I’m most impressed with, although The Player of Games will always be my sentimental favorite.
  • When I wasn’t reading I was doing puzzles.  I’ve started working on a magazine full of multi-Sudoku, which adds a lot of variety to what can become a very samey solve process with regular Sudoku.  I also (after several years) finished the last interesting and doable puzzle in a particular issue of Nikoli Puzzle Communication; there are some puzzles left in the magazine, but they’re either Japanese word puzzles, have rules too inscrutable for me to decipher, or are Number Links, one of the very few puzzle types I just can’t stand.
  • Speaking of puzzles, I picked up Everett Kaser’s newest game, Mycroft’s Map, which I helped beta-test.  It’s as good as all of his other games.  I need to write an article about them someday…
  • I finished the fourth season of Transparent, which was good but not amazing; I’d be perfectly content if they never produce another episode of the show.  I also caught up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which went back on the air a month or so ago.  I need to watch The Punisher so I can watch season two of Jessica Jones, but I can’t quite bring myself to be excited about the first show.  Sigh.
  • We played Power Grid at Fercott Fermentables on Tuesday.  It was good.
  • I had dinner out a couple of times during the week, once at someone’s house, once at a nearby restaurant; in both cases, it was a good catching-up session with old friends and coworkers.

Now to curl up with Inversions, the next book in the series.  Reading: it’s awesome.

A question of time and space

We had our second “folks from work” game night last night.  This time it was where we wanted to have it the first go-round, Fercott Fermentables.

The difference was striking.  Fercott has a fantastic, laid-back vibe; we played in the far back last night, but the next time I think we’re going to colonize the nice wooden table in the front, which has more room for a larger game like Power Grid or Concordia, and more seating for the more casual games that we could play as well.  They have lots of beers, if that’s your thing, but also a surprisingly solid selection of what I call “hipster drinks,” only half-snarkily.  I drank two Shirley Temples and a really good root beer.

I’m glad that my discomfort the time before came from the circumstances of venue and not just a general “I can’t handle playing games in public” sort of situation.  I should have known better; I used to spend almost every evening at the local game store, after all.  But I’m now actively looking forward to our next game-playing venture, something I couldn’t say the last time.

Also, Power Grid continues to hold up, more than a decade after its release.  Also also, I won, I think for the first time.  I promise that that’s not why Fercott left such a positive impression.  Well, mostly promise.

Down where we belong

We had our first real “game night” outside of the workplace tonight since I retired, at a local bar and restaurant.  It was nice; given that we took over a prime table at 4pm and didn’t leave until after 8pm, the venue showed remarkable restraint in not kicking us out.  But I have to admit that it was also a pale shadow of the gaming I did at work.

Part of it, a big part, is comfort.  Bars are loud, and I’m a little hard of hearing, so they’re never ideal venues in the first place.  I also don’t drink, so the prime benefit of holding game night in such a place is lost on me.  But these are honestly superficial issues.  The real difference in comfort is, for lack of a better term, a complete difference in feeling.  In belonging.

At work, we have a really nice gaming table that a coworker and I (mostly him) got made to order.  It’s in a well-trafficked area, so sitting at the table is a good way to say hello and/or goodbye to lots of coworkers and friends as they come and go.  Some people linger a moment, watching the action, even occasionally asking a question or two about the game we’re playing.  I had a specific place where I almost always sat, a place where I put the inevitable bottle of Hint Water.  It was in a place I knew, surrounded by people I knew.  It felt like I belonged there.

The vast majority of times I’ve played games at other people’s houses, I’ve felt a similar sense of belonging.  There, it’s less about familiarity; instead, the sort of warmness of being somewhere that people want you, with food and laughs and the coziness of a home well lived-in, engenders that sort of feeling of belonging.  Just this Monday, one of my old coworkers invited me over to play games.  Even though I had never been to their house before, I immediately felt at home.  I felt that I belonged.

We’ll have to see if doing this sort of thing regularly in more public venues changes my view.  Unfortunately hosting at my house is a non-starter, as it was too small to hold a table for gaming even before I packed it to the rafters with board games, and using other people’s homes is usually a scheduling nightmare.  In my experience, it doesn’t take much difficulty to stop things like “rotating game nights” to fail just as soon as they start.  I just hope it doesn’t fall totally by the wayside because that’s the easiest option, and I know it’s at least somewhat on me to try and make sure that doesn’t happen.

I’ll let you know.