Weekly status update [0052/????]

Fifty-two weeks. Not gonna lie: I’m more than a little surprised at myself that I’ve managed to stick to writing this for one day short of a year. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with sticking to long term projects, but somehow this one’s survived so far. I’ve toyed with shutting this down in the next week or so, given that the low readership makes it feel a little too self-aggrandizing to write this stuff… but I think I’m going to continue for the time being.

Anyway, I’m writing this one a bit earlier than usual because I want to write up a full-year retrospective this weekend. Fortunately, it’s been a quiet week, so there’s not a ton to say.

  • I’m most of the way through the third season of The Man in the High Castle. The first two were passable but not great, and I mostly watched thanks to my love of alternate history; this third season, though, has been jam-packed with Big Stuff Happening, and I’m genuinely excited to see where it’s going.
  • I finished up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on the PS4, netting a Platinum trophy I was forever denied back on the PS3 due to stupid online requirements. It had a whole bunch of terrible design bits that continued to prove my previous take on achievements is correct. I booted up the third Ezio game, Revelations, and after about fifteen minutes went “nope” and deleted it off of my PS4. I’ll probably come back to it in six months or a year or so, but right now I’m super burnt out on that particular flavor of game.
  • A dreadful discovery: Walmart now carries cookie butter, both store-brand and Biscoff. This is really unfortunate for my future diet.
  • Totally unrelated (I hope), I spent most of Wednesday with a combination of a bad stomach-ache and back trouble, which meant I spent basically the entire day in and out of the bed, failing to get any quality sleep. I finally managed to wake up with some verve… a few minutes past midnight. Ugh. Sometimes the wacky sleep schedule I have thanks to being retired is nice, and sometimes it’s kinda awful. This was definitely one of the latter times.
  • I have several books checked out of the library and have been busy ignoring them, instead reading Chokes McGee’s Let’s Plays of Final Fantasy Legend and its sequel. It’s the sort of things that probably mean nothing if you didn’t play games in the late ’80s or early ’90s, but the LPs were impressively well-written, funny and poignant throughout. I have no regrets having spent hours on them.

Fifty-two weeks. Crazy, man. Crazy.

Weekly status update [0039/????]

Oh, hey, it’s November.  Gulp.

  • I kept reading aggressively through November 1st.  I wrote about The Orphan Master’s Son here; it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.  I also knocked out another Christopher Priest novel, The Separation.  I still like him, but I feel that he really basically writes the same novel over and over again.  Each one has begun to feel a little too same-y compared to the rest.  Timothy Zahn’s Spinneret was the last book I read; I finished it on the morning of the 1st.  Some of you may recognize his name from the Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars novels that really kicked off the Extended Universe back in the ’90s.  Spinneret was fine, if slight.  I’m taking at least a brief hiatus, even though I still have way too many books sitting on my sofa to read.
  • November started, which means NaNoWriMo started as well.  I began writing Sharp on the evening of November 1st, and after getting ~300 words into it I stopped.  The literary style I was affecting simply wasn’t working.  I should have known better, honestly; the last time I copped a style that wasn’t my own, it was for a Banksian pastiche, and I had similar troubles putting words to page at any reasonable rate.  This time, though, the words weren’t just slow.  They were awful, as I discovered when I reread it.  So: I tossed it and started over today.  I’m a little over 1500 words in now, and those words came at roughly 6-10x the rate of the original 300, so that’s good at least.  I’m not sure yet if the story is any good, though.  I’ll keep you posted.
  • The first of November was also the first day of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”).  I had to finish on the phone, because COBRA is complicated, but the end result is that I should have insurance next year… and it should be free.  That was a surprising discovery, but it’s because I make a lot less money now that I’m retired.  On the one hand, it feels kinda weird and wrong that there isn’t means testing to go along with raw income.  On the other hand, government stuff like this never, ever breaks in my favor… so I’ll take it.  I’ve still got to contact my COBRA coverage company and get it to terminate on December 31st, but that can wait until I get at least the beginning paperwork for the ACA stuff.
  • Let’s just say the diet didn’t hold and leave it at that.  I’ll try harder this coming week.
  • I’ve been trying to actually stay on top of TV for once.  Last Man on Earth and Brooklyn Nine-Nine continue; I’m in the last season of LMoE.  I just finished season 2 of Luke Cage tonight (it was fine but not great) and am close to finishing season 6 of Orange is the New Black.  I started watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Hallowe’en, for obvious reasons, and that’ll take the place of Luke Cage for the time being.  It’s cheesy but fun.
  • Boy, this was a down month for the stock market.  And there’s likely more on the way.  Those numbers used to be a lot more hypothetical in terms of affecting my continued financial health than they are now.  Gulp.

I’m gonna keep cracking on this novel for the next few days, at least, to see if it’s got legs.  If so, I’ll try to assess whether the writing is worth sharing or not.  If it is, well, I’ll be linking it here, which should provide something a bit different to read, horse story notwithstanding. 

Weekly status update [0024/????]

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.

Leader of the plaque

(Don’t blame me, blame Little Shop of Horrors.  Also, if you have a visceral hatred of talking about dentistry, feel free to skip this one.  I don’t blame you one bit.)

My dentist appointment went fine, other than costing rather more than I would have liked.  In fact, for the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t told that I needed to floss more.  This has been a goal of mine for at least the last decade, and while I’ve been flossing regularly for years, apparently the combination of keto and overall reduced consumption was finally enough to pass muster with the dental hygienist.  Success!

Also, still no cavities, for 37ish years and counting.  (I’m not sure when my first baby tooth came in.)

Like many people, I don’t like going to the dentist at all.  Perhaps unlike most people, my problem is 100% focused on a single thing: the water-pick device that modern hygienists use for scaling the plaque off of your teeth much more efficiently than the hooked picks (although they still use those as well).  Something about the frequency the water-pick runs at makes my entire head ache with the sound when it’s in my mouth, and on top of that it inevitably zings some of the nerves in my gums as they knock off the build-up, which makes me jump… and so I spend the entire time in a state of nervous shaky tension waiting for those zings, making the whole experience indescribably worse.  It’s basically a solid fifteen to twenty minutes of my body in complete and total fight-or-flight quivering-in-my-boots fear, except that I can neither fight nor fly.  I feel deeply drained after every visit.

Imagine how bad it’d be if I had cavities and they had to break out a drill.  Uggggggggggggggh.

Anyhow, that particular obligation has been done and dusted for the next six months.  As a first semi-major “health” thing since I’ve retired, it could hardly have gone better, so for that at least I’m quite pleased.  I’m also very, very pleased that I shouldn’t have to go back for quite a while.  That water-pick.  That water-pick.

COBRA commanding

I signed up for COBRA today, which was one of the big bits of Adulting I still needed to do with regards to my retirement.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, COBRA allows you to maintain the health insurance coverage that you had at a previous employer.  You have to pay for all of it yourself, rather than the (extremely) subsidized rate that most companies offer, so many people don’t opt for COBRA.  Instead, they go with personal insurance from one of the exchanges or–depressingly often–opting for no insurance at all.  Fortunately I can afford the extra expense, so I’ll be sticking with COBRA at least until the next ACA enrollment period.

When I’m a little more comfortable with the format of this blog and the state of the readership, maybe I’ll go on a long rant-slash-ramble about how utterly ridiculous it is that the number one deciding factor in my early retirement was the state of the gorram healthcare system here in the United States, not anything so practical as amount of money saved or whether I was ready to retire.  But not today.

Before I actually made the commitment, it was easy to think of retirement as a sort of bright line, a single Rubicon to cross: one day you’re working and the next day you aren’t.  But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s a long series of much smaller Rubicons that you continue to cross, one after the other.  The first was actually tendering my resignation, many months ago.  Then there was the hustle near the end of my tenure at my job to actually get everything turned back in, all of my paperwork in order, and all that.  My last day was a big one, of course, but not nearly the last.

And then that first Monday, where I woke up and realized, huh, I’m not going into work today.  Or maybe ever again.  And then this past Monday, the second one, where that happened all over again. A bunch of small realizations that a bunch of people I used to interact with on a near-daily basis are going to be much harder to see on the regular.  And now this.

I know that doing my taxes–by which I mean using a professional for the first time in a decade because holy moly are my taxes gonna be complicated this year–is another big upcoming river to cross.  But I’m more curious as to what the others will be, the ones I don’t yet know of, haven’t yet thought of.