After the (relatively) busy times of last week, we’re back to something rather more like my usual speed.
- I read a lot. A lot. I still have a stack of a good dozen books I checked out at the library (which prompted me to write my paean to the institution earlier this week), but on the whole I made a bunch of forward progress. Most of it was fiction; Lamb by Christopher Moore stood out, although it suffers from the problem that those most likely to get the most out of it are also those most likely to never, ever read it. The sole non-fiction book was Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, which was impressively readable. I typically take two to four times longer to read non-fiction, but I tore through Peak in a single afternoon.
- I also watched a whole bunch of TV for basically the first time in months. For whatever reason I was in the mood to give The Good Place a shot; cue spending much of three days tearing through both already-aired seasons. It’s extraordinarily good, probably the most clever show I’ve seen in years, with a bunch of genuine laugh-out-loud moments and a stellar cast. Most impressive (to me) is the showing that the main actors who aren’t Ted Danson and Kristen Bell make; I had never heard of Jameela Jamil, not being British, and she is absolutely fantastic in her role as a do-gooder aristo. The real find–I assume everyone in Britain already knew of her awesomeness–is William Jackson Harper, who plays against Bell’s “banality of mediocre not-quite-evil” with a combination of exasperation and existential dread that is absolutely pitch-perfect. Never has the word “what?” had such an impact. I don’t want to write an article on the show, because to really cover what I’d like to cover it’d be spoiler-y as heck, but if you haven’t watched it yet: what the fork are you doing?
- After getting my second Burnout Paradise Platinum trophy (per my past article, the game thankfully only has one really stupid one), I went back to mostly just playing my daily free-to-play stuff on my PS4. The computer’s another matter, though; I’ve been on a huge “old strategy game” kick, playing the original Heroes of Might and Magic and Warlords and other games of that ilk. Most of the time has been with Creeper World 2, which is… wildly different from the first and third games, not just in raw design–the side-view thing is a big twist–but also in its heavy use of timed stages. Lots of fun, though.
- Other than all of that, just the typical “spending too much on games I don’t need,” on both the digital and board-type front. You know, the usual.
- I haven’t touched the code for Dosat yet. Soon.
To be fair, after the relative excitement of last week, it was nice to mostly just curl up with a stack of books and get my literature on. Which I will likely continue this coming week… to my distinct pleasure.
A busier week than usual, that’s for sure.
- I spent a non-trivial amount of time this week playing Burnout Paradise Remastered on my PS4. I spent something like 60-70 hours in the game back on the PS3, and it was a delight to play it again… although I don’t plan on doing nearly everything there is to do in the game like I did back then. Racing games generally leave me cold, but there’s something about Paradise that makes it a delight to play. Except for the fact that it plays “Paradise City” every time it boots up. Ugh. I have to mute the TV each time I start the game.
- We had a board game night Tuesday at Fercott. We played the second edition of London; previously, I enthused about the game, and I still think it’s really good, but I also think that you probably shouldn’t play it with more than three people, and really two is best. There’s too much “luck of the draw” for the result to be very stable at four. (I’m not just saying this because I got crushed… but I got crushed.)
- I spent much of Wednesday up in the hills and mountains with a friend; we went to Wiseman’s View. A non-trivial amount of the trip’s time was spent on the barely-maintained gravel road leading to the View, and we were the only people there, which was a bit surprising; the day was beautiful, if warm, and the sight down into the gorge utterly stunning. I had a really good time. It was nice actually getting out in the woods and into the sun; as I lose weight, my desire to take up hiking is beginning to grow again. Perhaps next season.
- I went to the library Thursday to get a single book I had on hold and ended up with ten, which went into a stack with a bunch of other books I’m behind on reading (mostly thanks to Burnout Paradise Remastered). I’m almost done with one today, though, and plan on tearing through much of the rest in short order. Libraries are awesome and people don’t use them nearly enough.
- The programming urge has been growing steadily stronger, so I finally steeled myself and bugged Donald X. Vaccarino (of Dominion fame) to release a game he wrote for himself as open source. He actually went for it, to my mild surprise. It’s written in Object Pascal with some very old DOS graphics and mouse tech; my current plan is to basically rewrite it 1:1 in C so that it’ll actually be maintainable into the foreseeable future. Once I get that done I’ll look into actual improvements to the game itself. I haven’t actually started coding on it yet; I plan to begin with some of the tools he wrote to mess with the data files, so as to get my feet wet again. But I am excited!
- I watched the first episode of Jack Ryan, mostly to get the Twitch bits. It was… fine? I mean, I love Wendell Pierce to bits, and after seeing A Quiet Place I’m down with John Krasinski in serious roles, but it sure feels not nearly enough removed from the torture porn of 24 for my liking. I may watch another episode or two… or I may not, given how little TV I’ve managed these last couple of months. We’ll see.
So, yeah, lots of stuff going on this past week, including some things I hadn’t done in ages. I look forward to working on the game, reading these books, and, y’know, in general continuing to chip away at the infinite rock face of “things I want to do.” As one does.
This was a week that even I found surprisingly quiet.
- After over a month of off-and-on effort, I finally managed to order a bunch of back issues of Akıl Oyunları, a Turkish puzzle magazine that comes highly rated from several people. It’s basically impossible to get in the United States without some serious shenanigans. Whether they’ll actually arrive successfully at my house or not is another matter entirely…
- I actually watched a tiny bit of television this past week, namely two or three more episodes of the second season of Jessica Jones. It definitely got better from the first, rather dire, one. I’m still not sure it’s good, and it definitely comes across as particularly weak after the fantastic first season, but I’m going to finish it off… if only so that I can watch the second season of Luke Cage.
- I even watched a couple of movies, another rare event for me. The Avengers: Infinity War was pretty much exactly what I suspected it’d be; I don’t want to talk about it too much, for fear of spoilers, but I can imagine some people who aren’t aware of comic book tropes were Real Shook Up by that ending. I also watched A Quiet Place, which was excellent. It had a couple of silly bits, but overall it was a finely-crafted bit of horror. It’s basically Signs but only 5% as stupid.
- After working on it off-and-on for well over a year, I saw the end credits of Picross 3D Round 2… which unlocked a whole other set of puzzles. Heh. This wasn’t surprising to me, as that result had already been spoiled… and I hadn’t gotten the final score emblem yet even though I’ve received a perfect score in every level. I’m taking the post-game easy, though, as I solved a lot of puzzles in a rush to get there, and it’s one of the few videogames that actually hurts a bit to play, due to the weird claw grip you have to hold the 3DS in.
- I’m not playing this one, but Landail is: he’s made it to Panzer Dragoon Saga, a game I played back in the late ’90s or early ’00s on a loaned copy from a friend. It goes for over a thousand bucks now (!!). I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t hold up to my memory… but, no, it’s still a beautiful, well-designed game. Phew. Sometimes it’s not Happy Sappy Delusion Syndrome muddling your memories of the past. It’s been a blast to watch.
- I actually made more-than-single-line changes to Giles over the past week. Nothing too exciting, mind, but it required me to actually look at some Python documentation, which is more of a commitment than I had made to programming in quite a while.
As is often true for a quiet week, I still somehow figure out how to write several hundred words…
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.)
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.
I continued to make a good go of minimizing the amount of adulting this week. In fact, I was rewarded for doing so; I got the notice in for getting my car inspected so that I can update its registration. This means that the maintenance procrastination I’ve engaged in for the last month and a half retroactively became time-saving genius. Good job, me!
I’m up to 42 words per minute of typing with Colemak. Median typing speed according to Google is 41, so in less than a week of using a completely new keyboard layout I’m already at a functional level. It’s a painfully slow and error-ridden functional level, mind. I’m actually at an ugly point where I’m still not great at all with the New Thing, and my ability to do the Old Thing is much worse due to overwriting those synapses in my brain. I’ve taken to doing a few QWERTY typing tests every day just to make sure I don’t become a hunt-and-peck typist when I sit down at any keyboard that isn’t mine. Thankfully the keyboard that is mine supports changing layouts on the fly in the hardware, so I don’t have to mess with operating system jankiness when I bounce back and forth. I haven’t had to do that much either; it’s just long passwords that are more muscle memory of patterns than actual characters I remember that send me scurrying back to QWERTY.
Other than that, I’ve:
- taken to watching both catsonurhead and Landail on the regular on Twitch; the former is a super-friendly speedrunner and the latter is on an insane quest to play through every console RPG ever;
- started streaming on Twitch myself at http://twitch.tv/sunfalltoennien, mostly Let It Die but also some random other stuff that no one watches;
- finished the fifth season of The Americans and the second season of Transparent, both of which were amazing;
- gone to dinner twice with old coworkers at the same restaurant, because it has bacon wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeños and is therefore automatically the best restaurant in town;
- used the whole slow typing thing to push off coding and writing yet another week.
I also played some board games early in the week, which I already wrote about here. I both do and don’t look forward to giving gaming in a public space another try.
Lastly, bored status: still definitely no.
This week was quite a bit quieter than last week, which was already pretty mellow. Those of you expecting a ton of slice-of-life updates in this blog’s future are going to be pretty disappointed. Unless you really want to read about me solving puzzles, playing Let It Die, watching some Netflix and the occasional videogame stream on Twitch, and going to bed. There, congratulations, that’s the slice-of-life for the past two weeks, all in one paragraph!
I already wrote a post about signing up for COBRA, which was the biggest thing I did all week. Other than that, I:
- Opened up Giles’ source code, thinking about doing some leisure coding on it, and went “nope”;
- Thought about cleaning up one of my old short stories for posting here, and went “nope”;
- Thought about getting my tires replaced on my car, and went “nope”.
I think I’ll want to do all of those things sooner rather than later, but for the time being I’m honestly loving the low-involvement lifestyle and I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
I do sorely miss playing board games every day at lunch. I love board games and I don’t get to play them anywhere near as frequently now, which makes me sad. If any of you readers would be up for some Tabletop Simulator, or Giles, just let me know. I’m available, uh, whenever, I guess.
Still not bored, though, and in no danger of becoming so. That’s important, because if everything goes according to plan, that week counter is going to go into quadruple digits.
My first week of retirement draws to a close, and I’ve gotta say: it feels good. Real good.
Of course I miss the hell out of a lot of people; some have kept in touch, whether via email or Hangouts (and even a few via comments here on the blog–hi, Beth, Chris, and Derrick!), but we all know how much easier it is to just not communicate. Staying in contact with others is work, real work, and life in the modern era is easy to fill with so much other stuff that unnecessary communication falls by the wayside. As someone with free time now, it’s incumbent on me to keep those channels open as best I can. And I’m going to try.
Work, though? I’d be lying if I said I missed having a job. Maybe I will, as time goes on. Right now, not so much.
The only Real Adulting I did this week involved picking up some prescription glasses I procured on the cheap thanks to my ex-employer’s excellent benefits; I now have what amounts to eight different pairs of glasses with the same prescription. You know, Just In Case. In life as I did at work, I plan for catastrophic failure.
Definitely Not Adulting things I did this week:
- Watched a non-trivial amount of serialized stuff via the magic of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Strong recommendations: Altered Carbon, The Americans, Transparent. Less strong, but still enjoyable as a not-quite-as-good Black Mirror: Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. Altered Carbon is on Netflix and the others are on Prime Video if you want to follow along at home.
- Played a tremendous amount of Let It Die, Suda51’s most recent weird-ass video game. It’s free-to-play, but in a way that you could easily never pay a penny and enjoy the game completely. I’m actually in danger of burning out on it due to putting so many hours in–I’m somewhere north of 70 right now and less than halfway through the game–so I’ve intentionally backed off some in the last few days to give the game some room to breathe.
- Got back into solving pencil-and-paper puzzles. I have a Japanese sudoku magazine that has less than ten puzzles left before I’ve completed it from cover to cover. I can’t remember the last time I completed every single puzzle in a puzzle book. Of course the ones left are the hardest, but that’s part of the fun. After I finish it, I plan on moving onto Djape’s first Trigons book. Trigons are fascinating and pretty brutally hard, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me.
- Ate a bunch of junk food that I shouldn’t have. Malt-o-Meal’s Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys are maybe the best sugar cereal I’ve ever had, and my newfound love for them terrifies me.
Things I didn’t do but plan on maybe kinda sorta looking at next week, you know, if I feel up to it or whatever:
- Getting back into leisure programming. Probably something simple at first, like some code cleanup on Giles. Like many things in my life, I have lots of grandiose plans, but now I also have way less in the way of excuses to not actually execute on those.
- I should probably, like, look at Rewind (AKA the novella I always talk about as being “actually pretty good”) or something? And, uh, think about how the hell I’m going to expand it to a novel? Yeah, this almost certainly isn’t happening next week, because it’s big and scary and I need to work up to it.
This entry is already too long, so I’ll leave you with a question: what would you, the reader, like to see here? I’ve tentatively settled on a few-times-a-week schedule, but I’m open to feedback as to what sorts of things I should be writing. Personal reviews of games and movies and stuff? Musings on game design? More slice-of-life bits? Feel free to either reply to this blog entry or send me Philback. There’s no point in writing this stuff if no one wants to read it; I already have entire novels that are never going to see the light of day and I’m not sure I need to add to that volume.