Weekly status update [0019/????]

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.

Weekly status update [0017/????]

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.)

Letting loose the cardboard dogs

I’m currently in conversations with a large Internet board game resale site about giving up the vast majority of my board game collection.

Those of you who know me know that I have an enormous set of games.  Somewhere north of 2000, if my logging on BoardGameGeek is to be believed.  And while there are games in there that I would be loath to give up–my copy of Princes of Florence has genuine sentimental value, for instance–they are few and far between.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a lot over the last year or two, but the facts are:

  • my house overfloweth,
  • my time at the table has dropped dramatically since retiring, and never really supported the meatier games in my collection, and
  • moving this collection to wherever I end up going after North Carolina would be… tricky doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The idea of paring that enormous collection down to less than a hundred or so “essentials” really appeals to me.  I love my board game collection, don’t get me wrong, but in the end it’s just stuff, and worse, stuff that isn’t getting used.

I have no idea if this particular stab at reducing my collection will succeed; it requires driving halfway across the country with a truck filled with board games, not to mention getting a good enough price for said games to make the trip worthwhile.  There’s an eBay consignment shop in town that I need to talk to as well, but anywhere like that is likely to have a problem with the volume… not to mention the fact that some of the games just wouldn’t sell.  If I’m shedding my collection, I want to shed it pretty much stem to stern.

Fortunately, I’m not in a rush.  I can look at different options and see what will work out best.  And, hey: if everything else fails, there’s always bonfires.

Waking up, falling out of bed

Over the past weeks and months, various people have asked me with curiosity, incredulity, even suspicion: what do you do all day?

First, it’s important to know that I’m a creature of habit.  I enjoy it when things are much the same today as they were yesterday, and am looking forward to a tomorrow that looks a lot like now.  For many people that would be simply the worst, and I respect that even as I respectfully disagree.

Second, I don’t blame you if you fall asleep halfway through this post.  My life is simple, rote, Spartan in habit if not in clutter.  Expect no big revelations.

Times are approximations, standard rules and regulations apply, no purchase necessary.

0745-0900ish: Wake up.  Sometimes it’s as early as 0600, sometimes it’s as late as 1000, but 0800-0815 is by far the most common window for me awakening.  It doesn’t seem to correlate terribly well with when I go to bed, either; a lack of sleep here usually (but not always) portends a nap later in the day.

I break my fast with a pair of Atkins shakes and a multivitamin.

0830ish: Morning dailies.  Two of the free-to-play games I engaged with, Gems of War and Let It Die, have their 24-hour cycles pop while I’m generally asleep, so I spend time in the morning logging into them and doing the minimum daily requirements.  Occasionally I’ll actually play one for a while in the morning, particularly Let It Die, for an hour or so, but that’s actually relatively uncommon.

0900ish: Morning bookmarks.  I have a set of websites I check religiously every morning.

  • The CRPG Addict (new content several times a week): Chester Bolingbroke (likely not his real name) is playing through a bunch of old computer RPGs and writing them up.  The writing is engaging and he’s willing to put up with even more willfully (unintentionally?) terrible design than I am, so it’s enjoyable to read and has regular doses of schadenfreude.
  • The Digital Antiquarian (new content a couple of times a week): Jimmy Maher (actually his real name) is an excellent writer, and he’s been covering early computer and gaming history for a long time.  I actually came across one of his books, The Future Was Here–part of my long-time favorite Platform Studies series–well before I found his blog.  Articles tend to be long and meticulously researched; my archive binge nine months or so ago took weeks, and I’m a fast reader.  Right now he’s writing about Sid Meier’s Civilization, which also means he’s been diving into the details of Communism and the role religion has played in the development of society and other such topics that obviously come from analyzing an old computer game.  Always a fascinating read.
  • Dinosaur Comics (new content several times a week): My favorite comic for a decade plus.  Don’t let its use of the exact same panels for every single strip fool you; it’s regularly smart, clever, and funny as hell.  My avatar just about everywhere is a very light edit of T-Rex’s head from this strip.
  • Dumbing of Age (new content every day, weekends included): I never read the previous “Walkyverse” comics, and it turns out that there’s no need to; Dumbing of Age stands alone as a paean to college, adolescent naïvete, and deep questions about identity.  It’s funny and really serious, oftentimes both in the same strip.  (It’s also extremely continuity-heavy; prepare for some binge reading of the archives if you pick it up.)
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (new content several times a week): It started out as a darker, edgier The Far Side, and while those strips still happen regularly, it’s more often a nerdy  look at questions of identity, sexuality, and the future.  But, you know, funny.
  • Electoral Vote (new content daily): Run by Andrew Tenenbaum of MINIX fame, this site used to only update in the run-up to presidential elections.  In the utterly insane world we live in today, Tenenbaum decided to stick to a daily update schedule “until things calm down”.  (Spoiler alert: they haven’t.)  It provides precisely the right amount of political news and analysis I can generally handle on a daily basis, presented in a trenchant tone that makes it way more readable than most news sites.  It also provides links to all of its sources, which is way more than most political sites do.
  • A couple of Tumblrs and Twitter feeds for fannish crap that aren’t worth sharing.

1000ish: Time to head to Walmart and pick up a rotisserie chicken.  They’re $4.98 plus tax, which is way, way cheaper than I could do on my own.  Plus I’m lazy.

1030ish: Time to eat said rotisserie chicken.  This is earlier than I like eating, but they start putting the chickens out right after 0900, so they start to get a bit soggy if you don’t get there early, and they definitely don’t improve by sitting on the countertop.

1100ish: Comedy TV time.  I allow myself to watch only one episode each of the various shows I’m consuming, and noontime is when I watch the funny stuff.  Right now that’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth.

1200-1900ish: The first big open window of the day.  I’ve been reading a lot lately, so that happens here; this is also when I usually loop back around to Let It Die and actually put some time into it.  If I’m in the middle of a normal, non-free-to-play game (right now it’s the original Phantasy Star for the Sega Master System), progress happens here.

I also do puzzles.  I keep a pair of stacks of puzzle books next to my recliner; I tend to only do one of a type (a Sudoku, a Slitherlink, whatever) before switching off to another puzzle type, or grabbing a book, or snagging the controller.  I don’t remember being this unfocused in my solving before retirement; not sure what that’s about.

If I’m tired due to staying up too late, not getting enough sleep, or just, y’know, feeling like it, I’ll take a short nap somewhere in here too.  It’s not usually for more than an hour or so, but sometimes it’s 2-3 hours.  That’s fine too.

Usually dinner’s just another pair of Atkins shakes somewhere in here.

1900ish: Drama TV time.  Anything serious I’m watching happens here.  Right now that’s just The Punisher, but it’s been up to three different shows at the same time.  If it’s a bit creepy, like Stranger Things, I’ll push it later to make sure it’s dark outside when I watch it.  Ambiance is important, y’ken?

2000ish: Evening dailies.  Warframe and Spelunker World have daily events that pop at night, so I do those.  I always do Spelunker World first, because Warframe often has some missions to do as well, and I like to finish off with them.

2100ish until: Evening variety time.  I watch Twitch, read, solve more puzzles, play more videogames, until I get tired and hit the bed.  Sometimes that’s as early as 2200, sometimes it’s as late as 0400.  I don’t really worry about the timing.  After all, I can always nap the next day.

As you can see, it’s super action-packed exciting times!  But I like the slow rhythm of my days quite a bit.

Now, it’s 1120, which means it’s time for some Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  If you’ll excuse me…

Weekly status update [0012/????]

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.

All the comforts

Being back home has been very nice.

Part of it is that my obligations here are pretty low-key, bordering on nonexistent.  I’ve had several meals with friends and family, played some board games with my neighbors, and watched some movies with my mother.  But I’ve also played quite a bit of Let It Die, solved a ton of puzzles, continued reading the Culture series (I’m up to the last one, The Hydrogen Sonata), and watched plenty of Twitch.  These last are, essentially, the same things I fill my days with back at my house in Lenoir.

In earlier years, I would have felt a little guilty about that.  I used to cram as many different restaurants as possible into every visit, coordinate visits with the maximum number of old friends and acquaintances, spend as much time as possible with family.  But now?  I know I’ll be back for the holidays, and then again sometime later next year.  And when I visit I know I won’t be time constrained.  So why force it?

Because of that, I’ve been enjoying it a lot more.  It was always nice to visit, but there was always an undercurrent of maximizing the efficiency of my visit–even of some of that was “spending as much time as possible watching the new season of Black Mirror with Mom”–that made it all more exhausting than it should’ve been.  Not so much this time.

I’ll be leaving Baton Rouge to visit a friend (and fellow early retiree) in Arkansas early next week.  I expect that trip to be a little more packed, a little more stressful… and that’s fine, because it’s not home.  Home should be easy.

And, for the first time in a long time, it really is.

Half-remembered creaks

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I made it back to Baton Rouge safe and sound after  a very, very long day of driving Saturday, and I’ve been choosing to spend my time elsewhere rather than staying at the computer so much.

Normally, when I come back home–and while I do think of Louisiana as “back home”, I think of my house in Lenoir as home, which is an interesting distinction I hadn’t really realized I made until recently–I try to pack in as many restaurants and as many visits with old friends as possible.  Not so much this time around.  I haven’t even made it to my favorite restaurant in the worldquelle horreur!  Normally it’s the first stop when my mother picks me up from the airport, before we even go home to drop off the luggage.

Part of it is that I really want to take it easier than I usually do.  Now that I’m retired, I suspect I’ll be coming back home twice a year rather than just once, and those stays are likely to be longer.  So there’s less of a need to pack it all in, to make the experience the most time-efficient thing possible, to ensure maximum value.

Part of it is that I’ve also decided to take a more passive role this time; normally I do a lot of coordination to make visits and meals and all that jazz happen.  I’m not doing that this year.  I’ve let everyone know that I’m in town and available for meals; if they choose not to follow up on that, well, I’m just as content eating at home and solving some puzzles or watching a movie with Mom.  I hung out with one of my old friends all day Monday, and will be doing so again this coming Saturday, interspersed with the usual family visits.  If people really want to see me, they can put in some minimal effort to make it happen.  I’m not going to force the issue.

So far it’s been an extremely pleasant trip.  My timing was always meant to make sure I caught the tail end of the cool season, when it’s not too wet yet but the days aren’t face-meltingly hot either.  It worked perfectly.  I spent most of yesterday reading on a swing on the porch, a cool breeze sweeping through the whole time, and today is genuinely chilly.  A month from now and Louisiana is going to be hot and sticky.  No thanks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read.

That common child’s refrain

Now that I’ve gone and decided that I’m taking a trip back to Louisiana this weekend, I’m stressed out.

Unlike, well, just about any trip I can ever remember taking, though, it’s not the stress of the unknown, the stress of uncertainty; I’ve written about that before, and it’s definitely a huge problem for me, but no.  This is the stress of already wanting to be there.  To set out as early as possible tomorrow morning, not waiting until Saturday, and booking it hard back home.

That’s the wrong thing to do; for one, it puts me in Friday traffic in Atlanta, and I’m pretty sure I’d rather punch myself in the face repeatedly than deal with that utter mess.  And my mail hold doesn’t start until Saturday, and I still need to pack, and and and… but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m antsy.

As irritating as this is, it’s actually a really good thing.  I literally can’t remember ever being rarin’ to go on a trip.  Even the one that took me here to North Carolina, five-and-some years ago, was mostly filled with apprehension; I thought that getting the job was some sort of huge mistake on the company’s part, and that I’d be found out as a fraud immediately, and have to return hat in hand to LSU in six months’ time.  (Turns out it took them five years or so to figure that out.)  And every trip since, whether it was for business (usually) or for personal reasons (rarely), made me stress out about all the ways it could go wrong.

And there’s nothing saying that my newly-fixed-up car won’t break down on Saturday as I head across five states, to be sure.  But I’m not worried about it.  And that’s a new, exciting feeling.

Preparations for launch

Now that I’ve got my car all fixed up and my taxes paid, I can do the one “big” thing I planned to do this spring: take a road trip back to Louisiana to visit family, with a stop in Arkansas to hang out with a friend for a few days.  My loose plans to do this became decidedly more concrete this weekend after conversations with both that friend and my mother, and I’ll be heading out Easter Saturday so that I can be back in Baton Rouge for Sunday.

For the first time in a long time, rather than feeling apprehensive about travel, I’m actually looking forward to it.  That despite the fact that it’s a 13ish-hour drive from where I live to my mother’s house; Saturday’s gonna be a long day.  But I’m not filled with the slowly growing feeling of worry and stress that usually accompanies any sort of travel that I do, and that’s exciting.

That’s not to say that I don’t have to make preparations.  (Ugh.  Double negatives.  I’m going to leave that the way it is, but now I can see why grade school English was so down on the form.)  I no longer have a work laptop, and I suspect I’ll want to check my email at least once or twice while I’m gone, so I ordered a cheap Chromebook last night; opinions on the device forthcoming once I take the trip.  I don’t have a car charger for my phone either, which uses USB C.  That was another late night Amazon order.  I didn’t actually go to bed until almost 5am last night as I kept thinking of things I needed to do.

But it’s a good busy, not a bad one, and I find myself actually anxious to go rather than anxious about going.  Maybe I’ll actually be able to do some semi-regular traveling now that I’m retired, if this turns out well.  That’d be a pleasant surprise discovery, that I actually like tooling around in my car and visiting people and places at the (relatively) leisurely pace that unemployment affords.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still finding out things about myself, this many years into my life, and yet here we are.

Now to figure out how many changes of clothes to bring…

Weekly status update [0006/????]

Weekly adulting level: High.

End-of-week energy level: So low.  So, so low.

  • I spent most of the week avoiding full day binges at the computer and PS4 in an attempt to baby my wrists given my long-running issues; it’s helped quite a bit, but I’m going to keep it up for another week at least.
  • Because of that, I haven’t been typing very much.  I’m still in the low 60s typing speed wise, which is simultaneously more than fast enough for… anything, really… and still so much slower than my traditional typing speed that it’s driving me nutso.  I wanted to start properly drilling this week with the help of gtypist, but I’ve only done a bit of that thanks to the whole wrist thing.  In a couple of weeks, though… yeah.
  • The visit to the ENT went really well, and I recommend seeing Dr. de Neef at Carolina Ear, Nose, and Throat if you need to see someone and don’t have a regular.
  • The other big bit of adulting was me getting all of my stuff together and bringing it (digitally) to H&R Block for that most dreaded of American traditions: taxes.  I did that yesterday, and found out today that I owe… a lot.  Nearly forty grand a lot.  The raw number was a bit shocking, but I knew it was going to be a huge tax bill, since I sold almost all of my tech company equity at the end of last year.  Still, ouch.
  • That said, with all three of those essentially done, I can now start planning for a multi-week road trip to Arkansas and Louisiana to visit friends and family.  I’m actually pretty excited about this!  Which is rare for me, because as I’ve mentioned before travel is most definitely not My Thing.  I’m looking forward to the languid “go whenever, leave whenever” possibilities for visits that being retired affords me, though.
  • I finished the second season of The Expanse, which was even better than the first.  Still working on Transparent, although I’m close to the end there too.  I really want to start on the second season of Jessica Jones next, but my completionist tendencies mean that I have to watch Punisher first.
  • My other big “not gaming, not computing” time sink has been a reread of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels.  I made it through the first two this week, and am already about 20% of the way into Use of Weapons, which remains the hardest one to reread.  (I’ve done this “read them all” thing a few times already.)  After Weapons, though, the rest of the series is smooth sailing.

…that’s a lot of text, and my arm is tweaking a bit, so I’ll stop there and settle back down with my book.  But, hey: progress on actual life things!