Let’s get right into it.
- As mentioned before, my shoulder was acting up all week. Fortunately it seems almost completely better now. I’m still going to take it easy for another day or two, minimizing my time at the computer and with a controller, because boy howdy did it suck for a while there.
- Due to the aforementioned shoulder issues, I ended up spending most of the week reading rather than playing games. I finished Christopher Moore’s Secondhand Souls, which was good but not as good (or captivating) as A Dirty Job, a book I read in a single sitting a week or two ago. Then I picked up Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle and read it from cover-to-cover in a single day. I’m currently working on its sequel, which seems like it will also be excellent.
- One of my old coworkers moved out of town this week to go back home to his family (and a job much closer to home). We spent basically the entire weekend playing board games; Saturday was just the two of us, with his son joining on Sunday after he flew in. It was a good time. The two new-to-me games that we played were Cinque Terre, which was fine if rather slight, and Keltis: Das Kartenspiel. On the face of it, the latter game is pretty ridiculous: it’s a card game adaptation of a board game (Keltis) which itself is an adaptation of a card game (Lost Cities). Instead of being a third-generation blurry photocopy, though, it’s actually a pretty fascinating tactical game on its own, and the fact that it supports more than two players means that it could potentially hit the table more often than Lost Cities in some gaming groups. I need more time with it to establish a firmer opinion, but I liked the game of it we played.
- The big thing that happened this past week was my coming along to my old work’s Summer Outing as an old friend’s “+1” on Friday. The weather was stunningly nice, hovering around 80°F and with low humidity; we were at a combination pavilion-greens-lakeshore thing, and the water in the pool was just the right level of cool to feel infinitely refreshing. It was nice to see a bunch of old faces again, including the kitchen staff, who I miss dearly. I had a really good time… and a much better one than the last time we were at the same venue, four years ago, when I jumped into the pool with my phone, destroyed it, and then got paged by work and had to spend the rest of the trip furiously fixing remote issues rather than having a good time.
- I also managed to have a few games hit the table while on said outing. The only new one was Lost Cities: Rivals, yet another game in the Lost Cities/Keltis franchise. It was… fascinating, with a bidding mechanic that is wholly new to the series, and I didn’t really wrap my head around it by the end of the game. I still managed to win, somehow, but we also weren’t playing by the rules entirely (it was a first game and I was rushing, as we had to leave soon). I look forward to playing it a little more deliberately… and correctly… in the future.
- I didn’t get burned at all despite spending a lot of the day in the sun! Woot! That… might be a first?
Despite the frustrating health issues, it was a nice week, with more board gaming than I’ve done in the last few months, and a lot of time spent with people I like. What more can one ask for?
Apologies for the radio silence this week, but I’ve been having issues with my right shoulder that typing and mousing exacerbate. I’ve chosen to be a (relatively) good boy and keep them to a minimum… which means the continuation of the Cardpocalypse will have to wait another week.
A pleasantly quiet week, punctuated with some quiet pleasantness.
- As mentioned in my rant earlier this week, I finished up Final Fantasy XIII after years of having it hang over my head. I then immediately started playing it again from the start. I’ll probably write a “Here’s a Thing” about it soonish, but: it’s a lot better than people think. Except for the trophies. Damn the trophies.
- We had the first extended game night in ages at Fercott Fermentables on Tuesday. We played Power Grid at Jase’s request; despite him having never played the game, he won on the first tiebreaker, with Chad in second. Power Grid is a stone cold classic board game, and I enjoy it every time I play, although in this particular game I knew I was going to lose and lose badly about halfway through. Good times, though, with great company and a good atmosphere.
- I have a big stack of books from the library but haven’t made a huge dent in them yet due to playing too many video games instead. I did finally read/look at/gape at Banksy’s Wall and Piece, which Chad kindly loaned me. It’s a gorgeous piece of art full of gorgeous (and sad, and clever, and all other sorts of things) pieces of art. One of my favorite touches: a lot of the pieces have either how long it took to paint them–sometimes crazy short amounts of time–or how long they lasted before getting painted over or removed.
- The diet continues to go well, inasmuch as I’m pretty sure I’m still losing weight and I’m definitely still managing keto. I intentionally didn’t weigh myself when I started and still haven’t, due to my tendency to obsess over slight variations in the short-term numbers when long-term trends are the important part, but the key “clothes fit better” index is going strong.
- Speaking of personal health, neither my back nor my wrists have been acting up recently, which is a very pleasant state of affairs. I suspect the former is at least partly due to the continued weight loss; not sure about the wrists, but I’m not gonna knock it either.
All in all, a pleasant week, with the sadly-too-rare pleasure of an excellent board game evening in the middle. I… should really try and do something to make those happen more often, but I’m not sure what. Now, though, it’s time to get back to reading on this quiet Saturday, which is actually a whole lot like what I would have been doing on most Saturdays before retirement anyhow. Funny how that works.
Just gonna jump right in.
- My love affair with Planetside 2 is already over. Turned out that I was really good at gunning and really bad at the actual first-person shoot-people-with-guns bits… and while the former is useful some of the time, the latter is useful pretty much all of the time. After a bad night I realized that I just didn’t have it in me to “git gud” at the pew pews. It’s a shame, too, because I had finally convinced some friends to play with me… just in time to stop playing. Ah, well.
- On the other hand, Dead Cells is really good, and actually runs fine on my ancient Linux desktop. If you like Souls-style combat, platformers, and roguelikes, check it out. It’s coming to consoles in a few months if you’d rather not futz with Steam.
- I’m still slowly working my way through The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. It’s a bit of a slow read, like most Stephenson, although the story is captivating enough. It just sometimes requires more energy than I have available to put into the book. (It’s no Baroque Cycle, though; I remember being proud when I made it through more than 10 pages of those books in a single night. So dense. So dense.)
- I haven’t had to use my wrist braces in a couple of weeks, which has been very nice. They’re still sitting next to my chair just in case.
- I hadn’t tested my typing speed in ages, and I noticed that my mistake rate had dropped pretty significantly (of course, right now, I’m making tons of them… stupid observational effect), so I took another set of typing speed tests. I nailed 80wpm on this not-so-great Chromebook keyboard I’m typing on right now and 81wpm on my fancy mechanical keyboard, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m around that now with Colemak. That’s a ~10wpm difference from the last time I seriously tested myself, and it’s pretty much all down to error rate. It feels good to be back in the top 10% or so of typists with a whole new method, not gonna lie.
- Saw two back-to-back laser light shows last night (Friday) with friends, one for Rush’s 2112 and one that had a bunch of random famous Led Zeppelin songs. The 2112 show was better, with tighter synchronization and (in my opinion) better music, but the Zep show was definitely more of a crowd-pleaser. I had never been to a laser light show before; it was quite a treat. Chad and I immediately started musing on what modern albums we would like to see given the laser treatment. We both landed on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a really strong candidate… as long as you cut out Kanye breathing into a mic for six minutes at the end of “Runaway.”
- Keto still going strong; I haven’t had a single cheat day yet, which might be a record. The losses are a little harder to see at the moment, but I can feel it in my shirts and see it on my face when I look in the mirror, and I have a good five more months before my first obligatory cheat period (going home for the holidays), so there’s plenty of time for more improvement.
- I just watched it this morning, but Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netflix is… amazing and powerful and tough. Strong recommendation. It’s basically the only TV I’ve watched in the last couple of weeks.
Whew. That sure looks like a lot, given how little it actually feels like happened this week. That’s… good, I suppose?
Anyhow, just in case you were wondering or worried: still not bored!
It’s kind of amazing to me that I’m 20 weeks, 140 days, into retirement. It both doesn’t feel that long at all–I can still remember driving into work and hunting for a parking spot, sometimes the most challenging thing I did all day–and impressively far in the past. That second part excites me; I was a little worried that the days would quickly start disappearing into a blur of nothingness, but instead I feel like I actually get quite a bit out of most of my waking hours. Sure, it’s reading, or playing games, but those are both things that I wanted to do more of in the past and didn’t have the time for. Now that I do, it’s nice. Really nice.
- I’ve officially given up on the whole USPS situation. Dealing with their international handling department is a special kind of hell. I got replacements for all of the items, so I don’t really care that much now; I’m mostly just angry I wasted time contacting them in the first place. More fool me for trying to do the right thing.
- I fasted most of this week, and I think that was successful in recalibrating my hunger levels… but then I went and ate way too much today in a sort of rebound effect. Sigh. I still stuck with the keto side of things, so I’m not worried about that, but we’ll have to see in the days ahead if I screwed it up.
- Still haven’t done much in the way of puzzles. The dot-by-dot book I got in my last order from Japan is actually really disappointing; it has a bunch of cheater art in the background of most of the puzzles, so you almost always know what the picture is going to be before you start. Boo.
- Played a whole lot of videogames this week. I finished Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction after putting it aside a couple of months ago, and tore through Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty in a single sitting the next day (it’s short, though). I still haven’t made much more progress in Shining in the Darkness, though; I’m not sure why. I was enjoying it when I was playing it. Instead I picked up the original PlayStation version of Final Fantasy Tactics digitally and started playing it on my PS3… but I think I’m gonna force myself to set that aside and get back to the Shining series.
- I’m a good chunk of the way into The Moon and the Other, which is an interesting sf novel by John Kessel. In some ways its setting is an inversion of The Handmaid’s Tale, which makes for really interesting compare-and-contrast reading. I didn’t do that intentionally… but it’s a neat result.
- Watched a whole lot of Landail on Twitch, as he was playing a game I particularly like (Tactics Ogre) most of the week. Actively spent less time in some of the other online communities I’m a part of due to frustration with some of them.
- My back’s not in great shape again yet, but it’s better every day, I feel, and I’m taking an ibuprofen every morning to help reduce the inflammation.
- On the other hand, I haven’t needed my wrist braces for days, which is very nice.
All in all, despite the frustrations I had earlier in the week, I feel pretty good about how it ended. Even the tiniest dent in my gaming backlog’s a good thing, and I’ve really been enjoying my recent reading level. Hopefully next week will continue the up and to the right trend.
An even quieter week than usual, which is saying something.
- My wrists are behaving better than they have in months. I got new braces to wear overnight, as the old ones were literally falling apart, and I haven’t been wearing them during the day at all for the last several days. So far so good.
- Jessica Jones‘ second season has so far failed to grab me the way the first did, which is disappointing. I’m still going to finish it up, but after the amazing Kilgrave arc, this is something of a letdown. Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth continue to be excellent viewing material, thankfully.
- I got to play Transatlantic at an extended game night this past Tuesday. It was a very solid game, if not quite up to Concordia‘s level of brilliance, and I found myself thinking about it again repeatedly over the last several days. I want to write a post about Mac Gerdts’ designs and why I find them so compelling, but I haven’t been able to arrange my thoughts in a way that I like enough to post.
- I still haven’t started on Rewind rewrites, but I got some excellent feedback on the zeroth draft from a friend that pushed me ever closer to getting started on them. It’s going to take a lot of work; the story needs to be roughly twice as long, at a minimum, and there’s a lot of guff that needs to be removed and plot threads that need to be woven more tightly. I will probably have to break down and actually do some outlining to make sure it all fits together the way I want, something I’ve avoided… well, forever, actually. Sigh. But it’s for the good of the story, I know.
- I finished reading Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, which was fine, if slight. Mostly it made me wish I was rereading his Pretties series, or Leviathan (which, no joke, I got through two of the three books to finally realize that I had already read the damn series… but I was too into it to put it aside, and finished out the re-read.) I managed to be the first person in line at the local library for the new Stephen King novel, so I look forward to reading that next; my understanding is that it’s something of a return to form for him. I’ll report back.
The new CHVRCHES album came out today; I’ve already spun it a few times and quite enjoyed it. Don’t be surprised if you see a review of… well, probably not it, but perhaps one or both of their earlier albums soon.
Anyhow: quiet. Not boring, of course–you know that by now!–but not busy. And that’s fine.
Sorry for the late update; last night was a bit rough and I had a friend over today.
- Keto is going well. I fit into a couple of pairs of shorts I haven’t been able to wear in a while, just in time for the hot summer months.
- I finished up The Punisher, which was Just Fine. Time to start Jessica Jones season 2.
- I actually watched a couple of movies recently; specifically, I caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, watching both Black Panther and Spiderman: Homecoming. Both of them were great in different ways.
- Still slowly reading Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, which hasn’t grabbed me the way most of his books do. After that I’ll go back to the Wheel of Time series, at least for one more book.
- Did a bunch of puzzles, including the single largest Kakuro I’ve completed. It took me about six hours (!), although at least two of that was because I screwed up and had to erase over half the puzzle. Ugh. I persevered, though, which made me happy; a younger Phil would have scratched through the puzzle and moved on.
- Speaking of puzzles, my latest order of Japanese magazines came in. I also ordered a pair of books for the daughter of one of my friends, who has done a bunch of Sudoku but not much else. It was fun walking her through some of the different puzzle types. I gifted her one of my precious Zebra M-402s. She’s aware that’s the only one she gets.
- My wrists are behaving way better than they had been, which is good, because my old braces finally gave up the ghost. I ordered some new ones just a few minutes ago, actually.
A pleasant, quiet week overall. I’m almost done with all of the first round of the Great Value flavor enhancers; expect to see an up-to-date review/ranking sometime this coming week.
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.
I’m writing this right before crashing out early for tomorrow’s trip; I plan on getting up at 5:30am and hitting the road by 6am so that I can get into Baton Rouge at something resembling a reasonable hour. We’ll see how well I manage.
- In preparation for the aforementioned trip, I picked up a Samsung Chromebook 3 from Amazon this week. My full assessment will have to wait until I’m back, but so far I’m pretty impressed. It even natively supports Colemak, which came as a pleasant surprise.
- Speaking of which, my wrists are behaving quite a bit better… or, at least, they were, until I was lazy last night and didn’t put them on before going to bed. Sigh. I plan on wearing them for at least most of the day tomorrow, which should help some, but I’ve got to stop doing that. It’s not doing me any favors.
- Not a lot of gaming this week, other than the usual little stabs at the various free-to-play games you’ve gotta do every day to keep up with the grind.
- Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a couple of old coworkers/friends over on a whim yesterday afternoon, and we had a blast playing video pinball (both Pinball FX 3 and The Pinball Arcade) along with the perennial Towerfall Ascension.
- I went to a farewell dinner for one of my old teammates; they’re moving to Raleigh, which makes me sad to see them go, but I suspect they’re going to be a lot happier there from a social perspective. It’s rather too quiet here for most people.
- (Re)read some more of the Culture series, watched a few more episodes of The Punisher, solved more puzzles. Steady state, in other words.
Now to try and get some sleep. I usually have a lot of trouble sleeping the night before traveling, but I hope that won’t be the case this evening, particularly given how much less stressed I am about this trip than, uh, any other one in living memory. I guess it’s time to find out!
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!