Weekly status update [0049/????]

I still miss watching TV with my mom, but I’m not gonna lie: I am so, so happy to be sleeping in my own bed again.

  • This past Saturday was my yearly Big Bourré Game Night, and all the usual suspects (read: mostly my old university coworkers) showed up. I had a fantastic time despite coming down with a head cold Friday that made me snotty all evening, and that fantastic time wasn’t just because I had what I’m pretty sure was my biggest night in bourré ever, nearly doubling my stake. (Yes, we play for money. No, the amounts aren’t significant.) Mostly it was a fantastic evening of hanging out with old friends, lots of trash talk, and even a little boardgaming earlier in the day.
  • Speaking of boardgaming, I managed to fit in even more before I left on Tuesday. There was a final game night at my neighbors’ house; I had the new-to-me experience of watching other people set up a complicated board game–in this case, Concordia–and it was grand. I learned on Saturday that four-player Evil High Priest is much, much harsher than the two-player experience. And just today I got to play games back here in North Carolina, including one I had never played before, Grifters. I expect to be sad for the next eleven months or so about how much less tabletop gaming I’m experiencing after the glut of the last few weeks.
  • Tuesday was my big travel day, and it suuuuuuucked. But I made it. I listened to a bunch more episodes of The Dollop, so that was nice, at least?
  • My mother and I did some last-minute TV cramming, watching all of Homecoming on Monday. It was good but not great, but it has the benefits of being short and having both an amazing cast and gorgeous cinematography. Back home, I’ve watched a few episodes of Castle Rock and am not yet sold on the show. The fact that Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place are both back makes my heart warm, though.
  • The diet starts again tomorrow, promise.

I’m still settling into being back home again, and I don’t expect for it to really feel “normal” until early next week But I am glad to be back, and am looking forward to what the next few weeks and months will bring, as my one-year anniversary of Not Doing That Work Thing Any More approaches.

Home again, home again

Just a very quick note that I made it back to Lenoir safe and sound. It was a very long day, and I already miss hanging out and watching television with my Mom like I did basically every evening for the last three weeks. Sigh. But I am very, very looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. Which I will be doing in about ten minutes, give or take. Woo!

Weekly status update [0046/????]

Nothing says “home for the holidays” like the fact that it’s going to be almost seventy degrees today. Louisiana, you do you.

  • Much of the early part of this week was spent in preparation for the trip back home. I’ve got a terrible memory for that sort of thing, so Google Keep did me a solid by letting me make a list and check it twice, helping ensure I didn’t leave anything important back in Lenoir.
  • Trip day was Wednesday. I woke up at 04:30, which the less said about the better, and hit the road a bit before 5am. To my delight, Bojangles’ was already open, so I snagged some delicious (chicken-fried) steak biscuits to get the day going. I also stopped at a couple of QTs along the way and had their spicy chicken taquitos. (I have a weakness for their roller grill.) It ended up being a 13-hour drive, putting me back in Baton Rouge at just after 5pm local time thanks to time zones. It was a long, exhausting trip, and it rained pretty bad for a short stretch near the Mississippi/Louisiana border, but was otherwise incident-free.
  • I slept for almost twelve hours, then woke up Thursday and immediately hit up Dang’s, the best local Vietnamese place. It was still as delicious as I remembered.
  • Both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were spent watching some TV with my Mom; the third season of Travelers dropped on Netflix, and I decided that I was all right with rewatching the last season of The Americans with her (for obvious reasons).
  • I also managed to already fit some boardgames in with the neighbors on Thursday night. (One of the distinct advantages of driving: I came with a fat stack of games.) We played Antike II, which was surprisingly good for three players, along with Tumult and Lost Cities Rivals. They seemed to enjoy all three.
  • Friday was mostly spent as a family day, with my sisters, nephew, uncle, and assorted significant others. Good food, good laughs, although I did my back a disservice by sitting in a hard chair for most of it that put me in a not-great spot by the end of the night. Also, I ate like a pig.
  • I also squeezed a bit of puzzling in here and there, continuing to work both on 3D Picross Round 2 and Nikoli’s DS Nurikabe game that I’ve been playing off and on for many years, plus some paper puzzles at my mom’s expansive kitchen table.

I probably won’t be doing my usual mid-week post this coming week, other than maybe a quick blip, so: happy holidays to you and yours!

The pleasures of simplicity

I’m back in North Carolina, and glad to be back.  My reaction actually surprised me; I opened the door to my house with a bit of trepidation, but it smelled like–felt like–home from the moment I stepped inside.  I’m still not fully unpacked from the trip, but I made a start of it last night, and already did the necessary errands around town this morning to get my mail, buy another clipboard after I left mine at Mom’s, and so on.

That said, it was a wonderful trip.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this trip was pretty much designed-slash-planned to be neither designed nor planned.  Back in Baton Rouge, I saw people who put forth the effort to contact me after an initial “hey, I’m in town” blast to old friends and coworkers, and didn’t worry about the rest.  There were lots of days spent lazing around my mom’s house, solving puzzles or watching Broadchurch, and I ate out probably half as much as I typically do when I visit.

There were a lot more lunches and dinners at restaurants in Fayetteville, but the visit was still pretty low-key.  Dan and I spent a lot of time playing couch co-op Diablo III, which is just about as non-committal as you can make a videogame.  Any less thought involved (at the low levels, at least) and you may as well be “playing” Cookie Clicker.  The only really planned outing was to Crystal Bridges, and the plan for that changed several times throughout the week as other things came up.  In previous times that would have stressed me out.  But, no, we went on Sunday and it was really nice.  I could have stayed for hours and hours more; I love museums.  But it gives me something else to look forward to on the next trip to Arkansas.

All along the way, my general response to any planned outing, get-together, or choice of meal was “sure, why not.”  Back in Louisiana, the few evenings with Stuff Happening were strictly first-come, first-serve, rather than my previous attempts to satisfy as many people as possible, even if it meant shuffling a lot of things around.

And the lesson?  That old way is for chumps.  Cutting scheduling down to the barest minimum doesn’t just make things less stressful, it makes them more fun, because there’s room for spontaneity when before there was too much “oh, no, I’m meeting whoever at whenever, I can’t do that”.  Keeping it simple also kept it pleasant, and when your trip has God-awful drives all around it, you can do with as much pleasantness as possible.

(Also, no matter how much I kvetch about the drive, it’s still better than flying.  You lose a day either way, but most airlines don’t have the ability to satisfy a craving for a Blizzard, or a desire to just get out and not be moving for a few minutes, at 30,000 feet.)

So my future plan, even for the Big Holiday Visit, is to keep it low on planning and high on “yeah, sure”.  I’ll try and make sure the one big game night happens, but that’s about it, and if even that falls through I won’t be too sad.  Heck, I played Concordia four times while I was in Baton Rouge, which is roughly infinity percent more than I expected, and half of those games were spontaneous ones with the neighbors.  Who knows what other fun I’ll discover later this year?

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.)

Bears, naturally

Just a quick note that I made it to Arkansas safe and sound yesterday and am enjoying myself quite a bit in the company of old friends and new acquaintances.  Other than the obligatory Friday post, I likely won’t be resuming the more-regular posting schedule until I make it back to Lenoir sometime early next week.

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.

Weekly status update [0008/????]

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!

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.