Weekly wrap-up, 21 June

I started playing Hearthstone on my phone. You can basically go back and reread the post I did about Magic: the Gathering for thoughts on this sort of game. I don’t like Hearthstone as much as Magic, but it’s going to be good enough to play between the time that I run out of content in Magic 2015, and when Magic: Origins becomes available for Android phones.

Hearthstone has the added bonus though of being a game that Kelly-Jo plays, so we can actually play together.

In other news, I finished Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam yesterday, and enjoyed it to the end. I feel like I would have benefited from rereading the first two books in the series before getting to this one, but it works well enough with just the recap at the start.

I’m picking away at Celts in the Americas again, and about to start N K  Jemison’s Inheritance Trilogy.

I spent a good chunk of last evening looking at Lego sets, with an eye towards what to get Cohen for his birthday or Christmas. He’s really into construction vehicles right now, and they’ve got a few of those out in this year’s City line. I looked at some of the older City sets on Bricklink too, because he’s started talking about getting some of the sets that he sees in the back of his instruction books, and those aren’t all available any more.

And yes, of course I looked at sets for me too, because Lego.

Weekly Wrap-up, 14 June

We’re celebrating Father’s day today. It’s a week early, but next week we’ll be celebrating Kelly-Jo’s birthday. We’ll celebrate that a bit today too while her folks are visiting.

I got to sleep in this morning, which is rare, but totally welcome. There’s beer and cider in my fridge, and I’ll grill some burgers for lunch. It’s sunny, but isn’t going to be ludicrously hot.

I don’t talk about work here very often, but I’ve been getting to play around with InDesign a lot lately, and that’s been fun. I dabbled a bit in FrameMaker this week too. FM isn’t as fun, but I hadn’t used it in a while, so the refresher was nice.

I’m still playing way more Magic 2015 than I probably should. I’m a bit over halfway through MaddAddam, which I’m still really enjoying. I think I have D&D tonight.

I took Cohen to a birthday party yesterday. It was really nice to see him playing with other kids. I don’t get to see that very often, Then in the evening I went to a friend’s birthday party. I don’t see my friends often enough either.

Kelly-Jo has started a lease on a Cintiq tablet, so she can do digital art. This means that our webcomic is a little closer to its debut. The webpage is basically ready to be uploaded, although I should do a nicer splash page to display until that debut happens.

So it’s been a pretty good week, overall.

Weekly wrap-up, 7 June

I’ve made a tactical error. I installed Magic 2015 on my phone, and I pretty much just want to play that all the time now.

This seems like a good time to remember that the first bit of my URL is meant to be an understatement.

I never got into Magic when I was younger. I did play a few other TCGs (Star Trek, Star Wars, Young Jedi, Babylon 5, Austin Powers… mostly Star Wars. Later the WoW TCG, Game of Thrones, and most recently Card Wars from Adventure Time.). I got into Star Trek first, and started collecting the cards without really having anyone to play with. I later found a group of kids playing Magic in a classroom at lunch time every day. I hung out there sometimes, and secretly hoped  that anyone would take a sudden interest in Star Trek. That may not have been a secret, actually. I think I showed up with my cards a couple of times. But, nope, Magic. I borrowed a rule book and read up on how to play, but never got around to picking up any of the cards.

A couple of years ago I picked up Duels of the Planeswalkers on Steam, and played around with that for a bit. Which was good for learning the basics of the game, but there wasn’t much in the way of deckbuilding. There’s enough in Magic 2015 to keep my interest. Or there has been this week, at least. I’ve only sunk about 12 bucks into the game, and I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth.

I’ll probably get the Garruk’s Revenge expansion at some point. For now, I’m stuck on the final level of the campaign, and I’ve still got quite a few cards to collect through exploring the different levels. I’ve cleared out the first level, I’m stuck on one opponent in the second, and I’ve only played a bit of the others.  So now I’m experimenting with different deck types (I was playing a white deck for most of the campaign).

We were at Wal-Mart the other day, and I spent more time looking at starter decks and booster packs than is probably healthy for someone who shouldn’t get into collecting the cards and making decks in meatspace.

So I’m making slow progress on reading Maddaddam, even though I’m really enjoying it so far. I have put in a good chunk of work on the site for our upcoming webcomic, so the week hasn’t been entirely unproductive. Also, I have that whole day job thing, which still goes well.

Cohen is done preschool now. He’s currently pretending to be an owl.

Weekly wrap-up, 31 May

We had some people over yesterday for a very late housewarming party. It was nice.

Otherwise it’s been a pretty quiet week. We’ve all been sick again. I reread Neuromancer, and moved on to Margaret Atwood’s Maddadam. I enjoyed the first two books in that series, so my expectations are reasonably high that I’ll enjoy this one too.

I bought a box set of reprinted Original D&D, which arrived on Monday. I’ve been flipping through the booklets, but haven’t had much of a chance to really sit down and read them. But man they’re fun to flip through. As someone who didn’t get into D&D until version 3.5, it’s really neat to go back through the older editions to see just how different they were. I’m really happy with the current edition, as both a player and a DM, but every now and then I see something in the older editions that I can’t help but fixate on, and wonder what it must have been like to play those older editions when they were new.

We’re watching an episode of Chef’s Table right now. This sort of cooking show is great for making me want to try new things in my kitchen, and for reminding me that I really wouldn’t want to be a chef. I like making a nice dish for my family, and maybe a few friends, but that’s about it. I’m about halfway through a rewatch of Freaks and Geeks, and we’ve also been watching a fair bit of Adventure Time over the past couple of days.

One other thing to mention: the cat’s out of the bag on the super secret project. My wife and I are starting a webcomic soon. I don’t want to go into a tonne of detail here, but I’ll be writing and she’ll be doing the art. Well, she probably deserves co-writing credit, since we talk over the characters and stories before I go off and put a script together. Anyway, more on that as it develops, I guess. I need to start building the website for it this week.

Weekly wrap-up, 24 May

Oh, right, it’s Sunday. I’ve been up for a couple of hours, but we’re all sick here, so a little distracted. We’re taking Cohen to a touch a truck thing soon, so this may be short.

I finished reading Lord of the Rings last Sunday. I find the end of Return of the King drags a bit, although you do wind up seeing a Hobbit army, so, you know, totally worth reading. I skipped the appendices.

I reread Ready Player One, which I enjoyed a little more than the first time around. I think that’s because I’m more familiar with a lot of the references than when I first read it. But that’s the appeal of Ready Player One anyway. If you can’t point to what the book is covering like “aaah, they’re in the Tomb of Horrors” or wherever they happen to be, there isn’t much going on that’s all that interesting. It’s an unabashed love song to things that nerds liked in the 80s, with a simple plot and some (mostly) underdeveloped characters thrown in.

I followed that up with Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I didn’t enjoy much of. Now, part of that is because I’m not the target audience, I’m sure. I’m already reasonably well versed in contemporary geek culture, and a lot of the text was written for someone who was unfamiliar with it. There are some bits that I did enjoy (advice for newbies on things like countering trolls and attending conventions, some of the coverage of issues in geek feminism), but most of the text veered between forgettable (interviews with creators that probably would’ve been really interesting if they’d gone in-depth on absolutely anything) to useless (an introduction to popular social media sites). So the book was largely a disappointment to me.

After that, I read volume 5 of Vinland Saga, which is an excellent Viking-themes manga.

I’m on to a reread of Neuromancer now.

Weekly wrap-up, 17 May

There’s nothing quite like trying to find a single 1×2 beige plate in your son’s Lego collection to give you an idea of what infinite might be like.

It’s a rainy Sunday morning, and I may have already negated the benefits of the first two cups of coffee. Hello.

Early last night I got far enough into Return of the King for Frodo to complete his quest. Then I read the next three chapters, and oh, look, there are still 250 pages to go, because if there’s one thing Tolkien wasn’t good at, it was ending a story in a timely fashion. Which isn’t to say, of course, that I’m not interested in reading what happens next to every character. But it does drag a bit in places, from here to the end.

Thanks to the LotR movies, it’s now really weird to read about Frodo and Sam wandering toward Mt Doom, while your son is watching Happy Feet, by the way.

The further I get from the opening paragraph, the more I think maybe Cohen lost that piece before we moved into this house. It may be lost to the mists of time.

Weekly wrap-up, 10 May

Happy Mother’s Day, moms.

KJ’s folks are visiting today. We’re expecting rain, but hoping that it will hold off long enough for us to BBQ for lunch.

In other news, I’ve spent way more time than I should have this week watching the number of weekend passes available for Hal-Con drop. They sold out this morning. There will be a limited amount available in stores in July, but if you’re planning to go, you might want to pick up day passes for all three days instead of waiting. For comparison, last year it took a couple of months for weekend passes to sell out. This year it took six days.

I’ve got a co-host for the panel that I’m going to submit (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hal-Con). My friend Mike, who is Adi the Adipose‘s human has volunteered. We were working on a slide deck earlier in the week. I think we’ll still want one more co-host, but more on that as it develops, I guess.

I finished rereading The Two Towers yesterday, and obviously am following that up with The Return of the King. But I’m going to detour through volume 2 of Rat Queens first.

Super secret project is off to a decent start, although I haven’t done much with it this past week, beyond buying the domain name for it. I need to step that up this week. I did nail down the concept for my next D&D one shot, so I’m going to put in a bit of work on that this week too. That should keep me busy enough.

Duolingo and improving my French

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, but a sudden influx of visitors to the rant about bilingualism in NB that I did a while back has made it seem a little more relevant today.

Let’s have a little side note about that for a sec. That post is seeing a lot of visitors from Facebook today. I don’t know, or particularly need to know, who posted it where on Facebook. I know that my wording is clumsy at times (because it was hastily written – that’s just how I rant), but I hope the intent was clear. Bilingualism in New Brunswick is flawed, but I think the solution to that is to make it better, not get rid of it. That’s all, really. You may agree or disagree, and that’s fine.

Anyway, back to my own French speaking. I’ve used Duolingo off and on for a while now. Lately I’ve been better about using it a bit every day (I’m on a 45 day streak). I still can’t really say that I’m a fluent speaker, but my vocabulary and grammar have definitely improved. More importantly, I’m becoming more confident that I can actually speak French, instead of just knowing a bit. I’m starting to find it easier to think in French again, which is really helping me recall the words that I’m looking for.

I can’t say, of course, that this app would be as good for someone going into a language that they aren’t already familiar with. I figure once I’ve finished the French course, I’ll continue to practice a bit every day, but also start another language, to see how that goes. It’s worth nothing that I’m also reading and listening to a bit of French outside of using the app, which is probably also helping quite a bit.

I don’t really write in French at all. I’ve considered doing the occasional blog post in French just for more practice, but I find it a pain to type in French with an English keyboard. I’ll never remember the alt codes for accented vowels. I do switch between English and French keyboards on my phone, but I seldom write anything of substance with that.

Weekly wrap-up, 3 May

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way. The BBQ arrived on Tuesday. I spent a bit of time putting it together after work that day, and again on my lunch break Wednesday, and finished after work. All told, maybe two and a half hours to assemble. I didn’t get a chance to try it out until yesterday, but my initial impression is favourable. It heats up quickly, and maintains heat well, even with two of the three burners off. It seems to cook food quickly too, which I certainly won’t complain about. With our previous BBQ, I found that the smell and taste of the propane (or whatever is added to give it that smell) would linger, both on me and my food, and I’d often feel like garbage for a couple of hours after BBQing anything. Which, you know, still worth it for BBQed food, but I’m glad that it doesn’t seem to happen with this one. Or maybe it does and I haven’t noticed it yet.

I did sausages and hot dogs last night. I’ll do chicken tonight, and burgers tomorrow night. I’ve got an eggplant that I want to grill too, which may happen on Tuesday night. Or it could be tomorrow at lunch time if I’m feeling impatient.

We’re probably going to do some yard work today. Then I’ve got D&D this evening.

Tomorrow night Hal-Con tickets go on sale. I expect the Warp Speed passes will sell out in a few minutes again. I’ll just get a regular weekend pass again, because the Warp Speed perks mostly don’t appeal to me. I mean, they sound nice, but there’s no must haves. I don’t expect weekend passes to sell out right away, but I’ll get mine as soon as they go on sale anyway.

I’m something like 3/4 of the way through The Two Towers now. I took a detour through David Ewalt’s Of Dice and Men, which gives a pretty decent history of D&D, interspersed with stories from the games that Ewalt played while writing the book, and his inability to really be OK with being a nerd.

This might be rare for someone in my age group, but I never really felt put down for being a nerd. For being a shy awkward kid, sure, sometimes, but never specifically for being a nerd. Yes, I realise those two things often went hand in hand. But nerd stuff has been pretty mainstream for a while now. So I have a hard time really identifying with anyone who still feels like being a nerd is something that needs to be hidden.

Weekly wrap-up, 26 April

I’m watching Adventure Time. C’mon, grab your friends.

It looks like it’s going to be a Spring cleaning day around here. I’m home alone for the weekend while Kelly-Jo is off to the Spring Geequinox in Halifax. If you’re there, look for her! Buy some of her art! Exclamation points!

I was originally planning to assemble a BBQ today, but the one that I ordered hasn’t arrived yet. Probably tomorrow, which means that I’ll be putting it together after work. Then I will cook meat with fire.

Let’s get back to the Adventure Time for a minute. I’m watching season 3 again. I’m at the episode with the Door Lord, which is one of my favourites. I’ll have the songs stuck in my head all day.

I’m just shy of halfway through reading The Lord of the Rings again. Friday night I mostly got caught up on Lumberjanes. I picked up the latest issue yesterday, and the latest Squirrel Girl.

I’ll do a recap of yesterday’s D&D adventure later today, after I’ve gotten a bit done. I may start writing my next one today, although I’ve got to figure out which ideas I want to turn into the next one first.