Monthly Review, April 2023

Marc Majcher
7 min readMay 2

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Wheeeeee that was a month! Lots of travel, not a lot of “being productive”, which is exactly what I was looking for. So, let’s get started…

Travel

The bulk of April was spent toodling around Europe. Nic was presenting and teaching at a science communication conference in Rotterdam, and figured that they’d take some time off around it while they’re there. That sounded like fun to me, so I hopped on board! Nic showed up a bit before I did for the conference—I wound up figuring the best (cheapest) route for me would be to fly into Paris, head up there, then wind up flying out of Paris again two and a half weeks later. I… did not fully grasp how a Eurail pass worked, and wound up taking a long-ish bus ride from Paris to Rotterdam (with a couple hour stopover in Brussels) instead. Which was fine! I got to see a lot of countryside, and get a little nap in.

I’m looking through my photos, and… man, we did a lot of stuff. Spent a few days in Rotterdam in a boat hotel, and then a night in a regular hotel while we figured out next steps. From there we spent a night in Leiden (which felt like the Epcot version of the Netherlands), visited the little castle fort, checked out the amazing botanical garden and Naturalis museum there, then went to our AirBnB in Amsterdam. Oh, and Pannenkoeken! We spent a good amount of time walking around the city, I took a little day trip town to Utrecht to visit the fish doorbell in person, we took a spin around the Rijksmuseum to see whatever we could in a few hours, and explored the city a bit more before figuring out how to get to London.

Fish Doorbell!

Again, I think I flew by the seat of my pants a bit more than was sensible—we were again unable to secure train tickets, so we grabbed a last minute (and relatively cheap) flight from Amsterdam to London, via Oslo for some reason. But we got there proper and on time (Nic had some online trainings to do in the evenings, so we had a deadline), expertly navigated the tube, and plopped into our next AirBnB. I’ve been to London a couple of times before, so we alternated between me showing off some of my favorite bits and doing new things—visited a rooftop garden downtown, tracked down a bunch of the locations from our game of The Between, found the London Mithraeum, did some unsanctioned mudlarking on the Thames (found so many bones), walked around a lot, visited the Tate Modern (Nic went to some other museums, but I was too whooped), I visited with my buddy Chris Mead for a bit, and we eventually got bored of London (and thus bored of life) and headed off to Paris.

White building on Belgrave Square
Hargrave House(?)

Around this time, I was starting to be ready to be home again. We’d been flying and taking trains and staying in hotels and AirBnBs and walking so much for about two weeks at this point, but Paris! Again, the metro underground served us well, and we were set in a tiny dusty flat in the 3rd arrondissement. This was near where I stayed last time, several years ago, and it’s a fun neighborhood, and close to a bunch of stuff. We again wandered around a bunch, walked by Notre Dame and up the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, where we met up with Halyn! We had some tasty food, visited the Eiffel Tower, had some more tasty food, strolled up to Montmartre, spent a few hours in the Louvre, just, you know, Paris stuff. Nic flew home the day before I did, so I spent my last day walking more, getting one last crepe, and taking a boat tour up and down the Seine for a couple of hours. Eventually it was plane time, and now I’m home, the end.

Hang in there, little buddy.

Here are ALL THE PICTURES!

Homestead

I’ve got some potatoes and some ginger in the ground, and the spuds are shooting up like whoa. (The ginger has a tiny baby sprout, but should pick up as it gets warmer.) I’ve also been doing the Infinite Basil Hack here, so I’ve gone from one tiny stem I pinched off a grocery store basil plant to a three or four milk cartons full of big, healthy plants. (I’m experimenting with some Kratky-style setups, both for laziness and for re-using instead of recycling.) I’ve drilled out and siliconed on endcaps on nine table-length sections of downspout, and those’ll grow nine plants each, so I’ll be throwing some herbs and lettuce and whatnot in there, and we’ll see how that goes. I also rehabilitated some dried out pepper (and maybe tomato?) plants, they’re springing back nicely, and unfortunately let my mung beans dry up and blow away, but those are easy to get back in business.

Hydroponic plants in orange juice cartons under a grow light
The setup at the beginning of the month. There’s… a lot more now.

I was worried about figuring out animal care while we were away, but Paidia stepped up bigtime and come over to Rockingham every day to let the chickens out to peck around for a bit and spend some time with Ampersand while they ran around the living room and stretched their little bunny legs. It was really nice to get regular photos of the kids back home, and everyone was safe and fed and happy when we got back.

Health

I’ve been pretty good this month! Blood sugar is about where I figure it should be, and we walked approximately two marathon’s worth while we were in Europe, so that definitely helped things, all around. I was a dumbass and didn’t mask in the airport or on the plane on the way back and picked up a nasty little head/chest cold (not covid, if my tests aren’t lying), which I’m still recovering from as we speak. Nothing terrible, but it’s a bummer to break my walking around and actually being outside streak.

Games

I didn’t get to play much this month, on account of hopping around and never knowing if I was going to have wifi or not. I was signed up to run one game of Pasión de las Pasiones for Magpie at an online con, but I managed to mess up the time zones and wound up sleeping through it. Ugh.

I did get in some gaming before I left, though! Both of the regular games that we got in (Galaxies in Peril and Public Access—Mausritter had to be delayed for scheduling stuff) are at really fun, interesting places, and I’m very much looking forward to getting back to them in May. I’ve also been continuing to poke away at Marvel Snap, which is still good.

In other news, my self-imposed game design hiatus is over, and I’ve started to work on a fun little low-pressure project for the Bastards system. I worked on it way less than I expected to during the trip, but it’s coming along!

Media

Only a few things this time around:

  • Went to see A Green Moment To Share, the climate justice Theater of the Oppressed piece that Nic put on with a bunch of UT students. It was pretty great!
  • Watched Bullet Train, which was the expected amount of fun.
  • Watched X and Pearl back to back, which are both amazing in ways that I had no reason to believe that they would be.
  • Finished up season three of The Mandalorian, which happened.
  • Caught The Conjuring and Black Adam on the plane back from Paris, both of which were perfect airplane movies.

Work

I was only at work for a bit this month, but I did manage to get my toes in on the new python lecturing there. I… honestly, I hate it, but it is what it is. Fortunately, the instructor that was covering for me is great, and took good care of folks while I was gone. Now I’m going to be python-free for at least another couple of months, so, enjoy it while it lasts, I guess.

Other Stuff

What, that’s not enough? 😄

Plans

Let’s see. First off, I’m planning on taking it easy, recovering from this cold, and trying to maintain my vacation chill for a little bit before fully descending back into capitalism.

My games are rolling on the schedule again, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to them! I’m also playing a couple of new things at Chupacabracon this weekend, so that’ll be a blast. And BGG.Spring is in a couple of weeks, so yay for that!

Other than that, just looking to putter around on my personal projects, get some more plants growing, and just settle back in to being at home. Ahh.

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Marc Majcher

Teacher, Game Designer, Performer, Developer, all the things.