I have nothing clever to say here, so let’s do this:
Now that the weather is warming up a bit, I’m getting to spend some more time taking care of stuff outside. I’m starting to get the front area of my workshop cleared off—took a bunch of useless plywood scraps and other assorted junk that’s been sitting there for a year to the dump, and actually had a tree truck swing by unexpectedly to take away a bunch of the tree trimmings that have been slowly mulching down in the driveway. (There’s still a good bit of compost/humus built up there, just need to get it to a useful place now.) Spend another good bit collecting logs sitting around on the side of the road from the winter storm destruction and chopping them down into usable firewood, or I might wind up milling some of it down to use on a project. (A Trophy slipcase made from ruined trees would be super sweet, right?)
I’m getting a little bit of hydroponics and container gardening spun up, too—Pai brought over a bunch of mint to plant, and I’ve been converting old cartons and some vinyl downspouts (with some old cut-up vinyl vertical blinds siliconed over the ends) into growing containers, so I’m eager to see what those bring. Popped some basil and min and beans and peppers (I think?) into those, and threw some ginger and potatoes into containers outside—it’s still a bit chilly for those, I think, so we’ll see.
I’ve got a fresh compost pile started up with a bunch of chipped up fallen tree branches, hay/bedding impregnated with months of chicken poop, and a healthy serving of used coffee grounds from a local shop. This is the first time I’ve actually gotten a compost pile to get hot enough to steam, so I’m pretty sure I’m doing it right!
Chickens are going really good, but we’ve been seeing a fox or two scampering around during the day, so I’m pretty wary about letting them out without adult supervision. In other animal news, we got a bunny! Their name is Ampersand, and it is very cute, poops a whole bunch, and is going to be huge before too long.
Side note—it’s way easier to make butter (and buttermilk) out of heavy cream than regular whole milk. Note to self.
Feeling pretty good lately! Like I said above, I spent a bit every day for a few weeks chopping up logs, which was good exercise, and I’ve been keeping up a daily walk or other exertion, so the winter slump is starting to break. I even got a little alert from my watch that my average heart rate was down a bit, which is a good thing. I still get some heart racing when I stand up, and I had a little bit low blood pressure when I went to the doc last time, but I think I’m moving in the right direction. I’ve been pretty bad about watching my sugar, but it’s been hovering around 100–110 these days, so it feels like whatever I’m doing is working okay.
I did manage to super fuck up my lower back at one point—I don’t know if I was swinging my axe wrong, picking up a log that was out of my league, or sitting wrong while pedaling uphill on my new bike, but I did manage to put myself out of commission for a week and change early this month—I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it but take advil, put a heating pad on, and rest until it got better. But, it’s better, and I’m keeping an eye on what I’m doing back there.
Allergies have been SUCKY. Breathing is a bit better, but my eyes are still super crummy. Still battling with all thaton a daily basis, but, you know, Austin. I think I may have gotten a little cold or flu or stomach bug or something for another week in there somewhere—I tested a few times for covid, but still a virgin there—but that also went away with some orange juice and some rest. It sucked, but not enough to stop doing stuff, which is pretty annoying.
After my banger of a January, every month is going to feel “light”, even if I am running three games a week, plus whatever other stuff I jump into. Here’s the RPG rundown:
- Still playing our Mausritter game (using The Estate collection of adventures) on Thursdays with Ben, Heath, Nic, and Peter. It’s definitely an adjustment for the group to play in an OSR type system after focusing almost solely on more narrative story-game types for the last couple of years, but we’re having a good time with it. OH! And since Peter and Lindsey were in town visiting, we actually got to play one session with everyone IN PERSON at my place—crazy, right?
- Still running Galaxies in Peril for our Saturday Gauntlet-born group with Anders, Rich, Steve, and Xai. We’ve definitely gotten into the groove of the game, and there are so many good threads running, it’s all starting to weave together into a really fun story, and I’m super excited to see where it goes.
- Played Rune for my Solo Sunday twitch stream a few times—I’d like to run through the rest of the scenarios, and get in some more plays for the Ladder of Insanity, but I feel like I’ve pretty much gotten what I need to out of this.
- I started running a weekly game of Public Access, Jason Cordova’s new Carved from Brindlewood game about a group of young adults who return to their home town of Deep Lake, New Mexico to uncover the truth about TV Odyssey, a public access television station that just up and disappeared one day, leaving behind a few super creepy VHS tapes. It’s with a group of brand new people that I recruited from the Gauntlet discord (Billy, Elly, Roux, and Sasha), and they’re all really fun to play with—I was a little bit nervous about starting up a campaign with totally random people, but it’s worked out incredibly well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the group stuck around after this game.
- Played in a playtest of The King’s Poisoner, a sweet little one-shot that I’d totally play again. No prep, no stress, super fun.
Otherwise, we’ve been doing our usual Saturday morning VR Walkabout Mini-golf game—we tried out the new Upside Down Town course, which is bonkers, and I actually got an invite to their “activation” for SXSW at Peter Pan mini-golf, which was a nice way to spend the afternoon (mostly because I ran into Roy and Kaci there), but yeah, next year I hope they have a bigger budget. :D
We also ran through some Demeo dungeons, which was fun, and I tried out the new Lancer Tactics game that’s just wrapping up their kickstarter. (I still have never had a chance to play the actual Lancer RPG, so, just putting that out there…) I’ve also gotten into the Marvel Snap mobile game—which I think I’ve said before is way better designed than it has any right to be, and it’s easy to just pop in for a few minutes here and there, no weird clicky game time sink garbage.
I also feel like it was a light month for consuming stuff, too:
- Watching the third season of The Mandalorian. I understand that people like it, but I’m just kind of watching it because it’s there.
- Watched Daisies, a totally bonkers Czech new wave film from 1966. Just… it’s great.
- Finished up The Last of Us (the show, not the game, which I’ve still never tried), which was predictable, but well executed.
- Rewatched Event Horizon with Nic, and it still holds up as a great sci-fi horror flick, super creepy.
- OH and I binge-read the entirety of Kill Six Billion Demons, which is AMAZING and I highly recommend dropping everything and taking a look at it right now.
Put in vacation time for our trip to Europe in April, and that’s all sorted out, so that’s good. My current class is working on their projects, muscling through the new python curriculum and code challenges (which are… not ready for public consumption, but here we are). A couple of folks didn’t make it through this time, and I’m not thrilled about the python stuff, but nothing to be done but to do it.
This is the last month for our lecture team, so starting the first week of April, instructors will be doing our own lectures (again, after a year and half-ish break), and… I have mixed feelings. I’m personally super excited to get that piece of my classroom back, and be able to customize them to better meet my students needs, but it’s also basically doing two jobs for the same pay now, which works fine for me—I’ve done it a bunch, and I’m a really good lecturer, so there’s not a lot of extra stress and prep, and honestly I’m getting paid enough—but I’m concerned for some of the newer instructors who’ve never had to do that here, and who honestly are getting kind of screwed, salary-wise. But, not my job.
We also had our annual review cycle hit this month—I got excellent ratings all around, and my cohorts have really good numbers, but I’m apparently already at the top of my “band”, so there’s no way for me to get a pay bump without becoming a manager. I am super not interested in that, but there’s no progression path for instructors or technical folks here, so. So.
Oh, speaking of more work, I was also invited to be a part of a working group to talk about how “artificial intelligence” *eye roll* like ChatGPT and whatnot are going to affect the way we handle teaching and assessments and cheating and whatnot at school. I have some pretty straightforward answers that nobody is going to like, but I stated my piece pretty clearly, and I think they’re just going to add a “don’t use AI to cheat” section to the student docs, so, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The season of Foundation is over, and the season of Connection has started. I spent the last three months not worrying about making stuff, but taking my time to recover from last year’s burnout and get ready to jump pack into it. I’ve got a few projects lined up, but more importantly, I’m gonna take the next three months to try to reconnect with folks that’ve fallen away because of the plague, or with new folks because new friends are good. I don’t know that there’s much I can do in the way of repairing things with folks that have turned away, but that’s not really something that I can control, so. Speaking of…
Con stuff continues to be an ongoing drama that I’m affected by, although I feel like I don’t actually have a part in, the usual. I registered for a small camping convention on the east coast that I’ve always wanted to go to, and I finally had my schedule line up for and… I was quietly banned from their discord, and didn’t hear anything from them until I had a chat with a friend of mine who’s involved with the con—only after that did I receive an email telling me that I was banned for “violation of policies”, which… yeah. I have no idea what that could be, and I just responded with, “cool, message received, and if you’d like to tell me which policies I’ve violated, that would be cool, etc”, but I don’t expect to ever hear anything back. sigh.
(I wrote up a quick bit on convention safety and restorative justice, just in case anyone actually wants to try to address problems instead of being cops, but I’m not holding my breath there.)
In better news, I’ll actually be going to Origins in June for the first time since… 1986 or so? I submitted to run a bunch of rpgs for Games on Demand there, and that all worked out, so I’m excited to see folks in person again and see what’s what at an rpg convention for the first time since the global pandemic.
I’ll also be running a couple of games for the Magpie Game Fair in May, which is online, and looks to be a super good time. I’ll be running Pasión de las Pasiones there for the first time in a while, but I’ve got a few weeks to brush up. :D
(Should all that be under “Games”? Nah.)
Still been riding my bike some, driving Pai to school and hanging out with them there, and getting them prepped to take care of the chickens and bunny while we’re away. We also did some fun arts’n’crafts with a sweet set of old history books I found at the bus stop(!) on the way back from school one day. Cut out the middle, glued them up, and now we’ve got a genuine hollow book to hide stuff in!
I put together a fun little Cadbury creme egg hunt for Nic, and got to flex my pun muscles for the clues. And I got a bunch of them for myself, because easter, dammit.
I’ve actually got plans this time! I’m going to accompany Nic to Rotterdam where they’ll be speaking at a scicomm conference and doing some improv workshops for the scientists/science communicators there. I’ve never been, so we’ll do that, pop up to Amsterdam, and then toodle around for a bit to see what there is to see.
I’ve got a few things to work on now that I’m off my self-imposed creative hiatus, but I’m not gonna stress about them or commit to doing anything that I’m not super into doing. (Like the dungeon23 thing…) So, look for that next month. Until then!
(No fun pictures this month, just typing!)