shannon_a: (politics)
When I was growing up in the '80s, the USSR was the evil empire. Communism was bad.

Red, white, and blue. So Proudly we hail. Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Fucker!


Then the Soviet Union collapsed. The Berlin Wall fell. The specter of our youth died. It was a brand-new world.



I joined Livejournal on October 30, 2002, just short of fifteen years ago. I was following in Kimberly's footsteps, as I'd been working to emulate her idea of keeping a regular journal since I met her.

My first journal briefly commented on an article about the death of Senator Paul Wellstone, who had passed a few days earlier. My post was indicative of the increasing polarization of the US political system. I wrote about "President" Bush, with his title in quotes because of the illegitimacy of his election, which was decided by the Supreme Court.

Then fourteen and a half years and 2201 journal entries flew by.

The more things change, eh? I don't even use the word "President" when referring to Trump. He hasn't earned it, and he likely never will. And his illegitimacy is even greater, because by all indications he committed treason by working with Russia, who was engaged in illegal espionage to get him elected.

Russia. The remnant of the USSR.

Remember them?
 



I don't have a strong memory of Russia becoming a world threat again. Looking back, though, it was obviously a Y2K problem.

President Yeltsin resigned on 12/31/99, handing the control of the country to Putin, who's held it through various titles ever since. But, my first visceral memory is the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. I remember it as a uranium poisoning delivered at the point of an umbrella under direct orders from Putin. Heck, I remember Putin administering it himself, walking down the street in London with his umbrella in hand and a bowler hat on his head.

(Memories aren't reliable.)

In any case, it was my first sign that the Evil Empire was back. That an evil fascist reactionary had taken control of the biggest part of the former Soviet Union.

And he was so evil. It was like the head of Hydra had climbed out of the TV screen to take over the world.

I'm sure he has a white cat that he strokes obsessively.
 



Meanwhile, Livejournal, which was founded just nine months before Yeltsin stepped down from office, was sold to Russian interests in December 2007. Though LiveJournal's influence was probably already fading in the American blogging field due to the advent of Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006), its name had become synonymous with blogging in Russia.

I think many of us were somewhat concerned by the move. We wondered if English support would fade away, if Livejournal in the western world would go into decline. And, it did. My friends slowly disappearing might have been the result of the FB/Twitter-induced decline. However, the new level of neglect toward the software was more obviously a result of the Russian purchase. I still can't use rich text on Livejournal because it's been buggy for years (a decade?), such that if you backspace after you're in italics, you start erasing random text (or something like that).

However, the Russians who used Livejournal were probably even more concerned. They knew their country was heading back toward fascism; their blogging platform suddenly existing without that fascist space must have been terrifying.



Even here on Dreamwidth, rich text still doesn't have horizontal rules, which makes it less than perfectly useful.

How does everyone else get by without horizontal rules!?



Surprisingly, it took a full nine years for the other shoe to drop.

In December 2016, Livejournal moved their servers to Russia.

Then, in the last few weeks, they unveiled a new fascist TOS that makes them beholden to the Russian regime.

Literally, Livejournal is now under Russian law. And they spelled out two of the laws more specifically.

First, it's now illegal to talk politics. Various bloggers suggest that it's out of fear of criticism of that monster Putin, in advance of his new "election".

Second, Livejournal is now subject to Russia's homophobic, anti-LGBT laws.

So, it's not just Russian censorship, it's Russian mind control: a bigoted effort to change society by going after some of its most vulnerable members.

(And there's more, like popular LJ accounts being forced in register in Russia as media outlets, believe it or not.)



That's why I'm abandoning Livejournal like a bigoted, hateful, and sinking ship. If you're on Livejournal I hope you'll take the earliest opportunity to do the same.

Your content is no longer safe there. You're now supporting a repressive state. There's news out this week about concentration camps for gay people in Chechnya. Livejournal has become a part of that problem and is making it worse with their censorship of LGBT topics.



In moving my content to another site, Dreamwidth was the obvious choice. It uses the Livejournal software, and is run by ex-LJ people. The import was easy (though it took two days and I'm still waiting on the comments), and the interface is largely identical.

My only concern is that Dreamwidth isn't as well-known as Livejournal, and so if I want to move the journal again, it becomes more problematic.

And, that might be problematic, because I have an idea of spinning up a VPS some day to run a multi-site WordPress with my Livejournal, my Mechanics & Meeples, some iteration of my Designers & Dragons, and possibly my web site too. It's better to have all that stuff under my control, not at other services, as they are now.

But, that's not a problem for today, and especially not when my Bluehost site for M&M has been paid out for the next three years or something.
 



And that's why I've abandoned Livejournal.

Screw Putin. He's a sociopathic monster.

Meanwhile, the LGBT community has my fullest support. You are my brothers and sisters, and you deserve the same rights and respect as everyone else in the world.
shannon_a: (Default)
As we closed in on lunchtime on the Friday after Thanksgiving I was determined to find myself a tasty sandwich that I could eat up in the hills above Berkeley.

But Cheese 'n Stuff was closed. So was IB Hoagies. I finally decided to walk all the way up to North Berkeley to get a delicious Andronico's sandwich.

Truth to tell, I hadn't even expected to be back in Berkeley on Friday morning.



One day earlier. We headed out to BART at a quarter 'til 10 on Thursday, for Thanksgiving down in San Marteen. It's the first time we've had Thanksgiving there in I dunno how long, and I think it happened primarily because I quizzed early about plans in San Marteen rather than just waiting and then making our own plans up here when things were getting toward the last moment. So, yay.

K. and I packed pills and toiletries and clothes to stay over night, though we weren't definite about doing so. That's foreshadowing about that whole not-expecting-to-be-in-Berkeley-on-Friday bit.

Jason picked us up in Fremont, because the Warm Springs BART station, now two years late, still hasn't happened. We got to see his new house on the way to San Marteen. It seemed very nice.

Then we were down to San Marteen by noon or so, which was great. There was talking and ping ponging and then dinner around 2.30. More talking and some football watching (which I find interesting enough though it's never something I'd do on my own) and some gaming with Between Two Cities and Dixit. It was feeling like late evening by the time Jason and Lisa and Rob were all planning to head out, but it was only 6 or 7 or something, which was pretty cool — getting such a full day in and still having evening ahead of us.

I was somewhat concerned about staying overnight because of the fact that the heat wasn't working at Casa Wiedlin in San Marteen. There were fires and heaters going all over the house and it was keeping it from being super cold. But I thought it was going to be pretty cold in the morning.

But then there was the pumpkin pie incident.

K. awoke from her post-turkey stupor, ate pumpkin pie, and got sick from it. So we ultimately decided to head home on Thursday night so she could be sick there instead of at someone else's house.

Rob drove us, so we got to talk to both brothers on different car trips.

The Warm Springs BART extension still wasn't open, so he took us up to Fremont.



Friday, I did get my sandwich at Andronico's.

Another side effect of the is-it-a-holiday-or-is-it-not problem of Black Friday was that AC Transit was running a weekday schedule. So I had to hike all the way up to Euclid to catch a bus, and it didn't deliver me quite into Tilden.

But I had a nice lunch in Tilden, then I wrote for a while, then I walked all the way home from there: up through southern Tilden, around Strawberry Canyon, and then down Panoramic Hill. Somewhere over 10 miles total, the exact sort of nice hike in the hills that I'd been wanting for a few weeks.



Saturday was gaming, our first full session of Burning Wheel play. We're still at that uncomfortable point where we're learning a game system, and Burning Wheel is quite complex, which means we'll be there for a while.

But, the gears kept turning and we continued our development of our story.

The AP of our game so far is here though I haven't added this week's session yet. As always, there are too many things to write. (More on that momentarily.)



Sunday was rest (and writing). But after some early afternoon naps, K. and I put up our Christmas tree.

This is an artificial tree that K. found after last year's sawing-the-tree-in-half debacle. Putting the new tree together and spreading out all the branches took forever and was quite exhausting, but I compared it to going across town to pick out a tree, and it wasn't too bad. And that was on top of moving various book cases and a cat tree out of the way to provide space for the christmas tree. And moving a cat out of the way, as Callisto kept insisting on jumping on the top of the cat tree whenever it stopped for a moment in its movements. This made things particularly difficult when the cat tree had to go through low doorways.

After all that, the hanging of lights and ornaments was pretty easy.

So there's now a nice tree in the corner of our living room. Callisto has only made one mad rush at it so far, threatening that she might climb straight up it.



Also busyness this weekend: writing, writing, writing.

  • Prep for Saturday adventure (due Friday night; done). I had fun detailing places and people in our city of Eligium, starting to create the modern basis of our world.
  • Edits and expansions of three Pathfinder ACG strategy articles (due Sunday night; done).
  • This journal entry (done).
  • AP for Saturday's game (due before I forget things; in process).
  • Four D&D Classic histories (due Monday night; three and a half drafted).
  • One Prince Valiant encounter (due Tuesday night; half done).
  • A very long Catan gamopedia (in process).

Whew.
shannon_a: (Default)
Last night I finished up a little mini writing project that took up a bit too much of my time in December & January. At the last minute I decided on the name "Far Futures & Fiction: A Review of Traveller's Literature", but we'll see if that sticks or not.

It originated with a series of 23 reviews that I wrote of Traveller novels and short stories when I was running my Traveller campaign, several years back now. I covered several of Traveller's inspirational novels and also every novel and collection of stories based on the game that I could find. (I missed one.) Besides just talking about the quality of the books, I also looked at the inspiration they offered for Traveller and for Traveller games.

Fast forward to 2015, and Marc Miller was kickstarting his own Traveller novel, Agent of the Imperium. He was listing out past Traveller novels, and I posted my whole list of reviews, and he asked if I'd like to compile them into a book(let).

Now I'm always a fan of collecting together material that I've written on the 'net into a more concrete and permanent form, so I happily told him yes. But that also meant lots of editing to transform everything into a book form and to make sure it was all consistent as possible. I also added six reviews (one new inspirational book that Marc suggested, the one book I missed, three books that had been published since 2011, and one short story collection that was new too). Oh, and you'll be unshocked to learn that I added as much historical context as I could for everything.

The result came out to 30k words. I think it's a nice little book(let) that gives a great overview of Traveller's fictional literature. It's also enthused me to read more of the inspirational literature for the game and write about it (but probably not at the moment, as this already set me back two months on another reading & writing project that I'm working on).

Dunno what the schedule for this book(let)'s production is going to be, as I just mailed things off to Marc yesterday, but I'm enthusiastic to see this little surprise mini-project appear. (As a PDF, one presumes.)
shannon_a: (Default)
Well, I've had some success writing different sorts of journal entries over the last two weeks, but I've found that it just takes up too much of my time to try and write something every day. This is especially hard on Wednesdays and Thursday when I have very busy schedules due to board gaming.

So, interesting experiment, but I have other writing I want to do more.
shannon_a: (Default)
The funny thing about writing a journal entry a day is that I'm hoarding some topics. For example, I've been wanting to write an entry about how all my writing projects went in 2015 (summary: lots of middle). But there have been days when I had time, but didn't write it because I came up with something else to write, and so I want to make use of that material.

(Other days, like today, it feels like it'd take too much time and I have other stuff to do ... which is my most common reason for not writing a journal entry, and something I was hoping to figure out by writing here more often for this month.)



Here's one thing I've been meaning to write about since last Thursday: we finally pushed our Rise of the Runelords characters over to box four of Wrath of the Righteous in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This is per Mike Selinker's instructions on running Wrath of the Righteous as Box 7 of another Adventure Path.

Now, Eric, Mike B., and I had previously tried out the first few adventures in Wrath of the Righteous, and we came to the conclusion that they were hard. I was pleased to see the same was the case when using our heroic characters from Rise of the Runelords in a later box. Some of the monsters gave us genuine problems! And we failed to complete the mission!

I was a little less pleased that the time seemed to have telescoped. We're usually able to finish two four-player sessions in a Thursday night evening, but our first try at adventure 4-1 took about three hours. Granted, there was tear down and set up and looking at our characters. I have every hope it'll come back to a reasonable amount of time.

So the whole play Wrath-4 as adventure #7 totally works. Now I hope we can actually get through it (trying again at the start of February).
shannon_a: (Default)
I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I'm taking the annual flip as a chance to try a few changes.

  1. A Journal a Day (January). For this month I'm going to write a journal entry each day. It's not necessarily going to be anything substantive, but I'm figuring it might get me writing and thinking about different things. And maybe affect writing longer term.
  2. No Sugary Snacks (January). My last blood test came back with my blood sugar higher than I like. That might be in part due to weight loss in 2015, but I figure it's also a sign to try and do things differently. So, I'm giving up sugary snacks for January, and we'll see if that changes patterns longer term.
  3. Better Flexibility. This is my only long-term goal: I want to improve my flexibility. I've got good strength and endurance from my biking, but I feel stiffer than I'd like, so I'm going to try and improve that with regular stretching this year. I've got leg stretches that I should get back into an every-day routine, and I'll go from there.

(And there's journal entry #1)
shannon_a: (Default)
Ugh. I feel like I had a mostly lost weekend, which is a bummer because they're when I rest and rejuvenate after the week.

Skotos. Things started off annoyingly on Friday night. I've been doing some upgrades to Skotos' machines, to try and make them as safe as possible before the holiday seasons (and to make sure they can stay up-to-date going into 2016). After three updates that went mostly well, I ran into troubles on my fourth upgrade of the week, late on Friday. I stayed a bit late on Friday to track down a few show-stopping bugs, which were annoyingly known issues with the upgrade that hadn't been addressed in documentation or upgrade patches. A few more problems proved intractable in a short period of time, but were also lower priority, so I managed to put them aside for the weekend. (Mostly.)

Unfortunately, the Skotos hits kept coming. On Saturday I discovered a new problem that was somewhat higher priority, and I worked on that for a while, until I was able to at least see the boundaries of the issue (and decided it also wasn't a quick fix). Then on Sunday I had to offer some support for a GM facing some annoyances.

I didn't eat up more than two hours of my weekend time with all these issues, but they managed to overhang my time and gloomify it. (The major problems have since been dealt with, now that I'm back to work on Monday.)

Bike. Saturday is my biking day if there's no East Bay roleplaying game scheduled. Except this weekend I got delayed until after 11am by screwing around with Skotos problem #2-ish. And then I got out to the garage and remembered that I was unhappy with my brakes. They'd gotten off-kilter in recent weeks because the wheel had gotten pretty badly out of true, and the best compromise I'd been able to work out involved brakes that were too loose ... and getting looser. So I decided to recenter my brakes ... except I pretty much couldn't.

Another half-an-hour or so of that and I decided it was bike shop time. I'd sorta known that when they'd first gone off-kilter, but that was just before Thanksgiving, and I wanted my bike for that weekend. But now it's time had come.

Missing Link verified that the wheel needed to be trued. We also agreed to put some new brake pads on, because the old ones were mostly gone. So, I sadly left the bike behind, dreams of my day of (chilly) biking gone. They did call me about 3pm to say it was ready, so after I rushed out I took it out for a spin. Though I couldn't do my usual, relaxed day of biking — eating, writing out in a park, and biking again — I could at least do the biking bit.

Fitbit says I did almost exactly 2.5 hours of biking. I went up to Richmond, out to Port Richmond, around Port Potrero, and back. I had some nice views, got some nice exercise, and enjoyed myself, but it wasn't the relaxing Saturday I usually enjoy.

(Re: the out-of-true problem. It was probably caused by my increasingly structurally unsound large panniers bashing into my back tire at inopportune times. I've since ordered some *much* better large panniers which will be more structurally sound and glow brightly in headlights and ward off rain ... but they still won't be quite as good for carrying the largest packages.)

Play. And Sunday Kimberly and I saw a play of which I've already written. Enjoyable, but again, not relaxing.

That was pretty much the theme for the weekend, which is why it feels lost.

Writing. I also didn't get much of the weekend writing I usually do done, in large part due to the lost Saturday and the play Sunday. I'd planned to finish up my DnDclassics and Mechanics & Meeples writing for the year ... but didn't quite make it. At this point I have all my DnDClassics articles drafted, and I'm maybe halfway through the last Mechanics & Meeples articles. But I need to finish the Mechanics & Meeples and edit everything.

Ah well.

There's big relaxation coming up in just a few weeks! If I can just get ready for Christmas!
shannon_a: (rpg glorantha)
Designers & Dragons was nominated for the Diana Jones Award last month. That was a big deal. Designers & Dragons is a 4-book history of the roleplaying industry that represented 10 years of my (free-time) work. It was my biggest & most important contribution ever to an industry that I've enjoyed being a part of since I first played D&D in the '80s.

Earning that nomination (or being placed on the shortlist, as they phrase it) really made me understand the clichéd phrase, "It was an honor just being nominated". Because, it was. In fact I find that nominations are the most honorable part of most awards. That's because most awards have judged or juried nominations, then throw the actual awards out for mass voting, turning them into popularity contests. So, for example, I'm really honored that Desigers & Dragons was also nominated for a few different ENnies this year, but I have no illusions about winning the gold ENnie awards: they're all going to the Dungeons & Dragons game, which saw a new edition this year. (The possible exception is the RPG-related category, but it seems most likely that The Temple of Elemental Evil board game will win that Gold.)

But the Diana Jones Award isn't like that. It's still an honor to be nominated, because the nominating committee is made up of some of the most forward-looking and most knowledgeable folks in the industry, but it would really, really have been an honor to win, because those same people make that final decision.

Sadly, Designers & Dragons did not win the DJA. Instead, that honor went to Moon Design's Guide to Glorantha.

And, though I would have liked to win — though it would have meant a lot for people to say the writing I've been doing is important and meaningful — if I had to pick another winner, it absolutely went have been the Guide to Glorantha.

The Guide is a huge coffee-table style book describing Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha, put together by Rick Meints and Jeff Richards at Moon Design. It's a very impressive tome, and my instinctive feeling once I read over the Diana Jones short list was that if Designers & Dragons didn't win the DJA, then Guide would ... which it did.

I saw someone on Twitter say that they thought the Guide shouldn't win because it wasn't really a game book. And, they're right about the game book part. The hefty tome, full of dense essays on the world of Glorantha, isn't the sort of thing you're going to pass around the gaming table. I mean, you wouldn't want Cheetos-stained fingers touching those glorious, glossy pages, but beyond that, it's not the material you're going to need when your Sartarites get in a fight with a roaming band of Lunar oppressors. (All Hail the Reaching Moon!) But, that's not the point. Or perhaps it's the opposite of the point. Moon Design's Guide to Glorantha shows how the world of Glorantha has transcended the world of gaming, how it's become a secondary world of fantasy that's larger than any RPG, bigger than any tabletop, and more expansive than any publisher. Ironically, that's exactly what Greg set out to create 49 years ago, before roleplaying games even existed. (For more of which, see Chaosium in Designers & Dragons: The '70s).

My congratulations go out to Greg, who is one of my favorite people in gaming, and was my first choice for writing the intro to Designers & Dragons: The '70s. (He did.) And to Rick, who was kind enough to put me up in the outskirts of London when I went there in 1996 ... for a Glorantha convention. (We are all Orlanthi.) And to Jeff, who as far as I can tell is the main force beyond the massive and impressive books that Moon Design has been putting out for the last several years. (He's the only one of the crew I don't really know.) It's well-deserved, friends. Very well-deserved.

There certainly is sadness over having the biggest and most notable project I've ever written passed over for the industry's top award. And, there's definitely a feeling that I won't ever create anything as notable as Designers & Dragons again. But Designers & Dragons first appeared as an inkling of an idea in the aftermath of Gen Con exactly 10 years ago. Who knows what I'll be doing 10 years from now. (And, I'm still very grateful for appearing on that shortlist!)

I was struck by two ironies:

1.) I actually wrote material for the precursor to the Guide to Glorantha, which was called "World of Glorantha". I wrote a section on Gloranthan elves, my previous writing obsession before I started in on Designers & Dragons ten years ago. Unfortunately the writing was done for Issaries, Greg Stafford's old Glorantha publishing company, which closed up shop around the time that I actually wrote that article, in October 2006. That means that my article got lost somewhere down the road, between changing companies and changing priorities. I'd lay odds that Rick and Jeff never saw it. Maybe my article would have ended up in the Guide if I'd been paying more attention, but my focus was elsewhere. However, I can easily imagine a world where I had material in two of the top contenders for this year's DJA. That would have been cool.

(Also ironic: Greg, one of just two two-time winners of the DJA, did have material in two DJA nominees this year, since he wrote that intro to Designers & Dragons: The '70s.)

2.) The biggest problem with the Guide to Glorantha is its cost, which is $150. It's totally fair for the glossy, hardcover, small-press release, but it was more than I could afford with my tight budget, because it would have been several weeks of my "recreational" money. However, I finally was able to buy a copy of the Guide earlier this year ... thanks to money I earned from Designers & Dragons.

Thanks again to the Diana Jones folks for the nomination, and congrats on selecting a very deserving winner for 2015.
shannon_a: (Default)
So a month went by in between my birthday post and my note on the end of Kingmaker. It was a gray month in between, in which I felt constantly busy and tired.



It started off with a houseguest in early April. I'd thought it would be a visit of a couple of days, and it ended up being closer to a week. We also found out that our current house layout isn't really setup well for a guests. Our doors creak (though less than they used to) and our guest room is immediately opposite our bed room. We also hadn't expected it to be quite so tiring to have someone constantly in our living space ...

I had some bad nights of sleep, but Kimberly slept really badly. So it wasn't a huge surprise that after a couple of days of that (and being out amongst other people in between), she suddenly came down with an awful hacking cough. I encouraged her to visit a doctor and when she did ... it was another 'bout of bronchitis.

Now of course this sort of thing is worst on Kimberly. She's been weak and mostly confined to the house for a month. But it also has an effect on the whole household. It felt like there was a gray miasma hanging over everything. And, me doing all the chores and making semiweekly runs to the drug store for all matter of drugs certainly has impacted my feeling of busyness.

I think the third thing that contributed to my gray month was my allergy meds. Last year after I came back from Hawaii I came to the conclusion that my long-undiagnosed headaches were the result of allergies. If anything I'm more convinced of that now, because I started having more symptoms mid last year, like a tickly throat and coughing. So, I started taking a Claritin generic, and it sort of helped.

Fast forward to this year's Hawaii trip. Sure enough I once more had a week that was headache and sinus-pressure free in Hawaii, then upon returning to the Bay Area, the problems set in again. So I decided to try some different allergy meds. Next up was Zyrtec and to a large extent it was a miracle drug. My throat problems and headaches disappeared the majority of the time, where I'd been feeling bad for some of every day leading up to it. Unfortunately, it also led to drowsiness.

Now, I've had drug-induced drowsiness before. Both of my blood pressure meds that I've taken have done that ... but they cleared up after a month or two each. So, I kept with the Zyrtec, but the drowsiness didn't seem to be going away. And finally I decided it was contributing to my daily grayness. So I gave it up over the weekend. I've had some sinus pressure and headaches since and I should find another allergy med to try, but for the moment I'm enjoying being drugfree.



Meanwhile, I've been feeling overwhelmed with work. In my Skotos time, my biggest problem was just that I couldn't get a creative handle on the one creative project I had going, but after a talk with Christopher and a first outline, I think it's under control. In my freetime, it feels like I've had too much to do. The ongoing DnDClassics writing has been taking up more of my energy than it should, while I feel like I've been playing catchup with other projects like my Moorcock book, my Mechanics & Meeples articles, and my Wizards of the Coast articles. The last couple of weeks I've been working on a Designers & Dragons index too.

But, after my big Kingmaker finale last weekend, I did a bare minimum of writing over the rest of the weekend and read a whole book instead. Between that, better health about the house, and less drugs, I'm feeling a bit better now. Hence the journal writing.

(I'll also have the Designers & Dragons work mostly out of the way by the end of the weekend; I just got two pages short of the end of the index, with lots more polishing and a bit more work still to go. And, I've got just one more article on my current WotC contract, and then there will be downtime as they catch up with what I've written, which I think currently includes four unpublished histories.)



So that's the month that disappeared, journalwise at least.
shannon_a: (Default)
I can't believe it's been a month already since we got back from Hawaii. Seems like we were out there just yesterday!



Various stuff seems to be falling into place.

We ordered some new blinds last week, to replace ones in the the redone windows. Sadly, those will take past the end of the month to appear, because we're ordering one out-of-house blind from 3 Day Blinds (but that's what we wanted). We did the same thing ago last time we ordered from them ~2010, and we joked they were actually 3 Week Blinds.

Our house painters will be out here tomorrow to start a few days of work cleaning up the outside of the house with regard to those same windows (and generally redoing the trim, which will result in several windows looking the best they have since before we moved in).

And tomorrow I get my new glasses from the new optometrist. Barring some wacko problem with the lenses, I have faith that he tested my eyes right when the people at BOG just made wild guesses about reading glasses. Which means hopefully glasses that finally work. Finally. A year later.

In another week, more things will have fallen.



Yesterday we had Jared and Melody out for our fraternal-sororal (familial!) Christmas gathering. Yeah, it's been that sort of year. They were busy in January, and then K. was sick before Hawaii, then Melody was sick afterward .... and then it was March 14th. (And poor Melody was still coughing something fierce.)

Anywho, we had lunch at Remy's Cajun La Fiesta and cookies at Pacific Cookie Company and we talked for an hour or two, but then they needed to get back to their pup at home.



Overall, I've actually spent most of weekend working on stuff from my personal TODO list. I've been running through all my different categories of work rather than concentrating on anything, so I rescued a few old board game articles from my BGN articles (and republished them at Mechanics & Meeples), worked on some D&D Classics histories, cleaned up some links for Designers & Dragons, worked on a board game review, and have done various work related to my Moorcock project.

Whew.
shannon_a: (Default)
The Giving Day. (Thursday.) Kimberly and I had considered whether we'd be visiting with anyone else for Thanksgiving, as that's been more of a possibility in recent years, but eventually opted to order some precooked food from Whole Foods for our Thanksgiving. The store on Thursday was crazy chaos, full of overprivileged people from Rockridge and Berkeley, which was the low point of the holiday, but everything went uphill from there. Mind you, there were some minor inconveniences such as the fact that Whole Foods is stupid enough to give you a frozen turkey breast on Thanksgiving morning (K. defrosted it in cold water) and that they give you a "stuffing kit" rather than stuffing (which turned out to be well worth the extra trouble, as it was delicious and I don't usually like stuffing), but they quickly passed.

Thanksgiving is one of the two days of the year when I promise myself "no work", and I managed to hold to it. So, I lounged about and ate and relaxed. Kimberly and I like to marathon a TV show on Thanksgiving and this year it was Arrow (we watched four episodes of season 2). Overall, it was a relaxing and enjoyable day with great food (with everything being better from Whole Foods than from Andronico's, where we've gone in the past, with the exception of the green beans, which had random plants mixed in with them, like they'd pulled them off the bush outside).

The Biking Day. (Friday.) Inevitably, I went for a long bike ride on Friday. 25.5 miles. I went out to Hilltop, watched people picket the Wal*Mart, then went back to Wildcat Canyon, which I rode up to Jewel Lake in Tilden. It hadn't rained in a week, but there were still thin layers of mud throughout the trail, because of the deep shading that some of it gets. This made the going slightly hard at times, particularly on the third major hill going into the park. I *thought* I might be able to bike up all three hills this time (this would have been a first), but the mud on the third stopped me.

Anyway, it was a great ride, and probably the last time I'll ride that (beautiful) trail until the rain stops. Then I was very pleased to see Jewel Lake back up to its normal capacity, rather than the small, shrunken thing it'd become in summer.

Kimberly has pointed out that with winter here, I can start riding over the hills again, toward Lafayette, Walnut Creek and the rest, as they're no longer too hot, as they are much of the summer. So there's plenty to look forward too even without the Wildcat Canyon Trail.

The Raining Day (Not). (Saturday.) Saturday was supposed to be a pleasant day spent at home watching the rain, but the storm was very disappointing. According to the RADAR, it mostly swung south of us, drenching San Jose. Oddly, the ten miles or so around Berkeley were the only parts of the Bay Area that got no real rain. Go figure. So Kimberly and I had a nice brunch at her favorite place (in part to cheer her up, because she'd been feeling lousy much of the weekend). We watched Thor 2 in the evening (which was disappointing, largely because it tried way too hard to be a second-rate Star Wars), then I got some remaining groceries for the week ... and by then it was raining a little.

The Play Day. (Sunday.) There was more successful rain today, and Kimberly and I saw Mary Poppins as I've already written.



Reading Over the Weekend. I've made good progress on The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It's a bookstop fantasy. I've afraid that it pales a little in the face of the Malazan Book of the Fallen (which I recently finished) and even in the face of A Game of Thrones because the writing isn't nearly as dense or serious feeling. Still, it's an enjoyable read, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Sanderson's Cosmere come together in the years and decades ahead. Mind you, I'm only halfway into this one.

I also read all of The Knight of the Swords for my Michael Moorcock project and tackled two big comics that I'd gotten just for the big weekend: Valiant's Harbinger Wars was great (I really like the new Valiant, with its focus on great writers) and Marvel's Avengers: The Crossing is so far a lot better than I expected and a fun bit of '90s fluff (but I'm less than halfway into that 800+ page tome).

Writing Over the Weekend. Designers & Dragons is mostly done until next year; I'm trying to collect a few last bits of art, and then I think I'm done for January. I'm awaiting a new contract for writing on the WotC site, so it looks like that'll be next year too. I have 7 histories left to write for the year for DnDClassics, and I wrote 4 of them this weekend (while I was at Tilden), all on the Forgotten Realms. So, three to go. I wrote another short article for my Michael Moorcock project. I also wrote the last article of the year for Mechanics & Meeples (the last two articles for the year are another set of Tao koans and an analysis of Trains, due out in 1 week and 3 weeks, respectively) and updated one of my old articles (due out tomorrow), something that has stalled out for a full year. I'm looking forward to my personal TODO list continuing to wind down as the year does too. Meanwhile, tomorrow, I'm hoping to approach my Skotos work with a fresh eye, as having too many different pulls on my time has left me too disorganized of late.



What Am I Thankful For? Designers & Dragons is on its way out. Kimberly has new eyes, and we're hopefully on the way toward resolving other medical issues. Skotos is looking OK again. Good friends, good wife, good cats, good games, good books, good comics. Good night.
shannon_a: (Default)
I was caught up enough in Saturday's San Franciscan adventures that I didn't write about the other exciting events of the last few days.



On Friday I took a break from work to have lunch at Picán with what was described as most of the Evil Hat West crew. Fred H. was in town for BigBadCon. The dinner also included me, Eric V., Chris H., and Chris R. We were noticeably missing Eric L. and Sean. There was much talk about upcoming plans. We also got to celebrate the success of the recent Kickstarters done for Eric V. and myself. Yay! I also broached the topic of possible future Designers & Dragons books — which we're all enthusastic about. (I swear, I'm going to wait until the New Year to start anything new though; really.) Finally, I received an advance on my first quarterly payment for Designers & Dragons, which was substantive and well-appreciated.

The Menu: a variety of food that felt like it was Cajun influenced. I enjoyed a "BLT" that included a spicy guacamole and shrimp. It was delicious. Also, a chocolate cake which was OK to good. Unfortunately, the owner of Picán has been fighting against the improved minimum wage bill that's up for vote in Oakland next month, despite the fact that studies have shown that minimum wage increases don't have an adverse effect on restaurants, so that'll keep K. or me from eating there in the future.

The High Point: I felt more like a part of a tabletop game publisher than I have since I left Chaosium just more than 15 years ago. It's great to be part of that sort of creative community again.



On Sunday Kimberly and I celebrated my aforementioned advance from Evil Hat with dinner at Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants in Berkeley.

The Menu: I had what I always had there, which is a shrimp po'boy sandwich. They have lots more that sounds great but we go there infrequently enough that I have to have my favorite. We also, of course, had hush puppies for an appetizer. They've changed their desert menu, and they now have a French chocolate pudding which was absolutely spectacular. Mmm mmm!

The High Point: Late in the meal I told Kimberly, "This is the first time I've ever gotten an advance on a book and it was big enough that I took someone out to dinner to celebrate." It made my feel like a "real" writer.
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Did my best to have a relaxing weekend to bleed off the stress of recent weeks/months/years. From how I felt this morning (relaxed, energetic), it was successful.

Saturday: Point Pinole. We've had some troubles getting the RPG gang together this month, so on Saturday I again had a biking holiday. I considered SF once more, but instead decided I'd prefer to return to my beloved, quiet Point Pinole while the weather remained good. And so I did, and it was restful.

Sunday: Open Streets. Sunday was our third annual Open Streets in Berkeley, so once more Kimberly and I got out there at the crack of 11am, when the Streets Open, and walked Shattuck up to the Commons in North Berkeley. This year there seemed to be more activism going on, and on the way back we saw more music being sung. As with last year, we stopped at Saul's for lunch before heading back. The highlight of our day was definitely hearing a group called The Blondies sing at the Pedal Powered Stage. A cool concept (bicycle-backed audio) and a good band.

Monday: R&R. Today I mostly lazed around. OK, I biked up to Lake Temescal the hard way (up past the Gateway Emergency Preparedness Center and over 24, which altogether requires some 100 feet or so of climbing over where Lake Temescal is), but that was just a bit of time in the afternoon. Taco Bell for dinner; what could be better.

The Work. Lest you think I totally vegged, I did do some work this weekend. A couple of histories for DnDClassics, so I don't lose my lead. And a fair amount of work on the extra histories we promised for Designers & Dragons after the Kickstarter. I finished a draft of my history of my local gaming group (sponsored by Dave S.) and I started in on the history of women in the industry.

The Media. But, really, I relaxed a lot. Among other things I finished The Crippled God, the 10th and final book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Whew! 5 years I've been reading those books and they're pretty great, but very, very dense. And now I'm done with the core series. I also made some good progress through Kurt Busiek's Astro City comics; I'd been wanting to reread the fist five volumes, which I probably haven't read for a decade, and I'm now on the fifth. That stuff is so instantly iconic that a few of the stories actually felt stale to me, because they'd made such a deep impression when I first read them. The ones that felt fresher to me, though, were still great. Oh, and The Walking Dead season 5 premiere rocked!

And that was my three-day Columbia weekend.
shannon_a: (Default)
So we hit another major milestone on Designers & Dragons on Monday. Adam and I worked through the final errors in the '00s book, and afterward he sent everything off to Fred to send off in to the printers. And, as of now, I believe the book is at the printers and someone should be getting proofs soon to look at.

The Monday work was a little more stressful than I would have liked, as it ended up being a little last minute, but so it goes sometimes when you have people scattered across multiple countries each working their own schedule. Virtual work has plenty of advantages to.

This theoretically means that the main books are ready to go. However, I have at least two other major milestones on my schedule: (1) finishing the work for the Platinum Dragon PDF we're producing, which I have scheduled to be done on November 2, and which is well on its way already; and (2) signing piles of books, presumably in December.

So, I'll be able to announce I'm done a few more times.



There are other projects in the offing.

Chris and I have a largely done book on co-op game design. We're not sure on its audience and thus where we can place it with a publisher, but it's a cool, big tome of my writing on a very different topic.

I've also been working on a book about Michael Moorcock's multiverse that I think reflects my Designers & Dragons writing style. I'd hoped to finish it this year, but it's required reading most or all of his books, and that turned out to not be a rational goal for a year. But, it'll be well along by the end of the year, and hopefully I'll be able to finish it in 2015 when there's still a publisher (Gollancz) who has most of his books in print.

And then there's more Designers & Dragons to think about. The Kickstarter was successful enough that I think there's a strong audience for more books, but I'm going to put off thinking about that until I've really finished all the final tasks for Designers & Dragons. So, end of the year.



Otherwise, life goes on.

We had a heat wave over the last several days, which kept it quite hot. The first couple of weeks of October are very frequently our hottest times of the year here in Berkeley.

I biked out on the Bay Bridge again during out hot Saturday as I thought it'd be cool right on the Bay (and I was right). It was fun to see the old Bay Bridge in partial deconstruction, and the views through the gap in the old bridge are breath-taking.

I'd been thinking about going out to San Francisco and visiting a new museum in the Presidio, but opted out due to a huge concert in Golden Gate Park that I feared would jam the BART trains, making it hard to get my bike there and back; maybe this coming Columbian weekend instead.

And I've been taking it easy yesterday and today after the stressful Monday. Yesterday, after the work day, Kimberly and I went out for some dinner together, and then I sat on my butt all evening reading, which is a huge luxury that I almost never do. Then today I went to my regular gaming at Endgame, but didn't try to squeeze in some work when I got home (unless this journal entry counts). I'll get back to my regular schedule of evening work tomorrow or Friday. Mostly to the final Designers & Dragons platinum article as I've cleared my schedule of WotC history articles for the indefinite future and I don't have any DnDClassics articles due until November.
shannon_a: (Default)
The Designers & Dragons Kickstarter is over. Now when I hit the KS page, I find that the totals are sadly unchanged. It's a weird change from the last five weeks.

The Kickstarter brought in $115,348 from 3,046 backers. Before the KS had started, I thought we'd raise somewhere between $25,000-$50,000, and once we got going, I thought we'd just hit $100,000. Suffice to say, the Kickstarter exceeded all of my expectations. Clearly, that's ultimately thanks to all the great fans and interested readers. I'd like to think that some of them came to the Kickstarter from the histories that I made available through RPGnet, where they always earned strong acclaim. However, ultimately I have to thank Evil Hat for most of the success.

I've long thought that the average author who decided to do self-publishing through Amazon or other means was shooting himself in the foot. The fact is, the average author isn't a people person, and so he's not going to be great at talking to people about his project or at marketing it. He's also probably not a logistics guy or a financial guy. Certainly, he might have two or three expertises under his belt (I'm a writer, computer programmer, and a researcher, for example, to count my top three proficiencies), but he's unlikely to be able to do everything well. And that's why we have publishers: to do everything well.

In that regard, Evil Hat created a great Kickstarter page and really thought through how to bring people into the project. They did a terrific job of getting the word out and keeping people enthusiastic — and by they, I mean some of the core people at Evil Hat like Fred Hicks, Chris Hanrahan, and Carrie Harris. Alongside that, they had the connections and experience to hire great folks like Adam Jury (layout), John Adamus (editing), Karen Twelves (proofreading), Rita Tatum (indexing), Daniel Solis (graphic design), and Andrew Bosley (cover art) — and to have project manager Sean Nittner keep everything moving.

I certainly could have published Designers & Dragons myself in this world of Kickstarter and the internet. It would have raised substantially less money, and the result wouldn't have been as good, because I wouldn't have had the same wherewithal or the guts to put out the money to make this a superb production. So that's why we have publishers. I've said it for years; I'm glad I stuck with those convictions when I had my own book to publish, even after a few tries with publishers that didn't produce what I'd hoped. And I'm glad that I was ultimately proven right in my beliefs that publishers are great. Or at least that Evil Hat is.

And Evil Hat was great throughout this entire process. They committed to printing the first two books if they raised $7,500 and all four if they raised $22,500. As Fred explained in the fifth update, that just covered the printing costs, not all of the costs of actually producing the book (which came in at about $9,000 per book for all that art, proofing, editing, and indexing). It's a pretty awe-inspiring feeling that Evil Hat was willing to put $36,000 out upfront for something that could have been a hard sell. I'm very appreciative of their trust and faith in Designers & Dragons, and I'm glad it paid off.

I'm also very glad that I entered into a partnership with Evil Hat for this project; instead of royalties on each sale, I only get paid out of profits after those costs. I was given both options, and the partnership route felt like the right one to me, because my first goal was to get the books out, and if anything my second goal was to make sure that Evil Hat's faith in my books didn't result in them losing money (or at least that I didn't get paid if they did). Now, because of that decision, I'm probably going to get more money back for my 10 years of work than a royalty deal would have allowed. So, cool, and another thanks to backers.

In retrospective, it's interesting to look at the final numbers for the Kickstarter. As I said, we earned $115,348 from 3,046 backers. Of those, 2,060 backers paid $28,828 for digital copies of the book. The scary thing about that number is that it's about $8,000 less than the the costs of the book (not even including my writing). Another $4,500 came from pure premiums (signatures and platinum dragon patronages), which means that $82,020 came from 986 backers buying physical copies. Though the 2:1 ratio of electronic:physical backers clearly shows the enjoyment of new digital media, without those physical backers we wouldn't have the money to produce books! Which is probably why companies like Hachette are fighting with Amazon over the cost of eBooks. Though cheap books are good, publishers having enough money to produce great books is better.

Though the Kickstarter is over, my work is not. I'm still managing corrections coming in from readers, and I still have one other large task prior to publication: the polishing of the '00s Index. That'll all keep me more busier than I'd like until the index is done, at which point the books will go off to print. After that I have a 20,000-25,000-word book(let) to put together, including four new (short) histories. I've started work on those already, with "The Aurania Gang" finished yesterday and "The Hero Auxiliary Corps" started tonight.

I'm happy to say that almost ten years after I started this project, I still love researching and writing new histories. As I said in one of my interviews, I attribute that love of history in part to my 11th grade history teacher, David Dal Porto. Ironically, I think D&D was the other major influence on my love of the puzzle pieces that make up the world of the past.
shannon_a: (Default)
Weddings Away. My sister is getting married in three weeks' time. (Less than that now!) So, I spent some time this weekend prepping for that. After Kimberly intelligently contacted my Dad and Mary about dress code, we learned that I could get away with something pretty casual, so I spent part of Saturday hunting for a new Hawaiian shirt at Hilltop Mall. I ended up finding one that I really liked and one that I thought looked fancier for a wedding, so I bought them both. Amusingly, Kimberly liked the one I liked better too, but when she saw me wearing them both, agreed that the other was dressier for the ceremony. I also got my hair cut. That had needed doing, but I'd been putting it off until it was closer the wedding.

Biking. I've written little about biking lately, because I've used up the newness of most of the areas in easy biking distance. However, I've continued on with my regimen of 30-50 miles a week, even extending out to 30-60 miles a week. Lately my rides have been taking me to my two favorite places in the north (Miller Knox Regional Shoreline past Point Richmond and Point Pinole which is way up in the corner of the East Bay) and my couple of favorite places in the hills (Wildcat Creek Canyon, Tilden Botanical Garden, Lake Temescal, and Shepherd Canyon above Montclair). So this weekend I went over to Hilltop Mall, and then past that to Point Pinole on Saturday (for a round trip of 32 miles), and up to Lake Temescal on Labor Day (for a round trip of a lot less). I did writing in both places, which had been my wont.

Writing. I continue to be writing and editing obsessively. The Designers & Dragons Kickstarter continues to eat some of my time as it generates various tasks, most recently verifying and logging error corrections for the "completed" books. I've also been working on new articles for Mechanics & Meeples, a new board game review, new articles for DnDClassics, and a new article for Wizards of the Coast. Whew! With a little bit of effort I'll soon have all those other things completed through the end of September, which means that I'll have a clear schedule for wedding attendance and for the last push on Designers & Dragons (which will be mainly more error verifying and the index for the '00s, plus work on what we're calling the Platinum Appendix).

Kimberlying. Despite my other busyness, Kimberly and I spent some nice time together this three-day weekend. We wandered around town and got ice cream and enjoyed a "date" on Sunday, then today we had an unplanned brunch out — which was primarily to get Kimberly some nice food after a week of mushy food due to oral surgery.

Wipeout!

Jul. 29th, 2014 10:12 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
So the busy-ness has continued.

Two weeks back I got to take a couple of days off after my second (and final) dental appointment for the year and after completing the proofing of the '90s Designers & Dragons book, but then it was right back to more Designers & Dragons work. This time it was polishing the index for the '80s book. It's very tedious work of the sort that I can do, and that I can do well, but that I don't have a lot of patience for, and that I find exhausting. I spent about 13 hours over it over 9 evening and weekend days and was pretty exhausted when I was done.

I finished up on the index on Sunday (alongside editing 4 DnDclassics histories and polishing a Mechanics & Meeples article and writing the first draft of the first half of an article for WotC) and then yesterday evening I totally collapsed. From the time I got off work I did absolutely nothing worklike. I spent some time with Kimberly, played an iPhone video game for much of the evening, and then sat down and read a long graphic novel (The Infinity Gauntlet) cover-to-cover. It felt like a lost evening, which is a fine thing, and was clearly needed. Whew.

I've been thinking I should have a lost night each week.

Tonight I figured that I'd mostly relax, other than first-drafting a board game review. Except I started to receive the layouts for Designers & Dragons: The '00s to proof. Ah well. At least I'm not getting indexes and layouts at the same time!

So things remain a little too busy, but Designers & Dragons is coming along ... and soon enough my part in it will be done. Still pending (but none of it actually waiting for me yet): 6 more sections of layout for the '00s book (following the 2 I worked through tonight), index for the '90s, and index for the '00s.
shannon_a: (Default)
So the last 7 days have been overly busy.

The main culprit was Designers & Dragons. Over the course of the week I had to proof all of the second-draft laid-out pages for the '90s book. That would have been a fair amount of work in and of itself, but unfortunately our layout guy and I couldn't coordinate our schedules well, so I ended up doing the proofing on my busiest days of the week, which meant that on Wednesday and Thursday I was going over pages until midnight.

As a free bonus, I also got the proofed pages for the '00s book to go over on Friday night, so that was another late night of juggling priorities.

All of the document-checking wouldn't have been that big of a deal if it weren't a really busy week otherwise. I also had an RPG session to prep for on Friday night, an RPG session to run on Saturday, and a play to see on Sunday. Plus an article to finish for Hasbro over the weekend and at 1-3 histories to write for DnDClassics over the weekend, so. Yeah.

I marked today as the official end of my overly-busy week because I had a dentist appointment and an optometrist appointment scheduled today. And I figured after that, the world would be calmer.

The dentist appointment was the first in several years. (Bad me!) I'd had problems with my last dentist feeling like a bit of a dental-cultist, so I moved on but hadn't ever found a new one. But this year I was encouraged by K. getting out to the dentist and by me having some recurring pain in my jaw. So I got out there today and unsurprisingly there were big problems with tartar build-up (probably causing the pain) and unsurprisingly they had to do a deep cleaning. So I was at the dentist for two hours and I get part two tomorrow evening. Yay, me. So much for my busyness and stress ending today; ah well.

The optometrist appointment was like my 15th this year or something. Seriously. We still don't have glasses that work right and we've been trying since February. These newest glasses had distance and reading that didn't work in my left lens; however, once more I felt validated by scientific measurement: when the doctor measured my eyesight with the glasses they were off by half a diopter! (While when he measured my eyesight with his steampunk tools, he came up with the same measure he always had, so the problem continues to be the manufacture.) The reading glass measurement continued to confuse him because I generally see better everywhere but in the reading lens. I underlined very carefully that the reading glasses were the biggest problem for me at this point (because I still couldn't really work on a computer, though this 6th or 7th try was better than most). The whole glasses thing just fills me with major annoyance at this point and I generally put off visiting for a week at a time every time I need to go back in.

Despite the extra dentistry I'm still hoping things are quieting down now. I do have some DnD histories that I'd like to get written, to stay ahead of the game, but tomorrow night after my dentist appointment I've committed to just relaxing. I have an '80s index to work through for Designers & Dragons starting this weekend, and I've also got plenty of DnD histories to work on, and I need to get started on the next Hasbro article soon. But none of that should be quite as crazy-making, so things should be quieter any minute now ...

Go Fourth!

Jul. 6th, 2014 11:30 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
I spent a pleasant three-day holiday weekend mostly out in the sun.

On Friday I biked up to the Berkeley Rose Garden, which really isn't that far away, and spent much of the afternoon writing. The plan was then to have a nice Fourth of July dinner at Oscar's, but we discovered it was closed(!!). So K. and I have Cancún instead. Viva el cuarto!

The main goal of Friday was writing, but the main goal of Saturday was biking. I was a bit indecisive as to where, but finally settled on the Richmond Inner Harbor. There's really beautiful trail around the Bay from Point Isabel to the Harbor, and I rode it all. My total by the time I got home would be 21 miles. I also (unsurprisingly) did some writing out at the Harbor.

As is often the case when I go toward Richmond, I was annoyed by the gaps in the Richmond Greenway and researched if anything was being done with them. The huge gap in the middle has apparently made it onto a five biggest biking gaps list, and I agree; the gap in the connection to the Ohlone Greenway was apparently last talked about in 2010, and sadly no longer includes a cool bridge over San Pablo, per the original plan. The last two times I was on the Richmond Greenway, the eastern half was heavily filled with dog feces then the end was partially blocked by immigrant workers who hang out around the Taco Bell (which is next to a Home Depot where immigrant workers are picked up). If Richmond doesn't get off its butt soon and finish the trail, the eastern half is going to fall into disrepair like the unfinished Wildcat Creek Trail in San Pablo, dead before it's done.

Anywho ...

Today K. and I were supposed to go out to Alameda to a hamburger place and then around San Leandro Bay, but she ended having too bad of a headache, so we didn't. (Ironically, I plotted out the trip years ago, but something prevented it at that time too.) Instead we largely stayed home, other than a trip out at dinner to eat Subway and watch dogs. One dog with a squeaky toy was very enthusiastic in his bounding and squeaking.

As you might have guessed, over the course of the entire weekend there was much writing: five DnDClassics histories, half of an article for Hasbro, some updating of Designers & Dragons: The '00s, polishing of a Mechanics & Meeples article, and lots of editing. I'd been somewhat stressed about the number of things on my TODO list at the start of the weekend, but I ended up getting it all done in good time. So, despite not being a totally work-free weekend like I did two weeks ago, it was a pretty relaxing weekend with lots of biking and sun and writing and reading too.

But two failures to hamburger (or chicken sandwich with fries, as the case might be). I may have to fix that at lunch tomorrow.
shannon_a: (Default)
So, I offer a happy farewell to May. Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out. And I offer a happy hello to June, which I have been hoping is the month that this year will start being more fun.



With May gone, K's surgeries are done. She's still having headaches and it'll still be about three weeks before she can get new (prescription) reading glasses, as her eyes settle, but she's hopefully on the slope to recovery now.

Meanwhile, over at Skotos, I've finished the worst parts of the move of machines to the cloud. There are still any number of annoying details to iron out, but I don't think there's anything else where I don't know if we'll be able to pull it off or not (and where users will be sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, while I work it out).

Meanwhile, over in optometry-land ... well, nothing good there. After my previous pair of glasses I learned that the places where I was having problem with the reading lenses were EXACTLY where the reading lenses are (inside bottom of a transitional lens). Who knew? Which told me that I wasn't seeing some weird distortion, but that the reading lenses were flat out wrong. This made me unhappy. Since then I've gotten one more pair of lenses and this time they got one distance lens right, one reading lens right, and the others wrong. Which I've seen before and makes me feel like I'm running in circles. And I continue to worry that I'm being picky, but after (more annoying) experimentation, I feel confident saying that both those lenses are qualitatively worse than the ones on my current glasses, though in a different way (smudging, which may be overcorrection, rather than blurring). Yet another appointment this afternoon.



Under the presumption of things getting calmer in June, I've been working to get ahead on my various projects. I've now got my DnDClassics histories done through the end of June (though the way the month falls, I'll need to do some work on the weekend of the 28th-29th when I know what July's schedule looks like). I've also finished my Mechanics & Meeples articles through the end of June, with the first article of July largely drafted. Finally, I have very little to do for Designers & Dragons: just some more work collecting artwork for the '00s. (Though I'll have comments on the '80s and '90s books as layout continues.)

My current goal is to finish up the Skotos work in the next two weeks, and then to take a four-day weekend mid-month where I do nothing but R&R. We'll see how it goes: there are multiple visitors coming to town this month, so I'll have to dodge carefully.

Another plus for the month: NEW HARRY DRESDEN BOOK! Hopefully waiting for me at the mail boxes when I finish with my 32nd optometry appointment this afternoon.

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