Monday, March 17, 2014


My parents visited us this weekend and brought a bunch of early birthday presents. Dad has been digging deep into his wood-turning hobby and came with a stack of show-and-tell pieces. It's really fantastic what he can coax out of a piece of 'trash' from a tree that fell ages ago. He also had some turned pen, stylus, carpentry pencils, etc that he put together from some kits and allowed us to pick through them. I have new pen/tablet stylus in my pocket! It's a lovely deep brown with a wobbly etched grain that gets more intricate the closer you look. Really pretty! Mom brought a stack of ARCs and gardening books and a cooking magazine and some ebook vouchers and an AudioBook (Red Shirts as read by Wil Wheaton) so basically more fantastic media than I have free waking hours to deal with.
Also, a couple of bottles of wine and I used the excuse to pick up some beer.
The first evening had a moment of tension when Tina and Mom ganged up on me because of my (dismissive) opinion of a series they enjoy. I tried reading the first book. Got to the point where the story started setting up for the second book and realized that I just didn't care. The characters didn't engage me. Their peril felt contrived, their conflicts conveniently introspective while not one of the surrounding characters did anything that would prevent channeling the story along its intended path.

I'm more than willing to concede that I gave the book short shrift, but it felt so reminiscent of any one of a dozen similar configurations... a character, the most powerful character, is locked away from their powers. But machinations were set into motion that ensure that at the appropriate time the powers would manifest. Oh and forbidden love. Clans and tribes. Traditional boundaries to lock groups into eternal struggles. At every turn I saw a trope of the genre and while they may have come together to form an elaborate tapestry... for me, once I had reached the point where the first book tried to lead into the second story I was done. I just couldn't bring myself to finish the last few page and force the decision to either stop there or slog through the next book.
But apparently that makes me a bad person. :)

All in all a good time was had.

An update was released for Carmageddon. Only a few days into the Early Access and already things are improving. The game runs much more consistently good for me now, and the damage model for fixed so some of the wonkiness of the really hard hits that would sometimes result in more damage to you than your target. I'm really looking forward to see how this will evolve with the input of a broader community.

I've been catching up on some podcasts recently. There are a few shows that I enjoy and many many more that I would probably enjoy, but I only have so much time that I can sit and listen without feeling that itch that I should be doing something... so I play a game. A surprisingly fun and relaxing 'game' that Tina bought for me. Euro Truck Simulator 2. That's right. A trucking simulator. It uses a compressed model of Europe, so it isn't real-time, and cities are really just a small cluster of intersections, but there's something enchanting about driving through the mountains at night during a thunderstorm. Catching glimpses of the landscape between thunderclaps and the rhythmic thwap-thwap of the wipers as your 750 hp motor drags a bulldozer to its destination in France, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Britain, wherever they pay you to go. As you build up money you can buy garages, hire drivers and equip them with their own trucks... all fully customizable. I don't think there's a 'win' state, but you and your drivers earn experience that can be applied to unlocking specific cargo missions and boosting the pay for those missions. It's surprisingly fun.

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