Sunday, July 12, 2015

What I'm doing this week:

Reading: _The Science Class You Wish You Had_.   I picked it up years ago and have started reading it at least twice but never finished it.   I've been listening to "The Joy of Science" in the car, and since the more you know about a subject the easier you find it to remember new information about it, this seemed like a good thing to be reading in parallel with "The Joy of Science".  So far it's easy reading but not particularly engaging -- but they haven't yet gotten to the meat of the subject.  I'll give it another couple chapters before I form any definite opinion.

Listening to: Cake!

Watching: Death in Paradise.  My cousin recommended it to me when we realized how similar our tastes in TV shows are.  I put it on our netflix queue but never got around to trying it out.  The other night we put it on as a "we can't seem to decide on anything else, let's try this out" option...  And promptly devoured three episodes in a row.  It's lighthearted and fun to watch.  It's also hilarious to read all the bad reviews it's getting.  Comedy Lizards!

Doing: Yet more yardwork!  Taking friends to visit our favorite haunts in Montclair.  Watching a live performance of comic books at our favorite comic shop.  Gaming with friends.  Even more yardwork.

Eating/Cooking:  Baked pakora, apple handpies, apple regular-pies, lots of tea and beans and rice.

Something that went particularly well this week:  The work we're doing on the yard and house.  It's steady and hard and alternating between boring and stressful, but it feels really good to be getting it done.

Something that went less well:  The hot water heater which the plumber had allegedly fixed is currently non-functional again.

Something I'm grateful for: All the women talking about their experience of perimenopause, so I know I'm not alone.

Something I'm thinking about:  What to make for dinner this week.  :)

Something I'm looking forward to: being really, truly, no BS *done* with the current yardwork project.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I'm doing this week:

Reading: I want to be rereading Andrew Weil's book about Healthy Aging, but can't seem to find my copy.  So instead I'm reading comics.  :)  Batgirl, Lumberjanes, Rat Queens.

Listening to: Sousa!

Watching: Murdoch Mysteries.  Also, since last time I did this sort of post, I've watched each of the old favorites I mentioned in that post at least once more since then.

Doing: Dexcon!  Yard work!  More yard work!  Yet more, yes, yard work!  Attended my cousin's very lovely Summer Solstice Wedding.  Visited with additional family as part of a belated birthday gathering for Sarah.

Eating/Cooking: This month started with a plumbing emergency, then shifted immediately into our long-planned annual trip to Dexcon, and from there into some overdue yard work and trash removal, with attendant tool buying.  Because of all that, we're on an austerity budget for the rest of the month.  One positive side of that is that we're motivated to make a lot more treats at home, so that we're not tempted to eat out or pick up convenience food or commercial treats.  We had a very nice picnic spread at Dexcon with us (pasta salad, chickpea salad, homemade iced tea, etc.) and have been enjoying our spin on Ree Drummond's Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever instead of going out to our favorite diner for weekend breakfasts.
Something that went particularly well this week: Dexcon.  We've worked hard to triangulate toward a really solid, resilient, pleasant approach to the weekend, and this year we reaped the rewards of all that planning, strategizing, and communicating.  It was a great weekend.

Something that went less well: I was sick the first couple days of Dexcon, and Joe's now dealing with the same bug I had.

Something I'm grateful for: Being pushed to finally take care of the yard work we've been putting off for way too long.  It had gotten to the point at which it was too intimidating to even look at and we couldn't imagine figuring out where to start.  Once we accessed our inner "who cares how we do it, we've just gotta get it done", it's been...  Not easy, but not as tricky as I'd thought it would be, either.  And I love how connected it makes me feel to Grandma and Grandpa, and all the lesson they taught me about yard work and perseverence and knowing when to take a break, over the years.  We drag the tree branches over to the front stoop, and I sit there with my tools, processing them into baggable and bunchable units, and feel as if I'm sitting in Maspeth.

Something I'm thinking about: How to make better friends with my land, so that I keep the yardwork from getting daunting again and so I can enjoy sitting in my backyard regardless of the neighbors' barking dogs.  What I want to be doing for a living a decade from now.  Whether society is really going to experience a total transformation in the next 3 decades (as claimed by an article a friend posted recently).

Something I'm looking forward to: Settling into a really solid summer routine, now that Dexcon is over and our yardwork days are nearly done.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Dexcon and tea

I'm enjoying dipping my toes back into blog-reading.  I like the slower, more thoughtful feel to blog posts.  FB feels like going to a loud, bustling marketplace, with vendors shouting about their wares, folks sharing recipes and gossip on the street corner with half their attention on the crowd going by, paperboys shouting the headlines, and preachers and reformers up on their soapboxes, working hard to rile up their listeners.  I wouldn't want to cut myself off from it completely, but it's not somewhere I can spend more than a few minutes without feeling jangly and aggravated and disconnected.

Blogs feel more like being invited to sit on a friend's front porch, rocking and knitting and sipping tea or lemonade, taking the time to share a little more of our lives.  It's more my speed right now.

We just got back from our annual summer vacation to Dexcon, a gaming convention in Morristown.  Every year we triangulate a little closer to...  I don't want to say the *perfect* plan for the weekend, but to a really good, satisfying, resilient plan.  We schedule a nice number of games that we're all playing together, and a little time when we've all got down time together, and then Sarah and I schedule a retreat in the middle of one of the center days of the weekend (it's a 4 1/2 day con, starting Wednesday night and finishing up Sunday of the weekend of July 4th) because playing a new game with a bunch of strangers every 2 hours gets exhausting after a coupla days.  We try to pack enough food for the weekend but it's tricky with such a tiny fridge, so the last two years I've run home on Friday or Saturday afternoon to grab some additional supplies.  Next year I'm hoping not to have to do that.

The games I played this year were:
DC Comics Deck Building game
(This was my very first experience with a deck-building game.  Even so, it was fairly easy to learn -- by halfway through my first game I felt as if I had a handle on the general strategy.  You start by choosing a hero to play (there was only one female hero, as far as I could tell) and work to build your powers and collection of equipment in order to defeat villains and score points.  Fun, a little challenging (at least for someone new to deck building), recommended)

Love Letter
(Lighthearted, easy to learn, quick to play, good for an icebreaker and gateway drug for folks who don't think of themselves as gamers.  A little strategy, a little deception, a lot of luck.  Recommended.)

(We own this and enjoy it.  A tile-laying game.   You're attempting to create a path that will keep you from running off the board or into other players before the final tile, the Dragon, gets played.  I love that its subtitle is "The Game of the Path".   There is a very meditative and almost fatalistic quality to its play -- at any one time you have at most 3 tiles to choose from (each tile can be laid down in 4 different ways) and you have no control over whether the other players will head toward you or what tiles they will play if they do.  You can only put one foot in front of the other and hope that the other players find themselves going off the edge of the board before you do.  Easy to learn, a little strategy, a little luck.  Recommended.)

Gothic Doctor
(We played this for the first time at last year's Dexcon, and liked it so much that we backed the kickstarter and now have a Gothic Doctor game of our own.  You're a doctor aiming to cure characters from Gothic literature -- competing with other doctors to make the most money in one night.  It's a set-collecting game and the theme, art, and mechanics combine really nicely.  You gain money by successfully treating vampires, werewolves, the insane, demons, etc, and you can also gain money by specializing (curing 4 or more of a particular type) or generalizing (curing one of each type).  A lot of fun, and easy to learn.  Highly recommended.)

(this game is still in development - it's an absorbing game and a lot of fun -- but he won't be doing a kickstarter, he's shopping it around to board game companies, so it's got no online presence that I've been able to find.  You roll dice and manage tokens to buy abilities, hoping to master more elements than any other player.  A little luck, a moderate amount of strategy.  Highly recommended.)

Legends and Lies
(Complicated to describe, easy to play, lots of fun.  You're cryptozoologists looking to prove the existence of a variety of weird and wacky creatures before the tabloids get the scoop.  A set-building game.   Recommended (note: it's the only game we bought, this weekend).)

Dungeon Dwellers
(A co-operative-ish dungeon crawl. You work together to defeat monsters, and if any of you bite the dust in the process you all lose, but if you succeed then the one with the most gold is the super duper winner.  You each choose a classic fantasy character to play (I had a lot of fun as the barbarian, who comes as an expansion set) and do a little deck building before setting out to explore the dungeon, fight the monsters, and take their treasure.  I really enjoyed seeing how each player could make their character their own and each character could explore their own strengths.  A little luck, a little strategy, a lot of fun.  Highly recommended.)

Legendary Encounters
(A co-operative deck building game set in the world of the Alien movies.  The art work was a little too creepy for Sarah, so she opted out of the game, which turned out to be a good choice because with the particular option our game-runner went with (I don't recall if it was an expansion or just an option within the original game) the first person killed by a facehugger gets turned into an alien and starts working against the rest of the players which made the game much more fraught and frustrating than we were expecting.    Each turn you're recruiting new talent to your team and/or attacking aliens and it's got the same sort of slow build that most deck building games do, but with one of our party turning into an alien on the second round we never stood a chance.  I was the last one standing, but eventually we all succumbed to the aliens.  I wouldn't mind trying it again without the optional turncoat, but it was a little stressful for me.)

Sentinels of the Multiverse
(A co-operative card game set in a kitschy comic book universe.  You choose a hero to play, and you all work together using your powers and equipment to fight both a villain and the environment.  The different characters are, I think, half the fun.  I played the Chrono Ranger and it took me approximately 80% of the way through the game to figure out how on earth I was supposed to be playing him (the bounty cards don't seem particularly useful on their own, but if you have enough of them in play there are other cards that give quite a few bonuses in connection with the bounty cards).  But I think it's a mark of what a fun game this is that even having very little useful to do with my own character, I really enjoyed the game anyway.  Highly recommended.)

Joe and Sarah also played a game that sounded so appealing I've got them on my wishlist sight unseen:

And this week's episode of Tabletop happened to be on Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, which has identical mechanics to Legendary Encounters, but is much more lighthearted, and is definitely going on the wishlist!