And Now, a Respite

Blaugust came and I started blogging again. I did daily posts for the month of August but when Blaugust stopped I kept going, right up until today.

And I’m tired. It’s time to take a break and recharge. I have been doing daily posts because an object in motion tends to stay in motion whether it is having fun or not. I had sort of hoped I’d form the habit of daily posts and I’d enjoy writing them, but that hasn’t happened. It still feels like a chore to blog every day.

Additionally, I need to work on self-improvement in terms of technical skills. In order to find time to do that I have to either give up the daily blog post, or give up gaming, or give up spending time with the family. Only so many hours in the day. Obviously not going to set family aside, and gaming is my primary form of relaxation and one of the things that keeps me sane. Plus I mostly blog about gaming so if I stop gaming I wouldn’t have anything to blog about anyway!! šŸ™‚

So, taking a break. Hopefully it won’t stretch out to a year-long break! I just kind of feel like now I’m in the habit of daily posts and I need to break that habit. Once the ‘streak’ is broken I hope I’ll feel less pressure. We’ll see.

I can’t honestly say for sure if blogging is still for me. I’m not really happy with the quality or the content of my posts. A few of them were OK but most just read like filler to me. I don’t feel like 5 weeks(ish) of daily blogging is making me a better writer; I kind of think the quality of my posts has dropped, if anything. Yesterday I find a post in my drafts about my dog and after reading it, it didn’t really seem any worse than posts I wrote and re-wrote and tweaked. (So I published it, what the hell.)

Anyway I need to step back, think about things and decide what my next steps are. I may be back day after tomorrow and this may turn out to be the last post before the site shuts down. I’m just not really sure yet. But that’s what the break is for…to figure things out.

I definitely WILL keep reading other blogs though. That is a habit I’ve developed and that I definitely AM taking a lot of joy from. So the rest of you….please keep writing!

Until next we meet, be excellent to each other.

Lola is Eleven

A while back Bhagpuss mentioned that he and Mrs Bhagpuss are thinking about getting a dog. I think they should! I think everyone needs a dog. I love dogs.

In particular I love our dog, Lola. I used to blog about her but at some point I stopped, but then I stop most things. Going back and reading about all our plans for rules and structure just makes me chuckle because so few of those persisted.

I am not, generally, a happy person. I spend a lot of my time irritated at something. I have a nasty temper. In a lot of ways Lola saved me. @partpurple quickly dubbed her The Morale Officer of the household. Whenever I’m frustrated or angry, Lola is there to cheer me up. When I do get angry she reacts strongly and gets quite withdrawn. This has helped me to finally get control of my temper; seeing so clearly how it makes people (and dogs) around me feel helped me to come to grips with it. These days it is very rare that I lose my temper and when I do it is quite mild compared to the old me. I owe that to Lola and it has spared me SO much heartache.

Us: Lola, why is your face so dirty?
Lola: Baroo?

Lola makes us laugh or smile dozens of times every day. I love her in a way I’ve never loved anyone or anything. I don’t have kids but I guess what I feel is like 2 steps removed from what a parent feels for their child. She is our puppy-daughter. I’d do anything to keep her safe.

Before we adopted her we were big fans of the show The Dog Whisperer and we learned all about boundaries and how a dog is not a person and you shouldn’t treat them like a person. How you always have to demonstrate that you are pack leader.

Yeah, we do none of that. Maybe we’re just lucky but it doesn’t seem necessary. Lola very, very rarely needs to be corrected for doing anything wrong. If you tell her she is a “bad dog” her mood will change for hours. She’s only been told that 3 or 4 times in her life. It is the worst punishment she ever gets. Honestly I can’t remember the last time she had to be punished for any reason. Usually she punishes herself. Every once in a great while she’ll have an accident, always related to being sick. When this happens she gets so sad and miserable about it that we don’t even consider the need to correct her. She is harder on herself than we would ever be. Plus they are indeed accidents. She has never made a mess unless she was sick. And y’know, when you’re sick sometimes you just can’t hold it.

@partpurple and I both work from home. She has always done so and I’ve been doing it for 8 years. Lola is almost never alone. I think that might factor into how tight of a bond we have with her. She is always near one of us and she is happiest when we are in the same room so she doesn’t have to choose between us. The downside to this is we don’t travel because we don’t like to board her. We tried taking her with us on a trip once but she was in a panic the whole time. Lola is a homebody.

In her prime she was the life of every party and she still charms almost everyone she meets. But 11 (she turned 11 in June) is getting on in years. She has arthritis in her hips and can’t really play with other dogs like she used to (she was fearless when she was younger, happily wrestling with dogs twice her size). She is on so many meds but fortunately she is a champion about taking her pills.

Been a long day of keeping the squirrels in line. Time for rest

She sleeps a lot these days. She is no longer so quick to jump up on the couch or bed to cuddle, preferring to stay on the floor because getting up and down hurts. The stairs are becoming a challenge for her. She and I are getting old together, sitting around thinking about our glory years. She’ll probably go before me and I’m not sure what I’ll do at that point.

Sometimes I think about what life will be like when she is gone. I mean at her age, she could be gone next week or she could hang on for another 4 or 5 years. We relish every day we get to spend with her and we never take her for granted.

I don’t know if we’ll get another dog when she is gone. Walking is getting hard for me (not in a significant way, but extrapolating to 10-15 years in the future I can imagine not being able to walk a dog), money is getting tight, financial security is dicey. And I wonder if it would even be fair for whatever dog we adopted. How could it live up to the standard Lola has set? I don’t think it is possible.

On the other hand, the apartment will seem so very empty when she is gone. Not too long ago she had a tooth pulled and a cyst surgically removed from her eyelid, so she was at the vet all day. And just having her gone for a day, the house felt empty. When she is gone for good we’re going to be very sad for a long, long time.

<3 My Dog

She loves the simple things, like a field of grass to lie in

A State of Decay 2 Story

I love stories. I always have. I love to read fiction, I love to watch TV, I REALLY love sitting around a dinner table or at a bar, trading stories with people (I have dim memories of doing this decades ago). And of course I love stories in games.

There are games that have a story baked in. Narrative-driven games, as I (and I think most people) call them. Then there are games with the kind of emergent gameplay that wind up telling a story through player interaction. I think I’m saying all that right; I’m no game developer.

Anyway to set up this story I have to tell you a little about State of Decay 2. It takes place in a zombie apocalypse. There is no official ‘fast travel’ (though I think you can cheese your way around that a bit). You have a group of survivors you play as, one at a time. Some zombies carry a ‘blood plague’ and when they hit you, you get a dose of the blood plague virus. Get enough of these and now you have the blood plague, which left uncured, turns you into a zombie. There is a literal timer that ticks down to zombification. There is permadeath and finally, your band of merry zombie slayers has a leader who (I presume) is more important than the rest of the group. If I sound a little iffy about some of these points it is because I’m still in my first game and I don’t know how everything works.

Whew. Let’s begin.

* * *

So our leader Mary was trying to take out an infestation far, far from home base. She and one of her minions had driven across the map in an SUV. Things went badly. The pair were swarmed by blood plague zombies. Mary called for a retreat and they ran, but in the confusion they’d forgotten where they parked. A running battle ensued. Mary was soon out of ammo for her sidearm. Then her baseball bat broke. All she had left was 3 crossbow bolts. The crossbow was a slow weapon. Perfect for sniping but not much use in a running battle.

They finally made it to the car, but by then both had the blood plague. Their only hope was getting back to base as soon as possible. And just to add to the fun, it was getting dark.

Mary jumped behind the wheel and took off, driving as quickly as she dared. She came around a bend and tried to squeeze the SUV between a wrecked truck and a guardrail and BAM, they didn’t make it. The SUV wedged itself in. Mary tried to back away but the wheels just started spinning. The SUV engine was drawing zombies.

Their luck had not completely run out, though, as nearby was a van that looked like it might start. They abandoned the SUV and ran for the van, fighting a few zombies and taking a few more wounds. Mary was slowing down, but they reached the van. It started, but only just. It was nearly out of gas.

They drove on into the night, Mary being much more cautious now. She was trying to conserve fuel but base camp was still a long way away when the van sputtered a final time and coasted to a stop, the tank dry.

Back on foot, they stumbled through the night. Mary used her final crossbow bolts to clear a path. When those ran out they had to rely on stealth. She was on death’s door, not just from the plague but from the many wounds she’d received. It was a long, frightening walk, but they finally stumbled into camp where other survivors immediately helped them to the infirmary to get the plague treated and wounds attended to.

They survived to fight another day.

* * *

It might not read that well, honestly, but playing through this was such a tense and enjoyable experience. In game mechanic terms, we tried to take out a Blood Heart which drew in a ton of zombies. She was taking too much damage so we ran, but I didn’t have time to open the map to see where I had parked. Mary really did run out of ammo and her melee weapon did break. She ran out of healing items and her HP was blinking red at maybe 5% full. It was just a sliver of health.

The SUV did jam tight between a wreck and a guardrail which might be a bug. When I got the van I tried to push the SUV free but the ‘wreck’ was part of the terrain: completely immobile. Vehicles have Hit Points and the van, too, was almost at zero. I actually had a repair kit, so we took time to repair it and found it was almost out of gas. We didn’t make it back. Working vehicles are fairly rare in SOD2 and we didn’t come across another one.

The rest was pretty much as described. At low health your character starts to limp and hobble along. It was really dark out and I could see the glowing eyes of zombies all around us. It took a LONG time to walk back since we had to crouch and sneak around swarms of zombies, but the “Blood Plague” timer is more generous than I realized and truthfully it had only ticked down to maybe 50% by the time we got back to base.

The biggest loss was the SUV, but we do have a couple of trucks. I’m not sure what would have happened if Base Leader Mary had died.

All in all, it was really fun. I’m a terrible blogger so I didn’t take any screenshots… I was too intent on not dying!

Weekend Recap for September 7th

It was a 3-day weekend which means I should’ve done 50% more things, right? Sadly that wasn’t the case and now we have to get through to the end of November before another break. I think. I know we all hate Columbus now but I miss having his day off. I promise I never spared a thought for him; I just enjoyed having a 3-day weekend when I was working for a place that gave us that one.

Anyway, onward!

Movie Night — This week we watched Cruella on Disney+. I honestly didn’t expect to like it. I wanted to see it because I was curious as to how they’d make a live action movie about such a despicable character (You’ll remember in 101 Dalmatians she wanted to skin puppies to make coats out of them…that’s about as low as you can go.) Turns out this was more an alternate timeline Cruella and this one likes dogs. And I liked the movie, quite a bit, though I think a solid 60% of my enjoyment came from the soundtrack. It was a really good homage to Dalmatians with a lot of the same characters but everyone was just a little different. Would watch again.

Family TV — This is mostly a “see last week” situation. Still on Clone Wars and ST: The Next Generation. We did catch up on Expedition Unknown, which a kind of adventure-documentary show on Discovery. Imagine a ‘Finding Bigfoot’ show only instead of Bigfoot they’re looking for something real. This week it was the wreck of the steamship Pulaski which sank in 1838. Interesting stuff.

Reading — Still on book 7 of The Saxon Stories…

Gaming — Everything went upside down with my gaming. I had intended to play No Man’s Sky, but instead found myself logging into Lord of the Rings Online for a bit. And then, totally out of the blue (I blame reading some 7 Days to Die posts) I started a new community in State of Decay 2 and got HOOKED in a way this game has never hooked me before, despite owning it since it came out in 2018.

I think I’ve made more progress than I ever had before, and things are getting really interesting. State of Decay 2 is a zombie apocalypse game where you have to both fight off the zombie hordes and oversee a base. The ‘base building’ is all menu-driven but you fight the zeds, as they call them, from a 3rd person action perspective. Clear out hordes, scavenge for materials, try to keep your survivors alive and healthy. You switch between the members of your band, so you’re always playing a character but no character is “you” per se. Characters need to rest and to heal so it’s a matter of who is fit enough to go out on the next scavenging run. I’m finding it really compelling.

And that’s about it. Long weekend, short recap. I did spend a good amount of time messing the caching solutions for the blog. I’m still not 100% happy with what I’ve got but it’s stable for now, until I get up the mental energy to have another go at it.

Moral Outrage and Collateral Damage

Here we go again. A few months ago (time flies) the gaming world was up in arms over Blizzard-Activision’s culture of “harassment and discrimination against women.” That controversy bubbled to the surface of our collective consciousness because of a lawsuit against the company. (If you missed this story, The Verge has a good write-up about it including a copy of the lawsuit, which I just quoted here.)

Yesterday another controversy erupted. This one concerns Tripwire Interactive and we learned about it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Tripwire president John Gibson posted a tweet which said:

Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat. As an entertainer I donā€™t get political often. Yet with so many vocal peers on the other side of this issue, I felt it was important to go on the record as a pro-life game developer.

First, if you don’t know what he is talking about, Jen over at Book of Jen has an excellent post about the situation. Jen sums the whole law up quite succinctly when they say: This is absolutely terrifying.

* * *
[Update]
Tripwire Interactive has published a statement on its site. The main take-away is that John Gibbons is stepping down as CEO. Important to note that it does NOT say he has left the company. Still, it seems like the gaming community made its voice heard.

This news renders the rest of this post somewhat hypothetical, at least until we learn more about what is going on (IF we learn more).
[/Update]
* * *

I sat out the Blizzard thing and I’m mostly sitting this one out in its particulars. Why? Because my voice isn’t as important as the voices of the people directly impacted. I feel like my job is to be supportive and to let those directly impacted share their thoughts on the particulars. (Hopefully it is obvious that I stand in support of these people.)

What I do want to talk about is the conundrum of what we, the gaming public, can do when things like this happen. It’s difficult because the only tool we have is a boycott. This is a thorny issue when it comes to games. If an author does something you disagree with, you can decide to stop purchasing that person’s books and for the most part they will be the only one impacted.

But when it is a game publisher, boycotting potentially hurts everyone working at that publisher, guilty or not. In the aftermath of the Blizzard situation I saw Tweets and posts from folks who said they’d heard from Blizzard’s devs (the actual devs, the people doing the labor of building a game) a desire that we please keep playing/buying their games. That seemed to be enough to dissuade some from boycotting.

I think this is the wrong move. To quote Spock, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

In this case, the ‘many’ refers to our society as a whole. We need to demonstrate that a company can’t get away with bad behavior. Yes, there will be collateral damage. When a company’s bottom line falls, execs are generally not the first to be impacted. It’s the workers that pay the price first, and that sucks, but they are the few in Spock’s equation.

The situation is even thornier with Tripwire. People who worked at Blizzard must have been aware of what the culture was like, plus what happened/is happening at Blizzard is illegal. At Tripwire, Gibbons is just voicing an opinion that many of us don’t agree with. It isn’t illegal to have a dissenting opinion (yet) and we don’t really know if everyone in the company was aware of the president’s opinion. I have no idea what the CEO of the company I work for thinks of Texas right now.

Add in the fact that Tripwire is a publisher. Their newest game (I believe) is Chivalry II, which was developed by Torn Banner Studios. Did TBS know about Gibbon’s opinions? Who knows? So then should we punish them for being published by Tripwire?

Unfortunately, yes we should. It isn’t fair, but again, not buying games published by Tripwire is the only tool we have. I wish we had another.

It’s hard. It’s hard to know we’re having to hurt innocent people, and let’s face it, it’s hard to take a pass on games we were looking forward to. (I was looking forward to Diablo 2 Resurrected!) But social change IS hard, that’s why it comes about so slowly.

I mean obviously we all have to do what we think is right; I’m just some loon with a blog so don’t listen to me. But maybe have a think on it.

Sad. It was kind of fun.

And honestly talk is cheap for me. I don’t really play Blizzard-Activision games anyway (though I was going to get D2 Resurrected) and I think the only Tripwire game I own is Maneater, and I got that for free via Playstation Plus. (I’m deleting it from my Playstation just in case somehow that is tracked by Sony). If we learn something horrible about Guerilla Games and I have to boycott Horizon: Forbidden West next year, now THAT would be hard for met to do. Please Guerilla, please don’t turn out to be an awful employer.

Back in the here and now, for me the boycott stands for both these publishers. Blizzard will hopefully improve and if they do, it is just as important that I reverse my boycott. For Tripwire, I don’t think anything will change. I don’t think it is a public company so it isn’t clear if there’s a board that can force Gibbons out. They’ll just go into the permanent “Do Not Support” column of my mental spreadsheet.

If anyone has ideas for a more nuanced way we can act against these companies without hurting the workers, I’d love to hear it.

A Change in Game Purchasing Habits

Not too many years ago, I was the guy there on Day 1 to buy the hot new game. Really, on Day -1, or Day -30 or something. I’d have the pre-order in well before launch date.

I noticed this summer that I don’t do that any more. It wasn’t really a deliberate decision, but a learned behavior. I think the last “OMG new shiny!” full game I bought was Assassin’s Creed:Valhalla last November.

These days I’m content to let a new game ripen for a few weeks or months before buying it. I’ve identified a few reasons why.

1) Cost — I don’t have the disposable income I once did, and you can save a lot of money by being a little patient. Games go on sale so quickly these days. This one is a no-brainer that we’re all aware of but for the sake of completeness I’m including it.

2) Game Pass/Novelty — I used to buy a lot of new games just because I was bored and wanted to try something new. Now there’s always something new on Game Pass. Even without Game Pass there are so many games coming out, and so many sales constantly running, that you can almost always scratch the ‘something new [to you]’ itch by grabbing a game on sale. Heck half of us have games in our Steam Library that we’ve already purchased but haven’t ever played.

3) Spoilers (or lack thereof) — I hate spoilers. I used to sometimes buy a game at launch because I wanted to experience the story before it was spoiled. Since I’ve become a console gamer, and primarily a single player gamer, I’m not really exposed to spoilers because no one I am in contact with plays the same games. It is VERY rare that I go to a gaming site (I just now realized I don’t do that anymore). Between these two factors, spoilers are no longer a concern.

4) Game Quality — Just about every game gets patched after launch. Bug fixes, quality of life changes, performance improvements… In almost all cases the launch-day version of the game is the worst version to play. Why not let a game improve before investing your time and money into it? One exception: if a game is coming out that I feel passionate about and that doesn’t seem to have the resources of a big AAA title, I might make a Day 1 purchase just to support the title and the team. That hasn’t happened in a while, though.

5) Single Player — As mentioned I primarily play single player games these days. A good reason to buy a new multi-player game is to get in on the fun while all your friends are playing it. That doesn’t really apply to solo games, but this is why my pre-order of New World exists. I pre-ordered that game in, I think 1885 or something. I’m still not 100% convinced it’ll launch this month!

6) Backlog — I have SO MANY games I haven’t played that it seems silly to buy new ones, frankly.

I could probably come up with more reasons, but those seem sufficient.

But it’s WEIRD, y’know? It’s such a change for me to show… restraint? šŸ™‚ At least when it comes to gaming, I’ve always been fairly extravagant. It kind of feels good too. It feels responsible. Maybe at 60+ I’m finally becoming an adult, I don’t know. I also kind of feel like I have more respect for the games I do buy. That sounds strange to say. But when I buy a game it isn’t on a whim. It’s a game I’ve been interested in for a while, and a game that has been on the market for a while and so has proven itself. I miss a lot of clunkers this way, too. Games that were hyped but then kind of fizzled. Or games that are actually quite good objectively, but would not be good for me. Returnal, on the PS5, is a good example of this. I almost bought it Day 1 but am glad I didn’t because I now know it just isn’t the style of game I’d stick with.

So that’s it, that’s the post, as they say. Only they say it about Tweets. I don’t really get what it means. I think it’s what you say when you don’t really have a point!

[Header image is from LOTRO. It’s a view of Bree from the bluffs of the Barrow Downs.]

Conflict Between Jetpack Boost and Javascripts in WordPress Sidebar

Just a quick PSA in case anyone else runs into this issue.

Was trying to squeeze a bit more speed out of Dragonchasers today and I installed a plugin called Jetpack Boost. This plugin has a few options including one called “Defer Non-Essential Javascript.” When this option is turned on, scripts, or at least some scripts, in the ‘sidebar’ wind up displaying below the page instead of in the sidebar. Which makes sense since, y’know, the script is being deferred.

The correct solution is an option to specify certain scripts as essential so the plugin doesn’t mess with them. There is no way to do this ‘out of the box’ yet, but it is a known issue.

You can track the issue here.

This issue was created on August 5th; hopefully we’ll see a new option soon.

[Header image is from Final Fantasy XIV and has nothing to do with WordPress plugins šŸ™‚ ]

My Brain is Rotting

I’m a web developer. I know that because it is my job title.

I don’t really develop anything anymore though.

Back when I got into this business I did all kinds of things. I had the keys to our Solaris servers. My palm print was registered at the data center so I could access the cage, which I did frequently. Sometimes I’d have to drive over there at 2 AM to address an issue, and it was just me. I knew what to do.

At the time we were running Vignette Storyserver which used Tcl as a scripting language. Tcl! I dunno that I could still write a script in Tcl. Or Perl for that matter, which is a lot less weird than Tcl.

I wasn’t part of the IT department but I worked very closely with them. I was kind of honorary IT.

I was removed from that gig when they hired a new exec who wanted a clean slate. I mean that wasn’t the reason they gave but it was what happened. The exec hired people they had worked with at their last company. The powers that be decided to move to a Java Server Pages platform. While everyone was being trained in that, I was assigned to maintain the old site and its Tcl scripts. Then once the switch over was made I was laid off because I didn’t know the JSP platform (the name of it escapes me… Documentum maybe?) that they’d prevented me from being trained on. Yeah, that’s fair.

My next gig, we were using Expression Engine, which is written in PHP with a proprietary templating language that was very PHP-esque. We didn’t have a data center, we had an ISP who did most of the maintenance on the servers. I still took care of a VPS server we had for odds and ends, and I did some stuff on Amazon EC2 instances. I spent a lot of time writing scripts to talk to API endpoints and stuff. It was a step down from the first gig in terms of tech but it still was a job I was constantly learning stuff at.

Enter a new exec who determined that we should ditch Expression Engine and put all the sites on WordPress because, y’know, he had a nephew that used wordpress or something. (Everyone knows WordPress so I won’t explain it.) Through my whole career I’ve been at the mercy of executives who come in, make decisions based on bad or no data, then usually leave when they fail at their job. But their decisions stick around.

Anyway so I started making custom WordPress themes. Every brand got exactly what they wanted because we weren’t using an off-the-shelf theme. We were secure because we weren’t using dozens of plugins that are constantly being probed for defects. (Security through obscurity!) It was definitely a less rewarding job but I guess learning WordPress had some value.

Then that company got purchased by a much larger company. The new company ran everything on WordPress, which was good as far as it being an easy transition. But this company has an IT Department that is completely divorced from the web team. They’ve erected a major wall between anything that can be called a server and the rest of the company, and that includes me. Now I do none of the server work I used to do. I no longer have access to manage DNS, which I used to do. They seem to have a fear of APIs, so that work is gone.

As for WordPress, they are replacing our custom themes with a standard theme across all their sites. A consultant is building it. I won’t go too far down this rabbit hole, but the point being now I’m not even going to be building WordPress themes. Lately most of my days are spent doing help desk level tasks like resetting passwords, unblocking access, setting up redirects. Stuff, honestly, an intern could do.

It’s clear I need to find a new job, but I also feel like I’ve waited too long. I think about updating my resume and what I do now does not justify my salary, frankly. And I haven’t USED my high-value skills for so long that they’ve atrophied while at the same time going out of date. So I don’t REMEMBER how to do all the things I used to do, but if I could remember then those skills would be kind of dated, anyway.

I feel stuck. I feel like my brain is rotting away. When I get laid off (and it is pretty clear the current company is making a concerted effort to no longer need developers on its payroll…they already have a 3rd party on contract with ‘resources’ in India and the Philippines who I’m sure are MUCH cheaper than me) I don’t think I’ll be very marketable, between my age and my atrophied skill set.

The only hope I can think of is to find A Project. Something I’m excited to build and that I could build in a technology I don’t know. Something like the project Scopique is working on to learn React, or like Tipa’s Python project to import an old blog into Github.

I just can’t think of anything. And really I don’t WANT to do anything, but I feel like I HAVE to do something. I really wish I wanted to. I remember being super excited about web development and learning new things. I put in so much overtime on that old Tcl site not because it was asked of me but because I was pumped about it.

But now I kind of just want to sit around and play video games once the work day is done. And I’m not really sure how to fix that. Like how do you make yourself get excited for something?

Maybe I can be a greeter at Walmart for my next job.

The one thing that has occurred to me is to find some non-profit that is a) working for a cause I believe in and b) looking for volunteers to help them with some technology project. But I’m not really sure how to do that.

The Perfect Moment

Sometimes I wonder what is normal. Do other people have a Perfect Moment? In my 60+ years of living I have one moment that I always return to in times of despair, or panic. One moment of perfect peace.

Not that I panic or feel despair all that often. The last time was when I was getting an MRI of my head. Being strapped down and stuck in that machine freaked me out, but I took a deep breath and went to my Perfect Moment and felt better.

I’ll try to describe my moment.

* * * * *

It is late summer. The sun is low in the sky. I’m on my boogie board waiting for the perfect wave. There is no one else around. Just me, the waves and the sand. Maybe a couple of gulls. There’s a stiff wind blowing off shore. The waves are pounding; I’m surprised no one else is surfing today. But they’re loud, the crashing waves.

A good set rolls in. As the first wave passes under me, I sink into the trough behind it. The sun is so low that when I do, I fall into shadow. It gets dark and quiet. The wind whips spray off the lip of the wave, spray that catches the sun’s rays, forming a rainbow that dances overhead. It is so beautiful and peaceful that I forget about riding, and just stay where I am, falling into the trough, watching the rainbow above from the shadow below, then bobbing up as the next wave arrives so once again I’m in the light and hear the crashing of the last wave that passed. Then down again into peace.

I stay there until the sun sets, then ride a wave in and head home.

* * * * *

This happened… jeez, I’m not sure. Sometime in the mid 70s, putting me in my mid-20s at the time.

Just writing it down has me feeling calmer, and of course quite nostalgic. I hope you have a moment like this that you can travel to in your head when the here & now gets a little overwhelming.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

[The header image is one I took at Topsail Beach in North Carolina a few years ago. Sadly I have very few pictures from the old days, and I certainly wasn’t carrying a camera while I was surfing. Not back then, in the days of 35 mm film and when Go Pro wasn’t even someone’s great idea yet.]

Always Something To Read!

With Blaugust over I’ve renamed my blogroll to “Always Something To Read” since I’ve kind of started using it in lieu of my RSS reader (Feedly, in my case). You can see it over on the right rail unless you’re on mobile where it kind of goes poof because when I wrote this theme the right rail was kind of pointless. I should address that.

Anyway today I’m asking for MORE BLOGS TO READ! Not that the blogroll was ever strictly Blaugust, but it was Blaugust and a few friends who were already in my old ‘static link’ blogroll. Now I must cast the net wider!

So if you have a blog (and, y’know, you’re a person, not a marketing bot) drop a comment or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll add your blog to the list. If you do this I can almost promise that you’ll get 2, may 3 extra page views over the course of a few years! Maybe. šŸ™‚

[Header image is from Far Cry New Dawn, Xbox One version. I just thought it was pretty.]