April 2022

Disclaimer: I’m not in the mood to write a post but I just want to keep a list of what is going on so…

April is already over. The oppressive heat of May-September is right around the corner. Here on the Internet folks (well, some folks) are quite concerned over Elon Musk buying Twitter. I have thoughts on that I keep meaning to write down but never do. I’m hedging my bets. No plans to leave twitter but it did spur me to check out the “Fediverse” which I’m finding to be an amusing experience so far. The Mastadon instance I’m on (https://mstdn.social) feels a little like Twitter in the old days (not that it is a new instance..it just has an influx of new people) where FollowFriday is still a thing and I’m finding lots of science and tech folks to follow and learn from. Have to say though, my favorite account is from someone in northern England who is a stonemason and who posts pics from their job sites. I have nothing but respect and envy for people who build things with their hands.

Games

This will be quick. I started the month still playing Guild Wars 2, then munged up my shoulder so using a keyboard was really painful. That led to me subscribing to Final Fantasy XIV and starting a new character (playing on the PS5 via controller). Both the good and the bad part of paying a sub (for me) is that it means I feel obliged to play that game pretty exclusively. Which is mostly what I’ve been playing this month, though just the other night I started a character in Godfall, which I found was pretty fun. So maybe more of that in the days to come.

Bloodborn, Code Vein, Horizon Zero Dawn & LOTRO have all fallen by the wayside.

Godfall with HUD

Books

I finished the 2nd Expanse Novel, Caliban’s War. I’m still not sure who Caliban is. I enjoyed it, but with the same caveat as book 1: the TV show is such an authentic recreation of the books that this all feels really familiar given it hasn’t been very long since I watched the show. Characters look different in the books, and yeah there’s a lot of details that are different, but the big picture feels very familiar. This didn’t prevent me from rolling right into book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, though. [To put Caliban’s War in context for TV show viewers, this is the book where Avasarala, Bobbie and Prax are introduced…hopefully that’s not much of a spoiler.]

TV

I dunno. Nothing that feels exciting to write about. As a family we’re keeping up with Moon Knight, Picard and Halo, as well as rewatching Upload (which I find both hilarious and depressing…the latter because it all seems so plausible). Oh and trying to get through season 2 of Raised by Wolves, a show we watch mostly to see how much more weird it can get. I’m not sure either of us really cares about the story or the characters any more. Oh and we’re still wading through Star Trek: Deep Space 9 at lunch.

For my solo viewing, I bit off another chunk of The Sopranos. I’m not sure why I am forcing myself to plow through it. Everyone made such a fuss about it back in the day that I keep thinking “It has to get really great!” but I think I’m in season 4 and it is still mostly just “OK.” When I burned out on The Sopranos I bounced around a bit before landing on All Creatures Great & Small which I’m finding very soothing. It’s a PBS Masterpiece show. Also been watching random documentary-ish shows from The Smithsonian Channel and PBS.

And that’s April. We’re 2/3rds of the way to the summer equinox. We’re halfway to Halloween! One third of the way to Christmas. I’m bracing myself for the long, hot, humid, miserable summer weather and am already looking forward to when it gets cool in November.

March 2022

I guess the fact that the post before this March recap is my February recap tells me it is time to let the blog die the next time it comes up for renewal. I just can’t seem to find the energy to post any more. Mostly I can’t find the energy to wrangle screenshots and images. I could gas on in all-text screeds for hours.

Anyway, onward to recap the glory that was March 2022.

Games

I have notes that tell me I played Horizon Zero Dawn and Bloodborne in March. I don’t really think I did much in Bloodborne. My HZD replay was going strong until it wasn’t. I still poke at it now and then, though I’ve quit my “never fast travel, soak in the world” methodology and am more about “let’s get to the end so we can go back to Horizon Forbidden West.”

The reason I didn’t make much more progress in Bloodborne is because I started in on Code Vein, which is an anime-inspired Souls-Like from Bandai Namco. I’ve made decent progress in it, but there’s a section called the Cathedral of Blood that is SUCH a maze that it has put me off the game a bit. Every so often I log in and try to find my way through this maze. The plus side is I’m leveling up like crazy which is making the game easier and easier. The negative side is, I’m getting bored running around the same area endlessly. Still, Code Vein is still in frequent rotation and it is probably the game I played the most this month.

More recently the MMO bug bit me. Belghast’s Guild Wars 2 shenanigans convinced me to patch up Guild Wars 2 and give it another go. Like Bel this is a game I’ve bounced off many times. But what the heck, right? I already own it…may as well give it yet another chance.

And that was going well until a random YouTube video put me in a Lord of the Rings frame of mind, which led me to patch up and start playing Lord of the Rings Online again. Not too long ago I started a new character, a female elf champion, and I’m liking her a lot. I realized after a bit that a big chunk of my issue with LOTRO is that the male character models just look too goofy. My elf looks so much better than any of the boys.

I mean, who would you rather play?
Female LOTRO characterMale LOTRO character

For a game as old as it is, LOTRO still has quite an active community. This shot was taken on a Wednesday night and crowds like this are not at all rare.
Screenshot of a crowd of players outside the Prancing Pony

My only real complaint about LOTRO is it can still be pretty janky at times, just in terms of lag pockets and such. I miss a lot in combat because the mob and I have clipped through each other and now I’m not longer facing them. But I don’t think you play LOTRO for the combat; you play it for the environment, which is still really enjoyable to me.

Guild Wars 2 obviously doesn’t have quite the lore-draw that LOTRO has, but I find the combat really fun thanks to trying out the Revenant class. It’s one of the few MMOs I can recall where I go out of my way to get into fights because they’re so enjoyable.

One thing both LOTRO and Guild Wars 2 seem to have in common is a mature community. In both games I’m comfortable leaving general chat open and I see a lot of theme-appropriate names and very few of those sorts of names that just make you cringe and want to report someone. Me being me, I never talk to anyone, but both games feel like being a newcomer in a local watering hole. Not ready to chat with the other customers, but happy to sit and kind of listen in on all the news and such.

I don’t have any big gaming plans for April. Just going to continue with what I’ve been doing. There’re no games coming out this month that I’m particularly interested in so I’ll just keep playing what I’ve already got.

Books

Just one book to report this month: Leviathan Wakes, which is the first of The Expanse novels. I’ve read it before, and of course I’ve watched the TV series a few times. I think this is causing me to read more slowly since it all feels pretty familiar. Plenty of nights I’ve gone to bed and just gone to sleep rather than do any reading.

TV

TV has been all over the place. @partpurple and I watched Raising Dion (Netflix), caught up on Star Trek Discovery (Paramount+), then bounced over to Archive 81 (Netflix) which was a fun creepy diversion before heading back to sci-fi with Star Trek Picard (Paramount+).

For my late-night solo viewing, I was watching The Sopranos for a while but drifted away and finished up 1883 (Paramount+) which I thought was fantastic. After that I went back to the Snowpiercer series, which I’m currently watching. I’d seen Season 1 before, but rewatched it, watched season 2 and now I’m in season 3 which so far feels like it might not be quite as good as the first two seasons. I did NOT like the Snowpiercer movie but the TV series I’m really enjoying, although you have to just roll with the kind of ludicrous overall premise of the last of humanity living on a train that can never stop moving. Well at least not until the plot calls for it to have to stop. Also in season 3 a lot of train track just starts mysteriously appearing to serve the plot. Oh well.

I have to say March kind of flew by in terms of leisure activities. Too many evenings spent working, I guess. We’ve been having dinner later and later and I sometimes tend to keep puttering around with work stuff until dinner no matter when that is. Gotta break that habit. By the time we eat and watch some TV together it is often nearly 10 PM so my gaming time is down to maybe an hour/night. Thing is, I feel kind of OK with that. Gaming in general isn’t the great pleasure it used to be. I go through these slumps from time to time where I just kind of need a break, then I get excited about games again. Hopefully this slump won’t last too long! Sad thing is gaming is really my only hobby and when I’m not doing it I’m just wasting time on YouTube or something.

February 2022

Another month ends and we say goodbye to what is laughingly referred to as winter here in North Carolina. I spotted an 80F day in the 10-day forecast. (Of course it’ll probably snow that day…in my next life I’m going to be a weatherperson so I can be wrong most of the time and get away with it.)

Games

The big take-away this month is an old lesson re-learned. Don’t pre-order games. I pre-ordered three this month and the results were not good:

Horizon Forbidden West — Nothing at all wrong with this game but starting to play it just made me want to go back and re-play Horizon Zero Dawn, which is what I’ve been doing lately. I probably could’ve just done that and picked up HFW later. Still it’s such a great series I don’t have any regrets about this pre-order.

Elden Ring — I pre-ordered the Xbox version of this and it flat-out did not work. There was some glitch in the update progress where I (and many others) had a version installed that would not connect to the networks, and there was no way to ‘force’ a refresh. On top of this, there are many reports about poor performance. The good news here is that Microsoft gave me a refund with no fuss at all. I’ll come back to this at some point in future when the kinks are worked out.

Dying Light 2 — This one I pre-ordered on the PS5 and it was so janky that I set it aside. No refund available. This was just money poured down the drain, though I’m sure eventually it’ll get patched and I’ll give it another go.

Those were the three games I had INTENDED to be playing.

What I actually wound up playing is, as mentioned, Horizon Zero Dawn. I have the Platinum trophy for this, earned 5 years ago, and re-playing it without hunting for trophies has been incredibly fun and relaxing. I am in no rush to finish, but I’m glad Forbidden West is waiting in the wings.

Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Hold was a Playstation+ freebie and I wanted to check it out to see if I’d be interested in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, which I believe is out in March. I really did enjoy my time with this one and intend to go back to finish it at some point.

Dying Light 2 was not ready for prime time, though when it worked well it was pretty fun. Looking forward to playing this one when it is done. Still salty about paying $60 to beta test it, though.

Scarlet Nexus was a bounce-off. I really expected to like this game but ultimately I just never got in the groove, and the story wasn’t interesting enough to hold me in that world when I wasn’t enjoying the minute-to-minute gameplay. Don’t expect I’ll ever finish this.

Bloodborne is back in rotation now that Elden Ring is out. I haven’t been playing it much, just trying to keep the muscle memory alive until such time as I’m ready to dive back in ‘for real’.

Babylon’s Fall is coming soon and there was a demo available on the Playstation. I tried it and found it quite lacking. This is a game I might try when it’s in the “Games under $15” section of the store.

Lost Ark is a PC game that a lot of my friends are excited about. I tried it, uninstalled it, read more hype from friends, re-installed it, and I guess technically I’m playing it. I poke at it while I have my morning coffee on weekends. It seems… fine. I really don’t understand the excitement over it, but it’s free-to-play so maybe I’ll keep poking it.

Books

Well book, singular, actually. I finished Bernard Cornwell’s War Lord, the last book in his Saxon Stories series. At least the last so far, but Uhtred is so old in it that I’m not sure how Cornwell could squeeze in any more unless he goes back and fleshes out some periods earlier in our hero’s life. I have to say, it’s been a while since I read something this long (there are 13 novels in the series) without getting tired of it.

Having finished that, though, I’ve kind of taken my foot off the gas as far as reading goes. Gotta get back to it!

TV

So much TV!

With The Expanse finished airing, we went back and re-watched Season 5 & watched Season 6. I’m now ready for someone to pick up the rights and keep making this show. I was honestly not as enthusiastic about Season 5 as I was about Seasons 1-4 just because the gang was no longer together, but season 6 pulled me back in.

We’ve also started a re-watch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine though honestly we’ve both been a little lukewarm about it so far. We’ll see if it gets better after season 1. I remember not being a huge fan back when it aired but I was hoping that a re-watch would change my opinion.

Currently we’re rewatching Season 1 of Raising Dion before watching the new second season. This is the story of a single mom raising a son who has super-powers, which sounds like the setup for a comedy but it isn’t: it’s a drama (tho of course some funny things happen now and then).

My late-night, “watch the stuff @partpurple doesn’t want to watch” selection this month has been The Sopranos; my first viewing. I just started season three, if memory serves. So far it’s been OK but I’m not sure why folks made such a fuss about it back in the day.

Ascendance of a Book Worm is an anime about a young woman who dies and is resurrected in the body of a small girl in a fantasy world. She quickly learns to her horror that there are almost no books in this world so she sets out to ‘invent’ paper making and printing. It was a pretty sweet story; I hope there are more seasons coming.

Wrap Up and plans for March

So that was February. In terms of gaming I don’t have much planned for March. Keep playing Horizon until it isn’t fun and then…who knows?

In books I’ve started a re-read of Leviathan Wakes, which is the first Expanse novel.

And I have 4(?) more seasons of The Sopranos to get through, which will probably take all month. I’m not sure where @partpurple and I will go after Raising Dion. We still need to get back to Star Trek Discovery so we’ll probably do that. I dunno, can’t make plans without consulting with her.

Hope everyone had a nice February and here’s to March going out like a lamb. Preferably not a 90F lamb!

January 2022

I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers do some kind of “end of the month recap/plans for next month” posts. They seem like a good idea, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves “What was I doing last year at this time?”

So I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon, but I didn’t take any notes along the way and I have the memory of a dust bunny so to some extent I’m winging it this month. But let’s see what we can see.

Games

I spent the first two thirds of the month just kind of flailing around. Part of this was my new resolution to try not to hyper-focus on any one game since that was kind of getting in the way of having fun. Part of it was that nothing was latching on to me.

Then I caught the Bloodborne bug and I’ve been playing that obsessively for the past ten days or so. At this point in my current playthrough I believe I’ve beaten 8 bosses, about half of which were optional. At least 6, and maybe 7, were first time kills for me. Next up is Rom the Vacuous Spider, for those of you who are Bloodborne savvy.

I’m not sure I’m going to tackle Rom as I may have hit my saturation point for Bloodborne finally. We’ll see.

Other games I dabbled in this month: Elder Scrolls Online, Death Stranding, Nobody Saves The World, Kingdom of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, and Persona 5. I made SOME progress in Death Stranding and Amalur but played the rest very lightly indeed.

TV

Earlier in the month I was on a Western kick. I re-watched all of Yellowstone and dove into the 1883 spin-off, though when it skipped a few weeks I drifted away. I was also watching old Westerns from the 50s, 60s & 70s.

Then I jumped over to HBO for Mare of Easttown and now I’m working through The Sopranos, which I’ve somehow never seen. Still in Season 1 of that.

Family viewing has been Lost in Space (the reboot) and now we’re re-watching Season 5 of The Expanse before we roll into Season 6 (with The Expanse we’ve always waited for a full season to be available so we can binge, and we always rewatch at least the previous season to refresh our memories). We also finished our re-watch of all seasons of Star Trek The Next Generation.

Books

Another month of Uhtred. In January I finished War of the Wolf and Sword of Kings, books 11 & 12 of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series. If you’re unfamiliar with these books, the TV series The Last Kingdom is based on it. The TV series only covers the first few books.

At this point. Uhtred is an old man who is dealing with the grandchildren of the people who were giving him a hard time when he was young. While the books do tend to get somewhat repetitive I’ve enjoyed just watching people enter and exit his life. Some random kid he rescues in one book might be one of his most trustworthy companions 5 or 6 books later.

On to the FUTURE!

February 2022

Games

February is going to be packed. On the 1st, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-shot Adventure hits Playstation Plus so I’m going to check that out in order to measure my interest in the full-length game coming later in the spring.

On Friday, February 4th, Dying Light 2 launches. I have it pre-ordered and will be playing on the Playstation

Two weeks later, on the 18th, Horizon Forbidden West launches. That will probably be a “drop everything and pay attention to me” titles, as Horizon Forbidden Dawn is in my top-3 all time favorite games. (Along with the first Red Dead Redemption and…I dunno what #3 would be, maybe HZD is in my top-2 favorite games.). Obviously I’ll be playing this on Playstation since it is an exclusive.

Then just a week later, Elden Ring comes out. I wasn’t very interested in this until I had my Bloodborne revelation. Then I got so excited I pre-ordered it, though I probably won’t be playing at launch because of Forbidden West. Though you never know, do you? Elden Ring I will be playing on Xbox.

TV

The Sopranos will probably get me through the month for my ‘me time’ viewing.

Family viewing, after The Expanse we’ll probably go back and finish up some left over stuff, like Book of Boba Fett, Star Trek Discovery and who knows what else.

Oh! One new thing we want to watch is Kristen Bell in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window which is a mystery-parody. We’ll watch anything the Bell is in, having been big fans all the way back to Veronica Mars.

I haven’t seen much buzz around this one, so here’s a trailer:

Books

I’m going to finish up book 13 of The Saxon Stories then…I’m not sure. I’ve been reading these books for over a year now. Having to make a decision on what to read next just feels very foreign. Maybe I’ll finally read the books that The Expanse is based on. I think I’ve only read the first one… Leviathan Wakes.

So that’s that. Recap of January, some loose plans for February. Maybe in February I’ll start remembering to take screenshots so I don’t have to keep re-using the same couple at the top of my posts.

Comics are Confusing

I’ve been on a big superhero kick lately. @partpurple and I recently re-watched all the MCU movies. We watched WandaVision (loved it), Falcon and Winter Soldier (liked it), Loki (meh) and currently What If…? (loving it). We watched all seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We watched and enjoyed all the Netflix Marvel shows.

And still I wanted more. But from where? Then it hit me. There’s a thing called a comic book. I should look into those!

Goofiness aside, I’ve never really been into comics. When I was a kid I’d read them now and then, but it was hard because 1) we didn’t have comic shops, we got our comics from the drugstore; 2) I was limited to visiting the drug store when my mom needed to go and she felt like dragging me along; 3) and I had no money so I had to beg her to buy me an issue or two.

End result was I’d read some narrow slice of a story, whatever was crammed into the pages of a single issue. What I remember most about comics from when I was a kid was Stan’s Soapbox (in Marvel titles, obviously). Stan Lee was the first adult I can remember who didn’t talk down to me. Of course today I realize he wasn’t writing Stan’s Soapbox for 8-year-old me but for a varied audience, most of whom were older. But I had no idea. To me Stan was writing directly to ME and he wasn’t patronizing me. Not that I knew what “patronizing” meant at the time. To this day I kind of think of Stan as a father-figure of sorts.

All of which leads me to the point. I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited [MU] to take another whack at getting into comics. And boy am I ever confused. (Full disclosure, title of the post should be Marvel Comics Are Confusing but I was going for the alliteration thing that Marvel seems so fond of.) I’m not complaining though, it’s really fun trying to sort this stuff out.

MU promises over 29,000 issues. So where to start? Well I like Spiderman, let’s look for Spiderman… I used to watch Spiderman cartoons when I was a kid, and I’ve seen the movies and played the games. Let’s just read Spiderman. OH MEM GEEE there are SO MANY Spiderman comics! Dozens. Maybe hundreds. Where do I start? It’s just overwhelming.

Page from West Coast Avengers as displayed on my phone. Source: Marvel Unlimited
OK OK let’s back slowly away from Spiderman. MU offers a “Get started” section for folks like me who are new to comics. First on the list was The Eternals which is currently running, I think. I read like 5 issues before it stopped which is why I think it is still running. The Eternals was not for me. It was just too high concept. Earth is a machine and the comic is narrated by it, Eternals hangouts are, y’know, hidden between 3 molecules of a day old pastry or something. No offense to folks who love this shit but I want something closer to street level here.

Next was Wanda and Vision. Ok here’re a couple of characters I enjoy. These books are from the mid-1980s. I read issue 1, it’s OK. Read issue 2 and then I see in the footnotes that the story they’re telling concludes in something called West Coast Avengers, a different series. So I go looking for that, where I find Hawkeye (who I know from the movies) and Bobbie Hunter/Mockingbird (who I know from Agents of Shield) and they’re married. Whaaat? And of course the character designs are very different. But OK let’s roll with that. So now I’m sorta juggling two books.

And they’re enjoyable enough, but my vague feelings of OCD really wants to find a character, read their original origin story and follow them through the decades to the here and now. I feel like there is this incredibly complex web of character storylines and I’m just skimming the surface. So far everything I’ve sampled (more than I’ve listed) leaves me feeling like I need to back up a little and figure out what came before to set up what I’m reading.

I’ll figure it out, eventually. I mean I’m digging it. Digging it enough that I went ahead and signed up for an annual subscription. But I’m not a very patient person and when I get into a new interest I want to be an expert as soon as possible. And as nutty as it sounds I kind of wish I could sort the books by publish date and start back in 1963 or whenever the earliest books on the service are.

In terms of the mechanics of reading, I’ve mostly been doing it on my iPad using the ‘smart panel’ system that zooms in on each panel/section of a page as you read. It works pretty well though at times I need to toggle it off and on. I have it set to show the whole page, then as I tap it advances panel by panel, then shows the whole page again to reinforce context, then on to the next page.

I have the app on my phone too (shown above, right side of the page) which is OK but it’s a little small for my tired eyes (that image is larger that actual size on my Pixel 3). Smart Panel works there too but not quite as well since panels vary in size and shape. Some fit fine with the phone held in portrait mode, others work better with the phone in landscape mode. I keep turning the phone back and forth. It works in a pinch but for me the tablet version is far superior. Progress does sync between the two, which is nice.

Anyway, if anyone wants to suggest a specific series title that they enjoy, please do so! I need help!

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!! 🙂

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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

Blaugust 2021 – Fini

Here it is, the last post of Blaugust 2021. I made it. Whew! While I originally didn’t plan to post every day and at the 1/3rd point I decided to cut back I never really did. For better or for worse. Technically I think I wrote 32 posts since if I remember right I double-posted once.

So what did I discover? Well most importantly I learned that I can still generate a blog post every day if I really want to. Unlike so many of my projects, I didn’t abandon this one. I also discovered some really nice blogs and really nice people and I intend to keep reading these people in the future.

There were some disappointments along the way. While I tried my best to amplify other Blaugust participants by retweeting stuff with the #blaugust2021 hashtag on Twitter, I found there were only a handful of us doing that. Seemed like a missed opportunity. (There were a few people who retweeted almost every post and I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart!) In some cases I Followed Blaugust participants just so I’d be aware of their blog post announcements and could retweet them, but often they didn’t follow me back. Maybe other bloggers just don’t see Twitter as an important audience building tool? Or maybe they just thought it was more important to curate their timeline than to promote people they didn’t really know (which is fair, particularly if they’re trying to build a Following that they can monetize). Either way, that was a bit of a bummer. I mean, it isn’t like promoting each other is in the rules of Blaugust but it was still a little disappointing.

In the run-up to the event I was excited about joining the Discord community, but I only lasted a week or two in there. As with just about every Discord I join, it felt like a clique of people that I wasn’t a part of. (This is just where my brain goes in any kind of crowd, IRL or online, so not a knock on the community, just a hang-up I have about new groups of people.) I dutifully posted content in the “Share Your Content” for a while, but I saw almost no traffic from that and none of my posts seemed of interest to the other Discord users. There are certainly helpful people in the Discord and if you ask a question you will get answers. So it serves a function, but for socializing and talking about writing it was a bust for me. Additionally the most helpful people in the Discord seem equally helpful on their blogs or in Twitter, and since I’m already at those places, making a special trip to Discord seemed like a poor use of my time. (I should note that I am not a Discord user and the Blaugust Discord was the only Discord that I was using.)

In general the broader community aspect of Blaugust was pretty much a bust for me, but then I’ve always struggled to find my tribe. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve joined a micro-community of bloggers who I really resonate with, and that is a huge win.

All that said, I am ready to announce the Dragonchasers 2021 Blaugust Mentor of the Year Award as chosen by ME!:

Aywren from Spot of Mummery!
*confetti cannons go off*
Aywren posted a lot of great advice over the month and her advice was always clear without being simplistic. A marvelous gift.

Honourable Mentions:
Bhagpuss at Inventory Full
Naithin at Time To Loot

So, About The Future…

One of the reasons I did Blaugust was to decide if it was time to shut down the blog. I went something like 8 or 9 months without a post. Is it worth paying for the domain and hosting?

In terms of popularity, it clearly is not. My traffic doubled in August, which sounds great but again, I hadn’t posted in a long time so traffic was very very low. Doubling from 2 to 4 is a lot less impressive than doubling from 2 million to 4 million, after all. Specifically I had like 1000 page views for the entire month of August and 240 of those page views was for a post from last year. Basically 31 days of Blaugust posts barely caused a bump in traffic. Eliminate that article from last year and Blaugust added 250 page views over the entire month.

My take-away is that posting daily doesn’t help me generate traffic, and let’s be real, this blog is 19 years old. If it hasn’t found an audience yet, it never will. My choice of topics or my writing style doesn’t resonate with many. I remember a time when I thought Dragonchasers would become a side hustle. I was going to build it up and then get sponsors or ads or whatever. That dream was 99% dead already, but Blaugust drove the final nail into its coffin. I don’t have what it takes to write a blog that generates revenue. I’m just not focused enough.

And y’know what? That’s kind of a relief in a way. Last time my hosting plan came up for renewal I bought a 2-year plan and I still have a year or so left on it. So for now the blog will stay around but it’ll be MY blog and I’ll write for me and assume no one will ever read it. Maybe I’ll just share stories of my (completely ordinary) life or something. Who knows?

Blaugust is done. It’s not something I imagine I would do again. I’m glad I did it just because it got me back to writing, and getting people to blog is the whole point of Blaugust so it definitely worked. That said, if someone were to ask me about getting started or back into blogging, I’d say rather than waiting for Blaugust just pick a day and start writing. Make a schedule and try to stick to it, but avoid going for a daily post schedule. Give yourself at least one day off a week, and probably at least two. Maybe 3 or 4. Depends on how much free time you have. If you work full time and have a family, I feel like 3 posts/week is PLENTY. You need to reserve some time to do the things you’ll eventually blog about!

Weekend Recap for August 23rd

Another weekend come and gone. This one was a weird one for us. We lost power Thursday night, though it was restored by midnight. Somehow that still threw our Friday out of whack. I’m amused at how ‘delicate’ we are. I can remember going weeks without power due to hurricanes when I was younger and while it was certainly inconvenient, we just kind of rolled with it. These days, 6 hours without power made us crazy. Of course back in the old days not every activity I did required a screen, so there’s that.

Anyway, let’s get started.

Movie Night — This week we watched The Suicide Squad which we’d heard a lot of good things about. It didn’t resonate as well with us. @partpurple almost called it but she started enjoying it more after the half-way mark. I liked it more than she did, but it certainly wasn’t a favorite. I can chuckle at over-the-top gore for a while, but two hours of it got old. My favorite character was Sebastian, and for those who haven’t seen it, he is a rat. Like, a literal rat. I think that says enough about my feelings towards the movie.

Family TV — The highpoint of our whole week, in TV terms, was Friday night watching episode two of What If…? on Disney+, and episode 2 of The Lower Decks on Paramount+. Both were really good. We’re really impressed by the voice casts (as well as the stories) on What If…? and this episode of The Lower Decks had us howling with laughter. Both are animated shows. What If…? is a series of stand-alone alternate history shows for the Marvel Universe, and The Lower Decks is a comedic Star Trek spin-off about the lives of lower ranking crew on board a star ship. When The Lower Decks was announced I was sure I would HATE it since I’m pretty serious about Star Trek, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Reading — Copy/paste from last week. Still on book 6 of The Saxon Stories series from Bernard Cornwell.

Gaming — I had a dumb gaming weekend. Thursday I finally re-subscribed to Final Fantasy XIV, but about 10 minutes after I did that the power went out. Friday I spent getting clients upgraded/installed on both PC and PS5, and tried to figure out where to roll a new character to get my feet wet. There is really no need for alts in FFXIV but the last time I came back I was so intimidated by the jobs and systems I’d forgotten about that I just bounced off completely. This time I decided I needed a new character so the game could re-teach me things and let me ease back in more gently.

Then I noticed that thanks to QuakeCon, the Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood expansion was on sale. I already own the expansion on Xbox but don’t know anyone else who plays there. I did have a friend playing on Playstation though, so even though I’m not nearly as advanced on that platform, I sprung for the expansion and a month of ESO Plus.

So now all of a sudden I have TWO MMO subscriptions. I spent a bunch of time researching a build for my ESO Dragonknight, and getting all the settings tweaked, plus doing the quest to get one of the Companions that Blackwood added.

And I started a new character on the Zalera server for FFXIV and got him rolling along, but now I’m kind of more interested in ESO. Typical me. I hate the forced grouping in FFXIV for dungeons. Social anxiety really spikes. ESO has grouping for dungeons too, of course, but they are optional and nothing is gated behind them (plus once you get powerful enough you can solo a lot of dungeons in Normal mode). What makes things worse for FFXIV is that if I play on the console (which is where I prefer to play) I run into the problem of no communication since, y’know, no keyboard.

I guess my next step is to get a cheap wireless USB keyboard for the PS5. It’d be useful for both FFXIV and ESO.

And because I guess I was operating under the delusion that we have plenty of disposable income these days, I ALSO bought the update/upgrade for Ghosts of Tsushima on the PS5, but thus far I haven’t even touched it. Clearly I need more gaming hours in my day!

So that was the weekend. Now we have another super hot week to get through, but September is ALMOST here. Also Gamescom is this week so there should be some gaming news to talk about to get us over the finish line of Blaugust.

Hope you’re all doing well!