In Which I Commune with Nature

Jun. 18th, 2017 08:11 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
[personal profile] shannon_a
Two Sundays in a row, Kimberly and I have bussed up to Tilden and hiked around, as part of her effort to get out and about more.

Last Sunday was very nice. We picnicked by Jewel Lake then hiked around the Loop Trail and up to the bus stop near Lake Anza along a very pleasant creekside trail that I love. We even stopped and wrote for a while at my favorite bench in Tilden, deep in the shade, near Wildcat Creek.

This Sunday was substantially less successful, because we're in a heat wave and today was apparently the hottest day of it. We picnicked by Jewel Lake again, and that was still very nice. But when we walked down the Wildcat Creek Canyon Trail we turned back almost immediately due to the heat. Then, when we were hiking through the Nature Area, Kimberly was getting increasingly overheated. When we stopped at the Little Farm she was very red-faced. After dousing her in some water, we headed back to the bus stop so that we could get her back to cooler places in the lowlands.

She still said she enjoyed the wildlife she saw, and we got smoothies when we returned to downtown Berkeley.



I actually made one other trip to Tilden in the last few days: Saturday, on my own, as part of my getting out and about on Saturdays, which I do while not gaming.

It was a fairly normative hike, from my house up to Lake Anza. Nine or ten miles. It was hot, but it certainly didn't feel as hot as Sunday.

I love being out on my own and just relaxing in nature.



I also did a lot of not-relaxing-in-nature in the last week. We had a BBQ scheduled for Thursday in advance of gaming, and that meant I had to get the backyard in order. So I spent about three-and-a-half hours between Monday and Tuesday, downing foliage in the backyard and filling our green bin. Twice.

I really don't understand how our teeny backyard gets so out of control. Our new neighbors behind us give just as little attention as we do to our (much huger) backyard. Last winter they grew clover up and over everything, totally covering their yard, but then spring came and it all died out. Now their backyard is certainly scraggly, but not particularly overgrown.

Meanwhile, we'd totally lost the entirety of our yard beneath ivy and bushes and purple flowers. It was probably an hour before the walkway leading from our fence to our back door was clear. And still the walkway around the back and side of our house are pretty impassable. (A problem for another day.)

But I definitely communed with nature. And fortunately my knee and ribs were mostly up to the task.



The BBQ that followed on Thursday was sadly less than successful. We could barely get any flames on the grill. The corn eventually got mostly cooked, but the various sausages went into the broiler, which did the job. (We think the grill was almost out of propane.)

The food was still quite tasty, despite the problems, but we did also have a less than successful game (the new Buffy co-op, which is flat-out a bad design).

Still, it was good company and that generally makes for good times.



And that was a week of communing with nature. Or at least a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of such.
shannon_a: (Default)
[personal profile] shannon_a
Injuries. Managed to hurt myself again. Darn it. And this time it was a recycling injury. Sigh.

I was tearing down a heavy corrugated cardboard box on Monday and I was holding it up against my chest as I did, and somehow throughout all of that I managed to spasm my muscles and bruise my sternum and/or ribs. Or something like that. It's been aching for days, especially if I do anything spectacular like breathe. The worst has been sleeping. I can't cuddle with my cat at night, because that requires lying down on that side, and I can't escape her in the morning, which I usually do by turning over. Overall, the result has been a week of poor sleep.

It's been getting better day by day, but slowly. Frustrating. 


Computers. I've laid my old MacBook Air to rest. Or, at least, I'm filing it away for use as an emergency backup if I ever need it. Sadly, of all the Macs I've bought, that was the one that seemed to have some serious manufacture problems of the sort I don't generally expect from Apple.

In the end:
  1. The "1", "q", "a", and <delete> on the keyboard often stopped working, usually just when I opened it up and especially when I had it out somewhere cold. This was apparently a well-known problem with the MacBook Airs and had to do with the keyboard circuitry contracting away from the plug.
  2. The wifi constantly cut out, but would come back if I hit the little wifi icon at the top of the screen. This was not a well-known problem. Or, at least if it was, the only suggested solutions were software, and they didn't do anything.
  3. The battery was starting to die, and though it was still getting decent time with my usually low-energy use, it was to the point where the Mac was suggesting I replace it.
  4. The 120G of hard drive space was becoming inadequate as I continued to add PDFs for my work on the next Designers & Dragons book, on the entire set of TSR & WotC books for D&D. (After 4+ years of working with DTRPG, we've almost covered the full ~1000 or so, and that's a lot of PDFs.)
Only the first two were really manufacture problems, though they were extremely annoying, but the first three probably required hundreds of dollars worth of repairs, and that still left me with inadequate hard drive space. So, after getting the OK from Kimberly, I ordered a new one instead, on Monday, pretty much as soon as Apple announced the new MacBooks.

My new computer is a 12" MacBook. It's a little smaller than my 13.3" Air was, and that's taking a little getting used to, but it's still a full-sized keyboard, and my eyes are still good enough to read the screen at an increased resolution, so I think I willl get used to it. And it's 2 pounds rather than 3 pounds, which will be notable when I'm carrying it around up hills and on long hikes.

Oh, the process of migrating was a pain though. It just wouldn't work, and I eventually came to the conclusion that it was because the Air was one version back of the MacOS software, and the migration didn't work from that to Sierra. Not that Apple documents that, but some forums seemed to confirm it. So I had to unsync my RPG PDFs from my Dropbox to have enough space to upgrade to Sierra. (That's why I hadn't previously.) Then the upgrade wouldn't work either, because it couldn't install a helper. I finally managed to get the old computer upgraded after a reboot. Then I finally managed to get the Migration going after a reboot. Shockingly the Migration with both computers set next to my wifi router only took 30 minutes or so. But it took another day and a half to resync all those D&D PDFs, off of Dropbox.

Still, new computer. Very happy because of all the annoying problems with the old one.

Not being ble to type an "a" can make rticles hrd to write.


RPGs. I've been running my Burning Wheel campaign since sometime left year. I'm enjoying creating an original campaign world in conjunction with the players and I'm enjoying slowly unravelling their story. I have some qualms that the story might be too mundane thus far and that I need to be more accepting of sea changes as the campaign goes forward. But, so far so good.

My only real issue is a pretty common one: I find the prep of adventures stressful. Usually I feel like my Friday nights before games are very rushed as I try to jam together adventure prep along with my usual writing prep. And, I also feel pressure that I prep well so that we can have fun the next day.

So this week I tried something new, based on a thread on RPGnet. I modeled my prep after a game called Agon: prep an adventure with one goal, three sub-goals, and one or more complications for each sub-goal. It's very similar to the system of three complications that I was laying out for Mouse Guard that helped me to minimize my prep time there while still producing good adventures.

I've varied this up a little. I try to introduce at least one notable locale each adventure and at least one notable NPCs, and I try to reuse one or more NPCs from past adventures. So my notes include all of that too. But still, that's less than a page for an adventure, and the actual plot-ty part of the adventure is minimized, making the prep easier and keeping options more open for the players during play.

But there's another thing in Burning Wheel: it's very player-focused. So I bit the bullet early in the week and I prepped four adventures in this style, one for each player in the game. Voila! I now have full prep done, well before Friday. And hopefully I'll be able to do the simpler prep necessary for a replacement player-oriented adventure after I run each.

Sure enough, this Friday I was unstressed. Or little stressed.

The next test was whether my slightly shorter prep was sufficient to run an exciting adventure ... and sadly I didn't get to find out. When I got to gaming on Saturday, Mary could tell that I was in low spirits due to lack of sleep (from my ribs) and due to exhaustion (from offering support for K. in a hard time). So she asked without prompting if I wanted to play board games instead, and I nearly collapsed in relief into that idea. We played 7 Wonders and Agricola. I did horribly in the first and came in second in the second, probably highlighting how worn out I was.



Vacations. And we are already making plans for Hawaii next year. My step-mom is putting together a family vacation, where she, my dad, my sister and her husband, and Kimberly and I will all spend a week together on the Big Island next year. We had a lot of fun hanging out with everyone at Melody and Jared's wedding, so I'm quite looking forward to this, and it'll also be a nice opportunity to visit a different island.

Mary has also talked about doing the same thing on a different island in 2019, maybe. If that indeed happens, then we quite amusingly will not see Kauai again until we move there in 2020.

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