Thursday, July 19, 2018

Day 200: Update on... Stuff

Day 200, so time for another update...

Books: By day 200, I 'should' be at 32.87 books read. I'm pretty much right on target for that one.

In terms of the actual goal I set, I've read two of the four volumes in "The Faraway Tree Collection", and am close to the end of the third. I should finish that up some time next month. The reality is now that I won't complete this goal by the end of the year, though I shouldn't be too far from it - there were just slightly more books than I'd bargained for.

Band: Gala day season is now more or less done, and was mostly successful. I have a couple of other events coming up - one this weekend and one next month, after which I'm done. But it's good not to have every weekend in the summer dominated by competitions, and it's good not to have the level of stress that that entails!

Gaming: No change.

Weight: Nothing to report.

Blogging: I'm still behind, both here and at the Imaginarium. There is now no prospect of catching up in the latter blog - I'm just not gaming enough to maintain the interest in updating that one. I do hope to have caught up on this blog by the end of this month.

(One other thing that may be worth noting - I've been gradually importing posts from an old RPG blog into the Imaginarium. That task is proceeding apace, so hopefully should be done some time in the next month. Unless it gets derailed again...)

And that's everything. Next time, I'll probably omit mention of either band or gaming, unless there is something to report.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hammock Time

For the past couple of weeks I have been finding the afternoons, and especially the couple of hours just after lunch, to be especially wearing. I'm starting to think I may need to start taking a siesta in that time.

The only problem with that is that it would then delay my being able to leave in the evening, which would be a disappointment. Well, that and that I already don't have enough time to get through everything.

I wonder if my employers can be persuaded to invest in some quality hammocks for staff? Or is that an idea worthy of Homer Simpson?

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Incredibles 2

By my reckoning, "The Incredibles" is Pixar's best film, which is a pretty high bar to clear. So it's fair to say that I was rather looking forward to the sequel - after ten years away, what could they have cooked up for us?

Well, it turns out that "The Incredibles 2" is good, but not great. And the more I reflect on it, the weaker it seems in hindsight. All the same elements are there, but the whole just doesn't live up to the hopes.

Warning: there are major spoilers from here on. So if you don't want to know, skip down to the end of the post, where I update the list of books I've read recently.

And the reason why it doesn't quite work? All the same elements are there, doing pretty much exactly the same thing (only this time it's Elastigirl who is off doing superhero stuff while Mr Incredible stays with the kids) - the secret superhero missions, the family drama, the tension between Supers wanting to use their powers while that is illegal.

And a villain who is not themselves super-powered but who makes use of high technology to match up against the Supers, having become embittered by a past experience. Oh, and that character initially presents as a benign figure, indeed employing our hero for her secret superhero missions.

So it's basically the same film, albeit with Mr Incredible and Elastigirl having their roles (and an oh-so-hilarious venture into "aren't men just useless?" territory to boot).

Basically, it's fine, good even, but I'm finding it increasingly hard to think of a reason to recommend seeing "Incredibles 2" rather than just watching to original again. Which is a shame.

But the music is great, so there's that!

#31: "The Jesus Storybook Bible", by Sally Lloyd-Jones (a book for Funsize)
#32: "Pathfinder: City in the Lion's Eye", by Mikko Kallio

Thursday, July 12, 2018

To Strive, To Seek, To Find...

Grandad died yesterday.

I don't really have a great deal to say that hasn't been said - it had been a long time coming, he'd clearly been suffering and so it's good that that has come to an end; but it still hurts. Thank God I did indeed drop everything to rush down there to say goodbye on Monday.

When thinking on death in cases like this, I'm very much inclined to the view that death isn't really the enemy. Yes, it hurts, but it's really the culmination of a life lived long and well. Two weeks short of ninety-three years is a good innings; and although he faced his challenges, and although the last decade or so were faced in increasingly poor health, they were mostly good years. When I read my grandad's life story a few years ago, it was quite apparent that that was not a life filled with regret.

It also helps to know that his passing was as peaceful as could be hoped - my Grandma and my cousin Jo were with him, and from her account it seems that he was asleep, his breathing changed, and that was the end. It could have been a lot worse.

So while this is a time for grief, it's not a time for despair. And a time, again, for me to reflect on the blessings I've been given before the three bereavements I've faced.

I don't, as yet, know any of the details for the funeral. I expect that there is a well-laid plan in place - with plenty of time to prepare, and knowing the people involved, I can hardly imagine anything else. Hopefully, it will be a send off fitting for the life, and for the manner of the death.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Highs and the Lows

I thought I was going to die last night, and that wasn't one of the lows to which I refer...

On Saturday, LC and I (and Funsize) attended our third wedding of the year. This was for one of my colleagues, and I was once again called on to play the pipes. It was a lovely day - hot and sunny, with a small but intimate party present, in wonderful surroundings.

Unfortunately, Sunday was less successful. When we returned home, it was to a text message from Captain Ric to the effect that he'd just been to see Grandad and that if we wanted to see him again then it would be wise to drop everything and go and do that.

So on Sunday I sent an email to work indicating that I wouldn't be in, and made preparations for a long drive. (I'm extremely lucky in that I have an employer who is very reasonable about such things. It's likely that I'll have to come to work on Saturday to make up the hours, but otherwise it's fine.) After some consideration, G decided to join us, thus ensuring that all five of the siblings had the chance to go.

Yesterday was therefore a day dominated by long drives. Fortunately, FS took it all in her stride, remaining asleep most of the time and fairly content most of the rest. Of course, we had to make additional stops to ensure she had a chance to get some air/stretch out/feed/change, which meant that the normal three-and-a-half hours each way was considerably longer.

It wasn't a comfortable visit. The sad reality is that the person we said goodbye to wasn't the man I knew.

But, crucially, that visit did allow us to say our goodbyes, and did provide closure. (Indeed, as I mentioned briefly before, I felt that my last visit had been deeply unsatisfying, precisely because I felt it didn't give that closure. So it's a massive relief to have made that one last trip.) So, while it was horrible and painful, it was still to the good.

As for nearly dying... (I should note that you might well not want to read this...)

Getting home late last night, we proceeded to order too much food from Dominos, which we then scoffed. A couple of hours later we went to bed, still feeling rather uncomfortably full (or, at least, I was).

About three o'clock, I woke up feeling very distressed. This was shortly followed by the mini-sick, but with a very nasty twist... See, with my mouth being so dry, I suddenly found that I wasn't able to swallow properly, which meant I suddenly found that there was a blockage.

Cue several anxious seconds of gagging and choking until I finally worked it free and was able to actually breathe again.

It's fair to say that it has been an eventful few days...

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

What if England Win It?

In my previous post, I said that we wouldn't get any real indication as to England's prospects until their match against Colombia. Well, we did, and the answer is... complicated.

There are clearly some weaknesses in England's play, especially in the loss of that last-minute goal and several minutes of fragility in the first period of extra time. On the other hand, they came through that and managed to finally win a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup.

From what I've seen, France are the favourites for the tournament, with their performance against Argentina being the best I've seen from anyone in the World Cup so far. On the other hand, France were really quite poor in their group games.

And England have been playing about as well as anyone, and they've been very fortunate with the draw, and especially with Spain being knocked out. So it's certainly not unreasonable to think they could reach the final... and in a one-off game anyone can have their day.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Running Out of Books

A few years ago, back when I was reading the Jack Aubrey books, I hit on the idea of splitting my 60 books for the year into five sub-lists. This had the advantage of giving me a variety of reading material in each month, while also allowing me to make progress in several series at once.

However, it looks like that approach may be coming to an end. Indeed, it looks like I might be running out of books to read entirely.

My sub-lists for this year are as follows: the monthly Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes from Paizo, books from The List, novels by Iain (M) Banks, the last few Shannara novels (now done), and 'Other'. As noted, the Shannara novels are now done - by the start of this year there were only two remaining, with a third published (in paperback) in February.

Next year, at the current rate of progress, I expect to read the last of Iain Banks' novels in March. Meanwhile, Pathfinder is moving on to its second edition and I have decided not to follow it. For that reason, I will be discontinuing my subscription to the Adventure Path then, bringing that sub-list to a halt.

The upshot is that I'll be left with two sub-lists: books from The List (which should last until about 2021) and 'Other'.

The other factor is that in the last couple of years, when faced with a need to find a new series, I've been able to fall back on some I'd read in part years ago but had fallen behind on: Feist's Riftwar saga and the aforementioned Shannara novels. However, there's now only one such series out there (Salvatore's Drizzt novels), but I made a very conscious decision to give up on those after "The Ghost King", which did not impress - I'm not really inclined to pick them back up again. Otherwise, I'm up to date on all the writers I follow, who each produce a book a year (if I'm very lucky).

The upshot is that I have plenty of books for this year, and probably have enough to bulk out next year as well. But come 2020, it may be tricky to find books I actually want to read!

(Funnily enough, I was talking about this issue with my mother at the weekend, who is in much the same position - she has various series she follows, but has reached a point where she's up-to-date on all of these and is now waiting for new books to be published, and is finding it hard to find reading material in the interim.)

#30: "The Bridge", by Iain Banks