2018 is a long year

I’ve been keeping busy, and sadly, not paying much attention to this blog. Here’s a bit of a recap:

What I’ve Been Reading

I recently listened to the audio version of R. F. Kuang’s excellent historical fantasy The Poppy War, which is loosely based on the Second Sino-Japanese War of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, but with magic and demons. Content warnings abound, as a chunk of the novel observes the aftermath of an event based on the historical massacre, The Rape on Nanking. If you crave epic fantasy stories in settings beyond fictional not-Europe, and you can handle graphic violence, I highly recommend it.

I also recently finished the audio version of John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, read by Wil Wheaton. I listened to this with my husband over the course of a few car trips. It was really good, a great big space opera spread across the galaxy and affected by politics and machinations that have been going for thousands of years. The characters were all interesting and easy to be invested in.

Now I’m listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self, the second book in his Alloy of Law series. This series is set in Sanderson’s Mistborn universe, centuries after the events of that trilogy. It’s more of a steampunk/western vibe, as the post-Eternal Empire society rediscovers technology. It’s also a murder mystery surrounded by political intrigue. I always find Sanderson’s stuff to be lots of fun.

I’m also still picking my way through The Penguin History of the World, which I seem to be enjoying less and less. There’s lots of solid factual stuff in there, but the author keeps talking about civilizations being “superior” to each other, and there’s a weird ramble about how ancient Egyptian civilization didn’t really contribute anything to the world, despite being around for millennia. I’m frustrated that I couldn’t a more modern review of world history.

What I’ve Been Watching

Hereditary is one of the more disturbing horror films that I’ve seen in a long time, and I go to Fantastic Fest. It takes a lot of inspiration from old-school horror from the 60’s and 70’s, but using modern stylistic conventions to establish mood and tension. I really liked it, but it’s not an easy thing to watch.

Ocean’s 8 was a silly palate cleanser after Hereditary, and I recommend it. It doesn’t do anything deep or revolutionary, but it spins various tropes around and in general is entertaining as hell.

Really digging the third season of The Expanse, and very happy that Amazon swooped in and picked up the property. I’m also enjoying the second season of West World, and I feel like those people accusing it of going nowhere a la Lost have no patience. Everything gets explained, and I have faith that these writers are going to show us something truly interesting.

I Went on My Honeymoon

Back in April, my husband and I finally went on our honeymoon, spending two weeks in Rome. We’re still processing pictures, but I’ll post a few here soon-ish. Rome is an amazing city, full of ancient stuff but also vibrantly modern. I had so much gelato. Stories will have to get their own blog posts, also soon-ish.

We Bought A House and Houses Leak

We’ve been discovering the joys and nightmares of home ownership, after buying a house just outside of Austin earlier this year. There was a nasty thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago, and somehow the seal on a window at the front of the house popped, and there was a rather serious waterfall pouring down from the top of the window. Luckily we don’t have carpet downstairs, nothing stored in that room got wet, and the wall was dry when the water damage contractor came out to do a free inspection.

So I learned how to pull a baseboard off of the wall without damaging anything, scraped off all the caulk around the window indoors and outdoors, then re-sealed the whole thing. This has me thinking about all the other little repairs the exterior needs, and I have told Reed that I want a table saw for my birthday.

I am very excited about having a garage I can fill up with power tools. Gardening is going to happen too, but probably not until the fall when it isn’t 100 degrees outside every day.

I’m Taking Classes

I’ve started taking some coding classes online, and it’s always interesting to rediscover how much my brain likes writing code. It’s got me thinking about past career goals and reconsidering some things. I really love doing design work.

I’ve got a couple of writing classes lined up too, pretty excited about those.

Games I’m Playing

We just (finally) bought a Nintendo Switch, and I’m planning to try out all the indie couch co-op games out there.

I’m playing the text game TimeCrest on my phone. On Chapter 3 at the moment, and really enjoying it. It’s similar to LifeLine in that you are communicating with someone and have to wait real amounts of time (sometime hours) while that person follows your advice and walks somewhere or tries to accomplish a thing. It’s set in a fantasy world with magic and time travel, and you’re helping a young person named Ash who really wants to learn magic but also has to save the world.

Stuff I’m Thinking About

I keep debating trying to run a newsletter again. I always get stuck on what to focus on content-wise, even though my favorite newsletters are by writers/artists who just ramble about what they’re reading or watching, with occasional information about their projects. I’ve read way too many articles on marketing that demand focus on a niche, advice that is for those trying to make money off a particular subset of people.

As I’ve been getting back into coding, I keep rabbit-holing into indie game development, which is really interesting and tempting. I even have a physical book about Twine, a system for writing text-based Choose Your Own Adventure-style games. But using it to learn a specific high-demand language could be genuinely useful.

And of course I’m thinking about the nightmare happening on the border right now. This is a great Twitter thread of actions anyone can take against businesses that are profiting off of separating children from their parents:

That’s mostly what I’ve been up to for the past few months. Various things on the horizon, and hopefully more blogging in the future.

Featured Image: Photo by George Fitzmaurice on Unsplash

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