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  143295 hits
  Sun, 30 Aug 2020 19:23:42 +0000
Life

life’s photo stats and photo journal have been updated, a couple days early.

It should be no surprise that the past 4 months have been largely uneventful, with only 603 photos taken (!!) and only 9 of the stat-tracked people having received updates (all of them, of course, local to Pittsburgh). I suppose the next four months won’t be much different, since I’m not going to be doing any travelling or seeing people outside of the city for a while.

Anyway, here’s some random photos of things.





The world is a mess and politics is a mess and the country is a mess and I just want things to be better.

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 Thu, 23 Jul 2020 06:05:13 +0000
Games Games Games

As mentioned in the last post, I have four standing gaming sessions a week (if you include the work one). If anything, this pandemic has been better for playing board games with friends, albeit virtually, than life beforehand. Maybe that’s part of the reason I never feel like I have time to do anything, but at least the relaxingness is good?

We started out at the beginning with our old favorite BrettspielWelt. The last time we used it (years ago) it was a downloaded java client that was reasonable. Now it’s a more web-based interface that is mostly clunky to use, although it seems to be decent enough.

But then someone (Austin?) suggested moving to Tabletop Simulator instead, and that has been a much better experience. Greg describes it as a physics engine that happens to play board games, which makes for amusing interactions sometimes, but there’s nothing like flipping the table when you lose a game. It also fixes a lot of the tedium of playing normal board games, even for non-scripted games, by simplifying things like shuffling.

The Fairfax group has started a weekly Jackbox games session, thanks to Tim, and that’s been a blast. Drawful 2 is one of our favorites, and we’ve gotten maybe a little too good at drawing some of the prompts.


Work introduced me to the joys of Codenames online and Broken Picturephone (AKA Eat Poop You Cat), and that has been pretty spectacular too.

Lastly, we’ve been (more recently) playing board games with Mark and Sharon (AKA my San Francisco crowd) via Board Game Arena. It generally feels like a much better version of BrettspielWelt, with (somewhat) more usable interfaces and clearer game instructions. Its main downside seems to be that a lot of the popular games and critical features (like multiple players from the same IP address, AKA in the same household) are gated behind a paywall. Fortunately Mark’s membership takes care of that for us, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

I’ve also been taking my first forays into tabletop RPGs with Patrick and David (from high school), somewhat via Roll 20 but mostly just via Google Meet. Patrick DMed a great introductory game for us with the Lasers & Feelings system, which was simple enough for me as a beginning, and also let David’s experience with other RPGs guide us through. We’re looking at starting another campaign soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been putting them through more Jackbox.

In addition to *all* of that, thanks to Tabletop Simulator requiring me to actually make a Steam account, I’ve also started playing some of my old backlog of Humble Bundle (and other) games. I finished up West of Loathing in a few days, had a period of Cities Skylines destressing, and found a great way to “cheat” in Cook Serve Delicious 2 to get huge perfect days and unlock content (serve only sliced turkey breast or brisket, plus one side, with max prep stations). I’ve also been dabbling again in some older games like Mini Metro, World of Goo, A Virus Named Tom, and Girls Like Robots.

More recently, I’ve been playing Overcooked 2 with Austin where we’re nearing our goal of 3-starring every level in the game and all its expansions.

So I guess the nice thing about this whole pandemic, at least, has been keeping in regular contact with many people who are not physically close, since (other than timezones) it makes no difference whether someone is physically in the same city as you. Having regular contact with (old) San Francisco people, high school people, old Tartan people, the Fairfax group, and other Pittsburgh friends that have moved away has been pretty great. I think I’d still gladly give it up for the world to not be so screwed up, but hey, silver linings?

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 Thu, 25 Jun 2020 03:44:43 +0000
Life Continues

I’m super behind on pretty much everything, whether it’s my ever-growing list of TODOs at work, my (still) unprocessed Thailand photos (from February!), any attempt to make progress on any of my personal endeavors, keeping the house in some form resembling clean and tidy, or even just updating this blog/journal/whatever it is.

The world increasingly feels like it’s falling apart around me. Everywhere (including Pennsylvania) seems to have decided the pandemic is over by sheer force of will, and cases in the US are pretty much continuing to increase from their previous peak. Restaurants and bars and gyms are open again. Masks have bizarrely become a political issue. The police seem to be going on ever-increasing rampages with impunity. The federal government is increasingly incompetent (if that’s possible) at handling the crisis. State governments are unable or unwilling to fill that role anymore.

The easiest thing has been to hide away every night and do mindless things like watch YouTube videos (I recommend the Taskmaster series, which is hilarious, and was recommended to me by at least three separate friends) or participate in the (fortunately) large number of virtual game nights (including the work one, I have four recurring sessions a week now)… even Beat Saber feels like too much effort most days, now.

I can’t manage more than short bursts of actual brain-y time at work. It took me 2 hours to diagram out a basic OIDC flow (which I should know like the back of my hand) because I just couldn’t focus. Salesforce has been doing a great job at helping their employees through this mess, but my obligations to literally dozens of people still feels insurmountable at times. There’s an increased meeting load, which doesn’t help. Maybe that’s why I’m so behind on everything.

I cancelled my dentist appointment, because it felt too high risk to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe the next chance won’t be for a year or more. Maybe I should start using mouthwash or something else to try and handle things myself until then. Maybe losing teeth is the tradeoff for being safe.

I’m increasingly worried with each passing week that I’ll get sick, despite all the precautions I can take, because there are enough other people that just don’t care anymore. I’m increasingly worried that I’ll have serious complications, as someone who is in the at-risk category with respiratory illnesses. And I don’t know what else I can do about it, other than ask others to bear the risk of required activities like grocery store visits in my place, which feels like it’d be utterly barbaric of me.

I want to give up and say screw it and treat getting sick as an inevitability so I can stop worrying about it, but I think I’m too afraid of what that could mean.

But if Pennsylvania is bad, Arizona is totally exploding. I’m worried about my mom. I’m worried about her anyway, given she’s by herself now and isolating. There’s nothing I can do about that, and maybe that’s the worst part. Travelling isn’t safe. Driving isn’t practical. I have too many responsibilities otherwise, anyway. Or something like that.

I hope I come back to this entry early next year or something and read it and appreciate how much things have improved and started to maintain some semblance of normalcy again — maybe a vaccine will actually be close — but I’m increasingly worried about how long this will keep dragging on thanks to incompetence and others’ selfishness.

So life goes, I guess.

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