Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dog-pile week

Last week sucked. Goddamn Daylight Saving Time kicked in and just stomped all over my brain. I've been disoriented every damn morning I've woken up.

And now I've gone on the wagon.

For reasons, I'm taking a break from alcoholic beverages of all kinds for at least one week. I want to see if this helps with some health issues.

And, of course, I decided to do this on Saint Patrick's Day. Timing is everything.

It's sobering (pun intended) to realize what a part social drinking is in my life. Usually I hit a brewery on a weekend, if I can. I haven't today and it's felt weird. I feel as though I'm not doing something I really ought to be doing. There's doubtless a joke in there somewhere. Sadly.

Review: The Greatcoats series by Sebastien De Castell

On an Amazon recommendation, I picked up the current three books of the Greatcoats series by Sebastien De Castell (who may well have the coolest author name ever):
  • Traitor's Blade
  • Knight's Shadow
  • Saint's Blood
I'm going to comment on them as a unit as I read them back-to-back over the last few weeks and it's kind of hard to separate them in my head. The series is about three of the Greatcoats, royal wandering magistrates charged with upholding the King's law. The story is narrated by Falcio (pronounced "Fal-kee-oh") Val Mond, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and his two best friends: Kest and Brasti.

Falcio is a master swordsman who specializes in the rapier. He throws a mean knife and is a skilled negotiator. He's also known for his rather tiresome speeches. Kest is the best swordsman in the land. A solemn fellow, he is always analyzing situations tactically and can tell a foe how many moves it will take before Kest wins. Brasti is the best archer in the land. He (almost) never misses. A former poacher, he has a less-sophisticated view of the world than his friends and has a bit of an ego.

It's been five years since the King's death after being deposed by the despotic Dukes of Tristia, the land the story is set in. The Greatcoats are disgraced and forced to find odd jobs while trying to each follow the last commands of their King before his death.

During one of those jobs, things go from wrong to horribly, horribly wrong. And the stories set Facio and his friends on the road to finding the King's heir, defeating a variety of increasingly dangerous foes, and suffering some fairly horrific abuse along the way.

Overall, I really liked the books. They were filled with dashing adventure with some intriguing villains and some fascinating takes on magic and religion. That said, I did find the books tended to blur together. Falcio's character growth feels like it resets between books. The character doesn't seem to really learn from the truly horrible lessons he's given.

Falcio is the narrator of the series, and a badass, but he's arguably not the hero of the series. In many ways, those roles fall to the women in the books. The female characters are intriguing in their own way. In one way, they serve as Falcio's goal to protect. Sometimes they need the protection. Often they don't. They tend to be smarter and more observant than Facio (and often his friends). It's fun to watch those characters grow through Falcio's eyes, as they do seem to develop and change between books.

If you're a fan of a Three Muskateers flavor of fantasy fiction, I think you might want to give De Castell's series a chance.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Down Time

Just for shits and giggles (and because I have enough time accrued) I took Friday and Monday off.

Nice long weekend.

I'd like to claim I did something constructive and useful with that time off. In fairness, I did get a lot of jogging and walking in, especially today.

But it wasn't a net win in terms of health. Friday was a brewery lunch that was followed by an extremely ill-advised brewery crawl in the evening. Saturday was my monthly game. Could have been better, but I think I was off my game (so to speak). Sunday was ridiculously-good Mai Tais with the family. Then Monday was exploring to find a new brewery. A new brewery that offers not one, not two, but three smoked beers on draught. Fucking hell.

Life doesn't suck. Tomorrow morning, however...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Good for what ails ya

The other day I was looking at my accrued time off. Looked good. Actually, looked kind of on the high end.

I think I deliberated for about thirty seconds before I put in the request for time off. Fast forward to this morning and I'm looking at a long weekend.

It felt damn good to wake up at a sane hour. It felt even better to traipse out, devour an unhealthy breakfast (mmm... bacon...) then meander home with nothing really to do. I took a run an hour later. Went further than I'd planned or expected. I regret nothing. Any healthy benefits I got from that was undone by lunch anyway.

Yes, lunch was mostly beer. Mmm... beer...

And now? And now I think I'm due to poison myself further while catching up with an old friend.

Sometimes it's the simple, little, things that make life worth living.

Damn but I needed this weekend.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thanks Amazon!

So Amazon S3 crapped out earlier today. Hosed all sorts of things. Looks like the issues are persisting.

I can't help but laugh a little. So many people talk up the benefits of "the cloud". Oh sure, there are many benefits, but as the Amazon outage shows, it's kind of a house of cards as well...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Game over, man!

Rest in peace, Bill Paxton.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shaking my head

My table-top gaming group lost a player today.

When we're not having our monthly sit-down session at someone's place, I try to fill the gaps with an email session. It helps me get tiresome exposition out of the way while practicing my creative writing skills. Some of our email sessions are quite entertaining reading. One day I hope to edit them into a proper story.

I'm not sure how I'll handle the current one.

When I look back at what happened, I can't say I'm sure what went wrong. It was an argument, but I'm still fuzzy on how it got out of control so quickly. It was role-playing. One player has a gruff sort who is the leader. Another is playing an opposite gender character from a very different culture. The dispute started over something fairly small. The leader character was insisting on a promised (indeed, a vow) of silence over a plot twist. Everyone agreed. The outlier player character seemed to have agreed, but the player for the leader character pressed for a specific promise. The player for the outlier character got offended. There were some tense exchanges, seeming to be in-character, then everything sort of settled down.

In all honesty, it wasn't all that unusual of an exchange. In role-playing games, often players get a little "lost" in their characters. Terse and tense exchanges happen. Sometimes there's some seriously hard feelings. I've been on both ends of those kinds of exchanges and this particular situation didn't even seem to merit honorable mention when compared to those.

Clearly I mis-judged.

The player for the outlier character was still quite offended. Part of it was the player's interpretation of the character's view. Part of it was seeming to be a very personal offense taken from what the other player said. I've re-read everything multiple times and I honestly can't see the cause for complaint. But I'm not the one who is offended.

There was another exchange over the long weekend. It concluded today.

And I lost a player.

I'm not sure I could have done anything to fix this. I'm honestly not sure I wanted to. Now I have a very, very small gaming group and I'm wondering if it's got a sustainable future.

Perfect start to a fucking Tuesday.