May 2024 Life Updates

As I grow older, I am less interested in sharing the details of my life in real time; I have a feeling the death of blogging coincides with similar sentiments with other people. I’ve commented that I have found myself posting updates to Facebook lately not because I expect anyone to read them, but for my future self to see them in my memories in the future. I’ve started to take the same approach to blogging – I don’t really care if anyone reads these beyond me, much like the gratitude journal I keep in my Obsidian notes. A regular monthly dump of what’s going on in my life seems like a good idea; I’ve liked Dave Rupert’s blog for this kind of update recently. What follows is an unorganized list of media, events, and other ephemera from my life recently.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Hot Frank Summer is a hashtag running on Bluesky encouraging people to read the novel this month. I’d actually never read Frankenstein, so I used the event as an excuse to grab an ebook copy and dive in.

I spent my entire evening last night finishing the book – I’ve never been very good at reading in moderation once I’m hooked, and I found it a truly excellent read and well-deserving of the reputation. However, I found it odd that the book serves as a cultural┬ástand-in for humanity’s technological excesses when I think it serves as a better example of the consequences of being a terrible father more than anything else.

I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t know the “basic” story of Frankenstein, but my understanding was shaped primarily by media takes, so I was surprised by how much was present or wasn’t in the actual text. The means of the monster’s creation are left entirely to the reader’s imagination, and I think its absence from the text actually makes me question its position as the founding text of science fiction, at least the kind of SF I grew up reading. Which is not to detract from Shelley’s genius – it’s a wonderful title, but I feel if a science fiction writer had written it, the book would have had reams of pages dedicated to the method of instilling life. It’s a much better novel for not including that, of course. And media has certainly taken every opportunity to fill in the blanks anyway.

I find the language of a 200 year old book challenging, but also engaging in a way. I felt it stretching the old synapses in a pleasant way. So much of my reading is conversational text on screens! I’m idly considering what classical literature I should pick up next.

My favorite section was from the monster’s perspective. The monster definitely gets up to some heinous stuff, but his tale elicited my total sympathy. I low-key hated Victor pretty much from the jump, and at no point did he take an action that made me like him. Team Monster all the way. (Team Bear, too).

Tech Woes

About two months ago, my five year old Macbook Pro bought the farm, so I was forced to purchase a new laptop, and it’s a good thing I did, or I would be totally dead in the water right now. My six month old desktop PC, and daily workstation (which I replaced only six months ago due to lightning hitting my network) decided to corrupt Windows. I took it in on a Friday, and got it back later that day. I spent all day Saturday reinstalling my suite of tools, and by Sunday, expected to be back up and running, but it died again, so I took it back on Monday, and I still don’t have it back. I’ve cobbled together something using the Macbook Pro and two of my three external monitors.

I’d honestly be tempted to go totally Macbook Pro for everything if I could get all three of my monitors to work. I’m shocked at how quiet my little office is without the big computer case full of fans running around the clock. Of course, my Macbook Pro isn’t exactly a gaming PC, but do I really need to be spending my precious time playing pointless video games?

Learning the Godot Engine

Monte Cook Games has a need for a 3D visual tool that serves as a player-facing map for their cyberpunk game, and I’ve offered to learn how to build such an app. After reading up on the basics, I settled on utilizing the open source Godot Engine, and set about dedicating much of my spare time to doing tutorials and learning the basics of the engine.

It’s served as a reminder of how much I enjoy learning new technological tools, but also how frustrating it is to have your vision exceed your abilities constantly. Still, before the tech woes I was making great progress towards building various tutorial games and my own attempt at a flash card game to help my son memorize his multiplication tables this summer. Once I have computer stuff situated, I’ll probably dedicate more of my time back to working on those.

RPG Stuff

I’m running three regular campaigns right now. One is a self-created D&D setting/campaign, one is a relatively new campaign of Wildsea, and the last is a campaign of Numenera running the Glimmering Valley adventure.

I’m enjoying all of them! D&D is fun for the players more than the setting and system at this point. I don’t much care for the mechanics of Wildsea, but the world-building lends itself to such a wildly unique form and style of play.

My favorite right now is the Numenera campaign. The Cypher System hits a sweet spot for many of my players–between mechanical crunch and narrative space. It’s supremely easy for me to run as a GM, allowing me the time to focus on the parts of GMing that I like most (story and pacing). That said, it’s also easier to run than the others because I’m using a pre-written adventure.

For the longest time, I looked down on running pre-written adventures, but now I cherish them when I can find one that works for me. They save me so much effort! I love creating a world for my players to explore, but sometimes, there’s just too much work and not enough time. Being able to rely on the hefty back-log of existing material for Numenera has made it my most enjoyable game at the moment because it lets me enjoy the moment a lot more, having that material prepped. There’s so much less pressure than my other games.

But it’s like the difference between a 97% and a 95% on a test. I love all my children equally.

Summer Plans

I’d like to say that we have some exciting plans for the summer, but Sarah has a tendon injury in her foot that has her wearing what we’ve termed affectionately as the “Boot of Slowness +2.” She’s scheduled to start some physical therapy for it in June, months after we started trying to solve the problem. There was insurance coverage chicanery, as you come to expect with most any ailment in the United States these days. Turns out the PT she was sent to first by the primary doc wasn’t in-network. Networks are so dumb.

I have a strong hankering to make my way to one of the MeowWolf exhibits soon. Either the one in Las Vegas or in Denver is doable probably with a short trip. Heal quickly, little tendon!

Anyway, that’s a wrap on what’s been going on this month. Stay tuned for more exciting updates in the life of a middle-aged nerd.

2 thoughts on “May 2024 Life Updates”

  1. My grade three teacher read Frankenstein and each day would tell us what happened in the book she read the prior night. I remember being so captivated with all the story points the Saturday morning cartoons had withheld from me. Maybe it was a weird move for a teacher of 8 year olds but it stayed with me as a core memory.

    1. Jeremiah Tolbert

      Wow, what a great teacher and a great memory. It’s such a great story compared to what we got watered down in pop culture.

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