A Really Good Post About Layoffs

Cory Doctorow writes about the current state of capitalism better than almost anybody on the net. I like his books, of course, but his blogging has only gotten better since he (apparently?) left BoingBoing.

As tech giants reach terminal enshittification, hollowed out to the point where they are barely able to keep their end-users or business customers locked in, the capital classes are ready for the final rug-pull, where all the value is transfered from people who make things for a living to people who own things for a living.

“Activist investors” have triggered massive waves of tech layoffs, firing so many tech workers so quickly that it’s hard to even come up with an accurate count. The total is somewhere around 280,000 workers:

Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic

My vote for word of the year is definitely “enshittification.”



Spring Has Sprung

I’m working on a longer post about our vacation in Florida – I have a lot to say about the theme park experience, and several people have asked me for tips. It’s going to take me a few days to process all my thoughts about it, so instead, I’m blogging about the first day of spring.

It doesn’t feel very spring-like here this year, compared to past years. The earliest flowers came and went in February, and now we’re waiting on crocuses and daffodils to make their appearance. The trees are about to burst into bloom. Birdsong is quiet, due to the high winds we’re experiencing. Temperature-wise, it definitely feels like spring, but the forecast calls for at least one more freezing day ahead of us.

Still, today is the official first day of Spring and I intend to embrace that. I spent much of the weekend cleaning, organizing, and generally trying to improve our lives in tiny ways that hopefully add up in the end to a noticeable impact. I feel like we all walk around with metaphorical pebbles in our shoes, irritating us, but the effort to remove them is too much, so we continue living with them. I know I do this, but sometimes, especially after I’ve had a chance to rest and recuperate on a vacation or something like that, then I feel empowered to deal with those things.

I started with our trashcans. We’ve had the same ugly plastic, broken trashcans for a decade, and trash can technology has gotten crazy. I splurged one some fancy ones for the kitchen and the bathroom. Before I tell you which ones, we’ll live with them for a while to make sure they are actual improvements. The foot pedal lid on the dual trash/recycling one is already getting a lot of use. And the bathroom has a fancy sensor so you don’t even have to touch it. Both are stainless steel and advertised as being resistant to fingerprints.

We’ll see about that.

I’m also printing various space organizers and things, alongside some requested prints for friends and family. I enjoy using my 3D printers to help people with things. If you’re local to me and need a little something printed up, let me know. I’m getting pretty good with the new tree supports in Prusa Slicers, so I am finding it easier to print fancy things. I’m also about to take the dive into printing with PETG for the first time, which means I’ll be able to print things that can be kept outside. Most of what I print with will melt and warp on a hot day, so that’s a step forward for me.

For a long time, my interest in 3D printing was relegated mostly to gaming, but I find myself increasingly wanting to live in the real world, and that means functional prints. It’s a whole new world for me, and I’m excited to learn all about it.

In reading news, I finished Murderbot book #2 and Psalm for the Wild-Built over the past few days, as well as caught up on all the released episodes of Station 151, a podcast produced by some local friends of mine. I commented to some friends on Discord recently that reading for pleasure has been one of the most positive changes in my life in recent memory. Writing had me reading not for pleasure, but as a kind of chore, and now that I’m mostly retired from that pursuit, I can read things that speak to my soul, not aimed at growing my skillset. I’ve already read more books in three months than I did all last year.

Books. So good. Don’t sleep on books, y’all.

Photo by Arno Smit via Unsplash.


low angle photo of cherry blossoms tree

Books, Freelancing, Personal Life

Am I even an adult?

The title of this post is a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately. I mean, obviously, I’m 45 years old, but my mental image of myself stopped growing older around 22 (coincidentally, my mental image of myself is also a lot skinnier). I think of myself as a “kid” in most conversations, unless the people i’m talking to are obviously younger than me. Then I seem to adopt some kind of “elder statesman” role.

But I never really feel like an adult. It’s a sensation I’ve been anticipating for decades now, and it never shows up. I’m not even sure what that would be. Would it mean that I suddenly take an interest in golf and lawn care? Fuck if I know.

There was a moment when I was reading STILL LIFE and the characters were having a dinner party and I felt like maybe I was missing out on something. I haven’t been to a dinner party in… decades, maybe? The idea of getting together with a group of folks with no ulterior purpose is almost alien to me. Before COVID, I used to get together with groups, but it was always to do things like watch bad movies or play board games or RPGs. Never to just eat and talk like that?

It felt very “adult” and it made me wonder if my interests, like all the games and such, are holding me back from achieving some kind of maturity. I love conversation with people, and I miss it. I sometimes get to have fun conversations at other things, but rarely just conversation. There’s always something else in the mix.

Sarah and I used to talk about hosting dinner parties, but then we had the boy and it’s hard to host a dinner party in a tiny house where an eight year old is playing Minecraft 2 feet away from the table and loudly narrating the whole thing as if he’s a Youtuber.

It’s got me thinking if maybe I need to “mature” out of some of my childlike interests, like miniatures and video games and find more “adult” friends. Serious people. Why? Maybe I’m missing out on some aspect of life that is really important.

But most of the serious people I’ve met seemed pretty miserable, so I’m really not sure about all that. Something I will continue to ponder.


Marvel Crisis Protocol

I had the pleasure of getting to play a game of Marvel Crisis Protocol the other day. This is a miniatures skirmish game set in the Marvel universe. Each player controls 4-6 heroes or villains and pull scenarios from a deck of cards that set the way to gain points. You play up to six rounds of back-and-forth, taking objectives and beating the snot out of each other.

At one point, I used MODOK to telekinetically throw a dumpster at Doc Oc.

I could probably end my blog post there, and you know based on just that sentence if this game is right for you. From my single play experience, I would say it captures the fun of superhero fights from comic books. It’s a nice medium complexity, more crunchy with rules than, say, Frostgrave or other Osprey titles. But not quite as complicated as Malifaux. A tad bit more rich than something like Warcry or Killteam.

The characters do have a lot of options and mechanics and powers on them, so if you dive right in with five characters like I did, take 10 minutes to read them carefully. The person who was teaching me helped keep it all straight, but there were several tactical blunders I made by not reading the characters’ abilities closely enough. For instance, I treated MODOK as a weakling when he was actually a big ol whirling dervish of death, which I realized only too late.

I don’t think it’s one that I would pick up and purchase myself. For one, I have zero interest in painting anything “comic book accurate.” That’s just not my style. I’m more intrigued by the Star Wars Shatterpoint game that they’re launching this summer that plays very similiarly, although I have the same problem. I like being able to paint my minis however the fancy strikes me, and these games feel like they really want you to paint the minis in a “true to media” fashion.

And yes, it has passed my mind more than once that my fascination with miniatures games in my forties is a bit childish. In fact, it’s been grating on me for a while now how many of my hobbies could be said to be “for kids.” I’ve got another blog post ruminating on this and what it means for me.


lego minifig on green grass during daytime


What to Write About That Isn’t Me

One frustration I have with this blog is that most of my posts are all about me. I would like to write about things that aren’t me, but when I ask myself to do that, I draw a blank. I’m not sure if its even possible for me to write anything that isn’t somehow relating back to me personally.

This probably marks me as an extreme narcissist, except I don’t really like myself that much, so I’m not sure. I was accused in college of being really self-centered, and that much I think I can definitely cop to. I don’t have a defense against the notion that I center myself in most of my thoughts. It’s not that I can’t think about or care about others. I think I do, especially when externally prompted. It’s that I have long had rooted deep inside that if I’m not looking out for my own needs, nobody will be. The way I’ve tried to put it, which barely makes sense is: “my own thoughts are very, very loud in my head.” I am my own favorite subject, I guess.

As I barrel towards old age, I want to get outside of my own head. I often say I want a vacation from being me. I don’t want to be self-centered the point of myopia. I don’t really know how to break this habit. It feels way deeper than a habit.

As always, open to suggestions.


Personal Life

Mystery and Crime Reads to End February

I continue to be on a bit of a tear this year with my reading. I’ve found reading novels to be the balm for my social-media-tortured soul. For so long, I’ve been refreshing the same dumb websites, looking for something, but it turns out, whatever it was I was looking for, I find it in the most old-fashioned of pages. Go figure.

I put a call out on my Facebook for cozy novels, which mostly got me mystery novel recommendations. As can be the case, people’s definitions of “cozy” varied wildly and ultimately it kind of felt like a list of general recommendations. About the only thing that got a secondary recommendation was the Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny. So I picked up Still Life, the first in the series.

I actually started out reading mysteries before moving to SF/F in elementary school, so it’s a genre I do enjoy. This was no exception. The POV floats around like a ghost, though, which is really weird for me having been stuck in such limited perspectives in SF/F for years. Head-hopping ln the same scene, which I’d always been told to never do back when I was writing, but I liked it here. There were times where I felt like my POV was the ghost of the victim, in fact. Coziness factor would be about a 6.5 out of 10. There’s a lot of Canadian political tension I didn’t expect, and a few really unlikable characters. I’m probably going to buy the second one and continue though, as I absolutely adored Armand Gamache himself. What an idea – a kind-hearted detective. I’m so used to the brilliant but cold types.

Tonight, I finished a noir/crime book called Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. I picked this up on the recommendation of Nick Mamatas, who has never steered me wrong on a book. Published originally in 1953 (a fact I had missed in the original recommendation, so I had found it very oddly quaint when first reading it, thinking it was a contemporary novel), and for me, it’s an instant classic. I had never heard of Chaze before, but this work felt easily on par, in prose and style, with what little I’ve read of Chandler and the like. I came to read it like a Greek tragedy. There’s always this inevitable downfall in pulp crime novels, and this one lets you know from early on that it is no exception. After spending so much time reading longer novels, it was nice to pick up one that I could finish in a couple of days.

That’s enough for now. I’m having so much pain in my shoulders that typing is getting kind of hard. Been sleeping hard lately, I guess, and waking up very sore. Blogging for the rest of the week is likely to be shorter than this, at least until I can wake up without feeling like someone spent the night beating me about the head and shoulders with a bat.


close-up photo of blue bird


A Time to Change Things

Every February for approximately the last twenty years, I become convinced that everything in my life is wrong and I must change and rearrange my life to become truly happy. This, of course, is bullshit.

It’s seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that manifests the worst for me in February, and a type that has only gotten worse since the pandemic. Every February, I have to fight urges to fire my best clients, desires to completely change my career, to sell my house and move to the other side of the world. Absolutely nothing is satisfactory, and everything irritates.

February. The shortest month, in actual days, but the longest for me in terms of sheer misery.

I have gotten much better at understanding what February does to me over the years. I browse my Facebook memories in February with a kind of morbid fascination, traveling backward in time and watching myself become more and more unhinged. Self-awareness has not come easily where it comes to mental illness, I guess. Now days, I understand just how crazy I am. Most of my long term clients should probably also know that February is not a month in which I should be taken very seriously, or given serious tasks.

February, for most of my life, has been a month to bear. A month to do little more than survive.

Now the end draws year. The seasons are turning, and, well, I wish I could say I feel better, but my SAD does not respect the temporal boundaries of a calendar. Instead, I feel like I’m a half-dead animal trying to drag myself over the finishing line of a race. Or a dehydrated beast, near death of thirst, trying to pull myself up to the drinking hole. For me, the drinking hole is a week off of vacation.

Twenty years I have tried to change everything about myself, but the one thing I’ve never succeeded at is getting rid of my bizzare need for change in February. Now I just ride it out, as best I can. Still riding it out, but I can see that it’ll be over soon. I owe a special thanks to my friends and family who put up with me in this season.

But… I should consider a career change. Are there still stevedores? I’m not even sure what that is, but I like the sound of it.


selective focus photography of green succulents in snow

Personal Life

About D&D and Changes

Dungeons and Dragons is currently playtesting its next edition, which means lots of nerdy changes and updates coming. I’m mostly ambivalent except I still read what others say about it online and so I had some thoughts about the process the game seems to be undergoing this time around.

In particular, the Druid class, which has always had some weird abilities to turn into animals of various stats, is receiving some streamlining updates that take away a lot of the weirdness and try to make playing the class more simple. As I wrote recently on a client’s Slack:

It seems like the push in design for D&D now is to grind down all the odd bits and make it “balanced,” but I’ve long thought part of its appeal is the weird bits, the things that grognards and nerds can obsess over and master.

I remember reading this essay, or maybe just a reference to it, a few years back about how the things we end up romanticizing about dead media formats are the things we hated most about them – the flaws in cassette tapes become the defining elements about them that we remember.  And for me, the defining bits of old D&D are things like this that will be smoothed over, plastered and whitewashed.  They’ll be like old advertising slogans on the sides of ancient buildings. If you squint, you’ll almost be able to make out their shape.

But it won’t be the shape of a mouse until level 11.

As it turns out, the “essay” I was remembering was Brian Eno. “Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature.”

I guess the weird, ugly bits of D&D will forever be its signature for me.


green and black dice on brown wooden table


In Response to Frustrations with the City of Lawrence

Over on Reddit, there was a post that has been the subject of a lot of my thinking today, between work projects and hanging out with the kiddo. I’m reproducing my response to it here for myself because I want to think more about this issue. Below, my comment, copied and pasted:

I’ve been thinking about this post all day. I moved back to Lawrence ten years ago, strongly based on my memories of growing up here in the 90s, and I definitely get a “vibe” that Lawrence is becoming a less friendly place for me to live. I’ve spent a lot of time interrogating that idea, wondering what it means. Is it because Lawrence is changing, or because I am growing older? What is it that I want Lawrence to do? Are there other towns I think get it right? Am I willing to be the change I want to see, and to step up and get involved? No easy answers.

I’ve considered getting involved in local politics because I know Lawrence as a community can do better and feel like we must do better if we want better. But I’ve also watched closely many city leaders on social media and seen how the experience has impacted them, and truth be told, I think Lawrence, like much of the U.S., is a deeply divided place, not just along the usual ideological lines, but economic and social ones as well. Being in leadership in this town is quite frankly, humiliating and seems pretty darned traumatic at times. Who has the energy for being disliked by so many people? Not me.

Lawrence basically cannot make up its mind about what it wants to be anymore (if it ever could). There’s no shared vision for this town that unites us (the closest thing seems to be a love for KU basketball, but that doesn’t get us very far). Any attempt to steer it with a vision seems to enrage a percentage of the population. And this feeling has only gotten worse to me in the last few years, with COVID. It’s a large problem for the country writ small in my opinion. No vision, so no forward momentum.

And I feel like we’re all in a bit of a malaise post COVID in other ways. This is represented well in the food scene. About the only restaurants I still enjoy eating at are Big Mill and Lucky Sebs. So much has gone up in price, and quality and service has suffered. But is that because COVID ruined my taste buds? Because inflation means it’s impossible to make a survivable living in food services in this region so everyone quality has fled, or been forced to cut corners to make it? And a number of service people straight up died in the pandemic, too, right? Looking at the labor shortage, I try to remind myself that has to be a factor (although maybe a smaller one).

I’m in my mid-40s now and I miss the surety I had about how to solve problems in my 20s and 30s. I’m a lot more tired now, and sometimes even just thinking about the problems our community faces leave me feeling overwhelmingly exhausted, and nothing feels like an “easy” answer anymore. Probably none of my answers were actually easy before. The certainty of being right is gone, now, anyway.

I get how you’re feeling. I really do. It’s easy to get angry at people pointing out the downsides of a place you call home, so I also get how people have reacted to this post.

Me, I hunger for strong leadership with strong ideas about how to move our community forward. I don’t think I’m smart enough to have the ideas, but I’ll definitely be watching and provide my support to whoever does. We need solutions, or things will continue to feel aimless and like a slow, steady decline.

I doubt we’re going to find it here on Reddit, but who knows. Maybe we will. I would love to see more serious conversations about the future of our community here. I appreciate your willingness to push the hard conversations we probably need to have.


people standing near sunflower field