Archive for Personal Life

That Old Ebb and Flow

I’m feeling rather tired today, in part because we appear to be fighting off yet another illness in the Tolbert household and also for a rather shocking reason: I had trouble putting a book down last night and stayed up too late reading it.

This appears to be the year I finally get around to all the exceptional things that had buzz years ago, so I’m reading The Three Body Problem and so far, I’m hooked. I devoured about a third of it in a single sitting last night. More on it later.

I wish that our form of capitalism had more forgiveness built into it. I’m very lucky that I can take an easy day, but I won’t, because I’ve internalized capitalism just as much as the next poor sap. I’ve got meetings that can’t be delayed and projects that must continue if I want to keep a roof over my head.

I’ve been teetering on the brink of finding it all a bit overwhelming for a while. Not an uncommon sensation for me in February. My list of things that I need to accomplish before our trip in March is not… small. But I find myself wanting to do little more than crawl back into bed with my iPad and keep reading my book. Damn all the capitalist toil.


hippopotamus lying on surface near body of water

Books, Personal Life

The Shower is an Idea Box

I’ve seen others joke about this as well, but I personally find I do most of my serious thinking when I’m in the shower. Many of my best ideas come to me in the shower. In my most recent shower, I spent some time thinking about why that might be.

The obvious conclusion is that it’s because none of my internet connected devices are waterproof. The shower is also typically a place where it is okay to be alone and not talking with family. Finally, there’s the whole “white noise causes relaxation” thing. Plus, the hot water is very comfortable as well.

The formula goes something like this: lack of distractions plus lack of isolation plus white noise generator/physical comfort = ideas.

I find myself considering discarding my cell phone, or at least my smart phone. I wonder if I should go back to a dedicated e-reader that has no browser or social media on it (currently, I use my iPad as my e-reader). But the idea is tinged with fear, because that enemy boredom lurks just around the corner.

I remember what it was like in the pre-times. I remember how boring it was to wait for something if I didn’t have a book handy. Hell, I think my entire childhood could be described as long bouts of boredom punctuated by moments of terror and excitement.

I’m not sure I have truly experienced more than 30 seconds of boredom since 2008.

The problem is, I can’t escape the idea that solid thinking/ideas time and boredom may be inextricably linked. By feeding ourselves mental input every waking moment, we never give our minds a chance to contemplate, to consider, to formulate new ideas. It’s so much easier to repeat someone else’s ideas if all you do is consume things all day. I find myself doing that more and more as I get older. Or, I find myself developing opinions like “well, my social tribe says X about that, and I don’t have time to think deeply about it, so I guess I believe X too.” That makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like outsourcing my opinions and beliefs like that if I can help it.

What next? I guess I work on overcoming my fear of boredom, and build moments of boredom back into my life here and there. I feel lit can only benefit me mentally, intellectually, and possibly even emotionally.

Time to think. What a luxury that sounds like!


Happy Wild Animal Sighting of the Day

On my way back from running an errand to my parents’ place, I drove past the Wakarusa Wetlands. I’m used to seeing red tailed hawks, marsh hawks, crows, ducks, and herons out there, but what I’m not used to seeing are bald eagles.

I spotted two mature bald eagles in a tree just off the road, overlooking one of the large ponds. Seeing bald eagles in the area generally isn’t too hard; you can usually find them on the Kaw River over on the other side of town, where they hunt the carp that are plentiful. Seeing them at the wetlands isn’t something I can recall ever having happened to me before.

Back in Colorado, I used to chase the local bald eagles with my camera. Never got a great shot of any of them, much to my chagrin. They were very skittish birds, and prone to flying away if I got close enough to fill the frame on my Olympus camera. Bird photography seems to do a lot better if you have a blind, but I’ve only gotten to use one a handful of times.

Anyway, it instantly made my day as do most wildlife sightings. I swear, if I lived some place like Costa Rica or Alaska, I might die of happiness. Wildlife is the best thing for a dreary February.


bald eagle above brown frield

Personal Life, Photography

Reevaluating Goals for the Year

Over the last few weeks, some of the fun and spark of joy in painting miniatures has evaporated, and I’ve had to give it some thought.

I think setting myself a goal of painting one miniature per day is the reason why. I’ve started painting not because it’s fun, but because I have a goal, and nothing takes the fun out of something like treating it like a job. So moving forward, I’m removing that goal from my mind. I’ll paint when I want, what I want, and I’ll be doing it for the pleasure of it, not because I am putting myself on some kind of stupid sigma grindset.

Doing something repeatedly is a good way to get better at it, but doing something as a chore is a good way to start doing it very sloppily.

As far as blogging, I’ll keep that up. Setting a goal of doing it every day is still helpful. And yes, sometimes I make a shitty post here and there, but they can’t all be winners, and hardly anybody is reading this anyway. Mostly, I’m using it as a means of excercising my writing muscles, so it doesn’t really matter what I write. Only that I do. But if it becomes a bore of a chore, I’ll drop this goal too.

Setting goals for fun things is tricky. That’s my first lesson for 2023. I’m sure I have a lot more coming.


Things I never expected to forget

I am feeling rather old and melancholy today. Here’s a list of things I have unexpectedly forgotten:

  • The names of my elementary school teachers
  • My first crush
  • When I decided it was time settle for the life I have
  • What it felt like to run as fast as I can
  • What it felt like to be young enough to not know any better
  • How to be earnest without feeling ashamed and guilty about it
  • The sound of my father’s voice and laugh

If only I’d been a blogger in my youth, then I might remember all these things.


What does it take to form a habit?

Well. 25 days. That’s how long I went without missing a blog post.

I’m not beating myself up about it. Forming habits is hard, and yesterday was a day of many different tasks, including running my bi-weekly post-apocalyptic D&D game. This week, they met the priestesses of the Temple of Shells. They’re giant psychic eggs that never hatch. It’s a weird campaign. Anyway–

I’ve read books about forming habits and stuff, but I think they’re mostly aimed at younger people. I have found it incredibly difficult at this stage in my life to form new habits. I can practice a task for literal months, then suddenly fall off the wagon.

I used to journal in my Evernote. I went for a year and a half. Then I missed one day, and I haven’t done it in a year! I spent six months doing morning brain training games. I haven’t done it in several months. I don’t even really know when or why I stopped. I actually enjoyed those!

Is this a problem unique to me? The only habits I ever seem to develop anymore are bad ones. The ones I try to consciously develop always require effort, and I’ve yet to really succeed at forming one and putting it on autopilot. I guess I need to read more books about it or something.

I do find repetition incredibly difficult, and I get bored easily doing the same thing over and over. Novelty is what I crave in life. I suppose this trait and my failure to form habits might be related…

I’m cheating and back-posting this one to Thursday. Truth is, I realized I had forgotten to write it while I was in bed last night, so I sketched out this post in my head to post this morning. I’m calling that as fitting. I MAKE THE RULES HERE!

I’ll post another one later today. Hopefully for my six readers, the effect will be seamless…


toddler looking at believe in yourself graffiti

Personal Life

Human Society: It’s For the Birds

I’m not really a fan of this whole society and culture thing, and generally speaking, I’d rather not participate.

As it turns out, that seems to be increasingly true for many. So many in-person events seem to be dying off. Our board game nights have a fraction of attendance compared to what they once had. Did the COVID pandemic break something fundamental to our human spirits? Does technology eventually lead to alienation?

I’m no luddite, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the Internet has gone terribly wrong, and thanks to that, our societies are crumbling. Then again, they weren’t that great in the first place, were they?

Perhaps as an introvert, I should be pleased that civilization is so prepared to make it possible for me to live in relative societal isolation. It’d almost be cool, if I didn’t enjoy the company of smart people so much.


Almost Ready to Capitalism Again and Velma

I’ve felt considerably better today than I did on Friday, which was a rare “day of little work” for me, but I’d say I’m still only at about 75% of my best. I’ll work tomorrow, undoubtedly, but I will have to be forgiving with myself if I don’t accomplish as much as a usual Monday. Gotta keep the wheels grinding.

Because of the sickness, I missed a Friday RPG game that I run (Blades in the Dark) and a Sunday game that I play in. I will admit to enjoying having weekends off from time to time, but I’m pretty sure I begin to have a crisis of identity if I got more than a couple of weeks without running a game of some kind. Instead of doing the hard work of running a game for others, I’ve been passing the time more passively, and I have thoughts about it.

Today, I watched all four (so far) released episodes of the new TV animated series, Velma. You’ve probably heard that it’s an atrocity against our childhoods, the worst thing ever made, and the creators should be banned from ever working again in Hollywood. Well, that’s all bullshit with a side order of misogyny.

It’s not… good, mind you. Many of the jokes fall flat for me, but over the four episodes, I have seen some growth in quality and substance. A lot of the reactions online have been to how “different” the characters are, like they’ve never heard of the concept of prequel before? Also, Velma is deeply unlikeable and doesn’t have a clue who she is. This is a deadly sin to the haters online. It’s fine. Velma is interesting here, as are the others, and clearly she has a lot of growing to do. I’m interested in the mystery and also how they become the characters we know so well. I don’t give a shit about how the characters have been altered as far as race or sexuality. It adds depth, and is one of the aspects of the show that actually works out of the box. The absence of Scooby is no big deal.

I’m not entirely sure who the intended audience is for the show. Probably not people my age. Probably not me! And that’s okay! As usual, I think there’s a faction on the internet mostly just hates Mindy Kaling, and will take any opportunity to express it. Dumb. She’s a talented comedienne, even if she’s not my favorite. It’s okay to not like things, but when you make not liking something or someone your whole purpose for living, that’s pretty gross and sad. Entitlement is not a good look on anybody.

I do wish I could say that I loved it, and that it was really good. Nothing makes me feel more special than loving something others hate. Sadly, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and I don’t expect much. But it’s watchable. I’ll finish the first season, which is more than I can say for Willow. Shrug-emoji.


cup of coffee near MacBook Pro

Personal Life

Saturday Is For Recovery

I have done pretty much nothing for 24 hours except watch That 90s Show on Netflix (jury’s still out, but I have nostalgia for That 70s Show) and play a modded Minecraft pack (Vault Hunters, it’s infuriating). Also, cough, sneeze, and blow my nose. I think the split between activity and disease symptoms is about 50/50.

I do feel a little better today. When I was painting a miniature last night, snot dripped out of my nose and formed a pool on the table. I eventually shoved a tissue into each nostril so that I wouldn’t drip on the mini. I looked like some kind of deranged paper-based walrus. Today, I haven’t had to do that, and I actually managed to sleep almost seven hours last night. Progress!

Getting sick is definitely my least favorite thing about getting older. Colds used to barely register for me, but now they wallop me. And yes, I took a COVID test. I was negative–just a regular run-of-the-mill rhinovirus this time.


white tissue paper in blue box

Personal Life

Sick But, Things to Look Forward to

Well, the COVID test says I don’t have COVID, but boy do I feel off. I’ve got head congestion, but worse, I’ve got a lot of muscle aches and my chest hurts. Very much not fun, especially given that I’ve already had a cold once in the past six months. I guess the quarantine days did a real number on my immunity.

Anyway, due to sickness I’m falling behind on Frostgrave battle reports. We played a four player game last night that was absolutely great fun. More on that later. Today, I’ll just write a list of things to which I am looking forward, to put it in proper grammatical structure despite this making me sound like a twit.

In the video game world, I’m anticipating Son of the Forest. I never played the Forest and at this point, it seems too late to do so, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’m hoping to rope a few friends into that weird body horror survival game. There are others, but I think that’s the first one coming. I don’t have the strength to search up others right now.

Season 3 of Mandalorian has dropped a trailer and that has me eager to see more of the adventure of Grogu. Djin who? I heard a rumor that we see more of Pedro Pascal this season. Speaking of him, I guess The Last of Us is a pretty good show. I don’t need anything post-apocalyptic right now, though, so I’m skipping it. I’ll binge it later when I am less bothered by the idea of a disease destroying the world. I’m pretty sure my hypochondriac-ass would watch it and become convinced it’s infected with cordyceps.

Film-wise, I don’t think there’s really anything on the horizon that has me excited this year. Yeah, sure, there’s a march of Marvel stuff that I will probably watch on streaming. What else? Not much–well, except maybe for this obvious piece of crap:

I’m there day one. Also, still need to go see Avatar 2: The Retreading. My Mom texted me to ask to go see it with us, which was a shock. I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the theater with my Mom. Maybe Jurassic Park? Apparently she saw the last one in the theater and loved it. We may have to find it on Imax. Assuming it’s still in theaters when I’m no longer sick.

Okay, there, I blogged. Now I’m headed back to mindlessly watching shitty Youtube videos with the kid and trying to remain as motionless as possible.


white ceramic mug on white table beside black eyeglasses

Personal Life