Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 July 2018 - Tuesday

Since the Internet has been all abuzz about it for ages, I gave money to Amazon for the first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Marith and I watched the first four episodes. It was pretty entertaining, and I even didn't want to strangle Jake all the time after a few episodes. (Also I see why the Internet has a crush on Diaz.) But I still feel faintly dirty for watching cop-humanizing propaganda.

The Expert System's Brother (Adrian Tchaikovsky) is kind of a retro story, of humans living in a strange environment and behaving strangely and how they got to be that way, but with a slightly more modern sensibility.

On the other hand, The Descent of Monsters (JY Yang) is kind of cracktastic. It follows on from The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, with more Asian fantasy intrigue and no explanation of the weird things going on. That's a lot of doom, though.

Words: 260. No, this is all terrible. Even in the character's voice, infodumps are still infodumps. I should die in this pit now.

Words: FAIL.

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30 July 2018 - Monday

Words: 185. I still don't know what to write. I've tried starting this at a million different points, but none of them seem right. Maybe it's because I don't have a plot, and writing without knowing where you're going only works the first time. Or maybe I'm just stupid and can't write. Yah, that seems pretty likely.

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29 July 2018 - Sunday

No Deirdre, but we had everyone else for PAD&D5.

Having escaped [SPOILER] at the end of last session, the Heroines of Red Larch find themselves in yet another labyrinth (without Hazelrae, who is borrowed by a passing vatch), but a helpful surf [SPOILER] directs them to the sort of hive of commerce they had been hoping to find at their last stop. Hurray! An extended shopping sequence ensues, at the end of which the Heroines have exchanged hundredweights of gold for several exciting magic items (Lam has her shield of missile attraction!) and a conveyance to get to where they hear they could get home if they can deal with... Walter. They also have discovered a [SPOILER] in need of saving from an arranged marriage, who tempts the Heroines with knowledge of a better way home, if only they can retrieve [SPOILER] for her. The reward is enough for the sidequest!

Before they get anywhere useful, their craft is attacked by Walter, a [SPOILER] of extraordinary magnitude, who demands another side quest. At least he hangs on to the [SPOILER] as a hostage, so it's only an item retrieval quest, not an escort quest.

Unfortunately, the creepy ruins turn out to be inhabited by [SPOILER]s, which can take people out of the fight with one bad roll (our speciality!), and also [SPOILER], so although by the numbers it should have been quite doable, the Heroines are ignominiously crushed, stripped of their water-breathing items, and left to drown. Naturally they escape to their vessel to plot revenge, but that escape seemed awfully easy. Something is up!

I still don't know what I think about having another person in my apartment, but at least instead of staring blankly into empty space tumblr all evening, we got Marith caught up on MHA.

Words: 152.

Weakest total ever: 1177.

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28 July 2018 - Saturday

No Marith for anime, she is dead from work. Jus is very distraught, and also Marith is missing marshmallow toasting.

  • Sailor Moon S 24: Outer Senshi, stop being such snobs!
  • My Hero Academia 29: In case we forgot this is a shonen show: two-episode-long fight scene! But, superheroes. And it's not like the fight scenes aren't where the character development happens.
  • Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions 2.1: They say they're dating, but...

Words: 104. I had to trundle home at a million o'clock at night and also I don't know what to write because everything is stupid and maybe I should have stuck with what I had before.

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27 July 2018 - Friday

Black Helicopters (Caitlín Kiernan) follows from Agents of Dreamland, I think, or at least one or more characters seem the same. It is pretty hallucinatory, and mocks your notions of linear time and personal identity, for obvious reasons.

Words: 124. I don't know how to write. I don't know what to write. I spent most of my writing time reading through stuff I wrote before, and, well, it's mostly spelled correctly. That's about the best I can say for it. Maybe I should die in a pit.

(Okay, it's not quite that bad. Reading a page often makes me want to read the next page, but reading something I wrote is such a different experience from reading something someone else wrote that I don't know whether it means anything.)

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26 July 2018 - Thursday

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Becky Chambers) has even less derring-do than the previous books in the series. It's slice-of-lives set in the Exodus Fleet, which we had heard about in the previous books but not seen. The Fleet isn't fully-automated (increasing automation is one of the social problems they have to deal with, in fact), and it's the opposite of luxury, but it's definitely queer space capitalism. People still definitely have problems (many related to being young), but it's an interesting egalitarian and sustainable society.

Words: 148.

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25 July 2018 - Wednesday

No one complained about the Thai food I got for 13th Age, so yay me.

This session, we managed to finish the rest of the fight from last week, without getting exploded or losing what we came to steal, and met up with an undead white dragon the size of a castle, who got someone to give us a ride to where we now know the Devourer is rampaging. If we ever got to start gaming before 20:30, maybe we'd be able to finish this campaign!

Reading things that are not by middle-class, middle-aged white guys is always good, so once Prime Day (and presumably the Spanish strike, although it's hard to tell from English-language sites) was over, I picked up Nnedi Okorafor's "Binti" series (Binti, Binti: Home, and Binti: The Night Masquerade). I liked them, but I'm really not sure what genre they're in. They are ostensibly SF, but more like fantasy in terms of individual power. But at least they don't explain things! (The distinction between genres is probably a colonialist construct anyway, and I'm not being entirely facetious there.) Seeing a different perspective on family, war, higher education, and alien technology was definitely worthwhile, even though humans don't necessarily come off well.

Words: 165.

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24 July 2018 - Tuesday

Words: 239. What do I write?!

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23 July 2018 - Monday

Earl described Medusa Uploaded (Emily Devenport) as "generation-ship Gothic" and that seems pretty accurate, although the main character is the thing that comes in the night for depraved aristocrats, rather than an aristocrat herself. But it's dark and lonely and everything is layers of secrets, not just about what people are doing but about the entire context of everything. Tentacles are definitely involved.

Words: 245. I need something interesting to happen!

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22 July 2018 - Sunday

Marith somehow missed ever seeing Mulan, but Netflix was willing to show it to us. Hm. Well, it was twenty years ago, people were not as woke. But it would better if it were more like Nirvana in Fire.

I think Competence (Gail Carriger) finishes off the "Custard Protocol" series. At least, all the major characters are paired off, except the one who's not that into it. I guess there was some plot stuff, too, but really it was all about the werelion romance.

Words: 251.

Weekly total: 2473. Not too bad, considering I don't know what to write next.

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21 July 2018 - Saturday

Being more organized and less stupid about shopping works better, surprisingly.

Instead of the usual Chinese food, I had four flavors of diet Dr Pepper (and also a chicken sandwich) and 80s music to go with my pad games.

Nirvana in Fire was so much fun last week that we decided to do it again this week! But first we had to eat many tasty foods and let Jus watch anime.

  • Sailor Moon S 22-23: Yay Hotaru! Oh, and some plot stuff. And Mimete, who Jus likes the most.
  • Nirvana in Fire 46: There's the hook for Nirvana in Fire II: Historic Boogaloo!
  • Nirvana in Fire 47: Awww! But now many people know the Awful Truth, and more suspect it. The last seven episodes should be very exciting.

Volume 3 of Astra (Kenta Shinohara) is the beach episode, but does finally get back to the mysterious mystery and ends on a cliffhanger. (I understand the market demands long manga, but I think there could be more cliffhangers.)

Words: 241.

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20 July 2018 - Friday

Yay, I avoided the work picnic. Now all my coworkers hate me. But at least I'm not sunburned.

For lack of anything less productive to do, Marith and I watched episodes 4-7 of Galavant. It is very silly. Also, Galavant is a terrible judge of character.

Words: 442.

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19 July 2018 - Thursday

In The Blood (Nancy A Collins), sequel to Sunglasses After Dark, is just as 80s and just as violent. Also, thinly-disguised Winchester Mystery House. There are two more books in this collection, but I'm not going to bother to read them now. Maybe later. Maybe not.

Words: 438.

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18 July 2018 - Wednesday

I think we've forgotten how to play 13th Age, or maybe everyone was just too cranky (despite the ample supply of pizza). It is not the game where we should be spending an hour and a half arguing about plans. We barely managed to finish the E1 round, after lying our way in until we got spotted and then charging resulted in a big fight.

A commenter on WHTM recommended Sunglasses After Dark (Nancy A Collins), and I vaguely remember Earl having read it approximately 1000 years ago, so I snarfed the series from Amazon (this was before the Spanish strike). Much 80s. Very angst. Wow.

Words: 128.

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17 July 2018 - Tuesday

Words: 652.

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16 July 2018 - Monday

Deep Roots (Ruthanna Emrys) gets several indescribable appendages up. Once again, Aphra talks to sophonts, and somehow does not die. (There is not much fighting, although there is plenty of danger.) We get to see more advanced sorcery, more of Audrey's family, more exotic sophonts that are not as malevolent as Lovecraft might lead one to believe, and Deep One smooches.

But then I was out of Emrys, so I read Agents of Dreamland (Caitlín Kiernan), which is much shorter and more doomed Cthulhu Mythos, in which everyone is much less sympathetic and there is more mycology. Bad mycology.

Words: 321.

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15 July 2018 - Sunday

PAD&D5 again?! Madness!

After a sky-sailing montage, the Heroines of Red Larch get dropped off at [SPOILER], where they hope to find a way back home. However, everything is shut down due to impending weather, so all they can do is try to get an audience with the local ruler, who promptly imprisons them all for having a descriptor in common with his ex. (Because what's the point of being an absolute monarch if you can't take out your personal frustrations on random travelers?)

After being locked up together for a subjective eternity, the Heroines are freed on the word of someone they helped before, who turns out to be a minor personage locally. However, the closest thing to a way home on offer is being kicked out of the city and left to hike to [SPOILER]. That obviously beats staying locked up together for any more time at all, so the Heroines set out just as enemy forces assault the [SPOILER]. Although the attackers are related to an enemy of theirs, the conflict is not on a scale they can affect, and the locals were rude to them, so they break through the enemy lines and make good their escape.

The invaders pursue the Heroines into the trackless [SPOILER], but are soon left behind, at the minor cost of getting completely lost. Selûne's power guides them to where they need to go, though, and despite the hostile wildlife, manage to get through into [SPOILER], where they can probably survive for as much as several hours while they look for a way home.

Words: 191.

Madness by Jeremy (Sat Jul 21 14:16:04 2018)

Madness? THIS IS PALO ALTO!!!!!

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14 July 2018 - Saturday

We may have too much stuff in our apartment, but at least we have cleaners!

Earl and Cat (who has a fabulous new dress) made the trek down from Palo Alto, but first, there was Steven Universe!

  • Steven Universe 5.23: Awwwwwww! (Also, cartoons have levelled up!)
  • Steven Universe 5.24: That is exactly the mode of combat I expected. But now there is another cliffhanger! Arrgh!

Jus was so good about not spoiling us!

  • Nirvana in Fire 43: This is the episode in which people stay behind to cover other people's escapes!
  • Nirvana in Fire 44: This is the episode in which armies clash! (Sadly, none of their armor seems to do anything. I think they bought from the same arms dealer that supplies Storm Troopers.)
  • Nirvana in Fire 45: This is the episode in which the awesome princess shows up again! Also, Sir Su explains trolling, and the beast of Jiu An Mountain.

Something about the art, or maybe just the cover art, made me hope that Monster Tamer Girls (Mujirushi Shimazaki) would be awesome like Alien Nine, but no such luck.

The Kickstart has completed, so the Champions Now alpha release (Ron Edwards) is available for backers to playtest. Lacking a group to play with, though, all I can do is read it.

Mechanically, it is very similar to Champions 3e (incidentally, PDFs of Champions 3e are part of the Kickstarter rewards). PD and ED are combined, SPD is not figured and only goes up to 8, and the table-based powers (Telepathy, Mind Control) are probably different, but all the clunky bits (VPPs, 11-DCV+OCV, phases, 1+adv/1-lim) are still there. It's definitely less changed than OSR is from OD&D, but that's probably because even that long ago, Champions was more of a system and more polished than OD&D.

I'm not saying I don't want to play it, but so far I'm not seeing a lot of value added over republishing Champions 3e with a book of GMing instructions. (This probably means I'm doing it wrong, which is fair, since I've pretty much always done Champions wrong.)

Words: 181.

Weekly total: 2785.

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13 July 2018 - Friday

Friday the 13th, an excellent day for rereading books about heroic Deep Ones! (Deep Roots (Ruthanna Emrys) is out, but I could not remember who all the characters named in the first chapter were, so I reread Winter Tide. It is still awesome and I should probably be recommending it to more people.

Oh no! Someone else has figured out that Friday is the best night to do laundry! Now it is not the best night to do laundry! Well, except possibly all the others are still worse.

Words: 422.

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12 July 2018 - Thursday

I never could get the hang of Thursdays? Nah, it's a pretty unexceptional day.

Words: 280.

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11 July 2018 - Wednesday

No 13th Age, Ken has audits. We could possibly have gathered to do something else, but no one made a concrete proposal.

Instead, I admired how I gained a flatmate while I was at work! The balcony is now full of boxes, which all need to be processed before the damp weather starts, but Marith has mostly moved in! I hope she will not die from cats.

We watched the first two episodes of Galavant, which was very silly. "It's 1256, these 'your mom' jokes are getting pretty old."

Words: 397.

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10 July 2018 - Tuesday

I had to work from home to let the cleaners in to decontaminate Marith's space so she can move in tomorrow, and that threw me off completely so I didn't accomplish anything else today.

Gate Crashers (Patrick S Tomlinson) is in many ways a standard first-contact, humans must step up their game to deal with the aliens, military SF book, only mixed with Douglas Adams. It works pretty well, because the aliens don't need to be taken entirely seriously.

In The House of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal Burns (Elizabeth Bear) is a mid-future police procedural, in a non-white, ecologically-aware, somewhat biopunk future. With brightly-colored talking cats, so I'm down with it! It reminds me a bit of the nearer-future Stross I've read, only wilder.

Words: 314. Concentrating doesn't help when you don't know what to write next.

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9 July 2018 - Monday

Now that planking is done, we have moved to sun salutations for wellness exercise at work. It is much less strenuous.

Words: 550.

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8 July 2018 - Sunday

Finally, after untold ages (or at least 7 weeks), we have PAD&D5 again!

After wrapping up the seige of [SPOILER], the Heroines of Red Larch head to [SPOILER], which they believe to also be under attack. It is, and has already fallen, its people taken captive and most of the buildings burned. The Heroines try to infiltrate and pick off the outer forces, which goes well until they discover it is all... a trap! The enemy, tired of their interference, has prepared a ritual to banish them to [SPOILER]! With last-minute interference from their allies, they manage to avoid being cast into whatever horrible fate has been prepared for them, but at the expense of being sent off course into [SPOILER]. Fortunately, after plummeting for a while, they encounter a pirate battle and join the side with fewer tentacles (in accordance with the Crystal Dragon's gospel). Having made friends, they then undertake a quest that the pirates are not high enough level for, which involves trouncing a [SPOILER] and returning loaded down with loot. Next, to the place where they might be able to find a way back home, because the Dessarin Valley still needs saving!

Words: 641. It's almost like multitasking doesn't work.

Weekly total: 1437, but I didn't have space or equipment or peace to write in Roseville.

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7 July 2018 - Saturday

Yesterday I had mostly to myself, so today I was able to face people again.

  • Steven Universe 5.19-22: Hurray Ruby and Sapphire! And Amethyst!
  • My Hero Academia 26: Choosing names was pretty adorable. Go Froppy! Bakugo needs serious counseling, though.
  • My Hero Academia 27-28: I hadn't thought of it like that, but UA is really a vocational school. Also, terrifying old master is an important part of any show about learning to fight.

Words: 119.

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6 July 2018 - Friday

Because Dave did not go back with Ken, the car was full of kids and people who keep kids from exploding instead of riling them up and I had to ride the train home. All by myself. With nothing but an electrical outlet and WiFi. The horror. The horror.

When I got home, all of my cats were still alive, so Marith must have done a good job taking care of them!

On the train (besides playing way too much Empires & Puzzles), I finished Starless (Jacqueline Carey), which is something almost unimaginable in the modern world: a world-saving fantasy epic complete in one volume. Also, [SPOILER] protagonist. It's a pretty good setup for fantasy adventure: the stars are gods, but they've all been cast down to earth, where they physically inhabit their individual islands, inevitably shaping both the environment and the local culture according to their divine natures. I may have to steal it.

Words: 263.

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5 July 2018 - Thursday


During the day, we went to the fabled Taylor's, so that Ayse could get a Dr Pepper freeze, which she certified as being completely 90s-tastic. But then, eventually (fourteen people, four of them kids, nothing moves quickly) we went to Josh's birthday sushi, and then, after disposing of the kids, played Cities and Knights of Catan until it was too late and we had to declare Josh the victor.

But we did not have Ken for any of this, because he had to go back to San Jose and work like capitalism. (Dave thought he was going to have to work, but decided not to.)

Words: FAIL.

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4 July 2018 - Wednesday

After the usual indolence, we managed to play Caverna (a descendent of the Agricola clade, I think). Even though it involves dwarves and digging and getting food from the outside world, it is not actually Dwarf Fortress: The Board Game, but a low-randomness worker placement game. I went heavily into rubies and sheep, which somehow got me second place. Alas, I did not have enough sheep to justify building the Cuddle Cave, which holds one sheep per dwarf. (Maybe if I had successfully bred extra dwarves earlier...) Then there was grilling and fireworks, because GFY Donald Trump King George Day.

The usual fireworks have been discontinued due to I don't even know what, so we had to drive to a nearby town to get Jus her yearly does of explosions, and it was quite an experience. Apparently it was too small of a town to have anyone responsible for safety, because the launchers were pretty much right at the edge of the park full of onlookers, and a fine rain of ash punctuated with larger bits of debris fell on us throughout the show. But fireworks are amazing from that range.

Words: FAIL.

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3 July 2018 - Tuesday

Ayse and Dave took Jus and Nonny up to Roseville in the afternoon, but Ken and I were burdened with capitalism and had to go up separately in the evening. We had ramen while waiting for traffic to calm down, and Alice Isn't Dead 2.9-3.2 on the way up, so it wasn't all bad!

Words: FAIL.

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2 July 2018 - Monday

Monday is Monday, but at least tomorrow is virtual Friday!

Words: 414.

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1 July 2018 - Sunday

Since I was protesting putting kids in concentration camps yesterday, I had to go grocery shopping today, and then work on putting things in places. I haven't completely moved over to the new bedroom and bathroom, but I'm much closer. I just need to throw away a bunch of stuff.

Words: 280.

Weak total: 1475.

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