Autumn Leaves - November 2023 Part 1

Snowrunner, voting, blog work, audiobooks, and more. Well, not much more than that, really.


Autumn is the worst time of year, right? The sense of impending death hanging over everything all around, the freezing cold chill in the house all the time, the constant darkness, and even when the sun’s out, for much of the day, it’s usually shining horizontally directly into your eyeholes, stabbing like Volo’s ice pick. And the leaves. The endless falling leaves, piling up everywhere.

Just ugh. Maybe it’s just me.

Daylight Savings ended on November 2. My time zone has reverted from Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4) to Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5), necessitating a change in the date format I put into these blog posts. There’s nothing worse than getting the time zone wrong on a blog post.


I saw a post on Dragonchasers that mentioned Snowrunner favorably, which was a game that I had marked as wanting to try. So I tried it. I got it on PS5, which I have situated next to the bed so I can play games while lying down, the peak of gaming luxury. (I can only do that effectively with controller games, hence the PS5.) It’s a fantastic game to play while listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

It’s surprisingly fun. It’s a bit like the fun I had traversing terrain in Death Stranding, overcoming obstacles along the way. Each journey is it’s own little story.

It dawned on me while playing Snowrunner one day that it’s a modern incarnation of what MMORPGs used to be: A game where the story of the journey is far more interesting than the destination. In Asheron’s Call, I used to just point my character in random directions and start running until I found something interesting to do (which was usually hunting mobs for loot). And that’s basically what I do in Snowrunner.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s also a bit annoying. It’s genuinely difficult to complete even the simplest of tasks because the landscape is full of deep mud in the first Michigan zone (I haven’t even gotten to any snow yet) and all the big trucks become instantly stuck and can’t move, and there are no road paths that don’t go directly through said mud. So it becomes a complicated ordeal of bouncing over rocks and getting a second truck to winch the first truck out of mud in order to deliver supplies to the places you need to go to accomplish game progression.

It was so hard I was about to give up on the game when I stumbled on a trailer that you can attach to your Scout truck. Voila! The big trucks can’t go off-road without considerable help, but the easily-upgraded Scout truck trudges through mud and hills with relative ease, and after I attached a trailer, I could finally deliver supplies to the places I needed to go to clear all the blockages of the main roads in the first zone, which finally allowed me to travel around with the big trucks.

Anyway, it’s pretty good. And, like I said, it’s the perfect game to play while listening to audiobooks, which I’ll get to down below.


November 7 was the general election date for local and state candidates here in my state of Virginia, and many other states. It’s an important election for the General Assembly’s House and Senate (not to be confused with the U.S. House and Senate).

Virginia’s elections are off-sync with the rest of the country, so Virginia is often held up as a bellweather for the next federal election, which is roughly one year from now. Next year’s election is the latest in a long line of elections that will literally–no, really, literally this time, no exaggerations, we promise, we were only kidding the ten or twelve times before; this time it’s definitely literally–decide not just whether you personally will live or die over the next four years, but whether everyone in the entire world will live or die in the next four years.

For example, Governor Glen Youngkin, a Republican, was elected in Virginia in 2022, which was seen as a good omen for Republicans in 2024. (It helped that he was running against a Democratic candidate who repeatedly shot himself in the foot by speaking words out loud, something that a cynical person might observe is the standard operating playbook of the modern Democratic Party.)

This year, the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate, which decides state law, was at stake. It’s been a very thin margin for Democrats, and they’ve been on a tear the last four years passing Democratic legislation while they can. The fear is that if Republicans regain control, Republican Delegates plus Republican Senators plus a Republican Governor will equal new abortion restrictions, the fashionable state legislative agenda du jour these past couple years.

In the end, though, Republicans failed to retake the Virginia General Assembly, and Democrats maintain a thin majority. Is that a bellweather for 2024? Based on my observations of the 2024 election campaign trail, it seems unlikely, but only time will tell. Every federal election is basically a 50/50 coin toss now.

Anyway, I was going to write a post about my voting experience, which held some surprises, but meh. Writing is such a chore. I used the audio note-taking feature of my phone to record my thoughts so I wouldn’t forget them. Maybe I need a distribution channel for those sorts of audio notes. A vlog, I guess. But I’ve got fifty thousand other things I want to accomplish all simultaneously, and there’s a limited amount of time to distribute around.

Media Production

Nothing at all. My creative free time energy is being put into blog development work.

Continuing to upload Baldur’s Gate 3 videos. I don’t even really monitor them anymore. I just assume it’s working. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

Media Consumption


Taskmaster Series 16 continues every Thursday. David Mitchell’s Outsiders continues every Wednesday.

I fell behind on Critical Role season 3 but then I caught back up. (I’m finding it very dull right now. I don’t understand any of the lore so whenever they start talking instead of taking action I have literally no idea who they’re talking about or why it’s important. Lore dumps are almost always unentertaining in all story mediums.)

I also stumbled on some YouTube videos of Acquisitions Incorporated The Series 2, with alternating DMs Chris Perkins and Jeremy Crawford. I don’t always connect with the Acquisitions Inc. universe but it’s mildly amusing and Chris Perkins is, imo, the best celebrity DM.


I rented Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 last night. It was formulaic but fun, as always. More comedy than usual for a Mission Impossible movie. I love action movies that don’t look like physics-free video game cut scenes made by warehouses of underpaid 3D artists cough all Disney-owned movies cough.

After Psycho, I stopped watching horror movies entirely.


I’ve had some trouble sleeping, and I’ve had to do some work outside to deal with falling leaves, and I’ve been playing Snowrunner, so I’ve had a lot of time lately to listen to audiobooks.

Finished the final two novellas in Stephen King’s If It Bleeds. Holly Gibney is one of King’s best characters, so I’m always delighted to see her again in anything. Stephen King doesn’t have very many franchise characters (in his books, at least), but Holly is one of them.

Then, I listened to Stephen King’s Holly, which the Internet tells me is somewhat controversial for it’s “soapboxing.” It’s a full-on Holly Gibney novel, following the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider, and If It Bleeds. It’s easy to see why people reject it for the political browbeating, but all I can say is everything seemed 100% authentic to Holly’s character and it appeared to be an accurate reflection of the COVID times that I observed and lived through. But I can understand why people would prefer it if books reflected a different, non-existant reality. Other than that, I found it to be an engaging crime thriller. Narration was by Justine Lupe, who played Holly in one of the television shows, and it took me a while to get used to her version of Holly. All the previous audiobook versions of Holly were narrated by Will Patten, who had a markedly different style. Otherwise, good narration.

Then, I listened to Stephen King’s Revival, another new-to-me pickup, after a desperate attempt to use up some Audible credits before they expired. I was disappointed with it. Most Stephen King books are at least average or “good enough,” but this one was a rare dud. Only the final chapter or two was memorable. The rest was a slow, plodding character study. I fell asleep through a big chunk of the middle and didn’t bother to go back and re-listen to what I missed. But if you like cosmic horror, you might like it. Just be prepared to wait a long time for it. Decent narration by David Morse, although I didn’t think it was as good as other King narrators. Stephen King books tend to get the best audiobook narrators money can buy, and this one seemed like they were only “pretty good,” not “amazingly good,” like I’ve come to expect.

Then, I listened to Stephen King’s The Institute. Perhaps a spiritual successor to Firestarter? It also reminded me a bit of Ender’s Game. It’s pretty good. A classic tale of the power of friendship, which is a fairly common theme in Stephen King books. Good narration by Santino Fontana, except for one thing that bothered me: He switched his narration voice to a character voice for chapters from that character’s POV, instead of having a distinctly separate narrator voice, which I didn’t like. The narrator’s voice should be neutral, imo, and character voices should only appear in dialog (unless maybe it’s a first person POV). Probably nitpicky, but I found it jarring.

Then, I listened to Stephen King’s Billy Summers. Also pretty good. There were no supernatural elements, unless you count a few references to the “haunted” Overlook hotel. King is really good at making you care about characters and then having bad stuff happen to them, so I usually end up fairly broken-hearted at the end of most Stephen King books, and this one is no exception. Really good narration by Paul Sparks, who is new to me.

Then, I started listening to Stephen King’s Fairy Tale. So far it’s about a young boy and an old dog and I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m positive it’s going to make me cry at some point. Narration is by Seth Numrich, who apparently won an award for this one. His narrator voice has that sort of Millennial just-woke-up nasal quality that I associate with Luke Daniels. (I thought it was Luke Daniels at first.) Anyway, he’s pretty good. They always (well, usually) get good narrators for Stephen King books.

Incidentally, I think there are a lot of newer audiobook recordings of older Stephen King books. Stephen King’s body of work largely predates the audiobook revolution (i.e. Audible), the point in history where more people listen to audiobooks than read the actual books, so the publishers go all-out on audiobook productions. I might check some of them out.

Home Development

I don’t know why, but I started writing a new blog platform. I guess it’s the same reason as always: It seemed like it would be easy. It’s not, but it’s considerably easier now than it was in 2003 with PHP.

I’m writing it as a Next.js application, which gives me a ton of functionality for free, including server-side and static page rendering. It also gives me React-based responsiveness for free.

The price of that freedom is having to use Node.js. It’s a special kind of development hell. I described it once as trying to paint a picture with a swarm of bees, and I stand by that assessment.

Luckily, ChatGPT can answer almost every question I have about Node.js and Typescript so the learning curve is shallow and development is rapid. I had an idea to write a post explaining how ChatGPT is such a boon to the cagey veteran software developer who learns best by example. Maybe someday. The biggest stumbling block is that it’s still a pain in the arse to copy ChatGPT answers from their site into a blog post, especially if they have code in them.

Day Job

This sprint, I got to work on a dashboard for work. Lucky me. Data analysis in general is kind of fun, but dragging and dropping chart components around a sluggish web UI to make some executive happy isn’t exactly my idea of stimulating software engineering work. But hey, it pays the bills.

I also had to do a 5-minute presentation of said dashboard to middle management in a video call, something I wasn’t particularly keen on doing. But hey, it pays the bills. It was a good opportunity to practice doing things outside my comfort zone. That’s what an optimistic person would say, at least.

Anyway, it’s one reason I make YouTube videos: To practice for situations just like that. I approached it like a musical performance. I wrote down a script, practiced it until it sounded fairly natural, took the requisite amount of anti-anxiety meds I keep on hand for these occasions, so my brain wouldn’t spiral too much out of control while waiting for go time, and it went better than I expected. (I expected middle management to hate the dashboard, but they didn’t.)

World Context

As yet I don’t know what to replace TweetDeck with for news.

  • News related to the War in Israel, particularly the moral and ethical implications, and the divisiveness thereof, is the top story most days. It’s a big mess.
  • Yet another U.S. government shutdown is looming, and voting is underway to try to avoid it, this time led by new House Speaker Mike Johnson.
  • That crypto guy was convicted of fraud, reminding us that cryptocurrency used to be a thing people talked about every day.
  • SAG AFTRA reached a deal to end the Hollywood actors strike.
  • Ongoing Trainwrecks of the Year: 2024 Presidential Election, War in Israel (since 10/2023), Nigerian Coup (since 7/2023), Sudanese Civil War (since 4/2023), War in Ukraine (since 2/2022).
  • Celebrity Deaths: Nobody? Well, nobody I noticed, at least.


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