It’s that time of year when we start to look at our todo list for the year and find out that we haven’t actually done any of it. Maybe that’s just me.
It’s been unusually cold the last few weeks so there’s a constant chill in the house, and it’s a bit of a struggle to keep from just crawling into bed and hiding under the covers all day. My body doesn’t tolerate cold and my brain just kind of shuts down when the temperature drops below a certain threshold.
Last year, winter barely even happened. I greatly prefer no winter weather during winter.
Yet again, I haven’t played a single game on my PC. I keep thinking about resuming my Baldur’s Gate 3 game, but every time I do, I remember that I have what seems like a significant amount of slogging through the NPCs in the city in Act 3 left to do, and I have to record those game sessions and try to sound at least a little bit enthusiastic, and then I think of something else to do instead.
I understand Baldur’s Gate 3 won the game of the year award, which is hardly surprising. It’s always the most talked-about game. Alan Wake 2 won a lot of awards, too. That’s a game that seemed to come out of nowhere in the last couple of months, and I’m curious about it, but I can’t deal with any narrative games right now.
I picked up cheap copies of Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise on the PS5 to play while listening to audiobooks or D&D shows or whatever. Like Snowrunner and, frankly, most newer MMORPGs, these are what I call “busy box” games, named after those plastic baby busy boxes you give to infants. You’re not really accomplishing anything in the game, but you’re keeping busy, ya know?
I’ve played about six hours of World and I’m already a bit tired of it. It takes over a half hour to kill these dinosaurs with little more than button-mashing. I’m not doing any great tactical thinking in these fights; I just run up and hit them with a hammer, dodge occasionally, and try to remember which buttons to press to do the big spinny move that does more damage. (I’m not a fan of combo-based combat systems.) I never run out of stamina, and I rarely take damage. And then the monster runs away a few times and you have to chase them down again. It’s like, get on with it already. You know I’m going to win this fight because how could I not?
At the beginning I got some super-powered Guardian armor for some reason which I think was a mistake to use. It makes me almost invulnerable unless I go AFK in the middle of a fight, which makes the combat quite dull. So far, the only one where I’ve even come close to dying was the big fire-breathing dude in the desert place. These things have actual names but who can remember.
I’m sure it gets more challenging toward the end but I generally prefer games that start challenging, otherwise I’ll never make it to the end bits. The story isn’t exactly riveting either. I’m not sure there even is one. It’s just, “We came to this place to kill monsters. Let’s go!” It’s like a fantasy NRA hunting retreat heh.
Ah well, they were cheap so I probably got my money’s worth.
In the course of working on the Next.js site, I stumbled on a post I wrote earlier in the year where I mentioned making a few video essays this year. Well, the year’s almost over and I haven’t done that.
I made one, kind of. However, I did make a few shorts, so maybe that makes up for it.
I’ve been recording some “devlog” screencasts, on which I do some minimal editing. They’re so uncomplicated I even started using REAPER to edit the videos, which is a much faster experience than waiting six hours to load up Davinci Resolve.
Otherwise just continuing to upload Baldur’s Gate 3 videos from months ago.
Watched the three 60th Anniversary Doctor Who specials on Disney+, featuring the return of The 10th Doctor and Donna Noble. I hadn’t seen the last series or so of Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor. It was fine, but it always felt like everyone was just kind of going through the motions and I never really connected with anyone or anything. Anyway the specials were cute. The return of Murray Gold on music was a big help.
Watched a documentary on Max about the Heaven’s Gate cult. Chilling stuff. There’s so, so many cults around these days. They call them fandoms now.
Watched Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. As expected by everyone who has ever seen a Disney movie in the last 15 years, it was entertaining, but unremarkable.
Finished Kevin Hearne’s Ink & Sigil audiobook. It was a typical Iron Druid-style urban fantasy story, fairly unremarkable. The mechanics of that world have evolved into sounding a lot like the mechanics of a D&D game (“I used my Sigil of Knit Flesh and…” etc. etc.). I heard Luke Daniels drop the Scottish accent for half a word here and there numerous times, so I can’t imagine what actual Scots would say about it. Also, since everyone in the book was Scottish, sometimes it was difficult to distinguish who was who from the subtle differences in the voices. This one’s normal Scottish, this one’s gruff Scottish, this one’s higher-pitched Scottish. It all blends together if you aren’t paying close attention, and I frequently wasn’t.
I’ve been working on a Next.js version of the blog. However, the majority of what I’ve been working on lately is setting up the infrastructure for it, rather than the blog itself. I spent a considerable amount of time moving all the code from one repo to another repo, and organizing it a little better, and after I did that, I had to update all the continuous deployment build pipelines.
I’ve also been working on some Lambda microservices to handle things like blog notifications and webmentions, but I got so disgusted with Node.js development (seriously, what a hellscape of confusion and chaos) that I switched to golang, and I ended up writing the services twice.
All the “administrative” work on it has burned me out a little bit. I had hoped to switch over to the new site during Christmas break for a long-term test though. As yet I don’t know how much it will cost to run a Next.js site, so I want to run it for a few weeks with live traffic to get some idea of that. AWS is more of a pay-what-you-use hosting service, rather than the more traditional fixed hosting cost.
It’s the slow time of the year where half the company is out on holiday vacation, moratoriums are in place, and little work gets done. This sprint I was working on setting up an Apache Airflow operator to run arbitrary docker containers in a Kubernetes pod.
You might say, “where is the programming in that,” to which I would say there isn’t any. Technically I’m a devops engineer, in the sense that I don’t always write code in my day job. One could argue that actual programming is less relevant to the job of a software engineer than it ever has been before, in this era of cloud native development where a lot of the work is just configuring off-the-shelf components and wiring them together.
Also, due to all the rampant organizational priority changes this year, we’ve ended up with a bit of a bottleneck in the work pipeline. There’s a lot of new design work that still needs to be done, which involves coordinating and collaborating between teams of stakeholders, and it’s a really slow process. There’s no point in charging ahead writing code to fulfill requirements when you don’t know what the requirements are.
To make matters worse, our team is full of engineers but we lack product owners or project managers, so nobody is dedicated to the project planning work, which slows things down even more.
The point is, sometimes I have to scramble to find something meaningful to do, and sometimes it isn’t writing code.
In other news, the team is talking about switching to two-week sprints in the new year instead of twice-a-month sprints, which will destroy this section of my twice-a-month blog.
Health and Wellness
I had some dental work done (finally–it has taken quite a while to get this appointment). I had lost a filling on one of my back teeth, and they had to dig around in there to check out the damage. After 2+ hours in the chair, I ended up with a temporary filling, a temporary crown, and a very sore jaw (it’s an ordeal for me to hold my mouth open that long–they always have to use what they call a “bite prop”). Also, I left with a plan to see an endodontist for a root canal, then a periodontist for some gum surgery. Only then will I be able to return to have a permanent crown put in back there so I can chew food on that side again.
Less intense options were available, but none of them were likely to work very well for the chewing thing, and I didn’t need to have any dental training to see that. I’m motivated to use the best available avenues to repair that area, because it’s the last good chewing surface in my mouth. I can’t chew very well on the right side because of an extra missing tooth back there.
In other news, I touched some poison ivy and it’s left a very annoying itchy scratch mark on my right forearm. I was up on the roof cleaning the gutters, and while I was there I was trying to carefully remove some vines that had grown up the side of the house, and one of them just barely brushed against my exposed arm. I washed my arms thoroughly as soon as I came back inside but alas, to no avail. I hate poison ivy rashes–they last for weeks–so I usually treat those stupid plants like I’m dealing with contaminated nuclear waste. But I was a bit too careless and failed to cover my skin. Apparently some 80% of the population is allergic to poison ivy (that’s what causes the rashes), and I’m no exception. (And they’re still a big problem even in cold weather when they look dead.)
Incidentally, poison ivy looks superficially identical to Virginia creeper vines, and I have both of them around my house, so sometimes it’s hard to tell which innocuous-looking plant I can rip away with reckless abandon, and which I need to treat like a live electrical wire.
As yet I don’t know what to replace TweetDeck with for news.
- The House of Representatives voted to expel George Santos, with reactions ranging from “what took them so long” to “gosh darn it we have to protect the voters’ constitutional right to elect liars.”
- Fighting resumed in the Israel Hamas War after a short cease fire to exchange hostages. Worldwide calls for Isreal to show more restraint are growing.
- Speaking of antisemitism, Harvard president Claudine Gay kept her job after testifying before Congress seemingly in support of students calling for genocide, while University of Pennsylvania president Elisabeth Magill resigned. No word yet on the fate of the third one in the testimony, MIT president Sally Kornbluth.
- The U.N. Climate Summit (COP28), after much debate, recommended transitioning away from fossil fuels (for the first time). Some countries say it goes too far, while other countries say it doesn’t go too far enough.
- House Republicans voted to begin impeachment of President Biden over his potential involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s improprieties.
- 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: Ryan O’Neal (actor), André Braugher (actor).