5 min read

Usagi, Renew The West Vegas Azul

Samurai rabbit sitting at game table, lots of lanterns, signs, and activity in the background.
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Welcome to the November 2023 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To

Hello friends and acquaintances!

A few of you wrote back with your simple joys after the October email (once I was finally able to receive email again).

Elizabeth replied:
'Sitting in sunshine. I lived in AZ for 34 years of my 64 years. Now I need to be near my daughter in WI. So, I moved here 3 months ago.
"I haven't seen the sunshine since I don't know when."
I need sunshine - top down driving around, or sitting on the patio drinking wine, clear skies. Sunshine is my moment.'

Mar said:
'Taking a walk in my neighborhood with a friend.
Seeing the leaves turn color in our neighborhood.
Seeing my husband, who has Alzheimer’s, crack a joke and laugh. And five minutes later crack the same joke since he couldn’t remember he already did it! What a guy!
Knowing the comfort of his hug.
Seeing God come through for us in little ways, like providing a new doctor to walk through this time with us who is kind and listens well.'

As for me, I'm trying to enjoy the moments, or at least do more than just survive them.

What I'm Up To

  • Skytrails Part 3 — this is one of those projects I am very excited to get done, but not to do.

    Kind of like going for a run. I don't usually love running, but I always like the feeling of having gone for a run.

    The good thing about Part 3 is that I have a basic roadmap and am more or less filling it in, which is a way I have not really operated before, but which is turning out some surprisingly good stuff.
  • Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D course by GameDev.tv on Udemy—I won't be doing much of this from now until the end of the year, but I've been steadily working through it and am on the last and biggest game project, which is exciting.
  • Organizing, rearranging, Marie Kondo-ing, refurbishing, and all-around minimalizing and optimizing the contents of our home — sometimes you just get in a mood to overhaul your whole house.

    Fortunately Wendy and I are in alignment on this right now, which doesn't always happen, and it's getting into the time of year when I naturally slow down on device-centered-work and switch into around-the-house projects and outside adventures and family fun activities, which I have the luxury of doing as an at-home parent.

    Our house is in a state of pure chaos as I write this, which makes it a little hard to relax or focus, but it's all going somewhere good.
  • I am also building a mid-century modern-esque media console (TV stand) out of parts of other furniture, which, although frustrating, is one of my favorite things to do with the limited carpentry skills and tools at my disposal—repurposing old things we don't hate as better things we totally love.

    I'm not great at it, per se, but not too bad and getting better with every project.

What I'm Into

  • Azul (Board Game) — I don't think I've talked about this one before, but Azul is just about hands-down the best all-around board game in existence.

    We gave it to our friend as a gift because it was highly rated and on sale and he was expanding his board game collection. Honestly, it didn't look like my kind of game. But then we all played it and loved it and we've been playing it ever since.

    We play other games but we always come back to Azul (and even though some of the offshoot versions of Azul are fun too, when I say Azul I mean the original and best version of the game).
  • Usagi Yojimbo comics by Stan Sakai — As a lifelong fan of storytelling with illustrated pictures, I have heard of the Usagi Yojimbo comics many times. But going through the original collected stories for the first time has been a treat.

    Usagi Yojimbo means 'rabbit bodyguard' and tells the stories of a wandering ronin samurai rabbit in 17th century Japan.

    The artwork is beautiful, the stories are simple, the characters in the early books are pretty two dimensional, but taken together it's all really enjoyable to read right before bed.

    And, since the series has been going almost as long as I've been alive, I won't run out of Usagi Yojimbo books to read any time soon.
  • Loki: Season 2 — In last month's email I mentioned Loki had just started. Now it has just ended. And I have to say, it was pretty darn good.

    Endings are so hard to get right in any kind of story, and the Loki ending felt good and right and satisfying and surprising—all the things you hope for in an ending.
  • Right At Home book by Bobby Berk (of Queer Eye fame) — Wendy got this from the library and, along with some other home design books and shows, it is helping with our aforementioned home redesign/overhaul process.

    It's very important to stay inspired and motivated during a project like this, and books like this one help a lot.

    I've already learned a few tricks and rules, which seem obvious now, but isn't that how the great insights usually work?

    Like, for example, I realized I should put all my propagated plants around the kitchen sink (they always seem to love the kitchen sink) in the same kind of label-less jars instead of a random collection of bottles and jars with various, uninteresting labels. It helped!
  • Ken Burns Presents: The West — This is not strictly a Ken Burns series, in that he produced but did not direct, but it has the feel of one.

    It's an almost-three-decades-old, all-encompassing synopsis of how the American West became what it is today. It's strangely calming for how tragic and depressing most of it is.

    Like most of American history, it shows how damaging our nation's insatiable greed for more has been on people and places, while also showing the incredible ability of individual Americans to innovate, entrepreneur, help, and heal their way to a better world.

    It's the human story in a nutshell really—some of us making the world better while others make it worse, and most of us managing to do both at the same time.
  • Formula One: Las Vegas — You may not be into Formula One, but this weekend will be the first time Las Vegas has ever hosted a Formula One race, and it could be epic.

    And also pure chaos.

    It's a street circuit and a night race, in which planners did not really account for the low temps of the desert.

    The track itself only exacerbates the problems caused by cold weather with long straights and slow turns, meaning tires and brakes will be hard to keep warm, and warm tires especially are essential to a good drive on a race track (I'm learning all of this as I go).

    It's going to be interesting, even for people who aren't normally fans.

Until next time, good luck and Godspeed!