My apologies if you’ve seen this already; I mostly wanted to capture the memories in a place more mine than Twitter is. If you are sensitive to pet death, probably move on.
This seems like a good game to play. I’ll go!
- Miso paste. I’ve been cooking more during the pandemic and because food gets dull, I’ve been making myself branch out from the usual. Miso paste is the latest ingredient I’ve added. It’s just awesome for a burst of umami. I’ve put it in eggs, S. has put it in vegetables, it’s great.
- Criterion Channel. I have a lot of streaming services; this is the one I’d keep if I had to cut it down to one. It’s not just classics; they’re running a New Korean Cinema program right now that’s full of great movies. They’re (slowly) getting better at Black representation. And I’ve seen at least two movies on there this year that took my breath away.
- My local community Discord. A pal of mine set this up, it’s got something like a hundred active people, and it’s well filtered into categories so I don’t have to pay attention to the Among Us players if I don’t want to. It serves as a social center, link exchange, and support nexus. We’ve crowd-funded a couple of urgent needs for people. It’s great.
- Grant Morrison’s Batman comics. I read the first third of these a while back; a month or so ago I noticed that the complete run was collected in those big heavy omnibus volumes. I am in the middle of the second volume now. It’s very Grant Morrison with these jagged edges of sincerity poking through the glossy madness from time to time.
- Online tabletop gaming and every pioneer who spent time figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. Right now I’m involved in two ongoing campaigns, and I manage to keep a decent stock of one-shots going as well. It’s the only thing that brings me new human faces during the pandemic, plus I love gaming.
If coronavirus isn’t gonna get me to start blogging regularly again, nothing will, huh?
To quote myself on Instagram: We’re doing just fine. We’re self-isolating — shopping once a week, not socializing at all, sane amount of food in the freezer, working from home. We drove down to Magnuson Park this morning and were happy to see it wasn’t crowded. Walked down to the water, admired a couple of ducks, waited for people to pass by on the main path, walked back to the car.
A few coping strategies have worked well for me. I am paying more attention to a couple of Discords I’m in. I figured out how to stream pro wrestling into Discord from my browser, that was fun. Sorry about the copyright, NJPW! I won’t make a habit of it post-pandemic. I’ve gamed online, um, twice now and I need to find a couple of people who want to try out Electric Bastionland. I finally made some sorbets to use up extra farm share fruits.
Stay safe out there, y’all.
What do you know; it’s a different culture! Um.
That was a pretty great trip. It was really satisfying to find out that I’m still able to do a 14 day trip with one bag successfully; I’m getting older but still pretty functional. We saw places I’d never seen, which is always awesome. My backpack was stolen on the way to Budapest (literally from three feet above my head, kudos to the thief) so that was sad, but I had my electronics and passport and credit cards on me at the time so it could have been worse. I’m lucky to be able to take that kind of loss in stride.
I did find out something interesting about my resilience. I can be very minimal if I’ve planned for it, which I knew. However, as it turned out, the thought of figuring out where to buy some replacement clothing and toiletries and a bunch of other small things was daunting for me. I didn’t mind being bare bones, I minded having to reconstruct my framework for travel on short notice. In the end Delta rebooked our flight at no cost so we could cut the trip short and not spend any additional money. Right call, and we’ll revisit Budapest again some day.
Things I liked a lot, in rough chronological order: Paris croissants, Disneyland Paris (the main park), the Amsterdam houseboat we stayed in, pannekoeken, rijstafel, Amsterdam museums, Utrecht city center, Cologne Cathedral, drinking kolsch in Cologne, the train from Cologne to Vienna along the Rhine, Vienna cafes, Vienna ferris wheel, apple strudel, and a fake ruin bar in Budapest.
Things that were underwhelming: Walt Disney Studios Park, the Disney hotel, the Imperial Quarters in Vienna, and food at Disneyland Paris (worse than Disneyland or WDW’s food).
A casual goal for the Europe two-week trip was trying a one bag approach to packing. Context, in case you’re randomly wandering across this: I’m nearing 50, I’m not in particularly great shape, but I have decent tolerance for roughing it. I’m also in the big and tall category, and was still able to find technical clothing that’d fit (albeit not with a ton of variety).
I brought an Osprey Farpoint 55 backpack, which is 55 liters of capacity spread among a main pack and a zip-on day pack. It doesn’t have as many interior compartments as I’d like but I made up for that with some packing cubes and all’s pretty well. I checked mine but I’m pretty sure I could have gotten away with carrying it on the plane.
Packing list (all clothing made with technical quick-dry fabrics):
- 3 long sleeved shirts and 4 plain T-shirts
- 3 pairs of pants
- 3 pairs of socks plus 1 pair of compression socks for the flight
- 4 pairs of underwear
- iPad, Smart Keyboard, iPhone, lots of cables, and a universal charger
- toiletries including a bottle of Dr. Bronners peppermint
- Allbirds sneakers and a pair of sandals
- Bathing suit
- Light rain shell
- Fold up travel hangars and a travel clothesline
- Travel towel (invaluable for drying hand-washed clothing)
This all fits neatly in the Osprey with some room to spare. My plan was to hand-wash laundry every night or every other night. After a couple of iterations of this I think that would be perfectly possible but better to save it for necessity. We probably had to hand-wash at Disneyland Paris since it’s not a great place to find a laundromat, but I’m currently sitting at a brown cafe in the middle of Amsterdam drinking coffee and waiting for a laundromat dryer to finish up and that’s working out just fine for me.
Next time out I’ll add a pair of socks and a pair of pants so I can go a bit longer without feeling grotty. The shirt load out depends on the weather. If I expected to need long sleeves every day I’d want an extra long sleeved shirt. As is I’ve been fine.
The Allbirds aren’t great walking shoes but they’re okay. The ankle support is fairly poor. On the other hand, they’re very light, which is why I chose them. I’ll stick with them for travel purposes. Conversely, I wouldn’t bother with the pair of sandals under similar conditions. No point bringing something I’m only going to wear around hotel rooms.
We did a quick two-day visit, which is not all that long, but I think we gave the parks a pretty good once over. Disneyland Paris itself — the castle park — is spectacular. Walt Disney Studios Park is pretty dead but has a couple of excellent rides. And Disney Village is a dull shopping area.
As hotels go: I’d kill to have enough money to stay in the Disneyland Hotel casually. It’s literally part of the approach to Disneyland Paris, and it’s gorgeous. Sequoia Lodge was fine: less polish than I’d expected from a Disney hotel but I have no serious complaints.
I am really glad we made it out for a two day trip and would recommend it if you’re a big Disney fan and have the ability to get there. In more detail…
S. and I took an Amtrak up to Vancouver last Friday, hopped onto Skytrain, had a nice lunch in Gastown, and boarded the Ruby Princess for a one day repositioning cruise down to Seattle. This frivolity is brought to you by the opportunity to check out a cruise line’s style cheap before booking a longer Baltic cruise in a couple of years. We’re gonna stick with Holland America but the Ruby Princess was fun.
We’re not experts in any way, but the Ruby Princess struck us as skewing a bit younger and more flashy than the relatively staid Holland America aesthetic. (Same corporate parent, by the by.) We spent two hours on karaoke and it was fairly awesome.
The main dining room food wasn’t great and the upsell for booze was kind of tiring. The buffet was better — the Indian food had some real spice to it and I liked the roast beef a lot. I also think Holland America’s buffet had more variety.
The open pool spaces were abundant but kinda inward turned. I really liked the aft pool deck on our Holland America ship, because it was very open and you got a great 270 degree view of Alaska. The Ruby Princess has a super-cool terraced aft pool, but it doesn’t have the same panoramic view.
I’d guess the ship was maybe 60-70% full. Judging purely by the karaoke, a lot of locals had the same plan we did — fun night out and some pretty scenery.
Definitely worth grabbing one of these if you live in a cruise ship port that has ‘em.
So the other day I quickly tweeted a few things.
A long time ago when I was in college I was lucky enough to play in a great D&D campaign called (by the players, anyway) Catholic World. Eric was a superb GM. It was a low magic, high morals world. I don't think any of us ever scored a +1 weapon, but we knew right from wrong. 1/
— Bryant Durrell (@BryantD) June 18, 2018
The aftermath was wild. The first tweet got just over 1 million impressions. Around 48K people interacted with it. 8K likes. Jake Tapper is now following me, but I’m more fanstruck by Eric Heisserer.
The retweeter with the biggest audience was Cory Doctorow, at 437K. He also picked it up for Boing Boing, although he didn’t ask. On the one hand, he didn’t need to ask. On the other hand, Dorkly politely checked with me first. On the third hand, someone at Boing Boing photoshopped Trump’s hair on top of Eric’s head. Meh, screw them.
After Doctorow, the retweeter with the most followers was this voice actor whose name I’m spacing, at around 100K. From there it follows the usual distribution. I spent two days hoping nobody with a million+ followers would pick it up. “OK, guys, you can stop telling Critical Role to look at this now.” I watched it spread through liberal online journalism Twitter (you know, Vox et al) and through Catholic Twitter (“wait, is that a Jesuit priest?”). If I had to guess I’d say it was mostly spreading through tabletop gaming circles, though. That’s just a kinda wide set of circles now.
I only had a handful of people yelling at me. Some people felt I was naive for thinking kindly of Catholics; those people kind of missed the point. I met and chatted with a few really cool people and I have about 500 new followers, all of whom I followed back. I will trim a few over time (sorry, but if you retweet Louise Mensch as a reliable source I’m gonna be elsewhere) but in general I feel like I have expanded my Twitter universe in a cool way. I also reconnected with a few old friends and had a brief but nice conversation with my freshman year roommate, which oddly allowed me to let go of some stuff I’ve been carrying around for decades.
Three reporters chatted with me. None of them found a story in the tweets, although one guy has another angle he’s working on. I think that’s correct. I don’t have a good enough memory of that year to build a story. I just had an emotional anecdote with a killer stinger and a call to action.
I’m really happy about the call to action.
Final lesson here: tell your stories. You never know what’s going to resonate.
I was expecting the whole cruise ship experience to be cheesy as hell and possibly not enjoyable without a heavy dose of irony. However, at the tender age of forty-eight, I am keenly interested in new classes of experience and the idea of using a very large ship as a sort of hermit crab shell was intriguing. Also, Alaska.
My short review: that was actually reasonably fun. Alaska is flat out gorgeous and historically fascinating, so you should visit it if possible. There is no way to visit southeast Alaska from the contiguous 48 without a significant investment of time and money; given that, it makes a bunch of sense to unpack your stuff into a big floating hotel rather than unpacking and packing and flying and unpacking and packing and so on. I wouldn’t recommend a cruise for the sake of the food, the entertainment, or the social opportunities — YMMV on the last, I’m a bit of an iconoclast — but all of the above are just fine as side elements to a cruise focused on seeing the sights.
Details: we took Holland America’s MS Noordam on a six night cruise departing from Vancouver. We spent a day cruising the Endicott Arm, stayed in Juneau overnight, and stopped for most of a day in Ketchikan. We also had two full days at sea.
In a little more detail…
I’d been using the Wirecutter-recommended Accell Home or Away travel surge protector for travel until recently. It’s really good, but it only has 2 USB ports and when I started traveling with an external battery, that was too few. One USB port for my phone, one for my tablet, and none for my battery? Sad. In theory maybe I stop traveling with my tablet but then I add in my headphones, which charge via USB, and I’m back where I started.
Plus I just got this watch, so.
Thus, I picked up Anker’s 6 port USB charger. It’s not a hub; it’s a small brick around the size of a very full men’s wallet that plugs into a wall outlet and charges a bunch of USB devices at once. I don’t imagine it’d do great with six items plugged into it, but it’s fine for phone and tablet and external battery. Anker’s other gear has performed very well for me (cables, car USB adapters), and this seems similarly solid from one trip’s worth of experience.