Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Spinning in Circles

While I'm still trying to figure out where to take my next vacation, my cabin fever needs a snack to tide it over. Grand Forks, North Dakota (the closest major city to me) recently completed a bike loop that circumnavigates much of the city. So I loaded up the bike into the car and dragged my support team along for the ride.

Everdog and Mrs. Everwake putting up with my hobbies.

It's about 20 miles long (~32km) and seems to be about my limit of what I can do in one stretch of riding. 20 miles isn't a terrible stretch for a newer rider, but my problem is that I'm a bit slow. It seems most newer riders move along at about 15 miles/hour (~24 km/hour). I usually clock in about 8 miles/hour (~13 km/hour). If I want to do a long distance bike journey, I need to speed up a bit. 

So I set out on yesterday's journey with a goal of completing the loop at around 10 miles/hour (16 km/hour). Here's how it went:

Of course I did. 

Weirdly enough, when I check my stats for the ride this morning, it actually says I hit 10mph on the mark. Perhaps science released an update to math over the middle of night. 

They never release patch notes on these things.

In my defense, some of it is the bike. I hate to say it because it sounds like I'm blaming the controller for losing a game but hear me out. It's a commuter bike, not a touring bike. It's heavy. It might have been a battleship in a former life. It's ability to climb a hill is equivalent to before mentioned battleship.  Going above 20 miles/hour on this thing and it starts making noises you don't want a bike to make. Sitting on the bike seat is only mildly more pleasant than passing a kidney stone. 

It is sturdy though. It chews up miles without complaint. On a long bike ride I am quite confident that I will break before it ever does. Buying a fancy, carbon-fiber, purpose-built, adjusted to my measurements bike will probably improve a lot about my experience. But with bikes still being ultra expensive at the moment, I think it still makes sense to do my learning on this bike and then upgrade when I have a bit more skill and conditioning to bring to the table.

I also need to double check my insurance actually covers a more expensive bike.

Nonetheless, I'm trending in the correct direction and I'm confident that I can begin tackling longer rides sooner rather than later. I may be slow, but I am stubborn and have a great capacity for self-inflicted pain.

Bonus picture of a gopher that chattered at me while we both waited for the light.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Stuck in the Middle With You

Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you,
and I'm wondering what it is I should do.
It's so hard to keep this smile from my face.
Losing control yeah I'm all over the place.

-Stuck in the Middle With You
Stealers Wheel (and not the Beatles, as I just learned)

There's a downside to living in the middle of the continental US. There is largely nothing to do here. 

That's not really true. But one often needs to drive a fair ways to do something. But that's okay, because I'm in the mood to go adventuring. And with the world slowly rising from its slumber, my options for actually doing things again has increased tenfold. And I am paralyzed with indecision.

I have created a vacation backlog. 

How do I always do this?

It's not enough that I have a video game, book, and TV backlog. I need to overthink and ruin the act of leaving the house.

Actually, I think this one is a bit more understandable. Trips require planning, packing, and a lot more money than buying yet another bundle of games. Spur of the moment trips are still doable, but the whole living in the middle of nowhere thing makes options limited.

There are some practical difficulties. Mainly, the Everwake Family only has 1 car and Mrs. Everwake needs it just often enough for work that I'd feel guilty absconding off with it for a week at a time. Public transportation in the US Midwest is ... not really a thing. Flying is expensive. We do have a passenger railroad nearby. But it's destinations are limited and its pricing makes it essentially just a slow airplane. At a certain point, I'll need to suck it up and finally purchase a second car. Although the used car market in the US is crazy expensive at the moment, so that was probably a decision I needed to make two years ago.

I'm also having difficulty really nailing down a destination. The wife is busy with work so my next trip is likely a solo one. But I'm stuck in a place where I want to go someplace interesting, but not too interesting and wish I had waited until the wife could come along. 

A nice long bike trip is sounding like the correct move. It mostly solves the transportation issues and the wife is too smart to think crippling exercise is a vacation. But I lack confidence in my ability to pedal the long distances between towns in the Midwest. Thru-camping could be a choice, but carrying a whole huge bag of camping gear is maybe more of a logistical effort that I can handle at the moment. I want to keep things reasonably simple as I'm learning. The more factors I add the more of a chance of something going wrong.

I'm spinning my wheels and procrastinating. And it feels terrible. It's a hydra of malaise. Every time I make an effort at answering one question another 3 pop up. Eventually my brain just short circuits and I move on to something else. Usually lunch.

My goal for today is to make some decisions and pack some bags. I might just have to figure things out on the road.

I know the concept of a games backlog is pretty common, but I guess I hadn't realized I was doing it in other facets of my life as well. Is anybody else dealing with something like this? And I guess, has anyone had success in dealing with this?

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Return of Blaugust: Revengence

For the first time in the history of this blog, a prediction that I made actually came to fruition. 

Three and a half months ago, in my last blog post, I wondered how my new vaccinated status would affect my gaming. Would my newfound ability to leave the house again drive me away from digital worlds into the real one?

The answer was very much yes. I put probably 20 more hours into Persona 5. My D&D group finished up it's campaign in a couple of sessions. My Among Us group fell apart as we all returned to normal life.

But Blaugust actually shows up at an opportune time. I'm actually sitting at my PC again due to a combination of extreme summer heat and Canadian wildfires turning our air into poison. Out of the frying pan and into the fire if you will. 

But the 'digital break' has been good for me and I'm ready to reengage with the Blaugust community. I'm excited to be back again and judging from the explosion of my RSS feeds so are all of you. 

A minor programming change.

I've dropped the "Internet" from "Everwake's Internet Adventures". Quarantine really blurred the lines between my online and offline personas. Like all of us, my social life was essentially moved online for the past year and a half. 

But reconciling the "online" and "offline" sides of my personalities was genuinely tough for me.

I think it was Among Us that highlighted it for me. I played with a rotating group of 8-14 real life friends in a game that's about lying to and murdering people. Modulating my aggressive competitiveness with not wanting everyone I know to hate me was difficult. I was not always successful at it.

But ultimately, it was fine. I play to win, but I do play fair. I'm not  and there weren't really any hurt feelings out of it. I have the same relationship I had with everyone before the pandemic.

I've always felt I had to hide that part of my personality away; that it wasn't fit for public consumption. This was true even back in school. I played in competitive baseball leagues. My high school team was a non-competitive rural school playing other small, rural schools. My friend's really never saw the competitive part of this personality. There was never a "need" for this, it just happened that way. It became a habit.

When I stopped playing serious competitive sports, that split transferred over to my new outlet for such feelings: online gaming. Additionally, this was the early to mid-2000s, the beginning of social media outlets that explicitly linked your real name to an online presence. I began working in the political realm around this time and it became obviously clear that I need a separate third identify as well, distinct from my "real life" and my "gaming life".

As Bilbo said to Gandalf: "I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread."

Of course I've not experience anything that anybody else hasn't. We all don different masks for different contexts in our lives. But during the pandemic I really began thinking about these different but disparate parts of my personality. What bits are the "real" me? And if I merge the three together, what is the ultimate result?

I don't think I want to juggle three different me's anymore. And so for the past couple of months I've been approaching my life in a bit of a different way. For this blog that means erasing the boundary between the digital and the organic. More hiking photos, more stories of my personal life, and likely a different change in tone. But, it's still a gaming blog at heart, ostensibly an MMO one at that.

Air Quality Index - Red is bad.

Although if the world keeps catching on fire we might not see much difference in the content of this blog at all.