Sunday, July 31, 2016

Escape

Regular readers will know that the past year has been a rolling wave of "busy" for me.  New job, tons of weekend commitments, and a family that is trying to retain their usual meet-ups despite expanding geographically (and somehow, "damn, that's a long ways to drive for dinner" never seems like an acceptable reason not to attend when it's me doing the driving and not them).

At any given point since this time last year, I could look out 2-3 weeks and see relief, but as those days and weeks ticked by the next large hurdle would become apparent.

The past few weeks I've become bone weary in the core, and have been nagged by headaches and other physical manifestations of long stress.  The heat and humidity hasn't helped my mood either; summer is by far my least favorite season and July my least favorite month.  I'm very much looking forward to the dry, crisp mornings of Fall and the first frost.

This weekend offered a welcome escape.  Mrs. Durden had a planned trip with friends out of town this weekend, so I've been a bachelor the past few days.  When she asked me what I intended to accomplish in her absence, I responded simply, "sleep."  I wasn't kidding, she knew I wasn't kidding, and that in itself was funny enough that we both laughed.

I managed to leave work early on Thursday to work from home for a few hours (still legit "work" but I was out of the office doing email in shorts and a t-shirt), and on Friday I expended some vacation time and came home early.  Other than a touch of yard work and a load of dishes, I've not done much over the past 48 hours. It's been a welcome escape.  I've written some fiction, watched a few movies, and tinker with some game titles that I haven't messed with in ages (GW2, Starcraft2, and even a bit of EVE).

Whatever guilt I felt for not tackling one of the dozen or so projects awaiting my attention here at the house has been pushed away by the notion that we expend a vast amount of effort and rarely truly take time to enjoy the house, property, and neighborhood for what it is.  I'm always doing something, going somewhere, and thinking about 20 things I should be doing next.  Just sitting on my ass doing nothing has been a different experience and the hours of the day have stretched and become longer; weekends are usually gone in a blink but this particular weekend has felt stretched and time has moved slower.

So here's my advice:  grab a drink and sit down. The world can wait a day.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where's Abavus?

Where the heck have I been?

Following the BDR, I let myself unravel a bit. I normally live a very structured life, with certain days for certain chores or workouts, and fitting EVE in whenever there's a hole.  After months (years?) of this cycle, it was time for a pause. I didn't do it intentionally, but it's been a month already.  I haven't been on the bike since BDR, haven't been to a gym, and haven't been booting the PC as regularly. 

What online time I've been consuming has generally been in Overwatch.  Which is a fun and meaningless time consumer.  But even then, I think I went 5 nights last week without any time on the home PC. My infatuation with Overwatch has been sated, and I think the headaches I've had recently are related.

The time away from my (ab)normal routine has been welcome, and I don't think I'll return to it completely.  It has been nice to be a normal guy for a few weeks without the pull from either the online world or the bike seat.  So, this is how the muggles live?

This isn't my first time through a sprint-and-coast cycle, and won't be the last. Experience has shown that there's no cause for alarm. It's just time to relax a bit, take stock of things, pick new goals, and set out again.

As always, there are things to do in EVE that I could tackle, space to explore, and resources to collect. But while the weather stays mild and bug free, it's going to be nicer to spend time on the deck in the evenings and soak in a little bit of 'normal.'

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BDR is Done

A dreary, rainy day for a bike ride.  If this had been any other Saturday, I would have waived off and stayed indoors to drink coffee.  Instead, we were in a hotel room putting on our biking garb and I was grimacing at the lobby coffee.  I chose not to actually check the radar on the phone - it didn't matter, I was going biking unless they closed the course.

I'll cut to the chase.  I cleared my goal and closed out the course at 101 miles and change.  Wind was thankfully minimal, and the temperatures were quite moderate.  However, the nice-then-rainy-then-nice-then-rainy forecast that I'd been watching the past week actually chose a middle ground - constant spitting rain with a few downpours, but no actual heavy stuff that would have caused a safety concern.

101.15 miles on the trip odometer

I wasn't actually sure that I was going to make the distance until about mile 80.  By mile 50, I was struggling a bit and was worried about being able to continue.  I had planned to stop every 15 miles or so, but from mile 60 forward, I increased the frequency and had a short break every 10 miles. This made the interval distance more manageable (instead of saying "gawd, I have another 40 miles to do," I was saying "ok, another 10 miles to 70, I can do that...").

The rain sucked; was a huge distraction and was effectively another layer of discomfort on top of the normal discomforts of a long day on the bike.  But I'll take sucky rain over sucky wind - wind grinds you down without remorse.  Light rain is manageable.

I hesitate to give stats, because there are lots of guys faster than me, but here's what I did today:

  • Total Distance: 101.15 miles / 162.8 km
  • Moving time: 6:07:55
  • Avg moving speed: 16.5 mph
  • Avg speed (including time for stops): 15.6 mph
  • Calories burned: 2,342
  • Avg cadence (crank rpm): 82


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BDR Final Prep

A few people have asked -- the Big Dumb Ride (BDR) is now a few days away.

Mechanical shakedown ride will be tomorrow (Wednesday). This is a final check that all is well with our bikes.  Thursday I am taking entirely off (I'm having dental work done) and then on Friday we'll come home from work, pack up the gear, and head to the hotel near the venue.

Sign-ins start at 6am on Saturday and I'll be rolling on the course around 7:45am.  The course is open until 4pm, though I hope to be done by around 2pm. Mrs. Durden is also doing the ride, but is signed up for the 'fun ride' while I'm headed for the century (100mi).  We'll see each other regularly around the course, and plan to ride together for parts of it.  But for the majority of my day, I'll be on my own, or making friends with strangers as best I can.

I'm as ready as I think I could have been.  I followed a 10 week training plan, but started it knowing that I'd fall short of it due to weather and RL commitments -- and I did.  I fell well short, actually.  But I'm exiting the training period stronger than I've been in a long while, perhaps ever.

I'm also far smarter about what I need to eat and drink to function at a high aerobic rate for 3, 4, or 6 hours without leg cramps, gastrointestinal distress, or early energy drop (aka "bonking").  I've been doing endurance events for awhile now, but hadn't been happy with the results of my nutritional plan until this year.

As I type, the forecast for this weekend continues to churn.  The past few days the long term models have been highly favorable for a good riding day.  At the moment, it's 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms, which makes me less than happy.  Hopefully the weather systems involved accelerate or decelerate and give me the day I need to be successful.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Easing Back Into Reality

Spent the last week out on the U.S. east coast; rented a half a house on the oceanfront with my family and Mrs. Durden.

The drive out and back is best done in 2 days, but we saw fit to complete it in a single session on both the outbound and return legs.  We rented Saturday to Saturday and got up very early yesterday to say goodbye to family and the ocean and make the drive home.  It's a holiday weekend in the U.S., so we arrived back home to cookouts, high school graduation open houses, and the usual summer kickoff events.  Which is a little weird - my vacation is "over" but all around me the party is just beginning.

We'd been looking forward to this trip for quite awhile.  The past 6 months here have been a sprint with the job, house, and other "real life" problems.  I went to the ocean with only 3 main objectives:

  1. Sleep a lot.
  2. Drink a lot of coffee by the ocean.
  3. Read a book.
I accomplished all my goals.  Book of choice was Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, which I first read in high school and try to pick up every 5 years or so.  The coffee was mediocre, probably due to the local municipal water quality, but I drank it anyway.  

The house we rented was oceanfront.  From the deck, we could watch the tides coming and going maybe 50 yards away.  We made up our daily agenda as we went, but I spent a lot of time just sitting and reading or watching the water.  I'm not one to sunbathe or sleep on a beach, but a comfortable chair within a short walk to the coffee pot (or fridge, for beer) and an ocean breeze is a good way to spend the day.

The first few days, I was jumpy and generally bitchy about perceived offenses committed by my family members.  By about Monday, I found my irritability draining out of me as I caught onto island time and cared a lot less about things that the others said or did.  I felt more like myself than I have in awhile.  

If you've never truly experienced island time, I highly recommend it.  In western civilization today we live such regimented lives in a world of schedules and rules and routine.  But left to our own devices, it's interesting to me how quickly those rituals fade in importance.  Some structure, I suppose, is a good thing over the long haul, but the lack of almost any obligation was liberating.

I had my laptop with, but didn't sneak away much to spend time on it.  I bounced through EVE every other day or so to check on things and read EVEmail.  The time away was good and I came home with a short list of goals that I'd like to accomplish.

I plan to ease back into reality.  I spent this morning brutalizing some Serpentis and have AE4 on deck.  When the dew burns off, I need to mow the lawn.  We have some tuna steaks for dinner that will go on the grill.  I have very little idea of what I'll do tomorrow, and right now that's fine with me.

But for now, it's time for more coffee.


Friday, May 20, 2016

EVE That Was


EVE has been occupying my idle moments lately.  That's good, and bad.  Well before the 85% post, I was pondering things, and dark thoughts flitted in and out of my head.  Upon close inspection, these thoughts would evaporate; I could not force them to congeal into a concise position.  But yet the feeling of unease lingered, and the comfort that I sought was elusive.  I've felt like I've been fighting a blanket that's too small on a cold winter night.  The cold keeps creeping back in.

And that's why, when Neville's 85% post hit, I jumped on it with both feet.

And yet, with time, that single post doesn't quite keep me warm at night either.

Oddly enough, it was mowing the lawn that I think has finally caused a breakthrough.  Mowing, me, and EVE go way back.  At the old house, in the summers of 2003 and 2004, I'd have to afk for an hour every Saturday so that I could go push the mower around our postage stamp in the subdivision.  During that hour, I'd hatch plans and create a mental map of all that I needed to do and all the folks I needed to contact when I returned to my comfortable chair.

Today, as regular readers know, we own 10 acres and I mow between 2 and 4 acres of it depending on the week.  Yesterday I was plotzing around on the Deere, and I happened to think of EVE in the early days, and those Saturdays long ago at the old address and how energizing that time was.  EVE was a central focus, mowing was a chore but a mental break (chainsaw therapy) that I needed to step back and look at the game strategically.

So, yesterday, I began thinking about the game in its infancy - May and June of 2003.  The feelings I had then for the game and the feelings I have today are so distinct that it feels like two very different game titles.  That's not to say one is better than the other - they're just different.  Imagine meeting your dad when he was in his 30s and interacting with him as a peer and contrast that to the father you know today in his 50s or 60s. These two individuals are the same man, but are probably very different people in terms of experience, intensity, interests, and perhaps even temperament/demeanor. Your own role as son/daughter vs. peer plays a role in how your interactions shape up - and that's similar in a way to how you approach EVE today as a returning bittervet or a noob undocking for the first time.  Your expectations and approach are different.

I think it's safe to say that the EVE of yesterday appeals to my soul better.  There's no way I can go back and relive those early days, so this is a moot thing to type about, but while the EVE of today is better in almost every way, I miss the crusty and simple aspects of the game of 2003.  I've known this for awhile, but on the mower I again realized that trying to recapture that feeling of the early days is what makes me continue to sub up.

Lately I've not been productive isk-wise or progress wise.  I've just been touring the highsec systems and regions and have been doing things more randomly; docking at different stations, visiting old systems, and just looking at the skeleton of the game that I know is still there.  I found my favored space-taxi (Amarr Navy Slicer) and popped through random gates without the shackles of using autopilot to plot my jump route.  I went to regions that I used to frequent as part of my trade routes and space trucker empire but no longer have a viable business need to visit.  I checked out some highsec citadels, visited some moons and asteroid belts, and looked at a sky that was Caldari blue.  I'd missed it.

The next 2 weeks are going to be a blur with work and Big Dumb Ride prep, but I'm hopeful that after the dust settles and summer takes hold, I'll be able to devote more time to investigate the EVE-that-was that's still within the EVE-that-is.

I say things like "more time for EVE soon" quite a bit... but one of these days, I'm going to be right. :)


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Brain Dump

Many thoughts have been swirling lately, so let me give you a brain dump.  Just for fun, I'll sort these by word-association.  These are in no particular order and are appearing just in the manner in which I begin typing them.

Behind:
Work sent me to the east coast this week for a series of meetings.  Productive and overall a good experience, but I really didn't have the time at home or at the office to be out of pocket that long.  Lugging the work laptop around, I didn't bring the gaming laptop and have been out of touch with most everything. A modern cell phone can do a lot, but only so much.  I got back to the house after 11pm on Thursday, was too wired from the trip home to sleep and was still awake at 1am.  Alarm clock went off at 5am and I did a full day at the office. Came home and crashed, then took Mrs. Durden for mexican at the local cantina since we hadn't really talked in almost a week.  There were a handful of things I should have done last night and I didn't do any of them.

As I type, I'm staring out the window at grass that's well beyond needing mowed.  So that's task 1 for today.

Discouraged:
Big Dumb Ride prep has again been interrupted.  When I signed up for the ride, I knew that I'd struggle to get the miles I needed in April and May.  The weather is unpredictable, and waffles between "super mega-nice" and "shitstorm rain."  I track all the miles I've ridden since 2013, and April is typically in my lowest mileage months, with some years recording a big fat zero.

Although I've hit some great high marks - longest unsupported ride, and a non-formal-event metric century (100km), I am not getting the less glamorous weekday rides in that I need to maintain and extend my base.  With the work trip this week, I'm behind on a thousand things at the house and the weather is again uncooperative - I may not ride at all this weekend.  The BDR event day is closing in and I'm now beginning to doubt my ability to hang on for the full Imperial Century (100 mile) goal.

Hopeful:
One bonus perk of the cold/windy/wet weather is that I might actually be able to undock this weekend and kill some Guristas or Sanshas.  It's been awhile....

Philosophical:
I've had a sequel post in my head for the previous "85%" bandwagoning, but will spare you the long dissertations and give a few thoughts with bullet points.  Bullet points are cool.
  • No, I don't agree with everything in Neville's post.  But I do agree with the overall sentiment.
  • I am not against Citadels.  I'm not personally interested in them, but I see the perks, and like the overall size/shape/flavor of the design.  For the past year or more, I've been pretty happy that CCP seemed to be balancing dev investments pretty well.  All corners of the community got something (sometimes big, sometimes small, but SOMETHING) in each patch.  
  • My beef with the 2016 plan seems to be that CCP is banking on "trickle down economics" of null driving interactions in other areas of space.  And yah, they will.  But it's that feeling of being second class citizens that chafes.
  • As a person pretty heavily invested in capship BPOs, I really do want to see capship Fleet warfare get fixed and come back to being en vogue.  But I wanted it alongside content directly focused at my preferred way to play.
  • I am not upset with CCP Affinity.  I think she's done the PVE community a few favors over the past year.
  • That being said, I stand behind my previous words about the lack of focus, clarity, and scope control from a project management perspective.  I'm not disappointed with any single hardworking dev; I'm disappointed with CCP as a whole for being unable to demonstrate reasonable management and having the balls to communicate directly with us.
  • Is it the end of the world?  Bah, hardly.  I can still rain hot kinetic cruise missile death down upon my foes, save the damsel, and poke the occasional burner in the eye.  I've said before and I'll continue to say: EVE today is the most playable state we've ever enjoyed.  And that's pretty ok with me.
Aging:
Abavus quietly celebrated another birthday.  He was born just after midnight server time on May 10th, 2003.  That's a few days after the original launch.  In those early days, owning a battleship seemed like an impossible goal; having 1B isk in your wallet (let alone 20B) was a laughable thought.  I don't exactly how how I pictured spending my time in EVE, but at the time it probably involved a lot of Merlins and Kestrels.  Every time I think I've peaked in this game, I find another goal and another plateau to climb to.

Pukin' Dogs was actually born several months before EVE's launch, notionally in October of 2002 (though the exact day and even month are now fading with time).  We existed in EVE's beta7 but because of skills and cost didn't actually appear in EVE until 31 May 2003.  So, around Memorial Day in the US, I'll be hefting an icy cold beverage to the Dogs.

Back then, the notion of playing this silly space game in 2016 was absurd.  Perhaps just as absurd as playing the game in another 13 years in 2029.  But who knows?


And with that, it's time to go mow the lawn... fly safe!