Going Down

Today is the fifth Monday of January, almost certainly no one’s favorite day of the year.  I’ve been trying to shake the doldrums of winter.  Lots of rainy and sunless days. Work has been busy and my increasing load of meetings and random tasks means less time to focus on writing software. Michelle went back up to school yesterday, so the nest is empty once again.

Guess what, I’m in a D&D campaign again!  Our last one ended over a year ago when Michelle went off to college.  Last week out of the blue my friend Mark H. up in the Adirondacks asked me if I wanted to join his group.  So I came up with a few ideas for characters, all of them different kinds of fighter/magic-user combinations.  One was Fingongolfinger, an elvish fighter/wizard, an attempt to re-create the classic elf type from the original D&D game.  Fights with a sword and longbow, and casts spells like fireball and lightning bolt.  But the party already had and elvish wizard.  The second was Hiro Ünliikli, a Dragonborn barbarian/sorcerer. This would’ve been pretty wild and weird, but the party already had Teifling, which was weird enough.

The one they liked the best was Grimli Son of Groin, a dwarvish cleric whose deity is Thor.  He fights with a magic warhammer and axe and shield, and has spells like spiritual weapon, and other spell to boost his and party’s fight ability, endurance, and resistance.  He started at level seven and the DM gave him a bunch of cool magic items.  I’m very stoked.

We had our first session last week, over zoom, and I met the party, Mark’s friends, and the whole thing was fun and easygoing. They’ve been playing long enough to have their own tone and rhythm and in-jokes.  I came at a time when they were choosing where to go for the next major adventure, so there was alot of roleplaying and backstory, but no actual combat.  

Only problem is the group meets on Wednesdays, which is the night of my rehearsal jazz group. As luck would have it that was cancelled last week and again this week.  I’ve been thinking of leaving anyway since the group isn’t all that good.  It’s more like going to the gym for sax playing and improvisation over real book tunes than anything else.  But I kinda wanna find a new and better group to replace it.  I’ve been thinking of signing up for a jazz workshop in the city to maybe meet some new and better players.

Happily Spacecats, which rehearses on Thursday, is still fun and creative and sounding better than ever.  My new song Los Gatos de Cosmos, is developing nicely.  But I feel like we need to find some gigs.

In other news, they finally got some snow upstate, so on Saturday we went skiing for the first time this season.  Good to spend time outside doing something physical and get away from staring at the computer screen.  If you recall I took seven years off from skiing, and started again two seasons ago.  At the time I bought new boots and demoed skis on the mountain.  Last year we went skiing three times, up from one the year before.  This year we’re hoping to beat that.

I demoed skis last year but didn’t like them that much.  They were a little short, and while they were very maneuverable, they weren’t so fast on the straightaways.  This year the skis I got are longer, they’re stiffer and lighter than my old skis, and very controllable on different conditions, ice, powder, etc.  But they’re actually close to the length of my old ones.  I’m thinking maybe 5cm shorter would be perfect.

Anyway it was a great day skiing, and we did sixteen runs, which is good amount more then our first trip last year, when we did ten runs.  Michelle is way faster then Jeannie and me now, and just zips right down the mountain. Jeannie and I are thinking of taking a weekend up to the Adirondacks of Vermont or something in a few weeks. 

Don’t Ask Me Why

It’s January.  The darkest darkness has passed, and days are getting longer again.  At five o’clock there’s still some daylight.  We’ve had alot of rainy and overcast days too since the new year.  Up in Buffalo all the snow from the big Christmas blizzard has melted.  It’s been colder here again recently, and we even had a snow flurry or two over the weekend, which puts me in the mind of skiing.

Of course with the holidays over it’s back to work.  Things are off to a good start with both my main gig and The Global Jukebox, moving to grand strategy to operational tactics to writing and and deploying code.

With Michelle home on winter break for another couple weeks, we’ve been playing lots of board games, and as is tradition, watched entire extended edition of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, about four lads from Liverpool, er, The Shire, who have come into possession of a ring they want to get rid of, while singing songs and being chased by bad guys all over the world, er, Middle Earth to the Bahamas, er, Mordor.

Lizzy came for a visit last weekend, since she didn’t make it home at Christmastime.  We all had a fun weekend which started with going to Billy Joel at the Garden Friday night.  He still puts on a great show, has a great band, and does a fantastic job of mixing up the set list and keeping things fresh.  This night his band did two songs by Jeff Beck, including a stirring rendition of People Get Ready and an impromptu jam of I’m Going Down after the last encore.

The next night we went out to Long Island to Mary and her family, since we didn’t see them at all over the holidays.  We went to Benihana for fancy cook-at-the-table hibachi seafood, which was most excellent.  Haven’t been to one of those in years.  Sunday we watched the Bills game.  They made the playoffs and one the first round.  Two more to go to get to the Super Bowl.

I printed out a bunch of lead sheets for some Billy Joel songs to practice on piano.  Surprisingly, these can take some time to prepare, since chords found on the internet are often not accurate, and the charts always need formatting.  I want the song to fit on one page from start to finish and be as clearly readable as possible.

Lots more going on with music, origami, and other creative and artistic endeavors, but it’s all a work in progress right now.  Will share when the time is right.

Wear Your Blizzard Season Coat

We’re coming to the end of another holiday season.  This one was strangely both eventful and uneventful. I guess I should rewind to the week before Christmas.  Michelle came home from college for winter break, but even though we were no longer symptomatic, Jeannie was still testing positive for Covid, so we all kinda did your best to avoid each other for a few days just in case.  Luckily Michelle never got sick.

We had planned a trip up to Buffalo to visit Lizzy and my parents.  Since she had to work both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, Lizzy wasn’t coming home, so we figured we’d go up for Xmas day this year.  Our original plan was to drive up on the 23rd and catch the Sabres playing that night.  But then there came talk of a coming blizzard.  When they cancelled the hockey game, we figured it was gonna be trouble.

So we stayed home while the storm slammed into town on the 23rd and continued thru Xmas Eve and subsided sometime Xmas day.  It turned out to be a once-in-fifty-years level storm.  We kept in close contact with Lizzy and my folks, and they were all alright.  My folks just hunkered down and waited it out, and fortunately did not loose power.  Lizzy was at work early Friday morning, but closed her store around nine and left for her roommate’s parents’ house in Arcade, away from the lake effect snow belt.  Made it out just in time.

By mid-morning there was a travel ban in the City of Buffalo and all of Erie county.  All our loved ones were safe, so we decided to stay local for Xmas since.  It was actually really nice to have a couple days of down time with no immediate responsibilities.  I worked out and made more progress on my song, and we all played games and watched movies.

We were going to go over to Mary’s Xmas day, but then Lou got Covid, so that was out.  On Xmas Eve Jeannie went out and got a nice rib roast to cook, and her parents came over, so Xmas was low key but fun.  And everyone got Legos.

We headed up to Buffalo on Monday, boxing day.  The travel ban was still in effect for the city, but in the suburbs where my parents are it was okay to drive.  Once we got past East Aurora the amount of snow on the ground increased considerably.  My folks had a good three feet.  Luckily my dad has a giant snow thrower, and they have a friendly neighbor with a plow.

Lizzy couldn’t go home, so she went to my parents’ too.  And Martin showed up with his family.  We spent two days merrymaking, which was most excellent.  On Tuesday Lizzy took a ride to her store just to make sure everything was okay, and snow was still falling.  I tagged along because I wanted to give my old pair of skis and boots to my friend Larry, who lived nearby. Unfortunately, Larry came down with Covid as well, so I just left them on his front porch instead of going in to hang out.  Ah well.  On Wednesday it finally stopped snowing.  We had thought about going skiing but everyone was too tired.  We ran a bunch of errands in the morning then headed home.

I guess we really needed to catch up on our rest cuz the next day everyone slept in until noon. The last few days we’ve been on a fairly leisurely schedule.   Been trying to go for a walk in the brief, thin daylight every day.  More working out, music, games and movies.  Our New Year’s Eve plans were a bust too since our friends had Covid. 

Ah well back to work tomorrow.