Friday, January 29, 2016

Time to Focus Elsewhere

“The house is a bit of a mess.”

Ellie and I visited our house on the eve of her planned permanent return. It was good for of us to be in the house together. The boxes we brought joined haphazardly with the other stuff a friend had helped me move earlier.

Ellie assembled more stuff to bring home. Boxes and plastic bags, trailing to the door from the middle of the room, greeted me. Much of it was for the cats we’d be bringing home. Our friend Jane came to help.

“Didn’t you take anything home last night?” she asked.

“Yes, … ,” a little put off at the tone, “this is leftovers after moving the packed stuff you saw last night.”

“Yikes,” she replied.

“Yeah, well, let’s get started,” I said, feeling a little ‘yikes’ myself.

We loaded the cars and made a short parade going home.

The cats’ adjustment took about 20 seconds, amazing Jane, “They are really used to the two of you,” she said.

After pizza, Jane left in the late afternoon. Exhausted, Ellie and I watched the crystal ball drop in NYCIty and went to bed. “Happy New Year.” Indeed, it was; we were living together once again.

The real story here began the next morning with news that Ellie’s sister-in-law, who lives about 30 miles north of us, had gone to the hospital ER and been admitted to the ICU. Over the course of the next two days her condition worsened, we visited at her bedside with her two adult daughters and their husband and boy-friend, respectively. We were present at her bedside when she died, less than two days after being admitted to the hospital. She had been a healthy woman and her death shocked everyone.

These events brought three out-of-state sisters, one of their husbands, and several nephews to town for the funeral. We offered to put up the sister and brother-in-law from California ( who, for various reasons, all related to the brother and now deceased sister-in-law, had already been in town from California twice since Thanksgiving ) for the week they were here.

I had worked to get the house ready for Ellie’s return. That effort was mostly dealing with piles of paper that I had accumulated. I didn’t have to deal with boxes that were placed anywhere it seemed convenient. Even though our invitation to stay with us included the warning, “the house is a bit of a mess,” the effort both Ellie and I put in to get the house ready for our house-guests dwarfed my effort to get the house ready for Ellie!

Hosting the couple from California was very pleasant and we enjoyed seeing the sisters and nephews. Nonetheless, Ellie and I were already exhausted from our experience of Loretta’s cancer, hospice stay and death, and we had just begun re-learning the nuances of living together when this happened. The first two weeks of 2016 were not spent as we would have liked. The funeral and house guests required our attention to be placed elsewhere … to be focused outwardly.

But perhaps that was and is for the best.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Other Side of the World - #6

Payday fast approaches.  I don't live paycheck to paycheck, so it's usually not significant.  This payday happens to fall on the anniversary of the day I left for Thailand.  It also happens to be the day I finish paying for that trip.  This is entirely a coincidence, I assure you.  I'm not much of a planner.  But when I realized this, I experienced a moment of clarity.

I can spend an entire month of Minnesota winter relaxing  in paradise every year.

It's stupid, of course.  I should be planning for the future, or whatever.  Or is it stupid to slug it out here, when I could be living for the moment.  I looked through some of my photos, and was shocked by a traitorous eye attempting to tear up.  I put a quick stop to it, but I got the point.  I'm very happy here, but I want more.

I think I've decided I want to take a two week trip every January.  That's reasonable.  And it doesn't have to literally be to the other side of the world.  There are a lot of places I've never been.  When I got back last year, I actually started planning exactly that for next January, January 2017.  I'm thinking Colombia.  It's less than $400 round trip for the airfare, which is almost $1,000 less than my last trip.

In the larger scheme, I think I'm going to start looking at living somewhere warmer.  Now that I'm back to where I was a year ago, it seems reasonable to buy a car.  But maybe I really just want to live somewhere with good mass transit.  Somewhere the weather is bearable all year round.  Life is too big to pidgin hole myself.

And lets not count out the Powerball.  It's over a billion this week. : - )

Monday, January 4, 2016

Post-apocalyptic Storytelling Techniques

"The movie wasn't as good as the book."
  - Everyone

It's not true, of course.  Movies are movies, and books are books.  A movie can display amazing visuals, and music to capture emotion.  Put a face on it, in a way you can't imagine.  Books allow you to tailor the story to your imagination.  The story can form to you, like an old shoe.  And maybe there are times when your imagination is more profound than the actors and special effects artists can come up with.

Voicing the main character in Fallout 4 may seem like the obvious next step.  I never even questioned it in the Mass Effect series.  Then again, who's going to argue with Jennifer Hail as the voice of your protagonist.  But Mass Effect was the story of an individual.  You could decide overall demeanor and moral decisions, but you were always a bad ass captain of a star ship, here to save the day.

The thing is, previous Fallout games were open world.  They gave very little back story, and let you decide who you were.  This one was a fundamental departure to that.  I was told I was a lawyer, and a grieving widow.  And by the way, you're a hero, and need to take care of these people.

Sure, I could make a strong, dumb lawyer.  Wouldn't really be immersive though, would it?  And I guess I could have abandoned the people the game put me in charge of.

This approach is very much in line with the idea of, instead of deciding what my character will say, I decide the kind of thing she will say, then find out what that is as she says it.  It's fine for a game, but I don't think this game.  Fallout games have been games where I decide who I am, and have many paths to choose from.

One more minor complaint.  If they were going to voice my character, they should have voiced each persuasion attempt separately.  It is immersion breaking to see vastly different reactions to the same words and tone.  A poor persuasion attempt should sound awkward, and a successful should really lay it on.

Other people's opinions will obviously be different  I would like to make it clear, that I do think it was voiced well.  I have no problems with the voice acting.