Tuesday, July 20, 2010

12 Days of Reading Down

Twelve days of reading Harry Potter and I'm 19% of the way through the entire series, which is 780 pages and probably the most pages I've ever read in nearly two weeks. I'm using these posts to help keep track of my reading progress along the way, so I'll also say that I'm 30% of the way through Azkaban right now. Although the HP books are relatively low word counts per page, that's still something I'm pretty proud of - then again Becky or many of my friends could read all seven books in the course of two weeks, but I've found over the last few years that I retain a LOT more of what I read than Becky does.

I am hoping that one result of this goal is that I'll not only get back into reading regularly, but also that I'll be a faster reader by the end of it. I'd love to go back and re-read some of my favorite books - they're also some of the first books I read for recreational because I wanted to start with the classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, and then there's Dune which I'm dying to read again sometime soon. The problem is that there are so many other books that I want to read that I haven't even read yet, like the rest of Wheel of Time, the Game of Thrones, Dark Tower, and I'm sure there are tons more that I can't even think of right now.

I've been experiencing some really bad feelings when I'm working here at home and am not immediately busy, my mind wanders back to unemployment and I get extremely worried. It's going to take quite a bit of time, probably at least equal to the 7 months that I was unemployed, for me to get completely comfortable again. There are some very dark places that my mind wanders to, and that's something I'm not accustomed to at all.

In my moonlighting as a game designer, which really just means that I randomly think of game ideas and mechanics throughout the day (most of which are terrible), I've been brainstorming some rules mods or changes for 4E. I'm not sure if anything will come of them, but I am hoping to get my Githyanki racial rules completed soon and also post a bunch of helpful things for 4E that I've been working on for quite a while (years really) that I am soon going to reopen and complete. They will almost certainly end up on Critical Hits, but I may talk about some of the process and other thoughts here once they go up!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heat Waves and Hot Pages

The pages are hot because I've been tearing through them...get it? Hot pages! Ah nevermind...

On July 8th I was only 1% into the entire Harry Potter series, which was ~40 pages into the 1st book. Four days later I was 70% through the 1st book and 5% into the whole series. Now I've been reading them for 8 days total and I'm 210 pages into the second book (62%) and 519 pages into the series or 13% of the way through. That's well over the 1% a day that I need even after July 19th so I'm fairly confident with my goal of getting through the series in time for the last movie. I was wondering if the 1st book was such light reading because I'd already read it a year or two ago, but the second book is going just as easily and I'm really enjoying it. There are a lot of complexities to the characters that are only hinted at in the movies but come across a lot stronger in the writing, which is probably the part I'm most enjoying. It also helps that I don't remember much from the first two movies because I hated them so much and only watched them once all the way through.

At this rate I should be done with the books sometime in October, but I may also get burnt out on the specific style of writing / topics at some point in the middle. If I get significantly along I may take a break to finally finish The Shadow Rising since I'm on a kick of reading so much lately.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1 Month of Employment

Things are going incredibly, no actually I'd say insanely, well for us lately. My new job has done quite a bit, but I think the root of everything is that despite all the stress, pain, and anguish that being unemployed caused us - Becky and I were still pretty damn happy during that time. We spent 7 months pretty much the entire time being together 24/7, and we enjoyed it a hell of a lot. Possibly the most fun was in the beginning of the year when the 2010 Winter Olympics were on and we both were home all day. We watched nearly all of the events and it was awesome! So after that 7 months, despite the job and money concerns, we were happy and I think that is the root of why things are going so incredibly well right now. We were happy, and then a large amount of stress was relieved for us and I feel like we're finally able to use all that positive momentum we were building up over the first half of the year.

It really doesn't feel like that was half a year, and it's very nice to have so many good things that happened (with Becky for the most part) to look back on and not have that period of my life be a tarnish on things. A few other things that I enjoyed during that period of time:
  • hanging out with Matt on random week days while everyone else worked
  • Hanging out with our friends Andrew & Amber, and the birth of their baby boy Maddox on May 31st - also being free to spend a lot of time at the hospital and keep them company / bring them food during those stressful few days
  • getting to play a few times in Dave's D&D game
  • the last season of Lost
  • working with our friend Ben on random house jobs for his home improvement company - installing insulation, doing (badly) drywall, painting - I quickly became comfortable walking around in attic spaces, which is a useful skill and helped with installing the ceiling fan for my home office
  • working for Becky's dad the last month of my unemployment - doing drywall plan take-offs - it got me back into the idea of working every day of the week (haha)
I'm sure there are some other things, I may add onto this list later on.

Nerd-time: One of the things I'm really enjoying right now is running my D&D campaign more often since Becky has gotten a lot more into it and doesn't mind (or even encourages) me to run more often now. Just a year ago she was considering quitting the game, but now she's such an enjoyable part of the game for me when I run and an incredibly talented role player. With her and Dave in my party, it's clear everyone else is quickly improving in their roleplaying as a result. I started this campaign on July 4th, 2008 and after two years it's a treat to see how things have changed and relish a bit in the world Dave and I have built. His party (in the past of my game) is in the upper paragon tier and he will probably wrap his game up by summer or fall of next year. My party is just hitting level 14/15/16 but I'm hoping to speed things up and run more regularly so that it doesn't take another two years to wrap everything up in my campaign. Then again, if it keeps going strong and everyone is enjoying it - what's the problem with it running for 2 more years? We'll have to see how it goes...

Onto the reading front, you can see that things are going well because I'm 70% of the way through the first Harry Potter book and 5% through the entire series. Everything I do before July 19th is a buffer, once that date hits I'll need to have 25% of the entire series read by August 19th which evens out to just under 1% or 41 pages a day. Getting through the first book before that date seems reasonable, which would bring my requirement down to 38 pages a day which isn't much but it helps. The only reason this is even possible for me is that the books are easy to read and each page is relatively short on words, otherwise I'd be doomed because I like to read slow and enjoy my books (at least that's the excuse I use).

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Reading Schedule

You may have noticed on the right side here, I've added the first Harry Potter book to my reading progress bar list. This is strange for me because I have never before gone on to read something while not finished with my current book. Wheel of Time stalled for me for no particular reason, but because the last Harry Potter movie(s) are coming out starting in November Becky has encouraged me to read through all of the books before seeing them. I've already read the Sorcerer's Stone but I can't remember very much of it and so I started reading through it again. If I'm going to get through all 7 books before November 19th, then I need to finish pretty much 2 books a month. I'm already 15% through the first book so I'm hoping to give myself a good head start and crank through all of these in pretty good time (for me, that is). I'm a slow reader, I know!

I will be finishing The Shadow Rising as well, but I'm hoping plowing through the HP books gets me back in the habit of reading regularly and then I can actually get through the Wheel of Time books as well.

The first 3-4 Harry Potter movies were interesting but ultimately I hated them, the plot twists in the first three especially were (in my opinion) horridly done as far as cinema goes. It wasn't until the later movies and the more epic wizard stuff started happening that I got sold on the franchise, however I do admit that the first book reads a hell of a lot better than the first movie was to experience. Plus having Gary Oldman as a friendly but mysterious character would sell me on pretty much anything.

Edit: All seven books = 4,100 pages - because the later books are 600-900 pages long vs. the first few being 300 each, I'll definitely need to speed through this but I'm still trying! Entire progress can be seen on the right along with a series total at the bottom. 1% down so far!