This is what happens when your kids grab your phone and change the background photo.
Month: May 2021
Ol’ blue eyes
Now those are some blue eyes!
Pepper was all decked out for Memorial Day. I especially like her shiny red, white, and blue earrings!
It’s fun to see Alex and Kaitlyn with little Ollie. He’s still kind of a blobby potato who doesn’t do a whole lot, but he gets plenty of attention!
Two years in
It’s been two years since I said goodbye to the working world. And despite taking on a new job, I still consider myself “retired”. I figured the two-year anniversary of leaving a full-time job would be a good time to pause and reflect on all that’s happened.
I find that everyone I know who’s retired is often talking about how busy they are. It’s not like retirement is just sitting around watching movies and eating chocolate– it’s more like an opportunity to figure out what hobbies and interests will fill the 8-hour-a-day gap that used to be the workday. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered, it’s that filling that gap isn’t really all that hard. In two years, I think I might have been bored one day or maybe two. Other than that, there’s always been something to occupy my time.
My hobbies have certainly expanded. Photography continues to be a passion, and I’d like to think that I’ve become a little better at taking pictures. It helps that I live in an amazing outdoor area, of course. I’ve been working on post-processing, taking mediocre photos and making them slightly less mediocre. My camera’s been getting a workout, and it continues to be a great investment.
I’ve discovered the joy of board game design, and I’ve more or less wrapped up the mechanics of Hexteria. Now it’s time for the marketing. That means finalizing design and artwork, building a web site, launching a Kickstarter campaign, and seeing if I can convince a hundred people (my goal) to buy it. It’s been a pretty cool journey, and since I love board games (and have many friends who do as well), it plays well with another passion of mine. While I wait for the final design stuff to percolate a bit, I’ve already started work on two more games. My card game Saurs is probably a dead end, but now I’m working on one called Chronium. More news on that soon.
Drawing and cartooning has also been a surprising discovery. I wouldn’t have expected that, especially since I’m terrible at art and not very creative. My Far Far Away comic has languished a bit, relegated to the back burner in favor of some other projects, but I’m getting back into it. I’m also thinking about working on more “realistic” art, like landscapes, rather than staying with cartoons. That’s been inspired a bit by my friend Addi’s work.
Then there are the house projects. So. Many. Projects. Unlike our former houses, we’ve been actively making changes and updates to this one pretty much since the day we moved in. Carpeting, paint, countertops, home theater, generator, solar panels, fallen trees, the orchard, even things like poking at mystery switches… the list is enormous. I’ve learned a lot, particularly about electrical wiring, and I’ve put in a lot of hours. Some of those were frustrating, but many were rewarding. Our home continues to evolve, and sometimes I feel like it’ll evolve right up to the day we move out.
Teaching seminary is more than a hobby; it’s a part-time job. Both Pepper and I probably spend 20 hours a week preparing lessons, teaching class, and communicating with the kids and their parents. It’s all volunteer work, of course, and I wouldn’t quite call it a “hobby”, but it’s a big part of our week. We both love it. We also both love taking a break for the summer.
I’ve had more time to read, which has been interesting. I love reading, although I can’t do it for more than an hour or two before I get restless. Pepper and Kyra both read in what seem like marathon sessions– four or six hours at a stretch. That’s not my style, so even with more time I still make slow progress. I’ve re-read old favorites, and stumbled across some really great new favorites. Right now I’m in the middle of a book about quantum mechanics and superstring theory; after this I’ll probably re-read Dune which I last picked up in high school. There’s a movie coming out, after all.
Let’s not forget the outdoor stuff. Jet skis are a blast, as are kayaks and paddleboards. Flathead Lake is amazing– it’s the reason we moved here, after all– and with dozens of lakes all over the area, I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to spend time on the water. Even in the cold(ish) weather, with the frigid water, we’ve donned wetsuits and had fun. There are also plenty of hiking trails we’ve discovered, and who can argue with the breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park? Yeah, I’ve been there a few times… at last count I think I’m at fifteen since moving here.
And there are so many other things. Remote board games with friends. In-person board games with other friends. Visiting our kids. Eating out. Doing web development just for fun. On and on. Sometimes the days seem a blur, and I wonder where the week went. Other times I notice my calendar is sort of empty in the days ahead, and think about what new hobby I might experiment with. It’s been a blur and a blast and a chance to start figuring out what I want to do for the next fifty years of my life.
Yep, retirement is pretty great. Five stars, would recommend.
Designing a dinosaur-themed card game was kind of a disaster, but maybe I’ll come back to it someday. There’s still a spark of something there.
So it’s time to move on to something new. My latest idea is another card game… well, it’s mostly a card game; there are a few other pieces involved. And this time it’s about time travel. The game is tentatively called Chronium (hah, see what I did there?). I made up a bunch of cards and a couple of player boards, and dove into the playtesting.
The verdict? It wasn’t completely terrible. My game against myself actually ended up being pretty close, which I think is generally a good thing in games.
Still, there’s work to be done. Game development continues…
Although we’ve seen plenty of bears roaming our property, they’ve always been in the forest or munching on our cherries. But tonight, they walked right up the stairs to our front door!
That’s the view from the security camera right above the door. They wandered around the courtyard for a bit and then ambled back down the stairs. Pepper was home at the time, although she didn’t know they were there (our security cameras chime all the time, including when the sun is particularly bright, so we often ignore them). Here’s the video:
I guess we’ll need to be a little more cautious when we go out to lay in the courtyard grass and watch the stars…
That’s a wrap
Today was our last day of seminary for the school year. That means we won’t have to go to bed so early, when it’s still light outside. Here’s the view from the courtyard last night at 10pm, when we were turning in:
We’ve had a good time, but it’ll be nice to have a “summer break”. It was a little sad to walk out of the classroom for the last time this morning.
But hey, we’ll be back in the fall, refreshed and ready to tackle another group of high school yahoos at 6:30 every morning…
Back at ya, meme
Kyra randomly sends text messages with memes she finds on the internet. Sometimes they’re pretty odd, like the one I just received:
After seeing this, I felt like I had to respond in kind. A few minutes of graphic design shenanigans, and here we are:
It’s… kind of horrifying. That’ll show Kyra!
My new job
It’s official: I’m a working man again. Well, it’s not quite what it sounds like. I’ll explain.
A few months ago, I was looking at the web site for the local high school (long story) and noticed there was a page for their speech and debate team. It looks like they had a good group of kids, and a good program. It reminded me of my days at Francis Howell North, participating in speech and debate… which, at the time, was called forensics. I’d been thinking about how I might volunteer more in the community, particularly in the schools. It could be a great opportunity for me to help the debate team! I contacted the activities director at the school and asked how I might jump in as a volunteer. I was envisioning showing up to practices now and then to give some guidance, and maybe accompanying the team to a few meets through the season.
As it turns out, Bigfork High School had no debate team! Their former coach, who’d been managing things for over a decade, had left in 2019 because he became the principal of the middle school (fair excuse). The school district had advertised a position for a new coach, but a year later no one had applied. With the craziness of covid, it would’ve been a strange year for speech and debate anyway, so in the words of the activities director, “it wasn’t really much of a loss”. But they didn’t need a volunteer like me, because they didn’t have a team! Or a coach. Would I be interested in becoming the new coach?
I thought about it for a while. I mean, this wasn’t really what I’d planned to sign up for: I’d be required to attend all practices and go to all the meets. I’d build– or rather rebuild– the speech program at the school. I’d have to learn all the new events and rules, because it’s been 30+ years since I participated in forensics. Heck, it’s not even called “forensics” any more… apparently that died sometime in the early 2000’s and just became “speech and debate”. And the last time I checked a map, Montana was a huge state, which means that traveling to Saturday morning meets will often involve getting on a bus around 4am, riding for 4-6 hours, and not returning home until after midnight.
In the end, I think it’ll be fun. So I asked what the process would be. To start, I had to submit a resume and some work references. That was interesting– I literally haven’t put together a resume since 1999. And what kind of work references can you provide when you’re retired? Or when you own the company? Well, I slapped something together and submitted all the paperwork, then waited.
Today I received word that I’d been hired as the new coach. I’d figured there would at least be an interview with the principal or the school board or someone, but nope, I guess after a year of searching and getting no candidates, they figured they should just take the one guy who’d applied. And that was that.
This summer I’ll need to brush up on everything related to speech and debate, and once the fall semester starts I’ll need to recruit a team, host practices, and head off to meets around the state. It’s a little strange to think I have a job again, but I’m looking forward to the chance to help a handful of high-school kids develop a love for the stuff I loved as a kid.