kestrel

kestrel
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2021-02-02 09:08:01 (UTC)

Goals Reflection: January 2021

[any identifying names and locations will be changed for protection and privacy.]

GOALS REFLECTION - January 2021

OFF-GRID HOMESTEAD
The weekly meetings with the eco-compound are still happening (though they are brief), I'm still attending.

Garden plans are still in place. I am going to buy shade structures for most of the plants I want to grow: garlic, ginger, onions, and turmeric. I will put a pumpkin plant in the center of the plot so it can sprawl out. I dropped off coffee grounds and food scraps at the garden spot a few times this past month. There's a big pile of community mulch still there, so each time I pass by on the way back to the house I take a bucketfull and spread it on the pathway through the wood so it's not a muddy track (well, when it's not frozen over, that is).

Later today I will purchase two birdhouses. I will install them in the back yard by the end of February so they are ready for springtime visitors and nesting.

GAME DESIGN
Global Game Jam was this month, and I enjoyed it immensely. The place I'd participated at for the last several years wasn't hosting this year due to quarantine, so I went with the nearby arts college instead. It was a small, supportive community and I felt very welcome. I also came up with a fun project and finished it with time to spare. It could use a little more gameplay (it's mostly a randomly-created maze that needs to be navigated before the time runs out), but I spent most of the time on the random generation and the artwork. It looks great, and I found some excellent, moody music tracks that helped establish atmosphere. I may join in the same group next year.

I haven't updated my website with the recent games I've made, and I want to do that this upcoming month. I just haven't done much game-making lately, and the day job was demanding.

As for tabletop design, I am hitting walls with the map-making game. It's just so mind-numbingly boring right now. I re-worked some of the components and mechanics, but that seems to be a dead end. I'll take a look at some other map-making games out there and see what I really want to do with this concept.

I ended up purchasing a bunch of "discount" games from a game component supply company, and have been learning how to play them. I admire games that are quick to setup, easy to understand, and can be played on my own. It's a nice way to wind down after the day's work is done, and I need to be away from a computer screen: books and board games.

These also inspire me to try new things, see how other designers approach challenges, and finally I can see what other components are out there that I might want to try using. For example, there's a movement/demand/trend right now for 18-card mini-games. I purchased one of these to try it out, and the container for the games is actually the rulebook: instructions are on one side, the outside of the package is the other. It folds up over the small deck of cards and then a tab fits into the slot on the back of the pack to keep it together. It's a clever assembly, and something I could easily see myself using.

Finally, I tried my hand at creating video game "let's play" videos this month. There's a demolition derby car-racing game that I bought myself at the close of last year, and I've enjoyed it every week. I wanted to share news about it with my brother, so I made some gameplay videos and shared them with him. It's been fun, and it's nice to look back on the footage and hear my narration: to witness my "first discoveries" of fun and surprises that have captivated me within this game so far. It's harmless fun, I don't curse in the videos, and there's no blood and guts or graphic violence so even my nephews could watch.

INCREASED INCOME
About the day job: The January '21 cohort was the largest online training group we've had to date. It was challenging at times - primarily in terms of bookkeeping and video reviews - and I surprised myself the workload I was able to complete. Easily over three dozen video reviews of client assignments, shared with both the clients and their job coaches. We also connected with some other service organizations and agencies for this past cohort, and that seemed to help increase our enrollment numbers.

Computer and Internet access for many of our clients is a constant issue, and we're not alone in recognizing it. The city government has taken note of the "digital divide" that exists within the low-income and poverty-stricken community, and wants to "find solutions" and "address this extreme disadvantage." We'll see what they do this year. Meanwhile, our office is trying to find ways to either supply our clients with devices (without losing out when a client walks off after, you know, getting a computer for free) or keep our Computer Lab sanitized for clients to come in and use it and in some cases a staff member to assist them.

iPhones suck, by the way. There are multiple, immutable problems with trying to make them work with the online classrooms and the online activities I've created for the course. Many of our clients have them however, so I end up doing a lot of tech support or direct them to work-arounds.

Speaking of the online classroom, I delivered a presentation to our board of directors for their annual strategic meeting, and they all loved it. One of our long-time industry partners, now board member, wants to expand the training to a fee-for-service model to a specific segment of the industry. As I'm already familiar, I think I can handle it. It would just take a bit of time to customize some training modules for it, then constantly iterate to make sure it's what they want. I can do this, for sure.

I have an annual review in February. I anticipate that this will go very well. Everyone seems to like what I have done for the office this past year. Personally, I know I did my best and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Regarding soap: I bought some more lye, as the last batch we'd made used up nearly everything we had. I will check in with my soap partner in February to see how the sandalwood batch turned out - there seemed to be some curing issues because we covered them with plastic wrap and there was too little ventilation - and then figure out when we'll make our next batch. I'd like to find some way to sell this soap.

Regarding laser-cut projects: I made some coasters for a friend of mine who runs a coffee roastery, but have yet to make it to the post office to ship them out. He'll be sending me some coffee in exchange. I put a bar of soap from the first batch we made in there too, so he can keep his hands clean.

I must admit, I am moving a lot of this stuff around to friends and relatives because I want word of mouth advertising for what I do. If I can keep a steady stream of small coaster projects running - for example - then I can eventually pay myself back for the laser cutter and other stuff I do on the side. It's easier to handle these small-scale projects because I can design and then cut in the same day - first a prototype, and then the final, customer-approved version. It's much easier to handle these than a major design project.

FAMILY TIME & FRIENDS
I scaled back a lot of visits with friends and family this month. With a new strain (or two) of COVID out and about I wasn't interested in spreading things between the people I know - or contracting things from them or people I don't know. That said, I did visit my mother and brother's family one day this past month. They were all prepping for a big move to a larger city in the same state, and I did a bunch of hauling for them while my brother was at the new house, overseeing painting, flooring repair, and carpet installation. He appreciated my gameplay videos while on his breaks, at least. :)

The lady I briefly dated last summer had her first COVID vaccine shot, and I helped her out the weekend she recovered. It was pleasant catching up, eating popsicles, and watching a newer Studio Ghibli anime film. By the end of January she seemed fully recovered, finally purchased a house she had been wanting in the western part of the state, and her anxiety level was sky high. Our last text message exchanged transformed from me congratulating her on the house being under contract to her lecturing me about using her name too much in text messages because it's condescending... All right, then.

I am seriously considering a move to somewhere out of the United States within the next few years. Canada is not far enough away, either geographically or ideologically. I am strongly concerned about how my mother will take this and I may consider waiting until after she dies to do it. At the same time, I am dissatisfied - to put it mildly - with what's happening in the USA right now and I feel like every day that passes is another day of me surrendering to the intolerable bullshit. I also want to leave before it becomes impossible to do so: either because the USA is locked down, or there are no places to go to that can/will accept me.

FITNESS & HEALTH
The good news about all the tests that happened this month is that everything came back "normal": I had a blood test, a urine sample, a stool sample, an ultrasound of my abdomen. No weird shit happening with my organs, so as far as my internal organs are concerned I have a clean bill of health. I can put off another colonoscopy until next year. :) I am also taking my fiber supplements and vitamin supplements again.

However, the pain is still there. I am taking the pain medication to sleep at night. The doctor suspects I am afflicted with a "femoral hernia," which doesn't have much in the way of conspicuous symptoms. He referred me to a surgeon and advised I stay off the exercise bike for a week. I've not scheduled an appointment with the surgeon yet because not only is the malady not-life-threatening, but my schedule has been so hectic through the month that by the time I had a spare moment it would be too late to call a doctor's office. This needs to be sorted in February.

Oh, and I turn 44 next month.

TO SUM UP
It's a lackluster period in world history. However I am managing and handling things well personally. I feel like I moved forward in my professional life and in my creative pursuits this past month. I want to move out of the United States.


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