Christmas has come and gone. As did the older of my two kids; home for the holidays, then back off to college already. Sigh. And now I'm back at work, while the younger two kids still have the better part of a week off themselves (time that they no doubt will mostly spend on the PS4.)
What have I got to report following the holiday? Not too much.
We saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. That was pretty fun. I got a new pair of boots from Cabela's (although I don't technically have them right now; Cabela's uses at least two lasts for their boots, and they are sized very differently. Although I could probably have correctly predicted which size I needed to order, my poor wife didn't and got them too small. I'm waiting on the replacements pair to arrive.)
I got two new pairs of hiking pants; one the Cabela's XPG Trekkers (in "foliage"; the best color that they offer, IMO) and the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Guide Pro in tan (I actually think that they're a discontinued color. They don't look like either the "saddle" or the "aged brass" that are for sale online.) Because I still have two pairs of Lookout Peak trail pants that aren't yet beat up to death, I'll be wearing those while hiking, but honestly, if I could, I'd evolve my entire wardrobe into hiking-compatible clothing, and I'd wear them everyday everywhere. I need to get a few Cresta Hiking shirts from L. L. Bean and I'll be all set, I think. Well, for at least a while. And I could still use more pants; I'd like the L. L. Bean Cresta pants in at least two colors, and maybe another color or two of the First Ascent pants. And I'm probably due to start replacing a few of my midweight merino wool hiking socks; those have been my go-to socks for everyday use for a couple of years now and I love them.
I also got, from the library, not to keep, Street Fighter V and King of Fighters XIV. I meant to play the story mode from SFV, but I'll probably take it back not having done so. KOFXIV was interesting; it fixed some of the problems I had with XIII, and it certainly looks fairly pretty. It's interesting that the designers made a conscious decision to make XIV feel like KOF to fans of either KOF98, KOF2002 and KOFXIII; all of them supposed high points in the series. I found KOFXIV good looking and competent, but somehow it didn't really grab me. I don't know if that's because I've just moved on a bit, or if it's because I need more time to get used to it. It's curious that they've added Alice, a character that I had some interest in exploring, although they've done some odd things with her. She's no longer Alice Bogard, a young cousin of Terry's; she's Alice Nakata a half-Japanese (although you can't tell to look at her; she's as classically Nordic in appearance as anyone) girl who's a fan of Terry's. In a way, she fills the same role to Terry as Sakura does to Ryu, a "cute" little girl who copies his moves imperfectly, making her a combination of cute little sister archetype and comic relief.
In any case, I'll probably eventually buy both games, but SFV is too incomplete still and I'm sure that if I wait, a more complete version at a good price will be out (I did the same for Street Fighter IV; not buying it until the Ultra version was out.) KOFXIV is merely too expensive still; I'll wait until it's retailing at $20-30 before I consider it.
As I finished my series of "converting FANTASY HACK into a series of blog posts, I created a permanent "page" to house links to them, and this meant that I took down my 2016 Reading page. Which is fine; that was never intended to be permanent anyway. The bigger problem I have is that my Reading List page is very out of date and I haven't been doing much with it to maintain it all year. Also; my goal of reading 50 books in 2016 was beset by woeful underperformance; I slipped in 30 at literally the last minute when I finished Vox Days A Magic Broken in the last day or two of the year. And it's barely a novella. But I'm off to a relatively good start for the new year; I'm more than halfway through listening to the Rob Inglis read audiobook of The Fellowship of the Ring, and it's been way too long since I've re-read Tolkien. I'm rediscovering once again why I've always loved him so much. I'm also reading another Vox Day Kindle book, and looking to read The Throne of Bones this year sometime. I've got a lot of Kindle titles to tackle, and I've been rather poor at knocking them back in 2016—I hope to do better this year. I've also, of course, got plenty of "real" books that I've picked up at various points over the years and not read. And I'm continuing my reeducation with non-fiction that challenges the conventional narratives, especially when the conventional narratives don't seem to make much sense. My first foray (for this year, at least) in this direction is Thomas DiLorenzo's The Real Lincoln. But as my wife pointed out recently, I need to temper that kind of stuff with other things lest I find myself turning to resentment and anger towards things that are long gone and about which if anything is to be done, sitting and stewing in anger isn't one of them.
And a final note. I've been tinkering around with some Middle-earth geography lately, partly because my interest was sparked by the MIDDLE-EARTH REMIXED project, and partly because I've been re-"reading" the Lord of the Rings and partly just because Tolkien was so good at names. I had been thinking of some names for some dark hills for my own setting, and using the old Scandinavian origin word Fells to describe them. Tolkien did as much himself by referring to the Trollfells and the Coldfells, both of which actually seem to be cognates with the Ettenmoors (which means the same thing using other old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon words.) I thought the Shadowfells sounded good, but oddly familiar; of course I later remembered that the 4th edition of D&D introduced the Shadowfell which was a new fancy-yet-ignorant term to apply to the Plane of Shadow, as it used to be called.
Well, I suppose I can't use it, even though I actually understand what the word Shadowfells would mean while (apparently) the D&D designers do not; they just grabbed a word that sounded "fantasy-like" at attached it kenning-like to something else. I have, of course, plenty more words I can add to -moors or -fells to make what I want, but my first pass won't work.