Overall, it’s been a good year here. Work, for once, is being a bit more stressful, but hopefully will sort itself out. I’m carless, as my old car finally had a problem I wasn’t willing to fix. But thanks to the hit-and-run five years ago, it had lost its water seal, and was getting mold inside, so it already had a real problem.

Thankfully, that’s about all the mechanical issues around here this year. I didn’t get any of the round 2 of upgrades done this year, but Smudge got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas, and we’ve been enjoying the heck out of that. Oh, and I’ve found my Nintendo DS Lite has a bum battery, so I’d like to look into replacing that.

There’s also been a lot of activity with the gaming group this year, as Mark has been fairly available, and that’s driving a lot of extra sessions. This also means I got more boardgames, and spending is a bit up. I ended up getting five new games this year (two as gifts), along with more ASL stuff, some computer games, and the first expansion for Space Empires 4X. There hasn’t been time to try out everything yet, but both Commands & Colors: Medieval and Ardennes ’44 have had successful sessions, and I want to get back to both.

My Dad and I are still playing Stellaris every week, and I managed to find time for Paradox’s other games mid-year to keep my review series moving. I’ve got Patch on Vassal on Wednesdays, and and getting Mark used to the same on Mondays, so my week has gotten a bit crowded. I’m also keeping a couple games going by PBeM, which just adds to all the gaming fun.

I spent a decent amount of time this year finally playing Kingdom Hearts II, and definitely enjoyed it. Like last year, I was coming up on vacation by the time I finished, and have spent the last couple months trying to finish off the initial campaign in Pokemon Conquest, which really is a well done game. Since Christmas I’ve been playing the remastered Final Fantasy X on the Switch, and will be concentrating on finishing that as well. Past that, there’s a lot of possible games for my ‘console slot’, and I don’t know what I’ll do.

Smudge and I are still playing Final Fantasy XIV. We haven’t caught up to the current content, but we’ve gotten close, having gotten through the story for Shadowbringers, which I need to write about soonest. We’ve done some of the post-Shadowbringers content as well, but haven’t started the post-expansion story yet. Speaking of, the story keeps getting better, and the latest expansion was excellent, and I’m recommending FF XIV more and more despite the slow start. We’ve also started playing through the early game again on a pair of alts, and streaming our adventures as something of a ‘live podcast’ every Saturday at 9:30 PM Pacific.

Speaking of blog posts, I’m overrunnning with them right now, with about five in the queue, and another two-three to write. Overall, I had 102 posts this last year, and was on a three-day posting cycle fairly often. I contemplated moving to two days/per post for a little bit, but got lazy and let the queue burn down again instead. In fact, that’s the biggest challenge right now: keeping on top of all the writing I want to do when I know I have a couple week’s worth of posts stocked up.

My reading ‘fell behind’. I only managed 50 of 52 books for the 2019 challenge. There were a couple of 2-in-1s at the beginning of the year, but I was pretty much through the first book of the first of those at the beginning of the year, so I can only really claim one extra book from those. On the other hand, it’s been a pretty good year for good books with few disappointments. Non-fiction, The Shadow of the Sword, Persian Fire, Defending Heaven, and The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes are all worth a read (in approximate order of recommendation). In fiction, Spinning Silver was an excellent fantasy novel that lives up to other reviews; I finally got around to trying His Majesty’s Dragon (by the same author), and found it lived up to its promise despite a premise that promised disaster; sadly it sounds like a serious case of sequelitis takes over from there, but I’ll try more at some point. The Tethered Mage also lived up to its reviews, and I need to get to the rest of the series; I finally did get to the rest of the Borderlands series by Lorna Freeman, and wish there was more, because it largely kept up to the quality of the first book.

That’s most of the general news. The big thing I’m staring at right now is seeing about modernizing Smudge’s system and getting both of us on Windows 10, as Windows 7 is about to go off of primary support. We actually stuck with Win2K long after it ended support, so it’s not the biggest thing right now, but Smudge’s system is having trouble anyway. Also, while I’m managing fairly well without a car, I should either do something about that, or finally get a cell phone….