Well, it’s a good thing that I don’t generally talk about the world at large in these posts, because I could probably be here for most of a year talking about all the various kinds of crazy this last year has been for just about everybody.

The good news is that overall this household is doing well financially. Baron & Smudge are doing okay with SM-EW, and earnings are down a bit (especially with no convention sales to boost things), but the main Patreon is holding steady. Dave has had a good amount of work throughout most of the year, and seems to be doing well there. Working for a large corporation has the advantage that it stayed steady when everything went crazy with the initial lockdown. Our team was already working from home most of the time, so the change was no big deal for us.

However, as of the day this posts, I’m no longer at a large corporation. ViacomCBS sold CNET and a bunch of associated brands to a much smaller company, Red Ventures, a couple months ago, with us all ‘leased’ back to CBS for the remainder of the year, which has been great for making the transition smooth. The new company seems pretty good, but there’s no long-term track record to go by yet. Certainly, the layoff of my (former) direct boss, Karen, really hurts, but everything else is intact, and hopefully the rest of us will do well.

The second surge of Covid-19 also meant I canceled my annual trip to see my parents for Thanksgiving. I was planning on going until the numbers just kept getting worse every day for the lead up to it. As with many of us, I’ve spent most of the year indoors, which at least is not a big burden for me. Up until everything came apart, the gaming schedule was being fairly busy with at least two game days a month between multiplayer and Mark coming over. I’ve been helping keep Mark company by gaming with him on Vassal Sat & Sun mornings as well as Monday evening.

Thanks to that my gaming schedule is a little over-full. Monday evening is ASL with Mark, Wednesday is ASL with Patch, Friday is Stellaris with my Dad. Saturday morning is reserved for ‘big/learning’ games with Mark, and has mostly been Operation Dauntless as we worked through the tutorials, and are now working through the main ones. We’ve also put Operation Mercury into the mix and are now alternating between the two. Sunday morning is more for games we can get through quickly and did see a number of different things this year, such as A Victory Lost, Great War Commander, GEV, and Star Fleet Battles. And all of those days generally have time in Final Fantasy XIV with Smudge too.

This led to some burn out around July, and I dropped my two PBeM ASL games for a couple months, but have them actively going again. At the same time, it’s also been a busy year for getting games, starting with the new Deluxe ASL set at the start of the year, and a whole string of birthday games during June. It was also an expensive year, even though I got even more than I paid for.

Along with no gaming at the house, there hasn’t been much going out to do anything else, naturally. It makes me really glad that I spent a bunch of money to get us all to a Final Fantasy concert at the end of January. Definitely one of the highlights of the year.

Part of the burn-out has been with trying to keep on top of the blog. I had one point where I was scrambling for posts, as I hadn’t finished any books or games lately (part of the burnout was just a distinct lack of any ambition), but most of the year I’ve had a small backlog of things to write, which has not turned into a backlog of things written. So, a mere 95 posts for 2020 (compared to 102 in 2019).

Part of the change in schedule has been a rearrangement of reading time, and I didn’t get near as much reading done as I’d hoped, with the train reading time going out the window. I only read 50 books this year, and that’s with a bunch of short Osprey books helping out. That said, what I read was generally pretty good. On the fiction side of things, I finally got to Child of a Hidden Sea, which was the best all-new to me book I read, with The Heart of What Was Lost, Servant of the Empire, and Marque and Reprisal being very good returning series for me. Best history of the year goes to Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England, which was excellent, mostly on Henry V’s early carrier. Crucible of War was also an excellent account of the French and Indian War. About the only disappointment this year was The English Civil War: A People’s History, which had a good mission statement, but didn’t carry it out very well.

Osprey Publishing had a very nice giveaway of several books in electronic format early in the year, which got me back to them, and I’m filling out parts of the library with PDF versions of the books. Their recent Campaign book on the AD 717 siege of Constantinople was especially good.

Mechanical/electronic issues have been minimal this year, with the main problem being something giving out on Smudge’s graphics card (probably the oldest part of the current system) just a couple weeks ago. It still works, but is running hotter for less work than before, so presumably a fan gave out. I… hadn’t properly gotten her a present yet, so I got her a new graphics card. (I could still use one a bit more competent for my system.) Also, Amazon seems to have completely cut off their old Kindle app, which I find better than any of the ‘modern’ alternatives, the Edge-based plugin is tolerable. I’ll have to get used to it, but it does mean I’m slightly motivated to get an actual Kindle reader.

With 2020 finally at an end, I (like everyone else) am hoping for a much better New Year!