Checking in… August 2020 Edition

Yeah, I know it’s nearly the middle of August, but I feel the need to take a step back and look at where I truly am after a few super stressful weeks. This has been a bizarre year with COVID-19 and all the changes that it forced upon the world, but it was the last four or five weeks that really pushed me in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I want to look at three different areas… Work, Moebius, and Health. And yes, this kind of crosses the streams a bit — but I am really trying to focus on being grateful for the good things (and even some of the bad ones) in my life to try and get back on track mentally and physically in these odd times.

Caution… this is a very long post. 🙂


First, let’s look at work. This year I was presented with a new challenge at Red Hat and I accepted it, splitting time between the type of work I’ve been doing for the better part of nearly 20 years now — and a new role. I wasn’t quite sure I could handle the new but took on to test my mettle because I needed the change.

The old work persisted, but the new work lingered. It felt like starting at Red Hat back in 2009 and being dropped in the deep end of the pool at times. Though I had meetings every couple of weeks and chatted with my manager about it repeatedly, it didn’t really come to a head until about five weeks ago when I was finally able to wrap my head around a complete scenario.

Finally, I thought, I was treading water again in the big pool. Silly me.

As soon as that happened, I was able to start working on slides and refining my demo. Every few days it felt like life was throwing boulders into the pool, knocking me back and forth like the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. Some days the waters were calm. Other days, it might as well have been hurricane season.

We kept pushing off and pushing off the demo and presentation I was due to give our product leadership team. Over and over again we asked for a week here or two weeks there.

And then, we had slides, we had a repeatable demo, we had a somewhat stable system that I could rebuild as necessary if I had a couple of hours… and we set a date.

This week I gave the presentation. It was at 6am on a Monday morning. I didn’t sleep well the days leading up to it and hardly at all the night before. I set an alarm for 5am so I would be up in time to get some coffee and at least not look quite as haggard as I felt. And of course the alarm never went off because I was up well ahead of it.

Caffeine in hand, I headed down to verify that everything was set for my demo. Everything had been in good shape Friday, so I shouldn’t have to worry, right?

Ha. The universe had other plans. The online demo system timed out over the weekend at some point and I had a brief panick attack. As my mom said later that day, adrenaline is much better than caffeine. I figured out what was going on, restarted the darned thing, got my ducks in a row, and was as ready as I could be.

The demo went fine. I had kudos from my manager and his boss. And now we wait to see what happens next.

All the worry, preparation, panic, and planning paid off I guess.

Long story short, that chapter of this story is over and I am back working on some other things while we figure out what’s next.

Moebius Adventures

As far as Moebius goes, I’ve been trying to finish up our new game Tattered Magicks since May. Finally got the majority of text done, started playing with layout, coordinating art, editing, getting feedback, and so on.

Had a few hiccups here and there. A discovery in May led to having to choose new cover art. A discussion in July with my publishing partner had me nearly in tears, but we resolved it. And on July 21, we released it to the world.

When I say “released,” it is available if you know where to look — but it’s not on bookshelves yet due to some COVID-related printing delays. So it’s PDF-only for now.

Even as a PDF-only release, it’s managed to achieve “Copper Seller” status at DriveThruRPG in the first 15 days it was available. Simply put, that amounts to selling 50+ copies of a product. This is the first time in Moebius Adventures history we’ve hit that number that quickly. Even Aliens & Asteroids, which was produced after a barely successful Kickstarter, took a while to hit that number (about a month).

Considering that you can’t even buy a copy of the print version of the book yet — I’m still in shock we hit that number.

Copper Seller and Five 5-Star Reviews? What alternate universe do I live in?

Now, I’m awful at self-promotion, but I’ve done my bit and shared it out on the Interwebz far and wide. I even did a Q&A over at #randomworlds with Dan Davenport and crew for a couple of hours. (Here’s the transcript!) Dan asked some great questions and I think some of them may even lead to writing some blog posts or TinyZine articles for Gallant Knight Games at some point.

I also reached out to some reviewers, though we haven’t seen the fruits of that yet. I have another chat with Mildra the Monk (YouTube) scheduled in a few weeks to talk more about Tattered Magicks (we chatted a couple of months ago about A&A and other Moebius stuff). And I had some interest from a group helping out one of my other game making friends — Will Munn, who is getting ready to Kickstart his phenomenal Arium game (you should definitely check it out!).

Of Dice & Dames had been doing some sessions of Arium online that I had caught wind of, and Level 1 Geek, who was one of the folks GMing some of their actual play events, reached out via Twitter literally the day after TM was released and we started chatting about their group doing an online session playing through the sample adventure in the book.

Well, that led to a fantastic session I watched last night that live streamed on Facebook at the Of Dice & Dames site (and will be available on YouTube eventually). Tori (Level 1 Geek), Katie, Erika, Emily, and Chase went on a wild adventure featuring ghosties and goblins and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They had fun and that came through in spades.

And though that shouldn’t have, it validated a few things for me. I always doubt myself to an insane degree. Impostor Syndrome is a definite thing. Seeing that they a) picked up the rules quickly and even better b) figured out spellcasting so quickly made me happy I spent time cleaning up the rules and adding as many examples as I did!

Knowing that players who had not played A&A previously and just picked up the TM book could make things work made he supremely happy. Life is good. Maybe I’m doing something right on that front!

Health and Wellness

Lastly, let’s talk about some health and wellness bits…

First, I really let myself go at the end of March, all of April, and into May. It was enough that I got up, continued to work, and tried to function sometimes as an adult. It was the bare minimum as we rode out the changes that started at spring break, then through the “YEAR” of April, and started to peek our heads out into the world again in May.

I’ve started to get some things back under control — mostly food and drink. And getting back into the box has been a huge part of that.

But the other half of that is understanding that I’m not in the same shape I was when all this began. I’m not even in the same shape I was a year ago or two years ago. I fell off the routine and fell apart as a result.

225-230 pounds became 260 pounds over two months. I’m back down to about 245, but it’s definitely taking longer to come off than it did to pack it on.

The most fun I have is when I discover that I can still do something that I could do previously. Climb a rope? Lift heavy weight? Do a kipping pull-up? Yup. Can I do any of those things consistently? Nope. But they will get easier as the weight comes off and muscle (and muscle memory) is restored. Slowly.

But I have to share a recent discovery. Friction.

What’s that have to do with fitness or health? Bear with me.

Last week we did a workout that involved ring muscle-up progressions. To say the least, I can’t do a muscle-up whether on the rings or the rig, but MU transitions — I can do those. So I dove in with abandon, feeling the familiar burn as skin was abraded from the outside of my biceps as they rubbed against the strap for the rings.

Ouch. Friction hurts.

So this week when we did MORE ring MU progressions, I asked if there was a way to avoid doing what I’d done the week before. We figured out an angle that I could essentially do a progression at that was more like a ring row (at an angle) than directly beneath the rings (like a muscle-up). Great!

Unfortunately, the other part of the workout involved a heavy kettle bell — a 70# beast. I was doing Russian kettlebell swings with it — just to eye level (mine were higher, but not by much). Turned out that every time the back of my forearms were hitting my shorts, they were rubbing… See? More friction.

I’m really hoping that I can exit this high friction phase of my re-education before I burst into flame or get even more bloody. Geez.

Long story short, life is a work in progress. Some progress is prettier than others. And I’ve never been described as “pretty.” 😀

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