J. Martin

November 28, 2021

Bang! There Goes Hanukkah

This week will be brutal. Lectures every day, two of which are fresh courses; several meetings; lots of other stuff I didn’t get around to finishing last week; and, of course, Hanukkah. But again, as in 2020, no dining out with friends this year! With incidence rates in Germany of up to & over 2000 (yes, you heard that right); national vaccination rates still below the 70% mark (yes, you heard that right); the German Luftwaffe moving ICU patients across the country (yes, etc.); health departments still allowing 50,000 spectators into a stadium (yup); and this new variant that’s been detected and isolated by South Africa’s super-advanced infectious diseases infrastructure (no, it’s not a variant from South Africa)—staying at home is the more reasonable choice, even if I won’t have the time & energy to cook anything remotely appropriate for the occasion. Bummer.

Among those things I didn’t get around to finishing last week were my novel’s synopsis and query letter, the finishing touches to its website, and the advanced reading copies. Come to think of it, I wonder what I did all week at all! (Then again, looking at my calendar, that week was also crammed, including two meetings yesterday, on a friggin’ Saturday.)

Then, I’m thinking about buying an ebook reader. For many years now, I’ve been reading books on my iPad Pro. Which is fine most of the time, except in the sun and generally outside during summer. I had a Kindle around 2012/2013, but when its batteries died, I didn’t buy a new one because of their terrible handling/page turning mechanics, the atrocious typography, and Amazon’s proprietary crap format. As none of that has sufficiently changed or changed at all, I’ve been thinking about getting a Kobo Libra 2 or the slightly older Kobo Libra H2O. But as Rakuten keeps withholding Dropbox support from these mid-range models, I might keep looking. Tips for alternatives welcome!

My game recommendation this week is the gamification-based fantasy RPG task scheduler habitica (iOS, Android, regular browser). It’s neat and enjoyable, and it does everything (and more) with respect to what Jane McGonigal wrote about in her terrific book Reality Is Broken. habitica’s also an open source community project that you can contribute to if you want to! It was a group of my students who discovered & explored habitica against the backdrop of our media psychology/game-based learning course. Personally, I still have to dive a lot deeper into it—learning, in particular, how habitica balances intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. But I’ll get around to it as soon as my bottomless task list (non-gamified as yet) will have cleared up by the end of the year!

Finally, please enjoy this yarn review by a cat and the Iliad as a role-playing game with Homer as game master, which totally cracked me up. And while we’re at it, here’s Dice by PCalc, a terrific dice app for iOS and Mac that’s 99c for the Black Friday weekend. (Those neon ones, though, need an extra tip in-app.)

Enjoy your dungeons!