Fighting the Blues With Progress in Small Chunks

Sometimes, it’s easy to get distracted by troubles when they come up, especially when you’re already trying to sort yourself out after prior ones. The extra pressure makes you want to do something, anything that will rid you of this horrid feeling that you’re slipping backward, out of control.

The toughest thing is to remind yourself that moving in panic won’t help, that the best thing to do is to keep making the small steps that, if not getting you toward a specific goal, at least rid you of some of the stress and help you be better than you were before.

It’s been a pretty tough week for us. Those minor plumbing issues I mentioned in my last post (when I was complaining about how we’ve had to rob the car maintenance budget to pay for other emergent expenses)? Not so minor. After various attempts to block the toilet, we gave in and called a plumber – who called the Council – who sent a high-pressure cleaning unit out to look at our sewerage lines. Turns out they’re cracked and riddled with roots in at least two places; the fact that we’ve only had a blockage now is miraculous.

Possibly as a result of plunging the blocked toilet on Sunday, I wound up with a stomach bug on Monday. As we were already one admin down all this week I spent most of Tuesday catching up on what had… er, backed up in my absence.

Then yesterday, our plumber gives us a preliminary quote to fixing the sewer pipes (on our side of the property line): almost two grand.

It’s another huge expense at a point where getting out of debt is a right struggle. Not only that, we need to get our new pup registered soon, and de-sexed, which we’ll need to find the cash for.

Mount Molehill? It honestly seems bigger than just some six-inch pile of shifted earth.

It’s times like these that it gets a bit hard to see the silver lining in life. But that, I think, is where you need to look at how, even with everything else going on, you’re still making fun, still working on the stuff that brings you happiness and may even help you offset some of that debt.

Speaking of, I have to digress here and give some huge props to my Stepson of Awesome, who spoke with our plumber (with whom he apprenticed many moons ago) to see whether he could do anything that would reduce the quote (which in no way we could afford). “Anything” turned out to be a lot of digging, which Stepson did on his own on Thursday night (I was otherwise occupied, as I’ll relate soon) after he got back from work.

Thanks to Stepson’s hard work, the cost of the work dropped by about two thirds; still a tough figure, but do-able.

But getting back on track, I want to take a look at the good stuff I made or helped happen in the last week:


Made dinner for Vickie and I: Mini pizzas. Technically, the pre-made bases and Leggo’s sauce could be considered cheating, but there was still a lot of cutting, chopping and mixing involved!


Dungeons & Dragons Next. Image from the Wizards of the Coast website.

In between the plunging for the first time in a while, I got to help a friend test two things: The playtest version of Dungeons & Dragons: Next (the newest revision of the game that started the whole tabletop roleplaying hobby off), and the open beta of a program called Roll20, a gaming client that allows people to play roleplaying games like D&D across the net.

Roll20 creates a shared, virtual gaming table – a map to move the counters that represent your characters and your opposition around on – and incorporates  a die-rolling program and chat via text, voice and even video! It even works as a plug-in with Google Plus, so you can create a Hangout to start a game!

Said friend was Bruce Paris, a fellow RPG hobbyist whom I met shortly after moving to Cairns but hadn’t seen in a while. It was great catching up with him, and the session reminded me of wy I like the hobby so much!


Ahh, yes, the day of the dreaded lurgi, but I used my general immobility to re-vamp my collection of notes under Evernote and turn it inot something that actually gives me lists of things to do next instead of being a random conglomeration of random ideas.


An old mate back in Sydney called on Tuesday evening about a project we’re working on – podcast for his business – and we agreed to get together on Thursday evening over Skype to hash out what we needed to do in order to record the first episode. We’ve already discussed a rate for the work, which will take a little monthly pressure out of the household budget.


Wednesday saw progress on a couple of fronts. Firstly, I wandered back into KerSplatt! Comics for the first time this week and got to talking about the Paid to Play Podcast. I’ve been thinking about interviewing Mal and Amy for an episode sometime soon, but we got to talking about doing something a bit differentthan conducting the recording over Skype… so if I can get the netbook to do a decent sound recording, I may well be doing my first location recording in a week or two!

The Deathwatch roleplaying game. Image from Fantasy Flight Games.

Secondly: A couple of weeks ago I put the current total of my Geek on Three Bucks a Week saving (I still put it away, even if I don’t go looking for budget games and blogging about it) and the cash budgeted for my annual Xbox Live subscription renewal toward a copy of the core rulebook for Deathwatch, the tabletop roleplaying game about being a Space Marine – no, not a space marine, a Space Marine! Look, one’s a generic military guy in space, and the other’s… oh, I’ll explain later if you want.

The point is, after the success of playing D&D Next with Bruce using Roll20, I decided to send another old mate in Sydney an e-mail about whether he’d be interested in creating a Space Marine so I could game master some adventures for him. Not only did he say yes, but he wound up dragging another friend of his down south in!


Thursday night was the big podcast prep session, a fantastic one and a half hour brainstorming session where we not only identified the tasks we needed to complete before recording the first episode but also came up with some ideas for what that first episode should be! We’re aiming to get the recording done this coming Thursday.


After my gaming mate in Sydney brought a friend of his on board for Deathwatch, I asked a fellow up here whether he’d be keen – and then, when I swung by KerSplatt! again on the way home, I got the chance to meet the guy who runs the local Magic: The Gathering hobby group and managed to sell him on the idea! We may be able to put an entire Kill-team together – and I might even get to assemble an actual face-to-face group!

And then there’s tonight, when I finally sat down and turned some ideas knocking about in my head into a new post for Step One: Make Fun!

The Week That Was

A gaming group at play. Image by Gert-Jan Verburg.

Looking at that week, I got to make fun by:

  • Cooking. Sure, it was pretty basic, but it’s a start, and the only way to go from here is up!
  • Joining a virtual party. I suppose if you want to get technical you could call it a gaming session, but frankly, it was three or more people getting together to have fun, so a party it was!
  • Learning how to use (and beta testing) a Web application. Discovering Roll20’s features and getting to know how to use them was an intriguing challenge, especially as it seemed to decide that it couldn’t accept microphone input on my desktop PC but would work on my netbook’s inbuilt microphone just fine.
  • Learning how to play two new social games. You know, it’s kind of odd that both Dungeons & Dragons and Deathwatch are based around concepts of action-adventure – in other words, violence – yet they’re both still inherently more social than the average video game. Even over the web, there was a sense of co-operation, shared humour, fun.

So in seven days I’ve been able to identify at least seven reasons to be cheerful, and that’s not including the antics of our new pup, Sookie (although a lot of the time we’re cleaning up her piddle puddles and poo piles) and spending time with my lovely wife!

The week from tomorrow? Well, I’d say it’s high time I picked up the guitar and practised chording again. And hopefully Thursday night won’t be the only time I record for a podcast this week!

In the meantime, there’s a huge pile of relocated earth in our side run, where the sewer lines are. Before it goes back in the trenches, I’ll go through it, removing any and all big rocks (of which there are a significant number) so that there’s nothing to put weight or pressure on the replacement piping. It’s time I finally do my part in all the honest work others have been doing around the joint!

Ultimately, though, it feels good to be finally moving on the creative endeavours I’ve been neglecting for a while – and what feels better is the trust that by keeping at them consistently, they may open up new opportunities in the near future!

But what about you?

In what ways could you see the week just gone as a downer?

What did you start and / or what progress did you make on things you enjoy doing this week?

Are any of them paying? If not, do you trust that you’ll be able to get them to do so?

Featured image by Scott Liddell.