Unfinished tales

Every now and then I use Amazon/Audible’s Matchmaker tool to see if there are any Kindle books for which I’d like to purchase the audiobook cheaply.

Today I picked up Leadership and Self Deception and The Anatomy of Peace for $9 total.

I realised I need to make a list of all the book series I’ve begun and enjoyed but have not yet finished – either because I move onto something else, or because new books have been released.

It never ends.

Civilization VI failure

On Sunday I started playing Civilization VI. Today I lost badly and that’s ok because I was learning all the time.

Having played Civ II, IV and V in the past, I was familiar with the fundamental structure of the game. After my first attempt on Sunday afternoon it became clear I needed to go back to basics. I found some good tutorials on YouTube and a play through of a science victory scenario. All made perfect sense, so why today’s thumping?

Civ is a complex game with many related concepts that form part of the gameplay. I missed almost all of them. As I fell behind the A.I. civilisations, I started noting what wasn’t working as expected. That told me which areas I needed to ask about. Asking meant time reading documentation on the points I’d missed and the rest of the game trying what I had learned. For this play through, it was too little, too late. The next will start much stronger.

That’s how learning works. Know what you should do, try it, and when you fail, ask the questions you need answers to. Then try again. Ask more questions, and repeat.

I can take the loss, though I wish the Peter the Great of Russie didn’t denounce me as such a bad ruler time and again.

Your friendly local game store

At the edge of your consciousness you may be aware that over the past few years there has been a resurgence in board games, tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop wargaming like Warhammer.

These games, which have always been situated in the home, also take place in public at your friendly local game store. Here you can buy the games themselves, any number of game expansions and accessories, and find other gamers to play with.

Driving back to my hotel today I saw a store I’d missed in the past and to get outside I took a walk.

After visiting the first of two stores today I was struck with how similar the feeling of walking into a local friendly game store that isn’t your own, is like the feeling I get when walking into any place of worship. It’s welcoming, but not necessarily where you belong. Don’t let that put you off. Any question you ask will be answered with genuine assistance and interest. Most stores are not like that at all.

These are the signs you are in a friendly local game store.

  • The manager, usually the store owner, may get up from a table where they are playing games and ask if they can help.
  • There are tables laid out in the centre of the store, with people playing games. All the stereotypes apply. Young to middle-aged males, often with long hair (scalp or beard), and frequently wearing black. If your nose is sensitive, there may be a stale odour in the air too. As I said, all the stereotypes.
  • People will be engaged in animated conversation which makes no sense to you at all.
  • The prices may astound you. It’s a hobby, and all hobbies are expensive.

I aborted my role-playing activities during Covid. Part of that was due to my anxiety running and also part because the weekly Sunday afternoon visit to my friendly local game store were aborted. It may be time to visit again when I get home.

Tubular Bells 2003

Last night I listened to Tubular Bells 2003 properly for the first time. I had thought it was more of a remaster until I learned it was a complete new recording.

He [Mike Oldfield] had always been uncomfortable with the original recording because he had only a few weeks to record it and the technology at the time was unable to cope with all of his requirements. As a result, mistakes could not be fixed and some instruments were out of tune on the 1973 release.


In the days of CD I surely would have known it was a new recording. The anticipation and knowledge of a release is one thing sadly gone in the world of on-demand streaming.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the original Tubular Bells since my teenage years when I was first introduced to Mike Oldfield by my best mate. Many. Listening to this rework I could hear distinct differences. The instruments we more clearly separated and some passages quite altered – either in length or notes.

Not yet sure what I think. The original has laid down a solid path in my nervous system that will take some changing. Didn’t help that I fell asleep half-way through due to the after effects of Sunday’s change to daylight savings time.


I love to read, and I read a lot. In recent years however I’ve come to recognise the value in audiobooks as well. I normally only listen to audiobooks of authors I like, or books I’ve read before. There is too much time investment to do otherwise. A 1,000-page book is 40-50 hours.

Audiobooks tell the same story at a slower pace and so it’s quite a different experience. With books that I’ve read before, I pick up completely different ideas. Yes, I know that can happen anyway, but my sense is because it’s the speed of the telling and the use of different voices that makes the difference here.

Some are better as audiobooks. I can’t imagine reading George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood. It’s too dry a history. Expertly narrated by Simon Vance it’s an engaging experience.

I listen when walking and driving. Audiobooks (and podcasts) keep me engaged on long trips whereas music can tend to put me to sleep. Not advisable when driving.

Changing the podcasting guard

Every now and then I’ll come across a new podcast that I’m very much interested in listening to the back catalogue. And, as I like to download podcasts to my iPhone for listening when 3G/4G/5G may not be available, “Download all” is a nice feature to have.

My podcast app of choice until this week has been Overcast. I’ve used it for many years. It works well and has a nice little feature of cutting out quiet moments in a podcast to speed it up a bit when listening. “Download all” is does not have.

So, after coming across You’re Dead to Me recently, I wanted to start from the start. And that has led me to Pocket Casts. I like it. There are all the features of Overcast plus a few differences that are important.

  • I can “Download all”
  • I can push a podcast episode to the top of the queue
  • The Apple Watch app appears to work better. Overcast wouldn’t pop up on on the watch by default, whereas Pocket Casts does
  • I can group podcasts in folders (paid version)
  • I can manage podcasts from my MacBook (paid version)

I don’t change apps lightly, especially when the predecessor has served me well in the past.

Building R2-D2 in LEGO

This is a record of my effort building R2-D2 in lego. It has a total 2314 pieces. Finished it is over 31cm (13”) high, 19cm (8”) wide and 15cm (6”) deep.

Day 1, 29 March 2022

The first day of a new LEGO build is always exciting. Full of wonder and anticipation. As normal with these type of builds, the first few are internal structures. This was the first time I’ve ever used rubber-bands in a build. I have the internal assembly for the middle leg.

Day 2, 30 March 2022

I forgot to take a photo. Pretty easy build adding the middle foot (wheels?).

Day 3, 31 March 2022

Things are starting to get complex. I have the internal frame for R2’s body now. Quite a few trick instructions to get it placed correctly and make sure it was all in position.

Day 4, 1 April 2022

A double build today. Got to the end of the instructions for Bag 4 and thought, "Wow, there are lot of pieces left." I had to do it all again.

Starting to get a feel for the model’s overall size now.

Day 5, 2 April 2022

A reasonably easy build today with the outer legs being framed up.

> WARNING > Before pinning the legs in instructions 170 and 208, make sure that you refer to the alignment of levers in instructions 96-97 and 104-105. The pin will lock the levers in place and it’s easy to lock either in the wrong position (even independently). That will impact the way the middle leg drops down. I’m still not sure I have right! > > Thanfully it is easy to take off the side panels if you can’t work it out. Do one leg at a time and refer to the red-green framework for reference.

Day 6, 3 April 2022

This was the biggest build day so far even before including the 20 mins of troubleshooting. All three legs are now in place.

When I fixed the legs and tried to drop down the middle leg, something wasn’t right and it took some time of pulling things apart — which is thankfully easy — to check alignment of levers put in 3 days before.

Other than that, it was a good fun build. Amazing how many pieces are packed into each foot.

Day 7, 5 April 2022

Skipped a day due to feeling unwell but picked up the next. R2 now has his legs fully covered. It was a little frustrating at one point as I had a 1 x1 clip rotated the wrong way and so a panel that fit on one leg, wouldn’t fit on the other. So simple, yet it took 5 minutes to work out.

The most challenging piece of the day’s build was this instruction.

And here is a leg.

Day 8, 6 April 2022

A partial build today, with half of the front panel done. That’s all the bag had.

Day 9, 7 April 2022

After yesterday’s partial build, it was satisfying to complete the front panel and have it all locked in place. It isn’t shown in the photo below, but there are two vertical panels, left and right, which open up.

Day 10, 8 April 2022

Not R2’s best side. The back is now complete. The pins left and right open the front panels from yesterday’s build. Nothing too challenging here apart from placing the flat panels on the top correctly (difficult to see at this angle).

Day 11, 9 April 2022

I broke with form today and decided to complete the final 3 bags and give R2 a head. Concentration was required as the placement of pieces relative to one another was important. A couple of times I had to backtrack to who steps that I’d missed as each looked so similar from one to the next.

Daily progress record

Date Bag Set # Time Cumulative Time Completed Instructions
2022-03-29 1/13 0h 20m 0h 20m 23/527
2022-03-30 2/13 0h 20m 0h 40m 56/527
2022-03-31 3/13 0h 45m 1h 25m 105/527
2022-04-01 4/13 0h 36m 2h 01m 132/527
2022-04-02 5/13 0h 38m 2h 39m 209/527
2022-04-03 6/13 1h 20m 3h 59m 285/527
2022-04-05 7/13 0h 27m 4h 26m 298/527
2022-04-06 8/13 0h 23m 4h 49m 346/527
2022-04-07 9/13 0h 23m 5h 12m 373/527
2022-04-08 10/13 0h 30m 5h 42m 409/527
2022-04-09 11-13/13 1h 25m 7h 07m 527/527

Building instructions

Building instructions can be found at https://www.lego.com/cdn/product-assets/product.bi.core.pdf/6369824.pdf

Building the Millennium Falcon in Lego

Check out my notes on building the Millennium Falcon.