Title: Liminal Life Spaces
Have you ever been at a place in your life where everything's in flux, things
can go this way or that, and each day feels simultaneously dreadful and
exciting? In some groups, the idea of *liminal spaces* -- parking lots, waiting
rooms, foyers in large homes, etc. -- are attractive. I'm not sure what the
appeal is for people in these liminal spaces -- they tend to be enjoyed most
when they are empty and it's night time -- but I totally feel like my life is in
one. Let's count the facets.
# Classic Gaming with Friends
My friend and I have maintained contact despite the distance. We play games a
few times a week. We spent the past year or so playing through classics that
I've played with others. Among some of the best times are *Super Mario Kart*,
which I wasn't expecting.
When I was a kid, I played Super Mario Kart with my brother. We didn't do much
in the way of standard VS play, but we did Battle Mode some. Since we were kids,
we ended up arguing about the other brother's playstyle, until we agreed to only
use green shells, because "it requires more honor". Real men fire green shells,
I guess. Cringey and silly, but we were kids! Eventually, we both got pretty
good at aiming green shells. We eventually got tired of the game since both of
us would get a little too into it and get pissed by the end of the night.
My friend and I got into Super Mario Kart because we were looking for games to
play together now that we're physically apart. Since I added him to my Switch
Online and he pitched in to get the Expansion Pack, and we both grew up with
games from this era, playing Switch online together was an easy choice.
Super Mario Kart's battle mode is actually good. Sure, the controls are a bit
jank, the levels aren't as great as they could be, but you have a lot more
control over the kart and your items than you think. My friend and I would pull
off the craziest shots, dodges, and drive-bys. The best level is the water
level, because of the strategic complexity and plenty of options for cover. It's
crazy how much time we've spent on that game, just slamming each other with
shells, bananas, and stars.
We got to the point where we started calling it Shell-nanigans. Between the two
of us, we have well over 100 clips of our best Super Mario Kart moments, and
some day I'll put together a montage of it.
We tried moving on to *Mario Kart 64*, but ironically, the battle mode doesn't
hold up as well. I *LOVE* the Block Fort level, but the controls and mechanics
of the game are straight jank. I love the tracks, too, but the actual racing is
worse than I remembered it. I'm grateful that Nintendo is remaking these levels
as the series continues.
We also did what I call "D20 Multiplayer". It allows you to play a single player
game with another person, with an element of surprise to prevent the more
skilled players from hogging play time. The general idea is, you roll to see
who starts first; the higher number plays. Then, depending on the game, you set
the rules on when to roll, when to swap, or when to chance a swap. Here's an
In *Banjo-Kazooie*, dying resets your 'live' progress in a level, back to what
it was when you first entered, minus any Jiggies and Mumbo Tokens you've found.
When my friend and I played through, we agreed to swap-off on death or when a
world is completed. This works because it's a natural break in the gameplay. On
the levels where we wanted to give the other player a chance, or it was a dumb
death, we let them do a savings throw or just continue. The point is to
facilitate swapping in a way that feels natural and fair, so the rules need to
be somewhat flexible on a per-game basis.
My friend and I ended up playing through a decent amount classic games. Each of
them was a different experience, playing with someone new. I might write about
them individually some time.
I'm not huge into anime, but a week ago or so, Ash's final episode as the main
character of the Pokémon anime aired in Japan. The final competition he won in
his last season -- before the 11-episode finale miniseries -- was exhilirating
and I was beside myself as I watched through Pokémon Journeys. "This kid's gonna
do it, isn't he? Are they gonna let him win, finally?"
And yes, OH yes did he win. I've never seen battle choreography so good in
Pokémon! Though, as usual, Pikachu is practically a walking deus ex machina.
Though the end of Ash's journey was a little bit less than I was expecting, I
feel that it more importantly *suited his character*. As much as I wanted to see
Ho-oh, or maybe see Ash catch a legendary or meet up with his dad, I'm very
satisfied with the almost Ghibli-like end for our plucky and stubborn Pokémon
In a way, seeing Ash fulfill his dream when he used to be an utter nublet that
tried to Thundershock an *Onix* is somewhat inspiring. In any case, it's a
bittersweet ending to Pokémon for me. I haven't played the games since
*HeartGold* and *SoulSilver*, which means I've been out of the fandom for more
generations than I was in it. I'm no longer the target audience, and the new
games don't capture me.
# Gaming Alone
Last year, I finished up Box Pusher for the DSi, using Sokoban solvers and a lot
of data entry. It took 6 months, and I haven't touched a puzzle game since!
I haven't beaten any games since Box Pusher, sadly, but I have been steadily
plodding through *Dark Souls* on the PS3. I only need one more Lord Soul and I
can go to the end of the game!
I got curious about how quickly I could beat Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and managed
to beat it in under 8 hours with 3 hearts, 1 bottle, and no upgrades. Kind of
proud of that speedrun despite the mistakes I made.
It's kinda weird to plug this on Gopher, but I started a Twitch channel to see
if I could find other people that like the games that I do, and broadcast some
programming/nerd stuff.  I also stream with my friend sometimes. or have
nights where I play Smash Ultimate with viewers. I'm not terribly social or
bubbly, but I think there are a handful of people that like the chill atmosphere
I try to have. I'm not sure if it will go anywhere -- and I have no expectations
for it to -- but it's making it easier to find people who like what I play.
On that note, I would like to solicit the greater Zaibatsu and Pubnix
community: which ActivityPub server would be best to join for sundogs or
gamer/programmer/self-hoster types? I have self-hosted Pleroma in the past, but
I found that I was still mostly reliant on other instances to build a network
for my feed to be of any use, so I'll try joining one.
# Life and Work
I started having wrist issues from my job, they recommended I talk to Labor &
Industries, and then fired me two weeks later. I'm going through the L&I process
right now, but it's just lovely when people intentionally try to fuck you after
causing you injury on the job. This *totally* builds trust or respect for other
So that also makes it hard to look for work, because I'm not at 100%. I am
available for hire and open to just about any computing job so long as it
doesn't involve customer service. I'm done with agriculture and production jobs.
If you know a firm looking for someone eager to prove their technical worth, hit
On the other hand, my partner and I are getting more time together, and
apps/games to prove I can learn and apply something. I wish we had flexbox
and grid back in the 90s! I want to do some cool stuff with databases, a
Markdown-to-Gopherpage Pelican generator (so my website and gopher can have
identical content, i.e. single point of authorship), and C/SDL in the future.
Motivation, focus, and self esteem are my blockers, like usual, but maybe I'll
The JS skills are also going into an interactive game atlas idea I have. That'll
be the real portfolio piece.
Part of what brought me to my editor tonight was a random moment I had in
Discord. I put a silly `cat /etc/motd` into chat, and randomly thought "I wonder
if there's like a motd site", and BOOM, it does exist! Albeit broken at the
moment, it's actually a(n old) part of SDF!  That reminded me of my Zaibatsu
account, which led to reflecting on my Internet interactions over the years.
The healthiest online interactions I've had, on either side of the screen, were
right here on Gopherspace or a pubnix BBS. I think that says a lot about the
community that Solderpunk, Logout, and the rest of us have put together. Coming
to this realization is making it easier to fight the urge to visit Reddit every
day, just to have something to read. Sometimes it's better not knowing the
horrors going on in the world, at least for a day or two. Those things really
only matter when you can do something about them, when it comes down to it. In
addition, a lot of posts and comments on places like Reddit are straight up
fabricated, stolen comments, or generative text by ChatGPT or other language
models. If you can wade past that to find the humans, a good chunk are just
there to piss people off and get their lols.
The stuff I find here is just more authentic and real. People don't get outraged
for their hit of adrenaline or righteousness in the comment section. I feel like
I can type something like what I'm writing now, and the 40 posts prior to this
one, without a torrent of (outward) judgment and rejection over disagreement.
That's why I continue to come back, even sporadically. This is the only place on
the Internet -- aside from my own server -- that I can BE real and FIND real.
That has value, even if it isn't monetary.
Here's hoping I get to the next destination safely. It would be nice to have
calm in my life again.