There was a PEBCAK error on Friday

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

I’ve prided myself on ensuring content every weekday for the past 10 years. Unfortunately, we had a major PEBCAK error last week.

PEBCAK stands for Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard.

Basically I messed up. Sorry.

I’ve been struggling to do updates. This new head cold I caught last week doesn’t help. Motivation has been hard to come by. I think it’s a combination of re-adjusting to the routine and wanting to do too many things. It’s leaving me unfocused.

I’ve been through it before; I just need to get excited about one thing and get it done.

How’s your 2024 going?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

I’m scared but I have hope

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

I’m back at work today, Dragon goes back to school, and life restarts after an extended break.

As I write this, I just finished reading the comments section on a Facebook post from Ottawa Public Health. I see in the comments a combination of anger and fear that is extremely familiar. Those that aren’t fake are people trying to come to terms with a world that seems to be falling apart. I understand the anger, I understand the frustration, and I understand the helplessness.

Unfortunately, we are in the golden age of cults. Yes, cults. From Dictionary.com, “An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers”.

Cults used to need to isolate and cut people off from their support systems in order to take advantage of them. In our curated digital world, it’s easy to find oneself isolated into specific communities with extreme ideas. My tik-tok is heavily queer, neurodivergent, writerly, and ttrpg based with a smattering of food and nutrition. I doubt that’s others’ experiences.

What this means is that we’re seeing more polarization and more us-vs-them and a lot more confusion. When everyone around you says the same thing and suddenly others are saying differently, it’s jarring and a little scary.

It’s a form of Cognitive Dissonance. That gut instinct of “am I wrong?” followed by either doubling down on your beliefs or challenging them. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more doubling down, especially when you are scared.

Basically, what I’m saying is that social media is a grade school rumour mill taken to the extreme. What that means for humanity is still to be decided.

No matter how hard it is to see, there is hope. Change is slow, social change doubly so. But every generation pushes it further. For every cult leader out there, there are people working to debunk their lies. For every 10-50 hate-filled comment, there are real people sharing their truths.

Hope in and of itself is powerful, with hope we can find the good. Without it we are lost.

What we can do is hard and doesn’t always work, but we can be kind. We can help those in need. We can tell the stories that need to be told. We can defend those who need it. And most of all, we can question everything.

That’s enough rambling from me.

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

Kiki’s Delivery Service – JenEric Movie Review

How This Works – Read Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 film Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Story

We bought a newer blu-ray of the movie which means I think this is the third version I’ve watched. I originally had seen the American dub where Jiji is able to talk at the end of the movie, and then I’d seen the subtitled version which was quite different. The newest version with dubs is a good mix of the two and is more faithful to the original concept.

The story is simple, calm, and very relatable.

Score: 1

Characters

Kiki is young and unsure of herself and honestly, I feel that. I would not have felt comfortable leaving home at 13. The characters she meets along the way are borderline cliche but the movie might have been the source of some. From the stoic but big hearted baker to the friendly old woman and the deep artist. They are fun and sympathetic.

Score: 1

Dialogue

I assumed the weird laughing was a cultural thing but I didn’t notice it in any other Japan’s media. A lot of the laughter is at Kiki being young and innocent and it’s a little jarring.

I like my sarcastic black cats as much as the next guy, but I found Jiji a little annoying.

I did like the ridiculously awkward flirting and the deep but understandable advice from the painter.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were stunning as usual and the movement of the characters was spot on. It was a little funny to see the sketch of the crows and Kiki being more detailed than the art in the film.

The music was great. I remembered some jarring sounds and weird music, but either it was removed or I imagined it.

Score: 1

Fun

This was fairly relaxing, there are a few moments where I expected worse but overall it’s a lot of fun. The kids loved this one as did the adults.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful movie with a poignant message. Growing up is hard but worth it.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

40 is a Big Number

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans;

Today is my fortieth birthday. 39 had its ups and downs. Lots of health issues and lots of bureaucratic frustration. I hope this year will be better.

It’s also around the age that my father was diagnosed with brain cancer and my mother was diagnosed with diabetes. Both of whom died far too young (47 and 56). Those numbers are terrifyingly close now.

Despite my health issues the past year, I’m in better health (my heart, pancreas, and brain seem to be fine) than either of them were at my age and I’ve lived a very different life. (Significantly easier in many ways.) I’ll feel better when I have the results from the MRI I took last Friday.

I have a lot of stories left to tell and a lot of life to see. (I want to know what happens in the 100th anniversary of Doctor Who (2063) and Star Trek (2066).)

Pre-Order Yourself a Birthday Gift for me

The Mystery of the Dancing Lights by Éric Desmarais is available now!
Physical from Canadian indie bookstores, physical from Indigo, electronic version

Pre-order Crushing It by Jen Desmarais now!
Physical version, electronic version (Coming Soon)

Thank you reading!

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Mid-Year review of Éric’s 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s a good thing that my wife reminded me I made these cause I had completely forgotten. The past sixish months have been a roller coaster of emotion and a study in lack of sleep.

Here are my resolutions for this year.

Let’s get right into this and see how I did.

Writing

1. Write a Monthly Serial Story (Succeeding)

I’m pretty proud of this year’s story and impressed with how easy it is to write. Check out Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist now.

2. Start and write half of SUPER MYSTERY BOOK PROJECT Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. (Success)

Oh my. This went so much better than I could have hoped. We managed 100k words and Jen went a step further and wrote most of a short story collection to go with it. We submitted the book to Renaissance Press in May and are planning on writing the sequel in the Fall.

3. Write Another Hal Story (Failing)

I haven’t written another Sun Speaker universe story, unfortunately. However, I have written over 20,000 words in short stories for the short story collection that follows Assassins. That counts for something right?

JenEric Designs and Coffee

4. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)

So far so good. What I’m most struggling with is the movie reviews. Not writing, but watching. We’re watching too much television and not enough movies.

Editing and Marketing

5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip (Fail)

I’m going to call this now. I don’t have the motivation to do this. As much as I love the story, there are other stories to work on.

6. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)

I’ve reworked tables into accessible columns and added a whole new power section to the rules. My playtesters are fantastic and things are going well.

Personal

7. Read 15 Books (Failing)

I was reading at night before bed, but since writing Assassins at that time worked so well, I’ve been doing it for Elizabeth 4 and short stories. That means I’ve barely finished 2 books this year. I doubt I’m making this.

8. Play more games with the kids (Succeeding)

We haven’t done enough board games, but that’s mostly because the 2 year old can’t follow. We bought a Nintendo Switch and both kids play Mario Kart and I’ve been playing Yoshi Craft World with Dragon. I’ve also been playing Link’s Awakening, which both kids love to watch.

9. Be More Patient (Unsure)

I still yell a little too much and I’m a little too stressed. I need to chill. I’m doing a little better but I still need to work on it.

10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November (Fail)

In November I had some serious health issues. I had massive cramping in my lower left abdomen, fever, weakness, nausea, and fatigue. It happened twice in November and both times faded away.

So I haven’t pressed on this. I probably won’t. It hasn’t happened again and when I started to feel something similar I made sure to de-stress and relax a little and it helped. I don’t know what happened, but at this point I’ll see if it happens again.


Results

Well it’s not great but it’s not bad either. I’ll call that roughly 50%. I’m not going to add anything to this since I already have my hands full trying to improve this score.

  • 1 Success
  • 4 Succeeding
  • 2 Fail
  • 2 Failing
  • 1 Unsure

What do you think? How are your resolutions going?

Éric

Dear Pegasus – Park, play, and pandemic

Dear Pegasus,

You’ve now spent a year in quarantine (about 60% of your life). By the time you read this, we should have a better idea if we were overprotective or justifiably cautious.

We’re lucky in that mum’s job is extra slow since no one wants to travel in a pandemic (except politicians), so she can help your sister with homeschooling. I hope we don’t have to worry about your first year like this.

Today mum suggested that you pretend to bring the dollhouse people to their park. You looked at her confused and when she asked if you knew what the park was, you just shook your head.

It makes me sad that you didn’t get the chance to do the things your sister did. I makes me feel guilty that you’re not getting as much attention as we’d hoped.

In a perfect world, Dragon was supposed to be at school this year and you were going to get the majority of mum’s attention. It didn’t work that way and now mum spends most of the day in the basement for Dragon’s school and you spend the day with me. I deal with a lot of the house stuff, this blog (although mum is supplying her half of the content), coffee things, writing, oh, and my full time job. I’m lucky that I can work from home, but it means you spend a lot of time playing on your own or sitting in on work meetings.

An Angry Pegasus. I get this face when I get coffee or do work.

I feel bad that we don’t have the energy and time to dedicate to you that we did your sister. I feel bad that you haven’t seen another kid in person since you were eight months old. I have no idea what this will do in the long term. I’m hoping that you’ll bounce back once everyone (including you) are vaccinated. (I’m hoping Dragon will be okay going into first grade full time. Maybe even the second semester of senior kindergarten.)

I’m sorry for the things you’ve missed, but I am not sorry that you haven’t contracted the virus or the side effects (even if they are rare) that come with it.

Life has been very different for you this year compared to before where you did 3 cons, a trip to Disney, and a lot of social activities. This coming year will probably be similar, but the year after holds hope for us.

To steal the 2020 word of the year, these are unprecedented times, and we’re all doing our best.

My pillow is very wiggly.

One of the good things that this year has brought is the extra time we’ve had together.

I love you little Pegasus,

Your worried Papa

Éric’s 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

Welcome 2021! (I’m watching you…)

Today marks the first day of a whole new year. A made up, arbitrary, unimportant date that nonetheless feels like a renewal and rebirth. The human mind and spirit is a fascinating and messed up thing.

Last year was all over the place. I was on paternity leave, we went to Disney World, and then PANDEMIC. I’m ridiculously privileged that I got to work from home and we didn’t lose much income (Jen’s travel booking did suffer). I got to spend so much more time with my son than I would have and that’s a blessing.

It was a terrible year for my New Year’s Resolutions, however. This year I’m going to take it easier… I think.

https://theawkwardyeti.com/

Writing

1. Write a Monthly Serial Story

This will be the 8th year for the serial story. Voting Ended yesterday and I’ll have the first installment by the end of the month. I’ll be writing 1 installment every month of 800-1000 words.

2. Start and write half of SUPER MYSTERY BOOK PROJECT

This year will see the start, and hopefully the finish, of a new book. I’m really excited about this one. The goal is to get to at least 40,000 words this year.

3. Write Another Hal Story

There are 5 stories in the Sun Speaker universe and I’ve been wanting to add another. Hopefully I can write something around 3000-6000 words.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

4. Ensure 5+ days of updates

Our schedule and lineup will be changing, but that’s another post. I’m going to hopefully keep up the streak of having at least 5 posts per week.

Editing and Marketing

5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip

I wrote this novel in 2017 and my weditor edited it. I need to go through it and make the recommended changes and edits. Maybe even pass it to the next beta reader… It’s just such a personal book that it’s hard to revisit.

6. Keep Working on FADDS

The system isn’t perfect, but it’s getting better every playtest. I want to keep playtesting and adding on to the powers. Maybe rethink the advanced classes and powers.

Personal

7. Read 15 Books

Like writing, I need to carve out time to read. It’s important to both my mental energy and health.

8. Play more games with the kids

I need to play more board games and video games now that the kids are getting older. It’ll be a fun activity.

9. Be More Patient

This is a hard one. I yell a little too much and it’s not good for me or the kids. I need more patience with them, work, and life in general.

10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November

In November I had some serious health issues. I had massive cramping in my lower left abdomen, fever, weakness, nausea, and fatigue. It happened twice in November and both times faded away.

It also happened last year and I went to the emergency room, but they couldn’t find anything wrong.

In mid-December, I called and asked the receptionist to get a referral to a specialist. I think this is related to my IBS and other issues, but I’m not a doctor.

I’ll keep pushing.


Those are my resolutions for 2021. Ambitious, but less so than in the past.

May your 2021 be gentle and you be strong!

Éric

Éric’s Conspiracy Theory Theory

Hello Imaginary Friends,

The world is a scary place right now. Other than the virus that has killed over 350,000 people worldwide and left countless others with life-long side effects; there are other things going on.

Some countries have taken this worldwide emergency as a great time to trample over civil-rights. I’m talking about China, the Saudi state, and Russia. The lockdown is hurting people. Joblessness is hurting people.

And the world will be different when this whole thing is over. Whether it’s for better or worse is yet to be seen.

It’s completely understandable that people are scared. It’s that fear that has driven people to believe in the most ridiculous things.

Image of Benjamin Franklin and the quote, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. “

I’ve stated before that human intellect is based on pattern recognition and that leads to a biasing effect. We want to see the patterns and we want to see that the world is organized and controlled, therefore controllable.

It’s hard for those most fearful to accept that the universe is random and sometimes bad things happen for no reason. It’s easier to believe that Bill Gates wants to GPS tag everyone so he created the virus than believe that poor conditions in animal markets might be to blame.

In these trying times, it’s important that we keep vigilant and listen to the experts. Read and watch with critical thought. Here’s some more advice from me four years ago.

Be Kind, Be Aware, and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Éric

Why no extra content on JenEric Designs?

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some of my favourite creators are doing extra stories, readings, podcasts, and all kinds of awesome stuff. S. M. Carrière is doing live streams of her guitar playing (seriously cool). She’s also reading her works over on youtube.

Seeing as I tend to express my emotions and work thoughts through my writing, you’d expect that I’d be doing something extra… or possible “extra” as the kids say.

Fortunately for me and my little family, I’m an essential worker (from home) with the federal government. That means I’m pretty much working 8:30 to 4:30. Trying to do work with a baby and a child isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Some of the reports and documents I work on are legislated and must come out even this tiny-pocalypse. That means I’ve actually done overtime this week.

Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t give me much time to create or write. Honestly, I’m struggling to get everything I’m doing done, but I’ll get used to it and production will go up. But there won’t be extra awesome content.

However, there are plenty of amazing people doing great things. Those small businesses and creators that are doing these things need your support. Help them out by buying stuff, becoming a patron, buying them a coffee, or donating to their art. They need the money and more than that, it’ll let them know that someone cares enough about their products and art to give them money for it.

Stay home, wash your hands, and support artists;

Éric

Covid-19 and Me

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been pretty silent about the state of the world the past few weeks. Part of that was being overwhelmed and part of that was being busy.

Ottawa called for people to start self-isolating and working from home starting March 16th. My first day of work after just over eight months of parental leave was the 18th of March. I work for the government in a communications area so I’m considered essential.

I’ve been dealing with going back to work (although I do enjoy working from home), a baby that is teething (AKA not sleeping well), the pandemic, and everything that entails.

My family is in a good place. We have a house, I have a job that will continue to pay me (barring some sort of pheonix crap), and we’re all pretty used to being at home. Our house is filled with movies, games, books, and comfy furniture.

The kids are still too young for school and like I said, I just finished ~8 months of parental leave so we’re all kind of used to being at home. I do miss having people over for D&D, movies, and to chat. I miss going to the cinema, and going for walks with the kids to Walmart or the park. My daughter and wife miss church and we all miss our conventions.

Those are minor inconveniences and I know we are extremely lucky.

My wife asked me to cut her hair. This was right before.

It’s still been hard. I’ve felt like I was on high alert for the past three weeks. I’ve felt terrified while shopping and I’m scared for my friends and family.

I’m starting to calm down but I’m still teary and worried.

This will become normal and when things get better we’ll have hopefully spared much death and heartache.

The implications of what this will change in our world are staggering and a little scary. But that’s another post all together.

Stay home and wash your hands!

Éric