This week I read:
Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories, a collection of short stories by Algernon Blackwood
I’ve read The Willows before, of course, and The Wendigo too. Those are always hyped as the best Algernon Blackwood stories and, while they’re both very good, I actually felt that Sand in this collection blew them both out of the water. I’m amazed I haven’t seen anyone talking about it before.
AB is really good at portraying the majesty and mystery of nature, which is seemingly largely drawn from his own experiences. The endnotes of this collection surprised me by how closely related these stories all were to experiences he himself had, just with the weirdness turned up. You can tell that he felt there was something magical in the world—something known to the ancients but now largely hidden out of sight—and he shares his vision of that through his stories.
Sand, in particular, I found very touching. It made me want to go to Egypt, to see the endless desert stretch away before me and to feel the weight of ages. But that itself brought about a sad realisation: the magical Egypt of AB’s 1912 visit is almost certainly gone. With the modernisation of Egypt itself, and the hordes of tourists who now descend upon it, an age of mystery and wonder has ended.
The Halls of Arden Vul
This week my players made a plan before the session. This is great. I love talking about the game (it’s so fun), and I love plans (I can focus my prep).
They didn’t actually follow the plan once the session started, but I suppose you can’t have everything. But they did find a few fun things: they managed to pick the lock of a big door which had defeated them previously, gaining access to a new region of the main dungeon level they’re exploring (and also unleashing a dust monster in the process, we’ll see what comes of that); they decoded one of my clues leading to a connection with a different level; and they found a very significant item (though they don’t know it yet) which ties in with some of the hidden deep lore of the setting.
In less good news, our VTT of choice, Owlbear Rodeo was pretty laggy today. I’ve heard that it can strugle with big drawn maps, but I didn’t think we’d reached that point yet. Hopefully it was just a temporary issue today, and not a sign that we’ll need to switch to another tool.
I was seized by inspiration to make some improvements to my DNS nameserver this weekend:
- Making a simplifying assumption in the main resolver (#261)
- Fixing an issue with negative responses (#262, #263)
- Adding basic IPv6 support (#264, #265, #266)
- And making the upstream DNS port configurable (#267)
The combination of #264, #265, and #267 make it possible to implement integration tests on a single host. I could run a mock nameserver on, say, port 5354, and resolved on port 5353 configured to talk to it. Then I just need to hard-code responses to all the queries my mock nameserver may get, then use
dig or something to query resolved and check the responses are correct. I haven’t written any integration tests yet, but I think it would be a valuable exercise.