On Seattle

Thursday night, Jessica and I packed our bags and wandered up to Seattle. It’d been a while since we’d taken a trip, and we had a great excuse to go: Neil Gaiman was going to be doing a reading for his new book, The Graveyard Book up there, but wasn’t going to be visiting Portland at all for this tour. So we made a trip of it, and stayed with my friend Anna for two nights, which was good.

Friday was spent being tourists in Seattle — we ate at Julia’s on Wallingford, swung by the Apple Store and the University Bookstore (the folks hosting the reading, so as to pick up the vouchers for the reading), and then went and checked out the Anachrotechnofetishism exhibit at 826 National chapter, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. Definitely a nifty little store with lots of stuff to play with and geek out over. Despite wanting my very own raygun, I went with a more practical option this time around and picked up a t-shirt. I am incredibly jealous that programs like this exist and wish they’d been around (and nearby!) when I was growing up.

After dropping off Anna (and playing with Gabe, who is Anna’s rockin’ jack russel/chihuahua puppy), we hung out with Jessica’s friend Ira for a little bit, and then wandered over to the reading.

I’ve got to say, Neil is a hell of a charming guy. He read chapter four of The Graveyard Book to the audience (around 850 people all told), shifting his voice appropriately for different characters in all the right ways and spots to make it a really engaging reading — it’s like the entire audience was 5 again, and he was reading to us before bed. Afterward, we had a brief intermission to get up and stretch, and then he showed us footage from the upcoming Coraline movie (comes out this February), though he did make us promise not to put any video of the footage up til at least after the tour is over next week, as a favor to him (did I mention that he’s a hell of a charming guy?). It’s looking fantastic, and the folks at Laika should be damned proud of the project.

After the preview footage, there was a Q&A session with Neil that ran for about 45 minutes to an hour, so the reading in total took about 2.5 hours. One of the questions actually was about the “new” format compared to the old autograph lines… the short answer is that the old system involved maybe thirty minutes to an hour reading AND Q&A, followed by 3-6 hours of standing in line to shuffle past Neil and get a signature. It is a bit more impersonal, perhaps, to not get that individual face to face time, but in the end it makes for a happier overall experience to do it in this new format. Neil’s also got a great excuse, since his finger is broken and this way he could do all the signing at his own pace. Definitely well worth the time and effort to head up to Seattle for. (As an aside, it’s sort of telling that when I looked around the audience of folks who would ostensibly be “my kind of people”, I didn’t recognize a single person, despite having lived in Seattle for three years, whereas I’ve been in Portland for 6 months and already often randomly run into people all over the place. Portland FTW!)

After the talk, we grabbed Anna and headed over to 13 Coins, which is a local chain of 5 star 24 hour restaurants… huge, tall leather bound booths, and one of the best filet mignon’s I’ve had — it just sort of dissolved upon hitting my tongue. SO good.

Got up this morning, whereupon Anna made us breakfast, we played with Gabe a bit more, and then we took off for parts south — it would have been nice to make it a longer trip, but Jessica is volunteering for Fright Town, and had to get back for that. Definitely a nice trip, and for those of you in Seattle that I didn’t get to see, hopefully I’ll make it back up sometime soon!

Happy March! Bye!

I’m about to pack the cable modem and wireless router. My apartment is empty barring the items that I need to put in the car. Had my meeting with the landlady, will hopefully be getting a nice chunk of my final month’s rent back, which would be GOOD.

Time for an adventure, I reckon.

A Little Bit Scary

So, I just got off the phone with my landlady. I’ve given notice on my apartment: the plan is currently to be packed and everything in storage by the end of the month, and then take a few days in March to clean (the more March is open, the more likely I’ll be able to recoup some money, since I already paid February, and I paid first and last back when I moved in). Now, this isn’t that scary at first glance, since it’s just normal moving procedure.

The scary part is that I don’t know where I’m going next, just that it’s time to try somewhere else. My inclination right now is to head south, probably Portland, see how that sits. I may end up further south, somewhere in California (expensive, but work I’d like to be involved in is there). I really don’t know. A lot will depend on what sort of work I can find between now and then. Anything could happen: I could find a fantastic job tomorrow and be set. Or I could end up scrounging for cash, couch surfing, and living out of my car. It is a vast, grand, frightening unknown.

Well wishes and suggestions would be decidedly welcome.

Coffee Revolution

I spent the past few days hidden away in my apartment, so I opted to take the sunny day today and finally go out. Tired of the usual places, I looked up some new coffee shops on WifiMug, and came across one a scant 5 minute drive away. Took another 10 minutes to find a parking spot, but finally got in to Revolutions, which is a block or so off Greenlake. It’s got an odd vibe to it, and I’m not sure about it quite yet. The bagels are good (from Bagel Oasis, which I’ll need to check out sometime, having driven past it far too many times to count), and the chai is decent (and a good amount for the price). There are the requisite geeks sitting around on their laptops — myself included — and overall the space is just kind of low key. It’s a little dark, which gives it a subdued atmosphere for better or worse. The wifi seems to work reasonably well, though you need to grab a WEP key from the front counter to get on.

That said, they’ve got couches. And they’re open until 10 (9 on weekends). These two things instantly set them at a higher bar than most coffee shops out there. (Zoka is open later, but has far less comfy seating — a tradeoff.)

Hot Chocolate Before Bed

Two thirty in the morning and I’m drinking hot chocolate from a “Bad Ass Coffee” travel mug, before padding off to bed. It’s been a few days since I last wrote here (though not since I last wrote). It’s been a good day, the weather holding up while I had lunch and wandered around with a friend. I bought a few books, though I know I probably shouldn’t have spent the money, and refrained from buying several more that were remarkably enticing. I purchased two books on writing (The 3 A.M. Epiphany, and The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes), which should tell you where I’m trying to head with my writing in general: polish, and getting back to storytelling. I also picked up Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (which, for those of you who were fans of Flight and might want to pick it up, it was in the Young Adult section and the Barnes and Noble). Looking forward to reading that (and also looking forward to reading The Mouse Guard which my friend Anna picked up for me a week or so ago).

The rain started again a few hours ago, typical winter in Seattle. I’ve been doing the job hunting thing for about a month now, and haven’t really had any nibbles to speak of. I’m not letting this get me down: non-seasonal hires during the holidays always tend to be fairly light, and I know several companies that effectively shut down for a few weeks around now for a collective vacation. Doesn’t mean I can really afford it, or to slack off because of that, though — it’d be better to have a resume sitting on HR’s desk when they get back (or sitting in their email as the case may be) than to simply wait for some arbitrary period to be over.

Planning to head down to Portland tomorrow to visit my brother. He’s in much the same employment predicament as me, so at the very least we’ll be able to commiserate and enjoy some company in the process. Fun (and hopefully productive) times shall be had by all!

Catching Up

So, what have I been up to in the past two months? The obvious answer would be “stuff,” but that’s not very descriptive. I’ve been working a lot (the 8-4:30 is really a 7-7 due to traffic… working weekends was always delightful, because I was not only making overtime, but my commute was 20 minutes each way), and that’s been sucking my brain dry, where I’d usually get home, maybe eat something, maybe putter a little bit, and then go to sleep. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for much (I didn’t even hit the coffee shop more than maybe once). But there were a few highlights:

I flew back east for UberCon. My friend Chris (Tsabrak) offered to cover my airfare, so I was suddenly able to at least partially justify the trip. It was fantastic seeing everyone, including meeting some folks in person that I’d only known online up until then. It was definitely a good time, though I do wish Erica had shown up, as I would have liked to see her. (I was both nervous and hopeful about the prospect… I do miss her.) I was recently made head builder for Avatar, so I ended up spending most of the trip talking about mud related stuff, and I think we covered a lot of good ground that I hope to see getting implemented soon.

My parents were gracious enough to cover the expense of picking up Mac OS X 10.5, so I’ve got that installed and running on both of my machines (the laptop and desktop). I must say, I am damned impressed. Not only is there a considerable amount of polish, but the interface is cleaned up and the machine in general seems to be snappy. The file sharing integration into the finder is an excellent addition, and makes the process of mucking with files on both machines remarkably painless. I did clean installs for both machines and then migrated documents back over from my backup disk, so I’m still in the process of installing applications back onto it. Overall the whole upgrade process has been fairly painless.

My brother has moved from DC out to Portland, Oregon! I went down and visited him last week and bummed around with him and Dano and Dan’s lovely fiance, Moonrise. Totally good times, we even hit up the roller derby, which was great fun (Portland vs Baltimore). Later in the week, Uri came up for Thanksgiving, and we sorta tooled around a little bit, found a place for tasty turkey dinner, and in general had a good time.

Those are the big highlights that come to mind. It should be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.

Erm, Yeah

Sorry for disappearing like that… not a single post in all of October, and it looks like I’m only barely making it for November. For whatever reason, I simply didn’t feel like writing. Work was starting to get to me (or more particularly, the commute), and I was finding other things to occupy my time. I’ll try to catch up a bit over the next few days.

The big news of the moment is that I’m abruptly unemployed again, as of this past Wednesday. This does and doesn’t suck. Losing your job sucks, BUT, I knew I’d have to jump ship sooner or later, as there was nowhere I could really go vertically within the company. I would have preferred to have my next job already lined up, but I did rack up experience on four commercial titles, including experience as a test lead, so it’s been a productive time spent, and should hopefully significantly improve my chances of netting a better gig. I need to update my resume (which is going to take some redesigning, so I can get the information I want on there and still fit on a single double sided piece of paper), but overall I’m feeling pretty good about it. (Mostly. I was already living paycheck to paycheck, so in that respect, I’m stressed the hell out.)

In particular, I’m looking for an associate producer position with a game company — anywhere, not just here in scenic Seattle. I’d be happy with better, I’d settle for less, but that’s what I’m realistically looking for, given my experience and skills. I’ve got a few good leads on companies that are hiring, but feel free to feed me more, faithful readers.

Another Season Ending

Today is the last day of September, so happy birthday to Chris, and happy birthday tomorrow to Anna! With the end of September comes the rainy season to the Pacific Northwest, and I must say I don’t really mind. I like the 50-60 degree temperatures and kind of grey days that come with it. Though soon enough, I’ll need to start wearing shoes again.

I have a lot of things on my mind right now, and I’ll try to address what I can. I sort of realized that it’d been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d rectify that situation (and upgrade to WP 2.3 to boot). So, quick sum up: still working, but it looks like this project may be ending soon, and that’s been a bit of a wake up call on getting back on the resume/job-search horse. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve been doing, and have been stepping up where I can, so hopefully that will lead into something a bit more permanent (and better paying). In the meantime, I’m keeping an ear out for other gigs anywhere, and contemplating a move to Omaha, where my friend Jen has offered me a place to crash for as long as I need (such as, for instance, time to work on building up a portfolio, since most of my experience is on the theory side of things… while theory is important, it tends not to get you jobs in a product driven field). Or I could always start buying lottery tickets.

My days have been sort of merging and blending together. For the past two months, we’ve had overtime every weekend at work, so it’s been a while since I really had a whole weekend free (this was supposed to be the first one, but I got called in to sub for someone who had an emergency come up and couldn’t make it. For the record, I only dropped the obligatory “I’m not even supposed to be here!” once — I was actually happy to help out). I finally got around to grocery shopping today for the first time in a while, and if I can keep up some steam, I may do other things I’ve been meaning to do (I’ve been meaning to email several friends for a while now, and simply haven’t because I’m a bum that goes and hides out in a dark room after work). I also want to update my resume, and get some other writing hashed out (I started the year out pretty close to my daily writing goal, but I’ve been slipping a bit lately… need to get back into it and end the year strong).

Right now, I’m listening to the KEXP Live Performances podcast of Animal Collective, and I must say I am damn impressed. Their live versions of “Leaf House” and “Who Could Win A Rabbit” just floored me. If you like Animal Collective, you should go download that and take a listen, I think you’ll be well pleased. I’d really like to go pick up their new album (Strawberry Jam), just gotta wait til I can afford to buy music.

Making the Most of What We Have

It’s Sunday, August 26th, 2007. The month is nearly over, and I don’t have the money for rent, let alone the bills that are also due. I’m selling my speakers, which would get me back flush for the moment, and I’m selling some stock, which should get me back to a manageable position. Neither of which has been going well. I’ve had one nibble on the speakers, dunno if I’ll be able to turn it into a full bite or not, and it’s fast approaching out of time. The stocks are doubly frustrating — they have a restriction on them, which means that my broker won’t touch them, so I need to call the transfer agent for the stocks and have them reissued, which shouldn’t be a problem except that a) there may be a few associated with the reissue, which I can’t afford; and b) the transfer agent is only open when I’m at work, so I need to find the time to call, verify what I need to do, then do it, and wait however long it takes for them to reissue, before I can even begin to sell them.

People deal with worse — it can always get worse — on a daily basis. I’m not being shot at, and at least for now, I still have a roof over my head, and a job. The job is a contract that may end any time, and will likely end within the next two months, leaving me a tentative 2 month period to find better work. I hate to say it, but the military is starting to sound more and more viable. Given the quirky heart and issues with depression, it’s a question whether they’d take me anyway.

One thought: a storage unit is cheaper than an apartment… close out my apartment, put everything back in storage, and live in my car for a while. Work has a deal with 24 Hour Fitness for cheap memberships, so I could shower and change there. I recall my friend Dan telling me about being in the Bay area during the boom, and seeing a lot of RV’s and vans parked out in front of health clubs for precisely this reason. There are coffee shops and restaurants and libraries with free wireless, so I wouldn’t even lose connectivity. What few bills I’d have left could be moved to entirely paperless billing, since I’m already paying them online.

It would certainly be different. And it would open me up to new experiences, and a flexibility in location that I’ve been missing. If I did that along with selling the stock to pay off most of my debtload, I could get back to being debt free in a relatively short period. It’s not an ideal solution, of course. There are a lot of problems with it, a lot of dangers, and it doesn’t deal with the possibility that my job won’t exist in a few months.

So, I’m sitting in Zoka, eating some cherry and marionberry pie and drinking a cup of split sweet/spicy chai, and thinking about what to do, what steps I can take to move forward in my life, to get happy (or at the very least, to get un-depressed), to get to a point where I at least have some semblance of control over my own life. These are things I’ve found notably lacking of late.

I have no conclusions, no new revelations, just a few ideas, none of which are all that appealing, none of which have much in the way of futureproofing. Instead, I’m left with quotes from Fight Club running through my head. “It’s only when we lose everything that we can gain anything.” “Congratulations, you’re one step closer to hitting bottom.” “I will drag you through kicking and screaming, and in the end, you will thank me.”

We Might Just Break, Can You Hear Us Trying?

I had a good roll going for a few months with the blogging, but I seem to have slipped back to sporadic again. In fairness, things have been stressful and in fashions that don’t really involve progress or anything that merits talking about. I’ve been working a lot, though I’m still going to need to take some drastic measures to get back out of this hole I’m in, which leaves me a little frustrated.

Last week, Mickey and I went and watched Stardust — it was a jolly good time, though I will say don’t go watch it right after reading the book: it keeps the flavor and mood of the book, but there are definitely some changes. There was an incredibly cute girl sitting near us playing Six Degrees with one of her friends while we all waited for the movie to start, but I didn’t have to nerve to strike up a conversation and ask her name. Alas.

I took today off from work to go deal with my traffic ticket that I’d previously mentioned. Funny story about that: turns out the court date was tomorrow and I’d screwed up my dates, and didn’t realize it until I was already down there. Went in and explain the situation, and they managed to work me onto today’s docket, so I wouldn’t have to miss a second day of work and drive two hours each way again. The end result of the whole affair is that the speeding infraction was thrown out entirely for being ridiculous (I’m sorry, in moderate to heavy traffic, you are NOT going to be able to positively identify a specific car from over a mile out, regardless of whether or not your laser detector can take a reading that far away), and the “failure to pull to the right” was mitigated to a mere (!) $500 (down from $1168), which I’ll be paying in installments over the next six months. So yeah, it would have been nice if I’d managed to get both thrown out, but the whole process could have gone a LOT worse.

I’m looking forward to the day that I’m not scrambling for cash so much. Hopefully that’ll be soon.

(Today’s title is taken from “Human Being” by The Beta Band.)