UberCon X Followup

UberCon has once again come and gone. While our numbers weren’t what we’d hoped or expected, a lot of that can be tied to the current recession, and not having the hotel contracts in time to promote the event early on. We can’t do much about the recession, but this time at least we have firm dates for UberCon XI — October 24-26th. I can’t be positive I’ll make it out for it (I’ve made it to the past two by the grace of friends in a more financially beneficial place than I am), but it would certainly be nice to see everyone again.

Overall, I’d say the con was a great time — it’s good people, and everyone seems to have fun. I met a bunch more Avatarians, though frankly I lost count ages ago. I’m fairly positive I’m over 100 at this point. (The list of MUDders who attended can be found here.) I actually ended up hosting two panels (well, one and a half, one of the panels was on plans to shift some of the geography of Avatar around, and pulled in a whopping two people and took about 10 minutes… the other one was very well attended, as it was a roundtable discussing plans for the ranger class revision). As is usual, I didn’t really play any games, but instead spent a lot of the weekend simply running around and checking up on people, making sure they had what they needed, and doing general chit-chat. I like being “at large,” and honestly don’t think I’d have nearly as much fun if I was locked into an official role.

Some highlights: getting to see a lot of friends I’d not seen for anywhere from six months to several years, or even had never met in real life before at all; observing the midnight game of “It’s Midnight… are YOU a Werewolf?”; wading through a two foot long chocolate eclair from Harold’s with Timothy Zahn and a dozen other friends; and, of course, the late night parties and diner runs that all seem contribute to the COMPLETE lack of sleep that happens at the con.

UberCon X

April is nearly gone, and I’ve not really posted much. Partly, yes, because I was working on a site redesign, and more than a little bit because I was simply a slacker. But also, because I’ve been out in the Baltimore/DC area for almost all of April, helping prepare for UberCon X, which is coming up in a scant few days, in Edison, New Jersey. I was flown in for the purpose of chasing down sponsorships and corporate contacts, a task which I seem to do alright at, even though I really hate doing it. I should have been focusing on landing a job, and getting settled into Portland, of course, but I was explicitly asked, flown out, and put up to do this (and it’s not like I don’t have a vested interest in making sure the con stays afloat and successful, friends aside), so in the grand scheme, there are worse things I could be doing with my time.

Being a wee bit more tied to the con than I have for the past several, I know that Erica and CJ won’t be making it this time around, which bums me a little bit, but is the way things go sometimes. UberCon has a new guest director, Alyssa (who has been involved with the con since day one as the RPG director, so I have at least some faith will stick around and do a good job), who has managed to line up Timothy Zahn for a rare east coast appearance. This should be fun because it’s always nice to get a good headliner, and also because his affiliation with the expanded Star Wars universe suggests that there will be a decent turnout of stormtrooper-armored fans at the event.

A Month of Couches

I gave up my apartment in Seattle on March 1st, moving most of my belongings into a storage unit, and the rest into my car. Put simply, I felt done with Seattle, and wanted to try elsewhere, but couldn’t really afford to continue to hemorrhage money on an apartment while I found job somewhere else. It’s something of a risky maneuver, but thankfully I do have friends and family who help, which mitigates the risk of it all nicely.

So, barring a week in Seattle helping my friend Anna move, I’ve spent most of the month crashing on my brother’s couch in Portland. His roommates are aware of my situation, and have been incredibly cool about it, though I still feel bad about imposing on them for so long. I’ve been sending out resumes, and interviewed for a position last week that I really hope I get, as it’s a position I think I would enjoy, for a company I really like (and whose products i use often). That would put me in Portland with a decent (not high pay, but comfortable enough) full time job, which sounds pretty damn idyllic right now. I run into more people in Portland who have made a conscious choice to be there, instead of being drawn for some ulterior motive (work, hipster cachet, relationships, etc), than anywhere else I’ve ever visited or been. That sort of attitude really shines through in the behavior and personality of the city.

Despite having interviewed for a job I am hopeful to get (and remain in the running for), delays in that process (they’re still looking at and interviewing candidates) have left me in a position where I’ll be flying out to DC to help with UberCon and hang out with a lot of the Avatar crew. I could be there for as much as a month (notably if I don’t get the job), though possibly less. We’ll see. In either case, it’ll be good seeing people (and anyone who wants to hang out, drop me a line).

It’s all been sort of surreal. As much as I’m aware of the need and stressed about finding a home and a job, I’m actually feeling pretty good and calm. Maybe it’s the Portland vibe, maybe it’s just that I’ve ALWAYS liked being a floater, but in either case, it’s a pretty good mindset to be in (way better than freaking out about it, at the very least). Largely thanks to Uri, I’ve already met more people in Portland than I ever knew in Seattle. Yes, I’m an introvert, so it’s hard for me to meet people in the first place, but I still think it really says something about the difference between Portland and Seattle.

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.

UberCon VII

I’m at UberCon VII (yes, 7, they add up fast when you’re doing two a year), sitting in my hotel room using the wireless access. I’ve been running around all day and decided it was time for some down/quiet. (I may go down in a little bit again to see what’s going on… we’ll see.)

Barring some computer difficulties (out of 24ish rented computers, only 8 had received the correct image, which means the renting company has had to come out and correct things… BUT, that means the attendees can’t use fully two thirds of the LAN until it’s fixed), things have been pretty chill. Some friends were in a car accident on the way down from Canada, but appear to be by and large alright, and have made it down finally.

Erica gets here tomorrow morning, and I’m really looking forward to that. While it’s only been two weeks, it’s felt significantly longer since I last saw her, and I don’t know why. Regardless of that, it’ll be great to see her. I had a pleasant chat with her father, who didn’t seem all that put out that I’m seeing his daughter. I’m hoping the same will be said come Sunday, when Erica’s mother will be attending the convention as well.

I saw more Pepsi than I ever have in my life today… while I’m not officially doing anything for the convention anymore, I still tend to help out at the conventions (it’s just sort of what I do… I end up having more fun that way than trying to sit and play games), and spent a good portion of the late morning/early afternoon driving down to the Pepsi distribution center in Piscataway and back, to collect their donation to the convention (cases upon cases of pepsi, diet pepsi, mountain dew, and their new energy drink, MDX). There was easily 10 to 15 million dollars worth of pepsi product in that warehouse. Pretty impressive, especially when you consider that just covers one region’s distribution… there are warehouses like that all over the country.

On a random non-con related note: my laptop should ship this week (the 15th is what the site is listing)! Wooooo!

Up and Running

With four days to go until my school residency, we finally have an internet connection at the house in Montpelier (JUST finished getting it set up). A lot has happened since I gave a real update, so let me sum up: I’m living in Montpelier with Uri, Andy, and Kate, and will be starting my final semester this Friday. UberCon VI was a lot of fun, and I did indeed pick up a sword (it’s sweet), and ended up selling my graphics tablet (Wacom Intuos2 12×12) to Erica, who is an extremely talented artist and fantastic person in general.

In fact, she and I are now seeing each other. It was unexpected and entirely welcome. I went down to drop off her tablet, and we ended up spending the day together… While I’m aware that I’m getting into yet another long distance relationship, and with someone who is insanely busy, I really like her and we both want to see where things go. This is my first real relationship since Mickey, and I’m a little nervous that I’ll end up carrying too much baggage with me, but I’m going to do my best to simply be as open, honest, and caring as I can, and hope for the best.

Okay, if I keep talking about that, I’ll get mushy, so let’s move along. I’ve been hanging out with a lot of people lately that I haven’t seen in a while, in particular my friend Tiffany, who is a leet gamer that also writes reviews and is a contributing editor for Computer Games magazine. She’s getting me back into Final Fantasy XI (I know, I know… however, I am planning to critique the game for my study), which should be jolly good fun, in that “OMG, I’m hardlining MMOs again” sort of way. Just in general, though, I’ve shipped my game systems out from Seattle and picked up a Nintendo DS under the auspices of my study, and am aiming to try and get a press kit from Nintendo about the Revolution, so I can write about that in particular. (The DS and the Revolution are key points in how my study is formulating in my mind, more specifically how they view/affect the concepts of gameplay and interfacing with games.)

All in all, it’s starting to look like the shitty period is drawing to a close, and things are really starting to look on the up and up. I’ll try and be a bit more cogent/coherent later… still feeling a little scattered and worn out, so I’m going to go drink a couple gallons of water and go from there.

UberCon VI

Being that I’m on the east coast again, and the opportunity to attend just as an attendee, and talking it over with a friend who was also interested in going, I decided to go to UberCon. All in all, it’s been a good time. I’ve mostly just hung out and chatted with people, and by and large have been able to do what I wanted, helping where I want to help, but not being expected to do so. It’s a great way to go.

I’ve also been chatting with some of the vendors, and am going to look at some hand forged 13 folded katanas the sword vendor has with him. Very reasonably priced considering the quality, just a matter of finding one that I want. Kevin and I have come to an understanding about roles and money and everything else, which is good. I’m probably going to help out in an unofficial capacity in getting company contacts, as I’m very good at it, and have proven to have more luck doing so than just about anyone. This, however, will be at my own pace and discretion, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.

Anyway, time to head back down to the convention… just wanted to give a quick update as to what’s going on.

Seattle, Montpelier, and Me

I’m in Seattle again, this time having flown out to help Uri pack and to collect some things out of my storage unit. Every time I come out here I’m reminded why I moved out here in the first place, how appealing the feel of the place is to me. I still hate the traffic, though. Uri has shared a similar sentiment, yet he’s also moving out of Seattle… he and I are renting a house in Montpelier, Vermont, with our friends Andy and Kate. In fact, we officially moved in about a week ago.

This might seem rather abrupt to some of you… that’s because it IS abrupt. Uri has spent the past month living in Brooklyn with Andy, and while there, the idea of moving to Montpelier just sort of got tossed into the air. They looked into it briefly, and managed to find an awesome old house just off Vermont College campus, and so they decided to go for it. I found out about all this when they happened to swing through town on their way up to check it out, and ended up volunteering to go in on it, which made it financially more feasible for everyone (splitting the rent four ways is much better than splitting it in thirds). The whole thing just sort of happened all in the course of about a week and a half.

While naturally I’m a little nervous about it all, and was enjoying the free rent at my parents’ house, I think this will prove to be a beneficial move. I’ll be splitting my time (most of my time in Montpelier, a few days at my parents, playing with the dog and such — Freya is staying with them, more room to play, more stable routine), which I think will help me organize my time for my upcoming (final!) semester. Also, I’ll have broadband in Montpelier, and will be setting up my game systems, which should prove useful given the topic of my semester (game design).

I’m getting back from Seattle on Tuesday morning, and then will be heading down to UberCon VI the following weekend. I was really waffling about going or not, as I think it might be nice to catch up with some of the folks down there, and can just go to enjoy myself since I’m not attending as staff. Any help I end up offering will be entirely at my choosing (which, knowing me, will be quite a bit… that’s not the point, though), so I think it’ll be a lot more fun. The final deciding factor was that my friend Tiffany was interested in attending as well, so this gives me that last bit of an excuse. I’ve only told one or two people that I’m attending, and I don’t think any of the usual UCers read my blog with any regularity, so I’m hoping to surprise them.

I’m hoping to get back into the groove on blogging regularly, but I’m not going to hold my breath… if it happens, awesome. I think it would be good for me, though. Once I get the computers and broadband hooked up at the house, I think that process will be a bit easier. Time will tell.

Hello I’m Updating

If you haven’t seen it yet, Sockbaby has finally released the conclusion to the Sockbaby Trilogy. If you haven’t seen these movies, I would highly recommend checking them out… “That Sockbaby is a Sockbaby Jesus, the Sock Saviour of the Sock People,” need I say more?

I haven’t updated in a while, and I apologize for that. In my defense, I’ve been pretty busy. For instance, I am now back in Vermont for a few weeks, UberCon just wrapped up, and so did my semester. On a more geeky front, I managed to break my server severely enough that the CTO of the company had to step in to patch things. Basically, in my recent site renovations, one of the changes I requested concerning the subdomains and how things get redirected managed to create an instance of a bug that hadn’t cropped up in 3 years. I would like to publicly thank Terra, the CTO of FutureQuest, for not only fixing the issue, but doing so quickly and professionally. He (and the rest of the support staff) are the reason I keep on recommending FutureQuest.
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Zombie Nabil

I apologize for not posting recently. It has been a mixture of avoidance, laziness, and being swamped with other things. I have a pile of email I need to respond to about UberCon that I’ve been putting off for too long (I hate people-wrangling with a passion… for some reason, Kevin doesn’t seem to realize just how crazymaking and draining it is for me), plus personal emails, and all of my various projects are currently in a bit of a holding pattern.

That said, I’ve been working doing the game testing gig for most of the week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then Monday and Tuesday of next week), which is where most of my time has been going. Why is it taking so much more time and energy from me than it used to? Thanks for asking, Reader. Put simply, our new house is technically a 45 minute drive, if you were to, say, put it into MapQuest. In reality, I am competing with the rest of the region’s populace to get to the Redmond area (yes, there really ARE that many Microsofties). This turns the commute into an hour and a half long crawl. Even then, I’m taking the alternate route (I-5 to I-90, instead of I-5 to I-405), as the “shorter” route is even MORE swamped with traffic. My return drive also works out to be anywhere between an hour and a half and two hours, depending on weather conditions and whether there are any events going on… anywhere. So basically, I get up at 5:30 AM each morning so I can be on the road by 6, so I can be in Redmond by 7:30… and then get out of work at 4:30, and can expect to be home sometime between 6 and 7PM.
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