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Today was one of those days where I should have stayed in bed with a book and a cup of tea.

I should not have tried to make coffee. Or I should have used a different combination of tools. Instead of the trusty Mr Coffee coffee maker in the kitchen, I chose to use the Vietnamese coffee maker Mike's parents gave me. I've used it before to great effect and it's really convenient for single cup brewing.

Unfortunately, all of my mugs were dirty and instead of washing one, I chose to try to fit the coffee maker over a /dev/mug (which doesn't seem to be available through thinkgeek.com anymore). The /dev/mug is very wide, and the coffee maker fits inside it, not resting on the rim like it should. So I laid a couple of chop sticks across the mug and put the coffee maker on them.

I was also not paying as much attention as I should have, and overestimated the volume of liquid the /dev/mug would hold as I poured more and more water into the coffee maker. I was also doing this in my room, next to my laptop, on a small stack of boxes (the bottom box containing most of my video game consoles and my dvd player).

I soon realized what I'd done (pouring coffee into the box with my game consoles) and restacked the boxes so I could get to the consoles and assess the damage. The good news is nothing was seriously damp and I think they all still work. The bad news is I knocked over the temporary stack and dumped warm, damp coffee grounds into my nest of blankets. The cup of coffee was on the bookshelf and unspilled.

After loading the top most blankets into the washer, I thought it would feel very nice to just curl up in bed and go back to sleep. But there were two flaws in that plan: 1) two parts of my bed were in the washer, and B) there were video game consoles spread over the other parts of my bed.

And, of course, by the time I got things cleaned up and took a sip of coffee it had gone cold.

The day never really got better, but didn't get worse, so that's a plus.

I've also been thinking about offering free short stories to people, probably between 500 and 1000 words, about almost any subject the requester wants to request. I'm thinking of how to phrase it better to post to a livejournal community: Free Stuff Day. I have two goals for this project: to get me writing more (and more often), and to create interest in Alternia Comics. Ideally people would request a story of a character in one of the worlds of Alternia, or a new character/scene that could be added. For that reason I think I would shy away from proprietary characters, creating fan-fiction, and prefer original characters or Alternian characters. But it could be a story about someone's greatest morning ever, or the day my friend Holly realized her iPod was reading her mind and playing songs that fit her thoughts.

What do you readers think? Good idea? Bad idea?
I was struck on the drive back to Kent this evening. Not by anything physical, but something intangible: a visceral emotional wave from my childhood, triggered by a combination of physical sensations.

It's difficult for me to put this into words. Or rather, the difficulty comes form separating which to describe first: the bit of my childhood reflected in the memory and why it was called up, or what it was that called the memory up.

I'll start with the trigger.

It's a simple act that millions of people do every day. I would wager you, the average "you" in my audience, reading this right now, did this same thing today. If not today then tomorrow, or possibly yesterday. I decelerated along a highway exit ramp.

In and of itself, not a monumental act.

But I grew up in a house two blocks from an exit/entrance ramp for Interstate 70. Specifically for the West-bound lanes, but that's neither here nor there. (The East-bound exit/entrance ramps were spaced farther apart for surface street considerations.)

I cannot count how many times in my childhood I was riding in the car and, half asleep, eyes closed, head bowed, I knew we were almost home when I felt the car slow down and heard the pitch change in the road noise, along with the slight slope and elevation change of the exit ramp. Even as an adult, driving myself, and encountering those sensations at that exit, coming home after a road trip, I felt comfortable, safe, happy knowing I'd bee home soon.

And I was hit by those sensations again this evening, even though I no longer live near the off ramp, and home is still another ten or twelve minutes away.

After living in that house nearly twenty years, some sensations become so deeply ingrained that they never go away, I suppose.

When I lived in Portland, I looked for an apartment near the highway, telling myself I was looking there because the apartments would likely be less expensive and that I would not mind the road noise. I wonder now if some part of me was trying to recapture those moments of my life before Portland as well.

I also made some tweaks to my archivecrawl script that grabs files from the internet archive. "crawl" is really the wrong word for what the script does, but that's not what I changed. It now evaluates the output of the wget command that grabs the files and prints how how many new, duplicate, and missing files the script found. It also waits a bit between each request to not hit the web server so frequently. It makes the script take longer to run, but it puts less strain on the server.
A while back I started playing Fallout 2 again, and decided to use meta game knowledge to go to an area near the end of the game (the Navarro military base) and equip weapons and armor meant for use at the end of the game. Afterward, I was playing through quests meant for characters leve 6 and lower with armor that made me nearly untouchable and a weapon that usually killed opponents in one or two hits.

I also had a robot dog companion. The game calls him Robot Dog, but in my head I call him K-9.

Last time I played the dog was killed in a random encounter. I had grown irrationally attached to the dog so I went on a killing spree in the game. I had another random encounter before I made it to a town: a traveler. This encounter was peaceful, and the traveler offered to give me directions to nearby towns. I already knew where those towns were, so she couldn't really help me much. In the story in my head, my character was so distraught over the loss of K-9 that she used her sledgehammer to cave in the traveler's skull out of misdirected anger. My character died shortly thereafter in another random encounter, surrounded by mobsters, mostly because she wasn't fighting smart, just hitting people with her hammer.

I miss that dog...

And thanks to the magic of video games, he'll be there with me again when I load up the game, since I didn't save after the dog died.

I'm also not sure if I want to take Marcus away from being the sheriff of Broken Hills this game. Is it worth the experience points to deny the city its sheriff?
It's quarter to ten at night and I've just realized I haven't written anything here today yet.

Somehow I got the idea today that it would be fun to watch all of the videos on the vlogbrothers youtube channel in order. So that's been the majority of my audio track today. And reasonably entertaining. Vlogbrothers is a video blog project where brothers Hank and John Green communicate via video blog. It starts on New Years day 2007 when Hank challenges his brother John to cease text-based communications with him: no instant messages, no emails, no phone text messages, no written notes, etc. It starts with them posting every weekday, alternating. Hank started on Monday, so John gets Tuesday, then back to Hank on Wednesday, etc. If one misses an update, or communicates by text, they have to do a punishment, generally painful or embarrassing. Hank slipped up near Easter and included John in an email to a handful of people, so John gave him the punishment of eating as many marshmallow Peeps as he could in six minutes.

I've been watching their new videos for a few weeks (they now post Monday Wednesday and Friday) but thought it might be fun to see the origins of parts of the vlogbrothers mythos, such as the origin of the tiny chicken, the genesis of nerd fighters, and the creation of the initialism DFTBA.

Other than that, I've been playing around with scripting in bash (the Bourne Again SHell for linux) with the goal of collecting as many comics as I can from archive.org's archive of the webcomic Shaw Island.

I used to be a fan of the comic, still am I suppose, and it has had surprising effects on my life. If I hadn't read the comic, I would likely not have moved to Portland and later Seattle. The comic ended in 2006 when the creator decided to do other things. Most of the fans went off to do something else too.

After a while the domain lapsed and the site went offline.

Somewhat recently there's been a resurgence of interest in the site, including the following:
  • Shaw-Island.com - a fansite at the original url. None of the other fans I keep in touch with know anything about who's doing this.
  • shawisland LiveJournal Community - one of the regulars in the old #shawisland chat room, Gale, has been trawling archive.org's archives for old Shaw Island comics and reposting them here. I've offered my help to him since, as he says, it's a painful experience to click through hundreds of broken links looking for comic images that have been archived.
  • Shaw Island archive on SmackJeeves - It looks like in May of 2009 a fan uploaded the first 58 Shaw Island comics in an effort to share the strip with new fans, then never uploaded anything more.

I started helping Gale by doing what he was doing, clicking through broken links, when I thought "I bet I can script this..."

37 lines of code later I have a script that requests different permutations of the comic naming schemes I found in manual searches of the Shaw Island archives on archive.org. There are probably more elegant ways of doing what I'm doing, but I've taken the simple brute-force method of requesting files through "strip1.gif" through "strip500.gif" and "shaw20010101.jpg" through "shaw20061231.jpg" without trying to restrict it to looking for only those files that match update days (not weekends, not tues/thurs if it was mon/wed/fri updates, etc.) The script builds the file urls, and tries to retrieve them with wget. One of three things happens: either the file is downloaded, the file matches a file that's already been downloaded and so is skipped, or the file is not found (404).

I've managed to get almost 400 files with this script, though there are holes in what archive.org has archived.

Still and all, it's been a fun use of an afternoon, and I'm now slightly better at bash scripting, which can only be a good thing.
As mentioned briefly yesterday, I fell into the Dresden Files enough that I did not break for meals. As it happened, I didn't eat anything yesterday until after 2300, a not-entirely-intentional 26 hour fast.

I don't have any reason for it other than a curiosity. I read something months ago about a guy who regularly fasts, as part of his health regimen, reasoning that our ancestors did not always have ready access to food and that our bodies had mechanisms to cope with that situation, including kick-starting the process by which stored fat is converted to useful energy. With that in the back of my head, and the knowledge that if I felt faint I could re-heat leftovers from Tuesday's dinner, I decided to try it. After I finished Dead Beat I was already at least 16 hours into a fast anyway.

This is not to say I consumed nothing during the day. I did have a cup of coffee in the morning, and a couple cups of tea. And aside from a two hour walk after 2100, I performed no activity that could be considered even remotely strenuous.

This morning while reading blogs, I read this on Boing Boing and as Rob says there, I fell into YouTube and couldn't get back up.

After what seemed like only a couple of videos, I looked up and realized I'd lost over an hour and a half.

One of the videos I came across, and then watched related videos of, is this video on Rolling Rope, jumping rope without the jumping. It looked intriguing, so I dug out the length of rope I used to tie down things in the moving truck and cleared some floor space in the living room.

I even went as far as rolling up a blanket and tying some twine around it to keep it rolled to make my own monster rope, demonstrated in the video linked above.

Over all, I think I liked it. I'll have to make some adjustments to my home-made monster rope, but it worked out well enough. The movements demonstrated in the video are easy enough, and provide a decent cardio workout. Quiet too, which is a plus in apartment living.

While trying out the rolling rope, I finished listening to Double Share, the fourth book in Nathan Lowell's Solar Clipper series. I'll probably give Captain's Share another listen, just to finish out the series in chronological order. When I was downloading books for the drive from Colorado to Washington, I grabbed Captain's Share and listened to it without realizing it was the fifth book in the series. I have found the series highly enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone.
For the better part of yesterday and today, I read the Dresden Files book seven: Dead Beat. Yesterday I stopped long enough to prepare and consume meals. Today I did not.

I rearranged my bed into a pile of pillows and blankets more suited to sitting and reading than sleeping, and was again struck by a non-orthodox meaning for "making my bed" before I could sleep last night.

Book seven was great fun and there were several quotable lines, including "It gets kind of Zen after a while. Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar." and "Polka will never die!"

Also some interesting choices writing-craft wise: very similar phrasings (sometimes identical), chunks of exposition covering the same topic from slightly different angles, etc. If I hadn't read large swaths of the book in one sitting I probably wouldn't have noticed and I wonder if they were intentional choices, or just things that happened in the write/edit/review cycle.

Now I'm staring blankly at the screen and wondering vaguely what to do next. Maybe some a DVD...

I've long been writing, or at least trying to write, descriptive subject lines in my email communications. Working with someone who used email a lot and filtered blank subject lines to the delete bin without reading them forced me to put something in the box if I wanted the rest of the message read.

When I listened to the Get-It-Done Guy podcast, Stever often spoke about writing descriptive subject lines. Rather than an email with a subject like "Tuesday's meeting" he coached that the subject line should include some of the content of the email. If it was an email to set up a time and location for the meeting, it could be "Meeting on Tuesday, 2PM, North-West Conference Room." with the email body expounding on the short phrases in the subject.

A few months ago I was looking for an entry in my LiveJournal, but had difficulty locating it because my subject lines often had nothing to do with the content of the entry. When I started using my DreamWidth account again, I decided to stop doing that and make the subject lines relevant, so I could more easily find things if I wanted to look them up later.

When reading my LJ friends page, I noticed I often skipped past the subject line entirely. So when someone posted an entry that had the beginning of a thought or phrase in the subject and finished it in the first line of the body. Something like this:
I'm stuck in this video game I'm playing ...
If I could just kill the boss my life would be so much easier.
Does anyone have any tips on how I could do it?

After I realized that, I let go of any lingering doubts I had about informative subject lines. I may miss entertaining subject lines at times, but the entertainment is ephemeral, outweighed by the archival benefits.

Weekend disruption

Weekends seem to trip me up more than usual recently.

Went up to Seattle on Friday night for board gaming and booze with Hawk and Todd. I was in Seattle around noon for a meeting with a recruiter. We talked for about 45 min, so I think it went well enough.

The board games were fun, though I went over my limit on the drink. Reminded me of a moment in one of the Trader's Tale books I've been listening to. Ishmael describes a night when he was sixteen and he got plastered with his mother. She made sure he was past "drunk" and well into "sick." In the morning, she left him to clean up his mess around the toilet and said only "Remember." Apparently the lesson stuck for Ish and he hasn't overdone it since.

I got back to Kent sometime after noon on Sunday, laid down for a quick nap, and didn't wake up until Monday morning.

I wonder if I sleep better in Kent because of some psychological reason (being near my stuff, sleeping under familiar blankets, etc.) or because my pile of pillows and blankets is more physically comfortable for sleeping than Hawk's couch.

Another checklist done

I got the letter mailed and ran some errands.

Sent out my resume to a couple of job postings, and called the Volt Gaming number again. Recorded message each time I called.

I got Ian's journal entry written, just now, and I think I'll devote tomorrow to Optinomicon.

And/or planning for an rpg where the players are the crew of an inter planetary trading vessel, probably in the Eclipse Phase setting.

ToDo List - 4-12-2010 Checked Off

Applications sent out for at least three new jobs

That's a good feeling.

I knew laundry was getting done, since I don't have to leave the apartment for put quarters into a machine. But I was distracted from the others by breakfast, and Doctor Who. And a bit in the middle, just before eating breakfast but after watching Doctor Who, when I tripped a breaker and had to shuffle boxes around a bit to get to the breaker box conveniently mounted in my room.

The applications were next, and Dice.com makes it easy to send out my resume for three or four positions in short order.

I also have tabs open in firefox for two other positions that bypass Dice's application process, so they'll get handcrafted cover letters and a resume that's one revision newer than the one I have on Dice.

I used dinner a a carrot to get the writing done for the secret project, which in retrospect may not have been the best idea because it's not half past ten and my dinner options are more limited. I did get a first draft done though, including eight or ten lines of iambic quadrameter: four pairs of syllables with a stressed syllable following an unstressed syllable. I think it'll play well in the final work if it makes it past review. The joys of collaborative projects.

I also wrote a summary of action in the past two sessions for the fourth edition game I'm in Saturday mornings. I used it as a pre-writing exercise to get myself in the writing mindset for the seekrit project. I don't think the summary is as entertaining as some of my previous summaries, but they can't all be great.

Tomorrow I think I'll knock a few items off this list:
Apply for three more IT positions in the Seattle area
Mail a letter
Write another journal entry for Zombie Ian MacKellen
and if I'm feeling ambitious,
Write another two scenes in Optinomicon

ToDo List - 4-12-2010

Things to get done tomorrow:

Find another job
Write what needs to be written for the "seekrit project."

What will likely get done tomorrow:
Applications sent out for at least three new jobs

This weekend was full of socializing and games of all kinds, which means tomorrow is a time to be a hermit and hide from the world until I no longer feel like putting a blanket over my head to avoid life.

I also finished reading book six of the Dresden Files: Blood Rites. Good book, though I'm starting to pine for the Codex Alera books again... In lieu of buying the fifth Alera book, I've started on Dresden book seven: Dead Beat, borrowed from my room mate.
Author: Nathan Lowell
Website: Trader's Diary
Available as a free audio book on Podiobooks.com

My one complaint about this book is not with the text, but with the presentation of the audio. As it was originally serialized, each chapter after the first begins with a "Previously on.." segment, replaying clips from previous episodes. I only complain about this because I listened to one after the other (after the other) and found those segments superfluous.

Quarter Share is the first in a five book series following Ishmael Horatio Wang through the ranks of various merchant trading companies in space. I listened to the fifth book, Captain's Share, on a recent road trip from Colorado to Washington, and only realized later that it was the fifth in a series, so now I've downloaded the other books in the series and am listening to them in order.

The share rating referenced in the titles of the books is the pay-scale used by the fleets. As explained in Quarter Share, the profits from each trade run are split by share rating; the net profit of goods sold is divided by the total shares among the crew to find out how much one share is worth, then each crewman gets his share. It may make more sense in context, but it's also not a large part of the books.

Nathan paints detailed pictures of his characters and it's a joy to get to know them. I was saddened when I started this book and realized I wouldn't meet the characters from Captain's Share again for quite a while, especially Second Mate William "Buccaneer Billy" Pall.

The technology in the Solar Clipper books makes sense, and everything seems like it could be made today, with the exceptions of the handwavey GravKeel and jump-drive. And possibly the solar sails unless I'm mistaken in how I think they work. In the first book, Ish works in the galley and makes friends in the environmental engineering section. As he helps the environmental crew with routine maintenance, we learn about how the air, water and waste are recycled or disposed of aboard ship as they travel between star systems. There's also no mention, that I remember, of how they maintain gravity aboard ship while underway. Likely the same magic as the gravity keel. As Nathan says in the About page on the website:
Please don’t get too hung up on the physics. I know there’s a lot of “then magic happens” in terms of the Solar Clipper’s technology. Humor me. The story isn’t about the string theory behind the gravity keel or the precise application of blue-green algae in the air scrubbers. It’s about the people who spend months at a time sailing between the stars, not on a warship doing heroic battle with enemies foreign and fearsome, but on a freighter just trying to make a living.

The crew of these cargo vessels are allowed to engage in personal trading, buying and selling goods at the flea markets in each system, so long as their stuff weighs within their individual mass allotments and is not hazardous to the crew. With higher share rating comes higher mass allotments, so for people like Ish at Quarter share, they have to pass on some things that might be able to earn large profits because they are heavy. Ishmael talks with his friend Phillip "Pip" Carstairs, who's been trading for a while and had his profits stolen one night in port, about pooling their resources, both money and mass, to be able to make better deals. By the end of the book they have much of the crew together in a trading co-operative and between Pip's trading models and Ish's eye for quality goods, the co-op is starting to turn a decent profit.

I recommend this book for sci-fi fans and people who are interested in space merchants.

I may review each book as I finish it, but most likely I'll put up only one more review that covers the series as a whole.

Seekrit Writing Project

I blame a combination of coffee with dinner and a sudden foregrounding of a seekrit project for the lack of update yesterday.

The (not seekrit project) story goes something like this:
I was in Seattle Monday night for an author event at the University Book Store in the U District, pretty much exclusively because Cory Doctorow was going to be speaking. As it happened, I got to the store just after Cory himself, and passed him in the parking lot.

I got my copy of Little Brother signed, listened to an interesting conversation, and then Hawk and I went to get dinner.

I had coffee with dinner, sometime around 9PM, and lost track of how many cups I drank as the waitress diligently refilled my mug. I had apparently previously cut my caffeine intake enough that this, combined with some Mountain Dew I drank on the drive to Seattle, kept my mind active well after I laid down to sleep on Hawk's couch.

I decided to turn this excess brain energy to something useful, so I pondered on a secret writing project, expecting the project to background itself again and let me sleep.

The Project had other ideas.

At 0145 Tuesday morning, I was awake and typing in to a notepad (after changing the background color to Black and the text color to Terminal Green (#00FF00). I started the document with a timestamp and the following words:
"I know this is going to be bad, but I can't sleep and need to get this written anyway."
Followed by the title of the Project and 900 words of drivel.

The plot of the thing changes gears at least twice before the end, and none of the character names are consistent. It's utter crap, but it's a starting point. Now I have a better idea of where the plot should go and what needs to happen around the plot.

I closed the document and tried to lay down to sleep again.

The Project was not yet done.

One of the characters demanded to have his lines written in iambic pentameter, which brought up snippets of Shakespeare from my memory, and somehow also the character of Puck from the Gargoyles cartoon series, voiced by Brent Spiner (Data, the android on Star Trek: The Next Generation). From the moment I had that idea until I woke up, opened the document and added some lines (around 0430), I heard Puck reading the lines the Project was revising in my head.

I finally managed to get some sleep then, and woke up around 0900, after Hawk had gone to work. I decided I'd drive back to Kent and try to get some more writing done, since I was awake anyway, and the drive would let me think on the Project more.

I was still physically exhausted though, and didn't get much done before falling over for a "nap" at 1400.
I recently started playing the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons here in Seattle and decided to go with a Dwarf Warden as my character. The powers of a Warden looked interesting, and it sounded like the group needed a defense character. I started at 9th level (most of the group was at or near 10th level) and focused my powers on damage reduction, self healing, and hit points. Basically I charge in and keep as many enemies as I can focused on killing me instead of my companions who tend to be more "crunchy" in game jargon - low hit points and/or defense.

I'm now 11th level and chose the Firstborn of Morradin paragon path, as it fit my character idea and play style best of my available choices.

My typical armor class is 25 - decent for an 11th level character, but not as high as it could be; the assassin has a higher AC than me most of the time, though once or twice an encounter I can get my AC up to 33 for one round.

But there are several aspects of my character that cause my Game Master no end of frustration, presented here in no particular order:
  • As a dwarf, I can resist forced movement and I get a saving throw against being knocked prone.
  • As a warden, I can make a saving throw at the beginning of my turn, instead of at the end like other classes. This allows me to avoid taking ongoing damage before it even hits me the first time.
  • As a dwarf, I have an additional bonus to save against poisons.
  • As an 11th level dwarven warden with the Dwarven Resilience feat, I have 106 hit points, 15 healing surges per day that each heal me for 30 hit points. Normally a surge will heal for one quarter of a character's total hit points, but I get just that little bit extra.
  • As a Firstborn of Morradin, I have the Stonebones feat, which gives me a 55% chance to turn a critical hit into a normal hit (if I roll 10 or better on a twenty sided die - basically I get to save versus critical hit)

The short version is, I'm easy to hit, but difficult to kill. Including abilities from magic items I wear, I have five ways to heal myself each day, two of which I can use each encounter. I also have several abilities that give me a damage reduction in an encounter.

Oddly vivid dream

I remembered what I was going to write about yesterday but forgot before reading book six of The Dresden Files until I fell asleep. I'll write about it tomorrow. The thing I forgot, not reading until I fall asleep.

I had an oddly vivid dream last night. I seemed to be at a convention of some kind, in a very large theater room. I sat down in a window before I realized they were going to start showing a movie or something, and was glad I sat facing the right way without planning for it.

Before the show got started, I talked with a few people near me, and the topic of conversation seemed to naturally and logically allow me to begin the story of how I may have broken my toe, but I'm not sure because I never got it examined. It's a long title and it begins at the community college in 2001 or 2002.

In the dream, I told the story in perfect detail, and when it was finished I was speaking to a larger audience, though still in the theater room and still from where I was when I started the story. The same people I was talking to were still there, but now there were more people crowding around to listen in. It's really not a very good story, but apparently they were hanging on my every word and had actually delayed the start of the movie so I could finish. I didn't notice the crowd grow; as I told the story I relived it, which is probably how I was able to tell it with such detail.

Raining, board game review: Tsuro

It's been raining recently. Though I haven't left the apartment until this afternoon, it's been nice.

I'm feeling much better today. Slight headache and stuffed up nose, but at least it's not dripping constantly anymore. My ears feel like they're filled with cotton though.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to play Tsuro: The Game of the Path. It's a lot of fun, and a very simple concept. You have a hand of tiles with twisting paths that line up with the paths on other tiles. When the path your token is on is extended, your token travels to the end of the path. When your token reaches the edge of the board, you are out of the game.

Four of us played one game and it went pretty quickly, and very fun. I managed to last until almost the end of the game, being the third player to reach the edge of the board. Half the fun is tracing the paths and figuring out which of your tiles in which orientation will keep you from the edge of the board.

I'm up in Seattle now, ready for D&D in the morning.
Feeling slightly better today, though my head is still full of goo, and I'm still consuming mass quantities of tea and other hot beverages.

A while back Amie was showing me Repo! The Genetic Opera, but it was on a gaming night and the group started showing up before the movie ended, so I was unable to finish it. I popped it in today and finished watching. Not a bad movie, or musical. Some catchy songs.

I needed something for my hands to do though. When I read a book, my mind is engaged and my hands are holding the book or turning pages. When I'm cooking or doing the dishes, my hands are engaged, but my mind wanders (or sings to itself) unless I'm listening to an audio book or music. When I watch TV or a movie, especially on or near my laptop, I get restless and start browsing the web in another window.

I actually wanted to watch the end of Repo! though, so I sewed a new button on to a shirt that had lost one sometime during or after the move. I won't claim it's professional, but I think it looks good, and most importantly, it works as a button; it holds the shirt closed like it used to.

One of these days I may try to fix the pocket on my jacket that's been ripped since 2004-ish. If anyone still has logs from #shawisland I think I mentioned it in there the night it happened.

I was walking to the store at night. It was December or November, one of the months during which eggnog is plentiful. After having just crossed a street, I jumped up on a brick work retaining wall at the corner. Or rather, I tried to jump up on it. My hands were in my jacket pockets, and when I slipped I tore the jacket on the right side, just behind the pocket. On more than one occasion recently I've put my hand in the hole rather than the pocket, and when I couldn't find my sunglasses after unloading the moving truck, I thought I may have tried to put the glasses in my pocket but missed and didn't see them on the floor of the cab when returning the truck. (Turns out the sunglasses were in a pocket on my suitcase - I probably put them there so they wouldn't get lost.)

I should have taken Warren Ellis' advice and stayed off the internet today, gone outside, taken a walk or something. Can't trust half of what you read on April 1. That and going outside seems like a good idea in general. I haven't left the apartment since I got back Tuesday afternoon.

Still Sick, text editor anecdote

The other day I was talking with Mike online and he said something about nano, one of the more user-friendly command line text editors. He said it confused him, noting that "being so used to something as roundabout as vim makes 'normal' editors pretty weird."

I'm not certain I'm actually sick. Most of my symptoms stem from sinus congestion: headache, sore throat, ears popping when I swallow. Though I seem to have developed a cough in the last few hours.

Today was a media consumption day. I'm now caught up on the series Chuck and the last two episodes of this season's Castle.

I've also had several mugs of hot tea, which feels like it's helped.

Feeling sick, got a job, recruiters

Woke up yesterday with a sore throat, runny nose throughout the day. Woke up today to a sore throat and dripping nose, violent sneezes. Blah.

I drove up to Redmond, WA for orientation at Volt, a recruitment firm contracted by Microsoft to test its games. I now have a job, sort of. I filled out the paperwork, and if I call a number and tell them when I'm available to test they might probably tell me when I should come in and test. On the scale of jobs I've had, I'd say this ranks above working in the help desk call center at an ISP, but just barely. Pays about the same too...

Of all the jobs I've had, only two have come from talking with recruiters: this one and the Internet Help Desk position, the two lowest paying tech jobs I've had. Does this say more about my background and experience, the recruiters' ability to find jobs for me, or my ability to find jobs for myself?

I've spoken with dozens of recruiters from half a dozen firms, some specializing in the tech industry.

I've also had more luck finding jobs through craigslist or my network of friends than dice.com, but I keep searching for jobs there anyway.

I'm going to go curl up in a ball on the floor now. Good night.

Return to regular posting

We'll see how long this lasts this time.

This weekend internet service was restored to the apartment I nominally live in. This may take some explaining. When I moved to Washington state at the beginning of the month, I moved in to the spare room in my friend Amie's apartment in Kent, WA, ~30 min South of Seattle. For reasons I have not asked about, she did not have internet at the time. She was not terribly inconvenienced as she has an Android smart phone and internet access at work. Much of my time, meanwhile, has been spent at my friend Jon's apartment in Seattle, crashing on his couch and connecting to his internet access while searching for jobs online.

I say I nominally live here in Kent because, while my stuff is here, I have spent much of my time in Seattle. And almost since I moved here, there has been talk and light scheming of a number of my friends here all moving in to a house and splitting the rent. Suffice it to say, I have not unpacked except for those things I use often.

So! Now that I have internet access in the same room with my stuff, I will likely be posting more regularly.

I heard back from a recruiter today, and am set up to go to an orientation at his company tomorrow afternoon in Redmond. After orientation, as I understand it, I'll be put in a pool of people available to test video games, for $8.55/hr. While not ideal, it's better than nothing.

In the mean while, I have several writing projects to work on, and my friend Pat in Chicago is running a Perl Golf game. He'll give the players a short programming assignment and who ever can do it in the least lines of Perl wins. After several rounds he'll award the winner two 2 liter bottles of homemade root beer. Second place gets one bottle.

Getting my mind in to a programming mindset has brought up a perennial back-burner project for me: a DVD library cataloging application. More than likely someone has already done something close to what I want, but not exactly all the features I want. I could also work on a similar application to catalog and organize all the characters in the worlds of Alternia Comics, especially pertinent because Alarin was asking me today to help him figure out a couple of villains to use in a story he's writing.

March Summary

Another month, another blog entry.

Let's start with the exciting and recent: I was in a slight auto accident Sunday night (0030 Monday, technically). No injuries, minimal damage to my vehicle, no other vehicles involved.

I dropped my friend Jon (also called Hawk, or duaiwe) off at his apartment and was backing out of the lot to go home. Normally I would have turned around and gone out forward, but another vehicle was parked such that turning around would have been awkward and likely done by inching forward and back while rotating the wheels slightly each time. The building is on a hill with a reasonably sharp grade, and the driveway has an embankment off to one side. I thought I was aligned with the drive way but, as it turned out, only the passenger side was set to go down the incline of the driveway to the street. The driver side went off the embankment and left the rear wheel on the driver's side at least a foot off the ground. Rear-wheel drive meant that I now had one drive wheel in contact with the ground.

After assessing the situation and realizing my best plan (construct a makeshift ramp and try to drive forward on to the pavement) was not likely to work and may cause more damage to the undercarriage, I did the sensible thing and called a towing company.

An hour and $72 later, my car was back on level ground and I was more careful backing out of the lot. The driver used the towing arm to lift the back end of my car up, then reversed his truck to push my car forward into the lot. It looked like the most trouble he had was simply getting the truck's front wheels up the curb while reversing.

In the light of day I inspected the undercarriage and found some scuffing on the frame and a small dent, but nothing worrying. The tow truck driver mentioned something about the emergency brake line when he looked under my car while it was suspended. From what I could see, the emergency brake line running along the driver's side of the frame is a steel cable, and looked fine in the morning.

Aside from that, things are pretty quiet around here. I had forgotten how much more my Seattle friends drink compared to my Denver friends. I don't think I was too far off when I told my friends out here, after having been here a week, that I'd had more alcohol in the last week than I had the previous two years in Colorado. Which is not to say I didn't drink in CO, just not nearly so much.

I have spent much of my time searching for tech jobs and will start looking in the retail world again at the end of the month, if I do not at least have an interview by the end of March.

While I'm in Kent, where my friend offered her spare room for my stuff, I have no internet access, so my time is largely spent reading or writing. At the moment I'm in Seattle, crashing on Hawk's couch and borrowing his internet access. The apartment in Kent should have internet by the end of the month.

I've heard Colorado has been hit by snow storms since I left, while Seattle has been largely sunny with occasional, light showers. It was, of course, raining Monday morning while my car was "uneven," though it had mostly cleared up by the time the tow truck arrived.

The room I have in Kent is the smaller of the two bedrooms in the apartment, and my bed remains disassembled, stacked along one wall, for two reasons: First, if I were to put it together, the bed would dominate the room and leave little floor space for book shelves, computer desk, clothing rack, etc. Second, the apartment building is a block from a railroad line, and when the trains go by the building shakes and rumbles slightly, leading me to conclude that a bed made of 2-3000 pounds of water is not a good idea at this time. So I sleep on the floor, on a pile of pillows and blankets. It's surprisingly comfortable. Much of my material possessions are still in boxes around the room.


The Semi-Mad Network Admin

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