Archive for the ‘Daylog’ Category

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July 29th Was a Big Day

July 29, 2008

Big day for me, generally speaking. Just wanted to make sure I remember.

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Back Home

July 21, 2008

I spent the entirety of last week in Los Angeles, helping out at Massively for E3. E3, if you’re not familiar with it, used to be the premiere videogames industry event. Held every year at the LA Convention Center, it was an over-the-top show full of new games, huge televisions, and scantily clad women. It’s now a purely media-and-business focused show, with a focus on giving the attendees a chance to focus on the games (instead of the spectacle). This is, in theory, a good thing. A problem has arisen, though, as developers and publishers begin to hold their own events throughout the year. Other industry events like the Penny Arcade Expo, Comic-Con, and even Gen Con have taken up some of the slack. You can see some excellent analysis of last week’s announcements in the Bonus Round posted this past weekend.

As for me, I essentially spent every waking moment trying to get stuff on the site with the exception of Friday. Friday early morning found me at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles having some really delicious foods. If you ever have the chance to consume their “chicken”, which is really unicorn meat, do so. With gravy. Friday morning I saw the Dark Knight with my co-bloggers, which I greatly enjoyed. It’s a fantastic movie, really stretches the bounds of what you think of when you consider a super-hero movie.

As per the norm when I get back from covering an event, I’ve got a ton of stuff to get done today. Thankfully, it’s pretty much just today – I’ve kept on top of my material pretty well. Hooray! So when I get through the content early this week I should have a schedule clear enough to tackle the other projects I’ve got to get done for the end of the week. Good times.

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Lamentations

July 7, 2008

So, it’s been a rough two weeks or so. More calls to the law officers on the home front, as well as doctor visits and etc etc. Not worth sharing, really. Yesterday was a particularly bad slice of hell, as I managed to let some kind of bug or toxin into my system. Shared a veggie pizza with Elijah on Saturday that I think was the carrier, but he didn’t get sick. Maybe it’s all his clean living? Either way, Sunday is mostly a blur of pain, sweating, and nausea. I’m feeling quite a bit better today, but took it kind of easy this morning just the same. Tried to get up at the usual time and found looking at a monitor had me breaking out into a cold sweat. A few more hours sleep and I was able to get back on the job.

This week is going to be primarily spent readying for E3 next week. It’s traditionally been the biggest event in videogaming, where publishers roll out all the information on upcoming games to get players tempted for the fall releases. The last few years have seen it decreasing in value, to press and gamer alike. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, to be honest. Going to be a lot of work for I’m-not-sure-how-much in return.

I’m looking at it as an opporunity. It’s going to be a big challenge, operating in one of my least-favorite cities and dealing with an event I fundamentally don’t care about. I’m still going to have to produce, and produce well – “real” work as opposed to the day-to-day focused activities I find myself doing at Massively.

Next month is Gen Con and the month after that is AGDC – both of which I have a lot of appreciation for. GenCon in specific is pretty much my only annual vacation, and this year’s going to be a ‘big deal’. The new edition of Dungeons and Dragons will weigh heavily on the event, and I’m going to be spending some time with the associates at Gamers with Jobs. New and old meeting in a delicious blend of taste sensations.

I also want to note (not that anyone probably recalls) that I’m still very much on-track with my diet. I’ve got an entire month of notes down in my spreadsheet now, with July ticking nicely along … not that yesterday had much in the way of food to note. Since the beginning of the year I’ve lost about 30 pounds, though much of that was the result of exercise and not dieting. Now with my dieting pretty well in place I’m going to try to add exercise back into the equation (after E3, I’m thinking). This combination of diet and exercise is the lifestyle alignment I just couldn’t get right last year – I think it’ll be really important for me.

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Clotheshorse

June 19, 2008

If you’ve ever met me in person, you’re probably already aware that I’m not really hung up on style. To be honest, on a day to day basis I care more about how my avatar looks than I do about what I’m wearing. Oh EQ2’s appearance armor system – if only you were in every game.

Fundamentally, that lack of interest in my physical appearance is a symptom of my general priorities in life. Some people are very grounded in the physical, the emotional, the present and the realized. I’m very much one of those castle-in-the-air idea guys, more interested in the intellectual, the educational, the future and the possible. Generally so is Katie, which is probably why we have to take on mammoth cleaning projects sometimes (heh).

That’s the causative factor for my generally informal appearance, but it expresses itself in a number of other ways both positive and negative. I think I’m a decent writer, for example, and I’m not a bad guy to have around when you’re doing crossword puzzles. I’m also fat. Out of shape, obese, overweight, whatever you’d like to call it, my general disinterest in my physical existence has meant that food was never something to consider, really. As such, I’ve got some pretty screwed up eating habits – the result is visible even at a glance; I’m not a tiny guy.

That said, I think I’ve always ‘carried my weight well’, which is an odd saying. I’m not one of those dudes that you sort of shift your eyes away from when he rolls into a room; I’m just fat. I’ve always needed to lose some weight, for as long as I remember, and out through college that gap between ‘need to lose’ and ‘really should lose’ got bigger. This period culminated during my time working at Douglas Stewart, when literally the only time I felt like I could get some degree of control over my lot in life when I was going through a drive through. That was an expensive and extremely unhealthy way of looking at life, and I think I’m still paying it off.
I’ve been in a healthier place for a long time now, but I’ve only off-and-on approached the subject of my health with any seriousness. I’m happy to say that one of those time is now, and I have hopes that this time, unlike all the other times, I’m really going to get into some positive habits that will stand in good stead.

My friend Alan and my mother-in-law Libby are kinda-sorta inspirational here, having gone through their own weight-related challenges in the last few years. I’m taking a page from their book and tackling this subject in a way that makes me comfortable. In this case, it’s actually very similar to what Alan used: calorie counting. He called it ‘Weight Watchers’, and I’m using an online document called ‘The Hacker’s Diet’. No Mountain Dew involved, I can assure you.

Basically, it’s Weight Watchers done with some math, a few spreadsheets, and a bit of planning. I used it very successfully for two months early last year before going through a rough patch and losing my way. This time around I’m seeing similar successes, but feel a lot more involved in process generally. I think (overall) I’ve made a lot of good choices about my life in the last year, and I want to be an important part of the ongoing bug fixing I do on my existence.

Here’s hoping I get the routine running correctly this time. If I do, maybe I’ll have a few more options in the clothing department.

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Defragging Reality

June 18, 2008

Sometimes your life gets too cluttered. If it’s anything like mine, way too cluttered. Old receipts, bills, clothes, books, software, manuals, movies, videogames, dishes, silverware, pots, pans, tchotchkes, comics, bags, chairs, tables, desks, personal electronics, toys, stuffed animals … the amount of stuff in my little tiny apartment is staggering.

So I’m doing away with some of it, simplifying, in an effort to streamline my existence. The easiest thing to do is donate some old clothes. I’ve had t-shirts from my high school days sitting in the back of our closet for years now. Old shoes … I even found an old pajama t-shirt I thought I’d worn into oblivion. It’s interesting and insightful to go through your old things and defrag a bit.

My next project is going to be my books. With my new Kindle in the house, all the dead tree I own is just a liability. Even my gaming books, traditionally objects I’ve viewed with an unhealthy reverence, are going to go under the chopping block this time. Old editions of main books, sourcebooks aplenty, cheap fantasy novels — stuff I’m never going to read again. It’s all going out via the ministrations of Amazon or Frugal Muse (our favorite used book store).

The current project (before I get to the books) is to finish the clothes. See, I’m all set, but Katie … not so much. I quite literally had to explode our bedroom in order to get a full look at the situation – and it’s not pretty. I’m surrounded by her shoes, dresses, and such, and we’re going to have to go through all of it before we get our living room OR our closet back.

I’m going to cop to this: it was kind of a dick thing, forcing the issue. But sometimes the clutter gets too bad, and you’ve got to do a forced defragging. This was one of those times, and I think our movement around the apartment (and through life in general) will be improved by it.

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Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

June 11, 2008

It’s been kind of a long week. Tuesday was … bad. Extremely bad. So bad it wrecked our evening and made Wednesday pretty much a wash.

Almost since we moved in here we’ve had trouble with the people who live upstairs. It would be generous to say that cotton batting separates the two floors, and so almost every movement they make (subtle or not) is translated into punishing sound waves. With Katie’s headache, it’s been rough. We’ve worked with the office, we’ve tried to get them to understand the problem, and nothing has worked.

To some extent, it’s just something you have to deal with when it comes to apartment living. Hearing unappetizing sounds like toilet flushes, catching strains of incomprehensible music, even enduring co-ed gymnastic events … well, I lived in a dorm for four years. It’s not much different. However, there are differences between this and dorm living. For example, it costs a lot of freaking money to live here. I pay insurance, utilities, etc, etc … and so I expect a few things out of apartment living that I didn’t from dorm living.

First and foremost is the ability to not be threatened by bullying idiots. That’s been a problem with these people, on more than one occasion. Second: I expect not to be lied to, to be treated like the adult I’m pretending to be. Third: Real-world rules apply. This is the big-time now, no more schooling, no more books.

That last bit has been a sticking point over the last two weeks. I ended up calling the cops on them *last* Tuesday because of a domestic disturbance. Think those ‘The More You Know’ ads about not ignoring warning signs and you’ll have some idea of what I experienced.

This Tuesday, to make it a fun anniversary of the last time around, they started smoking pot. A lot of pot. “Now Michael”, I know you’re saying, “don’t be a fricking prude. It’s their place and they can do what they want.” I completely agree. I couldn’t care less what they do in the privacy of their own apartment. The problem is twofold, though. 1.) When they’re stoned they bang around, a lot. Like, knocking safes onto the floor banging. 2.) More seriously, because this complex was designed by geniuses, their pot smoke filters down through the vents into our apartment. Specifically into our bathrooms. My assumption is that they turn on their ventilation systems and it sucks their pot-shitty air down through our vents.

Normally the doors to our bathrooms are left standing open, but this past Tuesday a stray gust of air had blown it shut. Fast forward to later that night, as the idiots upstairs are deep into ganja territory, and you have a recipe for hilarity. Opening the door almost made me throw up. It certainly made me sick to my stomach. So I did what I had to do, what they’d forced me to do by being so unbelievably stupid. I called the cops again.

I don’t like doing it, I don’t enjoy doing it. In fact, I hate doing it. I’m no ‘narc’. As long as you’re not hurting me and mine you can do whatever the hell you want. But, you damn hippies, was over the line. You hear me, you bleeding hippies?

In any case, they’re out on their asses at the end of next month. The complex isn’t going to renew their lease and they were heading off to ‘greener’ pastures anyway. Just a month and half of their nonsense to put up with.

Here’s hoping it goes by quickly.

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Scribere ergo sum

June 5, 2008

I won’t bore you with the particulars of the many thousands of words I’ve been writing this week, but suffice it to say that it’s some deeply nerdy shit. Nth level geekery, of the stuff five years ago I never would have even dreamed being paid to write. Today, not only am I getting paid to write it, it’s my primary means of maintaining my lifestyle; I haven’t gotten my first paycheck from a full month of freelancing, but I expect it to be ‘not bad’. “Enough”, rather.

Certainly with this week’s efforts I’m working to make my second paycheck even more adequate. And it’s all because I am now allowed to string words together into (semi) coherent sentences about a subject I feel passionate about. I’m a blogger, yes. I’m a games journalist, maybe. But mostly I’m a writer. The only time in my life I was ever stupid enough to think I could be a writer professionally was at the tail end of my freshman year in college. It lasted all of … maybe four months? And yet here I am.

One of the clearest memories I have from my first Gen Con is sitting in a corner of the Wizards of the Coast castle listening to Ed Greenwood tell stories. Ed’s gotten a lot of flack over the years, but I respect the hell out of him for sheer number of words he’s put out there. To say nothing of the Realms themselves; as strange and pulled-at as they’ve gotten over the years, he’s made a life’s work out of his home campaign. That’s freaking amazing.

Ed’s telling stories, and he gets asked a lot of questions over the course of the hour or so I have between play sessions. It’s free to sit there and listen to him, and he’s expounding on the Realms, stuff he ran back in the day … many things. Someone asks him, kind of jokingly, “Hey, so how do you become a writer? It seems like a sweet gig.” He laughs, and says the one of the few ‘life lessons’ that has remained burned in my brain all these years. His response was something like:

“It’s actually really hard. Being a writer isn’t a choice. If you have to write, if it’s what you have to do, every day … if what you do is write, then you’re a writer. Writing is an action, not a job or a state of mind or a profession. It’s an act. And if you do it, you’re a writer. And nobody can tell you any different.”

I think I’m pushing something like 30,000 words for this week. It’s utilitarian, it’s incredibly boring to vast swaths of humanity, and is impenetrable jargon to most of my friends and family. But … it’s writing. I’m a writer.

Utterly weird, and completely wonderful. Thanks, reality.