Monthly Archives: July 2014

Something About A Wagon?

I’ve started playing Minecraft again.

I’ll do this occasionally, take a break from a game before coming back to it. Generally, the games I do this with are the really involved ones; Civilization, SimCity, Minecraft, etc. Games that don’t really have a set end point, or victory condition. Games that, while interesting, can get boring after a while. Games that are still fun.

One of the reasons I moved away from Minecraft last time is because I got spoiled by my minimap mod, which at the time was not available for the newly-updated version of Minecraft (the joys of modding, I guess). I tend to enjoy a fairly vanilla (read: un-modded) experience, but I also really like to explore and still know where I am. And now that enough time has passed (and yet another big update is on the horizon), the mods have been updated, and I can go back to the comfortable embrace of knowing how far away my fresh corpse, heavily laden with mining loot, is from my respawn point.

I’ve also been talking with my friends about getting a multiplayer server going again. We had one that was hosted by another friend, but that’s been dormant long enough that I’m pretty sure it’s gone offline. Plus, we never really played cooperatively on it anyway; it was more of a “massively single player” experience, where people traveled far away from the spawn point to set up their own enclaves.

Multiplayer Minecraft seems like it has the potential to be a fun experience. I’ve seen a bunch of cool stuff that people have done together, and I kinda want a taste of that. Plus, I’d like to try and bring my girlfriend into the fold. What’s not to love about virtual LEGO? But for right now, I’m content to revisit some of my existing worlds, chipping away at layer after layer of stone and dirt.

Besides, I already found a new job, so it’s not like I need to feel guilty about not working on that, right? I’m not wasting my days playing Minecraft, I’m avoiding freaking out about change! Yeah, that’s it…

It’s Getting Real

Speaking of panicking about the new job…

The closer I get to starting my new job, the more I’m forced to realize holy cow, this is actually happening. Case in point: They want to fly me out to the home office my first week, and I just got my finalized travel plans. For some reason, having a plane ticket and hotel reservation has suddenly made this A THING.

I don’t know that I’ve ever actually traveled for business. The closest I’ve come was probably driving the company van to an off-campus site when I was an A/V technician. I just haven’t had a job that would have required it before.

Sure, I’ve traveled a lot in the past, both with my family and on my own. I’ve even traveled for school, to say nothing of my study abroad. But work travel is going to be a new experience for me. The fact that my new employer is flying me out, on their dime, to meet my coworkers and do do some training, is hopefully a good sign.

All that being said, of course, having firm travel plans has definitely made the new job thing real in a way it wasn’t before. It’s as if I needed outside proof that I wasn’t just daydreaming, that I actually was finally getting out of retail and using my degree. After all, I’ve gotten to be pretty accomplished at self-delusion; who knows, maybe I was finally having a psychotic break from reality? But no, my situation is actually improving. I’m moving forward, and in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without my degree.

Sure, in an attempt to stay grounded I must admit that this new job may be as dull and mind-numbing as a day standing on the retail floor waiting for customers. It may be as stressful as finals week in grad school. But at least it’s something I chose to do, rather than something that was convenient at the time (read: every other job I’ve had).

Now if I could just figure out what to wear while visiting the home office, I’d be set.

Short Timer

You know, for as much as I’ve complained about working at my current/soon-to-be-former job, the idea of leaving is still somewhat bittersweet. It is, after all, a known quantity. Annoying, sure. Stressful, definitely. But known, and therefore comfortable. Like a pair of shoes well past their prime. Sure, they may make your feet and back ache, and the soles may be wearing through in places, but they still feel so right on your feet (I own that pair of shoes, by the way; they’re the hiking boots I used while living in France).

But whenever I start to lament the change too much, something inevitably reminds me of why I need to get out.

One big thing I’ve noticed is that my tolerance for “Stoopid” has decreased dramatically. What do I mean by Stoopid? Well, it’s kind of a catch-all term for those little annoyances and grievances that you tend to overlook as a means of preserving your sanity. This can be anything, from slightly overzealous demands by managers to answering the same inane questions over and over for different customers.

It’s the sort of thing I ignored until very recently, as to do otherwise would have had me even more stressed out than having to get up at four in the morning to do physical labor already leaves me. But now that the end is in sight, I’m finding it harder and harder to avoid the Stoopid. Every little thing is like nails on a chalkboard. No, that’s not quite right; every little thing is one more drop on the forehead, driving me inexorably to the breaking point.

And you know what the funny thing is? I knew this was going to happen, at least intellectually. I knew that now that I didn’t have to put up with these things, I wouldn’t want to. And yet, knowing that doesn’t change the growing annoyance. I suppose all I can do is just soldier on, knowing that the end is just around the corner.

The Stupid, It Burns by Plognark

And yet…

But hey, at least it keeps me from panicking about the new job!

One Year Later, Part II

As I touched on briefly last Friday, it has been about one year since I started blogging here. And now that I have more time (and successfully avoided channeling my inner lobster at the water park), I’d like to take some time and reflect.

When I started this blog, I was in a bad place. I was depressed, I was fed up with my retail job, and I needed an outlet. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing for years, but nothing really ever came of it. Sure, I’d done some creative writing in college. I even tried making a tabletop RPG setting based on one of my story ideas. But nothing really ever came of my endeavors. I’d write “someday,” I kept telling myself. And as many of us know, “someday” has a way of never coming.

So for whatever reason, I decided to finally do something. It was easy enough, since I already had a web server for my design portfolio; all I had to do was set up a subdomain and a separate WordPress installation. Before I knew it, I had a blog!

I’ll admit, it took me a few days to work up the courage to tell people about it. I spent about a week posting things on my own before I announced my efforts to the world (or at least my friends and family on Facebook). Anyone who has worked up the courage to show their work (creative or otherwise) to others knows how terrifying this can be. And this blog was no exception.

I didn’t really have much of a goal when I started. Sure, I wanted to have a platform to share the profound thoughts that raced through my head. Those early days were quite heady, filled with infinite possibilities. But really, my only goal from the start was simple: write regularly.

It hasn’t always been easy. There have been days (far too many, for my liking) where I had no idea what to say, whether because of fatigue or just laziness I found myself not wanting to write. And yet, I still wrote on most of those days, even if it was just a note to say “I’m not writing today.”

And I guess that’s the most important thing for me: following through. I have a ton of projects that I’ve started and then let fall by the wayside for whatever reason. Writing. Music. Sketching. Programming. Learning. They accumulate in my subconscious, like dust bunnies hiding razor shards of broken glass, waiting to ensnare the questing hand. I was worried that blogging would just end up one more thing for me to feel guilty about.

And yet here I am, 278 posts later, still going strong. The job that drove me to despair is about to be a thing of the past, and I’m finally going to be able to use my degree. For the first time, I can see the welcoming specter of a career on the horizon. Things are looking up. And while I’m sure there will inevitably be changes (what will I summon the Drama Llama for when I’m actually happy?), I hope to be able to continue blogging.

Here’s to the future.

One Year Later

This is going to be a short post today, since I’ll be at the water park with a bunch of my friends. But today marks the one year anniversary of me starting this blog.

I’ll probably do something more introspective and long-winded on Monday. But so far, it looks like I’ve written about 130,000 words, which is about the same as The Silmarillion. That’s… pretty impressive. Sure, not everything I wrote was worth reading, but I think that my original goal of writing (mostly) every day has been (mostly) a success.

Here’s to another year!

Two Weeks

I’m sure most of you saw my big announcement yesterday (TLDR: I found a new job in my degree field). I’m still excited, except now the reality of the situation has started to sink in. And I’ve realized that in order to start my new job, I need to quit my old one. Which means giving two weeks notice.

And we fear change.

Now, I have an overactive imagination. Which means I’ve spent the last day or so thinking of ways that giving my notice could go horribly wrong. No, that’s not quite right. I’ve spent the past year or so fantasizing about giving my two weeks notice, but now that I actually have to, I’m getting nervous.

See, I’ve never actually had to give notice at a job. I left my first big job out of college by taking a voluntary severance package. My grad school job was a student worker position, and thus I left when I was no longer a student. But this job, my current retail servitude, hasn’t given me an easy out.

What am I worried about? Well, I might be fired on the spot (unlikely, I know). My boss might get pissed off and make my last two weeks a living hell. Or I might just be mildly uncomfortable as I hand in my resignation letter to my boss under their disappointing gaze. Or it might be a complete non-issue, the trading of one basic retail grunt for another. The situation is made even more awkward (for me) because my boss mentioned that they’re about to get started on my annual performance review. Irony!

And remember what I said about fearing change? Well, now that I’m leaving, I find that a part of me paradoxically wants to stay. Sure, I may hate my job. It’s made me work at ungodly hours and during times when I’ve told them I’m unavailable. But it’s comfortable, a known quantity. I know how to do the work; what if I fail miserably at being a drafter? Again, I know these thoughts aren’t completely rational, and it does help to know that apparently I’m not alone in feeling this way.

What am I going to do about this? Well, I’m going to go into work a bit early today, and see if I can have a chat with my manager before my shift starts. I’m trying not to think too much about it, since I’ll probably just succeed in freaking myself out more. But I’ve got a short, sweet resignation letter. I plan to be the consummate professional; when asked why I’m leaving, I’ll let them know that I’ve found a job in my degree field. I won’t even mention the schedule chicanery.

If I get an exit interview, then all bets are off.


I know, I know, I didn’t write a post yesterday. I had a lot to take care of, and by the time I got around to writing, there wasn’t enough time or mental energy left to do so. But I’m not too worried about it, because I missed the post for a very good reason.


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Decisions, Decisions…

As many of you know, I’ve recently restarted my job search. I’m sick and tired of working retail, what with the ungodly hours and scheduling chicanery (apparently other people’s “use it or lose it” vacation is more important than my availability). The search has been going well so far, but I’ve been reluctant to talk about it with others. Mostly because of how these things have gone in the past: I mention I have an interview, then have to spend the following weeks explaining to people that I didn’t get the job, picking the fresh wound ever so slightly more open.

But now I’m at a point where I have to make a decision. And I hate decisions. I had an interview last week, and it seemed to go really well. So well, in fact, that they followed up this week with some more details, and it sounds like it’s moving forward. No concrete offer yet, but one can hope. And I have a good feeling about this.

The problem is, it sounds like the offered salary hourly rate is going to be not much more than I’m making right now, working retail. The job would largely be drafting, but with the potential to take on other responsibilities down the line, like site surveys or even project management. So no matter what, I’d be getting experience relevant to my field. And the hours would almost certainly be better. It’s not a dream job, I’ll admit. But it’s closer than anything I’ve come across yet, and I’m not sure I can let this opportunity pass me by. I’d just like to move up slightly when I move on from my current job, you know?

Like I said, there hasn’t been a firm offer yet. Maybe I can negotiate a bit; I just don’t want to end up under-compensated down the line. And one can’t forget to account for intangibles, like a regular schedule and experience in my field. I don’t know. I still think taking the job would be a good idea, but I don’t know how much of that is actual rational thought and how much is just hopeful desperation at the possibility of getting out of Retail Heck.

Thoughts, oh dear friends of mine?

So Much To Read

One thing that’s struck me as I’ve been going through my ebook collection is just how interesting some of these books sound.

Now, that may come as something of a surprise. After all, why would someone spend money on something they’re not interested in? Aren’t there better things to do with one’s hard-earned cash? And I would answer that yes, it’s silly to spend money on something you don’t want.

But bundles seem to have an interesting effect on me. Often, there’s at least one or two items that really pique my interest; all the others are just gravy. So I’ve ended up with a bunch of books (and games) that I probably wouldn’t have bought on my own. It’s a great way to discover new things.

But I digress. The second thought I had, after “Man, these books sound really interesting” was “Man, how am I going to find time to read them all?”

And therein lies the rub.

I used to read a lot. A lot a lot. So much so, that my parents used to make sure I didn’t sneak a book along with me when they finally made me go outside. But over the years, other pastimes have started vying for my limited attention. Video games. The Internet. Netflix. The SCA. Work. Grad school. I still read, of course. But the nature of things I read has changed. I read a lot of articles online, on a wide variety of sources. But that too, cuts into my fiction time. Suddenly I have a bunch of things I could be doing, and even less time to do it. And that’s kind of sad.

I obviously don’t know what to do about this situation; it’s just made me feel particularly nostalgic for the time I could voraciously consume one book after another. I suppose I could make an effort to work my way through my collection, both physical and electronic, but making it feel like an obligation would kind of defeat the purpose. Maybe this feeling will pass, maybe sooner rather than later. Either way, I’m going to keep my tablet loaded up with books for whenever the mood strikes me.

Oh, and one final note to self: your thoughts here may still be relevant.

Brain Empty, Library Full

I’m sure I had something profound to write today, but I’ve just spent most of the afternoon collating metadata for my ebook collection, so my brain is pretty fried. You know what that means, right? Time for another random, stream-of-consciousness post! Yay?

This isn’t the first time this has happened, of course, nor will it be the last. But I decided that, I needed a bit more information for my collection. Through various bundles and other sources, it has ballooned to just over 270 ebooks and digital graphic novels. And while I’d like to read a good portion of those (about 70 so far!), it can be hard to decide what to read next based on nothing but the title and cover image. Oh, and some subjective content tags I’ve already added.

So I decided to do some digging and look for summary blurbs. You know, the kind you’d find on the back cover or inside the dust jacket. And I did find a lot of them, even if it involved monotonous copy-pasting from Amazon and other websites. There’s more to do, of course, but I’m getting a headache and my brain is definitely starting to puddle around my ears.

I’m not sure why I do this. I’m not sure why from time to time I get the urge to do something as mindless as collate data or rearrange my document folder structure. These things tend to snowball, it seems. For instance: I opened up Calibre with the intent of adding some new ebooks from the recent Humble Bundle. I did my usual importing, along with preliminary tags and title/author cleanup. Then, I realized that hey, the Humble Bundle people put up a blurb about each book; why don’t I put that in my collection as well? But then I realized that not many of the other books in my collection had that data. No worries, I said to myself. I’ll just add it too! And the next thing I know it’s two hours later, I have a blog post to write, and I’ve used up all of my mental acumen.

So there you have it. Another exiting day of boring activities, but described in enough words that it makes me feel like I still got something accomplished.