Gameboys…of Tomorrow!!!

I’ve been getting the urge to do some portable gaming again. I think because I’m spending more time not at home, but in places where I would still want to kill some time. (Like right now, as I wait for traffic to clear up.) I have a Nintendo 3DS, and even a Switch, but that hasn’t stopped me from developing a bit of a wandering eye, in large part because I don’t want to have to re-buy games I might own for another system on the Switch (or 3DS) just to fiddle with them for a little bit here and there.

So I figure it’d be nice to either a) figure out a portable solution for playing PC games or emulators, so I can play through my old back catalogue of PC games or at least not have to re-buy the games I own for older consoles, or b) go for something completely different that’ll be its own unique experience. Will any of this happen? Probably not! But with some help from Mastodon, I’ve learned or been reminded of these three systems, and all of them look like they could be very fun, and fill that gameboy-shaped hole in my heart. Continue reading

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Office Jobs Are Weird

Neo from the Matrix, in an ill-fitting suit, looking at a monitor in his work cubicle.

Source: this essay, which looks hella interesting!

Having an office job is weird. And I’m only like a week and a half in!

“But Ian, haven’t you worked in an office before?”

Not really. If you go over my extensive (and vaguely entertaining) employment history, none of my previous jobs qualify. Dance teacher, sandwich maker, dishwasher, and construction laborer are all pretty obvious. When I worked as a server technician person, I did get pretty office-y a couple times. Once when training in San Francisco (a trip that is up there moderately high on my ‘weirdly depressing trips’ list). The second time when I ended up working out of a coworking space for the last stretch of it, providing developer tools support. But co-working spaces are somewhat their own beast, in that everyone’s working for completely different employers/contractors/etc.

But now I’m in an office, with everyone working for the same company, and I’m going to be here for a while. Observations so far:

  • I’m currently staying late and sitting in a, uh, sitting area. With seats! Trying to see how leaving an hour later affects traffic. Having to commute on an actual (roughly) 9-5 schedule and hit rush hour is WEIRD.
  • This place has lots of tech-company-esque perks. What you think of when you think of working at, like, Google. Ping pong, popcorn machine, fancy coffee machine, there’s a fucking hoverboard in the corner. And I’m sitting here being like “but what if not these, and instead paid more?” Especially because no one really seems to use them (drink/coffee machines excepted).
  • There’s an automated mini-mart thing in the main kitchens, where you can buy snacks. These are provided a third party and have cameras pointed everywhere so you can’t, ah, “borrow” anything. But more importantly it just keeps making me think “ew, company store.” Even if the pringles I bought to supplement my too-small lunch were decent.
  • Corporate pride makes me want to barf. Even if the people expressing it are nice. Continue reading
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Raining

It’s raining hard out here tonight, so I recorded some awkward laptop mic audio of it to share. It’s mostly just rain hitting the leaves of the trees outside.

I hope everyone’s having a good night out there. <3

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10 Seattle Biking Impressions

A quick list of 10 impressions/lessons/moments from bike commuting in Seattle for the last couple days:

  • The current state of the Burke-Gilman trail is a bad joke at the waterfront area (think the aquarium, ferris wheel, etc). With the viaduct being demolished, you instead get to either just bike in the street or share the waterfront walkway with the crowds, none of whom seem to expect bikes to exist. Or the any of the rest of the world. This isn’t a problem in the mornings, when no one’s really out yet, but at night when there’s tons of traffic and pedestrians? WHEE. Oh, and once you get past the waterfront it’s just an awkward bike lane jammed on the side of a road and going alongside the WA-99 highway.
  • At any given location, the International District smells either AMAZING or like diesel fumes.
  • Long hills are the devil. Seattle has a lot of long hills.
  • My work building has a bike storage room! I learned of this from a brusque note left on my bike telling me it was improperly parked when I left it locked to a tree. But at least they told me? I just wish, you know, my new employer had mentioned it alongside the parking details so I didn’t have to find out from building management. :\
  • Anyone who romanticizes the smell of the ocean hasn’t biked past the cruise terminal area near Magnolia. Phew.
  • People passing me on the left on their fast-ass bikes, especially when they startle me, makes me want to kick them, because I’m a petty jerk.
An image of Robin from the arcade game Motor Raid hitting another person off their motorcycle with her energy staff thing.

Basically like this. Source.

  • Georgetown is a far less terrifying place to bike than it has any right to be.
  • Overall the drivers in Seattle are pleasantly non-assholes about me needing to take a lane because the availability of bike lanes is highly sporadic, at best.
  • Whoever does the bike trail signage both for Burke-Gilman and in general was, I think, a big fan of seeing if people could reach a logical conclusion given minimal and vague instructions. Or a cruel sociopath. Or both.
  • Construction continues to just tell everyone on the road to go fuck themselves. Who needs more than one lane open in each direction? Or the parking lane to exist? Or roads to be open?

BONUS 11th entry!:

  • There are BUNNIES in the park in the morning! And lo, they are good and cute and soft-looking.
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Biking, Working, Biking Again

Me, looking kinda tired but otherwise good, wearing a battered bike helmet.

Look at how much I met the legal definition of alive after biking to work this morning!

Today was my first day at my new job, which went nothing like I expected. I was expecting to, you know, learn how to do my job. Instead, I ended up in a classroom-esque conference room with almost 30 other new hires. The first four days will be a crash course about how the company works, how pet insurance works, and presentations from the various departments. No training with my department until Friday.

So far, it’s mostly reminded me that I find the way marketing and sales work to be creepy at best. Also that I’m very, very cynical when it comes to things like a company’s core values. Even so, though, it seems like a good group of people. I think I’m just too anti-corporate to be thrilled by a lot of what’s going on, no matter how nice the people are or how decent the coverage they provide seems to be.

The other major event was that I bike commuted for the first time! From (Seattle neighborhoods) Magnolia to Georgetown! And back! So I ended up biking like 20.5 miles today. I didn’t even die once, which I’m pretty proud of myself for. And while I was slower than the Google maps estimate, I left myself plenty of time and wasn’t late. Plus I found out I can start a date I’m trying to plan half an hour earlier than I thought, based on how long it took me to get home today. So That’s a pretty sweet bonus.

Now I just need to hope my muscles don’t hurt too terribly when I need to do it all again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

This is going to be rough, isn’t it?

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Week Wrap-up: 29 April 2019 – 05 May 2019

Jerry the leopard gecko peeking out from his hide.

Just a quick weekly wrap-up because boy howdy am I sleepy and tired. XD

  • Got a job! At Trupanion! I am excited to pet all the dogs and also do work in exchange for pay, because while I’m living under capitalism that is a thing I have to do. I start in a hair over a week, so now it’s time to wrap up the stuff I’m mid-project on that needs “I’m unemployed” amounts of time.
  • Looking at getting a road bike, because I have been told they go much faster per effort spent, and I’m planning on biking 10 miles each way to work, so, uh, that’d be really really good.
    • That said, road bikes cost money and money is…money. So it might wait a minute! I have Too Much Time to think about it right now and it’s borking me up.
  • Also looking at getting proper panniers and sweet fuck they cost SO MUCH MONEY. Worth the investment? Probably! but also a large waterproof bag with some hooks on it should not cost $80.
  • Started playing through Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty again, using the HD collection version on my PS3. Sweet butts, the controls are so different, it’s destroying me.
  • Didn’t work out like all this week due to over-scheduling some days and post-interview flopping on others. Hoping to remedy that today or tomorrow. (Wrestling with if I should take the time to go to a bike store south of Seattle or not.)
  • Trying to eat at home more often, and eat healthier. Mostly going well! Though I had a killer fish and chips craving last night, which was doubly unfortunate because the local grocery store had fries but no fried fish at their hot bar, which they usually would. D: So my getting-premade-food dalliance was not even the preferred premade food! #thefirstworldiestproblem
  • Hit my 1k fiction goal for today and wrapped up the first draft of a story I’ve been banging my head against for the last bit. FEELS GOOD, YO.

And that’s it! Told you it’d be short. How as your week?

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Evening

Trees silhouetted by the last light of the day. Two bird feeders peek into the foreground from the top of the frame.

I’m out on my balcony, watching the last light of the day fade away and feeling the chill of evening coming on. Back in the kitchen, I’ve got rice going, but brown rice takes forever, so I figure I’d take a moment outside. It’s been a great day for it. I went on a walk in Discovery Park earlier, saw a dog with great eyebrows, and got to reconnect with the little forest there, at least a bit.

It’s a good day. I had nothing scheduled, and I was able to buckle down and finish a beta read that’s like two weeks late. But it is done! And it’s a weight off my shoulders and I hope it can still help my amazingly patient friend, who now had notes in hand.

I’ve also got a couple of interviews scheduled for later this week. One is for a Library Media Specialist position at a private school over in Bellevue. I’m intimidated, as it would involve working with tiny children, but it’d be a job in my field before I’m even completely done with my degree, and that would be rad. The second is with Trupanion, for a Records Collection position. The work would be fairly basic but steady, and I’d be in an office with literally hundreds of dogs, some of whom I might even get to pet! Which sounds like a wonderful office environment, to be honest. I think I’d find something to like about either of them, so hopefully one or both end up panning out.

It’d be nice to have a job again, certainly. Not worrying about being able to survive is always good.

I’m also going on a date with a new person tomorrow, and had a lovely date over the weekend with an extremely interesting person who I hope to see again.

But for now, I’m happy to just relax for a few minutes in the cool evening air. It’s really all I could ever ask for. Everything else will happen in time.

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The Best Cons Require a Team

All the best cons require a team. I mean, just look at Leverage. No one of the characters could have pulled off the heists they did without help from the others. Same with Ocean’s 11 and its sequels, and Ocean’s 8 (which needs a sequel yesterday please and thank you).

Right now I’m running a D&D campaign that’s designed to be a heist game as they sail the stars in their magical boat. (Think Spelljammer, but with more imperialistic zebrafolk empires and silly corporation names.) It’s a fun way to think about structuring a campaign, and I think it’s going to be useful, especially given that our play time is pretty darn short for a 5E D&D game at 2 hours every other week.

The trick, though, is going to be keeping coming up with interesting heists. That’s where I’m going to bring my own team in. By which I mean the players. To design heists, instead of trying to do it completely on my own, I’m going to have the players help me out by coming up with prompts. This also gives me an indication of what they would like to see, and makes sure I don’t just run the same heist in slightly different clothing over and over again.

However, I also don’t want to give my players too much work. After all, if I do that, how will I crush myself under the weight of my own self-expectations? Ha. Haha… Anyway. So the plan right now is to send each of them a single question related to the structure or goals of the heist, with multiple choice answers (and an “other” answer if they’re feeling creative or passionate about something in particular that round). By sending them each a single question, I’m hoping I won’t create expectations for the heist as a whole. And by keeping it primarily multiple-choice, I want to allow for players who are busy or who have trouble doing improvised writing to contribute just as much as the players who would send me a twenty-page backstory at the slightest provocation.

Here’s the questions (without their answers, in case my players are reading) I’m sending out this first time around:

  1. Who is the team targeting this time? (faction)
  2. What are we trying to score this heist? (primary reward)
  3. Why did we take this job? (what’s our motivation?)
  4. What sort of hazards are we likely to face on this job? (fun dangers!)
  5. What sort of location are we hitting? (location type)

I’m looking forward to getting their answers! I hope this works out well for everyone. I think it has the potential to be a lot of fun, and is a nice way to democratize some of the scenario building and plot without giving away the whole thing. Plus, it lets us do the “planning” section of a heist at least partially between sessions, which seems like a good idea given our short run time.

What do you think? Do you ever do anything like this in your games?

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Essay Recommendation: How To Build A Fire

Short post today. I wanted to recommend a beautiful little essay that floats back up in my mind frequently, and that I reread about once a year, I think. It’s called “How to Build A Fire” by Jessie Singer, and was published in the heyday of The Hairpin. When The Hairpin was actually extant, and not what it is now, an archive that feels like a ghost town, all the buildings still standing, empty windows staring out over town squares that will never hold another festival, no matter how long those buildings wait.

Ahem.

Here’s the essay.

And here’s a copy of the essay as a PDF, just in case the hairpin collapses someday. (This version actually PDF’ed wrong, I’ll fix it later. Apologies!)

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Adrift Without a Paddle

A picture of lake quinalt under a blue sky. The bank is visible in the foreground, and low hills surround the lake.

Lake Quinalt. Taken at the Rainforest Writer’s Retreat in 2018.

Today feels like Spring, specifically the good parts of Spring. My California poppies are slowly sprouting, the birds are singing, there was a gorgeous rain this morning that made lovely sounds on the new leaves on the trees out back, and now it’s brighter out, if not exactly sunny, with a breeze blowing through. It’s almost enough to make you think can get away with egregious run-on sentences on your blog.

Today is also a day without much structure for me, at least before a date this evening. I worked pretty quick this morning, doing my 500-word morning pages (a practice taken from The Artist’s Way, I believe) and applying to a couple of jobs that I actually want. Then I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, beyond dinking around on the Internet. I ended up playing This War of Mine for an hour or two. It’s a powerful game about surviving as civilians in a war zone. I’ve managed to keep everything from going to shit so far, but I’m at about day 12 of my current run and finding enough food for my little shelter of three is getting tricky. Soon I might need to start building weapons and preparing to get more aggressive, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that.

After I finished playing, though, I was back and adrift. I described my feeling on twitter earlier today as “directionless but not hopeless,” which still feels accurate. There’s a bunch of possibilities out there for what I could do, but none of them are going to accomplish anything big. So I feel a little like I’m sitting in a boat without a paddle on a still lake. There are worse places to be, for sure, but I’m not getting anywhere either.

There are a few things I should still do. Work out, do a little cleaning, and do some reading I haven’t been properly keeping up on. So while I might not really strongly feel the pull to do any one of them, maybe I can get myself going at least a little bit, using my hands to paddle and get myself moving towards the shore. Even if it’s slow, it’s better than just waiting for something to happen, right?

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