Life

It’s been an interesting January.

Returned to work last Thursday, the 5th. It was a standard no-meetings Thursday, so I was expecting it to be pretty quiet, but instead I got thrown into a P0 bug and several other problems related to the release that had just gone out.

Friday started out as a much more laid-back day, until lunch time, when I got a call from my mom, which resulted in me booking a flight to Phoenix less than 3 hours before it took off, and rushing to the airport.
If you know me, you know I’m the kind of person that likes trips planned far in advance, and has all logistics worked out, and gets to the airport hours before boarding to make sure I have no surprises. So this was a particularly new kind of stress, although it worked out fine in the end.




So now I’m unexpectedly in Phoenix for a couple of weeks. It’s nice seeing friends here again, but otherwise life has been fairly monotonous outside of work, which continues to be stressful.



Although work at least has been more design-y and meeting-y than code-y, which has been good given I’m on a slower connection here using my manager’s box for development work. Sometimes I don’t realize how much I love having a box physically with me until I have to remote to one to work from Phoenix.

New Year, PWSA, LJ sadness

It’s a new year. Yay. life’s photo journal and stats pages have been brought up to date. (Also the new daily photo project continues, which I’m honestly surprised by.)

The PWSA continues to be incompetent. We’ve had repeated billing problems where they bill incorrectly based on a correct meter reading. (For example, a meter reading of “18” bills us for 18,000 gallons of usage, instead of subtracting from the previous month’s reading of “17” and billing us for 1,000 gallons of usage.) This issue seems to be getting harder and harder to resolve each time, culminating in this month where I went down to the service center in person, and ended up with a rude supervisor and a submitted (paper) letter that apparently schedules a formal meeting with an appeals board…? That’s still ongoing, so yay for incompetent public departments.
Seriously, this issue has stressed me out so much that there have been multiple days where I feel like we should just sell the house and rent again to not have to deal with them.
Blargh.

In other depressing news, Livejournal apparently recently moved their servers to Russia, which is causing an exodus of users from it to Dreamwidth. This makes me sad for a lot of reasons.
I’ve previously talked about how I hate social media and miss long-form writing. Livejournal was my first real “community” (before Facebook really took off as a way to share life updates). I got to know so many people better through LJ. That community has been mostly dead for years, but the few remaining people on it will probably move away now as well.
Also going through and deleting all of the posts reminded me of how much people used to interact, on a deeper level than just “liking” your photo of breakfast or whatever. We used to really engage with people. Stupid social media.

I’ve mentioned before that I like having control of my data (it’s why I use WordPress installed on webserver that I pay for). So in a lot of ways, I feel vindicated that I use this (and syndicate over to LJ) instead of primarily using LJ. On the other hand, LJ’s fine-grained access controls were particularly useful for things I didn’t think I should be posting publicly. So I’ve had to go through today and delete hundreds of posts of things I hadn’t posted publicly in this journal. I guess that’s no guarantee that the data is gone (they probably have backups), but at least it makes me feel better about it.

Anyway, yay for friends and board games and rock band?

Black Friday, weather, games

Life goes. It’s been busy — hard to believe we’re already halfway through December.

I took advantage of the Black Friday sales surprisingly little this year. I picked up an iPod Touch to replace my Samsung digital camera, at almost $50 off, which was nice. The iPod actually takes better photos, and is generally useful as well in places that have WiFi. It’s been a nice replacement for taking daily photos.
I also picked up season 11 of Supernatural (usual $10), and a few booster boxes of .hack//ENEMY ($3/each) since they’ve been out of print for years and it seems prudent to stock up now while they’re still buyable.
I also bought myself the new computer (a desktop this time) I’ve been wanting for years. My old laptop seems to be having a lot of trouble now, and I wanted something that could actually run Photoshop Lightroom (bought as part of my camera bundle at last year’s Black Friday), so it’s nice. :) Although it’s a little confusing now to sit at my desk and have 4 different keyboards and 3 different mice in front of me… I’ve typed on the wrong keyboard so many times.

We decorated our house for Christmas. Yay for garland things and big red bows!

The weather has been bizarre here lately. Friday it was freezing. Saturday morning the world was ice, and I walked to Giant Eagle and slipped a lot. By Saturday evening, the world was water, and I was overheating in even just a plain t-shirt with a sweater on top (never mind my usual winter coat). Today it’s cold again. Yay weird Pittsburgh.




Owen’s been visiting and there’s been board games.

We had a fun game of Salem where we killed all of the accused people. Also two of my three witches survived. Yay Salem. Also, I feel like the game plays better with 7 people. Everyone starts with totally equal information, and you don’t have to play weird annotation games with the shared colors. Limiting round 2 to 10 minutes and round 3 to 25 minutes also seemed to work well to keep the game moving.

We had a close game of Settlers with our new dice deck. It was a little weird (and maybe more awesome?) because the 8s came out mostly together, the 6s came out mostly together, and the 7s waited almost all for the end. This led to some interesting situations (abundance of wood early, abundance of sheep in the middle game, and sad everyone late game). It actually ended up being really close — Greg was one sheep away from winning for a couple of rounds, and I would have won had I rolled anything other than a 7 (due to having 8 cards and needing 5 of them to build my last city). So yay games.

Volunteering, Arrival, games, cards

Life goes. I’ve been purposely avoiding news and related things because I would like to not know how much of a shitshow this administration is becoming. (Although, from what I’ve heard anyway, it’s already quite a disorganized mess. So we’ll see.)

To do a (very small) part to combat the havoc this administration will wreak on the environment, we switched our house over to 100% renewable energy. It turns out it’s super easy to do… just go to http://www.papowerswitch.com, enter your ZIP code, and choose an option that fits your needs. We’re paying a bit more than normal because we wanted 100% PA-generated renewable energy (as opposed to renewables sourced from arbitrary locations), but it looks like you could actually see a discount in your bill by switching to renewable. So win/win for everyone!

We also went and packaged meals for 2 hours last Saturday with Stop Hunger Now. I don’t know what I was expecting (maybe pulling turkeys and cans out of boxes and repackaging them), but it definitely wasn’t standing in front of a funnel with 5 other people, filling bags with vitamin packets while others poured scoops of rice, dehydrated veggies, and textured soy flour into the bag. Apparently a bag feeds 6 people and contains all the necessary nutrients (thanks partially to the vitamins), and it’s probably a heck of a lot more shelf-stable than more varied foods, so that’s good?

Also on Saturday, we saw Arrival after a failed attempt at short films for the Three Rivers Film Festival (which was sold out by the time we got there). I thought it was actually a really good film… was scientifically (and linguistically) accurate, and managed to not over-emphasize the military or conflict portions of the plot. Given it was a big film, I was expecting them to have escalated the conflict more, or otherwise focus less on the linguist… but they actually did everything really well, and never took away from her and her role in the film. So yeah… really good, and would see again.

We’ve been playing a lot of board games recently, between the usual Thursday board games, hosting board games over here, and having games at Pat’s for his birthday. The recent favorites are Above and Below, which is a really fun worker placement-ish game, and Codenames Pictures, which is like Codenames but with Dixit-crazy images (kangarooasaurus!) of awesomeness. Game photos for the month are up at photos.

I also splurged on some World of Warcraft cards. I’ve been looking for a new defunct TCG to get into, and WoW had base set starter boxes (6 decks, each containing a 30-card deck and 2 boosters) at $15 each, so I got a case of them (it was cheaper than even just buying booster packs), as well as a few boxes of Death Knight and a box of Drums of War.
I actually had some fun luck with decks… the first 8 base set starter decks I opened had different decks (8 of the 9 possible ones). Of course, then it took an entire box (6 decks) to get the last one I needed. After opening 4 boxes of starters, I have at least two copies of each deck. But I also have four copies of the Paladin and Druid decks, so decks (even within a single case) seem to not necessarily be distributed evenly. (One box of 6 decks had two Paladin decks in it.)
Slowly going through packs and decks (two more base set boxes to go), but I should have a good collection to build decks now, much like my .hack//ENEMY collection. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone to play with me… Max is starting to get back into Magic, which is very similar, and we had a quick evening of card games, so hopefully this will continue.

Also continuing work on the next People Wars expansion. Still haven’t reworked the Facet icon, but cards are coming, slowly.

Hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving!

Donations

If this election has you as freaked out as it has me, there are a lot of good causes you can donate to to make sure these upcoming 4 years aren’t terrible for those less fortunate or more vulnerable than you, and to continue to advance progressive causes. Because, when the government won’t, private organizations will have to, but they can’t without us.

Here’s a list of my top priorities, in roughly priority order

  • The ACLU or the ACLU Foundation to help ensure the rights of minorities are not trampled upon
    (The foundation is tax-deductable… there’s information about the differences here)
  • The EFF to help ensure net neutrality and protection against spying and electronic surveillance
  • Feeding America or a local food bank to help ensure those in need will not be devastated by cuts to SNAP
  • Enviornmental Defense Fund or Sierra Club to help protect the environment
  • The New York Times (online subscription, which you don’t have to use) to support quality journalism and reporting
    (Or some quality local paper, which you can either take delivery of or do an online-only subscription to give them more of the money)

Many of these are also tax-deductable, and your company may match your donation, which would be an excellent way to increase the impact of your contribution.

Also, putting my money where my mouth is, I made a $300 donation to the ACLU Foundation today, matched by Salesforce (and will continue to do so, to various organizations in that list, going forward). I encourage you to do the same, in whatever amount you can manage, toward whatever causes you feel are important to you.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for charities that would be good to support at this time?

Edit: Some organizations suggested by FB friends are Lambda Legal, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, NAACP, Doctors Without Borders, RAINN, Slyvia Rivera Law Project, National Immigration Law Center, EarthJustice, Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce, ProPublica, Mother Jones, the Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project.