Skiing

Went skiing for the first time this past Saturday. I would best describe skiing as minutes of sitting (or standing) followed by seconds of terror.

..well, maybe the last part is an exaggeration. But it is a lot of waiting on things to bring you up high. I had a lesson, which ended up being a great idea, and spent the day in the beginner’s area at Snowshoe. That area has enough variation (and both a magic carpet and a real ski lift) that I didn’t feel a need to actually attempt a green route.

Overall, I think it went well. I only fell three times during the day, and all three times were from a stop. (I was trying to turn around and got my poles tangled up with my skis.) Spent the day mostly making sure I could control my speed and direction… I think the most terrifying moment was when I went down the steepest hill in the area head on (instead of going side to side like I should have), but I didn’t die, and I didn’t fall, and I managed to slow down and stop once I got to flatter ground again, so that was good.

Still, I don’t think I’ll go skiing again. Besides the general disinterest and cost, there’s also the fact that there’s just so much else that happens around skiing. Even if you ignore the driving-to-the-place part and associated logistics, there’s just a lot of equipment to get on and stumble around in. If I want to glide and feel out of control on my feet, I’d rather go ice skating, which just involves putting skates on. :)

Also the hotel we stayed at the morning before had this awesome machine.

Also also cheese bag.

More photos are at my photos site.

Blargh (politics, work, life)

It’s been a horrific week, both in politics and in work, but at least I’m home.

On the politics front, it goes without saying that this administration has been absolutely insane, hypocritical, dysfunctional, and ruthless in its actions regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) facts, reason, and the law.
I’ve been donating $300 a month to the ACLU, and will likely raise it next month, as well as making sporadic donations to the EFF and maintaining an NYT subscription. If you have the financial means to help, I encourage you to make some donations as well, particularly to the ACLU, which has already played a role in part of the immigration ban being stayed.
Also consider some more locally-impacting charities that will directly help your area. Here again is my list of charities (as well as suggestions by friends).

Seen on Facebook (via Greg): John McCain, Dick Cheney, Michael Moore, and the Pope are all on the same side right now.
I guess that’s how you know your administration is batshit insane. :\

On the work front, we’ve had a rather disastrous release filled with e-releases and customer cases… and the release isn’t even half deployed yet. I feel really bad for my manager, who has to deal with all this as well as pressure from upper management… and particularly bad because a lot of the issues that came up came up in features I built and designed. To be fair, the features themselves are working exactly as expected, and we put in existing toggles for customers that have problems. But due to either oversights or underestimates on the sheer magnitude of impacted customers, we’re having to pull out or tweak the features anyway.
Le sigh.

Things are depressing so here are some photos.


The new Apple store in Chandler is really pretty. (Also the outside of the store has no indication in any way that it’s an Apple store, but I guess it’s pretty obvious from the interior.)

I guess they have to clean escalators somehow…

Ikea is doing that “kids draw things and we make them into stuffed animals” thing again.

Pretty.

I also brought back a lot of TCGs (including my entire collection of Pokemon cards and X-Files cards, and my remaining WoW cards) and have been sorting them and generally assembling decks. I now have assembled WoW “booster” packs to do a booster draft (limited card selection to 4 different classes so drafting won’t be insane) and assembled two X-Files TCG decks, and will be making Pokemon and Case Closed decks as the next thing. Yay for TCGs?

Edit: Woke up feeling unhappy this morning, and I wanted to use up my company match for their FY, so gave another $1500 to the ACLU. Take that, Trump.

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 Mexico and cards

We successfully had a week-long vacation to New Mexico, which included a wedding at the end.
We started by flying into Albuquerque and immediately leaving it, for Santa Fe. We stayed in a small hotel (only about 12 total rooms?) that was really nice and central… around 10 minutes walking distance from the town’s plaza.

We did a lot of exploring around the city, and also did a day trip to Taos to see the pueblo and the Rio Grande gorge.




Then it was off to Albuquerque where we had museums, views and hiking at Sandia peak and more hiking.




Oh, and also a wedding.

The hotel there was the Marriott pyramid hotel, which was really only pyramidal from the front. But it had a awesome view inside, including through the glass backs of the elevators.

Photos of everything can be found at photos.
It was overall a nice trip, and it was good to relax and have time away from work, but I’m very glad to be done with travel for the foreseeable future.

In other, unrelated fun things… I made my largest (in terms of dollars) order of cards yet. A large amount of the cost came from a single item: a case of 10,000 card sleeves ($50)… but now I’m set for life, including all of the deckbuilder games I keep getting. (My only regret here is that I didn’t have the box of sleeves for the Apex deckbuilding game, for which I bought like 8 or 9 packs of sleeves alone.)

The order included a box of LoTR CCG Black Rider starter decks, a box of L5R Seeds of Decay starter decks, a box Megaman TCG Grand Prix starter decks, six boxes of Megaman TCG Grand Prix and Grave booster packs, a box of Star Wars TCG starter decks, a box of Young Jedi starter decks, a box of VS System Fantastic Four starter decks, a Tribbles CCG box, a WoW TCG Icecrown Citadel raid deck, and the box of sleeves. The raid deck I think will be a reasonable thing to take to games night as well, since it plays four (in a 3 vs 1 format).

The order also included two board games, one of which was Machi Koro, and was the entire impetus for the order in the first place. It was on sale for $25 (deluxe version), but the shipping for it by itself was already $14. Given the rarity of my orders from TCG specialty stores, I took advantage of the situation to get a bunch of other stuff I’d had my eye on. Overall shipping on the ~48 pound box was only $20, so it was definitely worthwhile in that respect.

Now to find people to play more defunct TCGs with me…

Travel travel travel

August is nearly over, and that’s a good thing… it’s been a crazy month. Spent the first half of the month on my own, followed a weekend trip to a wedding in Ohio, then a flight to San Francisco for work, then a flight to Phoenix to see my parents (including a weekend trip up north to Sedona and Page), then a flight home to Pittsburgh. Travel is almost done (still an upcoming flight to Albuquerque for another wedding), but I really wish timing had worked out better or I’d had more advance notice for some of this.

Anyway, yeah. A little more than two weeks ago was Chris’ wedding, and it was pretty. It was held in a small building on an orchard, and had pizza for dinner, and was generally low-key and awesome (thanks in part to the board games in a smaller, quiet room on the side).



Two weeks ago, I flew to San Francisco for work. If the trip had been planned out more than advance, I would have flown straight there from Ohio. Instead, we drove back to Pittsburgh and I got a bit of sleep before waking up early for a Monday morning flight to make it to afternoon work meetings.
It was a nice trip, and I saw a lot of awesome people, but I think I’m getting too old to really do as much stuff with people on trips. There were two dinners with friends, a lot of nice meals with coworkers, and surprisingly many early evenings.





Flew to Phoenix that Friday, and my parents and I made a trip up to Sedona and Page over the weekend. We visited Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Glen Canyon Dam, and also had a quick stop in Sedona. There were lots of photos and it was generally a nice time. It would be nice to have more time next time and do things like rafting or boat rides down the river as well.




Managed to see a few Phoenix people as well… caught David, Matt, and Jennie for coffee and dinner, and David again for lunch.


Flew home to Pittsburgh yesterday. Things were uneventful, until the Supershuttle started approaching the house, at which point the light rain that had appeared downtown suddenly picked up a lot… and it started hailing. Fortunately I only had a short distance to go from the street to the house, but everything got rather soaked. Fitting, I suppose, for the misery that comes with so much travel.

More photos of everything can be found at photos.

Here’s some random photos of fun things:

My mom got these seatbelt cover things that are remarkably nice during long car trips… you can sleep against the large head part, and it means your head isn’t flopping around everywhere.

Cute.

Ew.

“Not actual size.”

Interesting.

Odd.

Ice cream crane game!

Faces!

Draft beer jelly beans…?

True.

In other, entirely unrelated, news, Rock Band has been coming out with awesome DLC lately, including songs like Uptown Girl, Africa, Heaven is a Place on Earth, Everything You Want, Famous Last Words, and Pompeii. I’ve been going through and watching the music videos for the older songs, and they’re extremely *bizarre*.
I think the current winner for “most bizarre” video goes to Heaven is a Place on Earth, although Uptown Girl is probably a close second, and Africa is a reasonable third.