Life, Photo Firsts (Grant)

It’s a new year! life’s photo journal and stats pages have been updated. Not many surprises or changes this time around, which I suppose makes sense. I did add Grant to stats though, now that we see him around for board games. So…

First photo of Grant:

September 6, 2004 in front of Doherty, with Howard and Many.

It’s otherwise been both an incredibly productive, and rather relaxing break. I’m really not looking forward to returning to work later this week.

Other than finishing some housework, and dealing with my backlog of photos, I also made a lot of progress on the video game I’m working on. It’s kind of exciting to see things coming together.
I also finished a playthrough of Persona 5, which I think now stands as my favorite RPG of all time (surpassing even Skies of Arcadia), and possibly also my favorite video game… and all this despite not really caring for the ending of the game.

It’s amusing to me that the Christmas present I was perhaps most excited about this year was a Swiffer Vac, so I can now swiffer the downstairs without having to pull out the vacuum to pick up the remnants afterward. So yay for that!

We had some people over yesterday for New Year’s, and it was a nice evening of games and food and friends. There was a Sharon in town, which was also nice.

Hope everyone had a nice break, and here’s hoping 2018 ends up being a better year than the last one, in terms of the world…

Dryer, Water, Gingerbread

Our dryer adventures have concluded with a successful self repair, after an appliance service quoted $180 for someone to come out. We ended up not quite having to take the entire dryer apart… instead, we were able to glue the new seal on while the drum was sitting mostly in place (which meant we didn’t have to unhook any of the belts… huzzah).

The repair was completed just in time for the huge water main servicing our area to break, leaving us with minimal (and contaminated) water, foiling my plans to deal with all the laundry stacking up. Instead, we went out to investigate, and found some impressive remnants of the breakage.


Other than that, life has been going. I’m officially done with work for the year. After we got reasonable water back, I spent most of my first day off (Monday) doing 6 loads of laundry while sitting and playing Persona 5 in the basement to make sure the dryer didn’t catch fire. It seems to have worked properly, which is good.

Persona 5, by the way, is a pretty amazing game. I think the visual novel/relationship elements are integrated really well with the RPG elements. I’ve been kind of obsessed with it, and hoping to finish up the fifth palace soon!

Our neighbors had an ugly sweater party with gingerbread house making, so I tried my hand at making a gingerbread house. It didn’t turn out too badly, I think?





In any case, Christmas soon approaches, which will be nice. I’ve updated my photo journal given the free time I’ve been having. It’s nice having time off to catch up on errands and chores.

Life, Sleep, and Games

Life goes, and feels like it’s mostly been consumed by work lately. It’s not that work has gotten particularly busier or more difficult than usual, but I’ve found myself having a really stressful time with it anyway. I think a lot of it is probably due to my increased (really, changed) responsibilities and I start overseeing different areas and products from a technical standpoint more than actually embedding within a team and generating code output. When I do end up coding, it’s usually been for either weird things that no one else wants to touch, or cleanup work that is pretty mind-numbing.
I guess we’ll see how things are looking and feeling after this release is over, but it’s been utterly bizarre to no longer be writing code every day, and having solid meeting days become a more frequent occurrence.

In other (perhaps related) news, I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately. I’m not entirely sure why, since I have no trouble falling asleep during the day if I want to take a nap. But at night, as I lay in bed, it seems there’s just endless thoughts and ideas and concerns that fill my head all at the same time, and I can’t clear my head enough to actually doze off. Often, when I do sleep, I find myself waking up randomly in the middle of the night and then unable to fall back asleep for hours, if at all.
This is a pretty recent problem, and it seems to coincide pretty well with my generally feeling increased stress levels at work, so we’ll see if things get better once we finish this release.

In non-work news, and in terms of things consuming most of my non-work time, I’ve been working on a game. This isn’t particularly new news, given I’ve been working on this game since something like February of this year, but it’s recently become a bit more of a time sink as it’s finished to the point of being playable and I’ve started hiring artists and putting polish onto it. It’s not something I feel comfortable sharing with the world at large yet, but I’ve learned a lot of really interesting things from doing it.

My main takeaways are that I’m really, really appreciating having a well-paying day job, and that I really wish I had any artistic talent whatsoever so I could try my hand at doing at least some of this myself. Also I wish I was filthy rich so I could just finance a bunch of awesome artists to create art unrelated to anything I was doing, because that stuff is hard, yo.
It really feels to me like pretty much anyone can code (especially given how important it’s become, in a lot of ways, now), but very few people can art well, which is only amplified by the fact that the engine I’m using (RenPy) makes it extremely easy for anyone to write a game with basically zero coding ability. The people that seem to make the best games on it seem to be people that can draw sprites and backgrounds and CGs, rather than people that can code.

In other, unrelated news, my second daily photo project ended yesterday. It had long since run its course, and I often found myself going downstairs and taking pictures of the stove or something. Still, I managed to do a daily photo for over a year, which is a pretty nice thing.

This has become a wall of text, so here’s some photos.



Doors Open and life

Life goes. Things happen. Climbing and game photos from the past two months have been posted. Machi Koro seems to be a winner, but Lupin III seems to be a dud. We also broke out Concept again for the first time in a while… had forgotten how much fun that was.

We recently went to an escape room, the Imaginarium, and it was pretty fun. We got out, with not much time to spare, but it seemed we actually left a ton of puzzles unsolved since there were several locks and a door that we never got open. Oh well.

ITG has also been happening again, which is nice.

This weekend was Doors Open in Pittsburgh, where various downtown buildings open up and let you explore them (with cameras!). We went on Saturday, and saw a variety of buildings… most of them were apartments and hotels, but we also stopped in the Dollar Bank and Engineers’ Society, the former of which was really pretty and the latter of which was rather uninteresting. We also stopped in the city council chamber and mayor’s office, which included a stop in their vault that held pretty much all historical paperwork for the city.

The hotels were also interesting. Two of the three were setting up for a wedding at the time (the third may have been, on some upper floor we didn’t have access to), and seeing the William Penn ballroom all dressed up for a wedding is rather special. Also we got to see a $3000/night suite at the top of the Fairmont, which was also spectacular.
















The PSO was also on strike due to salary and benefit negotiations falling through. That was sad.

Also I am strangely obsessed with Rebecca Black’s new single (apparently she’s gotten rather good at singing) and The Sound of Silence cover by Disturbed.
Relatedly, Rock Band released the latter as DLC this past week, and we tried it today… the game rates vocals as a 3 (while rating Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger as a red 5, and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl as a 4), which we think is utter bullshit. Yay for bad video game ratings.

I finished FFX Remaster this past Thursday, and the ending never fails to make me cry. I started FFX-2, and I’m just not feeling it, for some reason. I’ve never been a big fan of the ATB battle system, and I think coming to it from FFX’s super strategic battle system, I’m not enjoying combat at all. The music is also rather lackluster compared to X, and so many concepts are thrown at you all at once in the beginning (like dressspheres, skill learning, monster capturing) that I’m feeling rather overwhelmed. I don’t know. I guess at some point I’ll return to it, but unlike FFX, which was occupying much of my free evening time, I haven’t felt the same pull to play X-2.

Here’s weird soda flavors (corn, buffalo wing, bacon, ranch dressing, dirt, and grass) at a soda and candy shop in the Waterfront.

Adulting (and rambling)

No matter how long it’s been true, it still feels weird to me when I do something that requires me to be an adult.
(Getting a credit card? Uh… don’t I need a parent to co-sign? Booking plane tickets? Who gave me permission to fly? Buying a house? What are you even…)

But in the last few weeks, I’ve done some things that felt adult-y, but felt right, and so I guess yay stuff making some more sense now?

We bought matching furniture for our living room. After getting the coffee table we liked at Target (23.5% off), we decided it was reasonable enough quality and a good enough price, and a good enough match with the house, that I bought an endtable and console table from the same set, and also a lamp that matched. With the couch and armchair being the same set as each other, and an old lamp that is the same color as the rug, the living room actually matches, for the first time ever in a place I’ve lived in and had control over. And it feels pretty nice. This excites me far more than it should.
(Bonus: The furniture also matches the dining room chairs and table in color and style.)

(Of course, adult-ing only extends so far, so the couch features my Sonic and Shadow pillows, and a plush peep named Bub.)

The portraits I talked about last post were finished, and printed on canvas, and they came out pretty nice. After trying to figure out how we could nail in to hang them without perforating crucial things in that wall (like a “novelty ventilated wall pipe”), I decided to just go to Target and buy some of those Command hooks. Turned out to be a good idea, and they look pretty good. (Just need to pull out the old nails still in the wall above them.)

Also, on Easter, we hosted Easter brunch, as like a proper meal with things for 7 people. That’s the largest group I’ve ever cooked for and set place settings for and stuff, I think. (Previous record was 4?) It was also relatively unplanned: we wanted to have ham on Easter, and the smallest ones you could buy were like 7 pounds, so we figured we’d need people to help eat it. I think it also went off rather well?

Other totally random things that are on or have been on my mind recently, in no real order, in bullets that may be incoherent rambling:

  • The house we almost bought, that sold for ~$300k, is back on the market as of today. For $399k. $100,000 in less than a year is pretty good money. Also, based on the Zillow listing and photos, they did exactly nothing to the house in the time they lived there.
  • Looking back at the photos of it, I’m actually rather glad now we didn’t get it? I think it’s been idolized in my mind as this “ideal” house (the one that got away?) that we have fond memories of. But actually I think the house we did get is better in almost every way (forced air heating and cooling, nicer kitchen, nicer rooms, bigger yard, better location). Makes me feel really happy we found this one and got it.
  • I stumbled across this reddit thread and particularly this post recently, and it’s making me feel really weird about things. (Watching the “Born Rich” documentary doesn’t help either.) It’s still rather unfathomable to me that anyone has that kind of money, and that people in general are okay with them having that kind of money. I mean, it doesn’t make logical sense to me that any single person’s contributions to the world, no matter how significant they may be, are worth a billion dollars. (And that’s only for the “I earned my money” argument… never mind inherited money.)
  • Also private large planes are disgusting and should not be a thing anyone can or would ever want to buy. Even ignoring the insane cost to buy, outfit, and operate such a plane… how many other people would that money and those resources (particularly the jet fuel?) be used for instead? Small private planes are already terrible enough. :\
  • I keep being reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am in life, in so many different ways. Particularly (following above), money is one of the things that has never *ever* been a problem in my entire life, and there are so many people I know where that is definitely not the case. I was sent (full-ride by the parents) to a top university where I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but schoolwork. I work a job I love in a field I am good at with coworkers that are amazing and for a company that seems dedicated to its employees and their success, and on top of that I make enough to live comfortably. The fact that I can drop the money for 4 color canvas prints for the game room wall, on a whim, after basically no thought, just because I thought it would look nice is a testament to that. So while some people may have stupid amounts of money and eat dinner with the president, I live comfortably and happily and never feel like I truly want for anything, which I suppose already makes me one of the wealthiest men in the world.
  • Why is sick time not a standard thing in jobs, or failing that (and job allowing) work-from-home-when-sick policies? It seems like the productivity loss from an employee coming in and getting others sick would be far higher than just having them stay home and not work at all, or work from home instead. It occurred to me last week, as I signed in for 5 minutes in the morning to post a “Not working today; sick” update, that there are many people that can’t do the same thing, and that really confuses and frustrates me. (Heck, even the fact that I didn’t have to ask for the day off, because I knew I had implicit permission and would be told to go rest if I actually tried to work anyway, is a thing many people don’t have or get, and is such a simple thing that it seems so many companies forget.)
  • It’s so bizarre to me that society has put such differing dollar amounts on skilled work. Artists usually make shit, and drawing well is a skill many people will never have nor can ever learn. Teachers make shit compared to the amount of work they do, and teaching kids is both incredibly difficult and incredibly important. Writers make very little, and assembling words together in ways that flow and just seem right is a skill that is both rare, and also immediately recognizable when you read it as something amazing. Heck, if you’re a skilled call-center agent who knows how to diffuse customer tempers and provide real service (and even just deal with people in the first place)… that’s also a heck of a skill, and you probably literally make minimum wage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing words (I guess if you consider thingsLikeThis() to be words) and symbols into a computer screen and somehow that is worth money. The person that maintains the computer that lets me continue typing words in doesn’t make that much, but that’s skill too, in an area I have very little knowledge or ability in. I don’t know.
  • KoL has been interesting, in the monetary aspect, lately. It seems they’ve completely embraced the idea of premium content and putting insane amounts of power into paid things, which from the standpoint of a F2P game, really really bothers me. At the same time, given their declining revenue numbers, I can’t exactly blame them? (If you had only one revenue stream, and your continued employment relied on you making things people *want* to or *have* to buy, of course you would do it.) So the side of me that understands businessy things is fighting with the side of me that abhors things that feel like they’re forcing money out of me. I do greatly miss the old KoL days, when the paid things felt less important and the free things felt much more equitable, but I guess I still enjoy KoL enough that I’m willing to press on for now. On the plus side, there’s a couple recent things where they’ve done a standout job: the Witchess set, which unlocks awesome puzzles (and also, tangentially for me, powerful game items), and the LT&T Telegraph Office, which unlocks a lot of fun writing and interesting boss battles. While I still wish more stuff was available for free (free puzzles… who wouldn’t love that?), developer time is (non-trivial amounts of) money, so it only makes sense. But blargh?

Things and words and stuff.