Craziness! (San Francisco, Carnival, cards, life)

I’m, uh… really rather behind here. Which is matching the rest of my life pretty well, so I guess that’s not a huge surprise. Life’s photojournal and stats pages have finally been updated, a bit later than usual, mostly because I’ve been super behind in photo sorting and tagging recently.

Anyway, lots of things have been happening lately. Let’s see how many I can remember…

We’re in something like year six of four weddings per year, except last year which only had three. But this year felt like it had to make up for last year by having six weddings. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, for travel), two of them are on exactly the same dates as two others, so we’re only going to four. But one of those is in Hawaii, a week before I have to be in SF for work again, which is in turn a week before another wedding in Chicago. Which is a week before another wedding in San Francisco. It’s going to be an insane travel time.

Speaking of insane travel, I was in San Francisco for work in April, and it was a nice time.



But I had to rush back, without the usual Phoenix stopover, because the following week was Carnival! We had fewer guests in our house this year than last (two kids and three adults, compared to last year’s two kids and six adults), which I think was a lot more manageable. Carnival itself, however, made up for the relative calm at home by being both a reunion year and being the KGB 30 celebration, which meant there were lots (and lots) of events to worry about.


After the craziness of that stuff died down, work started picking up again. I officially got a promotion to Architect, which is insane and also means I’m dealing with things across four different teams now. Which I’d been unofficially doing anyway, but somehow it just feels a lot more serious now or something.

I also bought more Dragon Ball Z card game cards. Lots and lots of cards. 12,460 cards, give or take a couple booster packs. So, with that, there’s been a lot of pack opening and card sorting and things that I generally find relaxing and soothing. Which is nice, except it means I’ve been neglecting other personal projects like photos. Still have over half of it left to open, but I don’t have to deal with it all now.

In more recent things, winter seems to have finally ended, and Brian hosted a rose wine party to celebrate. We drank a lot of wine, but I guess we were also a reasonably large group, so it’s not too crazy.

Here’s hoping I can catch up on photos and things before the insanity of weddings begins…

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.

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!

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…