Thoughts from a tree

Written in Sylvan:

A gnome mage, a halfling rogue, a half-elf cleric, a golem, a shifter, and a slimy human bard – it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not funny; I’m stuck with these ‘people’ for the foreseeable future! It was that or stay in prison, and now I’m not sure I made the right choice. We’ve already been attacked twice, and our healer was knocked unconscious (I can see how effective *his* prayers are). They are all resting now; as soon as I’m done writing this, I will go and try to scout ahead. I’m not sure what good it will do though, the people we were following are on horseback (I suggested we should acquire horses in the beginninng, but no one listened to me), and we are much slower, even when we don’t have to waste time recovering.

The mage seems to be the most effective member of our group; he makes me wonder if I should try studying some magic of my own. I’ve heard that it is possible to imbue arrows with spells… the idea tantalizes me. The bard is the most annoying; no one is even sure if it is a man or a woman and s/he is always making inappropriate comments. Just the smell of a human so close is irritating, reminding me of the day I found mother’s body, desecrated even after she was dead. If I ever find the humans responsible, they will pay dearly.

The first group that attacked us seemed very odd. It was a drow mage (I haven’t seen a drow here in years) and he was pulling a cart full of kobolds, one of whom was already dead. We killed the drow and the kobolds, but I regret that a half-elf rogue managed to get away; the wind was blowing hard, making it difficult to shoot him as he ran and hid.

The second attack was just a group of goblin bandits, but they appeared better equipped than would normally be expected. I’m not sure how they managed to surprise us so easily and I wonder if it was luck or cunning that led them to attack the healer first…

Tabletop Day Recap

Last week I went to my local store, Coliseum of Comics, for tabletop day. They had the official extra goodies and I picked up the munchkin bookmark, castle panic card, gloom cards, dixit card, dominion card (though i’m not sure how to use it, since it’s only one card), and a demo of a game called ‘Spot It’.

Spot It was actually pretty fun, although gary did not care for the fast pace; it’s basically a matching game and whoever matches the fastest wins.

The other games we played were as follows:

Zombie Dice

Monty Python Fluxx (first time we played any fluxx game)

Munchkin (unfortunately, before we got the bookmark)

Smash Up! (which did not, in our opinion, deliver on the ‘smash’ part of its name) – this was a demo that was shown fairly aggressively. Basically each player has two types of critters and is trying to fill ‘bases’ with their critters in order to get points. The game did not seem very well balanced, but it might have just been a problem with us, we only played it once.

Dixit – this game intrigues me but it was pretty hard to play it well; i think it would have helped if we had had more people/people who knew each other well.

Werewolf – first time we had heard of this. It is a large group game that is sort of like the playground game ‘sharks & minnows’ except it involves cards, and is more complicated (and more fun). I would be happy to play this again but I’m not sure how often I would have enough people to pull it off.

Abandon Ship – first time I heard of it. You are trying to get rats to flee a sinking ship. All our rats died, which wasn’t very fun 😦

Scotland Yard – I had not played this game since I was a kid, but it was fun

Lords of Waterdeep – a resource game; I knew as soon as they opened it up and started explaining the rules that I would like it, so we actually went and bought it before we were done playing (the shop part of the store was closing – we also bought pandemic and dixit).

There was also a game called ‘No Thanks’ that is apparently a favorite of the crowd that usually plays board games there. They had a (free) tournament for it. It’s basically a bidding type game, where you are trying to get the least number of points. This is normally not my type of game at all, however, I got *really* lucky and ended up winning the tournament. I won a game called Giants which I had not heard of and have not had a chance to play yet, but looks interesting.

All in all, it was a really fun day, far better even than what I had expected. We made several new friends, although the ones we spent the most time with live in Tampa (2+ hours away). I also met another Disney cast member, so that was cool.

Today we are going back to Coliseum of Comics to play more board games with a group of Disney employees (none of whom were there last week, but who we had played with on a previous occasion). Hopefully it will be just as much fun 🙂

Table top day is tomorrow! If you haven’t already, you can find a place to play games at.

This is the brainchild of Felicia Day (my hero) and Wil Wheaton and is meant to be a day to celebrate and play all kinds of board games. Locations with a star should have extra goodies available, documented here.

I’ve always loved board games, particularly the more interesting European games, but Wil Wheaton’s show has introduced me to a lot of ones I would not have otherwise tried (and consequently flattened my wallet).

The place we will be going to is a store we have bought games at before, but never been able to participate in their board game events, due to timing. Hopefully it will be lots of fun and maybe we will even make some new friends who don’t live horribly far away 😉

Another year (or two), another catch-up post. I *am* going to try to post regularly however. I have found that I follow-through more often if I commit to specific goals and if I tell other people what they are. So my goal for this blog is going to be to post *at least* once a week, even if it is sometimes short.

Let’s start with the general stuff: I still work at Disney (after having my contract extended several times, I was eventually converted to a full-time or “Cast” position). The downside of this was a nasty commute, so we ended up moving (yes, again). Luckily, we were able to get a nice house at a really good price. Unluckily, immediately after we closed the people who had been renting our VA house moved out (owing us a bit of money), and oh, by the way, the septic is no good. Due to the type of soil the house was in, we would have had to put in a fairly expensive alternative system to replace the failed septic. This was the last straw for us, so we ended up short selling the house. And we still owe the second lender a lot of money, yay, since they were jerks (stay away from PNC). Gary went back to work for Comcast; they are letting him work remotely, which is awesome! He is on a team with a bunch of our ex-AOL friends, so that is also nice. I finally found a Doctor that actually fixes problems long-term, so I’m very happy about that. I’m healthier, I’m sleeping better, and I have more energy to do the things that I want.

So, going back to goals. Previously I tried things like “lose weight” or “write more,” but these did not work. I think I am too much a procrastinator for that method. I went to DragonCon in 2011 and I attended a bunch of writing panels. It made me want to write even more, and I told myself I would. But, well, first we had to move, right? There were also games to play, shows to watch, and books to read, and somehow I never got around to it. I went to DragonCon in 2012 and I had accomplished practically nothing. OK, time to get serious. I made two goals to complete before the next DragonCon 1) To be at a normal weight (so, you know, if I get a picture taken with Felicia Day I won’t be embarrassed about how I look) and 2) I would have my novel SUBMITTED.

I actually thought this second goal would be easier than it turned out to be. I already had a book that was written most of the way that I thought had a good enough storyline. It was at ~80K words and just needed to be finished and edited. It was a fantasy novel that starts out in a world similar but different to our medieval age. However, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it would be better if it started in our world (there are two worlds in the story), and in the modern time. I thought it would be simple and that I would just have to change a few references, here and there. However, shortly after I started I realized that I was going to end up re-writing the entire thing. Once I made this discovery, I felt a bit of a panic: how was I going to completely re-do it in that amount of time? I had been working on this book for several YEARS! Was this even the right choice or would it be better to work on the original version? But, I had a deadline, so I buckled down and got to work.

I started going to some local writer’s groups and I learned about an annual contest for writers. The deadline is 5/31 (DragonCon is 8/30). Can I finish in time to enter the contest? At just under 50K words, on 3/3, I created a schedule, just to see if it was possible (and it was). I wasn’t sure how many words I could do, particularly on a weekday, so I kept the daily goals low at first (500 for a weekday and 2000 for a weekend day). I blacked out all the days I was on oncall or had some other obligation. By the end of the first week I knew my goals were too easy, so I changed them to 1000 and 3000. So far so good, and I should have over 100K before before the end of April. That will only give me a month to edit officially, however, some of the writing I’m doing now includes editing, so I think it will be OK. I guess time will tell… meanwhile, I’m still going to try to write here, and since I’m committing to it publicly, you can hold me to it.


I support the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, but since we were starting our anniversary vacation on January 1st, I did not want to start any self-improvement goals until later. I decided that I would do my resolutions starting February 1st instead. Then, in an odd sort of fate, I ended up starting a new job on that very day, which accomplishes at least one goal (earn more $). It’s a 3-month contract for Disney, although I’m hoping the contract will get extended and/or evolve into a full-time position. I have *always* wanted to work for Disney, so I am pretty excited about it, even if it is a longer commute (~45 minutes) than I’d like.

For my remaining resolutions, I think they boil down to this:

1) eat less (particularly sugar)
2) move more
3) write more (blog more?)
4) do more with tie-dye
5) get the house-fixing completed

I debated on whether to make the goals more concrete (such as x calories per day or n words per week), but I think I will leave them vague for now. It seems too easy to fail at very specific goals, which leads to guilt and giving up, but on the other hand I feel less *push* to improve at the moment. Which method(s) do you prefer?

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since I last posted. I’ve been pretty occupied with the holidays, household stuff, and the job search process. I also did get a bunch of tie-dye done: AOL shirts and other stuff. Gary and I visited Virginia for our anniversary (8th) and while we were there we met with some good friends (who I miss!) and I gave a bunch of the tie-dyed AOL shirts away. Gary took pictures for me but I haven’t gotten around to processing them yet.

Contacts regarding jobs have continued to be frequent; I had to juggle phone interviews while we were on vacation in Virginia and I did not stay at my parents’ house as long as I otherwise would have after Christmas because I did not want to be without cell phone reception (in case job people called, which they did). I had an in-person interview in Gainesville (fl) yesterday, which makes both my third in-person interview and my third contact about a job in Gainesville (a weird trend, maybe its because the companies in Orlando tend to be bigger/more professional so they rely more on phone interviews?) I loath/dread interviews. I suck at them, not because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or don’t know what I’m talking about; I took business classes in high school and college; I even did FBLA. I’m just shy. Introverted and non-social (INTJ to be more specific), being put on the spot to answer questions and “sell” myself in front of a bunch of people I don’t know (whether in-person or over the phone) is extremely nerve-wracking. I can barely manage to talk; complex thought is out of the question; remembering trivial computer terms? – forget it!** And really, is this necessary? Are the majority of the really good technical people those who excel at dressing well, giving handshakes, and making conversation? I don’t think so – computer geeks are much more commonly known for lack of lighting and anti-social behavior. So why are people still trying to use techniques which strongly favor extroverts for introverted career types? Maybe because managers are themselves usually extroverted and they feel more comfortable with it? Not that everyone does, of course, and I applaud those companies that utilize alternative hiring methods. In fact, I think the main reason why recruiters have become so prevalent in the tech industry is to try and bridge that gap – bring in an extrovert to find and “sell” the introverts because otherwise the companies are likely to end up with mostly incompetent extroverts. But even using recruiters has limitations, and still usually ends up using some form of interview for the final decision. Far better are those that use tests or ask their interview questions over email. Tests that test problem-solving and critical thinking are better than ones that rely on specific knowledge by the way, but I’d rather take *any* test than do an interview. My first *real* job in fact I acquired solely on the basis of a test – it was for using Excel (I aced it easily) for a data entry position. The interview for AOL (both for the NOC and the later SA position) were not as difficult as normal because I already knew the people, at least a little bit, who were interviewing me. Tomorrow I’m supposed to find out if I’m hired for a job submitted by a recruiter – based almost 100% on a technical test I did; not only will there not be an interview, but I won’t even meet anyone from the company until (if hired) I report for my first day in. It feels a little weird, to not meet the people at all, but its probably the perfect hiring process for me.

** By the way, for anyone who disbelieves me based on AOL all-hands events: 1) I was at AOL for years before I started doing that 2) I felt like I was in a group of people that I knew/was part of and 3) I was physically shaking every single time the microphone was in my hand. – I also usually end up shaking when I do karaoke in public places…which doesn’t stop me from doing either – I’m the kind of person who likes to face my fears and try to overcome them (I just don’t like it when whether or not I get hired is heavily influenced by that weakness, despite the fact that my job performance will not be affected by it).

No Snow Here! :)

It’s snowing in NOVA (northern virginia), where I used to live; I am very happy that I am not there. I am relishing the fact that I don’t have to deal with shoveling snow, scraping car windows, huge heating bills, frozen fingers, toes, and ears, panicked drivers, drivers who refuse to admit there *is* snow, no bread or milk in the grocery stores, trudging through the snow to feed animals, muddy boots, slipping on ice, or any of the other “joys” that snow brings. People like to think of snow in romantic terms, when they are looking at it through a window or on TV, but once you have to actually deal with it physically, it quickly loses its appeal. Granted that some of the problems I listed are specific to the NOVA region, or specific to living in the country; when I was in WV the snow was much less of a problem – the roads were always cleared and the entire equestrian facility was indoors, but NOVA is unique in the fact that it gets pretty much every type of weather, yet doesn’t know how to handle any of them. I don’t miss that one bit.

I feel like I’ve been slacking the last two weeks; it took me a while to recover from Nanowrimo and the holidays, with the holidays being the more stressful of the two. I’m not a very social person and being around a lot of people at one time is exhausting; its ok if we’re all focused on one thing, such as a game, or at a meeting, but when its just a social event, and there are a bunch of different conversations all going on at once, I find it very trying. And of course, when its family, you get the added perk of arguments and tempers flaring, plus these aren’t people you’ve exactly *chosen* to hang out with, so you might have little to nothing in common with them. I’m practically the opposite of most of Gary’s family (not republican, not christian, and not at all interested in having, seeing, or hearing about kids), so I’m usually at a complete loss of what to talk about around them. I’m a complete failure at “small talk” in general, which doesn’t help; the point is, spending the weekend socializing with family was to me akin to running a marathon, which doesn’t mean I’m against doing it (I would try to run marathons too, if my body was capable of it), just that I felt completely drained afterwords.

I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get a bunch of my tie-dye on the market for the christmas rush. Frankly, I think tie-dye is more of a spring and summer item anyways, no matter how cool-looking those hoodies and jackets I did are. It still would have been a good idea, but now I’m running out of time – orders would have to be in by friday I think to ensure they’d get there in time. I did post a few items and I did get one custom order, which means I finally got all of my supplies organized and usable for the first time since I packed them up in VA. I still need to make a bunch of tie-dye, for my own presents to give; planning to do it all next week. If I have time, I want to do the rest of the blank AOL shirts I have, so I can give them away to people when I go to VA in January.

One of the reasons I’ve done less for tie-dye and other things over the last two weeks is that I’ve actually been really busy in the job-hunting department. I’m not sure if its something about the end of the year, or if its just because I did a revamp of my resume, but I’ve been getting a *lot* of inquiries all of a sudden, as well as finding a lot more jobs to apply to. This has required filling out a bunch of extremely long forms, each of which seem to need a different special piece of information that I have to look up, plus lots of emails and calls from recruiters, and several phone interviews (at least *some* of which I think went well). Most of them have said that they probably won’t be making their decisions until January though, because of people being gone for the holidays; makes you wonder why they started the process at all instead of waiting.

I finally saw Inception; people have been telling me I need to see it ever since it was first released in theaters. I have a well-known obsession with dreams…which is why I was told to see it. I think it was a pretty good movie, but it wasn’t what I expected, so I ended up somewhat disappointed. There was an extra feature on the disc though that talked all about dreams, and that was interesting, particularly when it talked about gamers and lucid dreaming. I’m a lucid dreamer and a gamer and apparently the two often go hand in hand. I have a hate/love relationship with sleep – I hate the process of trying to get to sleep, which I find really difficult, but I *love* my dreams and never want to wake up, even from nightmares. The story I wrote for nanowrimo has a lot of stuff about dreams in it as well; I think I was hoping Inception would help give me some more ideas for it. The problem with the dreams in Inception though is that they are all technology-based and a lot of it didn’t really make sense (even to a dreamer). Oh well; I still enjoyed it. 🙂

I did very little between my last post and today, well, technically yesterday; all of the days seemed to be filled with family activities and I never had a good time to work on it. I started around 2pm on the 29th with over 5000 words remaining and finished just after midnight. All of it was editing work, which as I’ve mentioned before is much harder for me (to increase wordcount) than writing from scratch. Gary complained that I did not have enough descriptions, so that was the main thing I was trying to fix/add. I was a little less than 2/3 of the way through when I realized I had reached the necessary wordcount. So, I still have a lot of editing to do, but it can wait 😉

Interestingly, I was not sure how the Windows Word wordcount would compare to the “official” Nanowrimo wordcount, but it was only off by one (rounding?).

nanowrimo – day 23

typed – 746/44327
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/38333 – Not Met / MET

nanowrimo – day 22

typed – 974/43581
written (not typed) – 2 pages
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/36667 – Not Met / MET