Death of a Swordfish and Other News

My three year-old laptop, Swordfish, finally croaked this weekend when the hard drive marked itself nearly 50% bad and then Windows told me to grab what I could and get the fuck out of Dodge, because it was about to burn down. Luckily, I noticed the hard drive getting slower and slower before the warning (hard drive failure is IMMINENT!) and backed up all my important data to my 60GB iPod as quickly as I could.

When it comes to computers, I’m pretty peculiar in some respects. I have machines with dedicated purposes. Swordfish was my internet and writing machine. Redtail is my games-only machine. How I design and install applications has a lot to do with what I use machines for, and so while swordfish was decked out with serious anti-spyware and the like, Redtail I never surfed on and used only to hook up on EverQuest or Guild Wars… so when Swordfish finally keeled, I had to look at Redtail as my last hope. Unfortunately, I used Redtail to such an extreme that it only had around 900 megs free on it. Doh.

A new laptop was needed, anyway, as I never travel without one. So last night, in an attempt to price new laptops, Julia and I ventured out to Fry’s, Best Buy, and Circuit City. It was not our intent to buy a laptop, as I was pretty much convinced after we left Best Buy that going online to buy one was going to be our only option. When we arrived at Circuit City, though, they had the exact laptop I was looking for like a year ago. Okay, it was no longer being made and the chipset was a little on the old side, but it was perfect for my needs in all respects. We returned home with a new toy, and I named it Hammerhead (after Jet Black’s fighter from Cowboy Bebop). I spent a majority of the night transferring my stuff onto it and uninstalling all the superfluous shit they pre-install into their laptops (I really don’t need Microsoft Works… when clearly it Does Not Work).

In other news, Baseball Bias is nearly complete in getting all the bugs worked out of the system in its beta stage. The RSS feed is fucked up, though, and I’m trying to figure out how to fix it. I’ll add it to the list of stuff I need to do that’s not work-related. The one thing about BBB that scares me is that most of my writers don’t seem at all interested in doing this. All but one have responded to my mails; all but one have actually submitted an article and well… it just plain sucks. I can stomp and howl and shout all I want, but I can’t write everyone’s articles for them, so I guess if it fails, Julia and I are out the money we invested into it. And this was no small sum, either. I’m hoping for the best, but it seems like my optimism is biting me in the ass already.

Work’s been okay… I think the hard part’s over (getting situated), and not it’s all about finding things for me to do. Unfortunately, that sometimes lands me on the wrong side of most projects and tasks, but at least they’re keeping me busy and interested in my work, which was something missing from my previous jobs.

I’ve been feeling the urge to write again, but this is so not the best time for it. With the wedding coming up and my work schedule becoming more and more erratic, it’s difficult for me to actually find the time to sit down and dedicate an hour or two to writing when it could be better spent working on something that needs to get done. Since I finished Knight Commander late October last year, and started writing Knightfall for the National Novel Writing Month in November, I logged over 100,000 words in under two months (closer to 125,000 words). That’s a lot of fucking writing in such a short amount of time (for me), and I think I might have overloaded my creative side by giving it that level of access to my free time. By the end of December, I felt as though the wind had completely spilled out of my creative sail and I needed some time to recharge. I just hope it doesn’t take me another year to get back on the horse… of course, that would be just in time for NaNoWriMo 2006, now, wouldn’t it?

Unwound will be starting up after I get married, but we haven’t published a new schedule for it, yet. I’m hoping to sit down with Jesse and Jenn and discuss season three with them in the next week.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all the news I’ve got. Do you dare to comment?

AX2K5: Before Day One!

The day before we left for Anime Expo, Dave dropped out of the vacation because his boss never remembered his asking for the time off in the first place. He needs the job to pay bills, and so it was pretty much a done deal. The really cool part was when he offered to pay his share for the room anyway, and thereby allowed us to go. Without his portion, we would have been shit out of luck, because I could not afford to cover his portion in whole or in part.

With that said, our journey begins at 0400 hours on Thursday morning.

I woke up late, after having groggily already killed my alarm clock from waking me up at my desired time of 0230. Instead, I woke up 45 minutes later, to Jody and Jenn in the living room sapping my internet connection with such silly games as EverQuest and R.O.S.E. Online. I quickly showered, and because I kind of procrastinated on packing, I quickly did as much packing as I could within 10 minutes, and stunned myself when 5 minutes later I was ready to go. Seriously a new record in packing for a trip. That’s never happened. We left the apartment at 0405, and headed for our first destination of the Safeway near Todd and Jody’s old house. We bought some provisions for the trip; soda, milk, pastry. Then a quick drive to Gilroy and we gassed up and headed over Pacheco Pass.

I wish I could say that the trip itself was fun, but because Jody and Jenn both stayed up all night, they were both a little subdued. By the time we got to Chudville, we were hungry and pulled over to gas up and get food at Denny’s. Now, this is where the fun started. People were a little more lively and the conversation started to flow freely, we figured out that Jenn had yet to call in to her work to let them know she wouldn’t be in that weekend! Now, Jody doesn’t work, so there’s no accountability, but I have this job, and I had my vacation form filed back in freaking January! I don’t like leaving anything to chance and being screwed out of a weekend. AX is something I don’t like to compromise on. So, we sat there, trying to come up with various reasons for her to call in, and all of them were pretty damn funny. I won’t go into them, here, because it was pretty hilarious and I don’t remember them all. I just remember the idea of a 96-hour flu coming up, and that’s about it.

We made really good time coming into the Los Angeles area. Jody took over driving from Chudville, and kept the pedal on the floor by hitting an average of 90mph all the way down and managed to avoid getting pulled over. I had a small project left over from earlier in the week and consigned myself to the back seat with my laptop to finish it before we got to Anaheim. We pulled into the Anaheim Marriott at 1130 and checked in shortly after. The check-in process was a vast difference from the Courtyard experience earlier in June, and the Anaheim people bent over backwards to accommodate me. I even got a personalized letter of welcome from the Marriott staff, telling me that I’m entitled to certain benefits with them. I thought that was very cool. The only problem was the asshole bell captain who brought the bags to the room. I had nothing less than a twenty on me, and I wasn’t going to ask for change on a tip, but he got a little bent out of shape when I made no move to tip him for doing his job. He did nothing extraordinary, and his attitude when he left reinforced my decision to not tip him.

The J-Squad was tired, and they fell asleep after we hooked up with our friends from the city, Thomas and Alma. Thomas, Albert, and Alma were staying in the Hilton across the street (where we would be the next night and the rest of our stay for the weekend), but their room wasn’t going to be ready until 3pm, so they hung out with us in our room. I’m glad I set my arrival time for 11am at the Marriott or else they wouldn’t have checked us in. Anyway, once they got their room, sleep was the order of the day, and Ispent most of my time configuring my portable wireless-G router for use with the room’s internet port. This ended up being a three hour ordeal, and painful. The router itself was giving me shit, my laptop wasn’t doing what I wanted it to… ugh. But eventually it started working, after I reset the damned thing twice.

When 1800 rolled around, Jody and Jenn woke up and we headed down to the pre-registration line. It was fucking huge. The line was broken up into two parts: an upstairs and a downstairs. It took three hours to get from one end to the other, and possibly it wouldn’t have lasted that long if I hadn’t tried to line jump… because we ended up having to go back to the end of the line. So, that was my fault, but luckily we knew some people from AnimeFX who were ahead and we were able to slip in with them and that put us in a better position than our initial line position. By the time we actually go out badges and packets, it was just after 2100, and we hooked back up with Thomas and Alma and jaunted over to the Jack in the Box to get a late dinner. By this time, I was beginning to feel the fatigue of the day’s events, including the pain in my lower back from standing in line for such a long time. I collapsed in my bed while Jody, Jenn, Thomas and Alma all watched Yakitake Japan.

Tomorrow? We check out of the Marriott and move into the Hilton, along with the explanation of why we did that.


Thanks in part to Dana over at WNOHGB, I have a fifth comic I will be reading. If you’re an EverQuest addict such as myself, you will get some serious enjoyment out of this drama-comedy. 🙂

Go there now. 🙂

New Year’s Eve

Unfortunately, I will be working New Year’s Day, so this means that there will be annual dorama party gather on New Year’s Eve, where I make the highly coveted faux Chicken Marinara dish that most everyone looks forward to and brings at least a bottle of Pepto to go with it. It’s unfortunate, because this is the first time in almost nine years that at least one of us in the old anime circle is NOT throwing an NYE party. So endeth some kind of era that Ken started back in 95, and I’ve tried to keep going through to the 21st century. It was a good run, but all good things must end, and there you are. Of course, people are welcome to drop by that night, but don’t expect much. I’ll be in bed by 1am for sure, and I’ll probably make the dish anyway because my roommates goe apeshit over it. I, myself, can’t even look at it anymore without popping Pepcid left and right.

Some NYE memories:

  • 1995 – The first year, at Ken’s place, we drank 10 bottles of sparkling apple cider and between the five of us, managed to get through 25 episodes of Maison Ikkoku without subtitles and one guy translating.
  • 1996 – The second year, went from scuzzy anime hangout to classy dinner and dancing, at Ken’s place. The scuzzy anime room was there, but all the classy people were upstairs while we watched anime all night. First appearance of the chicken marinara.
  • 1997 – Last year at Ken’s place, very sad.
  • 1998 – First year at my apartment, much to the dismay of my wife. Party crashers abound, with three pans of chicken marinara and still not enough to feed everyone. Master of Orion and EverQuest dominated the evening, with a smattering of anime watching.
  • 1999 – Let’s party like its 1999! This was the largest gathering ever, with over 30 people cramming into my 2 bedroom apartment. Lesbian movies in my office, anime in the living room, pot smoke on my patio. Many many many drunken people, and I’m nominated for best Drunk Mom ever, when in fact I just didn’t want people vomiting on my carpet.
  • 2000 – Post divorce, only a few people showed at Mike and Linda’s, with one pan of marinara to satisfy everyone. Lots o Miyazaki watching.
  • 2001 – Small gather, like maybe three people. First appearance of dorama at NYE, with Over Time from dusk til dawn.
  • 2002 – First Todd and Mike NYE: small again, with a pan of the favorite and an early night. Almost called the cops on the upstairs neighbors and all their friends, because it sounded like they were about to bring down the building on our heads. We must be getting old.
  • 2003 – Doramas abound. Inspiration for the monthly dorama night that lasted three months before I started my new job.

Anyway, now that I’ve walked down memory lane, perhaps I was too hasty. A small and short night wouldn’t be too much.

dot dot dot

Beyond spending a great amount of time fixing up my livejournal to look similiar to the season one box set of The West Wing, there’s been quite a few other events going on recently that I’ve been dealing with, and maybe now’s as good a time as any other to disclose some details:

  • My great uncle John, who lives in Fresno and has not been able to drive up and see the rest of the family in the past couple of years, has been diagnosed with level four cancer (which is inoperable and terminal). The doctors have given him anywhere between weeks to a couple of months before the end, and many members of my family have been making a trek back and forth between the Bay Area and Fresno to visit with him one last time before the reunion centering around his wake and funeral. I will be heading down that way in the next week to sit and talk with him while he’s still alive. My aunt, also of advanced age, is too frail to really take care of him, so my mother and grandmother have been down there for the first half of every week to make sure he has what he needs. I’ve been feeling somewhat off about this, mostly because he’s always been very kind to me. I hate to say it, but I’ve been off-center about it because there are members of my family who had previously not been speaking to one another, suddenly talking… and it took the terminal illness of my uncle to put that together, and I think that just stinks. On a lighter note, though, uncle John’s been pretty stubborn about this whole thing, in spite of the pain he must be going through. He refused care, but my mom and cousin intervened. He’s been placed in a hospice to make things easier for him. They give him painkillers to ease the pain that is living for him… and the daunting part of it all is that he’s been living with it for a year or so, now. This fucking blows.
  • Speaking of Fresno, my stint with Japan-A-Radio as the new chief operations officer has gotten off to a good start. I implemented some new policies and codes to try and make sure people are on the same page with how they operate when dealing with the public. I’m sure that when I go down there to visit my uncle, I’ll stop in there and make an appearance.
  • The radio show is going pretty well; we finished recording our sixteenth episode Tuesday night, and we’re planning on a special two-hour episode after the twentieth episode. The special will be playing all the opening themes we played during the season, without us talking over it. This was one of the loudest requests we got all season, and it sounded like a cool thing to do for the holiday break. After all, it’s not reviews, it’s just brief chatter and announcing the next two or three songs. DJing is much easier than doing a radio talk show, beleive me. As we’re coming to the end of the first season, though, I think Unwound is a much cooler project to take part in than I had originally thought. I really enjoy being on-air and talking about something I’ve loved for such a long time, without the pretense of being anything resembling an authority on the subject.
  • Animerica Magazine has tapped me to write yet another video game review for them for January’s issue. I’ve been procrastinating on this one, because.. well.. it’s not due until tomorrow. Why put off tonight what you can put off tomorrow, right? For those interested, I’m reviewing Rumble Roses. Oh, and they finally paid me! 🙂 I almost framed the check, but I needed the money more than the sentiment.
  • Work on WNOHGB2 and Stargate: SG-X progresses… I’m working on code that’ll benefit both games, in the d20 utilities and the new request system. I’ve gotten some sneak previews on the space code for WNO2, and all I can say right now is, “Wow.” The next generation of engineering utilities just blows me away and will make WNO1 look like crap. I’m excited about both projects, though. SG-X has serious potential in drawing a more pure aspect of role-play than WNO2 could, especially with how low-tech we’re going with the code. Though, when the story progresses to the Prometheus arc, we might be asking Randal to visit and adapt some of the space code to accommodate.
  • At work, meanwhile, I’m on the precipice of taking on the project-level job I wanted a while back. We finally hired on a smart guy to handle the shift I’ll be departing and I’ll be working days from here on in. Yes, I’ll still be getting three to four days off per week, but I’ll be concentrating more on documentation/technical writing projects than babysitting the website operations stuff all the time. Technical writing is tons easier than creative writing.
  • Speaking of creative writing… My writing has lost a little focus, what with all the coding and task lists I’ve taken on, but I’m confident that I’ll make my writing goals before the end of the year is up. I still have to finish Knight Commander, and that’s actually been writing itself in the past week or two. The story was plotted out entirely, so I know exactly where I’m going and I’ve been really happy with the outcome so far. I just have to make sure I don’t start revisiting other older unfinished projects and lose track of what I set out to do. It’s the lack of focus that frustrates me the most some times, and recently, with the purchase of a couple of new games (EverQuest 2, Tribes: Vengeance, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3), sometimes it’s easy to see why I lose sight of the prize 😉

Anyway, that’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.