Work Swallowed August

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. That’s one of those traps with blogs – you have these gaps at odd times for various lengths and if people catch your blog at just the wrong moment then you’ve lost them. They think you never update or that you’ve blog faded or whatever. Well, I haven’t blog faded. I’m as inconsistent as I have ever been. Work (the day job supporting all this cool stuff) swallowed the month of August. The ravening beast of overtime licked his chops, bit down and shook me like a rag toy. I got flung to the side at some point and I crashed pretty hard. It’s hard to work up the desire to sit at the computer and type after you’ve done that for 10 or 12 or 14 hours at a pop for the day job. My wrists hurt, my elbows were inflamed enough for my wife to feel the heat radiating off them and my back was… painful. In short, that sucked and I’d like to avoid doing it again. I made it through – how well is yet to be seen.

In the middle of that mess I was able to attend Intervention 6. I had the pleasure of helping out with the children’s programming track again this year. I think it says something that staffing at a convention was a welcome relief from my work schedule. There weren’t a ton of kids there this year. I’m not sure why. Some of the kids have grown past the “little kids” program level. Some have made the return trip year after year, but it’s difficult to gauge the program not knowing who we’re going to get. I haven’t quite figured out how to make that work better. I’d normally give a review of the rest of the convention, but I really didn’t see it. I was there, I walked past it, I even chatted with some of the other folks there. Missed all the other program stuff. I can tell you there are some crazy talented folks working out there that deserve your attention. I can tell you that I’ve found a couple of folks that I may recruit to help with children’s programming next year – they were spectacular with the kids. In the end, the kids seemed happy and that was really the whole point. I call that a win.

I’m getting my writing geared up again too. All the submissions I had out there came back (rejected) during the month that was eaten so it’s time to get out there and keep trying. There are things on the way though – I’m hoping to have a guest blog appearance during banned books week! I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting, but I’ll keep everyone posted as I remember them…

Spaceship… but just to get there.

I saw a question from a friend on line yesterday. What are your 5 favorite spaceships? I immediately pictured a Colonial Viper and one of the Black Tiger fighters from Star Blazers. They were immediate and real to me, but then I let my mind wander a little thinking about the others. There are the popular ones that hit most folks lists, but not really mine. Sure Buck Rogers on the 80s TV show had a neat ship, but I liked the Hawk’s ship better. The bad guys (totally don’t remember their name just now) even had cool ships. Then I thought of this other artwork I knew…

So I jumped on line and went looking for it. Yes, it was because I didn’t want to walk to the other room and unlock the cabinet I keep my art monographs in – don’t judge.

The really funny part is, the art I was thinking of doesn’t have space ships in it. Not one that I could find. You’d just need a spaceship to get there.

IF you’ve never seen the artwork of Roger Dean, do yourself a favor and go check it out. Amazing stuff.

Shadowrun

I read an article on Shadowrun the other day and it reminded me how much I really enjoyed playing that game. I also had a lot of fun reading the short stories and novels that went along with the setting. I’ve still got a pile of game materials and even a few miniatures laying about patiently awaiting my return.

I haven’t played in years. I would love to play again. It’s a really neat, interesting setting. Set in the near future it had combined fantasy and cyberpunk and I loved it. There could be a troll riding a motorcycle wearing a sword! There could be a kid plugged into a computer helping his team get the doors open to rescue some hostage… and then I remember the computer ideas and graphics I was thinking of just then. I fear the author of the article is correct in that time has passed the technology of the game by.

When I played it was a hybrid game system that the game master made up. I don’t have any idea what parts of the rules we did or didn’t actually use. In that respect I think the article is correct – I don’t think the rules did the game justice. I’m not going to spend a ton of time on the rules.

The rules could be changed or tweaked or tossed out as you pleased. It was always about the story to me. That’s the part of role playing that really made it work. At the end of the day you had this shared experience, probably with really funny stories that made the time spent worth while. To this day I remember the time I invited a girlfriend to join the game I was playing in. The GM allowed it and gave her a ‘rock-star’ character. We played and did a run and all the things we would normally do on a game night. The girlfriend was quiet and I don’t really know if she was having a good time or not – I was into the game. The best part of the whole night for me was when the GM decided to take matters into his own hands. He turned and addressed the girlfriend directly with a question. She stopped, looked back at everyone staring at her waiting for a response and broke out her best dingy-girl voice and said, “Um, you should like talk to my manager.”

That was it – the whole extent of her role playing and it floored us all. We howled with laughter because it was such a perfect response, perfectly timed. It is a fun story. And that’s where I think the focus of role playing games should be. It should be about social interaction within your group. It should be about having fun and making stories and creating the kind of memories that make you look fondly at the things you did and the games you played. I have no idea if Shadowrun will survive or not. I can’t imagine trying to keep a near future game just far enough ahead of technology that it makes sense while mixing in game rules and fantasy world aspects. I hope the game survives and I hope I get the chance to play again someday soon.

Until then, maybe I’ll watch that promo video one more time…

Tokyo Yakuza – Volume 1

So, one of my recent successful writings is working its way toward being published. I was very excited when my story was accepted to the Tokyo Yakuza series. My story is slated to be in VOLUME 2, however the first volume is out now and up on Amazon for anyone that might like to check it out! I’ve got a copy and have started reading through, you should too.

Tokyo Yakuza

Vol1Cover

20

One of my closest friends, the man who introduced me to my wife was stunned when I told him that Wednesday is the 20th anniversary of my wedding.

I am more happy and more in love now than I ever imagined I could be. Twenty years is not enough. I need forever.

20th

Occasional Gaming

One of the things I said on the “about me” page is that from time to time I like to game. This weekend was one of those times when I took the time to just relax and play. We had friends that live a couple of hours away come down to spend the night giving us all kinds of time to just hang out, chat, snack and game. It was great fun.

One game we played 3 times today was Castle Panic. Great fun, cooperative game that my daughter has a real passion for. We added in the Wizard Tower expansion for a little extra challenge and fire!

I’d go through a lot about how to play, but a certain star has already handled that. Check out Table Top – one of my favorite shows.

CastlePanic-Tower

Mundane

Sometimes I stop myself from posting things here because they seem so terribly mundane. I suspect nobody is really interested, so I don’t post them.

That feeling is actually the source of the name of my site. This is “The Pretend Blog” because way back when I started on LiveJournal I suspected nobody was reading what I had to say. I would pretend to have a blog and keep posting things anyway. I still suspect I don’t have much of a readership. If I want that to change, I need to give more to read!

Mundane things have been moving right along.

Went to a meeting this morning with some folks at my kiddo’s school to discuss how things are going and where they hope she lands with her education by the end of the year. She’s having a great school year so far – they even asked her to be the “newscaster” for morning announcements each day because she communicates so well. I’m really proud of her.

Got to spend some time hanging out with friends this past weekend. That helped. Being in the land of the jobless is not easy. This week has been more difficult than the past couple so far. I am much more a creature of habit than I would have thought. Perhaps this is just the shake up my creativity needs? I can certainly say that questions like “how many golf balls fit in a bus?” during interviews will drive a certain level of creativity.

My favorite thing from the past few days was the chance to get together with this year’s group of exchange students. I haven’t let my lack of job interfere with my volunteerism. I am still an area representative with the Youth For Understanding exchange program. I had the chance to meet and chat with students between 15 and 18 years old from all over the world. Estonia, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Ghana, Spain, Italy, Mozambique, Korea and Denmark all got representation at the big post-arrival meeting we had Sunday. Talking with these students was absolute fun. They’ve always got something to say and they always have interesting views of what America is like from an outsider perspective. We spent time going over cultural differences, language barriers and other important things like what is good music and what are great food dishes we should all try. I told them that food and music are great ways to start a conversation with anyone they’re trying to get to know. I personally find this “discussion” of food to be tremendously entertaining: Americans Taste Exotic Asian Food

See what you think. Food is always a great discussion topic, right?

More to come…

Neglected

My blog here has been neglected lately, and it shouldn’t be. There’s been an awful lot going on – but isn’t there always?

I posted the following on social media, but somehow forgot to post it here:

This is probably going to be a long post, so if you’re into the short version I’ll start with that:
I got laid off last Friday. I have no job.
Now that we’re past the short part I’ll go a little more into things. Probably not a ton, but enough to maybe answer some questions that might pop up. I waited a couple of days before I said anything just to be certain I had some clarity. I have told a handful of folks in person before this, but not many.
No, I had no idea this was coming. Neither did my direct supervisor. He actually called me on Monday to apologize and offer a recommendation if needed. Two of the guys I worked with also offered recommendations if needed.
Yes, as far as I know I will get unemployment benefits after the 2 week waiting thing. I don’t really know much about it – any other time in my life I’ve moved directly from one job to the next. I’ve always had something lined up. This is all new to me.
Am I angry? I’m more disappointed than anything. There’s a part of me that is, but I’m really doing my best to focus and move past this. I’m not going to toss rage fueled statements out here or start playing conspiracy games about reasons and persons to blame. I’ve got thoughts and theories, but they’re just that. Airing them out just isn’t professional, so if I intend to continue to be a professional I should figure a way to get through this.
How does this change ______? I left that blank on purpose. There are a lot of things that will change because of this. One thing I don’t think will change substantially will be me. I am not my work and my work is not me. Yes, I like(ed) my work but it was just that ~ work. I’m going to be pulling back on a lot of things and staying close to home. The less I spend the better off we’ll be if this lasts more than a couple of weeks. I am really upset about the fact that once again a planned family vacation will be screwed up by my work crapping out. It’s happened more than once and it deeply frustrates me. I want to be able to give that kind of experience to my daughter and not always be caught up in “sorry, daddy’s work isn’t paying him again”. That’s the part that *really* pisses me off.
Enough of that line of thought. I have updated my resume and already have a half dozen leads. I had 3 of those leads the very next morning, just as soon as some folks heard I was available. I’m optimistic about the whole situation but not too hopeful. I’m not going to run and jump at the very first thing that pops up on my e-mail. I want the next step to be right.
Hopefully this covers the questions that might pop up. I have had the chance to chat with a few friends and they have all been extremely supportive. I appreciate that. It sucks, but I’ll land on my feet.
So – anybody hiring?

Today marks 2 weeks since I was laid off from my day job. I told myself I was going to pretend that I was actually a full time writer while I’m looking for new work. That hasn’t really worked out so far. The “work” of looking for a job seems to be devouring a significant amount of time – as it should – but has also been draining. I believe I’ve gotten a handle on things around the house and intend to start getting things in my creative world back in order.

What kicked this actually getting back to the creative change off? One of the coolest feelings I’ve had in a long time – I got a royalties statement from the publisher (and yes, it included money for me!). I think I could get used to a schedule like I have now. I know I’ll need to get back to my day job here very soon – but so far this hasn’t been terrible. Changes / transitions are a difficult thing. I’m hoping this one works out for the best.

Being right

Sometimes I don’t like that the research I did for stories leads me toward “correct” conclusions. IF you haven’t, head out and pick up the Defending The Future series, in particular Best Laid Plans and Dogs Of War where my stories appear. The stories I wrote have soldiers from “resource command”. I’ve taken a rather dim view of how people will react to scarcity, but that view has been borne out in the past.

Recently an article cropped up that that dim future might be closer than we thought. Sometimes it’s not great to be right.

Historic Drought in California

Social Test

So – it’s been forever since I was going to have my posts here connect to social media. I made an effort today to form that connection correctly. I have doubts that this actually worked, but this is the test. Hopefully this will show up on my “wall” without further intervention from me.