Life is...a game

Hello, LiveJournal. It's been a long time. Four years, as a matter of fact.

I've been inspired to try journaling again by the game Life Is Strange.

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In the game, the main character Max journals the events of the game as you go along. You never actually see her do it, but you can read the entries as you play. I'm in the midst of my third playthrough of this game, but this is the first time I've really bothered to read through her journal entries and I've really been enjoying them.

Since the game is about the choices you make, you the journal naturally changes based on those choices. Even though I just played through the various scenes and saw how things went down, it's kind of neat to read what is essentially a recap of those events since you get a little insight into her perspective on them. It adds yet another layer to the already rich story and characters in the game.

Wait, I said I wasn't intending this entry to be about the game.

Anyway, I don't really expect to have anything particularly deep or interesting to record right now, but I would like to try to get back into the habit of at least writing something more than the trite bullshit I tend to post on Facebook. And since I have a notoriously terrible memory maybe I'll have a reference for at least some of the stuff that goes on in this life I'm living.

I'm not going to commit to any sort of regular schedule. Heck, I've already managed to put this off for the last two nights. Hopefully, if I can at least get started (like I'm doing now) and maybe do it a few times, that I'll at least remember that this is here and actually consider it on my list of potential things to do.

I feel like my writing skills are slowly dissolving into nothing due to simple lack of use. Actually, I feel like my creativity in general is nearly non-existent. I do a lot of consuming, but I don't really take the time to create anything lately and I've been noticing that I'm missing it. This isn't feeling especially creative just yet, but it's at least more than nothing.

Well, that turned into essentially a giant intro before I knew it. I guess I'm still verbose. let's get on with the actual, traditional journaling activity...

Last night was kind of cool. Jeremy Brown came over and we started building a MAME cabinet. Jeremy was among the very first group of people I met playing DDR as he actually worked at GameWorks at that time. I had actually lost touch with him for years, but he had a chance encounter with Jon Mittendorf--another of that original DDR group--around this time last year and Jon "reintroduced" us.

This MAME cabinet has been on the project list for probably 15-20 years. I've just been "distracted" by the non-emulation side of arcade gaming. :P Most of the arcade games I'm interested in playing, the cabinet itself is part of the experience, so it's important (to me) to have each dedicated cabinet rather than a single "generic" cabinet to play several games. For the typical joystick-and-buttons type games, I've mostly been content to simply play on a PC or console--or while I'm out playing games in a "real" arcade.

but, the idea of having an emulation cabinet has certainly been something I've thought about for a long time. I'm sure it actually pre-dates my interest in all these more novelty games like DDR. But I think it's really more the project part of putting it together that interests me more than the cabinet itself otherwise I would have just bought a pre-built one years ago.

I did pick up a pair of old Pac-Man cocktail cabinets...back in 2009? Maybe 2010. They were non-working and came with a bunch of extra parts. It was probably like 2.5 machines worth of parts and the two cabinets themselves. I was able to piece together one working Pac-Man from all that way back then, and I set aside the other cabinet for a MAME project. In 2012, I bought some parts to start that project (that was the date on the invoice when I opened the box...last night). Here we are in 2016 and I'm finally actually starting to do some work on this. At least my pace is...accelerating?

I haven't had a chance to really sit down and talk to Jeremy much since we've reconnected, so we spent a lot of time just catching up and talking about whatever. And frankly, that's the highlight of this project for me already. But we did manage to get the spare cabinet out of storage, stripped down, and cleaned out.

We're trying to figure out how to adapt an old CRT computer monitor that's been sitting under the pool table for at least the last 5 years. I think it took us at least 90 minutes just to get it out of its shell. Getting it mounted securely in the cocktail cabinet will be our next challenge. We have some ideas, but it's definitely going to be just that...a challenge.

I'm realizing that I uncharactistically didn't take any pictures of any of this work. Shame on me. I'll have to remember to do better next time. We're set to continue working on this next week.

I guess I'll call this good for a first time back on LJ in 4 years. I can probably think of some more things to write about, but I'll save them for the next entry. Hopefully that will come sooner than 4 years from now. I definitely want to get back into this and am willing to invest some time in it, but I've been sitting here almost an hour now and I'm ready to move on to something else.

Korea trip days 1-3

This year I am continuing my now three-year running tradition of visiting thenarus in whatever country he's stationed in with the Air Force. For the last two years, that's been Japan. This year, it's Korea. Unlike the last two years, this year I have a traveling companion along for the fun in the form of one belindashort.

Our trip got off to a very early start on Thursday, December 8. Brandon came to pick us up and take us to the airport around 1am for our 6am flight. That put us at the airport at about 2am--4 hours before our flight. We didn't really need to get there that early, but that allowed Brandon to go to bed at a normal time for him rather than staying up extra late or getting up extra early. Besides, we were packed and didn't really have anything else or better to do.

Man, the airport is really dead at that time of the morning. There were a few people hanging out asleep on benches and that was about it. Everything was closed. We weren't even able to check our luggage until about 4am. Once we got to the gate, we found out that our flight was delayed due to some kind of maintenance issue. The gate attendant made a really confusing announcement that some people would be transferred to the 6:45am flight and that others with connecting flights would stay on the original flight whenever it left because they would either still make their connection or they will have already missed their connection with the 6:45. Unfortunately, we were in that latter group.

We had a 7am (Chicago time) flight from Chicago to San Francisco with another connection on to Incheon, Korea. As it turned out, the 6:45 flight arrived in Chicago at 6:53 (go, go time change!). Chances are that would have been too tight for us to make. Instead, we were rerouted on a flight from Chicago to Narita in Japan with a connection to Incheon. That would put us in Korea about 5 hours later than originally planned, but at least we wouldn't lose another whole day. They also upgraded us to Economy Plus (5 inches more leg room) "for our trouble." that ended up being a fairly nice perk.

The flight was pretty smooth and uneventful. We were on a pretty old 747 with no power outlets, Wi-Fi, or personal entertainment screens. It was kind of disappointing after the comparatively posh flights I had to Japan the last two years. Oh well. I ended up doing my usual habit of sleeping off-and-on the whole flight, so my laptop battery held up for as long as I wanted to use it on the flight (probably about 6+ hours) even while charging my phone battery. Hooray for new laptop!

We made a fairly brief stop in Japan (only a little over an hour). It was just enough to feel familiar, but not enough to really do anything. Then, it was on to Korea! The jet to Korea was a nice, newer 777 with all the amenities I had gotten used to in previous years. But it was only about 2.5 hour flight that I slept at least half of, so it hardly mattered.

Arriving in Incheon Airport a little after 9pm local time, I was struck at how modern, clean, and nice it was. We were able to make our way through Customs and get our luggage with relative ease. The only issue was that, in our re-routing, mine and Belinda's luggage had become separated and only mine arrived. We had both packed minimally in our main suitcases (far fewer clothes than days we'll be in Korea) and I even carried on a second completely empty case. However, we kind of did it backward in that all of our clothes and toiletries were in our checked bags and not our carry-ons. We were told that Belinda's suitcase would arrive the next day and we arranged for it to be delivered to us, but Belinda would be without fresh clothes and we both be without toiletries for our first day in Korea.

Once we got all that taken care of, we were able to get bus tickets from the airport to meet Jon in Songtan. This ended up being about an hour and a half ride beginning with a trip across the > 13-mile long Incheon Bridge. It's apparently not the longest bridge in the world, but it's certainly the longest I've ever been on. The bus tickets were only 13,000 won each (only about $11.50). This seemed like a pretty good deal for such a long trip.

Our destination was the second "stop" on the route, but calling it a "bus stop" is overstating it a bit. They pretty much just let us out on the side of the road in town. Not knowing anything about where I was or how to navigate Korean roads, this was not at all helpful. Fortunately, there was a taxi stand across the street, and the driver got us to Osan AB that was actually only a few block away.

We were able to meet up with Jon but found out that the base hotel was full. They gave us a sheet of nearby hotels they had agreements with, and Jon picked one that he knew the location of just about a block away from the main gate of the base. The hotel was a little seedy and had some pretty questionable decor. Visit my Facebook album for details. It may or may not have been a "love hotel." But hey, it was on a list we got from a USAF hotel and the rate was not by the hour, so who knows. :P

After we got checked in, we hit the streets to find some food. Of course at this point it was about 1 o'clock in the morning, so our choices were a bit limited. Fortunately, the 2-for-1 Chickens place that Jon liked was still open, and we indeed found out why he likes it. It basically amounts to wings in sauce in bone-in or boneless varieties, but the breading and sauces are different than what you would likely find in the States. The garlic and soy flavor, in particular, was quite tasty. After this, it was back to the room where we basically turned in for the night (after discovering porn--complete with Korean subtitles--on the hotel TV).

Day 3 of the trip, Belinda went in search of underwear (we learned that it's called innerwear here) so she could change as her luggage would not arrive until later in the day. We also transferred from Korea Hotel to Turumi Lodge on base. The room here is a lot nicer and actually less expensive. Of course I'm sure that has a lot to do with it being on a military base.

The three of us went to a churrascaria for lunch. It was quite delicious though not at all Korean. Jon raved about the pineapple. It prepared with a crust of cinnamon and sugar and then cooked churrascaria-style. I must say that it was unique in my churrascaria experience and quite fantastic.

After turning off the meat faucet, we went down the various streets near the base and looked at merchandise of all sorts. Belinda found some more things to wear that were not the things she wore on a plane for 15 hours. She also found a rather epic engrish hat that you really must visit my Facebook album to see. You won't miss it...and you'll be glad you didn't!

We also all got measured for custom tailored pea coats and suits. The pea coats were only $140 and a full-on 3-piece suit was only $230. Maybe not the pea coat, but I couldn't hope to find a suit this nice off-the-rack for this price bck home--nevermind custom tailored. We won't get them for a few days, but I have a feeling these will be my favorite garments I've ever owned. I've never had anything made just for me and it's been well over a decade since I've even had something altered to fit me (other than a rental tux here and there). Jon tells me I can get custom made shoes, too. I am intrigued.

We retired for a nap in the late afternoon/early evening. I'm going to cut this entry there. We'll see if I can actually stay with the blogging for more of this trip. :)
sad

Goodbye to an old friend


Widget
1997-2011

I had to say goodbye to Widget today. He's been such a part of my life for so many years that it's hard to even think of him not being around anymore. I miss him so much already.

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I love you, Widget. You were a great cat! I'm sorry you had to go and that there wasn't any more that I could do for you. But I am so happy that you were a part of my life.

inadequacy

I wish I could shake the feeling that the best I've got isn't good enough and that all I have to give isn't enough. Meanwhile, I'm just trying desperately to keep today positive.
hmm..

wrestling with tradition

When I learned to type, I was taught to put two spaces after a period before starting the next sentence. HTML generally ignores and does not display the second space unless you specifically tell it not to. So even though I've still been diligently including it, it is simply not displayed in 9 out of 10 things that I write.

However, since I've started text messaging in the last couple years (yes, I know I was pretty late to that party), I've stopped including it since it's one of 160 precious characters that I could use to include more in my message. Twitter has furthered this even more giving me only 140 characters to work with. Both of these have gotten me used to not including the second space, and I'm finding that I'm omitting it in other short messages like Facebook updates and such.

Now I'm considering whether to dispense with the second space altogether--even in longer form. For instance, the LJ rich text editor has always obeyed and displayed the second space, although it does have a tendency to make some line breaks wonky. I'm typing this entry without the second space, and only once so far have I had to remove the second space because I typed it out of habit. The single space is feeling fairly natural even though it is against 20+ years of habit.

Anyway, I just wanted to get some feedback about what other people are doing in this regard. I've heard that either is now considered acceptable. I'm guessing my younger friends are more likely to lean toward the single space and I wonder if that's even how it is being formally trained these days.

And now, a completely unrelated picture of me on the 8th grade wrestling team. Why? Because I used the word 'wrestling' in the subject line.

second ride to work

I rode my motorcycle to work again today.  I picked up some thermal underwear last night that kept me reasonably comfortable during the chilly morning ride.  I also took my scarf advice from earlier in the week and that helped quite a bit as well.  I wouldn't say I was warm so much as not too cold.  The only parts of me that still got too cold were my hands.  I put on some stretch gloves underneath my riding gloves, but my hands--especially fingertips--were still pretty cold.  But at least they hurt as opposed to going numb, so they couldn't have been that bad. :P

I'm getting a lot more comfortable and confident and am able/willing to accelerate more quickly and go a little faster.  The downside to that is that I only got a paltry 52 mpg today. :P  I think I filled it up a bit more than last time though, so it might have been a little higher than that.  Also, some of my shifts weren't too smooth and I revved the engine up more than necessary.  At any rate, I think I can probably find a good balance between performance and fuel economy as I get some more experience.  Regardless, even 50 mpg is doing a whole lot better than my car.

Here's some notes/experiences/learning from today's ride:

- 65 mph is really damn fast
- My bike only weighs about 300 lbs. Loaded with me and full tank of gas, it's probably on about 500 lbs. That's not enough to trigger traffic sensors. This is somewhat problematic at "left turn on arrow only" intersections.
-  I had to hit the brakes a little hard and I locked up my back wheel. It fishtailed a bit. I didn't panic and was able to control it. At least I didn't lock up the front wheel.
- Motorcycles are good conversation starters. I was asked to show mine by two people at work today and had a decently long conversation about bikes with one of them. More of "the club", I guess.
- There aren't too many other riders out this late in the season, but the ones that are still give "the wave." Cool.

saving the planet...one ride at a time

This morning I finally used my motorcycle for the purpose I intended when I purchased it--commuting to work.

How about a little back story:
Flashback to the summer of 2008.  Gas was skyrocketing up to the $4/gal. range.  Heath suggested I consider a motorcycle as they can get 50-70 mpg.  That being 2x or more than what my car gets certainly sounded appealing.

Heath had a friend that was selling a Kawasaki Ninja 250 that had just been sitting around for several years, so I went ahead and got it.  So yeah, I actually purchased a motorcycle to be practical and efficient. :P

However, at that point, I had never so much as even sat on a motorcycle--nevermind actually ridden one.  Heath encouraged me to take the ABATE safety course and I wholeheartedly agreed.  The classes run all summer but unfortunately book up really fast in the spring.  I was already too late to get into one.  I could have tried to walk in and take the spot of a no-show sometime, but I just didn't want to do that.  So, the bike just sat.

In 2009, I was able to sign up for an ABATE class.  I got a date in July.  I learned a lot and quite enjoyed the class.  However, with all the other stuff going on last year, I never got around to getting plates, insurance, or my motorcycle endorsement.

That brings me to this year.  In the late-ish summer I finally got all the paperwork ready to go and Heath got it running for me.  I decided to take it down to the gas station to put some more gas in it, but it just quit running at a stop light about 2 miles from my house.  That ended up being a long walk home. :P  It's a small motorcycle, but pushing it for 2 miles is no fun.

Heath was stumped, so he took it to a shop for me.  They were kind of backlogged, so it took them a few weeks to get to it.  I finally got it back last month and thus began me actually mentioning the few times that I have.  I've really only ridden it 2-3 times since then.  I was a bit apprehensive at first, but the stuff I learned in the class a year ago has been coming back to me.

This morning I finally had the confidence to try riding to work.  It's a fairly long ride at about 25 miles each way.  Also, it's the most traffic I've seen while riding.  But everything went pretty well and I made it to work safely.  It wasn't too stressful and was actually kind of fun.  I'll break down the pros and cons.

Pros:
50+ mpg! (I'll do the math when I fill up later today)
fresh air
scenic (even though it's a familiar route I've taken many times, it's quite different on a bike)
I can feel responsibly green and like kind of a badass at the same time! :P

Cons:
no NPR
It was kind of chilly this morning. I probably could have used a scarf and maybe an extra set of gloves under my riding gloves.
I think I need some anti-fog wipes for my mirrors and the face shield on my helmet.
HELMET HEAD! (fixed easily enough)

Thanks to Heath for expanding my horizons.  I probably won't get too many more opportunities to ride this year, but I'm glad to have this option available and look forward to utilizing it more in the future.
longing

I wish...

...I could trust my logic when I know my emotional response is wrong.
...I could trust my emotions when I know my logic is wrong.
...I could trust myself.

...I had the confidence to ask for what I want.
...that my fear of rejection wasn't stronger than the disappointment of not getting what I want.

...I could actually choose the way I feel rather than just projecting the feeling I choose.
...I wasn't as good a projecting.
...I could express sadness as easily as joy.

...I could communicate more clearly.
...I was a better listener.

...I actually believed that I can't please everybody all the time.

...I would consistently practice the advice I've given to others.

...I knew how to care for people without hurting them.

...I could believe I was as good as people tell me I am.

...I didn't feel like this right now.

I'm going to bed.  That's a wish I can actually make come true.

moving...

My usage had already been dropping off over the years, but I've been remarkably more silent on LJ this year--especially given how much stuff has actually been going on. There are various reasons for this, most prominent of which is a simple lack of time. That's not to say that I have had no downtime at all, but amongst all of the things I've been doing this year, LJ has sadly not risen to the top with any frequency.

In the meantime, I've made plenty of tweets and Facebook posts. Of course those short blurbs rarely capture the depth of my actual experience. I just made such a post earlier today, but I really feel the need to expound on it a bit. So here I am on LJ to do just that.

My work is moving to a new office sometime in the next month or so. In the meantime, we're reshuffling a bit at our current office to free up equipment and furniture that can be moved to the new office in advance so we can minimize downtime. As a result, I had to move from the cubicle I've been in for several years to one in the next row over. Also, the destination cube is about 1/3 smaller. I have literally crammed stacks of equipment into much less space as well as taken the opportunity to throw away a bunch of things.

At any rate, as part of the moving process I took down all the pictures that have been hanging in my cubicle. Here's a completely unrelated picture from several months ago showing the wall where most of the pictures were hanging in the background: http://twitpic.com/1a9pjj Those pictures represent some of the best times and people from approximately the last decade of my life. As I took down these pictures, I noted the people and things that have been important to me in that time, which of those have persisted, and which have not. There were many surprises in both categories. The experience was quite sobering, and in many cases, bittersweet.

Preparing my office to move has made me take note of how much my life has done the same: moved. Where I'm at today from just a year ago feels like I've journeyed from a distant land. I'm thankful for all of the people and experiences that have been a part of it--even the ones that haven't turned out as I had planned or hoped.

It's been challenging, to be sure. It's been a year of adjustment, experimentation, contemplation, and the inevitable mistakes. But it's also been a year of discovery, joy, excitement, closure, and new beginnings. I've learned a lot and a lot about myself. I've questioned long-standing methods and preferences and learned I was doing many things for all the wrong reasons.

I've found out I had deluded myself from many issues over the years I just didn't want to face or wasn't prepared to deal with. I'm being forced to or forcing myself to deal with as many as possible now and it can be overwhelming. I've definitely had some breakdowns this year. They're scary and unfamiliar to me as I've been suppressing them for so long, but it has also become clear to me that such suppression is often just as harmful and often even more destructive in the long run.

My stress level has definitely been at an all-time high lately, but at least I feel like I'm moving forward. And one thing hasn't changed: I'm still an optimist. I feel like I'm headed toward something good. Regardless, the motion itself feels better than being mired in continued stagnation. 
oh yeah!

girls night out

Last night I went to a girls night at Scotty's Brewhouse with some girls I know from high school.  Kinda silly, I know.  This came about from a Facebook wall post I saw asking if any girls from the Lawrence North class of '94 that still live in/near Indy would like to get together for a girls night to catch up.  I jokingly replied asking if I could be an honorary girl and from the class of '94 since I am neither.

With an affirmative reply, I figured I'd at least show up to say hi and just politely excuse myself if I detected my Y chromosome was getting in the way of their fun.  A total of 8 people showed up including me.  Of the 7 other girls that showed up, none were super close friends that I hung out with a lot back in school but 4 I remembered well, 1 I remembered peripherally, and the other 2 I don't think I really knew before.  In my case, I hadn't seen any of them for 17 years.  Some had seen each other more recently but that was hardly universal.

As it turned out, I don't think I ended up inhibiting the dialog in any way, and I probably heard stuff that no man was ever supposed to hear. ;)  It was sort of no holds barred on subject matter regardless of the one rooster in the hen house.  For the most part, it was a lot of reminiscing about old times and catching up on what's been going on since.  Most of that is pretty gender neutral.  Of course the talk about such things as pregnancies and breast feeding revealed me to not be plumbed correctly to muster so much as a "me too."

The whole night ended up being a lot of fun.  I didn't really feel all that out of place.  In fact, it was fun periodically noting that I should have been.  I ended up staying the whole time--about 3 1/2 hours over food and drinks.  There were a few somber moments, but it was mostly laughter and boisterous obnoxiousness.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend.