This coming Friday I have the interview I've been hopeful for since starting my 2014 job search. As such, I've been studying since the interview was scheduled, hence part of the lack of updates for you two people who read this to check in on me :)
With any luck, both the interview will go well and I'll have something of interest to post about. As it is, the rest of the week will probably be pretty silent here.
In the meantime, feel free to enjoy a little Sam Smith.
My board game playing has been lax the past few months. My gaming with Jer & Keith has dwindled to where the last time all 3 of us played was back in March. Keith and I have played a few games since, even joining some of the Dealnews gang for some game nights. Overall though, my gaming interest has waned this year.
Maybe it's cyclical? In 2005 Jerry and I started playing games again after a 10 year hiatus. That 10 year hiatus followed a 10 year run of game playing. Granted, the last few years of that run were sparse in playing. Now we're closing in on the end of another 10 year run of playing.
I know part of my problem is due to the type of game I enjoy. I'm very much an Ameritrash gamer. Games that ooze theme and lots of pretty pieces appeal to me. The drawback for these is that generally the rules are thick and take a while to learn, plus the time and effort to set up all of those pretty pieces for a game. When you want to play a quick game of something for the first time, the games I like take longer to set up and learn than to play. There have been many times where we've learned partway through that first game that the game in question just isn't for us, which leads it all to feel like a wast of time.
The games we've played lately have been quick, semi-abstract (to me) games like Splendor, Quantum, and Smash Up (which was completely over my head). All are good games and enjoyable in their own right, except for Smash Up - it's going to take me a while to get the hang of that one as there's a lot more going on that I originally thought there would be. These games play more as a classically thought board game in that you, as the player, don't immerse yourself into the game via an avatar.
Immersion into the game is more fun more me. It tends to lead toward more social interaction, which is the real reason I play board games. Ticket To Ride is a lot easier to play on a computer or iPad and let the software take care of all the bookkeeping, but it lacks the fun of taunting and goading other players as well as cursing them to their face when a route you want is taken. While I don't feel like I'm the train in Ticket to Ride, I feel more ownership of the routes I'm placing which puts me in the game. Maybe it's because pieces aren't picked up and moved, but placed and forever stay? I hadn't really thought of that before now....
The games I've most enjoyed of late have been those in which I immerse myself. Star Wars X-Wing has been the game I've been playing the most, and each time I feel like I'm in a dogfight inside a Star Wars movie. The X-Wing game has led me to find that I'm a fan boy of the publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, which I've come to think of as the President of Ameritrash as all of their games reek of theme, have lots of pretty pieces, and even better - most of them have expansions which pile on even more theme, pieces, and rules.
It's those expansions which may be burning me out on the games I enjoy. As with Car Wars in the 80's, enough content can be added on to a game as to make it encompass so much that it gets bogged down to where it's almost unplayable. But, I don't want to get behind in the rules or miss some cool new thing, so I have to keep up with the expansions. Expansions I end up not caring about or using, but my completest gene of acquisition forces me to collect.
With all of the above, I still like board games. I don't want to get rid of the closet full of games I've still yet to play. I feel a little guilty for not playing as much as I think I should, but forcing myself to play isn't really fun, and shouldn't playing games be fun?
Job Search 2014 has been going on for a month now. I last had to search for a
job in 2006. It was the first time that I didn't have an "in"
somewhere and actually had to hunt down job opportunities all on my own. Things
have changed a little in 8 years. All the jobs are listed online (way back
when, some were only listed in the Classifieds section of the newspaper).
Luckily, job titles have gotten better so I can search for more than
LinkedIn seems to be the go-to source for recruiters. I've had a profile for years but never really used it. A couple of weeks ago I filled out my work history and started to connect with people I've worked with. Not everyone I've worked with... I learned that lesson on Facebook. Since updating my profile I've been contacted by 4 recruiters and replied to 2 of them. For the 2 I didn't respond, I'm not desperate enough for a Nashville commute just yet, and I didn't really qualify for the details of the other.
I'm not sure if making those LinkedIn connections will make a difference - does number of connections affect whatever search parameters recruiters are putting in? Hopefully people I haven't spoken to in over 5 years won't wonder why I'm suddenly poking them on LinkedIn. I don't want to be a creepy Linker.
I've had 1 interview out of the 17+ resumes I've emailed out. Thus far I've been primarily applying for PHP jobs (I like the PHP), but on paper I may look overqualified for most of those jobs since they ask for ~5 years experience and I've got 12 years of PHP & 19 years of programming experience. But I'm not too dejected yet.
With that said, I still stay up until 2:00 in the morning at least once a week scouring the job listings online because I can't sleep.
After a couple of weeks it's time to check in with the internet.
When last I spoke to the internet, I was in a rut of half-started tasks. I managed to get past half-started on some of them. On others, I haven't done a damn thing. Painting minis, for example. I've yet to pick up a paint brush in the past 2 weeks. But that's ok - it's a hobby for fun and not something I should force myself into. I've learned when I force myself to paint, my painting looks like crap.
Associated with painting, and part of why I've had no impetus to move forward, is that I ran into a drawback with my battle terrain that I've been working on. It seems that some combination of chemicals and crafts that I've used gives off a toxic/metallic smell when stored in the computer room closet. I thought the smell would dissipate over time, but last week I could actually start to smell it through the closed closet door. Between 4 different kinds of glue, spray paint and sealant, and how it's all reacting to the styrofoam there's no telling what the cause is. Jerry's suggested I set it all outside and see if the sun can back the toxins away. Everything has been setting in the garage for the past week, and I think it will all go from there to the storage building in the back. For now, I'm writing the whole thing off as a learning experience instead of a board game accessory. While a bit of a downer, I learned a lot in putting it all together. We'll see what I mess around with for a replacement.
The website will be down for a little while at some point this week. I had a list of tweak I wanted to make - I haven't done much to the website code in 4 or 5 years. For most of Sunday I lost track of time and coded for fun. It's been a long time since I did that. Now I have to push all the changes to the live server, which of course includes forgetting files, remembering data updates in the database, and wondering why server permissions are not what I want them to be. While it should be a 10 minute task, I know it's going to take an hour or two. That's the real reason I don't mess with the code but twice per decade :)
Over at Workshop Games people are still downloading my zombie game. Roughly 1 person per week seems to download a file (or more). I've been keeping track of what files are downloaded and the locations that download them. One of my code-for-fun projects is to make a web page that will plot out those locations on a map.
I'm slowly making progress on the next boardgame - Joe Frag. The challenge for this one is to minimize the rulebook, so I've been thinking through game play a lot, which unfortunately doesn't give me a lot to show. To make up for it, I've had a title-logo idea in my head for a week that I finally managed to spew forth into Paint Shop Pro.
Making graphics seems to spur my creativity for rules making. I need to make
more graphics - I've got a handful of images, none of which have anything to do
with how the game plays, in my head. Best to get them out of my head and see if
they unclog the flow of rules.
Now it's time to get back to making some progress.
Step 1. Break the website!
Ah, the end of April. What has this month brought?
The last 2 days have been fraught with tornado warnings, watchings, and whatever else should be associated with spinning, twisting destruction. Luckily, I was unaffected by this bout of weather. I never even lost power - I had that flashlight by the bed for no reason. I had plenty of text messages and phone calls to check on me and warn me to be weather aware, so it's nice to know people out there are helping to take care of me.
I'm still slowly working my way through painting my miniatures for Dust Tactics/Warfare. I went a little crazy and put together some flags to use as objective markers/scenery, all from scratch!
I've been wanting to make some flags for a while. I lack the skills to properly make them out of modelling clay/putty (I tried, it did not go well). Instead I used my mad skillz with manipulating 3D files and textures and whipped up my own flags and printed them out. Thanks to using a 3D program that could render the flag as if being blown by a light breeze, the printed flags have a little bit of a 3D look to them - actually more than I thought they would.
The flag poles are small wooden dowels from Hobby Lobby that I cut to a length that seemed to work. Yes, that is meticulous measuring on my part. They're topped off by little wooden balls that were hanging near the dowels in the store. I have no idea what they would normally be used for, but they work. Top it all of with some chrome spray paint that somehow manages not to be all shiny and sparkly, which is good in my case, and I end up with a teeny-intsy flagpole.
I've been trying to figure out a good way to attach the flags to the poles for weeks. Gluing the flag to the pole would be easiest, but I wanted something that would look a little nicer. While wandering through Hobby Lobby I came across Hemp String in the Beading/Jewelry section (I will wander all over that store). It looked the right thickness that would work as rope for the scale of the minis, so I picked some up. While playing around, I decided to try drilling some holes in the wooden dowels with my "precision modelling drill" (screwdriver with a drill bit). The hole was big enough for the Hemp String to go through, so I had the bright idea of gluing the flag to the string and looping the string all the way through the flagpole. The bonus result - I can raise and lower the flags!
Although there's no picture to prove it, I've managed to drop another 5 lbs since the beginning of the month and weighed in at 306 lbs this morning.
Thanks to motivation from Gina, we surpassed last month's walking total:
Right when I thought 61 miles in March was a long way to go, this month we got in 71 miles of walking. I remember when the pedometer app on the phone rolled over 100 miles total in early March. We've more than doubled that in less than half the time. Now that we're walking ~5 days/week our monthly average should be right around 70 miles. In a month. That just boggles my mind.
I have a post-walk routine now. After we walk, I take a much needed shower, then lay on the bed with ice packs on my knees for at least 45 minutes while I watch tv or read. The ice helps (mainly on the following day) - I'm not sure if I'm walking harder or if the bone spurs that showed on knee x-rays back 20 years ago are starting to make their presence more pronounced now that I'm not just sitting around all of the time. Either way, the ice appears to take care of most of it, so I'm going to keep doing it.
That's all that's on my mind for now. I think I'll go ice my knees while painting flag poles and watching out for tornadoes.
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
Tags have been added to posts back to 2005. There may be an occasional old blog that gets added to the tag list, but in reality what could be noteworthy from that far back?
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