Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Day in the Sun

Rob leaves for D.C. again next week, so we took this weekend as an opportunity to get together and hang out before he takes off. It's unlikely that I'd be able to get down to the Navy base he's stationed at during the week, so this was pretty much the last chance. It worked out really well. Some friends of his had a car for the day, so we met up at Pike Place Market and this beautiful, sunny Saturday, grabbed some food from the shops nearby and chatted for a bit. Rob has been to the market a couple of times this visit and he'd had his eye on some hombow from one of the shops, so he indulged that craving and was very happy with his decision.

After food and conversation he and I took off (my meter was due to expire any minute) and went back to my place for a bit. Honestly, we didn't do anything particularly exciting -- except go to work and grab my laptop, which I'd forgotten on my desk -- but we had a great time catching up and talking about whatever happened to come to mind. Around six o'clock I dropped him off with his friends again and they were due to head back to base. It worked out perfectly and I really enjoyed having the day to spend with him. I'd be very excited if he could get stationed out here once he's done with medical school. But that'll be a while.

Otherwise, work has been fine. The woman I'm replacing while she's on maternity leave was told by the doctor to officially "take it easy" about a week ago, so I really only received a week of training before I was thrown in and told to swim, which turned out to be fine. The other people in my department have been very helpful and understanding, plus I'm beginning to get a pretty good idea of just what the hell I'm supposed to be doine.

That said, I haven't been carting my laptop to lunch everyday, so I haven't been posting. I'm going to make a concerted effort to fix that this next week. Of course, it's not like there's anything too exciting going on in my neck of the woods, but a week between posts is much too long.

Phil called and said he'll be out in a couple of weeks. He has some work to do, so it sounds like we'll be able to meet up for dinner one of the nights he's here. That should be fun. We all wish he'd been able to make it while Rob was here, but no such luck. That's okay, I'll take what I can get. It's nice to see everyone regardless of overlap. I'm just sorry Rob wasn't able to see him, and vice versa.

Jason and I have been talking about him running a D&D game. Damn, I can't tell you how excited I am to hear that. It's been way too long since I've actually played D&D (my guess is about three years -- and that was only for a couple of sessions). We'll see if it actually gets up and running. I have three pretty solid character ideas, so I'm ready when he is.

This weekend is Renton River Days and Julia has her jewelry down there as one of their featured artists. So far it looks like it's going very well. That coupled with her sales to the Seattle Art Museum and she's on cloud nine lately. It's really very exciting.

I'm doing research for my writing project, but much more slowly that I should be. I have to buckle down on that, but there's still plenty of time before I have to worry. Of course, given the number of pages to read through, I really need to get serious about it.

My birthday is coming up this week, so I'm hoping to have a few people over next weekend as a birthday/housewarming. I don't think it'll be too many people, just the regulars. I've been remiss in having a housewarming anyway, so this'll make some amends. Plus, gifts!

I'm going to go spend some time with my girl on a beautiful Saturday evening. More soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update 2

It took a day or two longer than I thought it would to get back here and post this, but I'm here now. "Here" is Microsoft, specifically the cafeteria near my office. I figured that now that my time is so limited, I should take advantage of the fact that I have a laptop (provided by MS) and a wireless connection pretty much anywhere on the premises. The end result is that I'm typing this while finishing off a tasty piece of grilled cajun chicken.

As I stated in the previous post, I returned to Seattle on the night of Monday, July 9th and started work on Tuesday. I thought I'd dive right into sitting at a desk and computer, doing . . . something. But instead I found that I didn't have a computer, or a desk, or really anything to do. First, I had to get into their email system, which I couldn't do until I had a computer from which to log in. So, Tuesday I met with the woman I'm filling in for, talked about the fact that I needed a computer and a place to sit, and then she sent me home to read some emails she sent me that containted some Website addresses with which to familiarize myself. So, I did that and agreed to meet her on Wednesday for a meeting.

I came back Wednesday. Still no desk. Still no computer. Oh, and still needing to park in "visitor parking" because I can't get a parking permit until I'm in the system. And I have to register with the receptionist every time I come in because I don't have an ID, which I can't get until I'm in the system, which means that I can't walk around on my own; someone has to escort me. Anyway, I get in and have my meetings, then go home again to do research online and read some materials I was given.

Thursday. Still no ID, no parking permit, no computer, no desk. You get the picture. I have some meetings, then go home.

Friday. Same old, same old. Nothing changes, although I find out that they're working on a computer for me, but the tech responsible for it was called away due to some VP's computer self-destructing. I also find out that I can get my badge on Monday morning because my email and everything will be active then. I have my meetings, then go home.

Monday morning I check my email at home (which is where all of my work emails have been going until my address at MS is active) and find out that they have a computer for me. Hooray! I go in, pick it up . . . and don't have a desk. So I set up in a nearby lounge and try to get online, but find I can't connect until I log in through a hard-wired LAN line (which no one told me). I finally get that taken care of after some meetings and one of the other women in the department tells me I can use her desk for the rest of the week because she'll be gone. As a nice bonus, her desk is in the office next to the woman I'm filling in for, so that's handy.

I forgot to mention that Monday morning I went to get my ID badge, so I can finally get into and around the building withuot an escort. Which is nice.

I also register my car, so I can park in the parking lot, as opposed to taking up a visitor spot. And wouldn't you know, I can't do it because I have to download a patch to the program from the MS security site, which they send me by Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning I regsiter my car, but the receptionist doesn't have any permits for me, but swears everything will be okay as long as I'm registered in the system. So far she's right about that.

I spent all day Monday, Tuesday, and until lunch today in the office, at a desk, with a computer, and with my car safely parked in the lot across from the office. It looks like I'm pretty solidly settled in here and can finally concentrate on learning what the hell I'm doing here. It seems fairly understandable and doable, although they use some pretty arcane language to talk about things, so I'm stymied a bit by that. I'm slowly picking up the meanings of the various acronyms and bits of both marketing-speak and Microsoft-speak.

And there you go. That's what I've been up to at work for the last week. The real saving grace of the whole experience is that I now have a regular paycheck. Which is nice.

I re-read some of the above and it sort of sounds like I'm not enjoying myself. That's not true. The people and the company both seem very good and I'm interested in the challenge I'm presented with. But I was really amazed by the bureaucratic crap I had to deal with to finally make it inside and get to work.

More soon. I hope you enjoyed hearing about all that.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Update Part 1

After my last post at the beginning of the month I took off for the Origins gaming convention in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio. I went for Red Juggernaut; we shared a booth with Studio 2 Publishing and generally had a good time promoting our first game, Battue.

We'd hoped to have the game for sale at the show, but that didn't work out. Instead we'll have the game for sale at GenCon. We received very, very good feedback from people at the show and a large number offered to buy one of the two production samples we had with us. We're really looking forward to having enough copies to actually sell them!

While I was at the show and flying there and back, I finished Gardens of the Moon, which Phil had recommended to me. I can see why Phil likes this series of books, they're very reminiscent of his D&D games. Oh, how I miss Phil's games.

Now that I've finished that book, I can spend my time reading and re-reading the George R.R. Martin books for the writing I have to do for Green Ronin.

My flight back on Monday was supposed to get me in at 1:15am on Tuesday morning, but I managed to fly standby on two flights, so I got back around 6:30 or so and was able to do some laundry and otherwise prepare for my first day or work at Microsoft. I'll talk more about that in my next post.

The biggest thing going on around the house has been that a couple of guys showed up on Tuesday to cut down the trees in "our" yard. It's actually in the yard next door, but it used to be the yard for this house, so I sort of think of it as part of our yard. Anyway, I left in the morning and everything was fine, but when I came home a few hours later the HUGE walnut tree in the front yard was cut back severely. Its absence from the skyline was palpable and made the landscape feel a bit alien to me. I was pretty disoriented as I drove up. The cutting continued for the rest of that day and the one following -- which also happened to be the days with heat around 100 degrees -- so the house lost its shade and was pretty darn hot.

The trees being cut down was pretty unpopular with our neighbors, but we explained that we weren't responsible for their removal and that construction would start soon on the new house.

Rob was in town again this past weekend. He, Seth, and I played Battue, then played a bit of D&D before I had to go. Time ran short much too quickly. Thankfully, Rob and his girlfriend will be around this weekend. I'm looking forward to meeting her.

Sunday was the regular D&D game. The players have learned that a cult is based out of the caves their investigating (near the town they're based out of) and they were a little creeped out when they found a mother and her new "children" in the caves. They rescued the trio, then went back to recruit some of the town guard to help. Unfortunately, when the player characters went back in they were ambushed by a Hook Horror and the town guard were nearly all slain by a fireball. Whoops.

My next post will be all about my experience at Microsoft in the last week. See you then. Which will be soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I have a few moments, so here I am.

There's a house in our neighborhood that was purchased recently. It was/is in really bad shape and the people living in it were packrats -- the kind that have so much stuff that it overflows onto the front porch and lawn. So, it's probably a good thing that someone else bought the house and is going to put some money into the property.

When Julia and I drove by we noticed a decent rocking chair and bookshelf with a big "FREE" sign next to them, so we checked them out and threw 'em in the car. The chair's in a little rougher shape than we'd originally thought, but it's fixable, and the bookshelf was dirty, but solid. We've already attached a new back to it and I spent Monday afternoon painting it. So Julia has a nice, new bookshelf for her studio.

Rob is in the area for a few weeks. He's spending time at a nearby base for some training, so Seth picked him up Friday night and the three of us spent Saturday hanging out and playing D&D. It's only the two of them, so they each wrote up 5th level split-class characters (Rob is playing a 3rd-level fighter, 2nd-level cleric, and Seth is playing a 3rd-level sorcerer, 2nd-level rogue . . . if I recall correctly). I don't know if they'll finish it, but I started running them through The Forge of Fury. It's written for a team of four 3rd-level characters, but I think two split-class characters ought to be equal to the task.

The game stuff aside, it was great to hang out with Rob again. I think it's been two years since I've seen him. He looks to be in very good shape and also seems to be enjoying the work he's doing. I'm sure he'll be around a few times over the course of his stay here.

Jason missed the Sunday D&D game, but it went well. The characters were almost killed by an ettercap and its stable of pet spiders, but they managed to pull it out.

Tonight I have some downtime planned because the next week or so looks to be pretty busy. I'll let you know how it goes.

More soon.