Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

Sorry for the long break in posting. I had two weekend back in Seattle and now I'm in the midst of both day-job deadlines and a big freelance editing project, so my blogging time has been cut to nil.

I will attempt to get something up here a bit more substantive, but really, there's not much going on except work.

And of course as I type that I think, "Except for the fact that Julia has a doctor appointment later this week and should be able to start walking on her foot again!" So there's that.

More soon, I hope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Annual Books Post

I just finished writing the entry below and realized I hadn't posted the list of books I read in '09. Usually I remember/get a chance to do that before the end of the year or early in the new year, but not this time around because of all the traveling and whatnot.

It looks like I did better than the last couple of years and actually made it through almost eight novels this year. I finished World War Z just after the holidays, so I'm throwing it on the list for '09. I should also note that I don't include any of my gaming books, comics, or graphic novels on this list. That would be a much, much longer list.

Ah, also, the list is chronological with the books I read earlier in the year appearing at the bottom and the most recent books at the top.

World War Z by Max Brooks
Since this came out in '06 people have been telling me how good it is and now I can join their ranks. It's not schlocky. It treats the subject matter intelligently. And it's actually pretty damn interesting and thought-provoking. I've never been a big zombie fan, but this and Kirkman's Walking Dead comics are just plain excellent. If all zombie fiction were as good as these two examples you'd be reading them, too.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I enjoy Gaiman's stuff and even though this was a Young Adult novel, it's probably my second or third favorite of his prose work behind American Gods and, maybe, Neverwhere.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I like Vonnegut the man and hadn't ever read anything he'd written, so I picked up a dog-eared copy of Slaughterhouse Five and read it. I'm always surprised at how fast-paced and almost stream-of-consciousness novels from this time period are, but it worked well in this case since the main character was jumping around through time and took you along for the ride. I wish I'd actually read this in college. When I was supposed to.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Seth recommended this to me, uh, maybe a dozen years ago and I finally got a chance to read it. It was a very enjoyable novel with some nice characterization and an interesting setting both in terms of the world and in terms of the place the main character was raised and spent most of the book. It has a lot of great political, social, and physical action in it, which was a nice change from some fantasy fiction.

I read this for research and familiarization because of the work I'd done on the Dragon Age RPG for the folks at Green Ronin -- plus I wanted to read it in preparation for playing the Dragon Age computer game (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) that came out in the Fall. I thought the book did a good job of introducing some of the major places and characters that then appeared in the computer game and still managed to tell a fairly interesting story. Even if is was highly derivative of the legend of Arthur in the broad strokes. Even so, I liked it well enough.

Sacred Flesh by Robin D. Laws
I've worked with Robin, like him, and like his writing. This book is set in the Warhammer universe and is the second of his Angelika Fleisher novels. The main character and her sidekick are fun, but there were far too many characters to keep track of -- even if they did mostly all die during the course of the novel. That said, I think Robin handled the large cast as well as he could and told a very interesting story unlike the standard fantasy fair. This isn't high fantasy, this is grim and gritty fantasy in which the characters are constantly on-guard and in over their head. Fun stuff.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
I don't remember when this book was released, but I do remember hearing about it for the first time, mostly from serious readers and book editors. After reading it I understand why. Mieville writes fiction like some people write poetry. The book's language is . . . thick and meaty and the similes are incredibly unusual. So much so it was a bit distracting. Thankfully he's a very good writer and he never let the language get away from him. And the story was interesting, different, and very good. If you're looking for something "different" in the SF/F area, give this a read.

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust
I love Brust's stuff. Love it. This is the second book in his Khaavren Romances, which were inspired by the writings of Dumas, but set in Brust's Dragaeren setting (from the Taltos novels). These books are both slow and fast in terms of pacing, but they feel so right. The characters are great, the action is always exciting, the situations dire, and yet there's always room for a little comedy. Great book.

And there you go. My books from this year. Hopefully I'll read even more this year.

Good News and Good-Bye!

Julia went to the doctor today for a one-month check-up. They took some X-rays and found out the bone appears to already be growing well and has already filled in some of the hole caused by her affliction -- and the doctor thought the scar was looking great and may be all but unnoticeable. Nice!

He also told her she can stand on her foot again. She can't walk on it just yet, but she can put weight on it, which will make so many things easier for her. I was so happy to hear that. She's been feeling a bit stir crazy (I know that's not technically the correct term, but you get what I mean, yes?)

Work this week has been full of ups and downs. I wrapped up all my work last week, but this week we've been testing the stuff we made ("we" being the six of us on the Content Team) and that's generated a lot of feedback that now needs to be fixed/addressed. I was happy to see I had very few comments that were significant, especially compared to some of the others. I guess it pays to get help when your learning new things!

Last weekend I went home on a surprise trip to be with Julia as dealt with the aftereffects of the medicine she'd stopped taking. And this weekend I'm heading back on a planned trip. It's very strange to be making that trip so soon, but it's nice.

See you when I return!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Surprise, Surprise!

This week was good. Very good. I'm still learning at work, but I was able to wrap up all six missions I'd been assigned -- on time! I even had time to go over them to make sure I had the text correct and a bunch of other details that needed a double-check. I was very happy with my progress.

At home tonight (Friday) I watched a movie from Netflix (Green Lantern: First Flight, if you care), then talked to Julia for a while. She was feeling kinda low because she's feeling the effects of not taking her medicine anymore. She decided a few days ago to stop taking her pills this weekend and since it's a narcotic, she'll suffer some withdrawal. So, we talked and eventually she suggested I come home this weekend. I looked up the fares and they didn't seem too bad, so I bought a ticket and I'm headed back to Seattle at 9:35 tomorrow (Saturday) morning! And I have a trip home planned for next weekend, too! (It helps that I had a $300 voucher for being bumped off a flight in December.)

So, that's my weekend! Monday is a holiday at work, so I'll return Tuesday morning just in time to get back to it.

I'd planned to have a relaxing weekend, but now I get to have a whole different sort of relaxing weekend. Woohoo!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Holidays

I didn't get a chance to post over the holidays because I was busy, busy, busy. I went home on the evening of the 21st so I could go with Julia for her surgery on the morning of the 22nd. She had some work done on her foot and the surgery went perfectly. She had a bit of difficult time bouncing back from the anesthetics, but she was home and in bed by the end of the day.

We'd both sort of expected her to be sleeping and pretty drugged up over the holidays, but she felt pretty good and not particularly sore or drugged. We had a couple of rough spots due to some harsh medicines, but we managed to get that under control in the first couple of days and after that it was smooth sailing.

While she was in surgery, I ran out to get some crutches and a scooter for her to get around on, so she was pretty mobile even though she can't put any weight on her foot for a while.

All of this added up to mean we had a pretty nice Christmas. We went to her mom and dad's for a big holiday party and spent the night there to avoid getting her home again just to come back the next day.

As for the holidays themselves, they were good. I missed my family, but that's just how things are right now. I talked to them a couple of times during the break and everyone seemed to have a good time -- although Grandma ate too much food while she was cooking for the parties and made herself sick. I thought that was kind of cute, but I felt bad for her because she didn't get to celebrate with everyone.

My younger sister's sons have and Xbox and one of the gifts they received from their parents was an Xbox Live subscription and they were very excited to get online and trade information with me. I don't actually have any of the (many) games they have, but maybe that'll inspire me to get some of the "hot" titles. I just hate to spend the money, though. Anyway, we're all hooked up now and we chatted online just the other day.

New Year's Eve we spent with Jen and Hays and their daughter Lily. We had a nice dinner and celebrated New Year's on the East Coast at 9:00 so Lily could enjoy it and then she was shuffled off to bed. She's too cute. After she went up we played a game of Settler of Catan, which lasted much longer than any game of that I've ever played. When Julia finally won we were all happy to pack up and head for home. It was a good night of relaxing.

The next day we slept in, then went to Julia's parents again to sit around and do whatever we wanted; which meant read, play another game of Settlers of Catan, and eat leftovers. Then we decided to go for Chinese dinner and see The Young Victoria. We all enjoyed it and honestly, for my purposes, it could have gone on for another hour at least. I love period pieces and this one was gorgeous and very interesting. I love watching the social interactions and how things are said or not said. It was also nice to learn a little more about Victoria and Prince Albert.

With the holidays over, Julia and I spent most of our time around the house. She wasn't really able to cook or clean (kind of hard to get around very easily on that scooter in the kitchen and up stairs), so I took care of most of the running around, fetching, cooking, cleaning, and whatever else needed to get done. I even cooked a few times and baked three batches of cookies!

Seth had a get-together somewhere in there, I think between Christmas and New Year's and I was excited to go because Jason and Liz were going to be there. I hadn't seen them since they moved to London two years ago and now they're back! Mike and Sharon and the girls were there, too. Which reminds me, we had the four of them over for lunch during the break, too. We were crazy with the parties.

I flew back to California on Sunday the 3rd and had just enough time to unpack and unwind for a couple of hours before it was time for bed and work the next day. I don't really feel like I had much of a vacation, but I knew that going into the holidays and really, it was just nice to spend a couple of weeks with Julia. That made it really hard to come back here. I like that girl.

I'm back at work. Things are good -- and I even received some nice comments on the forums about some of the missions I made a couple months ago. That was a rare treat; nice things being said on the Internet.

Enough typing for now. I'll update soon. I swear.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Back At It

I just wanted to write something quick to let you know I'm back in California, back at work, and everything is going well. I've been busy catching up on things I wasn't able to do while I was at home, like answer emails -- and I've accrued a pretty fair number of those that need addressing.

I ran my Song of Ice and Fire game tonight, that went well, but ate up Wednesday evening with prep work (after a run to the store) and tonight actually running the game.

The holidays were good and much busier than I thought they'd be, but I'll get into that more next time. I hope to get some time to write a bit more here over the weekend.

More soon.