Quote of the Moment

"Beep Industries currently has no openings. This is a good thing. Any number of career paths are better than game development. Lots of jobs are more lucrative and far less work. We hear marketing and animal husbandry are filled with potential."

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Blog Posts!

Happy New Year everyone! Granted if you’re reading this, it’s a post that’s probably been up for a few days, but that’s the way things go around here.

It’s been a busy couple of months. I’ve largely settled in to a new routine of job hunting and getting to know my kids again, which has included some interesting challenges of their own. Meanwhile I think I’ve mostly come to terms with leaving my last job. There are definitely some perks to no longer being associated with Huge Global Multimedia-MegaCorp, especially when I no longer have to facepalm at some new bit of media produced by one of our other divisions. There’s also been the pleasant realization that for the work I was doing at HGMMC, I should have been making significantly more money than what I actually was.

I’m also realizing that while it seems counter-intuitive, I’m actually less stressed out now than I was for the last six or eight months of working. Turns out that constant crunch really was starting to take a toll on my stress level. A couple of my bad habits that indicate stress have just sort of gone away, after resurfacing hard in the last couple of years.

This is starting to sound like one of those incredibly annoying articles about the “funemployed” that the LameStream media was publishing back with the Obama Recession started. Ick. Let me assure you that isn’t the case here. While I am definitely enjoying some unexpected benefits of leaving a somewhat toxic work environment, I am very much focused on finding my next gig. I love my kids, but I was never meant to be a stay-at-home dad. But in the meantime, it’s nice to be playing games, and catching up with my favorite shows again.

Until next time,

For those with wings, fly to your dreams.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Back in the Pattern...

Back again! It’s been another long absence, but I’m planning on being back for a while this time.

It’s hard to explain. I started this blog with the intent of giving voice to some of my general thoughts, and to chronicle my (planned) excursion into aviation. Unfortunately, the flight plan got interrupted by life and kids, and I found I didn’t want to blog for a while, because of what this place reminded me of. Then I came back for a bit, but three kids and 60 hour work weeks pretty much sapped any desire I had to blog, and what free time I had I found I much preferred to do stuff with my family, play video games, or just veg with the TV. In short, screw talking about the stuff I’m doing or thinking, I barely had time to do or think anything anyway.

So why am I back? The simplest answer is that I finally became a victim of the Obama economy, and after three years of 60 hour weeks, I have no idea what to do with myself. So in addition to looking for a new job (hopefully with slightly less brutal hours) I suddenly have free time to do all the things I’d thought about for the past few years but filed under “if I have time”.

Where does the blog go from here? I’m not sure. I’ll probably have a few political thoughts, and definitely some commentary on my job situation and search. I’m trying to catch up on a lot of the major video games that I haven’t played for the past few years while I’ve been busy making them, so I’ll probably have some quasi-reviews and reactions there. I finally have time to go shooting. Of course I now don’t have a money surplus to go shooting very often, but I have time.

I’ll probably use this to talk about some of my project ideas and progress while I’m on my “Involuntary vacation” as well. The biggest thing for me right now is not to waste this time. About eight years ago I had a three month span of being unemployed, during which I did absolutely nothing other than play video games and eat. It’s been one of my major regrets looking back that I didn’t make more constructive use of the time, and not a mistake I want to make again. How I avoid that trap, however, is a question I don’t entirely have an answer to.

“For those with wings, fly to your dreams.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Vacation: An FTYD Interlude at The Great Wolf Lodge

Every once in a while, I like to take the FTYD family on a vacation. This year after getting most of our money back from the feds, and getting a decent (if overtaxed) bonus from AUGD we had a choice between two weeks of road tripping, sleeping in a tent and visiting the in-laws in the mid-west, or a long weekend at an air conditioned, in-door waterpark. After a brief debate we chose the waterpark.

I should note at this point that in spite of growing up in Southern California, I had never previously been to a waterpark. Plenty of theme parks, sure, but somehow the waterpark experience has always eluded me. Whether this is because my parents preferred to make our theme park visits in the less crowded (and cheaper) off season, or simply that we avoided them because the only time anyone really wants to go to a waterpark in California is when it's hot, so you spend more time in line working on your sunburn than actually being wet, I couldn't say. But suffice to say this promised to be as new and novel an event for me as it did for my wife and kids.

The waterpark in question is called The Great Wolf Lodge, and is part of a national chain. The Washington location is located roughly two hours drive (or three in traffic) south of Seattle. Conveniently next to nowhere it looms up beside the interstate and shares signage with another fine WannaFleeceASucker tribe's casino. (Shuttles every 15 minutes). Inside the lodge are a variety of shops, restaurants and amusements designed to carefully separate you from your money, usually through the middleman of your begging children and teens.

Fortunately, the FTYD children aren't old enough to see the appeal in interactive games requiring a wand (rented for $14.95 a game) with a personalized topper (bought for $29.95) or burn money in the arcade, decorate cookies ($3 per cookie) or any of the other diversions. They just wanted to get on the waterslides.

Off we went. Once I adapted to the overpowering scent of chlorine and the noise of rushing water, shouting people and bad pop music, and accepted that my glasses were going to be periodically difficult to see through, I rather enjoyed myself. A question though: at what point inthe last 13 years did the string bikini become normal swimmwear for the barely got their learner's permit crew? I think I would have remembered this from the beaches of my teens, and I don't. It's not like I was checking anyone out with FTYD JR in tow, but I was starting to wonder if John Stossil was going to be standing at the top of the ramp asking me to "have a seat right over there."

Oh well, it was a good day. FTYD JR. proved unexpectedly bold on the slides, and hopefully tomorrow we'll get The Girl on more than the tiny kiddy slide.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Off To the Range!

A couple weeks ago I picked up my first pistol from a local gun store. After passing the IQ test disguised as a background questionierre ("Are you a wanted felon?", "Are you an illegal alien?", "Have you been convicted of domestic violence?" Has anyone ever actually answered "yes" to any of these?) I was able to bring home a gun that hopefully will serve me well in eventual IDPA competition and as a carry piece.

Ruger SR9. 9mm, 4.25" barrel, 17 rounds per mag*

A week later I headed out to the range for the first time. Thanks to my gun gamer sibling, I had four Blackhawk double stack mag holders, and and four extra mags to put in them. Strapping 68 rounds to my right side, plus the loaded SR9 on my left immediately taught me one thing: I need a new belt. The black-leather Wal-mart belt that's reliably held up my pants for years just doesn't quite cut it with the extra weight. Saggy belt issue notwithstanding, I headed out to the range with a friend who hadn't been shooting for about 30 years.

I'm happy to say that the Ruger shoots well, and unsurprisingly, is a lot more accurate than I am. I'll have to work on that. But in the hour or so I was shooting, it happily digested the 100 rounds of cheap 115 grain practice ammo, and 50 rounds of 147 grain hollow-points with nary a hiccup.

Honestly though, the flawless performance of my new gun was a distant second in enjoyment to the smile on my friend's face when he put his first magazine of .22 into a target. I think I got a new shooting buddy, and on the drive home he was talking about buying a .22 of his own. He started off with a Ruger Mk.III, then switched to the more tactical looking Sig Sauer Mosquito, and shot holes in a variety of bad movie posters.

Now I just have to figure out what the best way to work on my accuracy is. I can keep 17 rounds on an 8 1/2 x 11" paper target at 10 yards, but only about half at 25 yards. Given the price of 9mm versus .22, I'm thinking that buying a used .22 and practicing until I can shoot a decent group at 25 yards, then transitioning back to the 9mm might be a good idea. Stay tuned.

*Except in California and Massachusetts. Sorry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gun Ed -- Treating Gun Education Like Sex Education

The following was inspired by a comment to Bayou Renaissance Man's recent post about the failure of sex education in Britain.

March 1, 2010
Principal Carlos Vasquez of Compton's troubled Martin Luther King High School announced a radical new program today aimed at reducing the number of deaths due to violent gun crimes. Named "Safe Guns", the program acknowledges that almost one out of every two youths in the high school will at some point be affiliated with one of the gangs which claims Compton for their territory, and that most of the youths attending the school already have access to firearms provided by "Sumdood." The mandatory marksmanship class will replace health class two days a week.

The program has four stated goals:

  1. Reduce accidental shootings of innocent bystanders by teaching students proper shooting techniques and marksmanship.
  2. Eliminate self-inflicted gunshot wounds by providing each student with a holster appropriate to their gun of choice, and training/demonstrations on how to properly holster and carry their weapons.
  3. Lower lethality of gang violence by encouraging students to explore alternatives to traditional center-of-mass shots and target arms, legs, hands and feet instead. This will also be accomplished by providing students with free hardball ammunition, which has been proven to cause less wounding and death than hollow-point or cop-killer bullets, and is less likely to wound a student by explosively failing in their firearm of choice.
  4. Protect students from injuries caused by cheap black-market firearms by providing them with safe, reputable alternatives.

About Compton
Since the 1950s, Compton's murder and violent crime rate has risen steadily, although it had dropped several percentage points since 2002. However, citing an average murder and gun violence rate still several times higher than the national average, school officials feel that this radical plan was the best solution. "They're going to shoot each other anyway" said one school official off the record. "The best we can do is teach them to be more responsible about when, where, and what they shoot."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Rational Voice on Gun Control Comes Out of Olympia

I was utterly shocked to see this story show up on the local news sites today:

Chelan sheriff says gun laws can't stop killers.

The upshot being that in the wake of the murder of four police officers by a parolee (who had previously been pardoned for murder in another state), our governor and legislature, ever eager to give the appearance of action without actually having to do anything, appointed a commission to "See what Washington laws could be changed or strengthened to prevent this from happening again."

Somebody screwed up though, and appointed someone with some sense to the panel. The sad thing is that I'm sure there's a lot of politicians in Olympia who are going to be shocked at the idea that there's no way to make buying a stolen gun, shooting police officers, then stealing one of the officer's service pistols more illegal than it already is.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Winner is Chosen

I've been priveledged to have had the chance to take the past two weeks off from work. In addition to the opportunity to see the wife and kids that I am too often a stranger to, I also had the chance to see how much rust a sixteen year old water heater contains when it fails, and test the capabilities of a friend's Hoover Steam-Vac against rust in carpet.

I also went to the range. After water heater day, I needed it, and I had planned to use this break to figure out what kind of carry gun I wanted to buy. I'd already settled on 9mm for a caliber, partially on the recommendation of my more famous brother, partly because 9mm is cheaper than .45, and largely because I'm not a particularly good marksman, and I'd like to get good with small bullets before I try getting good with bigger calibers. With that in mind, here was my short list of possible purchase options:
1. Glock 19
2. Sig Sauer P250
3. Stoegar Cougar
4. Ruger SR-9
5. Springfield XD-9
6. Smith & Wesson M & P.

All were guns within my roughly $600 price range, had decent reps for reliability, and were available for rental at my local range. I took them out, shot each one in right- and left-handed modified Weaver stances and single handed from both sides. (I should note here that like my brother, I'm cross-dominant, meaning that my dominant eye is on the weak hand side. This means I'll probably be training to shoot primarily left-handed.) In the end, I successfully found a gun I really liked. The Glock was too uncomfortable, the Sig had too long a trigger, the Stoegar was just a little too weird, but the Ruger was just right.

An SR-9 for me it is then. In the silver/black two-tone, because I don't care to pay the $30 Tactical Surcharge for the black on black version. It's good timing too, because my CCW permit arrived in the mail precisely on schedule, making me legal. So soon, once my tax return comes in, or my bonus shows up, I can start spending money like a drunken democrat congessman: I'll need the gun, spare mags for IDPA, cleaning kit, holsters, lots of ammo to feed through, probably a small gun safe, ammo, and did I forget ammo?

It's going to be an interesting year.

Until next time,
For those with wings, fly to your dreams.