Christmas 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

Wow! I had so little Christmas spirit this year! Between not working, being by myself so much, and the warm weather, it didn’t feel like Christmas. I didn’t start listening to Christmas music until Christmas morning and after that I was done with it.

Like Thanksgiving, I thought I was going to be spending the day hanging out alone with the dogs. Two days before, my friend Nir invited me to a Chinese dinner and a movie night he was organizing. The day after this I was invited to dinner at my former co-worker Aaron’s house, but I had to turn them down. My friend Jer and a guy named Dallas who I had recently met at a PDX Gaymers event were there for Chinese dinner, as well as some people that I had never met. I knew that people went out to restaurants on Christmas, but I didn’t know Chinese dinner on Christmas Day was a thing. This dinner was an experience. Some people’s orders weren’t quite right. The water tasted bad. I was pretty much told I couldn’t have what I wanted and I was told what I would get instead. After dinner, we saw Little Women, which was really good. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.

A few days after Christmas, we had a holiday party at Alex and Robert Lee-Olson’s house. It was a great time. I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in while. I’ve been a little bit of a hermit lately and some people’s schedules or location make it hard to get together often.

I don’t care what people say, presents are one of the parts of Christmas I still enjoy. What did I get this year? I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

  • dog treats for Max and Reese
  • a book on dog massages
  • Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
  • The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss
  • a Black Panther build a bear
  • Astral Chain
  • a cross
  • Thor, Dr Strange, and Tony Stark pop vinyls
  • Reese’s candy
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
  • many wonderful cards
  • some stuff I treated myself to
    • a web camera
    • board games Pret-a-Porter, Ecos, 7th Continent, Shadows of Brimstone, Anomia

2019 was a tough year. Two of my closest Portland friends moved away, Xander and then Cody. I don’t think I ever wrote about Cody leaving. I lost my job a few months after being promoted. I got sick with a bad sinus infection in October and have been sick pretty much since. I’m feeling the effects of not eating well and not exercising. Sitting here at home all day has taken a physical and emotional toll on me. I remember writing about how optimistic I was earlier in the year, but all that optimism left for a while. I’m feeling optimistic again about the new year, but if things don’t change soon, I could be right where I was.

I decided to set goals for next year. Since I successfully completed every goal the last time I did this, I think one reason I stopped doing it for a while was so I wouldn’t fail. Here’s my list.

  • Lose at least 30 lbs
  • Go on at least 1 date
  • Arrange at least 1 dog play date
  • Leave the state of Oregon at least 3 times
  • Beat at least 3 video games
  • Learn at least 1 new board game
  • Attend at least 1 Meetup I haven’t been to before
  • Buy a new bike and ride it
  • Go to a convention or festival that’s new to me
  • Arrange a photoshoot so I can put my photography equipment to good use
  • Don’t be so self conscious about how I look. Post at least 12 pics of myself on social media

We enter a new decade tomorrow. This past decade has been great to me. I spent the first 2 years in Starkville and last 8 years in Portland. Deciding to take a risk, uproot my life, and move to Portland was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This decade has had some struggles: heartbreak, unhappiness with health and career, and some bouts of loneliness and depression. But overall it’s been great. Don’t they say your 30s are the best years of your life? So far I can’t disagree with that. Some of things I’ve done in this past decade:

  • moved across the country
  • met a lot of online friends, traveled with them, stayed in each other’s homes
  • became a social butterfly
  • traveled out of country for the first time
  • did a lot more traveling than I did before
  • became a leader at work and in the community
  • became a dog parent for the 2nd time
  • started podcasting
  • worked for one of the top tech companies in the world
  • dated a guy for the first time
  • started going to conventions
  • took up new hobbies
  • made many great local friends

I hope everyone has a happy New Year and a great decade! Take care of each other!

15th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

The first weekend in October my friend Matt A. from California came up to visit. I know Matt through podcasting and I met him in person at the Twin Peaks festival a few years ago, but hadn’t seen him since. He had presented the idea a few weeks earlier of him coming up here and traveling to Seattle for the GPB Festival. I was all for it.

Matt flew in from Denver (I think) on that Friday night, where he had attended another festival. From what I understand, Matt works for a chain of stores and helps decide which beers and how much they stock. So this is like work for him. We watched that Stephen King movie In the Tall Grass, which had just debuted on Netflix.

We got up pretty early Saturday and got some donuts from Voodoo Donuts before heading to Seattle. We stopped at a brewery at met someone Matt knows, I think it was the manager. We then went to the festival which was a lot of fun. We drank sample after sample of pumpkin beer for hours. Since Matt knew some of the people there (I think they worked for one of the breweries), we got extra drink tickets. There’s a giant pumpkin beer filled with beer. Later in the day they had a costume contest near this giant pumpkin and later on a parade. After the parade they tap the pumpkin and served beer from the pumpkin. Leading up to them tapping the pumpkin, the excitement is building up. They had music playing. People (including Matt and myself) were holding cornstalks, dancing to the music, and chanting “TAP THAT GOURD!” It was kind of crazy, but fun to be a part of. After we left the festival, we had dinner with Jonathon Pope, a Washington resident who I know from podcasting but had never met before.

Sunday we drove back to Portland. We visited a couple of breweries around here. I took him to Powell’s. At this point Matt was feeling sick, probably from all the traveling, and I was starting to get sniffly too. He tried to get his return flight moved to Monday instead of Tuesday, but it was going to be too expensive. Matt wanted to play board games on this trip. We played one game at one of the breweries earlier and we ended the night playing board games with some of my local friends at the Lucky Lab.

On Monday, we didn’t do much. I remember going to a brewery, playing a game there, and getting a tour of the brewery’s expansion. That night we watch Hereditary and Midsommar.

On Tuesday, I had an interview so I had to take Matt to the airport earlier than I would have liked. We stopped at the library in Hillsboro and played a couple of games before heading to the airport.

I’m so glad Matt got to come visit, see Portland, meet my dogs, and play some board games. I wish more people would come visit -hint-hint-. The only negative is that once the sickness he gave me fully kicked in, I was miserable and out of commission for 2 weeks. Oh well, it happens.

ESPN Turned 40

Monday, December 30th, 2019 No comments

In early September, ESPN celebrated its 40th anniversary. I’ve hardly watched over the past 20 or so years, but in the 90s I watched it pretty religiously when I had access to it.

I especially enjoyed SportsCenter. I loved the anchors like Chris Berman, Keith Olberman, and Dan Patrick. I thought it was amazing when they brought on Linda Cohn. There were days when I watched pretty much every airing of SportCenter, even when it was on for hours at a time and they were pretty much just repeating the same stories each episode.

In addition to SportsCenter, I watched Baseball Tonight and a lot of Sunday night baseball games.

I guess it was sometime during or after high school that I stopped watching ESPN. Every once in a while I would come across it and watch it for a few minutes before moving on or if there was a football game I really wanted tosee, I’d watch it on one of their stations. Sometimes I would put a game on just for background noise. I never got around to watching 30 for 30 like I promised myself I would. A few months ago I actually did start watching SportsCenter a few nights a week while I was in bed. That’s how I knew the anniversary was coming up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Linda Cohn was still doing SportsCenter. My newfound interest in ESPN didn’t last long, however.

Now that Disney+ is out, I have the bundle that also gives you ESPN+ and Hulu. I think I have access to the entire 30 for 30 catalog. I’ll be giving that a try starting in the new year and possibly slipping back into some regular SportsCenter viewing.

Happy belated anniversary to ESPN. You were a big part of my childhood and will hopefully be a big part of my adulthood.

Goodbye Xfinity, Hello Frontier

Friday, December 27th, 2019 No comments

It’s getting close to the end of the year, so I figured now would be a good time to get around to some of the writing I’ve been meaning to do over the past few months.

I signed up for Xfinity from Comcast when I first moved to Oregon almost 8 years ago. I remember planning it out to that the installer would be here the day after I arrived. Over the years, I’ve had very few problems with their service and I’ve barely spoken to their customer service. They’ve increased my speed a few times without any extra charge. I’m the kind of person who likes having a long relationship with companies and won’t switch if I don’t have to. Some people complain about Xfinity, but I know that the quality of service you get often depends on where you live.

Over the years, I may have looked into other services, but I never found a compelling reason to switch. Xfinity was fast and reliable and I couldn’t get matching speeds from the top contender, Frontier, in my neighborhood. A few years ago, however, Xfinity implemented monthly bandwidth limits. They gave customers 2 free courtesy months where we wouldn’t be charged if we went over our limit. I periodically checked my bandwidth usage on their site. I rarely came close to the limit, even when Xander was here and we were both using the Internet. There were a few months where it was really close. Then last November, Xander and I went quite a bit over. I blamed it on streaming more and a lot of new video game releases . After that things went back to normal. Then earlier this year, I believe it was August, I went way over by myself. That was my first month of not going into the office every day after finding out I was being laid off. I was streaming CNN every day, streaming on Twitch a lot, and downloading and uploading a lot of videos. Also, a bunch of new games were released. A few weeks earlier a Frontier representative had knocked on my door with a new offer. They had upgraded their service in my neighbor and for quite a bit less than Xfinity, I could get twice the download speed and over 30 times the upload speed. I said ‘no’ at the time because I didn’t know how reliable Frontier is, but I did keep the representative’s business card. After I went over the 2nd time, I decided I should probably say goodbye to Xfinity. I didn’t want to pay overage fees to them and their unlimited plan is an extra $50/month. Frontier had no bandwidth caps.

I talked to friends of mine who are Frontier customers and posted in Nextdoor asking for opinion. It seems that some people had great experiences with Frontier and some didn’t. Once again, it probably all depended on where you lived. I scheduled an appointment, which was scheduled for around the middle of September. Installation was quick. They removed the old Verizon FIOS box that was left here by the previous occupants. Apparently Frontier had bought all the Verizon lines. Frontier’s service has been really good. There were a few times early on that I lost my connection, but that could partially be because I updated my router firmware at the same time that I switched ISPs. The speed is great. I’ve been uploading videos to YouTube and it’s so much faster. I’m glad that I rook the chance. I was afraid that the service would be terrible and I’d end up wanting to switch back. Luckily, that hasn’t happened.

Thanksgiving 2019

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 No comments

Thanksgiving was fairly low key this year. Since most of my friends were planning to spend time with their families either out of state or in this area, I had resigned to spending Thanksgiving alone, working on the fish tanks and playing video games. A few days before Thanksgiving, however, my former co-worker Aaron invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family. I was happy, because although I’m not big on holidays, I still think you shouldn’t spend Thanksgiving and Christmas alone if you don’t want to.

I had to do some last unexpected shopping for sweet potato pie ingredients. It ended up not turning out well. I didn’t start cooking until a couple of hours before I went to Aaron’s and I tried to make it without dairy products. I don’t know if that was the difference or not, but it seemed mushy and under cooked. Since I was running late anyway, I decided to just take a game to share. For dinner we had Aaron and his wife Marissa, Aaron’s brother and his wife and her daughter, and someone named Zeke who knew everybody but I was never sure how he was related to everyone. A couple of guests ended up not coming. The food and conversation was good and we played the game I brought, Anomia, and had fun. Everyone left shortly afterward.

After I left I kept up my Thanksgiving Day movie tradition by going to see Knives Out. It’s such a good movie, one of the best I’ve seen this year.

I’m glad I ended up celebrating Thanksgiving. Bring on Christmas! Even though I feel lonely at times and don’t have a job, I have a feeling this is going to be a fun holiday season. There won’t be someone around who hates the holidays dragging my mood down. I’m looking forward to Christmas and the New Year so much!

Halloween 2019

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 No comments

This was my favorite Halloween ever. Looking back, one of my goals for 2012 was to go to a Halloween party because I had never been to one and had never even dressed up for Halloween. It didn’t happen. Growing up, I would help hand out candy to the kids in out neighborhood. Lately I watch horror movies in October, but that’s about as close as I normally get to celebrating the day.

I wore an afro wig to work in 2014. I went to my friend Aaron’s party bus/fundraiser to finish the movie he was making in 2015. I dressed as a pimp. I was the only one who dressed up that night. I went to Xander’s fundraiser party in 2016 and dressed up in something of a costume. I just wore a pink wig and had fake scars on my face and carried a sword or a trident or something.

This year Aaron invited me to the 2nd annual party he had at his house. It fell on the Friday before Halloween, which was on a Thursday this year. The theme was villains. I wanted to do Harley Quinn, but I couldn’t find anything that would fit me. After looking at costume ideas for a while, I decided to do the Joker in a nurse’s outfit from The Dark Knight. I ordered the costume and used a wig and face paint I already had. It didn’t take long. I figured it didn’t have to look great because it’s the Joker. Aaron’s party was a blast. Surprisingly since a new Joker move just came out, there was only one other person dressed as the Joker. He was more a Pacific Northwest Joker. I scared a few people that night who didn’t know that I was behind them and were startled when they turned to see me. A couple of people asked to take my photo, which made me realize what cosplayers must feel like. I also scared a 7-Eleven customer before the party and an employee at a different 7-Eleven after the party asked to take my pic. Next year’s theme is heroes.

The next night PDX Gaymers had a Halloween event at Guardian Games. I dressed as the Joker again. Only 2 other people came in costumes, but it was still a great time. I went to a gathering late at my friends Robert and Alex’s house afterward. After that I stopped by Subway and the employee there said that I low-key scared the shit out of her.

Joker close up

On Halloween night itself, my friend Jer had a party at his house. I didn’t dress up for this one because I was tired of dressing up. A bunch of trick-or-treaters came by his house. I kinda wanted to give out candy to them, but I didn’t. Afterwards, I briefly stopped by 2 bars and people were having a great time celebrating Halloween. As much as I’m kind of tired of bars, the energy can make me feel young again. I might try to do more of that next years, especially since Halloween will be on a Saturday.

Last Day at Intel

Thursday, October 31st, 2019 No comments

Today was my last day at Intel. I can’t say that I’m happy about it. I’ve been there the past 3 years as an FTE and was there on and off the previous 4.5 years as a contractor. The have been ups and downs the past 3 years have been fantastic. I’ve grown so much as a developer and leader.

I’ve hardly been in the office the past 3 months. The area my team occupied is a ghost town. I went in yesterday to clean out my desk. Today I had my exit interview and turned in my equipment. At least I got to keep my badge.

Feelings can change, but I feel like this might be it for me with Intel. I’ve been shoved out the door too many times by them when their business needs changed. We’ll see though. Never say never.

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Rose City Comic Con 2019

Sunday, September 29th, 2019 No comments

Two weekends ago was Rose City Comic Con. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. I was glad that this year it wasn’t the weekend following PAX, so I got a weekend off in between.

I went all three days again, though I didn’t stay long on Friday. I was tired.

I went to panels featuring Wallace Shawn, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, Dan Fogler, Billie Piper, Christopher Eccelston (lots of people are saying this is the panel ever at this convention), Zachary Levi, and Wil Wheaton.

I did photo ops with Jason Isaacs and Wil Wheaton.

I was lucky enough to catch Kelly Sue DeConnick at her table this year. I got a selfie and tried to do the mandatory duck face, but it was hard for me to not smile while I was doing it.

I bought a piece of artwork like I always do and I took pictures of a lot of cosplayers.

There were some differences this year that I wasn’t a fan of. Construction outside meant that entry was different and one day we ended up walking around the entire building before we could get in. It was raining on the third day so thankfully they changed things up a bit. They cleared out the room after every panel, which meant you had to get in line each time if you wanted to see consecutive panels. The queuing procedure for photo ops was weird and sometimes it was hard to hear what was going on.

Overall, I had a great time as always. Next year I hope I remember to pay the little bit extra to get fast pass tickets.

PAX 2019

Sunday, September 8th, 2019 No comments

This past weekend was PAX West in Seattle. I rode up with Cory and Chris. We met up with mutual friends and friends of just theirs throughout the weekend. We decided to go only Sunday and Monday this year instead of all 4 days.

We drove up on Saturday. We left that morning because Cory and Chris had been invited by a friend to attend the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton, Washington. We arrived there around 1:30. We met up with our friend Justin, one of his friends, and one of Cory’s friends. We had fun walking along the boardwalk taking in the sites and food. I had some good blackberry cider and tasted some wine. I bought a bottle of wine to take home. We also met 2 groups of random strangers and had a good time talking to them. We took the auto ferry across the sound to Seattle. We had sushi with a friend of Cory’s and her boyfriend. I think we made it to the hotel around 10. The hotel was about 7 blocks from the convention center.Blackberry Festival

Cory and Chris left early for the convention center Sunday so they could get in line to get tickets to play a game. I think they both got to play the ones they wanted to. I think I made it there around 10, which was 30 minutes after the convention center opened. Because of all the shootings around the country, they had a different procedure for entering, which involved going through metal detectors. It was so great being back at PAX. Since we were only going to be there 2 days, part of me felt like I needed to hurry to see everything, but it turned out to be plenty of time. I tried to check out every square inch of the main floor. I didn’t make it to any panels this year though. Friday and Saturday are the best days for cosplayers, so I didn’t get as many pics of them as I normally too. I played a game called Code Vein, which I think I want to buy. I saw a lot of indie games, which I still need to go through my notes and further research many of them. I got to meet the guy the guy who created Gloomhaven, a popular board game. There was an indie game expo a few blocks from the convention center that day. I went later in the day. I bought a game because it reminded me of Deja Vu, a game I played on the NES. I met up with Cory, Chris, and our friend Tyler James there. I didn’t feel like being out late, so I went back to the hotel room and ordered Subway on Uber Eats while they went out to dinner.Code Vein

On Monday I got there a little earlier than the day before. I had gone back and forth the day before about whether or not I wanted to get there early to get tickets to play the Final Fantasy VII Remastered demo. I had finally decided not to when I went to bed. When I got up I got a text from Cory saying we needed to check out before we left. They were downstairs getting breakfast. After we checked out, we starting heading toward the convention center and met up with Tyler James along the way. The 3 of them wanted to do some XP thing that requires you to go to certain locations in the area, so I went to the convention center by myself. I arrived right as they were about to start letting people in. I decided to stop by the FFVII booth even though I figured they would be out of tickets. Luckily, they weren’t. The ticket gave you a time range to come back and line up to play the demo. I hope this system becomes popular at PAX. I know several companies were using it this year, if not all of them. During my first few years at PAX, I remember hearing about people waiting in line 8 hours to play demos of some of the more popular games. This was my first time trying to play one of the more popular games and it was pretty painless. I went back at my allotted time and had to wait about 30 minutes before I could finally play. First they played a short movie for us and then we got to play. It was awesome! Before I went back to play the demo I went to the annex to check out some PC games and the console free play section. I watched a little of the Rocket League tournament in the arena on both days. Other than that, all I did this day was play board games. I played Wingspan, which I had been interested in for a while. I’ll buy it some day most likely. I met up with Cory, Chris, Justin, Tyler James and his husband Shawn Tyler, and a friend of TJ’s. We played a couple of rounds of Coup before we called it a wrap. Cory, Chris, and I left for Portland. We stopped for pizza along the way. I made it back home around 10 that night.

PAX was a blast again this year. As usual, it lit the gaming fire in me again. I play Overwatch almost every day, but my goal is to make time for other games. We said that next year instead of going 2 consecutive days, we may skip a day in between and do some things in Seattle. There is a small part of me that wants to go to PAX all 4 days next year. Crazy, right?

Aunt Bert

Sunday, September 8th, 2019 No comments

I found out yesterday that my Aunt Bert passed away on Wednesday. She was my mom’s sister. Her funeral was today. She would have turned 80 next month.

I lived with my grandparents up through 9th grade. Around 3rd grade we moved into a house right across the street from Bert and her family. I would go across the street to play at my cousin’s basketball goal, but I didn’t go inside much. Sometimes I would see her outside though.

After I moved out, I would go to my grandparent’s house on holidays, and she, her husband, and her children would come across the street to visit at some point. Sometimes I would leave before they got there and would find out after the fact that I had barely missed them. Whenever I would see her, she would want to know about me and how I was doing.

I remember her as kind, caring, and intelligent. I can’t hear the word “memorandum” without thinking about her.

RIP, Aunt Bert.

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