Refining

The last few months have been interesting. I’ve been helping folks with their resumes for cheap and/or free, mentoring a bunch of randos – individuals and companies – also for free or cheap. And it’s taught me something: I don’t like it.

I want to like it. But I don’t. And it’s worth acknowledging that. I don’t need the money, so it’s not that. Well, it’s not *strictly* that. There’s a few things:

* It’s too slow. 1:1 mentoring is great, because you can get to really understand the person and help them specifically. But it’s a huge investment to transfer some experience/knowledge, and it feels extremely inefficient.

* Doing this for free devalues my experience. Not just to me, but to them as well. I think there’s some balance to be had with “pay me for my experience,” because then you’ll actually *act* on it, rather than getting it for free and maybe deciding to do some of what I’m suggesting.

In a way, money is sort of a guarantee that they’ll take you seriously. Charge $1,000/hr, and no one’s going to ignore your advice. And they won’t question your credentials, either, because theoretically they’ve validated that before paying you.

Devoting a week of time to help a small startup out, only to have them say, “Well, we trust our judgment so we’re going to do X,” when you know their current course of action is suicide is just frustrating. Particularly when “our judgment” consists of exactly zero relevant experience. It’s wild.

But this has happened a few times, now. I’ll invest an hour or two helping someone with their resume, then they come back with a revision having done *literally nothing* I told them to, and want feedback. The feedback is, “Yeah, the text is different, but all the problems are the same. My suggestions are the same. Glad to see you’ve found a direction that you’re happy with, but I can’t (and won’t) help you anymore.”

My time’s too valuable for this kind of shit. If you need help, I’m more than happy to help. But the caveat is that either you do what I suggest, or we *talk about* why you’re hesitant to do so, because sometimes circumstances can be subtle. But if you’re just rejecting my advice outright, then no, I’m not spending any more time with you, and I regret spending any with you at all.

So yeah – I dunno. This year, I’m hoping to find a way to have a “second phase” career either doing some mentoring or advising for $. If the rate is reasonable, and the people are good to work with and willing to take input, then that’d be super satisfying. Ideally, I’d like a one-to-many arrangement – something where I can impact more people at a time, because a lot of the advice I give is applicable to fairly broad ranges of folks. But the 1:1 stuff and the volunteer stuff? I’m winding that down in 2023, barring a few minor exceptions.

But, glad I gave it a go. It’s interesting to feel parts of it work, and parts of it grate, and realize what the problems are. This isn’t so much a failure as it is a refinement and discovery of what does and doesn’t work for me, and the kind of impact I want to have.

2022

What a weird year. As cautious as we were, and as much as we hoped to avoid it, all of us but J got Covid at the end of the year. Mild symptoms, but pretty darned unpleasant regardless. Fortunately we’re all negative again, and it seems like we dodged the “long Covid” bullet (for now).

Overall, I think 2022 was a bit directionless for me. We did a lot of fun stuff – we did a week-long Legoland + Universal trip with Eric and P, which was awesome, and we spent three weeks in Hawaii, which was really memorable. It was really nice to be able to go there and actually do things leisurely. We did a lot of stuff – Diamond Head, snorkeling, a private historical tour of the island, but we weren’t in a rush, which was great. We spent most of the time with Hajeong, and it was nice to have someone else around. Ei-Nyung’s family met up with us the last week of the trip, and they had a really memorable experience running into Masaharu Morimoto at his restaurant.

The rest of the year I did some mentoring and consulting and teaching. I think overall, the thing I got the most enjoyment out of was teaching. Mentoring is fine, but it’s a huge time investment that doesn’t particuarly “scale”, and it’s super disruptive. Consulting was … frustrating. I think the problem is that my input is really only useful at the right time, and in one of the cases this year, the company had gone way too far down the wrong path before I was ever involved, and as a result, they can’t make the call to actually *act* on any of the things that they need to. Which is just frustrating, and led to more stress than satisfaction.

We got more stuff in the backyard – the hot tub & work shed, and I think with that, the bulk of our backyard is “done”. Not just interim done, but legitimately “done”. As good as we want it, needs no upgrades. Maybe a retractable awning off the house to shade the deck at times, but that’d be icing on the cake. The funny thing is, we have a lot of cosmetic work in the house that’d make a huge difference, and it’ll be interesting to figure out if we can ever pull the trigger on it. Stuff like re-flooring the downstairs (I hate the bamboo flooring we originally got, and it was installed really badly) or trimming the upstairs rooms properly. Some drywall fixes are necessary – as the house has settled, the taping at the corners has become all warped, and it’s beyond my skill level to fix. But those are details. The vast majority of the house is in great shape, and it’s just cosmetic details. Still, if we were ever to hypothetically sell the house, these are the kinds of things you’d have to do before selling, but I wouldn’t want to not be the beneficiary of that work, either. So at some point, we’ll probably do it.

Health-wise… I didn’t get off my ass enough. I did some winging this year, but the algae bloom over the summer and relative lack of wind kept me off the water for a lot of the summer. I did manage to get on foil more regularly, which was great, and found a great learning place in Marina Bay, which meant I spent a lot more productive time that wasn’t just pure constant frustration. Feels like in 2023, I might benefit from a lesson, rather than trying to beat my head against this for another year without any instruction.

The kids continue to get older. J’s taller than Ei-Nyung, now. K’s significantly taller than J when J was K’s age. Both are creative and ridiculous. J’s made a “cover” of Battle Cats called Battle Birdy, which is incredible. K’s art just gets better and weirder all the time. I couldn’t be prouder of these two goons. J’s also started in Animation Club in school this year, which is neat – he’s working on a stop-motion animation on Friday afternoons.

Overall while 2022 was a bit directionless, it was also excellent. I genuinely can’t complain about anything – good friends, family in good health (though my dad’s mental faculties are noticeably declining), and everyone’s happy. I’ve spent a bit more time doing music-related stuff this year, and built a guitar from a kit, which was fun. Played a ton of boardgames (though pandemic still means this happens less frequently than I’d like). Gloomhaven with Max & Ei-Nyung continues to make slow but satisfying progress, and we’ve cracked open a lot of new, interesting stuff this year. Purchasing of boardgames has slowed way, way down, though. In part because we have more games than time, and in part because I feel like my collection of games now has something for every situation, and finding new games that are interesting and fit some new slice of the hobby is something that happens less and less frequently. If anything, I think my future in the hobby will be starting to whittle down the collection, and upgrading whatever things I like to their “best” versions. Which is, TBH, probably the theme of 2023. Less, but higher-quality everything. Except sleep and exercise. Those have got to go up. Time with kids. Experiences. Stuff that matters.

New Year’s resolutions, a little early:

  • Under 210 lbs. for the *majority* of the year
  • Frequent exercise – 3-5x/wk, either winging, rowing, cycling, swimming
  • Play at least one boardgame in person with friends a month
  • Make something from start to finish

Random Update

What’s been going on? Built a kit guitar recently – a Les Paul-style kit from stewmac.com. It was a fun, slow, exercise in patience. That is, to where I am now, which is a finished-but-not-yet-polished body. It needs between a week and a month for the clearcoat to cure before I can final sand it.

Other than that, been mentoring some folks and a few companies, which has been fun & rewarding. I feel like this is something I could make a career out of, though it’d take a while to build. No worries, though, we’re still doing just fine.

Kids are good – J&K are 12 and 9, respectively, and chugging along re: school. They seem to be happy & well-adjusted. They’re both super creative but in slightly different ways. K’s got a huge aptitude and passion for making art. J’s starting into his school’s Animation Club this week, so hopefully that’ll be a nice creative outlet for him (and get him spending a bit more time with some of his classmates). I couldn’t be prouder of the pair of ’em.

Spring Break

Went to Legoland and Universal Studios for spring break with Eric & his son. It was super fun. Four days of theme parks with a pair of folks who are sort of unstoppable, energy-wise, might have not been the *best* plan, but it was a good time even still. 😀

I think something I have to contend with is that as much as I really want to do a simple rehab VR thing, the thought of having to try to sell it to people is maybe a fatal obstacle in my way. I think someone *should* do it – there’s clearly an opportunity to help a ton of people, it’s just that the financial incentives really don’t align, and honestly, I can’t imagine they ever will.

What I’d propose is simple, it’s cheap, and it could get out to a lot of people *if* it had a bananas sales channel. But establishing a bananas sales channel is $$$$, and not something I’m good at *or* something I want to do. And trying to raise the money to hire someone to do it well? That’d require more $ than I have available, and getting funding to do such a thing would require either getting a lot of grants, or some sort of investment from a “social good fund” or something. Even with that kind of funding, it’d be a multi-million dollar project, and I don’t know that I want to shepherd a thing like that and give up time with the kids.

Maybe I’m just lazy. I dunno.

But I think it’s something I should say that I’m *not* actually as interested in working on as I thought. I like the prototyping process, I like the idea. I like potentially being able to help folks. But trying to convince people to get the thing, trying to sell it, and even profiting off it to a degree that’d make it “worthwhile” are all kind of … not things I want to be doing.

So yeah. Alas.

2022

This year…

  • Lose weight. Primarily through diet, starting with not sugaring up coffee in the morning and doing OMAD at least 3x week.
  • Exercise more. More walking to places for errands like grocery shopping, biking to places that are too far to walk, and driving only when I need to bring back more than I can carry in a backpack. Maybe even grab a set of panniers for the Super-V so I could carry more.
  • Get up on the foil while wingfoiling while being powered by the wing. I got up on foil on an e-foil, and then a few times in heavier winds. I still can’t get a pump start to engage the foil, and that’s the task for this year.
  • Keep organizing/cleaning up house stuff. I mean, this is likely an unending project, but keep fixing/painting/patching things until stuff is actually good.
  • Take up a project, and “apply good pressure”. I can find myself a little directionless, because aside from the more daily tasks, I don’t have any external pressure. So, finish up the VR demo for the stroke thing, and show it to someone. This was my resolution at the beginning of 2021, and I made some really minor progress, but not a ton. I need to do this, because finishing a basic demo “unlocks” a lot of other things to do.

Mourn The Thing You Lost That Never Was

I have a few nice collector’s edition versions of games. But the company whose collector’s editions I have the most of, by far, is Blizzard. For the better part of 25 years, I would buy any Blizzard product (except World of Warcraft, which I knew wasn’t my speed) sight unseen. Whatever the nicest possible version of it was.

Why?

Because I trusted them. I trusted them to give me a really great experience. I trusted them to give me incredible value for my money. I trusted them to understand what was valuable and meaningful to me, as a gamer, and that they’d deliver. So I trusted them with my money, and with my time.

There were very, very few game companies I felt the same trust towards. Sure, plenty of other studios made reliably great games. But Blizzard was special. I’ve trusted them ever since Warcraft 2. I upgraded my PC specifically for Frozen Throne. I’ve purchased Diablo 3 on like, three separate platforms, including the collector’s edition on PC.

Point is, I trusted them.

When they got acquired by Activision, I knew that trust would erode. I knew the games would be less focused on giving the players extraordinary value, and be more about milking the audience for all their $. And to some degree, that’s been obvious. But I still wanted to trust Blizzard, and I’d continued to believe in the Blizzard that lived in my mind.

So the recent revelations about the toxic bro-culture at Blizzard came as a bit of a gut-punch. Not that it was a surprise, because any game developer being revealed to be a toxic brodown – if you’ve been in the industry a while, it’s all over the place. But it was a gut-punch, because I trusted Blizzard. I had this image of them in my mind that they cared about games, that they cared about gamers, and that obviously that care would extend to their employees as human beings.

So I’m sad.

I’m sad not because Blizzard has turned into this thing. I’m sad because it’s clear from all the statements that this is what Blizzard has always been. A lot of these allegations happened under the tenure of a lot of folks I held in really high regard – Mike Morhaime, Chris Metzen, etc. And look, I can’t say for certain that they should have known or not – running a large company is a difficult job, where a lot of stuff can fly by people. I’ve been there. But the Blizzard in my mind isn’t about Morhaime & Co’s intentions.

The Blizzard I trusted never existed at all. Because if the price of believing that I’d get my money’s worth out of a game is a toxic culture that drives women to suicide, no part of that is worth it, and no part of that is worth believing in.

But it’s sad. I had believed in a company that wanted to create great things. That wanted to make things their players would genuinely love. I believed that a company that did that had to be a place that would be a joy to work, even on the hard days, but one where people would band together and value each other while they fought the good fight.

And it turns out that company was just in my imagination. It’s still sad to know that it’s gone. That it never existed at all.

As for me, it’s simple – I’m unlikely to ever buy another Blizzard or Activision product again.

Because once that trust is betrayed, it’s gone forever.

Been a Minute

Ei-Nyung and I have both been vaccinated for a while, which is great. In many ways, life is returning more and more to normal. It obviously won’t *be* normal until the kids have both been vaccinated, which appears to be at least a few months away still – likely after they go back to school, which is a little worrisome, but CA’s numbers are pretty good, and it seems like last year’s safety measures were effective (though it’ll be different when schools are fully open, instead of rotating smaller cohorts like the end of last year.

Still, it’s summer, and the kids are out of school. We’ve been doing less this summer than we did last summer. I need to step things up a bit. Part of it is that I’m a little lazier, but part of it is that the kids are doing a lot of interesting stuff. They’ve been making a card game with dozens of hand-drawn cards, and they spent four hours today playing the game with each other, which is awesome.

Need to get out on the bikes, and get some more physical activity, though. Maybe this week we’ll go for a paddle in Alameda.

I’m getting closer to getting up on foil while winging. I’ve gotten the foil “engaged” a few times now, but only for short periods of time before freaking out and bailing. A friend of Eric’s took me out on an e-Foil the other day though, and on top of it being super fun, it was a huge learning experience. I felt like I learned more in an hour of e-foiling than in the last three months of winging. But it’s good – that work prepared me to be able to take in a ton of info form that e-foil session, and I can’t wait to put some of that knowledge into practice the next time out.

Been playing a lot of board games in person, which is nice. Finally, finally got to play Star Wars: Rebellion with Klay. It’s a long game – I think it took us 3-4 hours – but it was fun & interesting. Also picked up Netrunner again & played with Sean, which was a good time. I really like the game, but definitely can’t quite wrap my head around strategy yet. I’ve lost every game so far. Still having fun. Kids have been playing Quacks of Quedlinburg and Abandon All Artichokes. It’ll be interesting to see if they play some games with their cousin who’s coming for a couple weeks in just about a week from now. Should be a lot of fun.

Stuff I’m consuming

Still playing a ton of Hades.

Watching The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, and really enjoying it. Started The Great Pottery Throwdown last night, but allergies had me tap out. Very GBBO, though, so that’s promising. We watched a strange Japanese movie called On-Gaku: Our Sound. I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but also don’t know that I wouldn’t. Hard to say. It’s very indie in its aesthetic. We watched Ong Bak with the kids, which was half awesome and half a terrible idea. There’s a lot more horrible crap in that movie than I remembered, but the action stuff is still pretty incredible.

Been still making my way slowly through the Expanse (the books). Been stuck on Cibola Burn for a while, but it’s good – just slow going. Also been reading Ask Iwata, which is almost a one-session read, though I’ve been just crawling through that, as well.

We’ve been playing a lot of Quacks of Quedlinburg with the kids, and we started My City. I’m excited for Red Rising, which is supposed to show up tomorrow, but I expect it’ll be a while before it gets played. Just tried Lucky Numbers on BGA with some friends, and it was good. Simple, but good. Also picked up a game called The Initiative, which I’m psyched for. Ridiculously positive reviews, a known good designer, and an interesting premise round it out. Co-op, which is great for us. We also “finished” The Baker Street Irregulars (Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective) with Alan & Becky, which was great. By “finished”, I mean we got through all ten cases, and then found there’s something more… which we haven’t yet done. Overall, it was excellent.

Not much else going on, honestly. Cleaning up things here and there, and I’ve got some projects I haven’t made much headway on, like putting some sort of shelves in the downstairs closet, or nailing down some of the floorboards in the downstairs so they don’t develop gaps over time (again). Gonna get an MRI and X-Ray on my knee, and an X-Ray on my lower back in a few weeks to see if there’s anything fixable with either of them. Back’s been consistently not great for a few years, and my knee’s been getting more arthritic with time. Boo. Probably not much to be done other than get in better shape.

Ted Lasso

What a show. I thought for sure Wandavision would be my show of 2021, and I still absolutely loved it – but Ted Lasso, at least at this point, is my show of 2021, and I don’t even think it’s all that close.

If you’re put off because you’re not a sports person, the thing that stuck with me was one episode where the big buildup was to the game, and then they immediately cut to after the game, showing literally none of the actual soccer match at all. It’s not about “sports”, except in that sports can create certain types of conflict and stakes. But it’s a character-focused show through and through, and the characters in this are just fantastic.

You might have heard that it’s an optimistic show, or a positive one, and those things are true and meaningful and *necessary* right now, in a time when it’s so easy to be cynical and angry. But the thing that I was really impressed by was how Ted Lasso, as a character, can be optimistic without being naive, and kind without being a sucker. He hears the world, but chooses how to react to it.

In that way, he’s kind of a stoic. He chooses to be positive. He chooses to react to situations – even hard ones, things that cost him personally – with kindness. He chooses to believe the best in people, because those are the things he wants to bring out of them.

It’s also a funny show. Laugh out loud. And yet, it can also be subtle and very dry. It’s a show about being part of a team – so much so that I *wept* at one point because it made me miss those feelings so. There’s a whole post worth writing at some point on that – how I loved being on a team, and how I loved trying to create that sense of camaraderie at work, and why I *can’t* do that anymore in the same way. But it doesn’t make me *miss* that feeling any less.

There’s a moment in the show where Ted has a full-blown panic attack, and it reminded me *so much* of how I felt at times in the just-post-Self Aware Games era, being around folks who were still there – something about the way it was shot, his reaction, it brought me right back to that feeling. It was shocking how … immediate it felt.

There’s a lot about it. I could go on and on. How Roy Kent’s story resonated. How charming Keeley was. How every character felt like they should have been a one-note in any other show, but here they all had depth. How Sam & Rebecca’s interaction was one of my favorite moments in the whole thing. How I bought a “Believe” sticker for my laptop, and an AFC Richmond pin after seeing it, because having some physical reminders in the real world of how that show made me feel felt worth doing.

It looked like a dumb show – sort of the embodiment of Apple TV+ doing family-friendly saccharine sort of light pablum nonsense. Holy shit, though.

Watch it. I’d be very surprised if you don’t get something actually *valuable* out of it.

Random Noise

45, now. Greys are getting more and more prominent. 😐

Recently watched WandaVision, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve seen in a while. Ambitious, strange, yet also really heartfelt and emotional. It gave a lot of depth to two characters who previously, were leaned on for emotional depth they hadn’t really earned. Now they have.

Also been painting Warhammer 40K stuff – finished a Dark Angels & a Necron army, an additional squad of Terminators, and now, Ghazhkull Thraka – one of the best minis I’d painted in college has an updated model, and it’s bonkers. After this, a friend picked up a Primaris Techmarine for me, and I have to strip & repaint one more Terminator, and then I think I’m done, at least until I actually get a chance to play someone and justify all this effort. 😀

Ghzazhkull Thraka in progress. Painted the face first, since it’s obscured by other parts and in places “hard to reach”, then painted hte body with the arms off, then added the arms. This guy’s taken something like a week to paint, and I’d guess has at least a few more hours to go before it’s done.

Kids are good – still making all kinds of stuff in Scratch, which is a real pleasure to watch. They’ve been very into Among Us, which is also fun to play with them. The weather’s turned up, and so it’s likely we’ll be spending more time outside doing stuff – biking, going to the beach, etc. – but it’s still been a bit hit or miss.

What else? Not a lot going on, otherwise. Playing Boardgamearena with friends, which aside from swimming is the only social contact I have with basically anyone. Still *have* a bunch of new games that I’m waiting ’til the pandemic is over to actually play, but there’s a LOT. Stuff I’m looking forward to playing with people in particular:

  • The King’s Dilemma
  • Rococo
  • Era
  • Renature
  • Beyond the Sun

There’s a lot more, but I think those are the ones I’m most interested in. I’m hoping we can get the kids interested in My City, which seems like it’ll be a nice family legacy game. We got most of the way through Machi Koro, but K’s lost interest, which makes it hard to get to the table. J still seems interested in finishing it up.

Newly reorganized music setup. Got rid of an Alesis Quadrasynth, Roland TR-505, and MC-303 that I’d had for years. Loved ’em, but they were made obsolete by some of the newer stuff. Also upgraded the TR-8 with the 7×7 expansion, which gives it WAY more functionality.

Been playing more music on the electronic stuff, which has been fun – getting back into the TR-8 and TB-3, they’re super entertaining for just live stuff – not necessarily recording something, but just playing around with as they go through patterns. Also trying to get more familiar with the Push and Ableton – I spent a week trying to do something every day, and it definitely helped – but I think part of it is that because I’ve started, petered out, started, petered out, and done that so many times, I’m retreading similar ground and getting the same results. So I’ve watched a few YouTube videos of people essentially making tracks on stuff like the Push and the OP-1, and trying to imitate some of that has pushed me in a slightly different, better-sounding direction, which is nice.

Otherwise, it’s more of the same ol’ same ol’. Not bad by any stretch, but it’ll be really nice to be able to get together with actual other people one day. 😛

Minigolfing with the kids during the week.