Marty, the guy who does all the sound for our games, sent me this halloween video that they cooked up.

workin

The utter regularity of the weekly work schedule is somewhat depressing.  When my brother IMs me at 12:30 and says, "what's up," how am I supposed to respond?

and then I read this...

That's some nice blackmail you got there...

Wow.

rehashing some things

(nothing new going on here, just writing it down, and trying to avoid blogging about the election.)

Comparing human beings across time is a fun exercise.  I enjoy comparing myself to a medieval lord.

Lord:
Owns hundreds of acres of land
Owes allegiance/tribute/tithe to king/church
Has 3-10 full time domestic servants and oversees dozens or hundreds of serfs
Has plenty of kinda boring food, decent nutrition
Is moderately well educated
Is in good physical shape
Is prone to diseases he doesn't understand
Expects to live a total of what, 40-50 years?
Some intellectual freedom
Travels by horse
Writes letters to friends and family

Me:
Owns no land
Pays taxes
Zero to 0.05 domestic servants (a gardener comes by every 2 weeks?  I don't service my own car?)
Has a huge variety of tasty and affordable dietary options, excellent nutrition
Extremely/over educated
In ok physical shape
Is not afraid of getting sick
Expects to live 70+ (possibly ++) years
X-treme intellectual freedom
Travels by car, plane, bicycle, train
Communicates instantly with any of his acquantances


So, while I'm a lot poorer in terms of real estate, and in terms of the number of other lives I control, I'm much richer in almost every other meaningful way.  Or, while my relative position in society is much lower, my absolute position, in terms of freedom and quality of life, is much higher.  At least in my opinion.  So, I can scoff at the lord, and the lord can scoff at me.  Scoffs for everyone!

sartre update

Other people aren't so bad. You can work with them and empathize with them. You can develop a shared sense of community, shared purpose, and affection.

No. Hell is other companies.  Other companies see you as a resource to be extracted; they are obligated to their shareholders to fuck you over as much as they can.  There can be no love and no real understanding.

***

Ok so, of course that's a gross overstatement, but aside from being a gross overstatement, I think there's something there.  Corporations exist to further themselves, and they're implicitly designed to work without compassion or mercy.  That's one of the reasons negotiation between businesses takes the form of contracts.  Within a company, our human tribal instincts tend to hold us together, but between companies we are petty, demanding, and disrespectful.

Or at least, working across company lines has been a horrible, stressful experience for me for the past few months. (years?)  Care to dissent?

uh, only 12 days left.

vitality

I used to be full of vitality and curiosity.  Now when I sit at my desk I feel like a lump of cheese.  Luckily, when I'm not at my desk I'm still my regular scheming self.  Clearly I need to spend less time at my desk.  I wonder how I can make that work?

respect the table saw

A lot of the tools I own are relatively safe.  I feel ok drinking a beer or two while using the scroll saw, because in order to hurt myself with the scroll saw, I would need to put my finger on the blade while it is running, and hold it there for a few seconds.  Likewise the drill and dremel tool.  I won't drink while using the Oxy/Acetylene torch, but I generally feel pretty safe with it.  (I did burn myself badly once, but that was by trying to weld overhead while standing on shallow stairs.  Fell backwords.  Really dumb.  Oh and then one time I set the bulletin board (and my sweatshirt) on fire with the MIG Welder, but that was no big deal.)

Anyway.

On Saturday I bought a table saw*.  Of all the tools I own, it's easily the most dangerous.  And the loudest, and the most powerful.  I've been getting a tiny adrenaline rush every time I use it.  It makes a difference to be using a tool that could easily chop your finger off.  You respect it more.  I wonder if I've been missing that...

In any case, the shelves are almost done, I'll post a picture when they're all assembled.  After that, the liquor cabinet is next... I've got to do some joinery for that, which should be a good time.  I really like having a little shop space in the garage, I've been missing working with my hands.  Of course now if I'm not careful, I'll be working with missing hands.


*Nothing's gone wrong yet, and I've used plenty of table saws plenty of times before, and I always wear my safety equipment.  (I will never drink and use the table saw.)  I'm not worried, but I am interested in my own danger response.

this device has changed somehow

I installed WoW on my laptop yesterday.  The intent was to dabble in character creation and early levels with Annie, her on my PC and me on my laptop*.  I wasn't sure if my MacBook would be up to the task, but it was, easily, so that was nice.  We had a good time creating some Orcs to run around and do stuff.  It's great to be able to play online in the same room.

What's funny though to me is that afterwards, when I picked up my laptop and brought it into the other room, it literally felt different in my hands, as if it had a different weight.  I had changed the character of this device by installing a game on it.  I had flashes in my minds eye of me sitting down in a coffee shop or somewhere and killing some time on WoW**.  I don't know if I'd ever take myself up on it, and if I/we keep playing, I think I'll be able to keep it under control, but I thought it was an interesting anecdote of the physiological manifestations of gadget and gaming culture.


*I had a 14 day free trial CD that was eating a hole in my mental pocket.

**This is a big mental departure for me; It's my first laptop and until now I've used it entirely as an email and RSS box, with some SketchUp on the side.  Also, I am not accustomed to playing large games anywhere but at home, in my room.  (DS games being small.)

pondering

I'm not there yet, but if I have to find myself a new job, do I want to:

A) Keep working with Flash/AS3, in the casual web space
B) Work with java for a more serious web 2.0 company
C) Work with C++ or something in the hardcore games space
D) Find a job working with my hands, or get some crazy unrelated experience
E) Start an art furniture business
F) Jump straight into web based fundraising for a castle
E) No/Other

secrets


Sometimes I wish I had more secrets. Great prop for a stack or ARG though.

I am so glad, also tubes

I'm so glad the debates are over.  It's been a little torturous.  Not just watching them, but anticipating them, and reading all the pre- and post- coverage on the ole RSS.

Also, I've always been disappointed with live streaming on the internet.  I come in to work later than most, so getting off work by 6:00 when the debates are streaming live has not generally been possible.  My eternal expectation, eternally wrong, is that I should be able to start watching at 7:30, and see the whole debate, from start to finish.

WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD?  Tivo can do it.  Why can the internet not do it?  Am I missing something?  Is there some site I don't know about where they do live streaming right?  I tried Hulu and Youtube and Mydebates.  FAIL.  The YouTube uploads kept failing around part 11 of 15.  Which, by the way, having to break the debate up into 15 parts is super dumb in itself.*  MyDebates just had no reference to the third debate video after the debate had finished.  Some time after 11:00 I stumbled upon the Hulu version, but I had to go back to their front page to find it, it wasn't on the debates page that I had been checking earlier in the evening.

Internet TV: still not ready for prime time.  So to speak.  Unlike Sam, I give it a D.  Unlike Phlargo I refuse to accept this limitation.  I'm mad as hell and...and...aw crap.  At least there are no more debates for a few years.

>:-(

*I hear YouTube is getting better about this, I'll believe it when I'm watching YouTube and my eyes aren't bleeding.

land

Apparantly you can purchase an acre of land in Topanga Canyon (up the hill from Santa Monica and Malibu) for less than $300,000.  


Now, it's gonna be hilly and rocky, but I gotta say it's still tempting.  Build a cabin, then a house, then a castle.  Grow food.  Raise chickens and goats, grow grapes and make wine.  Oh, and commute 20 minutes to your job in Santa Monica.

...?!

With each passing day I get closer and closer to being "that guy," and it makes me nervous.

materials

are expensive.  Specifically, wood.  I want to make a little piece of furniture, but I do not want to spend $75 on wood, and $15 on hardware.  I'd really like to avoid the low grade pine they sell at big box stores, and particle board or plywood is right out.

 HMMMMM.

navigation, also identity

How often do you dare turn the lens of your design methodology on your own life?


As a member of the so-called "creative class," I am paid to make a class of decisions. Most of the time they're small decisions about how to organize and name these mostly abstract concepts that make games work. Sometimes they're slightly bigger decisions about game mechanics or interface direction. At the beginning of a new project I get to make structural and architectural decisions.

I have a decision making process; I steep myself in the language of the problem, and then I propose a solution, and then I iterate on that until the result is beautiful enough for me. Then I execute.

I feel like as I get older I'm more successful in applying a similar approach to the major decisions in my life, but the process is sometimes deeply frightening. Perhaps admitting that there is a choice to be made, is the scary part.

I tried last week to put money into the Intrade system so that I could buy shares of the Obama Pres contract. At the time the price was about 60, and I felt, and still feel, that the probability is about 95%. So, it's a great bet to me, and I wanted to put $1000 on it. I didn't, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to transfer money in from Bank of America.

They had instructions on the Intrade site for calling your bank and wiring money, but the idea of calling my bank puts this feeling of dread in me. It makes me feel like a broke teenager.

Let me be clear: I hate my bank. They take my money, they hit me with fees, and I really have no recourse, because I have no-one to blame, but over the years I've probably given them more than $1000 in overdraft fees, which drives me totally batty when I think about it. So how messed up is it that I am psychologically dominated by an institution that routinely and impersonally abuses me? Don't tell me it's a normal psychological reaction to abuse; I don't want to hear it.

I'm pretty sure I'd rather be a guy who makes $600 by betting on the election, than a guy that saw the opportunity but is afraid to call his bank. BUT, I'm also lazy. $600 of lazy? Maybe so, it's happened before. In any case, the Obama price has gone up, so it's less of a good deal now. :-/

So that's my emo story of the week.

But overall, my life is going great, and I'm really happy about it. I'll get over this financial malaise, maybe even soon.

productivity

I'm constantly fascinated by the concept of productivity.  

For much of human history, and most of human pre-history, we've been more or less on a break even basis.  You produce enough crops and houses and clothes and furniture to get by, with a little surplus.  The surplus is taken up by periodic wars or famines.  Life goes on generation to generation, maybe a little better, sometimes a little worse.

It's not really true anymore.  Our standard of living is on a steep upward slope.  One farmer can feed what, dozens or hundreds of people?  One small team of workers with modern tools can build many houses a year.  I can build all my own furniture and grow a lot of my own food, and it's not even the most efficient use of my time (I'm a rank amatuer at this stuff).  The most efficent use of my time might be writing business sofware or something.  I produce physical goods purely as a hobby.

The point is that even if scientific and technological progress came to a screeching halt right now,  each successive generation will still be richer than the previous.  In time, because of the productivity surplus, every child could have an iPhone, every teenager could have an electric car, every house could produce its own solar power.

The only thing that keeps us poor is the pace of progress of technology (no gadgets are heirlooms) and the pressure of population growth.  That is frickin crazy.

What's almost crazier though, is our response to it.  Never have we said, "that's enough, let's just work 20 hours a week and relax the rest of the time."  Instead, the average number of working hours per family per week has risen dramatically over the last 50 years.  I'm not one to argue agaisnt progress, but consider.  The promise of technology has always been to make things easier, but to what end?  I guess I always assumed, growing up, that the point was to have more leisure time.  I had this concept of, oh, machines will do all the work for us, so we can spend our time learning or playing or whatever.  WHATEVER.

I mean, I make casual games for a living so maybe we're already there, it just doesn't taste like I thought it would.  I want my freedom.

nap time

I'm supposed to be working but I can't stay awake.