Another turn around the wheel, another charge over the top.

Feb 15, 2014

Another year, another birthday.

No, I won't post yet another video of Birthday by the Cruxshadows. I've done that the last few years, and I figure everybody could use a break. So, I put together a Youtube playlist of music that I listened to a lot last year. Open it in another tab or a new window and plug your headphones in if you've a mind to. Just click the "Play All" button.


Good, you're back.

I can't say that I expected the last year to turn out the way it did. I always said that I try to demolish and rebuild my life every couple of years to keep things fresh and interesting, and this is the first time in a long while that I've been in a position to do that. I wasn't on the conference circuit last year, nor was I off having wacky adventures around the country (not that I didn't want to, mind you). Compared to everything that happened in 2012 last year was remarkably quiet and less eventful than the one that came before.

I still got some travel time in though not all of it was what I'd hoped it it would have been. If nothing else it gave me good opportunities to improve myself and branch out into some fields that I hadn't previously considered. I got to visit MIT for the first time; I consider myself to have made a geek pilgrimage to the Media Lab, where many like me have studied and worked in years past. It could be said that my kind was invented, or at least evolved at MIT. I was also surprised and shocked to find Project Byzantium popping up in the most unexpected places around the world. We logged a lot of hours working on Byzantium last year (and finally got into beta!) thanks to the development grant we recieved from ISC. I can't say all of the work was easy, it wasn't. In fact, there were some downright frustrating parts where we nearly threw in the towel but somehow found the strength to keep pushing forward. All in all it was a very rewarding experience that we're still recuperating from. I plan on spending some time working on Byzantium in the very near future.

Work sent the rest of my life into a tailspin in 2013. I'm somewhat ashamed to say that it was a perfect storm of suck, fail, burnout, and fighting losing battles that lead me to change jobs, and in point of fact rebuild my life as mentioned before almost from the ground up. Rather than continuing to do the same thing over and over again I kicked it in the head and quit my job as a system admin-cum-"hey, you know all about weird stuff" labrat late last year. That was closely followed by throwing out four 55 gallon trash bags of stuff, donating a TARDIS-load of parts and equipment to HacDC, another four trash bags of clothes to Goodwill, and giving away two or three hundred books from my library. I found a new job on the other side of the country and a flat just outside of the city, threw a suitcase and a duffel bag of stuff into the TARDIS, and drove-cross country with Jason last October, a six day adventure that I'm still posting photographs from. I've always wanted to do a real road trip and that was as good a chance as any, so I jumped at it. Lyssa flew out a few weeks later and we've been living out here ever since. I'm now an financial cryptography engineer on the other side of the country. I think I much prefer being an engineer to a system admin; the work is much more interesting, it's rewarding, the hours are better, and I get to code more useful things than the usual "automate this really irritating task" shell scripts.

In other news, I'm still fighting a pitched battle against the laws of entropy and conservation of mass. I'm still getting older. I need a little more sleep then I used to (though if I'm to be perfectly honest, and there's no reason not to, I've always needed eight or nine hours a night, I just wasn't getting it) and I don't bounce back from all nighters the way I did when I was in college. I can't go out dancing all night anymore, but when I do I make it count, you bet your parity bit. I have to take better care of my wrists and I'm exploring dietary supplements to tweak my biochemistry a little. I've lost some hair and gained some weight, and I've admitted to myself that there is no way in hell that I'll ever fit into the size 30, 32, or even 34 jeans that I wore all through college. Mere size 'L' t-shirts, too. As for the receeding hairline, I'm of two minds about it. On one hand I've always loved having long hair and it insults my inherent vanity in the sort of way that keeps one up at night running around in circles inside your head while trying to think of a witty comeback. On the other hand, if Grant Morrison, Patrick Stewart, Andrew Eldritch (though he lives a far more eventful life than any two of us), and Adam Savage all look good with no or receeding hair, maybe I will too.

Hell, if nothing else I'll be able to cosplay as Spider Jerusalem.

I've come to accept that there are people who adamantly resist any kind of solution to any problem they face. No suggestion is sufficiently reasonable, no way out is the correct one, and there are no safe courses of action for them. No risks must be accepted. No threats can be mitigated. The bikeshed is the color of despair. The best that one can hope to accomplish is simply to state that unnecessary paranoia is indistinguishable from surrending all agency and move on. There are battles to be fought, wars to be won, and cookies to be baked, but none of those things are to be found in such conversations.

As I get older it's hard to find things that I'm willing to invest any time or effort into becoming a fan of. Of all of the possible things there are out there to develop an enjoyment of, my tastes are sufficiently removed from the romantic-comedy-at-8pm-7pm-central-and-mountain category that anything that does strike my fancy probably won't be around for longer than a season (sometimes less). In short it's just not worth the energy toward something just to get honked off a month or two later over it being cancelled or discontinued. I usually discover things years after they've been dead and buried and only their detritus remains, which is fine because the beginning, middle, and end have already happened so there is usually a sense of closure. I've ridden that particular bicycle way too many times. Somehow, kicking and screaming, I was finally introduced to something that I'm willing to invest some amount of effort into becoming a fan of, which astonishingly is still around and ongoing though I won't tell you about it. That was a little surprising. I'd figured that I was at the point in my life where I had more important things to worry about than media I consume when I have nothing more important to do, and then something falls into my lap that I actually care enough about to seek out updates and fan-related ephemera. Guess I still have a little fan in me...

I still don't know what this year holds. We're not yet really settled into our new digs and won't be for another couple of months yet. There are still logistics to figure out, plans to make, places to see, and roads to travel. It's too soon to tell yet what's going to happen, even for me. I thought I had a couple of things in the bag last year and was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong. So, rather than get too attached to any particular outcomes I'm going to see where the current takes me this time around. So far, letting the winds of Time blow me around has been a fruitful strategy, and it's already taken me to some interesting places (for several definitions of the word, traditional and colloquial). If nothing else, they've carried me a lot farther and higher in life than I had been moving previously, and the state of life in general improving is never a bad thing.