Self Portrait

Future Thoughts & Motions

The main thing I've been thinking about with regard to my future is that it's time for change. I'm still thinking about what kind of change and just how much to change.

My first thought is to change everything. Clothes, location, phone number, online moniker, email, contacts, career, furniture, activities, computer, bed, and so on and so forth. I'm tired of it all and I want a fresh start. There is a lot of things I have that I no longer use or haven't used in years, such as old video games, consoles, books, magazines, wires, papers, discs, boxes, etc. I have over 330 contacts in my address book and rarely talk to any of them, many of whom are old colleagues I rarely talked to when we worked together, people from dating sites that often even a first date didn't go through, and more. I want to travel and get around, see the sights, and meet new people.

I've mentioned this possibility to three people so far, one of which is my therapist, and the other two of which had the first response of ”I don't see what problem that would solve". Which was kind of disappointing because it felt like they don't really understand me or how I feel about it.

This isn't something I can do overnight so I won't be making any rushed decisions and disappearing just yet. In the mean time I'm going to start playing a new game of "disconnect or reconnect". I've already played round one with my address book, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype lists. I've gone from the above 330+ address book contacts to less than 50, and there's another dozen I'm still considering. My next steps will include going through things in my apartment and deciding what to keep or toss, and thinking more about what I want to do with my career. My lease at this place isn't up until the end of November so it's unlikely I'll be moving before that.

Another thing I'm looking into make happen in the mean time is a vacation. There's a cruise coming up that I'm going to try getting into, and whether that happens or not I'm going to finally get my butt out of Seattle for visiting places. I want to visit Pennsylvania, see Philadelphia, sit on a beach under an umbrella, and go to more places unknown. Going outside of the continent (Britain, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii) may yet be too far out of the picture, but it's still on my wish list.
  • Current Mood
    tired tired
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Moving on from one job to another, but to what end?

Monday was my last day at the job I had started just five weeks earlier. It wasn't unexpected and really it was just a matter of time until one side or the other pulled that trigger. Despite that it still hit me pretty hard.

The official reason for my termination is a culture mismatch, which is technically true.

The reality is that the company is allergic to change and commitment. I like change, I like making things more efficient, faster, better, easier, and simpler, and I like keeping with the times and pushing those times forward. When someone in a position of overriding power and job security wants things to stay exactly the way they are then... well, culture mismatch. It was more like an inevitable train wreck waiting to happen.

I should be grateful for being let go sooner rather than later, but I'm also disappointed and bothered that I didn't get to affect much change in the project I was specifically hired to reign in. It frustrates me to know that no matter who is right or wrong I can't even be productive and given a purpose beyond status quo maintainer (and some status quos are worse than others). I'm getting tired of wanting a better workplace instead of the same old politics and "gain/spend political capital" or whatever. If the idea has merits then it's worth looking into, and if it doesn't then it's worth determining why and finding a better way. Doing something just for the sake of doing it is ... spinning wheels in the mud.

I need to take some time to think about the specifics of what I want and how to get it before moving forward with another job.
  • Current Mood
    blah blah
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Sleep Patterns: Gathering Data

I haven't been sleeping that well lately so I decided to get something to help track how much I'm sleep. That it will also track how much physical activity I'm getting is also a plus.


Below is what my first night of sleep with the device looks like.

That's pretty typical of my sleep lately, provided I'm not solidly awake after just the first three to four hours of solid sleep. It's going to be really sad once this catches me with my 'wake up, sleep for 15-30 minutes, wake up, repeat' for two hours before the alarm finally goes off and I have to start getting ready for work.

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New Place; New Job; New Car; New Bank

It's been a while since I've written about myself so I've got a fair bit of catching up to do.

Let's start with the biggest physical change: I've moved from Seattle down to Federal Way. Travel-wise it's about a 30-45 minute change in location but the change in price for the new apartment is about 30% less than what the rent was going to be raised to. The new apartment has basic things like a dishwasher and an in-unit washer and dryer; it even has a balcony but until I get an outdoor-appropriate chair and some privacy screening I won't be using it as much (there's this one guy in the community who spends most of the day walking around near the area of the balcony. I can't understand a word he says and he yells everything). Another downside of the new place is it's not extremely close to the main transit center; it takes about 15 minutes to walk or grab a connecting bus to it.

Luckily I don't need to go into Seattle for my new job which I'll be starting on Monday. The downside is the public transit in this neck of the woods is less than ideal (and likely to get even less so once the funding cuts get put into place) and taking the buses to work would take 60 to 90 minutes each way. The reality is that I need a car. I thought about getting a bicycle, which would have been useful for cutting down a transit to Seattle or getting around the area, but it wouldn't shave anything significant off getting to where the new job is (due to needing 2-3 different buses to get there). It's only 12 miles away, 20 minutes by car even with some traffic, so that pretty much spells out my next item.

For the third time in my life I'll need a car of my own. I hate driving cars in traffic and I dislike these big lugs of metal for a single person so I started to look into the Smart Fortwo car. Unfortunately they're not exactly cheap and given that I have no credit no one was willing to lend the money. In the mean time I have a few grand I could put into a vehicle of some sort, or blow it on taking a taxi or renting a car, until I can afford a car with cash. The salesman at the Smart dealer made a big deal about staying at a job for at least a year or two, domicile for at least a couple of years, getting a cosigner, and keeping the loan for 6-12 months, among other things for building credit, but I could pay for the entire thing in cash in just 2-3 months so I'm not sure why I'd really care.

Next item on the agenda: Banking and Credit. With the new job I'll also be switching banks to a local credit union. I've already got the account set up and will designate it for Direct Deposit so in about 2-3 weeks (bi-weekly pay periods) there will be money in it. After that I'll start switching automatic payments off the Washington Mutual / Chase account until I can go in and close it down. Once that is done I'll go back to the credit union and look into getting a secured card or something. I'm still thinking about buying a house at some point.

Note to self: Get my credit report and dispute that Comcast collections report because they deposited it to the wrong account and haven't fixed it from 5 years ago when they 'found' the money after I faxed them a copy of the check with the account number on it. Clearly calling them up a couple of times hasn't worked on getting it removed so might as well go directly to the credit agencies to dispute it.
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It's the little things that cause the biggest impact.

Sometimes it is the little things which cause the highest emotional reaction. What would otherwise be a good interaction turns into a sour experience, perhaps because of an action (crossing boundaries?) or because of an inaction (reciprocity?) or restrictions of reality (not enough time in a day).

For me this weekend it has been a lot of hit or miss in this regard. Some panels have been critical misses where the panelists only presented one side of the arguments. Some really didn't even know or present their own subject well or I already knew everything that was said and then some. Some were a blast and great. Some were great yet one minor thing left a sour taste for the panel.

In this particular instance I attended a panel on the possibilities of Virtual Reality for the future. There were a few audience questions but it was largely panelists conversing among themselves. I tried to get a question in as part of the audience to ask about their view on the future of programming and world building with regard to virtual reality. Unfortunately the panelists going on and on with the couple of previous questions that the panel was over before they got to me, though I also wonder if they even saw my hand.

Now I'm in a panel about using passions to make money. It's a fun and interesting story so far so I'll stick with this for a while.
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With no time turner, Penguicon panels TBD

What happens when you go to a convention where there are lots of various things that look potentially interesting?

Something like this:

(Hours shown are in Eastern time zone)

Clearly I won't be able to go to five different panels in a single hour without a time turner, and since I don't have one of those I'll be pruning the selected schedule aggressively as time progresses and choices must be made. Some hours will see no panels or none attended, maybe some game room time, maybe time to myself in my room, and some just wandering or sitting in the halls. Who knows!
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New metrics for comparing potential dwellings?

The longer I stay in Seattle the clearer it becomes we need a new metric to evaluate housing with. Giving the square footage or price isn't enough to easily evaluate the difference between places.

Lots of quotes about square footage is given as absolute space from one far wall to the other, irregardless of what is between (walls? doors? whatever). Some even go so far as to include a percentage of a public area, like a courtyard.

A better metric that comes to mind off hand would be functional square footage. This is space that can actually be used for things beyond walking from point A to point B. For example, if the front door leads into a 6 foot hallway then all of that space is non-functional. You can't put a table there, a chair, tv, computer, or anything else, without blocking the way. The reason for this metric is that I've seen numerous studio apartments where the layout looks open but the kitchen or a closet is on the opposite side of the room in different corners so to get from the front door to that area a path has to be clear between the two. This essentially lops a side of the room off as non-functional for walking space.

Price per square footage is also a poor metric. I see a lot of places that are charging premium prices for the location or amount of (non-functional) square footage yet have really poor quality otherwise. Many places are getting away with it because of 'premium' location and a lack of good ways to compare quality between places.

Another metric would be quality of apartment or building. My current domicile has very thin walls, a very squeaky floor, no dishwasher, low water pressure, unreliable hot water, old stove, wildly inaccurate oven, degraded tile counters, and a really old style thermostat. All of these combined would generate a terrible score for quality.

Any other ideas for better metrics to compare rentals?
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Phrase Deprecation: "You can't buy happiness"

It's time for another round of Phrases that should be deprecated. Here on PTSBD we take a look at common cultural phrases and discuss their usages and merits and ultimately why they should be deprecated.

Today's phrase is "You can't buy happiness" or "Money can't buy happiness". This phrase is often used to or about those who have money by those who don't have as much. It can also be used about those who think money is everything, though that usage is less frequent or direct. The problem with this phrase is that the implication, that not having money will make you happy, isn't any truer than the original phrase. In a way this phrase is defensive for the person who doesn't have as much money and derogatory toward the person who has more.

As an anecdotal response, walking by a kennel the other day I saw a sign that read something like: 'Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.'

So the next time you start to say "You can't buy happiness" think about why you're saying it and perhaps say something else instead.

Disclaimer: This post is not actually part of a series, game show, tv show, webisode, podcast, sermon, or anything else. There are no prizes, winners, losers, or even contestants. Not all angles have been explored and no angels were exploited as part of this production. This post has no warranty or guarantee and may cause your dick to get caught in a ceiling fan.
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Reading! New Books! Pacing! *deep breath* phew

I started reading a new series of books recently. I haven't been a regular reader in quite some time so I was getting worried that I was losing my interest in new books and ability to read books in a timely manner. I read through the sample of the first book, bought it, and finished it a few days later. I wasn't terribly impressed with my expectations going in as most of the action was happening somewhere other than where the main character was (that and between most actions was talk of showering, sleeping, and/or eating; no wonder most books and shows don't talk much about that!). I started reading the sample for the next book which sounded more promising so I bought and finished it fairly quickly. It had started getting good to the point I didn't even bother reading the sample for the third one before buying it. I have just devoured that one in little more than 24 hours even with some sleep and a couple of intervening appointments.

I started the first book only five days ago. 3 books in 5 days.
Not that I particularly could before but this is a clear reminder that I lack the ability to pace myself.
But still! New books! Interesting story! Space! Heroine!

The series is Vatta's War by Elizabeth Moon, by the way. There are still two more books in the series but they'll have to wait a couple days while I get some other things done.