Tuesday, January 10, 2006

10 of 2005

A little bit late, but no less lame. As I did last year, I wanted to record ten significant things that happened to me over the last 12 months. "Dreams, Debt, Death - the stains of mediocrity"

  1. Brought Ruoda home: By itself, my time with Ruoda could take over the whole list: listening to music (her current fave: Fear Factory's Transgression); reading books (fave: All the Way to Lhasa); playing the piano together; going for walks; dancing at summer concerts in the park; drawing with colored pencils together; enjoying hugs and kisses. She is a ray of sunshine not just in my own life, but in that of everyone who encounters her smile. Okay, she deserves at least one more slot in the list...
  2. Swimming with Ruoda during the summer: We had to stay out of the sun, and the Oregon summer nights are a bit nippy for swimming, but we still had a blast together almost every night in the pool and hot tub. Her favorite word is still "moon".
  3. My first international travel: Growing up in upstate NY, I can't really count those two Montreal vacations or that unfortunate night in Toronto. Spending two weeks in China was an unforgettable experience (unlike the next seven banalities in this list...)
  4. Video game carousel: I knew I would have to quit City of Heroes in March upon Ruoda's return, but actually quit a month early as the combat was overly repetitive while the leveling was faaaar too slow. I still miss Paragon City like hell... Tried Diablo 2 again for a bit, but it wouldn't run on my PC reliably. Played Age of Mythology for awhile against a friend, but he got too frustrated; I'm still shocked to find someone who is that much worse than I at real-time strategy games! Spent the last few months with Dungeon Siege 2 (comparable to Diablo 2, but more immersive and with a weaker combat system), but that was also too slow-going, and the final battle (required to unlock the higher levels of difficulty) was absurd in execution. I uninstalled it this week, and am now back to giving Guild Wars another go.
  5. Online puzzles: I started solving puzzles regularly at Conceptis Puzzles (free) and Puzzle Japan ($4/month). Between the two sites, there are about six puzzles types I consider essential (and, no, Sudoku - featured on both sites - is not among these). A fun supplement to my pencil puzzle magazine habit.
  6. Played A Game of Thrones CCG: Collected tons of cards, built tons of decks, tested my decks against an opponent, played Friday nights at the constructed and draft events at Rainy Day Games, and even played in a regional tournament up in Redmond. I enjoyed the scene - even if I wasn't crazy about the game - and look forward to doing something similar with another CCG in the future. Everyone else in the area abandoned the game, so I decided to bail as of the latest base set. That didn't stop me from...
  7. Read the first 3 books of A Song of Fire and Ice: C'mon, that's over 2500 pages there! Amazing how much reading you can get in while a confused infant dozes around the clock. My primary motivation was to give me additional enjoyment playing the A Game of Thrones CCG, but now that I'm no longer participating in the CCG, it's TBD whether I'll continue reading this series. That's because...
  8. Started reading the Discworld series: I've made it through 12 books so far (that's another 4000+ pages - I've never done this much reading in a year in my life). I've tried to do this before, but gave up on several titles when they weren't as good as the first one. These days, I find that light reading is a great pastime to have in a heavily interrupt-driven household. I still like the first book (The Color of Magic) a lot more than the others for several reasons: It's more Doug Adams than Three Stooges; it focuses on satirizing Fantasy rather than overall zaniness; I prefer the episodic structure over the meandering chapterless format of the later books; and I found Rincewind's journey to (and over!) the edge of the world transcedental. Of the other titles, the ones I enjoyed most were Mort (Death takes on an apprentice), Pyramids (I was on my Nile kick at the time), and Witches Abroad (a slight satire on the fairy tale genre).
  9. First year as Group Leader: I still manage the same people and projects that I did before, so it's not really that big of a deal. The biggest difference is that I get to provide inputs into department-level decisions, usually concerning employee relations and the like. Having the Group Leader title does give me that extra bit of recognition and leverage on those rare occasions I interface with other folks outside of my area.
  10. Bloggin': Kicking off the Gathering of Engineers blog was a blast; having a restricted pool of potential bloggers makes its long-term viability risky (other gaming group blogs have had some turnover in the first year of operations), but I figure we could either reinvent it if need be, or I could just consider this an audition for another group blog if it doesn't pan out. I really need that group format to be able to commit to posting that often. I also started my Top 100 Albums blog, but I'm stuck at #79. There's actually a good reason for this; this CD was in my 24-pack CD case when it was stolen ~3 years ago. I have been unable to locate the CD either online or in the stores, and it's hard to get properly inspired by thin-sounding 30-second Amazon.com samples. I hope to get momentum on this again some day soon.