Journal Entry: June 22, 2006

It seems like all I talk about lately is Sleeping Kings. I guess I should feel bad about that, but…I dunno. I haven’t written in so long. And now, this story has me writing again, and remembering why I used to call myself a writer.

Let me tell you, it has nothing to do with my day job.

I once wrote, in a poem, “I write to make a perfect world with words.” That’s funny, under the current circumstances, since (as any of you reading Sleeping Kings knows) I’m in the process of destroying the United States. It’s really pretty miserable for everyone involved.

Trish’s…great second cousin (or something like that) passed away last weekend. She decided to go up to Wichita for the funeral, to be with her family (her Mom in particular). I didn’t really have the leave, and Trish didn’t feel it was crucial that I be there, so I stayed home and worked on Wednesday.

Tuesday night I mostly hung out with Kris and Nicki. We went to some Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner (I had a burger), and I spent the entire time talking about my story. I kept thinking, “Okay, enough, talk about something else.”

I didn’t, though.

So, yeah, same sort of thing is going on here, and I apologize. But, as then, I probably won’t actually change my ways. Sorry.

Also played some WoW with Kris on Tuesday, checked out the new content patch, and then watched Undercover Brother, which I’d gotten him for his birthday. That was a lot of fun. Lynchburg Lemonades helped. I don’t know where Kris learned to make them so well, but he does a fantastic job. Have him make you one sometime. Delish.

And yesterday I worked, and got a day ahead on Sleeping Kings for the first time, and spent all afternoon wanting to post the story I’d just written (the one that’s up there now, as today’s post). Knowing that I have readers actively following the story, it kills me that I have stuff written that I’m not sharing. I’ve got a lot of notes I wrote to myself about what’s going to happen in the story, long-term, and I keep wanting to share those, too, even though they’d be major spoilers.

I’m having to fight down the urge, all the time.

Y’know…I used to feel this way all the time. I don’t really know why I stopped writing. I have some suspicions, and none of them are things I can really control. Which is sad, because it means it could happen again, tomorrow or next week or a year from now. I love it when I’m writing, though. I want to keep it up.

Tonight, I’m going over to Kris’s to play some WoW with everybody (that being Graham, Jeff, Dad, and Kris, natch). Daniel’s not in the list because he’s in Europe, but I think you all knew that.

I’ve been having trouble caring about WoW lately. Kris has never played a lot, and he’s been even busier than normal lately. I’ve got all my characters I care about up to 60 (the level limit), and am close to getting some I don’t care about there, too. And I just don’t think I’d enjoy much of the stuff to do at the end-game. Also, I lost a massive amount of money (in-game) on what should have been a safe investment. So I’m broke, and don’t have much to do, and Daniel and Kris aren’t playing much.

I dunno. There’s still other reasons to play, but too often when I log into the game, I’ve just got nothing to do. So I log back out, but I’ve got nothing else to do. So I log back in. That’s most of my free time, for the last couple weeks.

I’m looking forward to Heroes of Might and Magic V, which might be out already. That could be fun, but I think it’s not an MMO, so I can’t see really getting into it. I’d still like to try Savage, but it came out just before WoW, and WoW distracted me, and by now it’s probably kinda outdated. I don’t really know of anything else on the horizon.

Life is weird. There’s so much, and then there’s so much. You look around, and it’s full of other new things, and they’re all familiar, but if you look close, they’re completely different.

I’m just sayin’, is all.

Journal Entry: June 15, 2006

Trish’s laptop doesn’t have enough RAM.

Umm…if you know what I mean?

So, I brought the laptop with me so I can play some WoW while I’m alone at night (oh, man, the inuendos just don’t stop!). Unfortunately, it just barely runs WoW at all. I made some plans with the guys last night for a late-night instance run, and then I had to cancel on them because I couldn’t even stay in game.

Kris is apparently having the same problem, but for entirely different reasons.

So, I keep thinking that since WoW won’t work I should just write. Or read. Or program. Or watch TV. Or a movie.

Problem is, I’m very unfocused. Spacey, even. I just move from thing to thing. I think I might have figured out part of the reason for that last night. I’ve spent the whole week here drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day. I dunno, it’s just something I do on travel. It is just something I do on travel. I normally don’t drink coffee at all.

So I’m probably just major buzzing on caffeine. I told Kris I’d lay off coffee today, but I did have a cup with breakfast. Just one so far today, though….

Speaking of chemically altered, I decided a couple weeks ago that I’d pick up a bottle of wine while I was here and have a glass every night. I’ve been doing that, too. What with the other things going on in my head, mebbe I shouldn’t be, but I’ve actually really been enjoying it. It’s been way too long since I’ve had wine around on any kind of a regular basis. I need to start doing that again. Of course, first I have to win the lottery.

Also, I think I mentioned last night that my current class is moving too slowly for me. Because of that, I ran up to the store last night and grabbed a notebook, so I can write some during the slower parts of the course.

Here’s what I learned today: I no longer have writer’s calluses. (Callouses?) When you write with a thin pencil or pen a lot, you get a callus on your middle finger where you rest the pen. I spent elementary and middle school with these long, thick, red calluses all along the middle finger on my left hand, because that was pretty much the only way I wrote, and I wrote a lot. Then, around the first of high school, I started word processing. Now, I have no calluses at all. And this morning’s class was really slow.


One other thing: I had a chicken sandwich from Burger King for lunch. Sooooo good. Have one soon. That is all.

Journal Entry: Holiday Weekend

Just got back from a three-day weekend spent with family. Trish and I had off work yesterday, so we drove to Little Rock Friday night after work, and just got home late last night.

It was a good weekend. Shannon and Jeff were there, and Sophie was more smiley than usual, so that was cute. Jeff and I brought out computers, so the weekend was mostly WoW (and Mom got in her second instance run when we took three low-40s characters through ZF Sunday night — that was wild). Good progress was made in-game, but I won’t bore you with those details.

Naturally, we weren’t allowed to WoW for the whole weekend. On Saturday we went to Hot Springs and played a round of mini-golf (Dad won), and toured the old bath houses there. Err…I guess it was fun. Before heading home we stopped at an ice cream / coffee shop, and I got an Espresso Float (which is just Espresso poured over vanilla ice cream), and wow. So good.

Oh! (How do I keep forgetting this?) Before heading to Hot Springs we went to a Vespa dealer, because Mom is seriously planning on getting a Vespa soon. That was about an hour at the dealer, considering all of the different models, talking about possibilities and, y’know, whatnot. We were hoping we’d get to watch Mom do a test drive and laugh at her, but that requires a motorcycle permit which she didn’t have. So, y’know, alas.

Sunday was church, and then WoW all afternoon. Oh, I grilled hotdogs for us. They were delicious. The Iversons went to see X3. I got Barradon through the Badlands. Then Sunday night ZF, and we were up until after one.

And most of yesterday was all of us quietly wondering when we’d actually head home. Shannon and Jeff ended up deciding to wait until today, but I’m not exactly rolling in leave time, so Trish and I headed home about 4:30 last night. We got a ticket for following too close behind a police officer (who pulled in front of me and then slowed down, grr). They were out in major force all week, obviously trying to make a show, and probably with a quota to fill. Oh well, whatever.

And that was that. I managed to write on Sleeping Kings every day, which I consider a major success. And I got a lot of the story and design worked out over the course of 11 hours of driving. And now I’m back home, and a long couple weeks of work getting ready for my week of travel.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!

Journal Entry: My Weekend In Review

I have just finished, through no fault of my own, a four-day weekend.

And when I say “through no fault of my own,” what I mean is that, left to my own machinations, it would have continued for at least one more day. Probably three.

I really love long weekends. Day off during the week? Oh, don’t even get me started on that. Days like that have a 70% chance of going bad. But long weekends are almost always good.

Mom and Dad stopped in OKC on their way home from a ski trip. We got to host them Thursday night and Friday. For any of you who don’t know, my parents play World of Warcraft. It’s awesome. I’ve never enjoyed family get-togethers more than I have in the last six months or so. Christmas was a LAN party. You can’t beat that.

They got in pretty late Thursday night. Knowing they’d be around on Friday, Jeff took off the day on Friday. I naturally have every other Friday off, and that happened to be mine, so we had a Senior Skip Day brewing from the start. I talked Kris into taking the day off, and Daniel — well, he couldn’t be there because he was working on homework. Yep. But the rest of us were free!


So we spent the afternoon Friday playing WoW. Kris promised his wife some real-life time Friday night, but the rest of us went over to Jeff’s place around 6:00 and continued playing WoW there.

Okay, I just realized the next two days of this story are all WoW, in one form or another, and the only people who care were there. So I’ll skip forward to Monday.

No, wait, Monday was mostly WoW too. What a weekend…. Anyway, I was forced (by way of warning light) to take my car in for repairs on Monday. Battery light had been on for about a week and a half, and all signs pointed to alternator. So Trish drove with me to the mechanic yesterday morning, we dropped off the car, and then she took me home and she headed to work.

Picked up the car this morning. Price was only $500, and the car runs better than it has since I got it. Err…I had a loose motor mount replaced, too, in case any of you are boggling at $500 for an alternator. Motor mount was most of the cost, actually, and entirely the reason it’s running better.

So, yay, my car doesn’t feel quite so much like a deathtrap now! Also, lots of WoW! Great 4-day weekend, and almost nothing accomplished. I did install a fan in the living room, which was most of my Saturday (and most of Kris’s). Other than that, nada.

Hope you had a good one. Now I’m back at work and looking at no long weekends for at least three weeks. Bah! Bah I say!

Oh well. Time to get back to it.

Journal Entry: Home Again

I wanted to have a thoughtful, serious essay for you today, but I just can’t seem to find it. I figure, anyway, that the least I can do is provide some details on my trip, from which I am safely returned.

Seattle is very cool. I liked it quite a lot. I really love big cities on big bodies of water, because it’s fascinating the way the cities pile up right next to the shoreline, whatever it is, until it seems like the city itself was built out of the water, or the shore carved out with a knife…. It’s a blind watchmaker thing, where you can easily mistake the effect for the cause, and it creates an incredible mental image.

The city put me in mind of New York City nestled in remote English countryside, with the cultural reflections in both directions that such a situation would engender. I liked NYC much more than I expected to. Seattle, I think, excels far beyond that, although (as part of that very excellence) it lacks the pungent vulgarity of NYC which, you must admit, is a significant part of the flavor.

I made a new friend. Not generally something I do, and not often something I’m excited about, but I like Irene. She’s cool.

I came back from Travel to find Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium waiting at my desk. It’s a software package I requested immediately after I got here. The wheels of time grind slow, in government work, but they grind exceedingly fine. Which is to say that Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium is exceedingly fine. Y’know, like a hot lady. Good stuff.

Oh! I spoke with Josh on my trip. In spite of the entirety of the contents of the call, it was awesome to actually talk with him. It’s been too long, and it probably will be again, but I enjoyed being in touch.

And, for reading material on my journey, I took along a book that Toby had gotten me for my birthday more than a year ago, Fluke by Christopher Moore. Christopher Moore is the one who wrote Lamb (which you should read, if you haven’t, or read again, if you have), and Toby and Gwyn liked his writing so much that, as far as I can tell, they bought and read everything he’s ever written. And, shortly after, what should show up in my birthday present wrappings but Fluke. I just assumed it was another funny story, which they enjoy sharing — I didn’t realize it would be tailor-written to me. Err…in a way. Anyway: hilarious, incisive, insightful, just like Lamb, but without all the heresy. Just finished it over lunch today.

I had a 3 1/2 hour layover in Denver airport. I had Trish’s laptop with me. I discovered I could buy high-speed wireless access for $10. You bet I did! I spent the entire layover playing Alterac Valley. So there’s how much of a nerd I am. We won the battleground (only my third win in hundreds of games), and I actually shouted out, “Yay!” in the middle of a crowded gate. So there’s how much of a dork I am.

Hope you had a good week. I’ll try to write something useful soon….

Some Autobiography

As an aside: someone once said, “No autobiography is worth reading.” And he meant it. Cynical as I am, I’d be tempted to agree and go around quoting him all the time, except that Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita is one of the most interesting pieces of literature I’ve ever read.

Go get a copy. Read it. Now.

Anyway, my story.

When I was about twelve I got a video game based on a really cheesy series of Fantasy novels (the Forgotten Realms, for those of you who know enough to know). No, Daniel, this isn’t “Pool of Radiance,” this is “Secret of the Silver Blades.” Believe it or not, my interest in “Secret of the Silver Blades” was worse than the “Pool of Radiance.”

Yeah. Just the names convey the cheese factor. Of course, I was twelve, and it’s not like I was hanging out with G. I. Joes or transformers or something….

Loved this game. It was awesome. I found out later it was fourth in a series (the aforementioned “Pool of Radiance” being the first). I’m certain that I invested hundreds of hours into those four games. Conceivably thousands. “Secret of the Silver Blades,” alone, certainly accounted for hundreds. It had probably been out for two or three years when I got it (which is to say, antique), and I kept playing it for at least four or five years more.

And, here’s the thing, it wasn’t a great game. Even then, I knew it wasn’t a great game. There are games that are that good, that are worth going back to. Every iteration of “Civilization” has been that good. For Toby, it’s “Sacrifice.” I understand great games. This was not one of them.

I kinda liked the story, though. And I really liked that I had figured out most of the map, and I could get anywhere, and I could get really powerful weapons.

And then I figured out how to manipulate saved games so that I could pass really awesome equipment from the end of the game, back to new characters just starting the game. Or, say I got a really awesome ring that would make a character super cool. I could duplicate it so every one of my characters (you could have five characters in the party) got two copies of it.

Then I figured out how to save a game where all the monsters were already dead, but certain events that gave huge experience rewards were untriggered. That meant you could create a new character, load him into this save game, run through the map and trigger all of these events, and gain several levels (the equivalent of, say, ten hours of actual gameplay) in a couple minutes. You could even remove the character from the party, reload that save game, add the character back in, and do it again for another several levels.

Okay, okay, I was a kid, everybody does a little bit of that. In FPS games it’s called God Mode, and basically all of them come with God Mode as an option. It’s a little bit fun.

But did I mention I did this for four or five years?

Not only that…okay, here’s where some of those hundreds of hours come from. “Secret of the Silver Blades” had this huge sprawling map, with dozens of levels, and they were all laid out on an evenly-spaced square grid, which is a way of saying it would be really easy to map out the entire game on graph paper, if you had the time and patience.

And you’re all already rolling your eyes, but there you have it. I did that. Some levels of the map are four pages across, taped together, and two pages longwise. Filled with corridors and sprawling rooms, and notes indicating key fights and triggered events and treasure caches. I did all of that. I would charge my party into a room, kill of all the monsters, then pace it out, from end to end, counting tiles so I could get the map exactly right.

I did it in pen. If I made a mistake, I started that page over, recopying what I’d already gotten down, then moving on.

Yeah, you’re with me so far.

So, when I was sixteenish, I took this whole monstrosity I’d created: the maps, the pages and pages of notes, the save game that gives you millions of free experience points, the save game with full sets of end-game equipment set for each of the different classes, the save game with nothing but tons and tons of gems, jewels, and precious metals….

And I gave it to a friend of mine as a birthday present.

Also: I really like to listen to hip-hop music and just giggle at the scope of the obscenity of it. But, I mean, not as an occasional lark. That’s basically the only music I listen to.

So, there. Between those two things, you know almost everything there is to know about me. Marvel.