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24 November 2015 @ 01:28 pm
Been a little while here. What's been up?

- Halloween. My wife and I dressed as Jack and Sally. She did the costume work and it was amazing! Even if people thought I was Beetlejuice (which is understandable)

- Ran math contests on Nov 7/8 for 170 kids across three contests. Always tiring, always fun, always at the end of it I'm thinking "maybe I'll do that again". A month into coaching math team at the middle school and I think the kids are enjoying it.

- Did a Sonora "bike and wine" trip with friends from college in celebration of their 50th birthdays. Lots of fun and good to catch up with them (and meet some new people!)

- Orycon in Portland Nov 20-22. Great time. Presented on robots, ran a quiz show with Curtis Chen, had stories critiqued and caught up with people. That's the most writer-ly con I go to and it is always enjoyable.

- Writing. Finished up "Bits and Bytes" and had it critiqued, took a little time to finish questions for the quiz show, now back on the "Monsters Known" shorts and after that it's "Bits and Bytes" then either "This is Your Life" or "Fishing Trip" (to be renamed "Where the Two Rivers Meet"). Also took my "worst starship in the fleet" novel idea, titled it THE PERSISTENCE, wrote up first 300 words for First Page Idol at OryCon. It did not suck, which was a good thing.

- Work proceeds towards release next month. We're in crunch, so what isn't the above is work.

And that's how it goes here.

What's making me happy? Being very busy, having good times with writing, getting through bugs at work, running and working out, and having fun now and then. Things go well.

- yeff
It's been some weeks of crazy busy crazy here, between work and kid sports and getting math contest and math club preparation off the ground and trying to continue writing in all that.

But I did finish off a revision of "The Bits and Bytes of the Numbers of the Beast", my computer-programming-and-demon-fighting-in-the-1980s short story, and sent it off to SomeDayCrits (the critique group I joined) for future critique in a couple weeks. So that's a happy moment.

My brother and niece (9) and nephew (11) came to town for the weekend. They stayed at Mom's but we spent a lot of time together including a trip to San Francisco on Saturday and going to Ava's soccer tournament game on Sunday. Sunday late morning and afternoon, we played multiple rounds of Tenzi (a dice throwing game) then while at my Mom's birthday dinner Sunday night we were very entertained with multiple rounds of Twenty Questions. They really liked that game. I expect to hear more of it in the future.

So some happy moments in the midst of "keep up with it all" craziness!

- yeff
13 October 2015 @ 07:05 pm
After yesterday's post, I realized there was some serious "making me happy" that had happened recently which I forgot to mention.

I was selected to be a chaperone for the high school band trip to Japan!!!

The high school band takes a big trip every other summer. My daughter is a sophomore and in both concert band and jazz band. She's in Honors Concert Band and is thus "trip-eligible". When they announced the trip was Japan, I was probably more interested than she was. So we're both in. As is my wife, who was in right away because she's a doctor. It's a family trip to Japan!

When I was young, I lived in what I liked to think were Japanese neighborhoods between the age of 5 and 9 (two years near LA, two years near Miami). All my friends had Japanese surnames - Ikegami, Nishida, Tsujimura. It might not have really been Japanese neighborhoods, but that's my recollection. And I don't have any specific memories, but I trace my fondness for Japan and Japanese culture to those days.

I've been wanting to go to Japan for years and years but never had "excuse". Well, now I do! And I am so there. It will certainly be an awesome trip.

June 2016. Counting the months.
Current Mood: happyhappy
Hm. There's many things battling for *not* making me happy. I have a cold that has decided to sit in my voice box and makes me sound like I'm 30 years into a 2-pack-a-day habit. Last week was one of those "crazy busy" weeks where there's too much to do and not enough time to do it. I got zero writing done last week. I haven't yet seen _The Martian_.

But I have to pick something. So I will pick _ELFQUEST_. I just finished the trade paperback that collects the first 30 issues of the classic "early indie" comic book. I enjoyed it. The characters were engaging, the plotline was full of issues and resolutions (often at a cost), and there were unexpected turns of character and plot. It was very "high fantasy" with characters speaking in the high fantasy language, but it was also down-to-earth at time. I'd say read it and enjoy it for what it is, and you'll be happy.

So, ELFQUEST it is.

(Link to trade paperback on AMAZON) http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Elfquest-1-Wendy-Pini/dp/161655407X

- yeff
[NOTE: All names ((REDACTED)) to protect identity.]

So four of us from our company ((ALPHA)) went to ((RESTAURANT)) for lunch today. We were all wearing shirts or sweatshirts with our company name on them, because that's what we do.

We were sitting at a table and talking when a young woman walked up to the table.

In a very friendly, perky voice she said, "You guys all work for ((ALPHA)), right?"

"Yeah," we all said, gesturing to our shirts.

"So you know ((JOHN DOE))?"

"Sure, we do."

Still perky, she said "Well, I'm ((JOHN DOE))'s wife."

We started to say hi, but she kept going.

"You should know that ((JOHN DOE)) is having an affair with ((JANE SMITH)). So that's the kind of (guy/person) you work with. Goodbye."

She walked away and out of the restaurant.

[NOTE: ((JANE SMITH)) also works at ((ALPHA)), as does ((JOHN DOE))].
[NOTE: I'm not sure if she said "guy" or "person"]

The four of us sat there, mouths gaping open in stunned silence, for a good half minute. I'm usually pretty unflappable and I was just thinking "whaaaaaaaaaaat?"

And here I thought this only happened on television shows. Wow.

Funny note: ((JOHN DOE)) almost came to ((RESTAURANT)) with us for lunch today.

- yeff
I was *not* laid off yesterday.

Twenty six people were, however, which is a sad thing. On top of almost 60 laid off in May that ends up being about a 22% reduction in headcount from the start of the year.

Of course, business is down 40% from 2014 to 2015 and the leadership believes it will go down even further in 2016. In numbers, that's $220M in 2014, $120M in 2015, and $90M in 2016. Those percentages pretty neatly track the price of a barrel of oil over that time. This is the downside of being in business that is tied to the commodities market.

On the upside, our corporate parent has big faith in us and in fact is willing to let us a) have negative earnings for the next two years, and b) do a very big engineering development project that we believe has the potential to gain us enormous sales and market share when the commodities market has its inevitable upswing. The company did it before in 2009-2010 and 2011-2014 were the company's four best years ever by far. It is believed we can do it again.

Also, the management believes the business is properly sized to have two years of very low revenue while still being successful at the big engineering project.

So there's the good news. And I get to continue working at my company, which is very good news because I really really like it there.

I will have a drink to celebrate!

- yeff
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
26 September 2015 @ 04:13 pm
I haven't done one of these in a while because there isn't really one specific thing that's making me happy recently. Overall, life is solid and happy.

Sure layoffs are lurking. But I feel like I've been doing well at work and that, if I do get laid off, there are plenty other good jobs out there. The family is doing well and happy. Writing is going strong, I'm in revisions on one story and received good critiques on two flash short from a new critique group that I'm going to join. I'm getting my act organized on math contests and on coaching math team. And I even manage to find time to workout and try to stay fit.

So, nothing particular is making me happy. Just more life in general.

Well, okay, "The Martian" is coming out this Friday. I'm looking forward to it. It should be a blast to watch! Let's pick that. "The Martian" is what's making me happy this week.

- yeff
Current Mood: happyhappy
20 September 2015 @ 10:10 pm
Well, I figure I should finally get to posting my voting in the 2015 Hugo Awards. I'm mainly doing this so I have a record of my thoughts and actions when it came down to make my choices.

Even though I felt that the nomination process and the organized voting blocs violated the spirit of the Hugo Awards (see my earlier post about how "Fans Disagree"), I still tried to treat the nominating ballot fairly and not vote something under "No Award" just because it came in via an organized voting bloc. There have certainly been organized fan blocs in the past ("Doctor Who" fans in the Media Short Form category immediately comes to mind) and I've always tried to be fair anyway.

So my ballots in general went:
- Works I felt were strong enough for a Hugo, ranked in order
- No Award
- Works I didn't feel were strong enough for a Hugo, but I could see getting a Hugo, ranked in order
- Works I felt were just bad and not good enough for a Hugo (left off the ballot)

Here we go, in reverse order of the ballot.

Voting details behind the cutCollapse )
(This is delayed because I was waiting to make sure I was done, though I was really close on Sunday.)

- A New New Story!

I finished the first draft of a new story with the working title "The Bits and Bytes of the Numbers of the Beast." It starts with an incident that occurred in high school involving my Geometry and Computer teacher, and from there spins out into a story about computer programming and mathematics and battling demons.

It's the first truly new new story I've written since getting back into writing at the tail end of 2014. Other things have been rewrites of old stories ("The Dybbuk's Moll", "The Straw That Shines Like The Sun") or a story involving a character from a old story ("Nora Gets A Golem" is Nora from "The Dybbuk's Moll") or small flash pieces on given prompts (the Apex Halloween contest stories). This was totally, grounds-up, new idea. It was spawned by a conversation between high school friends on Facebook about high school math/computer teachers. The incident came to mind and the story took off from there.

The story is set in the summer of 1981, so the soundtrack is new wave music from late 70s and 80-81. Specifically the following albums:
- _New Wave Hits of the 80s, Volume 2_ by various artists
- _Freedom of Choice_ by Devo
- _Computer World_ by Kraftwerk
- I also do a lot of listening to local "oldies" station (101.5), which plays a lot of 70s/80s music. I am now an "oldie", I guess. 1980 is as far from now as 1945 was from 1980. Yikes.

Now comes the revision. I plan to just about take the story apart, both in terms of structure and scenes, pick what works, then rewrite it with a looser style. I used a very tight first person in the first draft (let's call it "Noir Style") and I think it restricts the story and my ability to tell it.

That should take another week or so. After that, I'm going to use the same technique on "Straw" and see if I can get something coherent out of what I've done so far. I'm positive about the possibilities.

- yeff
07 September 2015 @ 05:29 pm
Well, it's already been two weeks since the Hugo Awards. My, time does fly. In the last couple week of run-up to the awards and the follow-up after the results were announced, I've gotten back into the Hugo neepery. I've been reading commentary and diatribes from all parts of the fan and opinion spectrum. Frankly, I'm getting a little burned out. Once anyone gets into epithets and derisive attitude, I'm out. It's made my reading go a lot faster :-)

But I've also crystallized the core of my opinion about the whole process. What it comes down to, for me, is this:

Fans Disagree.

If you ask a group of fans "What's the best SFF TV show", they will disagree. You'll get a range of opinions (Star Trek! Game of Thrones! Doctor Who! Battlestar Galactica! Fringe! Quark!). Some answers will get more votes than other. But overall, the fans disagree.

Even if you're asking a group of like-minded fans, say Star Trek fans, "What's the best episode", you'll get a range of answers and thus, disagreement.

Post a list of "Five Best Episodes of Doctor Who" and what will the majority of posts be? "How could you put A first?" or "How could you forget B?" or "That ranking is terrible and way off-beam, you bozo."

In the end: Fans Disagree.

So you might think my sympathy is with the Puppy groups. In one sense, I have some sympathy with SP. They disagree with what gets nominated for and wins Hugo Awards. What fan hasn't disagreed and said "*That* got nominated?" or "*That* won? Give me a break" or "I liked *This* but it didn't win. Sheesh." In having that opinion, they are acting like fans.

But when it came to their nominating votes, they did not act like fans. All indications are that the groups largely agreed when voting. They voted for the same set of nominees, again and again and again. The nomination numbers are pointing that out, especially in certain "high-profile" categories. They didn't vote their opinions. They didn't vote what they individually thought was the best. They didn't disagree. They voted like a voting bloc that was trying to make a point. This is certainly even more true of the RP bloc than the SP bloc.

And that's the core of my problem with it. The vote from these fans was not done based on individual likes, but on complying with an agenda. As a result the response from the final ballot voters ended up, in my opinion, partially based on nullifying the bloc vote and the agenda. So we end up with a lot of No Awards.

I'm hoping that things are different in 2016 and that the SP group changes their tactics to be more about having people vote their individual favorites and then we'll see what rises to the top in the nomination process. (I wrote off the RP group a while back). It certainly will be an interesting year.

I'll do a second post on how I voted on the final Hugo ballot and why.