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Last week brought an uncomfortable realization. Two years ago, all of us in this cohort were strangers. I don't think any of us knew each other. We met on orientation day, then spent the first semester seeing each other every day before splitting into our concentrations, where smaller groups of us saw each other every day - well, four days a week in class, and regularly out of class to work or not work. And now things are winding up, and when this is all done, some of us will never see each other again. Marc's set on going back to Columbus. Marina's maybe heading to law school. Stephen's taking a year before dental school. I'm looking for epi graduate certificate programs. Katy's been mum about her plans. Jessica, too, but we're betting she chases down a PhD somewhere. We became a family, and as families do, we're about to scatter to the winds. I will miss these folks.

Add it Up

Aug. 21st, 2014 05:44 pm
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GenCon ended on a pretty good note. There was the usual flurry of last-minute sales, and I contributed by picking up a copy of Last Night on Earth. Looking forward to playing it with The Niece sometime soon. Fastest booth breakdown we've ever done - about 20 minutes, and Ben and I skipped out when we determined that there were too many people doing things and we had a drive ahead of us.

So, the drive. Man, sometimes, just screw Indiana, alright? Road construction on I-65 Southbound, down to one lane for only a few miles, but enough of a traffic bottleneck to make our trip from Indy to Louisville take just shy of three hours. Less than 100 miles. And then the rain hit, just as we cleared the backup. Drove Ben to Elizabethtown to link up with his fiancee, and for a few miles south of Shepherdsville, I swear to Cantore, the sky was purple-pink and brightly-lit and downright unsettling. Got home, decided that laundry would wait for Pants-Free Monday, and slept in a bed for the first night since Wednesday. My bed, even. Very comfy.

TLGS Colin got his game prototype into Alderac's hands. We got his buddy's games in front of some publishers who will have a better chance of getting the game manufactured than us. We sold a lot of books. All of the problems were resolved. And next year's going to rock.

Bought a non-powered reel mower. It was unfortunately insufficient to the needs of the yard, so it went back to be replaced by a gas-burner. Much better.

Holy cow, today. Day 1 of my SPHIS orientation. Met some classmates, met the SPHIS dean (who looks like Donald Sutherland). Had an impromptu talk with said dean, and he introduced me to the CEO of KentuckyOne Health - possible internship! And in a couple of years, possible posting with the University's next overseas campus. All very very tentative. But I am excited. Oh sweet mercy, am I excited. I've got to get through this semester, show what I'm capable of, and then things look like they're really going to get exciting.

Onward.
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Yep, in Indianapolis. Taking a break between the Exhibitor Hall and dinner and dancing this evening.

Our little convoy assembled at the house Wednesday morning. I'd loaded the Focus with the weekend's supplies, and had my personal bags ready to go. Arrived in Indy around 1:30, checked in, and started sorting hotel assignments. This was the first hiccup of the weekend - GenCon placed us in three hotels, and all of the rooms are double/doubles, instead of the suites we expected. There was some scrambling to arrange additional bedding, and one of my bosses and I were ready to make a fast trip to Meijer or CostCo or something and get inflatable mattresses, but one of our friends (staying with the company) came through with a camping cot and two airbeds. So, hooray for Art!

On the other hand, man, seriously, screw flaky gamers. One of the new guys sent me an e-mail letting me know that he wouldn't be able to make it because of his wife's health issues. He sent it at 11AM the day before the con formally begins. We had to cancel four more tables of games because of this shithead, on top of the 10 we had already had to cancel because of the licensor throwing a wobbly. Brief anger, leading to disappointment, but ultimately not surprised. I'd had a lurking suspicion about this guy, mostly because of who recommended him to me. So, yeah, that happened. We handled it.

Oh, hey, lunch Wednesday! We got to Tavern on South and had duck wings before the Munchkin people took over the place for the weekend with their crappy game.

Wednesday night, we assembled the team, had a meeting, had a good time. Played some games and braced ourselves for the next four days.

I love working this convention, by the way. A few weeks after each year's show, I start to think that maybe I'll go as a civilian the next time, but I snap out of that soon enough. I don't know that I'd enjoy it nearly so much from the other side of the curtain now. I like my Exhibitor Badge and the access it grants me. I like having enough time scheduled with work that I don't go into decision paralysis over events I want to attend. I like having a base of operations in the hall, and handshakes and quick chats and evening pickup games with designers I admire. Heck, this morning, Michael Stackpole came by, sat down in our booth, and shared a few words. Yesterday, John Snead said it was nice to see me again. Had breakfast with Steve Kenson yesterday, and then talked with a possible licensee about using Fantasy Craft to power his newly-acquired Lxxx & xxxxL property. It's just cool.

So, yeah, on to Thursday. Finished booth setup, with the new layout I'd pushed for. Much better product presentation, more security and comfort for my staff. Fast dashes to some vendors (I got a Rebel Aces set, so will be hankering for some X-Wing action real soon). And then the VIGs. And sales began. And at 10, the rush of attendees. Meeting and greeting, all the good stuff. Nice coffee flask from ACD Distribution.

We have dinner with our convention staff and a few others on Thursday night. This year, dinner was followed by a meeting with the managers of our host restaurant, with the hopes of arranging a different kind of convention presence for 2015 and after. We're abandoning the traditional large event schedule after this year. We're big enough to fill up our events with players, but not so big that we can reliably and easily fill up the required GM slots. Next year, we're going to partner with a couple of other similarly-sized publishers and rent the restaurant's largest private room for two or three nights, hosting open gaming nights. Food and drink sales will go against our rental costs, and it's not unlikely that our visitors will effectively pay for the facility. It's exciting, and I think it'll work better for us than the traditional process.

More games, more people, more fun on Friday. Handled some little problems with event materials. Played Star Wars: Age of Rebellion in the afternoon and some board and card game prototypes late into the night. Had a moment that reminded me of why I love this con - looked around, and there was about half of my team, some friends and partners, and groups of other folks, sitting/lying around the third-floor lobby of the JW Marriott, playing games and hanging out and having a good time. It was kinda magical.

Traded my booth-credit-acquired books for a fantasy setting guide this morning. Worked the booth. Debated buying Last Night on Earth. Lunch, errands, then back to the hotel to recharge. Watching football fans stream into Lucas Oil Stadium for a Colts game. Arranging meets with friends for dinner and going dancing and stuff. The show's over tomorrow; in 24 hours, I'll be back home.
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UofL approved my appeal for financial aid. I'll have to maintain a GPA a full point lower than the goal I'm setting for myself to keep the money coming in - so help me, if I fail at that, my next reasonable step is to sneak onto the Kennedy Bridge some evening and experience deceleration trauma.

But I won't fail.

A Malaysian Airlines 777 was shot down yesterday while flying over eastern Ukraine. From the look of things, it was brought down by a SAM, fired by Russian-backed separatists or, worse, Russian forces just outside Ukraine's borders. I figure it's a terrible mistake, more Iran Air 655 than JAL 007, but that's just some dude's take. 298 deaths, including about 100 researchers and activists on their way to the 2014 AIDS Congress in Australia. Hell of a loss.

Christ, I've been working on this entry for three hours. Skype calls are going fast and furious.

We're a month out from GenCon, and true to tradition, things have been thrown into the air. Unsurprising, but disappointing, one of my GMs has bailed out. He's now blacklisted permanently, and while I understand that life does get in the way, I won't have time to be forgiving for a month or so. Also, there has been a blowup with a licensor, and I'm going to have to cancel nearly a fifth of our events. We're not pleased, but these are signs that our plans for big changes in how we conduct our GenCon operations are steps in the right direction.

19 days until the summer McJob is over. I got my conversion papers last week (convert from staffing company employee to regular); I'll probably file the appropriate paperwork to make a better mark in case I need to go through the agency again, and I just about bet that I'll give my outta-here notice within a day or two of the process being completed.

Whatever. In 38 days, I'll be in class again. Onward, forward, upward.

This is Me

May. 18th, 2014 06:01 pm
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Things are mostly pretty darn good. I should have a lot more done on the packing and cleaning front, but I'll get it done in time. It's a heck of a thing. I bitch a lot about Lexington, and I am more than ready to move on, but this city's been home for almost 21 years, and I've had more good times than bad here.

C's kid's mom is indeed planning to move to Louisville, so he and I are going to find a house or condo to share. This may cause some problems in my ongoing friendship with his ex-girlfriend. I'm not too concerned on that front. I've got plenty of other stuff to be concerned about.

Got a call Friday evening telling me that the staffing assignment I was supposed to start on the first has been cancelled. Supposed to call tomorrow about a replacement assignment. No big deal, so long as the start date is no sooner.

The plan right now, such as it is, is to pack up in the next 3-4 days, with some items to be purged or given away. The couch is showing its age, there are boxes of software from a ridiculously long time ago, and other bits and pieces here and there.

GenCon event registration opened up today. I was #730 in line, and got all of my wishlist events processed. Cut it down to two and will pick up some generic tickets for Games on Demand when I get to Indy. Most of my team's slots have been assigned; just a few Mistborn events and a room captain slot to fill. I don't think I'm going to handle this part of the prep work next year. School's too important. I'll hand the work off, probably to Ben, and if I attend, I'll just work the booth. Or I'll go as a civilian. But that's 2015. This year, I'm getting into Star Wars: Age of Rebellion and Outbreak: Deep Space games. Because of my duty schedule, I can't do a whole heck of a lot of gaming at the con, and this is very much a working vacation and social getaway for me. In addition, the Colts have a home game on GenCon Saturday night, and if my budget allows, I'm going to get a ticket to that. Also, hopefully, find time to get out to the Indy Childrens' Museum for their terra cotta warriors exhibit. If I don't buy a copy from The Louisville Game Shop, I'll get a copy of AoR at the con. Can't really think of any other releases that I want, but there'll be enough impulse-buy options.

Onward.

Save Me

May. 14th, 2014 11:53 pm
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When I was at UK, my academic advisors were pretty good, but there seemed to be an unspoken rule of "T7 has his act together, so unless he's doing something really stupid, let him do his thing." It mostly worked, but I do wish I'd had similar advice re: the long-term relationship. But anyway...

I met with my SPHIS advisor on Monday. I expected something of a rubber-stamp of my plans, with some guidance on selecting courses. Nope. Turns out that my advisor is also an advocate, and this is pretty terrific. After introducing ourselves, we got down to the business of mapping out the next few years of my life, and here was my first surprise. In her opinion, my plan of pursuing a BS before pressing on to the Masters is "selling myself short." Took me by surprise, but one of the promises I've made to myself in this venture is to take the advice of people who are in a position to know this sort of thing. So, we talked about courses of action, and our first plan was for me to take a set of 500-level classes in the fall and go into the Masters program in the spring, assuming I do well and pass the GRE. All good, and pretty exciting to have a plan in place.

Tuesday, orientation for the summer McJob. Lots of thinking on the drive to Louisville, chats with Mom&Dad. I start thinking about taking the entire summer off, giving me plenty of time to find an apartment, just putting everything in storage and living at the farm for a few weeks. I'm conflicted - it would be less stress, I could find the right place rather than the available place, I can run up to Louisville or Lexington as necessary and wouldn't have any real living expenses. There would be some stress, but it's temporary, so I can deal. On the other hand, while the McJob doesn't help me towards the primary objective of the MPH program, it does help with a couple of the secondary objectives, contingent on finding a place to live in the next couple of weeks.

Got home from the orientation to find an email from my advisor. The program director wants me to go through an undergrad semester or two before launching into the graduate program. It's reasonable, and because of my undergrad GPA. To be blunt, I had a couple of stupid semesters, and really should have done better. This got me down, but I rallied. There are options.

An option I should have considered before now is just renting a room somewhere for June and July. That lets me work without having to make a monster commute (and since these are ten-hour workdays, a lengthy commute would not be good at all), keeps me close to the university and in the city, and I can use the time to keep up the apartment hunt. Not the worst of ideas for a short term. A quick look found a few options, and even a June-July sublet of an apartment across the street from campus. So, hey, there's something.

Had another talk with my advisor this afternoon. She's pitching me pretty hard to the program's higher-ups, and this morning she had a meeting with the SPHIS assistant dean. They came up with a plan. I take courses on the BA/BS track in the fall, and if my midterm progress is good, I jump to the 500-level classes in the spring, and make a good case to start graduate work in the summer. I like this plan. It'll mean pushing myself pretty hard, but I can do this. It's well within my capabilities and I can show that T7 now is very different than T7 in 1995. I should have a couple of two-year course plans in my inbox tomorrow afternoon. I can overcome this setback.

And another option came up tonight. A buddy's kid's mom is looking at moving to Louisville because of some special education and therapy options for the kiddo - and he wants to be close to his son. As it happens, the law firm he works for has an office in Louisville and he can transfer there easily. So, we batted around the idea of sharing a house or condo. The economics are the strongest driver for this, but on more personal levels, it'd make for better living conditions for us both. We're in agreement on a housing budget and areas of town to look into; depending on the mom's decision, we're going to give this a shot. His lease expires at the end of June, so there's no real hardship on my part since I can, well, sublet or rent a room for a month or throw things into storage and couch surf or head off to the farm for a few weeks.

There are plenty of roads opening up. I can manage any of them.
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There has been progress. Thursday (5/8), I locked down the summer job. It's a temp gig, of course, and maxes out at 90 days. I start on June 1, so won't feel at all bad about leaving the job on August 10.

Friday the 9th was my orientation at UofL. It went pretty well, and I was stunned at how very different the campus is. Any healthy organization will undergo changes in a quarter-century, of course, but still... had a few moments of "When I was here before, this building was a field." Found out that the Bachelor-level Public Health program is very new - I'm going to be part of one of the first graduating classes.

I go back to Louisville tomorrow for advising and registration. Step one is going to be deciding between the BA and BS paths. The BS is more likely, I think, especially as a route to an MPH and/or MS - Epi. Classes to pick, financial routes to pursue, so much more.

Like a place to live. I've procrastinated on this - I left the HL a month ago today, and have 20 days left on my lease here. One way or another, I'm out of Lexington pretty darn soon. I'm planning to look at a couple of places tomorrow before my advising meeting; I'd love to sign a lease and get the keys to a new home this week. Make the move as quickly as possible so I can get settled in before the job starts.

Two Hearts

Apr. 22nd, 2014 10:38 pm
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I've got an interview for a summer gig Thursday morning. It's a straight-up McJob, enough to keep me from dipping deeply into my savings over the summer. I'm planning to look at a few more apartments/houses/condos after the interview and before hopefully getting together at Vint for coffee and/or wine.

I had a lengthy phone conversation with Donna M tonight. She's in New York, on a three-month consulting gig at the Feinstein Institute. She's loving the money, but not at all thrilled with the work, expecting that it'll be undone within a year, and the institute will call her about another stint. Although it's a very different scale, I remember that frustration from my time with Lowe's. Nothing like a six-week stint of tearing down and rebuilding a sister store, returning it to opening day condition, only to visit it a few months later and see no sign that we were ever there.

Anyway ... she's among the number of folks looking forward to my move. In addition to being one of my best and oldest friends, she has contacts on top of contacts in labs and research institutions all over the US, many of them with openings for folks with my planned-for degrees and education. Good to know, and I will not turn down that kind of potential assistance.
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Well, I did it. Friday the 11th was my last day at the paper. I feel good about the decision. I'm free of the place and all of its toxins. It means being away from a lot of good people, of course, but this is the era of easy and ubiquitous connection, so that sting isn't so bad.

Had a really good evening out with friends on Thursday evening - one of the very few times I can remember crossing the work/not-work streams. Shared celebration of my departure and Diane's birthday. Dinner, drinks and pool and great conversations going past midnight. There's going to be at least one more party here before I leave, and at least a couple more when I get settled in Louisville.

Up late Friday night after leaving work, because why not. Slept way later than I should have on Saturday. Missed most of a really gorgeous day. Spent a little while poking around at the Focus' fuse box this afternoon before the constant sweat dripping into my eyes drove me back inside. I'll try again in a couple of hours, in that glorious time around sunset when there's still plenty of light but the heat of the day is gone. Hoping the problem is just a fuse; otherwise it's a trip to the shop and opening up the instrument panel.

Mom&Dad will be here in a bit. Looking forward to seeing them - may not get to again until after the move.
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Sweet Christmas, this weekend.

The last hour of Friday's workday saw some last-minute cleanup of a few niggling problems, coupled with a building-wide failure of the voicemail system (so I couldn't leave the mandated out-of-office message, but whatever). Got home, had an okay-enough dinner date, and sat up until the wee hours playing games.

Went to Liberty Saturday morning and spent a few hours with Mom. Came back to Lexington and had A Talk with a friend who called looking for absolution or something like it, and instead got a dressing-down over an ugly history of behavior. I'm reinstating the "Bro, No" policy over this, by the way. Then, because I needed to return some long-borrowed items and have a conversation with not-needy people who have their act together, went to do so, and received a kick-ass birthday gift from same. Went home, read and binged on Netflix.

The "Bro, No" policy, by the way, states that as long as I'm not in a romantic relationship, then I can choose to not listen to any male friend complain about his, especially if it's over things that he caused. Maybe dickish, but I've got my limits.

Saturday morning's drive to Mom&Dad's took a detour from my normal route. For a few weeks, I've had, of all things, the elementary schools in my home county on my mind. Despite the relatively small size of most of Kentucky's counties, there is quite a bit of Casey that is blank on my personal map. So, going on memories over a quarter-century old, I went looking for two of them. I found one, Douglas Elementary, but struck out on the other, Cox Elementary. I know that I had to have driven very close to Cox's site, if not right by it, but didn't see the building for whatever reason. It may have been torn down; the school was closed in 1988 and its students sent to two or three of the other schools in the county. I'll try again when next I go for a visit; with luck, Dad will be home and I can call on his knowledge.

I had plans to take my niece to a Kentucky Xtreme indoor football game on Sunday, but the game was cancelled/postponed for "scheduling conflicts." We decided to get out and make a day of it anyway. She's developed a lactose intolerance, so our traditional visit to Impellizzeri's wasn't in the offing. Home Run Burgers instead (darn good). Bookstores, Fan Outfitters, The Louisville Game Shop, and ending at Vint for coffee and a couple games of Pandemic. Weather deteriorated throughout the day, and as we wrapped up the second game, things got bad. Got her home to J-town (saw four wrecks on I-64 between the Grinstead and Hurstbourne interchanges) and headed home myself. The Interstate was a mess; I never got past 55MPH and was closer to 45 for most of the drive. Several wrecks of varying severity along the route, but deft hands and a pure heart prevailed, and I got home safely after about two hours. Watched a terrible movie, and slept for about eight hours, only interrupted when BCTC sent out a delayed opening message at 5:45AM - but this is Spring Break, so no problem for me.

Much to do this week. I'm way behind the curve on getting my GenCon team together; need to file my taxes and get that information to the Department of Education; need to contact my advisor at UofL SPHIS and set up meetings there; need to call about apartments and jobs for the impending move. Ain't going to lie. I'd love to go back to the office next week and print and present my two weeks' notice.

Changes

Sep. 20th, 2006 04:38 pm
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About 8 years ago, a position opened up at the newspaper in my hometown.  I applied and interviewed, and was offered the job.  I turned it down, because my girlfriend at the time convinced me to do so.  Last night, while perusing the job opportunities section of the paper's owner, I saw a similar position available.  Sent in the resume, cover letter, and references this morning, and through some family connections, got some good words back.

If I'm offered the job this time, I'm taking it.  It means moving back to my hometown of about 2500 people, and giving up all the great stuff that I love so very much about Lexington.  It means losing a lot of time and privacy with Erin.  It means some massive changes in my life for the next couple-three years.  It also means formal professional writing experience on my resume, and that's something I've really wanted for some time now.

It means a move.  Repacking everything that I've unpacked in the last twelve days, putting a lot of my goods into storage for a while, and readjusting to a very very different lifestyle.  It means paying a sizable fee for breaking my shiny new lease.

But I feel it'll be worth it.  My relationship with Erin will survive.  The drive to see her will just take a little longer, and our time together, if it does lessen, will be sweeter.  I'll have some new experiences, and those will lead to better things.

Wish me luck, people.  More information as I get it.

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