Sunday, 19 April 2015

Vonage, Vacation and Valar Morghulis

The word of the week is conscientious .

April 13 –Free time

It's amusing to look at my calendar for the next 3 to 4 months: it's mostly empty.

That's mainly by design.

Apart from work during the day and my writing group once every couple weeks, there's not much going on around here in the near future. I will be working overtime or at a second job, nor will I be working on other projects that may or may not be finishing this year. It's just me and my free time versus 1.5 books that need writing. Not to mention many, many revisions afterwards, which is not unexpected.

I've read far more than that, as it happens...

Somewhere in there I do have to find the time to read some of the stack of books that had been sitting patiently by my bedside for( in a few cases ) a few years now. To me, an avid reader, that's a little shocking but I do have to say my Muse has something to do with it: whenever I've started reading instead of writing, I've invariably put the book down after a short time and gone instead to the computer to write down some more ideas, ones completely unrelated to the book that I've just read.

All I do have to be careful not to translate ideas that I've read into my own stories, I simply think that my lack of book turnaround has to do with my need to write more than my need to read.

April 14 – Did I Already Tell You?

Stop me if you’ve heard this already.

One of the things I pride myself on is not telling people anything twice, especially stories or anecdotes. Everyone knows the feeling of ‘having heard it before’ that only increases with age, which is one of the reasons I’m trying hard to nip such things in the bud. While I don’t always succeed, from what I can tell, my record’s far above the average and I aim to keep it there for as long as I can.

Nobody likes a writer who tells the same stories over and over.

Speaking of ‘seen it already’ things: I forgot to mention last week that I watched the Tolkien Edit of The Hobbit!

Clocking in at a mere 3.5 hours long( combining all 3 movies )I thought it was well done, though it could have stood to lose another 20-30 minutes at least in my eyes. The bloated, top-heavy feeling was gone and the story was about 80% true to Tolkien’s original tale that I recall with such fondness.

Ironically, George Lucas was about as happy with his first trilogy when it came out, given the state of SFX back in the late 70’s. So, given modern SFX, how was it that big wads of cash cheapen the feeling of a classic like The Hobbit? I don’t know, but it happened and I’m glad to see a version of the film that can be seen in a single reasonable sitting. 

It’s not perfect, but it is a far sight better than what appeared in theatres.

April 15 – Car Sharing?

Getting myself a vehicle to use here on the Island is another step closer.

I'm still not interested in buying a vehicle though, as there's absolutely no need for me to have one given where I work and what I do for a living as well is my lifestyle.

What I'm talking about is car sharing. While there's already Modo here locally, it’s rather pricey( $500 deposit, $4.00/hr + $0.40/km )and not as convenient as you’d think, as you have to return the vehicle at the end of the day to the exact spot where you found it or pay extra stored overnight elsewhere. It's not an ideal set up for smaller city like Victoria if you need to out of town further than the next town over. I could always rent a car from places like Enterprise, but then again you're looking at keys, credit cards, deposits and other complications I won't get into.

The newest entrant in Victoria's car share arena is Car2Go. Their pricing structure, and I do to the friendly attitude it shows towards a short trip: user rates of 41 cents per minute, $14.99 per hour and a sign-up fee of just $35. There's no mention of the deposit like Modo, which is heartening.

For me, an occasional use for an hour or so once every week or two would be more than sufficient and a lot less costly than a taxi. I don't feel comfortable using unlicensed services like Uber; despite their veneer of professionalism, you're looking at problems in case of an accident. In any case, I'll be watching for more details on Car2Go, which seems to be the best fit for my needs here in Victoria.

Which is really what it's all about, right?

April 16 – Fans Awaken!

Browse the internet, see Star Wars movie news, start to move on…

WAIT! There’s a new trailer for The Force Awakens? Can’t… resist…

Seriously, I did resist a little; the first trailer I saw all those months ago was interesting, but I’ve since become apprehensive about (a) spoilers and (b) things not turning out like the original trilogy. That the magic wouldn’t be there and we’d be stuck with another Jar-Jar film vehicle.

*clicks trailer link*

Oh. My. Gawd. That was amazing. Incredible, and it’s easy to describe exactly what I felt like inside when the music ended:


There’s more than a few Star Wars fans in my office and we were all grinning ear to ear like little kids by the end of the day today. Christmas can’t come soon enough this year!

April 17 – Computer Clutter

As much as it pains me, I’ve decided to clear out most of my computer gear here.

Not my main computer or my laptop though; all have those for quite a few years to come, I'm sure. No, what I am clearing out is all the spare hardware that I've kept for system billing purposes, parts that over the years I've accumulated that are hard to come by or would otherwise serve a useful purpose in putting together a computer.

Problem is, I no longer need the types of computers that the parts that they would build.

This guy has the same idea, but with console games...

I will be hanging onto a nice server case and the parts I have for that already inside, in order to have a system to fiddle around with and perhaps use as a game or file server in the near future. Everything else is getting tidied up to be sold on eBay, as I've discovered that there's a small but growing community of ‘retro gamers’ who put together computers made from obsolete hardware in order to play video games that don't translate well on modern systems, even with emulator software.

Much as I'd like to build my own retro gaming PC, there's no point: I already have so many games that I've not finished that going back and playing even more would be a waste of the time I could be using to write.

I’ll let somebody else have the fun and perhaps make good use of the collection I've assembled.

April 18 – Two Months until Vacation!

My last ‘defined’ vacation was in August 2013, and that was when I was unemployed. Not that it wasn’t relaxing, but I don’t count it as a true vacation: taking leave from one’s job to simply enjoy life and being paid for the privilege.

Four years ago( back in 2011 )when I was still working for MMart, I took my first vacation in almost 3 years that summer, visiting Niagara. When I was finally given the go-ahead to vacate( in that sense )I had over 200 hours of banked vacation time that I hadn’t been allowed to take… nearly 6 weeks, by my reckoning. It was the height of insanity( almost literally )that MMart had a series of DM( Doltish Morons )who, for various reasons, couldn’t scrape together relief shifts for staff on-hand but would fly in replacement staff from other parts of the country whenever they fired someone.

Tell me that’s not crazy.

Anyway, I’ll be taking 2 total weeks of vacation this year in 2015, both of which I plan on being staycations here in BC. I can’t justify straining my newfound( and fragile )financial stability, if it can be called yet at this stage. Another year or two and I should be able to easily hop onto a flight to anywhere I choose. My first stop will be Niagara, as there’s too many people there that I haven’t seen in far too long – the people, not the place, are the reason to visit anywhere, I feel.

Honestly, it’s not an issue sticking around the Island for the summer: there’s a ton of things to do here, many places I haven’t been to and plenty I haven’t seen. Heck, I live within a 20 minute walk to a beach I’ve been to probably a dozen times in the last 7 years, so maybe it’s time I became better acquainted with the shoreline I live so close to – there’s mountains dominating the skyline out that way!

April 19 – Goodbye, Vonage! GoT Ep2!

Anybody want a 905 Niagara number?

I thought about cancelling the service back in 2010, but hung onto it.

Now that I have long distance through Shaw and Fongo, there’s no point, really. I’ve been keeping track of the number of calls made / received over the last 6 months and frankly, I get more wrong numbers received than the other two types of calls combined.

So it’s bye-bye to a service I no longer( and never really much used )need and saving myself another $25 / month I can put towards things like expensive cable packages I need so I can watch Game Of Thrones.

What's behind the doors, Arya?

Oh, was that on tonight? I almost forg… ah, who am I kidding? My Sunday nights are built around GoT, as I’m sure the same is true for millions of other people. Weird, since I’ve not read the books( as I’ve mentioned before )or had stories spoiled o’ermuch by the internet: the last bit’s been the hardest part. 

Tonight's episode again felt like it was over all too quickly, with so much going on with all the storylines involved. I should mention that the immersive sense of George RR Martin's world has really come through this season, from the extensive( and expensive )sets to the more subtle use of CGI to enhance that same immersive feeling rather than provide visual set pieces by themselves.

Really, what all those together is tell a great story and considering that this is the medium of television, that's saying a lot. There's been very few shows that I would follow regularly past the first couple of seasons, which is usually where the make or break point happens; a good example is the more recent battles start Galactica series, which took a few left turns that lost me as a viewer( Starbuck’s return, anyone? ). 

Like I said, I'll be spending my Sunday nights for the next short while enjoying every minute of Mr. Martin’s fantasy world. I'm sure he's quite grateful that it's being done so well.

I've note been sleeping well the last few nights, with some unnamed tension keeping me from sleeping deeply. Ive no idea what that's from, so I've chalked it up to simply needing to write more and more often. Seeing as this week marks a solid series of evenings with no commitments, I should be right as rain soon enough, with nothing else on my mind.