And we’re off.

May 23, 2006

Mood: Sleepy…
Music: Blessed Silence.
Game: Uno, World of Warcraft, COD2, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Watching: Nothing…been meaning to watch Big Trouble in Little China….
Weather: 63, Cloudy, chance of showers.

So far, I’m really enjoying the job.

It’s good to be back in advertising, where I don’t get “You don’t understand” and “It doesn’t work that way” 30 times a day. Of course, that could have just been the nature of the place I last worked…but it’s still nice to be in a place that respects my point of view, and that I don’t have to spend weeks or months convincing people.

The people are very friendly, and the atmosphere is casual and light. There’s plenty of humor to go around.

I can’t say it won’t be busy…and I can’t say it won’t be a lot of work (I left work around 8pm last night….) but I CAN say that I don’t spend my time checking the clock every 10 minutes, and I don’t dread going in to work in the morning. In fact, I wake up pretty early, I do my morning ritual, and I head out the door pretty happy, really.

I realize I haven’t updated my blog for a week…since I started, really. Well, news to those of you who haven’t been out of a job for six months…going back to a full time job after six months of not having to do anything tends to wear you out quite a bit. Well, I’m a bit work out. The regular routine is a bit tough when you get back to it after a long break.

But I’m enjoying it, the work is varied and interesting, they’re more than happy to dump off responsibility, which makes my job easier, and I rather like the whole routine of it right now.

That may change, of course…but right now? I’m pretty happy.

Now if I could just motivate myself to do the dishes when I get home…..

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Cue Ride of the Valkyries, please.

May 16, 2006

Mood: Triumphant.
Music: Just Like Heaven, Cure
Game: Uno, World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Watching: Uno, mostly….
Weather: 79 and Sunny.
Jobs applied to today: Unnecessary, really.

Well, I’m sitting here looking at a contract offer letter for an advertising agency. It does happen to have my signature on the bottom of it.

I will be very nicely compensated, I will be in the office, I will get settled, I will do the job that I initially applied for there, which is more than fine by me. I have been told that when an opening occurs in the XBox group, I will be told, and asked to apply directly. In the meantime, people are leading me to believe that I will be asked to meet the XBox team, and occasionally attend strategy meetings and such to show expertise in the field, and to get my name and face in the team’s head for when an opening arises.

I will be calling them this morning…and may find myself at work later today. So I guess you could say that I have a job. Guess that’ll cut down on my gaming time. And I don’t need to wear a suit.

In gaming news, ATITD is getting even deeper than I thought, which is good. Lots to do.

But the winner of the weekend is Uno. Yes, that’s right…Uno. My oldest and most happy XBox Live friends are playing it as well…and this weekend for about 5 hours, we laughed, cursed, threw down cards, and general had the BEST time. Funny that the game itself cost about the same as buying a pack of cards…assuming you don’t take the hardware into account.

The game is a laugh-riot. I strongly recommend it if you have friends willing to play. It’s pulled all of us out of the games we’ve been playing ot get together, talk, laugh, and play.

I also played the demo for Top Spin 2…I’m not much on tennis, but this seemed pretty fun, and looks like it might have more depth than I see. Although, as a rule, I’m not much on sports games…this one might have potential. I’ll think about it.

And, the final comedy of the day…last night, Chelsea and I were talking, and all of a sudden, we hear harp music. I turn around, and Kuma is sitting there, trying to bite Chelsea’s lap harp right on the strings. In so doing, he’s randomly plucking various strings…his teeth acting as tiny picks. He can’t get his snout between strings, of course, so he’s attacking it at odd angles and moving about trying to get a better angle. We freeze and watch him for a good minute, minute and a half…he keeps “performing.” Finally, I run to go get my phone to take some video or pictures or something, but he stops the second I leave the room. It was about that point that we died laughing and applauded the small brown cat, and called him Maestro. Bravo!

Better get going…I may have to GO TO WORK TODAY.


Stick and Move…

May 11, 2006

Mood: Pondering.
Music: Boys Don’t Cry, Cure
Game: World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Watching: Sharks-Oilers in Overtime
Weather: 60 and cloudy.
Jobs applied to today: Responses and followups.

Yesterday’s interview was interesting, I guess. The first guy I met was very engaging, obviously bright, and wanted an idea of what I was looking for. The discussions led me to believe that I sort of understood what the company was about…and I started to get the idea that the place was struggling under its growth. Regularly long hours, too busy to get lunch, confusion about organization and direction.

The next guy I met was more direct, more to the point, and drilled me on some basic questions (Where do you see yourself in five years….) Here, I got the idea that there was coordination difficulties, and that the amount of work in the office was resulting in prioritization difficulties…and that those weren’t being properly handled. This seemed like a lack of communication and confusion about hierarchy. I also got the distinct impression that the job was junior in nature, with “opportunity to grow.”

The last guy, who was not on my schedule, was much more enlightening. He was clear about the work density and confusion, some of the frustrations, the high turnover. He was not sure why he was interviewing me, nor was he expecting to meet with me…no one had told him.

My takeaways:
– The company is my kind of place. Informal, flat structure, smart people…know their work. Good at what they do.
– The product/service is focused. Single vertical (albeit with a small twist on it that adds a bit of complexity.) They are definitely marketplace leaders. They have more work than they can adequately handle at the moment…which in no way is stopping them from charging on and trying to capture a bigger marketshare.
– They are having pre-IPO growth issues. They are scaling too fast. Their tribal knowledge is being lost in the relatively high turnover. Less than 10-15% of the company has been there for more than five years (the company is 11 years old), and those people are all in high positions. There’s no information management in place.
– My feeling is that this place guarantees 10-12 hour days for months on end when push comes to shove. The office seemed very laidback…which indicates a lack of urgency…which indicates that the long hours are nothing new. The work-life balance is fine…provided that it’s skewed heavily towards the work part. I was told that if all the work’s getting done, there’s no problem with doing what you need to do, as far as going home or whatever…and was given the example timeframe of 8-9 hours a day. Hm.

I like the company, and it’s clear that the senior leadership is pretty driven, very smart, and has a plan. The downside to this job is that it’s clear it’s junior…and it’s equally clear that they grind their junior people. I don’t mind paying my dues…but working 60 hour weeks for months on end is not what I’m signing up for at a decreased payscale. If I wanted to work 60-70 hour weeks, I could do that for almost twice the money.

Goes to show that an interview goes both ways…and that your interviewers need to be as prepared as your candidates.

I guess we’ll see where THAT goes…

But in the meantime, I got an email from the HR Director at the advertising firm…and she wanted to know if I wanted to work contract in one of their groups until she could organize meeting with the team leads, as they were all very busy.

So I guess I’ll see what that’s all about today…..


Interview.

May 10, 2006

Mood: Tense…need to relax.
Music: Ready, Steady, Go, Paul Oakenfold
Game: World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Movie: None
Weather: 60 and clear.
Jobs applied to today: Interview, 11am…

Interview I have to leave for in 10 mins.

Instead of the five people I was supposed to be meeting, I’ll be meeting with two.

I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

Doesn’t matter.

11am. Game face.

Back later.

Wish I were on my way to E3 instead.


Hm.

May 8, 2006

Mood: OK.
Music: Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Tears For Fears
Game: World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Movie: Ong-Bak
Weather: 65 and sunny.
Jobs applied to today: Nothing. Interview Wednesday…

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my cat’s teeth were kinda ooky looking.

I don’t know a whole lot about cats, but I do know when teeth look weird. One looked rotten, or something.

Now, my cat’s ALWAYS had bad breath. Not like cat breath…but like “UGH!” Even if he cleaned himself, he smelled awful. Been that way since he was a kitten.

Anyway, we kind of decided to find out what was up with his teeth, and sure enough, the vet said that the tooth looked bad, but he should definitely have his teeth cleaned, and if the tooth needed to come out, she would take care of that too.

For cats, teeth cleaning means anesthesia…which is stressful for any small pet, and doubly so for pet owners. Bad things happen when you anesthetize a pet, so it’s not something you take lightly…but the vet was pretty serious about making sure Kuma’s mouth was OK, so we said OK, and set up the appointment for the following weekend.

On Saturday morning, we toook Kuma in, and left him there for the day. Picked him up at 4pm…everything went well according to the vet.

She removed 5 of his remaining 9 teeth. For those not in vet school, cats have 16 teeth. 7 of them were already missing. The ones she removed were so decayed and covered in tartar, they were falling out.

The 4 teeth that were fine were the front four…his “smile.”

When we took him home, he was really groggy…like couldn’t stand without wobbling and his eyes were glazed and glassy. In six hours or so, he started to come around, moving a bit better, and just generally chilling. We gave him painkillers and antibiotics and cuddled him and such.

Today, he’s bouncing around, seems really happy. Talking a lot, doesn’t seem to be in any pain. We’re feeding him soft food for a few days until his mouth heals…but he’s eating fine and everything.

The breath thing was obviously related to his teeth. His breath is normal now…hardly noticable. He must have been in pain…although he didn’t act it. Although it’s pretty obvious I have no idea what a cat in pain acts like…or maybe it just didn’t bother him that much.

Makes me feel kinda bad that his teeth hurt as long as it did without me knowing. But he’s pretty happy and painfree now, I think.

If you have a cat, check his teeth. It’s not easy, since cats aren’t real good about letting you look inside their mouths.

Anyway, the surgery went fine, Kuma’s fine, and he seems happier than he did before the cleaning and extractions. Which makes me happy. I like knowing that I made my cat happy again.


Ow.

May 5, 2006

Mood: Stings.
Music: Honeymoon Croon, Bauhaus
Game: World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta 2
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Weather: 70 and sunny.
Jobs applied to today: Nothing yet. Got things working…

This is gonna be a short entry, because typing is difficult, and it hurts.

Yes, I managed to slice the very tip of my left index finger off last night while I was cooking dinner.

No, no stitches. I literally sliced the very very tip of my finger off. Not deep or anything…but boy did it bleed.

And naturally, it’s in such a great spot. Typing? Ow. FPSs? FORGET IT.

So I’m basically typing hunt and peck with no left index finger. That’s efficient.

ATITD beta phase 2 starts today. Lucky it’s almost entirely mouse driven.

And I got a really tough aspect of the programming done last night…I got inspired to just attack it, learn how to do it, and get it done. It works great…and I’m really proud of it.

More tomorrow if my finger isn’t still bleeding.


Progress at home, and abroad in Egypt…

May 4, 2006

Mood: Tired.
Music: The Perfect Girl, The Cure
Game: World of Warcraft, COD2, Oblivion, Tomb Raider:Legend, A Tale In The Desert 3 beta
Book: Odalisque, Neal Stephenson
Weather: 60 and sunny.
Jobs applied to today: Nothing yet.

Still waiting to hear from the ad agency. I’ve gotten two emails…one from the guy I met, and one from their head of HR. They assure me that things are moving along…albeit a bit slow. The guy I met says that nothing’s going to happen until after E3…of course.

I also have an interview on Wednesday for a job I applied for a while ago…it took them a few weeks to put it all together. Not sure what the delay was…but whatever. As a result, I think I’m going out today to buy a suit after all. I didn’t back then, because mainly, I hate suits and I hate shopping for clothing.

So it looks like I have a couple of things moving on the job front. I could use a job…I’m still ok on money for a few months…but I’m getting to the point that I’m not thrilled about all this.

On the gaming front, I’ve been betatesting A Tale In The Desert 3. It’s an MMO that has zero combat. It’s all about crafting and learning how to advance technologies in order to advance civilization. It requires a LOT of teamwork…and while you CAN solo parts, without some help, you won’t end up with a lot of advanced things.

The depth of the game is fabulous. Learning to grow flax to harvest to turn into rotten flax, to process on a flax comb (which you make from wood gathered from trees and thorns gathered from plants) to turn into straw, tow, and lint, which get spun into thread or twine (with the straw being processed with mud and sand to make bricks on brick molds (made of boards made from wood processed on a wood plane made from slate you find…..) and on and on….

There are apparently literally hundreds of new technologies to find and unlock through large resource payments, which communities attempt to do as fast as possible. The technologies aren’t only physical…they include things like leadership, or animal husbandry.

In short, this is a game that’s almost entirely team-oriented and almost entirely crafting. It’s right up my alley. So I’ve been stuck in there for a few days. I still raid in WoW…but that’s pretty much all I do in WoW right now.

Next, you all should go visit Maria. She’s recently been re-inspired to blog, and she’s fabulous, so go on over and say hi!

Anyway, off to shower and get ready, and debate going out to buy a suit…if I can psyche myself up for the experience.