Civilization VI

I waited months to buy Civ 6. I picked it up during a Christmas sale when it was about half price. I loved Civilization 5 and 6 was just waiting for me.

Well, Civilization is truly a horrible game when it comes to eating time. How a game that involves actions and rounds can eat through time like it does, I am not sure. But there I was, trapped in my game, learning how to play. My evenings and days off started to vanish. I’d click round after round and suddenly it would be bed time and my empire was struggling with its amenity needs. Perhaps taking over Spain in the first twenty rounds had put to much stress on me but I was launching the mars mission. I was close!

I lost way to much time in the last few weeks. My game started to go well. Brazil got uppity and they were winning the culture war. Were. After I took over all of their major cities they backed down. The Congo kept asking me to give them my Levi Jeans and cash for toys. I just took over the Congo as well. He kept declaring war on me for not spreading my religion and then wouldn’t stop, leaving me under war for hundreds of years.

But the night before last, America launched its last Mars unit and won.

Now I can go back to being productive.

A Start

Habit and tradition are annoying. January is a traditional time of year to start new. Sadly, I am in a position where I have to hang off the side of the bandwagon. Things at work have reset themselves and settled down to some extent and I can look at moving forward. I’ve complained about how much I’ve worked since last summer. The complaints have not been exaggerations.  It came to the detriment of my garden and my creativity. I cannot create when exhausted.

Writing is tiring. My writing is a bit worse. I find myself most productive after 11pm, just around the time that I need to go to bed. Earlier last year, between February and the end of April I wrote about 100k words. I need to find that energy again this year, but I’ve been so damn tired. The little things that need to be done every day just pile up and what is worse is that I struggle to be a productive writer during daylight when I have the most time. Staying up is an option but I also have to do silly things like work. I envy those that can just throw their job away and attempt to become successful in their writing.

My garden was neglected because I worked until 10pm. It is hard to garden in the dark. This year, I do hope that I will not be called to the feats of overtime that I was this year. It was rebellious and I often went 2 weeks with only a day off before another 2 week cycle.

Now, before the year crawls away as this last one has, I am going to try to jump start myself. I’m going to submit what I’ve written to some agents and see what comes. Hopefully, the pressure of that will let me finish what is truly a handful of writing and then the rewrite for smoothness. I suspect that being at the end of the project has its own stress that I’ve expressed in my lack of finishing. I can sit and let days just drift away while my mind spins in slow, exhausted circles.

Fear, I suspect, of sucess stands in my way. So, I must walk over it because I will not overcome it by just sitting.

My seeds are sorted. My schedule, while at risk of changing, is for now stable. My words are written. Now, I must take one of those leaps into the void to see what is there.

 

19 days silent

I am a bit ashamed of my silence. I have not actually been quiet. I have some random half written posts. Work, as it has been for the past few months, was horrid. That was compounded by the fact that I may lose my position. Then I got a cold. As I worked through the cold, I was about to go on vacation and had so much to get done at work before I left. Then, vacation where I kept a hand written journal.

Now I am back and need to catch up. But right now, I am trying to organize my seeds as part of cleaning up my desk which is a developing disaster area with new year stuff.

I had to send some items back. I had to fill out property tax stuff. I have stacks of seed packets trying to vanish. I even have an unopened box that was a random purchase. I’m a mess and not the type of mess that I planned to be at this time this month. I had hoped to be finishing my writing revisions. I had not planned to get horribly sick or have so much overtime at work that I my creative ability has drained from my ears.

Vacation was nice and I will write a series on that shortly.

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This is my little seed organization attempt. It is going quite well. A lot of cutting and shaping to fit into the pouches.

Every dog is a new challange

Every dog is different. Siblings from a litter will still have their own quirks. My first true dogs (not counting my Yorkshire Terrier that hated me), Rakunna and Ceasar were Great Pyrenees and siblings. They were very similar in temperament. Sweet, intelligent, and calm. Ceasar was a thief. He’d steal food from counter tops. We had to hid things on top of the refrigerator. After one failed attempt, Rakunna gave up that lifestyle.

Over the years as I’ve matured, made mistakes, had successes, and science has progressed, as has my dog raising. Yet, life is not static and I have never been able to raise two dogs in identical situations. I’ve moved. My work schedules have changed. My social life has changed. Nyx, for instance, was raised on a mountain with ten acres of land. She had few chances to see daily things like cars and people walking down the sidewalk. Nox on the other hand, moved  five times over a decade and was with me through my twenties and the changing jobs and schedules, cars, and lifestyle. While my training efforts were similar the environments were different.

Intuition has his own set of unique aspects of environment. My mother now lives with me. She retired a few years ago and came to hang out. She never left. Fortunately, we like her and it helps us meet life goals of travelling. It also means that Intuition has never had to tolerate erratic schedules and long days in his crate as all of my other dogs have.

This has created an interesting problem. Intuition does not know how to calm down and sleep or be still unless he is in his crate. Some of this is his personality. The rest is because he has never had to face twelve hour stretches alone. He has had a few here and there when everyone’s schedule desyncs, but I suspect it has been two. My mother even plans her trips around my work schedule to decrease the stress on the pets. This includes that ancient rickety kitties that eat four times a day now.

Inty struggles with the television. We just don’t use our television much anymore. Our computers satisfy our needs. We’ve also moved away from consoles over the years, perfecting the ability to multitask on our desktops.

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That leads to barking at StarTrek. He calms down but the first reaction is growling and barking at the strangers he can both hear and see.

That also connects to our other problem. He doesn’t know how to lay down and do anything. Some of that may come from our couchless lifestyle. We have one couch and it is currently acting as a backup desk for stuff of my husbands. His HTC Vive box is there as is a motorcycle helmet he is trying to get a bluetooth speaker installed on. He also cleaned off his desk last year and never moved the box of stuff he cleaned off. He stares at the couch sometimes and says that it’d be nice to use it. I mention that everything on it belongs to him. To be fair, even if he were to move his stuff off of it, the couch is two individual seats and not a single spread couch. We used to have one and got rid of it due to lack of need.

All of that means Inty has never spent time lounging with us on the couch. He has never spent time physically lounging with us until now and he has absolutely no idea what to do.

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He is a cuddly dog. The thing is that he expects for there to be something else to do after he has cuddled us. Instead, we wanted him to just stay laying down with us. He was very confused and it led to a restless night for all of us and some very bruised legs as we introduced him to the concept of sleeping in the bed.

Normally, I’d have introduced this around six months, once he was potty trained. Inty proved to be a challenge in hat respect. His destructive chewing was relentless at that point. If he had something with fabric in it, he ate it. Even his beds are all deeply scarred.

His chewing has improved but it has taken longer then I expected for him to calm down and for the girls to start tolerating him. I’ve also never had dogs hate a puppy with such an intense passion as Sage and Autumn has expressed with Intuition. I blame that on not having a strong personality like Nyx or Nox around to correct him early. Autumn is a very concerned dog and Sage has reached grumpy old lady status. Intuition is bold, headstrong, and obnoxious in his size and youth. The girls loathe him and often look at me with a sigh, wondering why I hate them so to bring this hyper, licking, thing into their lives.

Still… last night was a good test. While I am far from rested, he did manage to get a few hours of sleep and the bed is whole. I tried to get him to lay with me this morning but he was more interesting in licking the comforter where Autumn had been.

I’ve never had to teach a dog to settle down and snooze in comfort. I do hope it will be one of the easier challenges to overcome.

 

Staple Solving

I woke up this morning with the blurry remembrance of delicious food waiting for me. After a few dispirited wanderings around the kitchen, slowly it bubbled forth that I planed to get lunch at Chipolte. I have one across the street but I am proud that I do not indulge regularly. I also make myself walk when I do wish to go. It is only a five minute trot including waiting for crosswalks, but it leaves a general feeling of warm productivity.

Today, we added a side trip to the grocery store in the shopping center. There my mother’s plan to buy two apples and two oranges evolved into an elderly black lady telling her that she was beautiful and complaining about Trump. My mother also picked up an entire box of clementines.

Once she extracted herself from the exuberance of the other woman, something that included hugs and random topics, we purchased the fruit and I told her that she was not allowed to turn down my suggestions of bringing the tote bags in the future.

A bit of momentary cleverness made us ditch the wooden box the clementines come in to save weight. From there, right on time for our pick up, we strolled into Chipolte.

When I order my burrito bowl, I often get the guacamole on the side. The bag of our order was presented to me, neatly stapled closed. My cashier says, “I guess the side guac is in there but its closed.”

He then begun to ring me up.

I blinked at him as the realization that he was not going to check the bag sunk in. Having had my fair share of incorrect orders over the years I cheerfully say, “Staples can be defeated” and popped the bag open. There lay my two containers of guacamole.

I paid and left.

Now. Some people may wish to have a stapled bag. Why? I don’t know nor do I need to address it. I will just accept that may be a very important thing for some. But, they had a staple to staple it closed. The idea can be presented that the same stapler can be used to address the issue of resealing the bag.

It was his defeat that interested me. He accepted the staple as a hurdle to great to waste his time on. One may go, “Of course, why should he care?” The why is because customer service is a harsh profession and decreasing the obstacles in your day is a valuable skill. The chance is high that not all bags have sides of guac. By addressing those bags that do have said sides he increases the chance of handing someone a complete meal. This is how he saves himself the hassle of angry customers. For food service is one of those areas where humanity is stripped from both parties.

Now to lunch.

The First

On the 31st you are supposed to discuss the previous year. On the first you are supposed to make resolutions and look ahead. The world does a soft reset and potential opens up.

Then one is allowed to run off into a state of alcoholic indulgence. Allowed by society on this one day to do what one can do any day but upon which the double standard of alcohol tolerance frowns upon.

Or at least, that is how it seems. Perhaps, it is not a reality but a way for people to give themselves the opportunity to restart and refresh. A time to break cycles or entrench oneself deeper into habit.

For me, this is a year of reset. I’ve created some goals. I’d like to start taking daily pictures. I’ve wanted to do a 365 picture journal for a long time. This is the first time that I remember that goal on the first of the year. I normally remember it around the 7th or so.

I also have a finished book that needs its clean up and I need to start submitting it to publishers.

In these last few weeks I’ve allowed myself to drown in nothing at all. Video games, reading, infosurfing. It has been pleasurable. However, I ordered my tomato seeds for the garden this year and that somewhat activated me. It is time to start planning and organization. My planting is only a few months away.

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Not that my romaine cares. January 1st and it is still growing.

Time and New Toys

The days do leak away, do not they? I am on the fifth of a seven day stretch. Sixty hours out of the 84 I will do. It will be my last stretch like this for a while. We have not had our missing co-worker replaced, but my other co-worker will not be taking leave for some months yet.

It is interesting to see how my fatigue has affected my writing. Yesterday, my creativity was blurred to char from exhaustion. Today, it is improved. Not great. The bubbling font of creative energy struggles when I work this many days. I’ve never noticed it before, but now that I’ve created the perfect writing environment that syncs between my mobile platform and my home system, it is noticed. I stare at my screen and find nothing to say.

It is a beautiful screen to stare at. My Surface Pro 4 is the first Microsoft branded device I have purchased. I’m very pleased with it. I had been convinced that I wanted an android environment, but I find the mobile windows platform utterly satisfying for my needs.

My laptop need not be my desktop as well. The Surface is not a perfect laptop because it has the form of a tablet. That leaves it lacking room for quad core processors and other such necessities. But, for someone that wanted a tablet to write upon, read upon, and draw upon, it does everything for me. To such an extent that my husband is eyeing the Surface 5 as that it will soon be released.

I’ve also been on the search for a perfect psudo-professional bag to use for work and carrying my basics in. I’ve abandoned the one bag approach. I now carry a simple tote bag for a lunch bag. It holds the bulky things. Then I have not a purse but a bag that acts as my work station, holding my electronics, cables, and batteries. I’d love one such thing but it grows too heavy and too cumbersome.

Ahh well. Soon, this work will pass. I can get back into my project which has been put down since May due to the demands on my time. I do hate having such a busy life. The money is excellent due to the overtime but the fatigue has become a bit much.

The end results of Black Friday 2016

I normally skip the Christmas seasons. Sometimes, I wait to see if something I want will go on sale. Last year, I waited to buy a Fitbit and got my Fitbit Charge HR for 30 dollars off. This year, when I decided to upgrade to a Charge 2, I didn’t wait for the Christmas sales. I would have saved twenty dollars but I am quite in love with this device and the twenty dollars does not upset me.

I have been waiting for sales on electronics and computer devices. I had been using my husbands Nexus 10. A several year old tablet. The battery died on it over the summer and I’ve been looking for a replacement.

I have a laptop. An Alienware MX14 that works fine. It is from 2011 but still a strong, robust machine. It has started to experience random freezes of late. It is also heavy. Six and a half pounds heavy plus battery and mouse. It becomes exhausting to drag around and after five, almost six years of doing so, I want something lighter.

The next problem was that I want to write on my tablets. I’ve recently become invested in some writing software. I tried yWriter because it is free and my productivity skyrocketed. I’m moving to Scrivener because it is a bit more feature heavy. But, nether is cloud based and the structure of it is better for me then gdocs.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last six weeks figuring out ways to move documents between gdocs and the various programs. Conversions take 2-3 steps to get the document back to a text format. Its frustrating and irritating.

I also want to draw. I’ve been working kind of on a cartoon. My computer drawing skills are not to terribly bad. I tried a Samsung Tab A for a bit with pen. I liked it a but the OS won’t be supported for much longer and the tablet is already two years old.

That started my hunt for a tablet with a pen. From there, I expanded to Chromebooks. Samsung is coming out with a Chromebook with a pen. It sounded perfect until I sat and used Chrome the OS. That was when I learned that I am a Windows junky.

Back to the drawing board I stormed and that is how the Microsoft Surface series bubbled up. They had kept appearing on the artist sites as a great drawing experience on the high end of budget. At the time, my focus was towards replacing my tablet and not my laptop. But, I realized I could do both with a Surface. It is a laptop in tablet form and Windows 10 supports a mobile format. I was also here for the horror show that was Windows 8 on a PC when Microsoft decided that everyone wanted to use a tablet interface forever. Still, intrigued I started to dig deeper and found my solution.

A Surface replaces my laptop and tablet, lets me draw, can use my windows based writing programs, and weighs a pound and a half. A lot of research later and I was waiting for the Black Friday sales.

I settled on their main special. The middle of the road version which will suit me just fine. It is not the beastly gaming machine that my Alienware is, but I rarely play anything more stressful then Prison Architect or Civilization on a small screen.

This all led to me sitting at my computer on Wednesday night, waiting for midnight to tick around and order my new machine. I’ve never ordered from Microsoft’s online store. It went well except that the bundle they created for their Black Friday deal did not allow me to add Microsoft Complete which is an accident protection plan.

Surfaces are tablets with computer innards. They are a bit more fragile then a tablet and tablets and phones are known well enough to shatter already. Investing a pretty chunk of change into a device I will drag everywhere, the replacement insurance seemed like a good idea. Only, I could not buy it. If you do not buy their insurance package when you order from their site, you have to go to a Microsoft store with the device and order it once they have made sure that the item is not currently damaged.

That policy did not bother me if I had chosen to not purchase the insurance. But, I did. And I could not due to their website not being where it needed to be for Black Friday. They corrected it after I ordered but I did not feel that I should have to take the hit for this. The nearest Microsoft physical store is about half an hour away, tucked against the city. This is the shopping season and that particular mall is never slow.

You have 45 days to add it, but it is accent protection. Protection that I wanted from day one. I decided to call them.

Calling on Thanksgiving was not the smartest thing to do in retrospect. I hit an outside customer service line but I decided to work with it. The first one read me the script and said I could not add it. I responded that I was unhappy with that response considering the reason I had not added it upon purchase was an error from their website. I asked to be escalated, and I was. That lady said that they’d add it. She put me on hold and came back about five minutes later to say that she was incorrect and they could not add it and that I’d have to go to the store. I expressed my displeasure that they could not add the insurance policy to a package that had not yet shipped. However, I did not yell because it was not their fault.

Later that day I received a, “How did we do!” survey and I ripped it apart. I made sure to comment on the politeness of the two people I had spoken with. Still, I was not happy with the experience and I made it known.

Imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from their global escalation services the following day offering to let me add the insurance before the package shipped. To my surprise, they called me on Saturday and we had the matter settled in under five minutes.

I was pleased and it points to the power of polite complaint. But for now, the doorbell just rang and UPS delivered my new toy. Time to set it up.

Twelve months of Intuition

I realized it was Inty’s birthday while I was at work. I sighed a bit. There went the whole idea to take pictures on the exact day. I need sunlight to capture him and sunlight was not something I was going to see for a while longer.

But, finally after having slept the amount of a normal person, I woke to a bright and sunny day. Sixty-one degrees (16) felt warm today. My mother gave Inty a bath the previous day so he was glossy.

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He looks majestic. I’m not happy with his shoulders in this picture. However, notice he is looking up. That is because he was barking at the decks on each side of us. The community’s landscaping company is mowing and trimming bushes. He blames all of it on the Rottweiler that used to live next door. He has not accepted that he is no longer there and it has been six months since he saw him.

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He looks up and barks and barks and barks. He is such a mouthy thing.

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He looks quite the monster does not he? But he is not in fact scared nor are his ears back. I just caught him mid bark.

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Quite the change over time. Who knew he’d grow up to be such a bodacious jerk? Right now we are still working on him learning how to slow down. It isn’t going well. But he is young still. Twelve months makes him a young adult but it does not make him grown.

We will get there. Probably with both of us still sane.

Catching up with it

Time.

Time is such a  fascinating thing. A concept that one must understand. One that is defined in a simple way. We can’t get it back. It is always before us. And it continues until some point that is baffling to understand while gnawing on a piece of pizza.

Time is something I have not had enough of. Oh, in some ways I do. My day is scheduled into chunks of time. Those chunks have importance. Work is first. Food is second. Sleep is third.

I can’t sleep when I am hungry so it has to have less importance then food. I can’t eat or sleep if I don’t work. And work? It does not care if I don’t have things like food or sleep. And sleep is elusive. I’m getting about five hours a night which keeps me running but it does not leave much for anything else. In fact, I find myself just sitting and struggling to focus on anything much less be creative and interesting.

I have run out of time because things do not go as they do. We are down a person at work and that makes the job of four people now the job of two. Before, it was the job of four on the backs of three. It gave each of us an uneven load to carry where one would get punched in the face by events and the other two would wait for their turn. In a proper setting, we’d have been given another person to fill that gap. Instead, we beg and plead and suffer because life goes on. Leave goes on. Training still has to happen and we are left covering our own gaps which often gives one person the work of four.

But, it will not be forever, even if it is frustrating now.