Jul 272012

Four months!

A great deal has happened. 38 Studios closed, meaning the beautiful and amazing game I spent the last two years working on will never see the light of day. The studio’s closure hit some employees very severely, since it happened with essentially no notice and every expectation that the situation we were in was something we could emerge from. We couldn’t, we didn’t, game over. Cody and I don’t tend to be extravagant spenders, and her benefits are equivalent to mine, so we simply rolled onto her plan with no interruption.

We finally got a dog! We adopted Crichton (named for John Crichton, FarScape’s astronaut protagonist) from a rescue shelter that operates out of New York. He’s a German Shepherd mix of some kind (strongly resembles a Rhodesian Ridgeback, too), born tailless. He chose Cody immediately, and that was basically that. He’s been an amazing addition to our lives and it’s actually hard to imagine what life was like before him. He’ll be six months old on Cody’s and my second wedding anniversary.

I had the excellent fortune to work with many amazing people at 38 Studios. One of them, with whom I worked very closely, made mention to me that his wife’s company was looking for a PHP developer. “Why, I’m a PHP developer!” I thought. I’ve been paid for PHP work in the past (when I worked for Northeastern while attending school there, and when I worked for Blue Fang), I use PHP on a regular basis in my own web projects, and I have a technical mind as a result of working on software for the last six years. A month after 38 Studios laid us off, I started work at Surf Merchants in Boston. So far, it has been amazing. The people are awesome, the company is fantastic, and I get to work in PHP every day–and get paid for it! I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, probably as a result of spending six years in a very volatile industry.

Ashes is making steady progress, thanks in part to my new commute that has Cody drop me off at the commuter rail in the morning for a 30 minute train ride into Boston. I use that time to continue working on the third draft, and have hit the troublesome middle section I mentioned several posts ago. And it is, indeed, troublesome. I thought I was nearing the end of chapter eighteen, only to realize that I was going to have to re-re-tool chapters fifteen through eighteen to make everything flow correctly. This is what happens when you think you remember your story treatment, but don’t actually double-check.

Joined Pax Gaming, to which Cody already belonged, and have started playing both The Secret World (due to Cody’s exhuberance and a desire to play an MMO together again) and Star Trek Online. I was very pleasantly surprised by STO. Cryptic did a great job capturing the feel of the Star Trek universe. Kudos to them. TSW is a blast, too, and I really dig the flexibility of their system, and the general ambiance of the world–except for all the damn zombies.

Why is everyone so into zombies? I mean, I guess Ashes sort of has zombie-like creatures in it, but not really. It seems like zombies are part of the modern zeitgeist, and I do not understand the appeal at all. I suppose the same argument could be made about vampires, but vampires don’t bother me nearly as much (or, at all, really; I enjoy vampires). I wonder if there’s an element of appeal to the monster. With a vampire, it’s a creature that has power, that has traits that are desirable despite the drawbacks. Same with a werewolf in some ways. But a zombie? Where’s the draw there? Why would you want to be a zombie? Why would you want to live in a world populated by zombies? I don’t get it.

I mentioned it briefly above, but Cody and my second wedding anniversary is coming up in a bit under two weeks. Last year, we went on a cruise. That’s not so feasible this year, what with Crichton and all, and it’s left us somewhat stymied as to what to do instead. Every time we think of things to do and look at the cost, it seems so inefficient compared to the cost/benefit ratio of a cruise. Instead, we’ve talked about doing something smaller for our anniversary (a nice dinner, for instance) and something larger later on.

I came across a fun little program called Manic Time, which tracks your application usage and document/website usage by time. I want to use it as a motivational tool to show myself how much time I waste that I could be writing. With actual metrics staring me in the face, I think that’ll be a decent motivator to not spend so much time idling.

That’s about it for now!

Feb 032009

Saturday was Cody’s birthday. Our plan for the evening was dinner at La Campania, one of the ritziest restaurants in Waltham. It comes highly recommended from my company’s president, known for his refined palette. Before heading over, we had a mini-present-opening, where Cody opened the presents she received from her family while I folded laundry (very exciting, I know). I then took the opportunity to present her with the birthday/anniversary/Valentine’s Day gift I got her: a pair of small, gold-and-aquamarine earrings. She loved them. They match both her eyes and a blue turtleneck that she has, which I had in mind when I bought them.

We headed out to dinner after that, dressing up a bit. Those that know me will know that I do not dress up lightly. I had made reservations a month ago, so there was no wait when we arrived and were seated. Their wine list was bigger than their menu and most of the offerings were by-the-bottle, which ranged from $30 to hundreds of dollars. We selected the Riesling off of their by-the-glass list (La Vis was the name), which was quite tasty. I have had Riesling before, but Cody had not and she enjoyed it.

We knew we were in for a treat when the bread arrived. Their bread is layered with prosciutto! They also serve, instead of butter, a dish of real olive oil — it was even slightly green! — with olives in it. It was excellent! We decided to be decadent and order a foie gras appetizer. We had both heard about foie gras — mainly from Top Chef — but never had it. When it arrived, we realized that we had been seriously missing out! It literally melted in our mouths. One of the most amazing things ever.

For dinner, I ordered Veal Saltimbocca with mushrooms over creamed spinach. Cody ordered lobster risotto. My dish was exceptional and despite its portion size (which was much, much larger than I expected), I managed to eat almost all of it. However, the real star of the evening was Cody’s lobster. It was unbelievable! Cooked to perfection, with just the right combination of flavors. I was quite envious.

For dessert, we finished with a hot chocolate soufflé a la mode. Imagine the best brownie you’ve ever eaten, served with ice cream, and that’s about where it was.

After dinner, we went home and watched movies. We first watched 21, the Kevin Spacey movie about the MIT students who counted cards in Las Vegas. It was quite good! After that, we spent an hour trying to decide what to watch next and we settled on The Matrix, since neither of us had seen it in a while and we had been talking about it. We had both forgotten how deep the first movie is. The sequels were pale imitations, but the first one has some real philosophical meat to it.

Sunday was Cody’s and my third anniversary. We got up around 2pm (while not late for me, it was quite late for her; we’re both worried she might be coming down with something) and made breakfast — actual breakfast. Coconut-and-macadamia-flavored pancakes, bacon, and eggs. While eating, we started watching the final episodes of Deep Space Nine. At about 5:30, we took a break — just before the final episode! — and went shopping for dinner. We had decided, because of how amazing the lobster risotto was at La Campania last night, that we were going to try and make scallops risotto, using the large bag of frozen scallops we had in the freezer. We found a recipe online and took off for the grocery store.

Cooking was a fun adventure and we each had plenty to do. The recipe works well for two people, as there seems to be two people’s worth of work to do at all times. We managed to set off the smoke detector at one point, due to the steam/smoke/whatever generated by the scallops cooking in olive oil, but that just added to the adventure. Then the moment of truth came…and it was spectacular! Our version was, perhaps, even better than La Campania’s, because we ourselves had made it. We were giggling with how delicious it was. We accompanied the meal with some Three Blind Moose and finished watching Deep Space Nine. We then watched the final Star Trek movie, Nemesis. Cody has now seen all of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and all 10 Star Trek movies. I don’t want to subject her to the horrors of Voyager or Enterprise, so she’s as Trekked up as she’ll ever be!

After that, it was pretty much time for bed. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.