Arr! Welcome home, me hearties!

Best welcome mat ever (taken with the worst cellphone camera ever).

Gratefulgiving

I wrote a really long post here detailing the last couple of days, covering Thanksgiving, Black Friday, eating too much, drinking way too much, and generally struggling to get to all systems working within operational parameters. However, I don’t really want this blog to just be a journal of events that I might look back on fondly in a few years, I want to write interesting things, so I deleted it. And now I’m writing about how I deleted it. Yes, that’s much more interesting. Well done, Dominic.

On a side note about writing interesting things, I should probably write a little about how NaNoWriMo has gone for me. Well, I stopped writing at 12,000 words out of the target of 50,000. Lame, right? I could point you to the relocation to a foreign country, recent illness, but then you’d probably point to my posts about how much fun work is and how I’m playing Warcraft. And then you’d rub my nose in my post where I complained about how I never finish any projects and I’m proud of taking part in NaNoWriMo as it will kick my butt into actually finishing something. Then I’d probably just sit quietly for a moment before a tear rolls down my face and I realise I’ll never amount to a hill of beans, or something.

Anyway, I figured out where I went wrong, which is a good start to doing something right, I think. For the parts of my novel where I knew what had to happen, I was able to blaze through a couple of thousand words at a time and really enjoy doing it. Some people on the forums for NaNoWriMo state that they find this the least interesting part of the process, but I really love fleshing out dialogue and encounters between characters. Where I get stuck, however, is when I don’t know what should happen next. I know that I should just write whatever comes to mind, but I can’t. I can’t get past the fact that I have no plan, no matter how much I may have written in the past that I want to get past it.

What should I do, then? I think that the best way forward for me is to make a plan for my novel, with a deadline for that plan. Nothing detailed, just an overall plot arc, maybe a couple of subplots, major character names and basic personalities, motives, etc. But nothing detailed. You hear that, brain? Once I have the overall plan, I can put together a scene breakdown: A list of scenes, not necessarily in order, that need filling out for the novel to have a solid three acts, conflict and to flesh out the story that I want to tell. Then, I think, I’ll be able to actually write those scenes and complete the world and the characters.

As long as I set myself deadlines, I can do this. And if it means me learning to work with a plan, but not to let myself get stuck in the plan, that’s a great lesson that I need to learn.

Wow, that turned out to be quite the side note, huh? So back to what I should write about: Thanksgiving.

My Turkey Day was fantastic. An unexpected invitation to dinner, and a hope that noone would go out of their way for the vegetarian, ended with a great night with fun conversation, a dancing voice-activated R2-D2 (which only reacts to dreadful American accents and whiny Luke Skywalker voice), and new friends (well, kinda; I knew them from before, but never really socialised with them) who are going to be neighbours. And everybody needs good neighbours.

I think the tradition is that I’m supposed to give thanks for something, however in my previous attempt at this post, I ended up coming to the conclusion that I’m thankful for everything that I should be thankful for. When I tried to pin down who I should be thanking, though, I ran into trouble. I don’t subscribe to a higher power, or anything relating to predetermination of events, so it’s difficult for me to thank anyone for things when I see them as the result of hard work, fortuitous decision-making and raw chance. I have, then, to just be grateful in general that my life has become what it is, and I’m able to share it with the people I share it with. A hand-wringing liberal sentiment, if ever there was one.

Sadly, Gratefulgiving just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

One week

The title of this post is misleading: The family has been in San Francisco for more than a week, and I’ve been at work at the new job for two weeks, but somehow it feels like this is the first week that I’ve actually been here.

I obviously can’t write much about what I’m up to at work, but I can write that I’m having a fun time on some relatively straight-forward ramp-up and training work messing with some prototypes, and that I now have an official team to belong to. I’ve started having conversations with people on the team, including the lead, about how things could be developed, and what needs to be done, and I’m really encouraged as we all seem to be thinking along the same lines. If this was EA, we’d be in alignment. Or on the same page.

Outside of work, this week has been a big step forward too: One lease signed (yay!) and deposits paid (boo!). This weekend was also a far cry from last weekend which was a blowout thanks to a nasty virus. After finishing up with the realtors we made our way to City Hall for a walk around, hoping to find a farmer’s market, which we didn’t, then walked up Market to the Embarcadero and had a passable lunch at Market Bar. After that, a bit of a walk down the bayfront to grab the light rail home. Last night, we met up with some friends who moved here from Singapore just before we did in Magnolia bar at Haight and Masonic.

We took a cab there, and had a fun time with an old hippy who called himself “Taxi Dude” and was convinced that the Russians were trying to start a new war, and that the Russians and Arabs are fighting a turf war over the coffee shops of Amsterdam. We learned all about his Swedish friend Rolf and his “time of inequity” in the early 70s in Europe.

The food was great, the beer flowed smoothly, and the bill was more than reasonable. Oh yeah, the company was pretty good too!

Today was, of course, a lazy day. We’d already decided that we’d either do brunch or the cinema for Bolt in 3D. This morning came, brunch didn’t happen, so I dove into a couple of hours of WoW. Both myself and the wife then felt we needed a walk to clear out the cobwebs, so we wandered over to South Park to see if we could find a cafe to sit outside with the pooch and have a coffee. No such luck, sadly, but we did end up wandering up to el cheapo mexicano restaurant for a light beer and a bite. The walk home was a little chilly, but in that invigorating way that you just don’t get in Singapore. I was warm enough walking in a sweater, scarf and hat, and couldn’t be happier.

The more time I spend in this city, and walking around in this city, the more I love it. I know I’ve not even thought about beginning to maybe scratch the surface, but even without diving to the great depths that are available, I feel at home.

I can’t wait to get to work this week to see what new challenges are waiting for me, and I can’t wait until next weekend to see what new places are waiting to be explored.

I never did get to the cinema, but that can always wait until tomorrow.

I can stop whenever I want

I bet you’d thought I’d forgotten all about you, and was going to continue with lame updates that were just reblogs of other peoples’ far more inspired efforts. Well I didn’t, but I have been incredibly busy.

Playing WoW.

Well not just that, though it was the focus of the weekend. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me begin just before the weekend…

diddley-doo diddley-doo diddley-doo

So on Friday, one of my new workmates made the wondefully sweet offer of inviting myself and Mrs Dominic to brunch on Sunday with his family at Samovar. It was sweet as he has known me all of a week, and all I’ve done is pester him with inane questions with blindingly obvious answers which has stopped him from getting on with his own work. I also noted that he was playing the aforementioned game at lunchtime, which started us talking.

I thought I’d mentioned this in a previous post, but I can’t find it. Warhammer Online arrived and was played for a couple of weeks, and then just slipped away from me. Part of this was the move, and part of it was that I could, for some reason, only play it on the wife’s laptop, and not on the uber-machine of doom that I traditionally play PC games on. Even the might of EA’s technical support team couldn’t help me! I did want to play it more, and I genuinely like some of the decisions they’ve made in terms of opening up co-operative gaming to a level that WoW just hasn’t, but then I saw WoW being played. And the new expansion came out. Poot.

I didn’t get the new expansion as I don’t have a character that is at a level to enjoy the new content, however I did agree to buy a copy from the chap at work when it arrives, so that he could dash out and get one on launch day. See, I’m nice like that. Completely selfless motivations.

Anyway, Saturday came, and I thought “buggrit”, and reopened my account. I played all day with a new character and had a great time. During this time, the missus was getting gradually sicker and sicker, but thought she’d bounce back. She didn’t.

Sunday morning came, and it was clear we had to cancel brunch. I felt really bad as it was such a great opportunity to connect with someone here in the city, and it was a generous offer to make, but it was a day of nursing. Nursing that involved making sure the wife was well fed with soup, had plenty of aspirin, nasal sprays, vapour rubs and any other remedies I could find, before getting to level 14 before the end of the day.

This does not mean, however, that I will now be spending every waking hour playing. Oh no. I still have those 42000 words to write for my novel in the next 13 days, and I’m living in a brand new city that is clamouring for my attention. In fact, I didn’t play at all today. I spent this morning signing a lease for an awesome apartment — the first one we saw, which doesn’t happen often — before finally applying for my Social Security Number.

The lease signing was fairly uneventful, as those things go. I actually read the contract very carefully this time; something that I always promise myself I’ll do better next time, and always fail to spot the glaring we’re-going-to-keep-all-of-your-money clause. This time, I think I got it. Though watch this space, of course.

Applying for a Social Security Number was also the proverbial slice of pie (apple, I suppose it must be). I expected a nightmare of queues and forms and efficacious little jobsworths shuffling me from one window to the next complaining that my middle names are too long (they don’t fit on the forms. Ever. Thank you, parents) or that they don’t know where Jersey is, or they confuse it with New Jersey and can’t figure out how I’m British, etc, etc. Instead, after waiting for twenty minutes for my number to be called, it took all of 5 minutes and I was out of there. I just keep being impressed by this country, how friendly everyone is, how easy everything is, and how people in service roles, interacting with the public, actually provide a service! It’s unheard of, I know!

Today was also a large milestone in that I finally finished the gauntlet of paperwork thrown down by those bureaucratic vampires in HR and Benefits. Dragging the missus through the small print of health plan schedules when she was drowning in snot does seem a little ironic, in hindsight, but it is now Done.

Tomorrow, I might actually get to do some work at work, instead of paperwork at work. That, and a little levelling, of course. And next weekend, when everyone in the house is back to full health, we shall Brunch and be merry!

And maybe squeeze in a couple of levels.