Archive for August, 2007

8/31/07: In Yokohama…

…in the middle of the Worldcon. The convention is small but definitely a Worldcon, with a much higher than usual proportion of non-US fans even if you ignore the Japanese. I’ve appeared on two program items so far, both of which went very well despite the fact that I was the only panelist who showed up for the second one (we dragooned Jordin Kare from the audience, and Esther Friesner did eventually appear, an hour late due to no fault of her own). I also had a kaffeeklatch, for which no one signed up, but I had a nice time talking with Donya White who had been assigned as timekeeper for the panel. Also attended several good program items, including Bob Eggleton rhapsodizing about Godzilla and a talk by George Takei.

We have continued to do well with the food: we’ve eaten very good udon, okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, etc. and the worst culinary disaster was a slight kerfuffle over paying for some bento. Every time I think we’ve eaten every major Japanese cuisine we come across another one I’d forgotten. Plus killer gelato. Went to Chinatown for lunch and got very confused about what country we’re in (the Brazilian-style charrascuria, with the usual artistically-crafted plastic food displayed out front, was the last brain-exploding detail).

The Japanese language study we did before the con is paying off handsomely. The thing I’m most glad about (after basics like “I’ll have one of those,” “where is the bathroom,” and “please forgive me, I am a stupid foreigner”) is being able to read the written language (hiragana and katakana). Even the limited ability I have to painstakingly sound out words letter by letter is better than not being able to read signs at all, and makes possible such things as getting on the right train and choosing the strawberry-filled over the squid-eyeball-filled pastry.

Just came back to our room from the usual round of bid parties. As usual they were hot and crowded, but at this con they are slightly unusual in that they are held in rooms with tatami floors, which require taking your shoes off.

8/26/07: Goodbye for a while

Word count: 59594 | Since last entry: 0 | Days until retirement: 36

Sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Seattle and thence Japan. Don’t know when I’ll be back online again.

Yesterday vanished in a blur of packing, except that we joined Sarah Prince (in town for a wedding) at the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby. This annual event, featuring bizarre handcrafted gravity-powered vehicles, takes place just a few blocks from our house and we’ve never gone. Thanks Sarah for providing the impetus!

And now… here we go!

8/24/07: T minus one

Word count: 59594 | Since last entry: 14 | Days until retirement: 38

Today was my last day of work until mid-September. We leave for Japan in two days. I have to pack. I have spent much of this evening packing my computer — making sure I have all the files I’ll need to survive on the road for three weeks with little or no Internet access.

The worst part is going to be living without the phone, or the “magic rock” as Kate has been calling it. I’ve gotten so used to having email, LiveJournal, and most especially Google Maps available at all times that it’s going to be rather like losing a hand. Especially in Japan, where being lost is the national sport. We’ll survive.


8/22/07: Like a moth to a flame that burns at both ends

Word count: 59580 | Since last entry: 0 | Days until retirement: 40

There are times when you have to steal time from work because of urgent personal business. There are times when you have to work late, stealing time from personal business, for work. And there are times like the one I’ve been in for, fundamentally, most of this year, when work and personal life are both desperate to steal time from each other. So you balance them, and steal time from something else. Like sleep.

We’ve been to Austin and Phoenix in the last two weeks (highlight of the A&C weekend for me was a long, energetic Challenge tip with Saundra Bryant calling to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” — now that’s dancing!) , and we leave for Japan on Sunday. I have a gi-normous list of things I really want to get done before we leave. I’m plugging away at it bit by bit. Tonight: hepatitis booster shot, and new pants. The thrills just keep comin’.

At work, my main project is winding up (we’ll have a Release Candidate this week, if all goes well) and I’m supposed to be 100% on another project, although the main project isn’t quite dead yet and there are two or three other projects that would sure like to have an hour or two a day. I’m managing all these things reasonably well — not everything is going to get done, but the most important things will.

And then there are the other things. Like, I haven’t been to the gym in the last month except when I had an appointment with my trainer (who, by the way, is quitting at almost exactly the same time as I retire, so I don’t have to worry about her — I’ll get a new trainer at the gym closer to home). Like, I haven’t written a word of fiction in a month (though we did do Bento, which is back from the printer and will be mailed after we return from Japan). Like sleep, and groceries, and doing the dishes. All of those I promise I will get back to after Japan. And/or after I retire. Which is two weeks after we return from Japan.

You know how, when you have a new baby or a new relationship, life is full of firsts? First steps, first words, first kiss, first movie together? When someone dies or a relationship ends, there are lasts — last walk in the park together, last kiss, last movie together — but those are usually only visible in retrospect. In this case I am leaving work on a known date in the future and I can see the lasts as they go by. Some of them are sweet, like “last time I’ll have to leave a convention on Sunday afternoon to get back to work on Monday” and “last 8am meeting”. Some are more bittersweet.

Today I had a meeting where it was very clear to everyone, especially me, just how much I understand about this product, why it is the way it is, and where it can plausibly go from here, and how all of that is in my head and can’t easily be beamed to someone else. Also today I sent out a mass email to the whole building announcing my retirement. I left as quickly as I could after sending it so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Why is this so hard?

8/15/07: Bright racing star

Word count: 59580 | Since last entry: 264 | Days until retirement: 47

Back from Armadillocon. A good time, spent hanging out mostly with West Coast and East Coast friends rather than Texans. Had breakfast with Jay Lake, who later showed us the Freshman Moon and skunked me in pool; had lunch, ice cream, and yarn shopping with Madeline Robins; had a fine dinner with Sharyn November and Ellen Klages in a restaurant with a view of the bats, if they had ever appeared. We also had good BBQ at the airport both coming and going. At the convention itself I spent most of my time hanging out in the convivial space between function rooms, chatting with whoever came by (which included Laura Anne Gilman and Patty Wells WINOLJ). Hanging out with Ellen Klages was a special treat. Who else could cause three people to burst into song: “There is nothing like my brain / Nothing in the world / There is nothing you can name / That is anything like my brain…”

Last Japanese class tonight, and the final program schedule for the Worldcon has been posted (I see they gave me a kaffeeklatsch). I so do not feel suffificently prepared for this trip. I’m sure we’ll be fine.

Saw Endeavour and the ISS tonight, a bright racing star visible for just a couple of minutes from our back yard. Very cool. Kate said “it moves so deliberately!”

8/9/07: Annual Bento Death March

Word count: 59316 | Since last entry: 0 | Days until retirement: 53

No work on the novel in the last week or so, but I have written 9755 words for the next issue of Bento, which will go to press right after we get back from Armadillocon, for which we leave bright and early tomorrow morning. As one of our VP’s memorably said in a teleconference this morning, “I’ve been getting single-digit hours of sleep for the last week.” (Well, we knew what he meant. I think.)

This Bento is very heavy on the kind of extended metaphor, or fictionalized essay, that seems to be the hallmark of my fanwriting. In this case we have “our trip to Thailand as Amazing Race” and “David’s retirement as a fall into an alternate universe, harking back to another essay from five years ago with David’s job as a space war.” Writing this kind of stuff is a lot of fun, and such a break from novel-writing. It’s short; it’s based on my own life, so I don’t have to think too hard; it’s not tied in with the rest of a 100,000 word story with all the continuity and plot threads to worry about; it’s not original worldbuilding, so I can relax on that; and it’s supposed to be funny. I can see why some people write slash, or fanfic. In this case I suppose it’s fanfic of my own life.

I announced my retirement to my group this week. They were very supportive, and happy for me. However, although I meant to send out an email announcement to the rest of the company that day, I decided to hold off for a bit because right after that meeting the architect of the product announced that he is leaving for another company (his last day is Friday). This is a pretty serious blow to the project and I thought that announcing my own impending departure would be bad for morale. (They’ll be okay without me, really they will.)

The other big news is that I got my iBook upgraded to a new hard disk twice the size. No more having to close down apps because the virtual memory swap file is filling up the remaining hard disk space! No more wondering if this CD I’m ripping, or photo I’m pulling off the camera, will be the last! As long as it was in the shop I also had them replace the keyboard, which only had about half its letters still visible. Unfortunately, it took three days to get a new keyboard from Apple. Good thing Kate and I were working on Bento together, on the big computer, during that time.

See some of you in Austin. Play nice, the rest of you.