27 Mk 20 (aka 47 years old) And Counting 2

27 Mk 20 (aka 47 years old) And Counting

Yeah, I’m 47 now.  Of course, I’m sitting behind a computer, working on a major project, and packing up my apartment.  And, of course, thinking about the last year or so.  As usual with me, it’s been an interesting ride.  So, grab a cup of tea, coffee, or other favorite beverage, and come along for a look back at the ride.  And, given the number of trips involved, there was a lot of riding.  Oh, and since I love to take pictures of everything, there’s a lot of pictures of that ride.  This is only the highlights, and there’s a whole lotta stuff that happened at 46 (er, 27 Mk 19) that I’m just not going to bother posting.

A lot of this stuff is things I’ve started to write up before, but finally getting around to writing up, using my birthday as an excuse to do it.  Some of them will EVENTUALLY get their own posts that expand upon things like the campsite and hot springs in Colorado. 

Update:  OK, it didn’t get done until nearly a month after my birthday.  So, there’s some minor updates in there, some labeled, some not.

The Trips: California

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On the road to Alpine, California

Next day after my Birthday last year, we hit the road bound for California.  I had been to California plenty of times for work.  Fresno, Woodland, and a few other areas, along with having flown through LA a couple of times.  I had even seen the Pacific ocean on a few of those trips, but I hadn’t actually gotten to go swimming in it.

Kelly (Mehtare) asked me if I wanted to go with her on the trip, and meet a some of her friends, and hang out in an area near San Diego.  Well, I’ve never seen that part of California, liked the idea of meeting some of her friends (I figure if they’re friends of hers, I’ll probably going to get along with them just fine.  She doesn’t suffer people she doesn’t like.)

So, across country we went.  It ended up being a great trip.  Stayed in a seriously seedy motel on both the way up and the way back (trust me, we’ll never stay there again, if a similar trip were to happen).  We kicked around the amazing AirBNB (the place awesome, the owner was unfortunately a complete dickhead, and AirBNB didn’t help).  Chicano Park was amazing, and I recommend checking it out – particularly if you read up on the history of the place.

The way there and back we drove through two deserts – the Mohave and the Sonora Desert.  We crossed 6 states.  We stopped in Desert Hot Springs, California to lay her parents ashes to rest in the desert.

I swam in the ocean, for the first time ever.  I plan on hitting the other coast and swim in the Atlantic at some point, but I have to admit that I wasn’t really prepared for that sort of swimming.  I’ve swam in pools and lakes before, but I’ve never dealt with the vastness or the power of the waves before.  It was absolutely awesome.  Though, I still liked the pool at the AirBNB, and spent plenty of time in it.  The ocean was just vastly better.

We checked out the LA Fashion District (I don’t even remember what for – I can’t remember if there was an actual agenda there).  And the people we were hanging out with?  Awesome folks that I ended up friending on Facebook, and would love to catch up with all of them again someday on another trip like that.

Of course there was drinking and some “edibles”.  (Hey, California is a legalized state, why not partake?)

I really wish I could have stayed longer, just kicking back.  I handled a few emergencies on the laptop for work, but otherwise it was all relaxing.  Right up until we headed home.  That when things got a bit dicey.  On the way home we ran out of money.  Like, almost totally – we figured out just as we were about to leave we were short, and just to make things worse, and auto draft occurred while we were on the road.  We conserved cash on the way home as much as we could, and had to borrow money via paypal to make it back.  But, damn it, we did it.  And it was amazing.

The Trips: Las Vegas

Of course, I can’t write about Las Vegas without saying “Vegas, Baby!”  There, now it’s out of my system.  

Las Vegas was a short trip, and the only trip we’ve taken so far by plane.  We flew out of Kansas City (which saved a lot of money) and spent a couple days there.

I gotta say:  Las Vegas is a strange place.  Not bad, just strange.  We stayed at Circus Circus (because it was cheap), which means just about everywhere you look there’s a slot machine of some sort.   I didn’t spend a whole lot gambling – I went with a budget, spent that budget, and called it good.  Really, gambling didn’t last long, and I’m not particularly good at sticking around a machine.  Kelly, on the other hand, is more patient than I am.  She’d find a machine that “liked her”, and play for hours.  She’d end up doing pretty well, and managed to bring cash home with her.  I didn’t manage to end up winning at any of them.

The Trips: Colorado

A friend, Dr. Debora Ballard-Reisch, had moved to Colorado not too long back.  So, we took it as an opportunity to head out to Colorado again, but this time it wasn’t a camping trip – just a short jaunt there, spend a day and overnight stay, then come back.

So, if you visit Colorado, I recommend visiting Casa Bonita.  It’s an interesting place – it’s a weird Americanized Mexican food place that’s actually an indoor theme park.  And the food is worse than most theme parks.  All you can eat tacos sounds amazing, until you actually get the tacos.  But, where else are you going to see cliff diving in Colorado.

And, of course, getting to sit around and chat with Debora and her boyfriend, which was fun.  Added bonus: I had snowed when we showed up, so we got to have a nice snowball fight in October, when Kansas had no snow.

The Trips: Colorado, Again

At this point, I figure it’s a tradition: we spent Kelly’s birthday on the side of a mountain in Colorado again. Which is awesome.

Though, this time was a bit different – having done the trip the previous year for her birthday, we better knew what we needed, and what to expect.  We also bought a new tent when K-Mart went out of business, along with a few odds and ends here and there.  Which meant we had to test it all out before we did the actual trip – so we went camping for a weekend (well, Sunday night, Monday & Tuesday) to see how well it all worked.  BTW – that’s a really nice place, I recommend checking it out if you like to hit camping areas near Wichita.

Now, we didn’t plan on camping in same place as our previous trip – when we got to the campground we wanted to hit, which was near a lake, there was a fire ban.  That seems generally inconvenient to some, but for us a fire was mandatory: all the food I brought along required cooking.  So, we spent the extra hour and a half to trek to the previous year’s spot, which is WONDERFUL.  It’s on the side of a mountain, right by a creek so there’s a water source.  Then there’s the fact that it’s at the break point between rocks and scrub brush territory and a serious forest (Rio Grande National Forest).

While the California trip was a combination of exploration, socializing, and relaxing, this trip was all about the solitude and relaxation.  We both love nature, and only went into town twice in a six day trip.  There was just no need – we brought everything required, except a couple extra blankets, and we wanted to spend a little time hooked up to some WiFi to play StarDew Valley together in Crestone (which was a bust: the cafe’s WiFi is crap for something like that.)

Unfortunately, because of the way Memorial Day landed so close to her birthday this year, people began showing up.  The previous year, we were isolated – very few people showed up, and only one or two other groups had camped there overnight while we were there.  This time, though, they began showing up for Memorial Day, including someone who put up a flag pole and a Confederate Flag.  We ended up ditching out a day early.

The Cons

Ok, I’m actually lumping “Ren Fests” and “Conventions” in here together.  But, they’re both basically just cons with different themes.  

As usual:  two Ren Fests this last year (the Great Plains Renaissance Festival), where I sat up the Kansas Authors’ Pavilion for local authors to come out, meet the crowds, sell some books, and have fun.  However, the Spring one was a bust:  it was rainy and cold all of Saturday, and people stayed away on Sunday.

But, we had an extra ren fest – the Little Apple Renaissance Festival.  Now, if the Great Plains Renaissance Festival was a bust in Spring, Little Apple was abysmal.  We showed up, were there 30 minutes, and their weather was worse: it was cold as hell, and a blizzard was rolling in, and they had to shut down before half the day was over.  Then they had to close it down for the next day before it even got started.  Basically, in the course of an entire weekend, they only got to be open for around 4 hours at most.  Hopefully, next year, they have better weather and better luck! 

We did make the most of the drive there and back, though – there’s an old Historic Schoolhouse on the route, so we stopped and browsed around, took some pictures, that sort of thing.  Also stop at the Tallgrass Prairie National Park and browsed around the gift shop and museum a bit.  Snowed out doesn’t mean you can’t still have some fun.

And I did the ICT ComicCon and Science Fiction Convention here in Wichita.  Honestly, I didn’t do much but sit around and talk to people, and gave a speech on video game development.  The second part ended up being pretty interesting – the most active participants in the discussion portion were two kids, on girl and one boy, probably around 12 years old.  Afterwards, I ended up talking with some more folks who were interested in getting into game development – something I’m a big advocate for.

My Partner in Crime

You’ll notice a theme in a lot of these pictures: my partner in crime, Kelly.  And, look, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do:  I’m going to gush a bit.  We’ve had a ridiculous amount of fun on trips and things like that, but that doesn’t really cover it all.

We were camping at Kingman State Fishing Lake after a night of  a few drinks and a couple of storms when she said: “Thank you.  I couldn’t do this without you.”

My response was “I wouldn’t do this without you.”

I found a soul mate that fits with me like no one I’ve met before.  It’s very yin and yang – I wouldn’t have gone to California anytime soon if she hadn’t have invited me.  We wouldn’t have taken our first trip to Colorado if, when asked, she told me she wanted to be in California for her birthday.

It’s not that I haven’t been those places – I’ve seen something like 38 states and a couple of countries.  But, that’s almost all for work.  I don’t travel much for just myself.  I’ve got  a partner that inspires me to relax more (that’s a good thing) and go see the world.  I’ve always wanted to see more of the world (traveling for business, there’s a lot I didn’t see).

She also matches me eclectic tendencies very well.  It’s not uncommon for us to walk down to the park at 1 AM, play on the swings, and chat.  Or go sit beside a lake, have a picnic, and ponder the stars.  Or do something like go roller skating.  Basically, anything goes.

And, of course, I’m a talker (and so is she), so we talk about all things, large and small.  

Everyday of age 46 has had laughter, and frequently adventure.  She’s been a large part of the reason for that laughter, and a large part of those adventures.  

And Cats, of Course

Yeah, if you see my Instagram account, you know there’s some cats in my life.  Both of them were Kelly’s – though they have both adopted me as part of the family.  But, Deuces has adopted me a bit more than Pixie did, and is now “my cat” (they’re both our cat) in that he lives with me in my apartment, and Pixie lives with her in her apartment.  Pixie walks between the two apartments whenever she feels like it – she can be trusted to go exploring outside and return.  Deuces, on the other hand, has to be carried.

I’ve never had my own cat before, so this is new.  Both of them are a source of joy in my life, and while they both can be a pain while I’m trying to work, they’re also great for a break from whatever I’m doing. 🙂

Of course, I take shitloads of photos of them, just like everything else.  When I did the 2017 Selfie a Day wrap up video, I was going to do one for the all the cats, dogs, and animals in general for the year.  Well… I finally finished it on my birthday, about 6 months behind schedule 😉

PS:  I’m writing part of this post with a cat – Deuces – draped across my shoulders, since he’s no longer allowed to camp out on my desk.

The Work

In theory, this last year should have been the year of video games for me.  There should have been a number of releases.  Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.  Don’t get me wrong, there was some game development done, but no releases. However, there’s been one hell of a project going on for a good chunk of my 46th year.

Here’s the thing: I still can’t talk about it.  Nearly a year’s worth of work, and I’m still under NDA until it’s release.  But, when I do get a chance to finally talk about it (the end of October), I’ll be bragging a lot about this project – it’s partially paid the bills, and it’s been probably one of the most interesting (and largest) gigs I’ve done in a long time.

I also lost a customer – one that I did website, desktop support, and HIPAA compliance work for.  When the company sold, they changed to a new support company when someone new started running it.  Which was weird, because I was still handling the HIPAA compliance stuff and website, just not desktop / network support.  And they were getting way over charged for too little service.  Now they’re transitioning back to me – which is nice, it’s a good customer.

Eventually, I’ll get to talk about all the projects (there’s another one that has an AR component to it – that’s going to be cool to show off!).  For most of the year, it’s been damned busy.  And a couple of those projects will also have long term dividends. 

And one long overdue project I’ve been hacking on for a while now, and we’re getting to the end of it, finally.  Another one I’m not going to talk about until it’s release, though. 

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Some of my customers are also friends, and do things like this

The Other Stuff

Ok, most of the pictures shown here are of me, Kelly, and the cats, and you might get the impression that’s the only people I see.  Far from it, and there’s no way to incorporate all the stuff that’s happened – this year has had a lot going on, as usual.  Just a lot of the highlights happen to include either two of us or all four of us.

From time to time, I got sit around the fire on Saturday nights like I used to.  Friday nights are almost always a movie night.  Along with seeing old friends, I’ve made some new ones along the way (and lost one recently, and a couple of them moved to other states, never to be seen again.  OK, I guess I’ll go visit Meredith in Florida at some point 😉 )

And even the work section doesn’t cover all the stuff I’ve worked on – website fixes or updates here and there, stuff like that. (For work, there’s been no major new projects except the unnamed on mentioned above – I kept it that was a much as possible, since that’s a project that’s eaten so much of my time.)  

Moving Forward

So, what’s next?  In the immediate future, there’s the move.  Mehtare and I are moving into a house together.  Now, there’s a couple of reasons for this move, and lemmie show you one of them:

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This happened while we were house sitting, at the building across the parking lot from our apartments.

See, the place it’s self isn’t horrible.  Dinky little studio apartments with the bare necessities, but they do a pretty good job at keeping the place up.  In fact, I’d recommend the place from that standpoint.  Problem is, they had some rather unsavory tenants.

How bad were the tenants?  Well, it wasn’t uncommon to have to put up with yelling and screaming on any given night.  Loud music, of course.  And, the weirdest one, I often had to listen to someone’s phone conversations.  See, they discovered they could have a conversation on their truck’s stereo using their bluetooth connection.  So, VERY LOUDLY they’d have a chat on the phone.  It was actually a whole bunch of people that were related – two of the apartments downstairs were occupied by members of the family, then one in the same building on the same level as us towards the other end, and one in the building across the way.  Which meant, when they wanted to talk, they just yelled across the way at each other, or the kids.  (The kids, oddly, were quite a bit more polite than their parents.)

The problem just boils down to people.  It’s a low rent place that results in low rent people.  When two of the apartments downstairs moved, I talked to the (very nice) maintenance man.  Not only were they horribly rude, they also didn’t clean, causing an insect invasion.  Wonderful.

But, there’s more to the move.  We both want a yard, some more space, someplace to put all our crafting stuff.  We’d like to eat means someplace else besides our beds (the studio apartments are both small enough that it fits a desk, and a bed, but not a couch, table, etc.)  Moving in together, we get all of that, and if we do it right, we also save a couple of dollars (or just break even.)  And we don’t have to deal with people quite as much.  Plus, we can play our own music as loud as we can without worrying about being rude. 🙂 .  Oh, and Davis parties can be a thing again.  In fact, I’ve promised her one.

Update:  After having written this the first time around, we found a place.  Right now, a lot of our stuff is in boxes, and getting ready to move on September 1st.  This is going to be awesome!

After the move comes the Great Plains Renfest, and our next trip after that.  And possibly another Vegas trip.  And next year another Colorado trip, and who knows where else – we haven’t set our travel itinerary quite that far in advance, though there’s a number of places we’d like to go.  There’s always going to be more trips, and more places to explore.

One wild ride will be the work.  See, that big project I mentioned?  I have equity in it, and sales start in October.  This could either big trickle of money, or a small trickle of money.  It’s hard to tell how long it will take to build into something reasonable.  They won’t reach the level where that’s the only income I need, but it will begin setting a base level for income.

Then there’s the next project where I own a chunk of the income from it.  Also currently can’t talk about it, and it probably won’t start until September, and release sometime in October, based on my guesses (I have to wait on someone else to do their part.)  On top of that, I’ve had something I’ve been meaning to clean up and commercialize as a full product.

Then there’s the games.  Right now the list includes:

  • Jumpman Forever 1.2
  • Crucible
  • Invaders
  • Yeznerf
  • Retro Breaker (re-release) & it’s sequel
  • High Rise Spies
  • A hybrid infinite runner game with a weird new twist

All of these are in various states now.  The Re-release of Retro Breaker is up first (version 1.3), and it’s sequel will right behind it.  High Rise Spies has graphics mostly done, Crucible has a lot of programming and graphics done, Invaders and Yeznerf has partial graphics and proof of concept complete.  Basically, I’m not going to write a bunch of games from scratch – I just have to finish what I’ve got, which is a whole lot better place to be in.  And there’s of course all the various prototypes laying around that can be turned into a real product.

Here’s the thing though: I’m going to take a two-pronged approach to this.  But, that’s a story for another blog post…

Of course, I’ll still need to do other gigs to make ends meet.  Hopefully, the next year’s plan will make that a whole lot less painful, though, particularly those months when business is slow.  So, uh, need a website or app built?  Maybe some desktop support or a HIPAA compliance audit and paperwork done?  Hit me up. 😉

Now that the tech behind the website has been updated, and I’ve actually hit publish on an entry (the first in 7 or 8 months), maybe I’ll start updating this thing regularly again?  Naaahhhh… 😉

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