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January 5th, 2010

Traditional Year Round-Up Thing @ 04:57 pm

I nearly didn't do one of these this year (it's traditional!), just like Hitler didn't do them either.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Went on a package holiday, which was a ski trip to Austria.  Started a podcast (and kept that sucker going, too).  Withdrew from the opportunity to represent my country in a world sports championship at my own expense.  Bought something at a gaming convention charity auction, a VIP ticket to Conpulsion in Edinburgh.  Organised a stag do.  GMed an ongoing LARP, the Irish Games Association's Dark Heresy one.  Attended a wedding while old enough to voluntarily attend, know what was going on, and have fun without throwing rocks in the church pond.  Ate a haggis, of the dirty big deep-fried variety.  Travelled abroad for a job interview.  Paintball, rubber-sword LARP, and airsoft (airsoft wins).  Tried to join the British Army, which fortunately was scuppered by my deaf ear.  Attended a ceilí, result of Colin's wedding.  Got poached from one job to another.  Travelled abroad for gaming events.  Had an article published in an internationally-distributed magazine (apparently).  Failed a driving test.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My new years' resolutions were: take game mastering more seriously, and go to the toilet before getting on the DART.  I did reasonably well with the second one, and even expanded it out to activities other than the DART.  The first one I didn't do as well as I'd have liked, but I sure didn't get mad drunk and wreck everything again.

This year is more of a vague intent to be less of a spa with money, but already it's looking dodge.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Certainly not.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My granny did.  She was old and in a nursing home and had been saying for years that she's ready to go, and lately she'd been losing the plot a bit.  Due to that last, visiting her wasn't enjoyable and became a chore, which sucks.  We weren't upset when she died because it was a good thing, but it got me wondering at what point in such a process it is one should be upset.

5. What countries did you visit?
Austria, Scotland, England at least five times.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Life direction, and the discipline to follow it.  In order to move to England and pursue an ambulancing career I need to save money, and in order to save money I need to work a mediocre job, and in order to work a mediocre job I seem to need retail therapy.  A vicious circle isn't following a direction, but I sure have a big pile of cool stuff.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Some day in July that I'll need to find out, because Nice Lady has issued vague but unmistakable threats for if I don't.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think establishing, running, hosting, producing, organising, paying for, promoting and continuing The Adventuring Party, a weekly gaming podcast.  The work is starting to outweigh the fun but hopefully with a little reshuffling of responsibility we can keep it going.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn't prepare properly for an interview with the London Ambulance Service and so didn't get the job.  Not a huge deal because the job was dispatch, in which I have limited interest, but still, I should have nailed that shit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was assaulting an enemy-held building in an airsoft game in England, and was advancing in a hurry and had to cross a raised concrete walkway with lots of dead ferns on the other side.  Standing up on this profile-exposer in full view of a machine-gun position within range on the roof, I decided the risks of jumping blind into the ferns outweighed the risks of staying put and getting simu-plugged.  I jumped, and beneath the surface of ferns lay a bit pile of pointy rubble blocks; I stumbled on the uneven landing and fell forward, whereon I boursted my knee on a hard edge.  It's mostly better now a couple of months later, but seriously, screw that.  It provided me with an excuse to buy some terribly fancy knee-pads, but honestly everything that happens to me provides me with an excuse to buy a terribly fancy something.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Although I have many interesting airsoft-related goodies now, and Long Tall Sally (my entry-level Steyr AUG A3 replica) took a fair bit of work before being the reliable performer she is today, to the point where I'm intimate with her inside and out to a degree never shared with a human, she's my baby and we've been through many scrapes together and there are many more to come.  I dress her up nice and she goes easy on my 6mm balls.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Not for any particular reason, but my sister is excellent.  Nice Lady is nice above and beyond the call of duty.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Parents in the family court - boy, the drinking I had to do after witnessing that shite.  The makers of Quantum of Solace, you bastards.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Compulsive airsoft equipment acquisition.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Ski holiday!  Airsoft trip to The Mall!  Lots of other airsoft stuff!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
It wasn't a particularly songy year, but Don't Tread On Me by Metallica made a decent airsoft theme and airsoft played a significant part in my year.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
i. happier or sadder?  Probably a little happier - got an excellent lady.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Haven't been doing kendo in a while, so either fatter or just less fit.
iii. richer or poorer?  In the greater scheme of things, much the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Saving money.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wondering why work on the bathroom and kitchen are taking so long.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Woke up mad early to see if Santa had been, and he hadn't, the bastard.  In my mum's house and then with my cousins.

21. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2008?
The magazine article I wrote, the editor sent me the draft layout so I could see how it was looking with the pictures and all, and I replied with instructions to make it absolutely perfect - needs an apostrophe here, that should be a capital letter, try making that two sentences.  Then at some point between him sending it to the printers and it hitting the shelves, most of it got run through a murderous spell-checker.  TacOps became Teacups.  BattleSim because Botulism.  It was pretty much ruined, nonsense, with my name on it.  Fuck.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Technically no, in that I read falling in love to be the head-over-heels, irrational, sudden thing which pursuant to its most recent occurrence that was a classic be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario holds only limited interest for me.  But I am seeing a great lady who I love in the other sense.

23. How many one-night stands?
I have never had a one-night stand.  Are they good?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
My television programming comes from DVDs only, and even that is very limited.  That one about a spaceship.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
Although I'm still not finished it, I'm really enjoying a non-fiction book called Redcoats (about the lives and times of redcoats).  It takes me ages to read stuff.  Twilight: 2013 is a role-playing game that I was skeptical about at first because of having played and liked its ancestor Twilight: 2000, but slowly came around to it and loved the feel I got from it, which I haven't got from an RPG since maybe Deadlands - the good, clever, consistent rules for lots of thematically-appropriate situations.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That despite having invented portable music, Sony can't make an mp3 player worth the box it comes in (at least not when they were making my new telephone they couldn't).

28. What did you want and get?
Ski holiday!  Lots of gaming conventions!  Nice lady!  Fun outdoor hobby!

29. What did you want and not get?
Job I only sort of wanted in London.  Driver's licence.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Nothing jumps out, but the Star Trek movie was good and didn't wreck Star Trek, which was a pleasant surprise.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 31 and had a house gaming convention to celebrate.  There was a Sharpe drinking game leading to drunk vomity hairy no-trousers man hooting and passing out in the kitchen, which I'd take as an indicator of success.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
For all its pros and cons, London.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
15 quid 3-piece suit for work because I have to.

34. What kept you sane?
Keeping busy with lots of hobbies.  And aforementioned retail therapy of course, although maybe that's more of a symptom of lack of sanity.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Posters of The Baroness from the Action Force movie.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I almost registered to vote for Lisbon but am useless.  Turns out I wasn't needed anyway.

37. Who did you miss?
Lee from the States would have made that snowboarding trip much more fun than being on my own.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Nice Lady.  Holy cow, that was a pretty good new person.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
That I have poor impulse control.  Also, that your personal equipment should always be ready for you to be shaken upside-down by the ankles.  I miss you, iPhone.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Sure it'd take me a year to come up with that, and I wouldn't know what was going to happen yet.

May 15th, 2009

Twit @ 11:14 am

Since I don't seem to have mentioned it here, I would appear to have consolidated my status updating into Twitter alone (ditched my Facebook account, even). evilrobotshane is the handle there, in case anyone cares.

April 12th, 2009

Cutbacks @ 11:22 pm

I think I may have learned as much as I have to learn about drunken obnoxiousness, and while it's been a fun ride, I'm going to investigate cutting back.

April 1st, 2009

Appreciate @ 11:01 pm

Tipsily dismissing the abilities of certain members of my Red Cross unit to measure vital signs the other day: "half of those goobers couldn't find a pulse on a cartoon lard-stealing hose".

March 14th, 2009

Shane no LiveJournal @ 11:50 am

I have been much too busy lately to find time to write in this thing, and maybe indeed this is its death knell, no doubt much to the consternation of all. Here's some things I did recently.

  • Went to a wedding: One of the exceedingly rare occasions when all my immediate family are in the same country and even room. I hadn't been to a wedding since I was 4, and this was for an old family friend I hadn't seen in a very long time. The catch-phrase of the weekend was "long time no see", and to my surprise everyone asks you what you do for a living. If I'd known it was going to provide my identity I'd have chosen more carefully; fortunately people seem to think the Central Criminal Court is cool. It was in England in the pork pie capital of the world and someone called me "old boy" several times. Turns out maybe that bridesmaid was hitting on me and I'd have been doing her a favour by tapping that so she wouldn't end up with her ex-boyfriend, but I just thought she was a bad dancer.
  • Kendo tournament and grading: As previously mentioned. Did crap in both the team and individuals, but passed my 1st-dan grading exam and went up a level.
  • Cons: Gaming conventions in Trinity College and Galway. Fun. Won a copy of GURPS Fantasy. Less fun.
  • Got my Irish EMT cert: Now I can something something. Not sure what exactly I'm allowed do and what not though, and I've never learned to administer laughing gas.

February 22nd, 2009

Making a Production @ 11:32 pm

Productivest day ever.

  • Took my grading exam. Passed. Am now 1st dan in kendo.
  • Helped tidy up the hall after the weekend's martial artistry.
  • Ate.
  • Played a hot-seat game of Combat Mission: Shock Force with humbug.
  • Recorded three episodes of the podcast.

Well, it seems more productive when I don't write it down.

February 5th, 2009

Priority Reshuffling @ 06:58 pm

Turns out all that uncertainty I had about joining the national squad for the World Kendo Championship turned out to be right, and I've officially withdrawn. I like the space kendo occupies in my life; bit of exercise, bit of learning and challenge, bit of competition, no real pressure except whatever I choose to put on myself. I like not having to go four nights a week, I like being able to not attend if there's something else I'd rather be doing. The run-up to the WKC would have destroyed all that, probably burned me out on kendo at least for a long time, maybe forever. I thought that was a sacrifice I was willing to make but it isn't. Plus the time investment - there's just so much other cool stuff I want to be doing too that I'm not inclined to give up. And people on the team are expected to be taking it oh so seriously, traveling to competitions and seminars, but my first priority for a holiday is snow and second is maybe GenCon if it's to be related to an activity; kendo is way down there. I couldn't even bring myself to fill out the after-action report forms for self-improvement that the coach guy wanted. Boring! Also, for the past month I've had a nagging cold that makes me cough spasmodically when I breathe deeply so haven't been going to training, and con season is coming up.

Other stuff to do, though, I got it. It seems as though kendo and gaming fought and gaming won.

Now that I don't have to spend thousands of quid on flights and accommodation and entry fees and green tracksuits and gifts for opponents and gifts for coach and green tracksuits for coach and so on and so on, I'm figuring on hitting up the con scene to as close to the max as is practical (which means Itzacon or K2 because they're on the same weekend and it's Itzacon this time). Secondary to the Warpcon charity auction, this'll include Conpulsion in Edinburgh, to which I have a VIP type ticket. It's cheaper to fly there than to choo-choo to Cork. Along with pedestrian things like t-shirt and pints, the ticket gets me some pre-con alone time with the special guests: Dude Who Wrote 3:16 which the Internet loves but I thought was bollocks, Dude Who Wrote The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and I'm not sure what else he's done, and Loren Wiseman, co-creator of Twilight: 2000! !!!!! !!!!!!!! omfg very excite

The inspiration for that in turn (it's for the kids = yay! It's for the kids to go to Disneyland for Christmas = hrm) came from the fact that I recently chased the long-departed bandwagon of gaming podcasts and launched The Adventuring Party, leading to a sudden need to find people to interview. I've learned a lot about mixers and content management systems and audio editing and herding cats in the past number of weeks, and even though it's technically only two days old it's already undergone some overhauls before ever it made it this far. I think it's not great yet and there's lots of things I want to improve for the future, but people have been saying nice things about it, which I appreciate. Talking about gaming is fun, but sure you already knew that.

That first episode speaks of a Dark Heresy LARP afoot, and I'm co-GMing that. It's going pretty well, just over a month deep now. I still haven't had time to read the actual rules properly (it took me a week to find the time to wipe dried sandwich pickle off the counter) but that hasn't been too much of a problem yet. Watching it in action this week I was sort of wishing I could play because it looks like fun, and that's a good sign.

My Friday game group hasn't recovered from the Christmas season, and now con season is upon us it'll be another while yet before Friday evenings are regularly available. I'm thinking a Transformers game of Prime Time Adventures, possibly Decepticons.

I'm on the committee of the Irish Games Association, which is mostly the odd meeting. There's some stuff cooking that we sort of decided not to mouth off about in case it doesn't work and everybody's low opinion sinks lower, but I'm liking being involved with a group that likes gaming and wants to facilitate more gamingfun happening. The Games Night in the pub of a Thursday is going pretty damn well, and one was set up in Cork too. The big thing is Gaelcon of course, which was recently announced will be taking place in a swank hotel in Ballsbridge, with lots of space for millions of special events and things, and hopefully running all night. Going to be deadly.

So deadly, in fact, that I volunteered for the assistant RPG co-ordinator position, on the off-chance I might have a spare second sometime (like I do now; my game fell through because of the snow or something). Got some ideas for things to do, but since this only happened last night I haven't even been in touch with the other guy yet.

And later than that last night, I was approached and propositioned online by DoC, and not in the usual way, but to write battle scenarios for airsoft groups (that's laser tag taken to its logical conclusion). As far as I've ascertained so far, a typical game is lining up on opposite sides of a field and shooting at each other, like your basic scenarios in Warhammer 40,000 or Necromunda or millions of computer games and so on, whereas what he wants is something with a bit of story and objectives. Given free rein here I'll have them all with introspective, flawed but noble characters embarking on year-long plot arcs towards self-realisation and redemption through shooting pellets at people in an old bus, but we'll have to meet up and hash out what's practical. I was initially hesitant because of the vast amount of spare time I don't have with all this going on, but of course turning down gaming because you've got too much of it is folly and ingratitude of the highest order. This isn't something that's typically lumped in with gaming, and that makes it even more appealing in a way - the chance to employ gaming skillz in a different arena is rather cool. And worst case situation I can just rip off Combat Mission: Shock Force scenarios.

January 22nd, 2009

Shopping @ 10:58 pm

Ahh, feel better now.

There's a happy belly medium for grocery shopping where it's not too much of a chore but is still productive. If I'm not hungry when I go shopping I trudge about miserably and begrudgingly leave with toilet paper and a token can of chick peas. Yesterday I was starving and although the end result cost far too much and apart from breakfast and a couple of dinners yielded only biccies and the components of a sandwich which could be seen from space, shopping while hungry is a fabulous Christmas wonderland. Every single item looks delicious and you imagine how great it'd be to be eating those raisins or that chili dipping sauce or that unidentifiable Polish fish something right the hell now.

Keep it in the Family Courts @ 09:47 pm

Vodka, dinner, job application form, in that order.

I was on the family courts today, where people squabble over children in the same way my brother used to squabble over the telly, except this time it's adults and the commodity is proto-humans and it's very expensive and takes years and I have to sit through it and it takes an authority figure more than five seconds to sort it out. They called it quits for the day at eight o'clock when I should have been gaming. This is of no benefit to me! I already didn't want children so I'm learning nothing!

It probably says more about me than about the opposed parties that I flat-out cannot identify with whatever the fuck is going on in their sick heads, and feel far more at home at a murder trial. I've been annoyed; extract that out some degrees and you've got murderous intent, I can imagine that. But wanting to own something so intensely that you'll fight tooth and nail socially and legally, learn to hate those you used to love, go to enormous expense, turn your entire life upside down - sure I have commitment issues or whatever and few movie quotes speak to me with such melodiousness as Heat's "don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner", but, let me put it this way: everybody has obsessions and compulsions, but it's only obsessive compulsive disorder when it starts preventing you from leading a normal life. The behaviour I've heard testified to in that building is mental. Children make you mental.

Why is that okay? Were Lovecraft and Poe and their ilk wrong in their genre implication that insanity is worse than death, something to punish the most wicked and to threaten the heroes? Certainly most stuff children do to people sounds like the actions of a parasite to me; maybe a medical condition. And even though I can sort of understand - it's hormonal or something, like with liking women, which I'm okay with because women are sort of hot - who examines their own life and goes "I don't really have enough going on and things aren't complicated enough; what I need is a medical condition!"?

My current status of "I suppose you're the closest thing in the room to a barrister" is an addendum to "I suppose you're the closest thing in the room to a doctor", and in a similarly half-assed way I've had a glimpse at the medical end of child acquisition too. The less said about that the better, but suffice it to say it is the worst thing I have ever witnessed, and I've seen The Ninja Squad.

So I suppose if anybody's interested in trying to explain you can consider this a solicitation to state your case if you like. I have interacted with a child socially, by the way, so I'm speaking of a position of only near-total ignorance rather. And yes, although it wasn't much of a conversationalist, there was something heart-warming about having someone be genuinely, uncomplicatedly and expressively pleased to see you, it being obvious that they consider their day to have just improved significantly because you've showed up. Unfortunately the reason it's so uncomplicated is because it's purely selfish - here's the guy who'll play with me and push me on the swing and acquiesce to some of my other demands. I noticed I get the same heart-warming feeling from dogs that like me.

I should be back in the criminal courts next week. At least there you get the feeling that witnesses are telling the truth, or at least that the truth will emerge. Today's crap had the father as an abusive, distant weirdo who cares only about his rights, the mother as a manipulative mind-control cult leader, and the kids saying their holiday in Lanzarote was full of cockroaches on the beach and blisters and starvation.

Revised: vodka, dinner, vodka, job application.

January 21st, 2009

The Mountainwich @ 04:16 pm

If my sandwich were left outdoors in Iraq in 1991, ariel recon photo interpreters would mistake it for a Scud missile and it'd be bombed by F-15s.