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Our Twin Peaks marathon was cut short and we only managed to get through the pilot last night. Apparently a half-bottle of wine, a comfortable couch, and warm dogs were enough to do me in and force an early bed time.

So much rain today with the promise of more to come. The funeral for Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie is slated for tomorrow at our Hollywood Hills park (I work for a cemetery / mortuary) and I can only imagine how difficult it's going to be for everyone. Everyone here is on guard about the media or fans trying to sneak in to what is supposed to be a private ceremony -- I hope everyone is respectful. Once things have died down, I'd like to visit and see where they've been interred. Carrie Fisher seemed like such a wonderful person and it seems so grossly unfair that she's left us so soon. But I'm reminded of Death's line from The High Cost of Living... "You get what anyone gets - you get a lifetime."
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I think it must be the weather.... It's cool and overcast here, with the promise of rain. A rarity in Southern California. All I want to do right now is go home, get comfortable, pour myself a glass of something and re-watch Twin Peaks for the umpteenth time. I've had the soundtrack playing on Spotify all day. If only there were some place around town that would deliver cherry pie.
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Oh, I should also mention that I recently jumped ship from LiveJournal after....17(?) years. I hated to leave, but that place was a barren wasteland and I want something more than superficial Facebook conversations. Of course, I now realize that I know absolutely *no one* here. I really wish I could remember just how, exactly, I made friends on LJ back in the day....

2016 Update

Jan. 4th, 2017 12:19 pm
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2016 sucked for just about everyone, so I won't bother rehashing how upset I am about the election or loss of celebs that I admired. Discounting all of that, on balance, 2016 wasn't a bad year, personally. Here's a list (in no particular order) of things that happened in 2016:

I enjoy picking up new skill sets (in the past it's been stuff like lock picking, card magic classes at the Magic Castle, photography classes, and learning some advanced cryptography stuff), so I taught myself how to do some basic coding for the Arduino as well as learning how to solder. With that information I was able to cobble together some neat electronics projects. I also built an arcade game emulator out of a Raspberry Pi (no coding or real skills needed for that, though). I even learned how to do some basic computer network penetration testing using a Linux toolset (also took Linux classes). All fun stuff, and some of it with actual value. :)

Our cat, Abby, passed away in August. Carly had let her outside in the morning before work and a coyote managed to jump our backyard wall and got to her before she even knew what was happening. Thankfully, the coyote ran when Carly tried to scare it off, so we were able to recover her body and have her cremated. I was absolutely devastated, as she had been my friend and companion for almost 7 years. We now maintain a small shrine for her with her ashes and paw print upstairs.

About two months ago my boss surprised me by letting me know that the company had conducted a salary review for my position,determined that I was being underpaid, and that, effective immediately, I was to receive a 20k salary increase. We've always had a pretty good degree of financial freedom, but this increase has really opened up some nice opportunities for us. I've only been with the company for a little over 3 years now, and already I've gotten a substantial promotion and doubled what I was making with my previous employer. I couldn't be happier here.

C was thinking of leaving her position as a forensic specialist with her department and getting a job with the city. She's been unhappy with some of the conditions at work and being on-call so often. She went through four interviews with the city, passed her background check, and was ultimately about ready to accept the city's offer when her Captain at the PD offered to improve conditions for her. I think that she's much happier that she doesn't get called in for minor crimes now and I'm grateful that she didn't take a job that would have meant a significant reduction in salary and moving in to what was going to essentially be an entry-level position.

In addition to all of this, we've really settled in to our new home and neighborhood. We've become good friends with many of our neighbors and they're now our "go to" when it comes to socializing. We hang out, brew beer together, go out for drinks and dinners, host game nights at our respective homes.... A total 180 from living in Pasadena where we didn't know a single soul and *hated* the people who lived next door. It's so nice to live in and be a part of an actual community.

So, while 2016 didn't exactly redeem itself it wasn't entirely awful, either. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings.
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Only two people on my friends list still post.... Other than that, it's a graveyard of deleted and abandoned accounts. I'd post more, myself, but no one is here to read them.
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I'm feeling all nostalgic today for the LJ that used to be. Way back in 1999/2000, just after Six Degrees went bust.... I remember the thrill of meeting LJ friends IRL for the first time. How great it was adding people whose journals were fun and interesting and having new people add you because a comment that you wrote on someone else's journal struck a chord. I remember going to parties with LJers, flying across the country to meet folks, and having folks fly across the country to visit *me* and showing them around Los Angeles. And drama.... SO much drama. Sure, most of my LJ friends are on my Facebook now, but it's not even close to the same. I kind of wish that I had a little of that back.
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I can't believe how quickly time flies these days. So, the yard is done and it's absolutely beautiful. We now have a patio with stamped concrete, some lawn for dog business, a winding path made of decomposed granite, lots of grasses and wildflowers, a beautiful olive tree, and a space for C's garden. Not to mention all of the lighting, irrigation, etc. We couldn't be happier with it. Our house is finally complete and now we're living in a bona fide home. These past few months have been relentless, but now we're finally able to relax and enjoy it all.

We also took a bit of a step back in November and adopted another dog. We hadn't planned on it, but we took Jack to a local animal fair and absolutely fell in love with a tiny stray who had been stuck in the local shelter for the past month. She's 2 years old but super tiny and the folks at the shelter had named her Olive. Given that we had just planted an olive tree it seemed like a sign. She was shy and a little stand-offish at first but now she scarcely leaves my side and she likes to cuddle up next to me on the couch. And the best part is that Jack finally has someone to keep him company when C and I are at work. I'm really happy with our little family.

All in all, things are swell. C and I are happier than we've ever been -- we've been together for five years now and things are still wonderful between us. I love my job. We're now closer to our friends and family and see them more frequently as a result. I feel really lucky. I know that things won't always be like this, but I'm enjoying and appreciating it all while it lasts.
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Are there any other Fitbit users out there? My fiancee just bought them for us and I'm fascinated by all of the data that gets collected by them as I go about my daily routine. So far, she's the only person I've added to my Friends List on there, but I would love to add other folks so that I have a broader support network on there.
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I'm still processing all of this and I'm not quite sure what to say at this point. But the world is a much duller place for having lost [livejournal.com profile] sparklydevil. Sarah's personalty shone with such intensity and exuberance. She was funny, brazen, crude, crass, and wonderful. She'll be missed by so very many.

An article from the Huffington Post on Sarah's death, for those who want further details: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/27/burlesque-performer-killed-party-bus-crash_n_3342524.html
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One of my goals over these last couple of years has been to do things that I've always wanted to do but, for one reason or another, have put off. Learning magic has been one of those things. I've also taken a trip to Alaska, adopted a dog, and have been making a real concerted effort not to pass up small opportunities to go out and have fun because of a perceived lack of time or money. But one of the big things that I've been wanting to do has been to start playing Dungeons and Dragons again.

I used to *love* playing when I was in elementary and middle school. I had a small group of other "indoor kids" that I hung around with and every lunch break we'd break out our Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manuals and have adventures that would last throughout the school year. Unfortunately, as I got older it became more and more difficult to find people my age who still shared an interest in playing.

Fortunately, a few months ago I casually mentioned to our friend Mike that I was interested in playing and that Carly (who has never played before) might be coaxed into playing as well. I knew that Mike used to be an avid player but had stopped, himself, some time ago. Given that there were only three of us it seemed unlikely that we'd ever be able to have a genuine campaign but thankfully Mike agreed to not only DM but play a character as well.

We had our first gaming session two weeks ago and everything went surprisingly well. The rules have changed somewhat and Carly and I both needed some tutorials and rundowns on the rules for combat and whatnot, but by the end of the evening we had everything more or less down pat! Our second session is tonight and we're both looking forward to it! We have our new Player's Handbooks, bought miniatures for our characters, and she even has her own set of dice. Playing again has totally opened up a direct portal to 1984 in my brain and I couldn't be happier. :)

That said, if there is anyone in the LA area who would be interested in joining us and doesn't mind making a trip out to Pasadena every Tuesday night, let me know. :) We provide the pizza, barbecue and beer!

Listmania!

May. 13th, 2013 03:29 pm
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I have 45 minutes left until I head home from work, so allow me to kill a little time.

Awesome things that Carly and I have done last month / this month:

1. Went to Ren Faire
2. Stopped off at the Stone Company Store to refill my growler
3. Spent a few weekends having friends over for barbecue, beer, and game nights (Munchkin and Cards Against Humanity)
4. Started our first AD&D campaign (she had never played before)
5. Planted new garden stuffs
6. Bought a new Dyson ball vacuum cleaner -- which is amazing!
7. Continued my classes at the Magic Castle
8. Started taking magic lessons with Aaron Fisher
9. Went to the drive-in theatre for the world's worst double-feature (Oblivion and G.I. Joe)
10. Attended the college's end of the semester dinner
11. Went to my first SFV roller derby game (Carly didn't play, but she will soon, I'm sure)
12. Attended WonderCon
13. Saw the Disney D23 exhibit with our friends, Mike and Summer

Aaaaand now I have 30 minutes left to kill....
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Ever since I was a kid I've loved magic. I remember staying up late to watch David Copperfield and Doug Henning specials on TV and being absolutely mesmerized by them and I'd jump at any chance that I could to see real-live magicians perform. But when it came down to doing magic myself, I just didn't have the attention span and commitment required to make it work. I'd check books out at the library, attempt to do a simple trick and, when it failed, I'd give up after a few tries. I just assumed that anyone who could perform magic was, by virtue of their talent, a prodigy and that no real work needed to be done to reach that level of expertise. And since I was obviously not a prodigy, I was forever doomed to be a spectator.

Fortunately, my love of magic never really waned and, about a year or so ago I decided to take another crack at it. I'm older (certainly) and wiser (debatable) and my understanding of what sort of hard work and practice is required to achieve a level of competence with anything has certainly evolved. So, throwing caution and quite a bit of money to the wind, I went down to the local magic shop and promptly bought every book they had on their shelves. Which, in retrospect, was a huuuuge mistake.

The problem with buying $1,000 worth of magic books is that you now have a library full of material upon which to draw but no real notion about where to start and what sort of path to follow to get to where you want to go. I flipped through the books, found some tricks and effects that looked worthwhile and put in the requisite practice, but aside from learning a few one-off tricks that I could show my friends and family I wasn't really establishing any sort of a foundation and I certainly wasn't developing skills. It's the difference between learning how to read music and then play an instrument and, say, just learning how to play one song on an instrument. Technically you can "play the piano" but if anyone requests a song other than "Chopsticks" you're totally screwed.

So, I was at another crossroads of sorts. I could continue on as a bit of a dilettante when it came to magic or I could buckle down and really get serious about this. Getting serious, however, meant putting away all of the books, DVDs, and gimmicks and starting anew with, hopefully, a strong foundation. To get to that point, I enrolled in an introductory magic class at The Magic Castle under the tutelage of a professional. For the first time, I had someone instructing me, putting together a curriculum in which each lesson built upon the last, and providing me with a real path to improvement. I'm now in Magic III (which equates to about 18 weeks' worth of classes) and will be moving on to Magic IV in August. Once I complete Magic IV and I get a few more months of practice in I'm going to book my audition with The Magic Castle and, if I pass, I'll be a "magician member" of The Castle and the Academy of Magical Arts. I'm amazed at the progress that I've made so far and I know I still have a long way to go, but I finally feel as if I'm fulfilling the wish that I had as a kid to do real, amazing magic.
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Wow. It sure has been a while since I posted on here. I still lurk from time to time, but you know how it is... TwitFace is pretty much the only means of online communicating I do these days. Which...is nice. But frankly, it's not very satisfying. I've been thinking about coming back to LJ (or maybe Wordpress) but then I remember that there's just no more audience here anymore. Would anyone even read anything that I wrote? But man, do I miss LJ. Maybe it's just creeping nostalgia, but this thing used to be so much *fun*. Or at least, that's how I half-remember it.

We'll see how I feel about all of this, come the weekend.

Edit: Aaaand I just bought a paid account. Only two months, though. Let's see how this goes before I make a longer commitment.

Also, I've been re-reading a lot of my older entries and I scarcely recognize myself in them. It's a little unnerving.
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