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Brian Parker


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Although I haven't posted about current events, I think about what's happening in our country pretty much nonstop. During the day, my routine is an often unsuccessful distraction; at night, I lie awake with worry before sleeping fitfully. My silence is due to my lack of eloquence, and a pinch of paralyzed fear. People who are smarter and more fearless and better writers have you covered, without me trying to grab your attention. As always, I encourage respect for hard journalism. (Consider subscribing to a newspaper of record, or even something like The Economist if you can afford it.)

I continue to be worried about my father's health, my sister's job loss, and my own work troubles as well. And the thing is, I know I've got it easy!

I try to compartmentalize. If I don't care for my mental health, I'm no help to anybody. So when you see me talking about video games or D&D or digitizing childhood memories, I ask that you not only think kindly of me; but that you remember to take a little time to care for yourself as well. I spent a few hours at a friend's farm, then went to an event at The Mattress Factory, this past weekend; I managed a few hours thinking about art and beer and my affection for my friends. It was very refreshing and re-energizing.

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My poor father. Around Christmas, his brother died. Wednesday, his girlfriend's brother (and a close friend of his) died, after having had a seizure and falling into a coma last week. And now apparently he has three major heart blockages (85%-100%) and needs to have coronary artery bypass surgery ASAP.

And I thought I was having a shitty month.

Recall my brother has had to move suddenly due to personal issues and my sister lost her job. Knock on wood that I dodge whatever family curse seems to be on us these past few weeks... work stress seems pretty benign by comparison.

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It's been a while, or feels like it. You know how it is; when you have things worth talking about, you're too busy to post!

I spent the past week in Atlanta for work. Looks like I'll be travelling a week out of every month for a while. While I was there, my phone completely died, so I had to replace it as soon as I got home. That's a bad place to be in, since I couldn't get my "first choice" when I went to the store. I ended up with a Moto Z Force Droid, which was at least on my short list (although in an ugly color) because I'm interested in the snap-on "Moto Mods" like mini speakers and a camera attachment with zoom lens.

It was a bad time for the phone to break, because things were eventful back home. My brother moved in with us for a week or so until he gets his new apartment. My father's girlfriend's brother had a seizure and went into a coma (this has got to be super tough for him since his brother also died a couple weeks ago). Since my sister recently lost her job, it's family troubles all over!

Started up a D&D campaign with a couple of close friends. None of us have much experience; I'm DM'ing but haven't touched the game since high school I think, and the players have either never played or only done one short campaign. Geek on. (As if I wasn't dork enough, also racking up hours in Final Fantasy XV...)

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I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, but I "get" them, why people do them. Anyway, the timing is coincidental and this isn't a long-term commitment, but a friend and I have decided to do a "dry January." That is, no alcohol for one month. I don't think drinking is terrible or a huge problem in my life, but I am probably drinking more than is healthy (or at least affordable), and just kind of want to hit "reset." We'll see what happens. Thanks to those of you who encouraged the idea in me (you know who you are).

The pressure at work is starting to ratchet up. Big changes with a July deadline. It's going to be a tough 2017, but by the end, things should be amazing for me.

I've been playing the heck out of Final Fantasy XV. Like, a hundred hours since starting three weeks ago. I reached the end of the story last night and cried; not a single manly tear rolling down my cheek in slow motion, but a big old three tissue cry. There's more content I'll probably spend time on (maybe a few less hours a week), but wow, it's been a long time since a game gut punched me right in the feels. I know it's not for everyone, and it's got its faults; but it hit the right notes for me.

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I recently discovered that my grandmother is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's, and that my father has two aortic aneurysms. Mortality sucks. Breaking news, amiright?

2016 has largely been a big pile of turds for most people, and that's just in my narrow sliver of humanity, forget the horror of what's happening in the wider world. So, this hasn't been the most festive of Christmas seasons. We're trying, though. You can always be thankful that somebody has it worse; and, as bad as things are, there's still a lot of good in the world and in people. We just have a cognitive bias to see the bad. You have to try to stay positive.

My work is having a Christmas party on Friday, and those are always super nice. I am thankful every day that I work somewhere that appreciates its employees.

I finally started a tech blog. Let's hope I can put some good content on it. (No link because honestly it isn't interesting to anyone I know; the subject is pretty niche.)

I've been playing both Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian, so at least there are pleasant distractions. Inside ones, too, because wow is it a cold and snowy December this year.

I'm probably drinking too much. One a day during the week and a couple on the weekends. It's hardly alcoholism, but it isn't healthy. Couple that with my winter tendency to overeat and lose motivation for physical activity, and... well, all this mortality is a good reminder to try to change some habits.

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Woo, such a Halloween week!

I was in Chicago most of last week for training, which was both difficult and boring. Well, maybe not boring to me, but the stuff I'm learning does not make for exciting journaling. It'll make me a more valuable employee, but it's a niche technical skill related to an ERP/accounting system, so... yeah. Not exactly a firefighter or astronaut. I'm probably doing three more weeks of training! before the end of the year, too, which will make the holidays interesting.

The one thing of note: screw hotels that put their televisions in "hotel mode," which disables auxiliary inputs. It's to keep you from hooking up your own computer or video games or whatever, and renting from them. I'm such a dork that I borrowed a computer monitor from our office to hook up my PS4. :)

On that note, I finished Mafia III, and wow what a great story. Good game, a couple of technical issues, but just a great story.

Anyway, we had our usual Halloween blowout party. Tons of great people (including several I don't see often enough), amazing decorating and food and drinks by Jen, neat costumes. It was really warm! and I think that tamped down the drinking a little, so it was slightly less raucous than usual, but not so less-raucous that one of our neighbors didn't scream off his balcony at us at only half past midnight on a Saturday ("take your orgy inside it's one in the fucking morning!") and call the cops on us. The cops showed up looking kind of bored and embarrassed and cranky at having been called on a bunch of adults with a fairly sober homeowner. (I won't overlook my privilege, being a white homeowner probably made things go even smoother.)

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It's been a while! Nothing too exciting, but still a lot going on. Lots of social events this month, and another work trip to Chicago. (I'll be going for the last week of most months for a while.) In the next few weeks I've got a concert, a farm visit, a dinner, hockey tickets, a birthday party, and a Halloween party... and Jen will be going to New York for a weekend.

I've been too busy to game much but I just started Mafia III. It's set in a fictional 1968 New Orleans, and I'm looking forward to spending some time in that world.

I did finally get through a big wave of cleaning and reorganizing. People talk about "spring cleaning," but in the fall, it's good to prepare for being in your house most of the winter. Got rid of a ton of clothes, and replaced some cheap Ikea furniture with nice secondhand dressers from Construction Junction. Reorganized my office; set up a new laptop with several new accessories off the docking station as Skype/video calls are poised to become the "new normal" for work. I think I just need new seating and a bit more cleanup to have a near-perfect office/"mancave" combo.

I have been missing my family though, and have made no time for magic for months, so I'm a little sad and need to find time for those!

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Home ownership (and to an extent, rental living) is a Sisyphean task. You push the boulder uphill: fix broken things, clean, make improvements. But it is always sliding back down. Sometimes you push faster; sometimes you lose ground.

But sometimes it has to get better before it gets worse. I haven't seriously gone through my clothes since moving in, and as my Ikea-bought furniture began to crumble, it finally gave me the impetus to go to Construction Junction, pick up some new dressers, and reorganize. Holy crap... I still had a pair of shoes from 1993. There were just piles and piles of things that were stained and torn and too small for me that I hadn't had the heart to throw away, hiding in the back of dressers and chests and closets and loose piles. With heavy heart, I threw more than half my clothes in the trash as unwearable and unwantable. About a third of what was left went into charitable (aka "nice stuff but I'm a fatass") piles. It is a little liberating but feels so decadent and wasteful... then again, keeping a pile of stained moth-eaten clothes in a pile for ten years is pretty wasteful, too. Let's try not to let it get that way again.

The point is, in the short term, cleaning meant more mess. The boulder has slid WAY downhill. The dining room is stacked with clothes; the upstairs bedroom has furniture and stuff piled in the middle as we finish breaking down the already-broken Ikea furniture and rearrange everything around the new dressers. It's embarrassing. No surprise visitors, please!

We'll get there, though. There is a (mostly) nice house under this mess. But then electrical work, the sink, someday the carpet... keep pushing that boulder!

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I know that most of us are more reliant on technology now, but I had to get a new laptop for work, and heavens is it a pain in the butt. I spent hours on it yesterday (while watching TV at least), and I'm maybe halfway done. The amount of software I use to do my job-- and the complexity of installing and configuring most of it-- is staggering.

Of course the thing I bitched about most is that a laptop with the crazy specs I need now doesn't come in a smaller size; so I've got this heavy 17.3" model to haul back and forth instead of the tiny, lightweight one I'd been toting in my svelt John Varvatos bag. (I'll have to get a big ugly new bag for this monster.)

It's weird to complain, though, about something work spent about three grand on. How ungrateful. There's a time I would have wet my pants over a machine like this. But knowing it's for a job I don't especially want to do (did I mention this is kind of a forced change in job duties?) rather than anything fun kind of takes from it. I already have all the machine I need for anything personal. I wish I at least had a nice graphics card like the time they accidentally gave me a designer's laptop, so I could play games on it. :)

(I know most people will skip this entire post because it's really boring, but at least one of you will be nerd enough to care about specs, so... it's an HP ZBook G3, i7 2.6 GHz, Win 10 Pro (I need Win 8.1 or 10 for some of these tools), 32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD. My job role is switching to an ERP system developer, and I need to be running Visual Studio 2015, SQL Server 2016, an instance of the web-based ERP software, and a few other things locally.)

I haven't used Visual Studio for about 15 years, and I'm no longer going to have direct SQL Server access after we go to a cloud-based solution, so yeah this really is a major change in job role. (I've been a DBA & T-SQL developer for over a decade.) I was very tempted to change jobs, but this company has been good to me, I like the people, and I love working from home, so... I'm giving it a chance.

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I don't know that my social media presence is an accurate depiction of my life. Real life involves a lot more worrying about politics, sociology, and philosophy; but also way more video games, drinking, and watching TV with Jen.

I think the amount of dog pictures is about right, though. I love those cute little buggers.


I'm going to the Outer Banks with friends soon. I'm not much of a beach person, but I can't deny some appeal. I look forward to riding a bike, getting back to my neglected interest in magic, and reading a book or two. All stuff I wish I did more of in daily life. I'm bringing my work laptop, but looking forward to using it very little. I would like to spend some time doing some technology learning, the kind of job-related stuff that my actual job doesn't leave much time for.

Last time we went to OBX I spent a lot of the time working on DJ mixes on my iPad, believe it or not. (If you are one of the people who went to the "Ceremony Reunion" gig, you heard the fruits of that vacation, when I played what I think was one of the best sets of my life. I'm still proud of some of those live mashups.)

I'm considering bringing video games. Pro, it is what gives me a lot of joy, and vacation should be about joy. Con, it's less of a change from daily life, and it'll probably distract me from socializing and enjoying the beach. Probably coming down on the con side...


Right after the vacation (like, literally the day after I return) I'm going to Chicago for a couple of days for work. My job is amazing as far as the schedule, and working from home, and awesome co-workers, and a nice atmosphere... but lots of huge changes coming that have me a little stressed. Hopefully my Chicago trip provides some clarity. I just have no idea what my job is going to look like in a year or so. It'll probably be fine, but I dislike the uncertainty.
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