Posts Tagged yesterdave

Friends & Family

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Who are you closer to, friends or family?

As evidenced by September’s entire month of posts about friends, and no such month about family, I think it’s pretty obvious I am closer to friends.  I travel the most to visit friends, not family; when I visit a place, I think first of seeing friends, not family; most of all, I keep in best touch with friends, not family.

There are a few reasons for this in my life, and one of the biggest is I didn’t grow up very close to my extended family.  I know a lot of folk whose family is concentrated in one locale, or who have big family events, but we had neither as I was growing up.  My mom and dad are both not super close to their immediate family, and although that’s changed in more recent years (both have become closer to their brothers, and also to their nieces/nephews-in-law), my worldview has been pretty fixed on the point of family since I was younger.  I do enjoy hanging out with family, but I mentally equate them to “friends I am not super close with,” since I have no special “family” category in my brain for closeness (with the slight exception of “mom,” “dad,” and “sister”).

Another big big reason for this is that I chose my friends, and they chose me.  I appreciate the foundation my family gave me for my life, but over time I have realized things about myself I don’t particularly like or that I really want to change.  Those realizations are almost always in part because of interaction with my friends.  Most of my friends are understanding and communicative enough that we get along very well, and yet they see things differently enough from me that I get a lot of insight into the world and myself through them.  With family, I often feel like we think mostly alike, and where others might get comfort from that, I can sometimes find it frustrating.

All that said, I am off to visit with family (Aunt and Uncle) today for Thanksgiving, so closeness might be relative. :)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010
What’s on your wall: prints, posters, photos, paintings? What makes you want to hang something up?

Right now, my walls at home are pretty barren.  In my room, I have only “Master Bedroom,” the first print I framed for myself when I worked at Prints Plus in Cambridge, MA, which is essentially a picture of a bedroom, bed and golden retriever sleeping.  Also, above my desk I have an At-A-Glance 120 day planner calendar, but it’s still showing June-July-August-September. 😛  Should probably update that.  I have a few other framed prints that I will put up once my furnishing mission for the remainder of the year is complete.

At work, I have a few funny printouts from the Internet up – social networking websites as vices, and “hug failed” from some stick figure comic I can’t remember right now.  I also have up a vintage print of WWII era “Loose Lips” guy drowning, pointing his finger and saying “Somebody Talked!”  That one is a subtle dig at co-workers talking too loudly around me, which makes me chuckle.

In general, I post things I would want to look at and/or that represent things I like or that I want to introduce other people to.  I have an Inception movie poster that I need to find a place for, for example, because I really really enjoyed that movie.  I almost never put up photographs because I don’t take them that often, and I don’t really put a huge amount of nostalgia in captured visual memories because my own visual memory is very good.  Probably I will regret that as I age and I start to forget what things looked like!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
What do you like most about cold weather? What do you like the least?

Since I grew up in California and Arizona, I had little cause to be around cold weather.  In fact, the few times that I traveled when it was cold elsewhere, I was pretty upset at being elsewhere and not in the vicinity of my warm home.  However, there are a few things I like about cold.  I enjoy wearing hats, and cold weather is a wonderful reason to do so.  I have been especially enjoying the fur “northerner” Fargo-style hat that Mike and Rachel got me.  I also enjoy the silence that cold weather seems to engender… I suppose it’s not exactly a quality of coldness, per se, but they are something I associate together – probably due to spending some winter trips outside away from civilization (like Lake Tahoe, or camping) and enjoying the relative quiet of the wilderness in cold.

I like the deep-set chill the least.  By this I mean when you spend too long outside in the cold without adequate protection, it’s not a state that’s easily remediable.  It takes a long while for heat to penetrate a frosty exterior, and it’s just miserable being cold to the core while that process proceeds.  Blech!

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Songs over the Years

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
What was your favorite song this year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Twenty?

This question reminded me of a service that offers (used to offer?) where they’d make you a chart that looked like this, showing your music listening habits, once you were a subscriber for a couple of years:

Since I have never really moved from Pandora to that service, I am sadly missing such a sweet graph.

As for songs, I think my favorite song this year is King of Anything, by Sara Bareilles.  It’s pop-y, has a strong female singer (generally I am favorable toward repeat listening of such singers), and actually has a real story to tell with the lyrics, not just a fairytale.

Five years ago was 2005 – I was living in Boston, working at Lincoln Laboratories.  Although I believe the song came up previous to that year, one of my favorite songs from that era was Accidentally in Love, by Counting Crows.  Counting Crows has consistently topped my list of bands (probably top 3 overall), in part because of our college association with Round Here, and in part because their lyrics are just absurd.  I remember Accidentally in Love being the iTunes Free Song of the Day the first day I had iTunes installed on my computer.

Ten years ago was 2000 – I was at Caltech as a sophomore.  I don’t think I was doing much driving that year (I could be misremembering, but I recall having a bike, so it’s less likely I had a car), but I do recall hearing Everything You Want, by Vertical Horizon, on the radio.  We’ll call that my favorite from that year.  This does point out the fact that when I am listening to the radio because I am driving a lot, I am much more connected to music than otherwise.

Twenty years ago was 1990 – I was a small child in Phoenix, Arizona.  I recall listening to a lot of my parents’ Oldies but Goodies cassettes, especially since they would play them loud in the house when cleaning was going on.  Let’s go with Rocky Mountain High, by John Denver, since I recall hearing it clearly and I associate it strongly with camping outings we took up in northern Arizona every once in a while.

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Jewelry… huh.

So today’s prompt gave me pause:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Tell us the story of a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from, and what does it mean to you?

This question is mildly unfair to me, since I don’t really own any jewelry.  Bill suggested I answer the question “story of a piece of jewelry that’s important to you” and use the One Ring from Tolkien’s fiction – an excellent choice, but I feel not quite in spirit for the question.  For now, I’m going to assume “jewelry” includes “fancy watch” in its definition, and talk about my fine Fossil watch, gifted to me by my good friend Nate on my birthday of… five years ago?

Nate knew I enjoyed wearing a watch, and found a particularly nice one at Fossil, with glow-in-the-dark hands (a must in adventure mode) and little dials for day of month, 24-hour time and day of week (a little extraneous).  The story of this watch is I wore it a ton and then it broke.  And it was a frustrating piece that broke – one of the hands on the mini-dials!  The broken hand would constantly mock me from inside the glass of the watch face, rattling around due to movement until it got stuck in an obstructing position (right between 6 and 7, basically).

It took me a few years (!) before I finally broke down and took the watch to a Fossil store to have repairs done, and wouldn’t you know, it was really rather simple.  These days, I don’t wear the watch that often, but I do for (a) fancy formal events like our annual company party, (b) travel, especially in foreign lands where I can’t trust my phone’s ability to tell time, and (c) events that are day long away from a computer (e.g. Magic events).  One of the neat side effects of wearing a watch is observant people can tell I am left-handed, due to the fact that I wear it on my right wrist.

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Review: Penny Arcade

The PA guys (Jerry and Mike, or more widely known as Tycho and Gabe) are doing another “reader poll” to see which side-project they should spend effort on, and I was reminded again why I think Penny Arcade is so sweet.  If you haven’t read them, you can find them at – they have two interesting one-page treatments of two possible side projects (Sand and The New Kid) up, and of course huge archives of their primary gaming webcomic.  I recall starting to read PA in college, and I know Todd and Garrett and I attended the first (and subsequent) PAX expos after I was in grad school.  I own all of their books, and read them fairly religiously.  So, maybe I am biased, but I think I can still render some opinions in reviewing their material.

One: Penny Arcade is a comic by gamers for gamers, and they aren’t assholes (to their audience).  They also happen to fit the profile of your “growing up gamer” and so they happened to be perfect for me as I passed through college and into working life.  (Not so much now that they are family men, but their in-comic avatars are still basically bachelors.)  This is kind of a drawback if you haven’t previously read their stuff, because reading through archives is not quite the same as associating life experiences of the time with reading, but it’s still an interesting aspect to my “relationship” with PA.  Penny Arcade is really much more of a blog in comic form than most other webcomics I have read, and it gives it a much more authentic feel.  Because of that, they have a lot of currency/capital to spend when they do go off a little and do weird things (Cardboard Tube Samurai, Twisp and Catsby, these reader-directed projects, etc.)

Two: Penny Arcade doesn’t make any apologies.  It doesn’t skirt around issues in the gaming world that Jerry and Mike believe are relevant and important to tackle, and it doesn’t censor itself for the sake of protecting reader’s… eyes? Ear-analogues.  They are able to infuse their opinions with humor, and to me that’s a big win.  They can tend to ramble, or focus too much on topics that seem small on a global scale but are quite relevant to them personally, but I don’t fault them much for this – it is their comic/blog after all!

They also were the genesis of the Child’s Play charity, which I think is really amazing at directing gamers (generally generous people, in my opinion) toward spending for greater good.  So brownie points to the people for that!

Overall: A-
Humor: B+ (rises if you know the specific games involved at any one time)
Variety: A+ (no other webcomic I know treats so many different topics/games within the sphere)

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Dylan Mayo

I met Dylan during a Thursday night Draft Club draft, which is to say during an evening where we played Magic after working on Magic.  Dylan was quite forward and friendly – introducing himself and claiming he had in fact spent all week on introductions.  He was exactly the right combination of interested in what you had to say, and interesting things to say, and I later discovered also has a razor sharp instrument of sarcasm on him.  Even now, despite my conscious awareness of his legendary sarcasm, I get taken by it when we are conversing.  Dylan is also one of the few friends who just “get” me when I’m geeking out on gaming references, possibly because he’s more of a geek than me. :)

Dylan and I have a lot in common – we are both devastatingly handsome, we both think too much, we both loooove games and playing games with friends, we both enjoy teasing Bill Stark (we kid because we love!) and we both care a lot about our friends.  Dylan also has more experience in the games industry than me, and cares more about the “real world” than me (as in, he’s formally studied economics and such).  We still have really interesting conversations all over the place, though, as good friends with varied interests should.  It is Dylan’s model of a manager – the kind that holds his people up to others when they accomplish something great, and protects them from outside influences while they are doing their work – that I admire most of the friends I have seen as managers.

Although it was a sad day for all at Wizards when a bunch of excellent people were let go with the dying breaths of the Gleemax initiative, I don’t think I miss anyone’s company quite as much as Dylan’s at Wizards.  We just clicked so well, and also had enough to argue and disagree about, that I was always interested in spending more time chilling with him, and I am sad I don’t see him every day anymore!

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Michael Penna

Mike is one of friends from high school, of particular interest because he and I are more alike now than we used to be, and if we lived near each other, we’d hang all the time.  Back then, I was much more introverted than he by comparison, but we shared a “niceness” streak and were generally friendly people with similar interests, so we got along quite well. As I dabbled in sports, we got to know each other much better, and *really* bonded over Powderpuff football, which of course is when the football team (plus others like me) become cheerleaders and women play football. Mike and I also worked together in student leadership (see Conference Craziness from Yesterdave) and eventually on the student newspaper as well.

Even despite all of this, I was somewhat surprised when Mike contacted me and asked me whether I was attending our 10 year high school reunion.  I’m not sure exactly how likely I thought I was to go, but Mike helped convince me, and hanging out with him was a huge part of why I really enjoyed the week I spent back for my reunion.  It’s one thing to be friends with a person when you live near them and see them every day, but quite another to re-establish friendship after so long apart.  Mike is the kind of guy I know I can be comfortable picking up conversations with, even after years have passed.  In addition, he formed the core of a group of us who went out and chilled on the few nights we saw each other over reunion, because he is awesome and the rest of us gained awesomeness by association.  I don’t do enough to stay in touch with Mike, but thanks to things like Facebook, we are kept mildly up to date with each other pretty regularly… one day I’ll visit him again and we’ll have some new good old times together.

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Matt Place

When I was still nervous about talking to and hanging out with people in Magic R&D (I didn’t know them well, and I was still outside-looking-in), Matt took the first huge step for me: he got me onto his card set team – “Scissors” development, of the Rock-Paper-Scissors codenamed block – to try out my skills at R&D. Although I had a passion for game design, I know I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I have now if it weren’t for the kickstart Matt got for me. Not only was that team a fun group of people, but I learned a ton from Matt and the rest of the team about how to make Magic, and further integrated myself into R&D culture.

Matt is not afraid to state his opinion, which can be both abrasive and illuminating. Since he is very smart, it pays to listen, but because he is very vocal about how he feels, it can sometimes be painful to hear. Or, at least, it was for me when I was still in a very passive, learning, listening, understanding mode. His example led me to be more assertive on game design conversations, which is all positive in my opinion. Matt’s also got a great sense of humor, and I know humor is an important part of my relationships, so we’ve bonded over that too.

We hung out a bit on my one and only trip so far to Japan, in Kyoto, walking around outside the site when we both had some free time, looking for an ATM. Basically, I have a hard time remembering any *bad* times with Matt Place. Matt left Wizards and soon after left the Seattle area to work in other game design, which is a shame for me and us at Wizards, but obviously amazing for them.

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Jeremy Tollefson

When I first arrived at Caltech, I felt a little out of my element. I had met a few people when I came down to visit for the “prefrosh” weekend (determining which school to attend as a high school senior), but I didn’t know anyone at the first get-together for freshmen on campus after I found my room. I got some food at the BBQ, and looked for a place to sit. Jeremy, who had been standing in line with me, asked me if I wanted to sit down with him and a couple people he had met / known previously. Thus began our friendship, because it takes a great person to be open and inviting enough to ask a stranger to sit and share a meal (especially on a high-anxiety first day of college!)

Jeremy and I ended up rooming together our freshmen and (most of) sophomore years. We had some wacky adventures (getting kidnapped to go to Las Vegas for a weekend, prank wars with our friends in a different dorm, Starcraft battles and academic craziness), and we formed a strong strong bond. Like, ionic or something. He watched the movie Can’t Hardly Wait like 20 times in our dorm room while we did homework; I would play Ocarina of Time to an audience of him and sometimes Tim and Molly. Life was good. Tragically, Jeremy left and we didn’t see each other for a while, but since we have *true friendship powers* I still see him at PAX and on random occasions like a trip to Bend, OR!

I think the lesson I learned best from Jeremy was that I could be outgoing in a less than “all out” way and really develop socially. I used to be very introverted, and only with huge effort was I able to get over it for individual social situations. He’s awesome, and I’m more awesome for knowing him!

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