Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Six Years



November 4th, 2011 is a date that will always stick with me. It marks the day I was told that my services would no longer be needed by WB Games, Inc. at Monolith/WB Games.

The day had started like any other Friday, with me dragging into work after the quick drive from my condo near Lake Washington, anticipating another long day as pre-production on Monolith’s next bit title slowly came together. An odd email from HR telling me that I hadn’t yet filled out my annual health insurance enrollment (I had) was dismissed as a paperwork error, one of those things endemic to large soulless multinational corporations. The surprise urgent, all-hands mandatory meeting could not so easily be ignored.
Three weeks prior to the end. Fat, dumb, and happy,
enjoying the team's victory lap celebration as
Lord of the Rings: War in the North finally shipped.

I knew what was coming. But I’d dodged so many of these layoffs over the years, that I thought I was bulletproof. It was always a miserable day to say goodbye to friends and comrades, start sending out LinkedIn requests and updating email contacts, but at the end of the day I always came out unscathed. We filed back to our desks to await the emails announcing who was staying and who was going. But this bullet wasn’t one I could dodge. After seven and a half years at a company that I had convinced myself I could somehow stay with for decades, my employment was at an end. It was one of the worst days of my life as my cozy, well ordered career plan tumbled down around my ears in an instant.

Except, that whole plan was a lie, built on a shifting foundation of quicksand. My world had been slowly falling apart for years. We were deep in debt. I was practically wedded to the harsh mistress of overtime, which was the only thing keeping us financially afloat. Our cozy two-bedroom condo was unsellable after the housing crash, but also unlivable in the long term for a family of six. My mental health was slipping from too many nights of minimal sleep, and my fitness, well, let’s just say I wasn’t headed in a good direction there either.

But just like that, with a corporate decision made that I was expendable, we could no longer sustain even the illusion that everything was okay. It turned out to be one of the best days of my life.
Of course, recovery wasn’t an instant process. In the span of almost four years (November 2011 – October 2015) we moved four times. I changed jobs four times too (six counting contractor agency changes). Twice more I’d get surprise layoff notices as studios reduced headcount. The condo got foreclosed on. We defaulted on a few credit cards. I’m an incredibly stubborn, hard-headed person sometimes, but I finally gave up on game development after fourteen years.
I had a lot of fun at Monolith, and sometimes I miss it. But
having the time to spend regular evenings with this crew
is well worth all the trouble.

We moved to South Dakota. I took a job in the Financial Technology sector, doing work similar to what I’d done for most of my career, but with better pay, and sane hours. I bought a motorcycle and started getting in shape. After two years of stability, we decided to commit to this state and buy a house.

Which brings me to now. Six years after a layoff shattered my world and forced me out of my illusory comfort zone, both my family and I are happier, healthier, and better off financially than we were. Two years into my stint at my current employer, maybe this will be the place I make thirty years at. If not though, if I’ve learned one thing from the last six years, it’s that through perseverance, with the help of family and friends who stand by your side, and by the grace of God, all things are possible. Life is never a straight line, but as a motorcycle rider, we learn to flow with the curves and enjoy the road’s journey, not fight for a single direction path where none exists. Not all worst days can become best days, but turning points aren’t things to be feared. In via praemium sum est – The journey is its own reward

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Light Blogging, Continued

Still working on getting my schedule back to normal. Too many little disruptions, still trying to find my proper groove, and running with no buffer. Regular content back Soon(TM).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Light Blogging, Very Tired

Who know waiting to audition for a future season of Survivor would be this tiring?

Actually it's not that which has knocked me out, it's the running, and a couple of late nights. Back tomorrow with more, and trying to get back on track next week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Let's Play Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - Battle 3, Mission 3 - Blow The Doors Off

It's a small taste of how things are going to be later. A recon mission that turns into the destruction of a small space station. All you have to do is destroy the exit hatch, fly inside, destroy the reactor core, and then get out before the whole station blows up.

That plan might sound vaguely familiar for some strange reason...



Friday, October 6, 2017

Let's Play - Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance Battle 3, Mission 2 - Balmer Peak!

It's back! Finally! After an almost two month hiatus for moving, I finally got back to playing X-Wing Alliance. It only took me a total of four game nights to finally beat the mission I left off with...




The big trick with this mission is to not get greedy. Save the bonus score heroics for running later in the sim with a better ship than Aeron's beat up YT-1300 the Sabra.

 Get the containers inspected before you take out all of the defenses, because once the Razor fighters and gun platforms are gone, Black Sun shows up with a bunch of Supa fighters. These things aren't particularly maneuverable, but they pack a wallop!

Fortunately, the Sabra can easily outrun the Supas, so as the Container Transports head out to the rendezvous point, make your own escape. If all goes well, you'll have another mission successfully completed.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Survivor Season 35 - Episode 2 - It's All Fun and Games Until You Lose a Challenge

The following blog post contains spoilers for Survivor Season 35 - Heroes, Hustlers, and Healers - Episode 2.

Episode 2 finds the Heroes tribe coming back from their first tribal council. It's pretty clear that Alan put a pretty big target on his back, but tribal seems to have given everyone a resolution to not go back for as long as possible.

After this we get a lot of Day 4 scenes of what seem to be generally happy camp life for all the tribes. On the Healers, Probation Officer Joe is idol hunting, again, and comes up big with a little help from Cole the Rock Climbing Guide. If Joe can back off from his early aggressivness that'll help him a lot.

Lots of concentration on Patrick the Small Business Owner and Simone the professional B.S. peddler (Sorry, "Diversity Advocate) which tipped the hand too early that these two were on the chopping block.

Sure enough, come challenge time, the Hustlers blew a massive early lead, and lost out to both the Healers and the Heroes. Simone tried to hustle her way out of trouble, but once again goes to show that the biggest danger in early Survivor gameplay is standing out from the crowd.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tom Petty - Around the Clouds

Farewell Tom Petty. I can't say I was a huge fan who knows all his songs, but two of them always resonated with me.

"I Won't Back Down" has been one of my anthems ever since I heard a cover of it (by some band I don't recall). The original is so much better.

Singing this song at karaoke with my fellow soon to be unemployed coworkers after getting laid off was remarkably cathartic.

"Learning to Fly" I shouldn't even have to explain. Yes, I realize the song can be read as being about the ennui of growing up, or maybe drugs, or all sorts of things, but when you're in flight school, finally learning to soar around the clouds, there's only one reading that's obvious.
I'll miss his voice.