So do feel free to leave me a valentine, if you’re inclined to do so.
Month: January 2011 Page 1 of 2
Often, people who live in other parts of the country who are planning to attend Gafilk for the first time will innocently ask me: “So, what kind of weather should I expect?”
My typical answer is: “I have no idea.”
This isn’t because I’ve not been here long enough to know the trends. I’ve lived in north Georgia, for better or for worse, for the last 20 years. The problem is that Georgia loses its little weather mind in the winter.
Three weeks ago, Atlanta was hit with a snowstorm that left us paralysed for nearly a week, causing Gafilk to essentially be a 4 day con for many people. Today, it is bright and clear and 70F (21C) outside. It won’t last, but it’s absolutely gorgeous outside.
Taking advantage of the sudden moment of spring, kitanzi and I walked down to the CVS to pick up a prescription I had to get. It’s almost exactly a mile from here to there, with just enough incline to make it interesting. Along the way, we saw a hawk making lazy circles on an updraft across the street from where we were walking. It was just too gorgeous a day to spend all of it inside.
It’s been a pretty lazy weekend, otherwise. Went to the gym yesterday because I didn’t go on Friday, and did a bit of shopping for necessary clothing, but otherwise, there’s not much to report.
I was supposed to go in for my annual 40k mile oil change and checkup (also known as my annual physical) the week after Gafilk, but they called me the day before my appointment and asked me to reschedule, as their office was closed due to a completely impassable parking lot. So I ended up going in on Tuesday to be poked and prodded and have my subscription renewed for another year.
I love Leslie, my RN. She never scolds, she takes everything I say seriously, and she really makes me feel like she’s a agent of support with regards to my health. I got the usual reminder about diet and exercise, and I said that I was making an effort to both eat better and exercise more, so I’ve started to think about the various ways I could do that.
One of the things I’ve done is take short breaks throughout the workday, go downstairs, and just take a short walk around the building. It gets me a bit of fresh air, and subtracts slightly from the general amount of sedentary sloth that my deskbound job typically entails. This is a good thing, but it’s a drop of water in the ocean.
Problem is — I hate exercise for the sake of exercise. I always start with good intentions, and never really make any progress. I’m reminded of the old joke about quitting smoking: “Starting a new exercise program is the easiest thing in the world. Why, I’ve done it myself thousands of times.”
Many years ago, I first read about the Couch to 5k Program, which was designed to take people from couch potato status and ease them into a training program with the goal of being able to run a 5k race — not to run it in a decent time, necessarily, but to complete it.
Unfortunately, at the time I first read about it, some ten years ago, the instructions all assumed that you had access to a quarter-mile track. It had instructions like “Walk for one lap, then run for 1 lap.” Not having access to a track, I filed it away as intriguing but not useful to me.
A few months ago, aiela said that she was starting to try this program, using an app on her Android phone to regulate her progress. I looked and found that there was an iPhone app as well, which i downloaded, glanced over, and promptly forgot about.
Tonight, feeling a bit restless and bored (not playing WoW turns out to be harder than I thought *grin*), I went down to Lifetime Fitness with my iPhone, a new pair of sneakers, and the determination to get through Week 1, Day 1 of the program. The C25k program lets you set up a playlist to listen to, so I queued up a podcast and kicked off the program. I settled on 2.5mph for the walking sections, and a modest 4.0mph for the running section, and set off. It wasn’t that bad; honestly, I think I had more difficulty changing the treadmill speed than I did actually carrying out the routine, but I definitely felt like I had done something at the end.
My hope is that the structured progression of the program will help me stick to it and actually get into the gym and stick to the schedule. My plan is to try and go Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and “Level up” every Monday. We’ll see how it goes. But so far, I’m happy with it.
In 1994, Blizzard Entertainment came out with a real-time strategy computer game called “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans”. It was well received in the gaming community, but I paid it very little notice personally.
One year later, a sequel was released, coming out just as I entered a six month period of unemployment. I ended up spending a lot of time playing Warcraft II, which was an awesome game.
By the time World of Warcraft in 2005, an MMO based on the same world as the RTS game, I was already deeply engaged with a game called City of Heroes. Some of my friends left CoH to play WoW, but I was still having a great time where I was, so I didn’t pay it much mind. In fact, I kinda resented it for stealing away my friends from the game I was playing. My dismissing it didn’t seem to cause it any lasting harm, though, and it grew like gangbusters.
Around the time that the first expansion for World of Warcraft came out, I was growing bored with City of Heroes/Villains. You can only go beat up the same bad guys in the same warehouse so many times before it starts to acquire a sense of sameness. So I asked eloren what server she and her hubby were playing on, bought the trial CD, and rolled a character.
I had no idea that this would change my life.
I played the game mostly solo, sometimes asking eloren to help me with difficult things or quests that required groups. I didn’t really know anyone who was playing; well, that’s not strictly true – I knew lots of people who were playing, and not one of them played on the same server as me or each other. I joined Jon and Aileen’s guild, and got to know a few of the people there vaguely, but I was mostly just enjoying the game as a solo player. Then drama happened, as it so often does in guilds, and they broke up. A small group of friends went looking for a new guild to join, and ended up with a group called The Grim Covenant. They seemed nice enough, and I was invited to join them as well, even though I was still far below max-level.
This was a transformative experience. As I reached level 70 (the cap at the time) and started participating in group activities, I starting getting to know people. I began to feel like I belonged in the group. I began to form real and solid friendships with people.
And then I fell in love with one of them.
It wasn’t on purpose; I certainly wasn’t looking for a new relationship. We had just gotten to talking, which led to more talking which led to exchanging emails…at some point she found out I was polyamorous, and started to ask me questions about it. As time went on, we were spending more and more time talking to each other, and it was obvious to me that there was something between us growing deeper.
Honestly, the details at this point are irrelevant. We met in person when kitanzi and I went up to visit a group of guildies for a trip to King Richard’s Fair, a trip that had been organised well in advance of these developments. During that trip, we began officially dating, although only the people who needed to know this were aware of it.
A couple of years go by. Following the failure of her marriage, she decided that, in the end, poly wasn’t something she felt she could handle, and we broke up. This is probably the hardest breakup I’ve ever been through; neither of us really wanted to and we both still loved one another deeply, but she was in a place where she needed to figure out who she was and what she was doing with her life, and this just wasn’t part of it. Her finding out that polyamory wasn’t for her after all was certainly a risk I’d been aware of when I started the relationship.
(I wrote and removed a lot of detail in the last three paragraphs, deciding it was largely beside the point. If you want to know more about what this was all about, email me, and we can talk.)
That was nearly a year ago, just before Valentine’s Day. I spent the next few months being pretty broken as a result, withdrawing from a lot of people in the process. Part of my withdrawing was to quietly withdraw from the WoW guild we were both part of. I was an officer and raid leader, but those were roles I’d been increasingly frustrated with, and this gave me the excuse and the permission to just let go of them. I went to another server, where I’d established a character and made some casual friends, and set back to playing the game semi-casually. Eventually, I joined up with a small group of friends to begin raiding again, though never as hardcore as before, and that’s been my focus for the last 12 months.
Now there’s a new expansion out, and as the new year begins I’m reflecting again on my life and how i spend my time. The truth is, I still enjoy the game quite a lot. The new expansion is full of really interesting new things to explore. catalana and I still play together every week or so, working our way now through our second pair of characters since we began to play every Friday a couple of years ago. And I still have many people that are dear to me in the game, both in my old guild and in my new one, and others besides. Azeroth has become a comforting place to wile away my time.
But the thing is….time is the one thing in my life I never have enough of. And there’s a lot of things that I want to do that want to compete with that time. I want to spend more time writing, both creative writing and blogging. I want to spend more time working on my musical interests. I want to catch up on some of the TV/movie watching that’s been piling up. I want to just sit and read. Sometimes, I want to just sit.
Given that I’m not currently able to give up either work or sleep, I have to make some decisions about how to spend my time, and the decision I’m making right now is to take a vacation from World of Warcraft. I’m not saying I won’t play it at all; I’m not giving up my nights with Erica, and it is a good way to kill an hour when you’re in the mood for it. But aside from that regular session and the odd jaunt here and there, I’m going to spend a few weeks in pursuit of other hobbies, until I figure out the best way to create a balance that lets me do everything as I’d like to.
It feels very strange to step away from something that’s dominated my leisure time for over four years. But ultimately, I think that right now it’s best for me.
This was supposed to be on the bottom of my last post, but for some reason, it wasn’t. So here it is.
And the followup:
If I looked on your bed right now, what would I find?
A pile of crumpled covers, and quite likely a black cat.
Do you go to the bathroom with the door open or closed?
It depends. No one in our house is shy, so I don’t think much on it one way or the other.
Are your clothes ironed?
Sleep on your back or stomach?
Ever since I got the CPAP, on my back. However, without the CPAP, I cannot sleep on my back at all, so for years I slept on my side or my stomach.
Are you a cuddler?
Oh yes. I love to cuddle.
Are you single?
Well, there’s only one of me. This is probably just as well; can you imagine two of me?
Does someone love you?
Several someones love me. I am blessed beyond words.
What were you doing before this survey?
Well, let’s see. First, I was born, and then several years of being an infant followed. Later, I was a child…at some point I went to college. It’s all a bit of a jumble at this point.
What will you do after the survey?
More of the same sort of thing, I imagine. I really don’t expect this to change my life much.
Marriage or living together?
We decided to do both. Being married and living apart would kinda suck.
What shirt are you wearing now?
A blue Geoffrey Beene dress shirt, with the gold and blue tie that goes well with it.
Do you believe in love?
Oh, you can bet I believe it too.
Do you de-label your beer bottles?
Is this like taking the labels off all the canned vegetables, so you never know what you’re having for dinner?
Do you talk about your feelings or hide them?
Mostly I talk about them. People likely wish I’d hide them more often.
Is there something you regret and wish you could take back?
There are many things I regret. But most of the things I regret taught me valuable things, or else moved me to be in a place for later brilliant things to happen. So I’m a bit hesitant to suggest I’d like to take them back.
In retrospect, I don’t regret the things I’ve done nearly as much as the things I didn’t do.
First thing you do when you wake up?
What are you excited for?
I’m just really happy to see you.
Do you like the beach?
Without it, we’d all be underwater, and I can’t breathe underwater. what’s not to like?
Who’s the last person you texted?
Do you hate someone?
No. Life’s too short.
Do you tend to rip the paper off water bottles?
I don’t think the clerks at the store would appreciate that. Even if bottled water *is* a scam.
When you shut off your alarm clock, do you tend to fall back asleep?
My alarm clock is kitanzi , so I don’t ever shut her off. I do sometimes fall asleep again, though.
If you were given the chance to take care of a monkey for a weekend, would you?
My monkey is the only one who has nothing to hide, other than myself.
What is the current advertisement on the side of the screen?
There isn’t an advertisement on the side of my screen.
What are you looking forward to in the next few months?
February, followed by March and April. Then we should probably have a May before going on to June.
When will you turn 50?
June 25, 2020.
Are you ticklish?
At times, in places.
Where do you wish you were right now?
Resting in the arms of a pretty girl.
What song are you currently listening to?
"Beautiful Ones" by Suede
Have you ever passed out from drinking?
Yes, but very rarely. I don’t tend to drive to excess. (ETA: that should have read "drink to excess." Hrm. Maybe I should *start*.)
Do you believe in cheating?
No, I believe in changing the rules of the game.
What time did you wake up this morning?
Do you have any cousins?
I have several. I have four first-cousins on my mother’s side, and I know I have one or more on my father’s. I see none of them regularly, which is too bad.
What makes you smile?
A ’52 Vincent and a red-headed girl.
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My doctor’s office.
Are you happy?
Yes, and I know it. *claps his hands*
Are you hungry?
I’m halfway through my sandwich, so less and less by the moment.
What was your dream last night?
I’m afraid that is not suitable for a public blog entry.
Do you like to shop?
No particularly. I like buying things, but that’s not the same thing.
What side of the heart do you draw first?
Whichever side is closest to me. You get the same amount of blood.
Can you dive without plugging your nose?
I actually misread this as "Can you drive without plugging your nose?", which made me wonder where on Earth this survey’s author lives. I mean, I thought the smog in Atlanta was bad…
What color is your razor?
What colour is my what? I have no idea what you are talking about. (The only razor I use on a regular basis is Occam’s. You’ll have to ask him what colour it is.)
What is your blood-type?
I think it’s A+. I’d have to find my little card to be sure.
Who would you want to be tied to for 24 hours?
Goodness. Um…"I’m afraid that is not suitable for a public blog entry."
What is a rumor someone has spread about you?
Why? What have you heard?
How do you feel about carrots?
I’m not sure I feel anything about them. I think they’re tasty, and I enjoy eating them, but it’s not like we have a relationship…
How many chairs are at the dining room table?
Three at the moment.
Which is the best Spice Girl?
I could be happy the rest of my life with a cinnamon girl.
Do you know what time it is?
Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?
At some point, I’m going to talk about GaFilk. But right now, I want to talk about ice and snow, and Atlanta, and how the two cope with each other.
As many of you have heard, we had a spot of weather over the weekend of GaFilk. Planes were grounded, roads were closed, and entire counties were shut down. This predictably leads to folks who live in more northern climes, who are used to this sort of thing falling on their heads throughout the dark months of the year, to make incredulous, snickering comments about those wacky southerners and how they can’t handle a little snow. And you know, I forgive you, because you don’t really understand any more than folks who live down here understand the way weather works up there.
(People who actually live here making sanctimonious comments about how they don’t see what the fuss was about can go **** themselves. No, seriously, go take a long walk off a short pier, you insufferable, self-important pinheads. But I digress…)
There are a number of factors which contribute to Atlanta having fits over a big snowstorm like this. The first is that they are relatively rare. I’ve lived in the north Georgia region for twenty years, and I can count the number of significant snowstorms on my fingers. I can count the number of snowfalls of this calibre on one hand. Even when the perfect conditions occur to create a major winter storm, its usually only a couple of days before things are back to relative normalcy.
But in truth, the real reason folks up north deal better with the winter is not because they’re more hardy, or more accustomed, though both of those things contribute. No, what folks in other parts of the country have that we lack is infrastructure. In New England, or Minnesota, or other places where this sort of thing happens all the time, you can’t afford to just stay home until everything melts. So you make investments in things like salt trucks, and snow ploughs, and shovels and rakes and implements of destruction. You get special tires, or chains to put on your tires for extra traction. You expect that frozen stuff will fall from the sky, and you make arrangements to get it off of the roads and your own driveways. These things all contribute to being able to keep going when everything is frozen.
Atlanta has almost no winter infrastructure, and what little it has has been largely depleted by recent budget cuts. According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Consitution:
DeKalb has two plows and 10 salt spreaders. Cobb has six spreaders and no plows. Fulton has seven salters and no plows. Gwinnett has 18 spreaders and six plows. The city of Atlanta has 11 plows.
In comparison, Charlotte, which suffered citizen anger from slow response several years ago, expanded its fleet to 36 plows.
There was also (noted in that same article) a woeful lack of coordination between state and local officials, and the end result was that very little was deployed to get the roads clear. This prolonged the situation for days, to the extent that major highways were still in poor condition four to five days after a storm.
If you want to have a discussion about how folks could have prepared better for a large winter storm they knew was coming, that’s a discussion that is worth having. But given the lack of both history and infrastructure, don’t be so quick to judge the people of Atlanta for how they dealt with the icy roads. The only safe sane, and sensible thing to do was stay home as much as humanly possible until sun and warmer temperatures made things more passable.
(For a more amusing take on Atlanta and the weather, enjoy this video posted by Megan McGlover, which made my day when I first saw it last night: