I am now the answer to life the universe and everything.

I tried to get this out on September 27th, when it was actually my birthday, but… well, you know how things go some days.

What has this last year been like? What have I gained? What have I lost? What do I look forward to?

As much as the answer just asked more questions in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, turning 42 is no different.

Over the last year at work, I have worked on several great projects. One for a major sports franchise doing an app for SmartTVs. Another for a major creator of yearbooks and rings. I’ve worked on the Randori framework, an open source project that allows developers to work in the language they like (currently ActionScript is supported), and have  it output to HTML5, with abstractions for allowing designers to now have to touch the code. I worked for a large bank, doing enterprise development work that handled billions of dollars of reporting data. I even wrote a book!

At home, I’ve been writing more, and raising my wonderful daughters. I’ve been working on building a deck, which has been no mean feat so far, maybe I can get that done before I am 43. I’ve been working on a secret project that early in 2014 I can talk about. My father-in-law has moved in with us, and my own parents have moved from Tucson to Indianapolis so we can see them more often as well.

It has been a full year.

So what have I gained and lost?

Time, in both senses. When I started working on the book, I had such a short set of deadlines to get the chapters in that I cut out all of my computer gaming entirely. Since I had been playing the Champions MMO, that had been a not-insignificant change. I miss the people there, and the role-playing of the life of a super hero. I don’t miss the time it took from me though. I am constantly surprised still at the amount of time I have for the rest of my life.

I have less time now too, both in my overall life, and in my day to day. How so for the day to day, David? You just said you have more time since you cut out gaming! Well, yes, but a vacuum likes to be filled. That time was filled with writing, with being more with my kids, with other projects, with going to bed at a reasonable hour. So I do have less time, however, I *feel* better about it than I had been. I have been more productive overall, and that makes me feel that time is well spent. Overall, a net positive.

I have slowed down my pace, though if you look at the list of things to do I seem to have increased. The difference has been focus. Doing one thing for a span of time, rather than trying to multitask, has been the key. Right now I am writing, but I have my laser engraver, my deck, and my secret project to work on today. Right now, I am writing, not doing all of those. Which has been the key to getting things done for me, your mileage may vary, but it works for me. It’s why you will see this post, instead of having it sit as a draft for another month.

What do I look forward to?

This year, everything. Life right now is really good. I’m employed, I have a great family, and the projects I am doing have been things have scratched a Maker itch that has been pestering me for a long time now. There aren’t many clouds on the horizon, and I hope that it stays that way. I have always believed that people make their own fate, though I have not always followed that belief. Now however, I am. I have the reigns firmly in hand, and I am controlling this horse called life.

What do I have planned for this year?

Good question! I have a lot of things planned. Not all of them will get done, but I will get to them as time allows. I plan on finishing the laser engraver within the next month or so, as long as nothing further goes awry (more on that in a future post). The deck certainly needs work. I am planning on writing a series of short books on 3D printing, now that the first one is out I realize there is a lot more that I can say on the matter to help people get into the hobby side of things. The secret project definitely needs work. I had a breakthrough late last week, and it was what I needed to get my enthusiasm for it ramped back up.

On the horizon is editing the fiction book I co-wrote with Katherine Guevara-Birmelin, working title of Sky and Storms. It’s massive, and written over email, so it has a *HUGE* amount of editing to do. I have a setting for another fiction novel in my head, spawned by the fallout from having to cancel Vegas After Midnight. Mick still has the fire in him to get his version out, and I encourage you to check it out.

From my desk here in the basement (moved here since the office is now the father-in-law room) I hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs, which sound much larger than they used to only a few years ago, I know I need to wrap this up. Until next time, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Pseudopod 149: Mira

I recently read again for one of my favorite podcasts Pseudopod. I thought some of you might enjoy it too.

By Michael James McFarland

Read by David Moore

I won’t go into the details surrounding my dismissal from a well-known East Coast brokerage firm. other than to say I inadvertently let slip some information of a rather sensitive nature and, when it came down to drawing the line, the firm was more interested in maintaining their reputation than my livelihood.

Of course they were. But I didn’t exactly walk away empty-handed. They were all very civilized. There were no black marks on my resume; hell, they even found me another job. At a much smaller firm in Seattle.

And that’s where I met Mira, who this tale is really about.

Links mentioned: Closing music by Hopeful Machines, a side project of Ego Likeness Promo for Crescent, by Phil Rossi, rushing Amazon charts on July 9, 2009

Shadow People – part 3

Here is the third installment of Shadow People. I have a few ideas on where the story should go from here, so it might be a bit before the next installment. If you want to read more of this story though, comment on it. Nothing motivates me more than people interested in the things that I do. I hope you are enjoying the story so far, and now, on with the story.

Three days later, I found myself distressingly back to normal, blessedly back to normal. At least my outward routine hadn’t changed. I told my wife that I had hit a deer, and the car was in the body shop for repairs. I however, would take a lot longer to get over that late night incident. I’m still not over it actually.

“Max. Max? Hey Man!” At the shove on my shoulder, I shook myself out of my memories for the fifth time that day, and focused up on my boss, Terry. He’s a large man, made larger from years sitting in a chair looking at code on a screen. Which is the same thing I do, and only through decent genetics have I avoided the worst of the weight gain that most people in my line of work get as they get older; though I am by no means thin. “Sorry Terry, must be the lunch catching up with me.” He frowned, “We have to get this thing out the door tonight. Quit daydreaming and get into it!” He walked off with a “hmpf,” and with him went most of my drive to code. I tried for the sixth time to get back into the code that I was working on. It’s not brain surgery, just a financial web site, but the client wanted it out yesterday and was paying my company big bucks to make it happen. Were we going to see any of that money? Nope. Which is why I have been spending most of the last month at the computer, up late, and is the reason I was on that road at 3am to meet my date with fate.

I hunkered down for the last few hours of the day, leaving after 7pm, late again. My wife wouldn’t be happy, heck I wasn’t. Once again, it was getting dark as I left the building. I hurried a bit to my rental car, a fairly nice one, well at least nicer than the 5 year old car that was currently in the shop. I just didn’t want to be outside when the sun finally did go down. Turns out, that was a good thing.

I was driving home, avoiding “the road”, as I had ever since the accident. It was a longer route, but I didn’t want to be anywhere around there since that night three days ago. It didn’t matter. As I was coming down the hill near my house, I saw them. The shadows out of the corner of my eye, the ones that I used to see all the time on the road. I leaned forwards to get a better look out my window. Like that ever helps. It made me feel more alert though. My hands grew cold, and I don’t mean from the temperature, I mean they grew cold. My breath started to steam up as it passed over the top of my hands, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. They hurt a little, like I had just shoved my warm hands into wet snow, but I wasn’t going to pay attention to that when I was seeing those shadows outside. I was coming up fast on the stop sign at the end of the street, just a few blocks away from my home. I debated about running it, but saw that there were cars already there, so running it would mean running into one. I really didn’t want to stop, but I didn’t want to get into an accident and have to get out of my car even less. I’m still not sure if I should have stopped, but I did, and that is when they came.

I pulled up short at the stop sign, the tires screeching a bit. I had every intent to start up again as soon as it was my turn to go, but I never got that chance. The shadows that I had been seeing, the ones shaped like people, that always got out of the way before, didn’t. They got closer instead. Suddenly, the only light that I could see was that of my gauges on my car, and the reflection of them in the windows. Everything else was pitch black. I was terrified. I couldn’t move, even though I knew I just needed to pull my foot off the break. I couldn’t move, because I could see faces, faces in the blackness. The faces were similar to the one I saw three nights ago, but each was different, like a ghostly people. Each was looking at me. It seemed forever, them staring at me, me staring back. I half wondered what it looked like outside the car, if anyone else was engulfed in the blackness, probably me just sitting in my car, the car just sitting there at the stop sign. I slowly raised my hands in a conciliatory gesture. When I did, all eyes went from mine, to my hands. I swear I saw several of those eyes widen, and then they all disappeared back into the dusk. My world returned to normal, instantly, and my hands began to warm up. The intersection was empty, all the cars must have gone while I sat there encased in shadowy forms. I slowly looked at my hands, backs, then palms, nothing strange to the eyes. So I put them back on the wheel and slowly started through the intersection. I drove the rest of the way back to my house in silence, and blessedly uneventfully.

Shadow People – part 2

I pulled the car into the garage, not sputtering, but still giving off noises that told me that it had taken some fairly expensive abuse. It was then, as the garage door shut and I turned off the engine that I said my first words since the accident. “Shit! Shit, shit shit!” I’ve never been one for flowery cursing. “Damnit!” I shouted in the confines of my car, slamming the heals of my hands into the steering wheel time and time again. I cried a little. “Fuck! I just killed someone! Something at least, what the hell was he?” I got out of the car, squeezing out since the garage is crammed on my side. I went around the back of the car, avoiding the lawn mower at the front of the car. I got over to the front passenger side of the car, where I had hit the man, and looked at the streak of blood on the hood. I sort of just stood there, staring. It looked human, red and dark, but the man had disappeared. “Ok, ok. So what the heck do I do now? The guy is gone, Damn.” I was coming down off my adrenaline, and the fact that it was 3am was starting to catch up to me. Moving to the workshop I grabbed a rag and toweled off the blood, making sure I got all of it that I could see. “Going to have to tell people I hit a deer.” I took the rag with me into the house, and rooting through the kitched drawers, pulled out a Ziplock bag and stuffed the rag into it; sealing it shut.

As I watched my hands I started talking to myself again, which is fairly normal when I am under stress. “Ok, ok, not sleeping tonight. What in the heck was that guy? I mean I always wanted there to be stuff out there, but never really believed it. Ok, maybe I did when I was a kid, but not for a while now. Even then I knew that it wasn’t real.” The soap, got to have soap. “So what do I do now? Look into it obviously, but how? If there were one of them, there have to be more.” At that thought, I remembered the feeling of people looking on just before I left the scene. I took a moment to flip on the lights above the sink in the kitchen. Then, hands still wet, turned on the main lights as well, suddenly afraid of a shadowy reprisal. I looked over both shoulders, just to make sure nothing was there. Luckily, nothing was.

I finished washing my hands, and dried them off. Moving to the living room, I turned on all the lights, and sat on the couch. It’s a nice couch, comfortable, but sometimes takes my body heat and turns it around and heats me up. It was then that I saw the remote across the room, got up, and turned on the tv with it. Returning to the couch, I dropped into it, and slouched. Flipping channels until the sun came up.