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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If you can't stand the heat..


After several years here in Austin, I'm getting really tired of the heat.  And since my parents in Dallas have both passed on there's nothing keeping me here.. so it's time to plan my escape!

I'm targeting Portland, OR. for my next home.  Bus service is decent, housing costs are comparable to here, and there are DOZENS of microbreweries to sample!  Plenty of tech work in the area as well, and it doesn't get over 100 for weeks at a time.

Last year here was horribly hot, a record for the biggest number of days over 100.  This year doesn't look to be any better.  I'm sick of it!  Too hot to go out, too hot to think, too bloody hot period.

In other news: still working on my other blogs, slowly but surely.  Getting some writing in as well.  No real excitement - thankfully!  Saving for my October visit to Portland!

Friday, July 26, 2013

So much to do, so little cash

Friday at last! And with the antibiotic out of my system, I can have a Friday night feast of hot links and microbrews!

But there is much to be done.  I need new shoes, a new cell phone, a high-end 3D gaming laptop, money for my October vacation to Portland OR., and a second large suitcase.  Oh, and a few hundred dollars in 3D assets for my 5 (!!) illustrated serial novels!

Oddly, time isn't the issue here.  With no gf, no pressing social relationships, no wife or kids, I have a ton of time to spend on writing and art.  Part of the issue is motivation and discipline, but part is just flat-out not having maintained  my gear.  So things got old, obsolete, and worn down.. and now they need replacing.

There isn't a huge rush on anything but the vacation funding, but it all needs doing.  I'm still planning on moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2015, so there's a ton of time for that, but I need money, money, money to pull it off, and money money money to get a 3D machine fast enough to make illustration practical, and money money money for vacations, and money for emergencies.

It's all about money, I swear!

My next scheduled local outing is on October 20, to recall the passing of my dear friend and love Sabine Sklar in 2003.  Not a day goes by without her on my mind.  Wherever you are, Sabine, I still miss you and always will.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Nomadic Engineer

I've been giving a few things serious consideration lately.  One of which.. is moving.

Yes, Austin is nice, but it gets REAL hot and it's a great party town.. if you're around college age.  Not a whole lot here for old men like me (heh).  The tech industry here is pretty decent but it's in no way as active as Silicon Valley or the Pacific Northwest (Seattle/Portland).

So I got to thinking, as I sat and looked at my extremely portable gear.. why not save up a big pile of cash in the bank, and just move from contract t contract? 18 months here, a year there, 8-10 months the other place.. I feel like it would be fun (since I'm not moving but 2 suitcases of stuff) and I'd get to see places I haven't before.  A quick scan of the tech job board DICE shows cool jobs up my alley all over the U.S.!

I have no kids, no wife, no girlfriend, no car, no house, no boat anchors at all. All of the people I've known for a long time I know online.  There's nothing tying me to any one place now that my parents have passed away, so.. maybe it's time to give in to that nomadic streak I've been feeling wake up again.

I can write ANYWHERE, all mo works go online and there's no geographical restriction on where I can post from.  All I need are my 3D laptop, my writing/software development laptop, and my tablet PC. All that, some basic clothes, and my stuffed animals fit in 2 suitcases.  I can literally, on a weeks notice,  move anywhere.

The only thing I need is to build up a decent sized cushion on my prepaid credit card for moving/living expenses and I'm set to go.  I think I can get that done in about a year.

I only have 2 planned expenses: a trip to Portland in October for Oktoberfest, and a new laptop to dedicate to 3D and writing (leaving my i5 system for software development and the tablet PC as my portable solution).

It's time for.. A PLAN!

Monday, July 22, 2013


It's time to start planning my next vacation, and I've decided on the Pacific Northwest!

Why?  Well, it's beautiful.. I've been before and I love the area.. fresh fish, fun places to hang out.. and BEER!

Portland has more microbreweries than Austin or Silicon Valley by an order of magnitude.  I've wanted to go tour the Portland pubs and breweries for years, and since I have a friend that lives in the area I can get an expert local guide for the cost of food and beer.. not bad considering the commercial tours want $100 a ticket! Oww!

From a quick budget, if I can avoid unnecessary expenditures, I can go sometime in early October.. showing up for Octoberfest in Portland would ROCK!  I'd fly out on a Thursday and fly back on a Monday, thus only losing 3 work days (and not all in one week) - perfectly acceptable.  The only annoying thing will be getting my diabetic supplies on the plane, but that's just a matter of putting up with TSA idiocy.  It would DEFINITELY be worth it!

This means I'd have to put the new laptop off until next year, but that's not a big deal.  By October I'm going to need a vacation, the way things are going around here!

Must... save.. money....!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sick and tired of being Sick And Tired

Blech - somehow, last weekend I managed to come down with a nice lower GI infection.  So, here I sit at work, gunked up to my eyeballs on Cipro, not allowed to eat anything I really like (bland food only for 2 weeks) and exhausted from getting just 2-3 hours of sleep a night for the past 2 weeks.  It's close to impossible to sleep through intestinal cramps!

Despite that, I've posted more of the mock-epic "Olaf and the Giant Chicken" on my Red Room site.  It's about 2/5 through the plot arc and I'm very pleased with it.  I think Olaf and I will be spending a LOT of time together. now and in the future.

Other writing? Well.. my work is insanely complex now and for as far as I can see, will remain so.  When I get home, despite not having to think about almost anything, I just do NOT feel like spending hours more in front of the computer.  The mock-epic and serial stuff is easy to do, I can bash out 5-6 10-line stanzas in about 1/2 an hour, and in about an hour get 1/2 of an episode of The Vicky Chronicles or Argentum Noctis cranked out.. but anything past that and I get disgusted from being on the computer.  Looks like about 14 hours a day is my limit, then it's reading my Kindle books or watching TV.

Yes, heavens help me, I', watching TV. But it's partly educational: Discovery, The Travel Channel, and Animal Planet.  I've learned a bit, discovered places I want to visit, and let me tell you I find watching documentaries relaxing (I'm weird, I know).

Bottom line - since my job is making money, that's where my energy is gong long-term.  I'm gong to keep writing but it's all going to be short stuff (serial episodes and mock epic poetry) as I simply can't find the linear time and energy to crank out a novel.  Sigh.. tuck being an engineer for life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Every time I think about moving...

..I end up thinking again!

Yes, I live in a ValuePlace Inn Extended Stay Residence.  Yes, the place is small.  Yes, there's no oven.   Yes, on occasion the neighbors can be noisy and annoying.

So I end up jumping on Craigslist and looking at studio apartments (I do NOT want a big place to maintain).  And I search, and look, and price, and consider.  And re-discover why I'm happily ensconced where I am!

I can get a nice studio for about $750/month, which is less than I pay now ($1160/month).  About 20 miles from the office, in a so-so neighborhood, not close to stores or a bus stop.  That won't work for me.

I can get a studio apartment near shopping, near a bus stop, in a decent neighborhood.. for $900/month.. plus utils.. plus Internet and cable.. and unfurnished.  Erm, that means buying a houseload of furniture I have no desire to own!

So, ValuePlace Inn: Whataburger 20 yards away, sub shop 25, Valero corner market 30, BBQ truck with good BBQ 1 block, Jack in the Box 1-1/2 blocks - same for a liquor store and a Subway, mini-market with about 120 different microbrews 2 blocks, Pizza Hut 2-1/2 blocks (and they deliver in less than 45 minutes), bus stop 2-1/2 blocks, work 3 miles ($9 cab ride) away.  PLUS - cable, Internet, maid service every two weeks, furnished, no lease, VERY secure, quiet 90% of the time.  Furnished, and they keep the furtinutre maintained - I got a new box spring and mattress 2 weeks ago and I sleep like a brick!

If I had kids, my old music studio, or a huge pile of belongings this would NEVER work out.  The lack of an oven means no baking but I can't bake worth a darn!  The 2-burner stovetop is great for cooking anything I can want, and the microwave covers everything else.

Sure I could save about $300/month if I really wanted to.. and lose maid service, have to buy furniture, be in a less convenient location, and LOSE MY MAID SERVICE!!! Right now, when I get home all I have to worry about is taking the trash out if it gets full, cooking only if I want to, and I can focus on my writing and 3D art.

Admittedly I get some odd looks when I tell people where I live, but once I explain it - they get a little envious!

So, today's reassessment result - STAY PUT!

I'm still WAY too burned out on housemates to want to bother sharing a house, it'd save me a fortune but.. feh.  I'm a cranky old man and I want my own space!