Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goals Update 15

Right, time for my last proper goal update of the year.

1. Play through some of my video games - 5+ hours a week. Spending a good bit of time on this especially in the last week. Completely addicted to Arkham Asylum at the moment, and should be completing it in the next few days at the rate I'm going. Then I'll probably move on to Uncharted and Assassin's Creed.

2. Write every day. Have done well with this. I'm writing most days, but I think I need to start writing more anyway. I'd like to fit in an hour a day, starting on Thursday. But as long as I'm writing at least something, I'll be happy.

3. Exercise 5 hours per week. Still only been hitting 3-4 hours a week but I'm mostly satisfied with that. Work has been insane, and I come home exhausted, so I'm rather proud that I still manage to make myself exercise as much as I have been.

Save money, and learn to manage my money wisely. More unexpected bills, damn it. I still haven't had to tap my savings yet though. I don't think this is hurting my goal, however. I've been doing well with saving and managing what I have, which is why I'm able to handle all of these expenses that have popped up. I can't help any of them, and I can't put any of them off either. So at least I'll be okay to pay off everything that I need to, and I can always start building again from there.

Photography. The weather has still been miserable for pictures. We had snow one day but it didn't cover the ground enough. I've just been continuing to mess with editing and different camera setting, and I'll keep an eye out for any good picture opportunities.

These updates go much more quickly now that I've actually cut my list down a bit. Of course, then it will be 2010 and I'll go back to having 20 different goals (though whether I decide to post them here and continue to update remains to be seen!) At any rate it's time for bed - have another long day of work in customer service ahead, followed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Goals update 14

I can't believe it's already December. Where in the world did the year go? I know I've done a lot this year but it still seems like it flew by way too fast. Here goes one of the last goal updates - I will possibly do one more mid-month and then one final update at the end of the year. And of course then it will be time for my list for 2010, though I'm not sure if I'm going to include it in my blog and post updates this time. We'll see!

1. Play through some of my video games - 5+ hours a week. Still doing well with this. Haven't finished anything yet as I'm still just playing random games that I'm in the mood for. I think I may get into Assassin's Creed soon though, so I can pick up the second game.

2. Write every day. I've done this every day, but I'm giving myself a 3-4 day break after the hectic end of Nano. I'll start back up by this weekend at the latest, and probably tomorrow.

3. Exercise 5 hours per week. I've been hitting 3-4 hours, which is better than nothing. Going to try and get this back up to 5 now that Nano is over and I have a little bit more time to play with.

Save money, and learn to manage my money wisely. Still managing this one okay, though more and more things keep coming up that I need money for. Not just "fun" things, but stuff like new glasses and dentist appointments and other unavoidable nuisances. Thankfully nothing too major yet. I may not be able to save much money for a little while, but I shouldn't have to dip into my savings either so at least I'll break even.

Photography. Still playing with the free editing software but definitely need to invest in something more in the near future. Thankfully what I want isn't very expensive - just have to wait until I get through the Christmas season. Haven't made much progress with taking pictures. Didn't get any of the meteor shower. Despite setting my alarm and getting out of bed at 3:30am or whatever time it was, the weather didn't cooperate and it was too cloudy to see anything.

6. Make more time for myself - one hour per day. Going to take this one off the list, as it's become second nature to take a bit of time for myself just after work, and again before I go to sleep at night. This was definitely a good habit to get into I think, as overall I'm a lot less stressed now.

7. Nano. Over and done, and won! This one's off the list.

Wow, down to five goals and still nearly a month to go in the year. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New boss

My new manager started at the company yesterday. I didn't even get an introduction before 2pm so I started off rather irritated with the whole situation. I mean, apparently having meetings with every other department in the company is a priority over introducing yourself to your own department. Not my new manager's fault - he's not the one who scheduled his time this week. Just saying.

Anyway, sometime after lunch yesterday Cori went into a meeting with the new guy, and after a while they came back out and she introduced us. Then I had to go back to the conference room and meet with him for a while. We chatted for a bit in general, then discussed what was going on in our department now that he's started.

Between that meeting and the brief amount of time I saw him today (again, he had meetings - he won't be settling into our department properly until Friday), I'm cautiously optimistic about the whole situation. He seems to have a good bit of experience with other companies and developing inventory management and purchasing practices. He also doesn't seem as though he wants to switch anything around much. He said that he plans to keep us all in the positions we're in now, and that he just wants to organize everything so that our department is more efficient.

I'm all for that, actually. If we're not going to be able to hire another person for the department then anything that can be done to make our jobs easier and quicker will help. Also will be nice to have someone trying to get the inventory situation in hand as it's ridiculous, between issues with the ordering reports I'm forced to use and warehouse problems. So far all of the questions and suggestions he's had are ones that we've been asking for ages, but apparently since he's got a degree it means more coming from him.

Oh well, as long as it gets done I suppose that's all that matters. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winner, 4 years running

Not sure how I managed to pull it off, to be honest, but I validated yesterday at 50,549 words. This means I came back from being more than 12,000 words behind. Again, not sure how. This is by no means the most I've had to catch up - my first year I ended up writing nearly the entire 50,000 words during the last three days of the month.

However, my life was a lot different back then. I didn't have a job, and I had classes but they were all online so I could easily fit writing in wherever and stay up half the night every night doing word wars if I chose. Not that I did obviously, but I actually had the ability to blow everything off for a few days and do nothing but write.

Every year that I participate it's gotten progressively harder to finish. It seems that every year I have more going on, whether that's harder classes or being busier at my job or more real life issues coming up. I'm honestly not sure how much longer I'll be able to do this - this may have been my last year attempting, or at least I might take a break over the next year or two.

Since I did manage to win, I decided to treat myself to a present for making it through the month and winning for year number four. I don't know that I really have the money to be spending on fun things for myself right now, with all of the things I have to buy for Christmas, and major purchases that I'll have to be making in the near future (first up, new computer). But I got a really good deal on it, and it's just so pretty.

See, told you! I can't wait until it gets here. Love love LOVE Calvin and Hobbes.

Will post again soon - I still would like to write about a couple of the trips I've taken out to visit Christian, as well as a few other things. I also need to get another couple of goal updates in for the year, and we'll see what else I have time for!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goals update 13

Taking a break from my Nano to get a goals update in. There probably won't be any more actual Nano updates as no one seemed very interested in the others - in that case I'll spend my time actually writing if I continue, instead of letting people know my progress and looking for encouragement.

1. Play through some of my video games - 5+ hours a week. Been hitting this, though probably not much more than 5 hours. I haven't been playing anything in particular, just whatever I'm in the mood for at the time. But at least I'm getting some time into my games.

2. Write every day. No problems here. I've written daily even though sometimes it's only a hundred or so words.

3. Exercise 5 hours per week. I've been okay with this, but I'm definitely slipping since I'm getting so busy. I've started a schedule and it should be finished tonight, so after that it's a matter of sticking with it!

Save money, and learn to manage my money wisely. Doing well here. For the most part I seem to have hit a balance between bills, buying fun stuff for myself, and saving. I'm still trying to watch and budget carefully for the next few months to try and work in Christmas, a trip out to Philly for Wicked, and DO next year.

Photography. Again, still need editing software. I'm going to try and factor that into my budget for the next couple of months, since I just got a bonus at work. I'm going to see if I can get any pictures of the Leonid Meteor shower. Aside from that I don't have a lot to take pictures of. It's a bad time of year for anything outside. The leaves have all fallen but it's not actually winter yet so everything is kind of brown and boring.

6. Make more time for myself - one hour per day. Still doing well with this one, and making time even outside of writing to relax, read, or game. Quite happy with the progress I've made on this goal. I think it's helped my stress level considerably.

7. And lastly, Nano. Not sure what's going on here. I'm way behind, and as I already posted, I'm not sure if I can catch up, or even want to try. I've still been writing and yesterday was a really good day, but we'll see how it goes from here.

I think that's the shortest that my goals list has ever been, which is fantastic. I'm already thinking of what I want to put on here for next year, which is kind of sad. But hey, I guess if spending the time to spell out goals helps me actually do things, it's worth it, right?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nano, Day 10

Seriously contemplating giving up at this point. I hit the minimum today and a bit over, but I'm tired, sick, and stressed. I just can't make myself give a shit about Nano or anything else right now.

So sick of everything going wrong at the same time, and I have no idea what I can even do to fix any of it! Gah.

No word counts tonight - my program crashed earlier (yay for auto-backups every 15 seconds) and I never did get around to reopening it.

I'll probably decide in the next day or two if I'm even going to continue writing at all, much less go for the 50k this month. I'll probably post either way...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nano, Day 8

I wanted to do the daily updates for Nano again this year, like I did for last year. I've fallen a bit behind though...kind of like I have with the actual novel writing bit. It didn't start off well to begin with. November came up on me all of a sudden, and I had no plot. Hell, I didn't have the beginnings of a plot, any ideas, or even a clue what genre I'd be writing.

So the vast part of day one, when I was supposed to be writing all day and trying to get ahead, was spent in frustration trying to come up with my plot. It wasn't until about 8pm that I had it (big thank you to Corey). I managed to write a bit over the minimum requirement that day, but that was it.

Day two went alright as well. I believe I hit the minimum that day, or at least I was fairly close. You can't fall too far behind only two days in. But after that...I had the trip out to Christian's for four days. Tuesday and Wednesday (days three & four) were so busy between packing and errands that needed done that I maybe wrote a few hundred words in those two days combined. Thursday I worked, and then went straight to Christian's for the entire weekend, and just got back tonight.

I did manage to get a couple thousand words one of the mornings I was up before everyone else, so it wasn't a total waste. But at this point I'm quite far behind, and I need to get in the habit of at least writing my minimum 1,667 words a day during the week, and more if possible. If I do that, I can worry about playing catch up when I have more time on the weekends.

I think that I can still do this. It's only the eighth day. I'm about 8,000 words behind, which isn't too bad. It's not unusual for me to knock out 3,000 words or more in a day when I really spend the time on writing and get on a roll with it. I'm very frustrated that I've let myself get this far behind, but I'm trying to remain optimistic because it's quite possible to catch up fairly quickly. I'll try and post updates on my progress, and any suggestions or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

Needed word word count: 13,336
Current word count: 5,182
Needed to catch up: 8,154
Words left to 50k: 44,818

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goals update 12

I know I haven't done one of these in a while, but I wanted to post all of my blogs from my trip together, instead of throwing random stuff in between.

1. Watch all of the movies I own and have never watched. I bought more movies again, oops. However, I'm going to mark this one completed and take it off the list. The only movies I still have to watch are newer ones I've bought, and I said from the beginning I wasn't going to count them. So that's one more completed!

2. Play through some of my video games - 5+ hours a week. I haven't really been timing it, but I think that I've been hitting this every week. Got back into Dissidia after a bit of a break, and also bought Patapon, which is strangely addictive.

3. Travel. Going to Philly again in a few days! Plus I've planned a number of other small weekend trips, though at this point I'm not actually going to make any of them until after the New Year. I'm also taking this goal off the list. I'm fairly certain this goal will reappear yet again next year, but I think for this year I've definitely accomplished what I had set out to do.

4. Write every day. I've still been doing well with this one. And with Nano starting soon, I'll be fine through the month of November, and probably December as well. Nano usually keeps my writing momentum up through New Year's at least.

5. Exercise 5 hours per week. I haven't made a schedule for this yet, but I still did better this month. I'm definitely making a schedule this week though, otherwise between Nano and the holidays I'll probably leave off exercising entirely.

Save money, and learn to manage my money wisely. I feel I have a better grasp on this than I did. I've paid off everything now except for my normal monthly bills. I've also gotten a good jump on Christmas, so I might be able to start putting more money into savings again. If I pull that off I'll be quite impressed with myself, considering I don't usually have any cash to spare at this time of year.

Photography. I've finished my other photography book. I also went out to take more pictures of the fall foliage, and edited more of my Ireland pictures. Still looking to get editing software!

8. Make more time for myself - one hour per day. This is still going well. Throughout November I'd like to make an hour a day outside of writing for Nano, but I'm not sure how that will go. I mean, writing is still making time for myself, but I'd like to try and do things besides work, exercise, and write for the next month!

9. And lastly, Nano. Since it's nearly November this one is being put back on the list. Again, my goal is to participate in Nano again this year, and win for my fourth consecutive year. We'll see how that goes, considering I don't have the faintest idea for a plot yet. I don't even know what genre I feel like writing!

My goal list is getting cut down a good bit, which is awesome. It looks like I may accomplish most if not all of my goals for the year. I have new goals I want to add, but at this point they might as well become next year's so I'll just save them. I'll try and get at least one update in during Nano, if possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ireland, day 7 (pictures)

For the last of my Ireland blogs, I'll leave you all with some pictures of my last real day there...

A picture of the coastline at Giant's Causeway:

The edge of the causeway:

Me and Jade at Giant's Causeway:

Giant's Causeway, looking up at the cliffs:

Random view on the way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge:

View from the bridge:

View from Carrick Island:

Another view from Carrick Island:

Me, on Carrick Island:

Belfast - not sure what this building was:

The closed down Pittsburgh bar :(

The mall in Belfast that we went to:

And that's it - the end of my Ireland blogs. Hope you all enjoyed them! Regular updates will resume soon, and Nano is about to start so I'll probably start those updates as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ireland, day 7 (Northern Ireland)

And so we come to my last full day in Ireland. After our first night back at Jade's since the beginning of the trip, we made our way back into Northern Ireland. We drove past the Bushmills Distillery on our way to Giant's Causeway.

I'd said from the minute I landed in Ireland that if any one day was going to have good weather I wanted
it to be the day we went to Giant's Causeway, as it was one of the first places I'd ever planned to go and I was really looking forward to it. It actually worked - it was a gorgeous day, all day. Sunny and warm and I don't think it rained even once, unless maybe at one point while we were in the car (all of those rides kind of run together).

We had breakfast in the cafe in the visitor's center and then took a bus down
to the causeway. It was gorgeous, and I got far too close to the edge trying to get the pictures I wanted, but I somehow managed not to get my camera wet. I also put a coin in a crack between two of the rocks - according to superstition it's supposed to bring you good luck. We climbed around the rocks for a while and Jade told me about the legend associated with the Causeway.

After an hour or
so, we went back to the car and went a few miles down the road, to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge wasn't as high or scary as I thought it would be, and the scenery was fantastic. The views looked like something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We went across the bridge to Carrick Island. It was tiny but we wandered all around it. I was kind of surprised that they had no fences or anything around the edge of the island. There were a bunch of signs warning that the edge was unstable and there were rocks below, but nothing actually stopping you from going to the very edge.

Once we left the bridge and walked the mile back to the car, we made our way to Belfast.
We didn't do anything in particular while we were there. We'd heard of a Pittsburgh bar there that was dedicated to the Steelers so we were going to get lunch there. We managed to find the place with little difficulty but it was closed down - all boarded up and everything. So disappointing! Instead we went to a mall and had lunch there. I can't remember the name of the restaurant but it was excellent. We wandered around the city for a few hours and shopped, and I bought a lot of souvenirs for family and friends.

We eventually left the city, after a fiasco trying to get out of the parking garage where we left the car. We drove past the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built, though I didn't manage to get any pictures of it. We made it back to Jade's fairly early so I was able to get everything packed up for the trip home.

And that's it for the trip really. I got up super early the following morning to pack up the car and get to the airport for my flight home. Jade dropped me off and I got onto my flight with no difficulties. I flew into New York first, and from there to Pittsburgh where my mom was waiting to pick me up. I definitely was not ready to come home, but I enjoyed the time I had there, and it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. Hopefully I get the chance to go back one day!


1. Me at the entrance to Giant's Causeway
2. Giant's Causeway
3. Me crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge the second time (it was slightly windy!)
4. A picture from before we got to the bridge, showing the island.
5. Belfast

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ireland, day 6 (pictures)

Here are some pictures of our adventure around County Donegal.

The "surfing beach" at Bundoran:

Underneath one of the fairy bridges, thought it looked cool:

Me sitting in the wishing chair at Bundoran:

Random picture out the window on the drive between Bundoran and Killybegs - I just thought it looked cool:

View from the road between Killybegs and Slieve League:

After climbing the Slieve League Cliffs - you can see where we parked the car at the left of the picture, at the end of the mainland (yes we were that high up):

Picture of the Slieve League Cliffs:

A view from the top of the cliffs:

Another picture of the cliffs, the boat on the water gives you a vague idea of how big they really are:

The Gweebarra River, found while wandering around on the way to Letterkenny:

View from the Atlantic Coastal Drive in Downings:

Another view from the coastal drive:

And one final view from the coast drive:

I have quite a few more pictures from the drive - there were a lot of spectacular views despite the drive only being about 5 miles long. This will give you a good idea of some of the scenery though!

Only one more day left...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ireland, day 6 (Donegal)

Thursday we packed up the car and left Markree Castle, and spent the entire day wandering around County Donegal. First we went to Bundoran. On the way there, we passed by William Butler Yeats' grave, you could see it as it was right off the road but since it was (once again) pouring down rain we didn't stop there. We got to Bundoran fairly early.

It was a bit chilly and windy, but the rain stopped. I got some pictures on one of the beaches, and then we walked around a path that followed the coastline to the fairy bridges and a wishing chair. I got some pictures of another beach too. I was hoping to get some good shots of the ocean, but for a beach meant for surfing the water was absurdly calm. Jade said she'd never seen it that still.

We left Bundoran
and continued north to the fishing port of Killybegs. We took some coastal roads on the way there, which had some really incredible views. We stopped in town to get directions and then kept going up to the Slieve League Cliffs. They're about three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and they were absolutely stunning. I took some amazing pictures and they don't even begin to do the place justice. We hiked up the cliffs too - it was tiring but exhilarating, and so worth it!

After we left the cliffs we went back to Killybegs
and I had (proper) fish and chips for the first time. We wandered around the county for a while after that, picking some random roads on the map and heading in the general direction of where we wanted to get to. We went north and then cut through the Derryveagh Mountains over to Letterkenny, and from there up to Downings. There's an Atlantic Coastal Drive that goes all around Downings, and it was fantastic. We did the entire drive - it was only five miles long or so but we stopped at a lot of different points to get pictures of the views.

We stopped
on the beach as well for a little while, and I nearly fell in the ocean a few times while climbing around on the rocks to get more pictures. Thankfully Jade was still up above sitting on a rock, so I think she missed most of my clutz moments there. Then we left Downings to head back towards Letterkenny. We stopped at Doe Castle since it was on our way, and then cut through Northern Ireland to go back to Jade's house for the evening.

Had dinner at Jade's and talked about everything we'd done while we were gone, and that was about it for the day. I was a bit depressed because my trip was really winding down and it was nearly time to go home. At the same time I was really looking forward to the next day, the places we were planning to go were ones that I'd been looking forward to for months.

The last three blogs for Ireland will be coming soon!


1. A picture from the beach in Bundoran
2. Fairy bridge in Bundoran
3. Me at the Slieve League Cliffs - yes that white blob to the right of me is a boat (one of my favorite pictures from the trip)
4. View from the Atlantic Coast Drive in Downings.
5. Doe Castle

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ashford Castle!

As promised, an entry dedicated solely to Ashford Castle. You're welcome, Christian. ^_^

The entrance to the castle:

Close up of the entrance:

The river next to the castle:

Entrance bridge spanning the river:

The castle had its own helicopter landing pad in the yard (and apparently Jade thinks she's a helicopter...):

The front of the castle:

Side view:

Back of the castle, and some of the gardens:

Another view of the back, with more of the gardens and the fountain:

There were two towers next to the garden, so Jade and I each climbed into one:

View behind the castle, from the garden:

Entrance to the carpet garden:

We went through the carpet garden and into this garden - not sure what it was called:

And through that garden led us to the entrance to the walled garden:

Inside the walled garden:

Whew, I think that's it for this entry. I already posted more pictures than I intended. But it was necessary to show the sheer size of the castle and grounds, and believe it or not this doesn't even show all of it.

Will be back with the regular entry for day six soon!