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Wow, I can't believe it's over a year since I last wrote a daylog. Rather a lot of stuff has happened in the intervening time, some of which I will try to recap here. Because you all care deeply, right?

2003: The year of crapness

Two Thousand and Three A.D. was a really horrible year. Maybe not the worst year of my life, but pretty awful all the same. I lost my job at a games publisher early in the year (although I have daylogged sporadically since, I never really explained this) and lived off my savings and money from parents for a few weeks while waiting for job agencies to offer me something. After around six weeks of this I got a call out of the blue from another publisher, who had been given my number one of my coworkers at my previous employer.

So I went to 'work' for this second publisher in a poorly defined role with no contract (it was always 'waiting to come through from head office'). The 'work', I eventually found out, involved lying to customers to cover up the company's refusal to pay any developers. It was not a pleasant experience. This lasted for six weeks before they sacked me with no notice. (This particular company has since closed, and the staff have set up another Mickey Mouse company, where they continue to be wholly incompetent unprofessional conniving shitweasels.)

After this kick in the knackers, I went on the dole for a longish period (during which I wrote quite a bit and started watching a lot of films and TV series). This is when I wrote most of my writeups of the last year. There's a kind of full-sensory 'feeling' to being unemployed with no means of support. It's like tightrope walking without a net, with lots of people taking aim at you with flaming arrows from the ground. Over a tank of pirahna. In space.

I went to an interview to work at a games mail order company (mail order and retail companies are not, in fact, typically allowed to advertise vacancies with games industry recruitment agencies - they got around this by lying extravagantly), but to no avail. Konami were supposed to offer me something too (in fact I think they did, eventually, after it was too late), as were Eidos. I missed out on something at Sega.

My last resort was to contact my highly charitable employers of the Summer of 2000, whom I noticed had placed an ad for a level designer. They wouldn't take me on for a design role with no experience (and quite right too), but they did have a vacancy for someone to handle the distribution side of the business, which matched pretty closely with the kind of work I'd been doing at my last legitimate employer. So the day was, at length, saved. Hurrah!

2004: The year of excellence

This year has been, comparitively or taken on its own merits, completely fab so far. For the sake of brevity I will just go over the noteworthy bits in point form:

  • I have a job!
  • It's one that, while not hugely exciting, isn't stressful and doesn't involve programming.
  • I'm out of debt with everyone except the student loan company.
  • I have been to lots of nodermeets (at least nine so far this year, apparently).
  • My Grandad died. He was 90 and had been in declining health for about a year. This episode was not as painful or hard to accept for my family or myself as I had long expected it to be. It was peaceful. I hope to live so long and provide so much.
  • I found out lots of interesting stuff about my dad's side of the family, which he never talks about of his own volition.
  • My 'little' brother went around South America, graduated from Oxford and moves up to London some time in the next few days.
  • I bought a new phone! And some shoes. And a new bag, which Blackpawn spilt orange juice on but it's all good! And a Mega Drive! And a camera! (Calms down)
  • Doom 3 came out and is really rather excellent, although it's tempting me to get a new GPU.
  • I discovered a delicious brand of frozen chicken pies.
  • I went to a Prom! (Not in the American sense, non-pipelink-readers.)
  • I am still working on my website.
  • I found out that love really exists.

Right, that's the stock-taking out of the way for another year. Tomorrow I'm going to another trade show (it's, like, such a run of the mill event these days, you know?) where I will hopefully get to play Metroid Prime 2 Echoes and Resident Evil 4, along with some other stuff. If I get time I might even report back here. Catch yuz later!

Two days ago (Tuesday) I posted a node about my absolute disbelief that Hurricane Frances would be in my area just three weeks after Hurricane Charley. Since then I've been monitoring the NOAA site. It is fascinating stuff  :  four comprehensive bulletins a day plus, as time went on, four daily updates. There are probability statistics, 3- and 5-day forecast maps, discussion text and much more. Someone really should do a factual wu on the development of a hurricane from the NOAA viewpoint.

I have all the figures pertaining to my coastal Florida area, but doubt if I'll be doing the wu. Somehow, I've been more involved in the hands-on preparation for the 'cane.

Starting Wednesday morning I began adding copy to my Tuesday Day Log. Here's a summary of that.

Yesterday - Wednesday, September 1. Following the NOAA bulletins, the probability figures slowly grew larger. This doesn't mean that the storm is more likely to hit my area but that the time frame is advancing. The statistics are based on a 5-day forecast.

On the home front, people began standing in line to buy plywood for protecting windows. I stocked up on bottled water. As the day went on, I began to consider closing the office on Thursday. I work with a volunteer staff and those scheduled for Thursday and Friday began calling in to cancel their 4-hour shifts.

One other problem on my plate was my elderly mother. I had to register her at a PSN shelter but couldn't get through to the agency. I also considered going to a PPS shelter with the dog, but found there is only one to serve two counties and it is quite far from my home. So Bronco and I fell back on Plan A   :   we will sit out the storm inside the car, in the garage.

Today - Thursday, September 2. Up before 5 a.m. to get the first NOAA bulletin. Frances shifted to the west during the night. Now it appears it will be going over Orlando (Servo5678, TheDeadGuy, and NinjaPenguin), then continue northward over lovejoyman. Only possible bright side to this is that it might lose ferocity while traveling inward from the coast.

Last night I mowed the lawn to make eventual debris cleanup easier. The neighbor was fitting his plywood panels to his windows. Said he would "see what he could do" about mine, but just to be safe I went to Home Depot early this morning and bought half a dozen rolls of 2" duct tape. It won't stop the glass doors from breaking, but it will keep the glass from scattering throughout the house.

I also bought ice for my freezer. I plan to make a giant soup from all the meat and frozen veggies I have. This will keep well in an ice chest.

My mother is now set to be picked up at first light on Friday and taken to a shelter. I closed the office and ran the hotline from my home phone. More volunteers called to say they are leaving. Many of them are retirees living in mobile homes and, for them, evacuation is mandatory.

I spent the rest of the day packing up fragile things: a collection of paperweights, a collection of minature boxes, a collection of owl figurines. My house is open plan with sliding glass doors on either side of the central area. If they blow, everything inside will be in a maelstrom. Took all the paintings down and stored them in the linen closet.

Friends have invited me and Bronco to stay with them. One couple live here in the neighborhood, another couple live several miles away. I'd rather stay with the second couple but really want to stay in the neighborhood so I can get home as soon as the storm is finished. I would rather not leave my home, but Frances is scheduled to blow for up to 20 hours when it is in our region. That's a long time to sit in a Honda with a nervous fox terrier.

At the latest report (5 p.m. today), Frances will be making the same predicted landfall just south of my region, but it will veer more to the west. It is projected to the west of lovejoyman and may even not be as strong as expected in Orlando. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

On a personal and somber note, this week saw a lessening of my household - Slinky, Mustela putorious furo or common ferret of the aww-isn't-he-cute variety, hath exited the scene, stage left. Slinky was suffering from several common ferret ailments, including cancer of the pancreas, adrenal gland hypertrophy, and diabetes; when he stopped eating despite regular doses of steroids, I was forced to decide that since we couldn't make him comfortable, much less happy, it was time to send him on his way quickly and painlessly.

The vet at Angell Memorial hospital who saw Slinky for his final visit was quite compassionate, and didn't attempt to convince me into any final decision. He gave me all the information I needed, and answered all my questions, and pressed me to make sure (once I'd told him what I wanted to do) that I was certain. When I explained my reasoning, he agreed, and asked if I wanted to be present. I did, of course; only proper. If I'm going to make that sort of decision for one of my pets, I need to be there if I can. He had me take care of the paperwork for the visit while they put a catheter in Slinky's leg, which was a good plan - this precluded fumbling for a vein later, and ensured that once the deed was done I could immediately leave the hospital.

When I returned to the room, already starting to tear up, he handed my my ferret. Slinky had a tube on his arm but wasn't struggling; he lay in my crooked arm much more peacefully than was his usual habit, and licked his lips a few times. I bent down to touch noses, and he licked my nose several times (I'd like to think reassuringly, but that is most likely me anthropomorphizing and wishfully thinking- most likely licking the salt from my tears). The vet gave him a quick shot of saline to clear the cathether, and as I held him close and apologized, telling him that this was the last thing I could do for him, injected a sharp-smelling drug into the tube. Slinky gave one sharp shudder as I held him and licked my nose again. I kissed his little snout, but he was already gone. The vet gently took him to check his heartbeat, but his eyes were open and vacant, so I kissed the top of his head between his ears and handed him over.

The vet told me he was gone and placed him carefully on a pad on the exam table. He asked me if I'd like to be alone with him for a while, but I shook my head; Slinky was gone now, I said, and I had gotten to say goodbye. I shook his hand, shook the veterinary student's hand (he'd been assisting). The vet carefully scritched Slinky's small head affectionately, and smoothed his form out, and I left the hospital quickly.

It was a bright, cloudless, perfect summer day.

I cried for fifteen minutes before going in to work.

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