A new record maybe

(Version 2 of this post)

It has been over five weeks since I had posted – possibly an inauspicious new record. I hadn’t noticed.

I’m still logging into EVE once a week or so but doing little other than playing the skin collecting game. I have on several occasions really wanted – needed – to be able to do some mindless mining. The reality is however you need to pay attention when mining now, and that defeats the purpose of using it to relax.

I noticed that someone has picked up the EVEMon project and moved it off the old API. I haven’t tried it – but it is available here if anyone wants to give it a go:

(Edit.. changed link from current version on GitHub to the EVE Forum post that gets updated to the latest version as it is released:)

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/evemon-4-0-7-beta-esi-edition/75953

I am sporadically playing World of Warships. I tend to play a ship until I win its first battle of the day – which gives an XP bonus, then move onto the next ship. A consequence of that is I tend to end up with a large collection of ship lines all at the same Tier. At the moment that tier is VIII. I have been stuck at this point for a very long time – generally only around half way to Tier IX. To make matters worse – I find myself in Tier X matches more often than not, and even when I play at my very best, I have very little impact on the finally result.

I am only getting to Dungeon and Dragon’s Online once a month or less. I am meant to have Wednesday Night off to play, but my wife scheduled an activity for my Daughter on that evening.

Most of my gaming now is a session or two a day of Hay Day and SimCity on the iPad.

The main reason for this lack of free time is that I spend the vast majority of my days as a taxi service for my two kids – School, Karate x2, Soccer x5, Roller-skating, Youth Group and so on, plus doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and the myriad of other tasks that keep a household running.  For those unfortunate enough to read my earlier whinging version of this post, you would know I am not particularly happy with my circumstances at the moment.

EVE – even if I could find something new and interesting to do – just can’t get a look in.

Hunting Partner

My father has given up on Duck Hunting and has not been out the last couple seasons. While his hunting retirement relates to health issues, it occurred without an announcement. I had to piece things together from his rude disinterest and disparaging comments when I discussed going hunting with him.

It has had an impact on our relationship. My father is a selfish cantankerous man with anxiety issues and a penchant for insular views that he rudely pushes. He has greatly influenced the person I am today – through a long list of actions and behaviours of his that I’ve sworn never to mimic. Hunting was the way we stayed connected. I put up with him more than I might naturally be inclined, and he wasn’t quite as abrasive around me. Without hunting I am sure I would have had an estranged relationship with him from my teenage years.

I have been hurt by the change in him – but as I think I might have already mentioned – someone did offer the explanation that he might be grieving over the loss of his hunting. Others suggest his increase hostility and more erratic behaviour might be the beginnings of dementia.

Now, after 35 odd years of almost always hunting with my father, I am having to hunt on my own.

Hunting on your own is a lot harder. Two people can scout more locations, keep each other motivated, keep each other alert on the long drives, share resources, work together in the field, discuss the decisions that must be made, and see the highs and lows and be part of each other’s stories. Two people is also a lot safer.

Hunting solo you need to be better prepared, more aware of your limitations, keep yourself motivated, and understand those special moments – a brilliant Sunrise, and beautiful double taken over decoys, won’t ever be truly shared.

Yes, there is an obvious EVE analogy in there. I’m clearing out some recent half-finished posts from my blog notes that I figure I won’t ever finish, but there seemed enough of this one to post anyway.

Turning ugly

This WordPress site was created back in January 2011. In August 2012 I spent $60 to remove ads and allow some custom changes to the theme for 12 months. I spent the same in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 the cost went up to $78 a year to achieve the same thing. I paid that, then again in 2016 and 2017. This year WordPress has moved to site plans. To remove ads and keep the same customisation choices will now cost $120.

I can’t justify spending that much for my own vanity – just to have things looking a little neater.

I’ll see what I can do – but if you are one of the few regular visitors here, I apologise that things are likely to shortly turn ugly.

My internet access woes continue. It has been two weeks today. I received a FTTC Network Connection Device for the house. It is meant to connect over my old Copper phone line to and power a FTTdp device in the phone pit down the street. The connection behind the FTTdp is Fibre. Unfortunately, the NCD hasn’t been able to establish an initial connection. Someone is scheduled to come and look at the issue today. Meanwhile we still have no phone, and unreliable and very slow Internet.

I did risk undocking the other day and managed to get to Jita. Hazard a guess as to what I was doing? Yes, that’s right – picking up a few ship skins.

Preparation

A few weeks ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I went mid-week – which is not ideal if you want other hunters to be around to push up a few birds. I went out at the wrong time of day – starting around lunch when birds are not likely to be moving and coming back in before sunset, where there is a window of opportunity of catching birds moving to roost. I went out in the wrong weather – a clear windless day, which reduces the chances of birds moving. Last of all I just walked the relatively open swamp I was hunting – out in the open with minimal chance of success. I had everything stacked against me – and was rewarded with an empty bag.

As I wearily got back to my car the Warden of the private hunting property I was on drove by and tactfully pointed out I was doing it all wrong. I agreed – but said I had a very small window of opportunity to get out of the city, and a bad hunt was better than no hunt at all. He remarked that I might have had more luck if I hadn’t come in so early. I agreed – but said I had to be home to take one of my children to an activity. I then said what I was really doing was scouting for a future hunt, watching the flight paths the birds took, working out where I would setup. I recounted what I had observed, and he was able to confirm what I had thought and gave additional information about where other hunters often went, adjacent wetlands that birds travelled between, and the different behaviour of some of the common species on the swamp.

A couple days ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I had planned to go earlier but the weather was too calm, so I delayed the trip. This delay also increased the chance other hunters would be about. I was on the road at 3:30am to ensure I arrived and was setup well before sunset. Instead of finding some random spot, I waded straight to the location I wanted to hunt in the dark, under the intersection of two flight paths I had earlier observed. I put out a small set of decoys. At this point in the season birds were weary of landing in anything but larger decoy spreads, so this small grouping was more about confidence and explaining my calls. As the sun rose the wind picked up noticeably and other hunters started to shoot. In very tricky conditions I had an enjoyable and successful hunt and came home with a good feed.

When you hunt solo like I have been the last couple of years you can sometimes stumble into a very successful hunt by chance, but mostly, it requires a lot of preparation and effort to have some semblance of success.

This playing EVE analogy was brought to you by the wild duck stew I will be eating tonight.

Out of game status update – Part 2

To summarise part one – took a break, unsuccessful job search, looked at business opportunities, went back to school.

I haven’t had the normal sort of impetus – like food and shelter – to get back to work as soon as possible. Despite two years of me being unemployed, financially the family is fine. When I finished at my last job the mortgage had already been paid off, we had no debt, and the bank balance was healthy. The situation has not changed, and we live reasonably comfortably on my wife’s wage.

The fairly logical and unrushed journey I’ve been able to take in working out what to do next in my career has been a relatively fortuitous luxury not afforded to most.

By taking primary responsibility for the kids, my wife was able to change jobs twice and rejuvenate her career. I am better at cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and time management than my wife, so the house is better organised and runs smoother.

My wife has a pathological need to have our kids lives filled with organised activities – aside school five days a week there is soccer training and matches, swimming, karate, athletics, roller-skating lessons, Sunday school and professional appointments for our daughter. Since not working it has been a lot less stressful for us all trying to meet my wife’s overfull and complicated scheduling.

I am better at dealing with our daughter – who is on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum. Over the last two years we have been able to work with her Paediatrician, Psychologist, Speech Therapist and Teachers to better understand her, and have got her out of control tantrums from happening 15 to 25 days a month down to 3 or 4.

It is not all happy days though.

My wife is supportive – almost always, mostly, sort of. For much of the first year she was keen on me not working as it made it much easier with her job changes. She understands the journey I have gone through, the decisions I have made, and says it all makes sense to her. On the surface I have a great deal to be thankful for.

But – my wife avoids confrontation like the plague and is passive aggressive. The occasional jibe, under breath utterance, and attitude shift suggests she isn’t entirely happy. She expresses annoyance at not being able to spend as much money on the things she wants – travel and entertainment. She jealously remarks on how she would love to be the stay at home parent – while indicating she wouldn’t make anywhere near the effort I do or wangle the kids half as well, so I’d be expected to still cover off lots of that stuff. I’m left with the underlying impression that while she is thankful and happy with my contributions, she thinks a little less of me, and if she was to be completely honest, she would prefer I do all that I do – and earn a good wage at the same time.  She would like to have her cake, and eat it too.

My wife and I have always been very good at making long term plans. We haven’t really been able to since not knowing where my career will go.

Personally, I have found it very hard to quantify my self-worth in the Stay at Home Dad role. A monthly salary was an easily defined contribution to the family. A male keeping the house orderly, the fridge full, the kids in clean clothes, putting a hot meal on the table as your wife walks in through the door – society either assumes I am not doing it, or it is dismissed.

We likely both sound ungrateful – but understanding and meeting your own, your families, and societies expectations in this area has been trickier than expected.

So back to concise context – not working has left me busier than before, there have been real benefits for my family, but it has been tricky to navigate, and leaves aspects of life on hold.

So that is life out of game. Now back to the normal sporadic updates.

Out of game status update – Part 1

This isn’t about EVE. It is background context and an update on topics I have mentioned before.

I’ve been unemployed for two years now. A less than auspicious accomplishment that plays on my mind.

I’ve tried to remark on this before, but I never seem to be able to explain the situation in a succinct enough manner.

I left my last job because it was obvious the organisation was in its’ death throes. It started shutting down just months later. Credit where credit is due – the last remaining Senior Manager was the Accountant, and he handled the process in a very orderly manner. As far as I had heard, no one lost any of their entitlements.

Not long after that, the US Parent company went into Administration and was sold, with the Shareholders losing all their money. The last CEO had in a couple short years taken a large successful international business and ruined it with his Dilbert like jargon and hot air.

A hollow vindication I guess of my initial decision.

I spent about four months just tackling the To-Do list around home. I never really made a dent in it however – as quickly as I accomplished something, two more items would be added.

When I started looking around seriously for work I found there was none. I’d been warned for years by colleagues that this was the reality. Knowing it, and seeing it however are two different things. Of the few jobs that did pop up, I was handicapped by not being able to travel (I had to do the school runs), and by a conscious and considered decision to specialise in a way that was now no longer particularly marketable.

I caught up with many of the people in my professional network, I had my resume reviewed, I looked for options to step sideways into other technologies, I tried to be creative in broadened my job search, but I found myself pigeonholed back into a career that was no longer open to me.

It is a very odd feeling to no longer be able to do the work you enjoy and are good at. Your self-worth takes a knock, you feel grief, embarrassment. It is hard to explain.

After 4 or 5 months I started looking seriously into buying a franchise. There is a romantic notion to being your own boss. I did some online courses and a crap load of research, and had long discussions with several groups. In the end however, while I found a number of Franchisors I really liked, and some products and services I could get enthused about, I did not find them combined. What I ended up with was a very long list of what I would steer away from – any Franchisors who were public companies or run by investment organisations, any franchise less than 5 years old, any pyramid franchises where you reported to a franchised area manager who reported to a franchised regional manager who reported to a franchised state manager and so on. I still get the emails and read the magazines, but currently I don’t have any prospects I am chasing.

Meanwhile I had always remarked that I could just get a lawn mowing business to bring in some money while the kids where still young. I earnt pocket money during High School gardening for half a dozen elderly clients. It was something I was and remained good at. Friends of ours suggested I could start on cleaning up their property, to see how I went. They lived on a large and very steep block that was overgrown with weeds and covered with blackberries. For the last year, for half a day a week, I’ve been doing their gardening. It has been a mammoth, heavy task, but our friends have been genuinely delighted with the results. It did however show me that I could not physically do such a job full time. My fall back option was not an option after all.

So – for the last 6 months I did a lot of research, enrolled and have undertaken study. The particular course I took provides a qualification related to training adults. The thought is to get into corporate IT training or the like. I had very good feedback from the other students and the instructor, who has gone out of her way to look for opportunities for me. That should all be finished by the end of January.

I don’t know if it will provide a solution for my unemployment, but it gives me options. It has also been a reminder, like the gardening, that I can be quite accomplished at what I set my mind to. I’ll have to set my mind in a similar way to finding work in the new year.

Your own way

“They found old 99 knocking on the front door, trying to get back into Atmore..”

Before the age of around 12, music did not really play much of a part in my upbringing. While my father had a strong preference for us kids to spend our days outside, I think the dearth of music related more to my parent’s lack of spare money. It wasn’t really until the first year of high school that popular music hit my radar. It was around the same time I became a lot more aware of the concept of conforming to the norm and trying to fit in.

My early exposure to music came from commercial radio, what other kids listened to during lunch at school, and of course the now iconic Australian music TV show, Rage. I was destined to have very mainstream tastes until my Mum pulled out a very old record player and let me listen to her collection of LPs. It turned out Music had been a big part of her life growing up, especially when she was working and single.

I listened to the likes of The Carpenters, John Denver, Kenny Rodgers, Dr Hook, Elvis, ABBA, The Beatles, Neil Diamond – music that at the time was very uncool. I consumed their full albums, and in amongst a lot of stuff I didn’t think much of, I got an appreciation of what a truly classic song can be, found B side gems, and realised I was going to miss out on a whole lot of good music if I just followed what everyone else listened to. It was my first – easily hid – move to being an individual.

I’m not talking about being an individual by rebelling against conformity. That just ends up being a sort of conformism in its self. I’m talking about making choices and decisions on what you like truly for yourself – even if that is what everyone else likes, or if it is as obscure as all hell.

I am proud of my digital music collection. It currently has a bit over 4,000 songs in it, carefully gathered over the last 20 odd years. It is made up of only songs I love and can listen to over and over again – usually just a couple from each album. It is a very eclectic mix divided across 13 genres, current to more than 90 years old, from very popular to completely uncool. It doesn’t matter what I click on – I know I will enjoy listening to it. It wouldn’t be there otherwise. It is more than just a source of entertainment, but a partial reflection of what makes me, me.

On the weekend, I spent half a day searching for music on YouTube. One of the Yachting videos I was watching used Christopher Cross’s award-winning song, Sailing, as part of its background music. I had forgotten just how brilliant that song was, so I went off to find the best version I could to add to my music library. YouTube suggestions lead me further down the path of classics from the 70 and 80, by artists including Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean, Roger Hodgson, David Gilmour, and in the end, Dr Hook.

One of the B sides I loved in my youth was by Dr Hook. It talked about the stories a boy and his brother heard from their prison guard grandfather. The final stanza or two was about one prisoner who was transferred to a different jail, broke out, and was found knocking on the door of their old Jail asking to be let back in. It had always struck a chord with me, and I had looked for the song a number of times over the years without luck. (I couldn’t remember enough details to identify it). It was also not on the various Best of Compilations I had purchased, hoping to find it that way.

At the end of my music hunting on the weekend I stumbled across it. It was called Atmore – but I think it is actually meant to be called 99 and me.

If you want to know why I play EVE the way I do – my own way – this song was one of the very first reasons.

This idle thought was brought to you by

The Nosy Gamer –

http://nosygamer.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/winter-is-coming.html
http://nosygamer.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/eve-online-lifeblood-surprise-expansion.html

And Wilhelm Arcturus

https://tagn.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/meaningful-progression-in-new-eden-pve/

Who got me thinking once again about how the game of EVE can be for the Solo Empire Player, and where it might be heading, if anywhere.