Torn Between Two Lives

Sometimes, Real Life gets in the way of important things like the production supply chain for your manufacturing POS, but it can’t be avoided. A couple weeks ago, my favorite youngest daughter got married to a nice young man, even though he’s a lawyer, and for some odd reason, my family insisted that I pay attention to them during the festivities, instead of logging into EVE Online.

I hear the tower beckon: FEED ME!

I hear the tower beckon: FEED ME!

Families can be so unreasonable sometimes.

During the wedding reception, though I was smiling and laughing while accepting congratulatory handshakes and hugs from guests and relatives, I confess that I was obsessing internally over how many millions of ISK I was losing because I wasn’t keeping all my industry lines at full capacity. When the party finally ended late that night, and we had returned home, I stole away to my trusty PC to finally correct the problem. Only after starting a new batch of industry jobs could I retire comfortably at last, confident that all was in good order in both of my worlds.

The Plight of the Homeless

In addition to marrying off a daughter, I’m also in the process of selling a house after buying a new one, and moving piecemeal to our new abode, while conducting renovations in both locations simultaneously. I am therefore now the proud owner of two mortgage payments, and I am throwing all of our life savings as fast as I can at contractors, with the manifest goal of impoverishing myself in as short a time as possible. In theory, this will all work out, once the old house is sold, as I should then be only up to my neck in debt, instead of many fathoms below the surface of sustainable liquidity. This is the American way – or so many of my highly stressed Real Life friends tell me.

Moving from an old house to the new makes it tough to find time for important things like EVE Online.

Moving from an old house to the new makes it tough to find time for important things like EVE Online.

This tentative state of transition has produced a bizarre phenomenon of being homeless while owning two homes. Both domiciles are in various states of repair, rendering each of them unlivable, so I find myself carting a few changes of clothing and daily grooming supplies around in a suitcase in the trunk of my car, which has pretty much become my primary residence.

My unsettled state of affairs has led to some creative efforts to sustain my EVE Online operations. Yesterday, I found myself parked outside a Starbucks, with my laptop spread over my steering wheel, as I attempted to hijack the Wi-Fi signal from inside. Many people mistake Starbucks to be a coffee shop, not realizing that their actual purpose is to provide free wireless connections to the World Wide Web for over-caffeinated traveling salespeople and poor hipsters who never buy anything. Fortunately, I was able to once again log in and keep my research and manufacturing lines humming along, thus preserving my precious stream of industrial profits in New Eden.

As I have often told my children, maintaining proper priorities is the key to a successful life.

Paradise Awaits

Last night, I had the joyous experience of talking to idiots at the local AT&T retail store, in hopes that I could procure a reliable new Internet connection in my most recently purchased addition to my burgeoning real estate empire. I was not aware that the principal requirement for employment in an AT&T retail establishment is an absolute lack of knowledge about anything remotely electronic. Less than two minutes after entering the store, I chastised myself for thinking that I would find useful and well-informed resources there, because it became blatantly apparent after only a minute that the primary purpose of putting human beings in an AT&T retail outlet is so they can tell customers that they do not have any more Apple iPhone 6s in stock, so sorry, please come back in about a month.

Nevertheless, my overwhelming need for preserving my POS production processes pressed precipitously upon me, and I persevered in hopes of purchasing a permanent virtual passage to the New Eden cluster. Speaking slowly and loudly, and using many broad gesticulations, I conveyed my desire to secure a U-verse Internet service, and after being passed to several equally slack-jawed and sparsely bearded personnel, I finally found someone who seemed to understand what the hell I was babbling about.

And, wonder of wonders, my persistence paid off handsomely, as I discovered that my new home, being located in a college town, qualifies for a fiber optic borne connection, providing me with an enormous broadband pipe with 45 megabytes per second download speed – four times faster than my previous residence. This will enable me to observe my freighters getting bumped and ganked in Niarja with extreme rapidity, so of course I signed up for it immediately.

Soon, my Internet connection will feel like this. Beware, gankers - I will see you kill me faster than ever before!

Soon, my Internet connection will feel like this. Beware, gankers - I will see you kill me faster than ever before!

It is interesting that AT&T calls this level of service “Power Max”, whereas my previous service was entitled “Max”, proving that there is indeed a state of maximum that is more maximum than maximum – unlike “maximum strength” aspirin, which I surmise must be just a tad below lethal dosage. It is somewhat ironic that this extraordinary service level is available mostly in towns with higher educational institutions, since students and professors are far too poorly paid to afford it. Fortunately, I no longer have any reluctance to spend far beyond my means, since I am teetering on the edge of financial disaster anyway, so what the hell, I went for it – I can always back down to just plain old vanilla Max maximum later, I suppose. The important thing is that I will be able to use the in-game browser to look at porn at blazingly fast speeds while I make that plodding 67-jump freighter run to Amarr space.

Note to CCP Games: please don’t discontinue the in-game browser feature. I know it’s a pain to maintain, but if you drop it, trade in New Eden will come to a screeching halt, as thousands of freighter pilots would immediately expire like Jove unable to fend off soul-crushing boredom and depression – made worse, by the way, by your hilarious decision to make freighters even more torturous to align and warp a few releases ago. A very funny joke indeed – thank you very much. I barely contain my mirth every time I jump.

So, if AT&T delivers as promised (and what could possibly go wrong?), starting on Tuesday, I shall once again be able to keep my POS running without making any more trips to Starbucks. I am looking forward to being able to fly and die repeatedly in New Eden, providing “content” (emphasized with obligatory eye-rolling and ironical air quotes) for CODE, Goonswarm and Marmite pilots on a regular basis again, and not be further distracted by trivial matters like families and bills in Real Life.

Until then – fly safe! o7

Real Life vs. EVE Online

I'm writing a book. It's one of the things I do for a living in Real Life. Book writing is a lot like making sausage - it's an ugly, unpleasant-looking process when you are making it, but everyone forgets that when it's finally cooked and served.

I've been neck-deep in this endeavor for about six weeks now, and I've got another two or three weeks to go. The manuscript is officially due to my publisher at the end of the month, though I suspect I'll be a bit late on delivery - my editor is OK with that, as long as it doesn't turn into another month delay.

coffeewriter.jpg

I've written about ten books in my career, and it's always this way. Lots of mental thrashing around trying to figure out how to structure a chapter, and then pulling all-nighters in a flurry of mad typing, followed by a day or two of editing. Then onto the next chapter, and repeat, until it is finally done. This book will have about 70,000 words in ten chapters. I'm about finished with eight of them, and the grind is starting to get to me. Now I just want it to be over. One or two more big pushes, and this thing will finally get born.

I hope so, anyway.

Why am I complaining about this, in this EVE Online blog? 

First, for some reason, I really miss playing EVE Online right now. There's a lot of interesting things going on. Rubicon is about to come out - and early reactions to features on the test server seem to be pretty good. CCP Games has started their lecture series for new players, and we in EVE University are eager to support that initiative.  I wanted to get enough LPs to purchase the new Sisters of EVE ships coming out in Rubicon, but I've had to pull back on my mission-running campaign. And there are the usual duties of being a director in a large corp, and I've not been able to attend to them with the attention they deserve.

But mostly, I miss playing EVE Online because it is a great way to unburden myself from stress. And this Real Life book project is stressing me out. A lot. 

Sometimes, when things get tough at work, I'll fire up the PC and start up the EVE client. I'll get a homebrew out of the 'fridge, undock a Mack and find a nice, quiet asteroid belt, put my feet up, and just go mine for a few hours. Usually I'll be reading a book on my iPad, looking up every so often to see how my exhumer is doing, and taking a few moments here and there to switch crystals, target a new 'roid, release drones to take out and then salvage some rats, or shuttle back to station to unload the bay. It's brainless, yet satisfying. Taking out a whole belt and and getting a few million units of refined minerals relaxes me. I guess it's how some people feel when they go fishing. But for me, fishing is boring. Mining 'roids is cool.

EVEMining.jpg

For those of you who think of EVE Online only as PvP carnage and a destruction-fueled adrenaline rush, I'm sure my fond description of mining is completely perplexing. I certainly enjoy a little PvP action every once in a while, myself. But if I just want to unwind and forget Real Life for a while, I'll go mine or mission or haul some courier contracts for a while.

Yes, it's totally brainless, and requires little effort beyond clicking the mouse every so often. But that's kind of the point. It's therapy. And it feels good.

This book project has kept me away from that for over a month now. I can tell it's starting to take a toll. I'm irritable, and my wife says I'm starting to grumble a lot. My eyes are sore and bloodshot, and I've got weird muscle aches. I didn't realize how a few hours of mindless EVE Online play every so often made such a positive difference in my life, until I couldn't do it for a while.

Sometime before December, I'm going to make up for my absence from the UNI by doing a 12-hour marathon of classes and lectures. I've done that a few times before, and it's always exhausting, but a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it. 

But first, when I finally finish this damned book and ship it off to the publisher, I'm going to take a couple days off of work. I'll get some beer, fire up the PC, start my EVE client, and go mine some 'roids.

I need the therapy.

Fly safe! o7

writers-block2.jpg