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Things may not be as bad up here as I first assumed. No one bothered to inform me of the relevant details that would’ve improved my attitude about coming back here. The workload has dropped off considerably, from 4 drill rigs to just one. Now it’s just a one man job, not like when I was scrambling trying to be in four places at once. From what I can gather, this remaining drill rig is working one of the last structures, so there shouldn’t be more than a month or two of work left to do. Since the workload here can be handled by one inspector, if I were to come up here again, it would only be for when the full-time guy takes his one week off each month.
The prospect of working just a week per month is a magnitude of difference compared to working 3 weeks a month. I’d have no complaints to that option. Combining that with my Texas work schedule, I’d be making double my base pay, plus I’d be racking up the frequent flier miles very quickly.
This is a huge relief. I can start looking towards the future optimistically and make plans, rather than limiting my thoughts just to the day immediately before me.
I return to Austin on the first of December and I’ll take the following week off to start packing up my house and move it into storage. On the 10th I’ll join the drillers for one more 10-day shift up in DFW before a 2-week break for the holidays. I would like to see my brother for Christmas but I know that drive will be horrendous and it doesn’t seem worth it just to hang out for a few hours. So without any other DFW-centric plans, I don’t think I’ll be going up there. I don’t know if Jenny and Beauty will be hosting their traditional New Year’s Eve party since they’re also moving house in December. So for the time being I have no real holiday plans. We’ll see what comes up.
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My boss contacted me at just the best/worst moment, depending on how you look at it. Friday evening, a quarter to six, I was waiting at Courtney’s place to break up with her. I was an emotional mess, full of dread, regret, and anger, to name a few.
My phone rang. It was my boss asking how soon I could get a flight to Canada. Apparently those in charge of the project hadn’t scheduled anyone to cover for the people leaving for Thanksgiving holidays. He continued with the various details but I barely heard him. My thoughts were fixed on the break-up right in front of me. I couldn’t focus on work right then. I just mm-hmmed and uh-huhed my way through the conversation to get it over with as soon as possible. He asked if I would be open to work a 2-week shift through the holiday weekend.
A bitter voice in my head said, “Go ahead and go, Cody. There won’t be anyone waiting for you when you get back. No one will be missing you.”
Prior to that . . . )
With this imperative in mind, I could not decline this assignment, even though I distrust and detest these Canadian assignments so. I was told this would be for a ten-day hitch and I hope they appreciate this favor I’m doing them enough to honor that schedule. Then again, the last time they asked me to come up for two weeks it turned into seven. So I have my doubts.
Even if this turns out to be a bait-and-switch, I won’t have any real grounds to refuse the assignment. If I’m making tough decisions to pursue my next career; giving up my home and killing a casual but otherwise good long-distance relationship, then I have to fully commit to this cause.
My mind recognizes this and I believe I can do it for the next 8 months if need be, even though I may not like it. I just wish that this time didn’t seem so reminiscent of the first time I came up to Canada. Then, as now, I came to Canada shortly after breaking up with my girlfriend. It was a very tough time for me, those months of being isolated from friends and family, alone, with too much time to dwell on the past.
I can only try to fend off a repeat of that experience.

Coming up

Sep. 26th, 2011 08:11 pm
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I've just five days left here in Canada. Looking back, my time up here wasn't as bad as I'd feared but I'm still chomping at the bit to get out of here.
When I get back I'll use my accumulated vacation time to stretch my time-off to last until the Texas Renaissance Festival in two weeks. I hadn't planned on spending my vacation time this way but if I report back into the office I'm certain that I'll get plugged into another out-of-town that will conflict with TRF. So I'll just fly under the radar until I'm ready to go back to work.
The career counseling is going well. We're just about done with the self-analysis phase. Next time I go we'll be able to start narrowing the already short list of prime career choices for me. Whatever I choose I'll most likely have to go back to school for a bit since I'm leaving the engineering field entirely. That wouldn't be happening till the spring semester at the ABSOLUTE earliest so I'll finish up the year with my company. It's kinda inconvenient that my lease renews in October, which is too soon for me to know where I'm going or what my money situation will be. I'll have to see if my landlord would offer an abbreviated lease. Of all the places I've lived in Austin, this is the first place I'd like to stay put in. Only now that I'm changing my career plan I don't want to be anchored to a specific place for an entire year. Ha ha. Great timing.
Serious stuff aside, I'm undecided on how I want to fill my ten-day break between my return and TRF. The responsible hobbyist in me says I should focus on the half-finished cosplays I've neglected all year, to finally get them DONE so I can be proud and satisfied and still retain my status as an 'active' cosplayer, not just in past tense.
But my strongest urge currently is to ignore cosplay and work on TRF projects. I want to make a new costume since I've worn Skittles for the past two years already. When I drink at the Renn Fest, I always seem to want to do pratfalls and tumbles and other physical nonsense. Don't ask me why. I just get an urge to do a barrel roll and then . . . Yeah. In addition to the costume, I really want to upgrade the Man Cave. It's been fun and popular the last four times I've done it but I always see how it can be improved. It looks so much better in my imagination. (Think of King Xerxes' tent of a thousand delights from '300'.) I don't just want a Man Cave made of tarps like some Hobo Hut, I want a MAN VOLCANO. I want a legit tent worthy of our drunken shenanigans. Other 'party' tents cost around a grand, from what I've found on the internet. I know I could make one myself for much less. I like this idea alot since it would benefit the most people, but it might put a strain on ole Iron Horse. Hmm.
So I've got three competing options, each of which I could easily spend my block of free time on. Dunno what I'm gonna do yet.
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The first week here was the shittiest. Two weeks in now and I’m no longer so grumpy and unhappy. It’s not that I’ve grown to like it here or anything, I’ve just accepted it and learned to deal with it.
We’re working 14-hour days here which doesn’t allow much time for dwelling on my discontent. In the evenings I have 1, maybe 2, hours of free time between work and bedtime. I fill that time with reading, studying Japanese, or working on the homework my career counselor gave me. The busier I stay, the faster the days go by.
There’s nothing of interest here to write about. At least, nothing that I didn’t already write about last year. The accommodations and food still suck; I’ll probably lose some weight while I’m up here. Some camp residents have taken to wearing “Wapasu Correctional Facility” shirts (Wapasu being the name of our camp) to express their opinions about the camp. That’s probably the only souvenir I want from this place.
Dragon*Con is barely a week away. I’d be more excited about it if I’d been allowed to finish my costumes for it. I suppose instead of cosplay I’ll be spending the bulk of my time drinking and photographing. We leave for D*C almost as soon as my plane lands in Texas. I expect to be really stressed as I try to pack enough clothes, booze, costumes, and other gear for a week-long trip within the space of an hour or two. It sucks that I have no time to spare to prepare better.
When I do land in Austin, the only stop I’m making is at the career counselor’s, for our next session which has been delayed for three weeks now. I’d been asked to read a book on personality types and their relation to satisfying and successful careers. I typed as an INTJ personality type and it really describes me perfectly. It’s eerily precise. I’m surprised I could be measured so accurately from just one test. As I read the book and thought of examples from my work-, personal-, family-, and cosplay-life, my INTJ-ness became very apparent. It’s become explicitly clear how ill-fitting my current job is for a person like me. Even though I’m interested in and respect engineering, I don’t think I want to remain an engineer. Not with this company and not in the private sector. The public sector may be a different creature, but I don’t hold out much hope for that possibility.
Most likely I’ll leave engineering entirely and need to go through some re-education pertinent to whatever new career I choose. That might be more university, or training, or an internship, etc. For quite awhile I was afraid of the idea of forfeiting my engineering career because I’d have to start over academically and professionally. But now it seems like this is what I have to do to . . . have a life that challenges me, satisfies me, and makes me happy. Perhaps I wasted 7 years doing something I wasn’t meant for; I’m not afraid to admit that. I won’t let regret or denial keep me from moving ahead. I’m looking forward to this.
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Here I am, in the last place on Earth I wanted to be. When I received a text message two weeks ago requesting that I return to Canada, I abhorred the idea. There was no way in hell I’d go back there; the 6 months I’d spent up there last year was the most miserable time of my career. There was no way they could sweet-talk or trick me into going and I told them that I wasn’t interested. I’d never said ‘no’ to an assignment before, but I felt justified in this instance.
My bosses went away and found someone else to take my place. I was glad to have avoided the assignment. I’d rather quit my job than go back to Canada. That threat did spur me to finally start my career search though. I met with a career counselor as soon as I got back to Austin.
A week later they called again. My replacement had flaked out and they were more insistent in their request. Last week I’d been working in Houston, this week in Baton Rouge Louisiana. I was having to go farther and farther from our home office to stay busy. There simply wasn’t enough work at home. Over the preceding week I’d thought more about the “unemployment before Canada” ultimatum. I simply couldn’t quit my job without some plan. I don’t have the savings to do that. So I grudgingly agreed to go to Canada, on the conditions that I was only agreeing to two rotations and my time off would accommodate Dragon*Con.
As quickly as my bosses were rushing me up to Canada, I was confident (hoping) that something would throw a wrench into the works and send me back home. Maybe my permit letter wouldn’t be ready in time. Maybe customs would deny my work visa. Maybe the drill rig would break down. So many things could happen that would delay or negate my trip.
Against all expectations and experience, everything came together and I was delivered to Wapasu lodge last night. That’s when my denial crumbled and reality started to sink in. Monday morning I’d been sleeping in bed with my great girlfriend in Dallas. I spent all of Monday in Austin, caught in a whirlwind of preparations that lasted until early Tuesday morning. I woke up in the comfort of my own bed, took a long last look at my house as I boarded the airport shuttle and departed at 5:14 am. I was now no longer at home and I wouldn’t see it again for at least three weeks.
With each step of the trip, my mood grew heavier and harder. Flight to Houston, flight to Salt Lake City, flight to Calgary, prop plane to Edmonton, charter plane to Albian, and a long bus ride down a logging road to my final destination, Wapasu Lodge. As always, Calgary is the tipping point of my mood. It’s the point of no return. Up until that point, I’m still in a modern, urban environment. There are ATMs, paved roads, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. If I were delayed here, I’d be comfortable. And if I chose to, I could still turn around and leave, fly back to Austin. But once I enter that charter terminal, that’s all gone. There are no more stores or groceries. The only food I’ll eat for the next three weeks comes from the camp cafeteria. The nearest town is two hours away which is a moot point since I have no transportation. We’re bussed from the lodge to the plant site and back. There may be 5000 people at this camp, but I’m not inclined to fraternize. Most of the guys here are bigger than me and that activates my old nerd defenses. Those who are bigger with muscle wear Affliction or UFC shirts. Those bigger with beer bellies wear camouflage, Harley Davidson, or old metal bands. Obviously, this isn’t my ‘crowd’.
As I settled into my room last night, reality sank in. I will be stuck here for the next three weeks. I can only leave by the whim of my boss. Although they’ve agreed to my scheduling request, the’ve been known to extend our stays without our input.
I’m not happy to be here. I have no real choice. Even though I was miserable (maybe even depressed) during my stay last year, I believe I’ll be able to endure this assignment without getting so down. I’ve set a limit on how long I’m willing to be here and my bosses know it. My time off WILL accommodate Dragon*Con. I’ll hitch-hike back to Fort McMurray if that’s what it takes to get out of here. If those two conditions are met, I can tolerate this job.
This is the last favor that I do for my company. After this, I’m done.
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Today I go home for good (or evil, possibly). I can't describe how happy I am; it surpasses mere smiling and skipping. It's almost closer to contentment, with the feeling of satisfaction and optimism that's inside me. I am so glad to finally have this behind me.
Quick de-briefing )
I'm sitting in the Calgary airport right now. I've got a few hours before my airport hopping begins. I'll spend all day in transit; I won't get home till sometime after midnight. But with this being my final trip, all inconveniences and obstacles seem trivial to me.
Once I get home, it's gonna be crazy for a bit. I'll have just Tuesday and half of Wednesday to shift into cosplay OVERDRIVE and accomplish as much as I possibly can in those 30 hours. It will take some precise juggling, because alot of what I need to do can't be rushed. There's no speeding up how fast fiberglass cures, or bondo sets, or paint dries. I'm working on the timetable right now.
The Dragon*Con transportation situation didn't work out the way I'd hoped. Rather than the initial plan of carpooling in a big van with a U-Haul to carry our costumes, I may have to drive my own truck to ensure that there's enough room for my costumes. I don't mind driving, but it won't be as fun/sociable and it'll be more tiring too.
Regardless of how I get there, Dragon*Con is shaping up to be an epic experience. Even though I may not totally "click" with it (since it is a sci-fi/fantasy con), the sheer energy and enthusiasm of it's community holds a lot of promise. From the parade to the multiple contests to the publicly advertised parties, there will be so many awesome events going on. I haven't been this excited for a con in quite a while.
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While I was out in the field this morning, I walked past Jeff’s rig. I noticed that he was off by himself, walking slowly with his head down. He didn’t even look up at me. It was still early, so I assumed that he was just "low-energy" because he hadn’t woken up completely yet.
When I was headed back to my truck about an hour or so later, I noticed he was still acting depressed, just dragging his feet, eyes on the ground. Normally Jeff’s a fun, chatty guy; he’s always got a raunchy quip or joke. Plus, he’s the only other comic-book nerd out here (which makes us BFFs) so it was especially odd that he didn’t even say Hi to me. I was wondering if he might be depressed about something. Was he having trouble back home, maybe some argument with his wife? It bugged me to see him so out-of-character, but I followed the Man Code and didn’t ask him about it.
This afternoon when I went out to pick up paperwork, he was still like that. This must be serious. Grudgingly, I broke Code and asked him what was going on. Why was he acting so depressed?
Jeff laughed at me for suggesting that he was depressed. He explained.
A couple days ago, some random office lady, while walking out to her truck, had found a pea-sized gold nugget on the ground. She took it to her company’s geologist to see if it was real. Oh yeah it was, and worth a pretty penny too. Apparently this area has both oil AND gold deposits, as if one weren't enough. She didn’t get to keep her find though, since this is tribal land she had to surrender it to some tribal official or whatever. There are very clear rules about what we can do/take from the land out here. Any finds like that belonged to the First Nations tribe, officially. Unofficially though, word had gotten out about the gold and now everyone was looking for the color.
Jeff pulled out a bubble gum wrapper and unfolded it to show me quite a bit of gold flakes he’d found just in the past day or so. That’s why he was walking around with his eyes on the ground and dragging his feet through the dirt! He’s prospecting!
And word must’ve travelled fast, because I began to notice all the other technicians doing the same. Of course they all played dumb and pretended not to have heard about the lucky (unlucky?) office lady. Officially, no one knows anything about any gold. Officially. ;)
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I’d been out in the field delivering plans to the technicians. I came back to the office and one of the first things an engineer said to me was, "Cody, you’re a freak."
"That is some crazy stuff you’ve got on your computer."
(Huh?) I’m wondering, did some porn start playing by accident? Worried, I head to my office, which is big enough for two people, and find it crowded with 6 guys, all staring at my laptop. The cosplay screensaver/slideshow is on.
"I want that one! The one with the belts on her legs! She’s just begging to be tied up!"
(. . . Are they talking about Lulu?)
"Ooo, check out the pink-hair one. I’ll put some strawberries on her!"
(Ichigo’s not even legal! Don’t look at her like that!)
"Where’s that nice butt from?"
(Well, Julia _is_ wearing a PVC catsuit . . .)
Then they notice me and bombard me with questions. What is this? Did you take these pictures? Do you know these chicks? Where is this? Etc. All of a sudden I was super-popular. As one guy put it, this “put me on a whole new level”. I was all, hey, I’m glad you guys like the photos, but you’re getting the wrong idea. Yeah, the gals are pretty and all, but it ain’t like that. This isn’t fetish-wear or 'role-playing'. I tried telling them that we make and wear these costumes based on comics/games/cartoons/etc and go to nerd conventions and yes, we do party and drink at the hotels, but that doesn't mean we have Mardi Gras-like orgies, which seemed to be what they were imagining.
Now there are people who aren’t even in my company, just coming around to my office to watch the cosplay pics. Complete strangers. They come in, I’m like, Can I help you? And one of our engineers will just be all, "Show him THE PICTURES," as if we're ten years old and I stole an issue of my dad's Playboy. It’s getting to where I can’t hardly get any work done because people’ll want to watch the slideshow.
I mean, it was surprising to hear that they approved of my nerdy hobby (and HOW!), but . . . it was weird too.
I can’t help but feel like I should apologize for their behavior. So to all the cosplay ladies that read this LJ and many more who don’t, I apologize that you were admired and lusted after. (But if you’re a cosplayer, this probably isn’t the first time.)
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The last few days in the office have been mind-numbingly dull and slow. Since I'm kinda in limbo till the drilling starts, they've just been giving me the busy work that no one else wants to do, like auditing thousands of records for typos and errors. I actually took it seriously the first couple days and made a huge dent in it, then I realized it was an endless quest so I started sandbagging and just read manga online instead.
rambling about manga )
Rather than continuing with my manga reading, I was sent out into the field to work. Weeee! Finally, after months of being an office slave, I got to see the sun! I was so glad to be out of there. Today I got sent to the Pig Launcher site, which I'd only first heard about a few days ago. I can't show you actual pictures of it, for security reasons, so you'll have to settle for this artist's depiction. And while I was there, I saw an EXTERNAL combustion engine. I didn't even know those things really existed, like platypuses or Santa or G-spots. CAPSLOCK does not begin to describe how LOUD, NOISY, SMOKY, GREASY, and BLACK it was. It shook the earth. It was AWESOME. It baptized me in oil. (For the record, I'm not frowning. I'm squinting, because I'm still not used to the SUN. I even got sun-burnt! Yay!)
So that was the bit of interesting stuff for today. Tomorrow will be even better because one of our senior engineers is leaving the project. What does that mean? Going-away BARBECUE!!!! Sweet! Real food! I'm getting hungry already, just thinking about it! (Or maybe it's 'cause I haven't had dinner yet!) (Fucking parentheses, enough already!)

11. Character you'd be best friends with )
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My brief bout of freedom was very refreshing. Once I got the truck onto the paved highway I stopped worrying about getting caught or having some phenomenal bad luck that would ruin my plans. I got to Fort Mac just in time for the first showing of Inception, though I drove past the theater a few times because it was so small and inconspicuous. Man, I haven’t been to such a rinky-dink theater in a loooong time. But I totally didn’t mind. I was just glad to be there.
mild movie spoilers )
Once I was out of the movie I really wanted to spend the whole day in town, as much time as I possibly could in civilization and away from camp. But by that point I’d been awake for 24 hours and I was fading fast, despite the movie theater BladderBurster of soda I’d had. I went to the town’s sad little Wal-Mart (instead of the CANADIAN TIRE). After that bit of shopping I went straight back to camp and crashed. Well, I tried. As tired as I was, somehow I could not fall asleep. I think I had too much residual caffeine in my system and I only got 3 hours of sleep last night. Three hours of sleep out of 48. I’m a zombie today.
From this point on I have no idea what my schedule’s going to be like. I’ve sailed beyond the edge of the map/calendar; everything here is in limbo. All they can tell me is that I’ll be getting a break some time in August and the new end-date is looking to be October. I can be okay with that, I guess. Two, two and a half months to go. It’s curious, how much lighter the burden of this job becomes, once I have some semblance of a goal in sight. And it’s a good thing I requested my Dragon*Con vacation as early as I did. Now it can be the anchor around which they arrange my schedule.

I'm feeling brain-dead right now so I'm kinda phoning this one in.
9. Character you’d bring home to your parents )
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Tonight's my last night on night shift. I'll be switching back to days soon. I've got tomorrow (both day and night) off so that I can reset my sleeping schedule. That's 30 hours of free time. Rather than remain under house camp arrest, I think I'm going to make a break for it. I'll 'borrow' a truck and drive in to Fort McMurray. I'm gonna eat real food made by humans for humans, I'm gonna watch 'Inception," and I'm gonna go to Canadian Tire (Canada's equivalent of Wal-Mart, don't ask me about the name) and buy some groceries. Hopefully my temporary ATM card works in town or else it'll be a very short one-way trip.
Normally I wouldn't even consider doing something like this, but the other night when I was drinking rum with my neighbor, he was telling me about all the times he and other co-workers had snuck into town to go get wasted and screw some barfly in the back of the company truck (which is why I now refuse to drive certain vehicles). Apparently almost every time anyone takes a sick day out here, it's not because they're sick, it's because they're hung-over. Here I was, a totally oblivious boy scout because I'm on night shift and have no idea what's really going on.
Now that I know how many times certain bosses of mine have gotten busted for drinking, or run their truck off the road, etc, I feel quite entitled to go into town for a few hours.
All these damn rules are a sham; it's just another scoop of B.S. to add to the pile.

30 Days of Gunnm:
8. Character you look like the most )
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Just like that, without any prelude or forewarning, the end has come within sight.
When I left a week ago, it was business as usual. The office and the jobsite were running at full speed with all of our manpower at full utilization. Now, almost half of our guys have been sent home for good. The job is coming to an abrupt halt. Offices have been cleared out, hard hats are missing from their hooks on the wall. I didn't even know; no one told me. I just happened to notice an updated schedule on the wall. I'll work 9 more nights (compared to the usual 21) and then I too will go home for good.
Home. For good.
I'm shocked . . . and unwilling to believe my good fortune. Just like that, it's gonna be over? I'd fully been expecting that this job would be eternal, that I'd be wintering here, cold and miserable again. Or until September at the very least. I have a hard time believing this. Am I really this lucky? Do I really get to go home? Do I get to have a life again?
I don't want to think about it, hope for it, just yet. I'll keep a lid on my excitement for now.

But . . . yay.

And I ganked this video from [ profile] becala because it seemed oddly appropriate.
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A thunderstorm in Minneapolis delayed me and my plane. We sat on the tarmac for an extra hour and a half until the lightning died down enough for us to dis-embark. As a result I made it to the Canadian North terminal a bare 10 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave. But the stewardesses, pilots, and plane were already gone. Apparently they'd left early. So I back-tracked to the Calgary airport and tried to get a rental car and room at my regular hotel. When I called my boss to tell him I wouldn't be getting in today and I'd be over-nighting in Calgary, he wished me luck in finding a room. I wasn't aware that this week is "Stampede Week" here in Calgary. It's some super-big Western/rodeo thing that heralds the beginning of summer for Canadians. I managed to find a room, at double the normal rate. I couldn't get a car though, because I had no driver's license. A friendly Afghani girl showed up with the hotel shuttle to give me a ride. Aside from having to walk to the nearest mall to get a few essentials, I didn't mind this inconvenient disturbance to my schedule. This unexpected delay in civilization was pleasant. I did some shopping, ate real food for my last supper, enjoyed my last bath for the next few weeks, and finished reading my book.
I caught an early flight this morning, with one snafu. I'd brought up some tools and cosplay materials, so that I could get some cosplay stuff done while I'm up here. It seems that KOSP has implemented more traveling restrictions; no tools are permitted on site. I wouldn't be allowed on the plane. It didn't matter that the tools were in my CHECKED luggage. I had no idea where the nearest post office was, so mailing the tools back home wasn't possible either. All I could do was throw them away. Those security officers are just lucky I didn't bring up my Dremel like I'd planned. I would've cut them if they had tried to take my baby away.

Unrelated smiley P.S. )
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I roomed with Stephanie, Cat, and Kevin. We all got there late Friday night and commenced to work on our cosplays till about 3 am. I had essentially finished Captain K'nuckles in Austin but I still needed to finish up Cat's mahou shoujo staff. I don't remember San Antonio being quite so humid, maybe it had something to do with the constant rain we'd been getting all week, but the whole weekend was hot and sticky. Even in the hotel room, the walls and floor and bedsheets (unfortunately) felt cold and damp. I wasn't too happy with the hotel. For as much as we were paying, I was expecting a little more in the way of amenities. No mini-fridge, and you had to pay $15/day for internet. Not cool. Sometime that night I lost my wallet. I'm still perplexed how/where it went, considering I only went out to my truck once that evening. For some reason I couldn't sleep at all Friday night; maybe it had something to do with the cold, clammy bedsheets.
I spent a good portion of Saturday morning turning the hotel room and my truck inside out, looking for my wallet. My empty stomach kept demanding breakfast but didn't seem to understand I needed money for that. I got pretty displeased about the situation. All I could think about was, how was I going to feed myself all weekend, or get back to Austin, or how was I going to get back to Canada in a few days with no picture ID or credit cards? I can't even cancel my cards because it's Saturday and my bank's closed. Losing my wallet was really going to screw things up for me, at the very least.
With all that stuff on my mind it didn't really seem like there was any way I'd be able to enjoy myself at the con. I was bummed out for about an hour before I ordered myself to get into costume (because that's what I came for) and go to the con and try to have some fun.
K'nuckles rambling )
Saturday evening I spent running into random people I knew, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time hanging out as I would've liked. No sleep from the night before, mild dehydration from the costume, and no food except candy all day, added up to one exhausted boy. My friends did come to my rescue and adopted this cosplayer for just 80 cents a day and fed me. I'm very thankful to them for all their charity. I don't know what's more difficult for me to do; ask for help, or thank people for helping me. Either way, I appreciate everyone's help, even if I didn't articulate it too well. I was really trying to keep up with everybody else, but walking the Riverwalk in search of late-night dinner was almost too much for tired, sore me. Around 1 am I had to throw in the towel and retire. I know, I know. I went to a con, but didn't drink a drop? It was a weird first for me too.
Not much to say about today. We got out of there and headed home. I don't know if I'll return to San Japan. There wasn't anything actually bad or wrong about it. I guess because it's a smaller con, I didn't see as much cosplay as I'd like, nor did that many friends of mine attend. It was an okay con, I just didn't enjoy it all that much (and I know my wallet-loss weighed heavily on that judgement, but still).
So now that I'm home I think I'll raid my piggy bank and go see Toy Story 3 this evening. FINALLY. Tomorrow I'll start the whole talking-to-my-bank/cancelling-my-card/getting-a-new-license business. Then I'll head up to Dallas for a day and a half of hanging out with my brother before once again boarding a jet to Canaadaontuoeaod. Boo.
Regardless of the difficulties of this weekend, it beat the hell out Canada and I was really glad to spend time with my friends, brief as some of it was. That's what I really need right now.

Since I probably won't find any San Japan pictures of him, here's the last progress photo I took of Captain K'nuckles. (He and I were wearing the same expression for most of the weekend.)
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I made it home. The actual trip back was pretty nice, but once I got HOME home, it was a turd fest.
traveling gripes )
That was yesterday; it sucked. But it's in the past. Today I'm doing much better. (My sleep schedule is ba-zonkers, but that's to be expected.) Now! it's time to get ready for San Japan. Mm-hm, yes, mm-hm. I've got two (and a half?) days to get my cosplay done. Yikes! I know most people get that procrastinator's panic and can blast through a costume, but not me. I work at one speed and I get bored/distracted often, plus I refuse to take shortcuts. So it's gonna be a tight schedule. But hell, as much bitching as I've done in the past few weeks about NOT being able to cosplay, I'd be a punk-ass hypocrite if I DIDN'T burn like a cosplay supernova for the next couple days.
First, shopping for supplies, and then IT'S ON!
astillar: (Default)
I never thought I'd say it, but I think I'll miss this weird sun-never-sets nighttime. The sun never REALLY goes down. About midnight it finally dips below the horizon and orange, then red, disappear from the sky. But the bright blue and purple aura doesn't. It stays on the west horizon, then slowly begins to scootch around to the north, then around to the east where the sun rises 3 hours later. The whole time, I'm thinking, "Sun, who do you think you're fooling? You can't hide! Quit sneaking around! I know you're right there!"
It's a curious phenomenon to watch. Kinda like a big, natural nightlight. And it was kinda nice, having that constant twilight. That half-day, half-night ambiance . . . is pretty groovy.

(Midnight sunset)

Ah well. Today I head back to Texas, where we have respectable, Bible-fearing day and night at 8 am and 8 pm sharp. I won't actually get back to Texas tonight. I'll be in Toronto some time around midnight. Instead of spending a night in Calgary, I opted to just string together a bunch of red-eye flights. Not because it'll get me home that much faster (just two hours earlier at the cost of an additional 8 hours of traveling time). I just didn't think it was worth it to pay $150 to stay at a hotel for five hours before leaving to the airport again, especially since I won't be sleeping there anyways. Night shift, hello? So I'll just play musical airplanes and jump from one to the other until I get back to Austin around noon tomorrow.
Ah, I'm a happy puppy.
astillar: (Default)
Ahhh, it's so close it hurts! One day till I get out of here! I get the feeling I'm gonna be just like Cathy all day tomorrow, bouncing up and down in my chair with a crazy-ass grin plastered to my face.
Agh, I can't wait!

astillar: (oh noes)
According to what I've heard, today is the closest thing Canada has to an Independence Day. I think it's called Canada Day (I don't know for sure, I'm trying to keep my Canadian trivia knowledge to a minimum). So our field bosses decided that it would be a good morale boost to celebrate with a lunchtime barbecue for all our guys. Of course that required a good bit of organizing, such as a four hour drive to town to get groceries (pretty much one supervisor paid for it all out of his own pocket), then filing for a permit to have an open flame outdoors, and requesting supervision from the environmental office in case a bear shows up for the picnic.
When I heard about this, my first question was, "Are Americans invited?" The answer, yes. My hopes rose and my next question was, "What about nightshift?" The answer was, "We'll save a lot of food for you." Awesome! This was very good news.
I don't think I've talked too much about the camp food up here, so I'll digress for a bit. For camp food standards, it's pretty good. But the menu is small and repeats often and I've been eating it for 4 months now. Therefore I have it memorized. The taste of this camp food is burned in my brain. Even when I'm on break back in Austin, I can still taste the food. Next time you see me, quiz me on any food item. I can describe it in excruciating detail. To put it simply, I'm so tired of the camp food that I skip meals rather than eat the same stuff over and over again.
So when I heard about this barbecue, I was excited. Even if it's just mediocre hamburgers and hot dogs, I'll still be happy. Just so long as it's not camp food. I even mentioned this aloud as me and the nightshift were driving back to camp this morning. "Is it sad that I'm really excited about this barbecue?" Yes, came the answer, amidst the laughter. But I'm sure they were looking forward to it too.

As soon as I got into the office today, I sniffed around, hunting for the aroma of brisket or sloppy joes or chicken, even. I asked the first engineer I saw how the barbecue went. He said it had been a success. An early morning thunderstorm had shut down work just about noon, which allowed all of the technicians to come into the office just in time for the barbecue. They'd grilled burgers and hot dogs and had all the fixings, with potato salad and coleslaw and cake and soda.
Then he told me about the thieves. Our engineers had set aside a big portion of everything for us in the office fridge. Sometime during the afternoon, other people in the trailer raided the fridge and ate almost everything. By the time our guys figured out what was happening, only two burgers and three hot dogs were left. The surviving food went into 24-hour lock-down.
My boss told me to distribute the food among the field guys. No barbecue for us office personnel.


Well, there is a bucket of coleslaw left.

astillar: (Default)
So what's the bird poo on my windshield today?
I get to move. I will no longer have a room and bathroom to myself; now I get to move into shared room. They call it a 'berth'. I think that's fancy talk for 'bunk'. And shared bathroom too. Oh, and no fridge anymore. And who do I get to split a room with for the next however-many months? My boss. Yeah, the one that screwed me over on my vacation. I get to live with my boss like we're college roommates. Except without the booze.
This job just keeps getting better and better. At this point I'm ready to tempt Fate and say, "Can it get any worse?" Let's do this already. Slap my mom, shoot my dog, and kick me in the nuts. C'mon, bring it.

August 2017

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