Nothing

I have nothing to give.

I have nothing to give you.

I have nothing to give you but my love.

I have nothing to give you but my love and devotion.

I have nothing to give you but my love, devotion, and my attention.

I have nothing to give you but my love, devotion, attention, and time.

I have nothing to give you but love, devotion, attention, time, and my heart so true.

I have nothing to give you but love, devotion, attention, time, my heart so true, and my future.

I have nothing to give you but love, devotion, attention, time, my heart so true, my future, and the fruits of my labour.

I give you my love, my devotion, my attention, my time, my heart so true, my future, and all the fruits of my labour.

I have nothing left to give.

Whattya mean, what have I done for you lately?

Real Writers

Have you ever wanted something so bad, like SO BAD, but you just couldn't figure out how to get started? I mean, like if they just had a tutorial or something, but even that's not working, and you just want into the club so hard? I've been there.

Barrier to Entry

I wanted to make simple little games for the longest time. I wanted to be able to sit at a code editor and type code, then run it and have a game there. I was never interested in the visual game makers like RPG Maker or Sphere or any of those. I mean, they were neat, but I wanted it to be like the olden days, just me and lines and lines of code ending in a spectacular graphical extravaganza. But I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't get past my own insecurities and I spent years wishing I could make games that way but never really did much to figure it out beyond trying tutorials online that I couldn't make work.

I will say that thanks to Robb, I got over that hurdle and worked on the spectacular remake of Astrosmash with James. I sat at a code editor and created a game. Granted, it was a lot of work, but I was happy to do that work.

I know I'm not stupid, and I know I have programming skills, but there was just a barrier to entry, a hurdle in my own mind that I couldn't surmount.

I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I've wanted to make video games. Maybe longer. For a long time, I wanted to make writing my career. I had ideas -- good ones, though they may have just been reimaginings of The Wheel of Time and The Maltese Falcon -- and I wanted to get them out there and get my name out there as a serious writer. But I didn't know how to do that.

Casual Brilliance as Motivation Murder

The problem with looking at published books as a way to write books is a thorny one, in my opinion. You see something that someone has slaved over, spent years improving their craft to be able to create, and you look at sentences like, "The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed."

It's a simple sentence, and it has words that anyone could understand, that practically everyone has used, and it's completely confounding that someone could rearrange those words to convey something so meaningful and lasting.

Even worse is when you read a book like Neil Gaiman's Fortunately, the Milk, and it's filled to the brim with brilliance: time travel, a smart story, and lines that just seem to leap off the page. These are problematic stories to read as a writer because you get something like that and then you write something like, "It was too much to hope that the man behind Korta had kept his knife in its sheath." and you think, 'Hey, that's good.' But then you realize that you spent ten minutes thinking of that one sentence, and there are something like 3000 more sentences like that in order to finish NaNoWriMo and you sure as hell don't have 30000 minutes to make word count for November because you've still got work, and there are kids to put to bed, and don't forget that staying married is kind of important. So you push on, using sentences that get written, but don't sparkle the same as that first line. Then you get, maybe, 500 or 600 sentences down, and you realize that you forgot the point of the story, or maybe you decide you want a different kind of story out of this. What then? Well, you could continue to work on this story, which isn't nearly as sparkling as the first sentence, let alone how it shone when it was just a thing in your brain. Or you could abandon this one, like you had so many others, but you were really liking a couple of the characters, so maybe you could just throw this bit into a different kind of story? But that's stupid, so you abandon the whole stupid thing because every successive sentence you write gets further and further away from the quality of that first one and Neil Gaiman is so brilliant and he probably got Fortunately, the Milk in one shot -- just scribbled the whole thing down in one go -- and I can't even decide what I want my story to be and why can't I just be a real writer?

Right?

I mean, feel free to argue with me all you want, but that's been my struggle in my quest to be a "real" writer. The stuff that comes out in stores is so much better than I could ever aspire to. Even the stuff that gets universally scoffed at, that's got a quality to it that I don't have. How couldn't it? Not only has it been completed, but it's also been published. There must be some secret.

Nothing Casual about Casual Brilliance

But there isn't a secret. The more time I spend scribbling words for my magic-book-revenge-story, I approach the conclusion that it's exactly this: writing is hard. Those breezy sentences that you read on the page, all that effortless art that Patrick Rothfuss rolls up into the Kingkiller Chronicles, yeah, there's a reason the third book has been five years in the making.

I've come to understand that the more effortless the story seems, the harder the writer had to work to make it that way.

As a person who's trying to become a writer, when you don't see the sweat that goes into revision, editing, and planning on another's story, you get to think that it must just be that you're not any good, or you are missing some vital attribute that other writers have.

And there's a certain truth to that. Published writers, whether they acknowledge it or not, have been through a lot to get where they are, and they've learned skills, which you have not yet learned. They've spent countless hours at the computer, at the notepad, and at the typewriter or tape recorder, working their asses off to hone skills that probably don't get enough press.

How To Be a Writer

[Disclaimer -- I am not a professional writer. It has, off and on, been an aspiration of mine to make a living writing stories, but the idea of doing it as my sole occupation right now is not anywhere near realistic. That said, I have paid attention to the things that other people, people who are smarter than me, and people who make their living as writers, have said, and these are the skills I think that people who are regularly published have learned. --L]

1 Write

I mean obvos, right? If you don't write, you're not a writer. Period. I nibble at the edges and there are months that go by without me writing anything. If I don't write, I'm not a writer. So I try to do better. Some people say to write everyday. And that's a good idea. Not always entirely doable, but a good idea. Definitely, it's easier to get on a roll and stay on it if you're writing every day.

2 Revise, edit, and rewrite

This is probably the second-hardest for me. I would love a good resource for how to properly edit stories. I suck at it. But I have permission from the man upstairs to suck, so there it is.

3 Accept criticism

I'm not saying that you should roll over and fix problems you don't think are there. I'm also not saying that you should meekly accept ad hominem attacks on yourself as valid criticism. I mean you should learn to separate the criticism that is going to make your story better from the shit that's going to kill your motivation or make you feel worse about yourself. I know there are resources out there on what kind of critiques you should accept from beta readers and critique circles. Those would be good resources for you too, if you're going to be beta-reading or critique-circling others' stories.

4 Critical reading

This one is my weakest point, I'd say. Which is saying a lot, considering what I've said about Writing and Editing. But what they say you need to do is be able to break down a story to its component parts and analyze what works for you and what doesn't. Basically learn to steal thematically and structurally, so you can make the story you're writing work for you. Also, if you read something that doesn't work, you learn what you can do to avoid making the same mistakes. My problem is that I get caught up in a story and two hours pass, and I know what's happening in the story, but I don't know how the author did it.

5 Writing

I know. Stupid Liam. It's there twice. But it's important. It's the most important. As my friend Rob Vogt says, you have to sharpen the saw. Write lots of stuff. You don't have to write a novel. You can write blog posts. They get you creating sentences out of words and help with your organizing-brain. This one's been a good one for me. I wrote myself into a corner, so I outlined what I wanted to say, and it's actually mostly coherent now. You can write poems. You can write short stories. You can write diary entries that nobody will ever read. You can look up writing prompts or writing exercises online, and you'll have more stuff than you can fit into a year right at your fingertips. There's lots of writing books that have exercises too.

But anyway, just write.

Motivation and Self-Worth and the Value of External Validation

A little while ago, Neil Gaiman posted on Twitter, "...If you want to be a writer, you want to go to Clarion, NEED to go to Clarion."

This raised a twit-storm and hurt a lot of people's feelings. I was unaffected, but I could see why people were upset about it. Needing to go to Clarion sounds like a barrier to entry, which is something that people could use as a demotivator and a reason to listen to the inner monologue of "I'm not a real writer." Real writers who have been published for years and years could take it as a slam. People who do not have the means to go to the Clarion workshop could see it as an example of a rich white guy exerting his rich white guy privilege and lording it over other people. And they did. Gaiman brushed the commentary aside with his usual charm, and explained that it was mild hyperbole. Considering in the next breath he mentioned that he'd never been there as a student, alongside all the stuff he's written about writing that he actually meant, this was the right reaction. Anyway, for most people, the pitchforks have been put away and life, such as it is on Twitter, continues. But it made me think.

How much self-worth and motivation do I get from external validation? How much would someone saying "If you don't [insert some criterion that I don't possess here], you're not a real writer," impact my ability to continue writing? Especially if it was something I couldn't do, and it was a writer I really respected, like Neil himself?

I have given this a lot of thought and the answer I came up with was, "Not a whole lot." I know I'm not a great writer. Probably, if I don't keep working at it, from more than just a "piling up pages and pages of rough draft" standpoint, I won't ever be. But I'm not going to let someone else put roadblocks in front of me when I put enough there myself, and when I have a good idea of what it would take to be a "real" writer.

So...

Write. Read. Get better. Don't let anyone tell you you're not a writer if you're writing. I guess that's the tl;dr of this entire thing.

Goals and Focus

I've talked ad nauseum over the years about goals, personal development, and what I think it takes to achieve goals. I've talked about a willingness to be terrible in the beginning, the decision to dedicate time to getting better, and the elimination of distractions in the pursuit of improvement.

One thing I struggle with, and I may have written about this in the past, is focus.

Quite often, I'll be making good progress on something, and I will just stop. I don't know if it's that I get down on the thing I'm writing, or playing, or learning, or if something else all of the sudden flashes as urgently awesome and I turn away from the thing that honestly feels a little bit like a slog right now, and don't go back to it. Regardless of the reason, I have a hard time with follow-through a lot of the time. I mean, we're talking a 90% abandonment rate on things that aren't my job or parenting, probably.

And fair enough. I mean, it's my time, and how I use it is hopefully at least mostly up to me. But the thing is that I want to be able to focus on something all the way through to say I've finished it.

The latest thing that I've found falling by the wayside is the novel I was working on for NaNoWriMo last year. I realized very early on that I would not likely get it finished for the end of November, and I was very forgiving of that with myself, understanding that I could work toward finishing it beyond November and that would be fine. I worked on it sporadically through December, and re-jigged some things on-the-fly so I ended up with a better story. That didn't slow me down. But then something flashed in the distance and I started working toward it.

Hugh Howey writes, on his site, about what he feels are some steps that people should take if they want to be professional writers. In it, he talks about writing short stories and getting them out there for people to see. It's a good piece of advice. It gets you writing, it gets you editing, and it gets your stuff in front of people who can comment and then hopefully make you better at writing. Awesome. But also incredibly distracting when you're in the middle of something else.

I don't want this post to become a critique of his post. I think he makes good points and I think it's really hard for people to accept that if they want to be writers, there's no secret handshake, just a shit-load of writing, reading, writing, revising, and rewriting, not to mention the willingness to take criticism. But I'm going to put that aside for another post another day, and push forward.

What I'm getting at is this: Hugh Howey giving some advice on how to become a professional writer should be a good thing. I should be able to look at that advice, shrug, and say, "Maybe that's something to look at for later." I should not abandon a story that I've spent three months working on to go write some short stories. I shouldn't even be worried too much about someone's advice for becoming a professional writer. That isn't my goal.

Anyway, the only thing I can think of to do in this instance is to leave the short story I started to the side, finish the novel I'm working on, and then if it still seems like a good idea to start writing short stories to put up here, then do it. But take care of the thing I started and that had such good momentum for so long first.

Forever

If you and I had forever, would we use it wisely? Would we, knowing that we had the time, plan ahead, get and stay ahead? Would we slow our lives down, end the mad rush to be on time, make the best use of time, stop feeling the press of its weight on our shoulders and appreciate the emergence of our children as more than proof of our own mortality? Could we finally watch the years, the decades, the centuries sail by and observer the cyclic nature of man, the manic way he tries to leave his mark? Could we take a moment, a day, a year, and finally be together, just you and I, comfortable in and with who we are? Would our children finally join us at our sides as equals as we hurtle to eternity? Or would they pass us by, their lives a blink in the face of our immortality? Could they go from dream to consumer to producer to consumer to memory in the bat of one unchanging eyelash? Would our great-great-great-great grandchildren have as much fondness and contempt for us as our own children? Would our perspective change, do you think? If we were eternal could we really go through saying goodbye, time and time again, to friends who would pass from this world while we persisted? Would we be objects of envy or of pity? And when mankind is done? When extinction looms for our brothers and sisters, but we carry on, what then? Will you watch with me another Big Bang? Floating as we must be in endless space? Another civilization's dawning and destruction? The same prideful mistakes made without any substantial lessons learned? Because this is what eternity means. One endless loop of the same mistakes made over and over again. Or do we watch slight variations on a theme, changing minutely every time, moving toward something of which they are completely aware? Some perfection planned for them by an evolution of a celestial magnitude? Are we also moving toward this destination? Or are we immutable, unchanging because we are forever? Is five trillion Big Bangs too early, or too late, to ask where this relationship is going?

Job Hunting

This is one of those catch-up posts where, normally, I'd apologize for not posting more often, wring my hands, and hope that you'll forgive me. But it turns out that I'm not worried so much anymore about posting on a schedule or making sure that I have something up. I don't really know how many people read this blog, and I'm sure the inconsistent nature of my posts is more than a little bit to blame for the lack of engagement (read: comments). Again, I don't know that it matters too much to me. It's good to have this place to put stuff, and if people enjoy reading it, then there it is. But I'm not apologizing for leaving you in the lurch. There's too much content on the web to worry about how you guys are filling your surfing hours. (Do people even surf anymore? Like web-surfing, I mean. I don't know if it can be called that anymore. Maybe a topic for another day...

Anyway, that was a long and rambly introduction to a catch-up post where I tell you what I've been up to professionally since we last had a chat. I'm thinking about a series of these posts, but who knows? Maybe you'd come to expect them of me...

A Gamesy No More

Sometime in the beginning or middle of September, I found out that Gamesys Canada was going under. Poker was no longer a viable product and they didn't see the need in keeping an office open when our so-called "expertise" was not being used. I'll be clear here. They did open the office in Canada because there was a lot of poker knowledge in the area, and there were some people on the team who knew (and presumably still know) a lot about poker. However, I think it's fair to say that the majority of the people on the team, and all but one or two developers who were actually attached to the poker team had more than a passing familiarity with poker. I know I'm no expert. I understand the rules, but that's about the extent. What we had, instead, was a great group of programmers who cared about the product they were making, and cared about the job they were doing. However, I can understand the reasoning. London's first priority has to be the London office, and anything that gets done in Edmonton (aside from the aforementioned speciality of the Edmonton office) would be taking away work from the folks in London. So they made the decision to close the doors.

History repeating

I'm no stranger to getting the axe. I mean, I was never technically let go at Intuit. They just made it impossible for me to keep working there. But I've had contracts cut short because of circumstances beyond my control. I've been in the situation where my contract would not be picked up, both my fault and not my fault. And I've seen the destruction of some pretty fantastic development teams. It's part of the job. If the project isn't going well, or if it is going well and something goes wrong somewhere else, or if someone is just politically savvy and does not want your team to succeed, it will happen. So I've learned to harden my heart against that sort of thing. I took all the personal out of it and started looking around.

More history repeating

I hit up some of my old haunts. I talked to a friend at Telus. I'd done some work there, and they had a reasonably good opinion of me. I talked to a friend at Haemonetics. I talked to my old boss from Intuit. They were all receptive. I answered a couple of ads on the internet. There was lots of interest, but I stuck with Haemonetics. It is a contract and they hired me with a minimum of muss and/or fuss. I started there after a reasonable period that meant I also got to keep my ridiculously generous severance package from Gamesys. In a way, it's good to be back where I know my role. I know the code base. I know the people. And if I hadn't just worked at Gamesys, it would be perfect.

Used to something more

At Gamesys, we had something really going. We had a ton of momentum, we had a group of personalities who meshed really well. We had some big brains, but the big egos weren't in evidence. We had collaboration, and we had a willingness and an agency to change things that weren't working so well. Code review process unnecessarily sterile? Change it up! Turn it into meetings where we can discuss instead of staring at a web page, trying to focus on green and red highlighted text. Finding there isn't enough time between one meeting and the next to answer the questions that we need answered to commit to things? Change the first meeting time. Honestly, we were running over the problems and squashing them flat. I felt like we were growing as a team and only getting better.

Receive ticket, commence work

Maybe it's the vast difference of this contract to the work at Gamesys. Maybe I reached the top of the mountain and don't want to climb down. Maybe it's all that personal I took out of the equation when I started looking for another job coming back to bite me in the ass. But I'm dissatisfied. I want to effect change. I want to make things better. But that's not my role here. My role here is to implement, document, and test tickets. I can do that. I have been doing that. But it's hard. And it's hard to feel valuable when I'm basically just filling out forms, it feels like. I'll do it, but it doesn't feel really fulfilling. Meanwhile, there are people who are doing the kind of work that I was doing before this. There was the possibility of a position with a company called Verafy, where they were working on some exciting software, and I would have gone in as a team lead and principle software developer and been able to mould the team to a certain extent. Instead, I'm doing my best to take requirements and turn them into code. The isolation from the other developers is difficult, though that won't be for long, and there are some additions coming to the team that should be exciting. I guess I'm just spoiled from my time at Gamesys. That'll wear off, I'm sure, and I'll go back to being the cantankerous bastard I was before.

There you have it. Totally uneven, no real point to it, but it's a post -- an update on where I am professionally.

Books of 2015

I'm not possessed of enough free time to go over all the books I read this year. There are like 67 of them or something, and I don't really feel like it. I'd rather be reading books than to write about all of them. Frankly, some of them aren't worth it. But I wanted to talk about the noteworthy books that I've read this year (that I hadn't read previously).

[Note: I made this list before finishing The Martian by Andy Weir and Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer. The Martian might fit into "The Good" but I am still processing. It might warrant its own post in the future. --L]

The good!

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

I've said more than enough about this book. In short, Toews manages to take an uncomfortable subject and make a very readable book from it.

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

From the ashes of a book I didn't enjoy as much as I would have liked in Half a King, came Half the World, where Joe Abercrombie goes back to kicking ass and taking names. It's not The First Law (or even close) but hey, a man has to be realistic.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Take Joe Abercrombie's book, now make it the complete opposite in every way, yet equally awesome. Then you have Fangirl. The kind of book I never thought I would like, but the kind of book it turns out I like very much.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Geek finds love at the turn of the millennium. Yet another of those books that unexpectedly found its way to the top of my list. Like a cup of coffee under a blanket after a miserable, cold day.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I still think about this book. It creeps into my thoughts at idle times and just sits there. As a good book should.

The Fold by Peter Clines

Peter Clines is the man. Find this book (and its prequel, 14) and read it. Don't bother with the rest of this list. Well, come back later, but go read this book now.

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster-Bujold

I don't put too much stock into the supposed master class of fantasy books. I'm not sure why. Probably because I'm just really contrary. But The Curse of Chalion is one of those books that you should read if you like Fantasy. It's got enough action to keep you interested, but the story goes beyond just the action.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

I failed at NaNoWriMo with a story that I planned using Brooks's methods, but don't let that fool you. The story is much better designed for finishing and it closer to a point where I would want people to read it than the story that I did win NaNo with last year, because of Story Engineering. Highly recommended to people who write ten thousand words of a story before they know what it's going to be about. It's not without its warts, but the information in this book is valuable.

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Don't let the fact that I haven't read the Liveship Traders books fool you. Any time that Robin Hobb writes a book, it's going to end up on my best of the year list. Especially if it has Fitz and the Fool. If you've read this far in the series, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. If you haven't read the series, then start at Assassin's Apprentice. If, somehow, you have read books in the series and you still don't agree, well, I guess that's why they make lots of different kinds of books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I don't want to give anything away. Not at all. So I won't. But this is the second (or probably third) year in a row that I've included a book that was set in the second world war in my best of list. This one pulls on the heart-strings a little more than the other two and It's well worth a read. Better, in my opinion, than the movie, which was still excellent.

Disappointments

I don't like to talk bad about things that other people have created, but I had some pretty high expectations for a few books that didn't pan out for me. Here they are:

Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

I wanted to like this book so much. And there was a lot about it that I did like. But it went on and on and it didn't feel like any of the characters developed. It felt like an extended game of Nobunaga's Ambition. Maybe that's not fair, but that's how I felt.

Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

I would have given almost everything for this to have been a book as good as Bloodsong. Instead, it turned out to have much more in common with Tower Lord, the second book in the series. It feels like Ryan was given all the time he needed to massage Bloodsong into the book that he wanted, and the next two were on a strict schedule. I mean, there's something to be said for selling books and shipping books on time -- something that could be said to Patrick Rothfuss and George Martin -- but those two, when they release a book, you know it's going to be awesome, without exception. This was not the case with Mr. Ryan, I am sorry to say.

Armada by Ernest Cline

After Ready Player One, a book that I was getting tired of by the time it was over, I felt like Cline could grow as a writer, put a little more depth and a little less kitsch into his writing. Instead, he kept on with the nostalgia and went with a paper-thin story. There was a little bit of heart in the main character's relationship with his dad, but not much, and there was nothing beyond that. Really disappointed.

Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan

To be fair, I didn't have any expectations of this book. There just wasn't enough of what I wanted out of a fantasy novel in there. I read this one right after The Shadow of What was Lost and that one felt better constructed, if that makes any sense. I won't completely abandon this series, but if I can find the next book at the library, I'll be much more willing to give it a shot than if I need to actually pay for it.

Conclusion

There were ten real killers on my list this year, and only four flops. I could have probably expanded the goods list to twenty, but the ones I really didn't enjoy so much would have to stay at four. So long and short, it was a really good year for reading.

Cutting My Losses

Have you ever had a brain fart of such magnitude that you worry you were hit on the head and didn't notice, or maybe there's something pressing on your brain and you experience periodic memory loss?

My mother-in-law calls them senior's moments, but I don't think I'm old enough for that yet.

Taking a Spin

I'm getting to the point in chicken coop construction where I need to cut some plywood. I have a reciprocating saw that my family were kind enough to give me for Father's Day, but what I wanted was a circular saw. I have more trust in its ability to cut straight than in my own hands. Also, you know, the right tool for the job and all that.

I was going to buy a saw from kijiji, and got money out of an ATM, just across the street (maybe a 5-minute walk) from my car. I remember holding the money in my hand, folding it in half, and then...

A Cash-ual Stroll

I remember pressing the crosswalk button. I remember opening my car door, feeling like something was wrong. I got into the car and the money was gone.

Gone.

I checked all my pockets, even checked my backpack, though I didn't take it off at any point in the short walk to my car. I retraced my steps, but there was nothing.

The Only Likely Explanation

I must have stuffed the money into my pocket -- the same pocket that had my keys. When I pulled my keys out, I must have dragged the money out of my pocket, leaving it to fall on the sidewalk and make someone's day.

Not mine.

An Unexpected Cash Infusion

I like to think that whoever gained the unexpected windfall will be investing it in the next Apple or Google, that when they're counting their millions, they look back on yesterday as a turning point in their lives, and they use their unlimited resources to track me down and... I dunno, maybe thank me, maybe give me half. Or maybe the money was just enough to cover someone's rent and their life was saved by my heroic misdeed.

Regardless, given my parking lot's proximity to the new arena, I feel like I've done my part to support the local squadron. Let's give 'em hell, boys.

Me and the Double-B

A Brief History of Time

Robb Reid (a.k.a, the Double-B) and I have worked together on and off since 2008, and on the auspicious occasion of his first day at a new job, I figured that I would chronicle our adventures together.

2008 - A Meeting of the Minds

I started at Haemonetics, after leaving Intuit, in October 2008. There were a lot of people to meet and whose names I would have to remember. Robb was one of these people. He did not like me.

As time went on, I think he warmed to me, so much so that after a few weeks, I came to understand why Dennis called him the RMDB. Robb knows his movies and TV, and nobody can tell me otherwise.

2009 - A New Opportunity

When Obama became president and destroyed the project I was working on (Thanks, Obama!), I found a new contract very quickly. They were looking for another developer, and I immediately thought of Robb. So we spent some time working together (albeit on different projects) at Accenture. I think that's when we started going for lunch together every day.

Late 2009 - Back to the Beginning

Robb and I both got work at Haemonetics on a new and improved project that was safe from the whims of government, being a commercial product. We worked there together, being the first two contractors on the project, and survived the (at least perceived) scorn of some of the permanent people there. We dismantled our cubicle and created the Collaboratron, which was basically just a hole in the wall where we could share ideas.

Toward the end of the first contract, we were both renewed, but Robb found a different job and took it, leaving me to patch up the collaboratron hole and pick up the pieces.

Late 2010 - 2014 -- Two Roads Diverged

Robb continued in his job with the government as I continued to pick up contracts. The work at Haemonetics dried up and I found Intuit, POSP (my own sojourn into government work), Telus, and Intuit once more. Toward the end of my contract with Intuit, Robb got in contact. He was starting a new job at Gamesys, a company I'd heard of only tangentially to that point, and we started going for lunches again.

2014 - 2015 -- Gamesies

Through March and April of 2014, I tried to get hired by Gamesys. And in May of that year, Robb and I were reunited at Gamesys. We worked together. But in July 2015, all of that changed.

2015 -- Gone Again

Robb accepted a position with IntelliWave, some kind of tracking company that uses RFID to save oil companies money. I understand the reasons he took the job, but it leaves me Robbless yet again.

I wish Robb well at his new job. He starts today, and I wrote this as much to wish him well as to mark his passing.

Attrition

2005

Sean had just started up his blog, Earl's blog was going strong, and I decided to throw my hat into the ring as well. I'd been doing some reading, and In The Now seemed like a good name. Kim joined in the fun, as did Rob and Krista.

There was a strong community of us, and comments on posts turned into discussion threads and sometimes reached into 30+ comments per posts. I know, that's not many for some people, but I've never advertised my blog other than to say when I've posted with my limited social media reach. Soon after that, Cliff and Tim had blogs, Vlad was syndicating our stuff, and occasionally posting his own stuff, and there was James, and Shaun, and any number of hearty bloggers.

2009

I left Blogger for WordPress, having bought my own site, and at that point, I think Sean had left, and come back again, Rob and his wife Krista had also left, or if not, they'd seriously cut back the number of posts they were writing. Tim was always on again, off again, but Cliff moving over to WordPress was the beginning of something big. That year, we had the first ever Summer Blog Challenge. I failed, what with Olivia's birth and fighting through some bad times, but the blog challenge has always stuck around. Chad and Tammy joined the scene about this time as well.

2015

Six challenges in, and with hundreds upon hundreds of posts to his name, Cliff has walked away from blogging. I don't question his decision. It's his decision to make. But it does leave a pretty big hole in the blogging community that has seen more than its fair share of attrition over the years.

Cliff always had a strange mix of topics in his posts. His political rants were always very well thought out, making me learn stuff as I read. His work rants were the stuff of legend -- the man can sell an anecdote, that's for sure. There were the game posts -- both the ones where he live-posted the games he was playing and the board game posts where he talked about his latest steals. I'll admit that there were quite a few times when he and I didn't see eye-to-eye, but he always had something to say.

Cliff, I'll miss your posts. I seriously hope you exported what you had before you let the internet swallow them. I was going to scrape your site and pull them off, but I never got around to it.

And if you return to the blogging world, please know that there are those who will always welcome you back with open arms. And Vlad will always be more than willing to steal your content for his site.