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Wed, Dec. 30th, 2015, 09:48 am
Ella Fitzgerald-Air Mail Special

I just noticed there's a "Share to Livejournal" button in Youtube? (This is probably the greatest scat singing ever recorded imo. Been on my mind lately.)

Went to go see Morrissey with Libs last night - this was Libby's big Hanukkah present from me. I usually think I don't know much about that guy, but I knew a surprising amount of the old Smiths songs. I guess I knew the songs, but didn't know they belonged to a band called "The Smiths".

Spent the holidays in California - first time away from New York for the season. It was amazing. Palm Springs is beautiful. We stayed at an airbnb with mordicai, pravda, Nino, Kira, and Olivia (hashtag: midcentury modern christmas). Palm trees, mountains, fire pit.

I really, really miss everyone. The work that I do is kind of the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me from professional, learning, and growth perspectives. But I feel way disconnected from the people I love. It's been *amazing* to have them travel to California and spend time with us here, and if we're not going to be co-urban, traveling together is a decent fallback. I miss all the people whom I've not had the opportunity to check in with, just because my opportunities are so much fewer now. Being part of the tribe around 5-year-old Olivia was also really heart-melting.

It went by too fast. (I also managed to sneak a bit of work in to help out my team who was working through the week - users don't stop having questions just because it's a holiday week, turns out.)

I'm also working this week. It's a combination of super pleasant (no distractions!) but also super disorienting (no one else is really working!) I have some work today to get down to brass tacks and really get shit done. Libby is WFH today, and I'm going to run out and get some stuff from the bakery for us before she gets out of bed.

January: a lot of travel ahead. Spending some time in NY with my mother for a bit. Traveling to Dublin for half the month for work.

Things I want:
* Know more about California past and present. More fully take California into my identity.
* Complete a big extracurricular project.

Sun, Dec. 6th, 2015, 11:40 am

Lazing around the house. Watched some Jessica Jones (fine, but I don't find it *that* much more compelling than Daredevil, which I disliked). Reading a bit - re-reading Book of the New Sun, and I've also started Margaret Atwood's new short story collect (it's pretty good!) and The Design of Everyday Things (amazing!) I should probably get some food.

Other than that I'm cleaning out my old personal todos - like, do I actually want to sit down and make a Twine game finally? Or can I cross that off already. A lot of clearing out todos for me is really about "will I do this thing now or put it on some other graveyard list of things I will never do".

Reading other people's lj's. Trying to think of things to say about entries, but more because I want people to know I feel close to them and involved in their lives more than I have things to say. At work -- there's a lot of idiomatic language culture at work -- there's this thing where you'll write "ack"[0] to a chat or an email. Means "I don't have any response, but wanted you to know that I saw this."

[0] For "acknowledge"

Tue, Oct. 20th, 2015, 08:08 am
For a few dollars more

Libby and I moved. We live in Oakland now, and are no longer San Franciscans. I'm pretty happy about this development, in the same way I was happy to never live in Manhattan.

Rents are crazy.[0][1] But this place is really not that bad at all. After subletting from Edbury, and considering taking the lease over ourselves, the rent would have gone up 33%, so we needed to go. Everything in SF in our price range was *terrible*. Like, every apartment seemed to have shag carpeting throughout the house, including around the toilet. One landlord asked us how strong our relationship was, because he didn't want to rent to a couple who might break up. Another, when Libby told him she was from LA, complained bitterly about how the women in SF are all post-menopausal feminists. I'd started to resign myself to the fact that I'd need to learn to steam clean pee carpets.

But then we found this place. We were certain we wouldn't get it. It seemed too nice for us, and suspiciously cheap, given the market. (I think our standards were pretty low at that point.) We did though! We did! I'm still kind of flabbergasted that that worked out. It still feels like we're on vacation in a beautiful apartment from Airbnb. But we're not. We live here.

I feel the two of us are very happy, in a persistent and pleasing way. I bought Libby an engagement ring this week. I really enjoy seeing her wear it.

I spend most of my time and mind at work. It's still, almost two years in, awesome. In terms of learning and growth experiences, I've never experienced anything remotely similar. I love what I do, where I work, and the people I work with. It's like textbook rush every single day. While I'm in the abstract prepared for that, it is definitely a challenge to maintain that energy level -- more or less indefinitely, actually, rather than in a 4 week sprint twice a year. I'm considering taking up meditation.

Two years in it's turned out to be a different beast in ways I hadn't expected. Unlike Shakespeare, it's in no way the focus of my social life. The people I work with are great, but I don't spend time with anyone outside work. Neither does Libby for the most part. We're turning into[2] that weird couple who only really hang out with each other. On the weekends we goof off around Oakland. Read.[3] Go to the Temescal Farmer's Market. I go running.[4] I did something I haven't done in years - I bought a game console and started video gaming again. I'm playing the Legend of Korra game now. It's stupidly hard.

As always I feel a weird mixture of being incomprehensibly lucky to have wound up where I am - work, love, apartment - and sad at the things I feel like I'm missing out on - friendship, game, hobbies, reading.[5] Children.[6] I miss lots of people. But it's overall pretty great. I feel quite peaceful. And happy.

[0] http://priceonomics.com/the-san-francisco-rent-explosion-part-iii/

[1] I use zero-index footnotes these days.

[2] s/turning into/already are

[3] I don't get much of this done during the week.

[4] http://www.strava.com/activities/415904348

[5] I flake on book club all the time.

[6] Still working on that.

Mon, Feb. 10th, 2014, 01:20 am
San Francisco Session 6 - death of a bard

[note: yeah, session 6. I flaked on writing up session 5. I'll try to summarize briefly here.]

Our three living characters, Elyx the necromancer, Matthonwy the bard, and Pudgit the pock-faced fun folk (halfling) thief, traveling along with their adoring, wide-eyed kobold hanger-on, popularly known as Lil' Pudgit, need to move on from Castle Karn, and leave behind the corpse of their newfound friend, the dead druid D'wynn, mauled to death by a deer-headed flesh golem. They scour the ruins of the castle before they leave.

Pudgit in particular, alone, uncovers several jugs of a strange fun folk firewine, and peels the labels off two. On the back of the labels is some strange unreadable text, the only decipherable bits being "A Day in the Life", and a name, "Hugo Fun". Pudgit also discovers a secret tunnel leading underground, and a dagger lying just within. He declines to inform the party about any of this.

The troupe moves on eastward toward the druid grove, meeting on the road a soaking wet man from a foreign land. He is Riyadh, of Zakhara, a seaman driven to shipwreck by the predations of the navies of non-humans scouring the coastlines and trade routes on slaving expeditions. Riyadh's shipmates were taken into captivity and his ship scuttled, but he survived by clinging to flotsam, and rode it up the river to where he hopped off and met our cast of characters. He appears to be traveling with a small genie-ling of some sort.

The party arrives at the druid grove shortly thereafter. The druid is absent, obviously, having been possessed by the animating spirit Moksha Jehannum, and the position of forest oracle appears vacant. Too bad the party druid just died. As they ascend into the tree circle, the party encounters another druid, apparently also on a quest to replace the Forest Oracle, and undo the violence being done against nature in this region.

majestic as heckCollapse )

Mon, Dec. 16th, 2013, 01:06 am
San Francisco Session 4 - death of a druid

We join our characters, after last week's bloody shenanigans -- the forest (and beyond?) of the druidic Forest Oracle still beset by unseasonal winter and besieged by mad, foreign animals -- mid-repose as they are taking a load off inside the TARDIS-tree of the nymph. The interior is not designed for the habitation of mortals and is utterly spartan, yet strangely comfortable. Everyone lies down on a bed of leaves. Matthonwy the bard tries to explore a little bit, but the nymph is having none of that shit, and after encountering some trippy transformations of three-dimensional space, Matthonwy decides to leave well enough alone, though still demands refreshment, and finds himself unpleasantly assaulted via nose and mouth by a root system that force feeds him moisture, sap, and nutrients, which is horrifying in its own way, but refreshing nonetheless.

how the rest of this fiasco goes downCollapse )

Wed, Dec. 4th, 2013, 12:23 am
The story so far, part 2: We're back

(This is a follow-up to a previous post.)

James Mccaffery: you're in the game now
edbury enegren: actually
edbury enegren: hold on i will send you screenshots
edbury enegren: because i am getting more "let's meet right now" texts
James Mccaffery: bang
James Mccaffery: you mean bang
edbury enegren: no i mean like
edbury enegren: a stranger
edbury enegren: trying to organize a meeting
James Mccaffery: what
edbury enegren: in thirty minutes
James Mccaffery: oh god
James Mccaffery: oh god
edbury enegren: it's a different number this time
James Mccaffery: this is it
James Mccaffery: we're back

we"re backCollapse )

Mon, Nov. 18th, 2013, 01:10 am
San Francisco Session 3

We find our adventurers separated beneath the Dragonteeth Mountains. Elyx the necromancer (Kellie), Matthonwy the bard (Ryan), and Dwyn the druid (Edbury), are trapped on a huge stone pillar across a chasm from the cave floor they'd left. Pudgit (Chris) had been brought into the inner sanctum of the Dragonteeth kobolds, and met their queen, who was wearing the miserable dress Pudgit had sewn.

While among the kobolds, Pudgit encounters a wayward dwarf fighter named Corrin (Jon Downing, guest starring while he's in town). Corrin has been a "guest" of the kobolds for some time, while they've stolen his clothes and modeled garments after his own. He's half naked (though well armored), and missing half his beard, pieces of which some kobolds can be seen wearing like strange face merkins. Corrin is also covered in what look like small animal scratches. Corrin appears to be free to go, and is eager to leave; Pudgit gathers kobold cosplay Thisvyn to him, and finds himself stripped of his clothing, which is given to the kobold. There is a public ritual of some sort, and the kobolds unearth and then reshape some sort of mud and stone totem wearing shaped mud clothing, and then bury it again. There seem to be many such buried totems. Corrin and Pudgit and cosplay Pudgit and cosplay Elyx wend their way back through the tunnels to their companions, who are still trying to figure out how to get back across the chasm.

it only gets worse from hereCollapse )

Sun, Nov. 3rd, 2013, 11:50 pm
Session 2

We find our protagonists holing up in an abandoned tavern: amiable but slow halfling cutpurse Pudgit (Christopher), wild card itinerant half-elf performer Matthonwy (Ryan), go with the flow human druid Dwyn (Edubury), and death worshipping one-handed human wizard Elyx (Kellie). These latter two have been blinded by looking upon the true form of the nymph Chloe, and Elyx has been cursed for death into the bargain.

The four separate into different rooms and settle down for the evening. Matthonwy, keen to explore the mystical arts, sleight-of-hands the blind wizard's spell book away from her, and spends half the night studying and transcribing it. Elyx locks and barricades herself into her room, the only character to take such precaution. Dwyn declines to camp out in the rooms, and sets his bedroll downstairs in the tavern's common area, which is overlooked by the balcony where the rooms are. Pudgit tears up bedsheets, blankets, and curtains, and tries to sew - having a background as a seamster - a new dress for Elyx to replace the natty, dirty, torn, and blood-soaked wedding dress she wore escaping the zombie attack several days earlier. Pudgit is actually a pretty decent hand with a needle and thread, but as the night wears on it becomes clear he's made a total hash of it and the dress isn't so much a dress but an unwearable interlocking of fabrics and stitching. He has, by the way, started to think of this abandoned tavern as his own property - it had been abandoned by a halfling named Bolo Softsole, and they'd had a felt kinship between them.

Robbery!Collapse )

Mon, Oct. 28th, 2013, 02:34 am

Well, I guess without mordicai at my table I'm going to have to take over doing these myself.

Today was my San Francisco group's first full game day. I'd done two two-fers previous to this, as each pair got into the story differently, but now we are all on board together.

Something is moving in the world. A pervasive unease and anxiety lay across the land. It is just barely Autumn and snow is falling and the cold is bitter and dangerous. There are stories of armies - horrible things, inhuman things - waging campaigns of extermination in faraway lands, growing ever closer. Closer, from the north, armies of monsters and evil men have ridden out from some ... keep or temple ... under four banners: the red, the white, the blue, and the brown. Humanoid lords and lieges ride against them, setting up a kind of firebreak by evacuating and burning the farms and homesteads on the frontier, so the encroaching forces will find no towns and cities to loot, no treasure to take, no food to pillage. Armies march on their stomach.

I"ll have to try to briefer in the futureCollapse )

Fri, Oct. 18th, 2013, 12:13 pm
The story so far

I could talk about my life - but whatever, livejournal, there are more perplexing things going on right now.

Last night around midnight Edbury and I were gchatting about an interview I have coming up. Even though we're roommates we probably talk more often over gchat than in person - but also I'm not home. I'm house- and dog-sitting for a friend in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco.

I've gone through my texts and gchats with Edbury and put the events together in the following narrative:

It's midnight and I'm talking to Edbury about, I don't know, TV or the internet or something. While we're chatting, Edbury receives a weird text. It was from 972 676 9168, but according to the metadata appended to the SMS that's a proxy for 931 338 XXXX. The message reads:

half hour, union square

Now, we live just a few blocks from Union Square. Eddie and I were intrigued of course. Mysteries! I was kinda nervous about him being all alone, and thought he shouldn't bring his wallet or phone, and wished I was there to safety-wingman him for ... whatever it was. But: Sausalito. Mostly I was thinking it was some weird OKCupid person. While I don't think he's all Eyes Wide Shut in his personal life, he has had what I would consider to be very mildly unusual assignations through OKC, so maybe it was just a weird hookup thing. Weird, but just you know, lower case w.

We debate whether he should go at all, and he decides he will. And at the required time, Edbury leaves the house and starts walking over there. He responds to the text with

I'm ready.

and receives the response


Weird. Five minutes later Edbury messages me

There are like. Cops everywhere in the park and a guy on the corner clearly waiting with a briefcase.

The cop part isn't too weird. The Nike Women's Marathon is on Sunday, and the park is mostly taken up with the marathon's pavilion and registration tent, and is well covered by the fuzz for civic safety purposes, presumably.

But that guy. Just standing there. Briefcase. Edbury's description:

brown blazer and slacks
chin length hair, but clean cut

Edbury starts kind of circling around him, walking past and trying to surreptitiously take a picture. He definitely doesn't know the guy and definitely has never seen him before.

But also like, that could just be a guy who's standing near the park. At 12.30 at night. In empty San Francisco. Coincidence, right? Then the guy takes out his phone and dials a number and EDBURY'S PHONE RINGS.

The guy is calling me. It's def him.

Edbury is standing too close to him to answer the phone without the guy realizing Edbury is standing kind of near him (though Edbury has walked within a few feet of him several times at this point, and there's no one on the street). Edbury doesn't answer.

Also: the phone call? FROM A DIFFERENT NUMBER THAN THE TEXTS. The caller ID on the phone call reads 415 399 1613.

Yeah no idea who this guy is.
Okay what if I text him "just leave the case." ?
I'm kind of just waiting and watching from behind.

Edbury and I spend a few minutes gchatting and trying to figure out what to do next. Edbury is finally like, fuck it, and texts him

Just leave the case

The guy checks his phone, sees the text, looks at it for a second, then starts SPRINTING.

What do I do he's running down post and I'm like semi chasing


Nm I stopped wtf I can't chase some stranger

And that was the end of the night. Edbury watches the dude recede into the distance. It was like 1.30am at that point. Edbury went home and I got set up in the guest room here and we both went to bed. Sorta. Both of us sat up all night thinking about that shit.

This weirdness was the first thing on my mind when I woke up today. I was still inside this weird dream. And I immediately messaged Edbury and started trying to research the numbers on the internet. There are a bunch of boards where people talk about the robonumbers they get calls from. Mostly it's just like "Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, left message in Spanish", but for the first number Edbury got the text from - 972 676 9168 - there are these two notes on 800notes.com, left on Mar 3, 2011:

I keep getting a text from this number with a +17864437089. The text goes on about us being friends and I need to let him know what's up. He adds little smiley faces and says his name is Guille...


Just got a text from this number followed by the word "Diamond"

The other, second number is registered to a Jeffrey Cox, age 59, 895 Chamberlain Ct Mill Valley, CA 94941.

A bunch of us who are fascinated by this started calling. The first number, 972 676 9168, just yields the message "Could not complete your call, please try again".

Will called the second one, 931 338 XXXX, the "Jeffrey Cox" number.

well I got through to the second number
and I said
and a male answered
sounded mid 20s/30s
and he was like
what? hello?
and then was like
you have the wrong number
and hung up

I called the 931 338 XXXX number myself an hour later and talked to the guy for a (very) little while. He seemed slightly older to me definitely more 50s/60s than 20s/30s. But he spoke with a distinct Hindi accent. Will thought it was Spanish-sounding, but I think he's wrong. The guy admitted he lived in California but refused to answer any of my other questions, and legitimately didn't seem to know wtf I was talking about. He said he didn't know anything about Union Square. A little while later he called me back wanting to know who I was. I didn't tell him anything.

James/Jim called the third number, 415 399 1613, the one Edbury supposedly received the phone call from. It's weird computer noise and James hangs up, frightened. I call it and record the sound:

Now I'm trying to find a program that can turn audio data streams into something more useful. Though Jim is probably right that it's just some handshake protocol, not actual data.

I try calling the 786 443 7089 number from the "Guille" comment, in case that's not a red herring or coincidence. Not in service.

Then: Edbury deduces the Indian guy is "uninvolved."

she* is like 90% sure the second number is spoofed
his number is just text content sent from google voice
but whoever owns that number could just set that

*[Edbury's computer-engineer co-worker, who is also investigating]

Edbury's Jim's theories:

some weird misguided silk road FBI thing
a viral marketing scam
and actual awkward and maybe shady wrong number

My theory in the comments. Right now I've been at this for like twelve hours straight and no matter how fascinated I am, I haven't had anything to eat or drink, and I need to put this computer down and go to the bathroom. And maybe try to get some work done today. But damn. It'll be hard to pull my brain out of this.

UPDATE 1.56pm PST The "Jeffrey Cox" number, 931 338 XXXX, at the end of which I spoke to a Hindi-sounding man, texts me asking what is going on, and saying "My phone was not with me". I reply asking if he is saying his phone has been out of his possession in the last 24 hours. Awaiting reply.

UPDATE 3.36pm PST Jeffrey Cox number redacted because it is in fact the number of a real person.

UPDATE 3.42pm PST Jeffrey Cox number texts me to say his phone was out of his possession yesterday at "orientation", and his friends - who wanted to play with his 41 megapixel camera - sent out texts as a joke, asking random numbers to meet them at Union Square. This would have been early in the day though, not at midnight. He apologizes profusely. But if that is true ... who was Briefcase Guy? Jeffrey Cox number doesn't seem to be able to check his phone to ascertain whether those texts were or were not sent from his phone. I wonder if he isn't just assembling fiction from the fact that I asked him about Union Square when we spoke earlier, and questioned him about whether texts had been sent from his phone. He says "if you say it was from my number its impossible to say or prove that it was not me".

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