I’ve flown to Pittsburgh

I’ve had a bit of an adorable ‘trial by fire’ in Pittsburgh, with my first two days after my flight, involving twin boys, Nick & Ben, 4 years old, and a 2 year old girl [Evelyn]. They’re my sister’s children and they’re cute but exhausting.

But that’s precisely why I moved to Pittsburgh. I want to be there to help and be a friendly and fun uncle.

A lot of our family is now gravitating towards the Pittsburgh area actually – my parents (the tots’ grandparents) and my grandmother, now in her early 80s, who’s now a great-grandmother for the kiddos.

Downside: Lots of eBay delays – the big moving truck that is carrying my PC and my art supplies left Houston a little while before I did, and it still has not arrived in Pittsburgh at the new house. We continue to wait as it is en route. I am hoping the truck will arrive to unload the stuff within the next couple days and only then will I realistically be able to begin making/shipping eBay items again.

My digital content seems like it’ll likely mostly be fine; I took one copy of all my data on a handful of hard drives. The backup copy of the same data was carried by my family in their luggage on other separate flights.

Between the local backups and the fact that nearly 2/3 of the data also exists in the loud via BackBlaze, I think it’s likely nothing of value will be lost in the transition.

I’ll catch up on delivering eBay orders as soon as I’m able to do so, and will continue chipping away at my other projects as well, once that’s settled.

I am also planning some fun activities with the family. Sure, they’re playing games on my aging and slightly screen-cracked iPad, which is what I’m writing this update on.

But I’ll also try organzing active games, outings, simple board/card games, reading to the kids/playing word games, and some video projects even. I’ll even show you fragments of what I’ve planned – I was thinking of activities with family even before I packed everything up. So here are some images hinting at planned fun things:

The floor is lava – a VFX test for a video with the children.

I’ll record a short and silly video in which the children are playing ‘the floor is lava’ – complete with menacingly realistic looking lava! Basically we will get to see what the children are imagining come to life.

There’s even a lava monster.

I also have plans for a reconfigurable, modular box maze. It uses the medium-sized Home Depot boxes that we have packed stuff into for the move, and they’ll be arrnaged into a bunch of different maze configurations, a new one each day for a week or so.

This was an early 3d mockup of a possible layout before I shifted to the ‘modular’ design plans:

An old design test for a childrens’ box maze / fortress.

And yes, the twins are very silly, I introduced myself as Uncle Matthew and Ben the twin, started calling me Buncle Bayou for some reason. The absurd nickname’s a running joke now.

And finally, some kid friendly crossword puzzles. I don’t think they’re quite ready for these but they’ll get there soon enough.

Colors, numbers and shapes kid crossword.

 

Crossword with all words made from the letters in the word ‘teacups’. For children.
The most commonly used English words placed in a crossword puzzle.

Anyway, you can tell I’m getting into the role of fun uncle or ‘funcle’ in Pennsylvania, but that does NOT mean I’ve forgotten about my internet audience, eBay customers,  or my friends still living in Houston, Texas!

 

April mess

Okay – everything is proving to be extremely busy.

In the past week, that is, the final week of March 2018, over 15 sales have been made by me on eBay, including several international sales, but the profitability of said sales has averaged about -35%.  Looking at the data I have just slightly over $200 in payments received [people buying things], and $310 in costs associated with those orders, from fees (about $45 total between PayPal and eBay) to a few key shipping supplies (roughly $25) to the shipping costs themselves, which are higher in some cases than expected. Plus side is, if I work my butt off, I did sell several copies of the new stock media in there too, so I might come out of this madness with some positive ratings related to that product line and related to other sold items, if I work every waking hour the next 8-10 days.

So I’ll simply admit that I’ve botched this, if ‘this’ was an attempt to raise funds for completion of Miniature Multiverse or any of the other projects I’m aiming for.

The process has been good insofar as I’ll be clearing out a ton of books, and a few other items, to people who will actually appreciate those items, although paring my collection down to a minimum wouldn’t be *necessary* in the first place if my family weren’t planning on moving me and everything else to Pittsburgh by the end of 2018.

Yeah, that’s the other thing – we’re relocating to Pennsylvania. I am. Scott and Margaret are too. We’ll be there with my sister Katie and her kids. I think this moving process is intensely stressful; lots of cleaning things up, deciding what to keep,what to throw, moving to a location where my work space will be limited and three adorable but noisy/hyperactive children will be running around as well. Nice new house, nice yard and neighborhood but I have difficulty not being frustrated with this during the transition process as this altogether is making productivity difficult during the transition, and might potentially detract from my creative work for years, or maybe make it better [who knows? It’s possible.].

So, ahem, anyway – all the current irritation and stress aside, what this means is each day in April I must [somehow] earn a few dollars transcribing, at sub-minimum wage, ship a handful of still-unshipped items, and do hours of cleaning in my room and the garage on top of all that. And, yes, somehow I’m scrambling to figure out a way to shoot a final video project with my Houston friends, which is now likely to be in May because April is crazy in terms of the sheer workload, and I am not being permitted to adjust my sleep schedule accordingly.

That’s the same-old, same-old though and not really new – I cannot break free of my family’s rules because I’m not 100% financially independent and I’m unable to be financially independent largely due to their somewhat arbitrary and constrictive rules. I am 31 and despite enormous effort, my life is still going nowhere except an aggravating downward spiral of depression and frustration [and existential ennui?]  and a general emotional and psychological sense of being trapped and running out of time.

So, yeah. That. It’s why I may be late shipping a number of the eBay orders, late as in up to a week of delays. There is no practical way to avoid this. I simply need to somehow earn nearly an extra $100 or so over the next week in the scattered hours when I actually have a chance to. Only then can *all* of the items I sold in the past week be shipped.

Update, May 2nd, 2017

My production pipeline is emerging from crisis stronger than before.  

A few quick notes: much of the cash I raised from the Crafts Fair, etc, has gone to a new video card for my PC (The old one was the source of long-running random crashes) and a few extra plugins for Unity.  I’ve also made a concerted effort to wrap up some local projects for Boy Scout Troop 4, as the troop looks to be on its last legs and will be unlikely to survive beyond 2017.  One of the scouts is leaving for the navy at the end of the spring semester so I wanted to give him a good send off.  I’m trying to complete Troop 4 TV Seasons 2 & 3 during the next 15 days for that event.

Other things I’d tried to get done prior to this I couldn’t, including the video channel, etc.  The computer being down for about 10 days had a lot to do with that.  In broad strokes, my production schedule is like this:

MAY 2017 – Troop 4 stuff screened for Troop 4

JUNE – AUGUST 2017 – Work on some interactive-media stuff like the Redeemer Virtual Tour, Spiral Skies, and also finally launching the comics and video channel, which I’ve devised a clever, or maybe just stupidly deranged and risky, plan to deal with.  This plan involves having the videos/video channel all on a separate domain with no links out of it, but various links in, no real way for me to profit [even slightly] from any of the videos if they take off or prove popular.  I will pay out residuals from other sources unrelated to and not in any way benefiting from the video channel.  These residuals will be kept extremely simple:   $1/year per actor per video released that they were in, plus a one-off $5 payment for any new project they participate in [a payment for taking the role] and a second one off $5 payment when the project is finished and goes online.  The math on this works out fine by me; if all my projects end up online over next three years, it could add up to $1500+ in payments to actors by the end of that time… and over $12k after 20 years [distributed among all actors].

If one actor tries to sue me [cease & desist] I’ll pull the video in question offline quickly, and attempt to avoid legal conflict, so just keep in mind that videos might go offline at some point if somebody complains and if they cannot be convinced by me or the other cast members, to allow the video to go back online then it’ll stay offline.   I know I’m taking a risk of screwing myself over massively and that even if that does not happen, I’ll still lose a lot over time, but it is worth it to me to have the videos online, because I like people to be entertained, darn it, and it bugs me to have this gigantic backlog of awesome stuff that nobody is able to view!

As for Fall 2017, I will try to wrap up some of the family stuff – 1999, Globe, and Fortress Siege 2.  That’s basically it, that’s the plan.

 

Fortress Siege 2

I recorded a lot of material for ‘Fortress Siege 2’ over the holidays and will add completing that project (and 1999, and Globe) to the massive pile of video-completion to-dos the next few months.

This picture reveals some of the costumes people wore while acting in front of bluescreen. Obviously it’ll look way more epic once the computer-generated backgrounds are added. It’s the eighth video I’ve directed with my extended family over the past 14 years. The first one was ‘Snow Siege’ in 2003. I am going to be working towards getting many of my old (and new) video projects online this year.