Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas 2005

It's Christmas Day 2005, and what a year it's been.

For those who do not know me, I am Peter Corless. The "Green Knight" of Green Knight Publishing, which up til recently, was actively producing the Pendragon Online, King Arthur Pendragon roleplaying game, and publishing fiction based in the world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

I've had a long and distinguished career before that, at Cisco Systems, at a small organization I founded called "Celebrate History," and in many other endeavors stretching back to my stints at Apple Computer, and a small game publisher known as West End Games, Inc., in New York City, where I worked on such games as the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Star Warriors, Battle For Endor, Paranoia, Junta, Desert Steel, and Imperium Romanum II.

Green Knight Publishing has for now shuttered operations. The site is down, and it's a relief not to have thousands of spam messages of month that cluttered my mind and my inbox. Not that it cannot open up again in 2006 or beyond. But for now, I put it aside to get other aspects of my life back to positive. Mental focus, cash flow, energy, education, and health-wise.

It's Christmas Day

I'll be spending my day with old college friends, their family, and relatives.

My own family has expanded its ranks. I have two new nephews, to join my already wondrous niece. I saw them at Thanksgiving. Simply beautiful. I missed New York City, and I was glad to get back there. To smell the air and feel the bite of the cold that makes you feel fully alive.

Christmas in Northern California is utterly different. There's no chance of snow, except on the peaks of the mountains around the Bay Area. Even if there's a bit of a dusting on the ground, it will never match the snowmen on the lawns and the grinding of laden snowplows and trudging grunt of buses up and down the avenues.

While I can go "visit the snow," and have done so in the past at Yosemite, for this Christmas I'll be sticking around the Peninsula. The San Francisco Peninsula, that is. I saw the Rockaway Peninsula for Thanskgiving.

I wanted to start this blog on Christmas because this is the time of year we celebrate the birth of a new spirit of salvation. In many ways, I have been "reborn" in 2005. Not as a fundamentalist Christian, but as a person.

MBA/Technology Management

The major news for those who may know of me, but I have not spoken to in a long while -- I'll be going back to school for the first time since graduating Carnegie Mellon University in 1986.

As a dedicated participant in the Internet society, I am putting my money where my mouth is, and getting my next degree from the University of Phoenix -- a Masters of Business Administration/Technology Management.

The Professional Choice

In recent weeks, I have also begun consulting again. I have a reasonable chance to have a contract come the start of the year, and the project is exciting. I will not say who with or what specifically I'll be doing, but it is an amazing opportunity. Hopefully by January I'll have a signed contract and I can share more with the world.

Carnegie Mellon was known as "the professional choice." It was a motto that's stuck with me in all the years since my attendance there. In 2005, I decided that the work I had been doing on Green Knight was not going to afford me with the success that I had grown accustomed to in my work for Apple Computer, Inc. (1991-1992), for Cisco Systems, Inc. (1992-2001), and not even with ComputerWare (during the heady days of 1989-1992) or West End Games (1985-1989).

Yes, things look excellent for 2005. This new effort has all the sense and intuitive of success.

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

I loved my career at Cisco Systems, Inc., but many will remind me that not all was chocolate and roses. In the end I suppose I had just worked myself into a corner there. The projects I had thought were so vital were simply written off, and I was laid off.

My career took a decidedly poor turn after my lay-off in 2001. Though I used 2001-2004 to try to establish Green Knight Publishing, the business did not turn the corner. It had been subsidized by my wealth as a Cisco employee, and my wealth in stocks. When those sources of funding went away, the long-term viability of Green Knight was called directly into question.

I take responsibility for its faltering upon my own shoulders. I had made staffing choices and funding choices, and creative decisions which did not pay off. It was my second business, and I was still learning management methods. It was a vanity press in many ways, but it was such a grand dream I was pursuing. Many people were glad to see it happen, and I am glad to have done what I could when I had the funds to try such an ambitious and yet modest plan. An entertainment company dedicated to the world of King Arthur? Ah, bliss!

So in recent years, I was utterly depressed and devastated by the fiscal downturns I suffered. Who wouldn't be? I had lost my life's fortunes to the proclivities of NASDAQ and the generous yet painful layoff from Cisco. Many talk about what they would do if they had a million dollars. Ask yourself what you would do if you lost a million dollars.

It was painful for me. I thought about what I could do to simply stop spending money. Just stop the bleeding. I cut back the business. I sold my house in Milpitas without ever moving in. I paid whatever the IRS demanded, though I have to thank a very good friend for introducing me to a wonderful tax company in San Jose, and to my ever-faithful business accountant.

Romantically, matters never turned out as I had hoped. I saw forty approach and come, and go, and I was still without a wife. Without my own children. My dreams to one day play Santa Claus in my own house with a chimney would have to wait.

Secret Journey

In 2001-2005, I decided to cut fiscal losses and holed up, a hermit in the modern world. While I made occasional forays beyond my doors, my life was a virtual one.

I spent a lot of time -- I mean a lot of time -- in fantasy worlds. The Skotos, Inc., games Castle Marrach, Mortalis Victus, Lovecraft Country and occasionally their other games.

I played The Sims 2, and SimCity 4, and the online game NationStates. I mastered Stronghold, and Medieval Total War.

Ostensibly, it was all business research. My goal even starting with Skotos was to learn what I needed to successfully launch my own Internet roleplaying game: Pendragon Online.

But that was a cover story after a while. In reality, I was suffering psychological depression, and the games were an avoidance mechanism. My real-life heroic journey was devastated. My business shaken and my wealth shattered. While I still had a rump of my empire left, it was obvious it was far more analogous to Constantinople in 1453 under Constantine XI Paleologus than under Justinian in the 6th Century.

Rehumanize Yourself

I am looking forward to my new educational and economic prospects. I'm looking forward to spending time with my friends on Christmas, and to catch up with friends old and new in the coming year. Tonight I got some old albums from iTunes -- Bob Marley, the Clash, and I listened to some Police albums from around the same time. Since I'll be spending the day of Christmas with college friends, the music reminded me of my college days.

One of the songs was the Police tune "Rehumanize Yourself." And the astute would note my citation of "Secret Journey" above.

I'm eager to greet 2006 as the "good new days," to be just as good as the "good old days." The rough times are past. The future looks bright again. Like George in "It's a Wonderful Life," I'd just like to smile as I found some of Zuzu's petals in my pocket of memories, and leave you with these words:

Merry Christmas, everyone!