Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Finally getting around to making those site improvements that I've been thinking about for ages. Now that I've fixed what I broke this morning, I'm going to take a little break, go out to see The Italian Job, and will probably keep fiddling with things tonight or tomorrow. Stay tuned!


I've added a new comments function, one that actually notes whether or not comments have been made. Woohoo!



If all is working correctly, potential WedCon attendees can now visit the invite and RSVP through this link.




M. was arrested for drunk driving. She's not a dumb woman, but she keeps doing dumb things. This isn't the first time, but I really, really hope it will be the last. M. is important to me and I fear what will happen to her if she doesn't straighten things out.

I hate to write about it, because I don't want to add to the trouble she's having. I care about M. and on one hand I'm mad at her for letting this happen. On the other hand, I can't deny any longer that she's got a serious drinking problem. I've joked before about functional alcoholics, those who drink to excess, but who don't harm anyone or endanger others by driving or miss work because of their drinking. Getting arrested for DUI (more than once!) is not "functional."

She's definitely going to lose her driver's license for this infraction. I would hope the courts would have her attend AA or some other alcohol treatment, but it didn't seem to do any lasting good the other time, if they did. I fear she might spend time in jail. Since she's always on the brink of financial disaster at the best of times, I worry about what spending time in jail would mean for her job, her financial situation, her ability to live... It's terribly depressing for me to contemplate.

Most grim, in my mind, is that her companion is an enabler of the worst sort. M. needs to stay out of bars, not keep alcohol in the house, not surround herself with people who drink, routinely and to excess. Her companion does not support those efforts. Without that kind of commitment and the support of her partner, I don't see how M. can avoid the downward spiral of repeat offenses and self-destructive, addictive behavior.

She's occasionally turned to me for help in these situations. I've tried to be supportive without being enabling. It's difficult. I don't feel equipped for this.

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WedCon is ON!

Ever since my barely-post-September-11 wedding, I've been talking about having a West Coast Reception. We've lovingly dubbed this reception WedCon, part wedding reception, part gaming convention.

It's taken us two years to get things properly organized, but I'm pleased to say that as of now, WedCon I is on the schedule. If people come and have fun, there could certainly be WedCon II or WedCon III in the future.

I put the deposit on the New Holly gathering hall today. Finally, I'll get to cater my own reception. I'm beside myself. What fun.

Chris is pleased, I'm sure, because we'll have a captive audience for games for at least the 5 hours that we have the hall. We may decide to have the party go on at our house into the following day, haven't decided the details yet. It's nice to have something fun and personal to look forward to, since so much of my attention is sucked up by the upcoming convention season and concerns for the business.

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I remember the completely sick feeling that I had the first time I heard people talk about the evil things that people do to each other. I do not remember what in particular was being discussed. It definitely wasn't something I was meant to hear. Most likely, I was lingering around the edges of adult conversation sometime in the early 70s, when the Vietnam war and the horrors committed there were still fresh and raw.

The specifics don't matter, the shock, disgust, and utter disbelief I felt have blotted everything else out. It had never occurred to me that people would hurt each other on purpose, that they would set out to hurt each other, that they wouldn't be seized by grief or regret for their actions. I was young enough that I'm sure I couldn't have even put these visceral feelings into words.

Tonight, the History Channel has graphic stories and footage about Saddam Hussein and his sons. Evil, evil, and more evil. Even after all these years, after I've learned about ancient human sacrifices, the Holocaust, female genital mutilation, the rape of Nanking, two small boys left to starve to death in a basement, on and endlessly on... even after all of this, I'm still sickened, still physically disgusted by the torture and mistreatment of innocent people I don't even know. Is it so impossible to just leave each other alone? Why is peace and respect so impossible?



Airbus are a bunch of fuckers

Stolen directly from JD's site, but this bullshit deserves to be circulated far and wide. Airbus knew and did nothing.



Worn out

Saturday I spent the day wrestling with a loft bed in Kate's room. I made a hellish trip to IKEA, which turned out to be in the midst of some gigantic sale. The place was a zoo, with kids running amok all over the place, and mall-walking zombies standing or shuffling in the middle of every conceivable walking space. I can spend hours strolling IKEA getting ideas for projects on the right day, but Saturday was not that day. I curse every one of those shambling mounds who thought it was a good idea to wander the crowded aisles aimlessly with their ill-mannered offspring.

After getting off to that great start, I then spent the afternoon struggling to move a couple of 100 pound packages from the car to Kate's upstairs room alone. I ended up doing it in stages which had me dragging the boxes from the car to the porch, then breaking each package into its component parts on the porch and moving the pieces inside and upstairs. It was quite a work out!

Spent about 3 hours sweating and wrestling with pieces of loft bed, then cleaned up and ran off to join folks at Ray and Christine's for a barbecue. Ray mixed up some excellent mojitos using this gigantic bunch of fresh mint I'd picked up from the Columbia City farmer's market last week. Yummy!

Christine cooked up some great burgers, grilled asparagus, grilled corn on the cob (one of my favorites!), garnished the whole thing with two different kinds of potato salad, and opened up several bottles of wine. Very nice way to spend a Kate-free weekend and kick off the official "summer season." Of course, I hit the wall as I often do at R&C's and had to excuse myself for a lie-down at midnight or so, in the middle of watching the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Angels Revenge episode. I told Chris to wake me when he was ready to go, but as it turned out, I woke up on my own around 2:30am. Chris, Ray and the esteemed Mr. Tynes were having a vigorous discussion about game properties and game design. Managed to crawl wearily into the car sometime around 3:30am and drove home only to find myself completely awake and alert after the brisk drive in the cool morning.

I tinkered on the loft bed for a short while, then noodled around on the internet until I finally felt sleepy again, somewhere around 4:45am. Unfortunately for me, I'd forgotten to set my clock. I have a great alarm clock that I can set to automatically turn off on the weekends, and start ringing again automatically during the week. This is a fantastic feature, until you have a long weekend where you stay up until almost 5am on a Monday morning. Argh! Was jolted unpleasantly awake at my usual 7:45am, then fell exhaustedly back to sleep only to be rudely awoken again by a recorded message from Citibank somewhere around 8:30am.

It was not long after that I just gave up, got out of bed, and went back to finishing the loft bed.

I'm quite proud of my handiwork. I managed to get the bed erected, move Kate's computer desk and associated electronics across the room, get everything working, move and restock her bookshelves, and generally make the room livable again as a solo project. The unfortunate part was that I had to drive to Canby and back to pick Kate up from my mom's after all of this! Chris came with me to keep me company and help make sure I didn't get drowsy on the road (which, thanks to his engaging conversation, I did not).

After picking Kate up at my mom's, I tooled around Canby with the family, goggling at the massive development that's sprung up on "the other side of town" near my old junior high. What I remember as farm fields has turned solidly into suburbia. I took the opportunity to drive by the "new" elementary school and gave my pal JD a call, figuring we'd pay him a quick visit since he was laid up on the couch after knee surgery. We stormed his house in the middle of dinner, while he and wife Kris were already entertaining the Gingeriches. Kate played with the Gingerich kids while JD gamely hobbled up onto his crutches and gave us a tour of the house, specifically his game closet and library. We couldn't stay too long, as I had a 3+ hour drive ahead of me, but still it was great to see JD in person after having spent the last 15 years or so in touch only through mutual friends, or recently, through e-mail and weblogs.

Made it home safe and sound, but am still feeling the effects of my sleepless weekend.

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Man from my past

Browsing weblogs through links at Foldedspace.org, I happened across a link for an elementary school in my former hometown. I'd never heard of this school, so, curious, I clicked around for more information and what do you know: the principle of this elementary school is the same, hateful Vice-Principle who helped make my life a living hell when I was in 7th and 8th grade, at the recently mentioned Ackerman Junior High.

Mike Zagyva. The name still makes me feel vaguely sick to my stomach.



Off to Oregon

My mom called last night to remind me that she wanted to take Kate camping this weekend. Doh! I'd totally forgotten!

So, I'm packing Kate up and hauling her off to Grandma's house. Another missed day of school, but I figure if Kate can't have fun experiences with her family now, when will she be able to? I suppose the fact that I'm not at all thrilled with her current school makes me a little passive-aggressive, too. Not sending my kid there to be bullied and told she's a crybaby when I could be sending her off for some TLC with grandma.

Nothing like 8 hours of driving to start the weekend off right.

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Why I love my husband.

We're made for each other. I've known that for years now, but it's nice to have it restated. Today's example: my favorite Dude and his lovely lady are newly pregnant and expecting a baby, what seems mere weeks after their wedding (which actually took place back in February). Evan broke the news that I'm to be a surrogate auntie, and my smart-assed first response was "You guys don't waste any time, do you!" I called Chris down from his office, under the false pretense that he should be host-like since we had a guest, but it was really to give Evan the opening to announce his impending fatherhood to my dearly beloved. Chris's first shocked response? "Wow, you guys don't mess around!"

For something like 6 years now, Chris has been able to finish my sentences, and I've been able to finish his. When we were no more than pen pals, living on opposite coasts, we could anticipate what the other was about to say, and had several Instant Messenger conversations on AOL where we're both type the same comment to each other, at the same moment. It's completely natural, unscripted. It just happens. It's one of the coolest things about my marriage.

And I'm all jolly and happy to hear Evan and Rona's good news! If I can't have another baby of my own, having a surrogate niece or nephew to dote on is just fine by me.

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My Friend J.D.

I have no clear memory of meeting J.D.. I moved around enough as a kid that I'm able to narrow it down to a specific window of opportunity, but I have no recollection of a moment when we met and I became aware of him as a person, or took note of his place in my universe.

It may very well have been when I was a Freshman at Canby Union High School , probably involving the speech team or the school literary magazine, Patina. JD was a grade ahead of me, so while I might have known of him in a general way when I was in the 7th grade at Ackerman Junior High (now Ackerman Middle School) I didn't know him personally that far back.

I moved to Canby the summer after I graduated 6th grade at a grade school in nearby Oregon City. The only things of note that came from Oregon City are Tonya Harding and the unfortunate murders of two young girls at an apartment complex very near one of the houses my family rented back in the day. Oregon City was on a traditional school year system, with 9 months on and about 3 months off during the summer. I moved to Canby just before I would have had to attend classes at Moss Junior High, where a group of older, tougher girls had already warned me I was "dead meat" as soon as I showed my face.

Canby was on this wacky year-round "track" system, the first time I had ever encountered such a thing. Kids attended K-4 in one school building, then moved to another school for grades 5-6, all classes running on one of three "tracks" that were a few weeks on, then a week or two off, throughout the school year. I'd never heard of such a thing, but it did mean that when we were all thrown together into the junior high for grades 7-8, there were plenty of kids who didn't know each other because they'd been on different tracks or what have you. For grades 7-8 and then through all high school, the school year ran on the same traditional system I was used to.

During my years in Canby, I was attending Canby Christian Church and active in their youth group. JD had been raised Mennonite, but at the time I met him he was loosening his religious views. I dragged him off to some youth group rally or other once, where he later admitted to me that the evangelical bent of the evening hadn't meshed well with his "conservative Mennonite views" (a phrase I remember him using, mostly because I was having trouble understanding for myself what it meant to have "conservative Mennonite views"). We have both since completely moved away from that sort of religious lifestyle, but there was definitely a time when my life revolved around getting to Sunday school on time and being allowed to go to the next Petra concert. I can still sing the chorus of Not By Sight. JD was one of the people from that time with whom I felt comfortable with when it came to having heartfelt talks about the mysteries of a person's spiritual life and developing code of morals and ethics.

JD and I, along with another friend, Mitch Sherrard, wrote like fiends and exchanged poetry on a regular basis. JD was the best poetic talent of the three of us, with a best vocabulary and the willingness to try out many different poetic styles. I remember him as alternately serious and almost pretentious about writing as a craft and his writing in particular on one hand, and a sweetly tender, goofy, girl-crazy boy brimming over with affection for the world.

Mitch was like JD's dark counter-part in our trio. Mitch's father had died before we became friends, and Mitch was struggling with many of the typical dark issues of teenhood: alienation, loneliness, feelings of uncertainty and loss. Mitch's poetry was often dark, brooding, cynical, and then surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable when you'd least expect it.

My poetry was the rawest of the three, which I attribute to my relative youth and utter lack of life experience. I was always cooking up some melodramatic, angsty, thing and always shot to include a "message" or overt moral statement. Oh how I cringe looking over some of those masterpieces of modern teen poetry.

I have a wonderful photo of the two of them clowning for the camera outside the High School sometime in the winter of the '84-'85 school year (or so I assume because of the visible patches of snow). Aside from yearbook photos, it may be the only remaining snapshot I have of either of them.

JD and I have reconnected over the last few months, thanks to the blessed wonder of the Internet. I visit his blog regularly and he has been kind enough to visit and comment at mine as well. It's been fantastic to see how JD, the boy I knew, has become JD, the familiar-yet-different man. Wonderful wonderful technology that allows us to reconnect after so long, and across so many hundreds of miles.

JD is having knee surgery tomorrow (technically today, I suppose). It's a bit more serious than the typical, minor, orthoscopic surgery and he has dibs on all my best, most healing thoughts until he recovers. I'd appreciate it if the rest of you who swing by Nikchick.com could keep him in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery as well.

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Productive day today.

Announced the formation of our demo teams, and got a fantastic response off the bat. So far applicants are nicely spread out across most of the country, except for a surprising concentration of people from different parts of Idaho. Didn't expect that. I have information that I'm prepared to circulate, including our expected code of conduct, official "demo" policies and a volunteer agreement for people to sign. Back in 1998 when I launched the Demo Monkey program for Cheapass Games, things were so much simpler! In the old days I would have been much more casual about everything, but these days the government is involved and demands that we have official agreements in place, codes of conduct laid out, the whole bit.

Evan put a lot of work in fine tuning some data collection forms for demo applicants and convention support requests. We're also going to have an Events calendar at the website so people can keep track of when and where our demo teams are going to be running games. Just in time, too, because the convention season is essentially upon us! The websites are looking better all the time and I really get the feeling that people are building a real community around our games and support.

My next order of business it to catch up on the data entry for our mailing lists, and to get cracking on creating promo items in time to provide support for all my new-found minions. The half-implemented webstore is also hanging out there in the ether, and I really need to finish that up before we start the convention circuit, too. It seems everything in my life is measured around holidays, book releases, and conventions!

Managed to get a home-cooked dinner into the family tonight on top of everything else: honey-lime baked chicken wings, Deborah Madison's lemon-dill fava bean salad (fava beans are a hellacious amount of work to prep, with the shucking and the blanching and then removing a second layer of shell before finally having an astoundingly small pile of beans ready for cooking, but they are delicious and I buy them at the farmer's market whenever I can get them fresh) and some homemade peach-strawberry pie that I baked yesterday. Kate even ate a chicken wing, supplemented with a bowl of grated cheddar cheese. It's a freakin' miracle when this girl eats any of my home cooking. She "sorta liked" the chicken, but told me the "goopy stuff" (that would be the dressing) was "funny" and the beans "didn't taste like anything." I told her what she meant to say was the dressing was "tangy" and the fava beans were "subtle". In an effort to appease me, she did say that she liked the cheese (which was, of course, her independent addition to the menu). ::sigh::

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No answers

Argh. Still no idea what to do about the display situation. Furthermore, I updated some software on my Palm tonight and now the damn thing is in an endless loop of Fatal errors and worthless resets. I updated the software because not to long ago the Mac was crashing and I tried to solve the issue by defragging the hard drive. The defrag wouldn't complete, and then when I went to start up my mail program, it wouldn't start up either until I removed all my user info and saved mail from the file. Happily, I'd backed up my date book, address book, and everything except the mail messages themselves, so I wasn't too terribly screwed, but when I was reinstalling from those back-ups I noticed that several things from my Palm were not backed up correctly. I spent something like six hours reinstalling, downloading, upgrading, and so on to get my Palm in prime working order, except for one notice that said I needed to download the latest version of some software or other. When I did that, the above-mentioned Fatal Error loop began! Lame. And frustrating.

Of course one of the things I did lose with this defrag-inspired crash was a folder of requests for convention support that I had not backed up. And wouldn't you know it, tonight a guy comes out on the internet bitching about what bad manners I have for not getting back to him about his convention support request. I honestly don't ever remember getting anything from this guy, none of the details of his request sound at all familiar... but of course I can't look in my convention requests folder to be sure.

I shouldn't worry, I suppose, but I do. I want so badly to please people, to put out products that they love and deeply enjoy, to give them that extra bit of attention that makes them happy. Every time I fail to do that it just eats at me. When someone, for example, hates a picture in one of our books and feels the need to harp on it in public, at the slightest opportunity like it's some personal vendetta, it eats at me. When someone who *knows* there are only three of us working full time at Green Ronin complains about what a rotten, rude, horrible person I am for not answering his e-mail (that I can't even say for certain I received), it eats at me. I wish I didn't take the criticism of virtually anonymous strangers to heart, but I always have and judging from my response to tonight's latest round of dismissive rantings, I clearly still do.

What can I say? I'm sorry, I suck.

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Puzzle of the Day

Figuring out the most cost-effective way to get our convention display from San Diego Comic Con (ending Sunday, July 20th) to GenCon Indy (set-up begins Wednesday, July 23rd). Getting ourselves to both conventions is tricky enough (since I must stop back in Seattle and drop off Kate, who is going to San Diego with us but not Indianapolis) but I'd definitely prefer not to spend $2000 2-Day Air shipping 100 pounds of convention display before leaving town.

Will be sure to update on my brilliant solution as soon as I have one.



Johnny Cash

I have the most wonderful childhood memories of listening to the music of my parents and grandparents. I realize that most of it is not considered much, if it is considered at all, these days. Kids today are not rushing out to ensure their CD collections include the greatest hits of Credence Clearwater Revival, or the two-record set of Jesus Christ Superstar. No one is impressed that I know all the lyrics to Johnny Horton's version of The Battle of New Orleans, but I could belt it out with the best of them when I was 7.

My family's musical tastes could be described as eclectic. Bing Crosby? Check. Joan Baez? Check. The Amazing Wilson Picket? Check. There are a few artists in my childhood repertoire that were undeniable masters, The Beatles, Elvis, and (one of my favorites) Johnny Cash.

Cash's beloved wife, June Carter Cash, died last week from complications following heart surgery. In the 2002 liner notes from his current hot album, CASH he wrote, "I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of my God, my wife and my music. Life is rich when I can come home, after hours in the studio, feeling as frayed as a hundred Big G strings, and curl up to June Carter. She's a soft, fluffy Mama Bear. That's when I give God a 'Thanks a lot, Chief.' " Combined with her haunting appearance in his video for his cover of NIN's Hurt, the depth of his love for her is clear. I feel so sad for our tough and tender Man in Black. I'm sure I can't imagine the grief of such a loss.

I've been slowly introducing Kate to the eclectic variety of my musical tastes. She is trying valiantly to learn all the lyrics to A Boy Named Sue, she requests to listen to both the Beatles, and Elvis, and she sings along to "Down to the River to Pray" from the O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack with the same blissful enjoyment as she enjoys when she sings along to the latest from Britney Spears or whatever other hollow pop dance track is popular with the kids these days. This is one family tradition I'm pleased to carry on.




Whew, that was quite the whirlwind tour. I'm SO glad to be back home.

JD asked in the comments recently about the travel and networking required for running our business. I have to say that I usually enjoy the travel and attending the conventions. Having been in the same line of work since I left high school has meant that I've met many dozens of other game industry regulars who have, over the years, become some of my best friends. The internet allows us to keep in touch, even though we usually don't get to see each other in person for more than a few hours at a time, two or three times a year.

On the other hand, the turn-over in the game industry is tremendous. People leave the business on a regular basis, going off to more stable or lucrative jobs as game systems and companies rise and fall in and out of popularity. Sometimes the companies come in with a spectacular splash: sponsoring banquets, offering golden contracts, throwing parties with ice sculptures and live bands, renting riverboats or hotel ballrooms. Sometimes they go out in a similarly spectacular manner: they blow the money for their new fax machine on a dinner for their staff and volunteers at a highbrow German eatery, they spent the money for the print run of the new book on ice sculptures and hired models to hang out in their booth, they have stiffed so many printers/artists/writers they can't hire anyone to print/draw/write their products anymore. Countless people have come on the scene with their "better" versions of D&D or their take on Magic: the Gathering, dozens of perfectly nice men and women have mortgaged their houses thinking that the world really needed another game magazine. I miss many of those people and wonder what they're up to these days. If one is not actively "in" the game business, one is very much out.

Having now been to E3 in person, I have to say I hope never to have a job that would require me to attend on anything like a regular basis. Just being there for one day was far more than I could stand! The lights in all the halls are dimmed so that no glare on the computer screens will distract people from whatever cool, new graphic effect your company is introducing to the world. Giant, flashing, booming displays thirty feet tall loom in each of the three gigantic exhibit halls, where people line up to have a chance to play a few minutes of your as-yet-unreleased game (or crowd around to watch some other lucky fellow have his turn). The noise is tremendous and assaults convention attendees from all sides. Each exhibitor wants to attract your attention and draw you to his booth, but not only that! They do not want you to be distracted by other exhibitors' game noises or promotional hooha, so when you enter the circle of their exhibit space you're assaulted by a wall of sound that miraculously blocks out all others around you until you somehow wander out of the range of the noise and into the range of the next booth's soundblast. Having a conversation with someone on the floor of E3 is like trying to shout out anything meaningful to someone standing right in front of the amps at a rock concert. I have no doubt that serious hearing damage took place at that show, and I feel no compulsion to put myself through that even once more.

I'm pretty wiped out, so I guess I'll wrap this up and get some shut eye for now.

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Small victory

The competitor I mentioned recently has agreed to remove half of our company name from his site, but maintains he has the right to use the other half because of its "historical significance". Whatever. As annoyed as I am, he's reaping what he deserves, and if he wants to corner the market selling to pedophile gamers, he can go right along doing that and hopefully he'll be leaving me out of it from this point on. Ug.

Taking our flight down to LA tomorrow, conducting business meetings and so forth at E3. Am leaving Kate in the capable hands of Uncle Jess for the weekend. Jess has been an excellent friend, stepping up at the last minute to shuttle Kate back and forth to school and hanging with her while we're gone. Kate adores Jess and Kathryn, they're like the extended family, the aunt and uncle she doesn't have (at least not near by). Still, it's no small undertaking to agree to keep Kate for two and a half days straight. On a scale of one to Awesome, they're super-great.

In order to try and keep this unexpected trip from costing too much, we booked the whole thing through Priceline, which has up arriving something like 24 hours in advance of our meeting, and leaving late the day after! If all goes well, we'll be able to hook up with some other people at E3 who might be in the mood to make deals with little ol' us. If not, the meetings we have scheduled are plenty fine all on their own.

In addition to the scheduled meetings, I have hopes of seeing other industry folks that we know. It's possible The Bish will be there, and we just could run into him if he is (that would be swell, we haven't seen Bishop since he took a job in Edmonton and moved away with barely a fond, drunken farewell). Friend, and fellow Atlas Games alum, Jeff Tidball is currently living in LA, having finished his stint at film school. He's now working on the Lord of the Rings property at Decipher, and if we don't manage to hook up with him on this jaunt, we expect we will be seeing him at either Origins or GenCon later this summer.

Most pleasantly exciting of all, for me, is that LA is relatively near Palm Springs. One of my oldest, very dearest friends, with whom I've only been in sporadic contact with in the last eight or nine years, is a reporter for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. It's been, oh, nearly 10 years since we've seen each other in person, and since we're getting in so god-awful early I should have no trouble at all making the drive out to Palm Springs for some face-to-face reconnecting. I'm absolutely thrilled, especially because I have so few close friends from childhood that I still have any connection to.

Must pack, so I can get Kate bundled off and packed up to Jess's by 5:30am. Cursed early-morning flights!

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Found out today that a competitor (and I use that term in the loosest sense, as this company is run by a bottom-feeder who is not in our league in his wildest dreams) is using the names of our company and some of our better known products, jumbled up with words stripped from every game or media company/property of note, including (but not limited to) Hasbro, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games, AOL, Fox, Paramount, Marvel Comics, DC Comics... as Meta-Tags for his site(s). That's sleazy enough, but included in this list are all sorts of search words like "sex pedo nude girls" and "cheerleader little russia illegal cock hard big tits" and "sucked lolita lolitas pimps" and "bondage date rape black angels" or my personal favorites "card games multi player cum spit farm animals dogs" and "barely legal pre teen young adult film movies mpeg exploitation money back guarantee daddy incest daughter gays gang bang..." It goes on, but you definitely get the point.

Makes me sick and angry to think that someone looking for our products in a search engine would type in our company name or some other generic game terms and end up at "Prison Bitch: the card game" instead. You want to enjoy the great wide world of free commerce? Go right ahead. More power to you! But leave my products, my company identity, my trademarks and brand names out of it! Why is it so hard for some people to leave others in peace?

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Beautiful Mother's Day

The weather was just lovely yesterday. Kate, Chris, and I joined Charles and Tammie for brunch (and to hand off the money we owed them for sales of Charles' excellent Ultramodern Firearms D20 book).

My present to myself was to drop Kate and Chris off at home and then go out shopping by myself for several hours. We needed a few office supplies, and talking with Charles and Tammie has spurred me to go out and get a replacement for our terribly unreliable cordless phone. I also stopped at Cost Plus World Market and picked up some goodies like a Bodum Iced Tea Brewer for $9.99. Score! Treated myself to a couple off counted cross-stitch kits and miscellaneous items at the Michael's next door.




First I spent 11 days in Arizona, then two weeks later, Chris spent a week in New York City. Now he's barely returned from that junket and we're jaunting off to Los Angeles for the famed E3-Electronic Entertainment Expo, to meet with a couple of folks who happen to be going. Down on Thursday morning, back on Saturday night, and I arranged the whole thing for about $450 (including flights, car rental, and hotel) thanks to Priceline.com. Booya.

Kate has only 6 weeks left of school, and as soon as school lets out we're going to be drowning in convention season. I can feel the panic setting in.



X2, redux

Chris, Kate and I went to see X-Men United together last night. Chris and I had seen the movie separately on opening weekend, but it seemed like the kind of thing we could enjoy with Kate as well, so we gave it a shot. Kate loved it, except for the mushy kissing (and, she noted, the Wolverine she knows from the cartoon would never cry). She was sharp-eyed and caught the shadowy phoenix at the end. The general lack of blood from Wolverine's snikt, snikt action was definitely a plus for this family's entertainment.

Seeing the movie again reaffirmed my preferred theory about why Jean goes out at the end in the way that she does. The one criticism I've heard several of my friends voice about the ending is they can't understand why Jean left the plane and sacrificed herself. My theory on that was that from the beginning they tried to establish that Jean was having these uncontrollable surges of power: at the museum she starts overhearing the thoughts of everyone in the room, becoming "overloaded" and causing the tv screens in the room to start malfunctioning; Cyclops tells us that she's been having nightmares that "make the whole room shake"; when she tries looking into Nightcrawler's mind, it gets too intense and she has to break contact suddenly (she apologizes to Nightcrawler); when fighting against the mind-controlled Cyclops, she damn near releases a nuclear explosion (and since she's fighting against her lover, we assume she doesn't want to kill him or blow the whole place up...subduing him ought to have been enough, but she "surged" with power again). But the time they get to the jet, and it's inexplicably shut down, Jean understands that she's the one causing the problem, through powers she can't control. She leaves the jet in order to make sure everyone else gets away, and (knowing Cyclops will insist on trying rescue her, or waste precious time trying to convince her she's wrong) she takes matters into her own hands, blocks their efforts, and sacrifices herself.

Seeing it the second time really let me pick up that thread during the story. I was surprised that I saw that thread in the movie where so many of my comic-geek friends did not! Maybe it's a chick-thing?

Kate, after the final voice-over, said, "Oh, I totally thought she was going to come back." She will, sweetie, you just wait for X-men 3. For now, let's just start the count-down to the next ding dang Harry Potter novel.

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Like the rock stars do it

Take a couple of Canadian geek-rock superstars, put them up in the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and see what happens:

"...speaking Olde English to the staff is fun. “Good Morrow young valet peasant. Woudst though pointith us to thine check in and registry? Forseuth, I must retreatith to mine room a mile leeward, and layeth mine heater". We were the only ones laughing. I'm still laughing.

Having stayed at the Excalibur once shortly before the GAMA Trade Show moved off the strip to the Orleans Hotel and Casino (replete with headliners like Neil Sedaka and Bobby Rydell) I can attest that the Excalibur has restaurants with names like Lance-A-Lotta Pasta! or Sir Galahad's Pub & Prime Rib House, and absolutely deserve to have people spouting their best Renaissance Faire Olde English during their visits.




I have been in a cooking and cleaning way today. Having done umpteen loads of laundry and a spate of gardening today, I feel very virtuous. I also managed to find some nifty, simple IKEA shelves for this awkward little corner of my kitchen that was going to waste. Every time I manage to put up one shelf or organize a corner of the house, I always feel a surge of happiness. Too many potential projects, too little time and money, alas.

I did finally plant the last of my spring plant purchases, though I might go out for a few more flowers or small bushes for the front, as it's currently too asymmetrical out there to suit me. I'd dearly love to buy a Japanese maple to plant in front of the house near the border of my yard with the small park next door, but I haven't quite decided to go all the way and dig up that part of our very small yard. I'm very fond of the look of the Japanese maple, though, and would love to have one in the yard somewhere. I've already fulfilled my desire to plant a couple of lilac bushes and some lavender in the back, the Japanese maple is still calling to me.

If I'm really ambitious on the weekend, I'll finally finish properly setting the bricks/paving stones in the back walkway, replacing once and for all the gravel patch between the porch steps and sidewalk to the garage/alley. It's bothered me since we moved in to have that ugly, dirty gravel path, and most of my neighbors have long ago repaved their gravel patches, but I've just never gotten around to doing it correctly. In order to achieve the look I want, I need to dig up/remove all the gravel, lay down some special sheeting (to keep weeds from growing up between the bricks), level the whole thing, tamp it down, put down a layer of sand, tamp that down level as well, and then set all the bricks/stones in place. I've got half the stones I need, and haven't quite settled on the way I'd like to finish the whole project. Definitely want to have it completed in time to spend some time in the back yard this summer.

Have decided to try and book a room at The Capitol Club for Chris's birthday this summer. It seems up his alley, and I think it would be fun and classy to celebrate there. No confirmation that I can get it for the date I requested, but I'm hoping that in this economy it's not as difficult to book as places like this used to be 5-6 years ago.

Made some excellent pulled pork sandwiches for game night, as well as a new recipe for a cactus salad that I quite enjoyed. Both from the Joy of Cooking, a book that has proved to be a life-saver on more than one occasion when I've gone and bought something wacky (like kale or cactus pads or guava fruits) without any thought in mind of what to do with them when I got them home. The Joy of Cooking is a righteous book. There are particular recipes in other books that I use more often, but if I had to have one book that was my "go to" cookbook above all others, The Joy of Cooking wins out 19 times out of 20.



Neighborhood Bullies

I still vividly remember chasing one Tyrone Funk down the street, back in the day, after he threatened to beat up some of my guy friends (calling them pussies). Wearing a garish, flouncy purple dress (for I had just come from the 8th Grade Graduation Dance) I stalked off into the darkness after him, shouting, "You wanna fight? Fight me! I'll show you who's a PUSSY!" as he ran away, calling over his shoulder that I was lucky he was raised so well, he didn't hit girls.... Not long after this incident, I caught him bullying a kid on crutches, trying to yank his crutches away. I threw him up against some lockers, and told him he'd better not ever let me catch him bullying anyone, anywhere, ever again and he made sure I never did.

I discovered in my recent visit with childhood pal Greg (who was witness to this fiasco) that I was not the only one who remembered my interactions with Ty Funk with some fondness. Ah, the memories.

Yesterday afternoon Kate came home from school and asked me if I would walk to the bus stop with her in the morning. Earlier in the year I'd given a young man a talking to, telling him that since he was bigger and stronger than my little girl, I expected him to restrain himself from hitting her in the head with his book bag. At that time, I'd told him that if I heard that he couldn't restrain himself, I was going to have to come to the bus stop every afternoon and walk him home. It took a minute for that to sink in, but I stressed that if he couldn't be trusted to roam the neighborhood without an escort, I would be happy to walk him home after school every day to make sure everyone got home safely. That being just about the last thing in the world he wanted, he fell in line.

This kept the peace for several months, but Toumsa and his friend Massad are getting restless again and this time throwing rocks at little girls. Kate made sure to tell me that they did not throw rocks at her, but they were picking on one of her forlorn-looking little friends, and could I please go and teach them a lesson?

This morning, I happily sauntered up to Toumsa and told him that I'd heard he'd been throwing rocks, and that as one of the biggest kids at the bus stop, I was *sure* he could excercise some self-restraint and not pick on little girls. He indignantly protested that he had not thrown rocks at *my* little girl, and why did I care. I replied that I cared because this was my neighborhood, and I wanted it to be a safe place for everyone, so if I heard that he was causing trouble for any of the girls I wasn't going to let it go. He started to turn away, seemed to be ignoring me, so I turned it up a notch, "Toumsa, what would your family think I told them you were throwing rocks at little girls?"

His jaw dropped. "How did you know my name?!" I assured him that everyone in the neighborhood knew his name because he was always causing trouble. "Well, what's *his* name?" Toumsa said, pointing at his friend. I told Toumsa that I didn't care what his friend's name was, and that if his friend went around causing as much trouble as he did, I'm sure that I would know his name too.

The little coward gave up his friend's name immediately! "His name is Massad!" Fine, then, now I know both of your names. And I expect both of you big boys to have the good sense to leave the little girls alone from now on. This kid was clearly praying for the bus to arrive and save him.

There will come a day in the not too distant future when these kids will be too old and cocky for me to intimidate into good behavior this way, but for now I'll just keep handling the neighborhood bullies like I've always done. Maybe they'll grow up and start acting less like little creeps if they think the Crazy Neighbor Lady is keeping tabs on them, and they're not anonymous and safe from retribution!

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What country?

This quiz hit my e-mail "Moms Group" and several of the moms took the test. I was quite surprised by my results, as might be those who know me and my tendency to indulge in righteous fury and retribution. Despite all that, I came out as:

Switzerland -
A neutral power for as long as most can remember, it has avoided war for several centuries. However, it is still considered highly advanced and a global power.


Powerful without Force.
Makes Excellent Watches, Etc.


Target of Ridicule.
Constant Struggle to Avoid Conflict.
Target of Criminal Bank Accounts.

Which Country of the World are You?
brought to you by Quizilla



Party time!

Unable to decide what to fix the Katester for dinner, given her limited palate (hmm, macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches?) I teased her "Maybe I should make *both*!"

She started jumping around, cheering, "Yeah! It's a cheese party!

Yeah, we sure know how to party around here... yee haw.

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Ah, I see it's in vogue for the cool kids to say that X2 isn't a great movie. Bah. I thought X-Man 2 was a rockin' good time, and as good a movie as one could hope to get out of a comic book/animated series property. Silly, pedestrian me. I quite enjoyed it and am eager to go see it again. I guess all the King Geeks are still showing the rest of us how cool and jaded they are. You know the ones, the kind who when you say "Hey, have you seen Homestarrunner.com? Those Strong Bad e-mails are a hoot!" they're the first to respond that yes, they've been watching Strong Bad's e-mails regularly, and they really were better about a year ago before "everyone" discovered the site.


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Mr. Rogers, again

Mister Rogers, again

Today, 2000 people turned out for the public memorial service for Fred Rogers. When reminded of the date, I once again felt incredibly sad. I grieve for what we've lost in the world with his passing. Moreso because of dispicable, self-serving, dark-hearted idiots like Fred Phelps. Phelps you may know from his website (which I refuse to link to) or from his group's choice to randomly picket people and organizations that actively provide aid, support, or just plain general acceptance for homosexuals. Apparently not getting enough publicity for his twisted cause, he and his family/followers have taken to picketing randomly selected churches that belong to denominations that don't actively persecute or speak against homosexuals and homosexuality, which allows them to include as a target, you guessed it, Mr. Rogers. This nutjob is now trumpeting the message that Mr. Rogers is burning in Hell, not because of anything he did, but because of what he didn't do. Mr. Rogers never addressed homosexuality at all, and so, by Phelps' logic, he burns in hell.

I hope Phelps and his followers behaved like the cowards they are and decided not to show up to picket the memorial. Or that if they did, they get no media attention for so doing. A very large, righteously indignant part of me hopes they showed up and got their asses kicked within an inch of their pathetic, hateful lives by grieving attendees, but I don't suppose that Mr. Rogers himself would approve of such an action. Still, I'm continually horrified at the depth of hate and cruelty humans are capable of inflicting on the world.

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Oh so busy

Yesterday I was in the house for about an hour. My friend Greg and his two girls were in town, waiting for wife/mom Nichole to finish some certification training she was doing. Haven't seen Greg in, oh, 15 years or so. In addition to taking a painting across town to be scanned, and making trips to the post office and UPS, handing a ton of important time-sensitive e-mail that popped up ("Where are we supposed to ship these books today?" Um, the same damn warehouse address I've given you for the last 6 books, perhaps? "Your account is going to be canceled in 4 days unless you update your billing information!" So, of the three billing options you have saved in regards to my account you can't find *one* that you like?... Hey where's my restock shipment for books X, Y, and Z that I'm now out of stock on?? Blah, blah, blah.), I also received a delivery of new books and drove copies across town so certain contributors could have them before the weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit with Greg and his girls. I took Kate out of school and let her and the girls have the run of the Seattle Children's Museum for a couple of hours. After a quick lunch, it was back to running around trying to get Kate's things packed for her weekend with her dad, including digging up her birth certificate, her social security card, and other things she needed for her border-crossing interview (her dad applied to get her some sort of fast pass thingy to make their regular border crossings easier).

Several hours of brutal traffic jams later, I found myself at the Cascade Mall, child-free and with no one waiting for me to return to Seattle at any particular time. I took advantage of this and bought tickets to the first available showing of X-Men 2. It was a couple hours until I could get into the movie, so I bought a couple of books that caught my eye at Waldenbooks, headed out for a sandwich at Quiznos, and spent probably an hour reading in the comfy chairs at Starbucks, drinking coffee and waiting for showtime.

I loved X-Men 2! So good I just about needed a cigarette afterwards! Heh. The good thing (for me) is that I'm familiar enough with the source material that I can enjoy the character development and plot of the movie without the crippling geek affliction of knowing everything so well that the slightest deviation from the comic books (or novels or whatever a Geek Favorite movie is based on) ruins the geek's ability to just enjoy the movie. Thus, I was able to groove on the fact that the name Remy LeBeau flashes past on a computer screen (and say to myself, "Ooh, does this mean Gambit for X3?") and just go on back to enjoying the film. Hooray for me.

When I got back to Seattle, I curled up in bed, munched some White Cheddar Cheetos, listened to the Old School Rap station that my digital cable system provides, and did crossword puzzles until I was tired enough to fall asleep. Good, productive, fun day.

I will probably write more over the weekend on various topics ranging from my youthful obsession with Rick Springfield, my thoughts on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a movie, the childhood friends I've managed to reconnect with thanks to the internet, the book Jarhead, and why I've saved two books filled with angsty teen poetry that wasn't even written by me. But for now, Chick needs coffee.

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Easter Bread

A package just arrived from my mother-in-law. It was Greek Easter on Sunday and Elaine sent her traditional package of Greek Easter Bread, koulourakia, and some red-dyed hard-boiled eggs (none of which arrived unbroken), so there will be no running around the house smashing them together to see whose cracks last.

Ironically, two of the few Greek phrases Chris remembers from childhood exposure (or that wasted year of Greek school), aside from words for food, are the traditional Greek Easter statements of, "Christos Anesti" (Christ has risen), and the response of "Alithos Anesti" (Truly He has risen). If you know Chris at all, these are two things you'd never expect to hear from his mouth.

He does like the Easter Bread, though. And much like Challah, it makes really good French toast once it starts to go a little stale.