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Discolor Online

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

 

Last Day

The games have been sold, the demos run, drinks and dinners and handshakes and hugs... bye-bye for another year Columbus.

Now to get home, tackle the backlog, and make it to San Diego.

Very much looking forward to sleeping in my own bed...

 
 

Origins Update

Man, I've been SO busy. No time for blogging at this convention so far.

Tuesday we left for Columbus, arriving after midnight. We'd had a hellish connection in Dallas, where we had about 15 minutes to get from the last row of our crowded plane across the entire gigantic horseshoe-shaped Dallas/Ft.Worth airport. I'll go into more detail on that some other time. Suffice to say that we made the flight but our luggage did not.

The hotel we're in is brand new and we're very pleased. Because we had to check in with the staff several times due to our late-night arrival, the multiple deliveries for us, and our missing luggage, the staff knows us on sight. They've been extremely sweet and good-natured about not only our needs but handling the large influx of gamers at the hotel. Thumbs up to the staff of the Drury Inn.

Wednesday night was the GAMA general meeting and the GAMA elections. The meeting was well-attended and it seems that I can work with everyone who was elected this year, so that was very good news.

Thursday was the frist day of the show, which I thought was well attended for a Thursday. I was in and out of the booth for much of the day, so I don't have a sense of how sales went but I feel pleased at the level of exposure we've had. Our demos have been going off without a hitch as well, which is always a blessed relief.

Thursday night was the GAMA Board meeting, with the new Board of Directors. Very pleasant and productive meeting, with lots of good reports on the convention from the GAMA staff.

Friday I rearranged my schedule to have time enough to go on an outting to a waterpark with Kate, Mary, and Miranda. Good fun, though I did get a brutal sunburn on my back and shoulders. Luckily, the sunburn didn't show from under my dress for the Origins Awards.

The ceremony is another subject deserving its own entry, so I'll just say that it went off remarkably well considering how many last minute things were snafu'd. At the end of the ceremony I was announced as the new Chair of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, and to my stunned amazement received an embarrassingly long standing ovation from the attendees. Congratulations and condolences were offered after the show, and now the hard part begins.

Two more days of show, though today is half-over as I write this. Kate went with Mary and Miranda to the zoo and aquarium as part of the "Spouse Track" of offerings for the non-gaming family members of the gamers who attend the convention. Tomorrow I'm intending to take some of my off-time from the booth to take Kate to COSI, which is a really fun museum, great for kids.

We're not flying home until Monday night, so I intend to relax for as long as I can get away with on Monday before check-out. More updates are likely to happen then.

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Way to go, Ohio

Off to Ohio. After several false starts and near misses, I'm still getting a "bad disk, I/O error" with the laptop, so it will not be coming with me. Not sure how many updates to the blog I'll be able to squeeze in without it. We'll see how it goes.

The Origins Awards are on Friday night. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed for us, we were nominated in five categories but the competition this year is going to be vicious.

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Fixed?

Not quite fixed, but I can see it from here. Both my Palm and the Mac have come tantalizingly close to returning to working order. Tomorrow is the last day of prep before the trek to Origins and I am definitely not mentally ready for it.

In addition to making sure we've got all our Green Ronin ducks in a row, I've got personal obligations to fulfill. There is a big, ugly membership meeting and election in my future, which I will be forced to attend Wednesday, a tedious board of directors meeting to follow that on Thursday, the Origins Awards ceremony and all that entails on Friday... I'm stressed and tired and cranky.

Will definitely feel better if I can get the Palm working. When my Palm isn't working, I forget things. Now is not a good time for me to forget things.

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Finished

Read it. Will begin reading it to Kate tomorrow. Must say I'm a tad disappointed; my feelings reading the center portion of the book were very similar to the feelings Chris describes feeling when reading Robert Jordan. Too much with the characters whining and speculating and feeling sorry for themselves, and a lot of "Man, girls sure are strange, unknowable creatures." Then again, I had the same sort of response to Luke Skywalker's character in Star Wars (good god what a whiner he was!). Still, after being kept waiting for two years, I guess I had hoped for a somewhat tighter story. She sticks closely to the forumula of all the other books, but packs about 400 extra pages into it.

Must also admit that the author's whole pre-release revelation that a major character is killed off (moving herself to tears with that one) and that several characters suffer *near* fatal injuries leading up to the actual event in the book struck me as deliberate cock-tease, trying to artificially add suspense and excitement to the story. I really dislike that kind of marketing-driven hype.

But it was good enough for a kid's book.

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Harry Potter

We nearly had a disaster with our Harry Potter outing! I called the Barnes & Noble closest to my house at about 9:15 to see if they were open for Harry Potter. Of course they were, but I hadn't been able to find any confirmation about it.

They asked if I'd reserved a book, and when I said no, they told me they had some small number of books available for people who didn't think to reserve, but it was first come first served and there were people lining up for the books already. If we missed out, their next shipment of books wouldn't be until Tuesday.

Eek! I'd already told Kate we'd try to get the book before we flew to Ohio Tuesday! I explained the situation to Kate and checked with her about what she wanted to do. Made clear that we might not be able to get a book, that we might get down there and be too late. Her response, "That would be a disappointment. I might cry, because I've been waiting sooooo long. But I want to try it."

So we did! We showed up to the store at about 9:40. Every parking space in the lot (which normally serves 5 big stores) was full. The store was *crawling* with people, lots of people in costumes, activities for the kids (trivia, wand-making, guess how many Bertie Botts Beans are in the jar, face painting, get your picture taken in a wizard hat with the Harry Potter standee, etc). Each check-stand was one "house" and color coded to a ticket, each person that reserved a copy got a ticket for their house with a number on it. The walk-ins were all in Gryffindor; we got ticket number 122. At midnight they started calling people to the front in groups of 10. At 1:25am we finally made it to the front!

We got home at 1:45am and I stayed up reading until 3:00am... -pre-screening the book for Kate, you understand.

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Irritating

Boy, I can tell school is out. I keep getting pink and purple Instant Messages from kids every time I sign onto my AOL account. "hey, who r u?" "r u Nikki?" I try telling these kids that I'm not the person they're looking for, but to no avail. They always think I'm kidding around, or else they're just enjoying screwing with me. "yes u r. i know who u r. this is kenny, sarah's little bro" or "do u go to krappington high?"

I could just ignore them, but I figure they might want to actually get the right IM handle for their little friend. They're probably looking for Nikchick123 or Nikichik or some other variation on my handle. I politely request that they check my profile (that's why I have one) but these kids either don't know how to use the function, or my profile doesn't come up for them because without fail they tell me I don't have one. Sometimes I'll get a "who r u" message, I tell them I'm not who they're looking for, they go away, only to IM me the next day "is this Nikki?" Guess what, I'm STILL not the kid you're looking for.

I could just block all IMs, or all IMs except from people I know, but I do actually talk to some people by IM (like people on my demo teams or other industry associates from across the continent) and I don't want to accidentally block them. I already has a bad experience where my spam filter was blocking legitimate mail from freelancers and paying customers. Very bad.

It's really a minor annoyance, but there are definitely some days when I wonder why I try to be nice about it at all.

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Permits

Good to see Florida taking its laws seriously. No more selective enforcement! The Law applies equally to all... even six-year-olds and their lemonade stands. I hope they made the little nippers collect taxes as well.

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Cake Day!

Kate and I made cake today. It just had to be done.

I even piped "CAKE DAY" on top in whipped cream.


Bwah ha ha ha.

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Summer Begins

Kate is finished with First Grade. Now for those lazy days of summer.

When I picked Kate up from school today, we walked over to Starbucks for a treat, to kill half an hour until the farmer's market opened. On the walk there (all of a block and half) Kate ran into an older boy who hugged her and chattered to her and happily said he'd see her next year. When I asked Kate who he was, she couldn't remember his name. She's terrible with names, which doesn' t help me learn who her little friends are. Then we saw another little girl poking her head out of a beauty shop we passed. Kate stopped to talk to her: "Does your mom work here? You're lucky! My mom makes books. She runs a company. See you next year!" Again, I'd never heard Kate mention this girl, who seemed very happy to hear that Kate would be coming back to Orca agan next year.

At Starbucks Kate had a chocolate milk and a frosted sugar cookie and I had a chocolate malt frappuccino. Kate looked out the window and chattered to me about how many people from her school she was seeing walk past, while I looked over her end of the year reports. Very confusing stuff, these school evaluations. Even though Kate scored a "12" (which is exactly where she should be for reading skills) her reading level needs to be 14 or greater (the "level" and the "score" are different scales I guess) and so Kate is simultaneously called "text-book first grader" and yet "does not meet the Spring 2003 standard" -- but just two months ago was tested twice and I was told she's also eligible for the city's Spectrum/Advanced Learning program. Now, which is it? Is she not up to standards, or is she eligible for the gifted "advanced learning" program? I puzzled over the reports until the farmer's market opened, and then we wandered over.

It was a light day at the farmer's market. I bought half a flat of organic strawberries, which are so amazingly superior to the store-bought strawberries it's a wonder anyone buys strawberries at Safeway ever! The organic berries are smaller, but with such sweet, concentrated flavor and a delicious scent. I pulled out my copy of Small Batch Preserving and I'm going to use some of these berries to make a couple of small jars of jam tomorrow. It's been years since I did any preserving, but I'd like to do some more of it this year.

I also picked up a loaf of fresh honey wheat bread. Kate and I have a ritual where she gets to pick certain things at the market, like the bread (she always buys a round loaf of honey wheat from the same vendor), a cookie if she wants it (from the lady who sells cookies and savory tarts), organic cheese (last week she chose a small wheel of organic gouda, so we're set for cheese for the rest of the month), and flowers (my favorite of her choices so far this year had to be the fragrant, pastel sweet pea blossoms). I fill in with purchases for the adult taste, like fava beans (I've become hooked on these time intensive little beauties), asparagus (today's selection), roasted hazelnuts, wild mushrooms, and big bunches of crisp, green, fresh mint (is that a mojito calling me? I think it is!). We're going to miss three weeks of the market this summer, but I'm making a real effort to shop there on Wednesdays the weeks we're in town. It really is just such a pleasure, it's a shame not to indulge in the experience during the few months of the year we can enjoy an outdoor market so close to our home.

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Potluck

Tonight was Kate's end of school potluck. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids, with early dismissal. Chris and I attended, and we contributed Kate's favorite dish of mine, "nachos". I layer a pan with refried beans, an extra can of pinto beans (for texture), some Taco-spiced cooked ground beef (if I'm feeling fancy), sour cream, cheddar cheese (or that pre-grated Mexican mix they're selling in stores these days) and top the whole thing off with black olives. Kate is VERY disappointed if her nachos don't include black olives. Totally simple, mostly pre-packaged, but she loves it.

Lemme tell you, whatever the drawbacks of Kate's school have been, the potlucks are not one of them. Those hippies know how to cook! Pastas, bean salads, couscous salads, lettuce salads, bread salads, fruit salads. I stuffed myself: curried chickpeas, curly noodles, pesto pasta, potato salad, fresh tomatoes and mixed lettuce with balsamic vinegar, lasagne. All the desserts were gone by the time we arrived, but who cares? My nachos disappeared as if a swarm of locusts had descended upon them. Some of the musical parents were playing piano and singing for the kids, a regular little jazz ensemble. It was quite festive.

Afterward, we stayed for the PTA meeting, which was just as dull and tedious as such meetings are rumored to be. Still, I feel an obligation to be more involved in Kate's school, and I wanted to know what the issues facing the school are going into next year. We have a new principle coming in, a vacancy in the superintendent spot, and budget cuts at the local, state, and federal levels all at the same time. Making sure Kate fits into her school and that school gives her the best education we can get out of it weighs heavy on my mind right now.

On the way home, Chris and I were cracking up, because we had Kate believing that while she's at school on Mondays we have "Cake Day" where we bake and eat a whole cake before she gets home. I said, "Oh man, what are we going to do now that school's out and Kate is going to be home on Mondays? We'll have to bake our cakes in the middle of the night and have Cake Night." She was skeptical, thinking that we were likely joking, but the thought of Cake Day (and Chris's well-known love of cake?) was too tantalizing for her to resist. "No fair, I want some cake! Tell me when you have Cake Day." pause "Anyone who's serious about Cake Day and not joking, raise your hand..." just as Chris reaches up to scratch his ear. "Are you raising your hand?! Tell me!"

Sometimes Kate is just adorable and makes us laugh really hard. She's awfully sweet at this age.

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Headache and Busy

Ah, preconvention prep. How I loathe it.

I need to get my badge requests in for GenCon. The California bureaucratic body that issues the seller's permits for Comic Con has not deigned to get back to me with my permit, so I need to sort that out as well. Have to arrange to ship the convention display, which means making sure the kit is together and ready to go. The new graphics have not been put together yet, so we probably won't have those for Origins. Managed to find people to give the eulogies for Chris Bledsoe, Paul Randles, and Sid Sackson, and hopefully we will have the Hall of Fame inductees on hand to accept their inductions. Made arrangements for our late-running June release to ship directly to Origins so we can have some on hand for the convention. Sent the proofs back for another project today, while confirming with the printer that two cases of our reprint should come here to Seattle, and what quantities we want printed on the other two books they have the files for. Tried to track down an order for a book placed by a prisoner who hasn't received it, prompting me to once again work on the webstore so that I can offer several different options for shipping (including UPS and Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation) that aren't so easily lost or mangled. Eventually had to give up in frustration for the day, as none of the modules would load correctly (even though they were downloaded and installed from the shopping cart company's website as per their posted directions). Still have to make GenCon and DragonCon flight arrangements, plus pay for the booth and the hotel for DragonCon too.

Somewhere around 2:00pm I felt a headache coming on. I tried heading it off by having a beer and taking some over the counter migraine pills, but no dice. Driving around in the hot car did not help; I definitely had light sensitivity happening, and of course it was a warm, beautiful, sunny day. Stopped at Fed Ex, drove down to the PO Box, and stopped at the store where I got everything for tonight's dinner but the fresh mussels I wanted. Tried another store, but no luck there either. Substituted frozen scallops and went ahead with the recipe, but by the time I'd cooked dinner, my headache was bad enough that I didn't feel like eating anything at all.

Need to put Kate in the bath and get her to bed. She'll definitely want me to read the Series of Unfortunate Events book we're mid-way through. Can't wait until I can lay down, but I really need to type up the code of conduct and How You Earn Points materials for my demo volunteers.

Oh, and as is typical, technology hates me again today. My Palm is having fatal errors and the G3 won't recognize the firewire external hard disk I bought to back up the company files, or the CD burner. Need to get all those things sorted out before convention season gets into full swing, or I won't get back to them until October. And I can't live without my Palm until October!

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Lobstermania

As has become tradition, my mother-in-law sent Chris giant lobsters again for his birthday. She called to be sure we'd be home to accept the delivery, and we were expecting lobsters to arrive on Monday, but she went for the Saturday delivery instead. Since I'd planned a party for Chris, I totally wasn't intending to cook lobsters yesterday afternoon but I opened the box and took a peek at the lobsters, and they were looking none too peppy. I was worried that the larger of the two was possibly no longer with us, but it twitched half-heartedly after I poked at it for a while). NO WAY they were going to last another day, they had to be cooked immediately.

So, we had some giant lobsters for lunch, we have a ton of meat left over (they were just too big to eat!), and I went crazy making lobster stock before the party. This month's issue of Cooking Light arrived Friday and when I was reading it what did I see but a recipe for lobster stock! And, coincidentally, I have lobsters lying around the house and just enough time to make stock before the party. It was a sign, a portent. I had to obey.

The party at the Capitol Club was delightful, the Blue Room just the perfect setting. Only twice during the night did anyone uninvited intrude into the room. The first was a drugged up club-goer who twitched his way into the room and tried to make himself comfortable, until we told him it was a private party and all stared at him until his paranoia kicked in and he got up and left again. We heard the doorman forcibly ejecting him with a, "What are you doing in here, we told you to LEAVE," followed by a quick apology to the room for not noticing he'd slipped in. The second intrusion was a twenty-something partier who stuck her head in the room and bitchily barked at us to "Stop it right now." Since everyone else was in brisk, geek conversation, we had no idea what she was talking about. "Stop throwing ice!" We looked around at our iceless drinks, and back to her, baffled. Conversation screeched to a halt. Luckily, Sasha had been sitting with a view to the door and had seen some ice go flying past while the woman was standing there, and knew what the hell she was talking about and jumped in to tell Righteous Indignation Chick that the ice was coming from elsewhere. Good thing, too, or I would have had to match her Righteous Indignation with some of my own, and goodness knows that couldn't have ended well.

Besides my favorite part, where John Tynes shows up late to the party, wearing the same Trogdor the Burninator shirt that the birthday boy is wearing, my next favorite bit was where our waiter, overhearing the raging geek debate about whether Spiderman or Batman is older, picks up on Ray's remark about the Rawhide Kid and asks if it's true that the Rawhide Kids is an out of the closet, gay cowboy comic book character. To his delight, we confirm that it's real. My second favorite part of the evening (only coming in second because I'm currently smitten with Strong Bad) was the ever-gracious Stan! offering to belly dance, since Chris's one "disappointment" of the evening was the lack of belly dancers. Lotsa fun, laughter, and good friends.

We closed the place out, cursing all the while at Seattle's lame policy of bum rushing people out of bars and clubs at 1:30am (even though they technically don't close until 2am, when the clock strikes 2 the lights must be off and the doors locked, no stragglers). We milled around on the streets with a couple hundred other refugees from the surrounding area, and debated moving the dregs of the party over to Ray and Christine's private room, but eventually decided to call it a night. John and Ray apparently drove the looped Mr. Mitch home, which was undoubtedly a good plan. When we left them, Mitch had just peed on a building (for lack of a bathroom), was munching happily on a sausage purchased from a street vendor, and was looking for an attractive young woman who might answer the night's burning question of "What the hell is a camel toe?".

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Performance

Chris and I went to Kate's school's End of Year performance. We sat through two kindergarten classes singing. The first class was sweet, the second class (led by Kate's Kindergarten teacher) was a mess, all the kids singing and shouting out "lyrics" to a complicated song they'd recently "written" all out of unison.

Next were the first graders, Kate singing with her class, oh so sweetly. Kate also joined the "Orca Junior Choir" for two songs, including It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) and a song listing the fifty states called The Red, White, and Blues. Tried to take a bunch of pictures, but I was sitting too far back to get good shots.

Kate's dad came down from Vancouver for the performance and the girl was thrilled that he did. I'm glad I told him about it and strongly suggested he come, it meant the world to her. The two of them left for a weekend together as soon as her part in the performance was over.

Chris and I stopped for dinner at the nearby Vietnam's Pearl. The food was great, enhanced no doubt by my ravenous hunger. I'd had nothing to eat all day but a cup of coffee and then the meal deal at Fatburger for lunch (which, while not as good as In-n-Out Burger, did tide me over for several hours), and by the time we'd gotten food it was 8:45pm. Vietnam's Pearl is a decent place, but unfortunately reminds me of a couple of former friends with whom I've fallen out. One couple I now truly despise and I dislike doing things that remind me they exist. The other fellow isn't 100% unredeemably loathed, but unfortunately is not only a close friend of the couple, but is also an unflinching apologist for both their personal conduct towards my family and the outrageous corporate misuse inflicted on my husband in the last year of his corporate job. Since I can't forgive either of those things, and since this guy had the nerve to stand in my kitchen and tell me I was, essentially, fucked up for holding my beliefs and opinions on the matter, I've washed my hands of him as well. It's better for my mental health all around to forget them, but certain stores, restaurants, or other places where we shared experiences crash in on my voluntary amnesia now and then.

Tomorrow night is Chris's birthday party. I wish I could have done more for him to express my love and adoration, but I fear I can never top the year I kidnapped him and took him to a bed & breakfast for the weekend. (I can, however, usually willfully forget that the estranged couple I just referenced unforgivably decided to book a weekend at the same bed and breakfast for the same weekend we were there, and met us at the door of the place to announce "We've seen your suite! It was huge, you have two rooms! We laid on your bed!" before Chris or I even had the chance to check in, and before I had the chance to fully spring the surprise of having rented the best suite in the place on Chris. Gah, who does something like that and why was I ever friends with those people?)

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David Brinkley



11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2,000 Weeks of TV News, and 18 years of Growing Up in North Carolina

If you don't know much about David Brinkley, you should learn a little of him. Click on the photo above for the link to his Presidental Medal of Freedom obituary, and visit http://spiritofthecarolinas.com/fall2000/article_brinkley.htm for a September 2000 spotlight on him, including some excellent photographs.

David Brinkley was like Mr. Rogers for adults. He was a class act, a professional, a talented journalist and a gentleman. He refused to be classified, sometimes weighing in as a conservative on one issue, sometimes as a liberal on another. "It depends on the issue," he said. I loved his ability to balance polite, respectful discourse without shying away from trying to address the myriad political and social issues that face the world. He was a fine man.

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Chris Bledsoe



Last year Chris Bledsoe, a friend from the game industry, lost his battle with cancer. I always tell people that Chris was a hell of a guy, and I barely knew him! We met when my Chris was working for his "best WotC boss", Bob, who had been Bledsoe's boss at a couple of other jobs and who was still a good friend. Bob, Chris, Chris, and I were up in the wilds of British Columbia at a fun little gaming convention held by a local retailer/doctor. (Guess you've gotta do what you can to fill out the necessary jobs when you live in the wilds of British Columbia.)

Bob introduced us to Chris while we hung out in the host's closed retail store. I forget why we were there... could have been to tour the place, could have been because Grant wanted to hunt up some product or something. I just remember sitting around with Bob and the Chrises and chatting away about their wild exploits as younger, less domesticated men.

An hour or so into meeting Chris Bledsoe, I found out that he'd only recently recovered from cancer. He looked fit and healthy, though his hair was barely a stubble. Apparently he'd previously had long hair and a big ol' moustache, but the cancer therapy had ruined that look for him, for a while. He was in fine spirits, quite jolly, and not concerned about his prospects in any visible way. My impression of him was that he was a little guy, slightly built, but that might have been a side effect of his cancer or treatment too. He was definitely a good deal shorter than me, though, possibly as much as a foot. Small height, but BIG personality.

That's all it took. I was absolutely smitten with the man, in a completely non-romantic way. He was one of those guys who has charisma. I'd only see him a few times a year, as we each did our stints as game company lackeys at various conventions and trade shows, but it was always a pleasure. He always greeted me as if I were some long-lost friend, and even chatting with him for a short time was guaranteed to have me laughing and smiling. He was "a character" I think you'd say. Mischievous, the kind of guy who would purposely flood your bathtub while you were passed out in your hotel room, as a prank. "Colorful" but just sweet natured enough to not be a fucker. He always had a posse, made up of loyal friends, guys he'd worked with and gone to bat for.

Last March, I saw Chris Bledsoe at one of these shows, in Las Vegas. The show was wrapping up, and I was dashing off somewhere, when who should I spy but Mr. Bledsoe, all decked out in black, adorned with flame (befitting his personality). I swung past him, commenting on how he was looking sharp, and he happily announced, "I'm on my way to my wedding!" Sure enough, his lovely girlfriend and "the usual suspects" were standing right there (all of them dressed up and looking nice) but until he said anything, I couldn't have told you there were other people in his group. It was all about him, a moment in the spotlight, or so it seemed to me.

I stopped to give him a hug and a kiss and wished him and Stacey my heartfelt congratulations, then waved them happily on to their way.

That was the last time I saw Chris Bledsoe, and less than five months later he was gone forever.

As part of this year's Origins Awards ceremony, there will be a memorial for Chris. If I have my way, his good friend and business partner will be making the trip to deliver a speech and share a little bit of Chris with those who may only have ever known him through his work. We're working out the details now and I'm hopeful that it will all come together on this short notice. If his friends can't be there to give the memorial, I will likely be slotted into the spot and will probably give an oral version of pretty much what I've written here. I'm a poor substitute for those who knew him well, but if it falls to me I'll do my utmost to make sure he gets his due and one last moment in the spotlight before his peers.

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ARGH Computers

The comments function keeps breaking! I can't make any changes to the template for my blog, or the code for the comments function which is supposed to end with [<] /noscript> resets itself to [& l t ;] /noscript> every time I press save/publish. It was only doing this when I tried to make changes to the template itself (like adding all those little images to the links) but now it's broken after I merely tried to publish an update, and it *refuses* to be fixed.

I had a relatively peaceful month or two where the planets were aligned, the proper animal sacrifices had been made, or I'd suffered enough to earn a little good computer karma. It seems that blessed moment in the technological sun is over. ARGH.

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Shut Up Little Man!

The good Mr. John Tynes familiarized me with Shut Up Little Man! some years ago. Click the link, read his review, then read on if you're not familiar with the subject.

Done?

That's my mother's husband. No, he's not actually Peter or Ray (he's got the much more evocative moniker of Virgil) but last night, as struggled to get my mother's out-dated pile of hand-me-down computer bits to coalesce into a functional machine, I could hear him going on from the other side of the house. The smell of cigarette smoke wafting down the hallway, shouting in his half-deaf way, I picked up snippets of his side of the conversation: "Some goddamn garlic in it... or sumthin'. Or tobacco! Throw some tobacco in there.... I'm serious! Find some butts or sumthin' and just crush 'em up in there... What're ya heatin' it up for? He don't need that!" It was in the same slurry tone and inflection as any of the Shut Up Little Man snippets. I completely expected to hear him follow up with "...because you crucified it. You ruined it. Goddamn you!"

Before I left for home, he also treated me to his views on training dogs. Apparently, "you gotta beat 'em; that's the only way to learn 'em, they don't understand nothin' else." Unless, of course, they're dogs that bite children or eat chickens: "Don't matter how much you love 'em, you can't ever change a bitin' dog--or a chicken eatin' dog, so you gotta just shoot 'em," BANG (he slams his fist into his hand for effect).

Needless to say, I always feel like I've walked into the Twilight Zone whenever he's around. My mother is not that way, I have no fucking idea how they ended up married to each other.

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Heat

Entirely too hot again today.

Puttered around the house, hanging curtains, installing more shelves in the bedroom. Piece by piece the house comes together. I love looking around the house and seeing my own handiwork. Even though I've mostly limited myself to installing ceiling fans, shelves, or hanging the occasional picture, I still feel like I'm pulling off my own little home improvement show.

Making a little day trip down to see my mother and grandmother with Kate tomorrow. Mom's computer blew up and we have a surplus of old machines around here that will easily meet her needs (which amount to "has a modem" and "has a word processor"-maybe "has solitare installed").

Today was the day to see how my attempt at Nigella Lawson's recipe for "asian gravlax" (which I've had curing in the fridge for about 3 days) turned out. I felt too uncomfortably hot to eat, but Chris made a couple of bagels with cream cheese and the salmon (which he declared was "between sashimi and lox") and said it was good. I've still got about a pound and a half of cured salmon to polish off! Sometimes I get a little carried away with cooking stuff.

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Bend it like Beckham

It was sweltering today, so I begged and whined until I got my way and finally got to see this movie! Ah, air-conditioned comfort! Seattle has so few truly unpleasantly hot days, we're always a bit taken aback when they hit. When temps get into the 90s, most Seattle homes don't have any air conditioning to compensate, and fans lose their effectiveness when they're just blowing hot air over you.

Bend it like Beckham was a cute movie, as I expected, David Edelstein's snarky review notwithstanding. It was a perfectly acceptible family film, and a fine way to spend a couple hours. Had to explain a scene or two that went over Kate's head, and especially what "Paki" meant and why the cute English-Indian heroine reacted so angrily when she was called it.

Saw previews for several art-house films that I'll be wanting to see. I've flagged but still haven't seen the documentary on Andy Goldsworthy. Definitely want to catch that before it leaves theatres, not much time left on that one I fear. I watched and enjoyed Rabbit Proof Fence, though it was not "family friendly" as the review I read claimed, at least not for my tender-hearted daughter who sobbed her way out of the theatre at the end. In a similar vein was the preview for Whale Rider, which looked right up my alley. And another documentary-style movie on birds and flight, called Winged Migration. I would much rather see any of these movies than be forced to sit through even another preview of Dumber and Dumberer, or Daddy Daycare! I'll take the art house ANY day.

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Hot and Pointless

It's hot and all I did today was process applications and permissions for the demo teams. Oy.

Since I have nothing better to write about, I'll just post the results of my latest online quiz.

Seraphim
You belong to the six-winged Seraphim!
You are a a fierce warrior angel. The sword is
often your weapon of choice, but you are well
familiar with all other weapons and many kinds
of elemental magic, too. You would defend the
Heavens with your last feather and blood. Still
you are sometimes tempted by the darker
pathways, asking yourself if this is all
existence is about...


What kind of supernatural being are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Sore throat fading

My sore throat is starting to abate. This pleases me greatly, I hope to be much more productive in the couple of weeks we have leading up to Origins.

It comes as no surprise to most that Wil Wheaton is my kind of geek. He's got an extremely cute blog entry, live from the Star Trek cruise he and his wife are on at the moment. Aside from being a famous television personality (that little thing, p'shaw) he's very much like any of the other wonderful, talented, sensitive, socially-conscious, smart-assed geeks I've surrounded myself with, and reading his blog is a delight. He's both entertaining and familiar, and reading his heartfelt stories about his interactions with his step-sons, or his all-out smitten-ness with his wife never fails to bring a smile to my face. Plus his favorite food is Guinness. A man after my own heart!

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Freedom to Read

Do you like to read? If you do, perhaps you are as disturbed as I am by the far-reaching effects of The USA Patriot Act, particularly Section 215.

While much of The USA Patriot Act concerns itself with foreign nationals, Section 215 in particular has given the FBI power to search ANYONE'S library and book buying records without a warrant, without probable cause of any crime or intent to commit a crime. Furthermore, librarians and booksellers are not allowed to report that searches have taken place or that records were turned over to the government or they can be prosecuted. Carleton College, in my "other hometown" of Northfield, Minnesota, has put upthis interesting FAQ for their library patrons.

Amazingly, there actually appears to be some slight movement in Congress to put a stop to some of this insanity: Representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont has introduced legislation into the House called The Freedom to Read Protection Act, HR 1157. Senator Barbara Boxer of California has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, The Librarian Bookseller Protection Act, Senate 1158.

If you like to read, support the Freedom To Read Protection Act! I spent the morning contacting my representatives and urging their support on these bills. In a letter that's making the rounds through teachers' groups, librarians, and writers, another woman suggests the following ways to show support and help move things forward:

1. Contact Representative Sanders and Senator Boxer to voice your support.

2. Get HR 1157 out of its subcommittee, into the House Judiciary Committee and then onto the House floor for debate.
HR 1157 is now in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. The members of that subcommittee are Tom Feeney (R, Florida), Bob Goodlatte (R, Virginia), Steve Chalbot (R, Ohio), Mark Green (R, Wisconsin), Ric Keller (R, Florida), Mike Pence (R, Indiana), J. Randy Forbes (R, Virginia), Robert Scott (D, Virginia), Adam Schiff (D, California), Sheila Jackson Lee (D, Texas), Maxine Waters (D. California), and Martin Meehan (D, Massachusetts). The chair is Howard Coble (R, North Carolina).
The phone number for the subcommitee is (202) 225-3926. If you know someone who lives in the states of these Representatives, it will be especially meaningful for them to hear from a constituent.

3. Contact the chair of the Judiciary House Committtee, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R, Wisconsin) to tell him you want HR 1157 brought to the floor of the House. Representative Sensenbrenner is a Republican who has berated the administration for its policies of secrecy. Again, if you know people in Wisconsin, get them to contact Representative Sensenbrenner.

4. Contact your own Representative or Senator to ask if he or she is a co-sponsor of HR 1157 or S 1158 and stress that you strongly support co-sponsorship.

5. Contact those who have co-sponsored HR 1157. Call Bernie Sanderís office to get their names and contact information. Sandersí office number is (202) 225-4115, if you want to ask for an updated list.

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Busy

Got Kate all bathed and packed up for camp last night. She's going on an overnight camp excursion with her class today and tomorrow, to return Friday afternoon. We had quite the checklist of things to bring, while at the same time being cautioned that the kids were expected to carry their own gear (including a bag full of clothes and toiletries, a sleeping bag and a pillow).

I need to haul Kate off to school, fill mail orders, then we have a lunch date with the fine folks at The Game Mechanics. I expect I won't be eating any lunch, though. Chris and I tried to go to lunch Monday and I just left with the feeling that food was stuck in my throat. Unpleasant. I've been sticking to liquids and mushy stuff since.

After lunch I hope to make a short stop at IKEA for curtains and an above-the-bed shelf for the bedroom. I'm tired of being awakened at 5:30am when the sun begins to lighten my bedroom, even though the blinds are down, and I'm tired of the endless piles of books accumulating on the head and footboards of the bed because we read in bed and have nowhere else for our bed-reading books to live. I have something to return from my last visit to IKEA. I'm hoping the purchases don't over run the returns too badly.

I'm in the final stages of several projects for the summer conventions as well. I'd be much more productive if I didn't have this throat issue bothering me. It seems to flare up at night, where I wake up in pain trying to swallow, and that's been making me cranky and tired during the day. I was literally falling asleep in front of my computer yesterday. Definitely bad timing, as I need to be as productive as possible before we head to Origins in under three weeks!

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Pamie

When word hit that the Oakland Public Library lost its funding, and couldn't afford to buy new books this funny, literate blogger wrote up an entry and really started something.

Her current blog entry, where she describes her chance encounter with Michael Moore is extremely cool and funny.

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Sore throat (sick of it yet?)

Of all the remedies I've tried for my sore throat today, vanilla yogurt is the big winner. Yummy and soothing.

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Sore throat still

Peter suggested that I might have what he came down with a while ago, essentially canker sores in the throat. Having done a little web search, I think he's onto something. My symptoms line up correctly. Since I'm able to get along alright now with generous applications of my 222s and alternately hot drinks or Popsicles, I'm thinking I'm going to wait it out for a few days and see if it goes away on its own.

Being self-employed sucks for insurance, so if I can avoid going to the doctor (especially only to be told that there's nothing they can do, or that the problem needs to run its course) all the better for me. Since I'm no longer in the sort of pain that had me cowering in my bed on Saturday night, I'll probably be able to tough it out.

Still sucks, but not in that mind-blowing agony kind of way.

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Sore throat!

What started out as a nagging tickle in the back of my throat yesterday has turned into a full blown, terribly painful sore throat. I'm having trouble swallowing anything, even my own saliva. I'm unable to sleep as I keep waking up choking and with a throat that feels swollen and on fire. Drinking hurts, not drinking hurts, talking hurts, even breathing hurts. No other obvious symptoms of illness, no fever, no cough, no congestion, not even a headache, though I do have some hellaciously swollen glands in my neck to go along with the soreness.

I've dug out and tried every throat medication in the house: Tylenol sore throat syrup (all gone now, and what little there was only helped briefly), an ancient bottle of Chloroseptic spray (which tastes god-awful and helps the pain for about 10 seconds), lozenges (which make my tongue feel coated but seem not to reach the back of my throat). No good.

I never realized how often I swallowed until it started to hurt every time!

Tomorrow is Sunday (technically today, but I haven't had a night's sleep and it's dark out, so I'm continuing to call it tomorrow) and aside from a trip to the emergency room I'm not optimistic that I will find any pain relief. I hope this either subsides or I can get to the doctor first thing Monday. I fear I have strep throat, which needs antibiotic treatment to go away. The idea that I'll have to struggle along until office hours so I can get some antibiotics has me whimpering already.

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