Discolor Online

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



We've had a break from the heatwave hitting Seattle. Yesterday was unbearably hot in the house, at least 15 degrees hotter than the temp outside, which was reportedly 93. We gave up getting much done and decided to hit happy hour at one of the air-conditioned downtown bars, and then perhaps go to see 28 Days Later or another film that struck our fancy.

We ended up at The Brooklyn, for their happy hour oysters and Berrytinis. It didn't feel properly decadent to be out alone, so at 5:45 I rang Christine's cell phone and she happily clipped out of work at 6:00pm to join us for the last half hour. Once she arrived, she rang Ray who joined us for another drink, and we hung around the place until after 8:00.

Giving up on hitting the movies at that point, we tranferred the party over to R&C's pleasant back yard. Christine treated us to wine, fruit, bread, and cheese, and we watched the last rays of daylight fade away just a bit before 10:00pm.

Returned to the still-sweltering Chez Ronin around 11:30pm and went to bed feeling hot and uncomfortably full. Too much good food to be had.

Tonight is game night, or I might be tempted to try out another happy hour, even without the heat as motivation. Still summery enough that I'm definitely going off to make myself a caprese salad with the heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil I picked up at Whole Foods the other day. Yum, the taste of summer!


Goodbye Lila

My dad just called to tell me that my grandmother passed away this morning. My uncle Jack called him this morning from Arizona to break the news. Grandma had taken a turn for the worse sometime last week and Jack was able to go down to be with them. No details yet, but the memorial will be taking place in my birthplace of Ely, Minnesota sometime in the next two weeks to two months. I'll definitely attend.

I'm all the more grateful that I had the chance to go down to see her a last time this spring. We've been on the road so much and have had so much happening that it hardly seems like just three months ago that I was visiting Arizona.

I'm saddest for my devoted grandfather. Grandma was insulated from much of pain and loss from her disease. Grandpa watched it all, loved her and stayed with her and doted on her until the end. I can't imagine being in his place, after sixty years together. I had always imagined that her lingering would be the hardest part, but after seeing them together in April, I don't think losing her completely (even just the shell of who she used to be) is going to be any easier on him.


GenCon is OVAH!

We had our best year ever. Sold out of product on Friday, had more delivered by Saturday, were sold out again before Sunday. Constantly busy.

Saturday night we went out to dinner with the New York crew for something quick and dirty, just burgers and beers. They all went off to play some games together for old times, and I struck off on my own to hook up with Hal and others at the White Wolf party. I haven't been to a White Wolf party in about 7 years, but I knew my old pal Stewart was going to be there and I wanted to have a few minutes to chat with him again. During the night I also ran into Mark Hagen, Josh Timbrook, Richard Thomas (all fellows from my era at WW). Richard, Stewart, and I stood around talking about our kids, which really made me feel like an old fart.

I wrote a much longer post, with links and so on, from Chris's laptop at the show, but I'm too lazy to go dig it up and as it's now Wednesday I think a return to normal posting is in order. I may get back around to recapping the show but I figure it's best to get this one up on the blog for the moment.


Friday, GenCon

Friday was again quite busy. Nearly sold out of the suitcase full of blue Cosmo the Moon Monkey plushies I brought to the show. Have also sold out of Mutants & Masterminds, Plot & Poison, and Testament, among others. Had to have the warehouse send up a restock for us just to have things to sell on Saturday! Dozens of people asked about the two or three books we have that have been repeatedly delayed, and I desperately want those books to come out so we can fill those requests. I feel much internal stress over those delays, but expect it to be resolved in the next month or two, FINALLY.

Friday was also the ENnie awards ceremony. After working the booth much of the day (and hearing that a person I despise specifically waited around until I finally left the booth so he could dart over and buy Testament without running into me...smarter than I'd give him credit for!) Chris and I dashed off to supper with our publisher/retailer friends Dave and Mandy from the UK, and then returned to the convention center for the EN World awards.

After last year's crushing losses to Wizards of the Coast in every category, I was determined not to get my hopes up. And, as is typical, I was again totally wrong about the outcome. We did stunningly well and in some categories (much to my amazement!) we carried home trophies that I never thought we had a chance to win against competition that I thought was impossible to beat. The ceremony was great fun and funny (both on purpose and inadvertantly) and a vast improvement over last year's "ceremony in the hallway" event. I was gratified to see many other of our peers receiving awards that I felt they deserved as well. The competition was stiff and the nominees were all of high quality. Very well done.

After the event we had time to hook up with some friends in the sports bar downstairs (ack! sports bar??) for a drink and some laughs before last call. Tonight I hope to get out to see a little of Indy, as I've seen next to nothing outside of the convention hall and my hotel. White Wolf is having a big announcement, and while I don't have any particular interest in what their big announcement is I'm inclined to go because some friends from my White Wolf days (including people I haven't seen in years and would love to catch up with) will be there.

For now, duty calls. Two more days on the floor, two more days to introduce people to our products and hopefully earn their respect and trust in an overly crowded field of D20 game products.


GenCon Whirlwind

Arrived in Indy Thursday morning after a hellish over-night flight and a three hour layover in Atlanta where I tried to get a little sleep curled up on the floor in a corner of the airport. Indianapolis did not make a good initial impression on us, especially when I arrived to hear that the people at the hotel were insisting to Hal that the booth display was not there (despite my confirmation from someone there that they'd arrived that day before AND their assurances that they'd note it was ok to release the packages to my business partner, Hal Mangold). Then we arrived at the hotel to hear from a very snippy desk clerk that there were no rooms available for us to check into. We insisted that it may be true that the rooms that had been occupied the night before were dirty and unavailable, but we had a reservation for the night before specifically so that we could check into our room in the morning...blah, blah, blah. Snippy desk clerk was completely unapologetic in telling us that there were NO ROOMS and we did NOT have a room to check into. They had a note that we were arriving Thursday morning and they would not have a room for us until Thursday afternoon. They'd sold our room out from under us and didn't care one bit. I was quite ill-tempered about it.

About this time, I was fed up and having none of it. The desk clerk did not like me one bit. I talked to someone else, higher up or at the convention bureau, and that person assured me that the reservation arrangements I'd made should still be intact, and after she talked to the snippy desk clerk they miraculously found me a room, clean and made-up and available. They guessed that the person I talked to about making the packages available had also modified the room reservation information, despite the multiple notes that we WANTED the room for Wednesday night even if we couldn't occupy it until Thursday morning.

Meanwhile Hal and some friends had rushed over to set up the booth, which they'd finally managed to retrieve from the hotel baggage locker. In the hour before the hall opened to the public, they set up our entire display. Record time! Chris spent an hour or two in the room trying to "refresh" himself before he had to run a Freeport event.

Thursday booth duty was pretty constant; the booth was hopping and sales were brisk. There were dozens of portfolio reviews, aspiring artists, editors, and writers wanting to connect, as well as fans stopping by to thank us or tell us how much they enjoyed our products. As tired as I was, it was so refreshing to be in contact with all those enthusiastic people!

The hall is much larger than the Milwaukee venue, and well laid out. There are multiple entrance and exit points to the hall, which means there are far fewer "bad" booth locations. Convenient hotels and attached food and drink venders that don't suck are also very much improvements. Attendance is up, the place is crawling with people, and aside from out check-in difficulties, Indianapolis looks to be a resounding success so far!

Thursday night Chris and I were so tired we just crawled back to our room and died for the night. We ordered room service and I fell asleep before it even arrived. Woke to eat, fell back asleep, slept hard and felt much better in the morning.



Off to GenCon in a few hours. I got my tickets through Priceline in an attempt to save some money. I saved money, but wasted time. I'm traveling on the red-eye flight that leaves tonight and takes me through Atlanta, where I have a layover and must switch planes before back-tracking to Indianapolis. If we're on time, we touch down in Indianapolis an hour and fifteen minutes before the show starts! I kept the hotel reservation for Wednesday night, so we can at least check in immediately and shower and change before we have to be at the hall. Poor Chris has to run a game at noon Thursday!

Luckily, Hal will be arriving tonight and hopefully can pick up the convention materials and get things set up before the hall opens tomorrow! I have to arrange with my hotel to allow Hal to pick up the packages that are arriving for me. He'll need that stuff!

In other good news, my order of new Mutants & Masterminds t-shirts and plushy, blue Cosmo the Moon Monkey stuffed toys arrived and will be available at the con. Hooray! I may not be able to offer any new books for the game, thanks to late, late turnovers from authors and artists...but I can offer accessories aplenty.


Ok, this is acceptable.

You are the Marilyn Monroe Dress Blowin' Scene
from the movie "The Seven Year Itch". You're the scene that shocked
a nation when sex symbol Marilyn Monroe shows ::gasp:: her legs.
Your scene shows women just want to be free and happy. Marilyn
Monroe was loved by all, and not to mention she BLEW everyone away.

What Famous Scene From A Movie Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Tired, so tired

Whew, got home from San Diego last night. As tired as the other moms are, I'm feeling doubly tired from the extra time we were there and the time spent on the convention floor at San Diego Comic Con. Wowser, what a giant show that was.

After trying to go to the beach on Sunday, a bunch of us hit the beach yesterday morning before we left town, and the kids were just adorable playing in the surf together.

We had a long day yesterday, with going to the beach, back to Sheryl's to clean up, finding a UPS drop-off station to ship our convention display to Indiana, returning the rental car, then flying from San Diego to San Francisco, switching planes for the flight to Seattle, taking the shuttle out to pick up our car... started the process of 'going home' at 1:30 in the afternoon and didn't actually arrive home until 11:30pm.

Today I'll be washing clothes, repacking the suitcases, driving Kate up to her dad's, and then tomorrow night we leave on the red-eye flight to Indianapolis (with a layover in Atlanta!?!). GenCon starts Thursday at 10:00am.

Hard to motivate myself to do anything... I desperately just want to lay around in my own bed.

Meanwhile, enjoy this picture. It pretty much sums up Comic Con. (I had my photo taken with the Tripping the Rift standees too, but this one is more entertaining.)


San Diego Zoo

Oh my goodness, what a crazy time that was. Taking that many tired, cranky, hot children to the zoo was very much like herding cats. The San Diego zoo is big and impressive. I definitely could have stayed there much longer and enjoyed it much more if I'd not been in a pack of two dozen people; I'm sure the other families felt the same.

Kate went back to the house with Sheryl and Mela and I headed over to Chris's book signing. After the signing, we got on the list to have dinner at Casa de Bandini which was nearby the game store. I have to say that the dinner wasn't particularly good, though the huge margarita was indeed huge. While the food was nothing to write home about, the company was exceptionally pleasant. Sean Reynolds (and family) and Stan! joined us for dinner and it was a delight to see Sean again. Sean's sister Carrie entertained us with stories of what it was like growing up with Sean while we waited for Sean to meet up with us (after he dashed home to pick up his lovely girlfriend so she could join us as well). Carrie and I had a geek bonding moment when she recognized my WWDN shirt for what it was.

Got back to the house much too late. Sore and tired, even the shorter hours at the show today are going to feel long. Then there's breaking down the booth and getting it out of there, which is bound to be a chore. Tomorrow, home to Seattle, frantic clothes washing, and Wednesday it's off to GenCon.


ComicCon, Day 2

Not much to report. It was a long day at the booth, punctuated by short bursts of activity. Overwhelmingly, people came to either tell us how much they enjoy the books we put out or to ask if we were viewing artist portfolios. Many, many people stopped to look through particular books. The most popular books for browsing were Cartographica (our full-color book of maps) and Ultramodern Firearms, by far.

High points of the day were when Hal handed me a small figurine of Captain Chode from Tripping the Rift. Turns out neither Hal nor Rick were familiar with Tripping the Rift, which Chris and I both loved, so it was delightful serendipity that Chode found his way to me through them. I also got to have a pleasant conversation with Aaron Williams of Nodwick fame in the booth adjoining ours, but wasn’t able to catch John Kovalic when he wasn’t extremely busy signing autographs.

Saw that the powers that be did not see fit to allow Stan! to move to a more populated area of the hall.

After the convention hall closed, Chris and I headed back to our hostess’s house, where a gathering of another sort was taking place. Tonight was the night that the moms and kids from my e-mail list got together in one place. We had three moms and six kids from Phoenix, a mom and three kids from Texas, two moms and four kids from San Francisco, plus our hostess, her child, and my family (plus one cat) all together in one house for a barbecue. Margaritas were mixed, meats were grilled, tater tots were offered to kids of all ages, and boys and girls had sodas and corn chips to their hearts’ content.

Tomorrow I abandon the guys in order to join the moms and kids on a trek to the San Diego Zoo. Chris has a book signing engagement in Old Town in the evening and he may just decide to stay in the city proper with Hal and Rick after all is said and done. I’ll be trying to do my share in taking care of minding my child and the children of my friends for a trip to the zoo since they’ve been wonderful about minding Kate for me while I’ve worked the convention the last few days. Kate is certainly having more fun going to Legoland than she would be hanging out at the booth with me, or languishing in the on-site kid’s care room. I alternately fear and hope that business will be brisk at the booth tomorrow.


ComicCon, Day 1

I dropped Kate off with my mom friends, who took her along with them to the Wild Animal Park while I worked the convention. Chris and I then found our way to the convention center, a little later than we had intended. I did a drive-by and dropped Chris off and then made it to the booth about an hour later (which is how long it took me to find parking and then stand in line to get a couple of lattes and a scone from Starbucks).

Traffic by the booth largely consisted of people already familiar with our material who stopped by to tell us how they liked our books or how much they were anticipating some of the titles that have been delayed (like the cursed Skull & Bones project or the much anticipated Crooks! book). At least a dozen people stopped dead in their tracks to fondle the Ultramodern Firearms book, which sadly we only have a few copies of. Hal literally approved the reprint of the book at the show yesterday; we're down to just a dozen copies or so in stock until the reprint arrives.

Caught sight of industry pals Patrick Kapera and Steve Hough leading a pack of AEGers around the convention. This is what they do for fun every year between working Origins and GenCon. They stopped to chat for a bit and we commiserated about flakey freelancers and the grueling convention season and then they continued on their way to enjoy the sights.

I was released from booth duty in the afternoon and sought out our friend Stan! who is here with a table in Artist's Alley. I searched and searched for his table, went back to the booth to look at the listing again, only to find out that poor Stan! was waaaaay off in the farthest corner of the convention hall, all by himself. There he was, all alone, surrounded by rows of empty tables. For rows and rows around him, none of the assigned artists had shown up to claim their tables, which meant that Stan! was sitting there all by himself, with no foot traffic whatsoever. He'd asked if it was possible for him to move up closer to everyone else in the world, but hadn't received an official response from anyone in charge by the time I left him.

Free for the afternoon I darted up to one of the seminar rooms to hear authors discussing the process of writing and how it works for them. Included on the panel were Vernor Vinge (author of one of the few hard science fiction books I've read and greatly enjoyed, A Fire Upon the Deep) and fan favorite, Wil Wheaton. There were a couple of other authors who were also very insightful and funny, but with whom I was entirely unfamiliar. I can't recall their names off-hand.

After the panel, most of the authors dashed off to other engagements, but a line quickly formed of nerdy Wil Wheaton fans hoping to talk to him before his autograph session. I joined the line. You see, I'd exchanged a few e-mails with Wil about gaming and some mutual friends in the industry, and I wanted to just quickly say hello so he could put a face to a name. Fans beset the poor man before he could even gather his things and leave the podium area. More than one guy wanted to talk to him about Star Trek, including one inconsiderate jerk who blissfully ignored the fact that several other people were waiting in order to "pitch" his Star Trek animated series proposal to Wil for his support so he could "do an end run around Paramount" and other self-important bs. Finally my turn came and I simply handed up my business card to Wil, intending to just say hello and dash off, to make myself as utterly unlike Mr. Inconsiderate as possible.

As I was reaching up with my card, Wil spoke first; he just wanted to say that he loved my shirt (yes, I appeared at the convention in full geek-wear, sporting a fetching Homestarrunner shirt). As I thanked him, he looked at my card. Wil's response was completely unexpected. "OHMYGOD, YOU'RE NICOLE!? Wait, let me come down!" He dashed off the podium and onto ground level. My brain began pinging like a pinball machine...instead of shaking his hand, I goofily hugged him. PING PING... my internal critic screamed "PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER WOMAN!" My stoic Finnish genes each individually cringed at my presumptuousness and over-familiarity. PING PING went my brain. While I tried not to come off as a slack-jawed yokel, Wil continued to talk: he was excited to meet me, he'd gotten the package I'd sent him and loved it, he hadn't written to tell me so because he'd planned to look me up in person at the con..."Everyone in the game industry loves you," he said. My poor little geek brain couldn't take it, "Nah, they don't love me, they *fear* me," I blurted, trying to be funny. That comment fell like a lead balloon and smashed me in the foot, ouch! "No, seriously, they love you. [Industry Associate] has had nothing but nice things to say about you."

I could feel the eyes of the room upon me, as every fan impatiently waited their turn. This was not the anonymous passing off of my business card that I had planned! Wil was just a enjoyable and familiar and geeky-cool in person as his online persona, and not only that but he was as excited to talk to me as I'd been to talk to him. I desperately wanted to be able to have this conversation in private, at my leisure, over a couple pints of Guinness somewhere. Alas, it was not to be. Mr. Inconsiderate, still lurking around, hears Wil say that I'm a game writer and butts in, "Do you know So-and-so?" No, I said. "You don't know So-and-so?" No, I don't, sorry. Feeling a bit claustrophobic, I blurted something to Wil about being glad he liked the package I'd sent, and that I'd come up to his seminar to meet him because I wasn't sure if I'd have another opportunity, that I was spending some time away from the convention with my daughter and I hadn't wanted to miss him, but that there were other people waiting so I should probably let them have their turns... My brain was still pinging, and I practically skipped out of the room, grinning like the smitten geek-girl that I am.


ComicCon Setup

We're set up and ready to rock. Met up with Rick and Hal yesterday, also ran into our friend Patrick, who used to game in our gaming group before he got married and he and his wife had a baby. Haven't seen him in months. Was great to see him again, even briefly. He helped us haul boxes and things from Rick's hotel to the booth space, typical nice Patrick.

ComicCon is HUGE. The boys were all geeking out about the various giant robot figures and other cool toys they saw in the aisles surrounding the Green Ronin booth area. Several nice fans of our stuff have already stopped by in the 3 hours of "Preview Night" to say hello or to check out our new items. We also had several talented artists come by looking for work, which Hal will be only too happy to give them.

Today the moms are going to the Wild Animal Park, but I don't know if I will meet up with them or not. I have to put in my time at the booth and I'm not sure if I'd be able to get away in time, if they're planning on going "early".

Nothing else really to report at this time.


Sea World

We spent 9 hours at Sea World. Kate declared that it was the best day of her life, which is about as rewarding an exclamation as a parent can hope to hear from a child after such an excursion.

The day began with a 20 minute wait in line (after parking in the ass end of nowhere and walking the length of the parking lot to get to the gates) where loudspeakers blared at the assembled crowd not to forget they could swim with dolphins or dine with Shamu, if only they would pony up the money for such treasured "memories of a lifetime." Kate was beside herself with excitement at the thought of swimming with dolphins, which was thankfully sold out before we ever reached the gates. Instead, we agreed that we'd try the "dine with Shamu" option, which was also thankfully sold out by the time we reached the reservation tent. Already set back over $100 (and that's with one adult admission at half price, thanks to Sheryl's coupon) we finally settled on an additional $30-something per person for their Cirque du Soleil show/buffet. Now set back about $200, we were able to start our day of fun. Kate understood we'd "spent an Xbox" on this, and that we weren't buying anything extra, and I stuck to that. No cotton candy as big as your torso, no Shamu-topped $10 drinks that make whale sounds whenever you sip, no $2.25 per 1/4 pound candy, no "win a Shamu as big as your SUV" ring toss games. We did break down and buy a $2.50 Pepsi in the heat of the day while we watched the Seal and Otter show, but that was it. Kate was allowed to buy one keepsake, a stuffed otter, because we'd agreed that Sea World is where we would buy such a thing (as opposed to getting the first shiny bauble she latched onto when the plane touched down) and Kate dutifully examined all the different themed shops (should she get a penguin? a dolphin? a Shamu/Baby Shamu/Grandbaby Shamu?) before making her decision.

Aside from the one languid polar bear in the Wild Arctic exhibit, there weren't any disappointing exhibits. We took a motion ride to the Arctic, which (while one of the lamest "stories" of such a ride I've ever seen) was entertaining enough for Kate, which made it entertaining for me. Chris and I were amused when the woman in the prep video chided the room ("Shorts and t-shirts are not arctic attire!") and Kate dutifully put on her windbreaker and put the hood up. We saw excellent exhibits of penguins, sharks, belugas, puffins, you name it. We caught the seal and otter comedy show, the performing Shamu show, the dolphin show. Kate was excited to sit in the "soak zone" and had even come prepared (thanks to uncharacteristic forethought by Mommy) with a swimsuit, a waterproof instant camera, swim shoes, and a change of dry clothes. Then she saw the giant screen video of just how completely soaking wet people in the "soak zone" got and chickened out. At both the orca and dolphin shows she waited on the edge of the zone, got sprayed on her legs and ran squealing back to where Chris and I were enjoying our nice, dry seats. Mission accomplished.

The Cirque buffet was alright. The food was just fine, though I intensely disliked the fish entree. Kate picked at some macaroni and cheese and ate half a hot dog, but was mostly interested in getting close to the sea lion they trucked in, or petting the dogs that were brought around to thrill the kids. We were "entertained" by three grotesquely costumed women in neon feather boas, who sang a variety of mostly disco tunes (broken up with a little jazz) and then the Cirque performers did their thing. I commented to Chris that when one joins Cirque du Soleil, one probably does not expect to be performing nightly at Sea World to an impassive crowd of children and vacationers. Still they accomplished some impressive feats while we ate our fill and "got our money's worth" by having two desserts.

After 8 hours in the park, Chris and I were ready to go, but Kate desperately wanted to stay for the fireworks. She'd been lamenting that she'd missed Independence Day fireworks this year (because she was in Canada with her dad) earlier in the trip, and I didn't have the heart to deny her. She was awed by the display, kept saying Oooh, and Wow! "That was SO GREAT!" she exclaimed repeatedly, still innocent enough to throw herself fully into the enjoyment of such things. I don't have much time left to enjoy her innocent exuberance and I'm glad we had the chance again yesterday. After the fireworks, another Cirque du Soleil performance erupted on the stage just in front of where we'd positioned ourselves. I held Kate up on my shoulders for that (blessedly short) performance and then we hit the road. Mission accomplished.

Kate is likely to be very tired today. She stayed awake for the whole ride home just to spite Chris, who predicted she'd be asleep within 10 minutes. She is her mother's daughter, after all!

Rick arrives in a couple of hours and then check-in and set-up for SDCC begins. Hal arrives this afternoon, just in time to come work the booth for "Preview Night" from 5:30 to 8:30. I'm nervous about the show, having never exhibited here before. I'll be glad to finally see what it's like so I can have a better idea what to expect. The unknown aspects of this show make me edgy.


San Diego, Day 2

Sheryl dropped us out at the airport so I could pick up my rental car yesterday afternoon. We took a shuttle to the Alamo location, where we waited in a huge line for at least 40 minutes. This particular Alamo location was crowded, filthy dirty, and had multiple broken auto-check-in kiosks. I did not like the look of the place, and it didn't get any better the longer I stayed there. I chose Alamo because I've rented from them before in LA and San Francisco, and because they have a policy allowing the use of debit cards for renting cars, which means I can use my PayPal card. I like using the PayPal card because I can consolidate my money from other credit cards or from debit cards onto it, instantly. It's got the MasterCard logo on it, but I can also use it to draw out cash, like any other debit card.

Except this particular Alamo rental location insisted that they could not accept my PayPal card. They didn't even try to run it, they just saw the PayPal logo on the front and they refused it. The manager backed up this craziness. He told me that it "wasn't a major credit card" (despite the MasterCard logo on it) and ALSO refused to accept it as a debit card, even though there was a clear debit card acceptance policy posted on the wall behind him. I said, "Even if you won't accept it as a credit card, you have a posted debit card policy. This card works like a debit card!" "Ah," he says, "works LIKE a debit card. Works LIKE a debit card. It's not actually a debit card!" It was like we'd stepped into bizarro world. I told him that I'd rented cars from Alamo with this very card, recently, in California even. He just looked at me and said that whoever had accepted my card should have been fired. I was open-mouthed in disbelief. I suggested that he inform someone at their corporate headquarters that they should update the policy on their website, since I had a standing reservation that said nothing about not accepting certain cards from certain issuing companies.

We then reached an impasse. I had purposefully moved all my money and available credit for this trip onto the PayPal card. I had no other cards, debit or credit, to offer them! Chris was with me, and Chris had money on two different cards, but then we ran afoul of another of their bizarro rules: the name on the credit card and the name of the driver have to match. Since Chris does not drive (lived in NYC, took the subway everywhere, has never learned to drive) they still would not rent us a car where I would be the driver and Chris would pay.

The clerk called the neighboring rental car location: Airport Rent-A-Car, and they came to pick us up. While I waited, I called PayPal on my cell phone and asked what was up with the card not being accepted. They were as shocked as I was, had never heard of such a thing before. The woman said, "Surely it wasn't a manager that said this." Oh but it was! She was amazed and assured me that my PayPal card is a "real" card and should be accepted as a credit card for any transactions. She gave me a number to call if I ran into any further difficulties, and confirmed with me that there is plenty of available money on that card. I sense a steaming mad complaint letter in Alamo's future. Back at the ranch, we were dropped off at the neighboring rental place and there I saw a couple other people who had been waiting in line at Alamo. This place was shady. Oh, did they mention their computers were "down" and they had to do everything by hand? While I was there waiting for the girl to finish my transaction, the phone rang twice with people calling in to complain about their rentals ("I paid cash last night and you charged me way more than I thought it was going to cost!"). It was like one of those check-cashing locations, or those places that give loans to kids with bad credit for 30% interest, but I didn't have another option at that point. I got in the car and got out of there as fast as I could.

Once we got away from Shady Rental Cars, I started to enjoy San Diego almost immediately. We drove up to Balboa Park, but by this time it was after 4:00pm and I wasn't sure what hours things were open. We stopped for a small snack, since everyone was starving, and then decided to take a drive out to Coronado Island. We also drove down the Silver Strand, then back up again. We stopped at the beach and let Kate run off some energy. She begged to play more, but I was starving. We walked over to the Hotel del Coronado, which was very cool. Decided against eating at their fancy restaurant on the theory that Kate wouldn't like anything. She's not nearly the fan of raw oysters that Chris is. We ended up at a nearby seafood place instead, which was perfectly fine (and mixed a tasty margarita). Since there was still a little light out, we drove back into the city and up to Old Town, where we scoped out the location of Chris's book signing on Saturday and kept Kate entertained by walking around the various shops and historic buildings until it was dark and time to call it a night.

Today is Seaworld. Tomorrow Rick and Hal arrive for ComicCon, as well as our convention display. We have a few hours to get set up and then they've got a preview event happening tomorrow night. That's when the real work begins.


San Deigo, Day 1

Sheryl picked us up at the airport about 6pm yesterday. Mela and Kate hit it off immediately. We drove over to Sheryl's house, where Janeen and her boys were waiting, and then Sheryl grilled up some dinner for us. We'd flown from Seattle to San Francisco, then changed planes and continued to San Diego. On neither flight were we offered any food, so we were all pretty hungry! The kids all played together and Kate hauled out her new Disney music CDs and they had a dance party. Meanwhile The adults sat out on Sheryl's little patio and talked. It was very pleasant.

Shery's putting us up in her house for the duration, and Kate and Mela had a nice sleep-over together (though they apparently wandered around the house eating apples at midnight! I completely missed that, being dead to the world myself, but Chris caught them).

Later this afternoon I'll go pick up the SUV we're renting and then make good on my promise to take Kate out sight-seeing. I think we'll save Sea World for tomorrow, but maybe I can find something else she'll enjoy today. We're joining the other moms and kids (most of whom are arriving Thursday night) for a trip to Legoland Friday. Wednesday work on getting set up for ComicCon begins.


Off to San Diego in a couple of hours. Blogging may be slow for the next week, but I'll try not to let things languish too much if I can help it.


Truck Go Boom

I had to pick Kate up this afternoon from her visit with her dad so we can take off for San Diego in the morning. I got on the road about 12:30 or maybe a little after, intending to meet up with Kate and her dad at our usual exchange spot at about 2:00pm.

No sooner did I round the curve that obscured my line of sight to Seattle's University District when I noticed an immense, ominous black cloud roiling over the horizon. I had no idea what it could be or where it was exactly. The further north I drove, the more the location of the cloud shifted around, depending on which way the road bent. For a while I thought it was a building fire, or maybe something happening on the water near the university, but I drew closer to those locations the cloud was still hanging in the distance.

It reminded me very much of the ominous cloud that hung over Mount St. Helens during the eruption in 1980.

Finally, when I realized from just how far away I was able to see this black cloud, I called Chris and asked him if he could turn on Northwest Cable News and see if they were reporting anything. Sure enough, they were!

As Chris and I were talking on the phone, the tanker was still actively exploding and burning. News teams already had live pictures on the air, but it couldn't have been happening for more than 20 minutes. I continued to work my way north, following the freeway, until I saw traffic ahead of me slowing, and then I took the first exit and started inching my way up highway 99 with hundreds of other diverted drivers. Thanks to Chris, I knew how far to go north on 99 before I'd be able to turn back to I-5, but it was still a long, tedious drive before I got back on the now-nearly-empty freeway and continued north.

I took my time turning around to make the trip south, as I'd confirmed with Chris that I-5 was reportedly closed in both directions. By the time I did head back to Seattle, the south-bound lanes were open again and I got a stunning look at the wreckage. There had to have been a dozen fire trucks, plus a foam-spraying truck still spraying the now burned-out wreckage of the tanker truck. There were also at least 30 police cars, dozens and dozens of rescue workers of various stripes milling around on the freeway about a quarter mile further south from the charred remains of the inferno. The concrete all around was completely blackened. The damage was massive.

Kate, peering out the back window for a look at the accident site, was very concerned about the driver. She kept saying, "I really hope the driver of the truck got away. I hope the driver didn't die." Amazingly, it turns out he walked away with just a scratch!

This is the second time I've been in relatively close proximity to something blowing up as I've made my drive back and forth to shuttle Kate to her visitation with her dad. The last time was when I was driving through Bellingham just moments after the Olympic Pipeline explosion, that killed a man and two children in 1999.

I hope to stay very far away from any other explosions in our region in the future!


Mr. Mumbles

There are two post offices that I use on a regular basis. One is the post office where our PO Box is located, the other is the post office nearer to my house and more convenient if I'm doing other errands like grocery shopping or stopping at the drug store while I'm out.

Yesterday I took two large bins of mail to the post office, and I got Mr. Mumbles. Mr. Mumbles gives me the creeps, but he was my only option. If I have a single package or a quick interaction with Mr. Mumbles I'm fine, but the longer I have to hang out at his station, the more uneasy I am.

As you might guess, Mr. Mumbles mumbles. It's as if his running internal dialog comes spilling out of his mouth if he has to open it to talk to a customer. Each and every action he makes is accompanied by an indistinct commentary, reminding me a little of Billy Bob Thornton's character in Sling Blade. The mumbling usually sounds something like, "Ah, well, let's see, got a book in here, yessir, going to Mississippi Canada? Oh, Mississauga. Yep, that'll need one of these green fellas here, I see you've got that filled out, that's good, one pound six ounces, air mail on that one [stamp stamp]. Here we go. Another book, zip code 55739. Media mail, we'll move that bugger over here..." When I have something like 30 packages to process, it means a loooong running commentary, most of it not directed at me. When a comment is directed at me, his tone and inflection don't seem to change at all, just mumblemumblemumbleDoYouWantAConfirmationWithThatmumblemumblemumble. It's unnerving.

Not nearly as unnerving as when he tries to make chitchat, though, which is what happened this time! Because I was sending packages to Canada, I was treated to a nice little diatribe about how "the Canadians are the worst." I wasn't sure what he was getting at, and responded with a neutral "Oh?" He let loose with a rant about how the Canadians don't allow guns up there, and so an American tourist was killed outside a bar for $100, and the Canadians just shrugged it off like it was no big deal. (How these things are related, he never made clear.) He goes up to the Okanagan with his buddy and they're all killing each other with knoves and baseball bats. Now I was definitely not going to mention that I'd lived in Vancouver for 4 years and saw no such thing, but I did say, "Huh. I thought the Canadians were generally peace-loving sorts."

This led to a further rant about how they're not only up there killing each other with baseball bats, but now that they have "all their free pot" it'll only get worse. He then told me, in the most clear-spoken manner I've ever heard him use, that the Chinese are the only ones who know how to deal with drugs: kill the drug dealers along with the addicts! Ha ha! That'll take care of it!

I nervously told him that the book I was mailing to the guy in the military (somewhere in the middle east) was a book about the Old Testament, took my receipt and scurried away. This fellow is a walking sterotype of the kind of guy you'd expect to "go postal" and start shooting up the place when he finally snaps.



For once...

You are a rapier! You're fast and very sharp.
Your only weakness is that in certain
situations you can be thin and easily

What kind of sword are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Jeff and I aren't the same!



Running a company where our flagship product is a fantasy pirate port city, it's only natural that we'd want to go see Pirates of the Caribbean right away. By the time we'd put in enough time on current, pressing projects tickets for all but the late shows were sold out. I chose to buy tickets online at Fandango for one of the theaters on the east side, and that left us enough time for a light dinner before the show as well.

The credits had no sooner come up on the screen than young guys around the audience started making "Yaaarr" sounds. Lots of teenagers packed our theater, and they all seemed to be into the experience. Of course, Pirates is a Disney movie, so one does not expect too overly much characterization. That's fine with me, I knew it going in. Orlando Bloom, barely recognizable from his stint as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movie, acts the part of the earnest blacksmith with a heart of gold, smitten with a woman above his station. Keira Knightley, who I only recently saw in Bend It Like Beckham, plays your typical fiesty Disney heroine, motherless daughter to a doting, dim-witted governor. She's enjoyable enough in the role, pretty and incredibly petite. She holds up well in all the wet-underclothes scenes she's forced to endure, and that's about as racy as it gets, so it rates well on the "family fun" scale.

But it's Johnny Depp who really shines in the movie and gives it any lasting "character" at all. I have a feeling that the part of Captain Jack Sparrow was originally conceived as a much straighter role than Depp eventually played it. I can definitely imagine it being played by a young Harrison Ford-type, ala Han Solo, the sly rogue who gets away with murder through a combination of raw skill, balls, and luck. Depp brings a much wackier interpretation to the role and it really works to give the film (a weird) energy. Chris and I were both commenting on how Depp's characters really are different from film to film; he doesn't fall into personal clichés (like "Oh, John Travolta is playing his 'cool guy' character again," or "Oh, it's Al Pacino as Al Pacino...again.") and his portrayal of Ed Wood is different from Edward Scissorhands is different from Dead Man is different from The Ninth Gate. Seeing Depp in Pirates makes me wish all the more that I could have seen him in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.


Well, apparently I'm allowed to post to my blog again. Glad that ridiculousness is over.


Maxin' and Relaxin'

Both Chris and I noticed that after taking an actual "weekend" last weekend (instead of doing as we normally do, which is to putter around with work-related stuff no matter the day of the week) we both felt rejuvenated and able to tackle our jobs with renewed vigor when Monday morning rolled around.

One of the things neither of us is very good at is drawing the line between when it's time to work and when it's time to rest. Now, obviously, some of what I need to do on my personal time (cooking, cleaning, banking, shopping) isn't exactly "rest" but it's a fact that taking a break from work, and especially taking a break from the drudgery of gaming-related message boards, e-mail lists, and websites in my "off hours" gives me a mental break that I definitely need and don't always take.



Managed to get a lot of things crossed off my list from yesterday, though getting caught up on laundry still hangs undone over my head.

* ship convention display to convention center [decided to haul this to the convention center ourselves]
* have stock shipped to Hal's hotel [need to decide what we're bringing!]
* send special requests (such as copies of Testament for special review) [packed and ready to mail in the a.m.]
* fill pre-orders for any books that arrive before we leave [ditto, through today]
* pick up my prescription that's been ready for 5 days [oops....]
* solidify GenCon travel arrangements [done!]
* book my Dragon*Con hotel [done!]
* catch up on laundry and dry-cleaning! [eek...]
* put new shelves in garage and move as much as much stock as possible out of the house [hrm, shelves still in back of car. oh well, tomorrow...]
* pay bills! [must deposit paycheck!]
* renew car insurance! [see above]
* mow the lawn [my nice neighbor did half my front lawn for me yesterday! sweet...]
* set up automatic sprinkler (lest everything that isn't dead already die while we're gone) [this will be a challenge]

I also finished putting all of our product specs into the new web store (product IDs, images, weights, etc) but the program continues to thwart me. Made calls to customer service for both my credit card processor and the makers of the shopping cart program; no answers as yet. Still trying. Upgraded our car rental for San Diego to an SUV, to better enable us to haul our own display to the convention center. Tracked down our California Reseller's permit, which needs to be displayed at our booth or we're not allowed to check in! Found out one of the authors for one of the Big Secret Projects we've been planning all year now can't work on it because he took a design job at Wizards of the Coast, and Wizards (specifically a couple of guys in particular, those backstabbing weasels!) won't allow him to do it. Processed half a dozen more demo team volunteer agreements. Worked up my vision statement for what I hope to accomplish in my new volunteer position.

Oh, and then I watched a couple of hours of Law & Order while working on crossword puzzles, and ate cheesy bratwurst from Uli's. Yum, meat and cheese.

Not a bad day. Now I just need to wring about 5 more just like it out of the rest of the week. And then I get to enjoy a day or two of San Diego sights with my little girl before we start the convention treadmill again. Whoopee!


San Diego

We leave for San Diego in less than one week. I pick up Kate on Saturday afternoon and then we're off Sunday afternoon.

Things to do before then:
* ship convention display to convention center
* have stock shipped to Hal's hotel
* send special requests (such as copies of Testament for special review)
* fill pre-orders for any books that arrive before we leave
* pick up my prescription that's been ready for 5 days
* solidify GenCon travel arrangements
* book my Dragon*Con hotel
* catch up on laundry and drycleaning!
* put new shelves in garage and move as much as much stock as possible out of the house
* pay bills!
* renew car insurance!
* mow the lawn
* set up automatic sprinkler (lest everything that isn't dead already die while we're gone)

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I have the courage to list at the moment. Kinda sounds like I'm busy, doesn't it?


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

John, Chris, and I went to see the theatrical release of the restored and remastered The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly today in the U District. Absolutely awesome movie. I'd seen it before, but I'm sad to say that all those Clint Eastwood as Cowboy Badass movies all run together for me and I often can't remember which of my favorite scenes goes with which movie. Anyway, seeing this classic up on the big screen again was a blast and had me smiling for the rest of the afternoon.

Clint Eastwood as Blondie is ultra boss as the badass, Eli Wallach is unrecognizable and the real star of the movie as Tuco, and Lee Van Cleef utterly succeeds as the meanacingly handsome, sneering bad guy "Angel Eyes." Loved it, loved it, loved it. Chock full of good stuff, and great to see in all its big screen glory.

After the movie, John led us on a stroll down the Ave to Ruby's for lunch (seared yellow-tail sandwich with avocado and spinach for me) and then back up the Ave to Twice Told Tales for some used book browsing and then to the coffee joint next door. "Coffee and pinball" they advertise, but the real treasure of the back room was CRYSTAL CASTLE! Crystal Castle was one of the only video games I played devotedly, back in my middle school years. Mike Groff and I spent a great deal of time at the video game nook in the Clackamas Town Center playing this game with some of the others in our junior high talented and gifted class, like Derek Liebertz and Dagny Haug. Seeing a working model of this game was strangely nostalgic for me; I couldn't bring myself to play it, in case it (like so many things of my youth) did not live up to the memory. Chris was not so daunted and played Bentley Bear through three levels before falling victim to the vicious gem eaters and the evil bees. Just like old times.

We accepted an invite from Ray & Christine to join them at their pad for dinner and screening of Ray's recent purchase: the first season of King of the Hill on DVD. Ray's only just decided to take the plunge into King of the Hill, and though I've seen the episodes before, I still found myself laughing out loud aplenty. We also watched a good portion of Undercover Brother (user comments on IMDb say "Better than the preview makes it look" and I agree) while Ray and John went outside like manly men and grilled some lamb burgers, corn on the cob, and toasty buns. Great way to end a sunny, sociable weekend. Came home feeling very relaxed and full of meat.


Independence Day

Had a lovely, sunny, sociable day yesterday. Attended a potluck at Sue and Monte's house and chatted with many old friends and acquaintances from Chris's Wizards of the Coast days. Talked and ate and talked and ate and talked some more. Stan! was there, telling some of my favorite "Stan stories" from his days in Japan (He was telling the Beans story in particular, a classic! Tammie and I agreed that another favorite from that cycle is his panties in a jar story, and my personal favorite is "My dog has stress!"). Chris entertained twice in one day with his story about being slashed in the neck by a lunatic in New York City, and showed off his scar. Keith told a truly horrible (though entertaining) story about a former employer's utterly clueless insensitivity over Keith's prosthetic arm. We watched a couple of games of Time's Up, which looked like an entertaining game. The teams seemed to be having a lot of fun. Julia Martin and I commiserated for quite a while over the trials and tribulations of website maintenance in the game industry. It was a perfect day for a 4th of July barbecue.

After about 6 hours of potluck, we bid our host and hostess adieu and made our way up to Jess and Kathryn's party, already underway in the heart of Seattle. There we enjoyed mingling with the usual suspects (Evan, Rick and Sasha) and folks we know in common through Wizards of the Coast or through Jess and Kathryn's other parties. Much more eating, drinking, and loud music ensued until we all piled out onto the balcony to watch the fireworks. Post-fireworks several party games of Truth or Dare Jenga and Guesstures went on, ending only when an 8 round boys-against-girls game ended with the boys going down in defeat, unable to guess Chris's pantomime of "left-handed" or someone else's pantomime of "necktie". Sasha and I bonded over not being "girly-girls" after Kathryn and her girlfriend dashed off to the bedroom together in high excitement over figuring out that they both owned the same dress, or when two party attendees exclaimed over their mutual admiration for a particular shade of nail polish. Funny stuff. Had a great time, got to bed waaaay too late, but it's summer and Kate is at her dad's so what the hell. I'm going to enjoy myself while I can.


Kate Wins!

Forgot to report, Kate won the Harry Potter coloring contest from the night we attended the midnight Harry Potter event at Barnes & Noble. Kate is with her dad in Canada for the next two weeks or so, but I went to pick up her prize for her so she can have it when she gets back (and before we go to San Diego).

This is no small prize! She got the Wizard Craft Book and Kit. It's a full color book of "wizard crafts" plus a kit that includes a 5 x 7-inch slateboard, a foam ball, white polymer clay, a wooden dowel (undoubtedly for making a wand), gold and silver paint, gold and silver glitter, copper wire, glue... if you know Kate, you know this is right up her alley. The girl is always making something. I'm impressed that she won the contest since there was a lot of competition that night.

Of course, with the frame of mind I'm in lately, I find myself wondering about the criteria for the contest, how it was categorized, who made the decision, what the competition looked like. On what basis did she win?

I've obviously been thinking too much about the Origins Awards.


Testing out a new and different comments function. Hopefully this one likes my pathetic blog a little better!


Why am I awake?

Since returning from Columbus and its crazy time zone, I've been up way too early every morning. I think had I not received the call about the website being hacked my second night back, I might have been able to reset my body clock that day, as I was sleeping soundly when the phone rang. Instead, I was up for the day, and it's been me popping awake at 6:00 am every morning since.

I'm so tired, but after 6:00 am (or 5:30 this morning, yuck!) I just toss and turn in the bed. Might as well get up.

Am attending a potluck in the afternoon and a party this evening. No idea what I'm bringing to the potluck. Guess I have plenty of time to figure that out this morning.



Remember what I said about being all calm and shit? Well *that*'s over.

I'm so bitchy right now I recommend no one else cross my path today.

One of the things I hate worse than anything else in the world is being blamed for something that I didn't do, or being assumed to be secretly acting badly when I haven't been. I was appointed head of a committee last week and before I've even received the files from my predecessor I'm already the target of a campaign of innuendo from a certain person in this industry who really ought to know better. Since this person engaged in a personal campaign to ruin my life (by ruining the life of my loved one -- including and up to meddling in a non-work issue by bringing it TO work and trying to exert influence to have my loved one formally disciplined if not fired...) I have NEVER trusted a word out of his arrogant, self-serving mouth. That he would now try to take his agenda to the public as if I wouldn't consider it (not that he even brought it to me directly) in an attempt to curry enough support from the random internet "public" to bully me into doing what he wants... well, let's just say I've spent a lot of time that I can't afford to spend trying to minimize his efforts to sabotage my position before I even start!

There are only a few people I've worked with that I wish lingering harm and misery on, but this bastard is one of those who I wish would just disappear, or that he would get his comeuppance and suffer even *half* the suffering he's inflicted on others. I've said many times, he has no soul, nor any moral conscience. If having children working in a sweat shop would increase the profitability of his product (and weren't illegal) he'd totally do it! If it's "legal" he doesn't care one bit about whether it's moral. If it's "good for business" that's all that matters to him. Why he fights so hard here, in the game industry, where the stakes are SO small, is beyond my comprehension. Surely there's some Bush/Cheney conglomerate out there taking advantage of some desperate third world people that he could attach himself to, and leave the rest of us out here alone, scrambling to make tens of thousands of sales and earn a gold star from our peers.


Stupid comments

This comments function seems to be broken again. I think I'm going to have to break down and find something different. Too bad my host (pre-paid for a year) can't handle Movable Type... seems that's what all the cool kids use.


Hoo boy!

People in Columbus kept telling me how generally relaxed I seemed. This is their cautious way of saying "Gee Nicole, you're not nearly the stressed out bitch we remembered/you seem online." This is ok, I don't mind. It's true!

I think one of the reasons I was able to be relaxed and mostly pleasant at the show this year was that Chris was so completely stressed out, that I naturally flowed into the yin to balance out his raging yang. The yin in not usually where I reside, but there's only so much yang to go around. Hal and I joked that with the state Chris is in lately, we might say "Hey Chris, we need to get a new credit card machine," and it's as if he heard, "Hey Chris, we need an immediate cash outlay for a solid gold, jewel encrusted credit card machine. Oh, and ivory back scratchers are on sale too!" Poor guy, too much on his plate lately, and he was just not sleeping well at the hotel at all, which only made it worse.

I could have been much more stressed out about the lead-up to the Origins Awards, but I was not allowing myself to be sucked in. I let the people who said they were going to handle it do so, and when I felt my blood pressure rising over the several ways in which I felt the thing was not going according to what little of the plan I even knew...I simply excused myself from the process. No such luxury next year, but I also don't intend to let things go until the last possible minute as they apparently were allowed to fester this year. We will have programs, scripts, and speakers lined up in advance!

There is a certain aspect of having Kate attending the show with me that keeps me grounded. Oh sure, I still get tired, cranky, irritated or what have you. But I noticed the same phenomenon when we took Kate to New York City. I normally despise New York: it's filthy, it's crowded, it's violent. The traffic sucks and people beep their horns uselessly--I hate that kind of thing and always have. I got into trouble with one of the neighborhood moms when I was maybe 5 or 6 for responding after about the 12th time she screamed for her daughter, "She's not over here, so why don't you shut up?!" I'm only marginally more tactful now, but about the 5th time the cabbie beside me lays on the horn, when traffic clearly isn't going anywhere, I certainly *want* to yell the same way. I love Chris's friends in the NYC area, they're all great. I enjoy the restaurants and museums, and can appreciate that there's no Katz's Deli anywhere else. But New York makes me tense and anxious and prone to fits, except when Kate was around. Instead I can enjoy it through her eyes, laugh when she's the one wishing aloud that the cabbie would stop beeping his horn, turn what would be my anxiousness about the filthy streets or the crowds or which subway station we want into a more benign, motherly concern for Kate.

Having Spike, Mary, and Miranda Jones along at the convention makes it a lot easier to accomplish. Future cons in future years may not be as easy-going, if I have Kate and she has no playmates to enjoy while I'm working. I hope they can keep coming, as it's great to see them and also fun to let the girls (who are like twins, except for living on opposite coasts and being born 6 months apart) hang out together.

My patience was pretty well at its end by the time I got on the plane to come home, though.

Our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 8:10pm Columbus time Monday. This meant we should, in theory, be able to go out and enjoy the sights of Columbus before leaving town. I arranged to have a late check-out, which the hotel agreed to. This meant we could meet Hal, Chris, and Tanith for breakfast before they left town. Then we packed up the room and brought everything down to be either shipped or stored. The one problem was that we couldn't get the UPS labels to print using the hotel's computer, for the longest time. After FINALLY getting the woman who was hogging the computer to let us use it, the printer wouldn't work and the guy who could fix it was out to lunch. After we FINALLY got that taken care of, I told Kate we could go back to COSI so we could show Chris all the cool things we discovered there earlier in the week.

Except that we got the cab driver who didn't speak English and who didn't know anything about the town. Instead of driving us, late as we were, over to the Science Center (COSI), he drove us over to German Village to KOSSUTH STREET. When I finally realized what was happening, he couldn't understand what we wanted him to do. Finally we spied Schmidt's Sausage Haus looming in front of us, so we gave up and jumped out of the taxi, and headed over to Schmidt's for a quick lunch. Chris had a sausage, I had a spatzle salad, and Kate had a chocolate cream puff half the size of her head!

We successfully called another taxi and were finally taken to COSI, which was due to be closing in 90 minutes. They let the three of us in for fifteen dollars total, since we had almost no time. We're not even finished putting our wrist bands on when we're accosted by COSI employees who invite Kate to take part in a paper airplane making contest. Over 35 minutes later, we extract ourselves from this fiasco, and now have just less than an hour to try to see the cool exhibits. Managed to drag Chris to see most of the things we saw on our previous visit, but it was definitely not a fun trip to the center for me.

Got back to the hotel, which was serving snacks and complementary drinks. A couple dixie cups of Merlot later and I was suddenly SO TIRED. Unfortunately, there was still the matter of getting all our luggage to the airport, and so Chris called a taxi. We made it to the airport and as we were checking in we were told that flights into St. Louis (our connection city) were delayed, but that the plane we were catching was also delayed so everything was fine. They issued us boarding passes and assigned seats on both flights and we checked our bags and went to the gate. I was so exhausted, I fell asleep for an hour on the floor in a corner. The flight to St. Louis was all of an hour long, up and down again. The plane we were catching was at the neighboring gate (yay! not like Dallas, where we had to run from one end of the airport to the other.). We go to catch the plane to Seattle and they won't honor our boarding passes. They tried to split us all up, with the three of us sitting all over the plane. They did the same to another woman, traveling alone with her five boys! I was pissed. I was too tired to complain enough to be thrown off the plane or anything, but I was NOT impressed, especially since I had been assured not three hours before that everything was in order with the flight to Seattle and that we had three seats adjoining.

Luckily for me the flight attendants rearranged some passengers and by the time we were up in the air, Chris had switched with someone and he, Kate, and I were in the same row. The mother was moved to sit in front of me, two of her boys were across the aisle, one in the seat behind Kate, and two others somewhere else altogether. Exhausted, we all slept as much as we could, and arrived back home after 3:30am (East coast/body clock time). Since I'd been up since about 8am Eastern Time, it was a hellish long day and I was oh, so glad to be home.

Falling asleep in front of the computer writing this, so it's clearly time for me to turn in. Will try to write better entries until the next of the major convention trips (San Diego in something like 13 days).