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Discolor Online

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

 

Holiday Shopping Melee

According to this widely-reported Associated Press story, a woman waiting in line to snag herself one of the $29 DVD players at Walmart was pushed down, knocked unconscious, and trampled by the crowd.

As horrible as that sounds, I was most horrified by the Walmart's response: they offered to put a DVD player on hold for her! On HOLD? "We are very disappointed this happened," Burk said. "We want her to come back as a shopper."

So, the woman is knocked unconscious and trampled in your store, in response to a holiday sale you are having, and the best you can do is invite her to come shop again? The sale price for this DVD player was $29. The woman was knocked unconscious. Give her the bloody DVD player, GIVE IT to her! If you want her to come back to the store, give her a gift certificate to spend there later.

Perhaps corporate headquarters didn't grok that this woman was trampled in their store, but if I were the manager, if it happened in my store, if need be I would have sprung for the $29 out of my own pocket to make sure the woman had a DVD player when she gets out of the hospital.

Corporate values. Happy freakin' holidays.

 
 

Thanksgiving, eh?

Started my morning with a phone call from Canada, a guy calling about Academy issues. I, predictably, was in the process of getting the kitchen ready for massive Thanksgiving cooking and must say that I did not want to deal with that. The only thing less Thanksgiving-y than being reminded of my thankless industry volunteer positions would have been for some bill collectors or telephone solicitors to call.

Cooked myself to death this afternoon, and I have a ton of food left over. Kate helped a lot with the prep work. She's quite the enthusiastic helper. I got a twelve-pound smoked turkey from Bob's Quality Meats, and it was delicious. I supplemented with stuffing (I improvised my own recipe, using wild rice, bread cubes, Portobello mushrooms, roasted chestnuts, onions, celery, sherry, thyme and fresh sage), garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, maple-glazed yams baked with streusel topping (really good, not that overcooked marshmallow mess most people associate with Thanksgiving), green bean casserole, corn, two types of cranberry sauce, and black olives. I bought, but didn't serve, biscuits, jello, and green salad. I would have had pumpkin pie to go with this meal, but I offered it to Kate's class potluck yesterday instead.

Yes, there were only three of us.

I have plenty of food left over, no surprise there. Thanks to Chris, most of the leftovers went immediately into divided containers to make complete mini-meals. Half are in the fridge, half in the freezer. Even so, I still had two huge freezer bags full of meat from the Turkey carcass, plus the carcass itself, which will be used for stock sometime in the future. Some of the meat will be used in my traditional creamy turkey-wild rice soup. You can tell I'm from Minnesota by the inclusion of wild rice in my holiday menus.

After dinner, Kate and I watched The Planet's Funniest Animals (the "Look! Animals Poop and Pee" episode, I think). It's a dreadful show, mostly for the host and the voice-overs, but Kate just loves, loves, loves animals and it seemed like a good family bonding moment so I went with it. Eventually I retired upstairs to watch my newly-restored TiVo (replacing the cable box did the trick, and now I have a box with a serial adapter, which makes me happy). I tried to watch Notorious, but it turned out to have recorded an infomercial instead. Boo! I watched Bogart in Dark Passage, a movie he made with sultry, wonderful Lauren Bacall. The story had maddening plot holes, and devices such as the cops whose job it is to harass anyone who might seem "suspicious" in any random location. WTF? TiVo had it as a three-star movie, and I agree. IMDB's review calls it "underrated" but I think not. Then I went for Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby. Fun, fun! Cary Grant answers the door in Hepburn's bathrobe and is laugh out loud funny. Hepburn's gangster moll scene in the police station was a riot! It's not entirely made up of high points, but the high points were certainly enjoyable. Kate came in and joined me for the end of that movie and we howled and hooted over the scenes with the leopards. At the end, Kate's summary of the movie was, "Wow, she messed up his whole life!"

 
 

Nothing exciting to report. Spent the day filing, filing, cross-referencing, filing. More filing to do, more organization of contracts and papers that have been sitting around unfiled for months. Made a serious dent in the work. Started putting our 2004 schedule into Microsoft Project, which means I have to work on the PC (which I've become unaccustomed to). Completed a major update to the online store that should bring it into working order soon. Organized a precarious pile of project CDs that had no home. My G3 refused to reboot this morning, giving me a few hours of despair while I poked, prodded, and repaired it. Thankfully, it seems to be back to its old self, and yes, I had recently backed up.

The TiVo has not come back since the power outage on the weekend. Or rather, the TiVo seems to be working, but the cable box did not reset itself, so our television is stuck on the dreadful PAX network as long as the TiVo is turned on. I've reset everything, checked all the connections, to no avail. No time to screw with it over the next few days, either. Bummer. What I thought was recorded Iron Chef was really Christian easy-listening music videos, and what I thought was Changing Rooms ended up being Ginsu knife infomercials and the New Candid Camera. I wouldn't watch that crap under torture.

Since I've been working long hours lately, I've done less reading, blog-browsing, or educating myself, and thus have nothing interesting to talk about.

 
 

Fun, No Power, More Fun

Chris and I joined Ray and Christine last night for a relaxed evening of pizza and sitting in front of their fireplace. Ray suggested that we play an old Avalon Hill game called Election, but we never quite got to the point of busting it out. Eventually, Christine turned in, and I fell to dozing in and out of consciousness on the couch while Ray and Chris disected the game industry. When they'd finally exhausted themselves, I roused myself and headed home.

Sometime early this morning, the power went off for four or five hours, so when I woke up the house was dark and cold. It's been very wintery in our area lately, with a small amount of snow sticking on the ground Friday morning, and temps getting down into the low 20s last night. Since we have a gas stove I was able to make tea (whole beans, no grinder = no coffee) and scramble up some eggs, and by the time I was done with breakfast the house had come back to life. It was a real relief to hear the whole house powering back up, all the computers coming alive, the heat coming on, the refrigerators humming along. Reminds me that I need to organize my emergency kit, so that all the things I might need are in one place in the house. I have just about everything I could need in an emergency, but it's strewn throughout the house and that makes getting to whatever it is that I need more of a chore than it should be.

This afternoon we went to see the last matinee performance of Mike Daisey's 21 Dog Years, which was very enjoyable. I laughed at many of the situations he portrayed, and the only real weak spot was the final "scene" with which he closed the performance. The rest of the time, he had an engaged audience. A few people even gave him a standing ovation at the close. Chris left with the impression that Mike's wife must be one hell of an understanding woman.

After 21 Dog Years, we strolled around Seattle Center and stopped at the center house where we got coffee and a snack. Ran into a friend and ex-co-worker of Chris's at Seattle Center House with his charming daughter, who I remember as a sweet toddler, now four years old and on her way to spend the afternoon at Seattle Children's Museum with her dad.

Tim was having a screening of the extended edition of the Two Towers at his house, complete with surround sound so we shot off to Renton for the rest of the night to enjoy that. Mutual friend Bruce is set to relocate up to this area from the Bay Area in just a couple of weeks, and will be renting a room from Tim, so I hope to see more of both of them in as the new year rolls around.

Tommorow I'm beginning a major filing project, which is going to involve several file boxes, two small filing cabinets and a whole lot of paper. Wish me luck!

 
 

Lurkers

Recently I've found out that I have many more blog-reading lurkers here than I ever imagined! It's a bit unnerving, though I understand the impulse to lurk rather than respond and reply on a blog. Strangely, I find that in the blogs I read regularly I almost never participate or reveal myself and yet I want the opposite from those who read my own blog. I like to read, anonymously. I wonder what certain people would think if they knew I read their blogs. And yet, I don't feel like "outting myself" as a reader on the blogs of others, unless we're close friends or their blog contents particularly stir me.
And still, even with this understanding, I wonder why it is that Mystery Reader #1 knows of my blog and visits, but never comments. When I hear, sometimes through friends of friends, that a person knows of my blog, or enjoyed something I posted here, I wonder,"Why didn't they tell ME that personally? Why didn't they leave me a comment? Why is my guestbook so bare, my guest map containing only a handful of participants?"

I like to hear that people enjoy my entries. Soccer Memories seems to have struck people in particular. I received some public comments, some private comments; I walked in to join friends for lunch yesterday and they greeted me with "Liked your soccer story," so I guess people are reading and enjoying. Still, it's a bit strange to think that people have sought out my blog, read it with any regularity, even go so far as to link to me on their own blogs without ever telling me so directly.

Secret friends, I'm glad to hear that you know and read Discolor Online. In particular, I'm glad to hear that some of you are out there reading even when you don't care to comment, and especially I'm glad that one or two of you are planning to bring plenty of baby pictures to SoCal to share with us.

That said, I'd be very curious to know who is out there, who is reading, who likes what I've written so far, what you might like to see more or less of. Anyone feel like coming out of lurking in order to leave a public or private comment, or maybe sign the guestbook or pin yourself on the guestmap? Anyone new, any old friends out there in the woodwork who want to give a little wave hello?

 
 

Science!

Elissa Carey had this interesting link on her site. While I was checking it out, Kate came in and joined me, which led to a brief discussion of magnetic fields and the core of the earth. Not exactly on the level of John Tynes talking to his mom about the latest developments in string theory, but hey, I've got a few years to get there.

 
 

Soccer memories

My soccer coach in junior high frequently made me angry and often made me feel like dirt. We started the season with two girls on the team, the rest of the team was made up of boys. Half these boys were on the coach's league team, the other half were just enthusiastic kids from the school. Only a few games into the season, the other girl unceremoniously quit the team and I was left as the only girl.

This soccer coach was popular enough with the boys, but he did not like having me on his team. This was my first experience playing organized soccer, though I'd been a huge fan of the Portland Timbers, and I wasn't very good. When we played games, he would put me into the game the minimum amount of time he could get away with. I was not a good player, obviously, but I was also not ever coached in any way to become better, either. I was very often told to run extra laps for being the worst dribbler, or pulled out of a game as soon as I'd completed one pass. I dared not ever take a shot on goal if I didn't want to be pulled out immediately. When we were assembled on the bus for away games, and the coach was calling the role, he didn't even refer to me by name. He'd ask, "Is the girl here?" and then move on.

This man tricked me on the day the school pictures of the soccer team were taken for the yearbook, so that I did not appear in the team picture. He'd told me the photographer was taking a picture of the boys from his league team, the Killer Bees, not for the school team. I recognized the picture when I saw it in the yearbook. I don't have that yearbook anymore, but it seems to me I wasn't even listed as "not pictured."

I came back to the team the next year. By that time, it was a point of pride for me. I was not going to let him win, not going to let him drive me off the team. I vowed to try harder, hard enough that I wouldn't be just a sub. I'd played on a girl's league team by then, and even though I still wasn't a very good player, I wanted to prove myself tough enough to continue. I played in games without shin guards, mostly because we were poor and I couldn't afford them, but I liked the "tough chick" reputation that went along with it.

I did the extra laps. I put up with the coach's constant disappointment with us. One day, a professional soccer player (who knew a couple of boys on the team) came to practice with us. The coach puffed up, put his arm around me, and introduced me to the player. "This is our girl," he said. Not that he thought any more of me that year, but I was a novelty item. He set me up to take a shot on goal, against our best goal-keeper. I ran forward, took a bumbling shot that was easily stopped by our goalie, and dejectedly returned to the end of the line while my coach began his usual "Noooo! What are you doing?!" ranting at me for my ineptitude. "Stop, come back," said the pro. "Let her do it again," he said to my coach, who stood there with mouth agape, stopped in mid-rant. Putting his arm around me, the pro set me up again. "Wait until your knee is over the ball this time. You're over-extending." This was unheard of, a second chance? Tips and pointers?! I was nearly as agape as the coach.

I took that second shot on goal, waited until my knee was over the ball, and curled a beautiful, solid shot right past our goalie and into the corner of the net. "That's it!" cheered my hero, and the guys on the team joined in appreciatively. I was on top of the world, one silly practice shot in the net later.

My perception of things changed completely in that moment. Before that, I was sticking it out on the team out of sheer stubbornness, from some general sense that the way things were being run was unjust and unfair to the girls at the school who wanted to play soccer. After that practice, I realized that I might be unskilled but I wasn't a lost cause, I wasn't a write-off, and that with a little genuine coaching I could even succeed. The boys who had treated me indifferently the first year even came around and treated me as a friend and team mate. They used my name and supplied it to the coach when he called me "Girl."

When we all moved up to high school, there were enough girls interested in soccer to have their own girls-only team. I lost interest. I'd played with the boys for two years leading up to high school, only to be told that I wasn't going to be allowed to play with them anymore: boys on the boy's team and girls on the girl's team. I'd played with some of the girls on the league team, I knew them a little, but I grieved the loss of the hard-won camaraderie of my junior high team mates. I wasn't a strong enough player to make demands to play with the boys, and I wasn't part of the girls' world. I moved on to other activities, and eventually played soccer on other teams in other towns when I moved away but never knew my other team members the way I knew those Ackerman Colts. I often wonder what happened in their lives: Sean, Corey, Danny, Greg, Derek, Mike, Scott, Steve, Clint...I've lost touch with every one of them.

 
 

"Church is not God," he said. "And God is not religion."

So says former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, recently removed from his post for defying the federal court rulings, at a rally to whip up support for a movement (largely based in Georgia) to post the Ten Commandments in public courthouses. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an illuminating article about the brewing showdown between the federal government and the local small-town governments that are the focus of the campaign by Ten Commandments-Georgia Inc. (aka www.thoushalt.org) whose sole goal seems to be to "to bring awareness to judicial tyranny in this country," by demanding that they be allowed tie their religious fervor to the local government and the judicial process through public displays of text from the Bible.

I can think of a few acts of "judicial tyranny" (like the decision that we don't need to actually count all those pesky votes in an election) that really should have had citizens riled. And yet, they pick this? I remain baffled by it all.

 
 

One Nation, Under God...

The Seattle P-I has a hilarious article in which the reporter interviews area first grade students about the Pledge of Allegiance.

Apparently, "under God" is the only part of the pledge the little nippers understand, since they know God is the guy who lives in the sky, waiting for people to die so he can turn them into angels. If we were to remove the under god part of the pledge, the poor little things would be left struggling over words like allegience, republic, indivisible, and liberty. In the article, only one kid (little Amanwil Eversito) knew the pledge was about the flag. The rest of them completely believed that "God started it," and that the pledge is a prayer to God, about God.

I suppose it's too much to ask that schools explain to the kids what they're "pledging" and why, before we teach them to parrot back the recitiation?

 
 

Master and Commander

Went to see this with Kate and Chris. Kate thought it was alternately "gross" and "boring" and Chris might have his own thoughts to share in his blog, eventually.

Myself, I was going to write up my impressions of the movie, but found that Mr. Tynes has already beaten me to it. He says what I was going to, right down to how refreshing it was that the main character didn't have to grow as a person or conquer his internal demons or anything besides what he was set on screen to do.

I did find myself unduly distracted by Chaucer (Paul Bettany) and Pippen (Billy Boyd) despite their excellent acting, but that's my problem, no slight to them at all. Max Pirkis is exceptional as young Midshipman Blakeney.

 
 

Too Much 80s




Ok, guys, how do you all score?

 
 

Tea Cozy

Something about November makes me want to bust out the tea. Most of the rest of the year I am a devoted coffee or cola drinker. Iced tea I can usually take or leave, though I did get a nifty Bodum Iced Tea jug before they were discontinued this summer.

November 2003 began and I, as usual, ran for the tea cupboard. When I did so, I soon realized that I could have a pot of tea every day for the next year and still likely have tea left over. This is good news should we ever end up in a situation of war rationing ala World War II Britain. Realistically, it's just an embarrassing amount of tea. The tea in my cupboard includes:


Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey Classic
Fortnum & Mason Rose Garden
Fortnum & Mason Darjeeling
Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend
Tao of Tea Rooribos
PG Tips
Republic of Tea Blackberry-Sage
Republic of Tea Cardamon-Cinnamon
Republic of Tea Ginger-Peach
Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat
Stash Herbal Sampler
Stash Vanilla Nut Creme Decaf
Stash Earl Grey Decaf
Stash Orange Spice Black Tea
Stash Chai Spice
Tazo Mambo Herbal Infusion
St. Dalfour Organic Black Cherry
St. Dalfour Organic Peppermint
Golden Moon Tea Vanilla Jasmine
Golden Moon Tea Lapsang Souchong
a few individual bags of jasmine, green tea, and ginseng
Lipton English Blend (Chris's tea)


With this in mind, I've been making an effort to brew up a pot of tea at least several times a week. I try to have one cup of tea every day, so as to feel less like a hoarder. It also gives me the excuse to use my tea cozy. Much like my tureen, I don't use it often, but I get a happy feeling when I do. Though Alton Brown would no doubt cringe at the number of single-use items I have in my kitchen, I get delight out of properly applying nearly every one of them.

 
 

Long Day

Up late last night watching TiVo'd shows when I should have been asleep. In an effort to not let my new toy cut into my regular routine or lifestyle, I've been watching television when I would nornally be going to bed. That won't last much longer.

Long day of people calling me on the phone, lots of answering and sorting e-mail. The e-mail thing is tedious: setting up new filtering conditions so that my legitimate e-mails stop being flagged as junk mail, or so that mail ends up in the right folders in Entourage. Then a trip to the post office to fill more mail orders, and a trip to the bank, where some junkie walked up to the passenger side of the car to harrass us for change while I was using the drive-up teller to deposit some checks. Creeped me out.

Got wrapped up in spread-sheet hell, catching up on book keeping and number crunching, so Kate and I ordered pizza in while Chris had a meeting with one of our freelance editors about a vexing project turned in by freelancers this summer. We have several outstanding issues with the manuscript and frankly, I'm tired of spending time on our end hammering and developing and stitching and correcting on these things, only to release them and for the original authors to get the credit for putting together the end result. We've had at least half a dozen of these books pass through the company now, and I'm perfectly ready to take a hardline approach. Very often, we get a manuscript from someone with a handful of good ideas but with poor organizational skills, or abysmal D20 ability (especially wrto stat blocks) and there have been many books where Chris has had to correct every stat block in the manuscript before it can go to print, that kind of thing. My position recently has been, "That's Author X's problem, not ours: the manuscript should go back to them, and if Author X can't do it right or find someone to help him, then we're not going to waste our time on this project." It certainly does make one appreciate the genuinely talented and professional people we work with, who thankfully are the majority of our freelancers!

Still, after crunching numbers for several hours, I looked up to notice that it was after 9:00pm, I'd had one piece of pizza for dinner, I had no idea what Kate had eaten and it was too late to put her in the bath. The only reason I'd looked up at that point was because Kate had come skipping down to tell me that the Good Eats sweet potato episode was on TiVo. I smooched her and sent her off to bed, unbathed. Tomorrow is homework day, and since her homework came home with her while I was in Columbus, I have no idea where it is, or even what it is. Bad Mommy Points for me.

 
 

No rest

Trying to catch up on all the things left undone while I was in Columbus last week. An update for our Miva store came out, but everyone in the tech world assumes everyone is running PCs and it's stupidly convoluted to work through the process on the Mac. Grr. Trying to catch up on correspondence, only to find that my spam filter and e-mail rules are misrouting my mail: communications from printers, from Osseum, from customers writing to the customer service address are being labeled "personal" or "junk", being marked "lowest priority" so they don't show up as new mail, and other issues and I'm not sure what's causing it. Grr again. Deadlines for GenCon SoCal, GenghisCon, GTS and Origins (!) are approaching, and I've also got to finalize wording for the Origins Awards Guidelines before the Eligibility Round goes live next week sometime.

Yes, there's much work to be done. Nothing even vaguely interesting to blog about, I don't even have time to rant about my feelings concerning the third Matrix movie. You guys don't need to know what I think about it, though. There are plenty of other people who have elaborated on why it really fails, so I'll just say, "Me, too," and get back to work.

 
 

The Birthday Day

I spent the day of my birthday alone in the house. I made myself a cup of coffee, spent the morning playing with my TiVo, asking it to record movies with Bogart or Christopher Walken in them, subscribing to all the new episodes of Good Eats and Queer Eye. Why, out of those few shows, did I start getting notified that Episode X of one show would not record because it conflicted with Episode Y of another? Isn't it just my luck that out of the two or three shows I want to watch EVER that they're on in conflict with each other! Bah.

I stayed off the 'net for the day, dragged myself up to north-most Washington to pick up Kate. She'd informed her dad that she wanted to get something for me for my birthday, and the two of them asked for 20 minutes to go shopping before we exchanged. With her father's help (obviously) Kate presented me with a DVD of Bowling for Columbine. Heh. I'm greatly amused.

Kate and I went to see School of Rock. I was stunned when Kate told me she wanted to be the prissy little bossy boots girl who ends up as "Band Manager" until I realized that she was really the only girl given any camera time or characterization. Who aspires to be "back-up vocalist," or "bass player who just stands there and never says anything," when you can be the smart, pretty girl who gets all the camera time? The kids in the movie are really a riot in this interview.

Sadly, I ended the day with one of my damned "Behind the Right Eye" headaches. By the time I went to pick Chris up at the airport, I was in awful pain and I went immediately to bed. The headaches come on so strong, I can't to anything but lay there. Can't open my eyes, sometimes can't even talk. Sleep is the only escape. Chris, bless his heart, brought me some drugs and sat on the bed with me. I felt marginally better, at least enough to have a short conversation and hear about his trip, then I had to beg off and go to sleep. This morning I'm headache free, but having been in such pain last night rippled tension through my face and neck and this morning I'm feeling the beginnings of a TMJ flare-up threatening. Damn rebellious body! I'm taking preventative measures to keep things in line. What a drag it is getting old... as they say.

 
 

Home again, home again

I woke up sweating every hour on the hour to stare at the clock, in between dreaming unhappy dreams of editing bylaws or trying to record votes to the board. I got up feeling ill-rested at 6:00am to get out to the airport and catch my morning flight home. I didn't even call our Experience Columbus host for a ride, preferring a private, quiet taxi at my own expense. Everything went smoothly, though my purse was checked at security because my coin purse raised suspicions somehow. It felt only the slightest irritation, so anxious was I to get home.

All aboard the aircraft, when something is discovered to be broken and in need of repair. We're delayed about 20 or 30 minutes, but I think nothing of it and just work on finishing my novel (Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger, a Minnesota novelist. I am intimately familiar with the picture of life he painted in his novel, which includes reference to the Northfield Minnesota bank heist by the James Gang, and the rural realities of North Dakota and the Badlands, among other things. Excellent book, highly recommended!). Then, they announced our landing time of 8:55 and a ripple of worry runs up and down the aisle, as the ten passengers with the 9:10 connection to Seattle wonder what they're going to do!

I was one of those worried people, as I was not traveling at my leisure. Not only did I have the strong desire to get home, I felt extreme anxiety about doing so within a certain block of time. You see, Chris was leaving town for his tour of game stores in San Francisco promoting Green Ronin and our attendance at GenCon SoCal almost exactly one hour after I was scheduled to arrive in Seattle. Not only that, but he'd had to cancel his personal debit card after someone had gotten a hold of it and made fraudulent charges with it, and I had the company credit card with me! We planned to meet at the airport in that precious hour window of time and exchange so Chris's trip wouldn't be one of misery and deprivation. Adding more to my stress level, once Chris left town, there Kate was with no guardian in the city and no one at home to receive her after school let out! I was not a happy woman when the flight attendants said that they would not hold the Seattle flight for us and that our best bet was to run.

Of course, I had a heavy carry-on bag and my computer with me, and I was wearing high-heeled boots. Of course, the Minneapolis airport is freaking' HUGE and the two planes were nowhere near each other (we arrived at C35 and were departing at F14). And, of course, the moving walkways that should have been going in that direction were down for repairs. I despaired. Then, on a side-hall I noticed three of those carts and drivers standing around talking. I begged a ride to Gate F14, and launched myself with no small amount of panic off the cart to the ticket checker, who then told me that there was no reason to rush, they were holding the plane.

With a huge sigh of relief, limped down the ramp and onto the plane to take my seat. The minor drawback being that my seatback did not recline, so I was able to catch only a little sleep with my head down on my tray table. Finally, finally, we landed in Seattle and I bolted onto the concourse and called Chris to find out where in the airport he was. He told me he was at the Starbucks on the main concourse. Hooray! Making my way to the main concourse, I find the Starbucks, no Chris. I call again. He's at a different Starbucks. I see a sign pointing to another Starbucks around the corner...no Chris! Hustling through the airport, I find ANOTHER Starbucks (and a Seattle's Best Coffee) before finally coming around the corner to the Starbucks he's really at! I don't know how many micky fricky coffee shops Starbucks runs in Sea-Tac airport, but I was beginning to feel like I was in a Woody Allen movie.

Happily, I was able to see Chris before he left town and give him the company card. And I was just able to sit down with him for half an hour or so and relax feel at home again. Whew, things looked much better!

The usual waiting for shuttles, picking up my car, stopping at the store, unpacking the car and bringing things into the house took up most of the time between when I left the airport and when Kate needed to be picked up from school. I rushed home to pack her weekend bag and picked her up from school to go directly to her dad's for the weekend. Another two hours of driving to get up there and then returning to Seattle just barely in time to meet friends at Restaurant ZoŽ to celebrate Christine's birthday (November 7th) and my own (November 9th).

I held up alright through dinner, but after bottles of wine, cocktails, and of course good food, I was ready to fall asleep in my sorbet. The rest of the table intended to hook up with Rev at the ZigZag, and I'd originally intended to spend the night getting drunk and disorderly and staying the night at R&C's instead of my own empty house, but the reality of my long day caught up with me and all I wanted was to be home, in my own bed, in my footie jammies.

Which is exactly where I ended up, fast asleep by 10:30.

 
 

Second Verse, Same as the First

Day Two in Columbus. Still on West Coast Time, I managed to get to sleep sometime after resorting to taking Excedrin PM. Up again for meetings all day. Because things seemed to be getting done with such great difficulty, I did not think it was prudent for me to leave on my scheduled 5:00pm flight and changed my departure time to Friday morning, first thing. Budgets, and bylaws, and reports from staff, much discussed. The break for lunch came as the board was in heated discussion and debate over some vote or other, so we were late arriving for the catered meal. Normally we would have just asked to have something brought in and worked through lunch, but the catering service for the convention center wanted to "do something special" and boy, did they ever! I was glad to have left the meeting, foodie that I am, because lunch was Steak Oscar (crab meat and baby shrimp atop a medium rare filet mignon, served with asparagus and bťarnaise sauce) and an apple-berry pie with cinnamon whipped cream. Holy overkill, batman! Still, good food lulls even the most savage game industry savage, and the afternoon session went as smoothly as I could have hoped.

So smoothly, in fact, that I probably hadn't needed to delay my departure as much as I did. By the time everything was over, I was tired as hell and emotionally drained, and all I wanted was to be home with my family, in my own bed. The other board members who were staying the night tried to cheer me and keep me company, but in the end I was sad and homesick.

 
 

Day One

Meetings, meetings, meetings. I have to say, aside from the occasional cretinous lout, the people I've served with on the GAMA board of directors are some of the smartest, most insightful, most passionate about the industry people I've ever known. Serving on the GAMA board has given me contact with people outside of the little clique of people I know well from my own business, and I especially appreciate the hard work of all the retail and distributors who have served as representatives. Our current executive committee has had their noses to the grind-stone in a way that I've never seen before and in a way that is not very transparent to the membership only because of the way the by-laws are set up to control the way GAMA conducts its business. In fact, they're working to change that very thing, to vest control of the organization within the full board and to make very *clear* to the membership who is running what.

Right now there is a lot of misunderstanding about what the organization is and what it's set up to do. Most companies that join GAMA don't first read the by-laws; they join based on invitations from representatives of the organization or invitations from other members. To my dismay, too much of what is "known" about GAMA is based on rumor, innuendo, and a whole generation of personal grudges...this guy hated that guy who was rumored to have harmed the business of a third guy. Many people, not knowing how the organization is run to begin with, get a wild and twitchy at changes they associate with any of the wounds of the past.

It was a very difficult meeting. Very productive but very difficult. I had to bum antacids from others around the table as I developed severe stress-stomach that first day. One fellow refused to be dissuaded from his points, even after he was the only one at the table continuing to argue. At another point, we had a guy determined to work up a full head of steam ranting about the potential earth-shattering problems that were going to occur if Section Blank, Part Blank of the bylaws were adopted only to be told (once he finally took a breath and let the rest of the table get a word in edgewise) that his concerns were addressed on the next page.

After the end of business on Day One, the folks from Experience Columbus took us out to a Mongolian barbecue for dinner, and gave us complementary passes to see the new Matrix movie on opening day. I'll save my review of the Matrix part three for another time

 
 

Off again, off again, jiggity jog...

Time to go to Columbus soon. I checked the weather in Columbus, and it's supposed to go from a high of 80 today to a high of 60-something tomorrow to a low of 34 (!) by the time I fly out on Thursday night. That's quite a swing! Makes packing a bit more challenging.

Must run to the post office, the bank, the drug store and then to return my videos. I ended up going over to Ray's last night and while he and Chris played ASL, Kate and I broke in his new Finding Nemo DVD (which looked superb on Ray's giant hi-def tv), then I moved on to the end of the Maltese Falcon...and eventually Ray and Chris joined me for High Sierra. This means I did not get to watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof before returning it, but maybe I'll give it a go again when I get back from Ohio.

Blogging may be sparse until I return. Not sure what my connection situation will be while I'm away.

 
 

Election Day

I spent election day traveling to Columbus for the fall GAMA Board meeting. Arrived at the airport in time to bump into Rick Loomis from Flying Buffalo, freshly (or *ahem* maybe not so "freshly") in from two weeks in Europe for the Essen and Eindhoven game shows. The fall meeting is the only meeting that doesn't take place adjacent or concurrent with other game shows (e.g., the GAMA Trade Show and Origins) and it's traditionally two solid days of work for the organization.

This year, held in Columbus (home to the Origins Convention) the people of Experience Columbus "hosted" the Board meeting, meaning along with the GAMA finance director, they arranged for hotel rooms, printing and binding the agenda and staff reports, providing meals, meetings with our liaisons at the venues and so on. It also meant that the contact guy from Experience Columbus was picking each of the board members up at the airport, no matter what time of the day or night we were coming in. I had the unlucky draw of a room at the Red Roof Inn, one of the convention hotels. As compared to the other hotels, the Red Roof is the sort of minimal hotel that doesn't even provide you with a complimentary bottle of shampoo. Rick joined me for dinner, as we were both starved on our flights, and then I hooked up with a few other board members to go over some of the material for the morning meeting.

Sadly, being on West Coast Time was cruel to me. I was unable to fall asleep before 3:30am, even with the aid of a couple of after-dinner drinks. The meeting started in a hotel meeting room up the block at 8:00am (aka 5:00am by my body clock). Ouch.

 
 

TiVo, TiVo, TiVo, TiVo!

Oh, TiVo, how I have lusted in my heart for you. For years now, I have heard the glories of your technology. Jeff and Peter have blogged your praises; Ray and Christine have bloop-bloop-blooped their way through many a TiVo'd program for my viewing pleasure. People at cocktail parties, birthday parties, Christmas parties proselytized the TiVo lifestyle with all the fervor of the newly baptized or new Atkins diet converts: "Oh, you're just the type of person TiVo is made for! You'd love it. It would be perfect for you!" All I could do was nod, nod, yes, it sounds wonderful, yes, yes, I'm sure I'd love and adore TiVo, agree as one on the outside longing to be let in.

No longer! Oh bliss, oh rapture! My beloved has gotten me my heart's desire as an early birthday present. "I've been planning it for six months," he announced slyly when it arrived today amid a completely unrelated delivery of books.

The only damper on my tryst with my new TiVo is that I leave tomorrow morning for meetings in Columbus, Ohio (meetings that don't have much chance of being any fun at all, considering some of the loathsome creeps also scheduled to be in attendance). Next weekend, though, I'm spouse-free and child-free. And then, sweet TiVo, we'll jack in and get this party started.

 
 

Nik's Old Movie Kick

I've been on an old movie kick for a while now. Earlier his year, I rented Rebecca and High Noon from Netflix and I've been venturing back into the old black and whites off and on ever since. I wrote last weekend about seeing North by Northwest at the cinema, but it didn't stop there: I also rented the African Queen, Notorious, After the Thin Man, Spellbound and Double Indemnity.

I think Spellbound was the weakest of those, and that's not meant as criticism. Bergman and Grant are a handsome couple, the characters that flesh out the scenes are hilarious, but the reliance on psycho-analysis and dream interpretation (while I'm sure fantastically cutting edge at the time) seemed dated and weak. There are still twists and turns that make it an enjoyable movie to watch.


After the Thin Man gave me my new favorite line, uttered by William Powell as the affable drunkard and detective Nick Charles, "Let's get something to eat. I'm thirsty." What a riot! Ray turned me onto The Thin Man this spring, and I was completely charmed. Though, After the Thin Man does leave the whole plotline surrounding the cheating Mrs. Asta frustratingly unresolved! That bitch, what happens to her?!

I hadn't seen African Queen since I was a kid, and it definitely stood up to an adult viewing. The
Germans, while not Nazis, were still mighty evil and Hepburn and Bogart have plenty of fun with their characters. Ah, spunky old Katharine Hepburn.


I rented Double Indemnity because I had missed seeing it on the big screen at the theater a couple of weeks ago. To me, Fred MacMurry was the goofball actor from The Shaggy Dog, or maybe that guy from My Three Sons. Barbara Stanwyck was that shriveled old lady from The Big Valley, which I only knew because it came on in reruns during the day when I was home sick from school...in the time slot before Bonanza (and with Lee Majors as a cowboy, not The Bionic Man!). Trying to wrap my head around a story where The Absent-Minded Professor and Victoria Barkley of The Big Valley were the stars of a serious movie kept me away from it for years. I'm pleased to say that Double Indemnity was a fantastic movie, a hard-boiled noir classic from before "noir" was "classic" and Edward G. Robinson puts in a fine performance of his own.

I ran out of time to watch Notorious, but I've seen it before. It was recommended to me by my dear, dear friend Darrell Smith back when I was about 16, and like much that Darrell recommended to me over the years, it's something I've come to associate as much with him and our friendship as with the quality of the movie itself. I'm nostalgic about Notorious.

This week's rentals include The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (which gives me a whole new perspective on Stinky Pete The Prospector from Toy Story 2... and I swore from the voice he was Burl Ives until the credits proved me wrong), Key Largo (man, that Lauren Bacall had a sultry voice...only 23 in that movie, and had already been married to crusty old Bogart for 3 years!), The Maltese Falcon (a favorite!), Sabrina (ok, ok, I'm on a Bogie kick, I admit it) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I leave for Columbus on Tuesday, so we plowed through Sierra Madre and Key Largo yesterday, I'm looking to see two more today and I'll save one for Monday night.

 
 

Halloween Photos

It was the cold that drove us in. Coldest Halloween on record in Seattle. Brrrr.

Here are some pictures:

The Little Cat and the Big Mouse

My "Sleestack-olantern"