Discolor Online

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


Tennessee again

Busy wonderful day here at our get together. Our 21 families are getting along so well together, I'm SO pleased. The kids are all just fantastic and getting along great. There's not a child here who has been excluded or who hasn't found at least one other kid to bond with. The moms, every one of them, has been so helpful, so fun, so flexible... it's like seeing 21 dear members of my family. Met four husbands I'd never met before and reconnected with one I hadn't seen for years. Great guys, all of them!

We've gotten in some horse riding and made the most of our three-day pass to the water park. Haven't made use of the hot tubs yet personally (although the kids have really been enjoying them). The chalet is off in the woods, and the cicadas are loud but the tree frogs are louder! Oh man, it's cool.

Tonight I grilled about 20 pounds of chicken for our group. There are enough of us here that after we took two vans and teams of three people to go shopping and brought back groceries for everyone in the chalet, once we divided the bill amongst everyone it was $25 each for all the food for the weekend! Awesome! And we've got people enough that everything gets done (garbage out, dishes washed, meals cooked, children fed/bandaged/disciplined). I can't express how much I wish I lived nearer so I could see these families more often.



Arrived with no troubles. Spent six hours at the waterpark today with one other early-arriving mom and her nine-year old son. Got sunburned despite applying sunscreen twice at the park, but it's minor. Bought additional sun screen as well as pain killing ointment.

Picked up another mom and her daughter at the airport, got a bizarre call from a mom who asked me to pick up the only member (now former) of our group that I'm known not to care for. Prank? Joke? Horrible mistake? Who knows. I did not see or pick up this woman, but three hours later received a second phone call saying the woman is still at the airport and angry. Har har. Whether she is or isn't, it's not my problem.

Dinner at Cracker Barrel with five moms, seven kids and one husband, who looks like Christopher Eccleston. The group gets bigger by far tomorrow, when we can all check into our chalet. Ironically, the Christian mom of our group was telling us that she'd had to warn her daughter (who has been brought up to believe drinking alcohol is capital E evil) that some of our friends would be drinking alcohol at the get together, but she was pretty sure we weren't evil; I had a similar conversation with Kate, preparing her for the fact that some of the kids at this event are strict Christians who go to church and believe in God. Wouldn't you know it, my daughter and her daughter became best friends over dinner tonight.

In other news, I got the word today that Kate has been selected to audition to be a Zookid at Woodland Park Zoo. Her audition is shortly after we get back to town; this girl has never wavered from her stated desire to grow up to be a zoo keeper, I think she'd be a great Zookid. We'll find out when we get back to town.


Miss Katherine

Picked up Kate yesterday, and she was all hugs and kisses and talk of how she'd missed me. She cracked me up when she prefaced the announcement that she's started eating tomatoes in the last two weeks with, "I know you're going to say 'Who are you and what have you done with my daughter, but...'".

She baked and decorated cupcakes with her step-mom and had carefully carried it all the way from Vancouver to show it to me. She was quite proud, especially since her cupcakes were far superior to the health-food store cupcakes her step-mom had made and served to guests (who admitted they didn't much like them). Apparently Kate made a sign and posted it in front of the remaining faux cupcakes that read "BEWARE: Keep away or pay the ultimate price!"

Walking from the Flexcar to our house we passed her friend Flo's grandmother's house, bedecked with balloons. "Oh, it's Flo's birthday," she exclaimed. "I'll stop and give her my cupcake!" This turned into an invitation to the birthday party, which was extended into an invitation to sleep over. The girl who couldn't wait to see me, who missed me "so much" while she was in Canada trotted off for a sleepover after being in town less than 15 minutes. We haven't seen her since.

Tomorrow we leave for the airport and our Pigeon Forge reunion/get together at 4:30am! I'm the organizer for this group get together, and have spent the last 10 months investigating, planning and reserving this event. Hell, I feel like I could almost start doing this kind of organizing for a living after the intensive 10-month work-study program I've undertaken. Heh. I've collected the deposits from 21 families, signed the paperwork for the rental of the chalet, investigated possible excursions to keep the 20 nine-year-olds and their assorted siblings entertained, tried to organize group tickets, worked out meal plans, la la la. I even sat down with the floorplan for the chalet and organized families into rooms so no one need worry about where their family is supposed to sleep and there won't be any jockeying for "prime" room positions or any of that nonsense. Now I get to go enjoy the fruits of my labors!


Salty's & Sunburn

Joined the gang for brunch at Salty's on Saturday. I'd never been, despite the high recommendations from "Brunch for Life" winner Wolf Baur. I just rarely ever get over to West Seattle. It was most excellent: oysters on the half-shell, chilled crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, steamed mussels and clams, bagels with lox and cream cheese or salmon spread, paella, eggs benedict, prime rib, made to order omelets, waffles, a fountain of chocolate fondue and things to dip in it, and a crazy huge dessert bar (lemon tarts, key lime pie, rhubarb pie, red velvet cake, chocolate everything, you name it). As a brunch buffet should be! (Vegas would be jealous.) Really good, highly recommended.

Walked in the sun along the beach of West Seattle for miles. Didn't expect to be out in the sun so long, so of course I came home sunburned, but at least I haven't blistered. I've been paranoid about blistering since the year I blistered my shoulders after an afternoon on the lake... I did manage to get my camera to recognize all of my media cards, so I was able to snap some shots on our walk for the first time in many months. I did have to finally give up trying to salvage any of the photos from those cards, but I'm making the effort to keep my camera on me when I go out now that it's functional again.

Have been struck with headaches four consecutive days now, but I can't put my finger on a common trigger. Kinked neck? Clenching my teeth in my sleep maybe? I sure would like to be headache free next week. I pick Kate up from Mark's tomorrow morning, and leave for Tennessee at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning. I hate to roll into my mom-list "reunion" with 20 9-year-olds and assorted siblings with a headache already in effect. Ug.



Had a great time at a press screening of Stealth the other night. Make no mistake, this movie blows apes; I laughed my ass off. Jessica Biel is eye candy, and they give her some custom-made form fitting flight suits to prove it, but the audience was not buying the romance angle (the theater laughed out loud during the scenes of supposed romantic tension) and even I've picked up more about military tactics from having the History Channel on in the background while doing crossword puzzles! The super-AI jet that's going to save the world gains sentience and goes nutso after a lightning strike. Pilots are able to decide on their own that they're just not going to follow through on a mission because their cockpit computer seems to be picking up people in the area: "They're farmers!" our lady pilot frets aloud from her super-sonic jet racing above the mountain tops. "The collateral damages will be too high!" Josh Lucas and his unnaturally blue eyes can't stand the pain... better to let rogue elements run off with those SCUD missile carcasses and nuke heads. I mean, what could happen? A mission over Tajikistan somehow ends up with a pilot bailing out over North Korea. Oh, I could go on, but surely this movie will show up in a future incarnation of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I'd hate to ruin everything for you.


Durham Sunday

We had a pretty free day yesterday, with nothing much on the schedule but for one seminar called "Cast Your Lots" to which all the gaming guests were supposed to come. Unfortunately, that seminar was not listed on the daily events list, so when we showed up for it there were no attendees.

Chris and I took the opportunity to try out another nearby restaurant that had been recommended by Steve Long, Fowler's Food and Wine. Despite near record temperatures here in Durham (95 degrees, 96 was the record from 1980-something) I didn't find the walk unpleasant at all. I did find it strange that the city streets seemed nearly deserted, but it probably has something to do with church-going culture, it being Sunday and all.

Fowler's is a foodie paradise. The front of the shop is a gourmet food and wine store, the back is a deli restaurant. This weekend was a Bastille Day-themed sale on French wines and cheeses. Definitely best for my budget that I don't live nearby enough to take advantage of the sale!

I cooled off with a bowl of gazpacho and the "ploughman's platter" (three kinds of cheese, shaved ham and baguette slices with mustard and ginger-pear chutney) and Chris had the "paté platter" (brie, olives, gherkins, paté, and sausage with baguette slices). We shared a large, stoppered bottle of French lemonade. A four-piece band called The Duke Street Dogs played peppy old-style jazz and folk, complete with stand-up bass (love the stand up bass!). The atmosphere was great, very summery, very picnic-like (despite being inside).

In fact, I think I'm going to head back over there for lunch right now before we catch the shuttle to the airport. Too good to pass up! Might even have a chance to investigate the large bookstore Steve Long pointed us toward; he tells us it's organized by publisher which seems like an organizational scheme too wacky to not to investigate a little.

Home on a late flight tonight.


Trinoc*con Day 2

The nice thing about smaller cons is the chance to spend time with people in a relaxed atmosphere. Origins, GenCon, ComicCon are all too hectic, always too many people to see or things that need to be accomplished.

We started the day having breakfast with Iron Man Steve Nicewarner who was solo-manning his booth the rest of the day. My friend Allie, who I discovered lives less than half an hour away from the hotel, came by and took me out for a coffee so we could catch up in person. I did get my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, easy reading for my downtime during the day.

Hooked up with HERO Games' Steve Long, who it's always a delight to see, but especially on his home turf. He introduced us to a great little Italian trattoria called Pop's. Pramas and I shared the daily special appetizer, a yummy duck tartlet. I made a meal of the Goat Cheese and Herb Ravioli (with toasted pine nuts, dried apricots, oil cured tomatoes, arugula, fresh mint, and melted brie), Chris had Grilled Pork Tenderloin with potato gnocchi, swiss chard, and white truffle sauce and Steve had one of their wood-fired pizzas (not sure of the toppings but it looked great). As tiramisu was on the dessert menu we were required to sample it (for science you understand). Good, not great, but definitely an 80%... we have such high standards for tiramisu.

I rounded out the evening as a judge in the costume contest. The kids category had only one entry, a sleepy brother and sister pair of pirates (ages 18 mos and 2.5 years). The amateur/self-made costume winners also entered as a pair of padawan. The journeyman category (between professional costumers or those using costumes they purchased) was very tight and we had to ask the contestants to come past the judges' table more than once. We had two rangers, one with all of the authentic Lord of the Rings regalia and the other with a more D&D-esque leather outfit and really heavy looking cloak. I sat on the panel with the professional costuming guest of honor and two of the literary track guests. We three amateurs were fairly kind in our scores, but the professional costuming guest was really tough! Even from my side of the judges' table I was intimidated.

After the costume contest I joined my fellow gaming track guests for a couple of drinks in the hotel bar. I've never had so much time to just sit and chat with Dave Arneson, though we have met briefly several times over the years. It's been great to have the opportunity to just sit and shoot the shit with him and with Dustin at this show. Very interesting to hear about their successes with Living Blackmoor; we've always shied away from doing something like Living Freeport because of the intense workload involved. It seems like a company can have an aggressive release schedule or a successful Living campaign, but not both. Still, both Zeitgeist and Paradigm seem to have made the commitment to the Living campaigns with good results.

Back to the room to finish off Harry Potter, and then sleep. Still finding the Marriott beds blessedly comfortable.


Trinoc*con Day 1

Even here the pattern holds: Chris can't fall asleep until late and I wake up too early. At least when we can sleep the Marriott beds are wickedly comfortable. We did a couple of seminars yesterday and then went to a meet and greet for the guests where the con organizer accidentally tripped over one of my peeves. As an industry professional in my own right, I really dislike being introduced as "Chris's wife." At the opening ceremonies, Chris was invited to "introduce his wife" which just makes me cringe. I hate for peoples' first impressions of me to be "Oh, it's his wife." I had a career in the game industry before I ever met Chris and I've done a few things on my own; I'd rather not be introduced at all than be off the bat tossed into the "wife" category. I know they were trying to be nice, it's my own hang-up, but still...sigh.

Had a chance to talk a bit with fellow gaming guests Dustin Clingman and Dave Arneson from Zeitgeist Games and spent a little time chatting with Cerebral Hobbies' Steve Nicewarner (from whom I hope to buy a copy of the new Harry Potter book today) before catching author Joe Lansdale's Q&A and a showing of Bubba Ho-Tep. Lansdale was fun and funny, it's clear he's done this before and he was comfortable in front of the audience. When problems with the film caused the soundto cut out for a minute or two before someone could be summoned to correct the problem, Pramas wise-cracked "If only the author were here to narrate for us!" which cracked up our little section of the theater (and which I'm sure Lansdale heard, sitting only a row or two behind us). Smartass Pramas!

I noticed this morning that Monte Cook let vent a little about one of his peeves, D20 designers who "bash" D&D (in public or in private) but then turn around and release D20 material. I've got a breakfast meeting in 20 minutes for which I must prepare, so I don't have time just now to go into my thoughts on the subject but it's definitely a subject on which I have a few opinions myself. Maybe I'll have a chance to get back to it later.


Raleigh-Durham Day 1

Our red-eye flight from Seattle was delayed departing, so our connection in Cleveland was really tight but we made it in the nick of time. Got a bit of sleep on the flight but was disturbed by the poor guy next to me who was just too tall for the seat and kept fidgeting. Not his fault, I can sympathize, but was bummed that I couldn't make the most of my limited possible sleep time.

Our convention host picked us up promptly and took us to breakfast after we confirmed that the hotel wouldn't let us check in early. We crashed at his house for a couple of hours, then joined him on another jaunt to the airport to pick up Dave Arneson and we all checked into the Marriott.

I must say that Marriott is doing a good job of impressing me. Whereas the Hyatt sent an armed guard into the room of one of my employees to search for someone's diamond encrusted phone charger at Origins, all of the Marriotts I've stayed at this year have been great, accommodating, and best of all comfortable! The beds at the Marriott ROCK. I have high hopes that our Indy experience will follow suit.

After crashing and sleeping most of the afternoon away, Pramas and I walked a few blocks to the Brightleaf Square area and had dinner at Chamas. Possibly the best Brazilian meat on swords experience we've ever had. They're missing the salt-encrusted tenderloin of Seattle's Ipanema Grill but their salad bar is to die for. Marinated peppers, pencil asparagus, petite garlic green beans, sundried tomatoes with pesto sauce, six kinds of cheese, poached salmon in a passion fruit sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls, fresh mussels, possibly the best squid salad I've ever had, then mashed potatoes and sweet-cinnamon grilled bananas are brought to the table to accompany the parade of grilled meats. We weren't able to get any caipirinhas but they did make us some excellent caipiroskas instead.

Tomorrow the seminars begin!


Best $10 Dinner Ever!

Pramas and I went out to dinner with a gift certificate that his parents sent for his birthday. Between conventions and having Kate, it's now almost a month past his birthday and we've only just barely been able to squeeze it in.

We went to The Brooklyn, for which we had a coupon for one free weeknight dinner entree. Doing our best to squeeze every bit out of the experience, we showed up for the tail end of Happy Hour. I had the house chardonnay, Chris had some Bombay sapphire and tonic, and we shared an order of beef carpaccio and half a dozen oysters.

Moving on to dinner, we shared an appetizer of Oysters Brooklyn (oven roasted with wild mushrooms,
brandy, herbs, cream, and garlic, total yum) and the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine that came as a terrine of duck liver and black mission figs, served with yuzu and red onion marmalade, a medley of cornichons and sweet gherkins, dwarf green peaches, stone ground mustard and brioche toasts. Sadly the foie gras had a strange alcoholic marinade, possibly sherry, that gave a bitter cast to the dish and completely overpowered the delicate, smooth fattiness of the foie gras. Chris and I both felt it ruined the dish. Happily, that was the only sour note of the whole meal.

Chris had the Filet Roquefort (tenderloin medallions pan-seared to a perfect medium, finished with wild mushroom, port wine, garlic, basil bleu cheese demi-glace). He was going to save me a bite, but the steak was so good he forgot! I had the Roasted Portabella (stuffed with aged Gouda, roasted walnut, shallot, wild mushroom duxelles, served with grilled zucchini, red bell peppers, braised greens, pickled beets on parmesan-sage polenta cake finished with watercress oil and balsamic vinegar-honey reduction). Really, really good!

We topped off by sharing a vanilla creme brulee with fresh berries and a cup of coffee. After our coupon and gift money, only had to throw in $10 for the tip! We hopped the bus back to the house and were home and fully sated by 8:30.


Marching on

Kate called yesterday to tell me that poor Digger had died while she was at day camp. Poor Kate, poor Digger. She tried so hard to nurse him back to health. She weepily asked me on the phone if we could please get a different pet with a longer lifespan next time, "Because I don't want to cry like this every one to two years," (she'd been told hamster lifespans were only one to two years).

Friends have recommended guinea pigs, rabbits, and cockatiels as potential pets when we're ready. Personally, I prefer cats (relatively affectionate yet also self-sufficient, long-lived, clean) but Chris has allergies. I'd love to give the low-allergy Rex breeds a try, though. Kate would adore a dog but Chris absolutely does not want one.

Kate's also having trouble fitting in at day camp. She's run afoul of the local kiddie gang leader! "I bumped into the 'gang leader' as he calls himself, and his 'posse' as he calls them. They started bullying up on me, and the other kids think he's cool so now they all hate me." Not a good start to the summer for Kate. I swear I want to crack the heads of the next kids who target my girl for bullying because her sweet, sensitive nature makes her such an easy target. Little punkasses.

On a happier note, I cooked up some bourbon-brown sugar flank steaks for the gang and we playtested one of our on-going projects last night and hilarity ensued. There was a point where I was laughing so hard I was crying. Definitely some tweaks will be necessary to fix a couple of things, but man, it was still good fun.

Tomorrow it's off to TrinocCon, but not before I address yet another generic "reminder" from our homeowners' association, this time reminding me that ornamental shrubs must be watered and "trimmed appropriately" and scolding me again about reducing the "curb appeal" and not "negatively influencing" the property values! Jesus H, these people are pissing me off. It took a team of FIVE men THREE full days to clear the over-grown weedpatch of a park that was overflowing onto my property for months, and now they don't like the state of my shrubs?! ARGH. But I don't dare put it off until I get back from NC, lest they do another one of these drive-bys and decide it's worth another $100 fine.



California Crab Wraps and iced tea. The weather outside may be 60 degrees and rainy but I'm going to pretend that it's all sun and surf; it is SUMMER, dang it.


Emotional Day

This morning I sent Kate off to Canada, brave little nurse with our frail Digger and his assortment of antibiotics, baby food, and syringes in tow. Goodness knows how they will do. Mark was not thrilled to have the hamster, but my position was that if Kate wanted to try to nurse her pet back to health I was not going to stop her. I find myself worrying more about my girl right now than I have in quite a while. I'm going to miss her terribly the next few weeks.

Shortly before getting into the car to drive to our designated drop off location, I saw the news about the London bombings (far too close to my dear friends in London for my comfort) and the news about Scott's Haring's car accident tragedy. My heart breaks at the thought of losing my child; I can't fathom what Scott and Sallye are going through.

In the last few weeks two of my closest friends in Seattle have lost their jobs, one getting the double-whammy of job loss and the loss of her ailing 15-year-old cat companion in one week. Upheaval just seems to be all around.

I find myself wanting to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, but I have too much to do, too much to clean up, smooth over, and sort out in the precious few days I have left before my next big convention-related trip. It's times like this that I must fight the urge to give the world the finger and run off to the barren wilderness somewhere.


Digger Update

The small animal vet was great, very sympathetic to our emotional attachment to little Digger. She was very respectful of our efforts on Digger's behalf, and called us to say that Digger had won over the entire staff. By this evening he was doing better but not out of the woods. Still, he was definitely improved from the near-death condition we'd left him in.

We got the thumbs up to come get him, and got instructions for his care. He's a pretty pathetic sight, but his little whiskers are still twitching. He's had fluids, antibiotics, and a nap on a hot water bottle. We're to give him more antibiotics twice a day, and we're feeding him baby food and water with a tiny little syringe every 2-3 hours until he gets his strength back.

Still no telling what's going on inside the poor little guy. Could be kidney failure or other neurological disorder happening inside, but at least we're doing what we can. Kate's greatly comforted that we have even a little time left with the little fella.


Hamster Sadness

Poor Digger. Kate came up to see him this morning and we briefly thought he'd passed on to Hamster Heaven. Totally lethargic, breathing with difficulty, so dehydrated that his little body already seemed stiff and solid. Kate wept for him, thinking he was dead, then we realized he's not quite dead yet.

I've never been one to abide suffering animals, even when they're insignificant to others. I know it seems ridiculous to pay emergency vet fees for a $29 rodent, but I could see no other option. I'm the one who drove across town looking for someone to rescue the injured crow Kate found, and Kate's run-in with the school and the "evil church lady" over the injured pigeon at her school is now infamous among our friends. We must do what we can for a suffering pet.

We tried the nearest vet to our house, but they couldn't handle small animals, just not set up for it. They referred us to a small animal hospital in Renton, who saw us as an emergency case. They've got Digger now, are giving him fluids and keeping him comfortable. Chances are we're not going to be able to revive him, likely his kidneys are shutting down, but as long as he lingers on the edge of life we feel we must at least try to care for him. They'll let us know tonight if he's got another chance at life or if we're taking him home to bury him alongside Silky, our "live fast, die young" non-conformist hamster. I've told Kate to prepare for the worst.


Home Exhausted

Flew home yesterday evening, through Houston. We're flying through Houston half a dozen times this summer on our way elsewhere. Kate desperately wants to stay overnight so we might have a chance to visit the Houston SPCA (girl watches too much Animal Planet).

We took off from Houston after dark and all across the rest of the country we passed over communities and their fireworks displays. We flew into Seattle and saw fireworks blooming across the whole region, the airport was surrounded by fireworks displays as we landed, about 11pm.

It took us until 1am to get our luggage and get our reserved shuttle home because all the cabs and shuttles had been trapped in the post-fireworks traffic in downtown and couldn't get back to the airport! I'd been up since 6am Eastern time and was just dead.

Finally got home to the mini-crisis of Digger the Hamster having escaped from his cage at some point during the week. Kate was inconsolable, sobbing "I should have been a better owner...I should have had a babysitter..." poor thing. Chris and I both worried that the little guy had gotten out early in the week and we'd find him dead of dehydration behind a bookcase or something. Finally heard him moving around under the sofa and when I looked underneath and called to him he came right to me. Poor, sad, sick little hamster! He was clearly dehydrated, and one of his eyes was stuck closed with goop. He seemed so weak, we just put him back in his cage under his water bottle and gave him a fresh sugar snap pea to nibble. After a long drink, he weakly made the rounds of his cage and tunnels and then curled up under the water bottle to sleep. Seems better this morning, but still weak.

After the hamster crisis, we got to bed around 3:00am and the phone began ringing this morning around 7:00! SO TIRED. Must go out and get food, as our bread molded and milk spoiled while we were away. Also noticed that someone broke the outer pane of one of our double-paned side windows...they're small and 8 feet above the ground on the side yard. Chris wonders if someone was trying to break in, but I prefer to believe it was someone screwing around in the park. Either way, I'll have to get that fixed now too.


Origins Wrap up

Well, it's over and good riddance, I must say. Last year's show was much better for Green Ronin than Origins 2005. Mutants & Masterminds 2E demos were well received, Blue Rose sold well, people are very excited about Thieves' World, but traffic in the dealer's hall remained thin throughout the show and our staff spent a lot of the show just biding time. We're simply too busy with active projects to justify four days of thumb twiddling. It's not like we haven't given Origins quite a bit of time and attention over the years; it just always seems like its potential is out of reach, just around the corner, never materializing.

Tomorrow it's back to our respective home bases.


Origins Mid-point report

It's always hard to remember that Origins is not a great show for selling merchandise. We approach it with all the seriousness that we would give GenCon, the big daddy of RPG shows, but Origins never quite manages to pony up the interested buyers despite the continued claims of ever-increasing attendance at the show.

Even so, Thursday was a pretty good show. Four-day attendees who made it all the way down to the far end of the convention center where the dealer's room now sits were happy to see us and eager to pick up things they'd been waiting for. Despite there being no map of the events areas and despite events listings being ridiculously screwed up yet again this year, people did manage to find our events and play in the games our staff was running. I skipped the Origins Awards "announcement" which was, as threatened, a guy standing in front of the exhibit hall doors while (I kid you not) chicks in belly dancer costumes trotted out the "You're not the winner" certificates to those few nominees in attendance. Holy cow, talk about taking the bullet express to Lameville!

Friday, in contrast, was dead, dead, dead. The exhibit hall opened with an announcement over the loud speakers telling us not that the doors were open but with a rather self-congratulatory "We're proud to tell you that yesterday's attendance was 8,XXX unique attendees; last year it was 7,XXX. Hooray!" Weird. And for all those additional attendees, there were large periods of dead time in the hall. Disappointing, but again, that's just how Origins is. At this point I have no expectations.

I balanced out my business duties with my Mommy duties, leaving the hall early to bring Kate to Columbus's "Independence Day" parade*. Marching bands and Miss Teen Princesses were seen, staggering amounts of candy were scattered in front of us, and the parade lasted exactly the hour I had budgeted for it. Then it was back to the hotels to meet the team for dinner and business. When deep scheduling discussions began, I excused myself again and joined up with Spike and Mary just in time to drive off to the Columbus Crew's stadium, which held a big Fun Day in their facility to celebrate the Red White and Boom happenings. We arrived short minutes before the fireworks went off downtown, and had a nice, mostly unobstructed view (if a bit distant for the girls' tastes). We boogied to the patriotic music, Spike flashed a lot of photos, and then after the "official" fireworks were over, the facility lit off a second show they dubbed "Crew Boom" over our heads. We made our way back to the car, where we set off the confetti poppers that the security folks wouldn't allow Mary to bring into the stadium, the girls were gleeful, and we joined the intense traffic jam that surrounded the entire downtown (including our hotel).

Much, much more fun than attending the "If you pay $30 you can come to our party for the winners" so-called Origins Awards Celebration scheduled for the same time.

*Actually held on Canada Day.