Discolor Online

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



Thanks, Mike!

Thanks, Hal!



In the history of my company, we've never had to ban a user of our forums. Prior to last spring, simply reminding people that we provided forums as a courtesy and we expected people to be respectful, non-baiting, and generally on-topic was enough. Our boards were active, friendly, and self-moderating. It was a joy and a delight to participate. Our policies warned that anyone could be banned from participating at any time for virtually any reason, with or without warning. It's part of the terms of service for participating on our boards, clearly posted for everyone to see, but we've never had to resort to banning anyone. We've rarely had to even warn participants about bad behavior once, let alone repeatedly. Bannings? Never. Until recently.

Single-handedly, one user in particular caused a great deal of conflict. He backed off for a bit whenever he was warned, but much like a naughty child, he always slipped back into his inappropriate behavior when he felt the moderators' backs were turned. We had many other users of our forums say outright that they were avoiding our forums because of this user. After nearly a year trying to be reasonable and accommodating, and after he posted yet another tourette's-like outburst that disregarded every warning about conduct he'd ever been given, he was banned without further ado and good riddance.

Of course, now he's certain that it's all political. I'm a radical feminist out to stifle dissent. Because I'm not going to get into it with him by private mail, nor name the person who physically turned the banned key on him (presumably so he can go off and harass that person directly or slander their name all over the internet--in those forums from which he's not already been banned) I'm trying to hide "secret fascists" and cowardly "secret moderators" who won't reveal themselves to him. Bullshit! I owe him nothing, and nothing is what he gets.

Still, he rants on cluelessly about everything he believes to be true about me, little of which actually is. Do I care about human decency? Sure! Does this mean I blackball writers who believe in free-market economy in order to show preference to those who give the secret "I <3 the Nanny State" handshake? Absolutely not. If I need someone to write, edit, or draw something, what I care about is their work performance, not their politics. I'll work with people who can hit their deadlines and give me a clean turnover, regardless of their personal views, political or religious. I'll stop working with someone who can't come within a six month window of their deadline, whether they're bleeding hearts or neocons. Can you do the job I've hired you to do? Great. We'll get along fine. I, personally, don't care if your game includes evil armies of undead and gritty mud-covered crows, or goody-goody unicorns and pretty-pretty princesses. My company has released in the neighborhood of 100 titles that run the gamut from foul to funny, from good to evil, freeform to linear, black to white and everything in between. To think you know anything about me personally from the books my company puts out is foolishness.

I'll tell you what I don't like: I don't like liars, I don't like people who don't respect my privacy (I'm looking at you, Dancey), I don't like backstabbers, and I don't like bullies. If you decide you're going on a campaign to denigrate my customers and ruin both their fun and my business because the mere existence of the game they're enjoying drives you bananas, I'm going to come out in defense of those on the receiving end of your bullying behavior. I don't do this because I've got some deeply held political agenda, I'm not doing it because I'm trying to shove gay rights or unicorns or socialist nanny states down your throat...I'm doing it because you're an asshole and a bully, you're the kind of person who kicks sand on other people at the beach because their "hippy music" was bothering you. Standing up for them doesn't mean I like "hippy music," it means I hate bullying assholes. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.



Took a family day and went out to see the newest Harry Potter movie yesterday, and as we were walking from the theater to the bus we came upon Fifth Avenue now closed off by caution tape. I assumed it was probably something to do with setting up Christmas decorations or some sort of holiday exhibition. Instead we saw this:

Can't help wondering if, at 44 years old and with the monorail expansion project having been finally defeated by voters, if the end of the Seattle Monorail is nigh.


Useless Lessons from the Game Industry

1) When at a convention and wearing an exhibitor's badge it is extremely rude to try and bully a discount out of another exhibitor by saying, for example, "How many of these have you sold? None, I bet. How about giving me a discount?" One might expect this behavior from clueless fans. From fellow exhibitors, it's unforgivable. Lesson: the bar to entry in this business is just too damn low.

2) In some circles, calling someone childish, moronic and flip, insulting both their motives and intelligence while simultaneously grandstanding about how great you and your gang are is considered "more than pleasant," a warm welcome as it were. Lesson: you can try politely calling him "sir" while you try to salvage the conversation, or you can just skip to #3.

3) In some circles, addressing someone as sir, "is a synonym for 'you fucking asshole.'" Lesson: skip directly to just calling him a fucking asshole, he deserves it.

4) I was recently asked by a rabid anti-fan to pass on the hate mail he'd written to an author who worked for me several years ago, about a book published by another company that we had nothing to do with. Lesson: people really don't think there are other living, breathing people on the receiving end of their hateful internet screeds.

Ah, gaming. Refuge for emotionally stunted egoists the world over.


Recipe Pages Update


Katherine's Ten Reasons to be Thankful

I asked Kate for ten things she's thankful for. Here's her list:

1. Having great parents
2. Not having to live out on the street
3. Maybe getting a pet rabbit
4. Tivo
5. Living on a great planet
6. cute animals
7. the creation of the box (she's currently living in my new computer box)
8. Flexcar
9. getting a good education
10. mashed potatoes and gravy

I can't disagree with any of those, especially starting off with "great parents" in #1. Hah.


I need a new hobby

I was going to post a GenCon SoCal update, but mostly I just worked the booth or ran games, ate dinner and went to bed every night. I may get into a rant about people who piss me off (because really, when don't people piss me off?) but that will have to wait until the weekend.

However, it's come to my attention that I need a new hobby. Something that doesn't involve games, gamers, or gaming. Knitting or other needlework? Cheese-, beer-, or wine-making? Biking, hiking, running, kayaking? I have no freakin' idea, but I'm going to find a new hobby and I'm going to start doing it. Feel free to suggest hobbies for me to consider!

Meanwhile, for lack of time or inclination to write anything of substance, I've posted AOL's recent "Thanksgiving Dishes by Star Sign" results for me, which were impressively accurate. Click here if you're anything other than a Scorpio. Pass the red wine and stuffing! (Did I mention I'm on duty to bring the stuffing for tomorrow's dinner at Chez Pominger? Ha!)

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)

Pecan Stuffing & Fig-Walnut Salad
When you invite passionate Scorpios to dinner, be prepared to serve an excellent meal. They strive for perfection and will expect the same from you. Serve them plenty of rich red wine... and then be prepared, because they will tell you exactly what they think. When they say they loved your meal, you will know it is the truth. Serve them Pecan Stuffing and Fig-Walnut Salad to appeal to their mysterious side.


Too Early

Why is it that when I'm ready for Shuttle Express to pick me up ridiculously early (3:45am for a 6:15 flight, we're all of 20 minutes from the airport) they're always late (as in the company calls to apologize and give us a new "window")? Why is it when I figure they'll be late they show up on the dot when they say they will, with me still throwing things into the suitcase?

Off to GenCon SoCal this morning. Guess which of these options is the current state of affairs...


Alexander McCall Smith

When I arrived at Benaroya Hall last night for the Seattle Arts & Lecture series evening with Alexander McCall Smith, I noticed directly in front of me were the same ladies I'd sat down for soup with before the Tracy Chevalier lecture last year. It made me grin just to think back to it, and to see them again, regular lecture attendees. By happenstance (because I stopped once again to eat at Wolfgang Puck's counter) I ended up just a couple of rows behind them in the auditorium.

Smith hit the stage in a kilt, to the enthusiastic applause of the crowd. Here is a man who is definitely comfortable on stage. He was a hilarious delight throughout, his 45-50 minute speech punctuated every few lines with bursts of laughter from the audience. In one spot he went off on a brief diversion about Proust and how he'd purchased a concordance to Proust which immediately made me think of my friend JD and his Proust obsession (though Proust doesn't have his own category of archived posts at Folded Space, to my amazement). Instead of recapping myself, I'll point interested parties to Librarian In Black's write-up of the same speech from the CLA Annual Conference in Pasadena on November 5th. I was struck by the lecture in the same way, right down to the impression that Smith would be great fun to have dinner with. I listened delightedly, laughed heartily and repeatedly, and left feeling quite happy with my choice of lectures for the year.

Bonus link: Smith's amateur orchestra and "highlight of the Edinburgh Fringe" (The Really Terrible Orchestra) playing King of the Road.


The Headache Game

Friday Kate had a Zookids thing to go to during the day, since the kids were out of school for Veteran's Day. While she was at the zoo, I popped over to Whole Foods and unabashedly bought whatever I wanted for my dinner party and beyond. Ah, delicious, budget-obliterating Whole Foods...

Saturday I was bitchy as hell for no reason I could put my finger on. It was like my emotions decided to explode in anticipation of my head exploding later that night. I pulled it together and joined the usual suspects at Ray and Christine's for a November Birthday Girls celebration. Food and wine as is customary at Chez Pominger. Bill and Chris smoked some Copper River salmon and beef and the meal was divine. Received unexpected gifts: Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook.

A sample of what Jaques Pepin calls Bourdain's "witty, irreverent style", from the Introduction:

This book aims to be a field manual to strategy and tactics, which means that in the following pages, I will take you by the hand and walk you through the process in much the same way--and in the same caring, sensitive, diplomatic tone--as I would a new recruit in my restaurant kitchen. Which means that if, from time to time, I refer to you as a "useless screwhead," I will expect you to understand--and to not take it personally.

John and Jenny got me the most decadent gift, a little jar of truffle salt similar to this that I can't wait to break in.

Sadly, I wilted under a withering headache that I can only speculate was brought on by red wine (in spite of my general moderation) and finally crawled up out of the darkened downstairs to whimper pathetically for a ride home around 2:30am. To my dismay, even sleep did not put a dent in the headache and I was worried that I might be wrecked for my own dinner party when I awoke and was still blinded by pain in the morning, but thankfully a second application of Canada's finest 222s and some caffeine did the trick and I was able to perk up before guests arrived.

Last night's dinner party was fun and the food generally came out to my satisfaction, though I wouldn't have planned beef tenderloin if I'd known one of our guests didn't eat red meat. I'd also forgotten Rick skips vegetables as a rule, so the salad and side-vegetables were no good for him. Ah well, my party, my menu! I'll update my recipe pages over the next few days with the good stuff.

Tonight, it's Alexander McCall Smith thanks to Seattle Arts and Lectures.


Sunday Dinner

Having a small dinner party on Sunday, just three other couples. I've been pouring over my numerous recipe sources, putting together the menu and battling with myself to keep from adding "just one more" appetizer or side dish. Can't let anyone leave unsatisfied!

I believe I've settled on:

Cheddar and Sauteed Apples on Brown Bread
Cranberry Salsa Dip with Cream Cheese

Soup: Onion Gratinee

Salad: Escarole and Fennel with Pears and Gruyere

Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon and Almonds
Creamed Cauliflower with Crumb Topping

Meat: Horseradish and Mustard-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Dessert: Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie, with Bourbon Cream

Was reading a hilarious old book from my collection this morning, published in 1959 that goes into great detail about how to host a dinner party, what do do if you no longer have a full-time maid in your home and must hire one for the night (summoning her from the kitchen with a discrete bell is appropriate, she should have her own uniform and serving apron but ask in advance), and lots of great colorized photographs of meatballs and gelatin molds. I may post some excerpts if I find the time (or if I wake up at 4:00am again tomorrow) because it's just hilarious stuff.


Ok with me


Birthday Not-so-niceness

On my way out to renew my driver's license today I discovered that someone broke into the remains of our car and in addition to ripping out the lock and breaking the window (why both, wouldn't one or the other have been sufficient?) they stole my CD player. This is the same car that the fire-setting hooligans were shooting golf balls at earlier this summer, until Pramas chased them off. The car has been parked beside our garage since it was disabled in the encounter with the unmarked road construction in our neighborhood, for which I was never compensated because the city put it off on the housing authority who put it off on the construction company who put it off on their unnamed sub-contractor, and round and round we go.


I guess I'd better take care of this before the home owner's association catches whiff of it and figures out a reason to fine us for it on top of everything else.


Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires

Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
By Ruth Reichl

I bought this as an audio book and listened to it on my flights to and from England last week. Believe me, it helped drown out the five hours of incessant howling from the toddler three rows in front, for which I will be ever grateful. Audible.com offers an unabridged version read engagingly by Bernadette Dunne. I've not read Reichl's other books, and am only passingly familiar with her as the editor of Gourmet Magazine (I don't often stop for the editorials, but go straight for the recipes). I expected the book to be entertaining as it's right up my alley in subject matter, but what I found was a book that was engaging on several levels.

Reichl describes her life and the decisions that lead her to the job as restaurant critic at the New York Times; she doesn't shy away from her own insecurities, her anxiety as she waits for the response to her first review, her naivete in the face of the cut-throat world of both the New York dining establishments and the New York Times editorial mean-spiritedness and back-biting. Before even embarking on her first assignment for the paper, she discovers that her picture has been circulated, her personal information disseminated, and a reward offered to any restaurant worker who can spot her (presumably so that she can be lavished with attention and the finest of the fine food). Dismayed, she hatches the idea to go in disguise and begins a game of "fool 'em all" that last five years.

Interesting as her experiences in the restaurants themselves are, there is more to the book that I found equally pleasing. Her husband and son, her friend Carol, the other people who are in on the game and participate in her charade by dining with "Brenda" or "Miriam", and those who she dupes (sometimes rather unkindly) are all compelling characters. Many of them don't shy from bursting her bubble by finding some of her "costumes" attractive (moreso than her own persona) or repugnant (bursting her bubble as she realizes she was more into playing the role than was necessary). The writing seems genuine, as Reichl wavers, struggles, comes to understand just how much of herself (good and bad) comes to the surface with each disguise. I got goosebumps when she describes her trip to Windows on the World, the name of which I only knew because of its destruction with the rest of the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. In addition to all the glorious food, the catty commentary, and the gossipy insider view of the New York Times Food Section, Reichl also weaves the reader through the New York of her childhood and references but doesn't ghoulishly dwell on the events that loom in New York's (then)future.

I very much enjoyed this book; thanks to Chelane for recommending it!


Birthday niceness

Last year the gang chipped in to get me a birthday present, or that was the idea. What happened was no one actually organized the gift-getting part, so the gift-giving stage was delayed by, um, 363 days.

Last night Tim showed up to game night with a spiffy box of culinary niceness, one of the pieces my kitchen was lacking: a Le Creuset 7-1/4-Quart Round French Oven in Cherry Red.


This and my replacement Palm are all I expect (and more!) as far as birthday goodies go, though my actual birthday isn't until tomorrow. Kate made me a necklace of beads and gave it to me early since I was receiving the French Oven last night. My mom watched Kate for us while I was in England as her gift to me this year. I was supposed to go out for cocktails with the girls tonight but everyone had to cancel. I decided not to go to Liz Phair this weekend so I wouldn't miss Christine's birthday party. I may buy myself tickets to the Seattle Arts & Lecture event on Monday if tickets are still available, but that's pretty much the extent of my celebration plans. Maybe I can still gather some people for dinner on Sunday and break in this French Oven in style...


Bitch Returns

angry an·gry
an·gri·er, an·gri·est

adj 1: feeling or showing marked displeasure; incensed or enraged

Synonyms: affronted, annoyed, antagonized, cross, displeased, enraged, exasperated, fuming, furious, galled, heated, ill-tempered, incensed, indignant, infuriated, irate, maddened, outraged, piqued, provoked, raging, resentful, riled, storming, vexed, wrathful

In a sentence: The guy who missed his deadline rightly predicted Nicole would be angry. The fact that he swore less than a month ago that the deadline was no problem only made her angrier. When at her angriest, Nicole's violent cursing can be heard all the way on the east coast.


Land of the Living

I started coming down with some kind of plague the last day of our trip, scratchy throat and general fatigue led to some bitchiness. I was not feeling particularly well when we loaded up and headed for the airport. Security at Heathrow was unpleasant, as they herded us off to have our bags searched before we were even allowed to check in for our flight, then we went through additional screening and x-raying before we were allowed through security where I was frisked without explanation. I hate that. If you, stranger, are going to put your hands on me, you'd better have a damn good reason for doing so! I dislike being poked, prodded, jostled, or patted. On my best days, I tolerate it through gritted teeth, but when I'm sick, headachy, unhappy, or stressed out, it's all I can do not to roar push back. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Of course, I thought that was the end of it, and I returned to a calm center, did a little duty free shopping (brought Kate a Harrod's t-shirt with a Scottish Terrier on it (a winner) and my mom a scarf of Shetland wool. Bought myself a little Laphroaig Quarter Cask to sit alongside the last remnants of the Talisker.

Glad to be getting home, feeling tired, achy, run down, we went to our gate where I was frisked and asked to empty my bags AGAIN! ARGH. Not one of the four empowered employees could tell me WHY I was being searched yet again. "My, you look cross," said one, and I said yes, I was cross as this was the third time I'd had been searched without any explanation. This search, I found out, was supposed to be considered different because it was courtesy of American Airlines and not airport security. Then, on top of it all, they did a piss poor job. They asked me to open my bag, turn on my laptop (though the battery was in the red and completely run down), decided they should summon a supervisor to talk to me about the search, then changed their minds, decided the supervisor wasn't coming, they didn't need to wait for my laptop to turn on after all, and they got around to letting me through to board the plane finally. Had I actually been some kind of threat, those dumbasses were not going to find anything. Infuriating.

Of course, once we landed in Chicago and passed customs there we were dumped into yet another giant line where we were forced to shuffle through security (removing shoes and laptops from their cases) AGAIN, having done nothing but cross from point A to point B in the few minutes we'd been back on the ground. At least that time I wasn't frisked... though I did find it ironic that the two young women who were checking boarding cards to IDs were busily jabbering away at each other in what sounded like Russian. Nice to see the TSA has skipped the step of having to actually go to Russia in order to have a Russian-speaking security guard demand to see your papers.

Finally made it home, after a total of 21 hours of travel. Didn't say a proper goodby to Dr. Evil in Chicago as he had to run to make his connection but he was probably glad to be rid of us by that point anyway, lest he be body cavity searched for merely being in my vicinity.

Thankfully my mom stayed through the weekend to help me get readjusted. My plague combined with the jetlag and I spent most of the weekend in bed sleeping and taking cold medicine. Ate some chicken soup, slept a lot, and thankfully I awoke feeling much more human (and only slightly sniffly) this morning... though I still awoke at 4:30am. Inching back to Pacific Time slowly but surely.


Jolly Ol'


Made it to England safely, but managed to forget to leave my mother my contact information or the medical release form for Kate's school, for starters. Rushed out of the house to catch Shuttle Express in the still dark morning, barely having enough time to zip my garment bag. I nearly forgot to leave my mom the keys to the house in my hurry! The flights were non-eventful, thank goodness, but I wasn't able to get any serious sleep on the flight and so arrived quite exhausted and jet-lagged. I've managed to mostly right myself and get on schedule, definitely doing better than Pramas and Dr. Evil. Good meetings; lots of new faces, lots of familiar faces, much to go over. Grabbed the German power converter instead of the UK converter, but one of BI's US employees helped me out by loaning me his, or I'd be out of luck.

Fatigued tonight, so no going out for me but that coffee I had after dinner isn't helping me sleep. Itching to call my mom and check on Kate, but am afraid of ending up with a $50 phone call.

Home on Friday.