Discolor Online

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


Online Shopping

As one who celebrates secular Christmas, it's all about Santa, about gifts, about being with and doing for my friends and family. I love having the chance to give, for the same reasons that I enjoy cooking for people. My parents and grandparents send money for birthdays and kids and cousins don't exchange birthday presents at all, so Christmas is the annual gift-giving occasion for my extended family. I look forward to it every year.

I did nearly 100% of my holiday shopping online this year. I picked up a couple of things here and there, at conventions or clothing stores, earlier in the year, but the bulk of my shopping happened by internet. By and large, I've gotten really great deals this year. It's been almost like the first time, back in the dotcom days where deals were plentiful. Lots of companies offering free express shipping, or 50% off on X with any purchase, or Free Nifty Thing if you order $$ of goods. I've gotten free shipping, free photographs, free stocking stuffers, and entire gifts for free. I was shopping around for a Nifty Thing for Kate, when Staples offered me one for free for ordering the printer paper and tax forms I was going to order anyway. Sweet!

The only disappointment is a minor gift, but one that makes me really mad because the merchant lied to me! I placed an order on November 28 because the merchant claimed orders were filled within 10 days. 11 days after placing the order, I received an e-mail telling me that my order would not be delivered until December 16th and if I had any questions I should respond to the e-mail address or call their customer service line (open from 4pm to 1am Eastern Time). I immediately responded that a delivery date of the 16th was not going to work and if my order could not be here by December 14th I needed to cancel. NO response to the e-mail, so I called the phone line and was told that it looked like my package was going to be able to ship a day earlier and I could get it by today. Pleasantly surprised, they told me to call back the next day to be sure and assured me that we'd be able to sort it if it hadn't shipped. I called back the next day and was told it had shipped and that I would receive the package today. LIES! Their automated system e-mailed me yesterday to say the package shipped YESTERDAY and will not be here until tomorrow afternoon...and of course UPS can't do anything to reroute the package or anything, because the package is in transit. I have to call them at 7:00 tomorrow morning, before Shuttle Express picks us up for the airport at 7:25, in order to stop UPS from delivering the package I specifically and repeatedly told the micky fricky merchant I did NOT want to be delivered on the 16th. Thanks jerks!

Thankfully, most of my gifts are being sent ahead to arrive at my folks' or my in-laws' places before we arrive. Even so I still had a box of things that need to be wrapped and carried. By the time I finished last night, I had a depressingly large pile of things to have to carry with us all the way to Boston. I've decided that I'm going to insist that Chris and Kate open the largest of their boxes before we leave, so they can have the items within to enjoy on the trip rather than waiting until we get back to open them. Who doesn't like early Christmas?



Our holiday break couldn't be happening at a better time for me personally. I'm feeling quite a bit of job fatigue right now, and I am looking forward to turning off the computers, locking up, and heading off to spend some relaxing, uninterrupted time with my family.

2005 has been a hell of a year. It was about a year ago that the first hints of serious trouble with Osseum started to come to our attention, the first signs that what we were seeing was not a simple account discrepancy or slow-to-pay distributor. It's been a year of cleaning up a filthy mess, every bit as stinking and unpleasant as having your nose broken by a drunken frat boy who then pukes on you for good measure.

Finally, finally we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's been a long road. Every one of Green Ronin's wonderful employees have worked harder than we had any right to expect, and I'll be the first to admit that more than once this year I've gone all Mother Bear on people in defense of my guys, because I've known just how much they've carried on their shoulders.

My fatigue is the result of my caring so much, because I do care. I care about our employees, I want them to have stable, rewarding jobs and happy lives. I care about our fans, I want them to get everything they expect out of our products, I want to provide them with fun and enjoyment. I care about my family, and I want my husband to enjoy some leisure and peace again, I want my daughter to have the opportunity to know other things about us than that we're always on the computer, that we go to conventions and fill mail orders and answer complaints from people on the internet. I care about my neighborhood, I want this foul HOA to stop taking advantage of the diversity of our community for their own profit. I care about the state of the world, and I'm fatigued by corporate and governmental corruption, cronyism, environmental catastrophe.

I need to recharge. I need to see my dad, my step-mom, my step-brothers, my in-laws. I need to put together some puzzles, read for fun, watch Narnia and King Kong, play some farkle, go sledding, drink cocoa, and not look at the internet, not answer e-mail, not take any phone calls. And after tomorrow, that's exactly what I'm going to do!


Sweater Envy

With our impending trips to Minnesota (highs in the low 20s predicted) and Boston (highs around freezing predicted) I've had sweaters and warmth on my mind. is not making it any easier on me by posting a ton of photos of gorgeous sweater creations on her site today! I love the sage green lambswool hoody and the rainy day sweater, and the charcoal lambswool/angora wrap sweater.

Of course, Lori's creations are size M, which alas, is not my size.


Birthday Festivities

Yesterday was Miss Katherine's birthday party, celebrating 10 years. It's terribly difficult to plan a party that involves her friends at this time of year, conflicting as it does with all the other holiday-themed parties, school plays, and other events that are crammed into the month of December. School lets out on the 16th this year and we, like many of the other families at her school, are scrambling to finish a lot of things before the kids are out of school.

I took the kids to Gameworks, a Sega-owned two-story video game arcade and restaurant in downtown Seattle. Gameworks gave us a small room for an hour with two televisions playing the Duke basketball game above our heads. Places were set for 10, but with a couple of late-comers and no-shows, we started the party with only four kids, Kate, Kate, Kate and Alex (NO KIDDING), and three adults (me, Chris and Tim as the adult friend guest of honor). They served some terrible pizza (icy cold cheese and grease-dripping, burned crust pepperoni) a cake with bright frosting that turned our teeth blue, and provided us with game cards that allowed unlimited play for one hour.

I was impressed at the gifts her friends brought, as they clearly either knew her well or put a lot of thought and care into her gifts. One girl handmade a necklace as a gift, in a box decorated with a picture of a white tiger (their mutually favorite animal). Another made a hand-painted Christmas ornament with some cute little creatures. She also received the Dragonology handbook (Kate will tell you she's "studied Dragonology") and a Zoo-building computer game that her friend Alex also has. I was impressed at how gracious she was about her gifts, and how appreciative she was of the handmade gifts.

It was funny watching the kids race through the place trying to find games they could play together. At several points they were playing two on two air hockey. It was hilarious watching one of the Kates take on teams of two. Another one of the Kates clearly hadn't been to an arcade like this one before and was befuddled by some of the games. I watched her try to play pinball and get frustrated because she thought it wasn't working. I showed her where the start button was, how the ball popped up into the chute. She got that she was supposed to pull the plunger, but then just stood there as the ball shot through the machine and down into the gutter. I had to show her where the flippers were and how to use them. "Ohhhh!" she said. At another point she was trying a motorcycle-racing game against another girl and was frustrated that even though she was sitting on the motorcycle and turning the handlebars back and forth, her virtual cycle was not moving. I showed her how to turn the handle grip and work the throttle. "Ohhhhh!" she said again.


Accursed HOA, I will smite you!

Our Homeowner's Association is really pissing me off. We received a notice from them on Wednesday that a budget ratification meeting is being held the Tuesday before Christmas. If 67% of the homeowners in the association *don't* object, the budget they've come up with is considered ratified. The dues are set to increase from $34 to $41 PLUS $15 "reserve recovery fee": when we bought our home in 2001 the dues were $29/month. We can't opt out of the association, we have to be members in order to have our home. Just a few weeks ago the HOA informed us of their new policy on rental properties: you have to get HOA approval to rent your home to someone else, AND pay a $500 fee because of the "extra work" *they* claim they will have to do in "managing" properties where the homeowner is not in residence. It's extortion!!

So, I have a copy of the HOA's board-approved budget. The budget has increased by just short of 100K, no wonder they have to raise dues and ask for an additional "reserve recovery fee"! This thing is laden with benefits for our Kirkland-based Management Service but I can't see where these new expenditures benefit the homeowners.

They are *budgeting* that they will collect an additional $4200 in "late fees" and $2500 in "reimbursed collections fees" (aka paying for their lawyers)in addition to the dues increase.

They want to add a full time on-site staff person to "manage" things here (measure the length of our grass and scrutinize the color of our porch steps, no doubt) at the cost of $23,000 a year salary and they've increased the "management fees" line from $32,444 to $67,200. The homeowners are paying an additional $1580 for "conventions and meetings" (which CDC charges $95/hour to attend, if I'm reading the notes right), an additional $6000 in "office expense" (the only note explaining this additional $6000 says "includes Annual Report Fee of $10"), an additional $9000 for office space for the new onsite staff person, an additional $1250 for a website, and an additional $1600 for "miscellaneous". And let's not forget the $8800 budgeted for ACTION FORCE ONE, the security company whose presence has failed to curb graffiti and vandalism (see their lack of response to the vandalism of my car and theft of my CD player, the golf club incident, the broken window in my side-yard, or the neighbor's fence being set on fire this summer...).

Meanwhile the HOA has *decreased* the amount being spent on translation services, even though this is a largely immigrant neighborhood and people speak 15 or 20 different languages in our community, and they've *decreased* the funds for community building and community events!

I really am outraged by this. I have less than a week to do anything about it, and my sole opposition is not going to accomplish much, but I'm seriously considering going door to door to talk to my neighbors about this situation this weekend. The meeting itself is taking place after I'll have already left town for the holidays with my dad and I can't attend. I wonder how many other families are going to be in the same position. Even if our neighbors aren't celebrating Christmas in particular, I would not be surprised if they're taking advantage of the long school break to vacation with their families.



Ok, I thought it was bad when WotC laid off someone who uprooted her kids and moved to Seattle for a job with them a year ago. Now I hear that another friend of mine who thought he'd landed one of those "dream jobs" that was a perfect fit (and who also moved for the job) has been laid off for the second time THIS YEAR!



Corporate Holiday Message (AKA Holiday Layoffs!)

So, this is not the first time it's happened, and I have no reason to believe it will be the last, but once again friends of mine have been hit by the traditional Christmas Layoffs at Wizards of the Coast.

I keep waiting to see if I can dance a happy dance at the news that any of the people on my long list of worthless fuckers has gotten the axe, but nooooo. Those who get it are all too rarely the assholes, the backstabbers, the petty and creatively bankrupt middle managers, the worthless suckups, the self-righteous cocks so throbbingly engorged with their own egos...it's the nice ones, the quietly dedicated ones, the ones who were truly thankful, pleased, or happy to have their jobs, the ones who think they've finally achieved their dreams, the ones who aren't personal friends of the bosses.

I suppose on the small upside, WotC does give severance, which is better than my friend who got laid off from Paizo last year with three pathetic days of severance. Sympathies to my friends and acquaintances laid off this time around.



As chilly darkness descends once again, I find myself introspective, ponderous, and perhaps just a bit nostalgic. I find myself yearning for to simplify my life.

It is not uncommon for me to get this way in the fall and winter. My birthday rolls around, then the holidays loaded with their intense memories of things good and bad from years past. We make ready to turn the calendar and mark a new year. Conventions and travel are done for a few months and big projects may be underway but they're in the background, waiting to be unveiled in the spring or summer.

This year as I take stock, I realize that I feel burdened by many things. Actual things. Shelves overflowing with books and games, many of which I'll never open let alone use. Boxes upon boxes of material items I've been holding onto, "just in case." (Someday I might use those things!) Worst it's the things that are really completely useless to me that I've just not had the mental fortitude to attack and resolve, like the carcasses of no fewer than 7 old computers I have tucked away in closets, in the garage, under my desk... or the car I've been hanging onto because I was so sure I'd "get around to" forcing a settlement out of the construction company responsible for my little car's untimely demise. These things have become burdens and I want and need to unshackle myself.

Inspired by JD's recent Great Book Purge I'm inclined to try something similar.

Of course, none of this has stopped me from both digging out some old needlework projects (materials dating back over ten years) and acquiring an acoustic guitar (scavenged from Jenny's would-be charity donations box) in the interest of improving myself through new (or renewed) hobbies...