Discolor Online

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


10-Days to AIDS Walk

We're 10 days away from the Northwest AIDS Walk and I'm so excited. When we originally started this team, our goal was to raise $1000 and my personal goal was to raise $250. Our team is now up to 17 people and we've raised our goal twice since then! As a team we've raised over $4000 (Jenny herself has raised over $1000, the original team goal!) and I've personally raised over $500. I've been just astounded by everyone's generosity and willingness to give.

Our team has been contacted by the Executive Director of the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Apparently people are talking about us. We've made the scrolling list of top teams, for a while we had raised more than Team Starbucks and those corporate teams are wondering who the heck "Joey's Birthday Walkers" are. We're currently neck and neck with the John L Scott team and ahead of Team Amazon.com and Team Planned Parenthood. Go us!

Anyway, I'm really glad I decided to just go ahead and do this thing. As it turns out, Chris is going to be in England for a short-notice business trip when this is happening, so Kate's going to do the walk with me, too. I've upped my goal to a "shoot for the stars" amount of $750, but even if I don't raise another dollar I feel really good about what we've helped contribute already.

Of course if anyone wants to sponsor me, there's still time:


I've been having a hell of a time getting motivated to write. Looks like a Weekend Wrap-Up will have to do.

Thursday: After having been out on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I took the opportunity to go out again with Christine on Thursday. Thursday is my night for doing things that involve me alone as Chris goes out to play wargames on Thursdays. Christine is going to be out next week, so this was my last "Kate-free" Thursday of the summer. We originally thought we might hit La Medusa but without reservations we couldn't get a seating before 8:30 and that was just too late. We went over to Geraldine's Counter instead, which is fast becoming my go-to place for a reliable breakfast, lunch or dinner, whichever the case may be.

Friday: With three consecutive nights out under my belt, I (*gasp*) stayed home on Friday night. I made the most of my Kate-free kitchen by going to town on the preserves. I tried out several new recipes including one for Pickled Beets in Red Wine (halfway through prepping the recipe I discovered I was (*double gasp*) out of red wine, so I had to fit in a trip to the store, too), garlic dill pickles, and some preserved peaches (which I also put up in the left over spiced red wine... we'll see how that experiment goes). I still have about 20 peaches left to use in whatever way I might like, so I have to make some decisions about what the heck I'm going to do with those. Stud them with cloves and poach them in cinnamon syrup, perhaps.

I really wanted to make this Tempeh Coconut Curry recipe but was so exhausted from my night of preserving I just didn't have the energy. Chris was sweet and agreed to make it for me, even though the recipe is more fiddly (and involves more chopping) than he normally likes to take on. What a guy!

Saturday: The morning began at Salty's, where we joined Wolfgang and the lovely Shelly and friends for the third of her three part series of birthday brunches. Baby Heidi was in attendance and I got to not only see her awake for the first time but hold her for a little while. She still has that sweet, fuzzy head of baby hair. I just loved to stroke Kate's fuzzy baby head when she was that age.

Salty's had a whole display case dedicated to an ocean scene made from sugar sculpture.

After Salty's we retired to the house to digest for a bit until it was time to head over to our second event of the day: Jess's Fiesta Grande (and Muy Grande Tequila Showdown). Jess won a catered event through some sort of charity auction for the Junior League of Seattle and so, when we arrived, he had a houseful of cheerful women who had all volunteered to cook, clean, serve, decorate, and otherwise help manage this birthday fiesta. It was a gorgeous day for it: the sky and water were blue, blue, blue, dotted with boats and sea planes. We even saw some distant hot air balloons. The Junior League ladies were relentlessly cheerful and the food, drink, and company were all fantastic.

The boys ended the night on the deck with cigars and fine tequila. Even though it was a long day and we'd had quite a lot of celebrating (and food, oh my god, I must have eaten for hours straight yesterday) it was pretty much the perfect summer day in my book. I'd be hard pressed to think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday in Seattle.


Shitty Day Ends Well

Today was a day full of crap. Tedium. Ridiculousness. Man, I was cranky today.

Today was a day full of dealing with self-proclaimed experts who don't know jack. With people who, though they've screwed up projects for us in the past in BIG ways, want to work with us again. With people who have lots of ideas about what our Next Big Project should be and want to engage us in a dialog about their ideas. With people who don't speak English and don't understand that when they choose Special Global Express Guaranteed Platinum shipping as their shipping option that it adds $50 to their order. With people who think that the Open Game License means that everything we make can be theirs for free, regardless of protections like copyright and trademark laws provide.

Today was also the day Chris and I got together with the visiting Andrew and his local host, for a brief tour of Columbia City, dinner at Jones BBQ, and a couple of pints at the Columbia City Ale House. Amidst good talk, good food, and good drink the sins of the day were washed away and I came home much relaxed and relieved. Seattle may not be Austin, but it does have some good things going for it. It's so nice when people come to visit.

I'm inclined to go to bed this minute and preserve the mood.



The day before we left for GenCon I made up two batches of jam: Cherry Berry Jam and straight Blackberry Jam. (The Cherry Berry jam came out GREAT.) It really got me in the mood to do more. Over the weekend Kate and I went out to Remlinger Farms where I had hoped to buy some "farm fresh" produce and canning supplies. I left with a box of peaches, cucumbers for pickling, some apples and pears (just a few of each) and some pint jars for jam, since I'm out. I took a detour to Whole Foods to pick up some of their heirloom tomatoes and fresh figs, which I have no particular plans for but will put to use somehow.

I've been decadently eating ripe, juicy peaches from the box whenever the urge strikes. Tonight I made a peach cobbler (Kate is intrigued, even though she doesn't like peaches the word cobbler is so funny she just might try some) and some peach salsa. I still have quite a few peaches left, so I might try my hand at some other preserves. On the short list I'm considering are Peach Pickles, Spiced Peaches, Brandied Peaches, and Peach Preserves.

Before Kate was born and then when she was a little baby (when I still lived in Canada) I spent a lot of time cruising the rec.food.XXX groups (rec.food.cooking, rec.food.recipes, rec.food.preserving). To my delight postings going back to 1997 and possibly earlier are archived and available through Google Groups. A name from those old days (Barb Schaller) still pops up as an active user; when I was a rec.food.preserving reader, Barb had just started posting reports of her successes at the Minnesota State Fair, where she won ribbons upon ribbons for her jams and baked goods. Apparently, she's still at it; BARB SCHALLER, WINNER OF MORE THAN 70 BLUE RIBBONS proclaims this news story about the MN State Fair in the Pioneer Press. Barb has no idea who I am, but she was a good-natured inspiration to me when I tried my hand at canning in those early days. It made me smile to see her name again.

Thinking back to that summer of canning, there are two recipes that I've since lost and kick myself over every time: my friend Elizabeth's family recipe for mustard pickle (which I just LOVE with cheese on some good crusty bread) and the recipe for pear-vanilla preserves that I made with my friend Catherine back in the day. I may just have to try to recreate those recipes, they were so good! Meanwhile, in my "to consider" pile, I have a recipe for Dilly Green Beans and Pickled Beets, in addition to some good old plain Dill Pickles. I don't need these things, but there's something about making them myself, putting them in jars for later like my mother and generations of women before us have done, that gives me great satisfaction.

For now, things are peachy.


AIDS Walk Update

Our Team Leader sent out this update on our progress for the 20th Anniversary AIDS Walk:

Holy smokes, we not only beat our revised fundraising goal of $2,000, we're well on the way to raising $3,000! As of today, we've raised just over $2,500, so I upped our goal to give us something to aim for. The walk is still three weeks away -- plenty of time to raise another $500.

One of our teammates, Guy Silver, pointed out yesterday that we've made the scrolling roster of top teams on the AIDS Walk home page! Right now, we're the 15th best team in terms of funds raised. (But we all know we're #1 in every other way, right?) To put this in perspective, we've raised more than Team Amazon, more than Team Vulcan, and more than Team Starbucks. And we've raised about 1/8 of what Team Microsoft has -- with a fraction of the number of people. To put it mildly, WE ROCK.

In fact yesterday, the director of this year's walk left a message for me congratulating us on our extreme awesomeness. He has buttons and T-shirts and things to support our efforts, and I'll letcha know more about that as soon as I get a hold of him. He says we've raised an impressive amount considering how far out we still are from the walk. Yay, us!

That's right, folks, our little team has raised more money than Team Amazon and Team Starbucks! Power to the people! Because I'm a competitive person (and what better reason than being competitive for charity), I've raised my personal goal as well. I'm trying to personally raise at least $500 of that new $3000 team goal. Fifteenth best team in Seattle? Screw that, let's aim higher!

If you'd like to contribute just click on over to my DONATION PAGE. Thanks everyone!



I did my first serious ride tonight. Christine suggested we get together after work for a ride and I was happy to join her. I love that all the buses in Seattle have bike racks on them. Unfortunately, they've also got a policy (an understandable policy, don't get me wrong) that doesn't allow bike riders to take their bikes on and off the buses in the downtown core, the "free ride area". Instead I took my bike down the hill to Martin Luther King Jr Way to catch that bus. I got to the intersection just as the bus was pulling away from my stop and had to wait the full 20-25 minutes for the next bus but still managed to get to Christine's in reasonable time. I was a little worried we might run out of light. I haven't done any evening riding yet so I don't have lights or reflectors on my bike at the moment and running too late would have been a problem. Thankfully, Christine has all the gear and was ready to blaze a trail if necessary.

We rode from her house, across the ship canal bridge, up to the University of Washington where we picked up the Burke Gilman Trail. We followed the trail through Wallingford, past Gas Works Park and into Fremont where we stopped for dinner and a beer at Hales Ales Pub, literally right off the trail. Plenty of other people were out on the trails and the ride was very pleasant, but it was also nice just to sit back and have a nice pint and chat with Christine. I had a great spinach, pears, and blue cheese salad (which had at least a cup of spiced nuts on it... I love nuts, but I must have left half a plateful behind) with grilled salmon and a pint of their Red Menace which was just perfect.

I was just starting to get cold when we left Hales, so I was glad to work up a bit of a sweat again on the bike on the ride back. I could already feel my ass hurting, though. I'm going to be sore tomorrow. There were two hills back to back at the very end of the ride that kicked my ass, though I made it up the first one pretty strong, the second was a longer incline and stamina has never been my strong suit. I could tell I was going to wreck myself if I tried to take that last hill on guts alone, so with trembling legs and my breath wheezing through my throat, I called in the towel and walked most of it and then rode a short while to the "end" (the bottom of the super steep hill Ray and Christine live on, which there was no way in hell I was even going to pretend to ride up) then walked the bike up to the house.

I've still got that happy, glowy feeling from the workout and I got to be outside on a beautiful evening, seeing parts of Seattle I don't normally get to. All in all, a very good idea. Really glad I did it, tempting as going downtown for happy hour might have seemed. Christine tells me that I biked almost 14 miles tonight. Yay me!


Jury Duty

Awoke ungodly early to get ready this morning so I could be out at the bus stop at 6:30am. I wasn't sure what to expect. I was not only taking different buses (at times when I'm definitely not used to being out and about) but I was going to Kent (KENT!) which might as well be the moon for how little I know of the place.

As we drew closer to the Regional Justice Center, a few other befuddled would-be jurists were asking the driver about where to get off, so I just followed along with them. Struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who was coming from West Seattle, while a younger hipster strode off ahead of us. We followed him and eventually ended up in the right place, was screened through the security check point and got myself all checked in without any problem. It was reassuring to me that most of the other people showing up for jury duty were as uncertain as I was. We all muddled along just fine and overhearing the conversations people were having all around, nearly every one of my jurist peers had at least one small interesting thing about them.

I was in the first group of 36 to be called up, so there was no hanging about in the room playing Cranium or using the wifi for me. I was part of a group that was potentially going to hear an felony assault case. A handful of people were excused on the basis of economic hardship off the bat, and I probably could have gotten out of it myself for that same reason, but I wouldn't have dreamed of it. Those of us who remained sat through two rounds of Q&A with the judge and the lawyers, interrupted by a lunch break. I was Jurist #29 and figured they would never get to me but it turned out that I missed serving on the jury by the skin of my teeth. The lawyers dismissed several jurists and filled the holes with the rest of us through #28. One more preemption and I would have been among the 13 chosen (though who knows if I would have lasted to the end).

Everyone had to announce their names, where they lived, what they and their families did for a living, what they did in their leisure time and where they got their news. The guy whose news sources were NPR and the internet and the guy who used FOX news ended up spending the rest of the afternoon giving each other sideways glances. I was interested by the things the lawyers focused on: anyone who had any criminal law training (we had one lawyer and one Yale law student in our group), anyone who had been the victim of a violent crime or burglary (several of those in our group, all burglaries), anyone who had issues with alcohol. The prosecutor called on me to elaborate on what kind of "publishing company" I owned, which I dreaded because I absolutely hate trying to explain what I do. I said that we published roleplaying games because if I say "games" people always, always assume it's computer games, but the woman had no idea what roleplaying games were. I tried, "You may have heard of Dungeons and Dragons? It's the most popular one," all the while cringing inside and hoping she wasn't one of those people who thinks RPGs are devil worship or cause people to act out murders or any of that utter bullshit. I lucked out, I suppose, in that she was still utterly clueless about what I did, so I tried to explain very briefly what the games involved (pretending to be superheroes or knights in shining armor, telling cooperative stories with other players, rolling dice to determine if your actions succeed or fail) while someone off to the side of me snickered audibly. I think it was the kid from Yale.

Once the jury was selected, the rest of us were freed from our obligation. We were originally told to go back to the room in case there was another trial that needed jurors but when we got there we were told that not only did they not need us for the rest of the day but we did not even need to come back tomorrow as we'd been originally told. Light case loads in August, apparently. There were no more trials we might be called for so we were free to go. I'm curious to know how the trial I was almost selected for turns out but I doubt I'll ever know.


GenCon Photo Set

I've put my photos from GenCon up on Flickr. As you can see, we ate pretty well at least one meal a day. The rest of the time it was lattes and power bars for me, but I sure did enjoy dinner.

I have mostly food photos, slightly interrupted with a few photos of the people I enjoyed food with and too few photos of the ENnies (where my camera was turned on and the batteries ran down before I could get many pictures).

Still, it's not all just food porn. Click on the photos to go see the whole set.


The Trip Home

Arrived safe and sound at home. Hooray! For a while I wasn't sure we were even going to make it out of downtown Indianapolis safely, and it had nothing to do with terrorism alerts or airport security.

Chris and I picked up a cab from the Marriott and made the simple request that the driver make another stop a couple of blocks away at the Embassy Suites to pick up Evan before we all headed to the airport. The first thing I noticed when I got into the cab was the driver's personal shrine. Two photographs of his son wedged behind the steering wheel (obscuring dashboard readouts like, oh, the speedometer) and a very faded air freshener of either Jesus or the Virgin Mary (besides the robes, halo, and spread hands, it was hard to see if the figure had a face, let alone a beard). He also had a book that looked from the cover like it could have been any fantasy novel but even before I noticed the air freshener my "used to shop in Christian bookstores" sense began to tingle. The novel was First Light, the first book in the "AD Chronicles" and was on top of another large book that I was willing to lay money was a Bible. (Click over to authors Bodie & Brock Thoene's site for a taste... make sure you have your sound on, it's worth it.) Our driver's spoken English was of the "Time you go home now?" variety but his comprehension seemed just fine. His attention span, on the other hand, not as good.

As the cab cruised past the Embassy Suites in the farthest lane (on a one-way street) with no sign of intending to stop there, Chris said, "Isn't that the Embassy Suites?" which prompted the driver to slam on the brakes, say "Jesus Christ!" and cut across four lanes of traffic. He came to a complete stop, put his emergency flashers on, and gestured traffic around him for a minute and then threw the cab into reverse and backed up for over half a block until he made it back to the Embassy Suites driveway. Jesus Christ indeed! We were treated to more of the same when he dropped us off at the airport as he blew past the sign for Frontier. He realized this and backed up for a while again, but not all the way to the actual drop off. "You go here, just a little way," he said, leaving us to struggle through the crowded check-in area. It turned out that "just a little way" was code for "the other side of the frickin' airport" and Chris cursed the whole way as he struggled to control his suitcase, which the TSA folks had made partially inoperable on the inbound flight. Woo, off to a good start!

Checking in wasn't nearly as painful as it could have been and we found ourselves at the airport with hours to spare. Finally, we boarded the plane for the first leg of the flight and were seated together in row 19. Row 20 (both sides of the aisle) was filled with small children. I initially worried that the baby would be the biggest problem, but the baby slept and the small child behind me calmed down and watched Ice Age or something the whole way. The spawn of Satan on the other side of the aisle and closest to Pramas were a completely different story. Suffice to say they didn't stop their demonic howling, whining, and tantrum throwing for the entire flight. Even through earplugs you could hear them, for THE WHOLE FLIGHT. Imagine my horror when Evan and Chris told me they were going to be on the next leg of the flight as well. "NO!" I said. "Oh yeah, they're headed to Seattle, I heard the mom say it." Looking at our tickets, I could see we were in the same row on the next flight and I quickly deduced that if we didn't take drastic action right away we were going to be seated in front of them the whole way. I led the charge to the gate in the hope that we could change our seat assignments before it was too late.

The young woman at the gate was nice enough about it. She told us she didn't have seats together, but if we'd all be willing to sit in middle seats she could accommodate us. We jumped at the chance and gave her our profuse thanks, then went to get something to eat and drink. On my way back to the gate area, sure enough, there they were: mom pushing an empty stroller passively ignoring her little darlings as they ran the wrong way down the moving walkway yelling, "Look! Look!" Once they got to the gate area they were like monkeys on crack, climbing on everything and screeching. At one point the two of them were both climbing on and into the "Your bag must fit in this space" gauge near the jet way, causing the stewardesses to firmly demand the mother pay attention to them and perhaps, you know, get them on the plane before they hurt themselves. As we boarded the young woman we'd spoken to earlier was taking boarding passes so Chris said, "You see what we mean..." Her response of "Oh. My. God." says it all. She did, indeed, see what we meant. Once the plane was boarded and we were trying to push back from the airline, twice someone in the back of the plane had to be told to sit the hell down so we could leave. I wonder who that could have been...

The second half of the trip home was bliss, heavenly bliss. Without further ado we made it safely to Seattle where Rona was nice enough to pick us up and give us a ride home (saving us from having to face yet another potentially crazy cab driver or Shuttle Express incident). Tomorrow it's jury duty for me but today it's all about being home sweet home.


GenCon Finished

Sunday was even more a blur than the rest of the con. Last minute meetings with people, many colleagues coming by to say goodbye, give us congratulations, wish us a safe trip and so on. Even though I felt like I'd seen many people at the show, I was reminded of how many others I'd not seen at all or only seen briefly in passing.

Our guys were super efficient getting the booth broken down. Unfortunately, we'd sent our shipping case and pallet material to be stored by the decorator (instead of trying to find space inside the booth as we usually do) and had to wait nearly an hour after everything was broken down and ready to go before we had the cases to put things in. I also did two very long stints waiting in the line at the UPS shipper (first for packages we were sending back to Seattle, then to ship some boxes for an exhibitor friend...because I'm a nice person, dammit, and don't you forget it.) Yow, that was torture.

We took the team to dinner at Palomino, where we've had many good dinners in the past. Things started well, right up until I decided I wanted to order some appetizers. I had a list of several appetizers I intended to order for the table, but hadn't even finished asking for the first item when the waiter decided to let me know his opinion of my choice (which was not good). He then went over virtually the entire rest of the appetizer menu to give his opinion and recommendation (or disapproval). Man, that really set my teeth on edge: do NOT tell me what I want, I can decide that for myself. Let me know you're familiar with the menu, fine. Offer your opinion IF I ASK, fine. Interrupt me while I'm ordering (and I had a whole list of things, including many of the items that were approved by him, had he heard me out), definitely NOT fine. I found that my enthusiasm for the meal evaporated right then and there, on the spot. I looked over the menu multiple times and while our server left us waiting for 30 minutes between taking appetizer orders and the order for our main course I found that nothing appealed. Disappointment made me totally lose my appetite. I ordered some chicken dish, found it dry and let them take the plate away with half the food uneaten. Bummer.

Thankfully the company made up for it. I love our staff and don't get to spend nearly enough time just visiting with them. One of the drawbacks of the "virtual office" set up. It did make me feel pretty excited about the upcoming Green Ronin summit in October, when we'll get everyone together outside of the convention atmosphere.

Now I must check out and make sure there's not hand sanitizer or toothpaste in my carry-on luggage. Tonight, it's back to Seattle.


GenCon Saturday

My GenCon experience continues apace. Saturday started with me meeting an old friend and Ars Magica cohort for coffee, as has become something of a tradition. Always fun and a good way to kick off Saturday, though this year was particularly free of griping because I've had the sense to distance myself from GAMA politics and other asshattery that in other years encroached on our coffee hour.

Saturday at the booth continued to be good. We had the impression that it was "slow" (which, for GenCon means perhaps only a quarter again a good traffic day at a con like Origins) but in looking at the day's receipts we still did some good business. The cash register, however, is completely screwed up for reasons unknown and the report showed that we made $54,935 yesterday. Totally false to the point of being hysterical. Boy, a show that could earn us $55K for a day's work would have my undying loyalty as an exhibitor, I swear. Ha.

During the day a handful of people stopped by to let us know we'd made the paper. The Indiana Star interviewed Steve Kenson and myself (along with some other industry folks). The article appears online.

After a brief business meeting with the team (resolving one issue and leaving another to be considered on the tree of woe), we joined a feakishly large gathering of gaming professionals for dinner at the same restaurant we were at on Wednesday night. "See you tomorrow!" called the waitstaff as we left. During dinner I found myself next to the inestimable Matt Forbeck, Christian Moore (now wheeling and dealing in Las Vegas) and Scott Glancey from Pagan Publishing.

Even though the day had already been long, I rallied and headed out to the White Wolf party. I've been saying all convention that I've been having a great time and this year's White Wolf party just pushed "good time" into the stratosphere. Great venue and I got to hang out with so many old friends. I'm in a place in my life now where I can look back on some really awful times, recognize with some degree of honesty what my own faults are and not feel bitterness or sadness or regret. Talked for a long time with several people I never see anymore and hung with some others who I do see more often and just adore. The crowd were dancing fiends and Justin's DJing was right on. He had my number all night long, yow. Great time, great, great time.


GenCon Friday

Friday was a blur. I spent a lot of time out of the booth and when I was there I was constantly talking or putting together new bundles. We ran out of several products the first day and had to have more sent in. Boxes were moved, opened, product stacked, more product stacked. Next thing I knew it was 5:30 and I was feeling exhausted, with the ENnies still ahead of me.

After the dealer's hall closed I made a quick change into ENnies attire and headed over to the location of the ceremony. A new location again this year and a step down from the swankness of last year's ceremony. The room was desperately hot and had far too few seats, let alone tables and chairs. The cash bar was doing a brisk business in $5 Heinikens and "$7 Liquor" as desperately thirsty game designers caved in and begged for something cold to drink. The ceremony itself was well run, emcee'd again this year by Pirate Cat Kevin Kulp and studded with guest presenters. Music, lights, and the video projection were all handled nearly perfectly. My only complaint on that is that in some cases Honorable Mentions were included in the announcements but in others they were overlooked. Both The Game Mechanics and our own Robert J. Schwalb had one Honorable Mention apiece and both were among those honorable mentions that didn't get mentioned.

It was the Year of Silver for Green Ronin, as an increasingly sweat-drenched Steve Kenson was called up to accept Silver ENnie honors for his work on Mutants & Masterminds. This year every publisher was asked to pick a song that could be played as they came forward to accept. Chris wanted to find a punk rock song but I pulled rank as GR's General Manager and insisted that we pick something quick, catchy, upbeat and that kicked in within 2-3 seconds because I knew we only had about 15 seconds of sound to work with. None of the rest of the staff knew what I'd picked, so they were waiting to hear. When the first award was announced and the audience began actively clapping along to the Black Eyed Peas' Pump It, I knew I'd made the right choice. By the end of the night we had the whole place rocking, clapping along. I couldn't have been happier.

We took home the Best Publisher award again this year and, truly, you could have knocked us over with a feather when the announcement was made. Wizards of the Coast was awarded the Silver ENnie and we all looked at each other in shock as we couldn't imagine who could beat WotC. But this year was a Golden ENnie year for Paizo (and well-deserved) so it took us just a few seconds to agree amongst ourselves that it must be Paizo for the gold. We were expectantly waiting to hear Paizo announced, so when the words Green Ronin came out of Peter's mouth it was such a shock. Amazing how quickly one can make up one's mind! It had only taken me seconds to agree that Paizo would be winning, it's not like it was a long-held belief, but I was stunned... physically shocked when I that guess was wrong. Of course we think we're doing a good job, but it's so rewarding to know that other people think so, too. It makes all the difference, especially after the hard (and not so rewarding) work everyone on our team has put in over the last year.

We celebrated. Justin Achilli was spinning after the awards and I was totally and completely into it. When he launched into Jesse's Girl I gave him a big fan-girl scream for his efforts (and got a smile out of him in return). I had to leave the party a little early as I'd made a date to meet up with the Fiery Dragon guys and the rest of our team for a little private celebrating. Thanks, gentlemen! I had a fine, fine time last night and it was a much more appropriate celebration than last year's depressing wander as we discovered that bars in Indy close up as early as 11:15!

We roll into GenCon Saturday in high spirits.


GenCon Tursday

Great day! I'm personally having the best GenCon in years, I just feel really energized and "up" and happy to see everyone. I haven't done any other cons this year so I don't already feel burned out and tired (as I've felt by the time we got to GenCon in recent years). It's been so nice to catch up with all of our remote employees, our faithful and wonderful beyond measure freelancers and our most loyal fans.

Miscellaneous thoughts from the show floor:

* Jeff Tidball's new game, Pieces of Eight, rocks! I love it! I came back to the booth after playing in the demo and I just wanted to tell everyone how much fun I had. I hope it does gangbusters for them.

* I've been reading Gregor Hutton's blog for so long I'd completely forgotten his accent. Talking to him in person in the chaos of the dealer's hall I couldn't help laughing at myself for forgetting that, but it amused me so much that his real voice is nothing like the voice in my head when I read what he's written.

* In the same vein as the game "Band or Album", it's possible to play "Ass or Asperger's". Was that a guy with Asperger's or was he just an asshole? Comes up more often than you might think.

* I have far more lurkers reading my blog than I ever knew, including people I didn't think even knew who I was. A bit shocking, really.

* The Indianapolis Marriott treats me right. From turning down the beds for us and leaving chocolates on the pillow to making multiple trips to haul packages up from shipping to letting us know the weather report so we can prepare to be out in the rain, I have had no complaints about my hotel since I started staying here in the Indy Marriott. The boys tell me that the Embassy Suites is also quite nice. Peter promised to solve the "hotel issue" when he moved GenCon from Milwaukee and that promise has been fulfilled in spades.


GenCon Begins

Whew, yesterday was a whirlwind. Up before 3:00am to wait for Shuttle Express (having gone to bed after 12:30am, because I just can't get to bed early the night before a big trip), we flew to Indy via Phoenix, got in exactly on time, got checked into our hotel by 5:00 and started on the booth set-up. Unfortunately for the guys, I'd come up with a new booth layout this year, so we weren't just able to throw things together quite as fast as previous years, but I got it sorted out eventually and they were all great sports about getting things done. Then it was immediately off to get cleaned up and meet the folks from Black Industries for dinner by 7:00.

The food was good but the service was pleasant and funny but S L O W (although what did we expect, showing up to a restaurant with a group of 10 and no reservation?). We enjoyed all manner of Indian food, eventually, and it was good once it arrived. I joked to Dan Abnett that I was pleased we could offer them access to the national dish of England. "Oh, chicken tikka masala?" he said. "Chicken Tikka Masala? You like? It is good!" interjected the waiter, overhearing us. Indeed, it is #44 on the menu at India Garden should anyone be looking for it. Their paneer masala is gets the thumbs up from me.

Ironically, our table was virtually right next to a table of industry people who had invited me to dinner before the show. I'd had to beg off their invitation, only to then waltz into the restaurant with another group. Luckily, they're all good sports and I only got ribbed by two or three of my would-be hosts later. After dinner I mingled and enjoyed myself at the Diana Jones Awards, right up to the point where the bartender refused to take my drink order in spite of two different people saying to him "I think she was next," while I waited with drink ticket and money in hand. I decided that was a good time for me to leave and told Pramas to take me home or lose me forever. He decided to take me home. Heh.

Now it's off to finish up the booth set-up, including schlepping some unknown number of boxes from my hotel to the convention center. Apparently at least one printer ended up sending our air freight from China directly to me at my hotel instead of to the convention center itself. Nothing like a "brisk constitutional" of hauling boxes of heavy books around before breakfast to remind one that one is at GenCon. Woohoo!


Free Wireless Hotspots at GenCon

I received e-mail from an unknown informant today. In any other circumstance I might have thought it was spam, but GenCon is a bit specific to be random spam. My informant is unknown to me but apparently feels I might be interested in knowing where free wireless hotspots can be found in Indianapolis while I'm there for GenCon. Thanks, Dr. Ho!

Doing my best to spread the word, I pass along the URL for the map:


There are no free hotspots in or near the Indiana Convention Center itself, and several of the hotspots look to me to be out of "gamer range" (having seen for myself over the years that many gamers are unwilling to move outside of about a three- or four-block radius of event center), but the closest free hotspots look to be at Alcatraz Brewing, the Arts Garden, Jillians, and at Monument Circle.

Hope that's useful to someone!


Weekend Round-Up

Thought about taking Kate to a Seafair concert/fireworks over the weekend but we ended up barbecuing with Ray and Christine on Saturday instead. It was a beautiful day for it. Sunday I was decadent and read most of Children of God, Mary Doria Russell's follow-up to The Sparrow. Warner Brother's has the film rights to The Sparrow and a movie adaptation is reportedly in the works for 2008, involving Brad Pitt. Considering the way things are left in the Sparrow and how those threads are picked up and tied off in Children of God, I'm having a hard time imagining the movie but the fact that anyone would even think about Brad Pitt as a possible actor for the role of the Puerto Rican Jesuit priest whose small stature and dark hair and eyes are constantly commented on in the book warns me off before I look any deeper anyway.

Taking the weekend for personal time and reading left me in a very zen state. I'm paying for my decadence now, however. In a couple of hours I will be on the road to bring Kate back to her dad's for the remainder of her summer visit. When I get back I will have one day to finish up all my Green Ronin pre-GenCon prep. Posting to the blog will be sparse and irregular until I return from Indianapolis on the 14th. On the 16th I roll into jury duty, so posting may continue to be unpredictable even after we're back in Seattle.


20th Anniversary AIDS Walk

Like many people I know, I'm currently feeling a bit more overwhelmed, a bit down, a bit more worried. Of course there have been the various recent personal tragedies among my friends and family (some of which I've revealed here). Events in my country have me concerned as the government continues on a path to which I am morally opposed and one that I fear will bring yet more ruin and suffering. I am weary of the state of affairs that allows paid shills show up at political rallies to bully people trying to excercise their rights (to assemble, to speak, to vote), where civil discourse is impossible, where people hurl epithets like "ReTHUGlican" or "Moonbat" before anything of substance can pass between them and where they generally disdain each other so completely. The unwelcome tragedy of the conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border preoccupies me. I find it tiring and too often feel as is there is nothing I can do.

Today I received an e-mail that I found unusually comforting. This e-mail was nothing more than a solicitation for school supplies for needy children (from a religious organization, no less) but I was reminded that despite what sometimes feels to me like an insurmountable barrier of fundamental differences there are people with whom I have things in common, too. People with whom I share cultural traditions, core beliefs, or just a basic desire to to what is right and good for the world.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Christianity)
"Recompense evil, conquering it with good." (Islam)
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Judaism)
"With kindness conquer rage, with goodness malice, with generosity defeat all meanness." (Hinduism)

All of this reflection reminded me of something I had privately resolved to do but had not yet put into action. I'm taking this opportunity to rectify that. On September 9 I will be joining the Northwest AIDS Alliance 20th annual AIDS walk. More than 9,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in my county alone. My team is supporting the Lifelong AIDS Alliance because they improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS by connecting people with medical providers, helping navigate the maze of health insurance, providing healthy prepared meals and groceries to eat, or finding a place to live for someone who does not have one. They become partners in care and remain supporters for life. My personal goal is to raise $250. You can help me reach that goal by clicking over to my Donation Page.


Back from Oregon

Got back yesterday afternoon in time to pick Chris up from the airport on his return from Massachusetts. Slept horribly on my visit because I was sharing a small bed with Kate at my mom's house so I'm completely exhausted but otherwise feel the trip went well and was worth it.

Grandma looked great, as robust and healthy as I've seen her. She shows no visible signs of her brush with death this spring. She's lost weight and is able to get around well. She seems as happy as ever, which was a great relief. I credit my grandma for my interest in games, it was from her I learned all my earliest favorites like Kings in the Corner or Farkle (which my family called Greedy). We played dice and did Mad Libs with Kate for hours this trip, laughing until tears came to our eyes (hysterical laughter being a trait my grandma, my mom and I all share).

I took a lot of pictures, not all of which came out. Most disappointing were some of the photos I asked other people to take of us, but I was able to get a few "four generation" pictures and that made me very happy. There was much hemming and hawing about people not wanting to be in the picture, or people trying to hide behind other people so as to not look fat and in several of the pictures I'm towering like a giant over the rest of my family who are huddled together carefully trying to appear as small as possible. In the end, everyone finally relaxed in front of the camera and came out looking something like themselves instead of family-like mannequins with strange, unnatural expressions.

Before I left town my mom decided to go through all of her possessions (or so it seemed) to let me know exactly which pieces she was saving for me or for Kate, offering up items of clothing and jewelry that she thought we might like to take now. I came away with some pieces of jewelry that more or less fit. I particularly like this dark topaz ring (one of the few that actually fits my fingers). Kate hauled home a couple more dusty, smelly, and largely disgusting stuffed animals, and I assured my mom that she no longer needed to save my childhood collection of old cologne bottles and ceramic cats won at the fair.

Wish I'd had time to visit friends or been able to see my brother (who, ironically, is currently visiting my dad in Minnesota and who called today just to say hello and chat) but this just reinforces that I should make time for a social visit to the Portland area another time.