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Discolor Online

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

 

Another game of "Would you?"

Just to be clear up front, this is not a veiled reference to my ex-, Kate hasn't been injured or anything like that. My family is not involved at all.

1) Would you give your 8 year old a pocket knife?

2) Would you let your 8 year old use a pocket knife unsupervised?

3) As an adult, would you ever play a game with children that involved "stabbing" at them with a knife? A real knife? If they were, say, about 8 years old?

4) If a boy in your group had just been taken to the ER for stitches after cutting himself with a knife, would you, as an adult, choose that time to play a "stabbing" game with the rest of the kids?

5) If your irresponsible behavior with a knife resulted in another boy being slashed in the leg and needing 13 stitches, would you lie about how it happened?

6) If the child who needed 13 stitches was yours, how forgiving would you be of the knife accident? Would you feel differently if you found out your friend lied about how it happened?

7) Which would you find worse: the irresponsible knife game or your friend lying about how your child was slashed?

 
 

Shooting

So I got proofs for a book that we want to have at GenCon today. The proofs arrived at 2:00pm and needed to be returned the same day to keep to the schedule. Yikes! So I dropped everything and made proofing pass. I actually turned up two minor typos (OR for OF, that kind of thing) and decided that, in the interest of keeping the product on schedule, I wouldn't even request those changes be made. I reserved the Flexcar, ran the proofs off to the UPS depot at the last minute, and counted myself lucky.

Then, because I had the car for a little while, I decided to drive up to Queen Anne (a 10 minute drive from where I was) to surprise Pramas and bring him home in air-conditioned comfort instead of having to face his usual hour-plus commute by bus. Why not? I did a little grocery shopping (as his office is conveniently across the street from a lovely market) and waited. We drove home, three birds (proofs, groceries, Pramas) killed with one stone.

When I got home, I saw the news that there had been a shooting in downtown Seattle. The victim was shot four times, right in front of the Macy's. Right where Pramas transfers on his commute every damn day.

This is not the first shooting downtown in Seattle in recent months. Gun violence has been cropping up far too often, in fact. We're almost exactly one year out from the shooting at the Jewish Federation. The Capitol Hill post-rave shooting is still all too vivid. Seattle is proposing cracking down on night clubs because of increasing violence (although, to be honest, it's the brazen drug dealing going on in the Pike/Pine Second/Third Avenue area that worries me the most and which seems like it may have been responsible for today's violence... Macy's and the bus stop are not nightclubs).

All I know is I felt like today was a particularly fortuitous day for me to decide to pick Pramas up and drive him home instead of letting him take his normal bus commute. Chris is my husband now, but he started as my friend, growing into my best friend and finally into someone I could not imagine living without. We've known each other longer than I've been a mother (which in itself seems like it must have been most of my life) and we've been committed partners for a decade. I freely admit that I fear losing him like I fear little else; I don't want him to succomb to the Pramas curse (and bad genes) that take Pramas men through heart attacks by their 50s. I certainly don't want to lose him in some random outbreak of violence at his fucking bus stop as he's on his daily commute. Just the thought of it freaks me out and brings me to stupid, girly tears.

I'm not the sort of person who hears about random violence and changes my life willy nilly. I understand there are always things in our lives that we can't control. I learned this lesson early when my friend, one of the most careful, diligent, wonderful mothers you could ever know, lost her baby to complications from chicken pox. Wendy was so much more vigilent than I ever would have been... she noticed right away at the first sign that something was off and took her baby to the doctor. She acted far, far earlier than I ever would have and even so had her precious baby go limp in her arms in the doctor's office! If there was ever an experience that taught me you can't control the world, it was that. Even so...

I've asked Pramas to please find somewhere else to make his bus transfers for a while.

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And summer disappeared again...

Rained this morning and was cloudy depressing until early afternoon so we weren't able to have bunny play time outside or go bike riding. I thought about trying to hit the Ballard Seafood Festival on our way out of town but decided to give it a pass to be sure I wasn't late meeting up with Mark. Instead I took Kate shopping at the JC Penney's 70%-off sale that's going on now, with an eye toward early fall school clothes.

Improvised some enchiladas from a recipe in Southern Living (involved Cajun seasoning, which I just so happened to have in the cupboard). Beef instead of chicken because that's what I had on hand. Swiss chard in a white sauce with cheddar instead of spinach in a white sauce with Velveeta, again because that's what we had. Just took them out of the oven a minute ago, so I haven't had a chance to actually eat them but I hope they turn out. My cooking experiments lately have been disappointing, nothing worth posting about. I could do with some successes.

Discovered Kate has at least one visible cavity on one of her permanent front teeth (behind, near the gum line, in one of those really hard places for kids to remember to brush) and asked Mark to please take her in to have it looked at right away. We'll see how that goes... last time she had a cavity at his house he waited and in the end I had to handle it anyway (and with my severe dentist phobia, too). Kate's a very healthy kid in all other respects but her teeth have been a weakness. She's finally about to lose the last of the four silver crowns she's had on her baby teeth for all these years and I'd really hoped her permanent teeth might fare a bit better.

I hope the forecast for tomorrow and Tuesday holds. Having summer in bits and pieces like this is driving me insane. I'm seriously thinking about getting myself a SAD lamp or something. The lack of sustained summer and the sunshine that usually goes with it reminds me of the winter when we had those three straight months of rain. Bad for my brain.

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Lovely Day

I spent the day with Kate. She's been with her dad since July 3rd (granted, it was after a three month disruption in visitations) and while it's been nice to be footloose and relatively free in July it was also wonderful to have her back home for the weekend. Tomorrow will be a short day because her dad needs to exchange her early because he has something to do in the evening. Meanwhile, today was lovely.

While Chris went down to Renton to finish up a hanging story arc in his SotC game before convention travel hell makes all of August disappear in a haze, Kate and I went to see the Harry Potter movie at the Columbia City Cinema. I'd seen it already but her dad hadn't taken her to see it yet and I knew she wanted to go. (She was very sweet and happily agreed to see The Simpsons Movie last night instead of pressing for HP.) Gorgeous day, we caught the buses without problems, enjoyed the movie (and supported the local indy theater while doing so). We lunched on Subway sandwiches out in the sunny park before again catching all of our buses and making perfectly timed connections. I even had half an hour to read the newspaper at the library while she read her latest obsession, Chibi Vampire. She finished all of book 4 today (yay reading!).

At approximately the time when gaming should have concluded, we joined everyone at Tim's for some of his homemade ice cream and brownies, plus a little Xbox 360 fun. He showed off the Xbox Live version of Carcassonne, which does indeed look swell (and which Kate enthusiastically encouraged us to buy). Upon returning home, Kate helped me make dinner. Not only did she willingly help clean and prepare the fava beans (both shucking them out of their fluff-lined pods and skinning the blanched beans) but she mashed them and prepared a vinaigrette of her own concoction, which was lovely. I marinated and George Foreman grilled some zucchini and some chicken breasts and to my utter shock Kate ate all of her (admittedly small) portion, exclaiming multiple times about how good it was, but she also asked me if I was going to finish my portion and helped finish off what I had left. Amazing! Suddenly all grown up.

I can barely keep my eyes open to write this report of the day but I wanted to get down the gist of it while it was fresh in my mind. Just a thoroughly enjoyable day all around. Tomorrow if the weather holds we're going to take a bike ride together and play with the bunnies in the yard before she has to go back to her dad's.

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Juanny Cash

Yesterday my pal Bruce, a dear friend from my days in Atlanta, was in town with a friend on a brief stop-over before they head off on an Alaskan cruise. It was also the night of the Can Can-produced "Provocateur" cabaret show at the Triple Door (one night only!) featuring Juanny Cash (who, in a case of criminal oversight has no MySpace page). We took advantage of this fortunate coincidence and took Bruce and Leslie out to the show.

Can Can Chris greeted us with his usual bellow and all of our favorite Can Can performers were there for an extravaganza that lasted two hours (and they were doing a second show with only about half an hour in between). Dance, acrobatics, contortion, belly dance, you name it. Ultra did two sets and was in full outrageous effect, stripping down to nothing but his shorts, a mis-matched pair of stockings and some lucite platform heels. Thankfully, none of last night's shenanigans offended Leslie, who we'd never met before. How awkward would that have been? Ah well, I yam what I yam, as Popeye would say. Livin' dangerously.

Anyway: JUANNY CASH. Oh. My. God.

If you're in Seattle, go to the Can Can on Tuesday evenings for his show. He's only 15 and so he's got to be out of the bars when they go 21+ at 10pm, so he does early shows that even working folks can see. Not only is he very good at the whole Johnny Cash impersonation gig, he's just the sweetest thing. Between songs last night he shyly mentioned that He was soon going to be recording his "first real album" in Johnny Cash's studio, John Carter Cash producing. The crowd went wild! He did a great job on Get Rhythm and I immediately thought he should totally go all self-referential and start doing Tennessee Flat-Top Box.

In a little cabaret in a South Texas border town,
Sat a boy and his guitar, and the people came from all around.
And all the girls from there to Austin,
Were slippin' away from home and puttin' jewelery in hock.
To take the trip, to go and listen,
To the little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat top box.

I'm telling you, that would KILL. I fully expect to be seeing this kid on tv. He's the sort of act Letterman would have brought on back in the days when I watched Letterman.

After the show, we headed over to the Alibi Room to find a quieter place so we could catch up and gabbed for a couple of hours. Haven't seen Bruce in ages and had never met Leslie but liked her immediately. The conversation was all over the place: contra dancing, World of Warcraft, Baby Gramps, Master and Commander vs. Horatio Hornblower, the state of public schools...

Tonight I pick up Kate. Haven't seen my girl since July 3rd; it'll be good to see her and catch up on what she's been doing all month. Here's hoping we have some decent weather over the weekend.

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Starlings

Starlings are the most obnoxious birds! For the last week my back yard has been beset by a flock of immature starlings who have discovered my bird feeders. They flock in and take over the place, bickering and screeching and chasing off the other sparrows and chickadees (don't mess with my little chickadees, you bullies!) and anything else that might come to visit. They eat like pigs and fight amongst themselves and I can hear the constant noise building and building. When I can't take it anymore, I throw the door open and shoo them off. They fly only as far as the large tree two houses down, where they wait, stalking my yard until I go back inside.

There's a Northern Flicker that sometimes comes and crowds the little birds out of the feeder, but he's pretty to look at and doesn't scream and fight and make a ruckus. In fact, speak of the little devil, he's out there right now. He can come back anytime but I wish the starlings would get lost.

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What's become of game night

Last game night we were looking for something that could handle 5 players, wasn't going to be too long or involved, but that we could start after dinner wound down and still feel like we'd done a bit of gaming. We broke out Tsuro which we've had on the shelf for ages but never managed to play. (It was a contender one night but I think we went with Formula D or something instead.

Tsuro proved to be just right. We were able to learn the game easily, play a couple of games (which moved along quickly) and I think everyone ended the night with positive feelings about the game. I declared it to be "like Chutes and Ladders for adults" which maybe doesn't sound as positive a review as I meant it. Chris had played it as a two-player game and hadn't thought much of it at first but it seems like adding in more players increased his enjoyment. It's a very pretty game that could easily be played with kids, two points things I tend to appreciate in addition to how much I personally enjoy the play.

Our group is such that we're all on different deadlines, with different responsibilities and travel schedules (or, in one case, the demands of two kids under 4) so it was becoming unwieldy to try to keep a roleplaying campaign together. I expect we'll want to give the Song of Ice and Fire a spin after the travel craziness dies down (and when the rules are in shape to support a full game) but for now I'm feeling pretty good about dusting off some of our oft-neglected board and card games.

Especially having just read the galleys of our upcoming Hobby Games: 100 Best collection of essays, I'm reminded of how many games I've never gotten around to trying or haven't played for years. Vinci anyone?

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Will it be a month of no lunches?

Ah, 4:10pm and once again I've had no lunch. It's not as bad as it could be, I guess, since I didn't have "breakfast" until noon...

Preparing for GenCon is always insane for us but this year seems to be worse than usual. I was a very bad girl this weekend as I didn't work but read the last Harry Potter book on Saturday instead. Of course, it's still a little over three weeks until GenCon and there's no way in hell I can work every single day between now and then and still have any sanity at all.

There are always the little inefficiencies that make things even more tedious and time-consuming, like the guy who titles his customer service request "Online Catalog". Does the subject "Online Catalog" scream out to be handled RIGHT NOW? Predictably, the message has nothing to do with the online catalog but with an order gone wrong and his increasing desperation to fix it... Or the people who contact me by fax (by FAX? Really?) which I don't notice (the Fax being in Chris's office on the second floor) until three days too late to respond. Or several of Chris's e-mails to us just flat never arriving.

The completely sucky un-summery weather so far this year (mostly 65-70 and rainy except for a blast of 95-100 for three days out of the blue) has done nothing at all positive for my disposition and being so busy that I forget to eat lunch is certainly not making me feel any better. Very growly and short-tempered about a lot of things right now. I want a sunny beach, a cabana boy, and some frozen drinks with little umbrellas. You can even keep the pony.

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Deathly Hallows (no spoilers)

Picked up my book last night at the midnight sale at Bookworm Exchange which was packed with HP enthusiasts. Costumes, trivia, snacks, excited children up past their bedtimes. What a ride it's been! Is there anything like Harry Potter for book stores in our future?

Finished today while cat-sitting and catching up on laundry. Aside from the asshole who spammed a bunch of my LJ communities with spoilers, not all of which were real, I managed to almost completely avoid discussion of the book or anything that would have spoiled the end for me. HA, Internet, you lose!

I forgot to put my final votes in for my "who gets killed" pool. I would have only been partly right anyway.

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Yesterday's Drama

I volunteered to drop by and care for my friend's spunky (but elderly) cat while she's out of town until Saturday. Last night, as I was preparing to run over to their house (by bus) I noticed that Bonnie didn't seem to be acting right. She was stretching a lot, laying with her belly flat (which she does sometimes, but not so much and not like this) and most importantly, she didn't come out of the condo to see me when I brought in new hay and veggies. Not even when I was feeding and petting Sammy (something she would normally never let pass, she's a jealous bunny!) and not even when I called out my usual "Who wants treats?" which has rarely failed. She ate a papaya treat but turned her nose up at the greens and even her favorite, parsley.

Cue me freaking out as horror stories of GI Stasis, sudden bunny death!!!" flashed through my mind.

Some panicked searching of the internet, some queries out to my other bunny-loving internet friends, and a call to the animal clinic later and I had an appointment for Bonnie for today and reassurance that unless I was seeing significant and pronounced lethargy and/or runny stools, I could probably relax through the night. (Bonnie has perked up some today, has been to our wonderful vet and has some metoclopramide syrup to be taken three times a day just to be safe.)

I finally got on the road to my friend's house, though several hours later than I expected. Just before I got to the intersection to take the bus I wanted, the bus came past. No way I could have made it (with four lanes of traffic and construction) so I resigned myself to wait the half an hour until the next bus came. Not 10 minutes in a guy asked me the time and took my polite answer as an invitation to talk. Over the next twenty minutes I found out that he took this bus to the mental health clinic to pick up his meds, that he lived only a short distance away, that he was from the Philippines and his mother was going back there for 10 days so he was looking for someone to cook for him (did I like to cook?), that he'd had shock treatment in the past ("I think I have electrolytes on the brain.") and was a former drug addict. He had three sons ranging in age from 11 to 26 with three different women and that there's a chance that a previous girlfriend was a cousin as they come from the same province and share a common surname. Oh, and he sure did like my white shirt. And women. He liked women but his last girlfriend had broken up with him and when he called to make her jealous by telling her he was seeing someone else, it didn't work.

By the time I got on the bus I was fatigued.

Because of the time of night, I had to take two buses instead of the one I originally wanted to catch, which involved walking and waiting in some areas that I might not have chosen to walk through or wait at if I'd been less freaked out by Bonnie's illness. When I finally caught the right bus I then was so preoccupied that I missed my stop by several blocks and had to back track up a big hill on foot. By the time I got to Ms. Kitty and fed her and offered to pet her (which she wanted none of, thankyouverymuch*HISSSS*) I was done in. I consoled myself by playing my friend's Guitar Hero II for a few hours and then around midnight remembered that I was supposed to pick up my dry cleaning and my CSA box. *sigh*

Today has been one giant day of catch up and man, am I ready for the weekend. I was going to go to Taste of Seattle again but it's supposed to still be raining (this summer has SUCKED so far weather-wise). Tonight I pick up my copy of Harry Potter and I will not be looking at the internet again until I finish reading it because I won't have the damn thing ruined for me.

So there.

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Yesterday's Drama

I volunteered to drop by and care for my friend's spunky (but elderly) cat while she's out of town until Saturday. Last night, as I was preparing to run over to their house (by bus) I noticed that Bonnie didn't seem to be acting right. She was stretching a lot, laying with her belly flat (which she does sometimes, but not so much and not like this) and most importantly, she didn't come out of the condo to see me when I brought in new hay and veggies. Not even when I was feeding and petting Sammy (something she would normally never let pass, she's a jealous bunny!) and not even when I called out my usual "Who wants treats?" which has rarely failed. She ate a papaya treat but turned her nose up at the greens and even her favorite, parsley.

Cue me freaking out as horror stories of "GI Statis, sudden bunny death!!!" flashed through my mind.

Some panicked searching of the internet, some queries out to my other bunny-loving internet friends, and a call to the animal clinic later and I had an appointment for Bonnie for today and reassurance that unless I was seeing significant and pronounced lethargy and/or runny stools, I could probably relax through the night. (Bonnie has perked up some today, has been to our wonderful vet and has some metoclopramide syrup to be taken three times a day just to be safe.)

I finally got on the road to my friend's house, though several hours later than I expected. Just before I got to the intersection to take the bus I wanted, the bus came past. No way I could have made it (with four lanes of traffic and construction) so I resigned myself to wait the half an hour until the next bus came. Not 10 minutes in a guy asked me the time and took my polite answer as an invitation to talk. Over the next twenty minutes I found out that he took this bus to the mental health clinic to pick up his meds, that he lived only a short distance away, that he was from the Philippines and his mother was going back there for 10 days so he was looking for someone to cook for him (did I like to cook?), that he'd had shock treatment in the past ("I think I have electrolytes on the brain.") and was a former drug addict. He had three sons ranging in age from 11 to 26 with three different women and that there's a chance that a previous girlfriend was a cousin as they come from the same province and share a common surname. Oh, and he sure did like my white shirt. And women. He liked women but his last girlfriend had broken up with him and when he called to make her jealous by telling her he was seeing someone else, it didn't work.

By the time I got on the bus I was fatigued.

Because of the time of night, I had to take two buses instead of the one I originally wanted to catch, which involved walking and waiting in some areas that I might not have chosen to walk through or wait at if I'd been less freaked out by Bonnie's illness. When I finally caught the right bus I then was so preoccupied that I missed my stop by several blocks and had to back track up a big hill on foot. By the time I got to Ms. Kitty and fed her and offered to pet her (which she wanted none of, thankyouverymuch*HISSSS*) I was done in. I consoled myself by playing my friend's Guitar Hero II for a few hours and then around midnight remembered that I was supposed to pick up my dry cleaning and my CSA box. *sigh*

Today has been one giant day of catch up and man, am I ready for the weekend. I was going to go to Taste of Seattle again but it's supposed to still be raining (this summer has SUCKED so far weather-wise). Tonight I pick up my copy of Harry Potter and I will not be looking at the internet again until I finish reading it because I won't have the damn thing ruined for me.

So there.

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Get Rich Slowly

My junior high soccer teammate and high school poetry friend, JD, has been having great success with his personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly. JD and I come from the same side of the tracks, I guess you could say. We definitely came from families where money was tight and poorly managed, where personal finance was not something we learned from our parents or had any idea about. JD has always been a passionate fellow, always throwing himself headlong into one thing or another (photography, comic books, animal intelligence...) and I'm so glad that his personal quest to right his finances has evolved into Get Rich Slowly and taken off!

JD and his lovely wife are currently away on a European vacation with her parents. In preparation for his trip, JD asked around to get people lined up to contribute essays for Get Rich Slowly for the duration of his absence. He asked me if I might have something to contribute but I felt I had to say no. It's the busiest time of the year for us and I didn't feel I could give a contribution the thoughtfulness it deserved. An essay for Get Rich Slowly felt like a lot more pressure than something similar for my own tiny blog.

Another thing has been holding me back from taking JD up on his offers to participate on his blog and its associated forums. I'm not sure I'm cut out for "getting rich" (no matter how slowly) in the manner that his most avid readers are likely to appreciate. I want to live fully, I want to live in a manner aligned with my beliefs, and I am not always appreciative of the supposed "savings" trumpeted by many of the converts to frugality who are so excited about the "savings" they experience by shopping at Wal*Mart or switching to generic diapers.

JD's site stays away from ethics and values when addressing personal finance. In fact, JD specifically stated "Ive intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly they have no bearing on personal finance." One of his guest essayists took the opportunity to disagree and laid out why his Christian beliefs affect his approach to personal finances, which (although applying a different set of rules) has much in common with my feelings on reconciling ethics/values and money.

For example, I have posted several times this year about my feelings on big agribusiness and irresponsible corporate farming practices (check my post on Corn, for example). So when someone gives me advice to save money on food by watching for sales or using coupons at big national chain stores that exclusively offer meat that's been treated with growth hormones and antibiotics, fed industrial waste and by-products, and born/bred/slaughtered in ways that I consider to be suspect if not outright inhumane... well, that "savings" doesn't seem like something I want. Other things that I've done (such as my love affair with Flexcar and my lack of car ownership lo these last three and a half years) are not universally practical and of limited use to recommend to people who are more interested in saving a few bucks on generic disposable diapers than in giving up disposable diapers in favor of reusable (but "less convenient") cloth.

I go round and round with myself, wondering where I can or should draw the lines of my personal beliefs. Most of the time, I end up thinking of this awesome Cat and Girl cartoon, which is how I find myself feeling more often than I'd like:



I figure that's probably not the subject for an essay at a personal finance site, especially when the owner is out of the country and wouldn't like to come home to find the place burned to the ground.

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Friends Have Noticed

Friends have noticed that I've been extremely lax in the Food Porn category this month. Part of it is that I've been trying a bunch of new recipes that have, well, sucked. They've not been any fun to talk about, even to show off some spectacular failures.

Part of it is that I'm politically inflamed right now and I'm aware that no one really wants to hear endless screeds from me on how immoral, corrupt, undemocratic, dangerous, fascist, unforgivable and otherwise unredeemable I find the current regime. One minute it's inflamation over Bush planning to veto a rare bi-partisan plan to fund health care for poor children (S-CHIP) because the Paranoid-in-Chief considers taking care of poor children part of a nefarious plan:"I wouldn't call it a plot, just a strategy to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care". The next minute I'm inflamed over Fox's completely batshit insane characterization of Mr. Rogers as the "evil, evil man" who has "destroyed a generation" by telling pre-school kids they're special and worthy of love and respect for just being human beings. I can't believe these attitudes exist in American society. I can't wrap my head around what kind of twisted people think it's justifiable to deny innocent (but POOR!) children access to health care or who could characterize Mr. Rogers (MR. FUCKING ROGERS!) as an "evil, evil man." He was a goddamn Methodist Presbyterian minister, you supposedly-Christian-loving assholes!! ARGH!!

So. I'm not posting about the things I love because the things I can't abide are busy punching me in the guts. Sorry about that.

I'll try to get back to the happy photos of fluffy, cute bunnies and write-ups of the extravagant foods I've enjoyed soon.

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ENnies Voting Now Open



Green Ronin has had a hand in producing several items in the running for the awards this year (in some cases going head-to-head with our own work where our work for Black Industries is on the ballot). We're among fine company and it is, as always, an honor to be nominated. I expect the competition to be fierce as there are so many exceptional products on the ballot again this year. Best of luck to all our friends and colleagues!

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Jam packed

Weekend away with Pramas. Too tired for complete sentences.

Orcas Island (look ma, nature!)
Mount Constitution (hiking, paddle boats)
Deer Harbor Inn (with actual deer, and a hot tub!)
Best Montechristo Sandwich EVAH (Srsly!)

Back in Seattle, not quite dinner:
Verve Wine Bar

Chez Pominger for a nosh, then off to:
Voila (review = AWESOME! Go there ASAP!)

Photos and some sort of recap later. Sleep now.

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Omen

Yesterday while I was running errands I stopped by Lowes for a few items to replenish the con kit (plastic line, velcro, zip ties) and while I was there I picked up some hummingbird nectar, which I haven't had in the house since last summer.

This morning as I was measuring out water to mix the nectar, I looked up to see a hummingbird hovering just outside the window, looking at me.

It's like he knew.

 
 

Overheard at the post office

Today was a huge day for running errands. I was out running errands for almost 11 hours!

One of my errands brought me to the post office. As I was toting one of the bins of mail into the building, a shiny maroonish 1975 Mustang II coupe pulled past me and parked. The two elderly ladies ended up in the very long, slow-moving line behind me.

"The only good time to come here is about a minute after they open in the morning," a voice began. "There could be fifty people in line and they'd only have one person at the counter while we all waited."

"There are four of them out here now," pointed out her more mild-mannered companion.

"Yeah, well. There sure have been times when I've wanted to launch myself over the counter but that's a federal offense. Don't even think about doing that."

"Don't even joke!" advised the companion.

I knew this was going to be entertaining and was eavesdropping enthusiastically now...

"Once I went to a gynecologist who had televisions in every room," went on Voice One, making an abrupt subject change. "There I was on the table and he's looking at the TV! I told him, 'I'm gonna bust the screen out of that thing if you don't pay attention to what you're doing with that swab!"

"Oh!"
said the companion. Then, changing the subject, "Are we in a black neighborhood? All the pictures on the walls are of black people."

"Yeah,"
confirmed Voice One. "When I went to Franklin High School, Columbia City was THE place to hang out. Then I went to California and the population had... you know... shifted."

She continued, "I hitchhiked to California when I was 18. Had a clean pair of underwear, a couple pairs of socks, a couple of sweatshirts and jeans. Went for the weekend and stayed 24 years. I hated it."

"I can see that," said her friend sarcastically.

At this point it was my turn and I turned to the lady to offer to let her go ahead of me, since I'd noticed she had a single envelope and I had two bins of packages to process. "No, thank you, doll. You go ahead, I've got this thing I have to do," she said. She continued talking to her friend about her hitchhiking days, the fellow who picked her up and how he asked her to drive the car while he slept in the back, and more. I couldn't eavesdrop effectively at this point because I had to conduct my business at the post office window.

A little while later, while my clerk was busy processing my packages, Voice One got to the counter beside me. She was getting a money order to send to Guadalajara that she wanted to get there "as fast as possible" but she didn't want to pay the $22 international priority rate if she could avoid it but she was torn about it taking too long to get there. "I'm sending this money to {someone}," she said. "On vacation in Mexico and her partner was murdered."

Best overheard conversation I've eavesdropped on in AGES! What a pistol!

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Heat

I did a pretty good job of keeping the house cool yesterday during the first day of our predicted heat advisory (temps are 20-25 degrees above normal). I opened all the windows early in the morning, turned on all the house fans, got a nice breeze coming through, then lowered the shades in the afternoon to keep the sun out. It was downright pleasant in the house until about 5:30 when I left to meet Pramas at a nice, air-conditioned movie. It helped a great deal that there was a breeze most of the day to keep the air circulating.

Today, not so much. It was hot already when we went out for our morning walk and even though I had the windows opened again today, there's no breeze to speak of and the air feels stagnant and hot. I'm having a hard time concentrating on work as I keep wanting to get up and get myself a cool drink or a frozen snack or just stick my head in the freezer for a minute. I thought ahead and made a batch of Marinated Cauliflower Salad and Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken in anticipation of this weather before it actually got hot, so I have plenty of deliciously cool entrees to get me through. It would be a good afternoon for some margaritas if it wasn't a work day. So far the bunnies seem to be handling the heat okay but I'm keeping an eye on them because rabbits are all delicate when it comes to hot weather and getting overheated can flat out kill them.

To take the edge off last night Pramas and I went to see I Love Trouble, which he's already posted about. Yay for air-conditioned comfort. I could go for another round of air conditioning tonight but I'll have to check the budget before we get too crazy. We're already going to Orcas Island this weekend and I don't want to blow all my fun money before we even get there!

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Green Ronin Receives 14 ENnie Nominations

[Reposted from the Green Ronin website]

The nominees for the GenCon EN World RPG Awards (the "ENnies") have been announced for 2007. Between Green Ronin's own products and those we designed and developed for Black Industries' Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG, we have received 14 nominations and 3 Honorable Mentions. The nominations are:

Best Cover Art: Ultimate Power (HM)
Best Interior Art: Ultimate Power, Children of the Horned Rat
Best Production Values: Ultimate Power
Best Writing: Children of the Horned Rat
Best Rules: Ultimate Power, WFRP Companion (HM)
Best Supplement: Ultimate Power, WFRP Companion, Tome of Corruption (HM)
Best Adventure: Time of Vengeance, Lure of the Liche Lord
Best Aid/Accessory: Deck of Many Things
Best d20/OGL Product: Ultimate Power
Product of the Year: Ultimate Power, Children of the Horned Rat
Fans' Choice for Best Publisher

We were also delighted that our friends at Firefly Games received nominations for Best Cover Art, Best Rules, and Best Game for Faery's Tale. This is great news, as Green Ronin will be publishing Faery's Tale Deluxe later this summer!

We would like to thank all the authors, developers, editors, illustrators, art directors, and graphic designers who worked so hard to make these great products. Voting on the awards begins next week and this is open to the public. The awards will be handed out at GenCon next month in Indianapolis. Thanks to the judges and congrats to all the nominees!

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Sunny Saturday

Pramas had agreed earlier in the spring to help me put in a paving stone patio in the back yard. Since we finally seem to be having actual summer weather and have had several days without rain, the time to get to work seems to be upon us. We trotted off to price out materials and found, to my dismay, that we're probably going to have to spend twice what I'd originally thought to get what I want. My plans for the back weren't extravagant (less than 100 square feet of patio) but the materials were way more expensive than I thought. I correctly estimated the paving stones themselves but the underlying paver base and sand are outrageously expensive! Will have to rethink.

Finding ourselves halfway to downtown and hungry on a beautiful sunny day, we decided to be spontaneous and hopped the bus down to the International District for "lunch" (at 3:00pm!) at the Vindigo-approved Shanghai Garden. Kitty corner from Uwajimaya, Shanghai Garden seemed like a standard Chinese restaurant. Polite but disinterested waitresses attended sparse tables, all seated with white tourists. My preference with Chinese restaurants is to keep away from the touristy areas or anywhere that seems like my step-mom ("I want your Sesame Chicken, super super mild, as mild as you can make it.") would frequent. When choosing an ethnic restaurant, I'm greatly comforted to see people of that ethnicity actually eating in the place, which was not true of Shanghai Garden. We soldiered on and the menu was an exciting revelation, full of dishes I'd never seen or tried before. We ordered some excellent green barley dumplings which were freshly made for us (and took over 15 minutes to prepare, we were warned), some sublime pea vines with black mushrooms (raising my hopes estimation of the place quite high) and some utterly bland and horribly disappointing "hand shaved noodles" which were supposedly the specialty. Perhaps because we ordered the house special, the first item at the top of the long list of shaved noodle options, we fell into the "tourist option" trap and they purposely made the dish bland and tasteless... I don't know. The noodles were nothing special (Judy Fu's handmade noodles are indescribably better) and the complete lack of any taste whatsoever was truly amazing in its blandness. The single shrimp I enjoyed was perfectly cooked and tender but there was only one. I'd go back to Shanghai Garden because the other two dishes were really good and the menu is full of interesting options unlike anything I've ever seen before (crispy shrimp in mango sauce? ok!) but I will stay far, far away from the hand shaved house special noodles in the future.

After lunch, stuffed to the gills with dumplings and pea vines, we decided to walk it off and strolled in the sunshine toward Pioneer Square. Completely by accident we stumbled into a festival, the The Pioneer Square Fire Festival" to be precise. Antique restored fire trucks were on display. Firemen in full gear were competing in The Firefighter Challenge" where they sprinted around carrying hoses, ran up five flights of stairs, hoisted things, chopped things, dragged things, and eventually "saved" a 175-pound dummy. There was a mini course set up with inflatable challenges and smaller dummies for children in miniature gear to compete in a similar course. Live bands were playing at a nearby stage and we saw the Seattle Firefighters Pipes and Drums playing to gather people in front of an area where a "jaws of life" demonstration then took place and a dummy "victim" was cut out of a car while an announcer tried to explain all the different things the team was doing over the drone and crash of massive power tools and screeching metal. For some undetermined reason, a couple of teams of sled dogs were on hand and we missed some events (saw the remnants of a hot dog eating contest). It's not the sort of thing I'd make a special trip down town to see unless I was a huge fan of firefighters and their gear but it was fairly cool to stumble upon. I wish I'd had my camera!

On our way to catch the bus back home we stumbled upon a garden park that I'd never noticed before! I spied a plaque on a gated area calling it "Waterfall Garden Park" and Pramas and I detoured through. What a lovely space! It's described at the Pioneer Square website thusly: Located at Main and Second, this secluded, lovely park offers an oasis for sightseers, shoppers, and Pioneer Square locals with a majestic waterfall and surrounding seating. A popular lunchtime spot, Waterfall Garden is also wired with power outlets for those wanting to plug in outside. Privately built and maintained by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Waterfall Garden marks the birthplace of the United Parcel Service. Hooray for the Annie E. Casey Foundation! It was the perfect spot to tuck away out of the sun and Fire Festival crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon. After a few minutes there, Pramas asked, "What is it about waterfalls that's so inherently soothing?" I don't know but I love having a waterfall I can bus to any given afternoon!

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Hooray night out!

Ah, going out to see Die Hard and the new Heavenly Spies was just what the doctor ordered. I'm more relaxed than I've been in months! While Kate is a wonderful girl and I do enjoy the time I spend with her, having her dad not take her for even one weekend since March had begun to weigh on me. Having a couple of consecutive days where my parental responsibilities were lifted has been very good.

Life Free or Die Hard: loved it! Justin Long makes a good smartass side kick (having seen him in nothing but Mac vs. PC commercials since Galaxy Quest, I wasn't sure going in). When you see in the trailer that John McClane takes out a helicopter with a car, you know going in it's going to be over the top and they're going to overcome ever escalating danger in the most spectacular and silly ways. Fine with me! I was practically cheering in my seat. There was one part that broke the military mind of Pramas and kept him from enjoying it (where people in the audience were laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of the scene) but I was laughing along and enjoying the complete implausibility and it was fine, fine by me. Timothy Olyphant needed his Bullock mustache to look more menacing or something. As a villain, Thomas Gabriel was no Hans Gruber, but who is? I caught and enjoyed the homages to the original movie and Chris and I were the only ones in the theater who howled with laughter and recognition when Keven Smith hit the screen. Jefferson had seen the movie when we ran into him at the Buffy Musical and he said they'd dialed it down for the kids and complained about the lack of blood but I didn't notice or mind any such thing. Die hard has never been about the arterial spray: guys blow up, break their necks falling down the stairs, get strangled in chains and when they do get shot, they fall down and die without lingering camera sweeps of their blood-drenched corpses. All fine with me!

After Die Hard I skipped happily down the street to the Can Can where we had dinner and drinks and watched the new Heavenly Spies show. It was the first night and we found ourselves seated next to Secret Agent Rhinestone's parents and godfather. The show "Camp Heavenly Spies" was pretty good, I enjoyed a lot of the new routines and came to appreciate Agent James Blonde, who I hadn't warmed to previously (I was an Agent Cha Cha Cha fan) but who is very good. In fact, Rhinestone and Blonde won Best Exotic Duo at the 2007 Exotic World competition in Vegas in June. Congratulations, girls!

The Can Can has recently instituted minimums in addition to the cover, which wasn't a problem last night (as we intended to eat there anyway) but could put a bit of a damper on attendance for people who want to see a show and have a drink or two. Even that wouldn't be so bad but the waits for food, drink and bill were often just too damn long. We ordered three items (grilled pear appetizer, a flatbread, and french fries) and waited interminably for them to show up. We were seated at 9:15 or so and the first food was not on the table until after 10:05 and then the plates dribbled out piecemeal and we were incorrectly served bruchetta instead of the flatbread we ordered. Drinks (especially water refills) were very, very slow as well. But the thing that made the service especially bad in our case was the terrible wait for the bill. We were done and ready to leave before midnight. I wanted to catch the 12:15 bus home because it was a 40-45 minute wait for the next bus if we missed that one. We waited, and waited, for them to bring the bill back. It took 20 minutes after Chris gave them his card! Needless to say, we missed the bus and had to stand out on the street for another 40 minutes. I didn't leave with a very favorable impression of our waitress.

On the other hand, Can Can Chris recognized us and came over to say hello and how glad he was to see us. He noted that we hadn't been in for a while and I told him that we'd tried to drop in a few times but had been turned away at the door, so I assumed business was good and all. He admitted that he had mixed feelings about the situation because he didn't want to be turning away people who used to come regularly in the early days. He also told us about another show he's helping produce that will be over at the Triple Door and about their Tuesday night entertainment, "Juan-y Cash," their 15-year-old Hispanic Johnny Cash prodigy. This I've got to see!

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Foul Mood

Folks may have noticed I'm not exactly Miss Chattypants right now. I'll be making up for that right now.

I'm alternating between this impenetrable ennui and an honest to god "Bring the Revolution, I'm ready to tear shit up!" anger like a wolverine with a rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. I'm not just "blog about it" mad, I'm bring-the-house-down mad. I'm furious that a man who, as governor of Texas, allowed 152 people to be put to death without intervening and who wrote in his autobiography that it was not his job to "replace the verdict of a jury" has the unmitigated gall to commute Libby's entire sentence because "The verdict was wrong, harsh and vindictive."

I've spent the last several days writing in places where I hope it will do more good. Letters to the editor, letters to my congressional representatives. I wrote to the members of the House Judiciary Committee over the holiday, begging them to take seriously calls to impeach these scoundrels.

I've seen many people complaining of "outrage fatigue" and I feel it too. I keep struggling against it because that's what they want, these people who think they're too good for the laws that govern the rest of us... they want us to feel fatigued, to give up fighting against their dirty tricks and end-runs around the Constitution. Throwing my hands up and giving in because I'm tired gives them what they want. I can't bear it.

It's a harsh coincidence for me that this most recent display of asshole behavior from the President falls across both Independence Day and the Origins convention. You might ask what the hell the Origins convention has to do with malfeasance in the White House, and I would freely admit it's probably only meaningful to me and perhaps a handful of other people who were part of the so-called "mostly bloodless coup" of GAMA three years ago. The unfortunate timing of having Origins going on right now has served to stir up all those feelings from that horrible year, the vicious personal attacks launched by the so-called "Fair, Firm, and Friendly" faction, the way they campaigned on a platform of outrage and howls for "transparency" and then before they'd even been in power a week showed their true colors by making staff changes in secret and without even courtesy consultations with long-serving volunteers, admissions that new board members were secretly accessing the private communications of the prior GAMA board members. After storming in, preventing the platform of necessary changes, and perverting the process to their own ends, they have all left to go on their merry ways... selling real estate, "consulting" in non-gaming business ventures, retiring from the game industry in various states of disgrace after being used by their faction cohorts. Just like George Bush, just like Cheney, they have their post-election lives all planned out and leave behind a trail of honest, hard-working, decent people who got in their way. Finally, after their little power play had played out, after they slandered and threatened and harassed the people deemed to be "against them" the real work of cleaning up the things that needed to be cleaned up three years ago has fallen back on the shoulders of the few remaining people who still care enough to serve. Finally, after they grew bored enough to stop screwing up the works, GAMA has implemented the by laws changes that the organization so desperately needed.

GAMA's bitter political history is like the national fight in miniature. The people who so viciously ripped down the board of four years ago gave up when they found out that it really was just a bunch of hard work and not some sort of gravy train where we were all enjoying perks and kickbacks. The White House behaves in the same shameful manner and I see the people of the country growing weary of the fight, confused about what the fight is even about. Unfortunately, the people lined up to support Bush/Cheney (unlike those who supported Dancey/Stever) find the arrangement very, very profitable. There are plenty of perks, plenty of kickbacks, plenty of no-bid contracts and "friendly" legislation that make it worth their while to keep running this country into the ground... as long as it puts money in their pockets, as long as they know they've got a Get Out of Jail Free card, they're not going to get bored and go off to run a strip club in Vegas instead. That's why I'm worked up and why I can't give in to the outrage fatigue.

I can, however, take a breather from the outrage which is exactly what I intend to do tonight. First, a little Live Free or Die Hard to blow some shit up real good and make the bad guys PAY. Then off to the Can Can for some Heavenly Spies and as many Bella Rouges as I can down before closing time.

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Independence Day

I wrote this up yesterday in between sessions of faxing Congress. I couldn't get it to post before heading out for the day, so you're all treated to my Independence Day thoughts a day later.

The preamble to the Bill of Rights begins:

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

First Amendment
: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment
: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment
: No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment: In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment
: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Today as we celebrate our public holiday, our national day of pride and independence, I look at the Bil of Rights. Are we truly living in the spirit of this document?

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Impeach

Seen at the journal of the Cherry Blossom King and copied whole here because I so thoroughly agree.

"In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to 'pardon crimes which were advised by himself' or, before indictment or conviction, 'to stop inquiry and prevent detection.' James Madison responded:

"[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty..."

Source.

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Vampire Moon

Friday night Chris and I headed out to the Egyptian for a midnight showing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode (Once More with Feeling) on the big screen. That is, of course, one of my very favorite episodes and I proposed to make it a group outing but in the the likely candidates for coming out with us either had conflicts or weren't able to get tickets. The line to get in when we finally showed up was around the block and longer than any SIFF line I'd ever seen at the Egyptian.

This Buffy musical event was put on by a group that's been traveling around to do the show. It's been in New York, LA, Chicago and elsewhere since starting up in Boston in 2004. If I was a bigger geek or obsessive fan of the show (I'm merely a person who liked it, not an episode quoting uberfan) I probably would have visited the group's MySpace page and known that they were handing out goodie bags, having trivia and fan-created videos, and a bunch of other stuff before the actual show. I appreciate their enthusiasm but after being told that "this is the awesomest, this is going to be the best night of your life" about six or seven different choreographed parts of the show, I was really, really ready for it to just start. Apparently I wasn't the only one as people started chanting "START THE SHOW! START THE SHOW!!" to the organizers' surprise and irritation. I enjoyed myself much more once they just started to roll the episode. Chris and I had a pact to duck out before the credits rolled so I don't know how they ended it or if the organizers came back out to reinforce how "awesome" it was once again. The episode itself would have been enough for me, though it was fun to be out with a bunch of other enthusiastic fans (and the various girls in bunny ears were pretty cute).

On the way home Chris and I both noticed that the full moon was HUGE in the sky. Gorgeous moon shot over the Amazon building, which I always love to see. I often carry my camera with me but didn't have it that night. Found out today that it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as the huge moon is an illusion! Space.com had an article all about how the nfull moon this weekend was at its lowest point in the sky for 2007 and that makes our puny human brains perceive it as being larger than usual. Neat!

Yesterday Kate and I had a frenzy of shopping, eating, movie watching, jewelry making, and mingling. Very busy day. It's our last weekend before she goes to her dad's for the summer and I'll only have two weekends with her the rest of summer break (except for the week that we're taking to go to Minnesota at the end of August) and the weather was finally summer-like so we took full advantage. Ended out he night hanging with Ray and Christine for a little barbecue action, ate some glorious Yukon River Salmon and grilled lamb and some outstanding strawberries and cream. Starting to feel like summer is actually here.

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