Discolor Online

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


Preparing for silence

Had a lovely, somewhat impromptu weekend away with Pramas last weekend. He picked the restaurants and we had a great time while Kate visited her dad. He's already blogged about the food and our brush with Mark Dacascos (aka Chairman on Iron Chef America). I have photos but haven't had time to get them up. I'm taking a trip next week and I have a gruesome list of things that need to be taken care of before then. When I get back I turn around again two days later and head to New York for Kate's class trip. Yow.

Last night we went to see Girls Rock! and Kate is now absolutely dying to go to one of these camps and learn to play the drums with other girls. No chance of going to the camp in Portland this year but there's supposedly a Seattle camp forming, though I can't find any information about it. The movie was great and I highly recommend it, especially if you have daughters but even if you don't. Funny, poignant, engaging, inspirational.

I expect that I won't have much time to blog for the next couple of weeks, what with the travel and so on. I don't know if I will be computer-enabled next week, but I doubt it. Possibly more likely to be on the web in New York but only marginally.

And with that, I'm back to work. Game night tonight and I'm cooking to boot.



Quoted for Truth



My friend's little nephew succumbed to leukemia earlier this year after quite a fight. More than once she broke the news to us that it didn't look good for little Heiko and we set about to praying or meditating or wishing well across the miles in the hope that things would turn out differently. We followed along when there was anything to report and cheered when Heiko went through two miraculous, if short-lived, recoveries. Las Friday Heiko's father's tribute to his son appeared in The Globe and Mail. I'm reposting it here because it's such a vivid and loving testament to their son.

Son, brother, nephew, grandson, dragon-slayer, preschooler, beloved little friend. Born April 26, 2003, in Toronto. Died Jan. 3 in Toronto of acute myeloid leukemia, aged 4.


March 14, 2008

We almost lost Heiko last May. Over the course of one weekend he went from being an ordinary four-year-old to a leukemia patient on life support.

Again in July we were told he might only have hours to live, ravaged by a brain infection brought on by chemotherapy. All we wanted was to see him conscious and aware of us.

Our prayers were answered; we were lavished with almost four more good months. Heiko regained most of his strength and spirit. We went for fall walks and bike rides, played at the wooden castle in High Park, and when snow came went tobogganing and skating. He learned to switch from his left hand to his right because of brain damage, and soon resumed his magical drawings and kindergarten letters.

He was a real boy, with a boyish love of pirates, spaceships, knights in shining armour and dragons. Yet he had a gentleness more characteristic of a younger child. For Halloween, friends donated Batman and Spider-Man costumes, but he insisted on being a bunny. "I don't want to be scary," he said.

Heiko loved details. When I read him stories written for older children and paraphrased the more complicated parts, he gently corrected me and filled in the missing words from memory.

He loved fairness. When someone won a bingo game, he would not allow us to stop playing until everyone had won and all the spaces were filled in.

When his strength returned, so did his pranks. Putting on his pyjamas always meant chases around the house confronting imaginary barriers for which we had to learn secret passwords. He loved hide-and-seek. Sometimes my car keys would turn up in his pockets. Or he might pull off my slippers and I would find them days later in a random drawer.

The only time sadness welled up for him was when he saw old friends. It pained him to see them run and play so effortlessly while he had to relearn how to hold a crayon, climb stairs and walk.

If Heiko struggled with his illness he never talked about it. Instead, we sometimes got the feeling he was more concerned about us; he would cover up his sores, tell jokes if we looked at him with concern, and as a last resort try to tickle us out of our seriousness.

There may have been moments of prescience. Once he told us, "You will have to get another Heiko." He knew we would miss him grievously and felt sad for us.

We will never have another Heiko. So soon after celebrating Christmas, a time of hope and new birth, we and his older brother Langton turned to grieving the death of our child, our star of wonder.

Even as a distant bystander to the family's ordeal, I was very sad to hear of Heiko's death. I've been reflecting on how very fortunate I have been: my family is intact, we have our health, we are reasonably secure, we live in a beautiful city, in a safe and healthy home, with food and clothes and belongings that would not be considered extravagant in American terms but are a wealth of riches and luxury when contrasted with much of the world. Yeah, I have my share of problems and stresses but I can only hope I'm fortunate enough to keep my own troubles and continue the relatively smooth sailing I've enjoyed up to now. I am afraid to face the depth of grief something like the death of a child or a spouse.

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How do you figure that exactly?

The role Green Ronin Publishing will play in the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons landscape is still to be determined. It is the middle of March and it has been almost ten weeks since we and others were invited to participate in a conference call with Wizards of the Coast about the future of third party publishing and their plans for the new edition. The license under which third party publishers would be allowed to publish has not yet been made available and we have seen no more of the rules than have been released as previews or shown off in demos.

Green Ronin was an early and enthusiastic adopter of the original Open Game License and we were proud to have released support products for 3rd Edition D&D to such critical acclaim over the years. We certainly see our role in the 3E marketplace as that of a strategic partner to Wizards of the Coast. We are one of very few companies that can say Wizards thought highly enough of our designs to use our Open Game Content in their own books. As the environment in the market changed (more publishers entering the same territory, fewer options for books that hadn't been done already) we used the Open Game License to spin games out in different directions (emulation of romantic fantasy in Blue Rose, superheroes in Mutants & Masterminds) but not because we suddenly hated d20 or had it out for Wizards of the Coast or anything like that.

Recently Pramas got a look at 4th Edition in play and wrote up his impressions of the experience. This sparked quite a lot of discussion, both on his blog and on other boards where the story was picked up. One of the memes that sprang up around those discussions is this idea that Chris was being overly or unjustly negative in his comments (along with the gross oversimplification of his comments as "saying 4E is a CCG") and this was "obviously" because Green Ronin is a "competitor" and all commentary must be tainted by the fact that we have "a competing product", which is usually portrayed by the commenting party as an entry level game trying for WotC's market-share or as the game that was designed to be what we thought 3E should have been.

Frankly, I'm a little put out that people are so willing to jump on the idea that Green Ronin is a WotC competitor. We created products to fill niches we perceived in the marketplace, and yes, we've developed a couple of OGL-based systems that stand on their own and are doing pretty well. After 8 years of publishing, after releasing umpteen hundreds of titles that directly supported D&D, after following WotC through revisions and updates, and after signing up to be among the early adopters of 4E just as soon as Wizards actually gets us those documents they were promising 10 weeks ago, I think our credentials as third-party publishing partner are pretty well established. Considering the state of the roll out of the GSL and the 4E Design Kits, I think our abundance of caution is certainly justified. I don't consider our place as competition to WotC in any meaningful way and I certainly don't see us as adversarial. I really want to stomp on this idea before it grows out of hand.

I'm on my way out of town for the weekend and I really wanted to get this off my chest before going. Have a good weekend everyone!



Good news and bad news

Good news: I wasn't 15 minutes late for my appointment after all!

Bad news: I was 23 hours and 45 minutes early.

It's going to be that kind of day.

In that vein, I default to the Pooh Personality Test for content.

Your Score: Piglet

You scored 13 Ego, 17 Anxiety, and 10 Agency!

"It's a little Anxious," he said to himself, "to be a
Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water. Christopher
Robin and Pooh could escape by Climbing Trees, and Kanga could
escape by Jumping, and Rabbit could escape by Burrowing, and
Owl could escape by Flying, and Eeyore could escape by -- by
Making a Loud Noise Until Rescued, and here am I, surrounded by
water and I can't do anything."

You scored as Piglet!

ABOUT PIGLET: Piglet is a Very Small Animal, who used to live in his own house, a nice big tree. However, after Owl's house was blown over by a storm, he "found" Piglet's house, and Piglet didn't want to tell him that the home was already lived in. So he went to live with Pooh.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a rather nervous person, and you tend to worry about The Worst happening. You don't really feel capable of dealing with the things that life could throw at you, and so you tend to fret about it. You are one of those people who seems to think that worrying actually accomplishes something... and your friends can't help but love you for it. Your humble manner and self-deprecating ways make your friends feel good about themselves. They want to help and protect you.

Your loving friends are always trying to encourage you to be more independent, and they are right. You need to develop a bit of self confidence and stand on your own two feet.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)



Food is Fuel

Doctors appointment at the crack of dawn tomorrow but today was all about the fennel broth.

Met with the nutritionist today. It's energizing to be told I'm doing the right things. She seems to find me amusing, she laughs a lot. "Oh Nicole!" she gasps, and writes things down. She asks about my recent cooking forays and I try to give her an idea of the sorts of things I've been successful with. I tell her about Super Natural Cooking, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and A New Way to Cook. I tell her about soba noodles, tofu and vegetables... about homemade fennel broth, curry noodles, braised cabbage and smoked ham. "I've written a cookbook but nothing like this," she says, jotting, jotting. We laugh and joke for half the appointment. This talk invigorates me. I'm doing the right things, approved by a professional. She is looking forward to my restaurant recommendations from Vegas after GTS.

This afternoon Christine needed a ride home after an appointment at the PolyClinic. I caught a distinct vibe that she might also need some fennel broth so I whipped some up and brought it with me, then ran off to get Pramas and groceries and returned with provisions enough to make Coriander-Crusted Scallops in Fennel Broth. I improvised a bit with the recipe (the original calls for saffron noodles but I substituted a bed of sauteed spinach and roasted root vegetables) and bought but forgot to add the creme fraiche and chopped herbs but it was delicious anyway and we ate like royalty.

The recipe, as it appears in A New Way to Cook:

Coriander-Crusted Scallops in Fennel Broth

4 ounces saffron noodles (or tagliatelle or linguine)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups fennel broth
1/3 cup coriander seeds
1 1/4 lb. sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp creme fraiche
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs

If using noodles, boil in salted water until al dente, drain and run under cool water. Toss lightly with 1/2 tsp. oil to keep them from sticking together (this is where I wilted some spinach and roasted cubed parsnips, fresh fennel, carrots, sweet potatoes and a couple of mushrooms for good measure).

In a small saucepan bring the fennel broth to a boil and reduce to about a cup and a half to concentrate the flavor. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

In a small skillet, toast the coriander seeds over low heat until fragrant. Grind into a medium-fine powder with a grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle.

Sprinkle the scallops lightly on all sides with mixture of salt, cayenne, and sugar. Thoroughly coat the scallops in the coriander. Shake off excess.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 2 tsp of the oil to coat pan and heat for 30 seconds. Add scallops in a single layer without crowding in the pan (cook in two batches if necessary). Cook for about 2 minutes per side.

Stir the creme fraiche into the broth.

At this point I layered the veggies into shallow bowls, arranged the scallops on top, and topped the whole thing with the hot broth. I should have garnished with herbs, but I forgot both the herbs and the creme. It was just dandy anyway.

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Guilty as Charged

I've been amusing myself recently by reading the blog "Stuff White People Like".

Today's entry was especially apropos. Guilty as charged.... well, except maybe for the screaming.

I'll also cop to being at least somewhat guilty of entries #1, #11, #23, #24, #35, #38, #42, #44, #48, #54, #64, and #75.

Some entries are better than others and if you go check it out, skip the comments altogether as the humorless and the racist (and the humorless racists especially) often pop up to post rants against Jews or immigrants or the blogger for making fun of a group they see themselves in. Worthless. Stick to the entries.

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I wanted to thank everyone for their sympathy on the whole friend moving away issue. I really do appreciate it. I just needed to cry a little for myself so I could move forward being supportive and positive for my friend and his opportunities. Everything about this move has the possibility to be good for him, personally and professionally. I'm fully supportive of him taking this and running with it, he deserves it. He's even considering starting a blog so we can all keep up with him, which would be great. I've been able to remain closest to distant friends who are enthusiastic internet users.

Meanwhile it was game night last night, so I made up some Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf and Guinness Chocolate Cake in his honor and we drank some Bowmore 17-year and had one last game night hurrah. We even squeezed in a couple of games of Tsuro right at the end so we could say we actually played games on game night.

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No, this isn't a post about Gary Gygax.

Sorry to be so selfish but this one is all about me.

I have very few close friends who have known me for any length of time in my life. I spent my childhood moving around, city to city, school to school. Even in my adult life, I spent a few years in Georgia, a couple years back in Minnesota, a few years in Vancouver and so forth. Seattle's been the place I've sunk my roots for the longest ever and that's a mere 10 years.

This is not to say that I haven't had friends in all the places I've lived, just that when I moved away from wherever it was I inevitably lost touch with people. My best friend in Georgia got divorced and moved away to start over, which included losing touch with me. The guy who was my best friend in Minnesota fell in love, moved away, and we lost touch. In Vancouver, Nigel Findley was the guy who held our group together and when he died and I moved away I lost touch with many of those guys. Life happens.

Life is happening again. In the last several years, many of my game industry friends have ended up moving away. One of the guys who stood up as a witness for my wedding fell in love, moved away, and I think we received a Christmas card once... others have gotten jobs and moved to distant lands (England, Canada, far southern California). I was gutted when Foxbat left us for a job. Codrus is taking some interviews soon and it's all too likely that he'll be leaving us as well.

Today I heard some really devastating news, though. News I predicted a few weeks ago and then Pramas convinced me that I was being overly pessimistic so I decided to be all cool about it. But no. My gut doesn't steer me wrong on these things. I was accursedly correct and our number will be diminished yet again. I have three or four people I refer to when talking about "my oldest, dearest friends" and I'm losing another one. Even having predicted it, I definitely, selfishly, did not want this to happen. I am torn up over this one, wrenched, heartsick. I will be the good friend, I will support my dear friend in his endeavors, but I am very, very unhappy and feeling very sorry for myself right now.

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A sliver of my day

Today was like driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Or rather, I was headed in the right direction but inexplicably everyone around me was going the wrong way. The world outside my house is in retrograde!

I tried to go to the post office this afternoon. For some reason it was a complete zoo. Bumper to bumper cars in both directions trying to turn into the parking lot, people going the wrong way into parking spots, utter craziness. Upon seeing the state of the parking lot and the line snaking through the building and past the door, I gave up and decided to try again tomorrow and it still took me ten minutes to exit the lot and get back out onto the street (and that's after deciding to turn in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go because it would be faster). Replay of a similar scenario at UPS, the bank, and the grocery store!

My favorite Bizarro-World moment of the day, though, had to be the one where I was trying to figure out if a medical supply company was covered by our insurance. I went to the insurance website. No love. Having had this same problem finding my primary care physician (who is a "Preferred Provider" and is in their system) I called customer service who gave me a couple "tricks" for finding info on the website (most of which I was doing already) and they couldn't find anything either. Bummed, because this place would be very convenient, I did see that Swedish Medical Center as a whole was listed, along with a DBA name for a medical equipment provider, though not the one I was looking for. Deciding this was an okay second choice, I called the number... and heard "Hello, [Company Name You Were Looking For All Along]" which was a pleasant, if somewhat baffling surprise. I let the woman know they aren't actually listed by that name or the DBA name, but as "Swedish Medical Center" which had caused some confusion. She laughed, "Oh, I know, we should be listed as..." and rattled off a third name. I suspect this will not be the end of the road for this case of insurance confusion and Bizarro-land but for now I'm willing to go with it.

And, where I thought I might make it through the week with no doctor's appointments, it looks like I was wrong. Appointments on Wednesday and Friday this week after all. Then Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week. Third week of March looks clear for the moment, though... at least for now. Hopefully the world outside of my house will be through retrograde by then!

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Juanny Cash is blowin' up!

Saw this over someone's shoulder in the paper this weekend but didn't manage to snag a copy for myself. Can Can Chris is doing a great job getting Vince Mira all sorts of exposure. The Seattle PI calls him "The Reincarnation of Johnny Cash" in their article, which I was happy to find on the website.

He's playing a show at the Triple Door on Tuesday.



Food Blogging

I'm desperately behind on updating my recipe pages because I'm also desperately behind on a bunch of stuff that is way more important. Still, I'm continuing to try new things. Earlier this week I made seared sea scallops with a side of the tabbouleh we made at Ray's and some broiled fennel with Parmesan and lime which was simple and really, really good. Last night it was shrimp and papaya salad over spinach (from Pacific Flavors) and tonight it was leftover salad plus a curry udon pot (from Super Natural Cooking). The udon pot was really quick to make and pretty delicious, though Kate objected because it contained flavor. She prefers her udon in an artificial chicken flavored salty broth. Will be eating that for lunch this week. Yum!

One of these days I'll get the recipes (and my various modifications) posted. Right now I'm struggling with some new medications that are knocking me for a loop, cutting into my already tight schedule. I absolutely had to take a nap this afternoon because I was so devastatingly tired, a side effect from the new medication that I started yesterday. On the good side, I got some much-needed sleep. On the bad side, I awoke feeling groggy and I lost two hours in the middle of the day where I'd hoped to be productive.

Kate's class play is over at least. Now it's just the distraction of getting her class trip to New York sorted out. The teacher swears he'll get me their itinerary tomorrow. As we leave in less than 30 days, I'm increasingly anxious about not having the details in place. I finally just had to make my own plane reservations because I couldn't stand not having that part sorted out less than 5 weeks from the travel day. Luckily I got a really good rate for us so it won't be any more expensive than flying with the group (and probably less).

Fingers crossed that I can make some progress on things this week without too many distractions, crises, doctor appointments or general wackiness.

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Tonight is CPAP night

Pramas goes in for his CPAP titration tonight. We attended an acclimation appointment earlier this week and he did great. With apologies to Codrus and others who haven't been able to comfortably use their CPAP machines, Chris seemed to ease into it pretty well to my untrained eye. He looked completely relaxed, kind of meditative and serene. I'm very hopeful that tonight's study will go as well.

I'm still waking up in the middle of the night. Pretty much like clockwork, if I'm going to have a bad night and wake up it's going to happen around the 4 hour mark. Last night I was extremely tired as I'd stayed out way too late with Ray again and didn't get to bed until after 3:00am. I was ready for bed and fell asleep when I hit the pillow. I'd been really hoping that my additional fatigue would help me stay asleep through the night (and despite my fatigue I even remembered to take my medications!) but no. Four hours passed and I was awake. Again.

Normally Chris's snoring doesn't bother me. I like to say it's one of the ways we knew we were meant for each other (one of the many ways). It occurred to me that once he gets his prescription for pressure and we pick up his CPAP machine, those days of being soothed to sleep by his snoring will be over. Sometimes when he gets into his worst positions, though, his snoring takes on a different tone and his apnea episodes are dramatically more pronounced. He was in one of those positions last night and I must admit that I won't miss those at all. After laying there listening to him for a while I had a flash of inspiration. I crept out of bed and sneaked back with our digital recorder. I thought he might be interested/amused/horrified to hear himself, especially as we're on the verge of getting him the treatment that I expect will change his life for the better (if only to reduce his chance of heart attack and stroke, but I also hope that he will have all the positive benefits of restful sleep and proper oxygenation).

Not sure what he imagined his snoring sounded like but I'm positive that it wasn't what I played for him this morning. Better sleep for him is surely on the horizon.

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