Discolor Online

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


California Travel

Pramas already posted about anything interesting that has happened at ALA so I'll direct people over there for a run down of who we've seen and what the show has been like so far.

When I booked our travel for ALA we made the commitment to attend rather late in the process so hotels around the convention center itself were all booked up. I decided to go with a hotel a little further away (but still a straight shot down Harbor Blvd) and take advantage of the free shuttle they were offering to the convention center and Disney. So, the Wyndham Anaheim it was.

We arrived at the hotel around 11am after a pretty expensive cab ride from the Long Beach airport. I'd hoped we would be able to check in and drop our stuff, get organized and then head over to the convention center but we were told there were no clean rooms. No problem, we were pretty early for their 3pm check-in time. We were told to check in with them after noon, but since we had to get over to the convention center for set-up, we decided not to hang around. This is when we discovered that the shuttle ran once every two hours to Disney. We checked our luggage, and then decided to have lunch and grab the 12:00 shuttle.

In the dining room we were seated and then sat for several minutes while three different members of the staff congregated, studiously ignoring us, moving empty chairs around and talking amongst themselves. It got to the point that I was worried we might not actually be able to have lunch before the noon shuttle left! We did eventually get some service but we waited way too long and the food was really just not very good. Chris's breakfast plate was particularly bad, with bacon that seemed like it had been salvaged from the buffet service. Blech.

After set-up and a bunch of dinking around trying to get a rental car (because the shuttle didn't start running until 10am and we had to be at the convention center before the 9am opening every day!) we returned to the hotel after 4:00 to find that our room STILL wasn't ready. Not only that, but the luggage room was standing wide open and Chris was able to just walk in and take our bags out. I'd been lugging my laptop around all day because I don't like to leave it as checked luggage with hotels and this experience certainly reinforced my tendency. Anyone could have walked off with our luggage if they'd so desired and the staff wouldn't have noticed or cared.

The room itself is fine now that we're in it, but we're avoiding the hotel restaurant and asking nothing of the staff. Dining has, in fact, been the toughest part of the trip so far. The best breakfast I've had has been a McDonald's chicken biscuit and sugar-free iced vanilla latte. Dinner at Roscoe's Deli in Fullerton was just sandwiches but they were certainly good enough. Table Ten's grocery store cheese plate (selection of cheddar cheese, some supermarket brie--served icy cold, and blue cheese drizzled with honey for some god awful reason) was cute in a "Hey we've heard about cheese plates" kind of way. This has definitely not been a high-class dining adventure kind of trip.

Still, the main purpose is to show our wares to interested librarians, and for that, the trip succeeds.



Off to ALA

Heading out to Cali. Green Ronin is kickin' it bi-coastal, as we do.

Of course, Sammy the Softest Bunny in the World picked the day before our trip to get sick and an unplanned vet visit had to be squeezed in yesterday. Poor little guy has a mass in his tummy and the sniffles. It was actually pretty scary to see him with a running nose and hear him with gurgling, congested breathing! Rabbits, being the delicate creatures that they are, don't show they're sick until they're pretty sick and then they're distressingly fragile. Got him taken care of and made the decision to send him up to Canada with Kate for the week so she can take care of him, giving medicine and watching his behavior. $155 of bunny medicine later, I hope he'll be on the mend by the time we get back. Poor Bonnie is a little freaked out, all alone in the bunny pen. They'll be reunited soon.

Meanwhile, the guys are at Origins (where we hope to win in the Origins Awards) and we're out to ALA.

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Out from under

I think I'm out from under the worst of the sinus infection and getting my workload back under control. Just in time, of course, to jump back into the thick of things as Green Ronin is exhibiting at two shows over the same weekend! Steve and Hal are taking off for Origins in the east and Chris and I are handling the American Library Association show in the west. Plus I have to get Kate to her dad's in Canada and make sure she has everything she needs to practice and be ready for Rock Band Camp in July.

Today was making sure everything is settled for travel and the shows, plus we squeezed in dinner with Daniel Perez and his wife who are in Seattle for a little vacation. Then it was rushing back across town to try and make our yoga class. We tore into the parking lot just as our yoga instructor was giving up and getting into her car to go home! She was so nice and went back in and opened the studio for us. We were the only students who showed up tonight for the new Tues-Thurs night class. I was really itching to get back to the studio after taking a couple classes off to let my sinuses recover and would have been really disappointed to miss, so I'm really, really glad she was still there when we arrived.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a chance to write about something remotely interesting to anyone. Tonight, to bed!

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Keep meaning to blog, keep failing.

I was going to blog about my negative feelings on "mystique marketing". Failed.
I was going to blog about Kate's encroaching teen-ness and middle school cliques. Failed.
I was going to blog about the recipes I've been trying or meaning to try. Also failed.
I was going to blog about my preparations for the Pramas birthday party last weekend. Nope.
I was going to blog about how the Pramas party went. Nothing.
I was going to blog about friends, family, and my upcoming 20th high school reunion. Couldn't quite manage it.

For at least the last two weeks, headaches, crushing fatigue, and what I thought was probably just a lingering summer cold have been keeping me down.

Today I finally crawled into the doctor, as even the most potent OTC drugs have stopped providing any but the most fleeting and temporary relief. This morning I was told that I actually have a nasty sinus infection, possibly acute bacterial sinusitis. I'd been wondering if my mild childhood allergy to dust and my light seasonal allergies hadn't actually been getting a bit worse as I've gotten older. If my sinus problems continue to linger, getting re-tested on the allergy front is probably in order. Meanwhile, treatments have been prescribed and drugs purchased. I hope to feel better (and more like blogging) soon.



Fame through blogging

I have to give it up once again to my friend JD Roth. He's come a long way from the poetry-loving, soccer-playing, girl-crazy kid I once knew. His personal blog inspired the creation of his personal finance blog, Get Rich Slowly, which has become wildly popular and allowed him to quit his day job and blog full-time. Tonight he was interviewed on the local Portland news (I couldn't embed it but here's a link to the video on the KGW site: http://www.kgw.com/video/business-index.html?nvid=253860&shu=1 )

More than that, his success with his personal finance blog has inspired him to tackle the other challenge in his life: weight loss. Having reduced his debt and gotten his financial house in order, he started a fitness blog with his friend Mac called Get Fit Slowly. For those of us who have known JD for years, the idea of a JD who wasn't spending money frivolously on comic books (or just books in general, or photography equipment, or whatever his hobby passion of the moment might be) took a little getting used to. The idea of a JD who has run a 10K race, biked and run a total of 226 miles this year and counting, a JD who is exercising restraint and eschewing "lunch" made up of processed snack cakes? What does this JD even look like?

Judging by the television interview, it's the JD we've known and loved all these years, looking fit and sounding confident. Blog fame sits well with him and it's fame well-deserved because believe me, readers, if JD Roth can do it, you (and I) can do it, too. Good for you, JD! Keep up the great (inspirational) work!

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Rest in Peace Erick

Erick Wujcik
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I just found out that Erick Wujcik passed away yesterday.

Last year when we were putting together Green Ronin's Hobby Games: the 100 Best, I did not hesitate to jump on the opportunity to write and essay for the book on Erick's Amber Diceless Roleplaying. Erick was one of the first game designers outside of the tight circle of people involved in the Minnesota gaming scene to really take time to dig into roleplaying games, game theory, game design, and the art of gamemastering with me. He made time for me in during GenCon as easily as during a 100 person regional con. He certainly had a large effect on me, even when I didn't agree with all of his positions. He was an undeniable force, a tinkerer, an idea man, and a wicked GM. After I moved out of the midwest and he moved more and more away from publishing we lost touch.

When I learned that Erick had agreed to write an essay on Ogre for the same book I was really pleased. I hoped this would be an opportunity to get back in touch. Erick had just returned from time abroad in China and I was positively tickled that I'd written an essay praising his work without knowing he was writing an essay praising the work of another. I hoped we might actually find an excuse to cross paths again.

Instead, in December 2007, I learned that Erick was suffering from pancreatic and liver cancers. I was so pleased to see that his time, though short, was spent as fully as possible and in the company of friends, such as at his 57th birthday party in January where around 150 people showed up.

Even knowing that it was coming, I'm rather deflated to learn of his death. My thoughts are with those he loved and who loved him.

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4th Edition D&D

Inspired by John Kovalic's post on the new D&D books and his request for us to share out thoughts, I posted the following as a comment on his blog. By the time I got to the end, I figured I might as well just make it into a post for my own blog as well. Here we go:

I haven't played yet so my opinions are just from reading and talking. I started out fairly worried because the way the rules seem in print they're exactly what I don't want to be dealing with in play. If I want to play a dwarf fighter with e big axe, I want to just wade in with my big axe. The new system seemed to put a lot of fiddly book keeping and decision making back on the table for every action...now it's not just a matter of swing and attack, it's do I want to use this power or that power, which of my companions should get the bonus buff, etc. I lamented that under 3rd edition there was a zillion ways to build your character "wrong" when you found that your ideas didn't match up to the optimal builds or that you screwed your character out of being able to advance into something because you didn't start with that in mind. They did seem to address that problem in the 4E design but my big concern has been wondering if I'd be facing the same thing on a round by round basis (Oooh, you shouldn't have used your X attack and buffed Joe, you should have used Y and activated your once per day power! Now we're screwed!).

That said, I've been reassured after talking to some folks who have been playing the game under NDA for a long time that it actually plays out better than it reads. I'm not passing judgment. :) I also recognize that even if my own personal concerns aren't addressed, that's not a criticism of the game, just of my own preferences. I know now (and have always known) I'm not necessarily the target market for D&D. I didn't start gaming with D&D the way virtually all of my peers did, and I was often involved in what I discovered were actually some avantgarde circles in my professional career. Just like it was a surprise for me how hard it was for some gamers to get into Ars Magica's ideas of shared characters and rotating storytelling duties, there are guys who look at me and puzzle why I would have concerns about keeping track of optimal builds or tactics.

It's taken many years and a lot of discussions with other people in the game industry to come around and be comfortable with the idea that I'm a different kind of gamer than so many of my gaming peers. I always knew that starting with Ars Magica as my first roleplaying game set me apart but I often traveled in circles where ArM was accepted if not beloved and definitely wasn't seen as some crazy thing. However my recent conversation with GAMA Executive Director Anthony Gallela at Book Expo reminded me again how different my gaming life has been from most gamers of my generation. My favorite games and game experiences don't revolve around GURPS, Champions, XD&D, or Traveller. My first game was Ars Magica. I moved from that to getting in on the ground floor of Vampire: the Masquerade. One of the most exciting and fulfilling campaigns I ever played in was an Amber Diceless Roleplaying game (and thus Amber was the game I wrote about in Hobby Games: the 100 Best. My other professional work has been for games like Over the Edge, Earthdawn, and Everway. Among the games I've played just for fun and enjoyed the most were Jorune, Castle Falkenstein, Feng Shui and (here's the shocker kids) Battlelords of the 23rd Century.

I feel a little like I've had an art house upbringing without realizing it and I kinda missed all the big summer blockbusters that the other kids grew up on. It's not really the same going back and trying to "get" those games out of context, though I can appreciate and enjoy many of them anyway. Looking at 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, I'm still not sure how it's going to fit with me but I'm willing to buy some popcorn, sit down with it, and find out.


Why Obama works for me

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically.

I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

He can, and will, work with people that I would have written off long ago. He does not have the black and white, friend versus enemy mindset that I am somewhat ashamed to admit I carry with me. I have a very hard time saying "Well, you did behave despicably when you tried to get me fired/ sabotaged my career/ broke into my e-mail/ betrayed a decade of friendship but I can recognize that you area a very talented/ otherwise honorable/ hard worker/ clever and insightful person who still has much to contribute." Once I've been burned, once you've shown me the ugliest aspects of your nature, it blots out most everything else for me. While I'm relatively comfortable with that as a personal philosophy, I recognize that it's a terrible trait for a national leader. Obama gracefully steers clear of that trap and I have profound respect for his ability to do so.

I had some vigorous discussion last night with a couple of saddened Clinton supporters. The Clinton campaign really turned me off in the last few months, where before I was much more neutral about Clinton and willing to throw in with her if she won the nomination. The question was raised about getting her into the VP slot to "unify the party" and whether that was even possible. Some at the table felt it was obvious that Obama and Clinton don't like each other. Others felt that liking each other isn't necessary (see Kennedy/LBJ). Were I in Obama's shoes, I would not be able to put aside my suspicions and lingering bitterness about the primary campaign. Thankfully, Obama is in Obama's shoes. I really do think he can work with Clinton going forward in any number of ways. Whether he and his people decide Clinton as VP is the best way or not, I believe he can and will take that positive attitude and move ahead with it.

With that in mind, I'm going to try to set aside my own bitterness where some people area concerned (both in the political arena and in my own life). Last night I was reminded, while talking to old friends about even older game industry grudges with a guy who screwed a swath of people across the game industry before flaming out spectacularly, that it's okay to let it go. As I said to my friend, "Well, if you're not pissed at him and you're one of the guys he actively screwed over the most, who am I to be mad?" If Obama isn't going to be bitter and vengeful about the attacks on his character and the way he's treated on the national stage by would-be-friends and certain foes, I'm pretty sure I can get over it, too.

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I accidentally deleted the Book Expo report that I just spent the last hour writing up and hyper-linking. Since I didn't get to bed last night until after 3am (damn delayed flight out of San Francisco!) I'm simply too exhausted to recreate it all from scratch right now.

Instead I will say that I brought back very few books for myself but I did let myself go a little crazy picking up titles for the marvelous Miss Kate (who promptly took one of them with her to school and read it in the car...). Since I can't bring myself to report anything else at this hour, let me just tell you what titles made the cut to be carried home:

Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition Volume 1

Amelia Rules! Vol 3: Superheroes, autographed for Kate.

Two books from this series by Rachel Roberts, autographed for Kate.

Firefly Rain by Rich Dansky (since I managed to miss seeing him in person for the whole show)

Finland at War: 1939-45

Magic in the Mirrorstone (autographed by Cecil for Kate)

The Ghosts of Kerfol which I've just started but find intriguing.

The Ghost's Child by Sonya Hartnett

Falling Hard a collection of teen love poems edited by Cecil's favorite poet.

Black God's Kiss

Emiko Superstar

Water Baby

My pile of books demanding to be read just got a lot bigger, but now I need sleep most of all.

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