Saturday, December 31, 2005

You know who I like? Randy Milholland.

Say you've got a popular webcomic. Yes, picture yourself there, in your ergonomic computer chair with your drawing tablet and your little fat-pudge. If, unlike me, you have no fat-pudge, feel free to picture yourself with a wispy mustache.

What are you going to do over the Christmas week:

1. Take the whole week off, and have an unfunny stick figure comic drawn by the guy who makes unfunny stick figure comics.
2. Finish up the current storyline perfectly, declare the year complete, then **post a bunch more comics**.

If you're Piro, the guy who does Megatokyo, you pick option 1. If you're R.K. Milholland, the guy who does Something Positive, you pick option 2.

On his page, Randy Milholland's comic shows the update schedule, crossed out repeatedly. Not five days a week, not seven days a week. Randy updates A LOT.

If I could choose between having Piro's art skills, or Randy's consistency, I pick Randy's consistency, hands down. Randy, thanks for bringin' the funny.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Morning update

Alexis used the potty again this morning. Two in a row!

I also packed up a board game for a trade, so that will get shipped over my lunch break. Of all the robotic boxes in the world, the DVD-rental ones are my favorite, and the post office auto-shipper is my second favorite.

Yes, yes, I could use click 'n' ship. I could do a lot of things...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Potty Chair Success!

Not to give out a lot of details, but the Baby Bjorn potty chair has been used successfully.

Yay. No drama, no trauma.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Poop in the night, also: Hooky!

I went to bed at 8:30 pm, exhausted from a work week with the same amount of work crammed into fewer days. I woke up at 3 in the morning, with both kids crying. Sure, Cori is hungry. What is the problem with Alex? Bluuuh, let's give her a couple of minutes. Nope, ain't working.

As I walk into her room, I know the problem, because I can smell it. Giant poop, much crying on everyone's part, etc.

Glad we went to bed early.

Sooo, no work for Lee and I. We dropped off the kids at daycare late, and went to Panera for bagels, coffee, and pain chocolat. Lee reports that the chocolate pastry is okay, but not as good as the ones in France during her exchange-student days. The choco-nut bagel is much more nutty than chocolaty. The asiago bagel was excellent, as was the sun-dried tomato spread. The honey-walnut spread was not a great match with the choco-nut bagel. I actually liked the tomato spread on both.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Elsewhere on the web

Elizabeth Grigg didn't like Kong.

GURPS Powers replaces both GURPS Supers and GURPS Psionics. I only like reading GURPS, not playing it. I know, no one cares, but let me point out that this means one handsome $35 hardback book replaces two $18 softcover books for the previous edition. Sounds good to me.

Evan Erwin is running from the cops. I'm impressed by Evan and his blog. He's a devoted husband and father, and has gone from writing a column on a computer game to becoming the computer game's community manager.

OwlCon is gearing up. Greg Morrow of the Howling Curmudgeons is going, so I'll definitely stop by and say something about uh, comic books or something. Plus his Master Maze event is about four grand worth of meticulously-painted models, and mine is twenty bucks of envelope games.

Anye of Dancing Eggplant Games is back from Puerto Rico.

Jeff Vogel, a.k.a. "Cordelia's Daddy" has some big news on the home front.

Francis Heaney has re-mixed his Holy Tango of Literature recordings (free downloads of his book and music).

Neal Whitman hears his sons play with the words to Christmas songs, and narrowly averts disaster.

Rob Hummel got a tattoo.

Me, I uploaded digital camera pictures (not edited yet, sorry) and watched House, MD. It's like MASH except with fewer transvestites.

Dave Lartigue documents a project

Dave's got some crackheads for neighbors. No, really.

When they were making carpentry noises at 11 pm, it had to be good. Check out what he found (includes pictures).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Boardgamegeek server donation drive

The Boardgamegeek needs better servers, so I sent a donation. I got a cute icon showing my support for the site. Yay, geeks.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Amazon Mechanical Turk

I like to let things simmer a bit before I jump in.

I let Gmail go for a while and eventually got an account via the awesome and now-defunct gmail invite server. It took me a bit to get around to building websites, and I finally got together an Angelfire website, then a Livejournal, then a Blogger site. I was hand-coding all the HTML on the first one, so the relative ease of posting/blogging was welcome.

Now I've tried Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Named after a fabulous chess-playing Clank, Amazon is offering businesses the ability to pick the brains of the loyal masses, in exchange for money deposited to their Amazon account.

Uh, I hate it. The basic format: tasks are listed, and the voracious appetite of the internet picks them off before I have a chance to respond. After a short time of attempting to pick up tasks, I have answered a number of survey questions and identified a few CD covers. I have four cents in my Amazon account, and have about 9 cents pending.

My main complaints:
  1. As I view tasks, I can't mark a task as "I'm totally wrong for this; don't show it to me anymore." Heck, Windows Update offers this feature. If I don't want to answer "The top 3 men I'd leave my partner for," I should be able to check a box that reads "Screw this. Never show me this crap again." Ditto the French tests. I can't do them, I fail. On to the next. Let me clear the queue, people.
  2. Oh, maaaaan. Someone totally cleaned up on this before everyone got in on the action.
  3. Whooo, 4 cents. That's really going to get me back again.
  4. There's a phantom HIT with one artist still left to identify.
I can click in circles and still not have any tasks or make any money. Are we Web 2.0 yet? Kathy Sierra is rolling around in her grave right now, folks.

Eeeh, I'll check back in a couple of times. If I don't make a quarter apiece on each visit, I'm done.

Amusements for the young and the young at heart

Here's a link to the Fatboy Slim video featuring Christopher Walken.

I put an old E-machines keyboard on the living-room floor for Alex to enjoy.

Cats in sinks

I was thinking, I like looking at, and

What if there were a specific website for cats in sinks?

Wait, there is. Alexis summarizes, "Kitty water."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sudoku interlude

A co-worker passed me a page of Sudoku puzzles, which I industriously took home. Seriously, I can't think of anything more depressing than doing Sudoku at work, since it feels more like work than work does.

Unfortunately, at least two of the puzzles on the page are misprinted as to be unsolvable.

Lee and I have been working on the puzzles as a wind-down activity. This is a mixed blessing: on one hand, we need all our brainpower for Sudoku, and is a nice break from the day's events. On the other hand, it encourages staring at a piece of paper and cursing.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

OwlCon sign-up: I am ambivalent

I sent in my game submission to OwlCon. Lordy, the things I do for this hobby.

On one hand, my absolute hero, Kevin Nunn, asked me to do it, more than once. I like OwlCon. It's a mature convention, with most of the organizers being older and committed to excellence in the gaming experience. Being a demonstrator gets me in for free, and I have connections to get prize support to hand out. It attracts good players. It attracts families, and I like giving prizes to kids. It's in Houston, so there's no long travel times. It's the convention I've attended more times than any other, both as demo person and regular shmoe. Also, it's a chance to help out my Friendly Local Game Store, Midnight Comics, since I know the owner John brings his entire Cheapass lineup (he is big on having a variety of price points).

On the other, I feel old. I have two kids and a wife. Two years ago, I could go to every single slot and not feel like I was abandoning anyone. I'm not getting the sleep I need, and I haven't been trying to demonstrate games, so I'm out of practice. I haven't learned the newest games I've acquired. Also, last year's demos sucked. One of my slots was attended by two drugged-up psychos that I should have booted from the table. The OwlCon parking is Rice University parking, and the situation there has deteriorated in the last few years. I love this hobby, but I'm not paying a dollar an hour to park, especially at an all-day event. That means it's a ten-minute walk across the entire campus carrying a bag full of games. Plus, conventions make me feel jaded.

So I signed up to run games. Fun will be had.

Company Xmas party wrap-up

We found a babysitter for Alexis and Cori about four hours before the company Xmas party itself.

I dropped by the library and returned the DVDs and book I borrowed two weeks ago. I got Bridget Jones' Diary for Lee, two kidvids, and the first part of the Lord of the Rings, Extended 4-DVD edition. One of the kidvids and one of the LoTR disks were damaged and had extensive skipping. Our DVD player has done a good job over the years, and malfunctions on a regular basis. It managed to play the potty-training video, which I honestly believe may be the worst thing I have ever watched. Alexis wasn't interested in seeing the video, but she's clearly ready to begin training shortly.

I got a haircut (#2 clippers all over, rounded in back) at my local Haircut Place That Speaks No English, for a mere $4.99, tax included, plus $2 tip. Given that it's the easiest cut in the universe, I should probably start doing my own.

After shining my shoes*, we dressed up in our finest and headed over to the Wyndham Greenspoint for several hours of buffet as far as the eye could see, and an open bar at all the points of the compass. Chris Cagle played a set of his forgettable country music, and then a DJ took the stage to turn up the bass as far as he could.

We both had a nice time, and appreciated mingling with co-workers outside the office in a booze-fueled country-themed extravaganza. Our company president looked good in western gear, as did some others. Tall, thin guys are helped out by the extra height of cowboy boots. Short, fat guys are not. I don't own any western wear, because while I am tall enough to probably carry it off, buying boots that fit on my Frankenstein's-monster feet would be depressing.

We left and picked up the girls around midnight, and were at home asleep before 1 a.m.

* These shoes were bought about 8 years ago, right after Lee and I got married. We were rich with towels, and returned a few of them for credit. That credit and some extra cash bought the shoes. My $80 Timberlands have been with me all these years:
  • Kicking boxes into laser-line rows at Best Buy.
  • Washing cars at Premier Car rental.
  • Leasing apartments in the rain while working with a leasing temp agency.
  • My current position, being worn 250 days a year for the last 4 years.
I had the heels repaired about two years ago. They stood up to a lot of abuse and neglect, and still polish up nicely.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Day that will live forever in infamy

Alexis came home from daycare yesterday with a new word. Brand new word, just for us. "MINE!"

On the bright side, we had both the girls asleep by 8:30. Lee and I ended up watching Sky High. Eeeh, I'll give a robotic box a dollar for that. It was okay. Just okay. C-minus.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Houston Gamers wrap-up: Hail, hail, the gang's all here

Last night, after we had the girls in bed, I headed out to Midnight Comics.

Just about everybody I know was there:

Kevin Nunn, Kevin H., Ed, Lewis, Ray, James, Michael, Maura, Amy, both the Dougs, Doug's daughter Jenny, R.J., etc.

Jenny had scored pizzas from her Papa John's gig. The barbecue chicken bacon pizza was delicious. I asked her how much she was working, since she's still in high school and I know she's in the band (they still have letter jackets... I thought that was dumb back in the early 1990s). She said about 24 hours a week, but they are flexible and she is taking Thursday off for a band competition. She was upbeat about the job, so that is encouraging.

Kevin Nunn bought Deflexion at BoardgamegeekCon. It's got a laser and a bunch of mirrored towers, and only 500 copies were made. He also showed me Easy Come, Easy Go, and we talked about upcoming conventions and some prototypes he's showing off. Since his first published game, Nobody But Us Chickens, was well-received, that opens doors for him at the major companies. He is at the point where his games are getting rejected with "Oh, this isn't right for us at this exact moment, but let me tell you who needs something like this!" Kevin's my hero.

Debra and I played Rat Hot, twice. Yech. There's a sudden-death mechanic where one player suddenly loses, ignoring accumulated point totals. Debra and I lost interest.

I also played my copy of Jambo with Debra. We chatted quite a bit, and I won. It's a good game, but I keep feeling like I'm missing something.

I played Mogul with Ed, Debra, Amy, and Michael, as Maura sat out. Mogul is a short, vicious stock-trading game. There are a number of railroad stocks in the deck. Each stock card represents both ownership and the ability to sell another color of stock. Also, since we're all robber barons, here's the mechanic: you bid by pushing a chip forward. Bids continue clockwise until a player drops. The player who drops gets all the chips. If you're not careful, you can run out of chips, which I did. At that point, the player to your right can pass, take the chips, and you are forced to pass as well, since you have no chips with which to bid.

I had several stocks, but Michael was getting money, and I was having to pass. He buckled and let me back into the game. We actually ended up in a bidding war on one of the final turns of the game. I did the right thing: bid all my chips. He did the right thing: have more chips than me. He won, sold his stock, and the next card flipped was the market crash (dramatic all-black with red stock line plummeting). I love Mogul, so taking second was great.

The store stayed open longer than usual and we all sat around chatting, not realizing that the Magic tournament was probably going to last until 2 am; I determined this later. Typically, the last rounds of the tournament are skipped, in favor of splitting the pot evenly. Tonight, someone wanted to play it out and go for the big money. $48, if I remember correctly.

Friday, December 02, 2005

DC Heroes stamps on the horizon in 2006: pictures show 39 cent postage

Full details here. A buddy from work sent me an email and I immediately thought, "I wonder what the Howling Curmudgeons will say?"

Other sources indicate a Marvel set will be out in 2007.

It's freakin' brilliant. If the USPS wanted, they could easily put a DC super-team on a stamp set every year, and never run out. All the collectors will buy these sets, and that's money in the bank for the USPS.

I'm a little amazed at the heroes that made the cut. Hawkman? Plastic Man? What the hell? They also picked Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, which was inevitable for reasons to explain to anyone except a hardcore comics junkie.

The ten I would have chosen: Batman, Superman, the new Batgirl, Wonder Woman, John Stewart as Green Lantern, Swamp Thing, the Martian Manhunter, Jack Knight as Starman, and Wesley Dodds as the Sandman.

My freaky beatnik alternate ten: Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, John Constantine, the Kevin Smith-revamped Green Arrow, Jason Blood/Etrigan, Wildcat, Zatanna, Tim Hunter, Dick Greyson as Nighthawk, and Captain Marvel or Mary Marvel.

Also, a Batman-related sheet would have been nice. Imagine sending out your Christmas cards with Alfred the butler's smiling face on them.

Nobody likes Hawkman.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

iTunes Upgrade worked better than I expected. Also, I reminisce about video games.

iTunes suddenly forgot where all my music files were, and wanted me to go individually locate each mp3.

I decided instead to upgrade to the new version.

Knowing I was going from 4 to 6, I deleted the links to my music files. I have music and game mp3s all over my computer, so the old iTunes had a bunch of crap in it. Since I also don't care about how many times I played the songs, eeh, no great loss.

The installer freaking put a Quicktime launch button on my toolbar and set two applications to launch on startup. Ba-leeted. I didn't even ASK for Quicktime. It's bundled in. You know, for the visualizer, which I confess I wouldn't know how to turn on, since I've never taken LSD and don't need a tacky psychedelic lightshow while my music plays. That's not what The Crystal Method would want. Their music's the first to get re-imported into the new iTunes.

The Crystal Method did the theme song to that tv show "Bones" with the guy from "Angel" in it. David Boreanaz plays the goofy cop to whatshername's uptight forensics expert. (The Internet Movie Database reveals the character's real name is Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan. I got to see the show for the first time this week, since much-loved-by-my-wife Gilmore Girls was replaced by a holiday movie. It was clearly a mid-season filler episode, and about 10% too cutesy for me. Eeh, I'd watch it on DVD over a weekend, maybe. Not worth watching on a regular basis, as far as I could tell. Also, if I DO watch Bones AND House MD, which is immediately following, every Tuesday is generating two hours of couch time. Bleah.

IMDB also reveals that David Boreanaz is providing voiceover work for a video game loosely based on videogames I used to play. The Kingdom Hearts series mines the entire Disney AND Final Fantasy cast lists throughout recorded history for character. Mandy Moore is also listed as a nice-girl character who, if I'm remembering my Final Fantasy timeline correctly, dies a third of the way through Final Fantasy 7, in a dramatic pre-rendered cut sequence. Poseur, ultra-goth villain Sephiroth murders her in front of Pointy Hair Protagonist, if I recall correctly. Then there's some stat-building, and then a giant chicken race. Then more and more giant chicken races. Then I got bored and stopped playing, only to get exactly as far into Final Fantasy 8 before realizing that wasn't any fun either.

I never finished Legend of Mana, either.