Sunday, June 26, 2005

Reduction to a previously-unsolved problem

A church between the babysitter's house and my office had the following slogan on their billboard: "You can tell how big a person by what it takes to discourage them." Why you gonna cut me like that, billboard? I thought we were friends.

The billboard knows it's been a couple of weeks since I tried to install a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs. Tried and failed, as follows:

3 months ago: Baby starts really crawling for the stairs. Block stairs with coffee table. Baby can't crawl under coffee table, cries a little, resumes efforts to disassemble Mega-Blok baby-trap.

2 month ago: Baby learns to crawl under coffee table, instead of learning to walk. Way to develop, offspring.

1 month ago: Did you know there are baby-proofing experts? They cost $65 per hour.

2 weeks ago: Went to Home Depot. Bought a board, cut and sanded it. Examined area for attachment. Took two plastic zip-ties, attached board for trial run. Seems to work. Removed board by snipping zip-ties.

Also, the board is narrower than the gate mounts, it'll look like crap and violate the instructions. Fine, I'll live with it. They're not sharp, it'll be fine.

I screwed toggle bolts into the wall for the hinge, but measured wrongly, so I had to remove the bolts. This dropped a couple of the toggle nuts (spring-loaded butterfly doo-hickeys) down into the dead space of the wall. HELL, out of toggle nuts.

Back to Home Depot. Bought more toggle bolt packs. Put gate on mounts, swung it into place, only to find... I installed the hinges too low, compared to where the latch mounts can be mounted on the metal bannister (The instructions say DO NOT INSTALL MOUNTS ON METAL BANNISTER.). That one board's not going to do it.

At my absolute limit, I quit and drank beer(s), about which the instructions were silent. Oh, billboard, is there anything you don't know?

So, the whole project laid** in an accusatory fashion at the landing at the foot of the stairs. There are two steps after the landing, which is also a violation of the instructions.


I spent a lot of time staring at the project. I knew I hadn't done enough planning the first time around. I was rushing before, and everything I did was easy and fantastic on a mechanical level, but didn't make sense once assembled. Swing gate back, forth. Think. How will this work?

Hmm... "I'll drill the holes for this first, and that'll be the easy part! Then I can mount the board, figure out where to re-install the gate hinges, install the gate hinges, and I'm done! Piece of cake". Okay, let's do a run-through, see if that works.

I fit the gate latches onto the gate, to see where it would fall on the board. See, I'm planning! Think think think. Hmm, does it work?

No, I cut the board too short. If I put one of the latches on, the other latch needs to be affixed two inches past the end of the board. Pause to eat chocolate brownies in despair.

Cursing all the while, I measured the empty space. I am going to go back to Home Depot, get a chunk of lumber 1" x 3 1/2" x 28", and then it's on.

It is on like Donkey Kong.

** I tried to confirm the correct way to to say this, but the two grammar sites I checked were most unhelpful.
PS 'lain?' What kind of word is that? Who says 'lain?' Grammar, I defy thee.
PPS had to stop myself from typing GRAMMER. Too angry to proofread.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Oh, yeah

From the ApolloCon website:
"Star Trek Tri-D Chess Tournament -We regret to announce that this even has been cancelled."

Why? Why, why? Why, why, why, why?

Demo Followup (or Nerd Heaven is Jock Hell)

ApolloCon demos complete! This was good at all levels. I got to play a lot of different games with lots of people, and everybody had a good time. The drive was easy, I met another Houston Gamer, and it all worked out.

They had some no-show GMs. That is to say, out of 30 game slots where a person promised to show up and run a game, person (s) responsible for 6 or 8 slots reneged. Oh, plus both their LARPs canceled at the last minute. I promised two slots, on time, with roundup of stray people, and I delivered.

ApolloCon was/is a fan con. All the fan-boy (and fan-girl) disciplines are there: filking, sci-fi and fantasy book discussions, dressing up like Star Wars characters...

Yeah, there was a guy with a SWEEEEET Darth Vader costume, plus a couple of TIE fighter pilots, and plenty of stormtroopers. Those two or three Jedi were going to have a tough time. Of course, the Jedi did outweigh the power of the Dark Side.

Note to self: Totally go to the Dark Side instead of becoming morbidly obese and dressing up in bathrobes.

I had a good time, and everyone was nice. Weird, but nice. I also got free snacks at the hospitality suite, which was a welcome change from the mercenary approach used by most gaming-only conventions.

Friday, June 24, 2005

New Home Depot Slogan

"Don't Put off The Project, Put off the Payments!"

That's a lot better than their previous slogan:

"Fix your home. We'll own it soon enough, thanks to your poor credit-management skills!"

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Preparing for Saturday demos

I got out and re-read the rules to Jacob Marley, Esq., which is definitely high on the list of to-be-played games for Saturday. James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game is also in there, as are Unexploded Cow, Light Speed, and The Big Cheese. Cheese! Woot!

Every time I do a demo, my bag gets lighter and lighter. You never know how far you'll end up hauling stuff, plus the more you bring, the more you risk getting stolen or accidentally damaged.

I hope I get good players. I hope I get ANY players. This con's pretty small, with only 6 tables of gaming total. Still, if you're going to be at a con, Saturday's the day.

Plus, it's in Houston, so if it's deserted, my slots don't make, and I decide to bail, I won't grumble on a multi-hour drive back home.

Not that this has ever happened-even if one slot doesn't make, I can keep myself amused by browsing dealer tables and people-watching for a while.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dr. Who rocks.

Yes, the new Dr. Who series rocks. No, it's not on American tv yet. Good thing I have a UK buddy who tapes them, converts them from PAL to NTSC, and then mails them to a fan distributor, who makes copies at cost.

Wait, I'm thinking of how anime distribution worked a decade ago. That was stupefyingly inefficient. Also, I own all of Marmalade Boy (96 episodes, plus the movie) on VHS.

(Note to self: If traveling in time, remind self circa 1994 to cut that out.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Torrent makers, stop being dumb

Okay, so I download a 108 mb file using Bittorrent. It's a RAR archive, which, when re-assembled, produces a 102 mb .avi file.

Don't do this, people. One, you wasted space. Two, once I re-assemble the file, I'm going to throw your folder full of RAR files away. Three, everything online, including the Bittorrent help files, tell you not to do this.

Everybody tells you not to do this, and I'm telling you again, don't do this. Post your torrents of the .avi itself.

It's not as though it were password protected, although I have seen that abomination used as well.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Slow news day.

I can not emphasize enough, I received no mail today. I did SEND some mail, so that's all right.

My game demos did get listed on the ApolloCon schedule. Oy, so many prizes to hand out...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Weekend wrap-up

Saturday: Bring Your Own Meat barbecue at a co-worker's house. Amazing, just amazing. Keg of St. Arnold's Lawnmower, a hot grill, whatever everybody brought, low-key hanging out.

Sunday: Out to La Grange for Father's Day. I consulted on two issues, one of which I fixed, the other of which I didn't fix, but also didn't break more.

Sooo, we'll see.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Plucky British Columbia woman survives bear attack

See article. Whew, bears serve the beats. Note to self: don't pick fights with bears.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Betrayers of Kamigawa Booster Box-Opening

Tim and I opened 18 booster packs apiece, then each of us sorted our cards by color, randomly picked 2 colors, and built decks from those.

I was under-impressed. Sure, I got some sweet individual cards. However, I haven't seen the overall utility. There are ninjas, sure. However, this set feels underpowered.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

50 smartest-dumbest things to do with your money

Money magazine has a list of 50 "Smartest" things to do with your money.

I've gone ahead and put "Smartest" in quotation marks. Here's two samples:

"Bundle your communication bills -
If you spend more than $50 a month on local and long-distance phone service from two different companies -- or more than $110 a month on phone, cable and high-speed Internet from three different ones -- you may be able to save up to 25 percent by ordering a bundled service from one provider.
Buy running shoes -
How is investing in $120 sneakers a smart money move? Let's see: Running reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, lowers blood pressure and burns more calories than any other exercise -- for less than a $50-a-month gym membership. "

Sweet. Except, of course, I dropped my land line, because it was worthless. My cell phone comes with free national long distance after 9 pm. We have no cable television service, so I can't combine it with my high-speed Internet.

I bought one pair of excellent dress shoes for $70 several years ago, and had them repaired by a cobbler for $13. I have never spent more than $25 on shoes.

Here's two tips, from me:

-Drop every feature on your land line. Call waiting? Caller ID? 3-way calling? Useless. If you're paying any money at all for Caller ID, you are paying money to be a chicken, cowering in fear from potential callers.

-Buy a $50 pair of sneakers on sale for $25, and send me $100. Jerks.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm in!

I'll be running back-to-back Cheapass Games demos at ApolloCon. (Yes, I'm not listed yet; they're getting there.)


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Good pregnancy checklist online?

With four months to go before Daughter #2 (code name: Calamity Jane) , I started looking for a simple checklist of tasks to complete. You know, a planner, a calendar, a timetable... I'm not interested in what the baby looks like at 22 weeks. I am looking for: "Month 6: Start looking for sales on big bottles of liquor now, so you'll have a full cabinet when the baby arrives."

Oh, no. Can't find that on the internet. Can find links to $12.95 spiral-bound pregnancy planners, can find links to horrible, horrible shopping websites, can find link farms.

Nothing good. If even my advanced search techniques can't do it, what will? Every mother wants to write about it online. Everyone wants to sell junk to those mothers. The twin powers of mediocre writing and tactless commercialism have combined to produce garbage in my web searches.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Betrayers of Kamigawa Booster Box is here

Yes, I could put $35 toward a copy of uh, anything useful. Instead, it went toward my half of a box of 36 Magic booster packs. The box is sitting on the shelf. It's got a picture of a ninja on it. Wizards of the Coast knows what kids want. Ninjas, and lots of them.

There are those who would argue I should have bought this at a store, for retail. Yes, I'd love to pay $3.95 plus 8.25% sales tax per pack, instead of paying just under $2, no tax, shipping included. Tim and I will open the packs Wednesday.

To tide me over until then, there's a Houston Gamers meeting tomorrow. I hope the smoky mentally-ill guy isn't there, but he probably will be. We were all really nice to him last time, given the allergy attack his smoke aura triggered for one member. Also the crazy, can't forget the crazy.

Passion (the clean kind)

A great blog postby Kathy Sierra about passionate users, and what they do. She lists 7 ways for passionate people to express their passion.

I am passionate about board games, and here's how:

Evangelize - I volunteer as a Cheapass Games Demo Monkey (currently mostly inactive), teach lots of games, and give away games as gifts (San Juan is the bomb, yo.)
Connect - I hang out with the Houston Gamers, and post on this blog.
Learn - I read Boardgamegeek, and seek out new games.
Improve - I'm not directly competitive, but I do like the sense that my skills are getting better.
Show Off - You know, like this blog. Plus, of course, hauling out cool scores like Guillotine for friends to see.
Spend Time - Duh, it's a hobby, it's automatically a giant time-sink.
Spend Money - Yeah, I do spend a little from time to time. I have a few games that were must-buys, although I held out and shopped around first.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Packed up a book to send today

Sweet. Only 120 more of these a week, and I can quit my job!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

How to not build a website

Today's Penny Arcade comic had a dig at Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics fame, known as well for penning the lesser successor Reinventing Comics.

Soooo, I went back through the archives, found another Scott McCloud-related cartoon, as true today as it was then.

The Penny Arcade creators mention, in that post, a company called Javien, who have a micropayments solution that's pretty good. So I clicked on the link from 6/22/01, just to see if they have a website.

They do. There's a link for a demo of Javien's solution. Oh, wait, they've just commited a CLASSIC web blunder: ask for way too much information before I care. Plus they want to know if I'm interested in the ASP or Enterprise version of their software. I know what these terms mean. Nevertheless, why do I have to make this decision now?

Don't make me think.