Saturday, October 29, 2005

On Schedules

Well, it's early. I've browsed Craigslist for garage sales in my area, nothing too promising. The craigslist search engine thinks GAME and GAMES are totally different words. Grrrrrr.

I'm on two mailing lists for upcoming game conventions, and both of them are starting to heat up. All this reminds me how much I hate mailing lists. There's no good way to do it. I could set them to digest-mode, which will give me one fifty-page email that is also impossible to read. There's also bitterness there, because I'd love to immerse myself in either one; both sets of organizers are fun people. As fun as it is, it's time-consuming.

Instead, our household schedule is on my mind. We are probably changing child-care providers soon. Our current one is okay. Her primary virtues: she is willing to use our cloth diapers and food we send, she is flexible with our schedule, and she's cheap. Vices: she's dumb, and she sucks in little ways. The TV has never been not on when I have been over there, regardless of the time. I don't want my kids growing up and being exposed to her environment for the next 5 years.

Cori finally drifted off, so I'm going to catch some Z's.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Late night with Little Pee Pee Person - What I read

Cori is not quite 3 weeks old, and so I was awake, reading various blogs and whatnot.

I stumbled across this post by author John Scalzi, which is titled Being Poor. I grew up in rural Iowa during the 1980s, so I saw quite a bit of frugality and disasters. His post's frank honesty provokes hundreds of follow-up comments, most of which are quite good. It may take you a couple of sittings, but it's worth it.

I am also reading through two homeschooling moms' blogs:

The Common Room is mostly about education, and includes posts from the kids. Like Merchant Ships has a strong budgeting focus.

I'm going to go empty the dishwasher and go to bed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Junk Barge Captain's code (draft one, comments welcomed)

  1. Never refuse anything free that's physically easy to store and physically easy to throw away.
  2. Never accept anything that'll get you in trouble with the law or with Mrs. Captain.
  3. Give freely: give to your thrifty friends, charities, thrift stores, and outfits like Freecycle. To do this, you'll need to know what they need, and be aware of what and how they can accept gifts. Fine-tune your antenna to find needs and fill them.
  4. Never rent a storage space. When something comes in, something else should go out.
  5. Try to figure out what you've got before you throw it away. Try not to buy anything you don't understand.
  6. Know what things are worth. This includes your living space and time.
  7. Once a piece of junk doesn't make you happy, get rid of it. People are not junk, so you're out of luck there.
  8. Sell what you can, recycle whenever possible, and throw trash away.
  9. No amount of what you don't want will make you content.
  10. Ultimately, it's not about junk at all.

Sometimes WON'T boot? (long)

Tonight, my cousin came over with a friend and we all had pasta, exotic cheeses, wine, and garlic bread. We talked about babies, baseball, cheeses, differing levels of motivation among college students at the University of Houston, their jobs, pictures of babies, and wireless routers.

After they left and everyone was crashed out, I started in on a project I've had on my to-do since July. I have a bunch of older PCs, not necessarily working. I couldn't throw them away, because, uh, I got them for free. Can't just throw them away without knowing what they are. That's part of the junk-barge captain's code.

Here's the deal so far:

Tonight's 3 cases: First system beeps over and over again, on boot, no video, no nothin'. I think that means video card failure, or motherboard failure. I have TWO lists of beep codes; naturally, neither matches at all. Bah, to hell with this. I may swap video cards, but eeh, maybe not. Hard drive was easy to pull, and I'll wait to pull CD-ROM. I'll need the CD-ROM drive for a Linux CD if I can get the video (?) card resolved. Grr, moving on...

Second system: Ancient one. Fan housing cracks and falls off processor, revealing note: "Hey, dumbass, don't turn me on without a fan and heat-sink!" I'm not a dumbass, so I don't turn it on. I discover there's no IDE cable at all. There's one little stick of RAM, and I'm pretty sure this is my very first PC case, purchased my sophomore year of college or so. It's a 133 Mhz. The CD slot is empty-I had a totally sweet CD burner I bought while working at Best Buy. I took all the RAM out of it and used it to supercharge another computer, which I seem to have misplaced. None of these machines have full RAM slots.

The most promising one of the night has a decent motherboard, a 650 Mhz processor, and no RAM. Someone has written, "Needs RAM, also sometimes does not boot (?)" There's also a little sticker right on the CPU fan that says "stalls," oh, joy. I put a random stick of RAM in, and discovered it was a PC100 64 MB stick of ram! Sweet...

The hard drive in the third beastie detects as a 20 Gig, but won't boot. Man, a 20 gig hard drive would rock. Attempts to remove it are futile, as I discover there are two screws holding it in. You know, screws on the wrong side of the case. Cut hand on case, bleed sullenly on everything, pout, move on to next hard drive.

The second hard drive detects as a 420 MB (!!) and attempts to boot to Windows 3.11 for Workgroups(!!!). The screen is about an inch high, and I get Windows 32-bit driver warnings. I'm guessing Windows 3.11 doesn't know what the hell that video card is supposed to be. I Alt-F4 and get dropped to a DOS 6-point-old prompt. I type in "dir/p" and then realize it's been years since I had to do heavy lifting in DOS. Occasional shell stuff in Linux, occasional deep mojo at the Win 98/NT/XP command prompt, sure. Eeh, if I can get the CD-ROM drive to work, I can boot Linux from CD, reformat the hard drive, and we're in business in Linux. Discover I left all my Linux boot CDs at work in my laptop bag. Briefly consider adjourning to burn another Knoppix CD. Decide not to, since I'll need to figure out what version(s) of Linux will even fit on a hard drive that small.

Third hard drive boots up as a 20 Gig, continues to boot into Windows 2000 Pro. Score! Ooh, no, dies of 0x00000007: INVALID_SOFTWARE_INTERRUPT error. I go read the Microsoft Knowledge Base, which says COMPUTER SAD, UNPLUG WHAT YOU PLUGGED IN, AND REBOOT. I said a very special word, since what I had just plugged in was the hard drive. I try a couple of BIOS settings, but no go.

Throughout the hard drive parade, I didn't plug in the CD-ROM drive. I do, and swap the microscopic jumpers, and discover nothing works. I change jumpers, reboot, and get nothing. I unplug everything again, and go back to what worked ten minutes ago. Nothing works, again. Nothing I did makes any of the drives be recognized again.

Dodgy motherboard? Dodgy power supply? CPU got a little hot? Iffy RAM? Did I hose the BIOS setting in some complicated way? Beats me for now.

Does what it says: Sometimes won't boot (?).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Email etiquette, also, Penguin bars rock!

See, I'm on cable. Which is to say, I pay for cable modem, but not cable television services.

It STILL takes me time to download pictures from some people. They have their settings at "Retardedly detailed," which is fine. My mom and dad are on dial-up. That picture that's 1.0 meg? Yeah, thanks, that's five entire minutes for my mom. Stack 6 together, that's a half-hour that they sit there, waiting. I love you people. Now, be more awesome.

Secondly, I have a picture I must show you. It's of a Penguin bar. Evidently, these are British chocolate biscuits. Each 2-bar unit had a different package. Feast your eyes on this, and tell me it is not sweet:

Brilliant take-off on the old 8-bit controllers, eh. Notice how the penguin logo is on the third button, in plain view.

I ate a second one that had a cell-phone face, with a heavily-pixelated penguin, framed by signal and battery bars.

On the reverse, there's a small icon of a penguin next to a trash can.

Soo, Penguin bars are great. Try to get a pack from an English friend, or pick one up if you're in the neighborhood.

I ate these at a barbecue, titled "Bring Your Own Meat II," building on the wild success of the original "Bring Your Own Meat" party. The second party was also a roaring success.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lazy Saturday wrap-up, also I have RSS feeds

Everyone's asleep but me. Tiny Cori is napping in the swing, Lee is upstairs conked out, Alexis is down for her regular nap, and my mom is taking a siesta.

I now have RSS and Atom feeds available, and should have links up Any Day Now(tm). Full feeds, too, none of that incomplete feed garbage. They're ad-free, at least temporarily. Technically, I always had an Atom feed for this blog, but never put up a link to it.

Obligatory explanation: RSS feeds lets you use a computer program to subscribe to web pages. When the pages update, your trusty RSS reader knows about it, and keeps all the updates together, so you can read them whenever you want and don't have to keep checking the websites obsessively.

Confession/excuse time: I am not using an RSS reader. Since I read certain sites from several locations, I don't want to have to manage multiple RSS feeds on multiple computers, plus there's the It's Just One More Freakin' Program To Learn factor, plus the Aw, Jeez, I Have A Baby, My Attention Span Is Twenty Seconds factor.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rick Thornquist announces end of Gamewire/Gone Cardboard

Here's the sad news.

The primary attraction for most visitors to Gamewire was "Gone Cardboard," the definitive answer to the question: Is it printed yet?

The board game industry lives and works on thin margins, and there is endless analysis on how best to release games in order to preserve the precious buzz. Even the larger companies often make promises, either verbally at conventions, on the web, or in print, that they will break later.

Publishers are faced with the eternal decision: Print too few copies (at higher unit costs) or print too many copies (and be stuck with the overrun forever). If the game's a hit, well, hopefully the publisher can crank out more to meet demand.

Once the games had "Gone Cardboard," you could ask for the games with confidence, knowing they were really, actually printed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Godspeed, Games Journal, also no Essen for me

Greg Alecnevius has ceased production of new issues of The Games Journal after 5 years of quality boardgame coverage. Damn. Greg's a heck of a nice guy, and a few years ago sold me a copy of Loopin' Louie for a reasonable price, if I remember correctly. That's the crazy thing about the boardgame hobby: the same people keep popping up over and over again.

Not to hum any bars of 'Video Killed The Radio Star,' but in the end, I'm guessing the constant presence of the Boardgamegeek was draining potential articles away.

There's so much of the 'Geek that's ephemeral, and lots of it that's mediocre. The same interaction with the community that creates great conversations also provides for a lot of "Identify This Old Game" and "How Many Games Is Too Many?" posts. Sure, I read it all the time, and it's my number-one bookmark in both my browsers. The Games Journal accumulated a huge mass of well-written articles and reviews in 5 years.

Also, logically enough, I continued my tradition of NOT going to Essen, Germany for the giant gaming convention every year. At least this year I had an excuse.

Nazis in America

What the heck? Did no one in Toledo, Ohio see what happens to Nazis in the heartland?

Seriously, folks. I'm suprised at the tolerance and restraint of the Toledo gangs in NOT killing these deluded, possibly inbred Americans. I'm gratified by the restraint of the Toledo police in protecting the peace as best they could, even after officers were injured.

Nobody died! No one, not even deluded/occluded, reverse-carpetbagging National Socialists, got shanked and thrown in a ditch, or shot up by parties known/unknown, etc. The cops took some severe lumps and didn't shoot anyone. That is awesome!

Seriously, who likes National Socialism? What positive good is this political unit going to produce, that wouldn't be better served by picking a new name not associated with an atrocity-committing foreign party that is now outlawed in the country of origin?

Were they trying to martyr themselves for a cause primarily associated with death camps? What sick fetish would send them to Toledo? Who benefits?

Anyway, kudos to Toledo for keeping the violence to a minimum, while still flying the flag for decency.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Houston Elections coming up November 8

I picked up a Voters' Guide at Lee's church, presuming it was going to be inintentionally hilarious. It turned out to be a non-partisan guide published by the League of Women Voters. Other than the little sign on the table reminding me about the Defense of Marriage Amendment being on the ballot but not making a voting recommendation (vote NO to hate, folks), there wasn't anything else. Unexpectedly classy.

Mayoral candidates:

Bill White: incumbent, definitely going to win again easy. Best use of office time: enacting stronger Steer-It-Or-Clear-It program. Best sound bite: immediately prior to Hurricane Rita, when asked what Federal assistance he expected to receive, "None at all."

Gladys M. House: Carpet Depot manager. Very short entries on her positions. Eeh, not likely.

Luis Ralph Ullrich, Jr.: Very strongly resembles Santa Claus, and is a mechanical engineer. He's for improved bayous and against tazers and red light cameras. Unlikely that he will win, but I may vote for him anyway.

Jack Terence: Appears to have strong opinions on a number of topics. Supports lowering the MTA tax and increase commercial property taxation. I like his feisty tone, and his attack on the Houston Chronicle's land not being raised tax assessments in the last 8 years. We need more people like this, but I'm not sure the mayor's office is the best place for them.

Anthony M. Dutrow: Socialicious! Ooh, and he's fighting both parties' imperialist war, racism, and economic depression. Supports "a massive federally funded public works program to put millions to work at union scale" which would, of course, have to come from the federal level, not be something he could accomplish from the mayor's office. Plus, that money would have to come from somewhere. Pie-in-the-sky ideas to extend lifetime health care to everyone without cutting present or future Social Security benefits, Medicade, or workers' comp. Very pro-union, which doesn't work in Texas, or, really anywhere, anymore.

There are about 50,000 City Council candidates, so I'll skip analyzing them.

I don't even know which district I'm in, so I don't know if I need to care about the replacement person for Joe Moreno, who died in a traffic accident a few months ago. He was a great guy, by all accounts. If I am voting, it'll be for Laura M. Salinas, who is a U of H graduate like myself, and as she points out, the only candidate who's actually a resident of the district. She's also the only female candidate.

Propositions to amend the Texas Constitution:

Ah, the good stuff. Nothing like good, old-fashioned Texas politics.

Prop 1: Create a dedicated Rail fund. I am for this. The I-10 construction corridor proves, absolutely, that there is no way to keep increasing the density of Houston traffic without marking ourselves indelibly as a car-only city. The I-10 project encourages commuting from Katy and points west. That's great, except it will only fuel greater and greater congestion inside the loop. We need better solutions, and we should borrow money now-it's not going to get any cheaper.

Prop 2: Marriage Amendment: "marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage". I am against this amendment, since: 1. there is already a state statute prohibiting such unions. 2. It's just going to polarize people in the wrong way. Like me: I'll say it right now: If you want to defend marriage, stay married.

The two PRO "arguments" listed in the voter's guide:
1. Oh, this will keep the current law from being challenged in court. Uh, sorry, I thought the current law was bad law, and shielding it via adding it to the Texas Constitution is only going to make reversing it more satisfying.
2. Oh, this won't actually prohibit same sex couples from continuing their lifestyles. Gee, thanks! Seriously, all the analogies I come up with for this involve either Nazi Germany or the Jim Crow South.

Grrrrr, this kind of vile, over-the-top hatred isn't Texan. It's a big state, and there are lots of people in it. Some Texans are gay. Get over it. You got over some Texans being women, and some Texans being black. You can do it, Texas. I believe in you and your giant belt buckles of freedom.

Proposition 3: Clarifies that certain development programs do not constitute a debt. Against. Government attempting long-term programs must be fiscally responsible. If they're writing checks on future income, even grants, they need to cover their future requirements up front.

Proposition 4: Authorizes denial of bail to a criminal defendant who violates a condition of the defendant's release pending trial. Against. I agree, put criminals in jail. Specifically, convict and imprison the actually guilty. This looks like a good way to clog up both the jails and the courts.

Prop 5: Ooh, the legislature wants to be able to set rates on commercial loans! Against. Removing these restrictions will increase legislative cockmongery and promote predatory lending. It's also a bad precedent that could lead to repeal of the other interest rate limits, which would hurt consumers.

Prop 6: Adds people to the State Commision on Judicial Conduct. Against. It attempts to add a county judge to a judicial oversight committee. This removes checks and balances, and encourages corruption.

Prop 7: Would allow Line-of-credit advances on reverse mortgages. Against. This is a blatant, sickening attempt by predatory lenders to speed the theft of seniors' homes.

Prop 8: Something complicated involving land titles in Upshur and Smith County. For. This looks headache-inducing, but if I follow it correctly, some application was filed attempting to steal mineral and property rights from thousands of Texans. The Commissioner called these attempts bogus, and this amendment clears the titles on these Texans' land. Clearing the titles helps the would-be victims of the claim-jumper to move on.

Prop 9: Increases term of Regional Mobility Authority board member from 2 years to 6 years. For. Likely to decrease cost of borrowing by increasing stability of staff, as well as consistency of projects. Also, making this a more powerful position is likely to draw higher-quality candidates.

It's late, and I have to work.

Houston Gamers wrap-up: Ad Acta is cool

I dashed over to the Houston Gamers late Saturday, just long enough to sit down for a game of Ad Acta.

In Ad Acta, all the players are bureaucrats trying to get documents processed and in the central filing cabinets in an order that gives them the most victory points. Each player has a mat with an inbox and an outbox, and on your turn, you either do your own work, or ask people to do their work. Being lazy bureacrats, you only handle the top file on your inbox. Each time you handle a file, you put a paper clip on it to show that your work is done. At the end of each round, a lazy mail-boy comes around and picks up all the documents in your outbox, and distributes them.

The hook: the documents score different points depending on which cabinet they eventually land. Any unfinished document will be negative points. All information is public.

The whole game is quick: ours took about 45 minutes, maybe a little faster than usual since it was two experienced players and two newbies who hate delay.

It's in German, rare, out-of-print, and tough to find. I see that boardsandbits has one for sale for a reasonable price; I'll think about it.

On Subscriptions

I'm a big fan of McSweeney's, especially for little gems like Jim Jarmusch's Notes for a Ghostbusters Sequel.

Noted double-dome Dave Eggers founded the journal as a place for material rejected elsewhere. I haven't quite managed to read any of his books yet, but McSweeney's is a hell of a site, and evidently a decent printed-on-paper-with-actual-ink-and-delivered-by-actual-humans quarterly.

It costs a ton of money for a subscription. However, would I actually read it?

I let my Isaac Asimov's Fantasy & Science Fiction lapse this month. There were 3 unread issues piling up, and that was too many. I feel guilty because the Robert Silverberg columns are great, and there's usually one or two stories a month that are good.

I have so many damn issues of F&SF around. Most of them are mediocre. I only really "treasure" the one with the short story of "The Martian Child," which is getting turned into a John Cusack movie.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wrapping up the week

I hauled almost 3 boxes of books to Half-Price Books. They're all going to end up getting clearanced out. I finally admitted to myself I'm never going to re-read those biographies of key players during the Reagan presidency. I'll never use them to write anything about the farm crisis of the early 1980s. It was time for those books, and others (John DeChancie's Castle Perilous fluff, random literary journals with nothing good in them, random crappy AND outdated computer books, and other garbage) to go. So out they went, and I have $8 now. Whee. I feel empty inside.

There were only 2 books in there that made me feel a twinge: a Hunter S. Thompson book and a Fritz Leiber hardcover collection. Eeh, seriously. I wouldn't have read them for at least another few years. I am pretty sure that most of the rest of my collection is staying as-is, at least until I smooth out the gaps on the shelves, re-organize how my library looks, and decide what else to buy.

I think I may go buy some CDs on I keep hearing songs on the radio and realizing that I wouldn't mind owning them, if I could do it for $4 or so. Many albums on have dropped down to the seventy-five cent range. That's kinda sad, even though most of them deserve it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Weird day at work

What I did on my birthday:

1. brought donuts for the entire department, which got me hailed as "the man" and also "the bomb," in earnest.
2. gave my copy of Runebound to my friend Tom, since his son Chris is ~13 and will utterly groove on it.
3. actually worked some.
4. gave away a bag of comics to a friend at work.

I talked about blogs and stuff with a couple of my department managers . Soo, if Jeff or Scott are reading this right now, see, I'm still totally harmless and not giving away vital/deadly secrets at all.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: Yeah, I signed up with Google AdSense. It's this ad program.
Jeff: It paid you... (quizzical pause)
Me: Uh, nothing yet. Seriously, Flexo makes great cash. It's beer money if it ever does pay out.
Scott: (unconvinced grunt).
Me: (flailing for Scott's interests): It's gun money!
Jeff: Well, reload money, maybe.
Scott: (convinced grunt).

It was kinda cool. I talked about Robert Scoble and Raymond Chen's Microsoft blogs, and Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users blog. I didn't talk about Mike Pope or Elizabeth Grigg or Rory Blyth. I didn't talk about how our company is discussed on industry message boards. I didn't talk about needing to fit what I do at work into a larger sense of technology's progress overall, or how I'm worried that our company lives in a vacuum, or that we ask simultaneously too much and too little from our new hires.

Jeff's our department Access guru, and my boss' boss. Scott will come up and ask me weird , intricate questions out of nowhere. That's my element, so it works out pretty well. I've solved some oddball problems over the years.

Jeff had found my earlier Angelfire page a couple of years ago and read my anime and game reviews (and did not fire me or mock me in public in any way, so that says a lot about Jeff's tolerance and coolness level--after having seen more than the first few episodes, I can say with confidence: Love Hina sucks). They haven't read good blogs, so they can't imagine how blogs can be useful. Until you read Joel Spolsky and he destroys your company's business model, you don't understand the power of blogs. Raymond Chen's put a face on Microsoft for me. It's not an evil empire. They're just guys, trying to get by, just like us except for having tons of Microsoft stock.

I talked to my grandpa

You know, the feisty one. He's getting a physical in preparation for cataract surgery (probably) next week. He has one eye, and it's time to take care of the cataracts on it. Sooo, he's going to be in the hospital, totally blind, for two days, minimum.


(I also talked to my other set of grandparents, and they are doing well, having recently enjoyed a long bus tour of Alaska.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bargains abound

Toys-R-Us is having a 2-for-1 sale on Hasbro games, which the learned elite love.

Plus, it's really, really easy to get a little teeny discount (1.57%) on, just by doing a few searches at I only needed a half-dozen, spread over a week, before they turned on the discount. Since I'm not buying a whole lot at Amazon, that's 1.57% of nothing. Still, I like free stuff.

Also, Brad DeLong serves the H.P. Lovecraft-themed beats.

Monday, October 10, 2005

We had a baby!

Friday, October 7, at 11:33 am, Lee and I welcomed Cordelia Jane Watson Derscheid into the world.

Then Lee had some French toast and orange juice:

Alexis was happy to meet her new sister:

Then we all took a long nap.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My people do a good thing...

Katrina relief efforts, geek style. Very nice, indeed.

Rory: I can't believe I'm in the blogosphere. Paris: See for yourself. Google 'Rory Gilmore Sex Boat'.

Sweet. Gilmore girls: Spacy chicks on speed. How fast can they talk? How much can they talk? Very fast, and a lot!

That Rory is medium foxy, and Lorelai is well-nigh totally hot. I sure am glad I videotaped this episode for viewing later, recording it on videotape in accordance with court-upheld fair use doctrine.

Again, sweet.

Aargh!! Movie-dispensing robot box is broken!

I went to return The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy DVD to the red robot box that rents movies.

Unfortunately, there was a sorry screen displaying: "Sorry, machine is broken. Call 800 number for rental return instructions. "

You have to understand, when I rent movies from a robotic box, there's an implied contract between the box and I. The machine broke that contract. I paid a dollar a day, plus tax, to rent a movie WITHOUT talking to another human being.

I'm not just paying a dollar for the convenience of renting whatever movie is in the innards of a robotic box. I'm paying money to obviate the human presence. When I press a button, it is genocide, writ small. Die, humans!

Sooo, I dialed the 800 number, pressed one for English, did not marque dos para Espanol, and wandered around phone hell. I tried to talk to a human being, and ended up leaving a message: "Okay, you guys! It's on now! This is totally going on my blog!" The message told me their hours were 8 am to midnight (it's before midnight).

I called back again, navigated phone hell again, got a customer service guy who told me to write a code on a piece of paper, and stuff the DVD and paper into a lockbox strapped to the back of the red robot. That lockbox is small, and probably won't fit all the rented DVDs in it. Fortunately, mine did fit, so I could go buy paper towels and fudge-coated graham crackers for a certain ladyfriend with a cravin'.

It's been said before: Don't Make Me Think!

What went wrong:

1. Machine was broken.
2. Had to call 800 number (duh, not everyone has a phone).
3. Wasn't clear how to get to the customer service person.
4. Wasn't clear I needed to get to a customer service person. I was expecting a menu option like "Oh, machine is broken. We love you long time."
5. I had to write down a code.
6. That little lock-box might have been full.
7. I got a message telling me their operating hours, then left a message, and was immediately disconnected, forcing me to call back.
8. Had to talk to a human being.
9. Couldn't rent another movie immediately.
10. Now have to wonder whether they've gotten machine fixed or not, so I can go rent another movie.

What went right:

1. This rental was free.
2. Guy on phone didn't suck at all. Repeat: guy on phone did not suck AT ALL.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mystical Empire: A first glance

I got home after a hard day of work (grr SO ANGRY!) and what do I find in the mail, but a starter set of the new Mystical Empire card game.

The Good:
They sent me a starter set at their own expense, so I could hypothetically love it and demonstrate it everywhere. It includes a rebate offer for booster boxes purchased through my local retailer - I love this!

I'm still reading the rules, but the starter set includes enough cards for two players to play, plus a booster pack. The cards are all in a set order, so the two players can actually play a sample game from start to finish, and get good examples.

The cover of the starter set includes sweet art by Don Maitz.

The Bad:

There's too much stuff on the cards. Most have at least 8 numbers on them. Eight! That's almost as many as the ill-fated X-Files CCG, which had cool cards and a couple of sweet mechanics (resource pools, Q&A to solve X-Files) but sucked overall (too many phases, buying a box of booster packs still didn't make good decks, cards not playable with standard rules, lots of numbers on cards, etc., etc.)

There are dwarves on these cards. Also ghouls. Also skulls. I cracked open the booster pack, and two of the cards are titled "Devil's Contract" and "Sacrificial Lamb." Seriously, guys. I know Iron Maiden made some good songs the year I was born, but dang, can you get more cliche AND faux-offensive?

The "starter decks" are really, really small. There are exactly 50 cards TOTAL, 25 in each deck, plus a 10-card starter pack.

Their demo team is called the M.E.G.A Extreme Team. I'm already a Demo Monkey and a Mad Labs Rabbit. It looks like their reward program might involve a cash kickback... that would be novel.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Where did my memory go?

Tonight I dug out all the old computers, and realized I scavenged most of the RAM out of them a way back, as well as stuck any extra memory sticks in there. Specifically, I had two plastic bags with a bunch of old sticks of memory.

So where are they? Where is that memory? Is it in the spare bedroom, shortly to become Alexis' room? Is it on a shelf in a closet upstairs? Did I give it to a friend on a whim, thinking it was past the shelf life, and good riddance?

Lazy Sunday

Larry came over and I surprised us all by cooking a fine meal of penne and chicken. Lee, Larry, and I indulged in a game of San Juan. Larry and I broke open my copy of Jambo, and so I got to play it for the first time. It was interesting, but I'll need to play a couple more times before I'm sold.

Houston Gamers wrap-up, also Hey Stupid Kids, Comics!

I got in a few hours at the Houston Gamers on Saturday. I taught a bunch of people how to play Reiner Knizia's Money, which was good. It's a great filler, it's cheap, it's easy to get, I love playing it; I really ought to pick up a copy. I also mis-taught several rules. Eeh, it's not rocket science.

I also played a 4-player game of San Juan, which I won in the last round by dropping a Guild Hall and going from 23 points, last place, to 37 points, first place. It was interesting.

Other than that, I talked to John, the owner. He's a month away from getting married, and we chatted a little about that. We also chatted about comics a lot, and he recommended "The Walking Dead" and "Ultra," both of which he:

1. sounded me out on general principles.
2. gave me a good sound bite.
3. physically put a trade paperback in my hands so I knew what it looked like and how the art was.
4. talked up the book without putting other books down.

"The Walking Dead" turns out to be classic zombie survival horror. "Hmm, Robert Kirkman, isn't he the guy that draws Invincible?" I asked.

"Yes, but The Walking Dead is his best book," John reported. I raised an eyebrow, and I read through the first third of the book right there. Damned if he wasn't right. Totally efficient, page-turning stuff. The first trade is only ten bucks. As John pointed out, that's cheaper than buying the comics in the first place!

We also agreed that Fables has mediocre art, and that early Starman and Ultimate Spiderman are great. Specifically, we both fixated on the scene where Spiderman, only 16 in this series, has broken into the Wilson Fisk building, knowing that he will probably meet up with the Kingpin. When the two meet, Spiderman is ready, with a series of fat jokes he has composed specifically for this occasion.

So, yeah. As the old saying goes, "Hey, stupid kids, comics!"

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Baby blogger