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Last weekend, it was some hangout time and swimming at the community college on Saturday that got bumped by excessive snowfall.

This weekend, it was the swimming (Sat night) and my daughter's baptism (Sunday morning), as well as an afternoon get-together after the events at the church. Well, the community college is outright closed, the church has closed, and there's no way in heck there would be enough parking shoveled clear for more than a couple visitors. The TV said there was as much as 29 inches of snow in my area. That is a very rare snowfall amount for around here.

At least I got to chat with some of my neighbors while shoveling. The biggest general complaint was that it was too quickly we would run out of places to put the snow without having to lift it up over our heads. On one side, the man and his college age son were shoveling out the truck they parked in the street. So where we met at the end of my driveway I dug through so they could stop hauling the snow around to the other side of the vehicle. They were nice and helped me shovel out the end of my driveway.

After that, on the other side I noticed my neighbor and his 3-year-old son getting their picture taken on top of a big snowpile. I wandered over so the picture-taker (the neighbor's wife) could get into the picture. And then ended up helping them finish shoveling the driveway. I was offered a beer for my trouble. Of course I accepted. Digging is thirsty work.

I wouldn't have been able to get as much done as I did without the help or without sapphireblue doing some "starter runs" earlier in the day to clear a path out to the street. And I'm hearing rumors of more snow on the way later this week. Greaaaaaat. It'd be a great time for skiing, but it may be a few years before that gets on the travel itinerary.

Got daughter #1 to bed and daughter #2 is fading. Time for some Xbox, ice cream and then well-earned sleep.

- Pookah

The enormous piles of snow outside drifting in the wind have basically rendered all travel around Baltimore into purely wishful thinking. So, that means I have plenty of time indoors. Generally speaking, that means entertaining daughters and video games. But in terms of exercising my brain, there is writing to be done.

And having reached the end of Assassin's Creed 2, I was reminded of two things:
1) I have yet to finish Lost Odyssey (though I am on Disc 4 of 4)
2) I have a second character who is halfway through Dragon Age: Origins, who is actually the first I created, but the dwarven warrior I made second was much better in combat before I got the hang of the combat system.

My second character just happened to finally acquire the first force for his alliance ... which is shortly followed by the arrival of of one Zevran of the Crows amidst a caravan-related ambush. One thought led to another, and that is where an off-hand comment about Zevran fanfic got my brain turning. Not in any lemony terms mind you (if you snickered, you get a point), but I have read enough of girl Gray Wardens going gaga over Alistair to get a sense of where Zevran's slight sense of smarm might have landed him. I know I certainly didn't trust him very much on my first full playthrough.

Also gives me an excuse to break in Google Wave. So ... if you have a Wave account and want to be in on the drafting process while I take a stab at this, let me know.

- Pookah

PS: For S&G purposes, I will be referring to the Warden by name as Shepherd if at all. Because I can, though it may be better to stick to avoid her name altogether.

Snow is Falling

... and it will probably mean that swimming in the heated pool at the community college will be cancelled for a second straight week. Blah. Anticipation of large amounts of snow has already cancelled my daughter's music class on Saturday morning.

I did take a long walk in the falling snow with my daughter today. It went well as we walked and chatted. She waved to a few cars. She also got sent to "time out" in her class today. Throwing toys (particularly in the direction of other kids) is not allowed. We'll have to work on that with her. Instituting a "beat-the-clock" game for the bedtime ritual has cut down on the not-terribly-effective cajoling. If she dawdles I just mention the time, and only the very first time was she close to getting only one story instead of two.

The story went decently, IMHO. I need to re-collect some of my story notes and see how this Google Wave thing works.

And even gaming options may be approaching. *crosses fingers* Don't want to jinx it and get THAT snowed out. Heh.

- Pookah

Commute From Hell!

Today's commute was the roughest I've had in a while.

The morning sun had snarled traffic on the northeast corner of the city as it can sometimes do. That made me late for my usual commuter train. Well, that and the fact that I had not counted on my windshield being frosted over. It didn't seem that humid yesterday evening. It didn't seem that much colder today than the day before. Seeming doesn't make a difference, so I ended up scraping ice and fighting traffic.

Traffic won, I was late. In the rush I even left my cell phone and glasses at home. But it got worse when I got to the subway. I can't say I wanted to get to work but being even later was not an option, so I hopped on the first train that pulled in. That was a mistake. The smell should have been a warning. I'm not sure how I didn't notice before I got on the train, but there they were, pigs taking over half the seats. I should probably call them hogs. The tops of their heads were around the height of my waist and they clearly outweighed me. My nose should have caught them before my eyes did. I've been next to homeless folks with less of a stench about them.

I'm sure it had to take some kind of lie to get them on board. I mean seriously, who lets pigs onto a subway train! What were they, service pigs? Give me a break. There was only one man willing or able to sit in the middle of all the pigs. I guessed they were his since they paid him no mind. As they milled about the end of the car no one could even get by to use the seats if they wanted to. At the second stop there were people who wouldn't even board the train. This was going way too far.

I could tell no one else on the train was willing to say anything. They all averted their eyes or were conveniently looking away. So I told the man what I thought of the whole service pig idea. He didn't take kindly to that and repaid me with a a solid stare. Creepy isn't the half of it. EACH ONE OF THOSE DAMN SOWS WAS LOOKING AT ME. How do you train pigs to do that? Old Billy Ray or whatever his name is simply whistled and before I could do anything about it I was cornered against the doors as bad as a rush hour crush, swarmed by swine! Worse yet, they hustled me out the door at the next stop like they were bouncing me from a bar. Their bar. Hey, I ride the Metro every workday, it should be MY turf if it belonged to anybody. And they just STARED, daring me to jump back on. Yeah, the doors closed before I could do anything about it. I mean, frankly, I wasn't going to go crowdsurfing in a subway car on a bunch of smelly rude-ass hogs. Would you? That's not even fair. And the people on the train were just looking at me like it was MY fault, or pretending not to look and burying their noses in newspaper. So maaaaaaybe I made a scene and cussed the guy out as the train pulled away ... there's no way I'm the first loud cussing guy at a train station they've ever seen.

The next train took ten minutes to get there. I was so late I missed my first conference call. And my coworkers thought the smell was me! Damn pigs. Couldn't they have just stayed at their end of the car! It's not like I could just go home and shower! My house is the next state over!

That's it. I'm having pork chops for dinner. Serves them right, those righteous bastards. Couldn't even share a seat. Heh, serves them right. I like that pun. Or maybe I should have some corn. A lot of corn. That would be good right now. And a bath. My nose hasn't felt right all day. I need to donate these pants anyway. They're still good but way too tight. Why didn't I notice this morning? I had to take off my belt at lunchtime. This hat doesn't fit either. Were my ears always this big? God I'm hungry. I can barely type straight I'm so hungry. Maybe ribs. With potatoes. And carrots. After a snack. Why do they make these potato chip bags so hard to open? I'll take it out on the carrots. I'll be back after I raid the fridge.

- Pookah

PS: Oh yeah, happy Rabbit Hole Day.
PSS: Credit where credit's due. Thanks to rikkila for giving me a better idea than either of the two I thought I'd write, and to bansidhe for the best I've read. Trust me, this one from 2006 and this follow-up are the best I've read (not counting this year).

Event Planning

This week was the start of GenCon registration. After going to either Origins or GenCon for so many years, it's weird to be completely out of the picture for both.

There's a part of me that would love to go; there's a part of me that remembers having one of those cinematic scenes last year when I was dropped off at the airport by my wife and daughter where I was forcing myself to look forward and keep walking so I wouldn't be waving and crying. There's also a part of me that thinks I retold one good story from last year way too many times ... and I don't know whether that means I should quit now or should definitely go so I can find a better note. There's someone else I know who also lived off of one story from knowing me, retold for years, and I don't want to become that guy. On several levels.

I've got plenty of stories of my own gaming. The RPG event from last year that screams dick move. The most legendary story of my GM tenure was a failure so epic I've hung up the books since then. I'm known for taking too long on my turns and talking through all kinds of strategy to excess. Hell, one night I considered sticking around a get-together to play games with people, a new guy showed up and slagged one of my favorites so hard I opted out.

I don't exactly get many good gaming opportunities as it is. Being a parent of 2 compresses the schedule. Working in DC takes a lot out of me, too. A reputation that borders on bad gamer, however you define it, certainly isn't going to help anything.

There have been some good moments. I would never have expected that playing Ticket to Ride: Europe on a Saturday evening was how I would spend the night just before my daughter was born. It's less surprising that I played Memoir '44 against two of my DC bowling buddies late in the year and proceeded to get steamrolled but still had some fun doing it.

I should probably get back in the habit of having a deck of cards and a cribbage board handy. Cribbage bakes a lot of strategy into quick hands and it's easier to get a pickup game going, even if you're not destined to play for long. I've found myself with a bad case of the fidgets too often lately.

To heck with my own drama. I'm just jones-ing for a decent game. Xbox 360 only gets me so far, and even then I haven't been able to compare notes with people about good games like Dragon Age: Origins. Maybe some weekend like late February could get some people to play something. Have to plan ahead nowadays. To bring it full circle, that's what a games convention is on a larger scale. Lots of people in one place to play all kinds of games, planned well in advance. Now if only there wasn't so much travel involved ... heh.

- Pookah

A Good Day Is Not Exploding

I've been quiet on my LJ too long. Due to busyness, so it's actually misleading. There's been plenty I could have written about.

So today is notable for a traffic hearing about a red light camera that took pictures and sent me a ticket, and the pictures prove I did NOT make a right turn on red.

Yesterday was notable because of the title. Our gas range had an electric malfunction and showed weird numbers and buzzed and blinked and ... leaked grease from the corner of the control panel. That's odd because the panel is elevated above the burners. Not where you'd expect anything like that to be coming from. Some cooldown time and inspection later, and by reconstructing the events we found the probable cause. It was almost certainly caused by steam leaking from the edge of a covered pan where ground beef was being browned. The pan was on one of the back burners, and the control panel part has a scant few inches of overhang. That cover is probably what focused the steam that came out from the cooking and this time that spot happened to be under that overhang.

My dad helped me look at it. He and sapphireblue helped me pull it away from the counter, and he made an extra trip home to get some Torx screwdriver heads so we could open up the panel. Sure enough, there were only minor grease spots and no burn marks or residue. It probably just overheated and thankfully seems to be back in working order. The electrical board back behind there really isn't that big.

So we now know that back burner + large pan + cover = bad idea. No gas smell, no explosions, good times. And dinner last night ended up coming from the microwave or eaten cold. =D Just in case.

- Pookah

Dec. 10th, 2009

And as for today's first, this was the first time I remember reading an anime review that mentioned Call of Cthulhu NOT FOR THE MYTHOS references or monsters, but because there was an anime so bad the reviewer said it caused sanity loss.

Followed by another review that started off with lyrics from Trogdor.

That's a good start to the day.

- Pookah

Today ...

... my youngest daughter is one month and one day old. She has now discovered how to make her voice extra loud when she is really angry. It's a family trait.

... my oldest daughter used the word "complicated" correctly in a sentence. She was talking about mazes.

... my wife took advantage of the warm-yet-damp weather to rake the leaves in the front yard.

... I made my contributions to world peace sent lots of email. LOTS of email.

Yeah, I've been outdone in just about all except the payscale column.

- Pookah

14 hour shift, DONE

Wow. Software releases can be a real ordeal. But I even got pulled in to diagnose a strange new problem that stumped a whole large team, and we even had some red herring side effects that never quite solved the whole puzzle until I finally got to the bottom of it. With help, that is. Made me feel like House, especially since that was at the end of this monster shift from hell and I was saying more than half of what was on my mind as we worked it through.

Time to go home.

- Pookah

Sleep Finally Wins

It just took some ... time ... to get there.