Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Then it was just a matter of figuring out which story to tell first. And that was where things got sticky. Because after thinking about it for a few days I finally decided that most of the family stories just wouldn’t work. Too many of them are kind of... well... pointless, when you get right down to it. Just Julie being Julie, or Jan being Jan. Which is all good fun when you’ve lived with these people all your life, but probably isn’t very interesting to anyone outside the family. Probably? Definitely. I’d actually told most of these stories to my friends and they’d usually just go, "Umm... yeah, okay, thanks for sharing." The only story that I could remember always got a reaction out of people was—
Why, this one, of course.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
- Adam Cadre's dissection of Stranger in a Strange Land is pretty interesting. He even explains how one can cringe at Heinlein's writing and still enjoy the book.
- I didn't know there was a shorter contest inspired by the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest, called the Lyttle Lytton. "This story is a murder mystery -- the mystery of a murder."
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
- You store papers in envelopes. Big letter-size manila envelopes with the ends cut off to make it easier to add/remove papers.
- You use a bookcase, not a file cabinet.
- You stand the envelopes up on your shelf.
- You select one end of the shelf as the front side. You add new files there.
- When you add a paper to the system, you grab an envelope, write a title at the top, and a date at the bottom, and add it at the front.
- Every time you pull a file, for any reason, when you're done with it, you return it to the front. As a result, frequently-used files stay at the front, and rarely-used files migrate to the back.
- Every now and then, check the back of the system, and see what files can be purged from it.
- If a file is really old and near the back, but you can't bear to throw it out for whatever reason, you can move it to a box. These files are considered "holy files" or "dead files". I can imagine they might be records you don't expect to reference, but keep for legal or tax reasons.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
At the peak of its efficiency in the early 16th century, the Arsenal employed some 16,000 people who apparently were able to produce nearly one ship each day, and could fit out, arm, and provision a newly-built galley with standardized parts on a production-line basis not seen again until the Industrial Revolution.
The staff of the Arsenal also developed new firearms at an early date, beginning with bombards in the 1370s and numerous small arms against the Genoese a few years later.
I'm imagining a story set within this vast organization, against the backdrop of Venetian imperial aspirations. Or something. Venice is a great topic all by itself, but it particularly fascinates me how the Italian city-states were able to maintain far-flung empires.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
But then I started thinking about this goal that I now often take for granted. It's a great thing when I'm keeping up with it. I've been writing every day, and I did a ton of writing last month too...and that's the pattern of my life. I get home, we feed the kids and put them to bed, and I write for an hour, sometimes two.
I'm watching less TV. It's going to be harder now that a new season of Heroes is back.
The write-every-day goal isn't enough when there are other things going on. But when I pair it up with a goal like "get this contest entry done by the 15th" or "get a draft of 'Dragon Hunter' sent to someone for review by the 30th", it works great.
When I look back at the past couple of years, I can see that I've stepped up my fiction writing; I'm spending a lot more time on it than in previous years, I'm learning a lot, and I'm finishing projects. Things seem to take forever while I'm working on them, but give me an external deadline and I can put everything else aside. I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago...fifty thousand words in a month is something to be proud of.
It's harder with internal deadlines, and I'm not surprised when the Dragon Hunter draft goal has hung around for a couple of months. Now I here I am finishing a readable draft of it -- my other writing goal this month. This makes me very happy -- and lets me get back to the story I put aside for Dragon Hunter, "The Wonder Kid."
And I'll get there, by writing every day.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
one that you're just itching to write -- something sweet enough that you can dangle it on a stick in front of yourself so that you can say, "When I've done these next three chapters, I'll get to write that one.I think sometimes, on a project, I'll write all the candy-bar scenes up front, and then stall on finishing all the scenes that bridge it and tie everything together. It wouldn't have occurred to me to parcel them out to myself piecemeal.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
My three-year-old daughter often asks me to draw things for her. Recently she asked me to draw her three tiny dinosaurs.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Here's one I'm fond of. I might try this year if my plans to be Dr. Horrible go horribly awry:
I dunno whether the doll body thing is going to work the way I imagine it. This one needs a mockup, but I haven't so far been willing to rip the head off of one of my kids' dolls...
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Here's something easy you can do with a batch file. Say you have a laptop you tote between work and home, and you have want to back up a file before you use it, but only when you're at the office. I say office, but any two computing environments might work. Use this trick to write a batch file that you use to launch the file...backing it up before launching it.
Use the batch IF command to create some behavior that only occurs in one of your environments.
IF keys off of the existence of a file or folder, so you need some distinction of that sort. But usually, you'll have access to some mapped drive letter in one environment that you won't have in the other.
So, write your commands like this
IF NOT EXIST X:\WORKFOLDER GOTO :NOTATWORK
xxx commands to be run when you're at work xxx
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The temperature went on rising. Spiderweb cracks formed on the glass of the containment chamber an instant before the explosion. the pain was like burning or drowning, and it went on and on, unbearable. I wanted to faint, to leave my body. When you can't bear something but it goes on anyway, the person who survives isn't you anymore; you've changed and become someone else, a new person, the one who did bear it after all. The formula saturated my body, and I changed.
I used to have a real life; I used to be someone who went on vacation to Brazil. I used to be able to walk down a street without getting stared at, and lie on a bed, and talk to a man who would look at me in something approaching a normal way.Mentiac predicts that in the very far future, the stars will have cycled through all possible stages of their fusion reactions, from hydrogen to helium and so on down the periodic table to iron. And then there will be a true iron age, when every atom in the universe will have turned to iron, everything transmuted by inexorable centuries to basest metal, even high-tech alloys, even diamonds. Everything. In my imagination, iron stars orbited by iron planets float through an iron galaxy in an iron void. But even then it won't be over. There's always a Rust Age.
My style of work takes a lot of preparation. I build things and test them out. I have to order parts, or cast them myself. I have to pull all-nighters to debug my robots' pathfinding routines before an invasion. It isn't that interesting to other people.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I like it because it's pretty simple and freeform, rules-light and elegant. It has a few concepts and it uses them consistently. You can make up pretty much any character you like with it, and rate them, and still not unbalance the game. You can call your characters abilities what you like...but your character gets the same number of dice as any other, so it'll still be fair.
But the most interesting things about it are in the mechanics that allow the players some measure of the kind of control usually relegated to the gamemaster.
The gamemaster can't and shouldn't make a detailed map beforehand, because players can create landscape and building features during play. This power, normally reserved for the GM, is shared with the players when the players make successful die rolls; the players can use some of the successes they achieve to erase wounds, create objects, or assert reality.
For example, a player who is trying to open a door makes a really good roll and gets 3 successes. Each success can become 1 fact in the game. The player can decide to state things like this:
1. There is a troll behind the door.
2. The troll has her back to the player.
3. The troll's weapon is on the far side of the room.
So it's not just that players are allowed to do this stuff...it's that their access to this power is metered out by the rules of the game. That's fascinating stuff.
One thing I noticed when playing this with my small kids, though, is that one of these more modern, simple, and elegant games -- one that expects you to make most of it up on the spot -- has problems for kids. Kids don't have the vast array of canned creatures, plots, etc. that a longtime genre fiction reader like myself has (or any adult who has watched years of TV). Yes, I know they're watching vast amounts of TV too. Maybe it's the fact that they didn't try to memorize the Monster Manual years ago.
I should probably quit whining and introduce my kids to some of the online resources available for Dungeons & Dragons, and use all of that. I have to admit that though I like the make-it-yourself aesthetic, it sometimes dissuades me from playing, thinking that I'll have to make everything up. You really have to be able to think on your feet.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It sounds like three guys talking about random stuff. But it's distinguished by a few things:
- It has a certain radio morning show quality -- three guys talking -- but it's been edited to remove the boring bits.
- Each of the three hosts seems willing to follow up on any crazy idea suggested by the others. Someone suggests something. The others take it and twist it and it goes weird fast. This aspect of suggesting, in apparent seriousness, wacky ideas is one of the things I love best.
- As a result of the above, it's quickly building up it's own language. Hmm. That's not really unique. But I do like the things they come up with.
- I like the fact that it's very simple. Although it's edited, it's not heavily edited. It's just been snipped.
Of course, I think all three of these guys are really close to my age. So there's that.
The only problem I have with this podcast is that there isn't enough of it.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
I thought the machine was completely hosed, but I put the main drive into a USB enclosure that we borrowed from a friend, and connected it to a laptop, and ran a
command on the drive, from the DOS prompt.
The command found a bunch of lost chains on the disk, and fixed them, and afterwards, I was able to reinstall the drive and boot it normally. Everything was fine.
Not only that, but I found some e-mail files that had been "lost" before. I assume the chkdsk command recovered those.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
She buys it. Then at checkout, she sees a roly-poly lantern she wants. She buys that too.
On the way out, I tell her, "You know you just spent all your money. You should keep some back, in case of an emergency, or something else you want to buy."
She gets real serious. "Daddy, I'm a kid." She waits a beat.
"I don't really have emergencies." Another beat.
"And if there was an emergency, you'd pay for it."
That was true enough. But she kept going on. "The only emergency I'll ever have is a toy I can't afford." "If I really needed something, you'd buy it for me." She said it several more ways, amounting to the same thing, until finally I said, "Stop, stop! I get it, okay?"
Then she said, "You lecture me, I lecture you!"
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Here's a report on the most recent workshop, from an attendee. He said it was like a mini and very exclusive scifi con. Jay Lake, a writer I've recently read a lot of , was one of the attendees, as well as Mary Robinette Kowal.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
But I was struck by this item:
She and her husband, Todd, have four children, Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper
That's a heck of a string of unusual names. Clearly they learned as they went along. I like Willow and Piper. But Track? Bristol? Makes me wish I'd named a kid Liverpool.
No: name them Essex and Sussex, but preach to them about abstinence their whole lives.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I'd buy myself a present, but I just bought a copy of the Grant Morrison graphic novel The Invisibles Vol. 1. I've read about half of it, it looks good. Secret groups associated with magic and battling behind the scenes of the workaday world.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
For example, I'm scared of large dogs. But I think I would fight a medium-sized dog with my bare hands to save one of my kids.
But I don't think I'd face a lion for one of them. I mean, I've got other kids.
Maybe I can work my way up to lion-tamer status. Start with wolves, for example. Is there a computer simulation for this kind of thing?
And heights are right out.
Monday, September 01, 2008
I want one of these in every future version of every word processor, please.
You've seen this on any web search page. You're just probably not used to seeing it in a desktop application. This feature is awesome, and I'll tell you why.
Suppose you're editing a document for variations on a term like WebLogic. You want to inspect all the places where it's used and make sure they're correct. Maybe you want to use the longer name "BEA WebLogic" in some places, not in others. A good search report will give you lots of help:
- It'll display a total of hits, so you know instantly how much editing you've got ahead of you.
- It'll show the hits in context, highlighting the search term.
- You can use this feature to edit incrementally and check your progress. For example, you can make some changes, then rerun the search and see how many items you have left to fix.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I took ten photos with my cell phone camera, but it has no zoom: none of them were worth looking at. You couldn't even be sure there were deer in the frame at all.
I'm nearly at my year's goal of 100 rides already: the price of gas, and my car's doddering ways, have been phenomenal motivators. Next year I think I'm going to aim for 150 or more rides. And I've been trying to work from home a little to reduce the number of car trips even further. The idea there is to work from home on days when I need to run an errand...because the need to run an errand with my car is the prime reason for ever using my car at all. If I can solve that, then really rainy days are the only ones that'll get me into the tin box.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
This is right on so many levels.
- It's a creative use of Lego.
- It's an interesting spaceship with lots of interior detail.
- The choice of a Space Dwarf is a nice oddity, and the thing has lots of dwarf-specific details, like a beer stein, a pig for later eating...
- Mjolnir brings in a nice Thor and comics reference and is highly recognizable. Ordinarily I think I'd hate a spaceship that was shaped like something else. But Mjolnir is holy!
Oh yeah. She's a girl!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Maas advises you to wait until your royalties pay enough to cover your expenses. This makes a lot of sense. Other writing monies, especially advances, are more likely to fluctuate.
He also advises getting 3 to 5 books in print and selling well first...saying that this is a strong indicator you've got a tidy authorial brand going, a long-term business. And he admits people aren't likely to follow his advice...that they make this decision from excitement and from the heart.
This is an exciting idea and scary way to think. Why plan on writing one novel? Let's dream about the day when you've got five novels in print and making money at the same time.
But heck, if you don't dream about it, plan for it, how will you ever get there? It's not like I haven't thought this way all my life. But Maas's expression of this is very practical. I know I always saw myself as a published novelist, but I don't think I thought about what it would really take to make a living from novels. Developing a string of books and a loyal readership will take years, and that's what you need to make noveling pay the bills.
I remember having Madonna posters all over my bedroom when I was 17. I thought they would shock my parents, what with all the crucifixes she wore. I didn't actually have the
So she's 50 now. And I'm almost 40 and I have three kids. So I'm going through the terribly usual feelings, I think. I have days where I wonder what the heck I've done with the 39 years I've had so far. I usually laugh those off, but it's not always easy.
I know: I've been accumulating life experience for future writing...while being a technical writer. Hmm. Perhaps I should have gone into military technical writing. More experience, faster. But in that case, I think I might be dead. Of boredom. Having to number section in 126.96.36.199 format would just about kill me.
But then I pick up my littlest one, or debut a new juggling routine, or actually turn a phrase that I like in a piece of fiction, and I know one thing: I'm getting better at all the things I care about, day by day.
Madonna, if you ever start feeling your age and you need to talk about it, you know where to find me.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The basis of play is throwing dice and choosing to retain or reroll them. You start with three dice on your turn; you roll them, and choose to "lock" one or more of them. Then you reroll the others. Each time you lock a die, you can reroll the rest, until all of them are locked.
You make your choices in order to achieve poker-like combinations such as a straight or three of a kind. When you achieve one of the combinations on a chart, you get one of the game's character cards. For example, if you roll 3 of a kind, you get the Guard, who allows you to bring an extra die into your hand every turn. Every card you acquire improves your dice-rolling abilities.
Some of the character cards allow you to change the values on dice, others add additional dice. In the game I played, it seemed like you had a good chance to achieve one useful combination or another every turn, so your choices centered around which card to aim for in a turn. You're only allowed to have one card of any given type, and there are always fewer cards available than there are players (that is, if there are four players, then there are less than four Guard cards available).
The top card is the King, and when someone acquires it, the endgame begins. Everyone gets one more turn to try and court the King to themself, and the last person holding it wins.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In any case, recently the Lolbat returned to the PVP saga. The Lolbat first appeared back in June.
There, I feel better.
We let the kitten have the run of the house for the first time yesterday, and while we were out, it knocked one of the hamster habitats off its table, separating it into its many Lego-like components andspraying wood shavings everywhere.
I'm beginning to think that putting the kids' computer next to the hamsters may not be a great idea.
We came home to find the hamster AWOL. Later he was discovered in the mouth of our terrier, a little damp but otherwise fine. Apparently our dog is more than willing to be a hamster taxi.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm working my way through it and making some notes on some of the questions it asks you to ask yourself. I think it's going to provide a lot of value.
He asks you to think about why you write, and talks about writing not just one book, but five or more, to create a growing readership. He talks about trying to keep your books in print while you put out other books. It makes a lot of sense.
(I should mention that I found this because of Gav Thorpe's excellent blog Mechanical Hamster, which is full of writing advice.)
Monday, August 25, 2008
My sister found a great guy and married him. She never considered how that would affect me. Since he was great, I suddenly had a new person to buy gifts for.
The mature thing to do would have been to get to know him. But that's so much work. So I just decided that he liked ducks.
So far, I've gotten him a wooden duck, a rubber duck, and some canned faux duck meat. Before this, I didn't know there was such a thing as faux duck meat. You learn so much when you give.
Lately my sister and her beau have started giving ME duck things. I don't know who they think they are, changing the rules like that, but that's what happens when you let a meme out.
I seriously considered hinting to the rest of his family about his obsession with ducks, to see if I could get them to buy him duckstuff, but I had to draw the line somewhere. That's just mean. Plus, it would be a lot of work.
Last Christmas, my sister and her hubby gave me some boxers with the tasteful legend "Butt Quack" on them. But it was all right, because later, when they went to see his family, his own mom gave him an identical pair.
I swear I've never spoken to the woman.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I'm forming the impression that this is a problem for a lot of writers, which would be good to know. Then I wouldn't be so depressed and could get down to the business of learning how to plot properly.
Okay, so clearly THAT'S the thing to do...learn how to plot properly. And I'm trying. Here's an article I found that is interesting, because it makes a distinction between plot and story that I think could be useful. It's specifically about screenwriting, but don't let that hold you back.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
- Cut a bar of Ivory soap into thirds.
- Place one piece in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for one minute.
- Remove and enjoy foamy goodness.
It looks like shaving cream, feels like sticky powder. The soap expands tremendously. It's a simple chemistry experiment that's well worth doing. This page has a lot more info; among other things, it says non-Ivory soap doesn't have enough trapped air to foam up and will just melt.
Tanya was watching a cooking show called Food Detectives and they did this and she then tried it with our oldest daughter and it was good.
If you get on YouTube you can find a bunch of videos of this.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Then I thought...maybe I should go to the convention too. And it was ridiculous that I'd never been to Armadillocon before. So I thought, well, if I'm going to be a big-time scifi writer who gets published in actual magazines printed on real paper, maybe I should go to the convention too. Sure, they wanted the ungodly sum of $30 for a day's admission, but I had a bunch of cash burning a hole in my pocket. I'd come back from vacation to find out that my project team had won a prize at work, and they gave us all some cash.
So I thought, what the heck, I'll go to the convention. I called a friend of ours and she promised to come help Tanya with the kids while I disappeared for a day. And I went.
Now, the next morning when I got up to leave, I dithered. I delayed. I thought, I'm not going to know anyone there, it's going to be weird.
But the website said Stephen Brust would be at one of the first events. And I really enjoyed the Staples convention that I went to. So I managed to get in my car and get there on time.
Then as soon as I walk in, I see two guys from my college dorm. Then I see the wife of one of those guys...she was ALSO in my dorm at the University of Texas. And eventually I run into Kimm Antell, who though she didn't actually live in my dorm (at least not the same year that I lived in Jester Center) hung out with the same group. Kimm's a volunteer with the con. She takes me all around, introduces me to people, shows me the game room and the con hospitality suite. In the game room I sit down and learn a new dice/card game called "To Court the King" and have a blast.
And I run all over the convention, finding new books, new authors, new magazines to submit to, and new techniques. It's a blast.
The con is really different. I was expecting something like a comic/gaming/scifi convention. But this one was heavily focused on writers and writing. And they do a 3-day writer's workshop every year, so next year, I'm going to attend that.
Later I see the husband of one of my coworkers at the con. Okay, it makes sense really that there would be a lot of overlap among scifi fans, my college crowd, and the Austin computer industry, so I should drop the surprise. But it was a ton of fun to have it turn out that way.
Finally I go to the launch party for Space Squid, where they keep referring to me as "our prize winner." It was hard to get my head through the door of the bar, but I managed. There were about 15 people there. We played a flash fiction game where you get a topic and a prop and have to write something in 15 minutes. I got the topic "Fabulous Demonic Sex" with the prop "grapefruit." I'd never played a flash fiction game before, but I wrote a story about demon sex and then I read it out loud in front of these people I've just met.
All in all, just about a perfect weekend.
The panelists were a lot of fun. Scalzi was great to see; Brust was awesome, his personality flows out and fills the room.
How do you start?
- Brust: I start with the food
...loves this book, Principles of Field Crop Production...if you have steak, you have cows, what are they fed on? defines a ton about your world.
- Wells...doesn't separate world building from char design...they're intertwined...char couldn't be same in a diff world
--world-is-a-character and world-is-character
Do you PLAN to write a series?
- Brust: don't hold shit back for the sequel
- Scalzi: every book should stand alone
- Wells: I didn't intend to do series
- Brust: (About people holding stuff back) It's a trope I call "Wheel of Irritation"
- Scalzi: Old Man's War wasn't meant to be a series
- Know more than you put into the book
Brust: sequels are fanfic of your own stuff. "Wow, this world is cool."
Wells: write what you'd like to read
Brust: Two kinds of narrator, unreliable and the ones you don't trust.
Paraphrased: Everybody makes mistakes, so all narrators are actually unreliable. This also gives the author an out if he makes a mistake. The narrator's mistakes make the world more real.
Brust: A few details of irrationality that the viewpoint char does not understand, but the AUTHOR does, help add realism.
streets that dead end
one house built sideways
Another panelist adds (I think it was Wells?) Japanese concept of the single flaw that points up the perfection of the rest
Who are your influences?
Brust: Fritz Leiber = big influence on him
Brust: A great way to write SF is to pick a writer you like but about whom you hate one thing...."I like Fritz Leiber but I hate that the Thieves Guild is legal."
Scalzi: I used the Heinlein Juvenile structure because I understood it and I knew that it sold. Wholly ripped off the structure.
Says this is a natural development...the Beatles 1st albums were ... derivative...then over time, got more unique style
Wells...was reading a Victorian murder mystery with magic...hated....inspried her to write The Death of a Necromancer
Scalzi: writing nonfic gives me an excuse to learn things.
Scalzi: You know you've done enough worldbuilding when you have fanfic.
How do you avoid "the dreaded info dump"
Brust: Assume the reader is not stupid. Tell the story, not the world. I'm gonna throw some concepts at him and he'll figure it out. Figuring out what the reader MUST know is hard.
Scalzi: Every time I read Dune I see something new.
(Every time he reads Dune? That's awesome. I've gotta go read Dune for the 8th time now...)
Wells: The char must think like a native of his world, not a modern 20th cent person
Brust: likes to invent his own colloquialisms and expressions. "There's the devil to pay." come up wth a replacement.
"To know a profession, learn what jokes they tell each other." Any creative group creates its own language.
Everyone in the story should speak uniquely.
Last month I entered this writing contest in Space Squid magazine, where you write a short piece set in the world of an upcoming video game called Mushroom Men. While I was on vacation last week, I got e-mail telling me I'd placed in the contest, and they were gonna publish the tiny piece I wrote for it.
(My story is online here, but you'll need a little background for it to make sense. The Mushroom Men world is one where several different tribes of mushroom people exist, some of them are poisonous, and all of them are in conflict. I wondered what it would be like for two hapless mushrooms from different tribes who fell in love.)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
If you can't read it, here's a transcription: "These googley eyes were free just for you, but you didn't care."
The note was wrapped around a pile of plastic googley eyes. Since I love crafts, it seemed like a good enticement to her.
I'll be the dad crying his eyes out in the corner now. :)
The main reason I actually got out of bed and went to Armadillocon today was that I'd read that Stephen Brust would be there at one of the first sessions. I went, I saw him on a panel, he was great, but I didn't get a chance to speak to him...even though a friend I saw at the con apparently knows him well.
But I saw Brust as I was leaving the con, and he was being cornered by a fan to sign a couple of books. So I waited and then shook his hand and told him I was grateful he'd come out to an event like this...which sounds great...except I mumbled it and then I said something fairly insane about how I'd heard he'd moved to Texas and I was glad to have him here. In Texas. Like I'm the Texas welcome guy or something. :)
I've read, I dunno, 11 Stephen Brust books. I really like 'em. I can't for the life of me think of anything to say to an author when I meet 'em, though. I always think of that SNL sketch where Chris Farley has a talk show that just says "remember that scene, where you did the thing? That was great." I went to an Octavia Butler book signing once, it was the same way for me.
The books? All 11 of them? They were great, Stephen. Just great.
Brust was a trip at the convention, though. He totally took over the panel discussion and made it a lot of fun. At one point he offered a "free handshake" to the first person who gave him 4 ibuprofen.
The fellow sitting next to me was the first out of the gate. My friend from college. Who knows Brust personally. Well enough that Brust took pills from his hand without question, anyway. :)
The game is a great adult-and-kids game. Kids of 9, 10 or so can play it easily, younger ones can probably manage it though they won't optimize their play, but adults will enjoy it lots as well.
The premise is fun. It's pre-Clue...instead of trying to solve a murder, you're trying to kill the doctor. But the game play is much more sophisticated than Clue's. The reason your attempts mostly fail is that other players can play cards to make you fail. And since the person who kills him wins, the other players always have a reason to try to make you fail. It's a fun time.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
It was more elaborate than I expected...they had goodie bags for us, with bells and whistles and bubbles and inflateable swords, and a little guidebook telling you how to use all the various props. I wasn't too into following their rules, but waving the props around was fun. I suppose this is the same vibe people get from the Rocky Horror Picture Show...which I never got into...but extended to other movies; the Drafthouse does quote-alongs for several different films.
Strange luck: several folks from my work were sitting behind us at the show. And this was after I'd just been to see The Dark Knight at a company-sponsored showing at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum's iMax theatre. I love how small Austin can often feel. I'm forever running into people I know in odd places around town.
Friday, July 25, 2008
But I've been collecting a few more lately. I never really liked the big list part of Getting Things Done. I disliked how messy a list would get after I'd erased or crossed out a few items. And then I started working a daily short list into my system. There's a "pick 5 important things each day" concept that I wanted to try, and so I used a post-it note for that, each day.
And I was always sticking little notes on my list for transient to-do items, so that they wouldn't afflict my main list. ;)
Finally it occurred to me that I could put ALL of my tasks on post-it notes. So I replaced my tattered to-do pages with a two-page spread of card stock, and I've covered that with ... let's see... 13 post-it notes. This lets me do context-categories, too. I like it. It works for me.
But it makes a funny picture, and it gets me some new strange looks.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
It's very true and very wickedly twisted and I feel like I know myself better having read it.
I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered...
I think Warhammer overdoes the macho stuff sometimes, but that's part of its charm. Some of the figures are walking around wearing capes and armor, with chains hanging off of them, and skulls hanging from their belts. Spikes on every elbow and knee. Motorized chainsaw swords. The milieu behind Warhammer is dominated by an empire, but it's an empire whose uniforms were designed by bikers.
After a while, Chloe decided that she wanted to play Warhammer. And we noted that the Littlest Pet Shop toys are just about the right size for a large Warhammer figure. She began talking about wanting to play with us.
So we formed the idea of rating her toys as Warhammer figures and playing a game. She immediately decided that her several cat figures should be Poison Cats, with leaping moves and poison attacks. I think we're in trouble.
It's okay if she wins, though. If she wins a few games we might make a permanent wargamer out of her.
Also, I noted that if you filed the hearts and flowers off of one of the toy playsets and spray painted it, you'd have a quick and durable piece of handy Warhammer scenery. You could probably glue some skulls on. So I'm going to keep my eyes open for something like this at garage sales. I don't think my daughter will let me have hers.
Although if we get a game going with the poison cats, they'll fit right in with no repainting required.