Thursday, February 28, 2002
This blog should have gone up yesterday, but guess what? Blogger didn't work again. Reliability doesn't seem to be one of its more outstanding virtues lately...
Ken: The Reef's Last Line of Defence
Got an unexpected call from Ken Dwyer last night, who is in town for a course on IT security so that he can be, as he puts it, "number one scapegoat for breaches in computer security" at GBRMPA, my dear ex-employer (and his current one). Apparently We took him out to dinner and chatted and tried to convince him to come help with Simon and Jimbo's house move on Saturday. He wisely demurred and said that he had to go and do touristy stuff that day, proving that he is as smart as I always suspected. Fortunately we will get another chance to chat on Saturday night, when we've planned a post-labour takeaway dinner, hopefully with beer.
Dad: Apparently Strong as an Ox
Got an even more unexpected phone call this morning, this time from Mum, who told me that Dad was discharged from hospital yesterday afternoon. His recovery was supposed to take weeks, but apparently he wasn't listening to the doctors and his levels have bobbed straight back up to normal in a few days. As far as anyone can tell this is a good development. My suspicion is that he's purposefully defying all medical logic just to be contrary. In any case, he and Mum will be heading back home on Monday.
Vague spoiler for last night's Angel follows…
Oh come on. You saw the twist coming, right? Linda tells me it shocked the hell out of her, which shocked the hell out of me because it seemed like such a logical plot development. Which actually is, I think, what I like about the show. It doesn't go out of its way to twist and rend its ongoing story arcs in confusing and unpredictable directions. Rather, it sets up situations and then quietly and unassumingly goes about methodically following through on those setups, sometimes a half a dozen or more episodes later.* And notice how they introduce a new regular character around the end of every season? I like that the show seems to have a definite idea of where it's going and how long it intends to take to get there.
And Cordie sure is cute, which doesn't hurt.
For some reason Fiona and I have had social engagements pretty much every night since we got back from holidays. Monday was dinner with Lou and Kim. Last night Ken phoned out of the blue. Tonight it's dinner at Jacquie and Bruce's, tomorrow it's dinner with Frances, Friday's free but we're helping Jimbo and Simon pack etc etc etc. And it seems to be stretching out to encompass every evening in the next fortnight as well. Where will it end?!
The only reason I bring this up is to establish an alibi when someone asks why I haven't done something I promised to get around to (finish work on the Spit album cover, refurbish Lexifab, start that PBM game), and to bemoan the fact that I still haven't seen From Hell or Black Hawk Down.
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
Now that I've finally managed to post up that entry that Blogger refused to cope with, I can resume my normal suboptimal reportage of my tedious existence. I imagine you're thrilled. Well, I have to imagine it, because I have serious doubts that "you" –optimistically defined in my delusional mental landscape as an avid reader – even exist. Hmm, if, in accordance with the tenets of school playground psychology, the first sign of madness is indeed talking to yourself, exactly how bad is it when you assume there's someone listening?
Drudging it up
Last weekend was the WIMA annual general meeting out at Birragai. This is a school camp out in the mountains where young Canberrans are presumably exiled to engage in wholesome activities like volleyball, bushwalking and plummeting off the incredibly dangerous-looking rock climbing tower hidden off in the bush. But we were there to cater to 70-odd women from around the country and provide them with meals and a venue for drinking and (unusually awful) karaoke.
I spent virtually the entire weekend washing crockery with a high-pressure hose and a frequently-broken industrial dishwasher, because they were more fun to play with than the more standard kitchenware. Also, there was always washing up to be done, so by grabbing the one job that never ran out, I didn't have to spend any time thinking about whatever else might need to be done. There was a more than adequate supply of chiefs attempting to run things as it was. My unassailable assumption of drone status ironically ensured that nobody was in a position to ask me to do anything and also earned me a round of applause for my tireless efforts. Sweet, huh?
I am still completely exhausted. And my hands itch.
On the same weekend that Adam Gilchrist scored the fastest 200 in Test cricket history, in the AusAID XI's penultimate game of the season, we reached a new and I think unbeatable low: beaten by the team in equal last place. They had precisely one competent bowler and and one competent batsman, they spent the entire time drinking beer (light beer, admittedly, but still) and they still comprehensively flogged us. Still, they were very nice about it (we played with only ten players, so they called Steve Barber back after he was dismissed. Barber II managed to score more than twice as much as Barber I…) and they were so pleased to have a win that it was impossible to begrudge them the victory. Still, if we couldn't beat them, chances are pretty good that we're not going to win this week either, which means we go from being finalists one year to the wooden spooners the next. Ah, the highs and lows of unprofessional sports, eh?
On the plus side, we're going to start an indoor cricket team to sharpen ourselves up over the winter, so chances are next season we might see ourselves crawling out of the decline a bit…Hopefully I will at least be able to get bat on ball again by then.
No, it's not some convention for epidermally-challenged undead, it's the deep-south suburb that Jimbo, Simon and the cats will be relocating to this weekend. Yes, that's right, after a record two and a half years in the same house - our usual experience is that the inevitable eviction happens somewhere between ten and fourteen months – they will be taking riverside lodgings in far Tuggeranong, on the banks of the fair Murrumbidgee. Apparently it's an unusually cat-friendly townhouse, close to amenities (ie pubs and a cinema) and right near a popular swimming hole. I've not seen it yet, but I have committed myself (and my entire household) to spending all of Saturday transporting eleventy-seven tonnes of belongings halfway across town. Hopefully this will be the last move that uber-packrat Simon, at least, has to make before he cracks and gets into more financially-secure madness that is home ownership. Jimbo barely owns any stuff, so he's fine…
Friday, February 22, 2002
Blogged off again
This was a blog that would have gone up last Thursday morning, had Blogger not been refusing my calls all that day and the next. If you can see this, it means that it actually stayed up for more than three minutes while I was watching…
The time yesterday when I finally finished assembling lasagnas, driving them halfway across town to the Boys' Place to store them in a freezer, and driving home again through a lightning-and-downpour episode. I didn't even get to watch the premiere of Enterprise, though I did hear the cheesy Rod Stewartesque power ballad that played over the opening credits. Y'know what? I didn't hate it. And I liked the "evolution of exploration" visual sequence as well. And hey, that vulcan is a babe. And Bakula! And didn't that grain* silo get blowed up real good?!
In summary, I hated it a lot less than either the Original Series, Next Gen or Voyager pilots, all of which bit incredible arse in their respective days.
Cloud City, dead ahead!
Stole this link from John Tynes' web log (check it out now for ongoing development news about the Delta Green computer game (woah!). Can I just direct your attention to the phrase "a tensegrity system of rectilinear struts and diagonal rods cantilevers out over the lake"? I don't know about you, but architectural jargon gets me soooo hot! And how cool does this look? I wanna go to Switzerland.
Ring of the Lad
I forgot to mention that while we were away up north, Fiona and I went into Gillet's Jewellers in Brisbane to see their stocks of men's wedding bands. Fi found their web site on Google, and they had by far the most interesting collection of styles (most other men's rings are either boring plain gold or silver bands, or faux celtic styles that don't appeal to me much). As it turned out, the weekend that we chose to visit was the same weekend they sent all their best pieces out to a wedding expo, so we had to go there to find what we were looking for. In the end, I decided on a gold band with a raised hoop of purple titanium, kind of like this one but not quite. It looks fabulous, it goes with my watch, and I am actually really quite looking forward to wearing it.
Work hard, is good
It's been six extremely busy hours since I wrote that last bit of blog. Work's insanely busy at the moment, and I've discovered that I greatly prefer it that way. When things are slow and I'm not running around putting out bushfires, I get bored and lazy and do way too much monitoring of the cricket scores on the internet (or I conduct lengthy email conversations about roleplaying I'd rather be doing with anyone whose email address I may happen to remember). It may speak ill of my capacity for forward planning and task prioritisation, but I really do my best work when things are ranging somewhere between "flurry of activity" and "serious crisis".
Mind you, having time to eat would make me less dizzy…
Well, the birthday boy and Ted talk about it all the time, so I'd just like to announce that today I (and others) will be playing our last weekly squash game against my embittered pinko ex-colleague Liam, who will thenceforce be off to cold, malevolent Macquarie Uni to do a PhD in Cultural Studies and Obscure LitCrit Referencing. Hopefully one of us will break with tradition and cane his scrawny arse, the smug git.
* Yeah yeah, I know that later they said it was a methane silo, but I know what I saw…
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Lasagna, Day Two
Hmm, it turns out that cooking five large lasagnas is significantly more work than knocking together one. Spent two hours last night just cooking the ten-or-so kilos of sauce and then the next three periodically returning to stir, burn knuckles and drearily comment on the length of time it takes fiften litres of watery bolognaise to reduce. A long time, as it turns out. In the end I bunged it pot and all into the fridge in the garage. The bechamel-and-assembly phase can wait until tonight, I think.
Did you know ChrisT has a blog?
He does, you know. It's right here, where it has apparently been for months. Why I didn't know about it is anyone's guess (blinkered ignorance or wilful stupidity are pretty likely starting points).
To the extent that sensible human beings should be affected by such matters, I'm mightily pissed off about how the Fox Network are treating their not-quite-flagship show Futurama. Despite what you may believe from the wording of this petition, the show has not been technically cancelled*, but the network have indicated that they will not be ordering any new shows until the current backlog (the best part of a full season of episodes) are screened. After that, of course, the cast and crew will all have found themselves different jobs and it will never get rolling again, event with network support.
I almost feel some sympathy for the US fans of the show – it keeps getting preempted by sports events and Simpsons repeats over there – but hell, we haven't seen a new episode for over a year. Still, this is the show that gave the world Zap Brannigan and Malfunctioning Eddie, so it's worth saving. Go sign the petition, if you're vaguely moved to do so. And if you're not, you can kiss my shiny metal ass.
* the worst kind of cancelled.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
A quick word on the Olympics
I feel kind of sorry for Stephen Bradbury. No sooner had he won a gold medal in the most dead-set Oz way (ie being the only one standing after a comical pratfall that took out all the fast skaters), than some aerobatic skier comes along and makes him look like the luckiest bozo on the planet. Which he is, of course, but it's sad that his twin legacy as Australia's only gold medal winning Winter Olympian and Flukiest Bastard Alive only lasted one day. Still, I see the papers have focused on the important part of this story, that Oz has now won more gold medals than Austria. Ha ha.
I've been spending the day having an on-and-off email discussion with Andrew and Amanda about running a roleplaying campaign by email. It's been interesting actually thinking through the logistics of the operation and how the medium would likely affect the tone and content of the game itself. The trouble is that when I actually get started, I'll most likely have forgotten all the insightful conclusions I've reached in the debate. And I'll just burn out and lose interest two weeks after kickoff anyway.
Of course because about 80% of Lexifab's regular readers are actually on the email list where this debate is actually happening, you know this already. And most of you probably weren't interested the first time…
Nobody beats me in the kitchen
I've given tonight over to whipping up a metric tonne of lasagna for this weekend's WIMA AGM, to which I've been seconded by Fi's club. Never before have I attempted catering on so vast a scale, but I figure screwing up 5 trays of meaty, gluey gunk is as easy as buggering up a meal for one.
Finally got hold of Mum yesterday and checked in on Dad's condition. He's in Townsville hospital at the moment, having received the chemotherapy bombardment and stem cell replacement last week. His condition is better than expected, but he will go downhill while his immune system is out of action. Not sure how long that phase is expected to last, but he'll be in isolation for at least a few weeks. Hopefully it won't be too long until he can be up and about, although personally I'll be happy if they can keep him under observation for as long as possible. Knowing Dad, he'll start driving tractors around and digging dams and getting kicked by cattle the second he gets home. He doesn't really cotton to the idea of convalescense.
Monday, February 18, 2002
Escaping his tiny little mind
Bill Walton's website, The Escapist, is dedicated to the battle against negative reporting of gaming by well-meaning ignoramuses and raving fundamentalists. Apparently it's still a problem in the USA, unlike here where nobody gives a damn what a bunch of gamer nerds do (specifically, bathe soporifically in the comfortable lack of overblown media limelight). Worthy intentions, certainly, and I'd rather him than me wades through pile after pile of insane and bilious Jack Chick rants about Satan's influence on the kiddies.
Obviously, though, sometimes the stress of the job is just too much. This experiment is one of the funniest discourses I've ever read on the subject. And yet, I kinda kept wishing the null hypothesis had suddenly and unexpectedly been disproven. But then we wouldn't have that great Feather Fall photo. Thanks to Winston-san for the tipoff.
Soggy effort, that
No cricket yesterday. Storms have been doing us over every night for the past few days, furious little buggers that fling lightning and gales around and dump three feet of water for about ten minutes. As a result all the grass pitches are damp, slick and dangerous to bowl or run on. I did get a nice afternoon at home, since it was a bit too late to change my mind and head off to Sunday D&D at John's instead. Still, I'd rather have cricketed than not, because I've found upon returning from holidays that – in spite of five losses from five games – it is still possible for the AusAID team to get into the finals and, theoretically at least, win the competition. Wins for AusAID from the next two games, coupled with defeats for wooden spoon rivals AGO and DEWRSB, would actually see us through to the semis. The trouble is, I think, that yesterday's cancellation doesn't actually leave us enough time to play two more games before the semifinals are scheduled. And admittedly the odds of two wins from the next two games are remote at best. Still, while we don't deserve it, it'd be nice to get a few more games in before the season finishes…
And on the topic of the Flannelled Pursuit
I just want to go on the record as saying that Punter's new appointment is the funniest development in Australian cricket since…well, ever. Go Taz!
Are you here yet?
ChrisT supplies this description of one possible future role for him in Canberra: "The expression of interest was for a position with policy administration managing projects involving policy information being sent out from national office to support customer service staff. I think." Baffling, yet compelling, eh? Still, whatever it takes, Chris, just get down here. Fiona and I need someone to teach us cryptic crosswords.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet.
You, with the browser! Step back from the keyboard with your hands raised. We have a web page and we're not afraid to use it. We should be, but we're not. That's right, for some reason somebody thought it would be a good idea to host a web page with everyone's thoughts on the Sunday afternoon D&D game. So be it. I'll update mine as soon as I've drawn some sketches depicting incomprehensible in-jokes, or something.
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Long time between drinks
I think these three or so weeks since I lasted posted a Lexifab update represent the longest period of unbloggedness in what is already a pretty sporadic publishing schedule, but as usual I have an excuse. Or rather, an explanation, as "I've been lounging about enjoying a Gold Coast holiday since mid-January" could hardly be said to constitute an excuse. At least, I certainly won't be apologising for it. Sun, surf, tennis, trashy magazines, my old mate Ev, cheap movies, games, mosquitoes…oh, wait, that last bit sucked (they wuz fierce!) But all in all it was incredibly good. Tragic that it's over, in fact.
So what was it all about? Well to start with, as previously advertised, there was the perpetually-incipient arrival of Ian and Sonia's new baby. The original ETA was the week before the holiday started, but in the end the tyke arrived the week it ended. And now for some stats:
Flynn Goldie Versace: born 6 February 2002 at 5:56 am. Weight 8 lbs 12 oz (in the old measurement, which is the only one they use, apparently). Length 52 cm (which is the new measurement. Don't ask me…) Sex: It's a boy! And what a boy!
Sadly, because he arrived three weeks after the advertised date (you'd think he was a piece of software, except that all of the bits appeared to work properly and I doubt you could have burned a copy of him with a CD writer) we didn't get much time to play with him before we had to leave on Saturday. But he was squirmy and had frog-like legs, and will undoubtedly take to the plush Cthulhu that Jimbo brought for him. Best present ever, in my view.
Uh oh. Sleep deprivation setting in
Hmm…sentences decohering…babble levels spiking…must get sleep. I get to spend the next two days furiously taking notes at a workshop populated by the Philippines equivalent of state premiers. Must…get…sleep…before…attempting…scribing duties…