Lexifabricographer - Where good concepts go to die
Words that go together, although not necessarily terribly well
Sometimes I like to pretend to be other, better people
Stands for Play By Mail, or possibly Postal Brutality Mongers
Yes, of course I have one. Doesn't mean I'm not prepared to trade for yours, though.
This is where the bodies are buried
Talk to me
Get me the hell out of here!


Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Winter's coming

The signs are all there. It's getting cold, and everyone is updating their blogs more infrequently, except for ChrisT, who is just plain anti. I've mostly just been lazy and/or busy, and today's not really much of an exception. So, rather than ramble on at length, I will synopsize:


  • Monday and Tuesday - Worked. Nothing exciting there, except that I was sick on Tuesday and left early. Liam stayed with us while he was down for his brother Joel's graduation. I was too in bed to actually see him until Wednesday.

  • Wednesday - Stayed at home. Read a lot. Watched The X-Files Movie in the evening with Liam. For some reason it made perfect sense this time around. I even understood what the hell the shadowy government conspirators were up to, and why they whacked out John Neville. And somehow this clarity came in spite of missing half an hour while talking to Andrew on the phone. Strange.

  • Anzac Day - Did not participate in or watch any marching. Slept in. Farewelled Liam. Had a picnic down by the park. Had a real day off, essentially.

  • Friday - Went to work, unlike just about every other bastard in the building. Managed to get a lot done by virtue of the fact that nobody bothered to ring a government office on the Friday after Anzac Day. Well, except the Minister's office, but that was a wrong number. Well, I assume so, anyhow.

  • Saturday - Did a lot of stuff around the house, finished assembling the wedding invitations, watched The Claim (melancholy, gorgeous and occasionally unexpectedly savage) and State and Main (delightful, and featuring far fewer profanities than David Mamet's average).

  • Sunday - Played our Tuesday night indoor cricket game on Sunday, for some reason. We won (the other team only had 6 players – it's pretty difficult to make anything of a disadvantage like that…). Then gamed for the usual 100+ hours at John's.

  • Monday - Worked hard, then came home and cooked hard (mmm, shepherd's pie...) Yesterday represented the completion of Week 4 of The Diet, and to celebrate we broke it and drank a bottle of wine. Well, actually that wasn't the reason – Fiona was entertaining a co-worker from the ACCC's Hobart office – but the timing was nice. Fortunately according to Megan's nutritionist, this doesn't actually mean we have to start again. Which is just as well, otherwise there might be some sort of string of unexplained nutritionist murders.

  • Today - I am seriously entertaining the idea of knocking off at three o'clock, walking across the road and watching Resident Evil, even though I know it will be of sheer excremental quality. While I concur with Andrew's assessment of the director's previous work, Event Horizon, which he aptly described as "notable for its unpleasantness and cheap rip-offs", to which I would add "and complete lack of genuine suspense and plausible character decision-making", I still have this inexplicable compulsion to watch Milla Jovovich kick zombie arse. I know, I know, I can be such a goddamned pleb sometimes.

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Friday, April 19, 2002

Special Agents Jimbo and Simon


The Boys came over last night to make up characters for Delta Green. Only really took about ten minutes, what with Call of Cthulhu's appropriately-quick character generation system (given the life expectancy of the average Investigator, it would be a gamestopper if it took too long to make up a new one). Since I'm using the introductory scenario straight from the book, I told them they have to be Feds. So Jimbo's the forensic pathologist, and Simon's the unstable whack-job with a gun and martial arts. Bets are on as to which professional inclination is most likely to result in the first PC death…


I'm quite looking forward to running it. Although we don't play it that often, Call of Cthulhu is a pretty reliable game in terms of delivering fun. As long as there's a reasonably solid mystery to solve and the odd psychotic cultist, ancient sorceror or Thing Which Man Was Not Meant to Know lurking about, it's pretty hard not to have a good time playing it. Which is admittedly pretty strange given the probability that your character will end up dead or insane or both in short order.


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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Sheer laziness, perhaps?

I keep meaning to work on various projects in the evenings, I really do, but something always seems to be getting in the way lately. At the moment I've got some preliminary work to do on the upcoming Delta Green campaign (although it wouldn't be all that unreasonable to leave that until after the character generation session tomorrow), the PBM game, the Knights Below web page and various other little bits and pieces like Lexifab and drawing and writing in general. But last night we had Clayton over to dinner, ahead of his departure from AusAID, Canberra and Australia, after which I was too zonked out to do anything useful. This is where the ability to apply serious dosages of caffeine to one's brain would come in really handy.


Arts and crafts fun


I was planning to do some work tonight, but Fiona just called to tell me that the paper for the wedding invitations has finally arrived. Which means that we must now start constructing invitations and getting them mailed off. I'd like to bitch and complain and put it off, but really, the guest list is the one huge wedding-related albatross still weighing us down, so we really need to get stuck into and get some confirmations. If you're reading this and you're about to get an invitation, please RSVP as soon as humanly possible. It's the one thing left to organise with the potential to induce homicidal stress in Fiona, so don't make yourself a target. She's better at murder than you are.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Once More, with Feeling

Last night's Buffy reminded why I bothered to watch the damned show after they graduated from high school. God-DAMN, but that was good.


"I have a theory. It could be bunnies." Heh.


SpamRadio

From the Weirdest Crap on the Internet file comes – recycling the weirdest crap on the internet. Could somebody with a decent sound card on their computer please check this out, and tell me how it sounds. I'm deeply, deeply curious. Especially about the smut.


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Monday, April 15, 2002

A clean chimney is a clean living room

Our house is an old ex-government housing duplex, with adjoining fireplaces between the two houses. They're old and bricked-up, but the chimney is still there. Lately, something energetic and nocturnal (I'm guessing a possum, but rats are also a distinct possibility) has taken up lodgings in the chimney. Every night we can hear it scrambling around, knocking down old ash and soot off the chimney walls as it makes its way out into the world. This has resulted in the buildup of – in places – soot and ash to the depth of half a foot. Unfortunately, as we have a large gas heater attached to the wall in front of the fireplace, this means that there was sodding great pile of ash built up behind it, blocking off the fan that sucks in cold air to be heated. As winter is currently showing signs of closing in rapidly, we therefore had no choice over the weekend but to pull it apart and attempt countermeasures.


First up we pulled the back off the heater and vacuumed up three bags worth of ash. Happily, my prediction that said ash would be greasy and disgusting went unrealised – thankfully it looks as though, when the fireplace was in regular use, it was only ever used to burn wood. Lucky. Still, our guess that the process of cleaning the ash out would result in carpets of enhanced ash content was right on the money.


So, off to Woolies to rent one of those do-it-yourself steam cleaners and various cleaning fluids, all at exhorbitant rate. For all that it cost a small fortune, it didn't do squat. The carpet stayed as dirty as ever. I took it back to the shop and did my best to play the role of legitimate complainant, but failed in my bid for a refund. So instead we forked over more money to have a professional come and do the job (much better idea as it turned out. Meanwhile, Jimbo and Fiona entertained themselves with some home renovations by knocking together a seal to keep further ash deposits from spilling out of the fireplace into the back of the heater (it may also keep out the rats/mice/possums, should they decide that the chimney just doesn't have that "shleter from the elements" quality they're after).



E Type Jazz

Alix showed up at lunchtime, so we decided to take a stroll to the Kamberra wine show (all except Fiona, who didn't feel that the forty minute walk each way to an event where she couln't sample any of the fare was particularly worthwhile). Luckily the walk was worthwhile in itself, because the samples on show were kind of overpriced and didn't look all that impressive (I could look but not taste, but it didn't leave me particularly heartbroken) and because the quite extraordinarily average jazz band did nothing for me. Although as Jimbo pointed out, dehydration-related dizziness and their slightly-off version of "Fly Me to the Moon" at least made us feel like we'd just watched an episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.



Games

Well, after some vague, unfocused discussion on the walk to the wine fair, we decided that we'll start playing Delta Green, or, as Jimbo calls it Alias versus Cthulhu. Fair enough, too, come to think of it – Simon bought it for me for my birthday last year, so I really ought to reciprocate and give him a good game out of it. And there's some cracking good ideas in that book – more solid, usable gaming material per square paragraph than just about any other sourcebook I've ever seen. It almost makes me think that it might be worth shelling out a sizeable wad of bucks for Delta Green: Countdown


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Friday, April 12, 2002

Quiet week


It's been fairly laid back this week. We took Wednesday off and finalised our bridal registry at David Jones. I've got mixed feelings about this process: on the one hand, it feels sort of mercenary to tell people what it is you want them to get you for a wedding gift. On the other hand, it avoids that uncomfortable feeling of thinking you're buying something for someone that that may not need or ever use (hey Al – have you and Karen ever served a cake on that platter we gave you?). We've only put things on the list that we definitely want. And now that we've spent several days going over two separate DJ's with a fine-toothed comb, we really do want the stuff on the list! Window shopping can be dangerous…


Miz Alix is in da house

Alix is back in town for a few weeks, having grown bored with Wellington. She's kind of aimlessly wandering the world for a while, having been laid off from her job in London. At the moment she has refreshingly few plans for the future. When interrogated, she offers vague suggestions that she might "get a summer job" in London or that she "wants to go to Glastonbury" this year. On the other hand, maybe she'll stay in Canberra and find something, or maybe she'll do something else… I suspect that she'd putting off making any kind of decision, which I can respect. I suppose her plan will firm up shortly, but in the mean time she seems resolute in her determination not to bother thinking about it. Which is cool.


Still no games

Simon, Jimbo, Linda and I were supposed to get together on Wednesday night to work out what role-playing game we want to have a go at. It didn't come off – Linda piked for various undisclosed reasons and Jimbo got called into work. So Simon and Alix came over and we talked world travel and current events and suchlike.


I'm really undecided about what I want to play. I'm enthusiastic to get a game going, but I have a hard time picturing myself doing prep work and plotting and so forth during the week, so if I'm going to GM (not necessarily a given) it has to be something I'm comfortable doing a fair bit of winging for. I've given up trying to push D&D 3rd Ed. Linda doesn’t care for it, and Jimbo and Simon get massive regular doses of D&D in John's weekly game, so it doesn't really make sense to compete with that (not that my style of GM'ing in any way resembles John's, but then I don't necessarily want to draw unfavourable comparisons either…). I'd kind of like to give Adventure! a shot, which has a bit of the Torg-ish pulp quality but in a more stable setting. Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green are options, but they tend to need to be a bit more tightly plotted and a little less ad hoc. Then again, maybe not – I've never tried winging Cthulhu, it might work very well. Simon's suggested maybe we should give Over the Edge another go. I'm in two minds about that, because while it's a great system and setting for improvisation, there are elements of it that I have always found a little intimidating. If I was going to use OTE, I might well consider divorcing it from the Al Amarja setting. Or not, I dunno. Maybe one of the others will hold up their hand for moderating duties – maybe Linda will be inspired to revive Ars Magica (that would be massively cool, I think) or Jimbo will run Cthulhu, or Simon will finally deal out some Deadlands action.


And if none of those, I have a cupboard full of games that haven't seen a lot of use over the years. You would think this would be a bit easier… I perceive the problem being one of too many options, if anything. Anyway, if you're one of the aforementioned, or you're planning to move to Canberra soon and want a say in what will be running when you get here, or you're just a vaguely interested observer, click on that link over there on the left and tell me what you think.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Happy Birthday Pater


Today is Dad's…let me think…62nd birthday. For a while last year the prospects of his making it this far didn't look all that good. With his recent treatment, though, it really looks like he's turned a corner. He recovered from it much more quickly than his doctors expected and than we any right to hope for. I say "recovered", though of course he'll still be more or less housebound for a good few more months and he's still vulnerable, as a bout of secondary pneumonia suffered over the last fortnight has demonstrated. Still our fear from last year that he might not even be well enough in time to travel to our wedding seems to have been overly pessimistic.


I'm just grateful that this morning I got to call him and chat about ordinary stuff like the weather and fishing and gardening and the new lambs. His health didn't come up even once.


Must be the season for it

Yesterday was a birthday for two of Fiona's sibs: sister Jacqui and brother Alastair. Jacks and her hubby Bruce came round for dinner. Jacks brought after-dinner mints, not quite realising the point or cruel extent of The Diet, so was forced (reluctantly I'm sure) to eat most of them herself. That cruel torture aside, it's always nice to see them. They've been shopping for a dog after Ralph, their weird-looking, neurotic Hong Kong street dog, died over Easter. But since they're also talking about going to France for a month in July, my thought is that they should probably hold off. Also, after watching Best in Show on Sunday morning (it's good, by the way), I think they should hold out for a bloodhound or a weimaraner.


More Thrilling Tales from Diet Town

One week down, seven to go. I've more or less decided that the prohibition on salt in this anti-fungal diet makes no sense, so I've stopped eliminating particular goods on the basis that they may have salt in them. It's just too hard to find non-wheat/dairy/sugar-based processed foods that also have no salt. As a compromise, I'm not putting salt on things, because, hey, less salt than we usually have can only be a good thing. But really, too little salt can be just as bad as too much. I remember Rob and Noel's dad having serious health problems quite a few years back because of his zero-salt-tolerance dogma.


Anyway, the diet's going pretty well. We've had a few hits and a few misses with the meals we've prepared. I made a lemony chicken casserole that sounded really good on paper, but which turned out to be a bland and overly sour broth. Bit of a waste of hideously expensive organic chicken, let me tell you. On the other hand, last night's baked cod and vegetables was just delicious. So we'll keep plugging away at it. I'm going to take a shot at home-made riceflour bread tonight. Breads that can be eaten on this diet are pretty expensive and hard to find (and taste crap when raw, but oddly are absolutely delicious when toasted), so the thought of being able to knock it together at home is appealing.


A side note: Multivitamin tablets, with which we are supplementing this diet, looks like hockey pucks and have the least appealing smell of anything I have ever voluntarily placed in my mouth.


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Wednesday, April 03, 2002

The Mystery of the Lexifab Makeover

It seems likely that regular visitors to this site will long since have given up clicking on the buttons to the left, having time and again experienced disappointment until, like lab rats with an electrified offal dispenser, they finally learn that no good can ever come of it.


Well, no more. Somehow, my dearest Easter wishes have come true, and the Internet fairies have swept in while I've been sleeping and created all new content so that you, the depressed and abused Lexifab-reading public, will have somewhere new to go after getting your fill of my latest guff.


I'm not going to investigate this remarkable phenomenon further. For one thing, there's a very limited field of suspects. Actually pinpointing the culprit or culprits would seem ungrateful somehow (especially the amount of work that must have gone into making me look like a right dill). For another thing, confronting my mysterious benefactor will no doubt force me to commit to some sort of deadline for replacing what's there now for content of my own devising. Which would mean work, on which topic I refer you to the following…


Diet


Is it any coincidence that last night's Simpsons rerun was the X-Files episode where a drunk and increasingly paranoid Homer sees a billboard with "DIE" written on it, screams, watches as the wind blows a tree away from in front of the billboard which now reads "DIET" and screams even louder? Well, not to me – just one more synchronicitous example of the uneasy balance between cosmic righteousness and soul-blackening horror that is…The Diet!


Yes, that's right, The Diet has started. No sugar, no wheat, no dairy, no yeast or fungal products, no fermented or brewed products, no salt, no hot spices, nothing caffeinated. In short, very little for eight weeks. To support what we are expecting to become a serious hoummous habit, we bought a food processor yesterday. I plan to spend the weekend experimenting with rice and corn flours in the hopes of producing something resembling bread. I think about coffee all the time (and I didn't even drink that much of it before the diet…).


In some ways it's a very interesting exercise in willpower and determination. I'm gasping for chocolate or a coffee or one of those sticky buns that my co-workers brings in every week. If I can actually go eight or more weeks without needing any of those I will probably feel like I can achieve anything. But there's a downside.


I feel faint all the time now. I have a low level headache and my neck is sore. I'm slightly dizzy and I have even less luck concentrating on anything than I usually do. Intellectually it's obvious that these are withdrawal symptoms – my body's used to high doses of caffeine and sugar – and that it probably means that even now, two days into the program, it's starting to have some effect. At the same time, I "know" that just walking downstairs and ordering a cappuccino would make it all go away. It's curious how often the idea seems to have popped into my head today.


I think it's going to be a pretty rough ride for the next few weeks. Yesterday Fiona and I had a day off and went out to Get Stuff Done. We went and did a suit fitting for the wedding (I'm gonna look sharp!), went to a Peter Jackson* sale at the Rex and bought a very nice grey suit and some ties, went food shopping, took both mowers in to get fixed, and then headed off to David Jones to see about The List. The List being the uncomfortably mercenary practise of registering a list of preferred gifts for wedding guests to choose from so that nobody buys you junk you have no use for. Between the pain of trying to get someone to explain the difference between a $600 dollar Krups cappuccino machine and its apparently functionally-identical $300 neighbour, and trying to choose exactly which not-quite-right dinner set offended us the least, and listening to an unhelpful salesperson explain why they don't sell Sheridan sheet sets because "people like to mix and match"… Anyway, by the end of the afternoon we were both snappy and irritable and bloody fed up with the whole thing. Admittedly it had been a pretty full agenda, but on the whole we're blaming The Diet for our crappy moods. If it hadn't been for the fact that we actually managed to make a filling and delicious dinner, I think we might have given up on that bastard then and there.


Seven weeks and, oh, four days to go…


* Not the New Zealand dwarf who directed The Lord of the Rings. Another Peter Jackson, who makes suits.


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