Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

October 25, 2007

Slapped down and sued on Copernica

Filed under: Games,now playing: anything,the renovated life — lexifab @ 9:13 am

We played the second session of John M’s “Burning Copernica” Burning Empiresgame last night. My zealous science-bishop guy cornered his estranged little sister at a party and threatened to cut her off from her inheritance if she didn’t end her shameful relationship with the vicious, litigious ex-spook-turned-democratic-reformer. Instead of caving, she laughed me off in front of the gathered notables of an entire star system and disowned me. Then her legal-eagle girlfriend beat him down with a successful lawsuit claiming the inheritance anyway.

I got wholly owned, and now I have completely alienated my beloved sister and driven her , perhaps forever, into the arms of a dangerous political schemer. A different one to me, I mean. It’s great, it gives me a whole new solid reason to oppose one of the GM characters and lots of grist for some character goals that have nothing to do with blowing things up or winning at politics.

It was fun! The Burning system really delivers on operatic melodrama, if that’s what you’re after (and it turns out I might have a taste for it).

Last night’s session was pretty interesting. There’s still a lot of faffing about with the players who don’t know the system that well, which is understandable since it’s got a pretty steep learning curve and a lot of subtlety that is not obvious from first reading, but even with an extra player (Steve’s joined us with his starship building hot-rod enthusiast named Garibaldi), we got through all of our allotted scenes and were actually done and packed up in a little over three hours. I think in a few more more rounds, when everyone understands the subtle interplay of bonuses, helping dice, linked tests and the Infection mechanics, it will look and sound a lot smoother.

October 24, 2007

After the storm comes the whatever

Filed under: cricket,joey,workin for the man — lexifab @ 11:42 am

Last week at work was ridiculously full on, at least by my standards – intensely focused, lots of frantic analysis and rework and detail-checking and stuff that would be awesomely tedious if the deadlines weren’t so close and the level of scrutiny so high.

Back this week, and the adrenaline has well and truly worn off. I came in for a few hours on Monday, felt queasy and bored, gave up, stayed at home yesterday. I’ve returned today and I’m sure I must have something important to do, but for the life of me I can’t think what it must be. I’m sure it will come to me.

I’ve allowed myself the slight distraction of starting to pull a team together for the start of the PS cricket competition, which starts in a couple of weekends’ time. I’m doing the coordination against my better judgment, as it’s usually an onerous task that nobody else wants to do, but I’m protected somewhat by the fact that halfway through the season I will be disappearing without trace and someone else will have to step up. That’s the theory, anyway.

I’m actually looking forward to having a couple of early games, when there’s nothing much at stake, and then dropping out of the team. I like to play, but I think that this year, even with the baby coming, I would regard it more as a wearying duty than a fun passtime to have to manage the whole season. Let me just get in a few overs of bowling and swipe a couple of singles and I’ll be happy as a lamb, I suspect.

We went for another ultrasound yesterday on doctor’s orders – he wanted to check that Joey’s upside-downedness wasn’t an issue. It seems not – Joey was around the right way during the examination, though had flipped again soon afterwards. Still, the fact that there is at least some time spend correctly aligned is reassuring. As is the photo that clearly shows Joey has a face (including a strangely pointy chin). What a relief!

October 22, 2007

Ave Sluggo

Filed under: news of the day — lexifab @ 10:02 am

Manson was put down last night.

Linda called about six to say he was in distress. Jimbo drove down to give them a lift to the vet’s. I was a bit too upset to take in the details later on, but apparently he developed a blood clot that cut off the circulation to his hindquarters, which was causing excruciating pain, and while operable was not likely to be survivable. L & J decided not to let him suffer any more. A horrible decision but absolutely the right one.

I haven’t lived with Manson for years, which might colour my view, but he was a great cat to live with. True, he was born with thuggish tendencies and never really outgrew them, he was a bit of a glutton when he was allowed to get away with it and he occasionally felt the need to mark his territory by urinating on furniture and getting into bloody and violent fights…but he loved to be around people and he purred like an idling motorbike when he was picked up. He was surly, lovable rogue who would claw you if you patted him the wrong way and headbutt your ankles to let you know he was ready for some attention. He was always ready to sit in a lap or lie on a throat and share his warmth – though I don’t suppose he thought of it in terms of sharing.

Manson was grumpy and needy and generally didn’t care what you thought of him so long as you acknowledged he was the most important person in the room. Along with his sister he’s been around for more or less my entire adult life, even if, like I said, I didn’t get to live with him as much as I would have liked.

I’m going to miss the big lug like hell. Good night Sluggo.

October 19, 2007

Joey’s somersaults

Filed under: joey — lexifab @ 10:19 am

Joey is a pretty active little baby, according to his mum. He’s always thumping this, kicking that and generally wriggling around and exploring his space. That would seem to bode ill for our hopes of keeping an eye on the little bugger when he or she becomes external and mobile, so I’d better get on with all that baby-“proofing” stuff.

In the meantime though, Joey has us a little worried, because according to the obstetrician’s examination on Tuesday, he or she is upside down, roundabout and generally offside. At 33 weeks, we’re starting to get very close to the point where an out of position baby is grounds for an immediate caesarian. It’s too dangerous a risk after a certain point to expect the baby to right itself in order to be born naturally.

This is not great news, not at all. For all that we are grateful that we live in an age where medical science provides the option for both mother and child to survive the experience of a transverse presentation (translation: baby up the wrong way), it’s not pleasant to contemplate Fiona going through another bout of major abdominal surgery.

Last time (April last year) it was weeks before she was strong enough to lift herself up or walk comfortably. This time she will have the added burden of a child to look after. Possibly the recovery rate will be a bit quickly this time around and certainly I will be able to be around to help for much longer this time, but even so it’s far and away not our preference. Those women who actually choose elective C-sections baffle us. Seriously – invasive surgery in preference to admittedly scary and traumatic but ultimately natural childbirth?

So, as expected, the birth looks like it will take a few unexpected twists and turns before it’s done. We may not get to put into practise any of the calm birth techniques – about which I still have a draft blog entry half written, for anyone actually eagerly anticipating that discussion – we have been working on (although I suppose a bit of quiet meditation before going into the OR probably won’t go astray). We may not get to put Joey on Fi’s chest straight after birth and get that special bonding moment we were looking forward to. We may be staying at the hospital rather longer than we planned and have a much harder time of it when we get home as I will be looking after two helpless invalids rather than one.

But we’re still getting a baby, so – Yeehah!

October 18, 2007

This matters because it is so wrong

Filed under: geekery,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 11:13 pm

This is why we have the internet, and why we deserve it. But don’t bother unless you’ve read The Dark Night Returns.


Filed under: fitter/happier,news of the day,workin for the man — lexifab @ 6:18 pm

Operation Headcount is killing me. After a very full on week of going over and over and over the same sets of numbers again and again and again, nine or so hours at a stretch without breaks, followed by busy evenings and sleepless nights, I can confidently say that I would be in real goddamn trouble if I had to do something actually strenuous.

Nevertheless I defy anyone to do this crap and come out of it relaxed and refreshed and not all defensive-sounding.

Damn I need some sleep. And a good laugh, which happily Steven Colbert has agreed to supply.

October 15, 2007

Oh no – reach exceeded!

There should have been an avalanche of updates last week, but to be honest I had so much on my plate that spending more time at the keyboard writing about it when I could have been sleeping was pretty much out of the question. I’ll fast forward through the week on this one, I think:

  • Saturday - Joined forces with Miz L to take Manson to the vet. He was responding well to the diuretics, so was permitted to carry on the fight. Was due for ultrasounds On the Monday to get at underlying causes and I am such a thoughtless bastard that I don’t even know what’s happened with him since then. The rest of Saturday was house rearranging and various other pre-baby prep. So knackered after that that I didn’t make it through to the late-evening start of the Wallabies’ World Cup swansong. Seeing the replays later, I’m not that devastated in retrospect that I missed it.
  • Sunday – Simon’s birthday. Happy birthday old man. Went to movies (Stardust), played games (BattleLore, amongst others), collapsed not as early as I should have.
  • Monday – Arrive at work to discover that not only has someone higher up the totem pole had become possessed of the curious notion that my organisation actually ought to know how many people work for it here and offshore, but that somehow I might be able to contribute to the discovery of an answer. Thus began Operation Headcount, another one of those doomed enterprises that seems simple enough on the surface and becomes a seething administrative nightmare on closer inspection. Charged headlong from work to a couple of hours of Burning Empires to finish up the session that we’d failed to complete the previous Wednesday; finished later than expected.
  • Tuesday – Work was increasingly insane with Operation Headcount, as it became apparent how many different ways people who work here are classified (or not, as was the case with some of them). Sanity began to slip around this point. Fled the building for an hour or so for lunch with the family at Floriade, Canberra’s annual spring flower display thingy. While pausing at the petting zoo I determined mathematically that baby goats are two horns cuter than baby sheep. At the weekly Tuesday night Burning Wheel game, I tried to facilitate a constructive feedback session and ended up just losing my shit and completely undermining my own effort. The growing suspicion that perhaps I was not in full command of my faculties not helped by another mostly sleepless night thereafter.
  • Wednesday – About a dozen more people got involved in Operation Headcount at this point, making it more complex by a factor of 12 or so. Then for the third night in a row I played games, this time a preparatory session for The Blossoms are Falling, the slightly fey-sounding Japanese historical version of Burning Wheel. The group made up two interlinked families, swordsmiths and warriors, both descended from a badger spirit. It was cooler than it sounds in summary.
  • Thursday – I can’t even remember what made OpHead worse this day, only that it was. By this time it was probably just the lack of adequate sleep levels making me paranoid. After work I stopped in for a couple of quick drinks with the dev team from Operation Porkpie – the first time I’d seen most of them in over a year since the project wrapped up and one moved overseas. Great to see them all again. Sadly, “a couple of quick drinks” turned into 6 pints or so, which is somewhat beyond my normal limit. It wasn’t really a late night, but it sure wasn’t one where I caught up on sleep.
  • Friday – Hung over, and for some reason OpHead has still not gone away. To be honest I don’t think Friday would have been such a big deal, except for the fact that I was too seedy to safely operate heavy machinery or mildly complicated spreadsheets. Got home, went to bed at a genuinely lame early hour.
  • Saturday – All day at pre-natal clinic. Not hard, but not restful either. The long-dreaded obligatory birth videos were not as alarming as I expected. Saturday night was filled with TV, including finally getting to see the (probably edited) Sean Pertwee werewolf movie Dog Soldiers. It was better than I expected, though I will concede I probably could have used the time more constructively by writing. But, but, you see – werewolves!
  • Sunday – Usual Sunday routine – cleaning, leisurely breakfast, shopping – plus bonus bike repair (well, showing friend Ange, a new motobike owner, how to jumpstart a bike with a dodgy battery) and herb gardening. I hacked back the extremely feral parsley, shifted the oregano and whacked in some basil, dill, oregano and then just for something different, a couple of tomato plants. I expect, based on previous experience, to have as much as 70-80% of planted materials survive to harvestable size, and for 10-20% to then grow on to unmanageable proportions (that parsley was very feral). Afterwards, I ate some of Simon’s birthday cake and finally watched Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress all the way through. I must say that, while Kurosawa’s influence on George Lucas’ Star Wars (the first one, before it was Part IV) is pretty obvious, Lucas’ IP theft isn’t nearly as gratuitous as many critics have made out over the years. For example I spotted fare more in the way of stylistic techniques that I would associated with Quentin Tarantino (though QT is quite open about his cheerful directorial appropriations, as Simon pointed out) than anything Lucasish. Then again, I was still tired.

October 5, 2007

A little good, a little bad. Mostly good.

Filed under: fitter/happier,news of the day — lexifab @ 5:33 pm

Good: Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. It was 5 years ago today that Fiona donned her shimmering gold gown and looked gorgeous for the express purpose of having beautiful wedding photos, that Evan and Andrew performed their infamous best man song, that (just about) all my best friends were in the same place at the same time and that I managed not to blow reciting my vows or stepping on my wife (wife!) during the first dance, And we really are just as besotted with each other now as we ever were.

Many happy returns for the occasion, my love. (She’s gone home from work early to nap, so she probably won’t read this for a fortnight or so, but it’ll still be just as valid then).

Bad: Manson, the bully boy thug of Grymalkin’s litter, is not well. He’s not breathing properly, his lungs have had to be drained, and we’re still a number of tests away from the underlying causes, not all of which possibilities are treatable. He’s old – 16 or 17 years – which is ridiculously ancient in a cat (“off the scale”, according to Chris’ interpretation of a chart at the vet’s). He’s still belligerent and surly, but he can barely walk and half his hair has been shaved off. Poor old Sluggo doesn’t really know how to carry off old and infirm.

Good: We haven’t heard from Miz L in a long while, but Sluggo’s health crisis did at least have the benefit that she reopened comms channels in order to let us know about it. We visited after work, and she’s in pretty good health and – despite Manson being a bigger source of anxiety than usual – good spirits as well. Now that we know that a visit or a call is going to be less difficult and stressful for her than it has been for most of the rest of the year, I think we’ll be trying to see her more often.

Bad: Dad’s back in hospital today, but I don’t know the details. I gather it’s more a precaution than a crisis, but I don’t know.

Good: It’s been a long, exhausting week, but now it’s Friday afternoon and I’m going to have a couple of drinks to celebrate a workmate’s promotion, and then I’m going to go home and – oh, I hope – get a decent night’s sleep.

With my wife of five years. Five!

October 1, 2007

Filed under: fitter/happier,geekery,joey — lexifab @ 6:47 pm

I have been living a virtuous existence of hard physical labour, making things ready in Joy’s room by shifting and assembling furniture, sorting books and clothes and consuming vast amounts of dust. Also grocery shopping, visiting the nephews and a spot of long overdue gardening. Our living space is in a much more orderly arrangement, though possibly at the cost of a case of screaming back and neck aches tomorrow. Yay!

In between all that I read Dune Messiah, which was much more accomplished than I remember from last time I read it (which to be fair was probably something like 20 years ago). It has claustrophobic and seething air of mournful, doomed predestination that I appreciate more now than I did then. Paul’s situation – knowing that enemies conspire to destroy him and choosing to allow it because he knows the alternatives will be worse – is satisfying if cruel, though if I have one complaint it’s that I could wish for author Frank Herbert to have better articulated just how awful were the other paths Paul decides against. We hear they’re pretty bad, but considering he’s the centrepiece of a galaxy-spanning jihad that’s killed scores of billions, it’s hard to see what a more terrible and tragic alternative might be. On the plus side I can finally see the point of bringing back Duncan Idaho, which seemed a cheap gimmick last time around – although on this reading his eleventh hour transformation did seem a bit close to deux ex machina, though by no means as outrageously so.

Anyway, I’ll eventually get to Children and God-Emperor. And to the report from Bowral from last weekend. I’m sure the sense of anticipation evinced by the regular deferral of this anecdote is assuming an enormity in your emotional landscape comparable to the outcome of the Rugby World Cup, the next instalment of “Stupid Pointless Heiresses Go To Jail” or the release of Duke Nukem Forever.

Or something.

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