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

May 29, 2008

Game-fried but satisfied

Filed under: Games,geekery,now playing: anything — lexifab @ 11:50 pm

Completely and utterly knackered as usual – it’s just gone 10 pm and as soon as I finish typing this I’m heading to bed, which is layer upon layer of lameness, but I digress – but I need to note that this has been a really satisfying week for gaming.

On Tuesday night we finished up Emma’s Burning Freeport game, which combined the yummy and nourishing tastes of Burning Wheel and Pirates of Freeport by way of Lovecraftian cults, grotty pirates and an unusually high incidence of missing family members. The session culminated in Jimbo’s sorceror Quentin making an extrememly demonstrative use of the BW’s “magic goes wrong” rules to turn a weather wizard’s emphatic gesture into the destruction by lightning of an ancient ziggurat temple. Throw in some cougar attacks, long lost fathers and sword fights and you get a game that oscillated wildly between drama and farce. Which is just as it should be.

Wednesday night saw the first session of the new Burning Empires game we’re calling Burning Szürkület which mixes an inexplicable Hungarian flavour with some Cold War tension, religious inquisitions and of course mind-controlling alien brain-worms. First session was slow, which is to be expected as everyone finds their feet, but early signs are good that it will be intense, vicious and highly entertaining. Much to my amusement, my character in the game has the remarkable distinction of having a more boring fictional job than my real world career – he’s a planetary treasurer prosecuting war criminals for tax irregularities. Let’s hear it for escapist fantasising! Rock and roll! (Of course, there are also several characters with backgrounds as war heroes or criminals, many of whom have access to tanks, and a couple of others who appear intent on owning fighter aircraft, so it’s likely to escalate up from court cases about land management improprieties to episodes of horrific violence in short order).

In the next week we’re also going to get in some Best Friends (a game of nasty backstabbing BFFs I got Emma for her birthday). We’ll be playing lesser-known companions of the Doctor. It will be awesome.

In our little circle of local gamers, there are so many cool indie games that I want to try out with my limited gaming time – Steve is pushing the depressing game about Polish teenagers in the Warsaw uprising, while I have the one about college professors competing for tenure egged on by a malevolent ancient Sumerian cockroach-god, and everyone is talking about the “sorta like Conan meets 1001 Nights” one about oracles – and yet all I can think about is the fact that the new D&D books will be out in just one week. Any why not? I hear that rangers kick arse in this version.

I need sleep. Obviously.

PS: Oh crap, the Family Guy Star Wars Special is on TV. Oh well. No sleep for me.

May 26, 2008

For the love of God, Montressor!

Filed under: the renovated life — lexifab @ 10:40 am

Fi finally managed to kick my arse sufficiently into gear to do something about our ‘wine cellar’ on the weeknd. Anyone who’s not visited the Nerdfarm for dinner is likely unaware that our garage features a three foot deep, brick-lined mechanic’s pit, in which we have socked away those spoils of our South Island visit of 2005 that we haven’t already consumed.

It’s a pretty good subsitute for a purpose-built cellar, in that it’s relatively cool and immune to disturbance by anything short of an earth tremor. It does have one or two issues, however, being that we can’t be certain that it maintains a constant temperature (which is pretty important for wine) and it is subject to a rather alarming amount of seepage.

On the second point, it’s pretty obvious that the walls and floor of the pit are in direct contact with bare earth, and any moisture therein pretty quickly finds its way through. Most of the time, everything surface is at least cool and clammy, if not actually moist. This doesn’t really have any effect on the glass, but there’s a risk that any cork stoppers could develop mould and a certainty that sooner or later the labels are going to just rot away (or be consumed by silverfish). Annoying! Moreover, the plywood shelves that we erected to store the bottles on are now so bowed with the damp thay they were in imminent danger of bending right off their brackets, which would have resulted in falls, breakage, sadness.

The cheap-(ish) solution: Reject Shop shoe racks (three tiers of light mesh on a basic aluminium frame, which will be rather less likely to rot away than ply) for storage, builders’ aluminium sheeting lining floor, walls and the inside of the lid (which we think will regulate the temperature, though we’ll be testing that theory to make sure we’re not cooking our pinots) for insulation and little buckets of moisture-absorbent flakes (calcium carbonate, I think, though I didn’t bother looking too closely) for the damp.

While one definite benefit is that we’ve greatly expanded our storage capacity – the old shelves made less than perfect use of the space – we’re hopeful that it will also prevent us from having to resort to the excessively snobby purchase of a wine fridge.

May 23, 2008

Idle thinks for a Friday afternoon

  1. Hmm. In fact every single podcast I listen to on a regular basis was not suddenly and simultaneously being recorded at incredibly low sound levels. This revelatory comprehension burst forth yesterday afternoon, moments after I purchased a new set of earplug headphones for my mp3 player. Turns out the old ones had more wrong with them than having a slight crackle.
  2. It’s astonishing how surprised I was by the discovery of point #1.
  3. Linda and Chris have apparently secured new lodgings, which is jolly good news and a complete relief. Now all that’s left is the mucky business of packing up, moving and cleaning, but at least the main problem is done with, the rest being logistics.
  4. Fi has instituted a solution to the sleep deprivation issue over the past few days, which, while not entirely satisfactory because it involves me sleeping on the couch for half the night, does achieve the critical goal of allowing me to get at least five or six hours of rest a day. This comes at a small cost, you may perceive, but it should hopefully just be temporary while Joey’s current hobby – twisting and bellowing for half the night – runs its course.
  5. I’ve been neglecting a lot of things lately (no, not my child!), including but not limited to: my writing, my job, my gaming, my enthusiasm for activities more energetic than watching early morning variety shows, this blog. Lots of good reasons for this, not at all unrelated to point #4, but with renewed vigour comes a renewed sense that I could be using some of my time a litttle less unproductively. However, The Lord of the Rings Online presents a compelling case to the contrary.
  6. I am never so strategically-minded as when I am participating in a work planning day. Seriously, if my team want me to be more productive – and given the extent to which I have been otherwise over the past few weeks I would be surprised if they did not hold this view – they should just hold a planning day each Friday morning, throw together a random agenda, and just let me spout off with opinionated verve about what’s wrong with the world. I swear, I have solved all our problems today.
  7. Other Doctor Who stories which may be feeling slighted after I declared ‘Blink’ to be their First Among Equals include (in no particular order) ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’, ‘The Robots of Death’, ‘The Pyramids of Mars’, ‘The Caves of Androzani’, ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, ‘Terror of the Autons’, ‘Army of Ghosts/Doomsday’, ‘The Aztecs’, ‘Terror of the Zygons’, ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, ‘The Curse of Fenric’, ‘The Seeds of Doom’, ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’, ‘Enlightenment’, ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’ and ‘The Carnival of Monsters’ (shut up, I liked it!). However, they must grudgingly bend a knee to their emperor, for life is short and ‘Blink’ is hot.
  8. I really, really like Doctor Who. Discuss.
  9. Our first attempt to get some financial advice around property investment – with an accountant on Wednesday afternoon – was a bit of a bust, although probably useful from a taxation point of view. We’re not completely clear about what we need to know, apart from establishing how much we can afford to risk early on, which to be honest we will likely end up figuring out for ourselves. It seems, however, that guidance on translating general advice to our specific financial circumstances is not quite so easy to come by. We have another session on Monday which is more promising, but which will probably involve someone trying to sell us their prepackaged option. Still, should be something useful in it for us, and if not then we’ll just take the bull by the horns and get one with it ourselves.
  10. The new edition of Dungeons and Dragons comes out in two weeks. I am infeasibly excited in a way that can only possibly end in disappoitment and bitter recriminations, or at least more Burning Wheel. This reminds me that I started that ’10 great things in gaming’ series of posts a while ago and never got back to it. I may attend to that if the current resurgence of enthusiasm for blogging continues for the next week or two.
  11. It is time for beer. Past time, in fact.

May 21, 2008

In the news today

Filed under: geekery — lexifab @ 4:32 pm

Am recuperating at home after three successive weeks of doing bugger-all at work and – perhaps more pertinently – going the last three or four nights on less than four hours sleep. But that’s enough about my lame inability to surpass the frail human limitation of the need for adequate sleep.

What’s really important about today is that the BBC have confirmed the long-rumoured appointment of Steven Moffat to the position of Doctor Who show runner after Russell T. Davies departs next year. You may have heard of some of Moffat’s work. Back in the day he wrote the terrific kid’s series Press Gang (where Julia Sawalha got her start, bless her), and more recently the sitcom Coupling, upon which enough superlatives are simply unable to be stacked, and the creepy mini-series Jekyll, about which I would probably have more to say if I’d actually gotten around to watching it yet (I understand it to be pretty good, in fact).

But in fact all that may be set to one side, simply because Moffat also wrote the Doctor Who season three episode Blink (aka the one with the statues that scared the living shit out of every kid in the UK), which was simply the best episode of the entire series ever. Well, so far, anyway. And yes, that assessment is an objective fact and only stupid people would dispute it.

I’ve enjoyed the Russell T. Davies revival of the show. Adored it, actually. Worshipped might not be going too far. But there’s room for improvement, and I don’t think there could have been a better choice to make that happen.

Yay. My geek cup runneth over.

May 14, 2008

“All you need is positivity”

Filed under: fitter/happier,workin for the man — lexifab @ 12:04 pm

So sang those most chav of sages The Spice Girls, with a surprising perspicacity they otherwise evinced but rarely.

I find, as I’m sure many do, that my working capacity (and I’m thinking of my paid employment here, but the principle applies more broadly i.e. writing, blogging etc) waxes and wanes according to my mood. Enthusiasm for a task will tend to lend it creative energy and momentum, while conversely setbacks and disappointments will stymie and stall progress, and these are both self-perpetuating phenomena.

What I find odd in myself is the extraordinary extent to which this effect takes hold. Yesterday, I took a disappointing and mildly confrontational phone call fairly on in the morning, and thereafter I was absolutely, 100% piss-useless all day. I was in a mood which was not so much grumpy (which would have been somewhat justified given the phone call) as resigned and disconsolate. I spent the entire workday doing the equivalent of pushing food around my plate with a fork. I took an inordinately long time to create a very small number of files and put some papers on them. I made no phone calls, nor returned any, and I took a very long, boring walk at lunchtime which had no luck whatsoever in perking me up.

Now admittedly I was tired and no doubt my mental defences were eaten through with rust and woodworm analogues, but even so it took me by surprise just how little effort I could bring myself to exert to overcome my attitudinal baseline. It just seemed impossible, despite being constantly aware of and preoccupied by the certainty that there was nothing more sinister going on that being in a bummed-out mood. When I finally dragged myself off home, I was exhausted (by zero exertions) and ready to collapse by about 7:30.

(Which made the news that it was my turn to cook dinner rather unwelcome. Further to that, I made rather a hash of it, having to repeat several steps and barely escaping stuffing the whole thing up. But in retrospect, I will tender the defense that I think that the recipe was kind of crap to start with).

Today, by comparison, I’m still quite tired, but having recognised yesterday’s quagmire for what it was, I started the day with some positive, affirming delusions (“Hey, no, you’re great, get out there and have a really good day, champ!”) and a modicum of planning (I made a list of things to achieve while brushing my teeth, and, sure, I’ve since forgotten most of the details, but it certainly made me feel good). And what do you know, I’m getting stuff done and things seem to be going my way.

Granted, I’ve just wasted 20 minutes typing up this blog entry. But that’s still more productivity than I could claim for all of yesterday, and while I’ve been doing that the back of my brain has been mapping out all of the other (actually useful) things that I need to do today. This time I’m going to write them down, what’s more.

(Before anyone asks, no, I doubt very much whether I am bipolar and in need of a good stabilising medication regime. I’m just kinda moody, is all. But feel free to administer whatever tests you feel are appropriate).

May 13, 2008

Out of puff

Filed under: fitter/happier — lexifab @ 1:43 pm

The long season of sleeplessness continues. Even after last night, which was relatively calm and peaceful and uninterrupted by the horrific shrieks and spine-penetratingly anguished cries that characterised quite a bit of the night before, I’m still a bit knackered. I apologise if you’ve been waiting for some sort of email communications from me  – I’ve hardly even been checking my mail lately, and then only once every two or three days at best.

May 6, 2008

Upgraded!

Filed under: administraviata — lexifab @ 8:00 pm

Huh. I’m typing this in a spanking new WordPress user interface. Looks like the blogging software got an upgrade. Not that you’d be able to tell, except that the comments seem now to be accompanied by a big blue blob icon of some description.

Welcome to this week’s New Era, I guess.

Edit: Ooh, I can embed audio now. Can’t wait to never use that feature! Hooray for Web 2.0!

Ouch! Keep your grindstone away from my nose!

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,property magnatism,workin for the man — lexifab @ 10:59 am

So. Holiday over. Back at work. Finding it hard to care. No surprises there.

Coffs Harbour turned on cool but otherwise perfect weather for our stay. Idyllic and magical as always, and the surf was, if anything, better than last year. Would have been marginally better had Andrew and Von been able to join us, but they have stuff that needs doing, so we struggled on manfully in their absence, playing ping pong (the boys), doing lots of shopping (the girls) and making a day trip out to Armidale to visit the Fellowses (the boys again). It was odd actually seeing Amanda face to face for the first time in five or six years, considering we’ve been chatting pretty regularly through online games during that time. But we had a good time meeting the kids, catching up with Chris and Amanda, making the happy discovery that our old kitten Em is still around, and being introduced to Snuffkin, Destroyer of Worlds (an Irish Setter-Golden Retriever cross, one of the most terrifying breeding schemes imaginable). It was well worth a visit, and now (I think) I could actually find the place again the next time we happen to be heading north, so we should be able to manage more visits in the future.

We also saw Iron Man (short review: much, much better than it has any right to be, and stay for the end of the credits), visited the Big Banana – Evan, Sara and I went ice-skating! - and reignited our plans to get into property investment, even going so far as to inspect a couple of places. We have to do some research and planning before we get underway, but that will probably get underway some time before the end of June. Exciting! Hopefully we’ll be so successful we’ll all be able to retire early. It’s nice to dream, at least.

But in the meantime I have an internal press release to finalise and a presentation to prepare, so I guess I’ll just go do that.

 Dammit.

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