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

June 30, 2008

Birthday weekend wrapup, with golf, teeth and The Doctor.

Filed under: fitter/happier,joey,news of the day — lexifab @ 11:59 am

Fiona’s birthday on friday was a bit of a mixed one for me, in that I had to go to work for a training course. Worse still, it was on Representation Skills i.e. chairing meetings, speaking to the media, shaking hands and making small talk at official receptions without starting a diplomatic incident and…making speeches.

You may not know it to look at me since I am by nature a pretty gabby bastard, but I have kind of a thing about public speaking, and that thing that I have is utter loathing. Give me an opportunity to make some off the cuff remarks for an interested audience and I run until my feet bleed. Ask me to make a speech about how wonderful the bride is and how undeserving is the groom, and I will shake so badly that unfortunate comments about the new mother-in-law are practically certain to escape. Tell me how lucky I am to have the chance to address a gathering if you want to see me sweat in terror.

While you’re at it, guess what happened to me first thing this morning, before I’d even had a chance to get a stabilising dose of coffee into my system. Go on, guess.

But, alarmed and poised to take flight, I digress. Back to Friday. After the course finished, I bunked off early and met Fi, Jimbo and the demon child at the shops, where we demolished my annual bonus (and then some) purchasing a dramatic number of electronic devices. These weren’t strictly intended as birthday presents to ourselves. We’ve been planning to get both a Wii and a laptop for months and have been routinely thwarted by stock shortages. The timing was too good to pass up though (and just as well we went when we did, since we got the last Wii Fit in the shop, the day after they restocked).

The rest of the afternoon and most of the evening was spend happily tinkering with OS installations, playing virtual games of tennis, golf and tenpin, and learning from a glorified bathroom scale that the entire household is weak and decrepit beyond its years. We could have told it that ourselves of course, but it’s much more stark and confronting when graphs are involved.

On Friday evening Fi and I went to dinner at one of the restaurants down at our local shops. Quite a good meal – I had kangaroo, which I am not often afforded the opportunity to try – but Fi was disappointed that there wasn’t much on the menu that we couldn’t have had a pretty good stab at making for ourselves. It was nice to have a little bit of time to ourselves though.

On Saturday, Fi and her sister Jaki went to see the Sex and the City movie (her review: “Pretty much what you would expect”, which compels me to follow in her footsteps not at all), while the boys babysat and played numerous rounds of Wii golf. Joey didn’t have much interest in what was going on on the screen (though he must have enjoyed all the bright primary colours characteristic of a Nintendo product) but he was pretty happy to be passed around from person to person and frequently giggled at our dubious attempts to replicate real golf swings.

On Saturday evening Fi and I went to dinner again, this time a going-away celebration for a work friend who is off for a couple of years in Port Moresby. Didn’t know that many of the people there (they’re all so young! I’m so old!) but we had a good time. This time we were at the other restaurant at our local shops, and the meals were a lot more interesting. We were pretty done in by the time we got hom though. Fortunately the demon child had obviously worn himself our with a week’s worth of disrupted sleep, so we ended up actually being able to get a full night’s rest.

By the way, we concluded that the reason for the horrible night time thrashing and yelling was teeth, after all. At least, he now has two bottom front incisors poking through, and he’s gone back to sleeping relatively undisturbed, so we assume that there was a connection.

Then it was Sunday. My birthday, hooray! Fi tried to get me to sleep in, but I forgot to do a proper job of it. Instead I pottered about being slightly helpful while she cleaned the kitchen (normally my job) and – with Si’s assistance – made an enormous quantity of banana pancakes with strawberries, roasted almonds, bacon, ice cream and maple syrup. Awesome!

On Sunday evening Gazza, Sonnie and the boys came around for a roast chicken dinner (my request, because Jimbo makes the best roast chicken in the universe). After dinner, we watched the Doctor Who Christmas-in-July-if-you’re-an-Australian-viewer special (featuring Our Kylie!) over apple and rhubarb crumble, with home-grown rhubarb and a recipe concocted by Fi from about six different versions from the interweb. Delicious!

You might notice that a bit of a theme for the weekend was huge amounts of food. You can be sure that the Wii Fit had a pointed remark or two to make about that subject. I need to do approximately a million hours of exercise to make up for three days of indulgence.

So, a glorious weekend all round, which was capped off with the penultimate episode of this season of Doctor Who, which was so deliriously exciting that I couldn’t get to sleep for an hour afterwards, I was on such a fanboy high. The perfect way to cap off my birthday, lemme tell you. And we’ll be able to watch the finale on Jimbo’s birthday next Sunday, at which point I may actually explode with delight.

June 27, 2008

Highly technical birthday

Filed under: fitter/happier,news of the day — lexifab @ 8:09 pm

Hooray, it’s the lovely Fazza’s birthday!

We celebrated by blowing an awful lot of money on a new Wii and Wii-Fit, and the new laptop on which this is being written. Both are currently connected to the wireless modem in the nerdfarm. Fi’s discovered that some computer games can be fun (specifically, the tennis, golf and bowling in Wii Sports, which comes bundled with the Wii console, and – if the current amused noises emerging from the living room are any indication – the intro games on the Wii Fit balance board.

Actually, I think most of the amusement seems to be derived from the dodgy outfits worn by the game avatars, and the rather cold assessment of the state of overweightness of the participants (good old Body-Mass Index- so judgmental!)

But we have no more time for such fitness-related entertainments, for now it is time to go enjoy dinner at the restaurant down the road. Huzzah, all the same!

June 19, 2008

Around the interwebs today

Filed under: cricket,geekery,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 2:22 pm

Lore Sjoberg cruelly pokes fun at the many hundreds of anonymous commentators who’ve had something insightful to shout about the D&D4E over at Wired. Mocking nerdrage is funny at the best of times, but seriously, the quality of ‘debate’ around this latest edition has been entertainingly shrill and gibbering, even by the usual standards of internet discourse. The main complaints (“they’re turning it into a video game”, “they’re forcing people to buy more books”, “they’re sacrificing too many sacred cows”, “it’s just not D&D any more“) would of course be risible enough on their own if they didn’t bear so indistinguishable a resemblance to the shrieking litany of complaints being sprayed about the last time a new edition was released.

This one is a bit old, but I promised Dr Clam that I would link to it and I never got around to it: an article about an experiment to replicate the shockwave effect in traffic (in summary: fast-fast-screech!-slow-faster-fast). Watch the film, it’s really cool. It might also make you think of science the next time you’re stuck in traffic, which might help while away the hours.

By switching from a right-to-left hand batting stance during the bowler’s runup and belting Scott Styris for six the other day,  Kevin Pieterson has introduced the first genuine batting innovation in cricket* since the slog-sweep (which was popular on the subcontinent for decades before it became popular with the wider Test-playing community). That would be amusing enough, but it appears that the normally staid and tradition-bound MCC is letting him get away with it, stating that the shot is within the laws of cricket. I think it will be a while before it enjoys widespread popularity though – it’s incredibly tricky to pull of and so stupid a risk that getting out while attempting it would cast one’s selection prospects in a very dark shadow. Few batsmen would be willing to put their careers on the line for a moment of glorious spectacle. Except KP, who’s clearly a bit mad.

(See, I can be a nerd about other things apart from roleplaying games and doughnuts!)

* At international level, that is. Of course people have been doing this in backyards and indoor cricket nets forever. Not me though, because I am really rather rubbish at batting.

June 17, 2008

Radically transformed purpose?

Filed under: geekery,now playing: anything — lexifab @ 5:59 pm

For a while there, I seriously considered pandering to the commenting masses by repurposing Lexifab as a vehicle for the apparently undernourished popular hunger for doughnut reviews. Then as I began to devise my new mission statement, I underwent a crisis of confidence – Must I restrict myself solely to doughnuts? What about other fried sweets? What about baked goods? Could I reliably sustain so narrow a journalistic focus, and if so, would the very subject of my enquiries inflict fatally hardened arteries upon me before I could establish my authoritative genius?

On the latter question I decided that the answers were “no” and “very likely”, and here we are talking about Dungeons & Dragons again, sans doughnuts. Marco, your palpable disappointment is noted.

So we played some 4E on Saturday night, with Jimbo taking the DM reins and freeing me up to indulge my arrow-slinging ranger fetish. Some general thoughts after the cut, ahead of tonight’s continuation: (more…)

June 11, 2008

Long weekend, by Her Majesty’s grace

Filed under: geekery,news of the day — lexifab @ 12:04 am

Don’t suppose I gave the thought that it was the Queen’s Birthday long weekend much thought, but thanks anyway to Big Lizzie for three days off from work.

Fi kidnapped me for the first couple of days, arranging a house swap with her sister (who got to babysit the boy as part of the package). We spent the weekend on the other side of town, enjoying the complete absence of responsibility. Of course we spent this precious free time fruitfully pursuing our shared passion for that most basic of instincts – shopping.

We bought a camera, on the grounds that the old Kodak appears to be on the way out. Despite suffering from some terrifically ghastly branding – Coolpix, indeed – it’s a pretty nifty little piece of kit with much better resolution than our previous digital and some very shiny features, such as being able to assemble panoramic widescreen shots on purpose, rather than as the result of a series of happy accidents…

We also bought doughnuts and a newspaper, but come to think of it that’s rather less newsworthy than the camera. Moving on…

I watched ‘Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ for the first time on Saturday night, when it screened on ABC2. I now not only have a favourite Stanley Kubrik movie, but also a Stanley Kubrik movie I actually love without reservation. How it is that I haven’t managed to see this work of magnificently black absurdity before now is a mystery.

I bought the three core rulebooks for the new edition of D&D on Friday, but didn’t really get that much time to dig into them until Sunday afternoon. I’m working my way through them now and have yet to really formulate opinions of my own (that is, ones that don’t suspiciously resemble ones expressed by more articulate commentators all over the interwebs) but a few short, sweet observations:

  • If you like playing D&D with miniatures, this will undoubtedly be the best version of the game ever. It’s so good at this, it even makes me want to play with miniatures, which I’ve never really been all that into before.
  • There is more information for players to interpret about what their character can do than probably ever before. On the plus side, it’s also better organised and more comprehensible than it has ever been before.
  • This iteration of Dungeon Master’s Guide is by far and away the best collection of advice on how to run a roleplaying game that has ever been assembled in one place. It’s astonishingly good, and I don’t just mean in the “better than anything Gary Gygax ever wrote” sense either.
  • On top of strongly resembling a board game, it also steals some very good ideas from MMO games and combo-driven card games like Magic the Gathering, in the service of making actual gameplay more fun. It will, of course, all depend on how it shakes out in play, but early signs are that it encourages far more cooperative and team-based action. In combat, at least.
  • Kobolds, orcs and goblins – traditionally consigned to having the crap kicked out of them by even the lowliest and most rank amateur adventurers – are now dangerously capable of kicking arse. Kobolds in particular have an ability which makes them fiendishly difficult to draw a bead on. I *love* this.
  • There are no ankhegs in the core Monster Manual. This omission upsets and deranges me, but at least I have an excuse now to tinker with the monster creation guidelines. No game of D&D can proceed without the threat of acid-spitting, inn-undermining killer praying mantises. Not on my watch!

I need sleep now.

June 10, 2008

Semi-versary

Filed under: joey — lexifab @ 9:55 pm

Our little Joey is six months old today. To celebrate, here he is in a gloriously standard pose. Boy has the spine of a cheetah, lemme tell you.

joey

June 4, 2008

Where have all the commenters gone?

Filed under: administraviata — lexifab @ 4:22 pm

It’s…awfully quiet in the comments lately. Is everyone dead? Is this it – The Apocalypse?

Shit, I hope not. I haven’t packed any camping gear.

On musical theatre

Filed under: musical challenge — lexifab @ 4:15 pm

I would scarcely have believe that a musical about Australian politics would be amusing at all, let along really freaking hilarious, but Keating: The Musical rarely misses a beat. No doubt it helps to have some recollection of the events loosely depicted therein, but in terms of the quality of the songs and the show – which are top class – prior knowledge is just a bonus, not a requirement.

Mild spoilers (can you spoil fictionalised versions of actual historical events? Dunno, but I won’t take any chances) after the cut. (more…)

June 3, 2008

Zap

Filed under: news of the day — lexifab @ 9:40 am

Lexifab’s been down for the past couple of days because a server blew up in Houston. Literally, as it happens – reportedly the explosion took out three walls. It looks like everything is operating normally again, but let me know if you spot anything missing.

Spent the weekend helping Chris and Linda move across town. We didn’t quite get the whole job done, but we did manage to move all the really heavy things on Sunday, and about six thousand boxes. Their new place is unfortunately a bit smaller, so I’m not really envious of the reorganisational job ahead of them. All up though it was a good move, with less blood spilled than I am accustomed to – Jimbo getting a couple of deep splinters and Simon straining an arm were the only casualties I’m aware of.

(Today, I have apparently decided, is a good day for ending sentences with prepositions on).

Tonight, thanks to Mister the Chris’ generosity, we’re seeing Keating: The Musical at the theatre. There is, I feel, something intrinsically Canberran about seeing a musical comedy about a politician. Also, it’s been ages since I’ve been to the theatre to see an actual dramatic performance – comedy routines and music, sure, but I think the last play would have been a Bell Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice in Sydney, and that may have been as much as a decade ago. I am a philistine.

I rode the motorbike this morning for the first time in ages. It started raining almost immediately. Coincidence?

The new season of Doctor Who starts on the ABC at the end of the month. You should watch it. You should certainly watch episode 8 ‘Silence in the Library’, which we saw last night and which is terrific in a ‘the little kids watching this haven’t had their pants scared off lately, so how can we fix that?’ sort of way. Also contains myth building, snappy dialogue and suspicious similarities to ‘The Empty Child’.

On Sunday night I stayed up until 4:30 am to watch the final of the Indian Premier League 20/20 cricket tournament. For a tantalising second there, with the scores even and one ball to go, there was a chance of a tied final. Although I’m glad that the better team immediately went on to break the tie and win, I’m sad that that moment passed.

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