Saturday, September 30, 2006


As of today, I've been here for five years. Enjoy the last part of the trip recap. Keep in mind that this was written by Seth, so when "I" do something, it's actually him talking.


SEPTEMBER 30 - rest stop, Idaho (mileage unknown)
I drove all morning, determined to make it all the way across the panhandle of Idaho before I turn the wheel over to Jon. But nature calls, and high in the mountains I pull over into a rest stop to make use of the facilities.

I say without reservation that western Montana and northern Idaho are some of the most beautiful territory it's ever been my privilege to pass through. But it's also completely isolated. Those snow gates that can be dropped across the interstate ("Road blocked ahead. Go back to Missoula.") are there for a reason, and you'd have to be pretty hardy to live out here. The price of beauty, I suppose. We'll see if I can't afford it.

Coming out of the bathroom I see that a man walking his dog is wearing a baseball cap with Bucky Badger embroidered on it. We talk for a minute and it turns out he's from Madison, out here visiting relatives. Strange to find a piece of home about as far away from it as you can get.

SEPTEMBER 30 -- Couer D'Lane, Idaho (1,705 miles)
A quick stop for lunch in the late afternoon. Jon's cel phone is finally back in range of the system, and he checks his messages while I try to call home and wish my mom a happy birthday on a nearby payphone. Couer D'Lane is the Wisconsin Dells of Idaho, with a population that seems fifty percent tourist and a waterslide on every block. It also increases the number of people we've seen in Idaho by about a bazillion percent, unless you count the other moving trucks. Maybe its just because we're traveling in a U-Haul, but everyone and their brother seems to be moving-usually in the opposite direction, but that's probably because anyone behind us can't catch up to us and we can't catch anyone ahead. As the days have passed I've found a strange feeling of brotherhood with these other travelers; if our horn worked I would beep it when I saw them, but have to settle for a jaunty wave they probably never see. Oh well.

For all the 'friends', we've also found our nemesis. First spotted in South Dakota, a couple times each day we've been passed by what I've named the Luxury RV, a glossy black bus-like RV pulling a high-priced black SUV, like Puff Daddy going on walkabout. Ostentatious, faster than us-the reasons to be annoyed go on and on. But though I've been watching, the LRV's shiny prow has yet to glide past our port windows. I decide to remain vigilant as Jon takes the wheel.

SEPTEMBER 30 - MOFN, Washington (1,786 miles)
I gave this town its name, as it is in the middle of nowhere and didn't even have the dignity to give itself a name for its highway exit. Though we didn't have time to stop in Spokane and see my grandparents (although we did see a giant inflatable gorilla, prompting Jon to properly bemoan the trip's lack of monkeys), we had to stop here for gas-and that's nearly all this place has to offer. That, an RV park (despite the "Don't park RV signs here" signs that seem to be tacked to every post), a collection of construction equipment working and otherwise, and a concrete pipe capped with a metal plate jutting out of the ground. My theory is that it's the entrance to a secret underground government base, but that woman back in Montana probably didn't shoot anyone, either.

SEPTEMBER 30 - Roslyn, Washington (1,932 miles)
We're almost there, but fannish interest (you can take the geeks out of Wisconsin, know the rest) made us get off the interstate and make our way up a county highway to Roslyn, where they filmed the exteriors for the TV series Northern Exposure. All the shops are closed this late on a Sunday evening, so no T-shirts for us. But the KBHR radio station is still there and we get to peek into the now-dusty interior. We also see Roslyn's Café, the building that was supposed to be Dr. Fleischman's office, and the Brick, where we stop to grab dinner.

While waiting for dinner, I wander back across the street and finally get ahold of my mom. While eating dinner, I watch a gorgeous nearby woman, who eventually notices me and subtly flashes her wedding ring. As of this writing, the jury is still out on whether I'm happy or sad to have been caught being potentially prurient.

Then it's back to the road, with only Snoqualimie Pass between us and Seattle.

SEPTEMBER 30 - Bellevue, Washington (2,015 miles)
It's not Seattle, but it's close enough. We make our way through the dark streets and eventually find the house Jon will be staying at. We have some problems finding the key that supposed to be hidden outside, but luckily one of the other roomers is home-and turns out to also be a WizKids employee named Dave. Dave shows us Jon's (surprisingly tiny!) room, and we unload what we can from the truck. It's almost ten, and too late to find a storage space; Jon will have to do that tomorrow after I leave. Dave does help us move the U-Haul and trailer to the WizKids parking lot (including taking the wheel for the particularly tricky job of turning the truck around in the narrow parking lot), and takes us over to the nearby mall and an all-night grocery store so I can get some cash for the trip back.

Then bedtime and up in time to run to the airport in the morning.


There's the whole tale. I hope you've had as much fun reading it as Seth and I did driving it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fifth Anniversary Part III

SEPTEMBER 29 - Sundance, Wyoming (911 miles)
Another gas stop, this time in the town where the Sundance Kid got his name. A pretty small place, and my stay is marked mainly by the three guys in the gas station buying hunting licenses-and swearing that the rifle on the wall being raffled off is the same one that was there last year. They're putting together the pieces of the conspiracy as I wander back out to the truck.

SEPTEMBER 29 - Sheridan, Wyoming (1058 miles)
We've made it over the thousand-mile mark, so we celebrate by stopping for food and gas. Again. Jon also needs to pick up a new address book, so we make our way downtown and find a Wal-Mart Plus-a Wal-Mart with a grocery store. Jon quickly finds the address book and we make our way across the parking lot for a quick lunch at Taco Bell. (For those keeping score at home--number of days on the road: 3; stops at a Taco Bell: 3. Make your investments appropriately.)

Our quick lunch turns out to be anything but. It takes ten minutes to even order, and when we sit down to wait we realize that the dining room is full not of people eating but of people waiting. Oh yeah, and they're out of chicken. The situation is so absurd that Jon and I begin making fun of the restaurant and its employees-apparently in an increasingly vocal manner, as Jon later reports that a cute girl ten feet away was laughing. (Sadly, she was probably of high-school age, so no missed opportunity there, faithful reader. But thank you for thinking of Jon and I.)

SEPTEMBER 29 - Big Timber, Montana (1,273 miles)
After a morning of climbing the foothills of the Rockies and blasting through Billings (a competitor with Toledo for Ugliest City in America), the Little U-Haul That Could has to pull off in western Montana for gas. As we come out from paying, there's a woman hanging around near the corner of the building smoking and leaving one hand suspiciously inside her purse. Our schedule demands that we get back on the road, but let's pretend that she was waiting to shoot someone, okay?

SEPTEMBER 29 - Missoula, Montana (1,541 miles)
Jon handles late night driving up into the mountains and across the Continental Divide, and around 11:30 we pull into Missoula. Less prepared than previous days, we haven't picked out a specific hotel from the AAA guidebook. But I see a billboard for one I remember. Unfortunately, I direct Jon off the highway an exit too early and we wander through town a bit before getting to the right area.

Of further surprise is that the hotel we stop at is full. Not just that, but so are the next two. Luckily, we find a Best Western with a room and crash. Our wake-up call comes right on time, and we make our way downstairs just in time to enjoy the continental breakfast-which actually _is_ pretty continental, reminding me of the breakfast buffet at the hotel I stayed at in London (which itself is _not_ Continental, but you get my Ugly American point, right?)

Then it's time to gas up, and get back on the road.


The conclusion tomorrow!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fifth Part II

Here's Part II of the cross-country trip from five years ago.

Sorry for the delay in posting this, Blogger was having issues.


SEPTEMBER 28 - Blue Earth, Minnesota (333 miles)
I'd like to say that it was the fifty-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant that made us get off the highway, but we just decided to stop for gas and snacks.

The gas station used to have a Taco Bell Express, but it has gone out of business -- recently, apparently. As I stand waiting to get into the restroom, two couples who are part of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation enter. The woman in the lead walks up to the darkened corner and says, "What? No tacos?" For some reason it strikes me as odd; I guess I'm just accustomed to the preteens overrunning the Taco Bells in Madison.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Mitchell, South Dakota (521 miles)
Stopping for gas again, we also stop for lunch, grabbing sandwiches at Subway and then making our way through a maze of surface-street construction to the world famous Mitchell Corn Palace. The last time I was here was a quarter-century ago, and while the Palace is pretty neat, my picture-augmented memory held it up as much neater. I don't remember it being in the middle of downtown, for one thing; I guess I always thought it was a building out in the middle of the fields. And the colors are much more subdued-the pictures I've seen were taken in 1976, and I guess they fancied it up for the Bicentennial. This year's themes are pretty straight-forward nature themes done in straight-forward corn colors. Jon and I do find a display across the street showing how the decoration is done, and I do have to respect the process. It seems like an awful lot of work, beginning with laying out the design on the building and cutting a whole hell of a lot of corn cobs in half in preparation for mounting them.

Though downtown Mitchell seems to get a lot of its income from tourists, most of the other tourist shops are closed down for the season and there's not much else to see. So after a quick picture of Jon in front of the Corn Palace, and a seemingly interminable wait at a train crossing, we're back on I-90 and headed west.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Kadoka, South Dakota (705 miles)
Only two things are amusing about our stop in Kadoka. One: Jon makes a series of funny jokes about people who were too dumb to spell the name of their own state right, and end up naming their town Kadoka. Two: At the gas station, I wait in line to buy my Diet Coke behind a group of guys loudly planning that evening's visit to a strip club. I'm not quite certain they ever caught on that I was laughing at them and not with them. (Okay, now that time has passed, I'm not certain that either of those items are amusing in retrospect. But then, we were back on the road within fifteen minutes -- it didn't leave much time to be amused, and I have to take my amusement where I can get it.)

SEPTEMBER 28 - Wall, South Dakota (758 miles)
Sadly, we arrive in Wall too late to partake of the joys of Wall Drug. But we settle for eating dinner across the street in the Cactus Café, the very restaurant where I had dinner with folks from work on the way back from E3 in May. If you had told me then that I would be eating in that restaurant again just four months later, I don't think I would have believed you. But there we are. The menu isn't quite as cosmopolitan as Burlington's famous White Fox Den, but it goes a little bit beyond bar food, so I enjoy a good French Dip sandwich and a bowl of clam chowder.

On the way out of town, we stop at a gas station-not for gas, but so that I can prove after much frustration at lunch that Sobe Wisdom is unavailable in the state of South Dakota. Like many things in life, I am quickly proven utterly incorrect and come out with a Sobe and a box of Whoppers. Jon is laughing when I come back and points out a truck-driving future redneck who has hung up his truck on the concrete and steel base of an enormous sign, hooking his bumper over the five-inch lug nuts that hold the whole thing upright. We're tempted to stay and watch, but we're behind schedule... so we press on.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Spearfish, South Dakota (856 miles)
With 700 miles under our belt for the day, we stop just short of the Wyoming border. Happily, the hotel we stay at has a pool, so while Jon deals with some unfinished paperwork I go for a swim and read in the hot tub for a while. I have some weird flashes back to a family trip 25 years ago (the same one that took me to Mitchell) and wonder if we stayed here.

Our 8:30 AM wakeup call never comes, and we wake up just past 9:00. Still, even with a trip to a nearby grocery store for water, fruit and road snacks we manage to get back on I-90 by ten, and I pop yet another CD into the Rio as we turn west.


End Part II.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Begin Again

Five years ago today (Wednesday) Seth and I loaded up my U-Haul and carted my many belongings across the country, or at least the section covered by I-90 that goes from Madison to Bellevue.

Here's the yearly recap.


SEPTEMBER 27 - Madison, Wisconsin (0 miles)
We haven't left town yet, and we're already running late. It's nobody's fault, really: packing up the truck took a bit longer than planned, but we still could have made it out of town with time for plenty of progress...until it came time to go back to U-Haul to hook up a trailer for Jon's car.

"Looks kinda heavy," says the guy at the shop, and suggests we go across the street to the recycling center and use the truck scale. Driving the 17-foot truck directly across four busy lanes of traffic is a bit daunting, but I brave the task while Jon starts to deal with the trailer.

Pulling up onto the truck scale just as the recycling center just as they prepare to close the gates, I jump out and read the label on the side of truck: 'LIMIT 11,000 LBS. GROSS'. Then I look over at the digital readout on the side of the building: 14568.

I take the truck back across the street and deliver the bad news. The garage is closing, so there's no time to come back for the trailer. Instead we hook up the car and trailer, then return to Jon's house and spend a couple hours unloading two tons of books and comics that will have to go down to Jon's parents in Burlington for storage.

SEPTEMBER 27 - La Crosse, Wisconsin (161 miles)
We made a quick stop at a gas station and a Taco Bell in Tomah, but it's here that we decide to stop for the night. It's 11:30, and there's no point in burning ourselves out on the first leg of the trip. The AAA guidebook lists a Hampton Inn that offers a discount, so that's where we crash. Uh, sleep.

We're up by 8:30, pack up, partake of the free breakfast, stop by a nearby Woodman's grocery store so I can mail off a birthday card to my mom, and then we hit the road.


More of the trip tomorrow.

I Keep Thinking...

I keep thinking that I'll update again, and then I look and see that a week has passed. I did pretty well last week with a couple of updates, but then nothing. And the weird thing is that it doesn't seem like that much time has passed.

The last week has been good. I actually purchased some songs from iTunes (which, I think is the first or second time ever for me) that I knew I would never buy on CD. Those songs being H.W.C. by Liz Phair and Jam On It by Newcleus. The latter being one of my favorite songs from when it was released when I was 13. Oh, I had a good laugh.

Over the weekend Julia and I watched Brick, Seven Up and Seven Plus Seven. Brick was good, but I had a hard time getting into it. It may be worth a second watching, but it was so dense that when I missed a couple of lines of dialogue I had to take the next ten minutes to figure out what I missed. I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as those who recommended it to me.

Seven Up and Seven Plus Seven were the first two parts (totally about an hour and a half) of an ongoing documentary series that follows a group of 16(?) English children from their seventh year and every seven years thereafter. So we got to see them at 7 and 14 in these movies. The new movie to be released later this month is 49 Up. It's amazing to think they've been following these people their entire lives and I'm really looking forward to 21 Up, which is coming from Netflix soon. If you haven't seen these, I highly recommend them. They're equal parts inspiring and heartwrenching while being wholly fascinating.

On Sunday, Julia and I drove to Edmonds to meet up with her parents for dinner. They'd been out on their boat (a Nordic Tug) and wanted to do dinner, but they wouldn't be back to Seattle until the next day, hence the drive. We had a good time and ate a place called Arnie's right near where their boat was docked.

I'm seriously considering buying a house, but I'll talk more about that as I get more information lined up.

I started a new diet. It's a restricted-calorie diet. I've been reading some things about them and they sound really interesting. I've always said I'd like to live as long as possible and it sounds like this sort of diet could help me to do that. In addition, it'll have the side-effect of making me lose weight. Since last week I'm already down a few pounds, so I must be doing something right. Another benefit is that I'm really thinking about what I'm eating and planning out balanced meals, so I'm getting to eat anything I want and my meals are much healthier. I'm pretty committed to this one.

Jason posted some great things on his site lately. The first being an excellent snippet from MSNBC in response to Clinton's "outburst" on Fox News. It's ten minutes long, but definitely worth it. Watch the video here. It's nice to see someone who's done his research taking the Commander and Chief (Moron and Thief?) to task. I just wish more people would listen and be up-in-arms.

The second thing was a link to Fans of the movie and comics should find something they like there.

Okay, enough for now. Time to do some work.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kill Me!

Here's what the HorroClix Victim Token looks like (front on the left, back on the right). Enjoy!

I'm sure you can still get your own copy in the stores.



It's National Talk Like a Pirate Day. We saw part of an episode of Wife Swap last night that featured the family of the guy who created National Talk Like a Pirate Day. They switched wives with an incredibly anal and organized family that had everything labled. Everything. It was very strange. Needless to say, the pirate people were also very strange. But I think the big difference was that one family knew they were strange the the other thought they were completely normal. Guess which was which...

Julia and I saw Little Miss Sunshine on Friday. It was an excellent film. Very well written with a lot of great characters. I definitely recommend it. Go see it.

Saturday night I played poker at Tyler's with a bunch of his friends. I hadn't met any of them before, but they seemed like really fun, nice people. Hopefully I'll get to hang out with them again sometime. Oh, and I won $10. Woohoo!

Sunday Julia and I were up early to get to the Fremont Sunday Market. She's been wanting to sell her jewelry there for a while, but this was the first weekend we could make it. The booths were pretty cool, with a nice mix of all sorts of junk, crafty stuff, furniture (a surprising amount of furniture, actually), food, jewelry, clothing, and more. Unfortunately, I think there was too much jewelry, so we're probably not going to go back to sell there.

Feel like watching the first episode of Heroes? You can see it here, along with a number of other premeire episodes. I happened to watch Studio 60 last night and it was great. Check them both out if you're interested.

Okay, more soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's That?

I just received an email from a friend who'd just received his new issue of InQuest Gamer (or IQ Gamer, depending on the branding this month). And he said my HorrorClix victim token was included with this issue. Here's the image they used.

The art was done by Kieran Yanner. The stuff I'm holding include a black three-ring binder, Fudge, Shadowrun 3rd Edition, Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition, and my old, maroon dice bag.

Now run out and get your copy! Only $1.99! Cheap!

Cleaning and Organizing

I still have a lot to do around my apartment before it's in good shape, but I have all of the Fiestaware cleaned and put away now and the old dishes are ready to go to Goodwill. The next things I have to take care of are getting rid of all the boxes that have piled up. I have a few from when I moved out of WizKids and a couple more from the stuff I shipped back from GenCon. That won't take much and they certianly take up a lot of room -- and they don't look so good. I'll get that stuff taken care of soon. Most likely between taking care of assignments for the new's good to take breaks every now and again.

This weekend was a lot of fun. Julia and I had some time on Saturday to relax on Saturday afternoon. That's something we haven't been able to do for a while. It seems like we've been running around for one reason for another for quite some time, but Saturday she looked through some bead catalogs and took a short nap while I finished reading John Twelve Hawks' The Traveler. I definitely recommend it. It's well written and presents some very cool ideas about how a paranoid might see all of the surveillance we're under all the time. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Saturday night we got together with Shana, Shane, and Cathy for dinner at the Taste of India. We hadn't all been out together in a loooong time and it was good to see them. Shana's convention season is pretty much done now, so she's happy to be able to hang out again. Shane and Cathy are always busy with work, but it looks like they're in a lull right now, so they needed some downtime, too. After dinner we went back to Shane and Cathy's to play Catchphrase. Shane and I played against the girls and they kicked our butts, but did we laugh! It was a really good time. Afterward Julia said she'd never seem me laugh that much -- and that's saying something.

Shane and I have talked for years of working on something together. We have a comic that we started and a film, but now we're going to get serious about it and try to get some things done. I'll let you know how it goes, but it should be pretty exciting.

Sunday we met Shana, Shana's dad, Sheelin, and their friend Jamie for brunch at 13 Coins, which was quite tasty, then we went to the Seattle Center for a rock and gem show. Julia wasn't sure if there'd be any beading stuff there, but she found some very good and relatively inexpensive stuff that she was pretty excited about.

The last couple of days I've been busy taking care of bills, writing up contracts, and trying to get some things for the new company taken care of. That's all going well and Jim should have some good information for me in the next couple of weeks.

How cool is the new ipod shuffle? And, man, do I neeeeeeeeed one of the new 80gig ipods (that can play movies and some games)! For some reason I don't think $349 is all that much for that much fun.

I'll let you know more soon.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Yeah, my blah feeling was fleeting. Now I'm back at work and busy editing the first bit of the world bible. That's going well as I've read it before and made a few corrections then.

I have a handful of other things to do today, too. At some point I need to check to see if a wooden printer's tray is at an antique shop in Renton, then I have to get downtown to get comics and pick up Julia. I've already written a bunch of emails this morning and called Carter to see if he can sculpt something for me. It's fun to get all this stuff going.

When Julia and I were shopping on Monday we stopped at the aforementioned antique store and Julia found a green Fiestaware plate on sale for $35. Yikes, I hazard to guess how much all the stuff I brought back is worth. Not that I'd sell it, I love that stuff. It really reminds me of home and my family -- especially Mom and Grandma.

It bothers me when I write Grandma. Not because it's incorrect, but it's just not the way I pronounce it. See, I say "gramma" not "grand me", it just sort of rolls off the tongue the first way, but to write that, well, it just looks so wrong. Anyway, when you see me write "grandma", read it as "gramma" and then I'll feel alright about it. Cool?

Okay, time to edit and pay some bills. Whee!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Some days I feel like I want to be doing something else. Not anything specific, I just want to be doing something other than what I have to do right now.

It probably doesn't help that I have serious reservations about the future of the adventure gaming industry and I know in the upcoming years I'll very likely make the jump to electronic games, but that's probably a long way off.

Hmm, maybe I'm just in a bad mood for some reason because what I wrote above really sounds negative. It's not supposed to be, I'm just trying to shake this feeling by getting it on "paper". I'll work on it offline and see what I can do. Thankfully I have a lunch planned with Tyler today, so that should be good.

Last night I ran the first part of a new Warhammer game for the guys. They rolled everything randomly and we ended up with a Halfling Rogue, Dwarven Thief, Human Charcoal Burner, and an Elven Entertainer, which made for an unusual group. It's a good thing the canned adventure I was using forced them all together, otherwise it might have been a bit difficult to get them to form a group.

Jason just got a new laptop that I'm very jealous of. I get closer and closer to getting one of my own. I think I need to sell some of my cool WizKids sets to get the money together. Anyone out there interested in complete sets of Mage Knight, MechWarrior, or almost anything else? I really want to get rid of some of it to clear out some space, but getting everything together and organizing it really sounds time-consuming and unfun. Ah, I'll get to it, I'm sure.

More later.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Birthday Month is Over

My birthday was the beginning of August and Julia's was the beginning of September, so our month of birthday fun just came to a close this weekend.

I'd picked up a couple of gifts for her while we were on our trip to Wisconsin (a new blouse and a necklace), but this weekend I found a book I thought she'd like (she did), a magazine I thought she'd want a subsciption to (she did), a new purse I picked up at the Capitol Hill block party, and some money for clothes. The money came in particularly useful because we went shopping on Monday and picked up a ton of good stuff for very little money.

We didn't have any big social engagements this weekend, but Friday Kevin and Lori were in town, so we hung out with them. I picked them up in the afternoon and we checked out Pike Place Market, then we picked up Julia and joined Seth and a couple of others from work for drinks in Kirkland at the Cactus. It was a good time and I'm sorry that Kevin and Lori were only in town for the evening.

Saturday night we went to see The Illusionist at the Neptune on 45th, which was very good. I love Edward Norton (and Paul Giamatti). It was a cool period piece, well-written, good (and appropriate) special effects, and a nice break from the crap normally encountered at the theatre. Check it out if it's in your area.

Sunday morning we went on the Spirit of Washington dinner train for Julia's birthday. Her parents had won some tickets and the four of us along with her grandfather enjoyed a morning of too much food and too much wine. It was a very nice trip from Renton to Woodinville and back (check out a couple of new photos in the Flickr badge to the right).

Now I'm getting ready to play a game tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.