Monday, December 31, 2007

Many Happy Returns!

This past Saturday, Julia and I spent most of the day running around to a bunch of stores to return some of the gifts I received for Christmas and then pick up some new stuff that fit better, looked better, or that I wanted.

We were actually pretty darn efficient, because we returned some expensive things to one store, then bought much less expensive, but just as good clothes from some other stores. I finally have some new, decent blue jeans, a couple new thermal shirts, a new sport coat/blazer (that I need to have fitted, but it was so cheap that I had to get it), new underwear (hooray), a new nose-hair trimmer (essential for any man over 30), and some storage bins to help me organize the loose HeroClix figures in my basement. I'm probably forgetting some things, but it was a really good day of running around.

Oh, and we had dim sum for breakfast, which was really good.

Saturday night I went to Chris and Nicole's for a party they were having. Wolf and Shelly left just as I arrived, but I was able to talk with pretty much everyone else over the course of the night except for maybe three. It was good to see everyone and enjoy some of the excellent food Nicole had prepared for us.

Sunday we played D&D. James is now back from California, so he's rejoined us, which is good because we were looking for a fourth player. The game went well, but we're discussing setting up an alternating game, so we started later than usual. I think we'll complete the adventure the next time we meet.

Julia and I have been watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy again this past week, which has been fun. We started them because nothing was on and we were out of Netflix videos (nooo!) and it looks like we'll finish them soon -- despite the fact that we now have some new DVDs from Netflix.

When I'm in front of my computer at home later, I'm going to post again about year-end stuff -- including the list of books I've read this year. Wheee!

More soon.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I have a problem with food.

I like it far too much.

I've been overweight since I was five or six, but only really got serious about trying to lose weight and get in shape in '99 or 2000. In that time I've done pretty well and have lost around 100 lbs. Good for me.

Recently, I went off the diet I've been on for about a year because I was burned out on being on it. It's not that I was unhappy with my progress on it, it's that I was tired of being so careful about what I was eating all the time. So, I went off it and had some days in which I "treated" myself a little too much. Easy to do over the holidays. And an amazing thing happened: I found that I really don't like how I feel when I eat too much or have too many sweets.

The couple of weeks I've taken off the diet were originally meant to give me a break, but they've made me really look at how and what I eat and I've realized that I need to think differently about food and that I may not have to think about it quite as much as I have in the past. I don't need to be so fixated on what I'm eating and what I'm not eating. I've always had a bad problem with feeling like if I don't eat something that looks tasty when it's available that I won't get a chance to ever have it again. No, it doesn't make sense, but that's how my mind works. It seems like after my recent experiences that that's not really what I want for myself; it makes me feel crappy after I do it (physically) and it makes me fat (which sucks).

All of which means, hopefully, that I have a new attitude about food and what I want/need to eat. I hope I can keep this attitude in my head on a subconscious level, because trying not to think about food is as bad as thinking about it on some level.

When I restart my diet I'm going to try and stick to what it says I ought to be eating, but at the same time, I'm not going to slavishly stick to it. I'm going to do my best and allow myself a little variation while keeping in mind what I've said above.

Hopefully I'll still get some sort of benefit out of this shift in attitude. It's been a long time in coming and I feel like it will make a difference in my life. I know every time I've had one of these shifts in the past it's been very good for me and I'd love it if this turned out as well.

I'm not sure what brought on this post. I was just sitting here and had some time. Some of it was certainly because I've been snacking too much, some of it is because I've gained some weight since I was at my lightest a while ago, and some if probably because a lot of the XXL clothes I received for Christmas don't fit as well as they would have when I was at my lightest. Maybe it's a Perfect Storm revolving around my weight/food issues that will end up with a positive net effect for me.

I really hope that's true.

Ow. Seriously. Ow.

While moving around some of my WizKids product that will soon be going on eBay (yes, I still have more to sell), I managed to tweak my lower back and damn does it hurt and annoy me.

It certainly wasn't the light lifting that did it -- although that may have triggered it. The root cause is a mystery to me. I have a couple of suspicions:

1) Stress about work and money

2) Sitting in a new chair at a new desk while working on a laptop -- none of which are customizable to the way I like to work.

Anyway, I feel like an old man and the pain makes me grunt and limp whenever I move. Fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stocking Stuffers
Originally uploaded by Leitheusser

Stocking Stuffers!

I saw this last night and I had to snap a picture.

I can only hope that the staff of the store thought this would be funny, but I keep thinking/hoping that whoever did this just wasn't thinking about it.

By the way, I uploaded a few pictures from my cell phone to Flickr, so go to the button at the right to check them out. They're sort of a mish-mash of things, but they're fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The past couple of days were spent at Julia's house with her family, so I didn't get a chance to do any updating. The couple of days before that (the weekend) was spent watching a heck of a lot of the second season of Big Love (via Netflix . . . still loving it), The Fellowship of the Rings, the first-half of The Two Towers, and generally just relaxing. Sure, there were some preparations for the holiday that we took care of and we met Shana, Jen, Hays, and Lilly for breakfast on Sunday, but mostly, it was just downtime.

Christmas was a lot of fun. Although it was my first Christmas ever apart from my family, it still felt pretty Christmasy. The differences between how Julia's family spends the holiday and how mine does is pretty different, but it was all good. The main difference is that her family makes the event last for two solid days, whereas mine is much more "in-and-out, nobody gets hurt"; meaning that we only spend a few hours together each day. I think we've always done that because we don't want the younger kids to get too tired/crabby/wild/hurt/etc. so people start leaving when the kids start getting out of hand. Seven nephews will do that for you.

Early on Christmas Eve, Julia and I traded some gifts, then we went to her parents' place where everyone in the extended family put a gift in the middle of the room and we each took turns choosing a present or taking a present from someone else. It was a lot less annoying than you'd think, but there was a five-minute time-limit, so everyone decided and acted pretty quickly. Julia and I ended up with Starbucks gift cards, which were pretty hotly sought-after, so we were lucky. In total, there were about twenty people in attendance, most of whom I've only met a couple of times in the past. It was nice to see them again.

Christmas Day we were back over at her parents' place for breakfast, stocking opening (that's a funny thing to say), and gift-opening from immediate family. This day there were only seven of us, so we talked and snacked and slowly opened presents (one at a time) over a couple of hours. Last night we drove to the Bellevue botanical gardens to see the light show, which was pretty damn cool. You can see some pictures of it here.

Due to long-distance shenanigans, I ended up with three duplicated gifts, but all of them should be easy to return and find new things to put the money towards. I'm pretty excited to watch the first season of Heroes that I got on DVD and I've already started reading some of the new Steve Martin (auto)biography Born Standing Up.

I was very happy that I was able to find some good gifts for Julia. She was pretty happy with the boots I gave her. One thing didn't arrive in time for Christmas, but I bet it'll arrive today.

So, how was your holiday?

Friday, December 21, 2007


I had lunch with Wolfgang yesterday. He works about a half-mile from me, so we hooked up for lunch at a teriyaki place near his building. I met him years ago when he came into WizKids to visit Janna, and then again when he and Jason were members of the same writing group, so I'd hardly say we're friends -- more like friendly. And honestly, it's nice to have someone to geek out with at work every now and again.

He's up to some cool things with his magazine Kobold Quarterly, so it was only natural that we talk about that, which led to me telling him about my "Gaming Contract" ideas. I mentioned it here a while ago and I've been giving it a fair amount of thought, but things have slid around a bit so that "the contract" has morphed into a collection of three contracts. Anyway, Wolf thought it sounded pretty interesting, so when I write it up, it may even make it into his magazine.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Iron Age

I met with Chris and Rick last night to play Battue and Ticket To Ride. As a happy coincidence Chris had just received hardcopies of Iron Age, so he brought my author copies. The book looks great and I'm really happy with how it turned out. From reading some of the forums it seems like the fans of Mutants & Masterminds like it, too, which is great.

It'll be fun to see it when it hits the stores and I hope it sells well.

More soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sitting Still

I have a hard time relaxing. I like to hang out in front of the TV now and again just like anyone and just unwind, but most of the time I prefer to be working on something. These days my computer is downstairs -- still no laptop, alas -- so I always have a stack of books are comics nearby that I can read or skim while watching. Lately it's been mostly D&D related as I'm gearing up for an adventure that's going to require some planning on my part.

Now that I have some freetime, I find myself thinking of a handful of projects that I want to work on; comics, short stories, novels, essays, gaming stuff, whatever. So I have to decide which of these I'm going to work on first.

I'm having a hard time deciding, though because I like them all. I'm busily making notes about all of them, planning out storylines, etc. That's good, because at some point I'm hoping one of them solidifies so much that I can't help but pursue it to its end. But regardless, I'm going to pick one or two and "force" them to go there and I'm excited about it.

Then I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with them then.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


With Christmas coming up I've been helping Julia with some shows, cleaning up the house a bit, and finding time to sneak away to do some shopping without anyone around. I've now managed to get all of it done except for maybe two items; one for Julia and one for her sister (for the gift exchange on Christmas).

I foolishly stopped by the post office first thing Monday morning. They opened at 8:30 and I was there by 8:30--the lot was full and I had to wait in the street until a couple of cars pulled out and then wait in line inside. It's funny because I really hadn't thought about the fact that other people might have stuff to ship, but it had to go out, so I hung out and waited. It went quickly enough and like I said, it had to be done. I still need to write a note to Grandma, but I'm doing that today.

My Sunday and Tuesday gaming has been put on hold until after the holidays, but I'm getting together with Chris and Rick on Wednesday evening to play Battue and Ticket to Ride: Europe. We usually get together every few months for a day of gaming with a handful of others as well, but we decided to try something a bit different this time around, so Wednesday night it is. I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, and Chris is going to bring me an actual printed copy of the Iron Age book that Seth and I wrote together. I'm very excited to get that in my hands. It should be in stores now -- or very soon.

I'm still looking for a real and good job, but this is a bad time of year to be looking. I've sent out a few resumes, but I don't plan to hear anything until after the new year.

That's all I can think of right now. More soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

End of the Road

Julia and I finished watching the sixth season of The Sopranos over the weekend. We've both loved watching the series and the last few episodes were really fantastic. There were a few times when they brought characters back that it felt like old home week; you know, they had them back just to say good-bye again, but that didn't get in the way of wrapping up a lot of hanging plot threads.

The end of the series doesn't really offer a lot of closure or resolution, but I liked that the series started just before Tony entered therapy and ends when he stops going.

There was a lot of fuss about the final episode when it aired, but we both liked it because it showed a nice slice of life for Tony and his family. The problem was the it was filmed in such a way to make it very intense and suspenseful, which gave the feeling that something big was about to happen, but then it all cut to black (when Meadow walked in). As I said, we liked it. It gave us the impression that life was ultimately going to be okay for them even though they live in constant danger.

That was our take anyway.

Julia had a Swank show this weekend and did really well selling her jewelry. Swank has another show this weekend on the Eastside, so hopefully she'll do well there, too. Plus, she'll be at the Crocodile Cafe on Sunday for I Heart Rummage (maybe for her last time). She's still really enjoying her work and I love to see her happy.

Sunday we played D&D (probably for the last time before the new year) and it went well. They weren't able to finish the adventure, but they made it a lot further, so there was a real sense of accomplishment. Honestly, I can't beleive how much I've had to change this adventure to make it . . . what's the word . . . reasonable. Every other encounter is either save-or-die (a couple of literal save-or-die inducing monsters and traps or some traps that are effectively that way since they deal 9d6 to 15d6 of damage) or way too powerful for the PCs to handle without special preparation (mummy rot is nasty, dire sharks are too deadly for PCs of that level when using the rules for fighting under water, gargantuan scorpions are on the edge, etc, etc.). So, I've had to change a number of encounters, and most of them have worked out for the better. I particularly liked the trap that summoned the invisible stalker. The players hated that, but they were able to kill it eventually.

And that's about all. Tonight I'm headed to Seth's to play Warhammer.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bad Mood

The prospect of staying in this job for another minute is really depressing me at the moment.

I so need to get back to doing something creative and interesting again.

Just So You Know

I wanted to remind everyone that although I may not be posting as regularly here as I have in the past, that doesn't mean that things aren't being updated. If you're interested in things that might have otherwise made it into a post before, then look down to the right at "Jon's Shared Items."

As I find things that interest me or I fell are important for some reason, I post them there. Some items relate to science, games, writing, comics, and rarely politics and other things are important to note.

That sidebar changes fairly rapidly, but most of it is pretty interesting, so hopefully you'll remember to check it out.

Now I'm off to have lunch with Jason and a handful of others. He leaves for London today and I'm gonna miss him.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Rains Have Ended

While the rains that fell over the weekend weren't of thunderstorm intensity, they were very persistent. It started raining Saturday just before noon (if memory serves) and continued until Monday.

I wasn't worried about the water at all until Sunday night when it became clear that the water was pooling pretty badly in low-lying areas. I spent most of the weekend in the house, so I didn't quite realize what an issue the water was.

Our house was waterproofed by the people who owned it before us and the system works well. All the water is funneled under the house to a pit with a sump pump. When the water hits a certain level the pump kicks in and pushes the water outside so it drains to the street.

I noticed Monday morning, however, that some water had leaked in via the brick of the fireplace. The soot and ash lining the living room firebox was darker than normal because it was wet, so I went to check the downstairs firebox. Sure enough, it was dark and some water had even seeped out onto the floor. It wasn't much, but I cleaned it up fast and put some towels down to wick up any more water that came out. There are pergo floors down there, so water on those would be very bad.

Some friends were not as lucky. Shana's basement was flooded with a good 2+ feet of water that came up through her basement bathroom. What really sucks is that she just had new furniture delivered for her downstairs TV room. Ouch.

The commute wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Well, it wasn't any worse than it could be any other bad day, so that was good, but I didn have to take a couple of detours. Apart from that, I avoided all of the major road troubles (flooded roads, landslides, etc.).

Anyway, that's enough on the storms. Hopefully we won't get anything more like that for a long time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Anniversary Weekend

Julia and I aren't married, but we like to celebrate the day we met and started dating. December 1st is that day, so we made plans to spend the day together and have some fun.

At first we thought about staying at a nice hotel somehwere, or going out to a nice dinner, but then we looked at our bank account and decided to be responsible.

Instead of going out to dinner on our anniversary, we went out a couple of days before.

Then instead of staying in a hotel and ordering room service, we stayed home all day Saturday and did things together. Thankfully, I'd finished my writing project, so I could dedicate all day to her and our plans. We work up at a reasonable hour, then went out for breakfast at a local bagel place, then bought our first Christmas tree together. Awwww!

We carted it home, figured out how to plug the hole in the side of the tree stand because we'd lost a piece to it, put lights on it and the outside of the house, and then Julia decorated it while my cold demanded that I sit semi-comatose for a while.

The tree looks great and it's exactly the size and look we wanted. Mom would be proud and hopefully I'll have some pictures to show off soon.

Later in the day we made some chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and watched some of The Sopranos disks we had from Netflix.

It was a good day.

Sunday we were up early to get Julia to one of her regular jewelry shows, but then we learned that it wasn't going to happen until December 16th, so we were up and moving early for no reason. Oh well.

Around noon, people started showing up for my weekely D&D game. Kristian was nice enough to help me move around some furniture to make way for the giant TV Jason would be dropping off later. When the others showed up we played for a bit, then took a break when Jason showed up with the TV (and gas grill, and lawnmower), so they helped unload and organize. Yes, I have great friends. Then we continued the game.

For those that care; the game went much better this week. The big tank of a fighter was back, but I'd changed the encounter from another save-or-die sort of thing to more of a slugfest against two very challenging young black dragons who'd found their way into the temple via the elemental plane of water (there was a portal to and from there in the temple). There was more, but that fight was a good one for the players and I think they enjoyed having a little more of a fighting chance than they would have otherwise.

In gaming-related news, I've been thinking of writing up a "contract" that GMs should follow while running games. I need to give it some more thought because there are only a couple of points I can clearly state right now and I want to have a few more to round it out. I'll keep you updated as I work on it.

Oh, sorry, I was sidetracked by gaming; anyway, the giant TV is now set up and I picked up an HD cable box, so now we have super-cable with nice sharp images on our screen. I'm very excited to spend some quality time in front of it with my girl.

More soon.

Hungerblade Continues . . .

The second part of Robin Laws' fifteen-part Hungerblade storyling is up and ready to be read.

You can see all the chapters here.

The story is set in the same world, Terris, that all of Red Juggernaut's games are based on.