Monday, September 28, 2009

Let's Talk About The Weather

It's a boring topic, I know, but after this last week I just need to get this out of my system:

It is wrong in so many ways to have 90+ degree weather the last week of September!

Happily, according to the weather sites the temperature is supposed to be in the 70s this week, so that's a welcome relief. I'll certainly sleep better.

That is all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Home Again . . . and Again!

This month and last month have been pretty good in terms of seeing Julia. In late July and early August we were together for the wedding and the honeymoon, then she came here at the start of September for her birthday weekend, last weekend I went there for a visit (which I'll get to in a minute), and next weekend I'm headed up there for the annual Green Ronin summit where we discuss the past year and plan for the next, so I'll get to spend some time with her again. After that things slow down a bit, but I already have my October and November trips planned, so that's something.

As for last weekend; I flew out early Thursday and was able to spend a nice evening at home with my girl that night. We ended up haivng dinner and then realizing there were some shows on we wanted to watch, we settled in and relaxed. It was nice. We usually end up doing a lot of running over the course of my weekends home, so that was a nice change of pace.

Friday we spent the day with Julia's mom and dad who were babysitting Julia's neice and nephew by taking them to the Puyallup Fair. They came to our place around 10:00am then we drove to the fair and spent the morning taking the kids on a bunch of rides. Jason's big enough and old enough to go on most of the rides, but he was very sad that he couldn't do the "big" rollercoaster. Madison is still too young to go on most of the rides, but we managed to find a few she could go on -- including the giant slide, which I took her on. I love those things, so it was pretty fun. After lunch we walked around some of the displays and booths, then watched a couple of stage shows. I wanted to see the "Al's Brain" exhibit, so Julia and I went to see that. It was fun, but very crowded, so it was hard to actually walk through and see the whole thing. After a few minutes we were let into the theatre they'd set up and we watched the 3D movie they'd produced. It was funny in the off-kilter way Weird Al usually is, but mostly I appreciated that it was basically a presentation about the brain and how it works presented in a way that kids would actually enjoy and maybe even get interested in. It's definitely not a bad thing to get kids interested in science early, so I give it a definite thumbs up.

We left the fair around 4:00pm, stopped home to pick up our car, then went to her parents' for a dinner. Julia's mom's birthday was the following Tuesday, but this was the day everyone could get together, so the whole family came over to celebrate. They'd just finished expanding the patio outside their back door and that looked really nice and definitely expanded the amount of usable space they have -- or at least made it more comfortable.

Saturday we had to get moving early to set up a joint bank account and run a couple of other errands because I had plans to go see my college buddy John Arrington and his wife for lunch. They were in town for a conference he was presenting at and they were leaving later that day, so this was the last chance to see them. I left a bit late, but then traffic conspired to make me even later, but they were okay with my lateness. We met at a pizza place called Fondi over near the University. It was a football weekend (hence the traffic), so the place was pretty empty while the game was on, so we sat and talked for a good hour and a half, then they headed toward the airport and I stopped at Half-Price Books before going home. In total the trip took me about four hours (two in traffic, bleh), so I'll have to remember there are no "quick trips" into the city especially when my time at home is so limited.

That night we had plans to visit Helga and Freddy, some friends who'd promised Julia some plants for the garden when it was a good time to transplant. The weather had turned enough that the time had come. Their house is very close to ours, so when I say it was a quick trip, I actually mean it. When we arrived we visited with them and their daughter's family before they took off after visiting for the day. In the garden we found about 15 different plants to transplant and Helga dug them up, put them in buckets, and we loaded them in the car. Julia was very excited by what she found. After an episode with the gas heating lamp on the fondue stand (it wasn't a BIG explosion...) we sat down to a dinner of fresh salad and traditional Austrian fondue. We had a great time and since we arrived at 5:00, we were happy to head home by 10:00.

Sunday we ate a nice breakfast out, then spent the day in the garden with a sidetrip to Bellevue for some fresh compost, another stop at Half-Price Books, and a side-trip to Seth's so I could pick up his copy or Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360 since everyone at work has been gushing about it. Seth's a good guy.

My trip home wasn't until Monday morning early, so Julia and I were able to really enjoy the day and marvel at what we accomplished in the garden. We planted everything we'd picked up the night before, moved some plants around, mowed the lawn, and generally made things look better. I don't enjoy gardening as much as she does, but I love to watch her enjoying it -- and the yard always looks great afterward.

Monday morning, Jim picked me up from the airport and we went right to work. I'm still learning a lot since the tools are very . . . deep, but it seems to be going well and about 50% of the job is pretty easy to do with only a handful of tools. It's that other 50% that I'm not so familiar with yet.

Tuesday night I ran my D&D game and I'm very happy I changed the format of the game. Even after the second session it's clear things are more fun for everyone and more interesting.

Tyler sent me a starter and two boosters of the new Arcane Legions game. It looks very good and I really want to play. Honestly, the more I see of this game the more I want to play it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, so check it out if you're into minis games.

Okay, I'm going to get some work done. More soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Few Updates

I took some pictures of all of the miniatures I've been painting (mostly since I moved to California) and posted them to Flickr. I also posted a relative handful of pictures from last weekend's trip to San Francisco with Julia, so go check them out and enjoy.

Work has been good. I've been spending my time creating three new linked missions for Champions Online and while they're not finished, they're darn close and I could have finished them off this weekend if I actually knew how to use all of the tools at my disposal, but I guess that's what training is for, right?

I've been playing a fair amount of the game I'm working on, which has been fun and very educational. I see the problems and I'm always thinking about how to make it more interesting and fun. And the great thing is that the game is already a lot of fun, so anything I add will only make it better.

Yesterday (Saturday), Jim and I went to Randy's to do some gaming. That was a very good time and I really hope we can maintain the schedule a bit better than we have over the last couple of months. Of course, next week, I'm back in Seattle, so that'll throw things off. Hopefully the rest of them will still get together.

Time for me to go play the game and find some dinner.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Put a Flower In Your Hair

I've been living in California for six months. I've been living in the greater San Francisco area, about an hour from downtown. And just this past weekend I finally made it into the city.

When I moved here, Julia and I drove down together, spent the weekend in the area I'm living, but didn't explore much beyond a few miles from the house. Since then I've gone back to Seattle for visits, but this past weekend she flew down here to spend her birthday weekend with me. We both thought it'd be fun to head into San Francisco and do some exploring. She found a great hostel in downtown for a pretty reasonable price (less than half of what a hotel would have cost) and we pretty much trolley-carred, bussed, and walked everywhere we wanted to go.

It was very nice to be able to spend some time together, but the city really sort of let us down. Sure, maybe we just didn't know where to go or what to do, but it just didn't have a good vibe for us. The few people I interacted with were either homeless or had a major attitude. (One woman was incredibly offended that I walked through a door she was mindlessly holding open while waiting for a friend and had some nasty words for me. That was just plain weird.) Drivers seemed to honk at everything; light's red? Honk. Pedestrian in the street? Honk. Oxygen in the air? Honk. I've always thought West Coast cities were supposed to be friendlier and less aggressive, but San Francisco apparently didn't get that memo. Based on my first experience there, I'd opt never to venture into the city again.

If anyone has advice, opinions, or ideas that may help improve my feeling about the city and any future experiences I may have there, please let me know.

We picked up a CityPass on Thursday morning and that gave us access to the transit system (which, despite some SNAFUs on our part, was very handy) and included tickets to a number of touristy sites. So, we spent a day at Fisherman's Wharf, took a boat tour around the bay and Alcatraz, and toured the aquarium, which we loved. We also went to the Exploratorium, which did nothing for us for the most part. Tried to go to Sausalito, but had bad directions, so instead we just rode around on the bus for a couple of hours. Toured the Museum of Modern Art and the Comic Art Museum, both of which were very cool and enjoyable. Julia and I both really like Rothko's work and they had an excellent piece at the MOMA. They also had an exhibit of Ansel Adams (meh), O'Keefe (it was great!), and a photographer (who's name I forget), who's collection of portraits was a treat. The CityPass was a good investment since all of those things on their own would have been WAY over what we spent on the passes.

We glimpsed Lombard Street (the crooked street) by trolley car. Had a fantastic breakfast of dim sum at a place in Chinatown where we were literally the only white people in the place -- which is a good sign you're in a good restaurant. We passed through Little Italy, but never had a destination in mind, so we didn't actually stop there. We did want cannoli, but that wasn't a big enough draw.

Other than that we spent time together in our room where we talked, played cards, and read. That part of it was really nice.

Sunday afternoon we took a shuttle out to the San Francisco airport so Julia could catch her flight home and I could catch another shuttle back to the San Jose airport, where Jim picked me up. It was sad to say good-bye to my girl again, but it was nice to get out of the city and back "home."

Maybe I'm not being fair. I mean we did a lot of stuff over the course of the long weekend, but the city just didn't impress us and certainly wouldn't rank anywhere on our list of places to visit again.

I spent today at work catching up on emails, playing Champions Online, and working on some missions for work. I also remembered to call my nephew to wish him a happy birthday. That was nice. He's a good kid.

That's all for now. I hope you all had a nice weekend and Labor Day!