Lazy-busy

February 12, 2008

I’ll admit that I’ve been lazy when it comes to posting here. In part I’ve been lazy and likewise busy with the process of job searching and packing my things for an anticipated, although as yet unknown move. In potential employment news, there are some very promising opportunities which I’ve applied for and other that are less than promising none of which have yet to garner a nibble of attention. There are a few other jobs which while not enticing might work, but have painfully long web-based forms which I’m working on, but without much enthusiasm.

Fair progress has been made in packing. Most of the books, music and DVDs are packed. I have the kitchen, clothes, paperwork and what I refer to a “fiddling bits” left. Fiddling bits are all the little things you want to keep, but have no method of organizing and packing or are awkward or fragile enough to be problematical. On Friday a storage unit needs to rented and I will start lining up change of address, forwarding information, and arrange for the cancellation of utilities for the last day of the month.

Last week I took as vacation will the hope of getting much packing of boxes and wrangling of paperwork accomplished. Some of this was done, but more time than I expected was absorbed by a final baking project for the SCA group that I’m involved with. This week and weekend they will be attending Estrella War and I baked 10 quick breads of various types for them. These included pumpkin nut chocolate chip, banana, orange apricot, seed cake and an orange almond tea cake. I’m hoping the majority of my baking and cooking is done for a while and that I can box up most of the kitchen and survive on a minimum of pots and pans until I settle in the next locale.

My geek has also been satiated in the recent weeks. Phoenix Cactus Comicon was held on the final weekend of January, and I spend Friday evening and Saturday morning amongst the teaming hordes. Both Walter Koenig and Wil Wheaton were guests as were dozens of comic book artists and writers. This past Saturday a friend’s birthday was celebrated by playing an extended game of Settlers of Catan (with the Knights and Cities expansion.) It was fun and enjoyable but with 6 players, most of us new to the expansion it took quite a while to get comfortable with the rule adjustments. It builds much faster than the standard and even expanded 6 player game, but drags a bit in the mid to late-game play. It took roughly 4 hours to play through, but this could be related to our unfamiliarity with the expansion set, having 6 players (technically 8 as we had 2 “team groups”) or the added distraction of having 3 toddler aged children around. Looking forward the the next gaming opportunity.

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For those who follow me elsewhere, the packing of books has resumed, after a fair bit of distraction during this past month. The distraction has been provided by some trips northward to Flagstaff, résumé preparation and an intervening holiday. The waiting is provided courtesy of the employers who are reviewing the previously noted résumés. I’m behind on email, and hope to get the remaining books and game supplies packed this week, before organizing and packing paperwork and preexisting files.

The first batch of photos from a recent trip to the Grand Canyon are now available on my Flickr pages and more will be forthcoming. It will be well worth a return visit, as the hours were rather limited and the canyon was hazy that day due to both cloud cover and couple of controlled burns that were occurring. Gorgeous and majestic. I’d love to spend a week or more hiking about, camping and losing the crowds, which were light given it was an overcast Friday afternoon in mid-November, but were nonetheless endemic.

For those hoping for more episodes of Food Geeking, do not despair, the Food Geek has not been resting… entirely. I’ve got a fair number of shows mapped out and I just need to sit down and get some recording done. I am not giving up on the podcast one iota, but life has been more than a bit busy on multiple fronts. Among other tidbits, I’ll have a new cheesecake variation to share, which I prepared for Thanksgiving-  Pumpkin  cheesecake with  caramel sauce and a maple-cognac syrup.

On the geeky side, tried to watch Razor, the newest Battlestar Galactica spin-off/TV movie. What I did see and remember of it was quite good. Unfortunately, Saturday had done a fine job of wiping me out, and while of great interest and not boring, I quickly found my self comfortably dozing…. I’m certain that much of it will ‘sound familiar’ when I settle in to watch it later this week, likely Wednesday or Thursday at latest.

Also had the chance to partake in some post Turkey-day gaming with friends on Friday. Food was eaten, Settlers of Catan, Flux and Lord of the Fries were all played, and a round of Illuminati: New World Order was experimented with. I’ve got the INWO “One with Everything” box which provided sufficient cards for 5 decks with plenty to spare. Unfortunately, the game and it’s concept were new to everyone but myself and it had been years since I’d played. Between a late start and the newness of the game most didn’t make it through much of the game. It was agreed that it had loads of potential and will given another try earlier in the night with fresher minds. Given everyone’s end-of-year holiday plans, it was likely the last chance for gaming until next year. So I hope perhaps INWO and a few other games will be added to our repertoire for next year.

I think that covers at least a portion of the past 3 weeks… it doesn’t include the cooking I did for an SCA camping event which I didn’t attend or my concerns that Chaos’ food allergies are re-emerging after 4 years without problems, but that will wait for another day and a separate post. I hope everyone who celebrates the Turkey-day holiday, or not, enjoyed good food and company in the past weeks and can look forward to more of the same in the coming days.

I had aspirations of posting multiple times during Dragon*Con, but my plans were overly ambitious. I arrived safe and sound in Phoenix on Monday evening on the 3rd of September and was reunited with my wayward luggage at the British Airways ticket counter- there is a story behind that.

There is nothing so comforting as sleeping in your own bed after five weeks worth of travel. The plaintive cries of my cats, insisting that they were starving, despite full bowls of food and water was reassuring and welcome- though the novelty has already faded. Fractal was my shadow for the 24 hours following my return but was soon confident that I would not suddenly disappear. Chaos greeted my first approach with hissing, but soon thereafter dropped the disgruntled act.

I’ve successfully disassembled the massive pile of mail that was waiting for me. The few important items of mail that arrived in my absence have now been dealt with and I need only mop up the few non urgent bits and pieces that remain. The post-Africa and Dragon*Con laundry has been washed, ironed and put away and the apartment has lost the abandoned feel it had when I re-entered it for the first time more than a week ago.

I have an overly long, painfully detailed version of this recap. It was taking far too long to write and would have taken even more time to edit. At better than 4000 words it was just too lengthy and I suspect was terribly boring. I have saved the entire thing, but have buried it in the back yard to spare everyone the pain and suffering of exposure. Beyond that, time is slipping quickly past and I have many other things to work on… moving, getting Food Geeking back up and running, catching up on my money-earning work, and finding a new job so I know where I’ll be moving.

Now, before the memories fade and blur into the past- my summation of D*C and a brief list of highlights.

Wednesday- I arrive in Atlanta after 34+ hours in transit, with 2 checked bags. Then the airport manages to loose one between customs and baggage claim. I fill out the necessary forms and proceed to the Hyatt where I settle in, orderd room service then slept in a real bed for the first time in 48 hours. Incidentally, it was also the last time for the next 4 days, but that’s not a complaint, just an observation in hind site.

Thurday- Room service breakfast ordered and I checked out of the Hyatt. Met Philip from Sydney, hung out and was plied with chocolate. Picked up my badge for D*C, and found Derek & Swoopy and had dinner with them and others. Luggage is found and scheduled for delivery (wait, there’s more.) Brad of Podculture and crew (my roommates for D*C) arrived in town. I checked back into the Hyatt and settled in for the night.

Friday- Breakfast then I randomly met my FarPoint Media family- Brian, Mike and Doug… on a street corner. Attended a podcast panel, grabbed something lunchish, caught another podcast track where I met JustaJ0e and Ed from Texas (fellow Deadpanites.) I had dinner with the FPM fans and family at Trader Vic’s. We caught the end of George Hrab’s live Geologic Podcast show, then proceeded to the Podcast Playa’s Ball hosted by Scott Sigler.

Saturday- I acquired 4± hours of sleep, breakfast, and then went back to the podcast track. I was given a camera by Mike and instructed to take photos of the Con (I suck at this!) I visited the Dealers and Exhibit Halls, found Tee Morris and was pulled into a Parsec Awards meeting about 2 hours in earlier than expected. I changed clothes for the Parsec Awards! Dinner with FPM family, followed by WI-3D Live and then the Post-Parsec party at Sigler and J. C. Hutchins’ suite. The night ended with nursing a very inebriated friend – a massive thank you is owed to our hosts.

Sunday- With little sleep I woke, found a shower and a change of clothes. I called around but everyone was having or had had breakfast so I eat alone… with amazingly craptastic service. Am I invisible or what! I attend more podcast panels and I don’t join J0e and Ed for drinks with Jack Mangan, as I feel retched with an upset stomach, dizziness and perhaps a fever. The world spins when I stand up… food poisoning?? My FPM family departs- I mope, but the world ceases it’s gyrations. I finally receive a call from British Airways… my bags have arrived! …in Phoenix? …and do I want it delivered to Tempe or Atlanta (WTF)?!? Dinner with Doug, I miss the Podcast Peer Awards which I later hear was not a spectacular loss on my part. I wander over to Sigler and Hutch’s for a FPM get together that never materializes but end up hanging out for a quiet, relaxed evening spent in conversation with interesting people. To Scott, Earl Newton and all the others who were there- Thank you! It was a great way to wind down on my final night in Atlanta.

Monday- Late to bed, early to rise…. pack my bags for departure. I meander through the Exhibit Hall, buy a Gloom set for my self and expansion for friends. Late lunch with Doug. A final podcasting panel and goodbyes… but first, there time for one more panel. Yes, I do like to procrastinate. I gather my bags, more goodbyes, and take a shuttle to the airport for my final flight. Dinner is had with friends in Phoenix and I return home at last.

Highlights-

Dinner with FPM folks and fan

Geologic Podcast Live

Sigler’s Playa’s Ball

Surviving the Parsecs- it all went well (hurrah!)

Least of My Bretheren Live- especially the sillier bits at the end

So there it is. If I were to do this all again, I wouldn’t try attending D*C directly after a month spent in S. Africa. The trip to S.A. did allow me to attend Dragon*Con, and I wouldn’t give up either experience for anything. That said, I spent much of the time feeling not jet lagged, but time shifted. I was stressed about the Parsecs, lost luggage, and seemed to be flirting with food poisoning on Sunday. I had spent a month with little access to the internet and had therefore been separated in a fashion from my tribe, so I felt somewhat out of sync with those around me, at least for the first day or so. Couple that with the month spent at the B&B owned by “very Godly” people and D*C was a relief and homecoming, but I felt out of sorts, stressed or to some degree not myself for a good portion of the weekend.

The next time, I’ll do Dragon*Con the right way. Luggage intact, appropriate costumes for any parties- corsets were the must-have clothing item this year. No month long stays in foreign countries with 36 hours of travel to make me jet lagged, out of sync and grumpy.

Yes. Next year- D*C done right.

I arrived in Atlanta yesterday afternoon safe and sound following somewhere near to 30 hours of travel. Better yet, I still had all my luggage which I claimed then passed through customs with both of my checked bags…. Unfortunately, Atlanta does things a bit strangely, and all checked luggage then had to be handed them back to the airport for a final screening and delivery to baggage claim. Yeah, they lost one of my two suitcases in the airport.

So there you have it- I traveled from S. Africa to London Heathrow, shuttled to London Gatwick and from there flew to Atlanta with all bags accounted for only to have one of two pieces of checked luggage go missing in the one mile from the arrivals terminal and customs area to baggage claim. There was nothing terribly valuable or irreplaceable but it’s extremely frustrating to have all your bags in hand then have them lost so very perfunctorily. GAH!

Once a live body was exhumed from the back rooms of British Airways ticketing area, which was unmanned for the better part of an hour I was able to actually file a claim and provide information for the bag to follow me to the Hyatt Regency once they finish trying on my bras and panties in the underground catacombs of the Atlanta International airport. Just a warning to those who fly BA- their customer service SUCKS!

Let me explain. No, that will take too long… let me sum up-

  • Inaccurate information provided over the phone-
    • Refrigeration of drugs (even for 30 hours of travel) is at the “discretion” of the flight staff, even if you assured that refrigeration can be provided.
      • Apparenty the flight attendants have it on good authority that no drug “requires” refrigeration for fllights less than 12 hours
      • They also fail to comprehend that 3+9+6+10+1 > 12…. and are somehow qualified to determine if my drugs are temperature sensitive…. All delivered with an snotty “I know better, you pesky American” attitude.
    • They will only handle lost baggage claim at the airport (ticket counter) or online. . . even if someone tells you that they can initiate a claim over the phone

Once you get a live, warm non-flight attendant body in front of you they are perfectly useful and helpful. Unfortunately they seem to hide such folk in back corners were only the ATF agents can get to them.

The better news is that Dragon*Con starts this evening, or at least check in starts at 4pm. So I must go and find myself 5 hours of entertainment before I sign in for a weekend that I’ve been very much looking forward to. More D*C news as it develops.

Tis that time of the year, the newest Harry Potter novel is destined to hit bookshelves tonight at midnight. I’ve even reserved a copy of my own which will be available for me to retrieve from Borders at midnight…

So what trumps Harry Potter… Gaming Night!

I’m a roleplayer who’s been in withdrawal for 7 years. When I left Ithaca, NY I left all my gaming groups behind and have failed to find my way into any groups here in AZ. The lack of vehicular ownership had much to do with this. In the I’ve filled my time admirably with SCA and more recently podcasting , but once a gamer always a gamer and I desperately miss gaming.

Tonight I will fore go hanging out at Borders, awaiting the release of book 7 for the indescribable joy spent with friends, eating good food and playing games.  What’s on the table you ask: Robo Rally, Settlers of Catan, Gloom, some version of Munchkin, maybe some Chez Geek, and a variety of Cheap Ass Games.  It will be a magnificent night.

I’m fortunate in living less than a mile from a small theater that continuously brings in independent and foreign films.

Tonight I took advantage of this this conveniently local theater once again, and saw Paprika. This is animated film from Japan that was released in 2006, and was recently released for the first time to US theaters, beyond showing at film festivals. To date is has not been widely released and it is unlikely that it will shown outside of larger metropolitan centers.

I very much enjoyed the film. It is not a movie to sit down to when tired or after a few drinks. It keeps you on your mental toes, and between keeping up with the subtitles and following the story, there is little opportunity to slack off while viewing this film.

The basic premise (without spoilers) is that a new experimental device has been stolen which allows someone to enter into the dreams of others. Unfortunately, the dreams begin seeping into everyones reality, and are collectively becoming destructive, both mentally and physically. The characters spend much time slipping between dreams and reality, often being uncertain if they are in the dreaming or waking world. For this reason alone, the audience is required to perform mental cartwheels and back flips to keep pace with the story line. It is however will worth the effort and is in no fashion a criticism. I generally approve of movies that keep me mentally engaged, and this movie certainly cashes in on that score. It is also visually stunning and magnificent when it comes to the quality of animation.

If you’ve enjoyed other anime features, this movie may appeal to you. Further information can be found at main website

This movie is rated R, and for good reason. There is nudity, and limited violence, but more importantly there are some graphically disturbing elements which I would not consider appropriate for children. On a side note, I was very pleased that there were not young children, or even unaccompanied teens during the showing, despite it being shown early on a Saturday night.