Dinner Broken

May 17th, 2010

Patch says:

I wish we had a bugtracker for society.  Lacking one, let me make this an official bug report.

Over the course of the past few centuries, for various reasons, our culture has managed to move the big meal of the day from midday to evening.  This causes many problems, but whinging about bad dreams from eating too late, or obesity from eating and then resting, really misses the main problem:

Dinner is bad for romance.

You go out on a date.  You eat a big meal.  You follow it up with a big desert.  Now you have several problems.

1)  Burps and farts, which are the natural outcome of a delicious, rich meal, have a tendency to break certain delicate romantic moods.

2)  The complex array of lingering tastes and aftertastes from an appropriately constructed meal often makes for kisses that are more … richly flavored than we might want them to be.

3)  Sexual acrobatics are less fun when conducted on a full and sloshing stomach.  I am not at my best, physically, when feeling like a large, overfed sloth.

Following up dinner with a movie is the current solution to the problem.  This keeps me up past my bed time, however, and romance after the movie tends to comprise falling lazily asleep in each other’s arms (not that I’m knocking falling asleep in each other’s arms, but that’s not the only outcome one might be shooting for).

Report filed.  Now get to fixing it, Everyone.

Virtual Community

May 10th, 2010

Red says:

One of the wonders of the internet is the way it allows small groups of people with a shared interest, but who may live thousands of miles apart, to form communities.  The problems come up when you suddenly have too many communities and not enough time to devote to all of them.  I love my friends, but sometimes it’s harder having them all be in separate communities than it is having them be physically far apart.

This is really the appeal of social networks, they provide a community based around each person, and you can connect all of your people, not just the ones who love knitting, or playing a particular game.

Of course, then you realize that you still don’t have enough time to keep up with all the fantastic people in this glorious world.

Practice the Impossible

May 6th, 2010

Red says:

This week, I have been working on doing things that I can’t do, or haven’t done in a very long time.  It’s been quite exciting stretching unused muscles (figurative and literal) and challenging myself.  Not just challenging myself to do unfamiliar things, but challenging my belief in where my own boundaries are.  The Red Queen advises practice when it comes to believing impossible things, so practice I shall and perhaps one day I will match her skills.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

For now, I’m aiming for two: I can learn to stay upright on roller skates; my twelve-year-rusty skills for throwing pots on a wheel will polish up just fine.

So many games, so little …

May 5th, 2010

Patch says:

Today is usually the day that we write about games.  Oddly, this week, I have bought a lot of games, but not had much time to play them (new job means having money, but not having time; oh irony), so I don’t have that much to say.

The Humble Indie Bundle is out this week (and only for this week).  It’s a good chance to get a bunch of games for … well, whatever you want to pay for them, while supporting Child’s Play and the EFF.  I already own most of it, but spent a fair chunk of cash on it, just on general principle (I like to give money to people who release versions of games for Linux — saves me the trouble of rebooting to get my gaming fix).

Red and I are continuing to enjoy Galaxy Trucker.  She still kicks my ass, but I’m getting slightly better …

Oh, and you’ve no doubt played this one, but just in case, go play Super Mario Crossover (flash, free).  It’s thoroughly worthwhile.

Now I think I am going to grab a few spare moments to actually play a little bit of something …

Search-Fu or How to Find Things on the Internet

May 5th, 2010

Red says:

In today’s world, knowing things isn’t as important as knowing how to find the information when you need it.  Some people are great at pulling up websites that tell them exactly what they need to know, while others search in vain.  If you do a search for “How to find things on the internet” you will find lots of articles describing search engines, but few hints on how to use those search engines.

I happen to love doing research.  I never liked doing my homework when I was in school, and when teachers assigned us “research” papers so we could learn the valuable skills of … I’m still not sure what, I would groan as loud as anyone.  Now that I’m out in the real world, finding out about things is one of my great thrills.  Sadly, none of the careful lessons in the dewey decimal system, or how to read a card catalogue come in handy for most of the research I do today.  Mostly, I look things up on the internet.

Patch is continually impressed with my Google-fu or search-fu, meaning my ability to find what I am looking for via Google’s search engine.  (Feel free to use any search engine you like, many internet service providers have search functions built into your home page.)  There are people who are much better at it than I am, but after watching Patch doing a search the other night, I was struck by how many little tricks I use for searching that he just didn’t think of.

So here are some pointers for how to make an Internet search better: Read the rest of this entry »

Day to Day

May 3rd, 2010

Patch says:

I feel as though I don’t have much to write about today.

Things happened today.  I had little minor adventures, learned life lessons, experienced a first that I didn’t really ever need to experience.  I read some interesting blog posts, played a lovingly designed game.  Had an interesting conversation at work.  Watched something funny while eating nachoes on the couch with Red.  Listened to some good music.

Drove a distance with the wind streaming through my hair.

The fact that all of that could have happened and I would have been left feeling blah, like I’m stuck in some sort of daily grind, like I have nothing interesting to say … that is actually enough to start a little bit of a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth.

I’m not going to say something cheesy like “life is miraculous”.  Miracles are things that don’t happen.  Life is all the things that do happen.

And it it sometimes nice to sit, to think, to take stock, to acknowledge having lived.

Now I am going to head toward bed.

Something Humans Do

April 29th, 2010

Patch says,

Between a recent trip to a museum, some casual re-reading of Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World, and a rather striking portrait Red painted of me recently (from a photograph — it’s been hard to pin me down long enough for a sitting), I’ve had art noodling around in my brain.

So here’s a bit about art.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Galaxy Trucker

April 28th, 2010

Red says:

Patch and I have some very dear, gamer friends.  These friends are in possession of, or perhaps possessed by, a very active eleven year old boy.

We adore the whole family, spawn included, but the mixed generations make game selection difficult.  Most of the time, game nights are a series of compromises, and we try to fit in something for everyone, and the kid is very good at wandering off when the grown ups decide to play something truely boring.

Just for a change, Patch and I decided to go searching for something that would be perfect for the entire group.  Our list of needs was so specific, we knew we would never find something that would hit every point, but there had to be some game which came a little closer.

The list:
No direct conflict between players (when families are involved, this can be key, trust me).
Layers of strategy, with just enough elements of chance that players of all levels can still win.
Aliens, but not as bad guys unless the game can be tweaked and played from the alien’s perspective. (This one was quite important for keeping the kid enthralled.)
Rounds that move quickly (no eight hour games).
Art that doesn’t turn Red off.

Amazingly, we found something that fit every criteria.  Galaxy Trucker caught my eye first because of the space theme, which I hoped would include aliens, and second because it was put out by Rio Grande Games, who I trust to put out interesting, quality products.  (The box art showing a galactic hauler with pudgy pink cannons and batteries strapped on every which way didn’t hurt either — the art carries through to the game with a cute aesthetic which somehow doesn’t take away the sensation of being a tough, inter-space trader one bit.)

The game play is broken up into three (four for experienced players) rounds, each one lasting half an hour or so.  The first half of each round is spent building the player’s ships.  For those of you familiar with Carcasonne, this section of the game is rather like a mutual solitaire version of that — mutual solitaire because all the players are building their own ships at the same time, with very little interaction, other than chatter and a non-intrusive bit of competition introduced by way of an incentive to finish first and/or tidiest.

The second half of each round involves all the ships flying through space and meeting up with various obstacles and bonuses.  There is no direct competition, but you are trying to get the most bonuses and come home with the most cargo aboard your ship.

Because you are privy to some of the challanges that will come up on the flight (pay attention to those radio broadcasts as you outfit your ship, Captain) there is strategy to how you build your ship — will guns or engines be more important this flight?  Will there be lots of cargo to stow, or am I better off putting in shields?  On the flight its self there is also strategy, whoever is in the lead at the end of the round gets a bonus, but if you are in the lead when pirates hit, watch out!  Yet bad luck can make even the most careful of planning go awry, and that clunker that didn’t look like it would make it out of dock can swoop in and make ridiculous amounts of space credits, winning the round.

And of course, there are aliens.  Friendly, helpful aliens that you can build life support systems for, and who use their mad technical skills to get more power out of your guns and engines.

All in all, it was the perfect game for that little group, and I suspect it will play well with most of our gaming friends.  It even plays well two player, so Patch and I can get a game in before bed.  Absolutely delightful, and highly recommended.

You have time. Really.

April 27th, 2010

Patch says:

There is one thing I wish that every businessperson with whom I cross paths would learn.  It comes in three parts:

1)  It’s going to take you longer than you think.

2)  It’s not going to be as much of a disaster as you think when it takes you longer than you think.

3)  You have time to do it right.

Emphasis here: you have time to do it right.  Because once today’s deadline has been pushed, faced, completed, there will be another deadline.  And you’re really going to start regretting the shortcuts you took this time around …

No Pain(killers)

April 26th, 2010

Red says:

I’ve been sick for a long time, but this week has been particularly bad.  Six months ago, I would have reached for the painkillers and mustered through at full speed.  At the time, it seemed like the only way to get everything done that I had to.

Now, I’m living life at a different pace, and trying to listen better to my body.  Days like today, it’s frustrating, and my body and I don’t seem to share a common language, but at least I can get through without chemical aids.