shannon_a: (Default)
On Monday, my friends at Endgame announced that they're closing the Endgame Café on Sunday, so today at my weekly boardgame night at Endgame, I followed their instructions: I visited the café one last time and I tipped like mad. Oh, and I got one last Tilden sandwich. That wasn't in their instructions, but it should have been.

Personally, I go to Endgame for the games. I supported the café because it was important to the Endgame staff: a challenge that would keep them going through the next five years. Not because I particularly cared about the café on my own. But I do have to say, they made great quality sandwiches. Great bread, great turkey, great avocado. And I never got around to their breakfast sandwiches which looked terrific too.

Shockingly, le café was almost empty tonight. I usually find it somewhat crowded, with people at several of the tables. I expected this week it would be even more jammed than usual, as people made their last visits. But tonight there was Eric V., Eric L., Jefferson, Amy, and me, and that was pretty much it. Easy to see how that didn't work out when they had two staff working.

(But the café as a whole had various problems, including a very long rollout that I suspect ate up the capitalization that would have been necessary to loss-lead things like evening hours, until they developed a clientele. And the interaction between the game store and the café never worked out like it could have. But, that's pretty much all water under the bridge at this point.)

I suspect there are some hearts breaking at Endgame this week. Hard choices. My condolences to my friends there.

And hopefully the game store will go on.

(If you're in the Bay Area, you've got through Sunday to say farewell to the café. Go visit one last, tip like mad, and eat a Tilden.)
shannon_a: (Default)
To The Refuge. I had a marathon bike ride on Saturday. I rode up to Hilltop Mall for lunch (which has become a bit of a habit due to chicken cheesestakes and chocolate brownies) and from there went through Pinole and Hercules. I saw some nice parts of those towns that I hadn't seen previously, plus rode along my favorite creek trail in Pinole, but my ultimate goal was the Refugio Valley Park in Hercules, which according to Google maps was a lake at the head of a bike trail going south.

The Park was very pleasant, reminding me a bit of Lake Merritt, with its lake fountains, its stone overlooks of the lake, and its numerous geese. The trail leading south from the lake was less impressive. The first mile or so was nice, and I got a nice serenade of The Star-Spangled Banner from some sporting event at the Hercules Middle/High School. But then the "path" became little more than a narrow sidewalk that ducked down away from the road between the intersections. Well, I'm usually happy to try out each bike trail once.

There was a lot of open, brown land near the school and the community college, but then subdivisions began to appear to one side, and the road eventually came to an end. I was quite puzzled, as my (incorrect) Google maps said it continued on. I eventually sussed out that it was EBMud Watershed ahead. Eventually I opted to head in. (I now have an EBMUD Trail Permit for the next 5 years, so I'll to take advantage of it.)

I had to walk my bike, which was just as well, because there were some very large rises and steep drops on the Bay Ridge Trail that I was walking, and they wouldn't have been bikeable anyway. There were also lots of cows. Tons of them. And most of them have calves. Ever read that calves bound? They do, they really do. There were calves bounding all over, like they had springs in their legs. It was totally darling. The adult cows were less so; they were a little agro, but as I got close eventually backed away so I could pass.

The hike inside the EBMud lands was exhausting. It would have been hard without hauling a bike around, and with ... whew. A mile and a half (and probably close to an hour later) I made it out to a slightly hilly road and eventually followed that up to San Pablo Dam Road, which I took to Orinda. All in all I made a huge loop that was 35 or so miles total, plus a BART ride from Orinda to Rockridge.

Whew! Exhausting day, but there was cheesesteak to be eaten and new places to see and hills to climb and cows to avoid.



Endgame. Sadly, I missed out on Endgame's 13th anniversary party, which was also Saturday. I didn't see an announcement about it until Tuesday night, and by then I felt like I'd already promised out all my emotional energy for the week. If I'd known that people I would have liked to see were going to be there, I would probably have went, and I probably should have asked, but ultimately I decided that rather than expending emotional energy at a gathering, I'd build up emotional energy on a long solo outing.

And so it goes.



Television. Kimberly and I decided to fire Once Upon a Time tonight. The show has teetered on the edge for us for its entire existence, because it's never been a very well-written show. (To be precise, it's cliched and obvious and soapy.) However at the start of the show, there were interesting mysteries and long-term stories and consequences. (Though the producers seemed at least as bad about figuring out what their long-term plans meant as when they were working on Lost, particularly with the two saboteurs who came into town late in season two and seemed to totally change their motivation just before they were abruptly written out at the start of season three.)

But now the show has become some sort of saccharine family drama and rather than long term plots Once Upon a Time instead tells 11-episode arcs which are forgotten almost as soon as they're done. Their first one, on Peter Pan, was quite good, but I think that's because the show abandoned most of its less successful characters and its less successful setting (temporarily) to go to Neverland. Their second arc, on the Wicked Witch, was a total flop, and I say that loving Oz and Wicked. Their third one, on Frozen, is almost as dull.

I'd thought about waiting until the end of this Frozen arc to dump the show, but it just wasn't worth it.

Meanwhile, Gotham may be getting slightly better. It started with a horribly fractured premise (it is about a young Bruce Wayne? is it about Gotham Central? is it about the appearance of Batman's villains?) and I knew it was going to take a while to find its center, but Jim, The Penguin, and (much to my surprise) the young Bruce are all become increasingly strong centers of the show. I also like the two mobsters (Falcone and Marcone) who have become increasingly important in recent episodes. Hopefully that show is finding itself (because Once Upon a Time never did).
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
Gaming Anniversary. Last Saturday was Endgame's Anniversary party. I stopped by, though only for a couple of hours, as my free time continues to be very short. I got to see some friends and play a couple of games, so it was all good. Endgame, meanwhile announced that they're opening a little cafe immediately adjacent to the store. It's cool to hear that they're doing well enough to be considering expansion.

After my couple of hours at the party, I headed up to Lake Temescal to do some writing. I was delighted to discover that it was an extremely nice day. I'm officially calling it the last day of Summer, and I'd previously thought they were all gone. Anywho, I did the writing I had planned, and it was glorious outside, and I came home for dinner. A pretty typical Saturday of late.

Sick. Sadly, I also picked up my first cold of the year at the party, at lunch, at the lake, or somewhere in that vicinity, because I was coughing by Monday night. I think Tuesday was the worst of it: I couldn't put in a full day of work. I'm still sniffly now, but not as bad. And my energy is better. I'm hoping to be well enough on Saturday not to get tuckered out, as Kimberly and I have plans in San Francisco.

(For the moment though, it kept me from gaming the rest of this week; good thing I had that bonus Saturday gaming to carry me over.)

Halloween. And today is Halloween. Kimberly and I had planned to go get pie or something somewhere, to celebrate the season appropriately, but she unfortunately ended up with her stomach too upset to eat anything. So I went out and got some deserts at Berkeley Bowl, and I ate mine tonight (Double Fudge Cake), and she'll probably have hers tomorrow (Tangy Lemon Bar).

I was quite surprised when I rode to Berkeley Bowl to find the streets between here and there just jammed with trick or treaters. There were also several houses totally done out in Halloween regalia. I usually think of Berkeley as being pretty Halloween free. We gave up getting treats a couple of years ago because we tended to get 0-2 trick-or-treating groups and they were all mobs of overprivileged and overaged kids. The folks trick-or-treating south of us were more clearly parents out with their kids. It was very cool. As were some of the houses, particularly one that had smoke coming off its roof, and a light to make it look green! Someone else had a big open fire in front of their house.

So, that was Halloween. I also read the first 100 pages or so of Grendel Omnibus I. I figured it'd be appropriate for the holiday too, with its dark, noir feel -- but it's now being put away lest I overdose on stories of Hunter Rose.
shannon_a: (Default)
AUCTION. Today was the annual Board Game auction at EndGame. I *always* use it as an excuse to get unused games out of my house, but this year I found myself a bit challenged, as my percentage of great games that I want to keep has crept up year-by-year, thanks to the annual Endgame filter. So, I set myself a target of getting 20 games out of the house this year, and made that. I'll pick up a little bit of cash for selling those off the next time I make it to Endgame.

But today I went to see if I wanted to *buy* any games. I've been doing this for the last 4 years or so, and I've generally stayed for a couple of hours, and bought somewhere between 0-2 games. Which was what I did today. I picked up Fast Flowing Forest Fellers by Friedemann Friese (which I gave an 8/10 on BGG when I played it three and a half years ago) and Rune Age (which will give me something to write about for both deckbuilding and cooperative design stuff that I'm working on).

I was quite pleased, because those were both "A" list games for me -- not just stuff that I bought because it was cheap. (Though definitely cheap: $13 for the still shrink wrapped FFFF and $11 for the Rune Age; yes, you should go to the board game auction at Endgame if you're in the Bay Area.) I left around 12.30. While there (mostly before the auction) I also got to spend some enjoyable time talking to Aaron, Andrew, Bob, Eric, and other Endgame folks -- which is the other joy of the auction.

BIKING. It's really not going to surprise you that after Endgame (and lunch) I headed out and did some biking. I've long wanted to head up into the hills from downtown Oakland, since I've done the reverse a few times. Today I did. First I circled around Lake Merritt and it was *so* nice to see that you can now traverse the south side of the Lake without having to go out to the streets. I think that's been a mess for the 10 years or so I've been regularly visiting downtown Oakland. (Sadly, the paths down to the estuary aren't open yet, though they looked done; I'll have to visit that another time.) After that I took a road called Trestle Glen up into the hills.

I was pretty amazed that the second I hit Trestle Glen, the houses got really nice. (And the housing prices seem to reflect that.) Very nice houses, nice neighborhoods, lots of foliage. The entire street is a long incline too, though not too terribly steep. I was getting tired as I rode, but not horribly so. Then I entered Piedmont, and suddenly the road turned to very steep. I alternatively walked and rode various bits from there on up. (I've learned through my hill riding that walking stuff that feels overly tiring can keep me from exhausting myself.)

Exiting Piedmont, I entered what's apparently called the Oakmore area of Oakland, looming over the Dimond Canyon. My new road up there was Leimert (after crossing the historic Leimert Bridge). This was quite attractive too -- and I got to see some really nice views of the Bay, the further I got up. They were pretty neat views too, because they framed Oakland's downtown right in front of San Francisco's downtown, a juxtaposition that I don't usually see.

Eventually I made it toward the Montclair area and headed up to Shepherd Canyon. I didn't ride the whole trail, but I did ride far enough to find a bench, where I read and ate dark chocolate. It was nicely shaded and there were wonderful breezes. Very pleasant! I eventually finished Swamp Thing vol. 2 and that it was back home for R&R for the rest of the day.

WRITING. Well, mostly R&R, as I'm now back to work on _Designers & Dragons_ (and have a few more writing projects, besides). Back on Tuesday I started on the various administrative tasks I'd accrued for _Designers & Dragons_: getting illustrations (covers) in order, making some tweaks to articles based on recent events, etc. I'll continue with this for several more days, then next weekend or so get started on some real writing for volume 4.
shannon_a: (Default)

Had a very busy weekend, which I knew would be the case.

Endgame Party. Saturday was Endgame's 11th anniversary party. I've been going to the parties since, I think the 8th. As with last year, this time I opted to stay the whole day, rather than rushing back off to my own RPGing, as I have in the past. So, I played lots of board games from about 10.30 in the morning until 7 in the evening. I got to play with some folks I don't game with much like Aaron (out from Boston) and Brad and Bob. I also gamed with my most regular opponent, Eric, a bit. The highlight of the day was a game of The Castles of Burgundy, which I don't play a lot because it runs in the 2+ hours category. It was a great game to play on a Saturday and a great game overall. I won with a crushing score of 260+. Very fun. (But it would have been even if I'd gotten skunked: terrific game.)

There was a bit of an afterparty after the party at a local Mexican restaurant. I was totally wiped out from 8(!) hours of gaming, but I revived after a bit of sangria, tamale, and nacho — all of which were very tasty. Some gaming started up, but I was definitely not recovered enough to game any more. So I listened to some conversation for a bit, burned off my one small cup of sangria, and when the buzz was gone, headed home.

Biking on a Saturday night through Oakland was a just a bit more harrowing than my usual Wednesday night or Saturday early-evening jaunts, because there were more people out and some of them looked skeezy. There was also one set of six or seven blocks of Telegraph that were particularly icky because the power was totally out!! Biking through Oakland on a Saturday night during a blackout turned out to me not my idea of fun at all. Still, not a big deal, and nothing that detracted from any of the partying. I made it home safe and sound, though I may consider BART in the future for a late Saturday night.

Family Visit. Since moving to Hawaii, my dad has been flying back to the mainland about once a year. He stays with my sister, then comes up to visit Kimberly and me, usually on a Sunday. Yesterday was that Sunday. We mostly chatted for the ~6 hours visit, though early on we also went out for lunch. That was at La Med on College, which Melody calls "fancy downtown". (I told her we also have "college downtown", which is Telegraph, and "real downtown", which is Shattuck. I guess I neglected "not quite as fancy downtown", which is Solano, and would have been hellacious yesterday due to the Overentitled Solano Stroll.)

As we got to La Med around 12.30 or 12.45, we discovered that they have brunch and breakfast menus! In all my years in Berkeley, I've never had either there. I ended up ordering a lox levant, and it was terrific! Mm-mm. One of the best things I've ever had at the restaurant and a nice change from a typical Med Plate

Generally, the visit was very nice, and it was good to see both dad and Melody (though sadly not fiancé Jared, who has been getting increasingly busy at school in the last year).

ConstructionI haven't written hear about the construction in recent weeks. In one word: UGH!

Some time ago the nice old Asian woman who lived in the house behind us sold it (or maybe died, but in any case, the house at least passed on). It seems to have been bought by a couple who love screaming on their cell phones in the back yard. I'm hoping that won't be the case when they actually move into a furnished house. But the much more annoying part is that they've had construction going on on their house for like a whole frickin' month.

It started with the roof, and we figured: OK, we get woken up at 8am every morning by workers, but reroofing is pretty typical for a new house buy. But then the work just kept going on and on and on (and we keep getting woken up more mornings than not). Currently they're reshingling the whole house, and going slower than I thought human possible. It's like they shingle a couple of feet a day.

Last week (maybe the week before) was the worst, when we had two other construction projects start up. Across the street they started jackhammering up the sidewalk (a plumbing problem, I think) and across another street they started cutting down trees (a tree "problem", I think). There was a day where we had so much annoying white noise that I was ready to kill someone (everyone).

Thankfully those other two projects are done, but STILL the house work behind us continues. And here's the punch line: on Friday we started work of our own. Using the month's free rent we got during our refi and a surprise legal settlement from a class action lawsuit we're partially remodeling our downstairs bathroom with a new tub, new tub tiles, and new piping. That started on Friday when our fabulous contractor Ting had his guys rip out all evidence of our past bathtub area. There's just a bunch of wood there now. He quoted us 8 days total, which I think involves him working on another project simultaneously, as that seems to be how things are done when you're not working on a huge garage-rebuilding project.

7 days left.

The Rest of the Weekend. Not much time for rest in the weekend, sadly! After dinner (somewhat restfully, on campus, with Top Dog and American Gods) I decided to go for a ride up the hill — as I'd been eating too richly and exercising too little all weekend. I was hoping to do it partly in sunlight but it was mostly dark by the time I hit Lake Temescal. I continued up to Shepherd Canyon for my ~13 mile ride there and back which I've been hitting in ~75 biking minutes.

For the first time that I did one of these nighttime rides it wasn't foggy at all (perhaps because of the earlier hour) so I enjoyed the stars a couple of times. Up on the Canyon Trail I saw either 3 or 4 deer — 3 going up and 1 going down. At least two of them were still babies with big floppy ears. Totally cool!

Afterward I did something rare, which is collapsed for the evening (or what was left of it) with no typing on my computer (no programming or writing I mean). Instead I just read for 2 or 2.5 hours. Very nice.

Back to projects tonight: a review to write, an AP to write, and my (completed, first draft) Gamescience article to proof.

shannon_a: (Default)
Had a busy weekend, much of it spent in Oakland.



The Endgame RPG Flea Market. The weekend started with an RPG flea market at Endgame that I've been helping to advertise through RPGnet. My biggest challenge for me was actually getting the bins of books that I wanted to sell to Endgame. Fortunately, we've had a hand truck for a couple of years, so I just loaded them up at around 10am on Saturday and then started pushing my truck of games downtown to BART.

I've never used the elevators at BART, so that was the first part of the adventure. It turns out that they're set up purposefully inefficiently, for the most inconvenience to the disabled. You get on one elevator at the street and take that down to the "concourse" and then you walk a ways and take another elevator from the concourse down to the actual BART station. The idea is that you swipe your ticket in between the two elevators, and that split of the elevators might make sense if, say, one were in front of the BART gates and the other behind ... but instead they were just at random places in the station. And so my first experience with the BART elevators was lots of walking. I actually had to walk about 3 city blocks in Oakland to get from the bottom elevator to the top one, because one of their street elevators was out of order. And then I had to walk back those three blocks.

The other thing I learned: the elevator hallways and the elevators at BART smell of pee. Sometimes strongly.

And the third thing: it's easy to avoid paying for BART if you take the elevators. At least that's what the young lady who took the elevators with me at 12th Street and at Downtown Berkeley did.

The actual flea market was lightly attended, which was pretty much what we expected for a first event. We had four people selling things, and all told there was a pretty good amount of product. Buyers were supplemented by the Dresdacon III that was also running, so that was a plus. All told, I sold $75 worth of RPGs I didn't want, and immediately turned that around for a Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords book. Maybe I'll run that someday when Kingmaker is done (though next I'm thinking of something besides 3e/Pathfinder). Perhaps more notably I traded several things for a variety of indie RPGs, which I think will help in writing new Designers & Dragons articles. The whole thing was really an RPG Swap slash Flea Market, and the Swap was probably the best part of the thing for me.

Looking forward to it again next year!



The Mormon Temple. After I got home, around 3pm, I decided to go for a bike ride up the hill, as part of my regular hill-climbing and exercise this year. I went up to Lake Temescal and from there somewhat spontaneously decided to keep going to Montclair (mostly because I wasn't tired, despite the 2 mile drag of ~50# of RPG books earlier in the day). When I got to Montclair, I decided to see if I could ride out to the Mormon Temple, which I see so often when I'm in the lowlands or across the Bay.

It turned out that the Temple was only about 1.5 miles on, on a pretty straight shot, so I headed over there. What I didn't realize because I was looking at things on my iPhone — rather than Google's more detailed maps online — was that those 1.5 miles included a lot of up and down. I did the whole ride, but the uphill got a little tiring. At least twice I thought about going back and I definitely decided that I'd never be doing this ride again, and then I made the turn over Highway 13, toward the Bay, and suddenly my breath caught in my throat ...

The Temple was off to my left, but it was the view that I found so astounding. You just cross the freeway, going over a rise as you do, and suddenly Oakland and the whole Bay and everything beyond is all spread out from you in an enormous vista. Totally beautiful, and I think one of the best views of the Bay around. After that the Temple was almost an anticlimax. It's a neat building and the grounds are beautiful (not that I went on them), but it may be more notable when seen from afar. What did surprise me was how full of life and activity the grounds were. I also found it a real contrast to the evil that the Mormon organization was doing in our state four years ago, when they were actively advocating putting bigotry and hatred into our state constitution.

Anywho, after that I rode down many steep streets, finally leveled off at MacArthur, skirted the top of Lake Merritt, then headed home. Ironically I got to within several blocks of Endgame where I'd been earlier that day. Total ride was 16 miles. I was out from about 3.30-6.00, but that was with a stop by Trader Joe's for burritos, cookies, heirloom tomatoes and a candy bar.



The Bicycling Oakland History Tour. This morning, Kimberly I headed back to Oakland for a bicycling history tour of Oakland, which was sponsored by the Oakland Museum. We got there at 10am for the ride, which also included the docent and 7 other people (most arranged into couples I was amused to see).

It turns out that the museum has something like 8 different bicycle tours that they do, covering Brooklyn, Fruitvale, Alameda, historic downtown, and who knows what else. Today's tour was the Lake Merritt tour, which means that we basically did a big circle of the Lake.

We stopped at lots of interesting places.

One of the first particularly neat places we saw was the old masonic Scottish Rite Center, just past the southwest corner of the Lake. It's a slightly weird building with neat stained glass highlighting various religions that were welcomed by the center. So, one window had a Star of David, another a cross, and another a celtic cross. Kinda cool. But what astounded me was that the place is now a mosque. Our docent said they have blankets over those stained glass windows on the inside, but that they've (thus far) opted not to take them down.

(There's a newer Scottish Rite Center which is large and visible from the Lake.)

The next place that really caught my idea was the Whole Foods northwest of the Lake. Turns out that it used to be a power generation building for the trolleys that ran from Oakland to Berkeley. Amusingly, the excess heat was used to heat some public baths nearby. Apparently there are some pictures inside which I'll have to check out at some point. Our docent also explained that the trolleys were the reason that streets like Telegraph and Shattuck break the Berkeley-Oakland street grid. Telegraph branches off of Broadway at a 20-degree angle or so, then Shattuck branches off of Telegraph. It's all because the streetcars couldn't make sharp turns!

We spent quite a while in the Lakeside Park at the north end of Lake Merritt, where our docent took us through the gardens and showed us many neat features. The Dawn Redwoods were cool; they have leaves that look a lot like Redwoods, but they were thought extinct (and only existed in fossils) until they were rediscovered during World War II. The trunks are also very cool because they twist as they go up. All around neat. The rest of the gardens including a bonsai garden and a Japanese Tea Garden were all very attractive too. Now I know to go here if I opt to read at Lake Merritt rather than at the bird sanctuary (where I have read before).

We rode around the rest of the Lake pretty quickly. The Cleveland Cascade east of the Lake was particularly cool. It's a big set of stairways in the hillside that once upon a time had water running down the middle. Still stunning today. The coolest part of the story was that it was totally overgrown and lost in the '50s until rediscovered sometime afterward.

We saw the old Kaiser convention center on the south of Lake Merritt, which is a woefully ignored space, and then it was back to downtown proper (and once more within several blocks of Endgame). After the tour, Kimberly took us out to lunch at Spice Money, and then we biked home.

The tour was cool, the docent was great (very knowledgeable about a variety of topics), and we'll definitely be going back for some of those other tours in the future, if we can figure out which tours they're doing when.



I was planning to do some writing (Designers & Dragons) and programming (Armorica) this afternoon, but after a little bit of Designers research and a bit of recreational reading, I fell asleep. Well, I guess a nap was in order after two early mornings and two days of busy activity.
shannon_a: (Default)
A slightly busy Saturday.

Today was the annual board game auction at Endgame, so I headed out there in the morning. As usual, Aaron L. was back to MC, so I got to chat with him for a bit (which is one of the reasons that I've been attending the auction in recent years).

Afterward, I sat with Eric V. and Jon S., kibitzed, and watched the first hour and a half or so of the auction. I bid on three or four things, but the only thing I was really enthusiastic about was Wolfgang Kramer's El Capitan. Sadly, I dropped out at $15 or so and it went for $17 or $18.

That was one of the higher-priced euros. Generally, the auction seemed to be a buyer's market today. I expect I'll have less credit than I have in other years, but since the primary goal was to clean as much as I could out of the house, it's all good. (That goal is also why I didn't bid very aggressively on the stuff I bid on.)


While at Endgame, I was happy to receive compliments on Designers & Dragons.

Aaron said he was impressed by the neutrality of the Wizard's Attic mini-history, as Wizard's Attic was a company run by my great friend Eric R. (now sadly gone across the sea). I told him that I'd really striven for it in the book, and that though some earlier drafts of articles like FGU and Palladium came out less than neutral, fans and employees helped me out with that as they read drafts. I've actually seen quite a few compliments about the book's neutrality.

Jon also offered kind words about the book, which he'd quite enjoyed, I believe for its nostalgic value.


I should note how nice the bike riding was today. Nicest day of the year, up in the high 70s or so. It actually would have been a little hot if not for the breezes I worked up by riding. But totally beautiful.

(Aaron said he'd brought the weather from Boston, which was hitting 90 degrees before he left. Ugh.)

I had lunch out, picked up some healthier cat food for the cats (since I hope we can feed them healthier now that super picky eater Cobweb is, alas, no longer with us) then enjoyed the rest of the evening at home.


This evening, we received delivery of a custom built paperback bookcase from Fernand P., a local craftsman who sells bookcases at the Ashby Flea Market. That got installed in the hallway upstairs (where I'd taken away a bookcase for the games closet when I rearranged it a few weeks ago). It seems to fit my paperbacks well and now holds May through Zelazny.

Bolting the bookcase to the wall got me into the home improvement mood, so I also took on a long-delayed task: putting in a second curtain rod for our bedroom. The first was a real pain in the butt, between setting six anchors, then screwing the six screws into those anchors. Finicky, careful work that also took a lot of elbow grease (as power tools weren't useful for most of it). The second was much the same, but an hour later I had new curtains up. Hopefully these will keep Lucy from playing with the blinds in the morning and waking us up (and protect the bedroom a bit more from light, especially as we head into summer).


Tomorrow, I mostly have R&R planned. I've got some tax refund money to spend, since it didn't go to the auction, so I'll be browsing for books, CDs, and comics that I've been wanting, but haven't gotten. Fun, fun.

A Busy Day

Dec. 11th, 2011 11:02 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
Went out to Endgame this morning for my friend Eric's release party for his two games Cambria and Hibernia. There was tasty catering and fun games to play. I've played a lot of prototype games over the years, and I'm happy to say that many of the ones I've played at Endgame (Armorica, Cambria, Hibernia, Race to Adventure) have been top-rate, and the sort of things that I'd be interested in playing even if designed by people I didn't know. I did horrible in my one game of Cambria, but pretty much sharked both Hibernia games I played.

My Dad called in the late afternoon, which he often does on Sundays. We chatted for a good hour on this and that, which is always a pleasure.

I picked up the Ascension card game while at Endgame today and introduced it to Kimberly tonight. She's been a big fan of Dominion (having played the game more than I have, I'm positive, and I have almost 100 plays under my belt), so I've been wanting to introduce her to another of my favorite deckbuilding games--except I didn't own it until today. I'm very happy to say that the experiment was successful, as she liked it, even after I got out a rampaging horde of Mechana Constructs.

My Mom called in the evening, and we're going to go visit her for Christmas Dinner on Christmas day. We haven't done that in many, many years, but with a relaxing week afterward and plenty of notice on the plans, I was happy to say yes.

Whew! Which is why I say busy. I was going to do some more writing tonight (on the AP for my Pathfinder game, which is now done for the year) and some programming (on the iPhone version of the aforementioned Armorica game, which is nearing feature and UI completion, but still has no AI), but I got knocked off track when my dad called around 3.45, and it's now much, much too late. So instead, I'm going to relax, finish the volume of Scalped I've been reading (#7), and do some other assorted reading.
shannon_a: (games)
I cancelled my normal Kingmaker game today and instead went to Endgame's Xth anniversary party. I had a good time, playing several fun games with quite a few people that I don't get to game with enough (Aaron because he no longer lives in town, Bob, Brad, and Robert because our times don't tend to sync on Wednesdays). I think that in the future I'll go ahead and plan to attend these anniversary parties, even though they're not the big X (and not just for an hour or two before RPGing, like I did the last few years).

Games Played included: Ascension (with a win that proved I was able to take skills from the iOS game to the tabletop); Maharaja (also a win, but also a game that showed me Maharaja is usually too thinky for me); Sun, Sea & Sand (a game that I really enjoyed, especially thanks to the SimResort theming, which goes great with Oh Zoo Le Mio by the same author); team Innovation (which is the only way to play the game with 4); and Race for the Galaxy (my second play with the prestige rules, which sent one of the players right out to buy the expansion that includes them).

Between biking and about 6 hours of gaming and interacting, I'm pretty tired out, but will probably read for another hour or so before bed.

Oh, and congrats to Aaron, Chris, Chris, Anthony, Finn, and everyone else at Endgame for 10 years and for running one of the premier gamestores in the country for community and for fun.
shannon_a: (games)
Endgame has been impressively jammed each of these last Wednesdays. Both nights I looked up around 8pm to see almost every table filled. Today it was a step further, though. We finished up our first game of Eminent Domain (which seems like a winner at first cut, at least once we got the rules right) and had 6 people to arrange for our next games ... only to discover that there were only 4 or 5 available chairs in the whole mezzanine. Yowza!

(Three of us ended up going downstairs to sit in the lounge area with the postage stamp sized table. We were able to barely fit a second game of Eminent Domain into that space.)
shannon_a: (Default)
A tiring weekend. Each of Saturday and Sunday night I opted to go to bed because I couldn't keep my eyes open to read, which is totally uncommon. (More usually, I go to bed because it's time and hope I'll be able to sleep.)

Prepping Friday. Busyness started off on Friday when I prepped for my Saturday Kingmaker game. Actually, I didn't spend too long on that. I've found it a bit freeing not actually knowing what the players are going to do due to the sandbox setup of Kingmaker. It means there's a limit to what I can prep and it's resulted in me being more casual about both the prep and the run.

Scanning Saturday. Saturday was the marathon. The fine folks at Endgame were kind enough to let me scan covers from their stock (which includes a good chunk of used material!) for my RPG history book. So I got in there at 10.15, scanned until 12.20. Then I went and gulped down lunch, getting back just in time to run my Pathfinder game. Dave P. had to leave early so we closed that down at 4.30, and then I went back and scanned until 6.45.

Total count was almost exactly 200 scans, of which I'll lose a few as I edit them due to bad scanning. (I'd edited about 80 as of last night.) There were a number of very specific books I was looking for, but I was also able to increase the breadth of notable companies that I didn't own many books of (e.g., White Wolf, R. Talsorian, Hero Games, Palladium, etc).

My biggest problem with the Endgame scanning is that Endgame is run like a professional business. They get rid of old stock that doesn't move. Thus, for example, I still have a big gap in my scanning for the Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games, which surely existing in abundant quantities at 9 out of 10 game stores, gathering dust because the retailers refuse to drop prices (or recycle the material). Troll Lord Games and Palladium give me similar problems, though I've got at least a decent smattering of Palladium and may be able to get some more.

When I got home, Kimberly and I got groceries. Then we ate and watched a Chuck, then we read the penultimate chapters of White Night aloud. By which time my brain was largely off.

Family Sunday. And finally, Sunday. The daytime was pretty mellow, though Kimberly and I did spend an hour reading aloud to finish off the 30+ page final chapter of White Night.

That evening at 6 we went up to Taste of Himalaya, a Himalayan Indian restaurant in north Berkeley. There we met my mom, Bob, Jason, Lisa, and Rob for dinner. It was Jason's birthday. (Well, actually, today is.) The food was good, the company was nice. I gave my mom some hints on how to play Reiner Knizia's Money better. I was pretty surprised to learn that it was almost 9 by the time we left.

Rainy Monday. Today it's been raining lightly most of the day. Which is nice, as we've had six weeks without rain, which is pretty unusual for winter here. And, I like the occasional rainy day.
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
A very busy Saturday.



Got up early (for a Saturday) and I was out of the house by 10am to go to EndGame. It was their 9th anniversary party, and these last couple of years (since I started biking again), I've made a point to head out there, even if I was gaming later in the day.

So I chatted with all the EndGame staff and got introduced to David S. over at Sandstorm. We chatted about RPGnet, Tinker Tailor, and some stuff I'm working on for the history book. Seemed like a very nice guy, and I'll have to follow up with him on some stuff. Aaron also made it out here for the party, so I got to chat with him for a while and later Eric V. and Bob who'd shown up.

I'd brought a few games but didn't get to play any; ironically I left one of my games there, as Eric !V. has really been hankering for Race for the Galaxy, which happened to be one of the two that I'd brought. (I just asked Evan to rescue it for me afterward.)

I was quite happy to get a chance to talk with people; it was well worth the ride down there and back.



Afterward was roleplaying which was the finale of the Savage Tide. It played out well and I think everyone enjoyed it. I think that's the longest campaign I've ever run myself. I can't entirely remember what I might have been running in high school days, but I haven't run anything longer up here. I think it's possible that our combined Vardian's Tomb + Dragon Rise campaign (which was group run) and Eric's various Erzo games are the only longer ones we've had.

Oh, it looks like Eric's MERP went 95 weeks, beating out Savage Tide too. It was easier to rack up the weeks when we played every single week, rain or shine, whereas the 64 Savage Tide sessions were spread out over 3 years and some spare change.

Following the finale, we chatted some about upcoming games, and it sounds like everyone might want to play Mary's Dresden, which if so would probably mean we're cutting down to roleplaying every other work, as most everyone is showing up biweekly now (with the exception of me, Mary, and Donald), and so we were only maintaining weekly play (theoretically) by alternating games.

We'll see how that goes. I won't even know what to do with myself if not running. I won't complain, as it's been a lot of energy. In any case, I have one more run for sure, which is next week, where I'll be offering the "season finale" of Traveller. (I don't know when I'm going to run it again but it's just the end of the current chapter, which should give everyone closure but still leave room for a continuation later ... and, I need to start outlining it soon.)



And after that K. and I got groceries. We'd decided to head out to Target again, which means we got super cheap stuff of pretty good quality (as opposed to Safeway, where we get somewhat cheap stuff of less quality on average). It was 9pm by the time we finally got home with groceries and dinner.

And now I'm about ready to collapse. My brain says that I should work on my rpg-history book article(s), but I may be done (for the night) ...

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