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Tai Chi. So today is our last day with Tai Chi. Jared and Melody should currently be on a plane, scheduled to arrive in San Jose at 8.30pm. They'll be up here to pick up their kitty at 10 or 10.30.

Callisto has sadly never come to accept Tai Chi. Kimberly and I suspect that it's because she's still pretty new to her territory, and is worried about being run off. As a result, she still hisses at him quite a bit, sometimes seeks him out to hiss at him, and sometimes chases him down the hall. Ah well; hopefully it'll be better next year.

Tai Chi has been a Saint the whole time, especially after he got comfortable in the house again after a couple of days. He constantly trills at Callisto and approaches her to sniff, but as often as not, she isn't having any of that. Nonetheless, Tai Chi mostly has seemed comfortable and happy lounging about the big house with the big windows. He's also been eating well, which was one of my paranoias, since he got an upset stomach and stopped eating last time he was with us.

Lucy acts like she barely knows there's a new cat in the house. Perhaps she's come to the conclusion that we're going to keep introducing cats every couple of months whether she likes it or not, or maybe she remembers Tai Chi enough from previous years, or maybe she just figures that it's Callisto's turn to deal with the intruder.

I'd hoped that bringing an alien cat into the mix would bring Lucy and Callisto closer, and before last night I would have said that was the case. Lucy seems to have lost most of her annoyance and standoffishness toward Callisto in the last week. But then last night Callisto aggressively backed Lucy into a corner and kept batting at her. (My poor Lucy kit!) I figure she was just aggravated by Tai Chi, and suspect that when Tai Chi goes home, Lucy and Callisto will be ... closer to being buddies than they were before.

The Weekend. It was a non-gaming weekend, so I had a little bit of extra free time. I used that to bike up to Tilden on Saturday, where I then sat in the Gardens for a few hours, working on my Paizo article for Designers & Dragons. Hard ride because the temperature was moving toward the 80s and I had the extra weight of my laptop computer! Afterward I continued upward to the Space Science Labs, and then was able to drop straight down to right above our house. Though I may not be able to ride up the steep roads behind us, I can ride down them if I do some cross-hill riding, and that makes my treks into the hills more convenient.

On Sunday I was planning just to work on writing & such, but I ended up going for a ride to Lake Temescal in the late afternoon. I repeated my passage through the Claremont neighborhood to get there, which is more challenging than my normal way to Temescal, but keeps me off busy streets. Thumbs up all around (though one road coming BACK through Claremont is unbikable right now. My Berkeley map says it's a 10-15% grade).

The Book. So, as I mentioned, I did a bit of work on Paizo for Designers & Dragons. I'm also working on a John Wick Presents article. I've generally found the new articles for the '00s book to be VERY challenging because almost all of the information for them is buried in podcasts, which are usually unindexed, always unsearchable, and usually full of crap to interesting content at a 10:1 ratio. And they're very slow to listen to when compared to reading speed. So it's been taking me weeks to gather info for each new article.

Fortunately, I have the time right now.

The Table. A bit of housework over the weekend too. We got a table and umbrella for the deck outside Kimberly's office, with the hope of making it more habitable during the daytime. Otherwise, it just gets too much glare, heat, and sun.

The table was good iron construction, but somewhat challenging to put together because (1) the instructions sucked, as always seems to be the case -and- (2) to make everything fit, all the pieces had to be tightened up at the same time. It was only 60 or 90 minutes work all told, but it felt like much longer.

Fortunately, there was ice cream reward.

(I did a bit more housework tonight, taking care of weeds and ivy in our yard. I seem to have hurt my little finger a little in doing so, but hopefully it'll be feeling better after a night's sleep.)
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New Stuff. Bought a new TV & DVD player for our living room. The DVD player is because we get tired of the old DVD player not playing stuff due to scratches (thanks Netflix), dirt (thanks Netflix), or bad DVD recording (thanks Amazon) and the newer DVD players seem much better at correcting for errors. The TV is because we're tired of not being able to read stuff or make out details on our 20" CRT TV when producers clearly expect you to be watching on something bigger & crisper. (So we're jumping to 26" which is still tiny according to most homes I've seen, but hopefully better, and about the biggest that'll fit in my very old entertainment center, which my dad bought me when I moved to an apartment in Berkeley.) I'm shocked at how cheap both of these items have gotten. At $200 that TV is 40% or 50% of the cost of the old living room set, and at a ridiculous $44 the DVD player is 10% of the cost of (probably much better) one that I bought *cough* 14 years ago.

Cats. A week in, Tai Chi is pretty much totally settled. Sadly, Callisto still has the hiss and/or chase reaction much of the time. Not always, as I sometimes find them sitting a few feet apart. I think that Callisto freaks mainly when she gets surprised. ("Cats! I'm shocked to find cats in this house!") I do believe she's not hissing at poor Lucy anymore, however, which she did for a couple days. Lucy, by the by, has been a saint during the entirity of Tai Chi's visit. My poor kitten has become the mature, calm cat of the household!

Meanwhile, Tai Chi is encouraging our cats to be bad, which I've also seen before. Nothing major, but he's very insistent that he can get up on the window sill behind the kitchen counter, and that's been making Callisto decide it's OK. (Meanwhile, since Callisto has arrived she's been encouraging Lucy to get up on the kitchen counter, so it's a feline chain reaction.)

And speaking of bad, Tai Chi insists on eating our cat's food and Callisto insists on eating Tai Chi's food. It's inevitable, of course, but it's amazing how adamant each is about preferring the others. Fortunately, everyone eats their own food at night, since I've been locking Tai Chi up at bedtime to give him and Callisto a stress break.

And it's the weekend! No gaming today, so I'm planning to go out for a ride and enjoy the super hot day up in the hills, if I can make it (heat allowing!). I'm going to bring my laptop (~+6 pounds?) to do some work, which I haven't done since I was working on the previous volume of Designers & Dragons. (It's easier to do when I have final drafts that need editing, and I've been far from that ... but I figured out some internetless work I could do.)

Oh, and the student migration has mostly ended! The suitcase part of the migration was weeks ago, but yesterday was the major moving day, sine a surprising number of students think they're required to end their leases on the last day of the month. Sadly this also means that the streets are now FILLED with crap, since Berkeley stopped putting out dumpsters for the students a few years ago. So it goes ... (And now the City just has to pick it up on an ad hoc basis, which is surely more expensive, and leaves the city looking like crap for weeks.)
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The Hill Ride. So it's been about a year since I started riding up in the hills above Berkeley, Oakland, and other nearby communities. One of my goals was to be able to ride over the hills, and I did that today.

Technically, that's a little less of a milestone than it sounds, because I've previously ridden up to the peaks of a few different hills, and I was pretty sure that I could just point my bike downward and end up in Orinda, Lafayette, or wherever. But today I actually did it (in reverse).

Kimberly and I BARTed out to Lafayette to eat lunch at Baja Fresh, and then when she BARTed back home, I headed southward on my bike (cleverly brought over on BART), to the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. I took it all the way to its end (~8 miles), then turned onto "Canyon Road", which becomes "Pinehurst" and that took me over the hills back to Oakland. I ended up right at the top of Shepherd Canyon Road, so I headed from there down to Shepherd Canyon Trail, then over to Lake Temescale, both of which are among my regular destinations.

The trip was *very* pretty. I love that part of Contra Costa County in general because its got lots of rolling hills and lots of trees. The Lafayette-Moraga Trail is particularly attractive because you go right up into those hills, but at a fairly light slope. I think I'd ridden to the end of the LF Trail maybe twice; if so, this was a third time. Afterward, I was really surprised by how nice the lower part of Canyon/Pinehurst is. It's a very quiet road that goes gradually upwards through heavily wooded areas, full of redwoods and other beautiful old trees. I really enjoyed it.

I was worried that I'd hit some big slopes at the top of the road, but the whole thing turned out to be rideable to me. Mind you, I took a few breaks near the top (where it did get steeper), but I never got to the road that I was expecting to see: which would look really steep and which would be too much to do after (by that point) 13 or 14 miles of biking.

Mind you, the last half mile or so was grueling, and I waS pretty tired when I got to the peak. Much of the Shepherd Canyon Trail went by in a virtual blur, and I've been pretty exhausted since I got home ... but great ride. 22.22 miles total, though the first 2 or so were getting to the Rockridge BART station. An ascent up to just short of 1200 feet (I think) then back down. Through Lafayette, Moraga, the unincorporated community of Canyon (population: 80), Oakland, and Berkeley.

Good stuff.

The Guest Cat. The other excitement this weekend was a visit yesterday from my sister Melody and her fiance Jared to drop off Tai Chi, who we cat sit whenever they go to Hawaii. Seeing the two of them was nice. We did the normal lunch & hang-out thing ... and since then we've had a third cat in the household.

Lucy is totally and surprisingly nonchalant. She clearly remembers Tai Chi well enough to not be scared by him any more -- which is impressive as this time it's been a year since his last visit. Sometimes she avoids him and sometimes she seems to purposefully hang out very near him, but there's no drama

Callisto unfortunately seems afraid of Tai Chi and/or angry that he's in her territory. She's very jumpy when he's out and about and more than once has crouched near him hissing and growling. Continuously. Sigh. At the moment she's laying mostly under the TV, clearly totally exhausted.

Tai Chi for his part wanders around and tries to pretend that there isn't an insane woman bitching at him -- which has been his approach whenever he visits here. (Munchkin and Cobweb used to hiss at him too, and Lucy used to stalk him.) I think it often stresses him out, but he does his best to shrug it off. I've also been locking him up in the Family Room a few times a day thus far to give everyone time to relax.

Hopefully things will quiet down in the next couple of days ...
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Tai Chi is now on his way back home with his people. And feeling better, one hopes. Pretty much from when he got home from the vet yesterday, he was doing considerably better, so either the sub-cutaneous fluids or the anti-nausea shot he got there helped out.

(Yep, I'm apparently rambling.)

And there was hi-jinks at the vet's office, as Tai Chi managed to escape from our vet not once but twice. She said that it's only a couple of cats a year that manage to get away. She had to call in reinforcements: a man with a towel. Tai Chi kept doing what she described as an alligator roll, twisting out of peoples' grasps. She thought he was a "very funny cat". 

Though I said Tai Chi was better, he was pretty subdued tonight, when Melody and Jared came to pick him up. So, perhaps not entirely over his bad stomach. I told them they should keep an eye on how he was doing in eating, and to let me know how he does.

If not for the vet visit, this actually would have been a terrific Tai Chi visit. He was super comfortable from a day or so in, and was doing really well with both cats by the end of the visit.

Melody is graduating in a couple of months, so this visit marks the end of her semiannual trips to Hawaii. From here on out, they're just planning to go once a year, in summer. So, I wonder if we're going to see the progression of comfortableness on the part of all the cats go retrograde now that the frequency of visit is halving.

Yay -> Ugh

May. 30th, 2012 08:33 pm
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Haven't written about it yet, but I had a great Monday, the last day of our three-day weekend. Kimberly & I biked down to Emeryville for dinner.

We went to Pasta Pomodoro there, and whereas we both remembered them to have kind of mediocre Italian food (last time we went, probably a decade ago), we discovered that they now have fancy and very tasty food instead. The food was kind of at odds with the physical restaurant, which was much more cheapo diner, with booths and a big take-out sign and such. Weird. But weirdly delicious. Oh, and delicious deserts too!

(We had gift certificates from years ago when we refinanced the house last time, so we splurged.)

Afterward, we biked along the Bay from Emeryville to Berkeley, which was beautiful as ever, then headed over the pedestrian bridge and back home.

A great end to a great weekend.

And then there's been yesterday and today.

I woke up feeling fine yesterday, but within a couple of hours I was crashing with the flu (which Kimberly sadly had over the three-day weekend). I was totally non-functional by the time I was done with lunch, and I crashed for much of the day. (Fortunately, the flu was only lingering on a bit this morning, and I feel mostly better now. Didn't go to gaming tonight, though, nor am I going to chance hanging out with people tomorrow when I might have lingering contagions.)

Yesterday night, we sat down to watch our new (replacement) discs of The Amazing Race 4, which Kimberly had picked up during the day. And discovered that they wouldn't play either. At Amazon's suggestion, Kimberly re-ordered from a different seller last night, since Amazon is clearly pressing them wrong. Both bad discs (the 1-disc set and the 3-disc set) went back to Amazon today.

In the evening we heard back from our loan guy about the refinance we're trying to do now and it looks like we ran straight into the same problems we did last year, which is they want to get Kimberly to prove she'll still have income in three years. Our loan guy assured us that they want to give us a loan and had Kimberly write a letter explaining the situation. I hope he's right, because I was pretty furious when we had that thrown in our face.

And, beyond all of that Tai Chi, our Guest Cat, has been vomiting a lot since yesterday and has been off his feed today. I talked to Melody this evening, and we're going to take him to the vet tomorrow if he doesn't shape up by then.

Ah, nothing has stress like cat-sitting health issues while suffering from the flu. The bank and Amazon just added insult to injury.
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The rain continues to mock us. Or the lack thereof. I went out to Endgame yesterday in my new waterproof windbreaker, carrying games in my new waterproof panniers. Not a drop. We were also supposed to have rain all day today and now the forecast is saying maybe tonight.

(Oh, I'm sure I'll be complaining about it when we finally get rain and I have to go out in it.)

Our Guest Cat went home this morning. Poor Melody & Jared got delayed at Honolulu for 2.5 hours yesterday, and so weren't able to immediately pick up their cat as they usually do. So, we instead have a mid-day pickup today.

As is typical, Tai Chi was well integrated into the house by the time he left. He was loving lounging about on our cat tree, particularly at the top, and pretty much no one was hissing at him except under extraordinary circumstances. 

And, as usual, Lucy was jealous. (Lucy is jealous of anyone else who gets my attention.) A few days ago I made the mistake of kneeling down in the Living Room and calling Tai Chi over. He came running and Lucy, seeing this, leapt out of the cat tree, landing partially on Tai Chi and then chased him out of the room. Poor Tai Chi fled upstairs where he yowled for a few minutes.

Sigh. I didn't make the mistake of doing that in front of Lucy again.

Now, life goes on. We'll see how Cobweb's eating now that there isn't a strange cat and strange food in the house. (We were never sure if she was eating really badly or not, as she might have been noshing on Tai Chi's dry food, which she's liked before, but the poor cat is getting soooo skinny, so I'm not really optimistic.)

And, I've started making preparations for my own trip to Hawaii. As is typical, I've started hoarding some of the best comics I get, as they're great reading for the loooong plane rides. Thus far I have Fables 16, Incognito 2, and X-Men: Age of X. I'll be adding Ultimate Doomsday as soon as it arrives.
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'Tis that time of year when Guest Cat returns to our house.

Melody and Jared stopped by yesterday evening to drop Tai-Chi off. As has been our wont recently, we placed him in the Family Room along with crate, litter, and food. We socialized with Melody and Jared a bit afterward and had dinner out at Smart Alec's -- where everyone was very favorably impressed by the food.

Then, they were off, and it was just the Guest Cat and us. And our three cats of course.

Within a few hours of Melody and Jared leaving, Tai-Chi was insisting on being let out of the Family Room. So, he's had free run of the house since. There have been a number of grumbly cats (poor Cobweb was getting hissed at by literally all of the other cats last night), but it's slowly dying down.

The worst problem, as ever, is that little Lucy likes to corner Tai Chi. I've had to save him a few times from that. It's a dominance thing, I'm sure, and the smallest cat in the house is pretty sure she's the ruler.

Tai Chi isn't being very friendly yet, I presume because he's in a strange house full of other cats. But history suggests he'll get friendlier as the week goes on ...

In other news, I've been writing pretty extensively lately. I have a few more Dungeons & Designers articles queued up for RPGnet for Monday and I also just finished writing up something pretty unique: a 3,500 word or so article on icon design in eurogames. It's a nicely comprehensive piece (though I also got some great ideas from Eric V. on improving it) and I'm beginning to wonder ... could there be a game design book there? (With this just being the barest start.)


But not for now. I've still got an Armorica iPhone game to finish up and probably a new RPG book for Mongoose (just something for one of their lines, nothing like Designers & Dragons).
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Didn't write about the familial visit on Sunday. My mom and Bob came up, as Bob had been kind enough to build us some shelving for our garage. Bob and I finished the assembly, while Kimberly and my mom went to shop at Target for things too large to carry on a bike.

The visit was great. Dinner was great. And the shelves are great. Kimberly and I spent an hour or two yesterday evening starting to fill it, mostly with her clothes for various times, but also with some of my stuff, including the first tub of games intended for auction at Endgame next year.

(Yay! to those not cluttering the house for a year.)

Then Jared and Melody came to pick up their kitty, Tai Chi, tonight.

Poor Kimberly had already collapsed, following the busyness of the last few days, a mild heat wave during the daytime, and a bike ride she and I took down to Emeryville after work. (We also had delicious Chevy's, which she treated.)

So absent Kimberly, the three us as chatted for a while, and our occasional Guest Cat is now on his way back to San Jose.

(Man, that cat doesn't like to get back into his cat carrier. He always looks like something out of a monster show when he does, as he's been pushed into the carrier, and he's trying to pull himself out with one paw hanging on to the outside.)

This visit, the cats were all relatively mellow. Tai Chi was totally relaxed, Lucy was mostly relaxed, and Munchkin mostly forgot to hiss after a few days. Cobweb kept up her hissing, but only when Tai Chi got in really close.

He was really my buddy this time and took to hanging out on the shelves next to my desk while I worked. It was amusing, as I had cats to either side, as Lucy likes to sit to the other side of my computer, partly behind it.

I was pretty surprised one day when I found Lucy and Tai Chi lying within a few feet of each other:

Then later on they were almost lying together! However, you will note that at no points do the cats actually touch!

(Copy these photos to Facebook for Melody, Kimberly?)

I remember on his first visit, I was relieved when Melody picked Tai Chi up afterward, because it'd been a bit stressful keeping all the cats happy. Now, he just blends right in and I miss my little buddy when he's gone. (OK, big buddy; he might mass the same as any two of our cats.)
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We have Guest Cat back. Melody & Jared dropped him off yesterday. Melody seemed quite distressed that he was unhappy with her for dragging him in a car an hour to a house full of other cats. But, she's in Hawaii right now enjoying the beautiful night sky and balmy weather, so she's probably not worrying about it too much.

(OK, maybe she is.)

We settled Tai Chi in our Family Room this time, which is a bit more relaxing to me, as his stuff isn't all cluttering up my (smaller) office. And, no surprise, he likes the room with all of its windows. There was a bit of a stand-off between our cats and Tai Chi about who was going to hang out in the Family Room, but Tai Chi seems to have won for the moment. We'll see if that stands tomorrow if tomorrow isn't as crappy, gray, and gloomy as today was. (Summer? Never heard of it. We haven't had Summer in Berkeley since 2009.)

Generally, things are relatively relaxed among felinekind. Munchkin and Cobweb do some pro forma hissing and growling, but it doesn't seem that serious. Tai Chi seems relatively relaxed. Except when Lucy corners him, which she delights in doing every once in a while. Today, I saw Tai Chi and Lucy sitting next to each other (underlining how comfortable things are, generally) and I was shocked to see that he's over two times her size. But still clearly terrified of her when she does the stalking thing.

Our own gray tiger stripe, Cobweb, isn't doing as well. She's had more reluctance eating that we suspect comes from nausea. We're keeping a very close eye on it. I suggested she have some nice catnip tonight to help ease he stomach. Surprisingly she seemed to be eating afterward. Dunno if there was a causal relationship or not.

This last weekend was my fourth in a row (I think) with no gaming. Our current storm system broke momentarily Saturday afternoon and I had a nice ride to Oakland and back via some unusual routes. (West and San Pablo there, the hills back again.)

I really just wanted to ride because it was briefly sunny and luke-warm and the air was clean and clear thanks to the rain. However, my excuse was picking up the new Dominion from Endgame and books from the Rockridge Library, all of which was done.

I think we're (finally) starting off the new chapter of Pathfinder this Saturday.

Everything else is mellow. My new iEuro, Modern Art: The Card Game seems to have been well received, and I've been making good progress on both rereleasing others of our games and getting our next release off the ground.

I've been watching with interest discussion about DC Comic's relaunching of their whole line in September. It's unfortunately bringing to an end a number of comics I like, and it looks to me a lot like DC shooting themselves in the foot. I find the fact that they're in many cases giving untrained and untested artists control of the writing of their books particularly disturbing (and that's most likely to keep me from reading some of the new DC books, as I demand good writing). I keep watching for the announcement of the great new comic by a terrific writing team that's going to excite me, but thus far there isn't one.

Our new rooms at home seem to have generally worked out well, though we're still not using the garage so that we can toast it the rest of this week (when the sun hopefully returns tomorrow).

My new windows have gotten put off until after Guest Cat leaves, as he's a bit more likely to try and get out of the house than any of our cats. But it looks like pretty mellow weather is in the near future, so they probably won't be missed. (We were supposed to have them before Guest Cat's arrival, but no go.)

And that's liff.
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Just heard bells ringing downstairs. Or thought I did. Tai Chi (Guest Cat) has a belled collar you see, and so we heard jingling back and forth for 9 days while he visited. But Mom Melody and Jared picked him up late last night and took him home. So no actual bells downstairs. He was a real pleasure to have this time, as he was pretty well integrated into the house. Not much hissing really at any time, and not much Tai-Chi-retreating-to-the-office-to-hide. But Lucy did chase him a lot.

Feeling a bit spacey today because I'm sick. Again. Dammit. Another cold that I hope passes as quickly as the last one. Because I've been sick while in Hawaii before, and that's just a waste of sunlight. We shall see. I'm feeling better tonight than I was this morning. Hopefully tomorrow will be better again. But I could feel worse instead.

It was a bad day to come down sick as today was my day to get Michael Schacht's Gold! out the door. Fortunately I'd arranged my time pretty well, and I really did have just slight polish to do today. But everything took twice as long. Then another stupid bug in Apple's upload software cost me some time. So it was still more than a day's worth of work, or at least a sick day. But it's uploaded now. It's scheduled to go on sale February 3, which is the same day the physical game goes on sale, which we're trumpeting as a first, and probably is for any mass-market publication.

Well, that's all true if Apple doesn't reject the app, of course. We've been good so far, and in fact they've approved at least one that I wish they hadn't of because of a bug on a platform I hadn't tested for. But in any case I figure if they reject one, it'll be the one that we have a set date for. But I've got my bets hedged via a laptop that will go with me to Hawaii. Once I submit all my code and sync it over, I'll be able to build from there in the (hopefully unlikely) case that the code gets rejected.

Probably all the work on Gold!, which I really cranked on for these last two weeks, plus all the work on my history book, which I've really cranked on for the last two weeks, is what set me up to get sick. I cut back these last two days, realizing I was chancing running myself into the ground, but apparently too little too late.

Which leaves me figuring out how much I can do on the history book before I leave for Hawaii without it being too much.

(And there is certainly no work being done in Hawaii, absent that potential for problem.)

Still hoping to get my three new articles done, which I'm half-way into.

And hoping to be feeling better very quickly. Tomorrow will tell. Or the next day.
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So, holiday ended on Sunday, and what's followed has been a very busy week.

Programming. The main busyness has been work-related. My schedule calls for our next iPhone app, Michael Schacht's Gold!, to be done a week from today, meaning I had two weeks left when I got started on Monday. My feeling at the start of the week was that two weeks was very doable to allow for a top-quality release, but that I needed to be very focused.

I'm not always good at being very focused, which is a blessing and a curse, but the holiday helped. So I did manage to spend five days being very focused and along the way I hit all the major reprogramming issues I needed to hit before release but one, so things are looking very good for a submission of Gold! next Friday, as planned. But, it'll take another focused week.

The History Book. Busyness II for the week was the good 'ole history book. As you may know, I've been doing my rewrite/edit/expansion for about 42 weeks now, but the thing I hadn't touched was the artwork. My current publishers would like RPG covers from the various companies discussed to use as the artwork and told me I needed to put it together for them. They did have a suggestion for doing so: by calling upon the power of RPGnet. Still, I knew it'd require a lot of organization on my part and time.

So my schedule called for me starting on the artwork scanning on 1/1, which I did. I'm getting lots of good content from RPGnet right now, but it's also obvious to me that I currently have holes. But, trying to stay on top of the incoming scans (and doing some of my own) created more busyness.

If you'd like to help out with some RPG Book scans, my current want list is here.

Cat Sitting. My sister Melody and her boyfriend, Jared, came up on Tuesday to drop off cat Tai Chi, who's staying with us until next Thursday while they visit the folks in wonderful, warm Hawaii. (Oh, how I dream of thee, stuck in freezing California.) As is usually the case, we spent a few hours eating, chatting, and saying goodbye to Tai Chi. And I then went back and did work in the evening because I'd spent part of my free time in the afternoon, as it were (which was great, mind you, as I don't see the two of them often). So, more busyness there.

Tai Chi has settled in remarkably well this time, proving that there is some progression every time he visits. He wanted out of my office within hours, and has roamed remarkably freely (though I've seen Lucy terrify him a few times). The other cats are also remarkably hiss-free. Not hiss-free, mind you, but it's at pretty low key. And I even saw Cobweb headbutt Tai Chi today when she wanted to get at his food.

Tonight. So now it's Friday night. I'm juggling reading/prepping for tomorrow's Pathfinder adventure (I'm going to look through the PF Bestiary 2 PDF that I just got to see if something jumps out at me as my original encounter tomorrow); writing up a totally new history (on Evil Hat; I decided I needed to get my original histories done before Hawaii so that I have time to gather comments); and continuing with the scanning project.

So, busy, busy, busy. Probably a busier week since when I was working full-bore on the history book back in 2007.

But, some restful time too. I just finished a reread of the original Thieves' World book the other day. Good stuff!
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Lucy always tries to get high.

Cobweb's love of bags is profound.

Munchkin's mostly oblivious,

Even when a Guest Cat's around.
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Tai Chi Flashbacks. Got up this morning and my first thought was to let Guest Cat out of my office. Then when I was giving the cats their morning treat (required by Cobweb's medicine), I had the feeling that one of them was missing.

Tai Chi is missing, of course, because Melody & Jared came him up last night. They pulled in around 11pm, we visited for a while, but it was late and Melody was practically hallucinating, so they headed out with cat in tow by 11.30 or so. Jared was driving, thankfully.

Kimberly and I were both sorry to see Tai Chi go. It's good that he really feels like a member of the family by the time he's been here a week.

Well, to everyone but grumpy "Aunt" Cobweb. Or maybe she's just the grumpy Aunt that hisses whenever any of her nieces or nephews come by. The most humorous interaction is always been "cousins" Lucy and Tai Chi, who had many running chases and Godzilla battles this time around. Lucy seemed to think they were all in good fun, while I got the impression that Tai Chi was a bit afraid of our crazy baby.

Ohlone Travels. Yesterday was overall a busy evening, because right after I got off work, Kimberly and I rode to the end of the Ohlone Greenway. It was a nice trip on the way to Richmond and absolutely beautiful on the way back, when the temperature dropped to a balmy 75 degrees or so, yet the late summer sun was still out. I was able to ride there and back in one of my Hawaiian shirts & shorts.

Our destination was the Home Depot which is pretty much at path's end.

Our main goal was to get a replacement light bar for our bathroom. No joy there. There wasn't a single bar with a pull-chain, which is a requirement for our bathroom. I did pick up some supplies for doing electrical work, and on returning I looked more carefully at the light and came to the conclusion that I might be able to just swap out the broken switch. Hopefully Kimberly was able to discover a switch of the appropriate type while out running errands this morning.

Our secondary goal was to get anchors so that we could mount Kimberly's heavy Monet print on a drywall. I've got some anchors now installed, but mounting the picture is still proving challenging. Hoping to have more luck this evening. (Kimberly was dead to the world for the rest of the evening yesterday after we returned from Home Depot, so I was trying to do it myself, and it's a big picture, possibly a bit larger than the original.)

Our tertiary goal was to get something to better mount a few crappy ceiling lights we have in upstairs rooms. We learned that our mounts are very ancient (also, ad hoc). I picked up some electrician screws hoping they can help hold things together, and though they may work, we should really get an electrician to redo those mounts, because they suck upon close examination.

Our last goal was to see if there was anything else that jumped out at us. Kimberly liked some door knobs, wanting to change the ones on her closet door. We got them, but unfortunately her closet door has freaky antique knobs (as do most of the doors in our house). Ah well. I installed one of the knobs on our Junk Room closet door, though it still needs the strike plate installed, which is a challenge given the way the door was previously setup.

Heat, Heat, Heat. There are three types of hot days for me in Berkeley: the throw the cats out of my office, close the door, and open all the windows days, which are in the 70s; the move my computer downstairs to the dining room days, which are in the 80s; and the move my computer downstairs to the dining room and it's still hot days, which are in the 90s. Yesterday and today have been the last.

But we've had such a gray, crappy summer that this is nonetheless bliss. (Also, the first days all year where I've moved my computer downstairs.)

And working in the dining room always reminds me of how much my cats love me, because they cluster down there instead of in my office. Lucy is particularly happy to have a chair a foot from my own, so I can just reach out and pet her.
shannon_a: (Default)
There was no gaming this Saturday. We should be back to our normal schedule next week (and perhaps?? finish Savage Tide). However, I managed to keep myself busy.

On Saturday I had a relaxing lunch out, then spent most of the day writing. I'll write about that more in this week's History Book post, but I probably spent a good 6-8 hours between Friday night and Saturday.

We'd planned to go to Target again for groceries, but Kimberly ended up too tired. We went to Safeway instead and bought much cheap stuff again. Because of lower prices, I've been buying increasing amounts of crap--mostly chips and sweets. I need to try and get back into the habit of sometimes having veggies with my lunch instead.

Today Kimberly took us out for brunch. After that it was mostly a restful day, other than a trip out to Trader Joe's. (A weekend of food, apparently.) I looked lustfully at their one-pound dark chocolate bars, but ... see previous note about too much junk. I couldn't resist one of their little $.50 dark chocolate bars though. Very tasty.

Tai Chi has been pretty well integrated into our house for 4 or 5 days now. Really only the first couple of days were a trial. But he's very comfortable wandering the house now, getting treats when the other cats do, lounging on the cat tree or the couch. He's also being friendlier to me than I recall from previous trips and even comes when I call.

Of course he also sometimes wanders the house yowling. I suspect that's him missing his real people (who should be back with him in a hair less than 24 hours).

Of course Cobweb and Munchkin still hiss at Tai Chi, but it's mostly a warning that he's getting too close. Meanwhile Tai Chi really wants to sniff everyone. Which causes hissing. Lucy is the most tolerant. She and Tai Chi have had a few Xander-Harmony fights, where they both flail at each other with their paws without actually touching each other. And, Lucy does chase Tai Chi sometimes. But I do get the impression she just enjoys having a more active cat about. I also get the impression that Tai Chi is scared of her despite outmassing her by at least 2x.

We've had a light problem in our bathroom for a bit more than a week. Stupid pull-cord on our light pulled right out. I'd hoped to look for a replacement at Target yesterday, but instead we'll hopefully run to Home Depot tomorrow or Tuesday. The panniers should come in handy ...

Napped a bit both weekend days. Totally decadent.

Beyond that, plenty of plenty of reading, as is norm these last couple of years ...

Ellipses ...
shannon_a: (Default)
So Tai Chi has mostly settled into our house. Things have been relatively calm since yesterday, where I've still locked him in my office on occasion, but it's been more to get him to eat his food than anything else.

I think the first day or two Tai Chi is visiting each time, we run into three problems. First, he wants to really aggressively explore the whole environ. Second, he's at his twitchiest because he's really not sure if he might get attacked. Third, the other cats follow him around like little stalkers. As a result, he keeps getting cornered and gets upset about it.

After a day or two, the other cats mostly don't follow him around, though Lucy does jump at him on occasion.

And that's where we are on day 4 of Guest Cat visit #4.

Monday and Tuesday night I usually do writing for my various obligations: reviews, columns, that sort of thing. Well, that's what I'm doing every other week right now, as the others are scheduled for Armorica iPhone development. And, I did great this week. One review and my next two BGN columns, bringing me up to September 9th or thereabouts.

Woohoo. I had pipe dreams of writing an article that I've been meaning to for Mongoose too and my next two Traveller articles and maybe get to the RPG History Book and ...

Only so many hours in the day.

Oh yeah, meant to finish off my latest AP for the Traveller game. Ah well.
shannon_a: (Default)
I think I finally figured out my problem with my new panniers for my bike. When playing around with them last week I discovered that one of the panniers had quite a bit more give than the other if you tried to lift it off the rack. So last night I looked up the web site of the Intertia Design, the manufacturer, and after reading some docs, tightened that pannier's bungee by an inch or more.

I should probably tighten up the other one a little bit too, but I have a suspicion that I'm not going to see more flying panniers once I do that.

(And, if I do, I figured out a way to wrap the bungee around the bike rack so it won't fall off--it's just a pain to take off if I do that.)

So we had to save our grocery shopping from yesterday to today because we had family & Guest Cat out. We decided to turn that into an opportunity and tested out shopping at Target today.

Target is about 4.5 miles distant or so, but it's mostly a nice ride through Berkeley and along the Ohlone Greenway. The only bad bit is the one (and only) road that leads to Target where bikes are forbidden in one direction and the other is a little too narrow heading north.

(If that theoretical connection from the Ohlone Greenway to the Bay Trail in North Berkely ever goes through, it should solve that issue because that'd go right by Target ... but I'm not holding my breath.)

After builder #17 came out to quote our garage work this morning, we biked down there. It was overall a very pleasant shopping experience. The store seemed much nicer than the Safeway we've been going to, I think because it's got taller ceilings and is better lit. The selection was tremendous and their non-sale prices were often better than Safeway's sale+club prices. It could be they're purposefully undercutting at the moment as they roll out their groceries-at-Target thing, but I'll hope not, because they were great.

I was also struck that Target seems a considerably healthier grocer than Safeway. They had big vats of reduced fat peanut butter and Miracle Whip lite, whereas Safeway only had those in the fattier variety. Their store-brand stuff also had whole grain and other healthy junk in it pretty commonly.

We weren't home until about two, but it was a sufficiently pleasant experience, that we're going to head out to Target instead of Safeway when we're able ... it's just a bit far for every week, I think.

Napped for another couple of hours this afternoon. It's like I've caught the tse-tse sickness from Kimberly.

(Or just that I like to nap in the afternoon when given the chance.)

Guest Cat continues to settle in. He's still in that early stage where he wants out of my office, but gets pissy when he's around our hissing cats for a bit. But, it seems better today than yesterday. It'll doubtless improve as the week goes on.

I suspect that tonight is the last night that I'll keep him locked in my office over night.

One of the problems this time around is that he's supposed to be eating special food, but as I told Melody, I just didn't think that was going to happen with three other cats in the house. Sure enough, he keeps making a bee line for their food.
shannon_a: (Default)
Melody and Jared came by a bit after 7pm to drop off the kit. He appears more comfortable than ever with my office, on what's his fourth visit here over the last year and a half. I would not have guessed that a cat could remember something for that long, but I see it pretty clearly.

After depositing the kit in the office, the four of us went up to Intermezzo for dinner, which has become a typical pattern, then browsed at Moe's for a bit before coming home. We tried to stop at a bakery on the way back, but the furtive employee glanced up at the clock which showed a few minutes before 9pm when we tried the door, then wouldn't meet our eyes.

Melody and Jared eventually headed off around 10pm, as they have to get up at god-awful o'clock in the morning.

Tai Chi was acting ornery by 11pm, demanding to be let out of the office. So, I did, and he explored the whole house, got cornered by the other cats a few times, and ended up feeling very defensive. It's always the first couple of days that are the toughest, because he wants out, gets scared, but doesn't want to return to his safe space. Within a few days the other cats will still be hissing at him, but he'll be more aloof about it.

So becomes another week of catsitting my 5% of a cat.
shannon_a: (Default)
Jared & Melody visited on Sunday. Their main purpose was to drop off Guest Cat, Tai Chi, who I will be catsitting for the next week.

We also hung out for several hours. We'd considered doing something, like hiking or gaming, but between the Trauma of leaving Tai Chi and the fact that 3 of the 4 of us were feeling a bit under the weather, we ended up mostly talking and a bit of shopping and that was it for the day.

We exchanged some Christmas presents too & Jared and Melody were nice enough to get me a book on hiking in the area, so maybe I'll have a better handle on some local hiking areas next time they're here.

Tai Chi has now been here for two days, and I feel like our relationship is a bit more adversarial than it was before.

Each time he's visited we've started out quarantining him in my office, then slowly let him roam more. On his first visit, he never did more than make 30-45 minute sojourns from his safe zone, but the second time he roamed freely and was even left out at night for the last day or two.

This time, we figured the integration might be a little easier, because the second time was easier than the first. (The cats actually seemed to remember something after a six-month break, which I wasn't sure would be the case, but Tai Chi was both braver and Lucy was less aggressive.) But we still knew that we'd need to have Tai Chi in isolation for at least a day, maybe more.

The answer is really, "maybe more", but Tai Chi really doesn't want to be cooped up in the back two rooms of the house. Unfortunately after he's been out for a bit, and had the other cats all growling at him, he gets all growly too, but still doesn't want back in the office. Fortunately Melody left "benito flakes" which are so desirable that I can tempt him back into the office with them, like the Pied Piper of Fish Scales.

Hopefully things will calm down. If not, Tai Chi will just be back in the office more than he likes.

Work has been a bit frustrating too, because a few last-minute bugs stopped the release of Money! I think I found the last major one, at about 10pm last night (after setting it aside for a few hours). If so I can finally get it into the queue at Apple today ...
shannon_a: (Default)
Wedding. Went shopping today for a suit coat for Jason's wedding. I haven't had a proper suit coat for 20 years. Now I finally do. It's black with just a touch of gray in it. Should do well for the wedding, and would have been fine for some of the less pleasant events I've had to go to in recent years. It also seemed to fit pretty well. There were some cheaper suit coats that I could have gotten, but they didn't fit nearly as well, so I splurged (though I certainly won't complain about the price, at $105).

I also discovered that my pants from my wedding fit perfectly. That was a big surprise. They were too tight to wear for a few years. For Chris' memorial, they were just tight. And now ... fine.

I've been hoping to get into better health with the bicycling I've been doing this past year. I know I'd lost about 10#, but that still leaves me 10# or 15# over what I was when I got married. Which probably means I've got about the same body fat as ten years ago, but more muscle--leg muscle one supposes. That's pretty cool.

Surprisingly, I'm starting to look forward to the trip to Gilroy. We may or may not have time to wander around the morning of the wedding. I still wish we could go biking down there, but maybe some other time, when Kimberly is doing better.

Cats. We seem to have largely integrated guest cat Tai Chi into the household. Cobweb and Munchkin still hiss at him, but Lucy seems to have mellowed way out and he seems to have conquered some of his fear of the other cats. So, I've been leaving my office door open when home these last couple of days. He can go wander if he wants, and he can return to his safe home base, which he's most comfortable with.

I wouldn't have guessed that the week of being mostly locked away from the other cats in January would have helped him to integrate this time ... but sure enough. I'm pretty sure he remembered the house and the other cats remembered him enough to make everything more comfortable now.

I made the effort for two reasons. First, because it's nicer to have my office opened. Second, because now that him coming here isn't a one-time thing, I'd like to make it less traumatic for everyone in the future.

Gaming. So, we're on the cusp of changing campaigns at Saturday Gaming. This Saturday Donald ran the penultimate session of his Eberron campaign. He says that he thinks finishing it will probably take just an hour more. I'll believe it when I see it, but I've gamely agreed to prepare a couple of hours of Traveller on Saturday. (My Savage Tide campaign will then get going again after the wedding, with it and Traveller alternating in some manner.)

I was pleased to hear more comments saying that the Traveller game last week was a bunch of fun. Of course I'm still easing my way into a new system, so preparing a fresh, short adventure for Saturday will take some work ...

Of course Eric, my erstwhile co-GM seems to have disappeared from our group again, as life has once more taken priority. (Mary was very kind to retrieve my Traveller books I'd lent him, which I want to read and review soon.) I'm also wondering if Chris W. is going to keep showing up, as he's apparently working graveyards now. We'll see how things shake out, but with the number of people we've had lately, it'll be fine either way.
shannon_a: (Default)
Guest Cat Tai Chi has returned because my sister is spending another week in Hawaii, starting tomorrow. He is now locked up in my office (+ sun room), shielded from the other cats. He was last here in January, and I was surprised to see that he actually seems to remember the place. (Or, at least, he seems pretty confident about me and my office, whereas last time he spent the first day or so hiding.)

The other cats also seem a little more understanding. Well, Munchkin ran over and hissed at Tai Chi right away, but for that not to happen, I think the rivers would have to run backward and dogs and cats would have to be living together (rather than cats and cats, natch). Thus, after Tai Chi has settled in today, I'm going to let him mingle tomorrow, and see if that goes OK.

Since it's looking like Tai Chi's visit might be a regular thing, I'd much prefer to not have to separate him from our cats every time.

(The big question will be how Munchkin and Lucy do, since the first was aggressive and the second pissy last time Lucy was here.)

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