Showing posts from 2013

2014 To-Do List

It's a common practice to make resolutions, but I very rarely do it. For one, I know me, and something promised does not necessarily mean something done in any reasonable time frame. Not that I won't do it eventually, but it's a thing and I'm bad at time managing my things.

That said, the beginning of a new semester is an excellent time to shake up my routine and start settling some things into place. So while I won't really set goals for what I want to happen, I will tell you what I'm doing as of next week and certain things I have to achieve over the next six months, at least.

Finish my reading list and formally assemble my committee -- due by the end of January, hard stop. Work workouts into next semester, whether with Matt or on my own. I gained more weight last summer and fall due to the sprained ankle and loads of sedentary work, and I'm not happy about it. I at least need to get back to where I was before all that, and that requires going to the gym a…

Oh my gosh, y'all, I'm gonna run a game.

So one of the things I get to do next semester is run a game for my gaming group. I've run two in the past, but had to wrap both of them up for school reasons. All my players want to play in these games again, and I'm pondering what to run.

1) Picking my Dresden Files game back up where it left off in Baltimore. This has the advantage of me knowing the system, it being pretty easy to add people in, and everyone's excited about it still when I bring it up. DF is a touch tricky, though, at least in the magic system, and nearly everyone's got magic of some form or other. I'm gonna go back to it sometime, and I've got ideas for it, I just don't know if now is the right time.

2) Non-Westeros Westeros? I ran a one-shot of A Song of Ice and Fire RPG set in a minor house in Dorne. Everyone was a member of the household, and most of them were siblings. It was awesome. The one problem is that nobody at the table, myself included, really wanted to run ASIoF again. It…

2013 in review

So overall this has been a pretty good year for me and mine.

The tree that fell on our house last winter was removed and the roof repaired (and insulated!), and we in effect got a new bedroom out of it, which was awesome. The boys both entered high school and found stuff they like to do, particularly drama club and wood shop. Si stopped chewing everything.My family is in pretty good health.I finished the fall semester of GAAAH (three full grad classes, man, plus teaching) with 3 As, a conference acceptance, and a prospective novel. Our company got Tragedy in Five Acts out and in good shape, and it got listed by io9 as one of the best storygames. My computer died, but I LOVE my Macbook Air, so that's okay.I get to teach classes I really wanted through the next summer, and my co-teachers and I got a grant for the spring. :) There were some less awesome things, but really, we lived through all of them and nothing that bad happened. 
I'm really very happy with the year that passed,…

Character Creation: Better Angels

So, my husband Matt has an ongoing character creation project in which he wants to make a character for every roleplaying game he owns. As he is a collector of games and PDFs count, he will never be finished. That's beside the point, however. I occasionally join him in this endeavor.

Game: Better Angels, by Greg Stolze
Publisher: Arc Dream
Degree of Familiarity: I played a demo of it at GenCon, haven't really read it, but looked over Matt's shoulder now and again while he did. The demo had pregen characters so this will be my first foray into making one.
Books Required: Just the core.

Step One: Your Human. 
So, Better Angels is a game in which people get possessed by both demons and angels, and that's where superpowers come from. People possessed by angels get to be superheros. People possessed by demons end up as supervillains. There are some downsides, of course. No one gets asked if that's what they want before they're possessed by a demon, and once you are, if y…

Stress baking

Some people engage in retail therapy. I have never had enough spare money to do that, although I've skirted the edge a time or two for a meal out or a skein of yarn or a book. Some people go see a therapist, which might be the wisest thing, but by and large general "ugh, this is a really stressful time" is not really a sufficient condition, since it will resolve (unless you are thinking of self harm, which is an entirely different issue). Some people juggle geese, or so I'm told. When I am stressed, I will either travel (or plan travel, which is nearly as escapist), play video games (assuming time and availability), or stress bake.

Stress baking is, so I hear, a time-honored tradition. It was not so with my mother, or her mother before her, but it seems the sort of thing my dad's mother would have done. I never caught her doing it, but we didn't live close to them and I only saw her once a month or so -- which is pretty good for a two-hundred mile distance be…

If wishes were horses...

... then my backyard would be filled with manure.

Let's back up.

First, I wish I was more regular about posting. Certainly this blog would get a better readership if I were. The problem being, of course, grad school. I have three things due tomorrow, one of them an assignment and the others necessary steps for getting other assignments done if I'm to stay on target. Even now, this is still better than I've been about posting for the last, oh, two years or so, so I'm inclined to count that as a win regardless.

Second, I wish the news I got last night had been different. There was a thing I wanted and I didn't get it. People I esteem greatly who had great ideas did get it, and I am happy for them even as I'm sad for me. There's a lot of internal conflict to go around on this thing, apparently, although I think overall it would have been good. I always feel bad for the chefs on Chopped who are out to win as validation, because although I think that's usefu…

Identity costs

Well I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to

-- chorus to "Same Love," by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert

One of the great successes in my life (and there's more than one, but this is one of the biggest) has been going back to school. At first, "going back to school" was simply going to night school and getting my BA. But then it shifted, and became moving to go to grad school -- and then it became getting my doctorate and becoming a professor. I know people who credit me with putting the idea in their heads to go back to school as well, and I know people who look at what I've done and are happy for me, but at the thought of doing it themselves they give a quiet "fuck that" because it's not something they need or want. And that is TOTALLY OKAY. I can't even say with any certainty that this will put me in a good place at the end of it all, financially speaking. It's a risky sort of thing, and it's defin…

GenCon 2013 Post Mortem

So I'm back from GenCon. I am exhausted, but if I don't write down the things in my head now I'll completely space it, and I'm already behind enough on this blog as it is.

1) The IGDN booth was largely my con-home-base during exhibit hall hours, and I think things there went really well. I'm excited to see the final sales number tally and there are refinements and improvements to process that can be made, but overall I'm very pleased with how everything played out. Also, it was great to meet so many of the other IGDN folks in person.

2) The Embassy Suites was a mixed bag of a hotel for us. It is unlikely we'll stay there by choice again, even as I clearly acknowledge that nothing was terrible in and of itself and it could have been far worse. The lack internet access that wasn't prohibitively expensive figures heavily into this equation, however (not even in the public spaces), and the free printing in the business center isn't enough to make up for…

Character Creation, the first! Earthdawn, 1st edition!

Okay, so I'm a gamer and game designer and editor of games and what not. This list is grouped by relativity to this post, not exclusivity. I am married to another gamer/game designer/writer of game stuff person, and he has an ongoing character creation project here. I will occasionally join him in these endeavors, but since grad school began I think I have a near-zero number of characters made with him. Today, however -- today his game of choice is Earthdawn, and for that I had to join in.

So, this is how it goes. I worked for FASA Corporation the last year it was in business, as it turns out. Earned my editing chops there and worked on Shadowrun and BattleTech and Crimson Skies and Crucible and VOR. What I did not work on was Earthdawn, as it was already sort of done by the time I arrived. I always thought it seemed really cool, though, and I was curious about it. Between babies and work and trying to scrape by, I never really got to do anything about that, though -- and then FAS…

My Life As a Superhero, or What Color Is Your Spandex?

So, one of the things I've figured out along the way is that the people I most admire and am personally wowed by are all actually superheroes. I collect them, in fact, and store up their reflected awesomeness in my heart and mind, so I can bathe in the light they generate in the world. They are the epitome of cool, the loci of wonder, and I rejoice secretly each time I meet a new one.

Now, it is worth stating that when I say superhero, I don't mean Phoenix Jones, masked fighter of urban mischief in Seattle, or Superman, or even Wonder Woman. I don't need spandex or bracers or masks to garb my heroes in, though far be it from me to say them nay should the drive come over them. They may or may not actually fight crime in the guises in which they are known; I look on that as a personal choice, unrelated to hero status. I speak instead of the people who, in their public personas, wow me with their awesome, eclectic, one-of-a-kind personalities -- the kind of people who, if you…

The Perils of Gardening

This is a story about my flowerbed project. Having come in from today's gardening, I feel as though people are unaware of why I hate landscape fabric so much and the righteousness of my cause, so today I have a post (with photos!) to justify my wrath. But first, let's have some introductory photos to illustrate the problem.

So, in our first image, we have my house, as viewed from the driveway (and largely also from the road headed east about 50 feet to the right of this view (roughly). This was once a roughly grand-piano shaped flowerbed. It is now a weed patch that overwhelms my ability to make it not weedy through normal means. This year I found out  why that is -- the top 3-5 inches of dirt are not dirt, but roots, and they are almost exclusively roots because there is a layer of landscape fabric below that, meaning that only hardy, shallow-rooted weeds can live there, but they're almost impossible to get rid of by hand once they are.

This is what it looks like facin…

Post-semester update post!

I'm done with the semester! This puts me at the end of my first semester of PhD coursework... which looks a lot like my Masters coursework, except that a) I have more teaching responsibility, b) I seem somehow to have managed to get myself together more thoroughly, and c) I can see sort of a sea-change in my academic writing. Something took, I think, and I'm managing to engage more thoroughly with my research topics and moving more toward primary sources, which is what I'm supposed to be doing, so that's all to the good.

My house plans for the summer thus far include:
1) Clean and decorate the bedroom, including art on the walls and curtains.
2) Clean the library, including reclaiming my desk from my knitting and random stuff piled there.
3) Get the hole from the old iron stove fixed, even if it won't be beautiful.
4) Clean out the remaining cabinets that haven't been touched since before I moved in and get more usable storage space out of it.
5) Get at least o…

Gardening and the afterlife.

I will preface this by saying that I'm sorry, but anyone who lays down non-biodegradable stuff in their flowerbeds, be it landscape fabric or rubber mulch or whatever, is hereby barred from whatever pleasant afterlife there may be. You forfeit your ticket, sir or madam. Off the bus with you, and don't let me catch your kind around here again! *shakes begrimed fist*

So. We have a front flowerbed by our walk that shows that at one point, previous owners of the house tried to do something to it. It's got edging and once had bushes and part of it is (badly) covered in rock but hasn't been maintained cause there are weeds growing through it. I tried last year to do something with the bigger part of it, but all I managed to do was get rid of the tall unsightly weeds, allowing short unsightly weeds to grow instead. This is not a significant improvement. I had thought I'd mulch and plant things, only to discover that the previous owners laid down landscape fabric and the…

Emails and efficiency

Thanks to my students, I learned that you can set up your unread emails to show up apart from and above your read emails in gmail (why yes, I am late to the party, where should I put my coat?). Having something like 4k+ unread emails in my box that have accrued over the years (primarily because I am both lazy and, on the occasions where I felt like getting rid of them, too damn easily overwhelmed to pick them out from the rest), I decided I should adopt this since it would let me find them easily. Sure enough, two days later, I have no unread emails in my inbox. Woo hoo!

It's not like all of these were important emails, mind you. Lots of them are store mailing lists that I want to stay on because I occasionally find something useful (but often don't). As I was clearing them out, though, it went fine back to 2011, and then jumped precipitously to 2008... and that was suddenly hard. I didn't have a lot of old spammy emails from back then; they were notifications from my son&…


It's been a long semester -- not just for me, but for everyone, I think. I haven't heard anyone anywhere say "oh, this spring was a blast." My school workload isn't even as heavy as it has been in semesters past, and I'm still just trying to hold on a few more days. There are a number of factors that play into this, really, and I won't get into them all here. Suffice it to say that I at least partly did this to myself, and partly had this done through things that were good but largely unavoidable, and partly had the hell week that everyone else had with more death and destruction and sadness than anyone should experience, and that led to this weekend's personal shutdown.

See, this weekend was THATCamp Games, a conference on game design and education being held at my university. I was really looking forward to this and wanted to go a lot. At the same time, between my introvert nature and the autism sensory/anxiety stuff ramping up like a reactor that l…

There are days...

Things are good these days. I have a wonderful relationship, a husband who cares for me even when I'm cranky and a touch on the chemically irrational side of things, good friends, and a degree program that's going well. My house is in good shape even if it does need a bit more care than I can give it the next three weeks. I have food and clothes and my car works and my kids are healthy and happy and my parents and brother are all well. No one has been blown up or swept off to Oz. My life is measurably better in pretty much every way here than it had been for a really long time.

Despite all this, there are things I miss.

I miss driving to the top of my hill in Seattle in the morning and gazing off at the misty Olympic mountains on the other side of the Sound, with the Cascades in my rear view mirror.

I miss the green chile tuna melts at the Columbia City Ale House, with a glass of hard cider to go with it.

I miss the green chile in Albuquerque altogether. 

I miss the scent of …

Conversations about conversation

One of the courses I'm taking this semester is Discourse Analysis, not because I felt it had a tremendous amount to do with what I want to study, but because I think it's important to have a varied intellectual toolbox and it's something I'd kind of been interested in, in a roundabout way. For those who haven't encountered it before, discourse analysis is a practice that pulls from a bunch of different humanities disciplines and looks at all manner of discourse, which is basically any information transferred between people (media, laws, emails, forms, recordings of conversation, non-fiction, fiction, discourse represented in drama, corporate texts, PR docs, etc.). It does so to find patterns and determine what the discourse is actually doing, along with what it says it's doing, and figure out how it accomplishes that end.

As with all classes, there has to be an end project, and DA's end project is a piece of discourse analysis. I had a hard time choosing an…

The Joys of Being an Introvert

Okay, so one of the downsides of poly is that there is someone else in my space on a regular basis who isn't my husband, my kids, or even my housemate. I have to take account of this extra person (and who's playing said person on a give day shifts, as there isn't just one, although there's starring roles and special guest stars). This in itself is not a huge deal, except that I'm an introvert by nature, and the more stressed I get (especially later in the semester) the more introvert-y I become. It takes energy to be social beyond the few people I can accept as family/extended self, and I've got so many demands on my energy and time already. And I know, it may not seem like a lot, but I'm rationing to get through as it is when the demands get high.

One of the things this has brought up to me is the idea that I need to be able to ask for more alone/just family time, and if I can't have it with people, I need to be able to go and get it somewhere else…
Alright, so starting a new blog to see if I can reboot my journaling habit. I haven't figured out yet if I can import all my old posts so it can be relatively contiguous or not, but if I can't I'll live. That's what archives are for.

So, who am I? I'm a early-40-something grad student and erstwhile English prof who's in a poly relationship. My household includes three dogs, two sons who live with their father halfway across the US from me (most of the time), two step kiddos who are here with us a few days a week, a husband who makes sure I eat and get love and all that stuff, his girlfriend, our housemate, and all the friends/gaming groups that act as special guest stars. I write and edit pen-and-paper RPGs when I'm not teaching people how to write and read and think about stuff (or learning about that stuff myself).

I have a game company. It's called Growling Door Games, and it's a joint effort between myself and my husband. Our second game is due …