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New Washing Machine! (And much gaming) [Feb. 12th, 2018|10:20 pm]
Beemer
Our washing machine had been gradually getting louder and louder when it runs. Friday Jerry had a repair guy come look at it, and he concluded that it would cost $400 to fix and not last all that long afterwards, and that we were better off getting a new one.

So, we were gearing up to deal with shopping for a new one, and then yesterday after Bear D&D we mentioned it and Gene said that they had a surplus washer and dryer (having consolidated households) and if we took it, they wouldn't have to deal with getting rid of it. So we loaded it up into Steve's truck, brought it home, spent an hour moving out the old one and getting the new one hooked up, and now we have a new washer! And we didn't have to shop, and we only spent a tenth what we were getting ready to. Hooray!

Anyway, that was a lovely way to cap the restart of gaming in that group. (A quick one-shot with pregen characters; I got to play a quarter-ogre fighter with an Int of 4.) Saturday I ran Star Wars, and the little mini-system I came up with for infiltrating a Star Destroyer worked and produced a lot of good game for little prep, so that was quite satisfying.

Work was boring and low-productivity last week, I think because the few weeks before I'd been doing a lot of fire-fighting (dealing with small but important items with hard deadlines), so my normal list of Stuff I Gotta Do got long and left me feeling overwhelmed. So I finally buckled down and spent a day just organizing and updating my to-do list, which generally helps fix that problem.

Finally got back to playing Pandemic: Legacy with Karen & Chris (David had to drop out) on Wednesday, followed by games night Thursday. An interesting Roman resource management game I can't remember the name of.

Jeff and Alice had folks over last weekend, which was good socializing time. Played a game of Betrayal at Baldur's Gate (which has some nice fixes to various problem in the original BaHotH) and one of Lords of Waterdeep. Talked to Joe about city politics and being on a municipal advisory board; he reaffirmed that it may be local but that's where change gets started, which was a good motivator.

Thursday before that Sarah came over and we played a game of Illimat and more importantly got caught up on what's been going on, which was nice.

Not a lot worth mentioning otherwise. Lots of short-lived very cold weather lately, the kind that's so overcast and gray it saps all my energy. But at least the days are getting longer.
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Hitting Things With Sticks [Jan. 29th, 2018|08:41 pm]
Beemer
I went to a bo staff training seminar at Jerry's dojo on Saturday, and now I am soooore. Two hours of swinging around a six foot stick worked a whole lot of muscles that don't normally get all that much use, and yesterday and today they were complaining. But I was able to keep up for the whole thing, and I feel pretty good about that.

Although I should note that I mean "keep up" in the purely physical sense of continuing to move; in terms of learning, my brain filled up about halfway through. I could watch what everybody else was doing and follow along, but I couldn't recall the sequence of moves on my own. Although I did retain more than I would have before Jerry started teaching me stuff, so I guess I'm not as remedial as I used to be.

The other thing that's weird about physical movement stuff is that what's difficult for me does not align well with what's difficult for most people. Like, there's this one move where you drop down into a reverse dragon stance, swing the staff back behind you and up over your shoulder, then grab it with the other hand, pivot around, and bring it down in an overhand strike. And (as long as I got my feet positioned correctly going into it), I didn't have any trouble with that one at all, even though the instructor said it was the hardest move in the entire form. But there was another bit earlier on that amounted to "okay, now turn around and step forward" that I just had the worst time with and kept screwing up. Oh, and at one point we rearranged and started doing everything 90 degrees from the way we'd been doing it, and I was completely lost until we went back to the original orientation.

Anyway, I had a good time, and afterwards we spent the gift certificate we got as a wedding present from his school had a very nice dinner at Zolo Grill.
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This is a picture of my hand, which is on fire [Jan. 18th, 2018|10:59 pm]
Beemer
[personal profile] christopher575 picked three of my icons he wanted to know more about:


For several years, [personal profile] kung_fu_monkey and I were in a triad relationship with our now-ex Greg. Somebody (Bryree?) dubbed us the "Triple Action Man Clan", and lo, it was a good name and it stuck. Our friend Josh drew a picture of the three of us, and I made into an icon for posts about the three of us. Now that the TAMC is no more, I never use it, but since I used it on many posts back in the day, it remains for the sake of posterity and preventing broken image links.


Rat stamp! The USPS put out a sheet of stamps for the Chinese Zodiac, and this is the picture for the Year of the Rat, in which I was born. I thought it was pretty. I use this icon when I'm talking about critters, and when I'm being in some way rat-like. Like, if I deliberately misunderstand a post to make a joke in the comments, that probably calls for the rat-stamp icon.


This is a picture of my hand, which is on fire.

As an undergraduate at MIT, I lived in a fraternity with a bunch of other loons. Every year, we would take a composite photo, that thing where there's a little picture of everyone in the house all tiled together behind a matte frame with the house crest and the year in fancy calligraphy. Well, it was a house full of weirdos, so we would always dress up funny and have a weird running theme between different pictures and so on. And a year or two after I got there, we started making them ourselves instead of using a company to do it.

Aside: I'm not sure if they just didn't like dealing with our weirdness or if they were just a lousy business, but they always took FOREVER to get our composite finished and delivered. The last year we used them, I got put in charge of nagging them to get it done, and after a while I hit on the tactic of simply calling them every. single. day. and inquiring, very politely, about the status of our composite. After about a week, the lady answering the phone snapped, and said "We're working on it as fast as we can. PLEASE STOP CALLING US." And sure enough, they delivered it not long after. But it was still super-delayed, and since we had a guy in the house (Probe, an architecture student) who was a good photographer and since we had access to computers with Photoshop that we could use to do all the printing and suchlike, we decided to save money and start doing it ourselves.

Anyway, once we were doing them ourselves, we could get REALLY weird. My senior year, the theme was apocalyptic imagery, and I had read about this trick you can do where you can light your hand on fire if you use rubbing alcohol because it burns off so quickly that it's gone before it starts to actually burn your skin. So I decided that my photo would be me, looking with an expression of shock and dismay at my hand, which was on fire.

So that's what we did. I had a big bucket of ice water there with me, and I stuck my arm in there until it ached. (I figured that pre-chilling my flesh would give me an extra barrier against getting burned.) I also coated my arm in a thin layer of vaseline to keep all my arm hairs from catching fire and acting like little wicks. I think maybe we didn't actually have rubbing alcohol handy, so we used something like Coleman white fuel instead? Which may not have been the smartest idea, but it still worked. We had somebody standing by with a fire extinguisher, too, so as not to be total idiots. When my hand was chilled, we'd towel it off real quick, then an assistant poured a little bit of fuel over it, I'd strike my pose for the photo, then another assistant would light my hand on fire, Probe took a few pictures of me looking appalled at the flames, and after a few seconds it would start to get hot and I would plunge my arm back into the bucket of ice water. We did it two or three times and it worked just dandy.

The thing was, when Probe developed the photos, whatever we used burned so brightly that it totally blew out the contrast in the photo, so if he developed it to the point that you could see me, it was impossible to tell what was going on with my hand, but if he developed it so that the flames looked good, you couldn't see me at all. So we decided to just zoom in on the hand and go for a picture of a hand with flames coming off it, because my hand was in a good position and in black and white it actually looked really cool. And for my name in the composite, I put "Beem-Ur the Destructor".
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Not traveling after all [Jan. 15th, 2018|08:55 pm]
Beemer
This weekend we had planned to go visit my parents before they took off on a trip to Arizona. I took Friday off so that we could drive out on Friday, spend the whole day with them Saturday, and drive back on Sunday.

I got a couple errands done in the morning, and we got on the road about 11, but about halfway to the state line, the little battery light came on indicating that the car's battery was no longer charging. So... that's bad! We called my parents to let them know (luckily we were near a cell tower), and then we turned back.

We got home, unloaded our stuff, then Jerry followed me in the van and I drove the Jetta up to the VW dealer in Boulder. We almost got there; the battery ran all the way down and we had to get it towed for the last mile and a half. It's only 15 miles from home to Boulder, so that means that if the alternator had held out for only another 20 miles before it died, we wouldn't even have made it home! And there are a lot of long stretches of nothing, some with no cell coverage, between us and my parents', so although I'm not enthused about the repair bill, it could definitely have been a lot worse.

And hey, since we weren't out of town, we were able to go to Jason H's birthday party Saturday night. So that was fun. (I dyed my beard purple to match my shirt. Also, we have a meeting with our new coworkers this week, and I figure I should display some warning coloration for weirdness.)
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Happy (Low-Key) Holidays [Jan. 9th, 2018|10:05 pm]
Beemer
We had pretty low-key holidays this year. Lots of small events, of course, (many of which involved cooking or board games), but nothing big.

I went back to work in the week between AGU and Christmas, but all I did was submit travel expenses, deal with all the email I'd been ignoring while out of the office, and organize my conference notes and my to-do list. Which felt like a significant accomplishment, given all the travel recovery.

We went and saw the new Star Wars movie on Tuesday of that week. I liked it! The tone was weird in the first half, but I think the movie did a good job of what it was trying to do, and I think it was the right thing to do. (Interestingly, I realized recently that I don't really think of the Ep. 7 & 8 as being in continuity with the original trilogy; they feel like one timeline over to me, which may be part of why I don't mind some of the big changes that bother other people.)

On Thursday I went by Grandma's house to pick up some things for sibling that I will store until they have a chance to come get them. Ended up bringing home some miscellany, including fancy cloth napkins. Not sure which ones we actually want to keep, but as I said at the time: we can donate the extras to Goodwill as easily as my aunt & uncle.

Solstice parties at Mike & Kari's that night and Kent & Belinda's the next. Early Xmas festivities with the Kumagogo household on Saturday (played a round of Illimat with Jon), then a Star Wars session that I failed to get prepped, so we just recapped and discussed what they want to do next. They decided they wanted to steal a Star Destroyer, so that should be fun.

I don't think we even left the house on Christmas Eve, just stayed home and warm (it snowed and was very cold) and made food for Christmas dinner at the Nevilles'. Jerry roasted veggies for me, and I fancied up the brussels sprouts with a paprika vinaigrette. I also made a mint chocolate cream slab pie (which is to say, layered pudding-ish dessert in a glass casserole dish). Had to make the crust twice, because I made the first one with nuts in it before I thought to check if nuts in general were poisonous to any children in the household (and they are), but that was fine because I just mixed it with the extra mint-chocolate pudding we had and then it was a sorta-trifle.

Also, we dyed our beards for Christmas! I dyed mine green, Jerry dyed his red, and we wore red and green shirts, respectively.

Jerry's turned out a little more magenta than red (especially as it faded over the next few days), but it was fun.

Christmas Dinner at the Nevilles': standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding (which failed to inflate, so it was more flatbread), creamed spinach, the roasted veggies we brought, pickled crabapples, and probably something else I'm forgetting. Excellent company (Thomas's family were there, too), and a very enjoyable evening. Thomas gave his brother a copy of Spirit Island, so we played a game of that to teach him and break it in.

Did I do much the following week? Not a lot. Had a dentist appointment to get fitted for a crown for the broken tooth (sneaking it in before my deductible reset at the end of the year). Board games at Tom O's on Friday evening. We played a couple rounds of Dominion, and a game of Spirit Island, and some Polynesian-exploration game that I wanted to like but decided was just too random. (It may be better with fewer than 6 players.) Adam from New Orleans was in town for the holidays and came over on Saturday; we introduced him to Dominion and had a good time.

We spent New Year's Eve at Craig's. I made a dozen Japanese deviled eggs, using wasabi, J-mayo, and miso. They turned out really well. Jerry made the stuffed tofu pockets. As with many bear parties, the host said "bring something small to share" and ended up with an absurd amount of food. I played a game of Carcassonne with Craig and a couple other guests, and there were many rounds of We Didn't Playtest This At All, plus some of Exploding Kittens. We stayed there much later than we intended. Also, Craig's cat Bosco has the most adorable little vampire fangs! He got much attention from us.

On New Year's Day, we got up (much earlier than we wanted to, given how late we got home) and got dim sum at Star Kitchen with David V. and Mitch. Om nom!

Otherwise, we just got a lot of downtime and tried (mostly successfully) to ward off colds.
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AGU [Dec. 22nd, 2017|09:07 pm]
Beemer
Oh, man, did I skip finishing up posting about the rest of trip to New Orleans? Bad me! Okay, let's backdate this post (actually written January 2nd).

So AGU in New Orleans! It was pretty good. Mostly it made me appreciate Moscone, because the New Orleans convention center is stretched waaaaaaay out along the riverfront. We stayed in the Hilton right next door, and it was literally a mile from my hotel room to the meeting room for the first set of talks I wanted to see on Monday morning. (At 8 am. Ugh.)

My schedule was also ridiculously front-loaded. I initially had a HUGE amount of stuff on my calendar for Monday and Tuesday, but once I realized I had no chance of switching between different things at the same time, I started deleting things left and right. Normally I do a lot of cherry-picking exactly which talks I want to see and bouncing back and forth between sessions, which is doable when you just have to go down one floor and over to get from global change to informatics. But not when it takes 15 minutes to get between them!

On the informatics side, I saw a lot of talks about cloud computing and what people are doing to move big datasets into the cloud, which seems pretty important. I get the sense that in a couple years, it will be pretty routine for people to ask "hey, can I get this dataset in the cloud?" and I think if we don't get on it, then in about five years the question is going to change to "hey, why can't I get your data in the cloud?" (spoken in an aggrieved tone of voice).

My talk was Tuesday morning and it went smoothly and was well-received. There were no questions (I had to rush a bit just to cover everything, and that was after cutting one full set of analyses), but I got a number of unsolicited compliments later on. My talk was basically about how for this one big grant, we proposed to develop a "cascade of metrics", where you start with basic descriptive statistical stuff, and use that to figure out where to do process-level analysis, and then evaluate the process interactions, and build up to credibility analysis and a model evaluation framework based on that, and how we did the first stage of the cascade and were able to show that it actually worked, so we have managed to take the first step along that path without falling into a ditch on the side of the road. Hooray!

I felt like food during the conference was a bit trickier than in SF. Not only did I not know the area, it seemed like restaurants near the convention center were scarcer. Plus, while New Orleans has great food, it's very heavy on cajun / creole, and the two of us were craving some green vegetables before long. Most of our dinners were decent but unremarkable.

Except for Wednesday. On Wednesday, I got done and was hungry on the early side, it was the last super busy day, and we wanted to have one fancy dinner out, so we went to Cochon, which is an upscale southern cooking place about two blocks from the convention center. We didn't have a reservation, so we settled in for a 45 minute wait, but they got us seated in only about half that time. And it was AMAZING. We got an appetizer of braised pork cheeks on pureed sweet potato with fried brussels sprouts and it was just mind-blowingly good. For the entree, I got Louisiana chochon with cabbage, cracklins, and pickled turnips. Jerry got the dry-rubbed ham hock with quinoa, herbs, and goat yogurt. ("Cochon" just means "pig"; mine was a sort of pulled-pork affair.) They were both incredibly good, and it was absolutely worth the fancy-restaurant price. Highly recommended. Afterwards we went back to the hotel the long way and got Pinkberry along the way, because I love tart froyo.

The really great thing about Cochon is that attached to it, just around the corner, is a place called Cochon Butcher, which is a butcher shop but also sells excellent sandwiches. I ended up eating lunch there three days out of five, because it was really good (mmm, marinated brussels sprouts), semi-reasonably priced, and close, so I could do things like swing by there on my way from one end of the convention center to the other during the half-hour break from 10 to 10:30 and pick up lunch to go to eat later on, thereby avoiding any long lines. (I also picked up dinner there on Friday to take back to the hotel, so we could just spend the evening packing up in relaxed fashion.)

Thursday night after dinner we took a Lyft over to Adam's place (a shotgun shack under renovation in the 9th ward) and met his housemate/landlord and some of his friends and were social and played some board games (several rounds of Coup, which was fun, and a game of Boss Monster, which was not to my taste), and that was pretty keen.

The trip home was fine; we got to the airport about two and a half hours before our flight, and were glad that we did because the check-in line was already overflowing and then grew even more ridiculously long shortly after we got in line. We got through in plenty of time to get breakfast on the concourse and had an uneventful flight home. Bob very kindly picked us up from DIA (hello Blucifer!) and took us home to our kitties; they were very glad to see us and we were very glad to see them. And then there was lots of decompressing!
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Nawlins: Sunday [Dec. 21st, 2017|12:02 am]
Beemer
On Sunday we met up with my friend Diana ([personal profile] goddessdster). She came and picked us up from the hotel and we went to Willa Jean (recommended by Bats & Sarah) for brunch. We got a plate of pimento cheese and ham and pickles for an appetizer, and then I had a very tasty "hangover bowl". It was mostly braised short ribs over grits with a poached egg on top, but it had a bunch of little extras -- slices of bullseye beets, crispy garlic, pearl onions, tiny greens, a couple edible flower petals -- that gave character and variety to each bite, and that really brought it to the next level.

After brunch, we hung out and chatted outside for a bit, and then we went back to D's place and met her new kitty, Jane Eyre, who she had just gotten that morning! She was a beautiful and energetic little tabby, who was very inquisitive about the new humans and happy to jump up in our laps. She was pretty petite, but judging by her ears and paws I think she is going to grow up to be a big cat. (I would post pictures, but I failed to take any because I was too busy appreciating her. Luckily Jerry got some.) So we spent most of the afternoon doing that, and it was an absolute pleasure.

We wandered back over to the French Quarter for dinner (a muffaletta for me and a po-boy for him) at a cafe, and then went back once more to Cafe Lafitte to witness the famous napkin toss, which Adam had persuaded us we needed to see. He was right! It's kind of hard to describe; basically, they play this one song and everyone throws napkins in the air, but that doesn't capture the wonderful energy of the room. It's a weird, silly, sweet little tradition that is very particular to this one place, and it was just... really neat.

We hung out fir a while afterwards, but had to pumpkin fairly early because I had conference starting at 8 am on Monday.
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Nawlins: Saturday [Dec. 19th, 2017|07:15 pm]
Beemer
Normally this time of year I would just have gotten back from the Bay Area for AGU, but they are currently doing major construction and renovations on Moscone Convention Center, and somebody at AGU thought about that and said (quite sensibly) "y'know, I don't think we can put on a week-long scientific conference for 25,000 people while there's active construction going on," so this year it was in New Orleans instead. (Next year it will be in DC, then back to SF for the 100th anniversary meeting the year after that.)

Since he'd never been there before, Jerry came along with me. I've been there a few times before and done a number of the touristy things, so it worked out well, because he could go sight-seeing while I was at the meeting and I didn't feel left out.

We flew out Saturday morning on Southwest. Brandon very kindly gave us a ride to the airport at 8 in the morning, and we got there faster than I think I've ever made the trip. The flight was pretty uninteresting. We shared a taxi from the airport with my coworker Melissa; he dropped us off at the great big Hilton a block from the convention center, and she continued on to an AirBnB in the garden district. The NOLA airport is pretty close in; it only took half an hour, door to door.

After we got settled in to our hotel room, we needed to pick up supplies (breakfast for me, lens solution for him). After unsuccessfully looking in the Riverwalk mall adjacent to the hotel, we found a supermarket about a mile away in the Central Business District and make the trek there. I was surprised how expensive everything was -- about 20-30% more expensive than at home. It seems to be a kinda pricey town.

On the way back, we stumbled across the last night of Luna Fête, which was a bunch of light-based art installations along some blocked-off streets in the CBD. We wandered through it with our shopping bags in hand, walked through the interactive pieces, and it was pretty cool. A mini magical adventure!

So then it was dinnertime. On my own, I probably would have been boring, found something nearby, and settled in for the night because travel is tiring, but Monkey was keen on seeing some of the French Quarter and persuaded me not to be a slug. (Hooray for husbands. :) We found a cheap dinner place with good reviews in the Quarter and headed over there, only to find that it was closed. Permanently. So we redirected to another such place, not too far away, only to find that it, too, had just shut down for good. At that point, we were like "okay, need food now or murder will happen," so we just went to the nearest Willie's (a local fast-food chain) and got fried chicken. It was actually quite good, considering. Afterwards, since we were only a couple blocks away, we went to Cafe du Monde and got coffee and beignets. (Well, he had coffee; we split an order of beignets, and that was plenty.) Pro tip: if you got to CdM on at 9 pm on a Saturday when it is VERY cold for those parts (40 and damp, brr!) there's no wait to get a table.

Aside: for the last year and a half, I've been pretty successful at sticking to a keto-ish low-carb / high-fat diet, which clearly suits my body. I knew that it would be very difficult to eat that way while in Nawlins and that it would make me feel deprived and oppressed, so I didn't even try. So I ate lots of things that I wouldn't normally, but the interesting thing is that I didn't find myself craving them. Like, I realized that I miss the convenience of sandwiches, but I didn't go "oh my god BREAD I missed you so!" or anything. Actually, by the end of the trip, both of us were desperate for a salad and green some vegetables that weren't breaded and fried...

So now that we were finally all fed, we heard back from Adam L. that yes, he was around, and in fact was also in the French Quarter! He was hanging out at Cafe Lafitte in Exile, which is the oldest continually operating gay bar in the U.S., and was just a few blocks away on Bourbon Street. So of course we went there and joined him.

CLiE is pretty small, but it has a nice upstairs and a balcony overlooking the street. We hung out there for an hour or two chatting away, and then we wandered off to look at the Rawhide (but not go in because we didn't feel it was worth the cover that night), and then off some other bar because he wanted Jerry to try a Sazerac and theirs was the best. Then we felt like we were done with hanging out in bars, but we didn't feel like we were done hanging out, so we went back to the hotel and hung out there until it was very late, and all in all we had a lovely and delightful time. Yay!
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DC [Dec. 4th, 2017|09:01 pm]
Beemer
So I was in Washington DC last week for a meeting. It was okay. Not a meeting I'd be likely to choose to go to, but it's mandatory for one of the grants we got, and since I'm the one who's done the most work on that grant so far, I got to put a poster together for my boss and accompany her. Met up with some potential users of our data, which was good.

I did learn that the DoD actually supports quite a lot of environmental research. It's not so much that they care about environmental issues as such, but they play by the rules, and the rules include environmental stuff, and if, say, that means they can't use some chunk of land on a base because it's habitat for some endangered species, they are all about throwing money at the problem of making that species UN-endangered so they can get back to their wargames and suchlike. (And they actually believe in and are concerned about climate change as a national security issue, they just can't say the phrase "climate change" because it's not politically correct.) So that was kinda heartening, in a weird way.

Anyway, we had a useful poster session, and I sat through the plenary and a couple talks, but mostly I just worked remotely from my hotel room. My one complaint about the meeting was that after the first day (which was great), they didn't serve any food I could eat. Now, normally I wouldn't mind -- it's my restrictive diet, I can cope with finding suitable food -- except that on the registration form, they asked if I had any dietary restrictions. If they hadn't asked, I wouldn't have expected anything, but to ask if someone needs any special accommodations and then completely ignore the answer is just rude. (And I don't think it was just me -- I can't imagine what a vegan or someone with gluten intolerance would have eaten off there.)

More importantly, I got to visit with people! (And I know more folks in DC than I realized.)

Monday evening after I got in, Anna and Ryan brought themselves and their daughter and dinner (rotisserie chicken and spicy green beans) to my hotel room, and we caught up while I got settled in. It had been a long time (a decade at least) since I'd seen them, so that was quite nice.

Tuesday evening I got Chris N. and Ian to join me for dinner. We walked from the Hilton near Dupont Circle over to a restaurant (Commissary) near Logan Circle and had an excellent dinner and lots of good conversation there and back.

Wednesday was nothin' much; I got bi bim bap (no rice, extra lettuce) for dinner while I read a book. I was hoping to meet up with Seth S., but alas, he was waylaid by extra homework. Next trip!

Thursday was a personal day, and I was really not feeling like museums or art galleries, so I just went for a walk around the neighborhood and looked at buildings. Found the Barbie Pond on Q Street, which is A Thing. And the Cairo Building, which is the great big tall apartment building that triggered all the height restrictions.

That evening, I joined JD and his buddies (roommate, SO, and coworker-of-SO) for dinner and board games, hooray! We played a round of Iota, which is a clever little game that's sort of like a cross between Set and dominoes, and after dinner a game of Lords of Waterdeep. They are good guys and it was fun hanging out with them. So that was nice.

Flew home uneventfully on Friday. A good trip overall, if rather dull on the work front.

Oh, and after two and a half days of being assaulted with CNN in the elevator lobby every time I left my hotel room, when I was waiting by myself and nobody was looking, I unplugged the TV. That much news is just unhealthy.
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Fortnightly catch-up post [Nov. 23rd, 2017|08:15 am]
Beemer
[Tags|]

Golly, long time no post. No particularly interesting reason why, just busy and/or tired.

Mom & Larry came into town for Grandma's funeral, which was last Thursday. It was quite nice, as funerals go. The service was mostly just a bunch loving remembrances, and we didn't get preached at. I got choked up and teary during a couple of the songs (which happens in other contexts - some chord progressions just make me weepy). It was nice to see all the relatives who were able to come. It wasn't terribly sad, because we'd all kind of pre-mourned; her passing wasn't sudden and unexpected, and as someone said at the service, for the last decade or so, every time you went to visit, you'd think when you were leaving "this might be the last time I get to see her."

Work has been busy. I got a new computer and lost several days to getting everything transferred over properly. And I put together a poster for the mandatory symposium in DC next week for one of our grants. And there have been a whole bunch of Important Reports that we had to write things up for. So nothing much fun in the way of coding or data analysis, but on the other hand I did end up transcribing what I'm going to say in my AGU talk for one of the reports, so now I just have to throw a bunch of figures onto slides and I'll be all set.

Jerry and I are both fighting off a cold (acquired, we suspect, from Gross Small Child at Kempo). I got a bunch of zinc lozenges in me early, so I haven't been too miserable, but it's been sucking my energy. I'm hoping it doesn't turn into a Lingering Cough, but I am not optimistic on that front.

After a long hiatus (since before the wedding!) I ran Star Wars twice, last Saturday and the previous. Rescuing Ithorian space-nuns from an Imperial extortion scheme! It was a good adventure, and satisfying to run because there were a number of things where I just set up the situation without any idea how the PCs would deal with it, and they came up with surprising solutions that I was able to pretty easily improvise responses to. So I hit the sweet spot in terms of preparation.

We went and saw Thor: Ragnarok a couple weeks ago, and it was absolutely delightful. This could be a much longer post at some point, but I think the main problem that superhero movies have to overcome is being boring. Because superheroes are iconic characters, not dramatic characters, and the audience already knows where the arc of the story is going to go before the movie even starts, so there's no dramatic tension along the basic plotline. Will the hero overcome the villain? Duh. Will Loki betray Thor? DUH. Will the hero's victory be tempered with loss? Have a look at the frickin' title! So the movie can't rely on the audience being invested in those questions to keep them engaged, it has to show the audience new and unexpected visions of the things they already know about and came to see. And Thor: Ragnarok did a fantastic job. The vast majority of the movie, I had no idea what was going to happen next. Also, the end credits were like distilled essence of the '80s and Jack Kirby mixed together and injected directly into a vein. It was amazing.

Kuma-gogo (Matt & Jason & Gene & Brandon & Jon) bought themselves a house and all moved in together, and on Sunday we went over to see it and hang out and play some games. Today we are headed over there again for Thanksgiving. Hooray! I expect it to be lovely. We have a great many things to be thankful for, but #1 on the list is all the wonderful people in our lives.
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