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November 30, 2003

Chez Geek Ideas

Yesterday evening was planned to be restful, and even when Dan called, needing an escape from home and wanting to play some Chez Geek, it pretty much stayed that way. The worst of Vickie's hacking cough virus has passed, but I kept her supplied with coffee while Dan, Gav and I played cards and rolled dice.

At the end of the evening, the three of us lads were talking about card ideas for the blank cards that come with Chez Geek and its expansions. We were trying to come up with a new Job or two, and thought of a Sales Assistant (sort of like what Boots is doing now), and assembled a rough idea of its Free Time, Income, Slack Goal and unique bonus.

Vickie and I are going to play Shadows of Undrentide today, and while walking to the store to get Vickie some fresh batteries for her cordless mouse, I came up with this card idea:

Leave Loading
Your next Income is raised by 3; however, you can only use your Free Time to play Activities next turn. Cannot be played if your Job is Slacker, Drummer or Temp.
"They give you a bonus for taking a holiday? Dude, they really don't like you..."

UPDATE: Here are some contributions from the pevious incarnation of the web log:

I just changed the card idea around so it's simpler to play. The old card write-up was:

Your next Income is raised by 2; however, your 2 bonus Income points can only be spent on Activities. Cannot be played if your Job is Slacker, Drummer or Temp.
(IMAGinES, November 30, 2003 10:22 PM)

thats a good card idea, i had an idea for a new job myself. i figured since the game involves drugs so much, why not have a "dealer"? he could have a high income, a free time of 1 0r 2 and his slack goal would be very high. he would also gain bonuses from any weed and shrooms cars that he had. what do u think?
(Mark, January 24, 2004 02:35 PM)

That is an evil, evil idea, Mark! :-) IMHO, it's perhaps a little dark for Chez Geek, but then again, it already features... unusual plant matter, so why not?
(IMAGinES, January 24, 2004 02:53 PM)

Here's a fun one we came up with:

Cult Leader
Free Time: 2 Income: 3
Slack Goal: 27

Cult Leader may have more than one Live-In S.O. in play. Each additional Live-In S.O. card past the first adds +1 to all Nookie rolls.
(Brent, February 16, 2004 02:34 PM)

That's an evil little idea, Brent! You know what it's missing, though? A quote.

Actually, I imagine it must be rather difficult for the Cult Leader's special ability to kick in; I think there have only ever been two Live In S.O. cards, and they came with the basic Chez Geek set.
(IMAGinES, at February 17, 2004 07:53 PM)

I was thinking of the following 2 job cards:

Free Time: 2 Income: 1/4
Slack Goal: 18

Escort Gets +2 income on any turn where a Nookie Card is played successfully. Escort may not have a Live-in S.O.

Free Time: 2 Income: 2/3
Slack Goal: 18
Cose of Booze is reduced by 1, even if that makes it free. Free items may be played without spending Free Time to shop.

I was also thinking of adding the following activity card, as a bit of a different variation on the Nookie cards:

Activity: Living Room Nookie
Slack: 1 die - 2
Cost: 0

Whenever Living Room Nookie is successful, it is Extremely Noisy Nookie. It disturbs all other roommates in the apartment, causing them to lose sleep. Also, Living Room Nookie causes all shared furniture (like the Couch) to be discarded immediately.
(Witt, February 18, 2004 02:57 PM)

"Whenever Living Room Nookie is successful, it is Extremely Noisy Nookie. It disturbs all other roommates in the apartment, causing them to lose sleep."

How much sleep would they lose? Just one card? Can they not play sleep in the next turn? Or does it just follow the standard Noisy Nookie rules, regardless of whether a six is rolled on the die?
(IMAGinES at February 23, 2004 04:27 PM)

November 28, 2003

Snivelling Cowardice

I think I've got over last night's malaise pretty well. After my mewling about that BG rant, Vickie saw my posting and made the very cogent point that if it were really as bad as I was making it out to be, the Two-Brained Cylon (who is an intelligent, hard-working, honest cat) wouldn't have posted it in the first place. She then read the rant, and judged that it was actually pretty intelligently written.

So I swallowed my shallow fear, gave it another read-through, and Vickie's right; it's not as bad as I told myself it was. There are some parts I still don't like, but it's a decent opinion piece, and although the info that the CA crew have uncovered on the DeSanto production indicates that it would have been a quality show, miniseries and/or movie, I don't think it quite invalidates my belief that a remake stands better odds of succeeding than a continuation of the original.

I suppose my reaction yesterday comes down to two things. I'm rather scared of getting people angry at me. I never seem to react well when people get pissed off at me. When I was having that debate/argument with Languatron before the CA boards went under, I'd stay away from the thread after I made a new post/rebuttal; I was scared to read any responses. I thought I was being too inflammatory, thought of things I should have done that I didn't (the very first line I wrote in that thread was along the lines of "Mind if I take a shot at responding?” after which I went straight into discussing his statements without waiting for a yes or no; I beat myself up over my lack of manners afterward).

All this was in deference to the most inflammatory, butt-headed poster on the CA boards at the time, someone whom, if I'd had any real sense, I would have avoided starting any discussion with. I think at the time I had this silly, vain hope that if I treated him civilly and afforded his statements intelligent, non-inflammatory response, I might actually strike up some sort of reasonable dialogue with him. In fairness, he did at least ease up on some of his attacks on my character that resulted from my points; I think he promoted me from "idiot" to "buffoon" at one point.

Also, in my mind yesterday, my rant didn't seem to be based on many actual facts; I felt like I needed to do more research on it. I suppose I'm just afraid of having an opinion. If I research something, and it turns out the facts are incorrect, I can at least blame the facts, whereas an opinion, by nature, isn't independent of me; if I'm wrong, I only have myself to blame, and I don't think I've ever handled that well. If I'm facing a challenge, I tend to avoid it rather than give it a serious effort and fuck it up.

The rant still needs an edit; I did have a chortle at my wonderful sentence "death has claimed the lives of key actors Lorne Greene and John Colicos". Gee, what else claims people's lives? There are some factual errors there as well, through those more reflect my knowledge of the remake attempts at the time. Maybe Two-Brain will allow a revision sometime.

November 27, 2003

My Battlestar Rant at Cylon Alliance

You know that Battlestar Galactica rant that I've mentioned on and off recently? Immediately after I wrote it, I sent it to the moderator of the Cylon Alliance, the Two-Brained Cylon, for possible posting. He was kept busy by a few things and didn't put it up on the CA website at the time.

Since then, we moved onto other things, and on subsequent readngs, the rant began to look less sensical and more bitchy. Also, the Cylon Alliance team has done a phenomenal job of digging up more information on the "Might Have Been" shows - especially the aborted Singer/DeSanto effort - that puts paid to some (okay, a lot) of my argument.

It was during the most recent fossick of their recently-revamped website that I discovered a new "Articles" link under their section for the original series. I clicked on it and, lo and behold, there's my rant.

At least it has a highlighted disclaimer before and after. I wish I could put my own up stating that it was written under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and/or heroin, but the only drug I can perhaps blame it on is a sudden and sustained upswing in testosterone. Even through there are some pie-eyed diehards on the CA boards, there are a lot of intelligent people on there whom I don't like to think I pissed off. (Then why'd you write the damned thing in the first place, shithead?)

I'm not sure whether I'm glad that it's still laid out in the pre-renovation style; while it's good that it's a low priority for renovation, it indicates it's been up a while. Still, you might find it worthwhile as a further insight into my psyche.

And to anyone from CA who stumbles across this website after reading that rant - sorry. I'm still keen on the new series, but I'm not proud of that particular piece of writing. I can't even bring myself to read it right now, I just can't.

Truth in Advertising

So what I want to know is this: If the Red Vs. Blue DVD is being billed as a Special Edition with bonus features and the like, where's the Regular Edition for cheaper?

I have to agree with their point about this Peugeot concept car, though.

November 26, 2003

As if one wasn't enough...

I had a wander into Tron-Sector.com to see whether anyone there had picked up on the TRON Rock Opera. They had, of course - and someone had come across this: Insurgo Theatre's A Very TRON Thanksgiving.

I evny you Californians...

Well, if it worked for Freddy and Rod...

Wil Wheaton reported on his website that a friend of his has just written, and is performing, a twelve-minute opus entitled TRON: The Rock Opera.

This is one of those times I wish we were so filthy rich that we could just jet over to LA whenever we wanted.

November 25, 2003

Pub Culture

One of the things that Dad bemoaned about Australia after we arrived (there weren’t many, or else we wouldn’t have moved out here) is that there simply aren’t as many pubs in the average Australian (or, at least, Sydney metropolitan) town as there are in the average British town. Other arguments aside, I think it’s fair to say that Dad simply missed the welcoming atmosphere of your local, something that, I think, British readers can attest to. Maybe it was one of those assumptions that people sometimes make when they move to a similar country; that basically the culture will be identical to the one you left.

The question of why Australian (or, at least, Sydney) towns don’t have as many pubs has been lurking in my mind for a while. The point got raised while Melissa was out here a few months ago – I remember discussing it whilst getting us lost on the way to Parklea Markets – and spending a couple of weeks back in urban England, where you often can’t go a hundred metres from one pub without finding another, helped me organise my thoughts on the subject. I understand that liquor and public house licenses and laws may present more and/or different difficulties to would-be publicans in Australia than in England, but not being familiar with said laws, I want to approach the idea from the perspective of culture and geography.

Based on the lack of pubs alone, a visitor from the UK might be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that Australians are teetotallers, based on the looking at the comparative lack of pubs. Anyone who’s been in Australia for longer than a few months will readily tell you that that’s not the case. It’s not unfair to say that the average Aussie is a fairly enthusiastic drinker. In fact, that’s probably one of the main differences between the average Australian pub drinker and one from England. It’s been my observation that Australian drinkers tend to be rowdier than their English counterparts; while Australians do treat drink as an aid to relaxation, I’ve more often seen the average pub-goer drinking to get drunk, or at least drunk enough to lose a lot of inhibition.

While British pubs do serve spirits, Australian pubs are more likely to offer shot-glasses of what almost amount to miniature cocktails of spirits; these “shotties” are the modern choice as a “party” drink. Maybe I’ve just not been in any British pubs at the right time, but somehow I don’t see your English local offering a “Cock-Sucking Cowgirl”, a favourite shot of a friend of mine. Australian pubs often attempt to encourage the party atmosphere even on non-party nights by turning the house music up loud enough so that it can be heard over a crowded room, thus making social conversation a strain.

To be fair to Australian pubs, this sort of tactic may be necessary to stay in business, and I’ll get back to this point later.

Another factor influencing the paucity of pubs in Australia is the simple issue of population density. It’s a known fact that England has a higher population in a smaller land area. The majority of homes in urban areas of England share at least one wall with another residence, so much so that a single residence house is almost a luxury. This means a local is more likely to have enough of a clientele within walking distance to stay in the black; nipping down to the pub for a few beers after a hard day’s work is a matter of a stroll instead of a small journey, and the comfortable “where everyone knows your name” atmosphere that helps turn a street or “block” into a community flowers naturally in such conditions.

Australian suburbs are much less dense, and let’s face it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The average Australian suburb is spaced out enough that individual houses are the norm; a two-parent, two-to-three-child family gets enough space to be comfortable. The downside to this comfort is that because the suburb takes up more land area, getting from one place to another in it, or going from one suburb to another, becomes more a car trip than a walk. This is one of the main factors that make the typical British local impractical in Australia; a clientele that will support the pub and keep it in the black will need to include a sizeable portion of driving visitors. The bartenders are going to be that much more wary about serving any not-drunk person who could still be over, or about to go over, the blood alcohol limit (after all, it’s not easy to tell whether a visitor has walked, caught public transport or driven to get to the pub), and a driving client will also have to be careful in what he or she drinks. Even if you’re not drinking yourself, that air of caution could detract slightly from the general atmosphere of the pub, making it that much harder for the clientele to let their hair down. (It could even be suggested that the rowdy nature of the Australian drinker mentioned above is an over-compensation for this; the need to feel good despite the atmosphere of the pub leads the drinker to over-indulge.)

This issue of geographical distance leads me back to a point I made earlier. As it needs to draw a clientele from a broader area (which, by definition, will include a variety in age groups and interests), the Australian pub will often combine regular bar service with the features of a night spot (dance floors, DJs on Friday and Saturday nights), a live music venue and a poker-machine hall. This diversity allows the Australian pub to draw in more people across longer hours; when the after-work clientele head for home at seven or eight PM, the younger set will arrive for their night out. What’s gained in terms of a broader clientele, though, is lost in terms of the pub’s appeal as a “local”. As the night goes on, the music gets louder and the clientele rowdier, the “local” atmosphere goes out the window.

If there is a set of establishments that comes fairly close to filling the role of a local, it’s the community clubs, such as the Returned Servicemen’s League and the sporting clubs for rugby league teams. They’re large, often well appointed and offer comfortable drinking areas as well as a bistro. Much as with the Australian local, though, the size of the RSL often works against it. Although it’s often a hub of community activities and is capable of hosting larger events, it becomes more of a family establishment. Bistros and bar areas are more likely to be frequented by families or groups of friends who have little to no interest in socialising with others from their area; they just want a family dinner or friendly drink amongst themselves. The sheer number of people, and the space they get to move around in, can also be intimidating for those who otherwise would attempt to meet people from their community.

In short, I don’t think the British suburban local will become part of the Australian cultural landscape unless and until the cultural landscape itself becomes more British – i.e. less rowdy and more crowded. Neither of these is likely to happen any time soon, though – but is that necessarily a bad thing? Our cities are broad and spacious, we aren't (yet) choking on our own pollution and as a people we're known for being pretty laid back. Perhaps we don't need the cultural and personal lubricant the English local is known to provide its patrons. Perhaps it's good that we do have places for the rowdier among us to go and let themselves hang out.

I guess the question is, what does having those palces instead of "locals" tell us about ourselves as a culture?

Like Afternoon Coffee

I don't know whether you used to have these in Australia, but back in the UK, we used to have this device called a "coffee percolator". Whenever Mum and/or Dad wanted a coffee, they'd plug this cross between a kettle and a jug in, perform motions with coffee grounds and water (don't ask me what they were, I can't remember) and then leave this device to... well, percolate. It'd sit there for ten minutes or so, making odd gurgling, bubbling noises, usually followed by a "click". You didn't have to monitor or tend to it at all, but those weird noises - loud enough to be noticed, but not quite loud enough to distract - kept you aware that some strange process was occuring that would eventually produce hot, drinkable coffee. (I think it was before the days of instant and home plungers.)

I mention ths percolator because I've had posting-related thoughts bubbling and gurgling away in my head while I've been working today (which has been, as I'm sure you can imagine, rather distracting for my colleagues). Rather than poke and prod, I've just let them percolate away, making the odd note in my notebook. From the grounds that have been going in lately - sampling the atmosphere in a few "local" pubs in Britain and reading Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent (I bought it, along with Notes from a Big Country and Made In America, at the Waterstone's Bookstore in Manchester airport for the flight home) - and based on the notes made thus far, I think this percolating is going to result in two brews: an Editorial about the differences between Australian and British pub culture, and a Musing-size revelation about American consumer culture.

Still, knowing how my writing tends to balloon as I work on it, you might wind up with two Editorials this week.

I've been making notes in my notebook, and I think I'll be spending some time turning them into fully-fledged prose this evening. With any luck, I'll have percolated something publishable some time tonight.

November 24, 2003


While Vickie and I were in the UK, we couldn't help but notice the early hour that the sun goes down during winter. We thought, "The sun's down at 4 PM. This can't be right."

Now, we're back in Australia, and I looked out of the window a while ago and thought "The sun's not yet down, and it's ten past six PM. This can't be right."

Maybe I ought to be taken outside and shot.

So how do you say "IMAGinES" anyway?


November 23, 2003


Okay, blog-spam again, I know, but I just had to post this. One of the blogs I came across via MT's website this morning is Absurdistan. I like the two most recent posts. This one, for some odd reason, tickled my funny-bone, maybe just because of the sheer, pared-down simplicity of it. And I can surely empathise with the last paragraph in this posting.

Shame the blog doesn't use TrackBack; I'd love to set up a ping to both those posts.

Comment-Spam Deleted

It looks as though this site’s been hit by a comment-spammer. Someone going by the name of “job” put a semi-sensical comment in my Labour Day 2003 posting, and when I did a net-search, it looks like he/she’s been putting the same comment in other blogs and message boards.

I know this may be giving him/her the attention he/she wants, but I intend to delete the comment, and I wanted to let you know in case some/all of you had seen it there.

Early Wet Sunday

Morning, all. I was up after half past five this morning, and Vickie was actually up before me. I was also second to bed last night. This jet lag is really monkeying with us; I’m usually first up of a morning and first to bed. The weather since Friday has been almost constant rain. I feel as though I should apologise or something; it’s as if it wanted to come back with us from the UK and only just caught up with us on Friday. Still, it does mean that the dreaded mowing of the lawn has been postponed to next week...

Not much planned today. I’ll be making a dash into Hornsby soon; I need to buy a new monthly train ticket for when I go back to work tomorrow (got to get ready for that too), and the film from our holidays that I dropped off yesterday should be ready to pick up today. We’ll start scanning them in and get them posted where possible.

I’ve set up a new folder for draft postings on my system, and I moved some of my older drafts to it. I ran my eye over that Battlestar Galactica rant I said I was going to put up months ago, and I really don’t like it. With the SciFi.com promo machine gearing up for the “re-imagined” miniseries screening in fourteen days, it’s beginning to look like a moot point anyway. I do sometimes wish that someone in classic BSG fandom would put a FAQ of the fans’ grievances together; it’d probably make things easier for those trying to figure out the precise nature of their issues.

A BSG fan site has posted some newly-released images of the re-designed Galactica. Frankly, I quite like the new look; it still retains the general outline of the classic design, and it also manages to both sleeken it and make it look somewhat decrepit. I’m hoping that, if SciFi green-lights a series, they decide to slowly build the hull plating back up as it goes along; I think a smooth, fully-armoured neo-Galactica would be something to see.

In an effort to broaden my browsing (I’ve kept visiting the same sites a lot lately), I’ve been following the ever-changing links on Movable Type’s Recently Updated list. As I’ve donated some funds to MT, my site will appear there whenever I put a new post up. There’s some very interesting stuff there; the photographically minded really ought to check out rion.nu, which is sort of a photo-journal of a New Yorker’s life. He / She has quite the eye.

I tried to watch the Rugby Grand Final last night, but the TV was giving me headaches, so I chatted with Michael Z via ICQ after the first half. I stayed up to get the final score, though. My commiserations to our side. Considering their first half performance – their grip on the ball in the wet seemed their biggest problem – it’s good to see that Australia made a second half comeback, even if they couldn’t quite pull a win. Congrats to a storming England side as well.

It was a good party at Dan and Lesley’s last night. Emily and Gabrielle liked their presents (at least, we think so), and we got to catch up with John and Claudette, who we’ve not seen in a while (Claudette especially so; I think the last time we saw her was Christmas last year).

We’ll probably spend some time planning our Christmas party today. We’ve got a rough idea of when, but we’ve yet to send any general notices out so we can see who’ll be available. In contrast, Vickie and I are thinking of having a very anti-social Christmas Day. Our first Christmas together was spent at Mum and Dad’s, and the second was split between family and the open-door party at Dan and Lesley’s, so despite the lovely offer from Dan and Lesley to pop over again this year (for which we’re very grateful), we think we’re overdue for at least one Christmas all to ourselves.

November 22, 2003

It's not pink! It's lightish red!

I know, I know; I'm getting post-happy today. But I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't let you all know that Red Vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles walked away with three of the six awards it was nominated for at the 2003 Machinima Festival.

The RvB lads themselves are acting all humble, of course, and recommending that browsers check out the other entrants as well. As most of our download limit for this month remains un-used, it's tempting...

Oh, yeah, on the general subject of Halo: Boots, how'd you enjoy my Xbox? And can I get it back sometime soon, please?

Timed Out: Vickie & Rob in the UK Part 1

Vickie's beaten me to it! She's posted the first part of her memoir on our trip to the UK on her website! We still don't have any photos yet, but please take a look!

Minor Tweaks

The sharp-eyed among you will no doubt have noticed a little renovation on the main page. I've put the sign-up box for the IMAGinewS group back in, and as a result I've shifted the entire side-bar around so that it looks a little better.

I Hate Jet Lag

I really, really do. So does Vickie; in fact, she hates it more than I. It’s monkeying around with what was meant to be a relaxing four days before we got back to work like nobody’s business. We were planning to spend most of the time playing through Shadows of Undrentide, but we’ve been back in the country for forty-eight hours without firing Neverwinter Nights up even once.

What have we been doing instead? Well, there’s been sleep, unpacking, sleep, watching a DVD, sleep, shopping for basic supplies, sleep, eating, sleep, watching some telly, and more sleep.

I mentioned before that we’re not travelling any long distances by air without getting at least one stop-over. Here’s why: We got in at nine on Thursday morning. Vickie and I went to bed at around two, after I put that last post up. I was out of bed again briefly at three, when the Cazman dropped his set of house keys off. We slept until eight thirty. I crashed again at one AM Friday, woke up when Vickie came to bed at three AM and couldn’t get to sleep again. I came out and did some stuff (I think I played Homeworld2, but I’m not sure) until about five thirty, when I made an abortive attempt to get to sleep again. I gave up at seven, when Vickie and I both got up again.

It all caught up with me at around two PM yesterday; the morning shopping trip (where we forgot to get the film from the UK developed) really took it out of me. When Vickie woke me up, saying I wouldn’t be able to sleep later on, I looked over at the clock, which said eight thirty, and wondered why I couldn’t just sleep in until later this morning, say ten or so – until I realised it was still dark behind the curtains. It was still Friday night. So I dragged my protesting carcass out of bed, we had dinner, did some other stuff (I definitely played Homeworld2 this time), and finally went to bed at around two AM today. We woke up again at about half past six.

You see why I hate jet lag?

I’m still not sure whether we’ll get any Shadows of Undrentide in today. I have to get myself a haircut (boy, do I need it) and buy us a new hair dryer (ours nearly exploded in my hand this morning). Plus, we have two birthdays to sort out today – my Mum’s birthday was on Thursday, so we need to get her pressies wrapped and given to her, and Dan and Lesley are having a combined party for their nippers today as well, so more present-wrapping, etcetera. We'll drop Mum's pressie off and give her our best on the way to Dan and Lesley's.

All that leaves us with is the Dreaded Sunday; the Day Before Work. We have the time then, but it's almost too depressing.

Add family and friends to the list of things I hate, too. And work. And hair dryers. And Sundays. Hell with it; I hate you all. It’s all your fault anyway.

I doin't hate haircuts, though. The end result may occasionally be bad, but the process itself is quite pleasant.

November 20, 2003

Back from Old Blighty

Hello all once again! Vickie and I have returned home from the UK. Our plane landed at ten past seven this morning, and we walked in our front door at nine! We've yet to do any serious un-packing, and boy is there a lot of it awaiting us.

We're both very jet-lagged. Vickie's sleeping it off right now, and although I've been using the intervening time to check out my purchase of Equilibrium and catch up on my regular web sites, I can feel a wave of tiredness bearing down on me, so I probably won't be too far behind.

The Cazman has left the place in (we think) better condition than he found it, for which we are very thankful. Plus, there's half a bottle of Coke and half a Cadbury's Fruit & Nut block in the fridge that weren't there when we left, for which I am extremely thankful; the Coke is keeping me awake to write this post. He'll be popping over in an hour to give us his copies of our house keys back, but we really ought to do something for that boy soon. Dan's already called us once; apparently he's been kicking butt in Crimson Skies while we were away and wants to brag, as well as discuss the finer points of The Matrix: Revolutions.

Anyway, I'll get to work on an extended posting sometime in the next day or two, complete with photos (once we get the films developed).

November 10, 2003

Good Hotel Hunting

Afternoon, everyone. I'm back at Prestwich Library again. It's Sunday, and I'm foregoing (or at least postponing) a Sunday Roast Lunch in order to look up some hotels near the Victoria Coach Station that we can book a few nights at. A quck search on Google turned up a site that Vickie found shortly before we left (but, although she bookmarked it, neither of us thought to write the URL down in our trip notebook), and there are a few promising places, but no phone numbers for them - the only booking option is an online system. Still, I have their names and addresses, so a phone call to the local directory service this afternoon should see us right.

At the moment, we're planning to head down to London tomorrow morning via coach - which means we need to get the room bookings and coach tickets sorted out pronto. We want to spend a full day in London if we can (at this stage, that's looking like Tuesday) and then pop off to see the Roger (Wednesday). Afterward, we're going to head up to Bristol to hook up with a web-friend of Vickie's, Maurice. We were hoping to get together with some of Vickie's family in Gloucester on Friday - except Friday is when they all head off for some holidays themselves, so instead we'lll just be going straight back to Manchester from Bristol.

I'll probably be back on in a week to let you know how we did.

November 08, 2003

Ruddy English keyboards...

Morning (or evening, as the case may be), everyone! I'm writing this post at the Internet terminal at the Prestwich Library! One of the first things I discovered is that, for some unknown reason, the quotation marks (") and the @ symbol are swapped around. It made putting up a new comment on my own website awkward until I figured out what was wrong.

I made a page of notes on the things I wanted to put in this post, but left the notebook back at Gran's place. So I'll have to work from memory here - which might just result in a tighter post.

Firstly, as you've probably guessed, we arrived safely and whole.The only eventful moments on the plane were spilled cups of tea due to turbulence and the odd in-flight movie. I managed to catch up on The Hulk (which was fun) and 2 Fast 2 Furious (which had about as much plot as I expected, but was fun nonetheless).

Some thoughts from the flight:

  • Singapore seems to like to keep the lights of its office buildings on at night. It might burn up a lot of power, but it looks pretty darned impressive when you're coming in. (Think of that scene near the end of Ghost in the Shell but with shorter buildings.)
  • Dubai might be trying to be the world's next Roswell, given the chrome UFOs in the roof.
  • Let no-one tell you flying Economy class on an Airbus A330 isn't cramped. That person is a filthy liar. What's worse is when the seat numbers indicate you're finally getting a window seat after two legs of center-rows - and you discover when you sit down that you're at one of those few seats where the "window" seat is actually solid bulkhead.
  • Oh, yeah, and this one is the big one: do NOT, I say again, do NOT take a twenty-hour-plus trip without stopovers. Seriously; take at least ten hours to get out, stretch your legs, get a shower and maybe some kip. The alternative is too horrendous to mention here, trust me.

November 03, 2003

Heaving On A Jet Plane

Well, my bags are packed, I'm on the plane
I have to eat airline food again
I hate to bring it up, but it won't stay down (won't stay do-own)...

- Loosely attributed to the Scared Weird Little Guys

Suitcases packed - check.
Backpack packed - check.
Toiletries bag packed - check.
Money for dinner at the airport - check.
British currency for our arrival - check.
Lawn mowed - check.
Vital and emergency phone numbers - check.
House keys to the Cazman - check.
Backups done - check.
Plane tickets - check.
Computers powered off and unplugged - in a minute.
Dan to give us a lift to the airport - on his way.

Well, everyone, this is it - we're hoff to Hengland for two wheeks. I'll see if I can sneak a few posts while we're there, but photos are going to have to wait until after we get back, because I doubt we'll have use of a scanner. If I don't get near to a computer long enough to put something solid up, our best to you all, and we'll see you after the twentieth.

Oh, and if you see this man:

The Anti-Christ - or just a Nexus-6?

in or around our place before we get back, please don't call the police.

(Call an exorcist instead.)

An Odd Sensation...

Over the past day or two, while we've been seriously packing and getting the place in order for Cazman, I've had this feeling of discomfort, as though instead of packing suitcases and going overseas for a couple of weeks, we're packing up and moving out.

I suppose this place really has become something of a haven from the outside world for us. Until two and a half years ago, I don't think I ever really enjoyed going back to the place I lived, at least not without it being diluted by a bit of fear. It makes me cherish this wonderful little home Vickie and I have made here, even if we do get homebody-ish and insular now and again.

So I suppose this little anxiety that's been running through the back of my heart these past couple of days is fear of leaving the cocoon, the safe harbour. I read a book a while ago called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and that mantra's been helping me get over this. I am looking forward to seeing Grandma, Aunt Heather and England again - I think I told Vickie once that I like places as much as I like people - and I'm looking forward to showing Vickie around (and off). But it's still just a little uncomfortable heading out of the nest to do so.


Old Comments

As long as we are together, we take 'home' with us. The things we leave in Fraser Rd. will still be here when we return. It is our home, but only while we live in it. Home is part of a state of mind. I love our nest too, but only because I share it with you.

This trip is an adventure. We've had some pretty large ones in the last few years and I don't suppose this will be our last.

I've had my worries about this trip too, but that's only because it's my first time in the UK in 47yrs. It's also my first time visiting Gran, so I think I've good reason to be nervous.

I guess we are both like a couple of snails...a bit reluctant, but we have *home* with us.


Posted by: Vickie at November 3, 2003 09:30 AM

Insert the 'Fear is the Mind Killer' mantra from Dune here, cause I can't remember it.

Well, *somebody* had to geek this discussion up.


Posted by: Gav at November 3, 2003 05:19 PM

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Happy now?

Posted by: IMAGinES at November 8, 2003 10:24 PM

November 02, 2003

Why do you captialise "IMAGinES" like that?

Well, it's meant to be a combinaton of "images" and "imagine", but I suppose I outsmarted myself there. Anyway, it is an attention-grabber (at least I hope it is) and it seems people do remember that it's oddly-capitalised, even if they can't remember the capitalisation, so I suppose that's something.

How do you say your last name?

Well, as I'm ure you can understand, I have a last name that's... well, open to interpretation. Most people, on seeing it, use "Far-kwaah". However, my Dad has insisted, ever since I was a little 'un, that the proper Scots pronunciation (it is a Scottish name; the Clan name is Farquharson) is "Farker", like Parker, but with an F instead of a P, so that's the way I use it. Needless to say, it's earned me a few odd stares, not to mention endless ribbing in high school.

When she was over here, though, Jillian insisted that she herself had been to my family's ancestral lands in Scotland, and everyone there pronounced it "Far-kwaah". Which only goes to show.

Site History

IMAGinES kicked off during 1997, when I wanted to build my own website. It started off with material for roleplaying games; rules, characters and the like. It changed, grew and mutated over the proceeding four years; I experimented with frames, fiddled with FrontPage and dabbled with design. Eventually, however, IMAGinES began to stagnate. I wasn't investing any time in keeping it up to date or organised. New sections were added almost as afterthoughts, and as for planning, well...

In mid-2001, I began to seriously consider revamping the site. I didn't like its layout, it didn't do what I wanted it to well, and it probably wasn't the easiest to navigate either. (I'm biased, I designed the thing.) I also wanted to put new material on the site; I wanted to challenge myself by making a serious commitment to practising writing and adding new material.

After the NecronomiCon 13 roleplaying convention in early October, for which I wrote and ran an adventure, I decided to kick off the redevelopment work. I eliminated the old, frame-based page setup (which was intermittently implemented) in favour of a table-based layout that was easier on lower resolutions. I also learned cascading style sheet formatting in an attempt to make the site easier to maintain and update.

I also cleaned out some of the old content, some of which contained pictures that may have at least bent the old legal usage laws a bit. I decided that IMAGinES would be about my writing, even if it was based on or supplementary to other work, and it's my writing which I hope to keep you coming back to read more of.

The problem was, manually cutting and pasting and re-writing HTML code made updating the site enough of a chore that I didn't put new stuff up as often as I would have preferred. A few months ago (mid-2003), I started thinking about using a content management system such as Movable Type (which I discovered through Wil Wheaton Dot Net); not only would it make updating my site relatively easy, but it would also allow me to set up a website for my lady Vickie that she could add to and maintain without having to learn HTML or CSS. My existing web space on Telstra wouldn't support Movable Type, though, so I began shopping for options, even going as far as to look at other ISPs...

... until I got a quiet e-mail from my friend Marcus, saying that his family hosting server could not only host my site, but it was also Movable Type-compatible. After a week or so's worth of trial and error, we got both Vickie's site and the site you see before you right now up and running. It's easy to update, I can update it from anywhere with a web browser and a working Net connection, and it's much better organised and laid out than the previous design.

Blame It On The Rain

Apologies for any painful late eighties flashbacks the title of this post may have caused, but it certainly sums up the day today. See, I was planning to get the lawn mowed; it's in a sorry, nigh-overgrown state and we want it looking nice when the Cazman shows up to mind the place while we gallivant off to the UK.

So I get out into the backyard this morning after doing some work on Vickie's website, clean our mower out (which it sorely needed), put some new line into the whipper-snipper, get the extension cords plugged in (our mower's a Flymo), start in on the top end of th back yard - and the power goes.

Turns out there was some sort of major outage out Galston way, and we were affected by it - I went out in the car to get some supplies, and the traffic lights were out all the way up to the Waitara Station set on the Pacific Highway. I don't think I've ever been more glad to see a set of working traffic lights, I tell you.

So I got the shopping done, had a roll of film from Vickie's camera developed (she's just finished it, and there are some photos from my birthday party in July that we absolutely have to post soon, either here or on Vickie's site) and picked up some lunch. By this time, the power was back, and after we'd eaten and I'd done some more web development work for Vickie, I decided to try the lawn again - and there's a big roll of thunder.

Half an hour later, the rain was coming down at a forty-five degree angle, and though it's stopped now, I don't think I'll be mowing the lawn with our electric mower today. I'll hold that until tomorrow morning; instead, I think I'll give poor Madam Lash a wash (she's still caked in red earth from that dust storm a few days back). Don't worry, you conservationists, I won't be using the hose; I'll just rinse her with buckets of water.

I'm Such A Big Kid...

It's true, folks: I'm the proud owner of my very own TransFormers: Armada Optimus Prime and Over-Run Mini-Con figures. I don't even watch the cartoon or read the comics, but I just wanted an Optimus Prime to call my own - and I really think that the Armada Optimus is quite possibly the coolest Prime toy ever, the original notwithstanding. (And, as he came without that pesky trailer, I was able to swipe him for $25.)

Here's a closer look:

Prime wielding Over-Run

Oh, and speaking of the original: Gav, you might want to take a look at this, if you've not seen it already.

November 01, 2003

Run, Talon, Run

Morning everyone! Well, it's evening still, I suppose, as I'm kicking this posting off at half past eleven on Friday night, but by the time I'm done I think it’ll be Saturday morning. Just so’s you know, I am officially on leave from work for the next three weeks; I’ve tied up all the loose ends in my queue and given the bloke who’s taking over from me while I’m away some thorough and updated documentation on my job – and when I arrive back, I fully expect it to be filled with revisions and corrections.

We fly out of Sydney on Monday evening, so if there’s anything you’d like to borrow from me in our absence, you’d better get in pretty quickly.

Some big thank-yous to a couple of our friends. Firstly, to the Cazman. As I wrote in a previous post, he has graciously agreed to mind our house while we’re in the UK. Enjoy, relax and don’t let the parties get too rowdy, mate!

And secondly, to Dan. While we played Crimson Skies on Wednesday night, he asked what time we needed to be at the airport; when I told him, he said he’d talk with Lesley, and if she were amenable, he’d give us a lift to the airport! He called me earlier this evening to confirm that Lesley was indeed amenable. Very much appreciated, mate; we weren’t looking forward to lugging our suitcases to the airport on the train! Sorry I didn’t have much time to talk this evening (I was having dinner with Mum and Dad at the RSL), and we need to be there by ten to seven, not six thirty as I originally mentioned.

After last week’s session of Heavy Gear, I’ve been over the personal and Gear combat rules a few times, trying to make the whole combat process streamlined and fun whilst working in ideas like Stealth (as every player’s Gear has a Stealth bonus of some sort, I’d better include those rules or else), indirect fire and those Gear perks that help resist damage (and the flaws that make it worse). As a result, I’ve identified several whoopsies I’ve been making with the rules (thank God I’ve only been making them in the simulated missions) and how to fix them. Part of that process is a new, somewhat more user friendly Gear record sheet I cobbled together for my players earlier this week. It’s intended to cut down on the adding the regular, fixed modifiers (skill, attribute, fire control/manoeuvre, weapon accuracy) together and make including the variable modifiers (distance moved, range) easier to determine and apply.

I’ve also been making notes on what’s coming next, both immediately and “long-term” (in terms of the campaign anyway). I think I now have a more firm grip on the overall campaign now than I’ve had for a while, and I think it’s safe to day that I’ll be able to get sessions running more regularly from here on in – or at least, after the upcoming holiday season, as I think everyone’s going to be rather busy over the next few months. (I'm wondering whether I'm not making notes in my campaign notebook that I already made several pages back.)

Oh, yeah – on top of all of that, I’ve started doing some work on the new Black Talon website. Once again, it’s Movable Type-powered, which is going to be a help in more than just the organisational and ease-of-updating sense – each of my players now has a logon ID, password and posting rights to the Black Talon blog, and I’m hoping they’ll contribute in-character mission reports and discussions on the rules, the flow of the campaign and what they want to see next. I’m not sure if anyone’s tried anything similar yet, so I hope I might even be setting a new trend! Maybe it'll be enough to earn my site a link from Dream Pod 9...

The site itself needs a bit more work, but I like how the Stormy style from Movable Type’s web site fits the whole Black Talon motif; that alone has cut a lot of development time out of the work needed. I've changed the link on the main page from the old to the new web site, so please wander in, take a look and let me know what you think!

I think I’m going to need this trip to England just to stop thinking about Heavy Gear for a while! It's like John T at work; he's not been able to get that "Run, Rabbit, Run" tune from the Visit Victoria ads out of his head for days now...