Doors Open and life

Life goes. Things happen. Climbing and game photos from the past two months have been posted. Machi Koro seems to be a winner, but Lupin III seems to be a dud. We also broke out Concept again for the first time in a while… had forgotten how much fun that was.

We recently went to an escape room, the Imaginarium, and it was pretty fun. We got out, with not much time to spare, but it seemed we actually left a ton of puzzles unsolved since there were several locks and a door that we never got open. Oh well.

ITG has also been happening again, which is nice.

This weekend was Doors Open in Pittsburgh, where various downtown buildings open up and let you explore them (with cameras!). We went on Saturday, and saw a variety of buildings… most of them were apartments and hotels, but we also stopped in the Dollar Bank and Engineers’ Society, the former of which was really pretty and the latter of which was rather uninteresting. We also stopped in the city council chamber and mayor’s office, which included a stop in their vault that held pretty much all historical paperwork for the city.

The hotels were also interesting. Two of the three were setting up for a wedding at the time (the third may have been, on some upper floor we didn’t have access to), and seeing the William Penn ballroom all dressed up for a wedding is rather special. Also we got to see a $3000/night suite at the top of the Fairmont, which was also spectacular.
















The PSO was also on strike due to salary and benefit negotiations falling through. That was sad.

Also I am strangely obsessed with Rebecca Black’s new single (apparently she’s gotten rather good at singing) and The Sound of Silence cover by Disturbed.
Relatedly, Rock Band released the latter as DLC this past week, and we tried it today… the game rates vocals as a 3 (while rating Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger as a red 5, and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl as a 4), which we think is utter bullshit. Yay for bad video game ratings.

I finished FFX Remaster this past Thursday, and the ending never fails to make me cry. I started FFX-2, and I’m just not feeling it, for some reason. I’ve never been a big fan of the ATB battle system, and I think coming to it from FFX’s super strategic battle system, I’m not enjoying combat at all. The music is also rather lackluster compared to X, and so many concepts are thrown at you all at once in the beginning (like dressspheres, skill learning, monster capturing) that I’m feeling rather overwhelmed. I don’t know. I guess at some point I’ll return to it, but unlike FFX, which was occupying much of my free evening time, I haven’t felt the same pull to play X-2.

Here’s weird soda flavors (corn, buffalo wing, bacon, ranch dressing, dirt, and grass) at a soda and candy shop in the Waterfront.

New Mexico and cards

We successfully had a week-long vacation to New Mexico, which included a wedding at the end.
We started by flying into Albuquerque and immediately leaving it, for Santa Fe. We stayed in a small hotel (only about 12 total rooms?) that was really nice and central… around 10 minutes walking distance from the town’s plaza.

We did a lot of exploring around the city, and also did a day trip to Taos to see the pueblo and the Rio Grande gorge.




Then it was off to Albuquerque where we had museums, views and hiking at Sandia peak and more hiking.




Oh, and also a wedding.

The hotel there was the Marriott pyramid hotel, which was really only pyramidal from the front. But it had a awesome view inside, including through the glass backs of the elevators.

Photos of everything can be found at photos.
It was overall a nice trip, and it was good to relax and have time away from work, but I’m very glad to be done with travel for the foreseeable future.

In other, unrelated fun things… I made my largest (in terms of dollars) order of cards yet. A large amount of the cost came from a single item: a case of 10,000 card sleeves ($50)… but now I’m set for life, including all of the deckbuilder games I keep getting. (My only regret here is that I didn’t have the box of sleeves for the Apex deckbuilding game, for which I bought like 8 or 9 packs of sleeves alone.)

The order included a box of LoTR CCG Black Rider starter decks, a box of L5R Seeds of Decay starter decks, a box Megaman TCG Grand Prix starter decks, six boxes of Megaman TCG Grand Prix and Grave booster packs, a box of Star Wars TCG starter decks, a box of Young Jedi starter decks, a box of VS System Fantastic Four starter decks, a Tribbles CCG box, a WoW TCG Icecrown Citadel raid deck, and the box of sleeves. The raid deck I think will be a reasonable thing to take to games night as well, since it plays four (in a 3 vs 1 format).

The order also included two board games, one of which was Machi Koro, and was the entire impetus for the order in the first place. It was on sale for $25 (deluxe version), but the shipping for it by itself was already $14. Given the rarity of my orders from TCG specialty stores, I took advantage of the situation to get a bunch of other stuff I’d had my eye on. Overall shipping on the ~48 pound box was only $20, so it was definitely worthwhile in that respect.

Now to find people to play more defunct TCGs with me…

Life and People Wars cards

I updated my photojournal today, since we’re closing in on the end of July. It’s been a rather busy few months, between redoing the deck, frequent traveling, and general work things. And we’re just getting started on the traveling part. :(

I finished and released the Juxtapositions expansion for People Wars last Saturday. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone between expansions (a year and a month), and I attribute that largely to the busyness of life… between rock climbing twice a week, board games once or twice a week, frequent rock band evenings, house work, and travel, there hasn’t really been time to work on side projects.
I consider this largely a good thing — doing things with people is always better than sitting alone at home in front of a screen working on card games — but it’s just interesting how much my life has standardized around a few activities (and a few people I see for those activities).
But it’s also sad in some ways. I have a lot of card games that have stalled for years (such as Investigations, RPG Get!, and thoughts for a “quick” multiplayer version of People Wars for game nights), and I just never can find the motivation to work on them. Oh well.
(In entirely unrelated news, my D7100 had its 10,000th shutter release recently, at the William and Greg birthday party, so that’s pretty awesome.)

In any case, People Wars now has 1584 different cards, which is by far the largest card set for any card game I’ve created (Student Wars is next with a measly 963). It also spans over 7 years of people, events, locations, and trips, making it kind of a documentary of my life as it was around the time of each expansion release.
That aspect is probably a large part of why I always want to have *some* card game in progress based on people I know… it gives my photography some outlet that isn’t just batching them to post online, and it also provides me some sort of easy look back on my life.

I’ve started work on the next set, tentatively titled Keith because I can’t think of a good word starting with “K” that otherwise fits the expansion concept.
The set is themed around “Facet” cards that can be played onto characters to specialize them. I’ve been toying with the mechanics for a while, oscillating between attaching them directly to characters, playing them as “additional” characters while the base one is in play, or just having them be standard characters with fewer traits and better abilities. For now, I think I’m going with the “attach” mechanic, but we’ll see if I change my mind here.
Here’s a sample card… the “Facet” icon is totally not finished yet.

Expansion names, opinions on mechanic, or general thoughts are always accepted and appreciated. :)

Life goes…

Life, social media and smartphones, Pepsi cookies

My photo journal has been updated to bring it current to today.
May was one heck of a month for gaming… in addition to the weekly Thursday board games, we hosted board games at the house three times, and hosted rock band a few times as well. Life being full of board games and people makes me happy.

I’ve been meeting a lot of new people recently in life, through both softball photography and board gaming. This has given me a desire to start working on People Wars again, so the Juxtapositions expansion continues onward. The set is adding a new card type Dream, that acts like a character once played but goes away at the end of the turn, and new Softball characters that have abilities that interact with Dreams. It should be an interesting mechanic to explore… maybe at some point I’ll get around to printing updated decks and actually playing again.


Owen sent me this article recently, and it just reinforces my desire to not get a smartphone. I’d previously ranted about social media and I don’t think any those opinions have changed since then. If anything, it’s gotten worse since then… my LiveJournal friends page has become basically a webcomic RSS reader and, with few exceptions, the posts that do still show up there are often only several sentences and seem like something that would be appropriate for Twitter.
I’m so old and curmudgeony. :P
Still, I guess I do see the benefit of having a semi-permanent way of contacting people as necessary. Email addresses change, IM services stop existing or fall into disuse… but your Facebook account (as long as you have an account) is pretty much always going to be you. It’s actually rather alarming how many FB messages I’ve sent recently to people. (Many of them were just asking for email addresses, but still…)

I’d previously made Coca-Cola cookies but they turned out rather strange, I assumed due to the lack of sugar in the soda. We recently got some Pepsi made with real sugar, so I figured I’d give it a try again, this time basing it on this recipe.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 egg (I just used the egg white)
1 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 can Pepsi (with real sugar)

Melt the butter, and mix it with the sugar until well mixed.
Boil down the Pepsi until it’s thick and syrupy, and immediately pour into the butter/sugar mixture. (It should be reduced enough that it turns hard quickly when heat is removed.) Mix well.
Add the egg, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, then slowly mix into wet ingredients.
Place small spoonfulls onto a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.

I think they turned out better this time? They taste a lot like caramel, and not a lot like Pepsi, but they’re still pleasantly sweet and chewy.

If I was doing this again, I would probably add more Pepsi and remove a bit of the sugar. Maybe 2 cans of Pepsi, and then only 1/3 c of sugar? It might flavor them a little stronger.

Life goes. Yay for life.

Adulting (and rambling)

No matter how long it’s been true, it still feels weird to me when I do something that requires me to be an adult.
(Getting a credit card? Uh… don’t I need a parent to co-sign? Booking plane tickets? Who gave me permission to fly? Buying a house? What are you even…)

But in the last few weeks, I’ve done some things that felt adult-y, but felt right, and so I guess yay stuff making some more sense now?

We bought matching furniture for our living room. After getting the coffee table we liked at Target (23.5% off), we decided it was reasonable enough quality and a good enough price, and a good enough match with the house, that I bought an endtable and console table from the same set, and also a lamp that matched. With the couch and armchair being the same set as each other, and an old lamp that is the same color as the rug, the living room actually matches, for the first time ever in a place I’ve lived in and had control over. And it feels pretty nice. This excites me far more than it should.
(Bonus: The furniture also matches the dining room chairs and table in color and style.)

(Of course, adult-ing only extends so far, so the couch features my Sonic and Shadow pillows, and a plush peep named Bub.)

The portraits I talked about last post were finished, and printed on canvas, and they came out pretty nice. After trying to figure out how we could nail in to hang them without perforating crucial things in that wall (like a “novelty ventilated wall pipe”), I decided to just go to Target and buy some of those Command hooks. Turned out to be a good idea, and they look pretty good. (Just need to pull out the old nails still in the wall above them.)

Also, on Easter, we hosted Easter brunch, as like a proper meal with things for 7 people. That’s the largest group I’ve ever cooked for and set place settings for and stuff, I think. (Previous record was 4?) It was also relatively unplanned: we wanted to have ham on Easter, and the smallest ones you could buy were like 7 pounds, so we figured we’d need people to help eat it. I think it also went off rather well?

Other totally random things that are on or have been on my mind recently, in no real order, in bullets that may be incoherent rambling:

  • The house we almost bought, that sold for ~$300k, is back on the market as of today. For $399k. $100,000 in less than a year is pretty good money. Also, based on the Zillow listing and photos, they did exactly nothing to the house in the time they lived there.
  • Looking back at the photos of it, I’m actually rather glad now we didn’t get it? I think it’s been idolized in my mind as this “ideal” house (the one that got away?) that we have fond memories of. But actually I think the house we did get is better in almost every way (forced air heating and cooling, nicer kitchen, nicer rooms, bigger yard, better location). Makes me feel really happy we found this one and got it.
  • I stumbled across this reddit thread and particularly this post recently, and it’s making me feel really weird about things. (Watching the “Born Rich” documentary doesn’t help either.) It’s still rather unfathomable to me that anyone has that kind of money, and that people in general are okay with them having that kind of money. I mean, it doesn’t make logical sense to me that any single person’s contributions to the world, no matter how significant they may be, are worth a billion dollars. (And that’s only for the “I earned my money” argument… never mind inherited money.)
  • Also private large planes are disgusting and should not be a thing anyone can or would ever want to buy. Even ignoring the insane cost to buy, outfit, and operate such a plane… how many other people would that money and those resources (particularly the jet fuel?) be used for instead? Small private planes are already terrible enough. :\
  • I keep being reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am in life, in so many different ways. Particularly (following above), money is one of the things that has never *ever* been a problem in my entire life, and there are so many people I know where that is definitely not the case. I was sent (full-ride by the parents) to a top university where I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but schoolwork. I work a job I love in a field I am good at with coworkers that are amazing and for a company that seems dedicated to its employees and their success, and on top of that I make enough to live comfortably. The fact that I can drop the money for 4 color canvas prints for the game room wall, on a whim, after basically no thought, just because I thought it would look nice is a testament to that. So while some people may have stupid amounts of money and eat dinner with the president, I live comfortably and happily and never feel like I truly want for anything, which I suppose already makes me one of the wealthiest men in the world.
  • Why is sick time not a standard thing in jobs, or failing that (and job allowing) work-from-home-when-sick policies? It seems like the productivity loss from an employee coming in and getting others sick would be far higher than just having them stay home and not work at all, or work from home instead. It occurred to me last week, as I signed in for 5 minutes in the morning to post a “Not working today; sick” update, that there are many people that can’t do the same thing, and that really confuses and frustrates me. (Heck, even the fact that I didn’t have to ask for the day off, because I knew I had implicit permission and would be told to go rest if I actually tried to work anyway, is a thing many people don’t have or get, and is such a simple thing that it seems so many companies forget.)
  • It’s so bizarre to me that society has put such differing dollar amounts on skilled work. Artists usually make shit, and drawing well is a skill many people will never have nor can ever learn. Teachers make shit compared to the amount of work they do, and teaching kids is both incredibly difficult and incredibly important. Writers make very little, and assembling words together in ways that flow and just seem right is a skill that is both rare, and also immediately recognizable when you read it as something amazing. Heck, if you’re a skilled call-center agent who knows how to diffuse customer tempers and provide real service (and even just deal with people in the first place)… that’s also a heck of a skill, and you probably literally make minimum wage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing words (I guess if you consider thingsLikeThis() to be words) and symbols into a computer screen and somehow that is worth money. The person that maintains the computer that lets me continue typing words in doesn’t make that much, but that’s skill too, in an area I have very little knowledge or ability in. I don’t know.
  • KoL has been interesting, in the monetary aspect, lately. It seems they’ve completely embraced the idea of premium content and putting insane amounts of power into paid things, which from the standpoint of a F2P game, really really bothers me. At the same time, given their declining revenue numbers, I can’t exactly blame them? (If you had only one revenue stream, and your continued employment relied on you making things people *want* to or *have* to buy, of course you would do it.) So the side of me that understands businessy things is fighting with the side of me that abhors things that feel like they’re forcing money out of me. I do greatly miss the old KoL days, when the paid things felt less important and the free things felt much more equitable, but I guess I still enjoy KoL enough that I’m willing to press on for now. On the plus side, there’s a couple recent things where they’ve done a standout job: the Witchess set, which unlocks awesome puzzles (and also, tangentially for me, powerful game items), and the LT&T Telegraph Office, which unlocks a lot of fun writing and interesting boss battles. While I still wish more stuff was available for free (free puzzles… who wouldn’t love that?), developer time is (non-trivial amounts of) money, so it only makes sense. But blargh?

Things and words and stuff.