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The free-to-play browser game I write for, Susurrus: Season of Tides has had its first update since our debut!

Susurrus: Season of Tides, the free-to-play browser based story game I write for, has had its first post-release update!

New Content in This Release:

Nyx the bartender.
If you're stuck and could use some direction, or just want to know what interesting things are going on, head to the Giant's Dance and talk to Nyx, the friendly neighborhood bartender there. She knows a little bit about just about everything that’s going on right now.

News tab. As the city cycles turn, new quests and things to do emerge across the city. Click on the News tab to see reports of what locations have new adventures available to play.

New companion. There's some thorny business with some local psychics that could net you a new companion. Explore old ground with your Mind and Heart temperaments very open and see what comes of it…

Ask for the Secret Menu. Cosmic Coffee's secret menu is now available, offering a variety of stat-enhancing and healing artisan coffee blends specifically crafted for the magical community!

More from The Harbinger. They've reappeared in a few extra places, leaving behind a handful of Glimmer and cryptic clues. Characters who diligently pursue anomalies will have a new conversation and a few hints toward upcoming plot.

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So I had a really cool development happen recently! I was recently offered the opportunity to join the team at Evil Overlord Games to help out as they work to meet the release deadline for their first game!

Evil Overlord is a game startup company working on an urban fantasy interactive fiction browser game called Susurrus. The head writer, Tory Root, is someone who I have known and larped with for years now, so the high quality of her game writing has long been known to me. First she offered me the chance to do some freelance writing for the project, but then I accepted a part-time position to come onboard to help her, both with content generation as well as with wrangling the other freelancers, gathering their work and making sure they meet ther deadlines.

This is super exciting for me. It means WRITING PROFESSIONALLY, which is a total dream. It has to be part time because of the teaching commitments I made to Lesley, but I am so happy to have this chance. Plus it's a validation of all the time and effort I've put into game writing over the years, that it honed my craft to the point where someone had faith in my abilities to hire me for it.

I've only just begun, but I am determined to do a good job. Wish me luck!
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I am fascinated by a game series called Five Nights at Freddy's. For those of you who don't know, this is a series of indie survival horror games where, basically, you must keep a bunch of murderous Chuck-E-Cheese-style animatronics from catching and killing you. I'm not really a fan of that kind of gameplay, I find it too stressful, but the underlying backstory of the games, seeded very subtly in environmental details, clues in off-hand remarks, and the subtext of not-explicitly-explained events, is RICH AND FASCINATING. I watched a series of excellent videos by Matpat, who meticulously analyzed all these little details to discern what the story was. He really does some amazing analytical work, and the amount of narrative that's ALMOST ENTIRELY SUBTEXT AND BACKGROUND DETAIL is so amazing. I'm really impressed that the designer could include it all that way, and that this Matpat guy could find it.

It makes me want to design a game where you get the story through subtext and environmental clues. I always like the idea of a game like, say, Gone Home, where you figure things out based on examining the the artifacts of a family's life in their house. I wasn't particularly impressed by the main story in Gone Home-- other than some minimal freshness imparted by the LGBT themes, it was about as basic and predictable as you can get --while being slightly annoyed at how it had a respectful and loving daughter digging through her family's private things for the sake of functional convenience.

Given that, plus my love for period pieces and mysteries, I was imagining a piece-together-the-clues-type game where you played a maid girl in a big house. I like the idea that a maid is allowed in the personal things of a house, so she would have a reason to see intimate effects and secrets, plus a good maid is practically invisible as she goes about her work, so no one would notice her as she investigated. She could realize there's something fishy going on and start piecing together the clues to figure out who committed a crime, or what dark secrets lurked within the house and history. That could be really cool. Maybe I could do it as like a Twine game or something. I hear Twine is easy for novices to work in, since I'm not a programmer, and that might suit the format.
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Finally got around to watching all of Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series. She does a very good job, with a polished, well-informed approach that improves in precision with each installment of the series. I was slightly frustrated by how pretty much all her examples are presented free of context, but not because that I thought that diluted her point-- if the trope is that widespread EVEN WHEN THE EXAMPLES ARE MORE NUANCED, there is definitely an issue to be recognized. But I do often find myself wishing for more discussion of particulars and design choices, even though I know her work isn't the format for it.

Part of her point is a call for the abandoned of overused tropes and the inclusion of women in different roles in video games. It got me thinking about less represented story and themes that could be used. Through a somewhat convoluted train of thought, it struck me that motherhood has never been much explored in this medium. It's a female experience that is powerfully motivating, and yet one I find is not often explored in a context of how it can make you act like a hero (which is a frequent end that video games need a catalyst for.) Motherhood is often coded as simply loving and nurturing, when I believe it is also protective and motivating to action.

I started thinking about how you could translate that to an adventure video game. Maybe a story about three generations of women, with the middle one as the protagonist. She is driven to undertake an adventure for her daughter's sake, attempting to figure out how to be a mother from only the memory of her own mother, who is dead/otherwise not present but who casts a long shadow on her. I could even see maybe the first third or so of the game involving rescuing the daughter, but after that, it's about raising/protecting/teaching the daughter as they continue along on the adventure. The protagonist could be struggling toward a larger goal out in the world, but her personal journey is in mothering her girl in a way that's both influenced by her mom's example but still finding her own path. I think it could incorporate traditional video games structure by means of themes that would be different on both a subject matter and a gender representation level.

Also, I miss my mom and I'm thinking about this stuff.
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I’ve decided that I’m going to be Link from Legend of Zelda for Halloween this year. It was Jared’s suggestion, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to make something that would be interesting but not too hard.

Because it was basically just a tunic, I decided to mostly wing this design. I found some pictures of a couple of girls doing a really good Link cosplay, one in red and one in blue, and I’m using their work for visual inspiration. In a thrift store I found a big piece of dark green cloth for a dollar, so I decided to use that as my tunic fabric. It’s a knit, which I’ve never sewn with before, but it’s pretty stable and only a little stretchy. I figured for a tunic I don’t need to be too precise with the fit, so it would be okay.

First thing I did was drape my dress form, now affectionately known as Adelaide, in the fabric. Adelaide is slightly bigger than I am in all dimensions, so in order to make it only a little loose on me I decided to make it a little tight on her. Since it’s a tunic I want it the fit to be a little blousy, and I’m considering binding down my breasts for Halloween anyway. So I cut my fabric in half and pinned the two halves to Adelaide’s front and back, then marked the seam lines on it with chalk.

Next I took the fabric down, pinned the two halves together, and cut along those lines to get too identical halves. I probably cut it a wee bit smaller than I should have, but I think it will be okay. The Link cosplays I’m emulating do not exactly have side seams; rather they have rows of grommets going up and down the sides that are laced up with cord. I inserted six pairs of grommets on either side of the tunic under the arms. I also sewed the shoulder seams.

Then I had to figure out the sleeves. I had meant to draft the halves of the tunic with kimono sleeves, as in, as already part of the pattern piece, but the fabric wasn’t quite wide enough, so I have to make them separately. I know sleeves are kind of tough, so I looked up how to draft your own on the web. What I found, however, was kind of confusing me, because what I needed was how to attach a sleeve to a bodice, but that information was all mixed up in the details of fitting them and everything, which I didn’t need. Tunic sleeves could be wide and floppy. So I decided to wing them too. I cut two long rectangles and finished the ends of each by folding over just a little bit of the knit and sewing it down. Then I folded them in half and matched up those finished edges with the shoulder seam one each side. I wanted the open side to be on top because I wanted to put grommets in and lace them up too. I pinned the sides of the sleeve in place along the armcyes and sewed them. Then I put the grommets in, three pairs for each sleeve.

The last thing I did was attach the trim to the front of the collar. That was a little frustrating, as the trim I found wasn’t as flexible as I wanted it to be, and the only time the knit fabric stretched and shifted improperly was when I pulled it too tight under this much less yielding trim material. The collar isn’t perfect, but it photographs okay here. I may put in facings or interface with a stiffer material to stabilize the neckline. The sleeves from the outside may not be the cleanest attachment job ever, but they look okay also. You can see the current state of the project on Adelaide here. It pulls a little too tight across her bust, but it fits my slightly smaller one okay.

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So Jared has succumbed to the Minecraft bug, and finally bought the full version. Unfortunately he keeps dying every time he makes any progress, so at the moment his little piece of the Minecraft world isn't very developed. He doesn't have a house yet, just a shelter he dug out of a hillside. I said he lived in a hobbit hole, but when he told me he doesn't really have anything in it, I said he was more like a caveman. When he started going on about how much work it takes to build a house and make yourself a bed and how the bare ground with no floor or carpeting isn't so bad, I was horrified and said he was a Minecraft hobo. So I took on the persona of his nagging Minecraft cave-wife, and went on about how he'd be eating raw chicken and punching sheep for wool without me to take care of him, and if he found any diamond he was NOT going to make some stupid tool with it, he was going to give it to me in thanks for all I put up with being his cave-wife. Oh, and how I should have married that nice Minecrafter over the hillock who had boots and a pair of shears already. He responded by wishing he'd stayed a bachelor with nobody nagging him to sleep in a bed already or not try eating rotten zombie meat just to see what it tasted like, and oh, if only an enderman would carry him away and spare him from his domestic hell. I seriously wish I recorded the conversation, because it was absolutely hilarious.

I should have married this Minecrafter. I bet he'd lay a carpet for me.
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Halloween yesterday was wonderful, surrounded by friends in excellent costumes. Best evening I've had in a long time. Perhaps the most notable part of the evening were the five members of Team Fortress 2 that got together a fantastic group costume that yielded some great pictures. It was actually initially Jared's idea a month or so ago; he's recently gotten very into the game and thought it would be a fun and funny idea for a big group to do together. Several people expressed interest, but I think Jared and Bernie kind of didn't think anybody else would actually do it, so kind of felt like it couldn't happen. It took Matt actually getting together costume pieces to get things going; when I saw he was into it I started getting after Bernie and Jared, who got back into it when they thought there would be a real group. Jared was the Sniper, Bernie was the Engineer, and Matt was the Scout, all of which were remarkably well-cast in my opinion. Ryan and Kindness were pulled in at the last minute as the Spy and the Medic respectively, which worked out pretty well too! We took some fantastic pictures, which will soon be on Facebook. In the meantime, here's a sampling:

Team Fortress 2 in my house.  )


Jan. 2nd, 2009 10:45 pm
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"Take that, gangster! You got Corle-OWNED!"

I am such a dork. :-D

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I have had a very disturbing experience.

In the Wii version of the Godfather game, one occasionally comes upon the odd impoverished transient, commonly known as the "hobo," on the streets of 1940s New York. I am fascinated by these creatures in their natural habitat, and make a point of addressing them when I encounter them. This usually results in my unintentionally giving them money, but that's okay, I am amused enough by their presence to not mind so much being separated from my cash.

But despite my being a friend to hobokind, they have turned against me. I went into an alleyway and came upon a gang of hobos loitering there. I was planning on seeing if they had anything useful to sell me, such as guns or dynamite, but instead, completely unprovoked, they turned on me and attacked me! I was the recipient of a hobo beatdown! One of them even had a lead pipe. :-( I was forced to slaughter all four of them with a few quick blasts of my trusty .38 Special, but I was very scarred by the experience. I thought I could commune with the hobos, but apparently they are vicious beasts that can turn on you at any moment.

breakinglight11: (Joker Phoebe 2)

So I decided that Godfather: The Game is a Hanukkah present, and I may play it since it is already Hanukkah. I know, I'm weak. But the game is fantastic. I like the controls on the Wii so much better, though I'm enough out of practice with the controller that I'm still not very good at remembering where all the appropriate buttons are. But it makes the driving sections so much easier, and I'm getting better at shooting a lot faster. I made my guy look like Robert De Niro, complete with mole, and he's dressed very sharply in a charcoal pinstripe shirt and a black fedora with a gray band.

As a side note, Jared finally sent me the reference photos Ernest took of him in order to paint his Victorian gentleman portrait. I love them, they're so elegant and he looks very handsome.

I shall soon be helping prepare Christmas Eve dinner. For the Roberts family, that means prime rib, lobster bisque, artichokes in butter sauce, plus a few other things depending on what we feel like. I am to be sous-chef. Not that I'm going to be making prime rib or anything with lobster on my own anytime soon, sorry, frequent dinner guests, but it'll be fun.

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Jared's Christmas present to me arrived-- a copy of Godfather: The Game for the Wii. My sweetie knows me so well. I'm so excited for it I'm tempted to open and play it before Christmas. Maybe I could count it as a Hanukkah present and open it tonight for the third night? I've played the PC game and enjoyed it very much. I recently lent it to Jared, and now he's very into it. But I prefer console games to computer ones, so I'm delighted it's out for the Wii.

Why must Christmas still be two days away?

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Didn't get in until about quarter after eleven today. I was at first surprised that Jeanne was willing to let me off on such short notice, but getting back to the office, I see why. There is nobody here. Nobody. It is a freaking ghost town. I could be blasting death metal and nobody would notice. Or sitting around naked. Or hell, LEAVING. I won't do that, of course, seeing as they basically pay me to sit my ass in this chair, so in this chair my ass shall sit.

The reason I didn't come in at nine today was I drove with Bernie to the airport this morning so he could fly home for the weekend, then drove his car back to Waltham afterward so he wouldn't have to leave it in long-term parking. The bad traffic was kind of terrifying, and I was worried I'd get lost like I usually do, but I not only managed to flawlessly remember the way but also I did a passable job of handling Bernie's car. I drive a two-year-old Scion Tc, an adorable, sporty little car, and I must say I vastly prefer my car Constantine over an old, unfamiliar Camry. Constantine has a lot tighter steering, and Bernie's breaks were a little mushier than I would have liked, but I actually got the hang of it and did a safe and fairly decent job of getting home. No small feat for a terrible traveler like me. I am, in short, absurdly proud of myself. :-)

So I have a car for the weekend. Oh, the trouble I have planned. ;-) No, no, I'm totally kidding. But it was fun to freak Bernie out by talking about it.

I have also recently embarked on a probably brief but at least momentarily bright-burning love affair with Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation. The man is brilliant and hilarious, and his video game review earns its name by its rapid-fire-run-on-sentence-full-blast style of delivery. He's incredibly clever and well-spoken, peppering his reviews with hilarious comparisons, perfect metaphors, naughty words, and of course, really solid criticism. I like that he doesn't hate everything, and he's still willing to find bad points even in the things he likes. He has no slavish devotion to anything. His peppy voice and his fun British accent really put the icing on the cake. I confess, I've only played about a third of the games he reviews, and heard of/know something about around a third more, but even when I don't know what he's talking about I find him informative as well as hilarious. He often manages to encapsulate my thus-far-unarticulated feelings on a lot of games in a flurry of insight, verbosity, and profanity in precisely the right way-- his comments on MMORPGs particularly hits the nail on the head. I even love all the little details, like the weird and often bizarrely appropriate introductory music he chooses, or at least until the host site gave him that intro sequence. I keep my headphones on in the office, though, because I've decided it's less embarrassing to to get weird looks for laughing at apparently nothing than for the whole department to hear Yahtzee yelling about Lara Croft's "STONKING GREAT TITS."

Go watch Zero Punctuation. Even if you're not a gamer, you'll probably laugh anyway.
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I've been napping when I get home from work lately, which helps me with the sleep issues created by having to get up so early, but it makes me lose an hour or so that I never seem to be able to keep track of. I always am surprised it's later than I thought it would be.

I've very much enjoyed the Smash Brothers marathons we've been having at home. As Bernie says, it's not the game so much as playing it with friends that makes it awesome. My best character at the moment is Link, though I'd like to get better with Yoshi, who traditionally has always been my favorite.

I want to get my Vampire game going as soon as possible. Any time in the near future you people playing in the first run are available? I want to plan, and it might give those who haven't gotten their characters totally together *glares at those guilty parties* incentive to get their butts in gear.

It's so damn hot. I wish I had convenient access to a swimming pool that isn't so heavily chlorinated it eats out my eyeballs.

Jared's in Stratford, Canada right now. I can't talk to him for the next couple days until he gets back. Just nine more days until he comes.
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A brilliant quote from the awesome [profile] morethings5, after getting hit with the smoke bomb item in Smash Brothers:

"I'm being followed around by rainbow smoke? That's so glam!"
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Didn't get a chance to post at all this weekend, since we do not yet have web access at Elsinore. The guy should be coming on Wednesday. But despite the distressing lack of the Intertubes, I managed to keep myself busy and entertained. I'm so glad I brought my Wii up. As a house we've been playing Mario Galaxy and endless rounds of Smash Brothers that have lead to random conversations and gales of laughter. Very fun. I also didn't have to get up super-early to go to the gym before work like I do on weekends, so I could sleep in and make my leisurely way over there on my own time. The gym is closed on Sundays, and it's really too hot to work out outside lately, so it kind of enforces a rest on me. I suppose that's a good thing, they say you're supposed to take one day off a week to rest, and if left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't. So this is a good imposed health measure on me and lets my muscles rest. In general, I find I am fit enough to work out every day without feeling sore or worn out, but my back does tend to get a little achy. So again, it's probably good for me to have no choice but to rest.

Sunday was a fantastic day. Sheena, Dave, David, Bernie, and myself met up in the early afternoon to go to Sheena's family's house in Brookline to swim and have a cookout. We went to a kosher market to pick up hamburgers, hotdogs, and little things called "minute steaks" for barbecuing. That was interesting because I'd never seen a place like that before, and saw lots of stuff I'd never heard of. Like kosher short ribs, for example. At home we've made both beef and pork ribs, but the beef ones were always pretty enormous. These were tiny like the pork kind. Anyway, we then we went to the lovely Sheena house, which has both a beautiful pool and a gorgeous kitchen. Bernie manned the grill most of the time, though Sheena took his turn as well. They did great work, everything was very tasty. It's a man thing, I think, to be in charge of the barbecue. No matter, I approve.

The swimming was fun as well. Sheena and the Daves were the bravest of us, getting into the slightly-too-cold pool first even though there haven't really been enough really hot days for it to be like the bath water I want it to be. But even I made my wussy self go in, and with enough nagging so did Bernie. We played around with a beach ball, and the ever-so-fun game of "let's see who can make Phoebe scream the loudest by splashing her with cold, cold, COLD water." Bitches. At least I got my obligatory piggyback ride. Every time I'm in a pool, I want somebody to give me a water piggyback ride, and roped Bernie into the job. I like piggyback rides in general, but it's especially fun in a pool because the water makes me so light that they can carry me around forever without getting tired.

Sheena's family was there as well, his sister, her husband, their little son, a family of their friends plus a little baby girl, and Sheena's mom and dad. They were all very pleasant company as well, very kind and welcoming to us, though I think I swore a little bit too much when I wasn't thinking about it. That never makes a good impression. At least it was never in direct conversation, and in my defense I was very frequently being splashed with cold water. *glares in direction of a certain somebody whose name starts with a D and ends with an "-avid."* Anyway, all in all it was a really fun outing. We're going to do it again when Mac gets up here. Mac, get here already! We miss you and want you with us at Elsinore!

Now I'm back at work. Amusingly, today my boss Myrna asked if Bernie was my boyfriend, presumably because he usually walks me to work. Heh. If that's how she thinks one says goodbye to one's boyfriend, if only she could see how Jared and I actually are when we part-- usually with stomach-turning, probably skirting-the-edge-of-appropriateness PDA and puke-inducing "I love you"s. :-D

We'll have to remind you all just how disgusting we can be when he comes to visit. Ten more days until then.

Wii Fit?

May. 25th, 2008 05:09 pm
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I've started noticing advertisements for a new Nintendo product known as the Wii Fit. Apparently, through use of a peripheral called the Wii Balance Board, the game is intended to get people to exercise through yoga, muscle workouts, aerobics, and "balance games" that simulate real-life physical activities just as skiing, in addition to things like gauging weight and BMI. 

I have kind of mixed feelings about such a product. On one hand, I'm glad of anything that actually gets people exercising and taking care of themselves. On the other, I'm kind of disappointed that people would rather do a virtual version of a sport than actually playing that sport, and that they need constant stimulation to get them to take care of themselves. Yeah, exercise isn't fun, but it's worth it and frankly necessary for the benefits to your health. I'm not a big sports fan either, I've always hated video games that are about stuff like football and basketball-- at least this simulates the sports with similar physical actions, as opposed to button-pressing. There's also the expense of this; the game and its peripheral must certainly not be cheap. As [profile] captainecchi has rightly said, it's very easy for people to make lots of money off of people desperate for some magic bullet to get them in shape. And more than likely there will be a significant number of people who buy this thing and then let it gather dust.

Of course... thinking about it more... if it really does improve the health and fitness of the people who buy it, then maybe it is worth it. If it does get you exercising when it didn't before, and that ultimately improvees your health, can you really put a price on your health? I work out every day, and let me tell you, it isn't because I find it fun. In fact, I kind of hate it. My desire to be strong, healthy, and, above all else if truth be told, thin is all that keeps me doing it.  In my basement at home is a treadmill, a Bowflex, and a Nautilus. It's incredibly convenient to have these things right at hand because I use them every day-- and they sure as hell cost a lot more than the Wii Fit.  Exercise does kind of suck, and though I do believe you should find some way to do it anyway just 'cause you've only got one body, if the Wii Fit provides a fun way to get people actually taking care of themselves, maybe it's worth its own silliness.


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To Do List:

  1. Not let Morrowind eat EVERY day
  2. Wake up at reasonable hour
  3. Work out every day, alternating running with weight routine
  4. Take care of horrendous acne by using full acne regime twice daily
  5. Drink enough water to not be chronically dehydrated
  6. Work on one-shot, hopefully finishing before returning to Waltham
  7. Work on steampunk game

Let's see how I do.

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 Played a lot of Morrowind today. It's a fun game, but I have to be careful with it because it has just a little bit of that quality some video games have that make me motion sick after too much. Fortunately it's not nearly so bad as some games are for me, Portal not least among them.

Thanks to reccomendation by [profile] electric_d_monkand later [profile] neuromancerzss, I'm investigating Fate and Spirit of the Century as possible systems for the steampunk game. Sadly, I have yet to make much progress on the plot of this game, but bizarrely, I was struck by an idea for an interesting one shot for a different game. Made an awful lot of progress on it today. I think if I can pull it together, I'm going to cast lines for who would like to be in it. More on this later, though, when I'm sure I've got something solid here. 

Went out with my family to dinner and a movie tonight. None of them had seen Iron Man yet, so we went to that before grabbing a bite at a restaurant near the theater. Jared took me to see it on Wednesday, and I liked it enough that I was glad to see it again. One of the best superhero flicks I've seen in a long time, I highly reccomend it. And afterward, we went to an ice cream parlor notable for being the only place I know that carries red velvet cake ice cream. Yum, yum. An excellent conclusion to the evening.
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Wow, I have been bad lately about posting every day. Ah, well, here's to fixing that.

I'm at home in Pennsylvania now, trying to figure out what's worth it to unpack for three weeks and what to stuff to store where until then. My computer, my real one as opposed to this lousy laptop, isn't set up yet, but I'm looking forward to playing Morrowind on it that 

[profile] electric_d_monk and [profile] captainecchihave so generously lent me.  Maybe in the meantime I'll get some gaming stuff organized while I have nothing in particular to do. It'll be great having people to game with this summer. I'd love to run something, especially my idea for a steampunk game, but I'm not sure what system to use. My first thought was Unknown Armies, but I don't know it well enough to be sure. 

In the past few weeks, I haven't been taking very good care of myself. Had to much to worry about and get done, so I haven't been eating right, drinking enough, or taking care of my skin. So I am a slightly dehydrated, acne-encrusted mess right now. That will be another thing to think about for my downtime, to get my good habits back.
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Today's entry will be exceedingly random observations and comments.

My hair is longer than it's been in a long time. Next haircut, I will have to ask for a few inches off to keep things from becoming flat.

I have a sick fondness for making Mario and Peach fight each other in Smash Brothers because I can make trailer trash domestic abuse jokes. It's made even more awesome when Peach hits him with her frying pan. :-) Looking forward to doing the same with Link and Zelda.

My mom and I horseback rode today, her on Braveheart and me on Kincaid. It was very nice. Kincaid is always pretty messed up when I come back after a long time, but by now I'm used to it.

I love these little glass Coke bottles. They're more fun to drink from than the regular cans, and they're a significantly smaller serving of Coke without seeming to be. 

We're having yellowtail for dinner tonight. Maybe I'll have one more thing to add to my limited but growing cooking repetoire. I probably won't make it on my own much, it's awfully expensive, but I'm eager to learn more dishes. 

It's bizarre how bright it still is outside. I'm not yet used to the longer days since the season changed, but I like it.

I felt like i had more when I sat down to write this, but I guess that's all for now.


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