Games that I can’t get anybody to play (and I’m not sure why)

June 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Because they all look like fun to me!


Balloon Cup

Balloon cup is a neat two player card game about balloon racing, where a series of terrain cards are laid down (plains vs hills), and players get hands of cards with differing values which are combined into low or high scores – the player with the highest combination scores the hills, the player with the lowest combination scores the plains. To make things interesting, on your turn you can either play a card to try to improve your own route, or play a card on your opponent’s route in hopes of making it worse.
Although this game has a strong following, it went out of print a while back – as a result, I went and had a knock-off made up using artwork created by another gamer:

I’ve mentioned it to my wife a few times, no interest returned – which sucks because one of the reasons I went through the expense of having the cards made up is I really thought this would be one she’d enjoy. It’s been collecting dust on my desk for months.

 

Camelot Legends

A card game built around the King Arthur stories. Each player gets a hand of knights and other characters from the stories, each of which have unique strengths and weaknesses, and use them to complete a series of quests more successfully than the other players. Really interesting looking game, never been played.

 

Dominion

One of the most popular games released in the last decade, this was given to me by my sister in law, one game was played between my wife and I. She decided she didn’t “get” it, wasn’t interested in trying it again, and it’s sat on the shelf ever since.
Dominion is a “deck building” card game, where each player starts with a small deck at the beginning of the game and over the course of the game uses money cards and various special card actions to gain income and more cards for your deck that you can create hands from. Hard to explain clearly but it’s a neat and fun type of game.

 

Drakon

A game where players compete to loot an ever-changing (and slowly revealed) lair of treasure and make it out before being turned into DragonSnackinz.
Got about half a of game of this one in with the wife before she decided I was “being mean” (the game allows you to make changes that will mess up other players) and quit.
Hasn’t seen the light of day again, but it seemed fun enough that I hope it will some day.

 

Formula D

I’ve played this a couple of times at gaming conventions and had an absolute blast – this Formula One racing game is seriously one of the most fun games I’ve ever played.
Because I went on about it so much, my wife bought it for my birthday last year – and even played it with me once. However, we discovered that this game is pretty boring with only 2 people playing – up to 10 can play and there just needs to be more cars on the track for it to feel like a real competition.
So far I’ve had zero luck in getting anyone else to try it though.

 

Goldbrau

A really neat looking game where the players run beer stands at a beer festival, and compete for ownership of table space, ownership of the various beer stands, and invest in the various breweries that they think will have the best sales at the festival. A very neat mix of investment and territory-grab gaming mechanisms.
Have had one person express interest in trying it out pretty much based on theme alone, haven’t convinced anybody else yet – and the game has to have at least 3 players, optimally 4 for the best experience.

 

GOSU

GOSU (GOblin SUpremacy) is a card game about warring goblin tribes. Each tribe has it’s own central theme (fire, tech, magic, widsdom, etc) and each card (which represent individual goblin soldiers) have it’s own special characteristics that come into play when that card is played which can affect other cards being played.
I’ve played it quite a bit online, and although it took me a few games to get the hang of it, I ended up falling in love with this game.
After mentioning it a few times, I ended up getting it as a gift from my sister in law. My wife tried it with me once, declared the game had “too much going on” and never wanted to touch it again. It’s been collecting dust in storage since.

 

Last Chance

Last Chance is a sort of combination of a betting game and a yahtzee/press-your-luck dice game. I enjoy both types of games, so I figured having them both in one could be really fun.
One player gets a card showing a combination of dice that they must get within a certain number of rolls. The other players make bets on whether they think that player will actually be able to do it or not.
Have had it around at a couple of parties, zero interest shown for it.

 

Metro

I’ve gotten to play this one once, many years ago, and haven’t been able to get it played since.
In Metro players get random track tiles and try to create the most valuable routes while at the same time trying to keep the other players from doing the same. I recall that I quite enjoyed this one, but it’s been a long time.

 

Mission: Red Planet

In this steampunky-themed game players take control of various characters each turn as they attempt to use their abilities to make the most progress at getting rockets full of colonists fired off to Mars, after which there may be struggle for territory.
The game was designed by the guy who designed Citadels, a game which my wife has really enjoyed and it shares some of the same play mechanisms, but this one requires at least 3, so it’s sat on the shelf unplayed for months on end.

 

Nightfall

A card game about battles between vampire clans, I won this at a gaming convention a while back and haven’t gotten it played yet. Has some game play similar to Dominion (mentioned earlier) but with a much darker theme, and the ability to “chain” cards to create nasty combos.

 

OGRE

This is a classic light/mini war game where one player plays a troop of soldiers, and other other player plays one solder: a huge monster war machine with insane amounts of weapons and armor.
I recall liking this the last time I played it – 20 years ago or so. I still have a copy, but haven’t talked anybody into playing it again.

 

Open Rails Origins

This is a “print and play” game that acts as a sort of entry-level introduction to the variety of popular “railroad tycoon” type board games out there – it has somewhat simplified rules and a relatively small board which gets in the basics in a relatively short play time (allegedly around 40 minutes or so as opposed to the 4-6 hours (or sometimes even longer) that the more advanced games take).
I found the idea so interesting that I hand-built a copy from files on the internet – printed out the map & cards on cardstock, mounted board, created and painted my own wooden cubes, etc. I also played a hand in editing an even more newbie-friendly copy of the rulebook.
In this game, like most train games, players take on the role of railroad barons or investors, making bids to get shares in companies, and then once having enough shares to take control of a company, do the best job of laying and upgrading track, as well as buying and upgrading trains to create better income opportunities, in hopes with ending up with the most cash made from your investments by the end of the game.
I explained the game concept to my wife, and she made a sarcastic comment and walked off (apparently anything even touching on an investing or business theme, she is solidly not interested in).
Have one friend who said he’d be interested in checking it out, but when I suggest giving it a play it never seems to actually happen. We’ll see.

 

Pizza Box Football

This is a fairly simple game where the two players try to out think the plays that the other is likely to go with, and then roll a set of dice to see the results. Sort of like a board game version of the many football video games that have used this type of play theme.
Thought for sure I’d get one of the guys to play this – hell, it’s about football.
But no, it’s been mentioned a few times and I’ve seen no interest expressed for it.

 

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Got to play this one once, a little over a decade ago.
In this game players bid to get the best rides and then try to get the most business.
Another fun bidding game with cool 3D rollercoasters, but haven’t gotten it back to table yet.

 

Scotland Yard

Another quite popular game where one player plays the role of a criminal moving secretly throughout the city, and the other players play police inspectors who have to follow clues to hunt him down before he gets away.
I’ve never had a chance to actually try it, but I consistently hear good things about it.

 

Small World

This is another game that I played online a few times, loved it, and immediately went out to buy it.
A little bit like Risk, but in this game players play with a series of randomized races (each with their own abilities) and randomized special powers – for example you could end up with flying dwarves, or seafaring wizards or alchemist amazons or any of dozens of other combinations, making the game different every time, and some of the combinations can be downright entertaining.
Although I think the game is great, I’ve yet to convince anybody else of it, and it’s sat on the shelf unplayed for a year or so now.

 

Stack Market

Stack market is a dexterity game that has a light business investment theme pasted on.
Essentially, players over a series of turns try to create the tallest stack of dice (wooden cubes with pips painted on to appear a bit like skyscraper windows), and how high that “building” gets determines how successful that company is and how much money you make from it.
Looks/sounds like fun to me, but haven’t gotten anybody to try it, possibly a little bit due to the business theme. Haven’t even bothered to open up the bag of cubes yet, and I’ve had it for a couple of years now.

 

Sucking Vacuum

In this game, players are on a space station on which a disaster of some sort happens causing them to have to make a run for it – but there is a shortage of space suits. Players compete to get that suit, having no problem with tripping each other up along the way in the process.
Have had it for years, never found anybody who had an interest in playing it – possibly because it’s another game where you can be “mean” to each other.

 

Survive!

Survive is a game from the 80’s that is recently enjoying popularity again due to a very nice reprint edition that came out a couple of years ago. In this one, players are attempting to rescue people from an island that is slowly collapsing tile by tile, and the survivors attempt to make their ways to sounding safe islands without being attached by roaming sharks or sea monsters.
I seem to remember liking it when I was younger, would like to try it again. Haven’t convinced anyone to join me yet.

 

Wiz-War

Wiz-War has had a cult following for decades, and was out of print for at least one of those decades if not longer. In this game that was one of the first to be dubbed a “beer and pretzels” game, players each play a wizard in a maze, who are trying to steal treasure chests from each other while going at each other with spells which are played from a hand of spell cards.
I seem to recall playing it once, a long, long time ago, and enjoying it. But it’s been well over a decade since this one has seen the table.

 

Wizard’s Quest

This is an older game that I actually picked up only a few months ago, though I’ve mentioned it a couple of times and have gotten no interested reactions.
Has some play that again seems a bit “Risk like,” but in this game players play adventurers racing to find a trio of treasures spread out across the board, while along the way having to fight off hoards of orcs, occasional dragon encounters, and random, sometimes good, sometimes bad, interference from a wizard.
It looks really neat, and I’m hoping I’ll actually get a chance to try it sometime.

 

Zooloretto

This is one that I think may cause it’s own issues between the name and the “is this a kid’s game?” image on the box cover. However, it’s been described as essentially “Zoo Tycoon the board game” and is supposed to be quite good (the name comes from it using some of the mechanisms from a card game called Coloretto).
With this one I thought my wife might be interested due to the “cute animals” themeing, but no such luck. It’s been a dust collector on the shelf.

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Grrrrrr

May 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I may have to find another blog host again… this “new and improved” editor is seriously pissing me off….

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So hey, did I mention I got married?

January 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Yeah, things were crazy for a while, but they’ve been calmed down for a while although I’ve been working crazy amounts of overtime, and you’d think I would have been able to mention something about this by now.

LabGirl and I were wed on October 15, 2011, just after 3:00.
It was a beautiful autumn day, outside at the forest preserve (in fact it rained for several days *before* and *after* the wedding weekend, but not on the weekend itself, which was just a blessed event in itself).
I rented one of the huuuuge shelters, and the park service was kind enough to have somebody pull out all of the heavy-arse tables for us so we could put rows of chairs in there instead.
The guys and I showed up a few hours early to help decorate and set up, the lanterns and chandeliers presenting a bit of a challenge.

When LabGirl arrived and saw how the place was set up, she got all teary-eyed saying it was perfect. (Actually she spent a good part of the day teary-eyed, but hey. And yes, happy tears. Very, very happy tears – I have never seen her so happy).

It was a fairly short and sweet ceremony, ordained by the pastor of the church that my family has attended (at least off-and-on) since I was a baby and who preformed the funeral services for my mother earlier in the year.

The procession walked down the aisle to the Montreal Guitar Trio’s acoustic rendition of “Ecstasy of Gold,” (a little touch of Metallica that I think only the right people noticed), and LabGirl walked down the aisle to “Question” by Rhett Miller.
The vows were fairly standard with a couple of little tweaks, the ceremony involved a couple of prayers, and finished with a Bell of Truce ceremony (replacing that tired old “unity candle” thing), a Celtic/Irish tradition where a bell is blessed with the love of the day, rang during the ceremony, and then placed in a location of prominence in the home – the point being that if an ugly brawl ever breaks out, we both reserve the right to grab that bell and give it a rang, calling an instant truce – it’s meant to bring back memories and feelings of that day.
We exchanged rings, and vows, and kisses, and then walked out to the tune of “Say Hey (I love you),” making our way to our waiting chauffeured Rolls Royce.

At the reception, “Bliss” was our first dance, and the father-daughter dance was to “I Loved Her First,” which even had me a bit weepy-eyed.

It was a truly amazing day. As expected there were glitches here and there but nothing to get upset about, and our friends and family were an incredible help throughout the whole thing.

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Oops.

August 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm (Uncategorized)

So I’ve lived with Labgirl for I think close to 2 years now. That entire time we’ve had these hand-me-down dishes/bowls/etc that were pretty plain but did the job.

In those two years, I managed to break not a single one.

About two weeks ago, Labgirl had her bridal shower. Among the gifts we received during this shower were a number of placesettings of these beautiful, artsy, expensive plates & bowls.

So tonight I was carrying one of these bowls into the kitchen, and on the way into the kitchen, the entry way of which is a bit narrow, my arm bumps into the wall and….

Yeah.

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Checking out Diaspora – a future Facebook contender?

August 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm (Uncategorized)

So for several months I’ve been interested in checking out Diaspora; a new player in the social network arena, hoping to be attractive to people who are not fond of “the big guys” such as Facebook and Google+ tracking your every move and selling it to advertisers, among other privacy and content rights issues that sites like Facebook have had continual complaints about.

Diaspora asserts that it is different because it’s not a corporate entity – in fact, it’s not a single entity at all. But more about that in a second.

As far as “who runs it,” Diaspora uses a networking system that is different to all of the other popular social networking sites, as far as I’m aware.
There isn’t a building somewhere with a huge room with rows and rows of servers that are all run by one company. In fact, it really works more like a peer-to-peer network.
The main Diaspora “client” web site is in a way an application that can be hosted on any server, so there there can be any number of web sites that you can create your account on to call your “home” on the network. Then all of these host sites (or “pods” as they are called in Diaspora-speak) connect together to create a common information stream.

Although a while back I signed up to request to be a beta tester through their main “promotional” web site, JoinDisapora.com, but it had been months and I never got the invite. But through a bit of web searching I ran across one of the “pods” that is openly accepting new accounts – Diasp.org, and signed up.

It’s only been a few days, but what I’m seeing in this alpha product is actually pretty darned neat. It seems to be sort of an interesting mix of features between Twitter and Facebook, with a number of added nice touches.

The main window (or “stream” window) is, unsurprisingly, very Facebook-like. There is a comment box at the top for you to enter your latest updates, under which a stream of updates from people you are following is listed, along with some links on the sides:
Diaspora Main Screen

The status box itself is a bit different than you usually see, and has a few interesting features. The basics are of course there like text entry and the ability to add a photo attachment, but Diaspora also adds the ability to group your contacts into “aspects,” such as friends, acquaintances, work, etc – and you can create custom aspect groups as well, such as my “gamers” aspect that I created in anticipation of following other gamers. You can then select any or all of these aspect groups as those who can read the message you’re about to post. Something like this can, I suppose, come in very handy when you want to post something that would only be of interest to certain people, or that you only want certain people seeing. (I’m not a member of Google+, but from what I understand their “circles” function is very similar to this. The Diaspora team appears to be of the opinion that they likely stole the idea from them, considering Diaspora was in alpha well before G+ started accepting beta users).
A status update can also be tagged as “public” using the little globe icon at the bottom, which means that your post can be searched and read by absolutely anybody on Diaspora.

Diaspora status window

Add to this the “hash” functionality of Twitter, where you can “tag” a message to make it come up in searches for that subject by others; for example, if you’re a fan of cheesecake, and you you’d like other cheesecake fans to be able to find your message, you can write something like “I love #cheesecake!” and thusly when someone searches for the “hash tag” of “#cheescake” your message will come up.
One cool feature regarding these that Twitter doesn’t have, is Diaspora offers the option to “follow” a hash tag. My assumption is that just like “following” a person, that means that any public message that is posted with that hash tag would come up in your stream. As of yet I have not witnessed this actually working, however, so I guess that remains to be seen.

Other small touches that are nice include the ability to sort by time of the original post, or to have new comments on posts you’re following show up at the top of your stream rather than constantly having to completely switch your view (or open a new tab, as I tend to do with FB)… this is the default behavior of the news stream. When you post a status, you can choose to have that update cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr (though you can post messages through Diaspora, you can’t actually read updates from these services).
And of course the basics are there such as a “like” button, the ability to privately message friends, the ability to “mention” others in your posts using the @ (originally a Twitter thing, later adopted by Facebook), an update notification that also emails the updates, and so on.

SO:
Stuff I Like:
I think many of the features of Diaspora are very cool – pretty much everything I mentioned above is something that I think is a really neat feature to have. I also like the “your information belongs to you, not us” policy. I really like how they took some of the best messaging features of both Twitter and Facebook and seem to have been mostly successfully in mashing them together.

Stuff I Don’t Like:
Keep in mind, Diaspora is currently in alpha as I write this, so anything that’s a gripe may change later.
First off, although in theory I absolutely like the way it works, the “non-centralized” (or sort of peer-to-peer like) nature of Diaspora is really confusing, even to geeks, let alone the general public. I know that “staying out from under a corporate umbrella” is one of the main points of the system, but I think this could hurt their growth from plain old everyday users. There isn’t just one web site to go to; in fact currently there are a couple of dozen, and the list is likely to keep growing. I suppose if they eventually set up at least one “primary” host site at “Diaspora.com” or something like that it could be helpful, but without corporate backing whoever hosts that probably wouldn’t be able to take on the traffic other social sites get.
A huge annoyance I discovered today is that although the system automatically signs you up to receive updates on posts you’ve commented on, you currently can’t STOP receiving updates. There’s one “welcome” post I commented on that gets probably a half dozen comments a day that I really couldn’t care less about, that get emailed to me. No way to stop it.
The site is heavily javascript based, which for the most part is not a big deal, but there are certain points, such as when I scroll down far enough that it needs to load more messages in my stream history, that Firefox locks up solid. I’ve had to halt the FF application repeatedly. I did notice that tonight I was not getting this problem, so maybe it’s being worked on, but we’ll see – maybe I just had a lucky night.
There are currently no associated apps – just messaging. There’s no photo album (though they are currently trying to get Cubbi.es to integrate), no calendar, no groups, and of course no games. Of course, they are still in alpha just getting the messaging system to work, so maybe some of that stuff will come in the future.

Overall, I have to say that at least after just a few days of playing with it, I’m really enjoying using the system  – if only there were more people there to talk to. Apparently JoinDiaspora is getting ready to start sending out the beta invites to their “main” pod though, so maybe that will help. I’ll definitely be keeping up with this one!

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Hating my job, and learning CAD

August 12, 2011 at 7:45 am (Uncategorized)

I bitch about my job to the point were a number of people around me are probably well tired of hearing about it. And, you know, I’d be happy to stop bitching if they’d just stop doing something on an almost weekly basis that pisses me off.

Their most recent noteworthy move was to end up in such a bad negotiation fail with our main client that it ended up resulting in the equivalent of about a 30% pay cut. And the same week that went into effect? Additional overtime. Yup, they apparently saw our cut in pay as a perfect opportunity to have us work more without it costing them anything additional. They are so awesome like that.

I mean that’s not the only thing I hate about it, although it’s certain a contributing factor. There’s also the fact that the work is just mind-numbingly boring, that we get a constant flow of negative feedback and nothing positive, that their “QC” standards are f’ed up to the point where making one or two typos a month can cost you an additional 10% pay cut, that my supervisor is ineffective due to the fact that she’s never done our job and thus has no idea what we’re talking about half the time when giving feedback… it could just go on and on.
So what do I like about it? I’ve thought about this and have come up with… flex-time scheduling. I’m not a morning person, so I love this feature, which basically refers to how instead of having a set start time in the morning, we are given a four hour window under which we can show up for work. I love that because I have the speed of a tree sloth in the morning.

Now, frankly a guy can only take being bent over a barrel so many times, and I’ve seen that barrel so often that I’m starting to refer to it by name, holding on as I have deep, meaningful conversations with it about how only it understands me, as I try to keep my mind off of how I wish my company would invest in some lube before rolling out now policies.

So I’ve been looking for something else in my field. And looking. And looking. And looking. They’re just not out there. I have had many other coworkers who have bailed, and taken jobs in companies like retail or customer service… but I’ve done those jobs, and I can tell you as much as I hate my current job, I’d still have to be a step away from being homeless and starving on the street before I take another one of those again. Dealing with the general public just irritates the living hell out of me.

Before I got into my current field I used to do computer support. It paid fairly well, was relatively stress-free, and although it did have it’s periods of boring down-time, the work itself was more often than not interesting enough to keep me engaged in what I was doing. But I got out of that field because it really dried up after the “dot-com boom” was over and companies started to realize it wasn’t that cost efficient to pay an IT guy to be on staff all day after day when there usually wasn’t enough stuff breaking to keep him busy – so they largely started to lay off IT staff and decide to “call it in” when they needed support. That, and although the opportunities are better in large cities, the city I live in is practically an IT desert. And when companies hire now, they’re usually looking for somebody that’s an absolute IT God that knows the ins and outs of every system ever made by man.. and is willing to work for $14/hr. Because they can, because the job market is that cutthroat. So among other reasons I decided this was no longer the field for me as of about 10 years ago.

But I need to do *something* to advance myself past where I am. And after a few discussions with people, I decided to try to take up CAD drafting. This was something I was interested in a while back, but had been told that as a breed drafters were dying out – companies had gotten to the point where they expected people like engineers to just take this on as one of their responsibilities instead of hiring separate staff to do it. Apparently though although this does happen, there are still plenty of companies that hire drafters just to draft, and I’ve thought it would be awesome if I were one of them. I’ve always had an affection for design and at one point was considering going back to school as an industrial design major (these are folks who design mostly consumer products), but going back to school full-time with unpaid internship requirements does not mix well with being a middle-age adult with financial responsibilities; plus I’m not thrilled about the idea of added more debt on top of the school loans that I already have that are taking me forever to pay off (and I’m still not even close).

But CAD appears to be something that can be fairly self-taught. There are a large number of inexpensive (or free) software packages out there that emulate the more pricey programs that are often used by businesses, and there is an endless supply of learning materials out there. Really I figure it should just take some time to learn how the packages work and then get a ton of practice with them, and once familiar with one of the “grandpappy” software programs like AutoCad branch out into a few other popular packages to get an idea how they work.

Then, I figure, maybe if I’m lucky I can land a few temp or contract jobs to “get my foot in the door” of an industry I have zero job experience in. And then hopefully after doing that for a little bit maybe land something full time.
I’m already having daydreams of landing a position with a large aerospace company that is actually within walking distance of my house. That would be so awesome.

Now deciding which CAD program to learn appears to be a little tricky. There appear to literally be hundreds of options out there, with many programs that are specialized for specific types of work (mechanical design, architecture, etc) and the program any company decides to go with appears to almost be a crap shoot.
But from the research I’ve done, the “big daddy” still appears to be AutoCad. At the very least, it appears that a large portion of other programs get the basis of the way they work from this program, and I think it’s probably the best place to start. Doing a search of schools that offer CAD training, it appears the schools all appear to share this opinion as well, as it’s really the only CAD class that schools offer.

I’ve also been seeing a lot of talk about a program called SolidWorks being extremely popular in the world of mechanical drafting, and as this is probably the area I’m most interested in (and is also probably the most prevalent in this city) that will probably be one to keep my eye on as I advance in my learning. (Interestingly, this $5000 (!!!) program is made by the same company that makes DraftSight, the freebie AutoCad clone I’m currently using to learn on).

With my wedding now being only two months away, and being on continuous overtime at work, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to dive into this, but I’ve started and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up speed soon.

(I have to admit, SolidWorks does look pretty damned cool).

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RIP, Mom

May 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm (Uncategorized)

I suppose I should make mention of this, even though I’m fairly certain nobody really looks at this blog any longer…

Mom passed away a couple of weeks ago, after what became about a year and a half long battle with brain cancer.
“Officially” her passing was called at 12:35a on May 6th, though in reality it happened somewhere between 9:30p-11:30p on the 5th. I had just been over for a visit until about 9, shortly after which dad went to bed for a couple of hours before attempting to give mom a pill again around 11:30.
I got a call around 11:45 from dad, saying that he was pretty sure she had died, wasn’t breathing, and her color was changing.
Even in those last minutes, as he was saying that he was pretty certain she had passed, I could tell that a part of him was grasping at a tiny shred of hope that maybe she would start breathing again, that maybe she would wake up again.

But sadly that wasn’t to be. I drove right back over there again, right around the same time her nurse was arriving. Once there it didn’t take long for her to confirm that mom had in fact passed, though to “call” it she had to use the date & time when she made the determination, which came out to be the next day because midnight had passed.

Apparently the hospice service had notified her church pastor, who was kind enough to stop by in the middle of the night and spend some time with us, and had us join in a prayer.

And I stood by as the funeral home came to retrieve her, and I watched as they carried her away by hand after wrapping her in a sheet because the doorways of the house have turns that are too tight for a gurney.

And then I stayed the night so dad wouldn’t have to spend that night alone, only getting about 3 hours of sleep, and calling in to work in the morning to let them know I wouldn’t be there for a week or so.

I’ll miss her very much. We weren’t super close, as often happens between mothers and sons through the years, but I think of anything that just makes me wish I had gotten to know her better when I had the chance.

I do try to think of it as positively as possible: she was so bad off for many months that I can’t imagine anyone would want to spend life like that any longer than they had to.
And I do know that if there’s a Heaven, she’s definitely there.

Rest in peace, mom; I love you.

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Facebook is killing my blog

March 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Seriously I’m starting to wonder how big of a project it would be to go and just mass dump stuff I’ve talked about on facebook over the last six months or so onto here.

I do have serious amounts of stuff going on… but I’ve been talking about it pretty much exclusively on the FB.

I need to start writing stuff that’s longer than 3 sentences again.

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An update on mom’s cancer

September 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Been a while since I’ve written on this (or anything, for that matter), and for the most part there hasn’t been anything positive to write about when it comes to this.

Her condition went a significant step worse a few weeks ago, when my dad took her to the ER due to excruciatingly painful headaches.

On the night they admitted her they did ct scans and found that the brain tumor was bleeding. They gave her several transfusions of a plasma with some sort of special clotting properties, and felt they had the bleeding under control within a day or so.
However, the headaches kept coming, sometimes multiple times in an hour, and the doctors didn’t really seem to be sure what was causing it.

After many days of trying different variations of pain medication, none of which seemed to make much difference, but after several days they seemed to finally find a combination of drugs that seemed to keep her mostly out of pain.

But unfortunately her brain seemed to have taken a heavy blow from this incident. She had been having some difficulty talking and having confusion even before this, but now the nurses had asked her several “you should know this” questions such as where she was right at that moment, what year it was, what her husband’s name was, what her own name was, etc. She wasn’t able to answer a single one of them correctly.

Since then she has been having periods of being completely unresponsive, not eating (and not allowing anyone to feed her), days where she’d try to speak but only incomprehensible gibberish would come out, and other such bad signs.

She’s had slight improvement since then, but after being in the hospital for over 3 weeks my dad was pressured by both the hospital and Medicare to move her elsewhere for longer-term care, and on Wednesday we went together to check out a couple of nursing/hospice homes.
It was really, really depressing.

In the end he decided to bring her home and hire an in-home hospice service, who will providing a hospital bed and any needed supplies, will be sending an RN to visit at least 3 times a week and possibly more if requested, will have an RN on a hotline 24 hours a day, and will provide pastoral services.

I think this was probably a good decision for everybody’s state of mind and will be more comfortable for mom. There were aspects of those nursing homes that reminded me of something out of a nightmare, and in one the patient rooms reminded me of a jail cell. It’ll be a bit more work for the family to take care of her when she’s at home, but I think it’s the best way to go.

The doctors are now estimating maybe about 3 months to go, so I’m thinking happy holidays may not be in the plan this year.

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Learning to play with wood

June 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm (Uncategorized)

For probably well over a decade or more, I’ve had this interest in woodworking.
In fact, during a phase of unemployment I went through about eight or nine years ago, I had applied to be an apprentice at a local cabinetmaking company.
I didn’t get the position, mainly because they wanted somebody who at least had some experience with it (which I didn’t), and since I’ve lived in apartments since being in my early 20’s there really just hasn’t been anywhere to practice it.

But a little while ago I was down in the basement here at the house, took a look at a workbench that was used by a prior owner that was just covered with junk by LabGirl, and that little spark of interest ignited again.

I went out and bought a bunch of power tools, stuff I’d had my eye on but had no use for in apartment living.
Bought Craftsman brand saws, a circular saw and a jig saw. Haven’t used the circular saw much yet but it appears to work fine, and the jigsaw has been a workhorse.
I then blew a bunch of cash over at Harbor Freight, buying mostly odds-and-ends like clamps, screwdrivers, chisels, rasps, etc etc etc, and did buy a couple of power tools, a corded drill, and a small rotary tool.
The rotary tool is a total piece of crap, but the drill does a fairly decent job, especially for the price. Will probably end up posting reviews of many of these since there don’t appear to be much along those lines out there on the ‘net already and the store’s web site I’ve noticed doesn’t like to post negative reviews (I thought it was cool when they finally updated their web site to allow reviews at all a couple of months ago, only to discover it doesn’t really matter because every time I’d write a negative review on something they’d never post the review).

So far I haven’t really done anything significant – mostly “handyman” type stuff around the house – I did build two collapsible sawhorses, which came out pretty good, this one, and another I added a 6″ wide “flat top” to:

Let’s see, what else was I inspired to do around the house…. umm I got the pocket door in the kitchen working again, which was a major pain in the ass and required taking the door frame apart to get at it, along with lots of struggling and trial and error with “universal” roller/caster parts available at the hardware stores.
Replaced the screening on the sliding patio door including a new cat-proof framing system.
Replaced all of the door moulding that LabGirl tore off sometime before I moved in during a fit of new homeowner fixer-upper excitement that didn’t make it to completion.
Removed several large bushes & stumps in front of the house.
OH, and I almost forgot – I cat-proofed my computer desk – for some reason the cat LOVES the wiring behind the desk and was constantly getting back there, and would constantly fight with me over it whenever I tried to keep him out of there. So – viola!:

It’s really nothing more than a piece of scrap plywood I found in the basement that I cut to fit the opening in the back panel fo the desk, along with a couple of hinges & a handle so I could access the wiring back there when I needed to.
It didn’t take long for me to discover that I would also need to put barriers on the sides of the desk towards the back, because now the cat would just try to go in from the side instead of from underneath – so those “wings” were added shortly after.

My current project is a test to see how hard it would be to sand & re-stain the kitchen cabinets to hopefully help them look a little more modern – mostly on the back of one of the less-used doors right now.

I have tons of plans bookmarked to try out, including stuff like patio furniture, a pergola for the back yard, etc – but as it turns out, wood costs money, and the paychecks have been a little more slim than usual lately so I’ve had to hold off.
Maybe something a little more small/simple for the time being like a bird feeder or something 🙂

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