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The Self-Appreciation Society

being one of those Stupid Weblog Things

January 12th, 2009

It's All About Söll @ 02:05 pm

Short version:
I went on my firstest ever package holiday, a ski trip to Austria. I don't really know anyone who skis but suggested it to a few people, but those all fell through as such things do. It'd snowed in the area for three days around Christmas but then had a day of rain, so the snow was mostly artificial, and icy once the grooming had been scraped off by traffic. I didn't bring my computer, my phone stayed off until touching down again in Dublin, and most aspects of my life were replaced: I had a set routine, lots of free time, was all by myself, and so on. Typically I'd get up early for breakfast, be on the slopes around 9, ride until about 3 or 4, go home, have a shower, read a bit, go out for dinner, read some more and go to sleep early. I had plenty of fun, but I think in future I would like to have someone of a similar skill level and direction of interest to my own to ride with; it's just more fun that way.

Long version:
Manoeuvering my awkwardly-shaped snowboard bag which also contains my clothes and toothpaste and other holiday things to and from the DART and bus, I arrive in plenty of time at the airport in the afternoon. My bag goes in at the oversized luggage area and after a half-hour delay we make for Salzburg. It's after sundown when the plane arrives and as we approach the city something looks odd about it, like it's primarily water but not rippling. Eventually it clicks with me that I'm looking at snow.

Travel company thingie representatives in uniforms are waiting with directions and coaches and in about an hour and three quarters after crossing into Germany and back out again I'm in Söll on the Ski Welt arena. My pension seems fine, although some reviews I read online after booking warn of the domineering landlady. I go straight to bed.

Having been instructed to queue at a particular shop to collect lift tickets (and rental gear for those who need that), I turn up after an uninteresting continental breakfast and eventually get my pass. I get on the gondola and thence on another one, up to the top of the mountain by Söll, Hohe Salve. I get my gear in order and figure I'll warm up with some easy blue or red graded runs. Unfortunately I accidentally head off down a black, which is doable but not particularly pretty, given that this is my first time on snow this season.

I spend the morning poking around the Söll area, but there are seven or so villages all interconnected by ski lifts and pistes, so presently I start making my way to Westendorf, where it transpired my parents honeymooned. I leave the slopes there and find a cafè for lunch; pea soup with frankfurter bits in, and a chocolate cake with fruit curd filling. The size of the Ski Welt arena (Austria's largest interconnected ski area, apparently) means that to be a manageable size the map has to be completely crap, marking lifts but not pistes, so I get lost on my way back and fail to make it further than the very furthest village from Söll by the time the lifts close. I get a taxi back for a cool 34 eurobucks and am annoyed.

There's a meeting tonight for people on the same package thing as me, so I find the appropriate pub and have a beer and listen to stuff that doesn't apply to me because I'm not in lessons or potentially getting jaded or wanting to go shopping in Innsbruck or going tobogganing. I ask the representative dude, Lenny, for a restaurant recommendation and he says that pretty much anywhere is good but names one in particular, so I head home for a shower with the intention of going there. While in the shower with my muscles aching from being used in ways they hadn't in nine months, the idea of bed enters my head and I can't shake it. Eventually I relent and just go there.

I buy some bottled water and Jaffa Cakes in a Spar and head up top for a bit before meeting Lenny who'd offered to show folks around. I turn out to be the only taker though so he wouldn't be going out, but we chat a bit and he gives me some directions. I go to have a look at the areas in the opposite direction from Westendorf. I eat my Jaffa Cakes at a scenic viewpoint (although can't rate them relative to others as they were strongly chilled and my jaw was too cold to eat properly). I'm starting to get my groove back and hit a little bit of off-piste, which is where it's most at for me. Again the poor map gets me lost and when the lifts close I'm stuck in Scheffau, the village next to Söll. I start walking, not something to which snowboard boots particularly lend themselves. After a while a sympathetic guy from Munich who's been hanging out in his parents' chalet for the weekend gives me a lift.

After a shower and change of clothing I go to Lenny's recommended restaurant, the Dorfstub'n. I have a beer, cream of garlic soup, a venison and mushroom dish which is similar to steak & kidney pie with a side of unidentifiable squidgy things, the wrong wine (ooops, Pinot Grigiot is white) and pancakes stuffed with ice cream and with chocolate sauce and nuts on. I consider the concept of après ski and decide not to bother. The recent movie The Guardian, with Kevin Costner, is about the training camp for U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmers, and a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer I worked with said that it wasn't a bad depiction of the training, but that if you'd gone out drinking and having romantic sub-plots in the evening you'd fail, because you wouldn't have enough energy for the training. Seems to me that people who can dance haven't been skiing hard enough. I wonder about exactly what I should be doing, since I don't really have a goal like "improve tree riding" or "hit every piste", and decide that getting some video footage will provide some focus.

I stop in the Spar to buy some rather spiffy plasters, deciding that now is not the time to stop throwing good money after bad and a raw spot on my shin will only curtail my enjoyment. Determined not to get stuck in the wrong village tonight I stick around the Söll mountains, including tracking down the last peak in the arena I had yet to visit. I'm well warmed-up and back on form by now and am seeking the most interesting off-piste I can find. I follow the top gondola down the steepest section, dotted with trees and avalanche fences. Lunch is the remainder of the Jaffa Cakes, now squished together from being fallen upon. Later into the day the physical and mental effort of riding the rough has tired me a bit so I stick to easier stuff like black pistes and off the reds.

I successfully finish the day in Söll, have a shower and a short wander turns up another decent-looking restaurant, the Feldwebel. I have a beer, big burger-sized patties of deep-fried camembert on toast, a beer, pork liver slices in gravy with fried potatoes and a sweet sultana omelette with cold stewed plum goo. I'm noticing that a simple restaurant meal is making me all stuffed lately, I can't eat like I'm used to and wonder if that's age catching up with me or something to do with lifestyle.

The map lists a few circuits to try, the first one being based around Söll, so I decide to give that a go and see if I can fit in one or two of the others in the afternoon. Naturally the terrible map and difficult-to-follow piste marking makes this take much longer than it should as I repeatedly arrive at the wrong lift, so trying to find my way around is a bit frustrating. I do find some fun off-piste on my way around, and note that the smallest, least-populated lifts seem to have the best un-groomed slopes. By the time I'm back to the start it's too late to risk a shot at a different circuit. I dine on cereal bars on the lifts and wander about looking for stuff that looks like fun. I find my way into an area covered by tiny stream ditches which makes for a lot of falling, though I do manage to jump one and keep going without nose-diving into soft snow.

As the day goes on though I find myself getting tired, taking falls where I shouldn't really be, my turns onto my heel-side are becoming sloppy, the map is crap, the pistes are icy, off-piste is getting crusty (hey, aren't we all?) and I'm getting pissed off. The last straw comes as I find myself starting down the wrong side of Hohe Salve, decide to traverse off-piste around to the correct side on the assumption that it'd only be about 40 metres or so and find myself traversing very steep unfriendly terrain with stream valleys and spurs, snow that I wouldn't be surprised to find avalanching and a long way down to nowhere - I doubt I'd be found until the spring thaw. When your brain starts making decisions that put you in that kind of situation, if you're smart you'll recognise that it's time to call it quits. I pack it in a bit early and wander around Söll a bit after a shower. Later on I go to a hotel restaurant I found on that wander, the Postwirt, for gluhwein, beef broth with cooked cheese medallions in it, beer, traditional Tyrolian pasta baked with cheese (so mac & cheese then) with sauerkraut and chocolate cake with a curd filling again. I negotiate the entire transaction in German and feel clever.

I have a cold, probably why I was crap yesterday. I do the Westendorf circuit with that my only agenda for the day, so when I get lost there's no stress. I take my time and when I'm following the circuit, when I see something interesting from the lift, I hit it, and ride the lift again to continue along the circuit. In the afternoon it's getting icy, and I'm not on top form but don't really mind because I'm relaxing a bit, and I quit early not because I can't continue but because I'm on holiday.

I read an article in a ski magazine once contrasting American and European ski holidays. Americans, it said, get up at the crack of dawn, catch the first chair, go hard all day, eat on the slopes, get kicked off the mountain by ski patrol's closing sweeps and go to bed so they can do the same tomorrow, because they have like 10 days' holiday in the year. Europeans, with forty-something, it said, tend to be more of the persuasion of lie-in, leisurely breakfast, make a few turns before a long lunch, take some afternoon runs and then get off the slopes early to primp up for some après ski. I've always been very much in the American camp, but with no real goals I'm shooting for here, I realised that it wouldn't hurt to relax a bit.

I find a restaurant called the Söllerstuben where I consume gluhwein, beef broth with a big dumpling containing smoky bacon in it, fried potatoes with assorted meat bits with a fried egg atop served in a pan and accompanied by poxy mixed canned salads, beer, and warm chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce and ice cream. The waitress compliments me on my German.

Lenny has offered to show folks around again now that many will be out of ski school, so I take a run or two before meeting him. At last we set out with two guys called Paddy and two others who vanish off to make phone calls shortly after we get started. It's slow-moving, as tends to happen when skiing in a group, but Lenny knows some handy ways of getting from A to B like along paths through the trees and such. It's a sunny day and the snow's a bit softer than it has been. We stop for a drink and I have a hot chocolate with rum, which sounds like a fantastic idea to me but tastes like burning plastic. Lenny gives the Paddies some ski instruction and when he departs we split up and I take my last few runs of the season alone. I'm getting a little of my mojo back and am not disappointed with myself when I'm finished.

The suggestion of meeting the Paddies somewhere had been made but I'm too tired for that, with my cold progressing, so I go to the restaurant of the Gasthof Christophus for gluhwein, CHEESE & RASHERS SOUP (this is just such an amazingly elegant application of the basic laws of food physics), Wienerschnitzel because I feel I must try it but it turns out to be fish & chips except the fish is pork and I'm afraid Austrians don't do fish & chips as good as we do, beer, apfelstrudel which is like a less goopy apple crumble without the crumble, and beer.

I am successfully breakfasted and packed and purtied up and checked out just in time. I wander the village a bit while waiting for the coach and have a hot chocolate and raspberry cream cake in a cafè. I forget to put my penknife snowboard repair tool in my checked luggage and have to hand it over to a security dude, never to be seen again.

December 31st, 2008

...and a Merry 2009 @ 11:40 pm

Well, I went to kendo, had fun, had an 'on' night where I kicked everyone's ass repeatedly, got nicely tired and sweaty, chatted to people, and when we went outside the so-lovely-you'd-take-him-home-you-would Martin produced bubbly and chocolates from his visit to his parents in whatever part of eastern Europe they live in (he's never pinned down his wandering origins to one specific country that I know about). Everybody had some and most of it got poured into my cup by drivers and non-drinkers and it was delicious, and I scrummed choccies and we all said happy new year and I went home and there were illegal fireworks over the rooftops. No matter what I do for the night it won't get any better, so I came home, hair asunder with drying sweat and getting the customary seasonal funny looks from people who are wearing big coats and hats presumably over their own loud shirts.

Although I feel cooler elsewhere, I'm never happier than when I'm in Dublin. There was an amusing sarcastic email reply to an amusing sarcastic email holiday greeting I'd sent to my mate Lee in the States, and he was sending it from the ski patrol room at my old job with some of my old colleagues standing around and telling him to say hello for them.

So I'm ringing in the new year on my own with an apple and a Planet of the Apes movie, and I feel great. Happy new year everyone! I've got a good feeling about this one.

Happy Holidays @ 07:40 pm

The holidays thus far (for mine stretch for the better part of an unpaid month as the courts break between two peculiarly-named terms) has been most enjoyable, and so for that matter has life on either side of it.

My job as a latter-day monkey with a typewriter is interesting in the way that being a tourist in court would be, with decent hours (typically 10 to 4, sometimes out much earlier). I've been in on a few murder cases lately which is where it gets interesting and people look like they're making an effort. To my surprise, seeing the system in action has given me a good deal of faith in it; it's much better than a democratic country deserves. If it were left to the common man, you know, like anyone who's ever used the phrase "should be taken out and shot" in casual conversation, it'd be awful, but instead the jurisdiction of Joe Soap is tightly contained to judging the facts on a jury (which looks like an experience too - on the last murder case there, one of them was crying as they read out their majority verdict of guilty).

There's been some good partying recently; the Night Before Christmastime gaming in my house was well-attended and although I ruined my game by going at the egg-nog with what I've come to refer to as the guile and hard-earned cynicism of a naive sixteen-year-old schoolgirl at her first frat party, apparently cutting my memory capacity down to mere minutes, there were crackers and food and wine and convoluted gift exchange and the other game was probably good.

Tom's birthday was food-filled and low-key and I'm sure there's some poignant catch-phrase or seanfhocal to describe how no amount of carefully-selected high quality whiskey was able to make me like it or turn me into the snob I'd love to have the option of being. Some guy who recognised me from years back explained all about mock weddings to me (it's a game a bit like a murder mystery dinner), insisting that they're huge and all the rage and everyone's doing it and everyone's heard of it, and nobody at all that I've mentioned it to since has ever heard of the concept. I outstayed my strictest welcome by many hours when Tom's brother, late in the night, made the mistake of expressing some opinion about some James Bond movie, which led to several more hours of intense discussion.

There was a Red Cross unit dinner out which was alright; I hope the unit leader doesn't think I'm hitting on his wife just because she seems to (probably correctly) think I'm the most interesting person in the room to talk to.

My brother and sister are in various foreigns so Christmas was a smaller affair than usual; I got gaming books and Sharpe DVDs and snowboarding wrist-guards, Mum got a box of Amazon and Twin Peaks DVDs. We had dinner with Mum's sister's family, including my cousin's new manling which marks the first (and, hope springs eternal, final) installation in the post-my generation.

Dizzy and Britta's housewarming party was plenty of fun with lots of desirable people in attendance. I wasn't the drunkest person there which was nice (although I still got pretty obnoxious, as is, lamentably, my fashion) (oh yeah, in case you're wondering Pixies, the drunkest person there was you). There were hilarious inebriated romantic revelations from the dark past - none of which, fortunately, matter anymore - and people posing sexily with cigarettes. I tried hard to outstay my welcome here, but Dizzy steadfastly refused to imply that he'd like me to stop drinking, which is just as well since he was shoving drinks under noses all night.

Tonight it's New Year's Eve and I didn't really know what to do. I got an SMS message yesterday saying that one of our best kendo guys "wants to put on a intimate kendo class tomorrow night". Although that reads like the most wafer-thinly disguised set-up for a brutal gang-raping, I'm going to head along to that and see what happens - either I'll do kendo and be tired and go to bed, or I'll do kendo and follow somebody to something fun.

Game-wise, after a short uncharacteristic burst of "I don't have time for more gaming", I agreed to help co-run an ongoing LARP (a LARP is a live-action role-playing game, and a role-playing game is a dynamically moderated form of improvisational theatre) in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. The first session will be next week and I can't make it, but I've been working on writing some of the set-up stuff and it's fun. I've no experience with this type of thing and I hope that doesn't cause too much of a problem, but it's looking like it'll be good. I've always loved the Warhammer 40,000 setting and mourned the loss of the fun from the wargame when 3rd edition came out quite some time ago now.

My other project is a podcast, news and discussion about the Irish gaming scene et cetera. Although podcasts have become a major part of gaming culture in certain... I don't know, circles or areas or sub-sub-cultures or something, I may be the only person I know who actually listens to podcasts of any type at all. Never mind, my intention is more to do something fun with a sprinkling of if-you-build-it-they-will-come rather than worrying about listenership statistics and adding to the Irish Games Association's significant arsenal of "yeah, we tried that, it didn't work" (it can't fail if there's no stated goal, I reckon). I merrily stocked up on audio gear and have been learning things about gain and mixing and creative commons and noise reduction and dynamic and XLR. Along with getting antsy when I have free time, college seems to have made me enjoy learning about stuff. I learned how to train dogs the other day.

I'm away on my downhill snow-riding holiday on Saturday and am VERY EXCITED about it. I haven't been proper abroad-traveling in years, and keep subconsciously dropping it into conversations even though I know it makes me a wanker. I'm so excited that I went to the shops to buy screwdrivers to fit a plug to an old iron I found to re-wax my snowboard, when really it doesn't need re-waxing at all (just a scraping with a tool I don't own - time for some amusing household improvisation). I'm not bringing my computer and will be switching my phone into iPod-only mode for the duration, so if you need to contact me, engage in frustrating extension transferring with embassies and consulates and such.

December 28th, 2008

Say Cheese @ 06:53 am

Some days, you come in at half six in the morning having alienated many of the people who ever expressed an interest in your continued existence and wonder what it's all about really. Then, some days, like today, you come in at half six in the morning having alienated many of the people who ever expressed an interest in your continued existence and wonder what's in the fridge and have a look in there in order to scoff and be self-destructive, and there's some cheap brie your mother gave you and you're listening to Sublime and it's just deadly. Fuck you, today, I love being alive.

Also today was deadly.

December 27th, 2008

So Long, 2008 @ 01:59 am

It's not much of an annual tradition, but it's mine. (and also numerous others')

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Ran out of petrol. Car crash (very minor). Assorted medic things like driving emergency traffic or picking up a stinky drunk. Was in a documentary. Field-stripped and reassembled a pistol, blindfolded. Was in court. Participated in a missing person search. Wore a suit to work.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any. Next year I resolve to take game-mastering role-playing games more seriously.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin Sarah did, producing a small pre-human. It's not much of a conversationalist, but seemed to like the book I got it for Christmas after my mother scolded me into agreeing that's a good idea, which was gratifying in the same way my mother is gratified by her dog enjoying the squeaky vinyl bone she chose.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Cancer tried to get my aunt but she showed it.

5. What countries did you visit?
The classic recent-college-graduate issue of being surprised not to suddenly be wealthy upon leaving education struck, and although my home did move, the only time I left its country was to go to Northern Ireland.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
International action heroism. I hear kissing women is fun too.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm rubbish at remembering dates but if one were going to it'd be the day I got canned from my great job. But I don't know what date that was without looking it up.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
It was getting my first-choice what-I-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up job.

9. What was your biggest failure?
It was losing my first-choice what-I-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up job. The game I ran for the Night Before Christmastime the other day was pretty awful too though.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few sniffles only. I seem to be more susceptible to them here than in the States for some reason.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
There's a few recent purchases that have yet to prove their value or lack thereof, but my plane ticket to Ireland was quite nice.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My good buddy Lee in the States. My mother's always pretty great.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Trigger-happy shift supervisor who fired me for an infraction so seemingly trivial it sounds like a joke.

14. Where did most of your money go?
First it was digging myself out of a nasty financial hole, then it was moving to Ireland, then it was more debt repayments, then it was assorted frivolity some of which was Christmas.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Buncombe County job! Gaelcon! A forthcoming ski holiday!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
This has been a year of distinct and different parts, and I don't know a song that can sum all that up.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
i. happier or sadder? I don't know why, but I'm pretty happy, and this time last year I was a little bit less so
ii. thinner or fatter? Either thinner because I'm fitter, or fatter because I'm eating better
iii. richer or poorer? Not quite as horrendously indebted

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Travel, of course. That thing that happened to the guy in Brewster's Millions. Women.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Reversing an ambulance into a wall.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent it at my mother's house with just the two of us (siblings are various abroads) and then visited aunts and uncles on the day, like I do when I'm in-country.

21. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2008?
I got blasted on red wine and egg-nog the other night and managed to completely ruin a game about skiing and zombies. For fuck's sake, like. But for kind words from Dizzy I'd have sworn off GMing altogether.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
I barely even met a human female I'm interested in holding a conversation with.

23. How many one-night stands?
Absolute zero.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
I don't recall reading much in the line of normal books. There was a biography of the men who made the atomic bomb, but it was a little dry despite its best efforts. There was World War Z which is fun but hardly "best book" material. I think I'll go with Dogs in the Vineyard, a role-playing game.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Defects, a long-vanished band from the heyday of punk, from Northern Ireland because it's such a horrible place it produces good punk.

28. What did you want and get?
That one job! More recently, a job. A place to live in Dublin.

29. What did you want and not get?
Travel. A job in an outdoorsy gear shop or something; don't know why I didn't.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Tropic Thunder. Even my sister, who isn't into war movies, was laughing paroxysmally.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was the big 3-0 (that's 30) and had a weekend-long games convention in my house. It was pretty good fun. Except on my actual birthday it was a normal day and I just went gaming in town like normal.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Keeping that job.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Undercover Hawaiian SWAT officer.

34. What kept you sane?
A modicum of psychological toughness.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I'm sure I had an answer for this that isn't Jennifer Connolly, but damned if I can think of it. My appreciation for the female lead character in Casino Royale deepened, but she's not real.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The wondering which president America deserves. Lucky for it! Lisbon or whatever it was called was pretty annoying too but I wasn't in Ireland at exactly the right time to understand or vote.

37. Who did you miss?
It'd be nice to be able to hang around with Lee from time to time again. A few ski patrollers I liked moved on to other, westerlier things and their absence was noticeable.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Although I've renewed numerous old acquaintanceships, I haven't met any new people enough to be able to form solid opinions. Honourable mentions go to recruiter shift supervisor lady at my EMS job for being nice and helpful and supportive; to several medics who picked up my newbie slack when partnered with me; to Pixies' girlfriend for seeming to be willing to tolerate my nonsense in small doses.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
You never know where you'll find yourself; life is strange like that.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm sure there's one I don't know that says the above.

December 8th, 2008

Interesting @ 12:57 am

Interesting-to-me things that have happened in the past week:

  • My first meeting as a member of the Irish Games Association committee. Nice bunch, in a pub, deciding and voting. It's fun to have to think about where's a good place to hold Gaelcon and that type of thing.
  • I lodged my latest free-money-for-no-reason cheque from my very erstwhile employer Uncle Eircom.
  • Directly related to that, I booked a package holiday (!) through a travel agent (!) to Söll in Austria for the first week of January when there's no court, for the downhill snow-riding. That's very exciting. Want to come? I'm serious.
  • I performed CPR on a mannequin for 20 straight minutes. It gets old pretty fast.
  • In-club kendo competition today; because I haven't graded in years for various reasons, I was in the lower-ranking section, and got a bronze medal for kata and a bronze for fighting, which is pretty lame really. Still, I'm not sure I've ever won a medal for anything ever before.
  • Bought a Christmas tree, transporting it home the old-fashioned way (including dashing across the Malahide Road). Decorated same, dismayed to find string of lights not working, joyfully finding them working again after replacing the fuse bulb and not the one at the opposite end having gone through the lot. A Mobile Suit Gundam occupies the top slot; unfortunately I haven't been able to find any hanging decorations sold under the name "Soviet Weapons Pack 2".
  • Sent out the official mail inviting people to a traditional 23rd-of-December last night before Christmastime gaming session. If anybody reading this wasn't on the list but would like in, say so!
  • Decided to try out being a person with a professionally-done haircut, and obtained same. Now own gel and a comb and have little idea what to do with them.
  • Found out just now that the London Ambulance Service are recruiting. That's very exciting too.

November 26th, 2008

Shane's Granny's House Con II @ 06:04 pm

This weekend gone hosted the second in what I've sort of decided to make a quarterly event, the weekend-long gaming day in my house for my birthday. Attendance was down to maybe half what it was last time, implying either that people didn't much enjoy the first one or that the sense of birthday obligation was a prime motivator.

Nevertheless, it was plenty of fun, with lots of games and roast chicken and cheap beer and I fell and broke an electric socket with my ass. There was a trade stand and people bought items of varying replay value. In retrospect it seemed a bit board game-heavy; maybe some kind of schedule for February's one might be in order.

Games played Last Night On Earth, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Apples to Apples, Monty Python Fluxx, Ticket to Ride Europe, InSpectres, Cineplexity, Diplomacy, Dawn of War, Carcassonnes & Catapults, Perudo, 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars and probably more.

Photos are here.

November 19th, 2008

EX-FO-LI-ATE @ 10:48 pm

Hah, I almost forgot, I was wandering through the Jervis Centre to see what it's like nowadays and if there's an obvious tacky decoration shop and a sales guy from a stand asked me what I use for the dry skin. I was surprised at how shocked and amused I was by this question, but I suppose I shouldn't have been - for the dry skin I use a bar of soap and a disposable razor I purchased five years ago in Western Australia.

I'm one of the more personally hygienic guys I know (although, I do know a lot of gamers) but apart from shampoo (bar of soap to clean hair makes my head itchy) my equipment would easily fit in my pocket, with room for keys and a penknife. I beat a hasty retreat before the alarm wore off and the sarcasm set in.

'Tis the Season @ 10:40 pm

Troubled by pinkymonster's Christmas boycott, I yesterday began acting on my own feelings in the democratic manner - by canceling out her vote. I specifically went in search of decorations to buy and put up some lights and the most wonderfully tacky fibre-optic fake plastic tree - possibly the first decorations visible on my street. Today I hit up Clery's in search of further goodies but it's all a bit tasteful for my tastes. I'll see what Moore Street has to offer.

This'd be so much simpler in the States, where I could just have loudly suggested her to be a member of the Taliban and be done with it.

I was late out of work today due to a deliberating jury (guilty of murder though when they did sort it out) so detoured via O'Connell Street to have a look at the big tree 'o lights in the dark. It looks kind of silly in daylight but when it's lit up it looks great. I'm not sold on the jarring colour changing action but in general I'm impressed.

November 17th, 2008

Daily Dublin @ 06:08 pm

I can't remember if I've gone on here before about how I like Dublin, but yesterday on the walk home from kendo was a fine example of it.

Going out the gate I caught up with a new member of the club I'd just been introduced to, a guy from Brazil who's an experienced kendoka, and is from the city where we'll be going next year for the world championships.

Then passing a bus stop I ran into two folks I'd been at school with in North Carolina. I was wearing a t-shirt from my job at the college's outdoor programme, and they remarked that I'm still doing kendo (because I was laden with gear).

Then a couple of old guys in a car stopped and asked me directions, and unusually I knew the answer and was able to point out where we were on their map.

That's the end of that story, but when I got home for my traditional post-kendo mug of vodka and tonic, I was checking an Internet discussion forum I frequent, and someone had asked what people thought of Quantum of Solace. And I was drinking. Good day, that was.