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  Big Changes 08:06 PM -- Wed June 29, 2005  

Well, lots of big changes all of a sudden. Today marks the beginning of another in the long, long, long line of attempts to defeat my unproductive nature. I created a detailed task list for Ninja (let's just call it that for short...), and I now have to complete tasks from that list in order to earn even the simplest pleasures. We're talking basic web browsing here! And of course Guild Wars and such things are part of the reward scheme.

One horrifying thing was discovered in the process of making this scheme as vicious as possible. See, I moved my computer into the official office, where it's supposed to be. That sounds good, but there isn't a phone jack in there yet (they're coming to install it in a couple weeks). That way, I can't do anything but work when I work. Well, almost anything. It means web browsing and such has to happen out here, on the laptop. It all sounded very clever, until it hit me that it means I can't play Guild Wars! I have to try installing it on the laptop and see how it works... but it'd be very awkward with this keyboard and 'mouse' even if it does run well. Can I just tough it out for 2 weeks? Don't be silly! I need to play!

Nature Notes: we met our first scorpion while cleaning up and arranging the garage yesterday. He was really small, but there's just something creepy about scorpions. He got away and hid behind some stuff, so now we know there's a scorpion in the garage. He's hard to see too, kind of camoflauged. What other nature... our neighbors have a pair of goats! We've also been informed that someone has a peacock, but we haven't seen it. Otherwise, tons more rabbits and lots more lizards. Have I mentioned we have a pair of quail who like to wander our yard together and make cooing noises?

In other country life news, we tried to go dump our trash at the dump (you city folk with your high-falutin' garbage pickup!), only to find it's closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We would've known that if the trash people we were supposed to call for information a week ago had ever returned our call! We also have propane at long last. I had a nice warm shower this morning. Not long though - we have the heat, but we also got the bill for the heat. Turns out propane is not cheap, so we'll be careful about wasting it.

Scorpions aside, our garage is beautiful now. We got our Ikea shelves up, and the hanging tool cabinet my dad brought us, and it's all organizey. Yes sir, things are coming together around here. Just in time for Anza Days this Saturday! Whoop-de-holler-cay-yay!

Oh, and we should be finally getting Loonyland Mac released very soon. Just gotta get the final versions from the guy porting it, and voila. Loonyland for the masses! Tomorrow I'll let you know where things stand on Ninja. Also very soon will be the results of the last Monthly Merge contest (a close one!), and the release of Summer Silliness II. So hold on tight!
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  Nature Note 11:14 PM -- Mon June 27, 2005  

Today a roadrunner chased a lizard across our yard. It was cool. Our jackrabbit count is off the charts, too. Snakewise, our record so far is 1 dead teeny snake on our driveway. What will the future hold?!
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  Hitch Up The Wagons! 09:16 PM -- Thu June 23, 2005  

Well, we loaded up the truck and took our first trip out to the big city today! We got to see all the fancy people and their fancy hats and their horseless carriages all around. We spent many hundreds of dollars on groceries and other important setup items (like a new cell phone! Now we can leave the computer online on dial-up all day, while we chat freely back and forth on our dueling cell phones). It was unbelievably exhausting, to both myself and the credit card. But now we feel more set up. Granted, we still have no hot water, which is a key to feeling comfortable. We have no gas for the stove either, which limits our dining options (as does living a few miles outside of a town with only one restaurant! But it's a good one, which we will strive not to visit much - we should be cooking for ourselves, right?).

It's nice that we have food now, at least. It's interesting to discover the various ways in which we can cook without gas. We've got the toaster oven to bake things (smaller things), a rice cooker for rice, a slow cooker, and of course the most important of all: 2 microwaves. Okay, we only need one, but we have this fabulous one we got years ago, which is the best microwave we've ever seen, incredibly powerful. We just can't part with it, even though we keep moving into houses that have built-in microwaves. Actually, I think it may have just been defeated by the one built into our new house. That thing is very nice. Like everything else about this house - the guy who built it really went out of his way to upgrade things more than he had to. It's a great house. We are really happy with it. We'll be happier yet when taking a shower doesn't cause hypothermia.

We have lots of wildlife in our big yard too. We've seen tons of rabbits, a squirrel, a bunch of really big lizards, a horny toad, and of course lots and lots of bugs (including some really weird and really big ones). No snakes or coyotes yet, though we hear the coyotes at night. It's so silent out here. If we shut all our windows, the only sound at all is the refrigerator running. If we open them, you can hear the occasional dog barking or coyote howling, and that's it. I just wish the fridge was quieter! Solee was mentioning the other day - you know how in movies, they like to show deserts being really hot by whiting out the scene? That's what it looks like here. It's just so bright out there! Not that it's all sand, we have an absolute forest of manzanita trees. But it's bright.

The best news? Guild Wars runs flawlessly on dial-up! I never have to work again! No, I'll get back to work soon, but not today my friend. I am beat, and my mind is in too many places to focus on ninjas and time travel.

Oh, and hey, I won a board game design mini-contest! It's a monthly thing at the Board Game Designer's Forum, which I frequent. You can find my design there.
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  Here goes nothing... 12:19 AM -- Mon June 20, 2005  

Well, last Journal entry from DSL, I think! Gulp. I'm scared of the horrors of dialup. Anyway, it's bedtime, then an early wakeup followed by a day of massively intense physical labor. But first, there will be Swedish Pancakes at the IHOP. Goodnight, dumb people! See you in Anza!
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  Super bored and unexcited 03:55 PM -- Sat June 18, 2005  

Well, that was not good. Everything with the close of our escrow went perfectly, despite having to be super rushed to get where it was. It was an amazing feat of coordination and perseverence from all parties involved. We all hammered at it and got it done early (so early that the lender for the people buying our house complained that nobody can close a house that quickly!). Great work! Except that the title company decided they didn't want to record it that day. So there you go. All the money's gone where it needs to be (even to the title company!), but they decided not to contact the county and record it. So we won't be able to move until Monday. What a lame weekend this is. No phone, no lights, no motorcars - not a single luxury! Actually, that's just a lyrics quote - the only thing we really lack is a phone. But I'm not sure exactly when those other things will vanish (the cars will probably stick around though, I hope).

We also should've been stiffed badly by U-Haul since we had reserved a truck for today, but that actually went awesomely. We went in there and talked to them, and they had apparently lost our reservation (which really doesn't say much for them, however lucky it was) and so they gave us a monday reservation of the biggest truck for the price of the medium truck, and no penalty for not giving 24 hours' notice. Better than it would've been on Saturday! All we need to do is sit out this boring boring weekend. More Guild Wars, I guess. Boy, I'm gonna miss DSL... I hardly knew ye!
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  Bored and excited 06:14 PM -- Fri June 17, 2005  

So, the house is ours! Now I'm super bored. I'm sitting here waiting for the keys to be given to us so we can get to moving. I'm also excited, because I just bought a HOUSE. And it's a great one. But man am I bored. Played tons of Guild Wars today, but not for the joy of it, just to kill some stupid time. Sure, I could've worked, but not when things are so antsy. My brain doesn't kick into gear when stuff looms over it.

House humor: Verizon turned our phone off early, so I have been here with no phone access. I emailed a few people to see what was going on, but it's a pain not having a phone at a fairly critical moment like this. Luckily, the DSL is still up and running, so I can waste my time here! Now... what else to do in my boredom...
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  Speaking of good games 09:42 AM -- Fri June 17, 2005  

Read this... I've never heard of this game they're discussing, but WOW they sure make it sound awesome!
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  Down to the Wire 08:53 PM -- Thu June 16, 2005  

So, here it is Thursday. We are deeply hoping that our escrow will close tomorrow and we'll get the keys to our new house. But it's really up in the air. So many things have to come together just right for it to happen. One of them was us - we had to get the money we had to pay into escrow on time! You'd think that wouldn't be such a big deal, but actually it's been a crazy stresspile all week. See, I didn't sell the stocks that I needed to sell until this Monday (there are some excuses, but mostly forgetfulness and procrastination). The tricky bit there is that once you sell a stock, the sale has to 'settle', which takes 3 days. So that money was not quite ours until this morning. Then that money had to get from E*Trade to escrow, which again is not as easy as you think. I spent half an hour on hold waiting to deal with someone there, because their online wire transfer thing wouldn't permit me to wire to the escrow company, since my name isn't the name on their bank account (at least not without a notarized letter, and I didn't exactly have time to mail that). But wait, there's more! That was half the money. The other half was in our checking account, so I had to go wire that too. Only it turns out that the bank inside Albertson's doesn't do wires, so I had to drive over to the other one, which is actually about 100 yards from the escrow building itself. So instead of a wire, I got a cashier's check (because it's cheaper), and delivered it by hand. So phew. Our money is there.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment, hopefully to be delivered slowly via dial-up modem from Anza, in which we discover if the lender of the people buying our house is still dragging his feet, or if he got on the ball and handled his end of things. We need to get the money from that before we can complete our purchase, so let's hope. Oh, and here's another fun bit: our propane tank won't be delivered for another week, so we get a week of icy showers! It's well water too, so you KNOW it's freezing. We may try finding out just how long one of those little hand-held tanks lasts.

What else to hear? I got 14th place in the one-button game contest. That was really disappointing, because to the extent that I can be dispassionate and objective about it (to wit: not at all), I really felt like my game was the best of the ones I played. That's not normally the case, but this time, it really felt that way. Most of them were just what you'd expect from a 1-button contest: quickie time-wasters with nothing to offer beyond one simple action you repeat over and over for a high score. The final insult to it all is that the winning game is exactly like my game overall, only not as nice-looking, completely missing any options, and greatly lacking in control options (i.e. the only action you can perform is to jump). Not that that is bad overall - simplicity IS good. But I can't help but feel like "Hey, I made that but better!"

To sweeten the grapes a little, I will give out my mad homie props from the strizzeet to the other games besides mine that I would've rated at the top if I were the judge. In no particular order, first is Aurikon by Aggressive Games. It's pictured at the top of this page, and you can download it there. It's got unlockables, which kept me playing a whole lot. Another one I liked a lot was Manik Minis, on this page (a ways down), which is a blatant Wario Ware clone. Everybody knows that means fun! And it was a really smart idea for a 1-button contest, too. Lastly, One Switch Balls, from the same page as Manik Minis, is another good one. Very similar to Chromadrome, which I really liked. Aside from those, I've played maybe 15 or 20 entries, several of which scored above mine, but I really wasn't impressed. There were some that were really professional, just not very fun, others that were fun but extremely repetitive (as you'd expect from a 1-button game!), and still others that were just whacked out.

Of course, it was all for a good cause. All these games and more are now available at OneSwitch.org.uk, so you can try as many of the others as you like. I think you might get a kick out of Flossy Siege too. The winning game was Miner Willy (under Platformers, where you'll also find Ninja Academy, since they're practically the SAME). Personally, after trying the first level, I think it makes Ninja Academy look easy!

In general, I try not to squeeze my sour grapes into whine, so that's all you'll get out of me on this topic. I'm unhappy with the results, and I can't even begin to guess what the judging criteria were, but it's no big - I'm really looking forward to having Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time out there so I can show you all how 1-button games should be made! It shall be my greatest achievement! Well, it'll be fun. And easier than Ninja Academy, I promise.
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  Stress 10:20 AM -- Tue June 14, 2005  

So much to stress over in the last week before moving. We signed a lot of fancy documents yesterday. I'm getting really concerned about moving money to where it needs to be when it needs to be (why on Earth aren't wire transfers instant? How does it take days to flip bits in 2 computer's databases?).

And here's the sad sad sad story. This has been the biggest mess of all. From talking to the guy who built the house (and who lives a few miles from it), we got the impression that DSL was available at the house. That impression was false (my other impression was that he wasn't really a computer guy, so he probably just has dialup). After researching the options, I came up with satellite. Which I then realized was a terrible idea and panicked and called them back quickly enough to avoid paying the FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR cancellation fee (not too big compared to the SIX HUNDRED DOLLAR setup fee). Satellite is much faster than dialup for downloading, slightly faster than dialup for uploading, and costs $70 a month. The other little tidbit? Since you're beaming info to a satellite, it has horrific latency. That means that even though you get data quickly, the data doesn't begin coming until as much as 1 second (or maybe even longer sometimes) after you ask for it. That's nothing if you're surfing the web, but it means no online gaming! Even dialup will do better for that. So for now, we're on dialup out there. Probably mainly because we are spending an awful lot on this house and could use some time to let the wallet cool off. From that dialup, I hope to discover that ISDN or something is possible and reasonable. There's no really great sounding options, thanks to our backwoodsyness.

Guess we'll be roughing it! Well, presumably this will make me highly productive. I sure remember the last time I was highly productive - I lived all by myself in San Luis Obispo, using a 33.6 modem. Man, did I crank out the games in those days. Of course, the difference is that now I have to spend 48 hours a day downloading spam. Which is a lot of hours. For a lot of spam.

And hey, get those Monthly Merge levels in! We haven't had many entries this month, presumably due to Summer Silliness. I sure hope next month is bigger.
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  Mookies 04:43 PM -- Fri June 10, 2005  

So I was going to tell you, and I will. Mookies came about because of Tin Chef. Tin Chef is a game my wife and I play (very rarely), obviously based on Iron Chef. The rules are simple. One person is the host, and the other is the chef. The host picks 5 ingredients out of the pantry, fridge, and elsewhere, any 5 things. The chef then has 24 hours to think about them and prepare a fabulous meal with the following constraints: 4 of the 5 ingredients must be used, you can use any other ingredients you wish, but at least 2 of the host-picked ingredients must be used in a primary capacity (so you can't just make something totally different with a hint of the 5 ingredients thrown in). You're not limited to one course, you can make a dinner and dessert, or whatever. It's fun to do, and the real goal is to use up that obscure stuff that never seems to get used in the back of the fridge and cupboard.

So, in preparation to move, we played Tin Chef for the first time in years. First, I provided Sol with the ingredients - a bell pepper, a can of Southwest Pepper Jack soup, a bag of dried pinto beans, a box of cannelloni type noodle shell things, and a bag of frozen berries. What with having a "job" or whatever, she couldn't manage them all during the half hour or so she gets to spend at home each night, so she ignored the pasta and the berries (sadly, no berry dessert for me), and created a dip out of the rest. We had nachos that night, with dip.

Then, a week later, she set me up with ingredients - a granny smith apple, egg noodles, balsamic vinegar, the dying remnants of the honey (which needed to be heated up to return to some semblance of non-graininess), and something I'm forgetting. I probably didn't use the one I forgot, because I know I used the other 4. I created 2 dishes. You know I take gaming seriously, so I went on the web looking for recipes. I found this to cover most of the ingredients: Asian Noodle Salad With Chilies & Peanuts. We didn't have any jalapenos, so I just put in bell peppers, and I didn't realize we DID have peanuts, so sadly those went amiss too. All in all, it was bad. But also, to use the apple (and to finish off the honey), I made Apple Oat Sesame Cookies, which were good! Really good. But they were a surprise, because they're not like any cookie I've ever seen. You know what they're like? Remember on Seinfeld, when Elaine was going nuts for the tops of muffins, and eventually made a restaurant or something that only sold muffin tops, and threw away the rest? Well these cookies taste just like the tops of muffins! Soft and chewy. They're even shaped like it. So they are now called "mookies", for muffin-cookies. Real good, try them. I actually ended up having to substitute about half the ingredients, so maybe if you have the actual real ingredients, they're terrible, but I sure liked them the way I made them.

And now you know. The house is still the big ruckus in our lives. We have now cleaned out and sealed off a bathroom, two closets, and the guest room (I use the term "we" loosely... I may have been busy elsewhere at the time this stuff happened). Unfortunately, that's the sum total of rooms we CAN empty out and close off and still live here in relative comfort. Looks like we may be moving next Saturday, so we have to continue in squalor and confusion for 1 more week. Moving is awful, you should never do it. Ever. Just stay put. Play some Guild Wars! It's fun.
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