Games, drumming, juggling, home improvements, cooking, comics, dogs, macs, music, etc.

Squall - probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skval: useless chatter (Merriam-Webster)
It's my goal to have the LONGEST blog pages around. Kind of.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PS3 and Cookie Fu!

I got my new PS3 today. I decided to utilize my travel points for something since we usually don't go anywhere, so I decided to make my home more vacation friendly with a new PlayStation 3 gaming console. And well, Marriott points can buy me stuff, so I look for what I want. I order the PS3 and it takes like 4 weeks to get to me. The whole time, there is a confusion in my order, one page says I got the 60 GB version, and one page says I got the 80 GB version. The newer one is the 80 GB version, and of course has the larger hard drive, so I'd prefer that one. The 60 GB version has the emulation chip for backwards compatibility for PS2 and PS1 game, so that wouldn't be too bad either. Turns out, the new PS3's still have compatibility, but it is software run, not a chip. So, I guess, less games are compatible. You can check out compatibility here. Anyway, I'm not overly concerned about compatibility, and back to the story, which was I going to get? the 60GB version on the order page? or the 80GB version that that my receipt shows? I'm leaning towards the 80GB version because it's what my receipt shows.. Plus, that's the one I want.

Delivery! I was trying to track it with a FedEx number Marriott customer support gave me, and it's not in the system - so I cannot track it via innurnet. So, I call FedEx, and they track the package using my address AND they WON'T give me the correct tracking number. so, I have to call to get any status on it's route.. how fricken' 80's. phones, people, dialing, talking.. sheesh. So, I call on the day it is supposed to be delivered, and ask to track it. And the lady says 'If it's supposed to be delivered today, it will be, we're working double hard to get it to you.'

It didn't get here.

So, I call the NEXT day (today) and get another dude who is more than happy to provide the service he's supposed to (unlike the ms. it-will-get-there-I-promise lady) and he tells me it's on a truck, and en-route.


About 2 hours later, I see the FedEx truck struggling to turn around in our driveway, and I go out to meet my package. Bliss. It's here!

Now for the unveiling.. will I get the 60GB or the 80GB version? Drumroll, please...

The 160GB uncharted limited edition! Wow! What a surprise!

All unpacked.. I had a running joke with a friend of mine. The deal was the PS3 was supposed to have a random bundled game and two controllers. I was always joking I would get Madden '08 or something - I hate sports games. Well, I got the Uncharted game as part of the bundle, and All-Pro Football 2k8. So, I was sorta right, I got a crap sports game. Oh well, I can trade it in for a game I really want... Like Guitar Hero 4!

Cookie Fu! This is a dice game introduced to me by my friend Dennis. We co-founded the Stumptown Bone Rollers Guild on It was mostly for Dragon Dice, but we play other dice games, too. Anyway, for $12 (with shipping) I got this haul of dice:

Games good! Now I just need someone to come over and play.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Portland Arctic Blast 08 - part duex

Meran decided to try out her cross-country skiis.. More pics of Arctic Blast '08 -- as the area news stations have dubbed it. I wonder if we'll get Shell Shock from the blast? Sorry, how non-PC of me. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Or is it Battle Fatigue? (okay, I'm done w/ my mini-tribute to George Carlin; R.I.P.)

First, a shot of our deck / hot tub from Saturday / Sunday ish
And, today:

Now for pics from Meran on the skiiiiiis.

Legwarmers.. how.. umm... 80's.
And some pics she took:

My truck! I don't want to dig it out. So I am not. I am staying home.
more carport.. err.. outside storage area destruction pics:

And, see how the doggies like it...

Okay, that's it. Really. Maybe.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Portland Artic Blast 08

Portland is getting snow. A LOT of snow. I know. I come from Colorado, where we got 4 foot snow storms every few years, and this is not that bad.. but for the PDX area, 18-24" is a lot of snow. And, we got our first casualty - the carport that is on the side of the house that we use for 'out-of-rain' storage of bikes, wood, mower, etc. It's annoying, to say the least.. Here are the photos:

From the back of the house, by the shed, it fell from the outside towards the house. It looks like minimal damage, but man is this going to be annoying.

My bike was not flipped. Now it is.. I wonder what got messed up. My riding mower was missed, yay!

View from the front side of the house.. fortunately, everything is mostly under the sides, not the middle. Anything in the middle would have gotten squashed.

My little red wagon looks sad. I might need to rescue it first.

Most of the support beams are okay, one got pulled out.. still, pretty minimal.. I shudder to think what COULD have happened..
Meran says "Whoever wished for a white Christmas, you got it. Stop wishing!"

There you go. Arctic Blast, 2008. Sheesh, and I thought all the rain sucked.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Muder At The Vulgar Unicorn - Act III

If you are just picking this up, I suggest reading the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I : Act II

Act III - Venturing North

12th of Morothus – Shiprisday
After a few days of gathering supplies and finalizing of the loot from the Gem job, the group decides to head north, to the inn call the Brown Bear. This is where all of the recent clues have been pointing them, and perhaps they’ll finally find Paithas Meed. After a late start, the Group starts their march out to the Brown Bear.
On the way to the Inn, the Group hears the sounds of a fight, and when they rush up the path, they see a Feniath attacking 6 robed figures. The Group rushes in and kills the Feniath and earns the thanks of the robed figures. The Fenaith is a definite sign of interest, since they’ve encountered one before at Pace’s warehouse where he had kept Rosa. The party searches the Feniath and finds a note for Paithas Meed. This note is from Arion Swan and mentions money, boars, Erilissi, and a black temple to meet at in Sanctuary. This is definitely suspicious, and the Group starts asking the robed figures about what they are doing, and what might have caused this thing to attack them. The robed figures speak of a curse that is ravaging the area and encourages the Group to leave the area, go back to Sanctuary. The Group ignores the warnings of the robed figures and continues to the Brown Bear Inn, with the robed men following them.
Finally reaching their destination of the Inn, they are unexpectantly greeted by Paithas Meed himself, with another dozen and half of robed figures. The robed figures with the Group inform Pathias of the happening on the trail, and with enormous gratitude, Pathias invites the group inside for a drink. Inside the Inn, Pathias informs the group of the area’s troubles. He claims he’s seen the evidence of a plague or something in the local plants and animals. The robed figures are explained, by Pathias, as Apostles of Nature. They have been helping him with trying to track down the cause of the curse or plague. He continually is urging the Group to leave quickly, not to dawdle in the area – for their own health. His urgings quiet when the Group tells him that they are merely stopping for a rest before continuing on their way to the North.
Outside there is a ruckus, Paithas and Duncaen, the owner of the Brown Bear, go out to investigate it. The Group decides to discuss what they have learned in the Inn with Pathias’ absence. After a few minutes, the Group goes outside to see what is transpiring. They go outside and witness a number of local farmers who have come to the Inn for an impromptu area meeting. It seems the locals look up to Duncaen and come to regard him of a local leader of sorts. The locals have been complaining of local occurrences that they claim is not a plague or a curse, but vandalism and they claim the Apostles of Nature are behind it. Duncaen doesn’t want any trouble for his Inn, himself or his daughter, Engela. With his safety in mind, Duncaen aids Paithas in calming the villagers into complacency about the Apostles. The Group takes no sides, and merely watched the proceedings. After a long bout of talking and accusations, the villagers either go home or into the Inn for drink. Pathias offers the group to pay for their accommodations for the evening in repayment for their aid on the road early today.
In the morning, the Group decides to head back to Sanctuary, and 6 Apostles walk with them. When they are just outside of the village, the Group hears screaming from back at the Inn. As the Group rushes back, they see an Apostle on horseback ride off very quickly, and a group of Apostles are following on foot. Jack races to follow the horseman. The rest of the Group goes into the Brown Bear and Duncean tells them that the Apostles attacked the Inn and have taken his daughter. He pleas for them to get his daughter back. He gives them directions to the farm that everyone knows the Apostles are staying at.
The Group makes a quick exit and they head to the pig farm. Jack slows and eventually the Apostles eventually overtake him. He starts returning to the Inn when he meets up with the rest of the Group, already on their way to help. The Group scouts the farm, and sees that it is ready for an attack. The Group waits for an hour or so, and the camp eventually goes to ease. The attack is not a surprise, but the sneak attack is. Paithas shouts out warning from his watch point in the house when he seen Nicolas and Modig sneak out from the forest. The alarm is raised, and the battle ensues. The Apostles have a mage who starts casting some spells. Malkar hits the mage with 4 arrows when the shatter spell wrecks his bow. Kalima finishes off the mage in melee, and Paithas gets the upper hand on Kalima with a magic dazzle. Jack, Malkar, Modig and Nikolas all finish off the Apostles and Paithas. Searching the farmhouse, they find Engela tied up in a room, and go through the rest of the house to search for clues and possible loot.
Not a lot of outright clues, but Paithas had a note on him from Erilissi, which speaks of many things, but most importantly, of diseased animals. The Group inspects the pigs on the farm but even Malkar doesn’t find anything wrong with them. The Group kills all the pigs in the farm anyway, and they return to the Brown Bear with Engela. Duncaen thanks them with an offer of free rooms for whenever they like.
Back in Sanctuary, the Group reviews the past few days of events and armed with new information, they go to meet with the Magistrate. The Group presents the collected information so far, that there is a plot about bringing a plague into Sanctuary using animals of some sort. The final phase has been planned; a ship is coming to Sanctuary to deliver the plague. The Magistrate is concerned about this ship and is going to set up watch on the docks, with an emergency response always at the ready. The Group is invited to be part of the fighting force when the ship comes in.
What the group doesn’t tell the Magistrate is that there is also a group of cultists hiding in a black temple in Sanctuary somewhere, they follow Dyreela and that Arion Swan is leading them. He’s part of this plot so that he can produce the antidote and save the city. The plot is all about him trying to get the next appointment as Governor to this town.
The Group hits up Alton Stulwig for the ingredients for the cure to the plague. The Group provides coin, and Alton provides the elixirs. The group also starts looking for the Black Temple and Arion Swan, or his cohorts. After many bribes later, they locate the Black Temple of Dyreela underneath the old Heqt temple in the maze. The group scouts it out finding it guarded at all times. They make a plan for a raid, but it must wait until the next day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Recent gaming activity

Just thought it was time to chime in and put up a post, it's been a while. First of all, board games!
I played two new ones this week Dominion and Le Havre, and am looking forward to potentially playing an old one I haven't played in over a decade - BlackBeard!

Dominion is a card game that is pretty unique, each game uses 6 common decks. 3 are money, 3 are victory points. The other decks are 10 decks selected from 25 or so in the game. Each game has the potential to be different. during the game, each player has a deck of cards, you start with 10, 7 money and 3 VP cards. you deal 5 cards from your deck, and take one action and one buy. You buy cards that give you additional actions, and / or buys. It's pretty clever, and pretty easy, too. The first few hands are a learning curve, but by the time you are ready to play a second time, it should be well understood how to play. I recommend it as a light game to end the night with or for filler while waiting for a game to commence.

Le Havre, made by the same game designer who did Agricola. Three of us played it, and two of us were new to it, one of us had played a five player game of it before. It's a tight resource management game that has a lot of similarities to Agricola, but a different feel. You only get one action per turn, in which you can either take resources or take an action like building a building or utilizing a building. It's got a lock feature where only one person can utilize a building, and it can't be used by anyone else until the marker is moved, but we found this wasn't too limiting, there were always a lot of choices. It seemed to always be a struggle to keep your people fed, that is until you figured out a good food generation strategy. Ships definitely help to the regard. A fun game, and a pretty good thinker, too. Definitely want to be awake for this game when it comes to the table.

Also, for some interesting games I have found on the 'net via various sources:
Fantastic Contraption - a really neat game that takes some thinking!

Play Auditorium - interesting, thinking and soothing.

That's it for me, see you around the game table. Comment and tell me what games you've been playing lately!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well, it has finally been done. Titan was reprinted by a company called Valley Games. I had pre-ordered it in January, and it was supposed to ship in July. There were some printing problems, which pushed it out to October. Well, I got it yesterday, November 22nd, 2008, 5 days after my birthday, so YAY! Here's a picture review of it.

Fresh out of the box, shrink wrap still on.
Two boxes, the Titan game, and the Titan Figure Expansion set - free because I pre-ordered the Titan game. More on these later.
But my first impression was that the box is bigger than the original box set. And the Titans figure box is awful huge, too. What else should I expect? The box looks like great amounts of time and effort went into these. I am excited, so I grab a blade, and open up the shrink wrap.

I gotta see the board, so I pull it out, and this is the NEW titan board. I awe at it a bit, and I think it is a little dark. It's cool and all, but the dark gray / black base of the board seems to be hard to see and read. We'll see when I actually get to play it. But it has features the original didn't. It still has the muster charts, but it has masterboard movement rules.

From left to right: player aids, rulebook, scoring chits. I normally use really small dice to mark damage on creatures, and I'll probably not use the damage chits. I'll try the scoreboard, though.

Chits!! left to right again, but tough to see due to overlap.. I wanted to give a view of the stuff, but not every single sheet; let's keep the post somewhat reasonable in length. Legion Markers, and creatures, creatures, creatures, creatures! I have mixed feelings about these markers. They are bigger than the original, thicker and the images seem a little less obvious. I looked at one, and it said Guardian. I couldn't immediately recall the creature. I said to myself, Guardian? What is that.. Oh yeah, 3 of anything in the tower, 12 2 and it flies. The original used a Blob figure, this set uses a horseman with two swords. Other than that, all the creatures look similar to their names. The colors are kinda muted, I guess updated. The original crayon color scheme was classic, but a new revision I guess gets a new vision. The Legion markers are both new in color, and have different images. The new markers use wings instead of a star to indicate flying, and a bow and arrow instead of a lightning bolt to indicate range striker, but those aren't bad either.

BattleBoards! Two-sided, just like the original. Again, the boards are thicker and bigger. The original was based on 1 inch square creatures; all the new markers are about one eighth inch bigger, and so the battle boards and Masterboard got sized accordingly.. Again bigger! but better? I like the thicker cardboard over the cardstock battleboards, that's for sure.

So, I get all the stuff out of the box, and this is what is at the bottom, a plastic tray with pictures of the markers under each little spot. A storage tray for the counters! Way cool. Previously, I used plastic baggies, and friends of mine used some generic plastic trays, but this one is custom for all the tiles, and pictures for what goes where. Oh, and look, dice, we'll look at those later, too.

Counters in place. I punched 'em all out, and put 'em in place. A few issues: some of the spots are too tight, particularly the right side where the color legion markers go; there's only room for 11 instead of 12. I tried jamming 12 in one, and I thought I had ruined the last one I was jamming in.. I moved some to the sides of other places.. I was disappointed that it was such a tight fit, but still mostly happy that there is a storage solution built in - very cool.

Dice! First question I asked myself was.. "Hmm.. how many??" The original came with like 6 or something - it's been such a loooooong time, I think I bought my original set in '89 or so.. Anyway, you should have a minimum of 18 dice, for the serpent, who of course rolls 18 dice for attack. Guess how many come in the game?? 20! Yay! They aren't bad dice, definitely usable.

Okay, now on to the Titan Figure Expansion, here's what the box looked like upon opening, and my first thought was.. Wow, those are BIG. These are huge, I figured a 2" tall mini at most, probably a 1" or 1.5" mini.. these are 3" tall, and from swordtip to swordtip, 5.5". I think they are a little too big.. But again, I'll try 'em before I just dismiss them.

Here's a size comparison. I grabbed one of my D&D minis, and put it next to the Titan figure, and a ruler. It's kind of a bad pic; I used white paper for the background.

Bad news!! My red figure arrived broken (in 3 pieces) in the box! I can probably glue it back together, but I am going to also contact Valley Games about a replacement.

Well, that's it! That's my new Titan game. I like it, and I love it. I was looking forward to a newer reprint, but I'm torn between my nostalgia of the original, and the excitement of the updated version.. Well, I am one person that has both, so I guess I do have both worlds. Anyone for a game of Titan??

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Halloween

Ok, late post, but we had to dress and take pics, go to the party, recover and then post.
So, happy belated Halloween.

Boo! I know we scared ya.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Murder At The Vulgar Unicorn - ACT II

If you are just picking this up, read the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I

ACT II – Into the Swamp of Night Secrets

6th of Morothus – Ilsday
The Group prepares for a journey into the Swamp of Night Secrets under the tutelage of their native Group member, Malkar. Malkar has lived in the swamp since birth, and knows what is needed for their venture. By the information the Group has, Karizal should be found in an old Tower a few days from Sanctuary.
Jack has found who has been stealing from him in Downwind; the thieving has been orchestrated by the Beggar King of Downwind. It seems the Beggar King has decided to recruit Jack into his organization as muscle, and the first step is to adjust Jack’s living arrangement in Downwind. Jack is brought in front of the Beggar King, and he is given an choice to stay in downwind or to leave. The beggar king thinks having someone with as much apparent wealth as Jack does not belong in Downwind. If Jack wants to stay, he needs to help the beggars stand up to Jubal, starting with Gastov and his crew who are constantly harassing the beggars working for the Beggar King. If Jack can keep Gastov from getting into the Downwinder’s business, he can stay. Otherwise, Jack is no longer welcome in Downwind. Jack refuses the offer; he doesn’t want to take sides in the war between Jubal and the Beggar King. Plus, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone without cause; Jack graciously leaves Downwind. He gets an offer from Gagino to bed down in the tent in the Bazaar, which he accepts.
The Group gathers in the Bazaar at Gagino’s tent, and heads into the Swamp of Night Secrets. Entering the Swamp is like entering another world for those used to the stink and bustle of Sanctuary. It is not quiet, but the sounds are different; it’s not pleasant smelling, but it’s not rank and stale like the city. The Group travels unhindered for the first day.
On the second day, the Group is ambushed by a panther, which is greatly outmatched by the strength of the Group. Malkar inspects the panther and discerns that it is well kept and almost groomed; is it someone’s pet? Perhaps the Group has underestimated Karizal, if this is his pet. How many other surprises does he have in store for them?
The Group travels for another day, and find the old tower, which looks abandoned. Malkar looks around and finds panther tracks, and human footprints as well; the place isn’t as abandoned as it looks. Heading into the tower, the Group is prepared for anything, but it is dark inside, very dark. The Group searches the tower, room by room, slowly, carefully. On the second floor, Jack gets a bolt in his side from out of the darkness. It hurts a lot more than it should, and he feels extremely weakened. Obviously, Karizal is in here, and has set up an ambush. The hunt is on. The Group hones in on Karizal’s location in the tower, and finally finds him. Unfortunately, they end up killing him and so the Group doesn’t get to question him. The Group searches the tower, and finds two notes, but one of them isn’t in a language that any of them can read. The other is about a ship that was supposed to deliver a shipment of pigs, pigs that are infected with something. The note also mentions that Pathais Meed is at a place called the Brown Bear Inn.
Jack is nearly unconscious – the crossbow bolt he was shot with was poisoned. The Group must get him to a healer, so they head back to town. Karizal is dead, and they have more information than they did before they met Karizal, so the journey was a success.
Several days of healing and rest is required for Jack to get back on his feet, although the healing area at the temple of Sabellia definitely met with Jack’s approval; being waited on by priestesses. Even if they are chaste, Jack finds the positive in all situations containing women. They get the note found on Karizal translated – it is the original contract on Erilissi. This proof gets taken to the Truthsayer, and the Group gets paid for expenses, which convinces them to continue their work. The next step is to investigate the shipwreck mentioned in Karizal’s note.

9th of Morothus – Eshisday - Weeping Maiden
The Party marches back into the Swamp, and makes their way to where Karizal’s note mentions a wrecked ship. The twisted and shattered remains of a ship are piled on a collection of jagged rocks just barely visible beneath the waves. At high tide the rocks would be invisible, but still able to rip the bottom out of any ship passing overhead. No part of the ship is still intact, with its broken hull and torn beams scattered across the beach. Crabs and other seaborne scavengers pick through the wreckage, and waterlogged refuse covers the sands. The bodies of pigs are scattered everywhere, their carcasses bloated and rotting as well as torn apart. The smell of rot and salt are powerful, overwhelming the fresh scent of the ocean. Seagulls circle overhead, but none land near the destroyed vessel.
Within the largest section of the remaining hull, the sound of water lapping on wood is mixed with scraping noises. Wood and metal thump and thud with the lapping waves.
As the Group investigates the shipwreck, they are taken by surprise by the new residents of the ship – a local delicacy called the Bengal Crab. Unfortunately, these are still alive, and one is quite large, larger than a man! Surprised by the size, tenacity and the toughness of the crabs, the Group is overcome, and retreats for a new plan of attack.
The next day, the Party is more prepared for the giant crabs and head in to the area. With a smart plan and some luck, the crabs fall and become a well-deserved lunch. Searching the ship, the Group finds the manifest and some other documents, as well as a small chest with some silver in it. One of the documents is a note written by Paithas Meed, and talks of an “Agent to the North”, boars and a plan that is at risk. This note makes little sense, but it is the second item of interest that suggests the next area to investigate is to the north; a place called the Brown Bear. There are a few loose ends in town to take care of first, however.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Portland Juggling Festival 2008

This last weekend was the Annual Portland Juggling Festival - number 16. Last year was my first ever juggling festival, and this makes two. Yeah, I really get around. Last year I was a volunteer / grunt. I schlepped tables. I moved chairs. This year, I was the volunteer coordinator. Which means I told who to schlep tables and move chairs. Yeah, I was drunk with power, or maybe I just had delusions of grandeur. Either way, it was fun. I took some pictures, too..

My friend Marcus was in town for a visit, and went to the festival with me. Too bad pictures of juggling generally suck, but I tried anyway.. Anyway, here's Marcus trying his hand at bounce juggling.

Random poi swingers...

Bounce juggling.. 5 balls..

Some random folks passing in the gym..

Passing and high up on shoulders!

It was sunny all weekend.. here's someone outside enjoying the weather..

And indoors, it wasn't windy..

The festival Registration desk, with my volunteers. This turned into an impromtu '3 ball Mills Mess' seminar.. niiiiiice..

And what juggling festival would be complete without unicycles? how about tallll unicycles? Passing clubs, even!

Well, there you go. My weekend captured in photos. I could have taken more, but photos of juggling suck. I think I heard that somewhere before.. Besides, I was too busy organizing grunts.. errr.. volunteers, and attending workshops! And as Rhys Thomas says, "jugglers make too much of catching." See you next year!!