See You Next Wednesday
Wednesday, July 28

I asked Biff what nomenclature to use for my three new paragraphs. Biff called Julius and forty-five minutes later they agreed we did need three paragraphs, not one paragraph with two logic rules. (I know.) Then we got onto the nomenclature and fifteen minutes later I determined the system was mostly Biff’s personal mnemonic tool. Also, the system is an information paradox; between four and seven of the ten characters are determined by which existing paragraph you use as the template for the new one. Finally I got to choose which letter between ‘A’ and ‘I’ would be used to distinguish the second paragraph. I chose ‘G’ because it spelled a pun. Biff didn’t get it.


On Wednesday night after a little conferring on the science fiction setting and pizza Dave, Jimbo and I rolled up half a dozen characters for our latest attempt at a regular roleplaying game. We went through a big book of science fiction character generating tables (a.k.a. Casting Call: Heroes of Tomorrow) and then decided to convert the page of results into a (HeroQuest) drabble. This is a good thing as it allows the interesting and reasonable parts of the random character generation to be focussed on. For example: one of Jimbo’s character supposedly led a prison riot at age two before becoming a pirate captain at age six; prison is not reasonable but pirates are interesting. Unfortunately it also means I have to write character descriptions which I find astoundingly difficult. Short ones even more so.

Soccer is our forte. Next Week For Sure won three to nil this time. In the first quarter we were so good at keeping the ball off the other team, Red Bull, it was spooky; if only we had kept the ball out of the corners we might have scored. Ian scored a penalty in the second quarter and at the start of the final quarter it was still one to nil. Fatigue was becoming a real factor in the game so I played a dedicated fullback role to save everyone having the run up and down the entire length of the court. This worked well as Red Bull didn’t get a single shot on goal and Sue scored twice in a minute. Her second goal was a solo effort intercepted on the wing from the kickoff, cut inside the defence and slotted between the goalie’s legs from the top of the circle. Beautiful.

At the Heroclix game on Friday seven people set up for a six hundred point capture the flag scenario on a two foot square table with the colossal Baxter Building in the middle and the flag on top. After the crowd squeezed onto the field Jimbo, Little Simon, most of Matt’s team, Trudi and I were on the ground at the edges of the map while Glen and Jeremy were forced onto the roof of the building with the rest of Matt’s team. Trudi set off up the skyscraper to grab the flag. Then I had my go. My team had one flyer, one phaser and nobody with leap/spring so they were not going to be able to assail the building. Instead I levelled the playing field. Judge Anderson, Judge Fear and Rasputin perplexed up Lobster Johnson’s damage (two shots at five damage), Psylocke enhanced damage for Johnny Alpha (four damage), Nemesis (four damage) and Starman (five damage) and then they shot the base of the Baxter Building. Twenty-three points in one turn brought the building down, filled the board with rubble, and reduced Jeremy's and Glen’s teams to one injured figure each. Unfortunately Jimbo, Little Simon and Matt forgot what the object of the game was and decided to beat each other up. Trudi picked the flag out of the rubble and kept me away with smoke and phased ranged attacks through the rubble for the rest of the game, gaining double points and beating me into second place by the end of the night.

Back at Dave’s on Monday for space adventure on the Starship Manticore. To my surprise I had managed to produce necessary and sufficient character descriptions to convert into HeroQuest character sheets. My freelance owner operator is looking for a new crew, his contact on the mining station stonewalled him, and he just met some guy in a white coat at a bar near a television while something disastrous was being broadcast live. And we're off...
Wednesday, July 21
People keep asking me questions.

Currently my job is asking someone else’s question of as many people as I think I can convince they know something about what I’ve been asked; then trying to compare the information they all gave me and abstract a reply in the guise of an answer for people I have never met.

Also, all our work for this quarterly release was not warranted (meaning authorised rather than reasonable) on schedule so now everyone is pressed for time. There is a lot more contact with people two or three steps removed in the workflow as they try to make time by circumventing the regular channels of communication. Usually I have to tell them I am not the Testing Manager anymore and they need to update their contact list (probably by looking at the electronic document rather than the hardcopy they printed out six months ago).

Shades of Dance.

I saw the Sydney Dance Company perform Shades of Gray and I thought it was marvellous. As a dance it was excellent theatre: an intelligent adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, cunningly designed sets, fantastic costumes, and great music arranged well (I want the soundtrack album). And on top of all that, it was a dance. Straight forward ballet choreography didn’t upstage the rest of the production or obscure the story, instead it made a firm base for a clever storytelling thing.

Andersen’s All-Comers.

I won the Heroclix game at Charmed Pages on Friday and was even declared last one standing as I had over half the figures on the board when we wrapped it up. Usually my team gets strung out trying to get into battle and are picked off one by one. This time I pulled back my injured troops to be healed rather than trying to finish off opponents and as a result spent a lot of time out of contact and on very few points.

When I did make it into range Greg and Jimbo had pretty much slaughtered each other and Trudi’s legion of mind controllers was using Sean’s team to beat up on Little Simon’s. Everyone’s team was depleted except mine so I sharked some efficient knockouts from Trudi’s handiwork and moved in on the valuable mind controllers. When a fully healed Ulik (six clicks of charging close combat damage) backed up by Lobster Johnson or Rasputin standing next to an Intergang Member (to outwit mind control) knocked out White Queen and Selene in two turns and was lining up Saturn Girl for the same treatment it was all over.


We need milk and toilet paper.
Wednesday, July 14
I don't know what I don't know.

Last week I was trained to write tests for letters because they had to be written and moved into non-existent testing exercises by Monday. It only took until Wednesday to get Biff to talk about it, and when I say talk about it I mean nominate which ones she will do and print off some examples for me to base the rest on. I didn't use the examples, to do that I would need to understand them. Instead I wrote tests I could do if needs be.

Swings and roundabouts.

Next Week For Sure lost their first netball game twenty to six. We started a player short after Kate fell off her mountain bike during the week and we lost the first quarter six to nil. Our opponents, The Team, let us play with four males on court after that and we spent the rest of the game learning about stepping and obstruction and passing over a third. Occasionally one of us would have a shot at goal and that became more common as the game went on, which was nice. Al tried to explain the whole "defenders take the free throws, never the shooters" tactic but really, when you're Goal Scorer is constantly stepping offside and your Goal Attack is waiting for the ball to run over a third, we had more fundamental issues to address in the thirty second change of ends. One of The Team got a warning for repeatedly running into Fiona and thought it would be a good idea to question the umpire. He was sent off (apparently not for the first time in his life) and we only lost the last quarter four to three. Next week: volleyball. (Or possibly Sydney Dance Company's Shades of Gray with mum for me, I must check the ticket).

Happy thirty-fifth Polly.

On Friday I found out Biff is going leaving in two weeks. She didn't tell me, nobody told me. Biff was telling Julius Strangepork that she could have left in May but was staying until testing started because I didn't know how to do her job yet. I only found out because I was sitting right there in the meeting, and it wasn't a big meeting.

Happy thirtieth (last Tuesday) Jimbo.

On Saturday night Jimbo had a family birthday at Ian and Sonia and Flynn's with Dave and Fiona and Linda and I. Many people brought much food and there were myriad leftovers left over. For entertainment there was Norbert, the rather large, Dalmatian coloured Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is deaf and terribly excitable. Jimbo is planning a night out at the pub next weekend, also for his birthday.

Happy thirty-eighth Andy.

Sunday was unremarkable. As was Monday. On Tuesday Biff and Sully were both away, but with the help of pointless busywork (thus continuing the unremarkability of this week) I managed to make it through to four o'clock before abandoning the theatre of my work. Now it is Wednesday and nothing has happened yet...
Wednesday, July 7
Next Week For Sure.

Thursday night multisport started with a game of indoor soccer. We (Alastair "Schmeichel", Christine "Neville", Dave "Ronaldo", Ian "Ronaldino", Kate "Beckham", Sue "Hamm" and I) won 3-1 much to our delight; Sue scored twice and Kate once, and Kate missed a penalty too. The rules were very much the referee's interpretation of the rules and the tone was set by the kick off which, according to Rule 11 provided by the Canberra International Sports & Aquatics Centre website, has to travel backwards (contrary to field soccer rules) but which was instead blasted straight at Christine in the goal area. Our opponents seemed to rely on their guys kicking the shit out of the ball as soon as they were in a space. We muddled into a pattern with someone backing up the player with the ball (so if they were tackled we often regained possession), and someone else covering the other side of the court (so if a shot went wide we often regained possession). After half time with the score at 2-0 the other team tried the direct route kicking the ball straight up the court and hoping someone could retrieve it at the other end to shoot. It did earn them a goal but we continued to dominate possession and maintained out lead. Lesson One: They can't score if they haven't got the ball. Next week: netball, and possibly uniforms.

Snowcon I

Charmed Pages hosted a game convention over the weekend starting on Friday night with a twelve hundred point build Heroclix game. Nine players started and the game continued on Saturday morning with two players eliminated, two others teaming up and three new players. I played poorly: forgetting to use powers, misconstruing the rules and making assumptions about the terrain. I ended the game with Johnny Alpha stranded on top of a building he couldn't get down from after I drove the Batmobile into a sailing ship in the penultimate action of the game. I scored two hundred and nine points which were doubled because I made the four hundred point Axis & Allies casting call and finished last out of those left standing.

On Saturday afternoon I missed the Piracy game to attend a Doctor Who Club of Australia - Canberra meeting. Dr Teeth had bravely invited anyone who read the DWCA Yahoo group into his living room and I met Animal, who brought his full scale K-9 model but left the full scale dalek model at home; Floyd Pepper, who insisted the episode of "The Crusade" we were watching was an episode of "Marco Polo"; and Janice, who preferred to read than watch and hadn't seen many episodes since the seventies. Dr Teeth had a vast collection (which he describes as "complete") of episodes and related material which he had transferred to DVD, including the DVDs. Nobody wanted to impose so Dr Teeth played some of his favourite bits and pieces. I got to see Dimensions in Time and The Web of Caves, which was nice. Then Dr Teeth put on an American fan video and everyone left promptly at six. I went back to Snowcon to create my character for the RPGA sanctioned D&D module on Sunday afternoon and wonder if I might have had more fun being a pirate.

The Magic: The Gathering tournament was on Sunday morning. I had hauled up my cards from the garage on Wednesday and Jimbo looked up the rules for Type II tournaments. When we discovered my cards were five years out of date we opted to use a couple of decks provided by Matt. I was defeated two-nil in the first round by the eventual winner but defeated Jimbo two-nil in the second round. Matt played me with Jimbo's deck to test it and I beat him two-nil. Bad luck Jimbo.

Sunday afternoon I spent running a halfling cleric through Trudi's RPGA sanctioned module called Epidemic with Ashley, Glenn, Greg, Jimbo, Luke, two Matts and Little Simon . We fought some orcs and explored a cave and defeated a dwarven druid to discover the cure for an oozy, explosive disease. It was pretty straight forward fun and the only actual roleplaying I did all weekend.

Snowcon finished with Jonathan's trivia quiz. Hilarity ensued. With a system of bonuses and penalties for wrong answers demonstrating deep insight or astounding ignorance there were sufficient points for the trivially gifted to literally win the overall convention prize. I lost the Doctor Who round to Jimbo and he lost the Futurama round to Matt. Everybody laughed a lot. In the end Jimbo won the trivia (I came second) and the overall convention (I came second last).


Last week we had only five players for indoor cricket so we forfeited the game, but not soon enough to avoid owing the game fee. This week, when the captain didn't seem interested, Dave rallied the troops but we managed only five players again. Another forfeit, probably another eighty-eight dollar game fee, no captain; I think Vincibles has finally fallen apart, which is a pity.


Another pity was Australia failing to get a win in the three test series in New Zealand. I think tactics to subdue Irene van Dyk's awesome scoring ability were frustrated by the international umpires' interpretation of an "advantage". At least the players could see the funny side. Also, I think the coaching staff were unable to reconcile giving new players international experience and addressing New Zealand's advantage on the court, to the detriment of both.

Jim 30

Tuesday was possibly the weakest birthday in Jimbo's thirty years. It involved a full day of work ("Just like a grown up", said Fiona) followed by a movie he'd already seen, pizza, and early to bed. At least the movie was Spider-Man 2. I believe Saturday will be significantly more celebratory.

Sad news

Condolences to Jonathan and Trudi who went to Adelaide on Monday for Jonathan's father's funeral.
This may not sound like the snappiest line from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but it evidently caught the imagination of John Landis, who has worked references to a mythical film of this name into most of his own movies - memorably as the grotty British skinflick watched by an assortment of lycanthropes and zombies in the climax of An American Werewolf in Paris [sic] (1981). Ghastly Beyond Belief, Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman

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