Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You thought I wouldn't finish my trip report, didn't you?

Uh. Right. So it's been a little longer than anticipated, but here I am, ready to finish the report... if only I could still remember the trip. When last you saw our daring hero, we had just escaped the fearsome clutches of the Bushkill Falls Special Weapons and Tactics Unit.

So we went home & I made Cuban Sandwiches for everyone (ham + roasted pork + cheese + pickle slices + stoneground mustard, pressed like a panini), then we put the kids to bed, then decided Sunday night was Game Night. It should be said in advance, I like new games. I play lots of games, and would love to have the time to play more. Nothing too out there, but not a lot made by Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley. So, I had brought Carcassone (+Inns & Taverns, for you Board Game Geeks out there keeping score) and Once Upon a Time. We've had Carcassone for a while and enjoy it a lot, and I gave a copy of it to a nephew for Christmas - we played one round of that, and I won due to superior farm strategy, and the lucky fact that my wife didn't draw the 'cathedral' tile to tack onto my out-of-control metropolis.

The real attraction for me was Once Upon a Time. I had also given this game at Christmas, to a younger neice, but I had never played it myself until I bought it a couple weeks ago. For those of you too disinterested to visit the link above, I offer the following synopsis: You make up a fairy tale with the cards you are dealt, but sometimes other players can take over the story and make it their fairy tale, and the winner is the person who makes the story end the way they want it too. It's different than other card and board games in that there's not much strategy or analytical skill involved. Instead, it's all about creatively telling your story. It appeals to me on a couple of levels - as an [avid] player of Roleplaying Games, I've had a lot of experience making up stories, particularly those in the fairy tale/fantasy genre. I've gotten to be pretty good at it, and this is a quick outlet for that interest. Furtheremore, playing the game serves in a way to generate a psuedorandom story, and that's a lot of fun for me. I could probably amuse myself for hours just playing with the cards by myself, playing with combinations and permutations and making up quick little stories. So, that game's a hit with me. We played a couple rounds of it while in PA, and I think everyone liked it. It's certainly better than Nanofictionary, which we took on our last weekend away and which was only mildly entertaining.

Monday I finally went fishing. I'm basically new to fly fishing, and I'll never be hardcore about it, but I have enjoyed the times I've done it (which would be this trip and one other time in 2003). My grandfather recently gave me one of his good fly rods - a custom made Russ Peak fiberglass rod, which is apparently a big deal) and I was anxious to try it out. My brother in law had done a little intel gathering at the local fly shop on Saturday, and we decided to go to Hidden Lake (luckily, you can just follow the signs). We fished around a bit at the dam end without much luck - I did land my only fish of the day - a stunning 4" crappy. Not exactly the enormous trout we were hoping for. Fishing at the other end of the lake after lunch wasn't much better, although my Bro-in-law caught some stunners like the one in the picture - look by his knee and you'll see it. I made him let me take that photo so he can post it on the fly-fishing forums he frequents to show them the 'hot action'.

Monday night was 'girls night out' for my sister and my wife (who used to room together at college, which is how my wife and I met). So, like, the minute we got back from fishing they were out the door and we had all three kids, which should have been fine, but we were tired from fishing and we both were on the verge of nodding off. Luckily, at least one of us stayed awake enough to order some greasy Pizza Hut pizzas! After the kids went to bed, we played some Playstation but were both tired enough to hit the sack before the girls got back.

The fish just weren't biting on Monday - they weren't eating bugs off the surface, and I guess because the weather had turned a little chillier, no bugs were hatching, which meant trout didn't believe our flys were real. Or at least, so goes the theory. Nevertheless, we got up at 5AM Tuesday to hit Bushkill Creek at dawn with the hope of doing better in a stream than we had done on the lake. It was gorgeous to be there fly fishing as the sun came up, but we didn't get a single nibble that morning (tried the lake again for a little while too - again, nothing). So, we went back to the condo, where I made really yummy breakfast burritos with potatoes, eggs, cheese, and a little red enchilada sauce, plus Penzey's Southwest Seasoning (Because, uh, I'm a nerd about my spices too). So at least those were good. We putzed around and got packed up, then headed out around 3 (and forgot a bunch of stuff, most of which my sister was sharp enough to find). Got home around 9 totally exhausted. So now you know.

Hopefully my next fly fishing experience will be a little more... productive than this one turned out to be. I had fun though, and I think it could be the kind of thing I could occasionally enjoy for years to come.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Thursday night we started driving at 8pm to get up to Bushkill, PA to see my sister, her husband, and their little girl (and ideally, do some fly-fishing). Drive up went pretty smooth (unless you count the nastiness that is Baltimore Travel Center - never again!), except that by about 11:30 I was having serious trouble keeping awake. This is not usual for me. I am generally just fine until at least 1AM. But I was starting to worry about my ability to drive & so we switched places for the last hour and a half through Eastern PA. I was nearly dead when we got there at 1 - just wanted to find the bed.

Well, I caught something because I barely moved from that bed for the next 36 hours. I had a minor temperature, sore throat, and constant headaches, and threw up a tiny bit maybe twice, but the main symptoms were just sheer fatigue and loss of appetite. All I wanted was a dark room and our down comforter (which, luckily, we decided last minute to bring). I would get up to go to the bathroom and nearly fall asleep on the toilet - one time I paused to sit down in the big whirlpool tub and very nearly spent the rest of the night there. I don't think I've ever been so tired. My wife (God bless her) was getting pretty tired of taking care of both kids the whole time, and it was starting to show by Saturday morning, so I took the little guy down for his morning nap with me while my wife & sister took the other kids to a 'zoo'. Well, we got the good end of that deal, because he slept down there with me for hours while they wandered through, in their words, a "malaria swamp."

I was determined to feel better by Saturday evening for Jeff's show. The original plan was for me to drive up to Scranton alone and spend far into the night hanging out with Jeff and talking roleplaying theory v. improv theory, a topic we've been exploring a little in our recent correspondance. However, I knew I wouldn't be up for that, so my wife ended up coming along to the show since we'd be coming back soon afterward. My sister & brother-in-law took all three kids (and put them all to bed without a hitch - amazing) and we drove the hour or so up to Scranton.

The show was lots of fun - it's the same storyline each night, but the players have a lot of leeway (I'm given to understand) in the dialogue and so forth. The story was about Morty Scrod (Jeff) and his wife Gretchen (Heather) who own a beat up old hotel in upstate PA (thus, lots of local rib-poking) that used to house opera stars such as Gretchen's aunt Aida. A wealthy Frenchman (Dave), the Marquis de Bernais-Moutard actually, shows up and, uh, you know, hijinks & pratfalls ensue. It was a little under-attended (apparently Scranton doesn't know what it's got) but a good time.

Afterwards we ended up going with the whole cast (except of course local boy Billie, whose non-enthusiasm was palpable onstage) plus director down to 130 Brixx Tavern for a bite to eat. In my case, it really was about one bite, since my appetite had yet to return and Pennsylvanians would seem to like their chicken quite dry. But it was nice to be there with basically everyone who was involved with the show & talk to them about it. Then we very nearly ran out of gas on the way home, but we found an open gas station at last, and made it back to Bushkill.

Sunday morning I was beginning to feel more alive again. My sister and her family went off to church in the morning (I don't particularly like the actual going to church, less so when it's people I don't know, and so I don't usually go to church on vacation - which is why I can expect to see my sister in a nicer neighborhood of heaven than me). In the afternoon we went up to Bushkill Falls "The Niagara of Pennsylvania!" which was fine, maybe not $9 worth for the part we did, but it was, y'know, pretty waterfalls. Back at the snack stand (my daughter NEEDED a soft pretzel) we amused ourselves cracking jokes about the jackbooted security guard who was looking at everyone suspiciously and wandering around in his high combat boots and tight leather gloves with his big old Mag-lite. At one point a piece of debris blew across the parking lot and he strode out there very quickly and seriously to show that debris who was boss. Then he had to go inside the souvenir shop to ask where it should go since it wouldn't fit in the trash can. All to my amusement. Well, I'm informed that it's time for bed, no matter that you're only half way through blogging the trip. More later, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Having it both wa ys

Media Blog on National Review Online

I think this screenshot of Google News sums up pretty well the whole eavesdropping 'scandal'. Furor now that it was being done, furor later that it wasn't being done more.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Zuppa del Giorno.

Mainstage Season: Modern Opera

Going to my friend Jeff's show this weekend - very exciting. Then we get to talk gaming/improv theory! Hooray!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Enders Game, anyone?

Australia To Train Whiz Kids For Future Cyber Warfare

My favorite part: "Deeble believes that he and the other baby-boomers in the RAAF will have to make way for the X and Y generations simply to avoid becoming an obstacle to a force of airmen whose brains have been hardwired as youngsters for creative and aggressive use of computers."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Nice Man

Me, and my 2 year old daughter, last night:

"The Nice Man is going to come and bring us Chinese food tonight!"
"Can I play with him, Daddy?"
"uh, no, don't play with him. The Nice Man just comes and brings us Chinese food, and we pay him, because he's nice, but not that nice..."
"Can I say Hi to him?
"Sure, baby, you can say Hi to the Nice Man when he comes"

And he did come, and she did say hi to him, and he brought me Pineapple Chicken.