Friday, February 28, 2014

Endings and Beginnings

Today was the closing for our selling Mum's house in Montreal. It was a bit sad, not because I particularly liked the house myself, but because I know Diana and Josh had fond memories of it and will miss it. You can say "It's just a house", but a place that you've known for 25 years or more has a personality of its own, to you.

In good news, today Josh got a job offer, and specifically a job doing economics rather than lifting boxes. He and Gwen went to an Econ Department ski trip, met a professor who needed someone for a project, and behold, a week later, he's employed. Huzzah!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


For about seven years I attended Ground Zero Games East Coast Con in Lancaster PA; however, a few years ago the con organizers decided to move the con to Owego NY, which makes it a nine hour drive instead of six hours, and I hadn't gone since. Since I now have the time, I decided to go
I drove up the Eastern Shore, through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and into New York. The Eastern Shore has a lot of pretty places, open fields and farms and such, but there's an air of decay that you can't miss. Businesses closed, houses abandoned, buildings collapsed. The good part was that, compared to the highway hypnosis of the interstate, the route was varied enough to keep you awake as you're driving, and even though "nine hour trip" sounds like a long time, that includes three or four breaks so it wasn't bad. Starting in Pennsylvania, the ground was covered by snow, and the Susquehanna River was frozen over, but the roads were clear.
The con had about 35 people attending, which was a bit less than I'd have hoped but sufficient. Jon Davis and his sons were there, as well as Indy Kochte, Stuart Murray, Aaron Newman, Martin Connell, Steve Barosi, and the Canadian contingent of JP Fiset, Tom McCarthy and Jim Bell, and others. As it happens, I was in Stuart's games three times--a homebrew Jedi vs Droids game on Friday night, and two runs of the same Hammer's Slammers scenario on Saturday morning and afternoon--and then got into Martin and Steve's Mars Needs Women VSF StarGrunt game on Saturday night. AARs will be at Battle Honors. I decided to forego the Sunday morning game due to the length of the drive. Had a great time, and it was good to see old friends again.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Snow in Blacksburg

Actually the snow arrived last week, about 20" of it, but we didn't arrive until Saturday afternoon. Josh and Gwen had built a snowbear; today, we helped them build Mrs. Snowbear, complete with skirt and pearls.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Costa Rica 2014

We spent a week in Costa Rica, which was not so much "celebrate my retirement" as "trigger my retirement". We'd tentatively reserved the bungalow for 2014 before we left the hotel during the 2013 trip, so the dates didn't have anything to do with my retirement plans; however, when I had to set a specific date for my last day of work, I said "You know, when I came back from vacation last time, I didn't want to have to go back to work. This time, let's not go back to work."
Costa Rica this time, compared to last time, was less exciting, less adventurous, more relaxed. We knew where stuff was and how it worked. We mostly stayed at the hotel, or on the beach, or walked into town and looked around.
Three adventures we did have: the Pacific, snorkeling, and kayaking.

  • On one of the days we walked west along the beach and around the point; somewhere in there, we passed from "Tamarindo Bay" to "Pacific Ocean". I went out on the rocks to where the waves were crashing in, and it was just the same as it was on the bay side--except this was the PACIFIC OCEAN and the nearest land in that direction was Hawaii.
  • We took a four hour snorkeling excursion with six other people, taking a boat north quite a ways--I believe it was to Playa Prieta. We saw a devilfish jump entirely out of the water; we saw several sea snakes, including one that got closer than I was really happy with; and one of our party saw a small white-tipped shark. And of course there were the usual abundance of tropical fish, from eighteen inches long down to tiny darting gold flecks. One key point: "snorkeling" is another word for "laying face down in the sun for hours, not realizing how burnt you're getting." 
  • We took a kayak out to el Capitan. It was a bit nerve wracking because you have to go at an angle to the waves, instead of bow on, and I was worried about us rolling over. We made it, though, and beached on the islet. On the near side, there are millions of shells and fragments, and hermit crabs creeping about. On the seaward side, there's nothing but volcanic rock, swept clean by the waves. Just a few feet from the ocean, though, there's a tide pool about ten feet long and seven feet deep; it shelters some fish and a colony of spiny urchins, dark burgundy in color and about the size of a lemon.