Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This is where I shall be from Saturday, skiing in the Ziller valley in Austria. If there is any snow left of course - the last fall was the week before last. It doesn't look too bad on the webcam but a big dump of fresh snow would be lovely. Here's hoping for cold weather and lots of precipitation. I want Spring to be postponed for at least a week, if that's OK with everyone......

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Apologies, I am mucking about with comments on this blog, and it's not going very well so far. I want to move over to Blogger comments, but leave the legacy comments (Enetation) still available for you to read, while subtly discouraging you from adding any more legacy comments. So the link to the new (Blogger) comments is at the right hand side at the bottom of each post. My idea is that there will be a little reminder in the middle where there are legacy comments available, something like a '*' or '(2)'. But Enetation doesn't seem to want to play ball at the moment, so it's all a bit of a mess for now. So just remember, the new comments system - the one I want you to use from now on - is on the right. OK?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Greg Costikyan has a touching obituary for Redmond Simonsen:

Before I go into the personal bit, I'll explain why you should know Redmond's name, even though you probably don't: Redmond coined the term game designer. Before he did, we had no good term; game inventor, game author... but he put his finger on what we do. Redmond established the look for the graphics of the board wargame. Redmond wasn't the first to design a fantasy/science fiction boardgame, but he almost single-handedly established it as a successful genre... And Redmond was a kick-ass game designer in his own right. Go find a copy of StarForce: Alpha Centauri, or Sorceror.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Elements of Drawing is a searchable and browsable online version of the teaching collection and catalogues assembled by John Ruskin for his Oxford drawing schools.

Ruskin assembled this collection - including many Turners and many of his own drawings - as a resource for his drawing classes. Now this amazing resource is available online! (There seems to be a problem viewing expanded versions of the pictures, but hopefully this is a temporary glitch.)

Radio Free Nepal - anonymous blogging and photos from Nepal where the king has suspended democratic government indefinitely. This picture shows 83-year-old Nepali Congress leader Bal Bahadur Rai being taken away by police during the protest rally in Kathmandu on Monday.
At last I'm starting to feel normal again after the weekend - all my paragliding muscles had got very lazy since last October, so when I finally got the chance to fly again on Sunday it left me feeling very sore indeed. Fantastic day though - in spite of the on/off wind conditions I got 5 flights before the end of the day, but of course, because I don't know how to soar and top-land yet, that meant 4 exhausting walks back up the hill lugging the harness and glider! And they made us practice our parachute landing falls all over again, which was a bruising experience in its own right.

With all the excitement of restarting my paragliding training, there has still been space for some gaming. I played 1825 with Phil on Saturday, and we enjoyed it very much. It goes well as a 2-player game, and the kinder, gentler stock-market makes for a less confrontational game than 1830 et al. Phil beat me by a good margin.

I also met up with Les on Monday for an evening of Blue Moon in the pub. This game is intriguing with real depth of play that I am only just starting to get into - plenty of appetite for replaying this one.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I've just come back from a very enjoyable weekend away with my friends on the Workshop Team. We stayed at Jordans Youth Hostel which is one of those simple shacks in the woods that the YHA loves to buy. It was all very cosy and well heated, with radiators in the bedrooms and shower block, and a nice wood-stove to sit around in the lounge. We went for a long walk on Saturday in the Chiltern Hundreds (whatever they might be) and visited the Friends Meeting House next door on Sunday morning. This is a beautiful, historic building linked with William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Entering the austere, panelled meeting room was like stepping into a time machine. Sitting quiet and still for an hour was a huge challenge for me, difficult and demanding but also peaceful and reassuring, and I have tremendous respect for these people for whom this is a weekly spiritual discipline year in year out, for a lifetime.

I took a collection of accessible games with me, and was pleasantly surprised by the uptake. Debs and Viv learned Lost Cities, Zendo went down well with Trish, Matt, Viv and Debs, and we had an epic game of Lord of the Rings on Saturday night, with me overseeing proceedings and about 8 people actually playing (Merry was inhabited by a weird triple personality comprising Sue, Trish and Linda). This is a great game for non-gamers and always succeeds in drawing people into the drama of the story. The last hour was a really intense struggle to get across Mordor with everyone concentrating hard and discussing every single card play! Sadly they succumbed at space 56 but it was a great effort.

I have uploaded a few photos of the weekend here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

This is sweet - Phil is asking me for help with a console game. After years of being held in contempt by the boys for my feeble abilities at games such as Quake, Gran Turismo, WipeOut etc. Phil is stuck in Final Fantasy X, unable to beat a boss that I vanquished about 50 hours ago, and he wants me to talk him through it. Respect my Leet Skillz!