Austin GDC Part One: Planning

I haven't been to an out of town conference (other than the ones I've planned) in 6 years, so I was a little nervous about what I should do with myself. Which pass should I get? Where should I stay? Who am I going to eat lunch with? Please don't let me be the awkward shy person that retreats to her room for meals!


My options were as follows:
1) All Access
2) Main Conference
3) Summits and Tutorials
4) Game Career Seminar
5) Expo

This was the scariest decision, in my opinion. I was afraid that getting the cheap-o pass would doom me - socially and in terms of accessibility. Would certain passes brand me as a n00b? I caved and went with the all access, despite the hefty price tag. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be disappointed with my choice later. Erring on the side of too much to do with my time seemed better than missing out on something awesome.


I initially freaked out about picking a hotel. Where would the people I end up getting along with be staying? How far away from the event center is too far? What if the housekeeper missed the dead hooker under the mattress?

Thankfully, a wonderful friend of mine suggested a hotel alternative - vacation rentals. She assembled a group of what she felt were compatible people, and one of them volunteered to help research our options.

Before I left, I knew we had 3 women and 5 guys in our group and two houses to pick from. And one of the houses was a castle. Literally.

Stifling shyness

I wasn't sure what to do about my ridiculous agoraphobia, so I rented a car to make sure I had an escape route. But that brought up the issue of how much I hate driving in new places. Blargh! And don't even get me started in terms of worrying about wardrobe choices.

More on how these decisions affected my experience coming soon ...



So, Austin GDC was awesome. I had a blast. I'll fill y'all in on details soon. :)


Members only

I love video games, but I'm not good at playing them all. Give me turn-based strategy and I can play at any level of difficulty you throw at me. Give me a game that requires frantic button mashing I'll probably not do so well.

The games for which I lack skills, well, they make me very, very sad. Especially since so many games lock beginners out of content.

This happened to me yesterday.

My boyfriend was sweet enough to pick up a copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (yay!). I was very excited for co-op play, so I inserted the disk and watched the cheesy opening sequence roll by (lord help me, they used "ladies" and "girls" as insults to masculinity .... must ignore ...).

Anyway, the options screen finally popped up on the TV and, to my dismay, I had to choose a difficulty level. "Some achievements and content are unavailable at your level," the Xbox said to me.


Just because I lack the ability mash buttons in a logical sequence at breakneck speeds, doesn't mean I'm undeserving of cool content.


Why not decrease the points awarded for achievements for the easy setting? Huh? Why not??!

Meany faces. All of you.

I guess I just have to go back to singing everything on Rockband at Expert level without flinching. So. There.


Apparently I'm a diva

At least when it comes to gyms.

I gave up my membership at the YMCA because the neighborhood was shady and I couldn't talk myself into running around their parking lot after dark.

Now I'm in need of a replacement.

I want:

Enough cardio equipment so I can workout at 6 or 7 at night and not have to wait for a machine.
A circuit room.
Parking under $8/pop (Which is what it costs at UCLA) or something within walking distance of my apartment.

That's it. I don't need a locker. Or a pool. Or a steam room.

Really, it's not a lot to ask, is it?

Apparently in LA it is.


I'm tempted to buy my own equipment, but then I don't get the benefit of weight training. Or room for visitors.


2001 can go suck an egg

The anniversary of 9/11 always puts me in a melancholy malaise. 2001 marked the beginning of a rough time in my life.

I started the year by being dumped. Two friends were in a horrible accident that killed a motorcyclist. I ended up semi-dating a guy who I discovered was on the scene of that accident and lent my friends his cell phone. Broke up with that guy (not because of the coincidence, other reasons). Started dating the friend who was in the accident, and that ended up becoming emotionally tumultuous. Post 9/11 depression hit hard. It was hard to go to class. I didn't really even want to get out of bed. Slept too much. When I was awake I argued with friends about my pacifist views. No, I didn't want to go out and torture and/or kill the 9/11 planners. No war, please. There was a lot of fighting about that.

The next several years brought financial and emotional hardship. Medical problems. Deaths. Ugh.

Fast forward to fall of 2008. Things were finally okay. Ish.


A post on my dearly departed Ginger, a.k.a. a Gin-Blog

Sometimes known as Ginger, Gin-bob, Gin-bob No Pants, Ginner and Princess, my sweet family pup passed away last month.

I miss her lots.

As a result, my writing goes to sh*t when I try to talk about her. I'll put her pictures first, so you can enjoy her. If you happen to want to read a rambling, disorganized block of text, it's waiting for you after the photos.

Squirrel watching prairie dog pose:
An unusual silly face. Normally she hated photos:
I'm not sure why I posted this one, seeing as it's just a picture of our carpet.
Mouthful of snow:
More of that delicious snow:
On a hike with my parents:Snorf snort snuggle snorf:

Big torso, little legs.
When I was really little, I used to pretend I was a dog. I crawled around my parents' apartment barking. I remember filling a little bowl with food or water, putting it on the floor, and eating from it. Later, when I learned to write, I made sure to tell Santa I wanted a puppy for Christmas. Every year, without fail. When I grew up a little more, I bought books on dog breeds and poured over animal supply catalogs, circling the items I felt were good enough for my future potential puppy.

I didn't get one until the Spring of my senior year of high school. I was 17.

I arrived in my Montana hometown in the wee hours of the morning, exhausted from a Speech and Debate meet. It was bitterly cold and snowing like mad. Rather than make me brave the nasty weather, my parents came to pick me up in their enormous old, blue van.

The sliding door roared open to reveal a scruffy, dirty blonde dog. She looked quite a bit like Benji the hunted cut off at the knees, 1/2 Basset Hound 1/2 Skye Terrier. Her bark was all Basset, temperament mostly terrier. But I didn't know that yet.

I got in and asked what the deal was with the dog. I knew better than to assume she was mine.

"Oh, we're just trying her out," my parents told me.

I didn't know what to think. If I let myself get attached, I'd risk emotional devastation if they took her back to the pound where she'd inevitably be put to sleep. I was afraid to love her all the way, but that scruffy face was so. darn. cute.

When we got home I realized that my younger brother hated her*. Not for any logical reason - he just hates change. Any change. Even cute, furry, sweet, loving change.

I assumed she was doomed.

Then a few weeks passed. A few months. My parents never confirmed that she was our forever dog and I was too timid to ask. And then, that fall, I left for college. I had a dog for all of 6 months.

In that time I noticed that she could tell when I was sad. She'd sit near me until she sensed I was okay then would wander off to check on another member of the family. Nightly she'd make the rounds, the tinkling sound of her little license tags the only thing giving her presence away. First she'd check on my parents, padding in on her big furry feet. Sniff. Sniff sniff. With a head shake and a snort, she'd turn tail and head for my little brother's room. Sniff. Sniff sniff. Snort. Then it was my turn. I used to hear her come into my room, just part way. Stop. Sniff sniff. Snort. Once she knew we were all where we were supposed to be, she'd settle in for the night.

Sometimes I'd find her on the couch in the living room, using the low arm rest as a pillow.

Sometimes she'd curl up under my parents' bed.

Sometimes she'd be up on the ottoman by the window, staring out at the squirrels, sitting like a prairie dog.

When we'd go out for walks, she chased those squirrels up trees. I don't mean that she scared the squirrels so that the squirrels themselves ran up the tree trunks. No. Ginger scrambled up the trunk as far as her short little legs and big bodied momentum could take her. She never made it farther up than my head, but it was high enough to be impressive.

She ate a lot of snow. I think it may have been her favorite thing to do.

Small dogs didn't phase her. Big ones? She wanted to take them on. I don't think Ginger realized that she'd lose that kind of a battle. She herself was a big dog on little legs.

Part of her tongue was missing. I wish I knew the story there.

Anyway ...

I got to know her a little, and then I had to leave.

It sucked.

When I came back for Thanksgiving, she greeted me excitedly. I felt loved. Then, when I packed up my car to leave again, she hopped right into the passenger seat and refused to leave. We had to bribe her out with chicken. I didn't want to go.

It seemed that every time I came for a visit, she had lost more teeth. My dad eventually made the joke, "all she has for Christmas are her two front teeth."

My mom tells me that Ginger would let her know when she left something on the stove too long. And when one of the doors was unlocked at night.

She hated being groomed. She took it as a great personal insult that her lowly humans would dare harass her in that manner.

Enough details. I miss her. Lots. She was with us for 10ish years, but was closer to 15 years-old (or more, actually). I really wish I had spent more in-person time with her.

*To my little brother's credit, he warmed up to her. It just took him a little while. I actually don't know if he remembers disliking her.