Category Archives: games

my name is not alexander…

… but I had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

It’s “cold” here this week, meaning it’s gone all the way down to -3C. But today was the day I was heading over to Quadra, and when I do that, I take my car. The car was covered in frost because I hadn’t driven it for a couple of weeks so I had to scrape the windshield and everything, like it was winter. I had the car running while I did that. Once it was scraped I went back to my apartment to grab my books, music and coffee and headed to work.

The plan was to stop at the library, grab a few boxes of books and then get on the ferry. But when I got down the steep hill of our parking lot I had to wait to turn left onto the road. And then my car stalled. And then I tried to start it. And then it wouldn’t. So there I was, blocking our complex’s entrance with a car that wouldn’t move. It had worked well enough to get me down the hill but now I was on my own.

It’s a standard and not a very big car so I figured I’d just put it in neutral and roll it out of the driveway (pushing it back up the hill to my parking spot was obviously not going to happen). But a car is still much more than I can push while trying to steer it. I got it a couple of inches before hitting a bump the car was perfectly happy to rest against. At that point a guy who was coming into the parking lot helped me by pushing the car while I steered it to the side of the road.

Then I ran to work. I was there late by this point and our other librarian was busy with a question and our manager’s office was closed so I had nowhere to actually be except other people’s workstations. From one of those I looked up the number for BCAA roadside assistance and called.

My complete inability to know anything about a car or the things you need to know about cars then overwhelmed me. I didn’t know my BCAA number because I haven’t received my card in the mail yet and apparently you have to sign up for online access to your account separately, because that internet thing is just a passing fad, so I couldn’t find it in my email. The operator asked if I needed a boost or a tow. I didn’t know. The car ran and then it stopped. I don’t know what that requires.

They sent a tow truck to boost and then tow if necessary. They’d call five minutes before it got there. The tow truck called and asked where I’d need to be towed to. I had no fucking clue. It’s not like I know any mechanics here. I hoped it just needed a boost.

The tow truck arrived and my (factory) car alarm went off. I could not shut it down (it stopped by itself after 30 seconds). I could not find the hood release. I did not know where the battery was in a VW (it has a plastic cover – the tow truck guy found it). I did not know what my role was in being the boostee. If I tried starting too soon would I wreck something? Should I wait for some signal? The signal to try starting it turned out to be the tow truck guy getting exasperated with the moron he was helping.

The car started and he told me to make sure to let it run for 20 minutes. I agreed that was a good idea and sat in the car as he drove away. Two minutes later it died again. So I went back to work.

The other librarian went to Quadra even though it was two ferries later and made it so she couldn’t really get anything done there or here. I could have gone as a walk-on, but then I couldn’t have brought any boxes of books with me. Which is why I “need a car” for this job. I don’t “need a car” to get to work, just to haul work’s shit around for it.

Later I went and tried starting the car again, without a boost. It started but then died after 4 minutes of idling. That time I was paying attention to the dashboard and saw which lights went on just before it died. So I guess tomorrow I need to get it towed to Courtenay where the dealership will know what to do with it.

All of that was frustrating as fuck and has done nothing to make me happier about owning this stupid vehicle. It’s not as terrible a thing as the condo was (which I have to remind myself about – I am not as unhappy now as I was when I was trying to get out from under that awful decision) but I hate it. When something breaks on a bicycle I can see what the problem is, find a YouTube tutorial and (maybe) fix it. When something breaks on a car I can be fucking helpless.

Now, all of this would be frustrating but tolerable if I was somewhere I knew people. Where I could call a buddy up to give me a boost and a bit of advice. Where tomorrow I could go for breakfast with people and gripe a bit but then get on with things. Go play train games on Sunday afternoon or something. Instead I’ll do all this shit by myself and pay too much because that’s what knowing shit-all about this stupid machine costs.

I like seeing water and mountains from my apartment. I love that a cold snap here is -3C. I like my job well enough. But today I’d trade all those for people to play games with and who’d pick me up when it’s too cold to ride my bike.

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come on grab your friends

I believe this is the first time I’ve been the most-elaborately costumed person in my workplace. For Halloween at least. I went as Finn the Human and brought along an episode to show people who’d never heard of the show Adventure Time. Which was most people.

One thing I really like about wearing a costume at work – as opposed to at a party – is the extra layer of ridiculousness layered into every interaction. I find those are even better when both people are in costume and there is no acknowledgement of the fact. I chatted with one of the bookstore women about their author signing last week, and she was in angel regalia and I was a radical adventurer and it was no big thing.

On the weekend I went into Vancouver and played D&D in costume with library school friends and that was pretty fun. I’m really glad that Vancouver isn’t a completely onerous distance from here, since well, that’s where my friends are.

We were talking over the weekend about how I can get a bit more of a social circle here and it seems that being the kind of person who could go somewhere and play rec-league sportball with strangers is the ticket. I am still not sure what I’ll do instead. It’s a good thing I have the internet to keep me company till I get meatspace pals sorted out.

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legitimately singing along with johnny cash

Last week I drove down to Nanaimo the day after buying my new old car (a black 2001 2-door VW Golf), which was good. Got some initial bonding under way. The drive taught me how owning a car is much more fitting with my personality than owning a home was. It feels much less hypocritical to enjoy songs about wayfaring strangers and such on a car stereo (with a tape deck!) than a home theatre system.

Now the next time I have to move across the country I’ll be able to do something like sell off everything except what fits in the hatchback and perform a soft reset. Not that I’m planning on leaving – Campbell River is treating me well – but it is good to have a back door open.

Anyway. I made cookies yesterday. The recipe was lower in oat content than I remembered, but they weren’t terrible. At some point I’ll probably have to buy an electric mixer/egg beater kind of thing, because smooshing butter and sugar together till it’s smooth is a lot of work with a fork.

Next weekend I’m going into Vancouver for a Halloween D&D party. I hope my costume arrives in time.

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i have a new job (on vancouver island)

Today I finish up my last bit of work for my MLIS degree (my professional experience moderating TeenRC.ca) and a couple of hours ago I got a phone call offering me a job as a librarian in Campbell River BC, out on Vancouver Island. It’s been a good day.

So Campbell River is a small town on the eastern side of the island. The branch there is a hub for five surrounding very small libraries whose collections we also manage. My job is as a Children’s/Youth librarian and they really want to develop their teen programming and services so I’m being given an almost blank slate to be working with. They already have a Teen Advisory Council set up, and my boss is really proud of the teens up there. So it should be a good time.

The branch is small and I’ll get on-desk time covering both Adult and Children’s services, which is great. I know that another library in the library system does D&D nights so there’s precedent for me to get some gaming into this library if the members are into that.

Morning ferry

I’ve never lived in a small town before so we’ll see how that part of everything works, but it’ll be somewhere new and hopefully means I’ll have more to write about. It’s going to be so nice to unsubscribe from all my jobfeeds.

Thank you everyone who’s been nice to me while I’ve been kind of down this summer. I’ve complained a lot about the soul-grinding nature of jobhunting, but I have been lucky enough to get interviews, and now I’m going into full-time work. Which is weird. My plan is to save money for doing the Trans-Siberian trip in the next couple of years since I’ll be making money and won’t be in a big city to spend it.

A week from today I’m going to go to Winnipeg for a week. It’s been a year and a half since I was there for my grandma’s funeral. I planned this a while ago as a break from the accursed hunt, but now it’ll be much more fun without my lack of income to pay October’s rent looming.

I’ll also try to write more now that I’m no longer wasting all my energy on cover-letters.

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update for my mom to show her i am not dead

This past week it felt like everyone went off on exciting roadtrips. Except me. I’m still here applying for jobs in many places. There are two really interesting jobs in Toronto I applied for, and there’s a lot of appeal in packing up all my stuff in a U-Haul and driving it across the country. But then it’d be another round of getting to know a new place and finding friends and all of that, which I am getting a little tired of. I’m applying for jobs here too. I know people who’ve gotten jobs here straight out of SLAIS. It is possible.

Last week I learned to play Agricola (emphasis on the GRIK with a short I sound) and croquet. I was accused of being a hipster when I enthused about croquet. Which I found a little odd because I was actually enthused, not ironically-jaded-enthused. Maybe I’ve misunderstood hipsterdom completely.

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all these events – i feel so social and poor

Post-school life is starting to come together (though I kind of need a job). I mean, I have classes coming up again in May, but now that all my friends have graduated it kind of feels like I have too. I’ve also gotten to play a new game and go to a conference and be part of Jamie’s four-night trivia blitz.

For a research project I’m working on I got to interview a former National Librarian of Canada last week, and she was adamant that going to conferences without having a job to do is pointless. I think that makes sense. This Saturday I’m going to be doing some liveblogging for the North Shore Writers Festival, which should be fun. I’m going to be a convenor for the BC Library Conference in the middle of May and I’m volunteering at VanCAF. I mean, I had fun wandering around at Emerald City, but I do like having something to do.

Also, when Sean comes to town in June the Vancouver Canadians will be playing. It works out that we’ll be able to go to a baseball game in the afternoon and then the Bombers-Lions CFL season opener in the evening.

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I’m back from Seattle and Emerald City Comicon (ECCC). It was my first big mainstream comics convention and it was pretty fun. I saw Wil Wheaton do readings, indie gamers do their thing, met a bunch of webcomic people I’ve followed for years, bought some books, watched an amazing reading of the Star Wars radio play by a pile of voice actors, saw Marian Call sing and a pretty great night of improv. Good times.

clicked my ruby heels and here i am

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cordyceps makes for good gaming

I had an excellent afternoon of RPGing today. Marek and Sam and I were playtesting a rules-light system of Marek’s creation and the story he cooked up for it was a set-in-Vancouver “what kind of apocalypse happened while we were stuck out on a Gulf island?” kind of deal. It played out really quite well.

Here’s a video about the fungus the scenario was inspired by:
In the game, there was a version of this fungus affecting humans, which made for some good terrible zombie movie gaming.

One character got infected by the fungus zombie plague and sort of sacrificed himself, another was decapitated in the final escape sequence, my character who likes to run drew fungus zombies off the rest of the group’s trail so they could get more ammunition (which proved kind of useless), and it all ended with a fireball and us saving the young girl and heading back to the island we never should have left in the first place.

Moral of the story (as it is for so many horror movies): Never leave home.

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wrong and right cheeses

When I went grocery shopping the other day, I went to the Safeway that’s a bit longer walk from the apartment but has better prices than the Urban Fare that’s closer. I bought cheese and agonized over green peppers and generally did my usual grocery shopping shtick which involves dealing with being overwhelmed by choice. I bought a brick of cheddar cheese to go with my various things cheese can accompany (grains tomatoes and apples).

When I returned home and made food that used the cheese I discovered to my horror that it was *light* cheese. I don’t know why that is even a thing that exists. I mean, I know it exists because it can be exchanged for money which can be exchanged for the essentials and luxuries of life, but it is such a sad and terrible thing to have in my fridge, all doughy and bland. I will eat it without joy. Le sigh.

But the much better cheese anecdote of the week is that on Tuesday Jamie and Jessie and Trev and I participated in the Cheshire Cheese Inn’s Trivia night and we won. We won despite coming in second or third in each of the rounds, but they have a system where the higher you place, the more cheese shaped ballots you get to put in the draw for the prize at the end of the night (if you’ve played Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot it’s the same sort of endgame).

I was disappointed in our play in general. I took us down bad rabbit holes, second-guessing a number of things that would have been fine if we hadn’t overthought it. This one was a much more general knowledge kind of trivia night than the last one I participated in (which was almost entirely library school students and seemed much trickier). But I was on the winning team each time so I am obviously just lucky and skilled enough I should do this more often.

Before coming to Vancouver, my only knowledge of trivia nights was from that episode of The Office (UK). I had no idea they were a thing outside of Britain, but supposedly they’ve been popping up all over this town. I will be going to another, probably better, one next week.

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travel days ahead

I’m heading off to scenic Gippsland, Victoria tomorrow for some Koha training. I was talking to Sean the other day about how weird small businesses are. I mean, these librarians are paying for me to go out and teach them about this software I’ve only been using since April. I feel like at a lot of places I’d have needed more training than I have had (which is actually pretty extensive since I’m helping people with their Koha problems all day). Whatever works, I guess. And it means I get to see more of Oz while I’m here.

I’ve been pretty bad about going out to see stuff recently. A lot of hunkering down here in front of the internet. My friend Jamie is off to do his practicum in London (the real one) and got scolded by another of our classmates for solving internet puzzles while he’s supposed to be on vacation. But dude, I completely get that. I’ve been spending far too much time planning out Blood Bowl teams (speaking of which, I found an unofficial Blood Bowl client for playing online which almost works completely well apart from me not being able to simply stand up prone players – let me know if you’re interested in playing).

Of course, a week from today all of that will change since that’s when Holly arrives from China. I’ll engage in a tiny bit of understatement to say I’m looking forward to being in the same city as her, especially without an end-date.

Finally, if you miss my voice, you can now listen to me read Firing Squad, my Machine of Death story whenever you want. Though the magic of reading (and recording) it’s my voice without my innumerable hesitations, filler words and false starts that litter my real speech pattern, so it’s probably more pleasurable in every possible way. You can pump that story through your speakers and pity the poor shmucks who have to deal with me speaking without a script at them.

Like the librarians in Gippsdale next week.

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