Sunday, February 25, 2007

Going home...

I'm at the airport in Panama City, FL getting ready to fly home. Both of my conventions were terribly fun, but Gulf Games was the best!! I met so many nice, nice people and had a great time. I think the lack of sleep has caught up with me though. My throat is sore and I've been sneezy and sniffly. I think I'm getting sick, but I'm going to do my best to combat it.

I played TONS of games and finally got to play the few that were on my "to play" list for months, namely: Tigris and Euphrates and Goa. I did miss all my friends though and I can't wait to get caught up with everyone! First though, I will be trying to catch up on sleep as much as possible.

And, at GG, I met several fellow Guitar Hero lovers!!! I need to practice before the next one in July!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My day better improve...

I'm sitting in the lobby of Hotel A in Panama City Beach. Originally, this convention was supposed to be held here, but due to a snafu in scheduling on the hotel's part, we moved it down to Hotel B about 1 1/2 miles away, which is right next to a Days Inn.

So I pay $25 to take a cab from the airport to Hotel B. Only to be told by the hotel that the rooms have been moved back to Hotel A (while I was on the plane this morning). Luckily my cabbie hadn't left, so she brought me over to Hotel A, but she charged me their minimum $8 to take me 1 1/2 miles. I was not happy about that. Then I check-in (for $30 more a night) and ask where our meeting room is. She says, "It's at the Days Inn." Oh, I'm pissed. I don't have a car and I certainly don't want to be walking back and forth by myself in the middle of the night after gaming. What a pain! I hope there is a misunderstanding somewhere. How frustrating!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Vacation update

Well, so far I'm having fun at Genghis Con. It's not nearly as much fun as BGG.con, but I think it's because there's not as much 0pen board gaming. Most games are scheduled, but the schedules are all wonky. They don't give enough time for some of the games to account for set-up and rules explanation and clean-up and game analysis. So, I've missed some games because of that. Overall though, it's been fun. I've had a chance to play Railroad Tycoon twice, which I've been wanting to try for a while. I'm also learning how to play Roads and Boats today, a game I wanted to learn at BGG.con last year. So, it's been really good for that.

It snowed last night and was FREEZING when we left here. I don't know if the weather will be OK enough to hike on Monday, but I'm guessing it will be. My sister and Evan are supposed to come by tomorrow to check out the con. Hopefully, they have fun!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Vacation Jitters!

Deep breath... I've been stressed all day about all the work I have to get done before I leave tonight! And then I have to pack tonight for a 10 day trip. Yikes! One suitcase will be full of games, the other will be full of clothing plus a pirate costume! I also need to start collecting my favorite pirate jokes! I have a couple faves, but probably should dig up a few more. OK, back to work. (I just reviewed my list and I think I'm actually doing OK... whew!)

I Support Ambitious People

Something that I really admire in people is ambition. I have lots of friends, but really only a few of them have ambition that ooze out of every pore. Liz, who is in my gaming circle, wants to be a director is trying her best to make it happen.

She's in the running to be on a movie-making reality show called "On the Lot"! They posted her short here: It's only about six minutes. Give it a watch and give her your honest opinion at her blog.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Visit to Tucson

I had a great time last weekend in Tucson visiting Seth and company. I met a bunch of his friends and his parents. Everyone was great! He had a friend visiting from Dallas so we had dinner with a bunch of people on Friday night and then we went back to his friend's parents' house for more socializing. Their house was incredible! I am NOT a decorator, so I feel like I could never have a house look so good. It looked like a home you'd see in a magazine (and I said as much to the owners).

The kitchen (my favorite room of course) was gorgeous and it had a HUGE wine refrigerator. I had to take a picture of it. I'd never seen one so big in home before! I'll post the picture eventually... Trust me, it's big!

On Saturday, Seth had a BBQ so we did some shopping in the morning and I found baking raisins! They used to carry them at my grocery store, but for the last couple years I've had trouble finding them. When I did buy them before, I think they were almost $2.00 a bag. Well, they had them at the Safeway in Tucson on sale for $0.75. So I bought two bags to bring home for future baking! The Betty Crocker cake mixes were on sale for $0.78 too. When they go on sale here, they're usually $1 a box. My conclusion: Some groceries are cheaper outside of California!

People started showing up around noon and streamed in and out until about midnight. I had brought Space Dealer to play and Seth's mom wanted to try it. It wasn't really her cup of tea, but I give her BIG points for trying it. It was chaos, but fun. The most fun though was later in the evening when we played three games of Time's Up!, my FAVORITE party game! I won't go into great detail, but there were lots of clues given using a certain body part.

On Sunday, we went to Bookman's (a used book/video/game store) and Barnes & Noble to check on the game stock. I bought several games to bring home. Then we headed up to Phoenix to eat dinner with Shane's parents and sister at Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles (full review to follow). Then we went back to Shane's parents' house and hung out for a while. We learned about spinning yarn with dog hair! You'd never know it was dog hair!

Overall, a pretty fun trip. It wasn't too warm (it's only February after all), but man! I can't imagine going there in the middle of summer. It's gotta be scorchingly hot!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Busy February

I have a very busy February coming up! I'm leaving tomorrow to go to Tucson to visit Seth for the weekend for gaming and socializing (and hopefully some fried chicken since I'm flying in and out of Phoenix!). Actually, I am definitely having some chicken. I made a date with Shane's parents to meet them for dinner on Sunday at Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles. There will definitely be a report on that dining experience.

Next Friday (the 16th), I'm off to Genghis Con in Denver to meet up with Giles (BGG.con Werewolf moderator) and other BGG.con attendees. This con will be different because I'm taking my sister and nephew with me for their first con experience! I hope they like it. I'm hiking and hanging out with Giles and co. for a couple days and then...

On Wednesday (the 21st) morning, I'm off to Gulf Games in beautiful Panama City Beach, FL. The hotel is RIGHT on the ocean! I hope it's warm enough to at least take a quick dip. I'm packing my bikini, just in case. There are so many things I'm looking forward to about this gathering... First of all, it's pirate-themed, so I have a costume ready to go for the welcome party the first night (pictures will be posted when I get back!), plus there's all kinds of trading going on, and a competition for friendliest gamer (which I intend to win!!) and Take it Easy and Liar's Dice tournaments. I can NOT wait. The people I know that will be are awesome and I'm sure everyone else will be too. :-) I don't know what the internet situation will be, but I'll try to report from there.

Korean Fried Chicken

No wonder fried chicken is one of my favorite foods! Not only did I grow up in the South on delicious fried chicken, it's genetic! Apparently, Korean fried chicken has been under the radar for 20+ years and is on its way to becoming more and more popular with the white people!

Check out this article in the NY Times about it! I wonder if there are any places like this in Los Angeles?

EDIT: Just spotted this thread on Chowhound about places in LA to get chicken like this!

On the fried chicken note, I'm in Arizona this weekend and plan on hitting up Lolo's in Phoenix. He's the grandson of Mrs. White (who makes the BEST fried chicken on this planet!) and has her recipe and has opened up a Roscoe-esque chicken and waffle place in Phoenix. We'll see if it's any good! Full report next week.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I don't want to date a man with kids...

So far in my limited dating experience, the two biggest dating dealbreakers for me have been: religious beliefs and kids (either the guy doesn't want kids or he already has them).

I've received a very mixed reaction to my decision not to go out on a second date with a seemingly good guy (and super cute!) due to one simple fact: he has two daughters that live in Texas.

The first thing I should mention is that I love kids (at least the good ones!) and I want to have some of my own. So my reason for not dating a guy with kids has nothing to do with disliking children. In fact, it's the opposite! I think my decision to not date someone with kids is fortified by the fact that I want my own children. My own family. My own husband. Truth be told, I'm not good at sharing! I'm fine with giving, providing, nurturing, but really deep down, I'm not good at sharing. I'll do it, but I have to make an effort to and most likely I'm not truly happy about it. And I don't think it's wrong to be selfish about my husband and his time with me and our family. I do not want my husband's time and attention to have to be divided up between our kids and "his kids." Everything would be divided: weeks, weekends, summer vacations, holidays, birthdays, and the list could go on and on...

It's not just a question of dividing time either! If he has kids, most likely he is paying child support. Considering that I won't be working after I have kids, most likely we'll need every dollar to stay in our own household, not going to support the former wife and kids.

I'm also a firm believer that children need lots of face-to-face time. I'm a quantity over quality-time type person. Of course, the time spent with kids should be as high of a quality as possible, but I don't believe that spending a few "quality" hours on a weekend will make up for not being there every night to just be there to... hug, talk, cook dinner, help with homework, give baths, brush teeth, watch TV, play a game, etc. Sure, it's mundane and not that flashy "quality time," but ultimately, quantity is the less memorable thing that, in reality, is more important.

Here's what I do know: If I was dating someone, I would NOT be satisfied spending "quality time" with him every other weekend. Hell no! Give me quantity any day over that. I want to see him every day and really be with him. That would be the only way to truly get to know him and develop a relationship and I don't believe it's different for the parent-child relationship. It's probably even more exaggerated because kids (for the most part) yearn for their parents, no matter how crappy they are whereas an adult is more likely to make a decision to turn their attention elsewhere if their needs aren't being met. Therefore, I don't think someone with kids should be devoting any of their already limited time to me. Their kids should be their priority. And if their kids are not their priority, then I certainly wouldn't want to make more kids with him.

Ideally, I want an uncomplicated life. I consider myself a pretty lucky person. But I know that life is going to throw curveballs. Here's what I don't want: a crazy ex-wife who makes my life a living hell, kids who resent me for being with their father (and therefore taking time, money and attention away from them), a husband who can't say 'no' because of the guilt he feels for the marriage not working out... this list of irrational fears could go on and on. And I totally understand that these are in no way a "given" or absolute. The only way though to guarantee that those things don't happen is to not marry someone who brings that with them. I want a clean start with the man I love!

I had people say that I could be filtering out someone who is "perfect-perfect" for me simply by eliminating the guys with kids. Perhaps. But I don't believe that there is only one person on this planet for me. I believe there are many people I could be very happy with. So, maybe the guy with kids is "perfect" except for the fact that he has kids. In my ideal world, I take a pass and cross my fingers. However, if I'm ever faced with it, I might have to reconsider at the time.

The bottom line: I don't want to marry someone with kids, but life is fluid and ever-changing. I'm not naive enough to make a hard and fast decision about something like that. But if it came down to it, I think I'd rather date someone who had different religious beliefs, but was willing to go to church with me than date someone who has kids. (I mean, if I was going to have to prioritize the deal breakers!)

Monday, February 05, 2007

First eHarmony Date

Well, I went on my first eHarmony date on Saturday. It was somewhat mixed. I thought he seemed really nice and cute, but after talking for 2 1/2 hours, I asked him something like "If you had kids, would you want to raise them as Catholic?" and he said, "Well, I already have two kids, but they live in Texas."


Theoretically, eHarmony has a way of filtering people with kids vs. not having kids, but the way they phrase it is pretty tricky! They ask each member how many children they have living full-time in the home. Then they ask if you're willing to accept being matched with members who have children living full-time in the home, to which I replied, "NO." So, since his kids don't LIVE with him, he marked "Zero kids living at home" and then they matched him up with me because I don't want to date people who have kids.

This is irritating because I don't want to date anyone who has ANY kids. I don't care where they live or how old they are. I'd guess that most guys with kids would mark "Zero" on that question because unless they live in another state (like this guy), they probably only live part-time with him, not full-time. They should have an option where you mark that you either have or don't have kids. I'm going to have to state on my profile that I don't want to date anyone who even has kids, so that the guys can "close" our match if they have children.

I'm going to send eHarmony an email about this. My first date was essentially a waste of both of our time because he has kids already. If I had known that, I never would've done all the back-and-forth questions with him and then spent Saturday afternoon with him. He was very nice, but not a match and I would've known that from the beginning had I known he already had kids.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Are you saving enough?

Are you saving enough?

Well, if you're like the average American, the answer to that question is a hearty "NO!" According to this article just released today, the average savings rate for 2006 was -1.0%, which means that people are spending everything they have left after paying taxes and then some.

According to this AP article:

"The savings rate has been negative for an entire year only four times in history — in 2005 and 2006 and in 1933 and 1932. However, the reasons for the decline in the savings rate were vastly different during the two periods. During the Great Depression when one-fourth of the labor force was without a job, people dipped into savings in an effort to meet the basic necessities of shelter and clothing."

That's a little scary! Having a negative savings rate during the Depression seems totally reasonable, but wow, I keep wondering about people who don't save and how will they survive once they get older and can't work anymore? The article says that many people may be counting on the increase in their home values and stocks (I guess in their 401Ks) to take care of them.

I think I probably save money...? I haven't been tracking my incoming and outgoing money in months, so it's hard to tell if I've been saving money or not. I know my net worth has increased, but that really could be due to my 401K and investments increasing, not really me saving more cash.

That is something I want to change. I think I'm going to start an automatic payroll deduction to my savings account for 10% of my take-home and see if I notice it missing from my money to spend on bills and fun stuff. If I make it automatic, then I won't even have to worry about tracking my spending etc. Although once I get more into "Your Money or Your Life," I think I will need to do the tracking as one of their recommended exercises. I expect to write about YMYL once I get done. It's fascinating!!