Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I have a new baby!

It's white, weighs a few pounds and hopefully will bring me hours of joy! Not that kind of baby!

It's my new Xbox 360! I also signed up for Xbox Live and my gamertag is CraftyBeans, so hit me up if you use the 360 and play online.

So far the only games I have are Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (of course!!), Halo 3, Gears of War and some Marvel Alliance combo game that came with it.

I went back and forth about getting one for a couple weeks. The ability to play GH online was a little too great. Also, Lincoln mentioned some issues they were having, so I made sure I got one made after August 28th.

Another draw was that Ted told me my Xbox can blog for itself! So, I signed up for that and put a link on my page. Enjoy! You can see what I've been up to! I think it'll become more active tomorrow.

As Ted told me in Essen, "Money's only temporary!" How right he is! Especially with a 360 in the house!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh, for the Love of Bacon!!

I've posted this a couple times and the video keeps getting yanked from Youtube. If you love bacon like I do, do yourself a favor and google: Jim Gaffigan bacon and watch his comedy bit on bacon. It's about three minutes and HI-larious!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Look what I have!

This is me at 1 AM when I got home from Best Buy with my new toy! I've been toying with and resisting the urge to buy a 360 lately. It's been a daily struggle! Today alone I've changed my mind about four times!!

I picked out my favorite GH shirt and headed down to the store! Luckily I got there just in time!

Me and GH3!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Essen 2007 - Thursday

Somehow I managed to take an expired ATM card with me on vacation, so I had to get money from Ron all throughout France and Belgium. We kept doing the Avenue Q "Bad Idea Bear" voice, "We should get more mo-ney!" everyday. It's amazing how fast you can burn through cash in Paris. Hardly anywhere takes credit cards in Europe, so it's pretty much cash-and-carry.

Why do I mention this? Because Thursday morning was spent trying to find a bank to give me an advance on my Visa. While I did this, Ron met up with a friend of ours who had obtained a couple of exhibitors' passes for us. So, we didn't have to buy tickets and the exhibitor passes give the holders free subway and bus usage during the time of the show! That saved us a bundle of money, which of course, was just spent on games!

There is only one bank in Essen that can do cash advances on a Visa card. It is the Reise Bank at the main station in Essen. It's upstairs right next to the Burger King. Burger King has a new product in Germany... a Whopper topped with jalopenos and onions and apparently, it's very "angry"! I had to take a picture!

Angry Whopper

I took out 600 Euros and then headed back to the Messe to continue the buying spree!

I went in and watched a group play In the Year of the Dragon, a new Alea game. Then I wandered about, picking up the new Settlers scenario from Kosmos and other tidbits.

We ran into Eric who was sent to Essen by Doug Garrett and I think the shirt speaks for itself!


We walked around, browsing booths, stopped by to say "hi" to Ted and Jeremiah. Ted was there selling his Age of Steam maps, his brand new Ultimate Werewolf (I *had* to buy a copy of this!) and his CCG Start Player. Here's the guys, hanging at the booth!

Ted and Jeremiah at the Bezier Games booth

We then stopped by the Bambus Spiele booth and played Down Under. Gunter Cornett, the designer, taught us how to play. Unfortunately for Dale, he had only preliminary copies. It is currently in production.

Me, Gunter Cornett, Ron and Dale

We went by the Ystari booth to check out the Caylus in 3D that we had heard about. It was SUPER cute!!

The whole game board

Close-up of the castle

Close-up of Buildings

We stopped by another game booth that had Liebe & Intrige, a game with a very cute theme (you're trying to marry off your three Victorian daughters!), but just a so-so game. We had more fun hamming it up than with the actual gameplay. I liked it, but not enough to shell out the cash for it.

We ran into Scott & Nataline and I played a quick game of Carcassonne with Scott. Before we started, he asked, "So just how many hours have you spent playing Guitar Hero?" I replied, "A LOT!"

We walked around more and then soon joined a big group to go eat Egyptian food for dinner. I had never had it before and it was pretty tasty. It's pretty typical food from that region of the world: grilled marinated meats, rice, veggies. The food was pretty good, but the service was not so friendly.

I should preface the next paragraph with the following information: The conversion rate while we were in Europe was about $1.42=1 Euro AND you don't "tip" in Europe. It's included in the price of the meal. So the higher the bill, the more the server will make automatically, whether they're fabulous or terrible. OK, with that in mind...

One thing that was SO annoying in Europe was that it's almost impossible to get a free glass of water in a restaurant. They will almost NEVER bring you tap water to drink, even if you specify that's what you want. At this restaurant, I did manage to squeeze one glass of water out of our server, but when I asked for a refill, they brought me a bottle of water that costs 2.50 Euros (about $3.50 for a small bottle) and when I asked again for tap water, they pretended like they couldn't speak English and didn't understand me. Soda is about 3 Euros and it's non-refillable. Beer at the hotel was about 1.75 Euros! I ended up drinking a lot of beer while we were in Europe because it was cheaper than drinking water or soda! I suppose that's enough of a rant about that!

Our Egyptian Dinner Group

The Appetizer Plate

Mixed plate with sausage, shrimp, chicken and lamb

After dinner, we headed back over to the Savoy for some gaming! Ron and I played Giganten der Luft with Brian and Jim. Ron liked it better than I did. It's okay, but I think for a dice-rolling, upgrading-to-more-better-dice game of the sort, I'd rather play To Court the King.

By this time, it was getting late, so we booked out of there and luckily caught the very last subway to get home! When we got back to the hotel, we were tired, so we just went to bed. At least I don't remember staying up to play anything.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pre-Essen 2007

Essen is a gamer's mecca! When I got more into gaming, I thought, "That is where I need to go!" It helps too that I love traveling and immediately decided that I could extend the trip to more than just those four days. I mean, really! Who wants to take a 12 hour plane ride just to turn around 4 days later and come home? Not me! So I found a traveling partner (Ron, at the moment, my favorite person to travel with!) and we narrowed our trip down to France or Italy and then decided on Paris, France.

We met up with Ward in Amsterdam on Monday and traveled with him on Tuesday to Essen. Once we got him settled in, we ran into Dale & Brian and hung out and went out to the Curryhaus and had sausages with this like curried ketchup sauce on them. It wasn't as gross as it sounds and even better, it was CHEAP! I can't remember what we did after that, I think just hung out and played a game probably!

We had to do laundry when got up and ended up (due to having trouble finding the hotel) being late to the Agricola demo that we had signed up for. By the time we got there, they had already started. But luckily Curt & Anne were there playing, so we got to catch up with them! Then I think we ran into Dale, Greg & Ward. Plus, this started the game buying spree! I bought a copy of Agricola and the Fan Bohnanza which has different artwork for each card. I had all of them autographed by Uwe Rosenberg, the designer of the games.

Curt and Anne playing Agricola

We then walked around and I bought more games (mainly the ones I was worried would sell out) and we went back to our hotel to drop them off. Meanwhile, it started raining! When we got everything up to the room, we headed down to the bar of the restaurant because we had seen some people with games on the table and thought we could maybe meet some people to play a game with. So we headed down and stopped at the first table. They were playing a game I'd never seen before and with good reason! We discovered after sitting there a little bit that these guys were pitching their prototypes to Kosmos! It was interesting to hear the comments from the Kosmos guy. We talked to the designer guys and found out that they were from Italy and work together. They were: Leo Colovini, Carlo A. Rossi, Alfredo Berni, Dario de Toffoli and Alessandro Zucchini (AKA: Alex). I never really spoke to Leo or Dario, but we did end up hanging out with Alfredo, Carlo and Alex a few times.

Here are a few pics of the Italian guys:

Carlo in black & Alex in white

Me and Alfredo

Ron, Alfredo and Leo

Later in the evening, we met up with Ted, Patrick and Jeremiah to play Jamaica with people who helped make the game - Laurent and Malcolm. We were later joined by Sebastien Pauchon, designer of Yspahan and Jamaica. We had fun and I got a chance to chat with Sebastien and tell him how much I love Yspahan!!

Sebastien with Jamaica box

Malcolm and Laurent

Meanwhile Dale & Brian showed up and I played Jamaica with them while Ron moved over to play Parys, a prototype of the new Ystari game coming out. He liked it quite a bit. I never did get a chance to play it.

Then the Italian guys showed up and we decided to bust out my new copy of Master of Rules and try that out. It's pretty good!

Carlo, Ron, Tim and Alfredo

BTW - Tim is from Edmonton and was on his honeymoon and happened to notice that Essen was happening. He was super nice. His wife Jocelyn was too!

Alfredo and me being goofy

Wow! I am realizing that ALL this happened BEFORE the show even started!! Yikes. This is going to have to be broken up. So there you go. The pre-Essen breakdown!

Lots of stuff to do tonight

Yesterday, I made a coffee date for tonight with a guy I met online. Other than that, I have a TON of stuff to do tonight. My apartment is loaded with games and I am terribly behind on blogging about the trip. I'm so tempted to get a laptop sometimes. Is there a way to rent them? That would've been great to have one with me. I could've written about stuff while on the train and then just posted it later when I got to an internet cafe.

I arrived home on Sunday with almost nothing to do for the next week and now I have five straight days of gaming lined up! It seems that having games from Essen can make me a very popular girl! :-)

I started writing up some posts about my trip and I think what's going to happen is that they are going to be posted out of order. I'm starting with Essen since that's freshest in my mind. But it's somewhat slow going because work is really busy right now. I'm hoping to get something posted tonight in between cleaning and laundry. And I really want to post pictures with the posts. I haven't even looked through all 627 pictures yet! I'm getting on it though. I have to, because Wednesday starts the game fest that is my life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Safely back home

I made it back home last night, went straightaway to get some yummy carnitas tacos at Las Fuentes. Ron and I had to get back to my apartment to sort out our bags because we had clothes stuffed all over the place. I downloaded my 627 pictures I took while on vacation too, but it will just take me some time to sort them out and recap our adventures.

Overall, we had a great time and it feels like I was gone for months, not just two weeks! Luckily, I hit the "I'm ready to go home now" on Saturday, the day before we did come home!

I'm back at work, sorting through my hundreds of email and trying to make sure nothing went horribly wrong while I was gone. I'll try to post this week about our trip!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Partying like Rock Stars

While we were in Paris we did all the cultural stuff - you know, nice dinners and checking out the museums and churches...

Since we've been in Belgium, we've been partying like rock stars. My friend Reinhold hasn't changed a bit! He's full of fire and imagination. An artist that can't be bottled up. And as Ron says, "He'd lose his head if it wasn't attached!"

So far we're having a blast! We drank (plus some) last night and I drank, um, a little too much!! I won't let that happen tonight! Tomorrow should be pretty mellow as I'm sure we'll be recovering from our evening. Might get some home cookin' though from Reinhold's mom!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And still MORE Paris photos

Here are even more photos from Paris...

We're heading off to Belgium tomorrow and I'm not sure we'll be online much after today.

Enjoy the photos! These are like raw data. I will clean them up when I get home.

A bientot!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More photos from Paris

Here's what happens when you go to lots of museums... you get lots of photos!


(I'm tired & not really feeling like wrestling with a French keyboard at the moment!)

But I will add that I DO NOT get modern art. I just don't.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bonjour from Paris

Bonjour! Wow, today has been a long day! We left Los Angeles around noon on Saturday and had a layover at JFK. While we were there, we stopped by the Palm store to see if they could help us format my SD card. While the guy was finishing up, they made a final boarding call for our flight to Paris and we RAN to make it on time!! Whew!

We're doing okay jetlag-wise because we decided to stay awake during the LA-NYC flight and sleep during the NYC-Paris flight which worked out beautifully! We arrived here at 11 AM, rested and ready to go!

We first went to our B&B to meet our host. She's actually in the country this weekend, so her 20 year old son was here to greet us. We dropped off our stuff, then headed for a bakery recommended in Ron's tour book.

I was hoping to write more but can't right now. How about some pictures?

Here ya go!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Funny post

I read some personal finance blogs and saw this post this morning called "Treating Marriage as a Business Relationship." It's hilarious!! Craigslist... what did we do without you?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This is what one bag looks like

I pretty much got packed tonight! And amazingly, all my stuff fit in the bag with room to spare!!! SHOCK! I only need to pack up minor toiletries that I'll be using over the next day or so, but that's last minute stuff.

The actual method I used to pack was the "bundling" method as described on In fact, if you scroll down to the outlined blue-ish box, there's actually a link to an awesome diagram that shows you exactly how to do it. It works like a charm!!!

Here's what the bag looks like when it's unzipped...

And when it's all zipped up:

The bag is also a back pack, so I'm going to look like I'm traveling Amazing Race style! I'm going to be wearing jeans, shirt, hoodie and my black shoes. I'm strapping my warm coat on the outside of my bag, but worst case scenario, I can put it on.

Other than what I'm wearing, I packed:
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • Jean skirt (this is what the tights are for!)
  • Shirts: 2 long-sleeve, 1 medium sleeve, 1 BGG t-shirt (I'm a geek I know!), 1 dressier shirt for lunch, 1 sleeveless. Total: 6 shirts
  • 3 pairs of panties
  • 2 bras
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of tights
  • PJs
  • Long johns
  • Scarf
  • Cap
  • Gloves
  • Toiletries
  • Paperwork (Hotel, train, airline confirmations... Essen preview)
  • 2 books - Lonesome Dove and Talk Nerdy to Me (c'mon... I had to buy it with that title!)
  • Chargers - camera and phone
  • Earphones
In the Trader Joe's bag, I'm lugging the Mexican wrestling masks and my purse. So, it looks like I may be pretty much set! Now I can go see Avenue Q tomorrow night without worrying about my packing!

Europe Trip Itinerary

We finally have nailed down some critical elements of our trip, like let's say, hmmm... where we're going to sleep while in Paris! Unfortunately, the couch surfing didn't pan out as I had hoped, but we found a very reasonable B&B through Good Morning Paris. We are staying with Marie-Christine, her daughter and doggie in her apartment in the Latin Quarter! The room looks cozy, we'll be sharing a double bed while we're there. She'll prepare a traditional French breakfast for us everyday and it will cost about 74 Euros a night, which is very reasonable. We're not too far from the metro, so I think we're in a good location! We'll see if that's accurate when we get there.

So far, our schedule is looking somewhat like this:
  • Sunday: Arriving, stopping by Marie-Christine's to drop off stuff, maybe going to Versailles?
  • Monday - Tuesday: Traditional sightseeing, hitting major stuff like Eiffel Tower, L'Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, cafes, museums...
  • Wednesday: Reservations for the fixed price lunch at Taillevent, recommended by a friend and this place has its own entry in "1,000 Places to See Before You Die." Unfortunately, just this year, they were downgraded from 3 stars on the Michelin guide to 2 stars, but I bet it's still fabulous. We'll also do more sightseeing and probably a walking tour of the center of Paris.
  • Thursday: I'm taking a three hour cooking class at Olivier Berte's school at 10:30 AM. We're preparing a starter, main course and dessert and then we get to eat it with wine. I've never been to a cooking class before, so I thought this would be a good one to try. Probably hit up a lot of museums too. We're buying a museum pass, so we'll be able to get into all of them!
  • Friday: Last minute sightseeing and then catching a train to Belgium!
We'll be in Belgium from Friday night through maybe Tuesday morning(?) and the only real "plans" we have are going to a psytrance party on Saturday night and then going to Amsterdam on Monday to meet up with some other gamers that will be in town.

And then by Tuesday, we'll be somewhere in Germany and by Wednesday, in Essen! We're scheduled to attend an English demo of Agricola at 2 PM on Wednesday before the fair actually opens. Meeting James at noon on Thursday at the fair and already planning to eat LOTS of meat with my favorite doctor and the Warfrog guys when I get there! I can't wait! I am really starting to get excited about the trip now!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Guitar Hero 3 Song List Released

Oh yeah... the song list for Guitar Hero III has been released!! OK, I was hopeful about GH80s, but that one really wasn't good. The song selection sucked. This one? This one is gonna ROCK!! Notice too that many of these songs are BY the artists, not "as made famous by"... so a lot more original songs instead of covers! Woo-hoo!

Same Old Song and Dance (by Aerosmith)
· Helicopter (by Bloc Party)
· Stricken (by Disturbed)
· Monsters (by Matchbook Romance)
· Before I Forget (by Slipknot)
· Kool Thing (by Sonic Youth)
· When You Were Young (by The Killers)
· Devil Went Down to Georgia (as made famous by Charlie Daniels Band)
· Sunshine of Your Love (as made famous by Cream)
· Holiday in Cambodia (as made famous by Dead Kennedys)
· Cliffs of Dover (as made famous by Eric Johnson)
· Hit Me with Your Best Shot (as made famous by Pat Benetar)
· Black Magic Woman (as made famous by Santana)
· Story of My Life (as made famous by Social Distortion)
· Pride and Joy (as made famous by Stevie Ray Vaughn)
· The Seeker (as made famous by The Who)
· Black Sunshine (as made famous by White Zombie)

In addition to the newly announced tracks, previously announced songs in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock include:

· Miss Murder (by AFI)
· Minus Celsius (by Backyard Babies)
· Sabotage (by Beastie Boys)
· Hier Kommt Alex (by Die Toten Hosen)
· Through Fire and Flames (by Dragonforce)
· In the Belly of a Shark (by Gallows)
· Welcome to The Jungle (by Guns N' Roses)
· Avalancha (by Heroes Del Silencio)
· Take This Life (by In Flames)
· Number of the Beast (by Iron Maiden)
· Ruby (by Kaiser Chiefs)
· Closer (by Lacuna Coil)
· Cult of Personality (by Living Colour)
· One (by Metallica)
· Knights of Cydonia (by Muse)
· Mauvais Garcon (by NAAST)
· Even Flow (by Pearl Jam)
· Lay Down (by Priestess)
· Bulls on Parade (by Rage Against the Machine)
· 3's and 7's (by Queens of the Stone Age)
· Suck My Kiss (by Red Hot Chili Peppers)
· Generation Rock (by Revolverheld)
· Raining Blood (by Slayer)
· Cherub Rock (by Smashing Pumpkins)
· Radio Song (by Superbus)
· The Metal (by Tenacious D)
· I'm in the Band (by The Hellacopters)
· Anarchy in the U.K. (by The Sex Pistols)
· Reptillia (by The Strokes)
· Paint It Black (by The Rolling Stones)
· My Name is Jonas (by Weezer)
· Slash's Original Boss Battle Recording
· Tom Morello's Original Boss Battle Recording
· School's Out (as made famous by Alice Cooper)
· Paranoid (as made famous by Black Sabbath)
· Cities on Flame (as made famous by Blue Oyster Cult)
· Slow Ride (as made famous by Foghat)
· Barracuda (as made famous by Heart)
· Rock and Roll All Nite (as made famous by Kiss)
· Mississippi Queen (as made famous by Mountain)
· Rock You Like a Hurricane (as made famous by Scorpions)
· La Grange (as made famous by ZZ Top)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Bag to Europe: Can it be done?

Ron recommended when we made our reservations to go to Europe that we follow the advice on and take one carry-on bag for our two week vacation. One. As in single. And not a big bag, but a CARRY-ON bag! I was like, "You're crazy!!" But then I've traveled more than ever this year and have been able to streamline the packing a bit. Every time I take a trip, I take less stuff. In fact, I counted, I've taken eight plane trips this year, with three more planned by the end of the year.

But two weeks? And one bag? Can it be done?

We ordered the bag recommended on the website. It's called a Voyageur and they should be arriving today or tomorrow. Here's a pic of it from the OneBag website.

Doesn't look too big does it? I've started making a list of what I'm taking. And then I'll probably need to cut it. Those Mexican wrestling masks for Reinhold are going to take up a lot of room. I'll probably need to carry them separately.

Speaking of, Reinhold also asked me for oldskool pin-up girl stickers... does anyone know where to find those? I tried Aahs, to no avail. Oh wait, I need to call Hot Topic too. I don't have time to order online unfortunately.

Oh, and for all you gamers out there wondering how I'm going to bring all those games back, I think I'm going one of two different routes... either getting a box or suitcase there and bring it back with me, or shipping it back. Depends on what I pick up while I'm there.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dating update

Well, I saw my mystery man and we had our dates and things went really well, but there was a spark missing... so we're just going to be friends. It totally sucks because I really like him and am attracted to him and was really hoping that there would be something more. I guess things could develop, but that has never happened for me, so I'm not sure if my brain (or heart) works that way. I halfway wonder if the spark was missing because we were both just nervous, but who knows. I'll see him again soon and if we were wrong, I'm sure we'd both be willing to admit that! But for now... just friends.

As for #5, he called on Wednesday to say "hi" and catch up, but no plans to see each other before I leave on Saturday.

I'm still technically on eHarmony, but I had turned my matches off. I think I'll turn them back on and see what happens. Or maybe I should just turn it off until January. I'm paid up til 10/12, so I might as well turn them on for now.