…and we’re back. Actually, have been back since last Friday, slowly recovering from jet lag and such. I’m mostly ok on that front, but Janka is still a bit “lagged” and poor Saiga (who handled 5 weeks of international travel and multiple ridiculously long flights like a champ) is currently a bit mixed up on her sleep schedule. The flight back home involved 27 hours of sitting in a plane (plus transit times), probably a new personal record.
The trip was fantastic, overall. We first spent a week in Sydney, doing all sorts of tourist things, including a few organized tours. Nice city, though very expensive – easily at Helsinki levels. The weather was chilly by local standards, which meant that it was nice and summery by ours.
After Sydney we flew to Welington (New Zealand), where we spent a few weeks at house guests of some friends (thanks again, Steve & Jennifer + Richard!), who also showed us the sights and were wonderful in general. Wellington is a very, very beautiful city: tall hills surrounded by sea, with crystal-clear air and a nice, warm temperature (during summer, at least). Of course, the abundance of hills also means that there’s, well, uphill walks just about everywhere, and the roads give new definition to “narrow and winding”.
After a few weeks in Wellington, we took the ferry to Picton (on the South Island) and then a train to Christchurch, where we picked up our rental camper van from Escape Rentals and drove off towards the sunset. On the wrong side of the road, from my point of view. The camper van proved to be a great idea, especially when traveling with a 10-month old – it was sort of like camping, without the hassle of setting up a tent and all that. Especially on the west coast, where it rained heavily and a lot, this proved to be a boon.
Our route took us through Arthur’s Pass to the west coast, and up that to Karamea. From the we headed back cross-country towards Picton, where we took a ferry back to Wellington and then headed north towards Auckland (stopping by Rotorua and Waitomo on the way). I was a great way to see the country, and the local motor parks were very nice (some even boasted a swimming pool and spa).
I have over 1600 raw frames of photography from the trip, but it’ll take a while until I get that filtered and processed into a viewable subset.
Fantastic trip, but of course it’s also nice to be home after a long haul. Next week: work.
Long silence here, but the blog’s not dead yet; it’s just been an… eventful time and I haven’t had time or energy to tackle my review backlog yet. As you’ve seen, that’s mostly what’s here nowadays: reviews. The everyday stuff and notes I used to put here now tend to go to Google+ (or Facebook), but I still prefer a standalone platform like this for articles (like reviews).
Anyway, taking care of Saiga (now over 4 months old!) has been a bit taxing at times, even though she’s a sweet and easy kid – whatever the case, it’s still a bit of work and a serious loss of available free time.
Then there was a stupid thing, a serious accident. We were working clearing some lakeside shrubs at our country place, and we got the bright idea of using gasoline to light the bonfire. Well, one thing led to another, the gasoline had time to vaporize into the surrounding air, and I went to light the thing carelessly… boom, one huge fireball which enveloped me. T-shirt protected my body, but my face and arms got scorched badly (2nd degree burns all over). Now, three weeks later, I’m starting to be ok, but it was a painful affair. Could have been a lot worse of course (I managed to close my eyes and didn’t breathe in the flames), so there’s that.
Then we had Ropecon, and the big VTES tournament there. At 90 players it was both a huge success and also one of the biggest ones we’ve had. Everything went really well, and the win went to Otso Saariluoma. I’ll post a tournament report to vekn.net (and maybe link it here) once I get it written, but that will have to wait till next weekend, since…
… we’re now leaving for a week-long sailing trip in the Turku archipelago. First time at sea with Saiga, will be interesting to see how it goes.
So that’s that. Between childcare, a gasoline fireball, and a huge tournament to organize (plus tons of other stuff), my review queue had stood still for a while now. It’ll get moving again, a bit later.
Haven’t updated here for a while for a simple (but fundamental) reason: I became a father on March 31st, when our (tiny) daughter was born. Even though the pregnancy was rough on Janka due to two separate pregnancy-related medical conditions, the actual birth was close to a textbook case. We spent about 11 hours in the situation room, and then a bit over three days in a hospital afterwards (we got a family room, so I could stay there 24/7 also). Everyone at Jorvi was really nice and professional, so hooray for my taxpayer euros at work.
We’ve been home for about a week now, getting used to a new schedule and figuring out the care and feeding of little girls. A lot of milk and diapers seems to be involved, and a distinct lack of a solid night’s sleep.
Well, I’m back at work, after a (short) 2-week vacation. It’s nice and peaceful here, as opposed to the hectic (but very fun) vacation schedule. And the office has air conditioning, which is a win these days.
We spent the first weekend in Joensuu, at Isosaarirock. Very nice rock festival, and nice trip overall. The hotel was an “eco-hotel”, which proved to be bad on Friday when we arrived: “eco” meant no air conditioning and poor ventilation, resulting in a room temperature easily in the 30s (C). We finally managed to sleep without dying of overheating by (also) leaving the room door open to the corridor. The temps dropped a bit the next days so it wasn’t so bad, but… that place really wasn’t built to handle heat waves. Nice enough otherwise.
The festival itself was good. Nice selection of bands and a wide cross-section of genres. We listened to everything from big band jazz to heavy metal and (Finnish!) rap. I primarily went there to see Imogen Heap (she was good), but many other gigs were also very much worth seeing and listening to. My feet were killing me near the end; 12 hours or so of standing / bounding about in soleless shoes (Feelmax) starts to get to you. We got a bit of a sunburn, but nothing too bad… and the beach there was awesome. You could wade in the water or go for a swim, while seeing and hearing the band on stage at the same time.
Imogen Heap seemed happy about the very positive reception she got (she hasn’t been here before), so I’m hoping she’ll do a “proper” tour with a Finnish concert at some point. It would be great to see her in a more focused environment.
The following week our house started filling up with guests. A lot of EVE players were coming to Finland for Ropecon, and we housed some at our place. Actually, we still do, I think the last of them leaves tomorrow. We also got well-known VTES “celebrity” player over (I’ve met him before at ECs), who got crash space on the floor on a mattress since our guest bedroom and sofa were already occupied my others. Fun guys all, and it’s fun to have the house full of people. Well, now and then it is, anyway ;)
Last weekend was Ropecon, of course. I ran the big VTES tournament on Friday, and it went very well. Excellent turnout with 93 players, and we also had a record number of foreign players attending. The win went to Otso Saariluoma, with the final round ending around 3am. It was a good final round too, with lots of stuff happening all the time. I’ll write up a full tournament report during the next week or so, with details on all that.
On Saturday I played in the VTES draft (fun, but only got 1 VP total), then caught some random program events and finally stumbled home to sleep for an all-too-short while. Sunday back to the con area to listen to Guy Windsor’s traditional “Realities of Steel” thing, and then an 8-hour info desk shift. So the con went well, though this year most of it went towards VTES for me.
…and now it’s (slowly) back to normal routine. That’s not a bad thing, as such. The kittehs will miss having a million people around the house, though, they’ve grown used to always having a human around who has time to pet them.
It’s been a semi-hectic few weeks. Oh, fun, and almost all of the “hectic” part has been due to various hobbies and stuff like that. Still, I’m left feeling a slight bit frazzled and thankful that this week looks more sane. Maybe I’ll just get time to curl up with a book, or something..
The weekend before was spent mostly in the forest, at a paintball war weekend organized by a friend. Good fun and nice exercise, and some of the scenarios were especially cool (notably the VIP escort one, where I was gunned down by “terrorists” but the VIP survived by doing an very fast “duck and cover”). Extra thanks to the cooks on site, the food was delicious and there was tons of it.
This weekend was also full of stuff: on Saturday I ran the Battle Lines storyline VTES tournament in Otaniemi. We has 16 players and the win went to Aleksi Nuora with his True Brujah deck. Nice work. I’ll post a short tournament report about that in the newsgroup soonish. Yesterday I ran Exalted for most of the day, which is always fun but also pretty exhausting. The previous week went into a combo of game prep, toying with the new “Planetary Interaction” thingy in EVE, the Roxy Music concert on Thursday, and just… stuff.
I’m slowly gearing up to run a limited Dark Heresy campaign, based on the fairly interesting Haarlock’s Legacy pregen campaign series. Character generation is next week, after that we’ll see what happens to mutants, aliens and other Enemies of the Empire. It’s possible that all that happens is “they get nice things to snack on”.
We’re escaping the traditional Vappu celebrations and heading north. Tomorrow evening I hope to be soaking in a spa, then with any luck I’ll be snowboarding at Ruka on Friday & Saturday. Haven’t done any snowboarding at all this year… but hey, this is a good time to start.
All this assuming there’s no new surprise volcanic eruptions, airline strikes or whatever.
The tipping point for “summer”, for me, is the point where I can sit outside on our patio and read in the sunshine, without needing winter wear. That point came last weekend, where it was almost hot there for a while. Granted I was wearing a fleece jacket, and the moment the sun vanished behind clouds the temperature dropped fast. But who cares, it felt like summer, or at least like a proper spring.
The cats approve, too. Despite the still lingering huge piles of snow all over.
Managed to switch to summer tirer on the car, too, though otherwise the car is still in an immobile state. The radiator leaks and (I think) the thermostat is also a goner. That, or the water pump. Hope it’s just the thermostat since that’s a fairly cheap replacement. Anyway, the thing started overheating recently and I just barely got it home. Now have a new radiator as a spare part and garage time scheduled for next week, we’ll see what the mechanic says. Hope it’s nothing too serious, the weather is starting to look like I can finally drive with the top down. Whee!
Boing Boing is running a series of short Q&A sessions with Jake Adelstein, a writer and crime reporter in Japan who has both reported on and had run-ins with the Yakuza extensively. Pretty fascinating stuff, especially the bits about how openly entrenched organized crime is in the Japanese infrastructure (entertainment industry, politics, etc).
Though it was a pleasant weekend as such, I was feeling seriously under the weather with some lightweight-but-tiring flu strain… not properly sick, but tired, head-achey and generally “meh”. That meant that I also stayed in for most of the weekend.
…which meant that on Sunday I finally got around to doing some organizing on my tons and tons of VTES cards. Oh, they were more or less in general order to begin with, but I had 3 boxes of new(ish) cards waiting to be filed and my card storage space is/was running low so I needed to weed out extra cards. Started “work” sometime before noon, and I was still at it close to midnight (with some breaks in between). Did manage to sort most of the stuff, though, and now I have a huge pile of commmons (& some uncommons) I’ll probably just donate to someone. Some cards I have way too many of.
Now that the heavy lifting has been done, I can finally get around to building some new decks based on the new Heirs to the Blood cards. Lots of potentially fun stuff there.
Otherwise, I’m waiting for this white stuff to disappear from the ground. Winter is fine and all, but I’m really looking forward to actual spring and summer now. Our yard still has ridiculous amounts of snow, and the kittehs are quite annoyed at us since their yard is full of cold, wet crap. I also want to get a new set of summer tires for my car, but most shops are still only showing “prices will be up Real Soon Now” signs and anyway, I can’t switch tires before it’s reliably above zero at night (ice and summer tires mix badly).
Oh, and I caved in and bought Mass Effect 2. It took most of Sunday to load (via Steam), I had that going while I was doing card organizing. Only got around to playing it around midnight, played around an hour before going to bed. Looks pretty nice. The controls have changed a bit, but otherwise the gameplay seems similar and the initial plot twist is interesting. We’ll see how it develops.
On Saturday I ran a release tournament for the new Heirs to the Blood set. Went well; we had 19 players and these release tournament things are always fun. I had personally avoided reading spoilers much at all so for me the cards were largely new surprises, but even for people who had bought some the previous week (when it went on sale) it was probably the first chance to actually play with them.
The win went to Tuomas Vuokko, playing with Salubri Antitribu. Tuomas has been in torpor for almost a year now due to suffering a bunch of pretty horrific real-life events… but he decided to join this at the last minute and proceeded to win the whole thing. As an amusing side, all the players with game wins were playing Kiasyd/Lasombra, Tuomas was the only one able to get a game win with something else. Impressive.
Sunday I ran another segment of my ongoing Exalted game. I had done quite a bit of prep, due to having no real certainty of how the players would react to the things I threw at them… so even though I suspected they’d go for Plan A, I also had to have Plans B,C and D available in some form. Mostly things went as I had suspected (though there were a few surprises). The gang is now in the Northern Wyld Borderlands, planning an assault on a massive Pale Hunter fortification, all because a young Lunar managed to land on their lap.
I was pretty happy with the thing, especially since a major part of it had been written from scratch.