Friday, January 20, 2012

The Book Dilemma

For those of you that read Paper Napkins on our blog proper have probably noticed the big new "Currently-Reading" box from Good Reads.  I know it's awkward and when I redo the header graphic (it was meant to be temporary), I'd like to move it to the other side.  Anyway, that is in fact the last book I read or what I am currently reading and my thoughts on it at this time (based on the stars).  At the point of me writing this piece it is still listed as The Dresden Files: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher.  I actually read this over the Christmas break and I really loved it, but that lead to a problem, a dilemma if you will....

I want to read, but I have no idea what I want to do next, I just know that I want to have the same emotional investment as I do in Harry Dresden, Karen Murphy, and all the other regular members of the books.  You see, Dresden is a long series (13 books strong if you don't count the short stories of Side Jobs), and that gives you a lot of time to become intimate with the characters.  You don't get that in the first book of a new series.  You don't get that from a completely new author.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where Did My Internet Go?

If you've been living under a rock lately, or are unfortunate enough to be in an apolitical state, like I am.  You may have woken up to a quite unpleasant reality on your favorite websites today.  A big black box and a bunch of alphabet soup that makes no sense.
Well, once you know what SOPA and PIPA are they make even less sense.  While Wikipedia is down today in protest  - they have left the sites up to these two laws.  Additionally, there are quite a few results on a Google search (also joining the protest although only with graphics).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Geeks Celebrate: All the Little Things

So we've just about wrapped up geeks partying (and just before we get started on the next party!)  There are just a few more little tips and tricks I think every host/hostess can add to to their bag of tricks that we used for the Unicorn Adventure.  So lets jump right into them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Geeks Celebrate: Food

KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.... 

Sound advice for most things, but especially when it comes to party food.  Oh sure, making decorative foods is fun and it looks really cool, but there are two problems; food doesn't keep for long and in most cases needs to be done when everything else is also happening (ie the at last minute), and kids get a little unsure what to do when they can't readily identify what you just presented them with (I learned this the hard way - although my daughter said that with the action of the party she wasn't that hungry either).  Still, the lunch foods weren't a disaster, and the cake was a huge hit with the kids and adults (but when isn't cake welcomed by kids?)

As with any menu, keeping it basic, but offering variety is key.  I don't know the food preferences of all the kids, but I also had to balance the allergies of my kids.  After getting pizza tossed down by my daughter (who can have pizza from the local place as long as there is no cheese), and the game master informed me that lunch would be served in the middle of the game instead of at the beginning or the end, but as a scene in the story - and at the palace no less - although a picnic was debated, tea and finger foods became the way to do it.  Now I've never been to a proper tea, I've been to a few American equivalents although none of them very formal, so when this idea became our starting point, I tried to think of reasonably healthy foods (after all we had a big cake to bring out at the end) that would be appealing to kids, easy to make, and look like something a Queen would serve company.... Yeah, no problem!

Monday, January 9, 2012

When Geeks Celebrate: Story Games

As my wife already mentioned, for her 7th birthday, my daughter requested that I invent a story adventure game for her since she knows I am a game designer and we have made up several stories together already. For theme she simply told me, "Rainbows and Unicorns" which we had as the theme of the whole party. I wasn't sure how the party guests would respond to the idea and we didn't have a lot of time for polish, but It turned out to be a lot of fun. I was actually surprised how complicated some of the logistics turned out on writing the whole thing. There are several pieces that came together and I'll touch on each to give you an idea of what we did and how well it worked.

You might describe the idea of a story game as more of a LARP (Live Action Role Play) with young kids. There were no weapons and no fighting involved. there was also no running around in the woods like a stereotypical LARP and very minimal cosplay. The idea was for all the kids to help each other, not fight each other and technically they weren't even "in character". Calling it a LARP is kind of a stretch. I prefer "Story Adventure".

Pictured: NOT what we had in mind for our party.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When Geeks Celebrate: Piñata

One thing that is universal if you are doing a non-commercial product party, you are going to have to make stuff yourself, and the store may at best get you halfway there.  Lets just put it out there right now that finding a rainbow shaped/colored pinata was not going to happen, and given the "confusion" around the colors of the rainbow - even though any 4 year old I know can recite them in order for you if you forget - even if you did find something odds are very good that even if all 7 colors appeared, they wouldn't be in the right order!
Dragon Artz Designs can tell how to make a rainbow!

How hard is it?  There are several songs, there's good ol' Roy G. Biv, and there's always a prism if you really can't figure it out.  Still that doesn't stop us from having a Little People's Noah's Ark where the flag is colored completely at random (seriously, not even close), several books where it is wrong, and well... I'm sure you can do a Google image search yourself, even the rainbow on Ver1's invite was wrong on the base image before I fixed it.  Anyway, I digress.... If we want stuff in true rainbow fashion - we have to make it.  We also had to make our own unicorn crafts, apparently unicorns aren't in this year either.

Monday, January 2, 2012

When Geeks Celebrate

One of the reasons things have been so quiet over the last months is that whether we like it or not the onset of winter brings numerous celebrations.  And we don't go halfway when it's time to kick it up!  Having my oldest child on the day of our previously annual Christmas party, which we haven't had since, would make you think that I've got it in hand.  Yet, each year we step it up just a bit more and each year I fall just a bit further behind.

Since Ver1 is all into the idea of rainbows, that was what her starting theme was.  She decided that unicorns go with rainbows and my little academic analytical girl was looking at a rather fantasy girlie party (a bit different for her, although she's not full on tomboy).  To go a step further she wanted a couple things for certain, first there had to be a pinata.  Second, once it was settled that for the first time in 5 years she was going to have the party at home, she really wanted her dad to write a custom role playing game for the party.  And he did!

Peek-a-boo and a Happy New Year

I know that there have been a lack of napkin notations lately.  It's not for a lack of inspiration, but more for a lack of time to collect the napkins together for digital presentation (ie I haven't been writing).  In fact I remarkably left my laptop turned off and in it's bag since Santa arrived at our house on Christmas Eve.  While being fully disconnected from my sometimes overwhelming online existence was pleasant and gave me some much needed downtime.  I definitely missed a lot!  I came back to an email inbox, which I did check for important messages - and I hope I saw them all, I know there were a couple, but it was nonetheless an inbox that was cluttered with crap reminding me that I really do need to take the time to set some more filters and unsubscribe from retail sites that I may have bought one thing from or registered for ages ago and really don't have any further interest in.  This is compounded with my new subscriptions to crafting stores, like Michaels, because the clerks kept reminding me that I could get coupons for good discounts and I've found myself crafting more this year than any time in the recent past..... with the new sewing machine and the growing kids, I don't think that is set to change soon.

My "must read" blogs have been neglected.... and I skimmed a few before hitting the "mark all as read" button.  My plight with facebook continues to be an issue.  While part of me would be perfectly happy to abandoned the bloated, cluttered, service to retreat to the as yet pristine G+ ... it is obvious that my friends and family (especially those I really care about) are not yet ready to follow me there.  I understand the feeling, keeping up with multiple social networks is a PITA.  This is part of the reason I've never embraced the phenomenon that is Twitter.   The other reason was that I didn't have a phone with a data plan, but I can't use that reason anymore, so until I think of something better, will stick with the first reason.  As for facebook, I've made some modifications to my profile and I'm using third party software to try to streamline my experience, but I still can't backscroll for more than 3 hours of posts without the whole thing locking down on me.  It really limits my experience there.  As an end result, I barely remember to check in and most of the updates I get are in the late evening or the occasional popups from Trillian.

Anyway, just checking in here, with the hopes that I can find more time as life switches back over to the post-holiday routine to get back into writing, which I really really miss.  I hope it was a great holiday for everyone else as well.
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