Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving - not what we planned

The Thanksgiving weekend is over, and it didn't turn out the way we had planned.

Alana was sick throughout the weekend with the flu or something. It didn't slow her down too much, but she felt miserable through most of it. That pales compared to what happened to Logan.

Logan was over at Alana's ex's place on Thanksgiving day. He was swinging on a swing. Like all little kids, he couldn't resist jumping off the swing. He landed funny and broke his left arm. It was a clean break, thankfully, but he was in a lot of pain. Alana and I were in the middle of cleaning out our storage locker when we got the call. We were literally in the middle of it; almost all the stuff was out of the locker. Alana took the Tracker to the hospital. I stayed behind with Sabine (our dog) and put everything back in the locker after fixing some collapsed boxes. By the time I closed the locker, dumped the garbage, and walked back to the apartment Alana was on the way back home.

Logan's doing quite well. He's home now and in pretty good spirits. His arm is in a splint, not a cast. He has to see the orthopedic doctor on Thursday. He might get a cast then. He seems to be doing quite well, though he is beating himself up about doing "something stupid". I guess that's a sign he's growing up. His arm will probably still be in a sling or a cast for his 7th birthday (January 20).

Friday was, of course, Black Friday. This is the day that stores begin to make money, as it's the traditional start of the U.S. gift buying season. Black Friday sort of has a Canadian equivalent: Boxing Day. In Canada, Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October (makes sense, as the growing season is shorter in the northern latitudes). There's no day of big sales in Canada prior to Christmas, at least not like they have down here. The day after Christmas is Boxing Day, a statutory holiday. For years it was illegal in Ontario for any store in a non-tourist area (or for certain types of places, like convenience stores) to be open on that day. It may still be illegal, I'm not sure. It didn't stop a number of stores opening that day with deep discount prices on stuff. Those that stuck to the law opened on December 27. That's Canada's closet equivalent to Black Friday.

Alana and I were up at 4:30 to head out to the stores. We saw something we thought of buying as a Christmas gift in Wal-Mart but there was no way we were going to deal with the lines in Wally World. Good thing, too, as they only had a handful of the item we were thinking about getting and it was sold out in 5 minutes. Instead we went to the mall. McRae's had a bunch of things we wanted; they opened at 5. By the time we got there they were packed, but we found everything we wanted. We went to Sears and J.C. Penny's, but didn't buy anything. We got some stuff at Office Depot, Michael's (a cool carousel for holding the paint I use for miniatures), Target and Toys R' Us.

The thrill of Black Friday this year was muted over last year; last year was the first time I'd ever risen at the crack of dawn to go shopping! I still enjoyed it, during those moments when I was actually awake. The sales weren't bad, not great but not bad. We knew what we wanted before we went to the stores, hit those sale items and then moved on. I'm sure that's not what most stores wanted. Most stores slash prices on some items as "loss leaders". They entice you into the store with the loss leader in the hope that you will continue to shop there.

We crashed that afternoon for a couple of hours. Our Thanksgiving Day meal was to be two Cornish hens, but Logan's broken arm spoiled that. We were then going to do the hens on Friday, but we both fell asleep until about 4:30 p.m. They are still in the fridge!

Friday night Jason and his mom came over. They visited with us and slept over. The next day Alana and Jason's mom went shopping while Jason and I playtested my Call of Cthulhu miniatures rules, which I'm calling Death May Die. The playtest went very well. There are still "bugs" in the game, but the test showed that the game mechanics are mostly sound. Jason seemed to enjoy the game, which is a great sign. This was the first time I'd played the game with someone else (up until now I had mostly playtested it solitaire).

I include some pictures of the game, below:

This is a shot of the game as it was initially set up. The police, at the bottom left, are raiding a bootlegger's home. What most of the cops don't know is that the bootleggers, fronted by an Arkham, Massachusetts mob boss, are involved with a cult. The cultists are currently trying to summon a monster (top, left). One of the people on the police side is Henry Armitage, of Miskatonic University (a well known figure in H. P. Lovecraft's fiction). The main cultist is Wilbur Whatley (also well known in the literature).

You probably can't make out what's happening; I didn't take the time for good pictures. It's midway through the game. The police have cleared out most of the thugs. O'Bannion, the local gangster, has gone insane from one of Henry's spells and shot at one of his own men. Henry lost is Nightgaunt, though (a bat-like creature), which could have been of great help to the good guys.

This is near the end of the game. The police captured two thugs and killed another two, but they lost a couple of officers and Henry Armitage. The cultists managed to summon the creature, a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. The Dark Young and the cultists (along with a routing thug) are seen in this shot. Now the police have only one chance to tie the game: capture Wilbur's strange book.

The game is over. The police were unable to capture Wilbur Whatley's copy of the Necronomicon. This shot is after the Dark Young ate the remaining police officers (except for one who managed to run away).

The game was close, but in the end it was a clear win for the cultists (played by Jason). We both made mistakes and forgot rules (sad, considering I wrote them!), but I probably made the biggest mistake by misplaying the Nightgaunt. I'd like to play the scenario again, which is a good sign. At some point I'll post close-up pictures of the figures on my web site.

So that was our long weekend. It's back to work tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to it. I have an install to prepare for and a couple of installed sites that will be calling with support questions. This wouldn't be so bad if a part of our system worked properly, but it doesn't. Hopefully it will Real Soon Now. Alana's not looking forward to work, either. Things are pretty hectic at the local Medicaid office between regular applications, Hurricane Katrina applications, and people calling about the Medicare drug plans (a duty that was thrown at Medicaid by the Feds).

Oh, yeah, and I get a year older this week. Can we just fast forward to Christmas?

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