Category Archives: Uncategorized

New gaming post

For those who are interested: My recap of the first three days of this year’s Essen livestream is now online.

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Posted by on October 15, 2016 in Uncategorized



I am grappling with what to do with this blog. Because this domain is sort of the home of my academic life, which is bound up with games, so it makes sense for that stuff to stay together. But then there’s the personal stuff and the ranting and flowcharts about shoes and kittens – which may not be seen in such a positive light if people just want to follow my academic life.

I have just read back over the last eight years or so of my life, hiding the occasional post that was too over-shary (note: this was a fairly cursory process; the story about how I broke a rib is still here, as are the negotiations about our cats’ toilet habits.). I’m still confused about what to do.


Posted by on February 6, 2016 in meta, Uncategorized


PAX Australia photos

I’ve uploaded photos from PAX Australia to Flickr – see my photo set here. They’re all Tabletop photos, as I rarely got out of tabletop except for when I was on a panel.

I’m really pleased with the way the show ran.There are some things we can do to improve Tabletop, but overall it was very successful. I think that my favourite part was the number of people who were there to try new games – or just to try games at all.


Posted by on November 4, 2014 in games, Uncategorized



Game giveaway day!

Posting quickly from my phone. Will fix post formatting later.

I was excited to read about World Book Day. What a fabulous idea – giving out free books to non-readers. I particularly liked the participation angle, where people volunteer to hand out (supplied) books in their area.

And then I thought, omg, we could do that with games. Maybe find a cardgame or three, solid 7s or better, good gateway games. Raise some $$, get publisher support and wham! Free games!

Support it with a website with designer profiles and next game recommendations, as well as links to BGG for the detail.

We should do this!

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


Bought less today (I think)


  • little Christmas thingies for the girls and my work’s potential KK ($38)
  • Lunch with colleague ($24)
  • Apps ($7 or so) (oops)

NOT glass for our front window, because the *(*#@#% glazier who Fraser contacted did not show up. Yeesh.

Oh – and I made F get pizza for dinner because I was so tired by the time I got home that I literally could not stand up any more.

I took Bigster to school late today, because the police were coming. In my parent wisdom, I judged it more educational for her to watch them fingerprinting our front door than to go to the first half of her double Art class. I’m comfortable with that decision.

Oh yeah – and the whole fuss for 16 hours or so about NOT TOUCHING THE DEADLOCK? Apparently it’s really really hard to get prints off a deadlock so they didn’t even try. Aarrrgh – we had been going out the back door to avoid having to touch it.


Posted by on December 14, 2011 in house, shopping, Uncategorized



Coming Soon! (via The Opinionated Gamers)

I will be one of the (sporadic) authors on this new Gaming blog, which will launch today.

Now that life is slowing down a bit, I should also be the sporadic author of Obsessing about Everything, as well 🙂

Coming Soon! This site is under construction. Hopefully within the next few weeks, there will be a full fledged site with interesting writing about boardgames! Oh, and did I mention that we're going to have comics too? Check back soon – maybe around January 24 – for reviews, commentary and lots more! Or go ahead and subscribe to our RSS feed to stay updated with the Opinionated Gamers. Dale Yu — editor and founder of the Opinionated Gamers … Read More

via The Opinionated Gamers

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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


Aussiecon 4 – teaser

We’ve just finished five days at Aussiecon 4, the World Science Fiction convention, which was held here in Melbourne. I want to get some thoughts down here now, although more detail will have to wait – I am suffering from either allergies or connitis, complete with fever and snot. My friend today, when I could feel this coming on, was a bottle of hand sanitizer so I wouldn’t feel rude about stalking people – at least I wasn’t sharing germs with them!

I was a bit nervous before the con, as I don’t really read a huge amount of science fiction, and also because I had a perception that the audience for these events is a fairly closed group of people who all know each other and have Strange Ways.

I was also nervous because we had pulled the girls out of school for the Thursday, Friday and Monday of the con. School had coded this as “absent on other educational programs” which I thought was pretty cool. I was more worried about how to keep them, especially Otto, entertained.

(note for any new readers since the con: yes, my children do have real names, and you probably met them under those names. I just prefer to keep them off the Internet if possible.)

The kid thing was mostly a success, although I felt it sometimes when there were sessions I really really wanted to attend that clashed with sessions that Fraser really REALLY wanted to attend. Especially as I’m not 100% certain that our measurement system were calibrated the same way. I did, however, see and hear a great deal more than I would have if I’d stayed at home.

What struck me first was that this was really three conventions sort of rolled together and squished into one.
There was the fan stream, for, well, fans. This was for conversations about books and genres, for squeeing about all kinds of things and even, for some, for costumes. Also for stalking celebrity writers, getting stuff signed and – as I know from among cons – for catching up with old friends. Of which more anon.
Next up was the academic stream. This is for academics working in the world of speculative fiction, of fandom and of writing.
The last stream, which came as more of a surprise to me, and which was well-mixed with the rest of the con, was a sort of writers conference. With such a plethora of writers and editors, it should not have surprised me that the talks and panels were not all one-way – there were trade conversations happening all over the place and we, the public, were able to observe and learn from many of these.

As for me, well, I like to read. My fandom is boardgaming, my reading genres more crime and fantasy than science fiction. I have a couple of game designs, one of which my playtesters seem to think has legs, and like pretty much anyone I think about one day writing a novel. It’s never going to happen, though, unless it becomes a really consuming desire rather than an occasional tickle at the back of my brain. I still like to hear about the writing process, though – I spend large amounts of time writing stuff, even though it’s not fiction, and many of the discussions will transfer well to my day job.

Also, they were entertaining.

More detail will follow but here is a con highlight

1. Bigster and the Interaction with Writers.
Going into the con, we warned the girls that they were to stay with us At All Times etc etc etc. This lasted until about the second session, when we decided that given the layout of the building it would be OK for her to go to sessions on her own, especially as one of us would need to stick with Otto. She immediately laid her plans to stalk Paul Cornell, writer of many things Dr Who as well as many things not Dr Who that she didn’t care about. When she finally tracked him down after a panel, and got him to sign her con program, she was ecstatic. I tweeted a photo of the two of them together, which Paul graciously retweeted. Her moment in the sun!
Meanwhile, she had met the lovely George Ivanoff, a local YA writer who generously volunteered himself for a couple of sessions in the kids’ room. Not only did she buy his book, she also signed up for a Kaffeeklatsch round-table discussion with him and made sure to finish the book before it!
The third author interaction derives special mention, because it was so unexpected. George Ivanoff and Ian Moss were running a YA panel in the kids’ room, notable because the number of participants matched the number of panelists, when discussion turned to Dr Who. Ian made a phone call and, a few minutes later, in walked Rob Shearman, author of many many screenplays and also of the Dr Who episode Dalek.
Rob was an absolute delight. Warm, approachable and willing to be hit up for autographs, he came across as a genuinely nice guy. We wish we could have taken him out for dinner just to get more chat time in.

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Posted by on September 6, 2010 in Uncategorized



I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning. She had listened to an OpEd piece on the BBC website and had shared it with her Facebook friends. It’s a short, 4½-minute piece in which a journalist talks about Sharing Too Much on social networking sites.

I thought it was an interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

I also think that the journalist is WRONG.

She discusses two recent Twitter incidents and explains why she thinks they were inappropriate: the woman who twittered through the process of taking the abortion pill; and another woman who, last year, twittered that she was sitting in a board meeting and having a miscarriage. Her contention – in case you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing – is that that is over-sharing and is not what the social networking tools are good for.

I disagree. On the latter point, at least. And on the former to, with caveats.

This journalist and her friends use Twitter and Facebook for funny things that happen during the day, stories about her kids, etc. Probably for rants about OMG I am late for work and OMG why do my kids always forget everything, as I did a few days ago. I use them the same way – they’re a good way to get things off your chest, get a bit of sympathy or a laugh, and move on. Of my recent Twitter/Facebook posts, the one that has had the most comments lately was the one that compared the relative hotness of two actors. Guilty as charged!

But just because she uses it that way doesn’t mean that everyone uses it that way, or that that is the only way it can be used. I’ve also used Twitter when I have research questions. Friends use it for quick brainstorming sessions; journalists use it to get access to people to interview. A local guy lost his dog and used it to spread the word (dog found safe & well, btw). Earlier in the year, I used it for a quickie media release. It’s not just about the trivial, as she seems to suggest.

That said, the problem of over-sharing is very real. Personally, I would draw the line somewhere between those two quoted women: one post is within my tolerance, one is outside it. Other people’s opinions will differ, but that’s OK, that’s why we have individual controls about who we follow and who we don’t.

Because that’s really what it’s about – individual responsibility, and personal censorship. Not in a bad, big black lines obscuring words kind of way, but in a judgement call about what is appropriate or inappropriate to share.


Posted by on March 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Day 1 – Saturday 10th January 2009

Last night, as we prepared to head for Lorne, for our annual 2 weeks at the beach, it was crunch time for us.

Not in a bad way, but it was time to revisit our plans for travel later this year and see what – if anything – could be firmed up.

Originally, two and a half years ago our plans were for a 6 week quick tour through Europe and the UK, with a possible final stop at BGGcon in 2008. Well I got the quick trip through Europe and the UK (although somehow I lost about 2 and a half weeks along the way … lol …) and Fraser got the BGGcon experience, but the girls kind of missed out.

Evolution 2 of The Plan involved me and the girls going to Europe for 6 months – to live in Germany, mostly, but also to do some travel. There was a possibility that Fraser might be able to come for some of the trip, but for how long was very very nebulous. One option was for him to come in June or July to enjoy some sunshine, then fly home (!) and come back in October for OMGESSEN! and potentially BGGcon. Expensive, but it tied in with his work commitments and reduced the amount of time that he would be on the opposite side of the globe from the three of us. And surely this wouldn’t be THAT much more expensive than the $40,000 we’d notionally budgeted for the quickie trip … would it? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 20, 2009 in family, grand plans, travel, Uncategorized


Sunday october 5th – full

Sunday was Family Day – first, I was to watch James playing football, then have lunch with Sheila and Michael. If there was time afterwards, I had an invitation to join the gaming fun at Jon’s place as well.


First, I needed to use up my internet time – having woken reeeeeealllllllly early, I chatted with the Bigster for a while, got dressed in my standard daytime clohtes – jeans, top, jacket and walking boots – and kicked off the day with some gaming fun. When Sheila and Michael arrived, I headed downstairs – to see them dressed rather more elegantly than I, and looking a bit worried at the jeans. I ran back upstairs and changed, then we headed off.


It had been raining overnight – bucketing down, apparently – the Ouse was a good 4′ above its normal levels, according to Michael. We took a circuitous route past the old Terry’s factory – Michael worked for Terry’s and is a dedicated amateur historian of the Terry’s factory and its operations. Apparently the plan is, pending planning permission, to turn the buildings into retirement apartments, with associated serviced apartments and a full nursing home. Michael’s plan is to live there.


Lunch was at a gorgeous restaurant whose name I don’t have handy – an old 15th century manor house. Fantastic service and wonderful food – I couldn’t order anything but the roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding, of course (it was gorgeous). When the dessert menu arrived, I had to laugh – they had a Banoffee pavlova.  Banoffee is the English word for banana and toffee, which isn’t a combination I really see in Australia. Pavlova of course is an australian dish – but what really sold me was the description:


“a layered tower of crunchy meringue, bananas, fresh cream, toffee sauce and Cream of the Wolds vanilla ice cream. O.M.G!”


It really was OMGBanoffeePavlova!


Then, because we were getting carried away, we tried out 3 different dessert wines: Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora (this is australian and yum, as dessert wines go); Southbrook Blueberry wine, from Canada (the first sip tasted like cough medicine, the second was better but not a favourite); and an OMGwine to go with the OMGBanoffeePavlova, Swan Valley Chocolate Reserve from Australia. OMG. This wine includes natural cocoa extract. It’s like drinking boozey chocolate. Wow.


Next stop was Castle Howard, the home of the Howard family and the setting for both the 1981 TV adaptation and the new movie of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.


After a major fire in the 1940s, in which an entire wing was restored, the house has been slowly restored, and is open to the public. It is, without exaggeration, absolutely stunning. It has it all – sweeping lawns, fountain (during World War 2, the house was used as a girls’ boarding school and the fountain was their swimming pool – that’s how big it is), TWO lakes, … There are also guides in every room, to tell you about the history of the house or about the items in there.


My favourite story was from one of the bedrooms, where a collection of glass animals was displayed. Each was probably about 30cm long and 15 or so high. These were brought over from Norway around 1775 and are “conversation pieces” – when the family was entertaining guests, a selection of these would be scattered around the table, each about half filled with wine. The challenge for the guests, working together, was to extract the wine from the animals.


First, they would pick the animal up by the tail and try to pour the wine out of the opening in its mouth – but an airlock would form, and nothing would pour.

Next, they would try to shake it to break the airlock – and cover themselves with droplets of wine, but still not really put it into their glasses. The only way to really get the wine out was to put your mouth to the animal’s and drink directly from it.


Another animal in the set – for a popular party game – was a pig. In this case, the guests also had to try to extract the wine – but this time the only way to get it was to drink from the pig’s bottom.


Of course, that is the glass animal that I have a functional photo of.


New this visit – for Sheila and Michael, as well as for me – was an exhibition of photography of Castle Howard, by one of the family. The photos are absolutely beyond superb. I bought a print and a couple of postcards to take home – if they had had a book of all of them, I would have bought it too.


Of course, Michael being Michael, when I say “I bought” I mean “he insisted on buying for me” – I’ve never yet managed to pay for anything with him around.


The weird thing I noticed as we walked around Castle Howard was that my feet started swelling really badly – they’ve not been this bad for a year or more. It seemed odd that they would do it while I was actually getting exercise, too – they were at the “hurts to bend” stage, which may be because I’m not used to the swelling anymore or may be because they were REALLY swollen. Possibly salt from the gravy or roast beef, or something from the wine. Looking back, I didn’t have a lot of water on Sunday, which may have triggered something.


Back to Sheila and Michael’s for photos with Sarah and James and a quick goodbye, before being dropped back at the hotel. By now it was nearly 7 so I sent Jon a message that I wouldn’t be making games that evening, checked my emails, and repacked my bags before settling down surprisingly early (around 10) for the night.


Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Uncategorized