Entry for December 11, 2006 — Byron, birthday, and Bay Colony Dog Show

Friends, I hope you've had a good fortnight. It's hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away! I have yet to write my holiday cards, but in the meantime, here's my latest update.

On Friday, 1 December 2006, I met Thomas K.Y. and Byron V.O. after work for dinner at the "Minado" sushi buffet near CW's offices in Natick, Massachusetts. After moving to St. Louis with his young family this past summer, Byron was back in the Boston area for a conference. We chatted about work and travel.

Byron stayed at Janice's and my second duplex in Needham Heights, Mass., that weekend, but unfortunately, Dexter V.H. was unable to get babysitters in Brooklyn, New York, so he couldn't join us. Byron and I watched the SciFi Channel's Friday night lineup and prepared for the next day's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands" heroic fantasy one-shot.

Greg D.C./"Janus" brought lunch from "Blue Ribbon Barbecue" in Newton, Mass., and helped set up my end of the videoconferencing through which Byron and others hope to participate in our regular game. The majority of the current role-players arrived by 3:00 p.m. and didn't leave until well after midnight, so I consider the session a success (see Yahoo photos). While not as cinematic as last year's Flying Citadel scenario, I hope everybody had fun.

The higher-level Player Characters successfully stormed a haunted castle containing a vampiric dragon, among other monsters, as well as an evil temple in a barbaric seaport! The once and future "Dragonslayers" (Byron's Paladin "Ibrahim," plus members of the "Liberators" and "Seekers of Lore") now have draconic allies of their own and are busy preparing strategies for the ongoing war in my campaign setting (see my Yahoo/eGroups Web site for more details).

I was also pleased that alumni such as Thomas/"Ahrad," as well as Paul J./"Tetsuo" and Alex J./"Vasec" (who came from college with Paul's girlfriend Bre) were able to attend. I was disappointed that Dex/"Faelonia," Carolyn M.P./"Grace," Brian W., and James B. didn't make it, but the regular, lower-powered "Halmed Desert" game resumes this coming Tuesday night.

Janice and I then caught up on housework and reading. We also watched recorded television dramas, including the excellent midseason finales of anime fantasy "Avatar: the Last Airbender," metahuman hit "Heroes," and youthful sleuth "Veronica Mars." The revisionist "Battlestar Galactica" and proto-Justice League "Smallville" haven't gone on hiatus, and I'm looking forward to the last few episodes of military space opera "Stargate SG1" sometime next month.

For Janice's birthday, I gave her some limited-edition figurines inspired by Brian Jacques' "Redwall" fantasy novels and took her to "Fuji," a local Japanese steakhouse. We had off from work and took the commuter rail into downtown Boston to the Museum of Fine Arts on Tuesday, Dec. 5. After lunch at one of Janice's favorite burrito places, we walked around and did some shopping Back Bay, the Prudential Center, and Copley Place.

The compressed workweek was again hectic, but we got through it without incident. Janice's parents came this past weekend to belatedly celebrate her birthday and for the Bay Colony Dog Show at the Bayside Expo Center. For animal lovers, the agility trials, breed judging, and "Best in Show" competition were all very interesting.

We then took Janice's parents to the animal shelter where she volunteers on Sunday mornings before grabbing dinner at "Firefly's," a Southwestern barbeque restaurant in Framingham, Mass., on their way home (we had received a new vacuum cleaner from them). Despite concerns about various ill family members on both sides, I look forward to seeing my folks in Virginia around Christmas.

This past Thursday and yesterday morning, I played in the "City of Heroes" online game with David I.S./"the Excoriator" and Kim M.E.A.G./"Lady Bewilder." Dexter V.H./"Dalance" and Steve M.R./"the Blazing Corona" weren't able to join our superheroes.

At Kim's recommendation, in addition to "Nightfall IIb" and other characters on the Champion server, I've now created "the Scarlet Saber" on the Guardian server, mainly for Thursday nights. Other than the occasional home computer or network slowdowns, I expect the team(s) of my college friends to continue their adventures!

Last night, Janice and I visited Cliff & Eliza Y., who are expecting their first child in the coming month, around the same time my younger brother Peter and his wife Kelly are expecting their second child. We sipped some cider, ate at the Bertucci's in Framingham, and chatted about politics, work, and travel.

Speaking of work, my latest brief profiles of award-winning information technology executives for CW's print and line editions were published today! Although I spend most of my time copy editing, it's nice to get a change of pace reporting occasionally.

This week, I'll be fighting an automotive insurance increase at a traffic hearing on Thursday. Although I haven't been the cause of any of the annual accidents involving my 1998 Honda Civic, the state still wants to penalize me, so I have to take a day off from work to go up to Somerville. Janice and I hope this coming weekend will be relatively quiet as we head into the winter holidays. In the meantime, take it easy, -Gene