Marathon marred

Friends, as you know, two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon’s finish line yesterday. Three people, including an 8-year-old child, were killed, and hundreds injured, many severely. My thoughts are with all of the victims of this senseless tragedy and with their loved ones.

Back Bay
View around the Prudential Center

Many businesses were closed because of Patriot’s Day, a local holiday, but Janice and I were at work when the attacks occurred. Although we’re glad that none of our co-workers or acquaintances were among the casualties, we’re still upset by this awful incident. I appreciate the calls and e-mails from those who checked on us last night.

As usual for a Monday night, I had gone at Brian W.’s home in Newton, Mass., not far from the race route. While we were all off our game, it was still good to get together with friends. I hope that the investigators are able to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.

Incidents such as this remind us that there will always be suffering and that life is precious and fragile. Hold your loved ones close to you, be compassionate with strangers and enemies, and work for a better world.

Memento mori

We typically celebrate new life in spring, but it’s late this year. One downside of reaching middle age is that we recognize obituaries more than new people entering public life. The recent deaths of Muppet co-founder Jane Henson, film critic Roger Ebert, comic book artist Carmine Infantino are reminders of our mortality and that life is precious. There is always war and suffering in the world, but we tend to focus on individuals.

Promise of resurrection
We shall all return to the earth

After traveling to Chicago a few months ago for the wedding of my cousin’s daughter, Janice and I have dealt with less pleasant family news. Her Uncle Greg, who was always friendly and upbeat, died after a painful illness (at least partly caused by exposure to chemicals during the Vietnam War). We attended his wake and funeral in Pennsylvania, and it was evident from the turnout that he was much beloved by his community.

My cousin Socorro, who had taken me under her wing when I first visited my mother’s side of the family in the Philippines back in the 1970s, died unexpectedly in a fall. She had worked as a nurse in the U.S. and helped move me into college. Socorro returned home after illness, and her kind spirit will also be missed.

Three of my friends are still fighting cancer, and my thoughts are with them and their families. In the meantime, I have college chum David I.S.’s visit and a wedding in Upstate New York to look forward to later this month. No time to waste!

Looking back at 2012 and ahead to 2013

I hope that you and your family had a very happy holiday season, and I wish everyone a healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2013
Happy New Year!

2012 was a difficult year for many people, with a lingering economic recession, armed conflicts abroad, and political polarization and uncertainty in the U.S., as well as devastating weather and mass murders. Janice and I each have an uncle who is very ill, and no fewer than three of our friends in their 40s are fighting cancer. Let us hope that 2013 is better!

My job as an editor at a journalism company near Boston is OK. I’m still splitting my time between managing a Web site and editing technology-related content for custom online publishing. Janice has gotten settled in after Oracle bought her start-up employer last spring.

As you may recall, I got a new Honda Fit hatchback late in 2011, and this past spring, Janice and I moved from Needham, Mass., where we had lived for about eight years, on relatively short notice. We ended up moving to Waltham, Mass., about 15 miles northwest of Boston. It took us a while to find our bearings and get unpacked — our new apartment is a bit smaller — but our commutes are still mercifully short. There are lots of good restaurants in a variety of cuisines nearby.

While Janice and I didn’t get to go on any big trips this past year, we did get down to metropolitan New York for informal reunions of some of my friends from high school and college. It was great to reconnect with former roommate Frank D.!

In August, Janice’s and my families met for the first time since our wedding (back in 1995). We also attended several craft fairs, seasonal festivals, and comic book/genre entertainment conventions.

In addition, we spent a weekend at a nice bed and breakfast in Bennington, Vermont. I hope to catch up with friends in the Washington D.C. area in the coming year. Byron V.O., Ben P.S., and other friends also plan to visit New England.

We spent Thanksgiving with Janice’s family in Upstate New York and Christmas with mine in Virginia. It was nice to see my nieces and nephews, even if the drives were long. Janice plans to visit her extended family down in Pennsylvania in the coming month.

While I’ll no doubt be busy with work and the usual games in the coming weeks, I hope to post roundups of the past year in genre entertainment and things to look forward to. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to discuss!

Top 10 things to do when there’s no game

My role-playing groups have had to deal with several schedule disruptions lately, with the latest coming from Hurricane Sandy.

Specialized random weather generators
Rolling the dice

Still, all is not lost — here are some things to do (in no particular order) when there’s no game:

  1. Enjoy the extra time with family members. Or, hide from them.
  2. Review your Player Character records so they’re up to date.
  3. Follow the news media’s breathless coverage.
  4. Make plans with fellow role-players for what your adventuring parties will do next.
  5. Hope that the government/boss will also give you tomorrow off.
  6. Let the Game Masters know what you’d like your characters to do/see/meet next.
  7. Light some candles, invite the neighbors over, and host a seance or board game night.
  8. Review the rules and recent session updates. Just kidding — that’s for G.M.s — recharge your creative batteries by reading or watching something fun.
  9. Sacrifice canned goods to the storm gods.
  10. Prepare extra evil plans for the next time you run something.

Stay safe!

Labor Day 2012 — restaurant weekend

On Saturday, 1 September 2012, I met Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. and college chum Stuart C.G. and his family. Stu and his wife Zoe and their sons Sammy and Benji were in Boston for a wedding. On the way, I stopped by the Compleat Strategist and Pandemonium Books & Games. We went to Hei La Moon in Chinatown for a dim sum lunch.

After that, we took the “T” to the Museum of Science to let the boys “burn off some of their excess energy” (their own words). We headed back downtown for dinner at Oishii, the best sushi and sashimi restaurant in the area. The food, presentation, and service were all very good, if also very pricey. Janice didn’t join us because she doesn’t like seafood.

Sushi and sashimi
Sushi and sashimi at Oishii Boston

After dinner, we hiked back up to No. 9 Park on the Boston Common for dessert. Zoe took her kids back to their hotel, and Thomas and I shared several tasty cheese courses. Unfortunately, service was slow, and even with Thomas giving me a lift back to my car in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I didn’t get home until midnight.

After Janice’s usual shift at the animal shelter on Sunday morning, we went to historic Lexington, Mass., for American food at Lexx. Although most towns in New England have an ice cream parlor, I was pleased to find a few shops in Lexington that serve frozen yogurt because of my late-onset lactose intolerance. We even picked up a container at Rancatore’s to bring home.

On Labor Day 2012, Janice and I returned to Central Square, Cambridge, to meet Thomas & Kai-Yin, Stuart & Zoe, and rambunctious Sammy and Benji for an “Asian-style tapas” brunch at Moksa. Since Stuart and his family had gone to Harvard Square on Sunday, Janice and I headed to the bookshops there while Thomas, Stu, and company went to tony Back Bay.

In addition, I ran my “Vortextelecom space opera game on Sunday night, and I participated in Brian W.’s fun Fiasco scenario last night. I’ve still got some big projects coming due at work, so more role-playing updates and genre entertainment reviews will have to wait for now. Here comes autumn!