Catching up from Christmas

A Star Trek holiday
Happy holidays!

I hope that all your holidays were happy and that you have a healthy and Happy New Year! Janice and I drove in my new car to her family in Upstate New York for Christmas. The capacious Honda Fit served us well, even if it got its first ding (in the windshield). Fortunately, the weather was mild and traffic was relatively light, even if children and skiers were disappointed by the lack of a white Christmas.

Among other things, I received more reference books on Arthurian lore, some cool Star Wars and gamer garb, food baskets, and a toaster oven. As usual, we also ate very well, caught up on Disney/Pixar movies, and played with my nephews’ superhero action figures and Lego sets. My thoughts are with ill relatives and friends.

Unlike several of my friends, I was busy with work in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so I was unable to post to this blog. However, I don’t foresee any shortage of genre entertainment, food and travel, or politics to talk about in 2012!

In between work and the holidays, Janice and I ate at our usual haunts: Wild Willy’s Burgers, Acropolis, Subway, Chipotle, and the Ninety Nine (I’ll have to work it all off). I met fellow role-players Beruk A., Brian W., and James B. for lunch in Central Square, Cambridge, as well as fellow blogger Thomas K.Y. with his brother Tony and girlfriend Kai-Yin at Elephant Walk in Waltham, Massachusetts. I’ll look more at recent movies, comic books, and games in upcoming posts.

For New Year’s Eve, Janice and I walked to the First Night events in Needham, Mass. We enjoyed listening to the West Newton Ceili Band, Melodius Funk, and comedian John Colliton. In addition, we saw the newly renovated town hall, melting ice sculpture, and the colorful Quinobequin Quilters show.

This morning, Janice and I watched the annual Rose Parade, and we’ll be taking down our decorations as the holidays wind down. I hope that the global economy improves, people strive to peacefully overcome their differences, and to find time for all my friends and interests!

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Santa’s sleigh

2011 Honda Fit Sport
My new vehicle

On Saturday, 10 December 2011, Janice’s parents, her youngest sister Melinda, and Melinda’s children Amanda and Joshua came over to celebrate Janice’s birthday and to bake holiday cookies.

I took my nephew Josh to New England Comics and Newbury Comics in Norwood, Massachusetts. I later took Josh and Amanda to a talk about birds of prey at the local library, and the family had dinner together at Mick Morgan’s pub. We’ll be seeing them around Christmas.

In addition to housecleaning and shopping for gifts for family, friends, gamers, and co-workers, I’ve been dealing with automotive issues. A few weeks ago, I had some expensive repairs and maintenance done on my 1998 Honda Civic coupe. On my way from the local dump to work yesterday morning, my car started overheating.

I called into work and brought my beat-up green car (which I had bought used in 2000) to Boch Honda in Norwood. I’ve had to postpone several meetings to later this week. Another coolant hose had come loose, and more problems were likely coming soon. While waiting for the assessment, I went into the dealer area and eventually bought a 2011 Honda Fit Sport.

My family and friends are much more excited than I am about the new vehicle, which I consider merely a means to get from Point A to Point B in relative safety and comfort. I’m not a fan of gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles and the distracted soccer moms or cellphone-using drivers behind the wheel. Still, the Fit is pretty stylish.

I had hoped to nurse the Civic through another harsh New England winter. Ice, salt, potholes, and tree sap take their toll. In 12 years here, I’ve been hit several times — never my fault — and the engine may have had another 100,000 miles in it. I was also in no hurry to begin making car payments anew, but repair bills were starting to become bigger and more frequent.

My red Fit has more passenger and cargo space than the Civic, despite being about the same compact-car length. Although most of my driving is stop-and-go, short-distance commuting with the occasional out-of-state trip to visit family, I hope to get good mileage. As of this writing, the four-door hatchback has only 17 miles on it so far.

What do you think I should name my new car? I’m asking only readers of this blog! I nicknamed my first car, a used red Chevy Cavalier, the Millennium Falcon for its utility and temperament. I sometimes called my Civic a “Runabout,” after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s long-range shuttlecraft.

Weekend update: One step forward…

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas
It's starting to look a lot like Christmas...

On Friday, 2 December 2011, I brought my 1998 Honda Civic coupe to Boch Honda in Norwood, Massachusetts, for maintenance and repairs. The 120,000-mile oil change, annual inspection, bumper reattachment, and new water pump and hoses totaled close to $2,000, which is nearly what the automobile is supposedly worth! If I can get through the winter unscathed, it’ll still be cheaper than car payments — for now.

I also “snailmailed” the first batch of holiday packages to friends, including Byron V.O.’s raffle winnings from the Super MegaFest. (I often don’t get all my cards done until after Christmas.) At work, I’ve been busy with assignments and planning for the year ahead, including TT‘s annual company meeting in mid-January. Janice and I had dinner at Wild Willy’s Burgers in Needham, Mass., and the next morning, we brought the last load of autumn leaves to the local dump.

We then met my former boss Michele L.D. and her husband Paul D. and onetime co-worker Ken G. and his date Sarah for a pleasant lunch at British Beer Co. in Framingham, Mass. From there, we joined gamer Sara F. at the AMC Framingham 16 to screen The Muppets, which we all liked. I’ll review the movie in more detail soon.

Sara, Janice, and I did some shopping at Shopper’s World and had dinner at T.G.I. Friday’s. We then went to the Natick Mall — formerly the pretentiously named “Natick Collection” — and got dessert at Red Mango. Since it was getting late, I didn’t get to the Lego Store or the recently moved Newbury Comics.

On Sunday, Janice volunteered at the animal shelter, we put up our Christmas decorations, and I ran the latest virtual session for my Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landsfantasy campaign. I’ll try to post an update for that game, which will probably take another hiatus as the role-players travel in the next several weeks.

Neither team for my FATE 3e “Vortexspace opera is meeting tonight because I’ll be celebrating Janice’s birthday by taking her to the Fuji II Steakhouse. Happy Birthday this week also to my cousins Socorro and Joke, college chum Ron J.K., and niece Becky Z.! I’m mostly caught up on genre television (including some good science fiction documentaries), but I have several books, comics, and DVDs waiting…. What have you been reading or watching?