Moving weekend, 2012

Townhouse apartments in Waltham, Mass.
Windsor Village

Friends, thanks again for your support as Janice and I moved on relatively short notice. After a few weeks in which we hunted for a new apartment, sold or donated various items, and packed, our relocation was tiring but not as difficult as it could have been.

Janice had to work on Friday, 24 February 2012, so I dealt with the professional movers from Gentle Giant, which we had used before. They efficiently loaded our furniture, numerous boxes of books, electronics, and bags of clothing from the duplex in Needham Heights, Massachusetts, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. I definitely couldn’t do it all myself (or even with friends and family) anymore.

I then met the movers at our new townhouse in Waltham, Mass., where they had to contend with more stairs as they worked from about 11:00 to 4:00 p.m. Of course, it was the one day in an unseasonably mild February when it snowed and rained. I met Janice for an early dinner at Stone Hearth Pizza, and we got soaked bringing a few carloads of odds and ends north that evening.

The next day, Janice’s parents, her youngest sister Melinda, and Melinda’s son Joshua came from Upstate New York to help set up our kitchen and clean out the old place. Janice and I sold a few more items, such as our refrigerator and carpets, and we junked our old TV and entertainment center (we finally got a flat-screen and a new stand for it).

Josh was disappointed that he couldn’t play with more of my toys, but most were still packed in my now-crowded study because it also had much of the contents of the basement space we gave up. Janice’s folks also brought barbeque (sloppy Joes) and funny cake.

We got the kitchen, master bedroom, and much of the living/dining room set up. Janice and I later checked the Needham site one last time and returned unused boxes to U-Haul. We also discovered that our unit is in a dead zone for cell phone service because of surrounding buildings. Once our land line is up, that’s not a problem, but it was while we were waiting to meet people!

On a blustery Sunday night, Janice and I met college chum Ben P.S. for dinner at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square, Cambridge, because he’s in town for a major physics conference.

Janice had a shorter commute to work yesterday, while I waited for a technician from Verizon to reinstall our FiOS (telephone, cable television, and Internet) service. (We’re still trying to get our DVD and VHS players and Wii to work.) Fortunately, I had enough boxes to deal with that I hardly noticed their absence, even during the Oscars. I’m glad that The Artist won the Academy Award for Best Picture, since it’s the one nominee that I had seen.

We still have a lot of unpacking to do, mainly for the two offices. Having more bathrooms is nice, as is a more modern space with a patio. I’ll have to get used to parking again in a crowded lot and to my new routes to work. I hope our higher rent and incidental expenses — I still need to get to a hardware store, buy more bookcases, and find outdoor storage for snow shovels — will be offset by more reliable maintenance.

While we already know some of the restaurants on Moody Street, Janice and I look forward to again exploring the northwestern quadrant of Boston’s suburbs!

Relocation reflections

Eastern Massachusetts
Boston's suburbs

Yesterday, Janice and I picked up the keys to our new apartment. The previous evening, more boxes were delivered for our move, and we enjoyed a Valentine’s Day dinner at Acropolis, our favorite Greek restaurant in Needham, Mass.

As we continue packing and trying to sell excess items — with breaks for the annual Westminster dog show — here’s a quick look back at the places I’ve lived.

Childhood in New York City

1968 to 1970: Lower West Side of Manhattan

1970 to 1978: Kingsbridge Heights, the Bronx

I have hazy but fond memories of growing up in New York. The cosmopolitan mix of cultures and cuisines, including immigrants like my parents, made me who I am. I also recall the eventual spread of urban blight as pleasant parks filled with refuse and noisy gangs, especially around the summer of 1977.

Adolescence in Westchester County

1978 to 1986: Dunwoodie, Yonkers; Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains

Although my brother spent more of his formative years here than I did, I recall hours spent biking around, hanging out with other kids on Westerly Street, and discovering my lifelong hobbies with high school friends. Most of the people I knew then were of Irish, Italian, or Central European descent. My “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign setting and “Vortex” space opera date back to this period.

College in Upstate New York, post-grad year back downstate

1986 to 1990: State University of New York at Binghamton

1990 to 1991: NYPIRG at Queens College-CUNY; Yonkers

Not only did I meet Janice and other friends during this exciting period, but my most rewarding (if least paying) job was teaching urban studies as a community organizer in Flushing. I recall walking through rain, my then-lightning metabolism helping digest dining hall fare, and late-night conversations about life, the universe, and everything.

Grad school, first adult jobs, and marriage around Washington, D.C.

1991 to 1992: Arlington, Virginia; the George Washington University

1992 to 1999: Park Towers in Falls Church, Virginia; BNA

The Clinton years were prosperous. After getting my master’s in international affairs, I spent a few years working my way up from being a file clerk to a copy editor. Our apartment was small, but we were within walking distance of restaurants, Metro rail, and comic book and game shops. Several college friends and my family also moved south.

Boston, Massachusetts

1999 to 2000: Somerville

2000 to 2003: Windsor Gardens, Norwood; CW/IDG

2003 to 2012: Bobsled Drive and Dale Street, Needham Heights

2012: Windsor Village, Waltham; TT

Janice and I first visited Boston during our honeymoon in November 1995. We liked the compact, historic neighborhoods and then-plentiful bookshops, and the information technology boom later provided both of us jobs. While I’ve gone through career and health ups and downs since then, we like living back in the U.S. Northeast, and we hope to continue exploring New England!

Moving sale, updated

Image from the first part of Jackson's Hobbit adaptation
An Unexpected Journey begins

Friends and fellow role-players, by now, you’ve probably seen that I’ll have to move within the next month. While I’ve gotten accustomed to having a three-bedroom townhouse with a full basement and yard for the past nine years, the time has come to downsize my possessions a bit again.

Here’s a list of items for sale. Gaming books start at $4 apiece. If you’re not in the Boston area but are interested in some of these items, let me know as soon as possible. I may be able to snailmail them to you! Thanks again…


-The Complete Bard’s Handbook

-The Complete Druid’s Handbook

-The Complete Priest’s Handbook

-Monstrous Compendia, in binder

D6 (Josh C.):

-D6 Fantasy, Space

-Star Wars, Second Edition, and Trilogy Sourcebook


-Arms & Armor

-Big Eyes, Small Mouth, Revised Edition

-Bulldogs! (space opera, not FATE version)

-Castles & Crusades: Player’s Handbook, Monsters & Treasure

-Cavalier’s Handbook (Byron V.O.?)

-D&D3.5 Player’s Handbook

-D&D3.5 Dungeon Master’s Guide

-D&D3.5 Monster Manual

-D&D3.5 Complete Arcane

-D20 Modern: D20 Past

-Dead Man’s Chest

-Enchanted Locations: Crypts & Tombs

-Etherscope (steampunk)

-Fantasy Craft core book

-Horizon: Spellslinger (steampunk)

-Interludes: Sands of Pain

-Lore of the Gods (fantasy pantheons)

-Occult Lore


-Quintessential Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Paladin; Ranger (Byron V.O.)

-Relics & Rituals

-Seas of Blood: Fantasy on the High Seas (multiple books)

-Shadowforce Archer (Spycraft)

-Silver Age Sentinels (superheroes)

-Skull & Bones

-Star Wars RPG (pre-Saga edition): Revised Core Rulebook, Galaxy Tiles, Hero’s Guide, Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, Rebellion Era Sourcebook, Ultimate Alien Anthology

-Swashbuckling Adventures (7th Sea)

-Sword & Sorcery: Forbidden Kingdoms (steampunk)

-Sword & Sorcery: Glades of Death (wilderness)

Pathfinder (a.k.a. “D&D3.75”; Paul holding, along with long box of Batman/Nightwing comics, Dragon magazines, box of large minis, Pathfinder Book of the Damned 3, and Book of Riddles):

-Bonus Bestiary

-Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lands of the Linnorm Kings

-Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide

-Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition:

-D&D4e for Dummies

-D&D4e: Dungeon Master for Dummies

-Dungeon Master’s Screen

-GSL Advanced Player’s Guide

-GSL The Quintessential Wizard

-Wizards Presents: Races and Classes

-Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters

True20 (same rules set as Mutants & Masterminds):

-Adept’s Handbook

-Adventure Roleplaying, Revised Edition (core book)


-Centauri Knights (space opera)


-Expert’s Handbook

-Game Master’s Screen

-Gearcraft Steampunk Sourcebook

-Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Ed.: Algernon Files 2.0, Instant Superheroes, Ultimate Power

-Pocket Player’s Guide

-Tales of the Caliphate Nights (Arabian fantasy)

-Tomorrow Knights (space opera)

-True Sorcery

-Warrior’s Handbook

-Worlds of Adventure

Other systems:

-Adventure! (Aeon/Trinity, White Wolf pulp)

-Amber Diceless Role-Playing, Shadow Knight (high fantasy)

-Basic Action Super Heroes Ultimate Edition, BASH! Sci-Fi Edition

-DC Universe boxed set, Daily Planet Guide to Gotham, and Gotham City Sourcebook

-Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

-FATE 3e Diaspora (“hard” science fiction)

-Amazing Engine: For Faerie, Queen, and Country (steampunk)

-Fudge, 10th anniversary edition

-Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition boxed set and Vornheim City Guide (weird fantasy)

-Lord of the Rings RPG (Decipher version): Core Roleplaying Book, Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, Maps of Middle Earth, Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic

-Serenity RPG, Six Shooters and Spaceships, other sourcebooks

-Shadowrun, 4th/20th anniversary edition (cyberpunk/fantasy)

-Shard: Basic Compendium (anthropomorphic fantasy; Sara?)

-Star Trek, Decipher edition: Player’s Guide, Narrator’s Guide, Starfleet Operations Manual, Starships

-Stars Without Number (science fiction retro-clone)

-Stellar Horizons (indie space opera)

-Strands of FATE

Board games ($10 each):

-D&D Clue

-Marvel Scene-It

-Monopoly: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars editions

-Trivial Pursuit: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (Byron V.O.) editions

>>Lego “Star Wars” sets — Micro-scale smaller ships ($4 each):

-ARC Starfighter

-AT-ST (x2) and Snowspeeder


-A-Wing and Slave 1

-Droid drop ship

-Droid Fighter

-Imperial Shuttle

-Millennium Falcon (Byron V.O.)

-Republic Gunship

-Sebulba’s Podracer

-Sith Infiltrator

-Star Destroyer

-TIE Interceptor (x2)

-X-Wing and TIE Advanced

-Mega Blox Enterprise

>>Minifig-scale ($10 each):

-Anakin’s Podracer (Byron V.O.)


-Bounty Hunter Pursuit

-B-Wing at Rebel Control Center

-Ewok Attack

-Gungan Sub

-Imperial Shuttle (Byron V.O.)

-Jedi Duel


-Slave 1 (Byron V.O.)


-TIE Fighter

-Tusken Raider Encounter

Miscellaneous stuff:

-Doctor Who: the Visual Dictionary, updated and expanded

-Dragon, Kobold Quarterly, and Starlog magazines, numerous assorted issues (Paul J. holding two boxes worth)

-Star Wars Blueprints, Rebel Edition

-swords: Viking, ninja-to, wooden practice (Byron V.O.)

Appliances and furniture (best offers; must provide own transport):

-air conditioner, vertical window unit

-boom box, with dual tape deck

-cabinet with shelves, plastic

-carpets, dark green, 9×12-ft.

-CD tower, solid wood, $20

-chairs, folding

-chicken wire, 20-ft. roll

-computer desk, with keyboard tray and wheels, $25

-dehumidifier, basement capacity (Don F.)

-entertainment center/TV cabinet with storage, wheels, fits 26″ CRT, $40

-fans, floor

-grill, George Foreman, hardly used, $10

-keyboard, USB, $5

-kitchen cart, solid wood butcher block, $20

-lawnmower, manual/push

-microwave oven, LG, $20 (Mike K.)

-monitor, flat-screen, 17-in., $10 (TT’s Bob H.)

-ottoman, brown microsuede, 25″ x 20″ x 17″ high with storage, $30

-rakes and other garden tools

-refrigerator, Whirlpool, good condition, $50 (Mike K.)

-space heater

-speakers x2, computer, Harman/Kardon, $10 (TT’s Bob H.)

-side table, solid wood, unfinished, 26″ x 23″ x 21″ high, $20

-stereo, Aiwa, including 3-CD changer and dual-deck tape player, $40

-table/child’s desk, very solid but some scuffs, 36″ x 23″ x 22″ high, $30

-tables, long folding, plastic (yes, the ones we’ve been using for gaming)

-television, 26-in.

-vacuum, shop, wet/dry, $20

-VHS tape storage drawers

-washer & dryer, Whirlpool, electrical, $50 each (Mike K.)

Everything must go in the next few weeks! [Note: This list updated 2 February 2012.]

On the move again, 2012 edition

Fan-built set
Lego space movers

I haven’t been able to blog as often as I’d like lately because I’ve been unusually busy. My employer’s annual meetings went smoothly, genre television and my three gaming groups have resumed since the holidays, and Janice and I will have to move soon.

We’ve lived in Needham Heights, Massachusetts, for about nine years, longer than we’ve lived together anywhere else. Janice and I like the residential neighborhoods, nearby restaurants, and the easy access to highways. Our rent hasn’t gone up during that time, and our combined salaries aren’t enough to buy a comparable home in the area.

However, Janice’s current commute by train to work in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., has taken an hour and a half each way every day. We’ve also been responsible for things like mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and various repairs. In addition, we had to move between duplexes within Needham in 2006 after our basement flooded because of development up the hill.

In the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that our townhouse’s water heater has been leaking. We contacted our landlord, who said he’d prefer to replace it when renovating the entire unit rather than fix it while we’re still here. We’ve had other problems with plumbing and heating before.

Our lease doesn’t expire until the end of April, but since we now have to move anyway because of the renovation and Janice’s commute, we decided to do it sooner rather than later. Janice and I spent the past few days looking at potential apartments to move to by the start of March.

Janice and I had the option of moving to yet another townhouse in Needham owned by the same landlord, but it was a little run down and wouldn’t help Janice’s commute. Still, it was in a familiar neighborhood and comparable in rent and space to our current place, which has three bedrooms and a full basement. It was our backup.

Janice and I considered other sites in Newton, West Roxbury, Watertown, and Arlington. We’ve applied for a place in Waltham, Mass., about equidistant from Janice’s and my jobs. We’ll likely lose some space, including our basement, which is where we’ve stored numerous boxes of files, comic books, decorations, and toys. It’s also where I’ve hosted and run role-playing sessions.

We’ll be paying quite a bit more per month, but I hope that the modern amenities and better service will be worth it. I’ll report more once our lease is signed. In the next few weeks, I’ll be busy with packing and trying to sell extra appliances, books, and furniture.

We’ll have to hire movers, because with 80+ boxes of books last time, we can’t impose on friends and family in the middle of (a delayed) winter. Thanks in advance for your good wishes!