Dozer Online


Guess who's in California?

Liv and I are in sunny, pleasant, non-drowning-in-humidity southern California. We're visiting friends for the week, and after a busy schedule of web design, book editing, and other work festivities, a vacation is right in order.

Not that Liv and I are actually together. At least not for the next two days. While she's visiting a friend in San Diego, I'm with a college buddy in Orange County.

While the girlfriend's away, we'll indulge our geek boy natures with all-night computer gaming. Staying up all night in the Pacific time zone will no doubt wreak havoc with my internal clock when I return to the DC area, but this is no time to worry about such things.

In two days, we'll pick up Liv in San Diego and continue seeing the sights, most likely to include a beach or two.


Migration to Bethesda?

Liv and I talk a lot about moving. Specifically, about relocating to Bethesda, a suburb in Maryland. We work at different locations, and while I have an easy 10 minute commute, Liv has to slog through 30+ miles of Beltway traffic, which can be excruciating (one especially horrendous commute took 3 hours!).

Bethesda would be a decent midway point between our two places of employment. Plus, the town has great restaurants and other places to hang out.

Naturally, it's expensive. I was just talking to a Bethesda resident at a happy hour last night. She complained that when you live in Bethesda, you usually can't afford to do anything there.

So we'll stay put for now and see if Liv can continue to endure the traffic time.


Spelling bees and crazed killers

Not crazed killers at spelling bees, but the subjects of two really good movies I've seen recently.

Last Saturday, Liv and I saw the movie Spellbound. It follows eight contestants of the National Spelling Bee in Washington DC. The contest was more suspensful than you might expect for a spelling contest. Mostly because the movie does a good job of endearing the viewers to the kids by showing their determination and expectations for victory.

One especially interesting aspect was the vast difference in family backgrounds among the eight contenders. One child came from a modest downtown Washington DC school district and had a beat-up dictionary and a Scrabble board game for learning aids. Another kid had a wealthy California father who was paying for tutors to teach his son the etymology of German and French words. It would have been interesting to see the documentary maker ask this father if he thought there was any inherent unfairness in this disparity of training resources.

The second movie I'd seen recently is completely different: 28 Days Later. In the movie, a virus is unleashed in England that turns people into bloodthirsty infectious killers. The story follows a handful of uninfected who struggle to survive. It was effectively creepy because it didn't rely on cheap scares, like people jumping out of nowhere. There was always at least a split-second warning whenever an attack was imminent. But the psychological toll of the apocalyptic situation was even more chilling. Also, the scariest moment for me had nothing to do with the infected.


Friends in town

I'm feeling groggy this morning, as I was out last night until 2 in the morning.

I was out with friends who were visiting town for work. Jon, the closest of my college friends, was visiting customers in Fairfax; and Tina, one of my many Cleveland friends, was in DC for a conference.

It was tricky finding a place to meet. Jon was staying at a hotel by the Dulles airport in Virginia, while Tina was at the heart of downtown DC. This put about 30 miles of some of the most convoluted, congested roadway in the country between them. Plus, Liv was going to drive to join us after work in a Virginia suburb just on the fringe of the Beltway.

Through much of the day, I was stressing the logistics. But I really wanted to meet up with them both last night. First, it would probably be the only
chance for me to see them during their visits.

Second, I've made a lot of friends at different stages of my life: the Cleveland years, the Ann Arbor years, and now the DC years. I always enjoy bringing together friends from those different stages together. Maybe it's because I like being the only person at the table who knows everybody.

Anyway, I set on the Faccia Luna pizzeria in Arlington, VA. Despite yet another torrential downpour and Tina's late-running conference event, everyone made it. I drove my friends back to their hotels, to spare them the horror of navigating DC's roadways. And when I returned home, it was 2am.


Crusty guy at Orioles game

I was purchasing a drink at Camden Yard earlier tonight, during the Orioles-Cubs game.

As I handed my money, one of the stadium workers excused himself to go get dinner. "I need to get some food before I die of hunger," he quipped.

The crusty old guy serving my drink then muttered, "Maybe I should cut your throat so that you die first."

I didn't have a good response to this. I just took my drink, said, "Rough day, huh?" and then peeled away back to my seat.

I probably could have said something clever, or asked this guy what his problem was. This would be a more interesting anecdote if I did. So much for my writer's instinct.


Trivia Tuesdays

Liv and I were just playing trivia with a few friends at Murphys in Old Town Alexandria, VA.

It was our second try, and we won the contest under the proud banner of "Big Poppa Smurf." The prize was four tickets to see the Baltimore Orioles play Philly two weeks from now.

So now trivia night at Murphys is shaping up to be my new way to spend Tuesday nights now that Buffy is off the air.

My addiction to all things Buffyverse should continue to be satisfied by the new Buffy roleplaying game. I've been buying the game books over the past few weeks.

It's not a small expenditure, but the hours of use that I should get out of them should make it a worthy investment - especially compared to the cost of four-hour baseball games...


Following in the Slayer's footsteps

Last Saturday, I participated in a roleplaying game that is based on the recently departed TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was hosted by a couple who've been wanting to form a new gaming group. In effect, the day was a test drive for everyone involved, to see if we'd all get along.

For the one-shot game, the gathered players ran with characters from the actual TV show's third season (Buffy's senior year in high school). I took the role of the renegade slayer Faith; I picked her because she's my least favorite character and I thought it would be a challenge.

The game went well, and everyone agreed to continue with new characters that we'll make. Then we spent several hours watching Buffy episodes for the benefit of one player who had neither roleplayed or watched Buffy before.

The continuing game should be fun, combining two of my big geek passions.

It's also nearby, and the commute is a lot shorter than the 40 minutes that it takes me to drive to my other gaming group.


Week o'sickness

Well, that was fun.

I ended up missing nearly a full week of work to get over my congestion. Fortunately, I never broke out in a fever, but I was coughing enough to be annoying and contagious. So I stayed home, slept a lot, and immersed myself in the Discovery Times Channel.