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Dom Mooney's Website

Apr 2008

Wordplay

I had a really good discussion last night on Skype with Graham Spearing about his forthcoming RPG Wordplay. As a game, it's best described as the bastard love-child of HeroQuest and Burning Wheel, a great blend of traditional and narrative styles. I'm privileged that Graham would like me to lay out the project, which is giving me a great excuse to properly learn how to use the copy of InDesign CS2 that I have on the computer.

We had a really good natter about how the game will look and feel, and before I knew it an hour and a half had passed. It left me feeling really energised about gaming and writing again, and perhaps will be the motivation for me to start back on the Traveller scenario, Power Projection and other projects that have been sitting on the backburner!

Currently feeling: Relaxed
Currently listening to: My mum, dad and Jill.
Currently reading: The Complete Chronicles of Conan (Robert E Howard).

Wales Weekend

We had a lovely weekend in the wilds of Wales, with no modern communications, staying at one of my University friends' cottage. Ceri and Nick kindly looked after us for the weekend, and Jon and Becky also came along. We celebrated Jon's birthday, and had a great time relaxing.

Ceri, Nick and Nathan
Ceri, Nick & Nathan.

Jon, Becky and Nathan
Jon, Becky and Nathan.

Ghost Baby
Ghost Baby - I loved the reflection here.

Jill and Nathan
Jill and Nathan, on a train. Can you spot the tired one?

Things that make it all worthwhile.

I got home from work on Wednesday, after one of those days when you're really happy to be away from the place, and was greeted by Nathan who managed to put a smile back on my face pretty quickly. As I got to the door, I was surprised to find him wearing his cardigan and looking very excited. Apparently, he'd demanded that Jill put it on him a few minutes before I got home!

Anyway, on seeing me, he squealed in excitement, and rushed to the side of the room where his reins had been put. Now, we'd had these less than two weeks, but already he associates them with going for a walk. He demanded – vociferously, saying 'Da' – that I put them on him and then took him out for a walk in the close. We were out for 40 minutes and ranged a fair distance. He was determined that
he was going to walk, and that he was not going to be picked up.

One of the highlights was Nathan yelling 'hiya' and waving at the next door neighbours when they arrived home from their walk, and the look of surprise on their face as they waved back. It still brings a big grin to my face now!
Happy

Catching up

I'm not sure why, but I realised that I'd not bothered to take off photos from my FZ50 since Easter Sunday. It was quiet a pleasant surprise when I did upload them to iPhoto yesterday, as I'd forgotten some of them completely.

First of all, I'd forgotten we had snow on Easter Day, and I got some lovely pictures of Nathan discovering it properly for the first time. Needless to say he was fascinated!

Snowtime fun!
Nathan and I in the snow.

Jill was far more sensible and avoided actually getting her feet cold and wet!
Running through the snow
Nathan running to me from Jill.

He loved it, and was fascinate about the feel of it with his hands. I think that it's great watching him learn how things work and copying. It reminds me what we loose as we get older. If you could bottle it, then you'd make a fortune!

Anyway, later in the afternoon he saw 'The Wizard of Oz' on the television and was transfixed by it! I'd not seen the film for a long time, and I can see why it was a favourite with kids of all ages. Nathan loved it, especially the singing. No doubt he'd love Bollywood films as well as traditional musicals!

I'm off to see the Wizard...
Off to see the Wizard...

Last week was pretty good – I came out of it feeling far more positive about life than I have for quite some time.It was a combination of Jill's birthday, and a couple of good days at work when I actually felt I was getting somewhere for the first time in a while. I'd talked to our former next-door neighbour, Vicky, and arranged for her to babysit on Friday whilst I took Jill out. We went to an old haunt –
The Muse Ale and Wine Bar – and had a lovely birthday meal. It was one of the first times we'd done this for a long time, and well worth it. We'd stopped going for a while after their letter back to Nathan saying that kid's aren't part of their 'mission statement', but we were just a couple out together, and it was not too far from home. All in all, we were only out for two and a half hours, but it seemed much longer in a good way. We had a great bottle of Pinotage too! A great week, and good for the two of us.

Currently feeling: Chilled out.
Currently listening to: The PowerBook G4 fan.
Currently reading: The Complete Chronicles of Conan (Robert E Howard).

****** Hackers!

Pretty annoyed, as I've just found out that some bugger has hacked one of the websites that I maintain, and put in a link to a trojan etc. Not seen it myself, as the Mac tends to be blasé about PC viruses and as I've not been asked to do any updates I've had very little reason to visit the site. I do have anti-virus installed, but if the attack doesn't break the firewall, or affect a Mac it doesn't alarm by default. Anyway, I've replaced the corrupted files, and also gone and hardened the site password significantly (not that it was that weak in the first place), but it's still annoying!

As an aside,
Rapidweaver has been upgraded to v3.6.7, which is the last non-bugfix version for Tiger. It's improved the export times somewhat, especially with the bigger sites I have. I'm still mulling over whether it's worth switching to OS X 10.5 Leopard or staying with Tiger (OS X 10.4). I never rush to new versions of the OS (because it often takes 2 or 3 patches to get everything to a stable enough level), but there are a couple of big questions I need to answer:

1) Is there a significant speed hit with a G4 processor (1.25GHz+ and 1GB RAM+)?
2) Does Creative Suite CS2 work with Leopard (or it's a £500 premium to upgrade to CS3!)?

Pretty much everything else is clear. Most of my other apps are all Leopard compatible, and those that aren't won't be a big loss. It'd have been nice if the various Mac publications actually covered these kind of questions!

We had a great day today – Nathan was on form, and we took him to
the local fish and chip restaurant in Wetherby where he had fish (no batter) and some chips, and stole bread and butter. He really likes the fish! After that, he entertained the shop assistants for 30 mins in one shop (opening every cupboard he could find and generally being cuite) before we went to Harrogate and had more fun in Mothercare.

Currently feeling: Annoyed.
Currently listening to: Suits (Fish)
Currently reading: Yvgenie (CJ Cherryh) (resisting Asher's Hilldiggers!).

CJ Cherryh's Russian novels

I've been revisiting a number of books which I originally read in 1992 (gosh, 16 years ago!) written by one of my favourite author's, CJ Cherryh. They are Rusalka, Chernevog and a recently acquired copy of Yvgenie. I've really enjoyed them, but they've been harder work that some of the other books which I've read recently. The books are Cherryh's exploration of her Russian heritage, and quite dark in subject, full of ghosts, magic and dark forests.



The first book,
Rusalka, tells the tale of Sasha, the unlucky pub stable lad, who ends up fleeing town with Pyetr, one of the local ne'er-do-wells, and getting lost in a very dark forest where they encounter a magician and a terrifying ghost. Sasha slowly comes to terms with the fact that he actually has magical abilities himself, and the truth about the ghost is established.

The second book,
Chernevog, was a harder book to read, as Cherryh takes her usual approach of telling the tale from the POV of the characters, who spend a lot of the novel confused as to what is actually going on. However it came to a satisfactory conclusion.

The final book,
Yvgenie, is the one I'm on now. This is a voyage of discovery, as I only found out it was published recently, and managed to get a second hand copy as it is long out of print. It's the reason that I re-read the first two books, as I wanted to remind myself what had gone on before. The story is some 16 years later than the previous book, and deals with a resurgent threat from the past which menaces Pyetr's daughter.

I love Cherryh's writing, and these books are no different. However, they are more difficult to get on with than her usual books (which normally take 50 pages to get me hooked), and have left me wanting to get a clear bit of time to dedicate to reading them. They definitely aren't novels you can just dip in and out of!

Jules Verne docks with the ISS

Jules Verne ATV
ATV picture by NASA from the BBC news website.

The Jules Verne ATV has successfully docked with the International Space Station. It's a kind of fitting tribute to Sir Arthur C. Clarke's passing - a fully automatic orbital docking of a new spacecraft that adds a significant capability to Europe's space programme.

Currently feeling: Relaxed.
Currently listening to: Our Earthly Pleasures (Maximo Park)
Currently reading: Yvgenie (CJ Cherryh).