January 26th, 2006


Stress and Cookery

I've not been writing much lately. My job has been taking up most of my creative energy, with several long sessions with the laptop and the new couch since I returned from California. We're making good progress, but there are several deadlines coming in the near future and so many different things to juggle. I'm making an effort to manage the stress level, mainly through walks in the evening and working at different locations during the day, but I fear it will just keep going up as we get closer to ship time.

I'm really looking forward to this year's SXSW conference. Last year, I really enjoyed all three festivals; I hope to repeat that this year, seeing a good chunk of the sessions in the interactive fest, going to a bunch of films, and hearing some great music. It looks like I'll have a few friends to attend things with, and I'm also taking vacation so I won't have to worry about work while the festival is running (although I probably still will).

My reorganized kitchen has been the site of several experiments. I'm quite happy with my new-found talent at making refrigerator pickles, especially using the 3/$3 English cucumbers from Costco. I'm finding myself really enjoying the process of peeling vegetables. Less successful was my attempt to make tabouleh from a mix -- I found that the olive oil I used had been rancid for a while, so I had to throw everything out. In the middle was "veggie sausage helper", a ingredient mash-up that was slightly edible; however, it made for an interesting conversation with zen_elf which led to a much better and fresher recipe that I'll have to try out soon. I think I'll try some blender experiments this weekend, perhaps of the gazpacho variety.

...some games of note

Oh, so I've also been playing some video games lately...

Oasis is a strategy game that's best described as "5-minute Civilization". Very addictive and quite worth the $20 registration fee. It was named Game of the Year for 2005 by the GameTunnel indie-gaming site.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was a Game Boy Advance game that I got at a Toys 'R' Us clearance last year. When I first started playing with it, I found it to be pretty dull, but I picked it up again a few nights ago and have started enjoying it. The game is about elaborate missions where you pick a set of your characters to do turn-based combat against monsters and foes. At first, it seems like there are too many variables to manage in setting up your party, but once you realize that you're getting plenty of money to buy new equipment and that you need to let characters stick with a class for a while in order to master skills, it starts to be more manageable.

Jak II is frustrating, but it looks gorgeous in widescreen and it's got some really funny moments while being more substantial than the first Jak & Daxter game. The platforming and shooting sections are really good, but the in-game races have the most appeal. It is hard to not throw your controller across the room during the tenth time you just barely miss finishing before time runs out, but that does make the one time you do complete it so much sweeter. I don't like the large amounts of travel you have to do to go from mission to mission, but the intense game play makes up for those deficiencies.

Sitting near the top of my "to be played" queue: Psychonauts (PS2), The Movies (PC), Civilization IV (now with patches, PC), EyeToy: Antigrav (PS2), and Sly Cooper (PS2).