September 20, 2003

Game Tester

I got to test Crystal Dynamics' upcoming games last night. The first one I tried is called Whiplash; our friend John is one of the top programmers for it. It's a cool game concept: you play a weasel, named Spanx, who is trying to escape from a large corporation that tests its products on animals. The trick is that you are attached to a rabbit, Redmond, by a handcuff, so you use the rabbit as a weapon (by swinging it around and smashing items and people.) The company is cleverly called Genron, and makes some pretty wacky stuff. The voice acting is great. They got the guy who does a lot of movie trailers (you'd recognize his voice) to do the Genron commercials that are playing throughout the game. It's still a little buggy, and I managed to do some weird stuff that wasn't normal (the best was somehow catching both Spanx and Redmond on fire near the beginning of the game, and not being able to put them out at all for the rest of the level!) It's an awesome game concept and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product.

The other game I played is the one Gary's been working on: Legacy of Kain: Defiance. This is the 5th game in the Soul Reaver/Blood Omen vampire series, and it's looking great. In this game you play both Kain and Razael, in alternating chapters. I don't know what the end goal is, but I only got into the first eighth of the game. The look and feel is very similar to Soul Reaver 2, but they've added some new features. My biggest game-play complaint was the difficulty of the jumping puzzles, which there seem to be a lot of, at least in the first chapter. I let Gary do some of them for me, because it would have taken me forever to get through them (if I had managed at all...I am terrible at jumping puzzles.) My biggest design complaint was Kain's method of gaining health, which is by sucking blood. I didn't have too much of a problem with that after he fought with guards, but I found the people (mostly, or perhaps all, women) chained to the wall offensive. After playing for awhile, though, it just sort of became second nature, which in retrospect is also rather disturbing. Like Whiplash, I am eagerly waiting for Lok:D to be released in November!

Posted by Jen at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

'Cause we don't want to be left out of the weather scene

This morning when I checked the local weather at Weather Underground, I found the following "Special Weather Statement":


Statement as of 7:05 am PDT on September 18, 2003

This hazardous weather outlook is for the San Francisco Bay area and the central California coast.

.Day one... Today

No hazardous weather is expected through the period.

.Days two through seven... Friday through Wednesday

No hazardous weather is expected through the period.

.Spotter information statement...

Weather spotters are encouraged to report significant weather conditions according to standard operating procedures.


Boy am I relieved!!

I guess Californians want to feel like Hurricane Isabel might affect them, too. Or maybe this was just reassurance that our weather for the next week would be safe, because everything else in California is so unpredictable right now.

Posted by Jen at 07:40 AM | Comments (2)

September 17, 2003

Pie in a pipkin

To go along with our Renaissance Faire experience, I made a medieval Italian dish Sunday night for dinner (yeah, I know, medieval and Renaissance ain't the same thing....) The dish is a beef stew called Pie in a Pipkin, a pipkin being a small cooking pot of sorts. Originally I think it was supposed to be like a meat pie (think beef pot pie) without the pie crust.

It's an unusual recipe to my taste because of the combination of spices used: black pepper, mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It also has raisins and vinegar in it, which made for a sweet-yet-tangy dish. I had never used mace before, and I got to use my nutmeg grater for the first time. It's definitely a keeper, but next time I'll make mashed potatoes to go along!

Posted by Jen at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2003


A bunch of us went to the Renaissance Faire down by Gilroy this past weekend. John and Eva and their 2 boys, Vladimir and Cornelia and their daughter, and me and Gary all went as a group. It was the only day for the entire season that all 9 of us were available, and it had to be the hottest day, too. Although we were both in garb, Gary and I didn't seem to get as hot as everyone else. Maybe because we both had long sleeved shirts on (although I was also wearing a pair of tights, two skirts, a hat, and a vest, so by all rights I should have passed out. I didn't tie my vest as tight as usual, though, because of the heat.)

Here we are (Derek, John, me, and Gary, with Max looking on) on one of the faire rides. All of the rides are human-powered: the man standing on the left, along with another fellow, pushed us quite high.

a ride at the Renaissance Faire

I'd say the highlight of the day was visiting our friend Lisa at the fencing booth and taking a fencing lesson. I didn't want to at first, but by the end of the day she and Gary convinced me it would be a lot of fun, and it was. Tiring, too. Although I supposedly had an advantage by being left handed, Gary won our bout 10 to 4. Here we are after our bout:

Jen and Gary in garb

A little sweaty and dehydrated, but otherwise having a great time.

Posted by Jen at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003

Coming soon to a store near you!

I was browsing through the Playstation 2 future release list at and found Legacy of Kain: Defiance! This is the game Gary has spent the past year working on, so it is very exciting to see it show up for sale (well, for pre-orders only.) The release date is set for November 21, and I'm hoping they'll make it with lots of room to spare.

Posted by Jen at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Gary's Birthday!

Today is Gary's birthday! We had a big party for him and his friend this weekend, so we'll probably just celebrate with some cake and ice cream tonight.

Posted by Jen at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

Uninformed like the eye

I found this on the web today: it's a site that uses BabelFish to translate an English sentence or phrase from one language back to English multiple times. I tried "Quick as a wink, the sly fox jumped over the lazy dog" and got back "Uninformed like the eye, the flash fox-fox-fox-fox-sly of the jump you in the inactive dog."

I wonder if I can link it to my random proverb page....

Posted by Jen at 05:46 PM | Comments (1)

Party Post-Mortem

This weekend we had a party at our house for John's and Gary's birthdays (they are one day apart later this week.) It was a success. We had about 30 people show up, fewer than anticipatated, but still a very good crowd. It started around 7 and the last person left around 2.30. We had way too much food for the number of people who came, and way too much soda and beer, too. But considering John and Gary invited upwards of 80 people at the last minute, I think we were well prepared.

Eva (John's wife and our co-hostess) made stuffed mushroom appetizers, bacon-chicken bites, artichoke dip, and garlic-parmesan dip. Plus for dessert she made chocolate truffles (which were absolutely delicious!) I made devilled eggs, other dips, lots of cookies (which we forgot to serve!), and bought sushi and the cakes. Plus we had the usual assortment of crudites, chips, crackers, and cheese and sausage. I had bought several loaves of bread and ham and turkey and cheese to make sandwiches, just in case we ran out of food. Which we didn't. :)

We didn't have much in the way of entertainment, but what we had was popular. I bought several boxes of glowstick necklaces (they are plastic tubes that light up when you break the tube of chemical inside them.) Gary set out his laptop computer and speakers and had Rhapsody running all night. Rhapsody is a music-on-demand service; all you have to do is type in the artist, album, or song title you're interested in and if they have it in their system, you can play it. This allowed people to choose what kind of party music they wanted to hear, and since it was such a diverse group of people, we heard a lot of different kinds of music! Gary also entertained the one child who came, plus several adults, with his 'abracadabra' trick of turning on and off various lights in the house (I won't say how it's done, since it's his secret.)

Scotch usually falls under the drink category at parties, but in this case I'd call it entertainment. John is a connoisseur of single malt scotch, and he brought some of his collection over to share. He set up a little bar with all the scotches, and explained the difference between them and recommended which ones to try in which order (very important.) I'd say most people who came tried at least one scotch, and I'm sure quite a few tasted several! We'll have to position the scotch area to a larger space next time because it was so popular.

All in all, we had a fun crowd who seemed to have a great time.

Posted by Jen at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Tom Swifties

Inventing Tom Swifties was a favorite game of mine as a kid after my dad and I read an article about them in the New York Times. Two examples I remember from the article are "There are one hundred thousand felines in the country," she said categorically. "And two hundred thousand canines," he added dogmatically. I don't remember any I made up, but I'm sure they were equally clever and witty.

Some likeminded person has collected hundreds of them and organized them alphabetically. Some of them are pretty bad, but some are extremely clever (I like "Elvis is dead," said Tom expressly.)

Posted by Jen at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2003

Frito and Trixie pictures

As promised, here are a few more pictures of Trixie and Frito. We've had them for almost 2 months now, and they seem to be settled in quite well.

It was a warm afternoon today, and the cats spent most of it sleeping under my chair.


After I took some pictures there, Trixie moved to the sofa to sleep, and Frito stretched himself out on the bottom of the cat tree.




Posted by Jen at 06:28 PM | Comments (4)