Yara is Ten!

Yara and me lying in the grass together

My beautiful retired guide turns ten today and I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.

Happy birthday, Yara! <3

Turning Six

Uschi turned six on Friday and in yet another “clearly this shepherd was meant to be my partner” moment she celebrated her birthday much like me: in food. She had rump roast for breakfast, then later we had an ice cream treat at lunch, and for dinner she had a marrow-filled femur bone fresh from the butcher. It was filling and exhausting.

It was also intermittently rainy, so we didn’t get to do the thing I really wanted to do. Instead we had our little birthday party in the backyard on Saturday. The main event, for Uschi at least, were the soap bubbles I was producing with a toy gun I picked up on a whim at CVS.

Uschi lying in the grass with her nose up in the air investigating the many soap bubbles floating around her

There were also balloons and a rather adorable birthday tiara, which you can check out here on the photographer’s blog.

What day is today?

Photo collage of six images of Uschi surrounding the text "Today Uschi is SIX!"

Why, it’s Uschi’s birthday!

“Bleu, why you no blog about Firefly game?”

Those with a keen eye might have noticed that my birthday went by with almost no mention on my part. This should strike you as odd because usually I am all about my birthday to the point of bordering on being obnoxious. I know it’s just marking the fact that you’ve survived the Earth rotating around the sun yet again, but really, I love my birthday! Seriously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating that you aren’t dead yet.1

Maybe it was part of the aftermath of major depression, but I was just blasé about my birthday this year. I didn’t have any plans in mind and in the end it was a pretty ordinary day, which suited me just fine. But you might have caught the passing mention of receiving some Firefly-related goodies.

Among this haul of fandom glory was the card game Firefly Out to the Black. Here’s a shiny picture:

Firefly Out to the Black

I’m not entirely up on all the details, but the long and the short of it is this game was a Kickstarter that got pulled at the eleventh hour. I vaguely recall someone linking me to it last year and that is only because the board game and role-playing game were announced not long before that. Honestly, I all but forgot about this until it was gifted to me.

So, why haven’t I gushed about it before now? Well, that’s simply because I’ve only played it the one time, which probably wasn’t the best experience to use as an example.

First, none of us had played before so it felt like it took us until 2517 to actually get everything set up. As you can see in the picture above there are a lot of pieces to this game and the rules are just slightly different depending on the number of people playing. And nothing is labeled even though the instructions list a number of what you’re supposed to have of each thing.

Also, while the game is advertised as 3-5 players, it’s really does not seem intended for three people because the one big rule change in that particular setup is you play two characters rather than just one. And, you guessed it, it was just three of us playing. Two characters makes an already confusing first playthrough doubly more confusing. Also, it should be noted that there had been a not small consumption of wine beforehand so we were all of us maybe not at our peak cognitive abilities.

So, you have your character(s) and you get cards and then you put a bunch of other cards in the middle to be drawn. There is no board or anything to move around and instead it is all the various cards that are drawn which dictate the events and vice versa. It’s fairly straight forward. Each character has various skills and strengths and all in all the whole game is quite well thought out. I can’t say I was disappointed by it since I had no expectations at all, but for the most part the enjoyment was more about the Firefly references than the actual gameplay.

However, I will say that it was maybe just a bit over the top. The entire instruction book, for instance, is written in a style emulating slang from the show which sounds cool. But personally I found it difficult to follow, like trying to decipher netspeak or something. Certainly, there’s a great attention to detail here and everything is very nicely designed, but it’s not a sturdy game since everything is made from card stock.

Anyway, I’m just waiting to play with some more people before I can comment with any confidence. It’s definitely not a bad game, though.

  1. Plus, I didn’t get to celebrate my birthday as a kid.

Things and Such

First, let me assure all of you that I will be posting the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival soon. I expect this weekend, if not before. And, yes, you’re still welcome to participate if you so desire.

I deeply apologize that it’s about a month late in getting up. I had mono through a good chunk of last month, which thankfully wasn’t as awful as the last time I had it back in October. However, I think I dragged it out a bit more this time because I didn’t rest as much as I probably should have. I was busy with job interviews and the weather finally started to act like Spring and then it was my birthday and, well, you get the idea.

Of course, right about the time I was finally able to sit at the computer with most of my brain functioning, I ended up putting myself nearly entirely out of commission by taking a tumble down my basement steps. I bruised myself up pretty terribly, ripped a healthy chunk out of my left elbow, and jarred my (bad) left knee a bit. Oh, and I broke my tailbone.1 So, mostly I’ve spent the better part of the last week or so lounging about the house and griping about how I can’t find a perfectly comfy position where I’m not in pain.

This has left me with lots of time to play Final Fantasy X HD and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which I got for my birthday. FFX is one of my favorite in the series and the HD remaster is just breathtaking. It really makes me pine for a similar treatment for FFVII and/or FFIX. And I’m really surprised by Ni no Kuni, which was described to me as a JRPG that was basically Dragon Quest meets Pokemon and I was admittedly leery of the latter,2 but it really has proven to be a wonderful game. Not to mention the cel-shaded graphics are so well done they literally make me feel like I’m playing around in a living cartoon.

I also got some nifty Firefly swag for my birthday. Along with socks. And new stoneware cupcake pans!3

As for Uschi, she had her annual last month and aside from her nasty seasonal allergies is doing quite well. She does have a growth on her leg that needs to be removed and biopsied, but we’re pretty sure it’s just plaque. But thanks to finding an ointment that actually helps, the wound by her eye is nearly completely healed up. She’s on a waiting list for some new allergy medicine that I’m hoping will help clear up the issues with her being so itchy, too.

  1. For the third time.
  2. To this day the “Pokemon Craze” leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I’ve never been able to find any interest in a single aspect of it. And, subsequently, its many clones.
  3. You might recall I knocked my old one off the counter and it shattered into nine thousand pieces. It was very tragic.