Subject: Whirlwind Weekends (1 of 2)
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 17:21:54 -0700
From: Liralen Li <>

Been really busy for the last two and some odd weeks.

Work's been crazy, as usual. We're in a state of suspension, in some ways as things get decided higher up than I can reach. Oh well. We'll see what comes of what.

Had a marvelous week with my parents. They came up for a visit and brought the sunshine with them. We did all kinds of fun stuff, and Mom and Dad cooked us *dinner* most of the weeknights they were here! That was so very keen, and they said that it was because the kitchen was so much fun to use that they had a great time with it all. So that was very keen. Everything from red-roasted chicken and veggies to fried mi fun with all kinds of veggies, chicken, shrimp and stuff in it to mu shu chicken in steamed flour tortillas with hoishen sauce. Yum. It is so nice to have dinner cooked and ready when we got home. Thanks, Mom!! Mon and Dad also lent their culinary expertise to a marvelous dinner at Nobel Court, a Chinese restaurant between Bellevue and Redmond, and one that has fairly good dimsum for lunch. They organized about eight courses that included a really nice tofu and seafood soup, a steamed fish, Chinese brocolli, a lovely steamed tofu with shrimp and napa, and other cool dishes. Jon Singer was invited for the dinner as well and then we all trouped to John's mom and dad's house for a lovely dessert of peach and blueberry cobbler, where the peaches were so sweet and ripe they melted in the mouth in a lovely blend with cinnamon and butter.

I cooked one dinner, which was simply teriyaki salmon with rice and fresh zucchini from the Rostyki's garden. The funny part is that, all but the rice, took about five minutes to cook with the new stove. That high heat is *fast*. It also kept all the moisture in the fish, so that it came out sweet and tender.

We also headed out to Bumbershoot, the annual music, art, odd performance arts, and writing festival for a while. They also had most of the restaurants that participate in the Bite of Seattle with booths all lined up and down the place. Yum. It was very fun, hot, chaotic and colorful to boot. We brought Fezzik along and when he got too hot we dragged him into the fountain with us and got completely soaking wet while Mom laughed and Dad took pictures.

Fezzik is very good crowd going equipment, because with just a touch of his nose, he clears a nice path through the thickest of crowds. There were also people on all sides diving in to pet him or compliment us on him or tell him how handsome a dog he was. That was pretty keen.

Afterwards, we took Fezzik to the Marymoore offleash area while Mom and Dad just wandered about the park, enjoying the trees, the kids, the water and the coolness of the air. San Diego is having a bit of a heat wave and they enjoyed, very much, the ten degree drop in temperature that we had compared to them. Fezzik had a blast, and we got to see a little Newfoundland puppy... okay... relatively little, he was probably about thirty pounds, already, all fluffy and funny and cute, with a really long tail, huge paws and a very patient and quiet disposition. While Fezzik was tearing about through the water, after the other dogs, the puppy placidly sat in the water and watched everyone run by.

We also managed to watch two movies at home, one of which was _Michael_, a very cute angel movie and _The Big Night_ which was about two Italian brothers and the eldest brother's delight and joy in all things authentically Italian and culinary. It was a real delight of a movie, filled with real people characters with interesting dialog and ended in this single long, long, long shot of the younger brother cooking eggs for breakfast. It was a fine movie for all the food of the week.

The best thing about the whole trip was just relaxing with Mom and Dad and getting to talk. Letting them have a lazy time of it and just rest up from the world before having to go back. Dad had a great time with John just putting up shelves in our new closets, and they marveled a bit at all the changes and all the things that made it right.

So it was a great time had by all.

-----* * + * *-----

The Friday after the Wednesday that Mom and Dad flew home I flew to San Jose.

What first hit me when I got off the plane was just the heat. Ooof. So I changed into shorts at the first opportunity Carl gave me, and had yummy sandwich and lovely tiramisu all at once and then we wandered about, comicbook shops, gaming stores, where I bought Trip some more Mythos cards, and got caught up on several comics. Then we went and sat at Ken's, a small restaurant near Mountain View and we drank a whole lot of iced tea in the air-conditioned restaurant. We talked some, and also quietly just worked on stuff together.

One of the keenest things about Carl is that I'm both comfortable talking with him and being quiet with him. Some people don't seem to know how to be quiet. They seem afraid of the silence and what it might bring. Or something. But it's very nice to just be comfortable with Carl and just do what I want to do, be able to interrupt when I actually have something to say or ask, and then be quiet again and think. On the flip side, when he and I have things to say, it's almost always a very interesting conversation.

Like the fact that he feels like he'll likely never put up a web page, that it is amusing that people will only get a feel for what he is, what he's like by the impression he leaves on all the people that write about him on their web sites, pages, and people lists. He posts to the Internet occassionally, but has decided to not have a web site at all.

We also had a lot of fun talking over the premises of the user interfaces that I'm working on, and the baseline definitions of what's useful data and what's not useful data in the design of hardware products. How do you present the data? Carl came up with a number of cool ideas, like capturing 'what's makes a good design' for someone to see, and so that people can measure their production and what they've done so that they can get a better idea not only of their own abilities, but also of how their designs fit in with those around them. How do you define a productive engineer? What is a good base for measurement? Measurements of the wrong things is far more destructive than no measurements at all. But what is the right thing to measure? How do you treat fuzzy information as a system and how do you *sell* it to engineers who are somewhat leery of fuzzy information systems to begin with?

The really good engineers know that systems are fuzzy, mushy, if you like, to begin with, and that the goo cannot be solidified until you know more. That the solidifying and decisions that are made affect other sections of stuff, and to solidify it too soon may be ruling out technologies that might be useful in shortening time to market, but to solidify it too late will eat into time to market. The only real currency in all high tech is time to market, anything else is just someone's fears.

After the time at Ken's we went and got groceries and went to Kallen's. I got to play Whirlwind with UN Peace and Team One, both of which are part of The World of the 400. Kit and her husband Ted were there, visiting from Alaska and playing Ravensfire and Blue Boy.

So my character, Whirlwind, joined UN Peace and Team One for a knock down drag out fight with a bunch of Russian and other super-villains on an attack on the President of the United States of America while he was celebrating the Fourth of July on the Presidential Yacht.

Whirlwind is an odd mix of various things. The obvious things about her are that she's 12-years-old, very fast, talks a lot but says very little, she moves fairly quickly, and she's got about the attention span of a gnat's wing combined with an inability to stay away from FUN!. It's written that way, in all caps with the bang, on her character sheet. She's searching for ways to get her mother free again.

Other secrets will be kept for others to discover, as there are folks reading this page from both play groups. People who are in Academy, you should skip to here.

Whirlwind stumbled into a fight to help keep the president safe, even after being duped by Blue Boy into providing a distraction for him to talk to the president; and the villains used her distraction as the moment of their attack. She felt bad about that and even worse when one of the Secret Service folks shot her for her acrobatics. She had even yelled, look out behind you to them, when the blue green guy stepped out of the water and tore the SS man that was lying on top of the president in half.

A gold guy also came on board and a vapor woman and... all kinds of super villains. Whirlwind didn't remember much of exactly what went on. A few snaps of thought and experience was that she'd just tripped the golden guy up for someone to hit when the SS folks fired at both of them, and the gold guy actually took a bullet for her. Also she got kicked into the sea when she tried to trip up Titaness. On getting back in, a cloud of obsidian glass tried to hit her and she ducked, got out of the way for a bit, before it buzzed in around her and declared to the boat that it would kill her if everyone there didn't surrender the President.

She was thinking if she could leap out when Navy swung a BBQ with propane tank at her and the obsedian cloud. She'd already ducked away, so couldn't again, and that's when Eddie, Rime's completely ordinary brother, dove through the cloud of obsidian and flame and the explosion and shoved them both over the side of the boat into the water. Ravensfire managed to suck away most of the fire, but got hit in the process. Whirlwind managed to remember swimming classes and to keep Eddiy's head above water and then she'd tried to get him back on the boat, but there was so much blood and some part of him she'd been trying to hold came off... and...

She got him to one of the secret service agents that was in the water, and made them take care of him and get him out; and then she went back into the fight. She saw Blue Boy thrashing about in the water, obviously unable to swim, so she tossed him a life saver, and he went and got Ravensfire, who'd been knocked into the water, to safety. And he came up near her. So she looked around, saw the scaly blue green guy still up, so she went and tripped him, remembering, this time, to get out of the way.

Then this old guy in a tux pulled out this huge gun and aimed it at the guy who had fallen down. Aren't super hero's supposed to just knock the bad guys out and put 'em in jail? She dove between the two just as the old guy pulled the trigger. Blue Boy, seeing that she'd probably die of she got hit, threw himself in the way, too, and the bullets just pinged off of him. And then she just sat down and started crying. People aren't supposed to *die* in super hero fights! And it was wrong to shoot someone that was down already.

The Russian asked, in some surprise why she'd saved him, and she replied that it wasn't right for people to die and she was tired of seeing people die in this stupid fight... and so he said that he would give a life for the life given him and give up on trying to kill the president. So he jumped into the water and swam away. The senator did have to think some.

They got the president away, safely; and in the ensuing chaos, with a bullet wound and a destroyed set of clothing and what she'd originally gone to Team One for, she slipped away into the crowd. Her... uhm... other teammates... uhm... took care of her bullet wound, and she got a nasty cold from the water in the river so she just stayed in bed for the next few days of her vacation in Washington D.C... occassionally slipping away to see Eddie in his hospital bed, cry a few tears over his comatose body and then slipped into Navy's room and left him a whirlwind pin with a ... uhm... gift in it.

None of the newsreels wanted to show Secret Sevice men shooting a 12-year-old for tumbling across the roof of the yacht or the senator basically shooting a 12-year-old, though there might have been some footage of Eddie diving through the cloud to save her. Also, UN Peace found out that Nest was very interested in her, and they really didn't know where she was from, so couldn't tell them much anyway. So she doesn't show up in any of the history stories.

Okay, *ACADEMY* folks are safe, now...

We ended the game around 4am. Ooof. Tired. Carl drove us back to his place and we slept and got up fairly early, had sandwiches at ToGo's and then went right into Saturday's game, which was with Academy. It was a lot quieter, but more fun. Folks in U.N. Peace should probably jump here .

They were all in Europe, and Whirlwind's grandparents think that she's on a Girl Scout jamborie but is working on other things. Whirlwind basically stole a vial of serum for her gang and was caught by the Academy. She had fun talking with them, and then running around town with them. She got bored and took to the sewers to try and lose them, but both Tsunami and Ick! followed her, and called her. They looked really interesting, so she stopped to talk with them and then playing with Ick! on a bridge for a while, making up games and bouncing around and talking a mile a minute. Ick! can't move very quickly, so she took Ick! on her back and then jumped, soumersaulted and climbed all up and down a bunch of old European architecture. Wheee....

Ick! has been described as looking as if she were a squid turned inside out. Protoplasmic Ick that has pseudopods and slime, which used to eat anything it came into contact with, and a huge capacity for sweets and the mind and heart of a seven-year-old girl. Pretty astonishing juxtapositions.

Finally forgetting that she'd left Tsunami at the bridge, Whirlwind just took Ick! home with her, to the Four Seasons Hotel, where Tengu met her with a slightly disapproving look, "What did we tell you about calling before you brought friends home?" "Oops." She tossed him the cyllander with the vial of serum, and it was tossed to Twilight, who disappeared with it. The rest, as far as Whirlwind was concerned, was a lovely dessert time with Ick!

Afterwards, because Ick was asking her where she'd gotten her money and when she'd told Ick! That she'd been given it by someone, Ick! had sounded wistful thinking it'd be nice to be given money, Whirlwind broke into the youth hostel that the Academy kids were staying in and left several hundred Swiss Francs in Ick's duffle.

It seemed a very nice touch to me that Ick! who is a devout Catholic as is her mother, got to meet the Pope and have communion with him.

Okay. *PEACE* people are now safe, here.

After the game was a pizza party dinner around the pool at Temple Square, where we had a lot of fun just sitting around in the coolness of the night talking, eating pizza, drinking way too much root beer, and then getting swim suits on and plunging into the pool. The pool wasn't heated, but with the daytime temperatures hitting the high 80's and 90's, the water was warmer than the air outside. I swam for a while and then went up to Trip's and rinsed off, changed back, combed my hair and then we all went to Tower Records and the coffee shop nextdoor to the record store.

Dar Williams is good. Go buy _End of Summer_ and listen to it a lot.

I also helped Carl and Bryant figure out which Carmen they might want to get, greatly amusing a man who was there, checking stuff out and listening, kinda open-mouthed, to a girl with green hair commenting on the merits of various philharmonic and symphonic orchestras.

I started with a frozen concoction specialty thing from the coffee shop, but it was too hard to drink. You could kinda eat it like ice cream, but I got tired of fighting it so just got an Americano and had fun with it and a tiramisu-like object. Put some of the frozen stuff in so that it wasn't quite as lava-hot, but that was about it.

Carl and I slipped back into Tower and got him the Indigo Girl's production of Jesus Christ: Superstar and I found Bryant a copy of Opera for Dummies because he was looking for how to figure out what he'd like. It was just so completely appropriate. We gave it to him during the Sunday game, after dim sum with plenty of people. Bernie, Kallen, Tara, Bryant, Trip, Carl and I had lots and lots of food. Yum.

The afternoon game was a quick romp through a game that Carl may well run for a Con run sometime because it's decisively time limited. The main premise was that some security software had a bug in it that made it shut down for a the one leap minute that happens at the turn of the New Year. So the job was limited to exactly one minute to get all the way into the building, get the loot, and get out. The hard time limitation made it easy to run in the time constraints of a Con. Tara and I giggled ourselves sick over our characters. We played B.T. and Q.T., two monster fast troll street samuri, they were big, fast, tough and both had absolutely no intelligence at all. It was really funny having Mr. Washington, the mage, explain to us what The Plan was and what we were to do and what order we were supposed to peel off in.

"In words of two... uhm... you know... word thingies, or less!"

Mr. Washington finally came up with "Freeze" as B.T.'s code word, to tell him to peel off from the group and attack anything that was in the way. That Q.T's word was "Chill". So I have to admit that I was just *waiting* for one of the guards to yell "Freeze!". But Carl's guards were too professional, yelling a word only gives wired combatants another chance to hit you.

It was roll on the floor laughing time between the sister and the brother, eventhough the job itself was pretty solid and tough and hard. There's one point where B.T. has the mage and the client on his back and our rigger girl had blown a good hole through a wall that we'd fit through if we were careful... but B.T. had gotten the idea in his head that the faster we left the better, so he just put his head down and charged the hole. Luckily, Mr. Washington was fast enough with his magic to get a magical ram up just in time for B.T. to hit the wall after the magic did. We managed the job fairly handily, though B.T. got shot up pretty badly.

The second by second account of the game can be had at:

And, as usual, the trolls got paid about half the mage and the rigger were paid. They just haven't figured it out, yet, and I'm not sure if they'd paste their teammates if they ever did.

The timed game made it possible for Carl and I to get me to the airport at exactly the time I wanted to be there. Southwest airlines had had a super sale on fares from and to Seattle, so I'd gotten my tickets for about $104 and was prepared to deal with the festival seating, which, actually, turned out quite well. I was in the first 30 people at the podium and everyone wanted window seats, for some weird reason, so I got an aisle seat in the first three rows, which meant that I could get out soonest, which I like. John was at the aiport to meet me, and we had Taco time because Bai Tong was closed, and it was yummy.

Sleep was sweet, but I had so much fun with the gaming that I missed it a bit on Monday. sometimes I feel like saying, "I'm not really a programmer, I just play one in real life."

Back to Journal