Sunday, October 24, 2004

Uxory Files

The reality of extended insomnia is that on many days, I am so exhausted and by extension brain dead that I'm not up for much beyond playing spider solitaire. Seriously.

Neil sources out new games for me to play, and got me a subscription to Stardock.net where I can download their games and any new games or upgrades for a flat fee for a year. They make the much-vaunted Political Machine game, which was how we heard about them--it turned out to be a horrible disappointment, that ignores the real mechanics of political campaigns (okay, I'm a snob) and reinforces the worst misconceptions about how campaigns work, I presume because it was created by gaming people, not campaign people. (If anyone wants to write a REAL campaign game, let me know; I'd love to help create one that doubles as a game and a training tool.) However, some of their other games are quite good, and I have whiled away many insomniac hours playing The Corporate Machine and Celtic Kings: Rage of War.

Make that many, many, many hours. I've been ready for something new for a while.

So last night, we picked up Sims2. I love AI (cf The Blog Pet post below), I love random generators, and I love games that incorporate unintended consequences. We thought Sims2 would be a good match. Got it home, tried to install it on my laptop, and discovered the hardware was too slow and the game didn't run. Great disappointment.

This morning afternoon, when I woke up, Neil was chomping at the bit, so excited to show me what he'd been up to: he was in the process of *building* a computer, out of our random hardware collection, that would run fast enough to play the game.

We used to spend great weekends like this when we lived in Texas: hardware and cords and cables spread out on every level surface in the living room (including me, if I stayed still long enough); Neil building computers, swapping out hardware, installing software, programming; me helping when I was up to it or else just hanging out, happy to see him in his element.

I spent a lot of my early childhood in the corner of my dad's workshop, watching him work, helping by sanding things, or else playing with wood chips or the shapes (like snakes!) that he'd cut out of scrap with his jig saw, or playing with the pound-and-pound toy he built me (this is when I was super small) where I could pound dowling through a board with a soft mallet and then turn it over and do it again, ad infinitum. I am coming to realize that so many of the really cool things my parents did with us as kids that conditioned me to enjoy being married to a hacker.

From 2003-2004, we were in random temporary living arrangments for over a year, due to the move from Texas to Northern Virginia and then to Richmond, thanks to first my career and then Neil's, and our things have been in storage scattered around the continent, so we haven't been up for bricolage so much.

It is really, really good to get back to the hacker living room again. And to see Neil so happy.
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