A brief recap of Nats stadium

On Sunday my parents, brother, grandfather, and I went to the new Nationals stadium to watch the Nats play the Pirates.  The Pirates are our "hometown team", the one we grew up watching, while Matt and I now root for the Nats, as our, uh, new, I guess, hometown team.

Thus it was very convenient for the whole family in terms of "who to root for".

I bought the tickets online.  Instead of going with the "cell phone receipt" tickets or anything like that we did traditional "will call" seats.  They cost approximately $38 each after fees, $33 before.  We were in section 227, which was the second level, right field side, up a bit from first base.

We left our house at approximately 11 AM.  It's an about 10 minute walk normally to the Metro station, though our grandfather takes a bit longer, and we just missed one train.

I was impressed with how Metro handled the crowds at L'Enfant Plaza, transferring to the Green Line - they had plenty of people marking the right way to go.  In addition, they were quite handy at the Navy Yard.  Since all five of us had SmarTrip cards, we used the express lanes to get right out of the station at just past noon.

We stopped to grab an empanada from Julia's and that was freakin' MONEY.  Matt, dad, and I were quite hungry!  Will-call took almost no time and probably would've been even faster had there not been a ton of morons there trying to buy tickets when it was quite clearly marked that ticket sales were on the other side of the gates.

Entering the stadium I was impressed with it.  No, it's not the nicest park in the league, but overall I was quite impressed with the number of concession stands and bathrooms.  From our seats, it was no more than about 30 seconds or so to a number of food and beer lines or the bathrooms.

The lines could take a few minutes.  Once we got stuck behind a crowd of people all trying to use coupons printed from the Internet.  The tickets wouldn't scan, probably because they'd folded up their print-outs, and I really blamed them more than the workers.  Another time it took extra because they were having problems with the Stella taps and another worker stuck his cups in front of the ones the lady I was waiting on.  The workers did seem easily distracted.  I also got a discount on my hot dog that time so I wasn't so mad.

The half-smoke all the way from Ben's Chili Bowl, bought at a Nats Dogs stand, was quite tasty.

Our seats were good though a bit cool with the amount of wind that was coming through there.  Come later in the summer they'll be primo seats.

Walking back, we took the extra time to walk to Capitol South and had a very easy ride home.

All in all I was quite impressed with the stadium.  I can't wait to go back!

(And I saw more people wearing mixed apparel of both teams than I've ever seen at a sporting event.  Of course, that included my own family - I was wearing a Steelers shirt, and meant to buy a Nats hat, and Matt at one point was wearing a Nats shirt and a Steelers hat.  I saw a lot of mixed Pirates/Nats gear.)

on writing

Writing is something that I constantly practice and yet lately I have gotten overly complacent about my mastery of the craft.

The problem is, I believe, that I've gotten too lazy towards using "conversational English" and grammar in my writing rather than trying my best to be careful of my grammar.

I had an amazing grammar teacher in high school.  I went to Northside High School in Roanoke, Virginia, and there we had a teacher named "Mr. Brill".  (I do not believe I ever knew his first name.  If I did, I have forgotten it by now.)  He taught what is known as "transformational grammar", a form of grammar that is derived from mathematical equations.

That's all well and good when writing for a more formal audience and during a good many years it kept me in good hands writing papers at the University of Virginia.  Unfortunately for my grammar as I started writing more fiction I became more interested in how people actually talk rather than perfect grammar.

That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing except that the style of writing I was pursuing eventually permeated through all of my writing.  This isn't helped by the rather more informal styles of writing involved with blogging and video game reviewing.

When I first started attempting to write professionally for role-playing game companies I discovered the joys of an editor.  The first few times my work was edited both for content and for grammar I was heartbroken.  I'd never understood the need for editing before (especially for content) despite the fact that it was an integral part of my high school senior year writing classes.

I honestly thought that what I wrote the first time was as close to perfect as it was going to get!

The two people who helped break me of that habit the most were Shane Hensley, of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, and Don Dennis, of Iron Crown Enterprises.

I submitted a scenario to Shane for his game Deadlands.  He returned it to me with numerous annotations as to what needed to be changed for it work.  He had covered it in red ink in a way that shocked me.  When I recovered from the shock, however, I realized that he was completely right across the board.  Sure, some of the changes were merely stylistic - I used double spaces after periods, for instance, and didn't put the scenario together as per the standards that PEG followed - but others made me realize that I needed to fundamentally rework how I wrote for that genre.

It was a lot like an intellectual slap to the back of the head, and it's something that I can't help but thank Shane for taking the time to do.  There was no need for him to do that but it was a friendly gesture that, in the long run, has helped a lot.  I do still use two spaces after periods, however.  There are some habits that I just can't break.  Besides, isn't that what global search and replace is around to fix?

Don Dennis (you may know him as walsfeo) provided help in the "how to rethink content" category of editing.  I was used to writing for myself and if anyone else liked it, well, bully for them.  When dan_oz and I were working on various ideas for Silent Death he would point out what worked and what didn't thus forcing us to get better.  That has consistently helped me down the road as I attempt to edit my own writing as it made me unafraid to go back and say "You know what?  This part here needs to be taken out entirely as it simply doesn't work."

Lately I've been writing mostly for GamersInfo and on my blog (the scofflaws_den and here).  I've done NaNoWriMo a few times, too, and that's shown the absolute necessity of the art of being able to go back and re-evaluating what you've written in the past lest it bite you on the ass later.

My editors on GamersInfo, led by Kelly "ladyophelea" Heckman, have been invaluable in working the raw product I send them into a polished, finished product.  Of course, that can also lend itself to laziness, as I almost never take the time to compare the published version with my version and see what I could have done better.  It usually takes Kelly berating me via IM to change my ways in any sort of a consistent way.  Dashing off reams of writing in short times when dealing with events such as E3 are also not necessarily the most conducive of environments towards retaining good grammar.  (That's not Kelly's fault, obviously, but rather the nature of the beast.)

I often find myself criticizing other people's writing but today, when looking over what I'd written for the Den, I realized that my own writing was not as strong as it could be.  For one, I'm over-reliant on commas in a very huge way.  I use them a lot and often in inappropriate ways.  I've known for a while that I use hyphens or dashes too much in my writing as well and I think that evolved over my overuse of the ellipse when I first got to college.  So now I'm trying to edit and reread my own work to cut down on things like that.

How else I'm going to do that is that I'm going to work on writing more.  I've done a lot less reviewing recently for GamersInfo, mostly thanks to the fact that I haven't had a lot of time for video games in the past few months coupled with the damage I did to my wrist and hand over the winter.

I'm thinking of serializing a story.  I got the idea from the blog No Fear of the Future but I'd also considered doing it during NaNoWriMo.  I wouldn't be on a NaNoWriMo-esque schedule, trying to squeeze in 50,000 words in 30 days, but would rather try to do approximately 1,000 some words on a weekly basis.

I'd also like to get opinions from people on my writing.  I've taken out a lot of commas from this post in order for it to be more grammatical, for instance, but at the same time it reads to me like I've taken out too many.  On the other hand, I have a very ADHD approach to reading and I find that commas break things apart enough to give me natural breaks.  Am I allowing my own reading behaviors to influence my writing or am I overcompensating the other direction in regards to the commas?

I am eager for any comments.
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    curious curious

not posted a lot

I know I haven't posted a lot lately.

Played some kickball last week - we lost, for the first time, but won in flip cup.  This week I'm bringing the jello, and hopefully my cups I ordered show up today or I'm going to be really pissed off.  I'd threatened to make absinthe and/or Sazerac jello shots, but probably won't...

Haven't posted a Runo Knows in a while due to a lack of material.  I'm currently re-reading the 40K omnibus The Saint, and had read The Founding before when we were on the way to NYC.  I also read Jen Sorenson's Slowpoke: One Nation, Oh my god! but I'm not sure how to write it up, or if I should - I try to avoid writing about books where I know the author.  That's also why I haven't written up The alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo Anthology - I knew some of the writers, and had I stuck around in that newsgroup (I posted there a lot back in the mid-late '90s) I may have gotten a chance to be in there.

I do need to write up the Superheroes anthology and The John Varley Reader but I need the books on-hand to do that.

I just received in the mail The Blood Ravens Dawn of War omnibus, so there's more 40K on the way.

I finally got my review of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 done, but I still need to do a few other games - and I haven't even started Burnout Paradise yet and I should be getting GTA 4 in the mail today.

My brother turned 30 yesterday and we celebrated last weekend; I also went to Charlottesville last week and to Waynesboro to work with harmakhet to try to get scofflaws_den up and running on the new site.

Tonight I get to clean and to make jello; tomorrow is kickball; and then we see when granddad gets in, as he and the 'rents will be in this weekend.

So -- yeah.  Been busy.  On the plus side, my wrist and hand are doing a lot better.  I can start lifting again at the gym, I just need, you know, time to go to said gym.
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Runo Knows...Red Thunder

I dilly-dally-ed (or however you spell that) on reading this one and now I regret it - because this is a damn fun book and you should go out and buy it and read it right away.

I'll wait.

Enough of that cliche.

Red Thunder by John Varley is the story of mankind's first trip to Mars.  The Americans have launched their ship, a V-Star with a few astronauts on board, but the Chinese look to be at them there.

A small group of Floridians - some college kids, a retired astronaut, and his Cajun cousin - decide that ain't right, and get on the ball to beat the Chinese, and the Americans, to Mars.

Like the previous Varley book I wrote about, the back of this book is inaccurate.  I still haven't how they got that it was 7 people working on the project (typically, it was 6) and the mentioned disaster - well, you have to read the book to completely understand.

It's a great kind of technothriller/sci-fi book.  It's close enough in the future that it's basically "tomorrow".  The V-Star spaceship is new, and so is the automated highway system in Florida, but recognizable, and everything else (except the McGuffin) is pretty much the same as today.  But it's a rousing kind of "yay!" book that's just fun to read.

It helps that I'm a big fan of Varley's.  I just need to remember that when a writer I like a lot - like Stross or Varley - writes a book I'm iffy on, I should just go ahead and, you know, read the damn thing, because odds are, I'll like it.  A lot.

and we're back

Got back late last night.  Still recovering today.

Nothing like a nice long train delay!

But we had a ton of fun.  Now to go through my Twitter blabs from the weekend and put together a write-up; I'll let Marshall handle the pretty pictures he took.

Here's the one picture I took - the view out of Ed and Frannie's window!  SAY HELLO NEW JERSEY!

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    tired tired

off to NYC

Bonjour, mon cherie, it is the time, as she may say, for me to head off on the locomotive...

Okay, I can't do that anymore.  But I'm just about packed, I'm actually awake, and for the rest of the weekend I'll be in NYC with Ed and Marshall.

I may try to catch up on scofflaws_den, but I'll be more likely on Twitter under HighwayStar.

And obviously, if you know me, there's my cell - feel free to shoot me a text.

See ya on the flipside...
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    tired tired

Runo Knows...The Golden Globe

Unfortunately, though, the sequel to Steel Beach doesn't hold up quite as well.

To me, it feels like it's because of the general structure of the plot.  A lot of spoilers are given away on the back of the book, to be honest.  During the book, all we know to begin with is how the main character is a traveling con man/actor.  As the book goes on, we find out more about him, both his past and why he has to keep moving.

Which is fine - but the back of the book has already told you those things.  And the plot isn't really that innovative, if you've read some of Varley's other work.  Once I knew what was going on in the story I knew basically how it was going to end, at least in terms of the longest lasting mystery in the book (in terms of time, not in the book).  The way he handles the other problem he has was rather interesting, I thought, though I would've liked to see how it's resolved.

Perhaps in time.

Other than that, it's a fun ride through the 8 Worlds, getting a chance to see a lot of the sites that you only heard of in passing in Steel Beach (and that I, at least, haven't seen yet in his other stories).

But it's no Steel Beach.