Photos from Lake Quinault

I have so much to catch up on it’s crazy, but for now, a photo link:

http://tinyurl.com/quinault2009

[info]jsridler and I went hiking around Lake Quinault last weekend. This past week I was up in Seattle for the always fantastic LOGIN Conference (aka the conference formerly known as ION formerly known as OGDC). More on that later if I decide to be a good person and share information. But for now, photos.

The Olympic Peninsula in general is one of my favorite places in the world. There’s a reason why they historically have hauled bureaucrats there to show them why the preservation of our natural treasures is so important — the place does all the talking for them. I’d never been to Quinault before, and talked [info]jsridler into flying up with me on Friday before the conference so we could go hiking for my birthday. My dad grew up in Washington, so I’ve been there many times, and he in particular pushed us to go check out Quinault, which I was supposed to visit last year for a family reunion, but wound up not being able to go. If you get a chance, take it — Quinault in particular is a breathtaking combination of old growth forest, rainforest, and still and moving water all compressed in a tight enough space that you can actually hike between all of them in a single day, and on top of it the Lodge offers a nice restaurant (though we didn’t eat there since they weren’t open for lunch when we were hungry).

Anyway, check it out, and more posts soon.

Why I'm in New York City at a ridiculous hour

Hi all. Quick update, since I realized I haven’t mentioned this and it’s kind of cool.

Flew out to NYC on a redeye about eight hours ago, and am hanging around in the JFK JetBlue terminal taking wifi sustenance until a more reasonable hour to head out into the city. I have meetings tomorrow and Tuesday for a project picked up rather serendipitously last year, and the folks at HumaNature are being nicely tolerant and supportive.

I mentioned awhile ago that I’d won a game design contest put out by the Games for Health initiative. This project is not related to that, but Charles, a guy from Stottler Henke, contacted me on the basis of what I’d designed for that project.

In 2004, Stottler Henke won an SBIR phase 1 grant to prototype a project called LifeSim, aimed at instructing kids — unless I’m mistaken, specifically in low-income urban areas, though they tested it broadly across socioeconomic statuses — on nutrition using a video game. So, pretty big coincidence that this was going on and I had no idea when I drew up the GfH design.

Last year, as one of my freelance endeavors, I worked with them to put together a proposal for a phase 2 grant, and by that I mean I spent a lot of time on the phone answering game design questions and they did all the work. They had high expectations for its passing, but — I think particularly with the election and administration change — it took quite a bit longer to get approved than initially estimated. But it HAS been approved, and I’m now a game design consultant working with them on LifeSim II.

It’s a very cool project, and if I weren’t so tired I would be beyond thrilled to be getting it started — but it is just tremendously exciting to see something like this go from concept to actuality, especially with the wonderfully intimidating team of experts they have working on this, from the Stottler Henke folk to the partners at Columbia University’s Teachers’ College — nutritionists and educators. I feel honored to be a part of it.

And I also have the Games for Health initiative to thank for prompting all of this. Turns out that contest is really having tangible results that, if we do our jobs right, will actually impact the problems of childhood obesity in the coming generation. And the NIH for providing the funds for this grant, and showing solid faith that games can make a difference.

And, uh, it’s a pet game. Also, I have an iPhone.

Happy holidays, and publishing update things

I am slowly clawing my way out of internet desynch, having foolishly made an initial attempt right before the holidays commenced their usual brain-eating. 2147 mails in my inbox, but the good news is only 384 of them are unread!

[info]jsridler has fallen full throttle into the livejournal thing, as I thought he would long ago, and so also made his one request before flying back to Kingston today that I manage an update, so here I am — specifically with the news that Space and Time has purchased “Lightning Over the St. Lawrence”, a poem of mine they’d been holding. It is much happiness. I picked up the summer issue of S&T at BookPeople in Austin last September, and enjoyed its poetry (and stories) greatly. In other Austin news, [info]anguirel should, I think, be on the road toward there by now, and I have told him to hie himself to BookPeople upon arriving. I still don’t have my Cold War Unicorns.

In other poem and story news, I quietly added this to my profile awhile ago, but never announced here — I have my contract now, so I think it’s officially official — I also sold a poem, “Osteometry”, to Sheila Williams at Asimov’s Science Fiction, which of course I was ridiculously excited about but didn’t know when I could mention it. Getting Asimov’s wirelessly delivered is one of my favorite things about owning a Kindle, and it’ll be decidedly weird but cool to be in its TOC. If you aren’t a subscriber, you may want to pick up the current issue — among its usual pleasing offerings it has a stirring story by Stephen King and “Lion Walk” by Mary Rosenblum, which may be the best thing I’ve read published this year — I’m anxious to hunt down her Water Rites based on its excellence. After many back-and-forths, “Impress of the Hills”, short hillbilly fantasy, was also officially accepted by Spacesuits and Sixguns last month or thereabouts.

Check out the new Ideomancer Livejournal group if you get a chance, too. I never mentioned largely because I wondered if we were supposed to be a sort of mysterious shadow council, but I’ve been reading slush for the magazine since May or so, and hopefully will be pitching in more as time goes on. Mentioned there recently is [info]ecbatan‘s review of Ideomancer this year, which includes a nice note for George S. Walker’s wonderful “Zorroid”, the first thing I fished out for them (no credit to me; Walker wrote a great story, I was only fortunate to be a minor conduit — I link it here mainly because you should go read it). I’ve always liked the magazine, from mission to content to staff and so on, so this is fun, and the LJ group is newly pretty and organized. Expect great things, if so inclined.

I’m half starved, so I think that’s all for now. Hope that you all had a terrific holiday of your choice, and hopefully are still so having. I’m off until Friday, which is nice, and working on slowly un-congealing my brain. I have managed to keep fairly up on twitter, if any of you are there, and I updated dopplr with at least the next three months’ planned travel. Inch by inch and all that. 🙂

From Denver, Unexpected Quickness (and Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds)

Checking in briefly from my sister’s rather fantastic cabin south of Denver. Photos from the trip will be up on a Flickr at some point.

Very much ahead of schedule, Booksurge put Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds out on Amazon — we finalized the book a week ago, but had thought it would take at least two to three weeks to appear on Amazon. Instead the initial listings were there in just under a week! Which turns out to be very interesting timing with my moving cross-country and Erik being abroad in Germany for Liepzig.

I think that they’re still working out the kinks — the information seems to shift every couple of days, and the cover image is a little wonky — but I am officially announcing its availability because [info]erikbethke did so, which caused Raph to do so, which caused the news to start propagating all over the darn internet. 😉 But we are live, though the book’s official “meatspace” launch remains Austin GDC, which at this point is barrelling down upon us like a train on fire.

In other Settlers news, my related article “Fair Trade Goldfarming” is up at the rather newly-minted GiantRealm.com, piloted by the elusive Joe Blancato, whom I worked with extensively at The Escapist and is now helming his own shindig (and, if he reads this sentence, also correcting my grammar). The concept of desirable goldfarming elements in MMOs is not new, but I think I might have Coined a Term. Think of it as either a taster (though not this taster or even this taster of the juicy book) or an extension upon the larger Settlers project.

Thoughts appreciated, even while I am velocitized. Proper marketing endeavors and all of that initiate when [info]jsridler and I are actually traversing <2 states per day. But of course we are very excited about the book’s availability on Amazon, and seeing all of this work and idea exchange come to tangible fruition.