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spike!

My latest GURPS book, GURPS Adaptations, came out roughly a month ago, and it had a fairly typical sales pattern: a big rush the first couple of days, gradually trailing off, more or less in exponential decay. After a few weeks it was down to one or two sales a day, with modest jumps on Friday when people had paychecks to spend.

Now, though, it's doing something different. Last week's Friday jump was bigger than expected, and carried over to Saturday. And this week, I started seeing multiple sales early in the week, rising day by day—last night's sales figure actually had two digits, which was quite a jump.

I'm not sure what account for this rush. Random fluctuations? Word of mouth and Internet chatter telling people they want this particular book? Something I said in the SJGames newsgroups? But whatever it is, I'm glad to see this particular project doing so well, better I think that my last few have done. I've run a lot of campaigns based on books, movies, TV series, comics, and so on, and had a lot of fun doing it; it's something I'd like to encourage. . . .

making connections

When we began planning the move, I came up with categories of businesses I wanted to locate in Riverside. Last week, I checked out a category I had set aside in the immediate pressure of the move: Comic stores. Looking on Google Maps showed a store, Downtime Comics, a walkable distance from our apartment. They had a pleasant, well laid out interior, with separate blocks of Marvel, DC, and miscellaneous imprints; I picked up the new issues of Paper Girls and Saga and asked about Usagi Yojimbo. They had stopped carrying it, they said, but they could order the latest issue.

Yesterday C and I passed by, and she wanted to have a look, so we dropped in. They had gotten in Usagi Yojimbo, so we picked that up. And while we were there I asked about the eighth volume of Kaoru Mori's </i>A Bride's Story</i>, from Yen Press. This is one of the most physically beautiful graphic novels I've ever seen—the draftsmanship is right up there with Terry Moore's work—and culturally interesting as well: stories about young women in 19th century Central Asia, on the fringes of the Russian Empire (Otoyomegatari really could be more accurately translated as "Brides' Stories," though Mori does keep coming back to Amir, the original protagonist), as told by a Japanese woman artist and now translated into English. Anyway, I asked about having them order it, and they checked online and found that it was listed as available now; they thought they could get it in a week.

I won't judge a business on one or two transactions, but at first encounter they look very promising. They don't act as if ordering something a bit unusual, or something that has to be researched, is an imposition, but as if it's an opportunity. So I'm hoping this will be the start of a lasting relationship, like the one we had with On Comic Ground down in San Diego.

interior

I wasn't entirely certain of the size of our new apartment; I didn't remember to take up a tape measure when we went on our initial trip, and that was the one where we found it. An eyeball estimate made it seem comparable to our old apartment, so I was hoping that we would be able to fit in our furniture. Then when I actually measured it, after we picked up the keys, the living room and bedroom came out about 20% larger! But I went on worrying that we had measured wrong until we actually moved in.

The extra space in the bedroom meant that we could fit three sets of tall bookshelves along one wall; they currently hold our large fiction, our game books, and most of our nonfiction. The head of our bed is against the opposite wall, with one side toward the window and the other toward the door and the closet; the back of the dresser is against the foot of the bed. We have a half height bookshelf next to the window that holds nearly all our mass market paperback fiction; the books are double stacked, and about a foot of them are triple stacked on the bottom shelf. There's room enough to open the dresser drawers, and there's actually a conveniently wide walkway at either side of the bed.

The living/dining room complex is a bit eccentric. Carol's desk (actually a drafting table) is at the end near the door; it holds her monitor (a partially repurposed flatscreen that we also use to watch DVDs and blu-rays), and the entertainment unit is next to it. This is a small square glass piece, with five shelves, which hold respectively the turntable, the blu-ray, the computer and external optical drive, the receiver/amplifier, and the cat, when he chooses to occupy it. The speakers will go on the corners of the desk when we finish setting them up. A small set of shelves that holds our video library is between the door and the window; the opposite wall, past the entertainment unit, holds our fourth set of full length shelves, which will hold Carol's books on art, film, and music; our graphic novels; and perhaps our belles lettres, if there's space.

At the other end of the room is our love seat, with a good view of the large monitor. Next to it, with its back to the window, is our recliner, so we have a conversation area. The ottoman moves about between them as needed. At the side of the love seat away from the window is our best set of shelves, made of redwood, full length, and narrower and deeper than the other sets; they have our collection of natural curiosities, Carol's outside art books, and our other outsize books, with the complete Calvin and Hobbes and the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary at either end. The two shelves turn out to provide a nice (and fortuitous!) framing effect for my desk and, next to it, the filing cabinet, on top of which we have the modem, router, and landline.

I still need to hang selected pieces of art, and we need to decide which surfaces can hold which of our ceramic pieces.

There is also the cat. Macavity spent his first day huddled under the love seat, but eventually I dragged him out, and he now spends a lot of time roaming about the apartment, especially in the early morning and late evening when it's relatively cool.

All things considered, we're mostly comfortable here. It's a pleasant change to move to an apartment that has a little extra, unfilled space. About the only thing I miss in the old apartment is the built-in shelves that housed our belles lettres. We might actually have to buy one more set of shelves!

I thought of a riddle

Q: How many Betans does it take to change a light bulb?
A:Collapse )

landscape

C and I survived the move to Riverside, as did our cat Macavity. Now we're starting to get settled in.

During the trip up I became conscious of an impression that had begun to form during several previous visits. To start with, San Diego is fairly up and down; we lived on a moderate high terrain feature cut into by canyons in many places. To its north is Mission Valley, a very wide river valley that occasionally floods. But many of the city's older areas are elevated.

Riverside is almost exactly the converse. We've travelled around several parts of it, and I have yet to see anything like a canyon. It has a river (hence the name), but I haven't seen any sign of its geological impact comparable to Mission Valley. What we have instead is mountains, or perhaps high hills; look in almost any direction and there's something elevated above the plain.

Driving up from San Diego on Thursday, I became aware that it made me think of the Fellowship of the Ring travelling past the Misty Mountains. There were multiple peaks out to the east that suggested the ones Frodo & Co. had looming over them. (Of course we were going north, which would make Riverside equivalent to Rivendell and San Diego to Isengard!) In the mornings, they're often shrouded in fog or mist, and at times this happens during the day as well.

The other thing that strikes me about the landscape is how green everything is! San Diego is largely coastal, and its climate is roughly Mediterranean scrub to semi-desert, and Riverside is inland and much more a true desert, about 10°F hotter and notably drier. But San Diego has chronic water shortages, with little to spare for irrigation, and yards are increasing going to drought-tolerant vegetation or rock and gravel. Riverside doesn't look as if anyone has heard of drought! There are green trees everywhere, and lawns, and last night when I went out on an errand I realized that sprinklers were running on the grass alongside our street, and water was flowing down the gutter, things that San Diego systematically discourages. I don't think this can reflect the natural rainfall; it all has to be imported water. I can only suppose that the low population makes the import of water affordable in a way that it no longer is for San Diego, a much larger city and county.

Fitting in with this, we noticed that stores, especially in the shopping malls, are utterly huge compared to those in San Diego. The customer population is somewhat smaller, about 70% as many in the county as a whole, so I don't think this can reflect higher demand and sales; I think it must be that land to build on is less costly, enough so that building large isn't prohibitively costly. This fits with the scarcity of large buildings even in the downtown area. Oddly, not far from where we live there are some multistory blocks of apartments that approach true urban density; I think they largely house the UC Riverside studentry. The city seems to have more industry than I expected—north and west of us is what looks like a healthy industrial district—but I think the university is one of its biggest industries.

whimsy

Some time ago—actually about at the time of our last move—C and I got into a discussion of the original Star Trek crew, in the course of which we matched them up with dog breeds. I'm going to record that here, so that I can throw that particular sheet of paper into the trash:

Kirk: German shepherd
McCoy: bulldog
Spock: cat
Scott: Scottie
Sulu: akita
Chekhov: Pomeranian
Uhura: gazelle hound

published again!

Today Steve Jackson Games released the latest of my books for them: GURPS Adaptations. This is a guide to turning published works—novels, epics, movies, television shows, graphic novels, or even rpgs—into GURPS campaigns. Steve Jackson Games paid it the huge compliment of issuing it on the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of GURPS, saying that this kind of adaptation is one of the core missions of GURPS. I'm honored that they accepted my proposal for a full-length book on how to do this.

I felt that I needed examples of adaptation of published works, and I thought it would be better to have the same few works recur all through than to pick examples at random from all of past literature. Everything I used as an example needed to be out of copyright, so I picked works from before the twentieth century: the Odyssey, Water Margin, Pride and Prejudice, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Dracula, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the novel, not the film!). This was the result of some debate: The other two works I decided against were Le Morte d'Arthur and The Three Musketeers, both of which would have been very suitable choices as well.

A lot of what I was doing was taking basic concepts from literary criticism and showing, first, how to apply them to a source in identifying its essential elements, and second, how to present those elements in a campaign. Many of these elements got fairly brief discussions, but I also went into some things at length. I had full character writeups for Odysseus, Hu Sanniang ("Ten Feet of Blue"), Elizabeth Bennet, and Nick Chopper (the Tin Woodman); and I had detailed game stats for Mr. Darcy's mansion, the Emerald City, Hu Sanniang's two five-foot swords (from which she took her epithet), the kalidahs, and the Nautilus. I had a lot of fun doing all this, and I hope other people have as much fun reading it—and find it helpful in running their own campaigns in borrowed worlds.

further progress

Since my last post, I've gotten in touch with the utility company in Riverside and arranged to have our electricity turned on the day we pick up our keys. I've talked with AT&T and scheduled a visit from a technician to set up landline and broadband in our new apartment the Saturday after the move. And today, I talked with a moving company representative and scheduled the actual move.

Now I need to call San Diego Gas and Electric and Cox and set up termination dates for our service in San Diego. Cox will need to be before the move, as they'll need to have a technician visit our apartment; San Diego Gas and Electric will need to be the day after the move, as we'll probably want power the day of the move.

When we go up next week to pick up the keys and pay the first month's rent, I'm going to want to measure the interior dimensions, so that I can do layouts for our furniture. In addition, I want to treat the carpets with Fleabusters as a precaution against fleas getting established when we move in, and I want to set up a Feliway dispenser so that the new place will be full of friendly cat pheromones. It's still going to be stressful for Taiki and Macavity, but I hope we can lessen the shock.

Other than that, we need to finish sorting through clothes and media, to decide what not to take. I'm hoping we can get that done before the final packing rush begins.

progress

Today C and I went up to Riverside again, getting a ride with our friend JPS, which was a lot more pleasant than taking the Greyhound, despite his not having air conditioning. We arrived not long after 10:30, and spent half an hour or so signing paperwork and asking questions in the apartment complex's office, and they accepted our deposit. So now we have an apartment waiting for us in Riverside! The keys will be ready for us to pick up in two weeks, and we have to pay the pet deposit then, and the first month's rent. We plan on an actual move in just over three weeks.

Finishing up our packing and making the various arrangements is going to be a challenge in its own right. But the really scary thing was not being sure we'd have a place in Riverside to move to. Now that part is past and the rest is administration. I can cope with administration.

We spent a little time scouting out various areas in Riverside for businesses of interest. We've visited Canyon Crest mall, a short way south of the university, when we had lunch at an upscale burger place; they also have an affordable haircut place, a vet that sounds promising, and Cellar Door Books, a store specializing in new science fiction, mysteries, and YA—kind of like a smaller Mysterious Galaxy. They claim to have regular meetings for readers of various types of books, which may be a place for us to meet people.

We spent an hour or so in Fairmount Park, a large area at the north of the city with lakes and waterfowl and trees. It was very relaxing, and it looks as if it's reachable by bus. We went downtown and looked in at the Mission Inn, a hotel that's one of the city's historical landmarks. Finally, we drove south past the community college and looked in at Renaissance Books. This is an even better bookstore for my purposes; they sell used books and other media, with a strong orientation to science fiction, philosophy, and libertarian thought, and C and I saw multiple things that looked desirable. The online reviews contained some complaints about the store not carrying any Marxist literature, but I'm just as happy the owner has the courage of his eccentricities.

Now comes the packing. . . .

nerves

So at this point we have a credit check in progress with one potential rental, and we have two others that are supposed to get in touch with us when they have openings sometime soon. But I'm finding the tension really hard to take. Ideally we'd like to be solidly in place by the morning of August 29; not having things lined up a month ahead makes me uneasy. Getting e-mail from the first place yesterday asking for one bit of information helped—at least they're working on it!—but the sense of relief doesn't last long.

I've made arrangements to go back to Riverside next week and check more possible rentals, if we don't have one pinned down. But I'm not sure how many new openings there will be by then. And apartment hunting in early August seems like pushing it if we want a mid to late August move-in.

I'm really getting an appreciation for why moving counts for a lot of life stress points.

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