All posts for the month April, 2007

London and Paris Vacation

I went to London and Paris this past week from April 14-22. I had blast. I will be posting pictures next week because Stephanie has the camera and is still in Paris with her girlfriends.

We left for the airport at 6:30am and took off a little after nine. We arrived in New York for a short layover and arrived in London, Gatwick airport at 9:30am. We were exhausted as neither one of us got any sleep. We hoped on a train that took us to the Underground Station and then head to our motel.

We got to our room around and checked in around 10:30 but the room wasn’t going to be ready until 11 so we went to a small cafe down the road. I ordered a cup of coffee and the server asked if I wanted it “black or white.” I told him black and when he brought it I asked if he had any milk and he said “I though you wanted it black.” After that we headed to our room and slept for four hours.

When we got up we headed out and hopped on the Underground train for Harrods, a large department store. Stephanie wanted to look at their large selection of food which was impressive. We then went to Hyde Park and saw people playing soccer, cricket, and rugby. We also saw Speakers Corner in the Park where people can freely preach whatever they want. After the park we grabbed some pub food and then headed back to our motel.

The evening we got the full effect of jet lag. I fell asleep for a few hours but then woke up at 1am and didn’t fall back asleep until 4am. This occurred again on Tuesday night but I just didn’t fall asleep until after 2am. On Wednesday night I bought sleeping pills.

The next day we got up and went to “Pret de Manger” for breakfast. This would become our default breakfast and lunch place for our stay in London. It is a chain restaurant that focuses on healthy food with a great selection of sandwiches.

That day we visited The Eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace where we got the end of the changing of the card. For the rest of the day we visited the National Art Gallery and starred at paintings.

On Tuesday we went to Wimbledon and visited the Museum. We then got a drink at the “Hound and Fox” which was supposed to be a popular place for tennis players but we didn’t see any. After that we saw a movie, “Sunshine” by the popular English director Danny Boyle. The movie cast 13 pounds per person and had 40 minutes of preview and commercials before the movie started. I don’t see why anyone would go to the movies but this probably due to seeing it in Leicester Square, a popular tourist area.

On Wednesday we went to the British Museum and saw ancient artifacts. I then geeked out went to two gaming stores. We finally finished the night with the play Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe (he plays Harry Potter). It was a great, disturbing play. It has gathered some media attention because Radcliffe gets naked.

For our final day in London we visited the Tower of London and the Tate Modern. Overall, I loved London and just the general vibe of the area.

On Friday we got up early and headed off to the train station. We got on our train and after it got moving it made me a little sick but I eventually got use to it. The train ride had some great scenery but we did get a french couple sitting next to us that constantly held hands and talked in romantic gibberish.

Our motel was a just a few blocks from the train station. Right after I left the station a woman, supposedly Bosnian, comes up to me and asks if I speak English. I say yes and she hands me a piece of paper that says she is from Bosnia, her father was killed and she is try to get back home and needed money. I promptly handed the letter back and said I couldn’t help her. I ran into two similar women at the Eiffel Tower.

After checking into the motel we went out and grabbed something to eat. I took a look at the menu and saw something called “Jambon et Fritz” which translated into ham and fries. In my mind I pictures and complicated dish but I got deli sliced ham and french fries. All the other places we ate at had similar issues where we never knew what exactly we ordered.

After lunch we walked down a street close to us and visited a sex museum and the second most popular graveyard in Paris.

The next day was the quick and dirty Paris where we visited a few popular sites but just long enough to view them and then head out. The sites we saw were: Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysee, Arc de Triumphe, The Louvre, Notre Damn, and a large garden.

Sunday Stephanie and I seperated way as she went off to meet her girlfriends who flew in Saturday for a girl only meetup and I headed to the airport. I had some problems at the airport because I couldn’t find my airline and they had problems checking my bag. I made it to my flight with only 10 minutes to spare and then I discovered at Customs in Atlanta that my luggage never made the flight.

Overall a great vacation but I’m glad to be back.

RPGs and Stuff

So, I have been running the teen program for a little over a year and at least three of the teens have been with me for most of it.

I have conflicted views of the program. Overall, I really enjoy it and will continue to do for a long time. I feel that I’m giving something back and it is something I enjoy. However, for a lot of these kids it is a big chance to blow off steam. They enjoy hanging out as much if not more then the game it self. I appreciate that, and in many ways this is a reason that I get together with my friends.

This can distract heavily from the game. I want them to focus but I don’t want to be a tyrant. I was a substitute for a while and learned to manage these kids you had to put your foot down the second they entered the door. I don’t want to do that so I only get on them when they are especially rude.

Sometime this results in them taking over. This can happen in a classroom, too. The kids can literarly take over and you loose all control. I’ll then come up with these ideas to change things but after waiting for a week a loose all resolve. The other problem is for some reason when they are little devils one week they tend to be angels the next.

The game itself has gotten a lot better. For the first year they were running around in a made up setting. I had created a map of a city and some general areas around that. They were bound to an evil wizard named Venzer who cast a spell that if he died all the PCs died and if all the PCs died he died. After a year they finally managed to break the spell and kill Venzer but Venzer’s last action was destroying the city with a massive earth quake spell.

After that I didn’t know where to put the kids and it lost all continuity. The kids seemed to loose interest. I didn’t have the time nor inclination to come up with my own setting so I borrowed the Forgotten Realms book and dropped them in there.

It worked and the kids have been more interested in the game. They are still full of chaos and enjoy creating havoc.

I’ve also been playing in a few other games. I just finished the first of a three part Mage: The Ascension game were everyone plays students at a Mage school ala Harry Potter only on a smaller school (18 students instead of the hundreds in Harry Potter). I ran the game once before but this time I’m being more experimental and it has been successful. I ran a game where 2 players got to play a PCs important NPCs. One adventure involved a time loop where the same repeated and only one player could tell (the other players had to try and repeat their actions from the previous loop) and finally one player died, became a ghost and didn’t know similar to “Sixth Sense.”

So the roleplaying is still strong. I am also playing in a Dune GURPS game, Heavy Gear and then our continueing Ptolus game which has been a ton of fun.