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ben trovato (ben troh-vah'-toe) adj. characteristic or appropriate even if not true. [From Italian, literally, "well found."]

Haiku Reviews

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous :|

A congenial
plot, armed with slapstick, but
not so fabulous.

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Top 11 Spaceships

"My best Friend bought Fluxx from a game store at our local mall. At first we were so confused and wanted to return it. But 3 hours later we were laughing like crazy and wanting to never stop playing!" -- comments with an order from Amanda R.

"Thursday" March 30th, 2006
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Columns, Canada, and the Space Platform

Thursday was Alison's Birthday, and it was a beautiful spring day to boot, so we put work aside and went out to play! We spent the afternoon picnicking and wandering around the National Arboretum. Our usual trio was joined by our friend Luisa, and we had a great day together, walking the nature trails, marveling at the amazing collection of Bonsai trees, and checking out the columns shown here.

Although of course the plants are the real stars of the Arboretum, I was particularly charmed by these columns. For over a hundred years, they were part of the Capitol Building. Then they spent a few decades in storage, and finally in 1990 they were installed on this hillside at the Arboretum. (This was the first time I've seen them, since my last visit here was in the mid-80s.) The columns are incredibly striking and wonderfully surreal, perched on this grassy knoll, supporting nothing but sky. And they're a tribute to the concept of saving and reusing cool cruft, which brings me, in a roundabout sort of way, to my next topic.

People are always asking us, "When are you moving to Canada?" It's been almost 2 years since we first announced our intention to move, and almost a year since we decided our chosen city would be Hamilton, Ontario. So, when are we going? What's taking so long?

There are many answers, the most simple being that everything always takes longer than we think it should. It's a big job, packing up everything and getting ready to move far away, particularly when you're a bunch of packrats with a lot of stuff, and also particularly when you're super-busy with your day job, as we are with the running of our company, Looney Labs. And when we think about priorities, we always conclude that the speed with which we carry out our grand relocation plan is of little importance when compared with accomplishing our entrepreneurial dreams. So packing always takes a back seat, and unfortunately, since we have a lot of stuff, progress is very slow.

Here are some other points to keep in mind. Firstly, we have no deadline. We have a long term plan for moving north, but we'll get there when we get there -- it really doesn't matter WHEN we arrive.

Secondly, from a financial standpoint, we actually aren't in a very good position to be moving at this time. Next year would be much better. While things are generally going extremely well for Looney Labs, we still haven't quite attained profitability, primarily because we've increased our payroll (adding new employees because there's so much work to do) while also still struggling with the servicing of our startup debt. We just started talking with a new business lawyer about ways we can restructure our loans to give us some relief on our cash flow (if you're interested in becoming an investor, please contact Kristin). It all gets back to the need to keep focusing on the business, rather than on moving, and anyway, it's to our advantage to be patient, since having more money will make moving a lot easier.

Thirdly, it's important for us to have a life. We're overworked and understaffed, and sometimes we just need to take time off, to do things like visiting the Arboretum.

Finally, it's not just a question of time, money, or life itself. The schedule for the Big Move keeps sliding back because the more we think about it, trying to figure out how we can actually make it happen, the more complex and elaborate our plans become.

As we work towards the ultimate goal of building a new place to call home in Hamilton, we've realized that what we really need is multiple locations. Like my brother, who has a cabin on the mountainside which he retreats to on weekends, we've realized that what we need to make this happen is to get 2 new places: an apartment in Hamilton, and a house out in the country somewhere -- in upstate New York. That way, we can start by renting a small place in Hamilton, without having to bring all our stuff with us. (Did I mention we have a lot of stuff?)

I love using analogies, and often compare complex undertakings with the space program. I frequently think of our plan to move to Canada as being like a mission to go to the Moon. It's a massive undertaking that will take our team years to accomplish, and which can only be carried out in stages.

The first thing we had to do was to move the business out of our basement and into a place of its own, and we did that last year. Like launching the first man into space, this was a major step forward in going to the Moon, and yet it represents only a tiny step in the overall project. And there are so many other pieces, which the public doesn't even see or understand, but which take up our time and resources. (Tracking and Data Relay Systems, for example, are like SuperFRED and Sweetie.)

This is why we call our dreamed-of place-in-the-country the Space Platform. We've realized it's too ambitious a goal, moving directly and completely to Canada. It's like trying to go from John Glenn's Mercury flight directly to Apollo-11. What we need is a middle stage, a half-way point, a jumping-off place. We need a space station we can go to first, which can serve as a staging area for trips all the way to the moon.

That's what our house in New York will be. We aren't moving to Canada because we want to get away from the US -- far from it. We love America and plan to come back often. We're not giving up our citizenship. Even if we decide, eventually, to also seek Canadian Citizenship, we will always want to maintain an official US place of residency. Looney Labs will remain a US-based company... the office we've set up here in College Park will remain in operation, regardless of where us three Loonies happen to be. (The office space doubles as a small apartment, and just like Josh stays there when he is in town, it will be our place to stay when we're in town visiting after we have sold Wunderland.Earth and moved away.)

Having a base of operations in upstate New York will have other advantages for us. For one thing, it will be a piece of natural land for us to preserve for ourselves, like a tiny independent national park. We're hoping to get a place with several acres at a minimum, with woods and fields and natural places we can keep that way forever. Obviously, such a piece of land will be far from civilization, otherwise there'd be no way to even imagine being able to afford it.

More to the point, the Space Platform will also give us the thing we really need the most right now: space. As noted, we have a lot of stuff. Some of it we can get rid of, but most of it we just want to put into deep storage for a few years. I've been packing stuff away into boxes -- almost 300 so far -- and moving them already to an off-site location. The boxes are all carefully inventoried, organized, and labeled, so that I can find and retrieve anything we might suddenly find we need, but I've also been focusing on our various collections which we prize but don't need ready access to. Our existing storage facility is rapidly filling up, and we need a bigger place. We need a warehouse, with plenty of space to store our collections for a long time, like those columns from the capitol, until we figure out a new place to install them.

And it's not just the eclectic collections of Wunderland we need space for, Looney Labs has a lot of bulky stuff we need to store as well. We have an increasingly large pile of props and equipment which we use only now and then at trade shows (such as the parts of the giant tree Alison built for us last month for GTS, and the giant-sized Fluxx and Chrononauts boxes we've made in the past). Like Christmas ornaments, booth gear is annoying because it's bulky and delicate and useless most of the year, but you always have to keep it safe somewhere for those occasional moments when you actually do need the stuff.

The Space Platform will give us more than just a warehouse for booth gear, it will also provide us with a place to store the product we take to trade shows. After we go to Canada, we'll be constantly dealing with customs issues as we travel back and forth across the border. This makes the idea of preparing for a big gaming event all the more challenging, since the hassle of a border-crossing increases with the amount of stuff you're bringing with you. But with a US-based storage center just across the border from our home in Canada, we'll be able to easily drive south for a trade show, stopping off at the Space Platform on the way to pick up product and gear.

While we have numerous requirements for the land and location we're seeking, we don't expect to be very picky about the house itself. It doesn't need to be much to look at, as long as it's sturdy, secure, weather-proof, and ideally has a garage.

Anyway, there's all the latest on the status of our elaborate relocation schemes. There's more I could say, but I've gone on too long (and this site is already too late) as it is. But to answer the original question, as to when it will all happen, the simple answer is, it will probably be at least another year. A lot will depend on how many Fluxx decks and Treehouse sets we can sell in the next year. Cash flow is really tight right now -- if you want to help us, please buy a copy of Treehouse and teach it to everyone you know!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
We finally got a couple of big heavy objects removed from the house: the long-dead soda machine is on its way to the dump at last, and our heavy-duty paper cutter has been moved out of our basement and into the production facility of Tuxedo Graphics. (That's our friend Landru's printing company.) Thanks to everyone who helped us move heavy objects last weekend!

I've been catching up on a few movies lately. I finally saw Donnie Darko and I'm surprised to say I didn't really like it much. (It had many interesting elements, but overall it just didn't work for me.) On the other hand, I loved The Call of Cthulhu, a B&W silent movie made last year, an adaptation of the Lovecraft story from 1926 (filmed in the style of movies from that era). In the middle was Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, which mostly just got me excited about the obvious sequel (which is apparently now in production): Harold and Kumar go to Amsterdam.
"You confused the issue with the Monday story headlined 'Double slaying probably drug-related, police say.' Remember the famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 when Al Capone's men gunned down men from the competing Bugs Moran gang? Would you say that was 'alcohol-related'? Hardly. Those thugs didn't kill each other because they were drunk; they killed each other over money, and the gang wars stopped when the prohibition on alcohol was repealed. The Keller slayings, like the 1920s Chicago slayings, were prohibition-related, not drug-related. Let's put the blame where it belongs." -- Carl Veley, Letter to the Editor of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, March 19, 2006

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