It turns out I had a fairly geeky weekend

In an effort to force myself out of this non-creative, unmotivated funk I've been in post-Eureka, I now commence a braindump from this weekend:

I pressed the plunger down on my coffee press and tried to clear the sleep from my eyes while Anne put the orange juice back into the fridge. The morning sun shone brightly through the kitchen window … a little too brightly for me.

While I poured my coffee into one of my many nerd mugs, I asked Anne, "will you come with me to the comic shop today?"

"Don't you usually go on Wednesdays?" 

I lifted my mug, and looked at her through the rising steam. "Wow, you noticed that. Okay. Yeah, I usually go on Wednesdays, but today it's Free Comic Book Day. Will you be my date?"

"Sure," she said, "if you'll be my date to Home Depot."

Anne loves home improvement. She's mechanically-inclined, and can build, remodel, and fix just about anything around our house. Home Depot is her comic book shop, game shop, and used record store all wrapped up together. I, on the other hand, break everything I touch, make a terrible mess of things when I try to paint, and don't really do home improvements as much as I cuss a lot while failing in every attempt at masonry.

"Sounds like a fair trade to me," I said, "what are we getting at home depot? Is it free scrap lumber day?"

"I want to look at flooring countertop samples," she said. Our water heater recently — well, it didn't blow up, exactly, but it leaked like crazy as it slowly died for about two weeks, and we didn't realize what was going on until the water it put beneath our kitchen floor began to reveal itself in creative ways that aren't as bad as they sound, but potentially very expensive to repair.

Oh, and speaking of repair, here's how insurance is supposed to work: You pay your premiums on time, and when you need to make a claim, the insurance company does what you've been paying them to do for a decade. 

Here's how insurance actually works: You pay your premiums on time, and when you need to make a claim, the insurance company finds a dozen different reasons to deny your claim, and then tells you that if you actually want to file the claim anyway, they're going to charge you an addition $1000 over the next three years.

Dear insurance industry: Die in a fire, you motherfuckers. 

Dear insurance industry "regulators" who let this shit happen: You can also die in a fire, you worthless, corrupt shitbags.

Um. Sorry. As you can tell, I'm a little unhappy with my insurance company (and will soon be shopping for a new one.)

So we have to replace our floor, which is currently – wait for it – ancient linoleum that's 40% asbestos. Yay. Making this already-long story shorter: we're putting some kind of wood floor over the linoleum, and Home Depot has a lot of samples we can check out.

So we drove over to my comic shop, ate lunch next door at Zankou (falafel wrap with extra garlic paste FTW), and headed inside. The place was packed, and the line went all the way through the whole store, which was unexpected. I introduced Anne to George and Sean, the owner and manager, respectively, and asked about the huge line.

"It's buy one get one free on everything," George said. I nearly fainted. I made big plans to get a giant pile of books and trades and archival editions … then I looked at the line

"I'm not going to make you stand in this line," I said to Anne.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I know this isn't your scene, and this line is at least 40 minutes long. I think you'd OG if we stood in it."

"OG?" 

"Over-geek."

I look a relief briefly flashed across her face. I knew she would have waited with me without complaint, but asking her to sit in a line of serious geeks with me while we all got our geek on just seemed unreasonable to me.

I collected all the Free Comic Book Day offerings, put them into my Bag of Holding, and promised the guys I'd be back on Wednesday. I'm not going to lie, Marge: I felt a little sad to be leaving without a complete collection of Freakangels trades, but I also didn't want to over-expose my geek-adjacent wife to a geek reactor that didn't have a lot of control rods.

We drove down Colorado toward Home Depot in Monrovia (the 210 was fucked, as it has been 24/7 since it was connected to the 15) which took us right past my game shop.

"That's my game shop," I said.

"Oh, we should go there and get Wits and Wagers," she said. "That game was really fun."

"Wait. You're seriously saying that you want to go to the game shop with me?"

"Yeah. I think we need to maximize our geek today."

Our geek? Our geek? I couldn't even think clearly enough to respond.

In reality, I carefully pulled into the left turn lane, waited until it was safe, and carefully made a U-Turn. In my mind, I pulled a fucking awesome bootlegger reverse, just like in Car Wars. We walked in, talked to a lot of my friends who were gathered for this epic D&D multi-table battle thing, and about 30 super-geeky minutes later walked out with Wits and Wagers, and Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age.

I've recently noticed that, after almost 14 years together, Anne has absorbed some of my geekiness, within limits. She'll watch Firefly, but I can't get her through Blade Runner. She'll listen to me go on and on about Batman and Green Lantern, but she's not really interested in actually reading a comic book. It's all good balance, because it allows me to share these things I love with the woman I love maintaining our own individual interests …. but I've noticed in the last year that Anne is starting to enjoy games and gaming. I'm not entirely positive, and it could probably be its own column if I really wanted to think about it, but I'm beginning to wonder if gaming might be a really easy and subtle geek infection vector for the non-geeks in our lives. 

I put my games into my Bag of Holding, moving it closer to the +2 Geek bonus I understand it gives when properly stocked, and drove out to Home Depot, where we had more fun than I would have expected looking at samples for formica countertops and all kinds of flooring. I'm not revealing exactly how we're going to redo the kitchen, but I think we found a way to keep it affordable (no fucking thanks to our asshole insurance company that won't help at all with the floors) while making it awesome. Eventually, at some point in the mysterious future, there will be pictures.

When we got home, we made dinner, had a quiet evening together and went to sleep early, because we hiked up the Sam Merril Trail to the old White City on Sunday. It was a beautiful hike, but we haven't done it in at least three years. When we reached the hotel ruins and sat down for lunch, I told Anne, "I'm glad we did this, but it seemed longer and more strenuous than I remembered."

Without missing a beat she patted my knee and said, "that's because we're not in the shape we used to be in, and we're getting old, honey."

She was right. Nolan always teases me about hurting my Old when we pl
ay Frisbee, but holy crap does my Old hurt today. My hips, calves, and knees are just killing me.

Of course, I have to turn everything into a game, so I've decided that the hike was two levels above my current ability, and the proper (and only) response to the pain I feel today is to grind it out at the gym until I can not only get to the White City without taking so much damage, but continue on to Inspiration Point, as well.

This actually made me think of something: has anyone done a fitness guide for gamers? Something that makes exercise and healthy eating into a game, with levels and achievements and stuff? I'd love to read and use something like that. We'd call it the d20 diet or something clever.

141 thoughts on “It turns out I had a fairly geeky weekend”

  1. I feel your pain about insurance, dude. First of the year I had a RAID-5 NAS for my photography business go belly up and render the entire array unreadable. Data was there, but it needed a pro to recover it. Hired the pro. Filed the claim with my business insurance, only to find out that I was only covered for 14 things. 14 things such as “damage due to volcanic action” and “damage directly caused by acts of civil war and riot” or “damage due to falling, unless damage was caused inside a structure or outside a structure. Seriously. WTF.
    I filed complaints with the BBB and the state department of insurance, but the insurance company shrugged them off like flies. Good luck with your situation, but it sounds like you’ve already reached the level of righteous pissed-off-ed-ness that speaks of a royal dicking from an insurance company.
    Oh, and then the fuckers tried to send me a bill for the next year’s premium.

  2. I really think My wife and Anne are a lot alike, except my SO scoffs at any game that has the smallest bit of fantasy theme. I wonder if there is a way to work spells in to Battleship?

  3. Ha! Yeah, that was me.
    I love Bird Pick, and I especially enjoy sitting at their little tea bar with a plate of plums and a few cups of Jasmine Green.

  4. I hear you, Wil. We had a similar leak, and the insurance company paid. Then they paid for a fence that fell in a windstorm. Then…we got a letter saying that if we had a third claim, our policy would be cancelled. WTF?

  5. I had an astronomy student post in a discussion board and he referenced the “stellar topography” department in ST. I admitted that I was going to display my ST geekiness and corrected it to “stellar cartography.” He actually thanked me for showing my ST geekiness! :-)

  6. Does it really take 14 years to get your geek to rub off on your wife…?
    Love my wife dearly, but I think she would be a whole lot more fun sometimes if she even shared one of my “geek” hobbies. I share in most of her “normal” ones.
    We need a married geek call to arms. For every week we sit through an episode of Project Runway, American Idol, or Biggest Loser, they need to sit through an episode of Star Trek, Firefly, or AOTS.
    For every shopping trip we take to JC Pennys or Macys, they need to come to GameStop or Games Workshop.
    For every lame dinner party with her friends we go to, they need to come to play DnD or Warhammer.
    Maybe that’s just a pipe dream.
    Oh well… 3 years down… 11 to go.
    Let your geek flag fly!

  7. I’ve been taking part in a 10-week body sculpt challenge at a local gym, little bit of strength a little bit of kick boxing and MMA, a lot of fun! I’m in week 6 and have been diligently tracking calories on my iphone and finally got a friend to track their calories along with me. Now frequently we compare at the end of the day how many calories over or under we were. A little bit of razzing always motivates! After reading your post yesterday, I got clever and remembered I had some d20 in my work bag from a gumball machine full of dice at PAX Prime last fall. I rolled that d20 when someone showed up with a plate of Specialty’s cookies in the office (300 cal a piece eek!) and rolled a 5. Unfortunately for the cookie it won’t be on a journey to my tummy and I’ll make the better choice by eating the Luna bar in my drawer. I think I’ll start keeping that d20 handy for when I’m out with friends and someone says “oooh ICE CREAM!”

  8. What you described is not an isolated phenomenon! It has happened with my fiancé and me too. Both of us are quasi-geeky, and with our powers combined, have increased our geeky-ness by, at minimum, a factor of five. It’s like a big self-perpetuating circle of nerd-dom, and best of all we get to enjoy crazy new stuff together.
    And to echo what Jessica said above, I think the only downside (if it’s a downside) is the inevitable desire to play the same video game, same time. Fortunately, we discovered a good solution is two tv’s, multiple gaming systems, and the handy dandy Nintendo DS. Or a good book. Mmm book.

  9. “Here’s how insurance actually works: You pay your premiums on time, and when you need to make a claim, the insurance company finds a dozen different reasons to deny your claim, and then tells you that if you actually want to file the claim anyway, they’re going to charge you an addition $1000 over the next three years.”
    Yeah! Capitalism! Yippee!
    Can’t have everything you want, I suppose. Insurance companies (along with banks) are what you get when you give a bunch of people the ability to legally swindle people for exorbitant prices.

  10. Follow-up: Some of my students totally rocked the “May the fourth” day today, but the ones i thought could really take it to another level completely bailed on me. I told them that I would give them another chance tomorrow, BUT no treat for them!

  11. Oh God I wish you could hear me howling right now! May I use that?! Too rich! I love it! I had to miss my 8th period class of 20 girls and 1 boy (pre-ap math) but right before I left, the girls all wanted to tell me their quotes! I was STOKED! Girls! In JUNIOR HIGH! Ah, life is sweet. Oh, well. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  12. I think you and I have the exact same insurance company. They’re covering replacing our heat pump, but with the same shitty three-year premium tacked on. Bastards.

  13. Wil,
    As a former insurance agent, I am glad that your flames are not around me. What I have learned about industries like insurance, banking and even universities is that they are always protecting themselves against fraudulent people. Unfortunately, honest people get stuck with the bill.
    For example, I worked at a company that had no medical insurance affordable to most of their employees. This company then provided affordable medical insurance and alot of these employees went to their doctors for things that needed no doctor attention. The premiums then went sky high and this place of employment was back to no one being able to afford medical insurance. Places like insurances, banks and universities would go bankrupt in many cases if they were not run the way they were run. I try not to take their actions very personal. I am glad my job is not to try and solve these types of problems. Maybe one day they will have a better way of dealing with fraud without affecting honest people.
    FG

  14. The shovelglove workout is simple, fast, cheap, and effective. Basically, you wrap the head of a sledgehammer in an old sweatshirt and swing it around for 14 minutes a day while imitating a number of real-world activities. The inventor uses a bunch of farming activities to imitate, but gives examples of how to easily sub in “defending the castle” activities if that helps keep you more engaged in the exercise.
    It’s a great workout for people with imagination, and should lend itself to “leveling up” and other gaming mechanisms.

  15. HA HA sounds like MY marriage, I LOVE building and fixing things and my husband has always played rpg’s and such. When he wants to do something “geeky” I usually take along a movie or book to read. Though I occasionally, play wow and have tried a Star wars rpg and put my two cents in when my husband & friends play Battletech. I prefer my movies, children and arts and crafts. Soon she will enjoy going to the comic book store, just wait :-)
    perfect match!!

  16. Great post. You and your wife sound a lot like me and my husband. I’ve definitely caught some geek from him (though I guess it was more of a reawakening now that I think back to Jr. High.) And I think you’re right, gamming is the main vector for geek infection. For me it all started with a bag of old dice from when he played D&D.

  17. I’ve been wanting to ask you. How is watching Blade Runner considering working with Rutger Hauer was such a nightmare? It must have been a terrible disappointment on the set of Mr. Stitch.

  18. Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time, and since Mr. Stitch, it's very difficult to enjoy it the way I once did. I suppose I'll eventually get over it, but whenever I hear Rutger's voice in the movie, I flashback to him snarling at me, "I don't give a fuck what you think!" when I was trying to explain to him why I didn't want him to change my dialog in a scene.

  19. I’ve been meaning to ask you. What is it like for you watching Blade Runner since working with Rutger Hauer was such a nightmare on the set of Mr. Stitch? You must have been terribly disappointed on the set.

  20. >>This actually made me think of something: has anyone done a fitness guide for gamers? Something that makes exercise and healthy eating into a game, with levels and achievements and stuff? I’d love to read and use something like that. We’d call it the d20 diet or something clever.<<
    Oh, man, this struck me, so I have to comment for the 1st time. LOL
    All my friends are gamers (most are GMs) or sci-fi geeks…or both. And a good chunk of us are fitness geeks as well. I shall have to pose this question to them and maybe put something together.

  21. Dear Wil Wheaton,
    can I have your life? I’m a poor filthy college student and looking at flooring samples at Home Depot sounds a lot more fun right now than studying for exams. X.X
    also, your appearances on the Big Bang Theory are considerably awesome. The friends I watch it with don’t know who you are, so they don’t understand it when I squee and go “I read that guy’s blog!” :-P
    anywho, have a goo day.

  22. Has anyone made comments about the eligible free comic books?
    They were out of Toy Story which I would have grabbed for one of the tater tots.
    I liked the primer they had on what to read in order (Marvel).
    One of the Iron Man’s I read was pretty lame.
    I think you could pick 5 out of a possible 12 comics? I picked four that looked interesting.
    It sounded like you could pick anything you want (?)

  23. I just had to say LOLZ to the “helpfully use its hot water to heat the kitchen floor”. Hehe. On a side note, if I’m reading correctly, we both have the same b-day!! :)

  24. I’m really late to the comment party, but your post made my day a lot brighter. Sorry to hear about the water heater incident. I had one a couple of years back that flooded my bedroom, so I can kind of relate. Ruined a lot of stuff.
    At least in my relationship, my boyfriend hasn’t absorbed any “geek” from me whatsoever. I think he’s trying to resist, lol. I love computer games and more often than not, I’m playing WoW, because I really have no life at the moment, but I love science fiction as well. Got that from my dad, sitting around when I was 3 years old, watching reruns of Star Trek on the television. The biggest event I remember was him taking my sister and I to Starcon when we lived in Denver in ’88. I have a magazine from there with a bunch of autographs from the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a picture of us with Patrick Stewart. I was only 6 at the time, so I don’t remember it too clearly, but I remember leaving there with a plush squeaky tribble. It was a blast.
    But now that I have completely diverged from the point, I like reading your blog, Wil. Hope you get over that creative slump soon! :)

  25. I have that same Bag of Holding – do you notice that the face plate gets little white scratches on it? I used a sharpie to colour over mine but I was still disappointed because I love that bag so much!
    As for geeky significant others – my husband has historically been a tabletop geek, but since I started work as a nerd herder at BioWare, says I’ve been a terrible influence on his video gaming habits. I was so proud!

  26. For fitness, check out crossfit.com. It doesn’t do levels or achievements or anything, but you always log the numbers about your workout (time to complete, weight used, number of rounds in a given time period, etc. depending on the workout). That same workout will eventually come back up, and you try to improve on it. It’s worked for me, and I was definitely a gamer who hated exercise.

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