Spoiler: backstory During my huge August road trip, there was a 24-hour period in which I was able to visit Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. That was the best day of the year. The second best was the first time this year that I went into Canada, also on my August road trip. We went to Sault St. Marie (aka Ontario's Italy), where my son Giovanni got to eat his birthday dinner at Giovanni's Restaurant, which was the capstone to an amazing day seeing some cool sights of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Yesterday was the third best day of my year. It started with a visit from a friend of mine from Belguim who I've seen, on average, once a decade over my lifetime. He's one of those friends who not only do you instantly re-click with every time you meet him, but there's something about his style that fundamentally validates your existence. Hanging around him reminds me of why I like being me. Yesterday was his last day with me. We picked up his girlfriend at Sea-Tac airport. She was having some family stress, but hanging around my wife and I is pretty good for stress, so by the time we got to Canada it was all laughing and smiles. She's almost as cool as he is; my wife and I both recognized that instant click feeling. Then we dropped them off in Vancouver, BC, and cried our hearts out that we didn't have more time to spend with them. So there I was, all fuzzy and happy, and it was time to go to Ceili's Irish Pub downtown for to meet David (Baumgart. dbaumgart. 'Our' David.) I had no idea what to expect, because our planning basically consisted of "there's an event here which we may or may not be attending, but either way I'll be at the bar at 6:30, come by and say hi." So, I walked in expecting the event (which was overbooked by double) to not let me in and basically be able to shake David's hand and have to leave. Instead, I found David, Nicholas, Sean, and ...ohcrap...umm... a really cool British guy who is one of the graphics gurus for Clockwork Empires. No one asked me to prove that I belonged there, and they pulled me up a chair and bought me a beer. And another beer. And a sandwich. Which was awesome. Spoiler: In which Essence shares meaningless personal details I was still all fuzzy from dealing with my Belgian friends earlier that day, so my attitude was basically "Cool, I want to learn about these people because maybe someday we can be, like, friends or something." This was literally fifteen minutes after dropping my friends off, so I was wiping my eyes as I walked into the bar. Compounded with the fact that, because my Belgian friend had been over for the last three days and we party like total nerds, I was also fairly sleep-deprived at this point. So yeah, fuzzy in more than one way. David asked me how the weapon revamps were going, and Nicholas looked at him funny. I started to say something, but something happened and I didn't. I don't remember why. Either way, we kind of informally put the kibosh on 'shop-talk' (though Nicholas did share some of his Clockwork-Empires-related XML awesomness-mixed-with-ample-amounts-of-pain with me) and just BSed for a while before the event started. I learned: David is a vegan, and the only thing the pub served that he can eat is French fries. David can eat an impressive amount of French fries. Neither David nor Nicholas look much like their avatars, insofar as David has spiky white-blond hair and Nicholas has no beard. Nicholas, much like my wife, is a look-upper. If a fact is not known, he will look it up on the spot. David's face quite frequently breaks into a highly cartoonish three-pointed grin that would make him a good candidate for the Joker if they ever do an indie-gamer remake of Batman. Nicholas, on the other hand, looks tired. In an sort of way. Not estar tired, but ser tired. It's not a bad thing, because you get the impression that it's an "I am so into this thing I'm doing that I can't stop doing it and why am I at this bar when I could be doing it or resting so that I can do more of it?" kind of thing. I also learned that I still have no alcohol tolerance, and after my 2nd India Pale Ale, I was feeling just on the wrong side of tipsy, and I'm fairly certain that on a few occasions I stared numbly at the table for a minute or more. Fortunately, the event included three medium-long speeches, one of which was mildly interesting, mostly in that I didn't really ever think about how much design and...well, thought went into games like "make the flower catch the falling droplets." By the time they were done, I was mostly OK again, though as the picture below will show, my face was still in full Big Red state. Unfortunately, the speeches took up the majority of the time I had to hang out, so the BSing was kind of broken up and cut off, and I had to drive back to Olympia that night, so 8pm was my pumpkin time. But it was a good hour and fifteen minutes of largely sarcastic one-liners, and, as Sean said, "Achievement Unlocked!" There will be a next time. And that was the third best day of my year. Thanks, guys. Oh, right, the picture. Heer goes: David, Myself, and Nicholas. Rah!