A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Damn Food

I wish I had the willpower to do a strict dieting regimen. I just don't. I can (mostly) handle trying to eat healthy. I say mostly because today I have had two small things of yogurt, a healthy choice meal for lunch. Then... I had a snickers bar, a piece of cheese, and a Kudos chocolate and granola bar. It makes me feel a little like a junkie. I walk past the fridge and snacks like half a dozen times, then the seventh time, I don't make it all the way past it, and come away with something to eat.

I need 8 hours a day, 6 days a week to do the training regimen that the guys in '300' did.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Got the gang together and did a Werewolf session this past weekend.

You'll recall that I got people to agree to Werewolf, ran a prelude with expendable characters, ran the first *real* session with the main characters, then had two sessions that were secondary stories to our main story, since we had players out, and NOW - this past weekend, we ran our main group again. So that's overall game session #5, and main story session #2. Hopefully we'll get that main story number up alot. It was a great game, alot happened. The gang split up right away, found two refugee Forsaken, who's pack had been wiped by Pure, a messenger who ran into ALOT of trouble, and some Pure who came calling, apparently the evangelical type. It was a good session, and I think everyone had a good time.

Right on its heels though, we've got Easter weekend two weeks from now, right when we'd normally be having a game. So I may instead run this coming weekend, just so we don't get all thrown off.

Get off of your ass

Dear Self,

Look, quit being a lazy slacker, and get off of your ass. You can do this. You can create and maintain an exercise routine. It is unfortunate that you let yourself go during the winter. Look at what you've got to show for it. You could do without the paunch and the love-handles. And your arms and chest? That's what not doing a chin-up or push-up for a few months gets you. Vain much? Sure. That fellow who stares back from the mirror at you every morning just gets a little dumpier every week.

So get back onto it. Stick with it. Run a few 5K's. Don't be a slacker, and stop making excuses to yourself.

Oh, and congratulations on doing two miles this evening. Just remember that you can do so much more if you'll apply yourself.

Friday, March 23, 2007


A list!

1. Working in Indiana: Tired.
2. Conservative Talk Radio
3. Stupid People On The Road
4. Media perception of "Hackers"
5. Wikipedia Game
6. Music on the trip back

1. So as you're probably aware, I've been going back and forth to our facility in Montezuma, Indiana. A new sawmill has been built. This is a new construction into which go logs, and out of which come cut boards. It is incredibly mechanized. Minus the sorter, the whole thing runs with five people. One controls the machinery that debarks the log, one runs the saw that squares-up the log, making it into a cant. Two guys run a pair of resaws, that saw those cants down into boards, and one guy operates the edger, that trims the sides off of rough boards. Then there's the sorter, which has a few graders and stuff.. but anyway. This is a huge, huge deal. I'm involved because its all very computerized. There are two critical systems, with a number of other less critical systems. The two critical computer systems are windows based computers that do all of the decision work for the headrig and the edger. If one of them goes down, the associated machinery stops as well - which means that the whole mill stops running. And time is money. Well - lumber is money. But its alot of money. Lets say the edger was down for 3 hours. $14,000. That's how much money, give or take, we'd have not made. And that doesn't take overhead into account. So its big business. And of course the owner, who spent a million dollars on this new structure and its associated machinery, is anxious, and is worrying everyone to death. So its pretty high stress. I'm somewhat insulated, thankfully, but its been a long three or four weeks for alot of people. Heck - yesterday - Thursday - I was up at 4AM Central time so that I could be at the Mill when it cranked up the first shift at 5AM Central time. And we left around 8PM Central time. So it was a long day, and this morning we were up at 4 again. I'm back home now, having just drove in, changed clothes, and sat down to blog while I had the vibe going.

2. Conservative talk radio people are fucking idiots. And let me try to be generous: I don't just mean that they have ideas that are different than my own. They're hateful and stupid. They go on and on about how The Democrats all hate america, and want the terrorists to win. Like, seriously, they say that, and seem to believe it. Its disgusting/sad/funny/scary.

3. I don't often do tons of highway driving. Heck, my job is 5 minutes away from my house. But lately I've been logging some highway miles with this back-and-forth to Indiana stuff. It seems to me that highway driving is pretty easy. I turn on the cruise-control, and just drive. So when I run into people who are first blocking the left lane, doing the same speed as the car in the right lane, both of them below the speed limit, and the car in the left lane is not making any progress in passing the other car, and only after a minute or two does the driver finally get around, but then hangs out in the left lane, instead of changing into the right lane so that I can go around them in the "passing lane", IT MAKES ME FUCKING INSANE. Well, it makes me feel insane. I don't do the road rage thing, but it makes me grind my teeth and wish that they would get the fuck out of my way. Oh - but that's not it - so they finally get into the right lane, right? Then as I put cruise control back on - I had to turn it off because they were being slow - I speed up and pass them, then merge into the right lane, and a few minutes later, here they come whizzing past me, to speed a few hundred yards in front of me, only to slow down again, so that I am forced to pass them - or try to pass them, in whatever lane they've chosen to leave open. I'm still frustrated. Let me just say this: Drivers - if you have cruise control, please use it. On the highway, set it to the speed limit and just drive. If you encounter a snarl, slow down until it clears, then turn your cruise back on. Also - please drive in the right lane. The left lane is not "yours". I had one guy who I came upon in the left lane, pacing the car beside him/her that was in the right lane. I waited patiently behind it in the left lane, and finally it managed to move beyond the car in the right lane. Patiently I waited for it to merge right. Nothing. Waiting. Nothing. Usually I just give up and pass on the right, and one or two people who came up behind me did so, but I was feeling a little - peculiar, so I sat behind him, for a few miles, finally giving him a quick flash of my brights. And I wasn't riding his ass or anything. Anyway, after another quarter-mile he moves over into the right lane. I pass, and right behind me as I pass, he moves back over into the left lane!. Shit - have I missed something? Are there times that you're supposed to just drive in the left-hand highway lane? Cause I didn't think that there were. So please - cruise control! I don't want to play leap frog with you for 10 miles, because you can't decide if you want to do 65mph or 80mph. And use the right lane. The right lane is for driving, the left lane is for passing. For fuck's sake.

4. While on the six-and-a-half-hour-one-way road trip with my boss to or from Indiana, I bring and use my iPod. I don't do it to be rude, and he's rather a "silence is golden" type, so I jam out to tunes. I take the earpieces out and engage in conversation sometimes, but for much of the trips he listens to his radio and I listen to my iPod. Earlier today, on the way back from Indiana, we spent a few minutes discussing the portrayals of computers and information technology in movies and television. We talked about 24, and how funny it is that they're about 30% right on. They use some of the right terms. But the other 70% is just totally bonkers. I'll leave it at that. If you're a computer person, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not: you cannot take a dim, far-away, grainy image and "blow up" someone's license plate or face. It just does not work that way. Like I said - I digress. I could ramble on for hours.

5. I made this up about 3 hours into the drive. Pick two completely dissimilar things that are categorically different. Like the Danube River and John Lennon. Or Gaius Marius and the Hamburger. Then start on one and try to navigate to the other, just using the wiki links provided in the text of the article. I don't know why you'd want to try this. I can only imagine that - for me anyway - it would be met with terrible failure - I always end up reading articles until well past time that I should be in bed, and there's 17 or so tabs that I haven't even gotten to yet.

6. Music that I listened to! Now, since I really enjoyed my tunes, and feel like still more lists, here are the tunes that I listened on on shuffle on my iPod Nano.

"Auf Ashe" Franz Ferdinand
"Disposition" Tool
"I'm Hiding" Korn
"Kind of a Drag" Ultra Vivid Scene
"Intolerance" Tool
"Pucifier" Various (Underworld Soundtrack)
"I Am Stretched On your Grave" Dead Can Dance
"Dragostea Din Tei" O-Zone
"Snakeface" Throwing Muses
"Lost Keys" Tool
"How Sweet" Ultra Vivid Scene
"Clock" Coal Chamber
"Pig" Coal Chamber
"Tragedy" Coal Chamber
"Conga Fury" Juno Reactor
"Thoughtless" Korn
"Its On!" Korn
"Girls" Death in Vegas
"The Pot" Tool
"Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" Cake
"Counting on Me" Korn
"Playboy" Hot Chip
"Engine No. 9" Deftones
"Teenager" Deftones
"Ticks & Leeches" Tool
"Overloading God" Julia Darling
"With Teeth" Nine Inch Nails
"Fireal" Deftones
"Roads" Portishead
"Pollution" Limp Bizkit
"Every Day is Exactly the Same" Nine Inch Nails
"Down in the Park" Foo Fighters
"Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)" Deftones
"Unspoiled" Coal Chamber
"Blood, Milk and Sky" White Zombie
"Thief" Belly
"Go To Church" Ice Cube
"Everlong (live accoustic)" Foo Fighters
"No No No" Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Getting Smaller" Nine Inch Nails
"Date with the Night" Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Keeping You" Tanya Donelly
"Invincible" Ok Go
"El Cu Cuy" Coal Chamber
"Edelweiss" Tanya Donelly
"The House Wins" Ok Go
"U.R.A.Q.T." M.I.A.
"Pin" Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"My Mercy" Coal Chamber
"Eon Blue Apocalypse" Tool
"On the Radio" Regina Spektor
"Method of Groove" Life of Agony
"Cesaro Summability" Tool
"This Time" Life of Agony

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Montezuma, Indiana

So I'm headed back to Montezuma. Just for a few days.

I meant to share with you some of the interesting things about Montezuma, but I got all bogged down with not being in Montezuma, and didn't have time.

But now, magically, I do!

Montezuma is located about two miles away from the Newport Chemical Depot. This military facility is home to all 1,200 tons of the US stockpile of VX gas. Fun!

Just up the street from Montezuma is Hillsdale. In Hillsdale is the Hillsdale Bar & Grill. Its a working-man's place. Folks who work hard for a living go here to unwind over some beers, and on Thursday, tacos. Be wary when ordering Jack & Coke, or any other mixed drink, as there are only 3 glasses that they serve mixed drinks in, and once they run out, they serve 'em in plastic cups. You've been warned.

Next on our little tour is Dick's Tavern, right in the middle of scenic Montezuma. Dick's is a friendly local place. When we showed up on a Tuesday evening, we were greeted well before the door by the sound of Korn's "Y'all Want A Single" track, loud. Inside we found ourselves in a dim, not crowded little hole-in-the-wall bar. Oh - you can't get a Heineken anywhere. Not in Montezuma, not in Hillsdale, not in Rockville. But they have Blue Moon on tap at the 36 Saloon in Rockville =) Oh but back to Dick's. I beheld my first near bar-fight. A few guys from the Mill and I are talking over our beers, when angry voices rang out from the bar behind us, and we turned and watched a sorta pudgy guy who looked really out of place, like he should instead have been holding a bucket of pop-corn and going on about the Dark Sith and so forth. He was being yelled at angrily by a small weasley-looking fellow, who looked kinda like David Spade from "Joe Dirt", except this guy was more dirty and weasley. I have no idea what the ruckus was over, but rat-man told the starwars kid that he wasn't fucking around, and that he'd kill him. After a few moments of watching interestedly, tensions faded, and weasel-face went to shoot darts with the incredibly drunk woman who had told us just a few minutes ago about how she just shit in the woods when there was not a bathroom readily available. Oh - I'd nearly forgotten. We went to Dick's twice while I was there. That was the first visit. On the second visit, we joined some other folks there. As we entered and sat down, one guy got up to use the bathroom. He wandered around for a moment in the place, trying the seemingly-random doors on the wall, obviously trying to figure out where the shit-hole bathroom was in the shit-hole bar. He found it, and on his return, I was getting up to go, needing to wash my hands after working in the Mill all day. I jokingly asked the fellow if there was a sink in the bathroom. He replied that yes, there was, and as I left the table, one of the fellows from the Mill, a local, said "Sure! You just lift the seat and splash the water onto your hands!" I laughted, and found the shit-hole bathroom. Picture in your mind a room perhaps 6 feet by 7 feet. Trough-style urinal: check. Standing sink with little rickety wooden doors on the front of it, at your knees, hiding some plumbing perhaps: check. Toilet that is missing both the lid, and the seat, leaving behind only the little nubs of the hinges - oh and the lid of the reservoir is obviously from a different toilet, and does not match this one: check. Having quickly run down my checklist I head to the sink and turn the grimy handles. Of course. Nothing. Not a drop. Generously, I turned them back to where I had found them, "off" I suppose. And I returned to my beer.

Good stuff. We'll see what exciting tales I can bring you back this time around, dear reader!

Monday, March 19, 2007

an itch to scratch

The urge to run a Shadow of Yesterday game continues to grow.

I've got a small pool of people now who haven't tried it, or heard me ranting about it overly much (yet). Maybe I can entice a few of my old gaming buddies to join in.

MMMmmmmmmmm TSOY.


Have a couple of players watch Memento and maybe Julien Donkey Boy, then sit down at the gaming table. Hand everyone their character sheets, present them with the story, and let them interact with it.

Drop some hints, be incredibly subtle, so as not to reveal the secret twist ending. Railroad the players as necessary to keep them within the confines of The Secret.

Then, at the end, better than tell them, allow the story to unfold in such a way that they realize that all this time, the people they've talked with haven't talked to *them*, no, the people have spoken to just one person. All the things they did, it wasn't them as a team - physically speaking, no, it was one person.

They're all just voices.

Monday, March 12, 2007

a LAN within a LAN

So this is my first hands-on run-in with this kind of thing.

We have an enterprise wide LAN within our organization, that we keep (I think) pretty secure. We run some pretty good software solutions at the desktop level for anti-virus and anti-spyware, and have a pretty good firewall in place. We're not Fort Knox I suppose, but the wind does not whistle through our network.

We are in the process of setting up a new facility, and nearly all of the super huge and heavy industrial machinery is controlled by a PLC, which interfaces with a computer, that basically makes all of the decisions for the machinery. These computers are on a different subnet than the rest of the LAN there, and there is a router between the two networks. However, its basically an open router - it just passes stuff along - doesn't care whether it is valid traffic, or a worm or virus. The complication here is that these computers, because they are so important, we absolutely do not want to put anything on there that will interfere in any way with its communication with the PLC and the machinery - including anti-virus software or a software firewall, etc. And that is the bind. These machines are so important that they cannot be down. So we can't put anti-virus software on them, or apply windows updates, and other things that you'd normally do to protect a computer. And because we can't do that, that makes them super vulnerable to viruses and stuff.

So, the answer seems to be putting a hardware firewall in place on the network, between our main LAN and our little critical LAN. This would let all of the PLCs and computers and machinery talk on the inside of the secure LAN, but would stop anything on the main LAN from getting in. I've setup firewalls before, but I've just never been part of a network large/complicated enough to have more than the one main firewall.

Next: One to One NATw and IPS!

HOT DAMN! (or TSOY xp in nWoD)

I love hitting the jackpot. Last night I posted about XP woes. What I was really trying to say, but left out, was that I just wish I could do Shadow of Yesterday XP awards in my Werewolf game.


Oh yeah.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Well, not really.

I'm running a werewolf chronicle. We played a game in January that was a prelude. I think I posted about it, probably at length.. anyway, the mindset with it was that I had some people over, gave out pregens, and ran a werewolf game for a few hours. I wanted to see if people were interested in the system and the setting, and let people get a taste of the system before being asked to create characters. Cause "blind" character creation going into a story that I intend to run for a bit is the suck. First game went well, and we formed a plan to gather again. I gave everyone the option of creating a character from scratch, or reworking their pregen, or for the real slackers, coming up with a new name and writing it on their pregen character. Because we were now leaving behind the characters of the prelude and hopping into the characters of our main story. Which I've found works really well, by the way. Running a game somewhat like a book, where you sometimes get to see the world from the perspective of other people. Anyway, we played our first "main story" game, which went well, and then ran into some scheduling conflicts. Game 3 was going to be short on Maddie, and Game 4 was going to be short on Jerry and Andrew. So, to keep us all playing, and to keep the story moving around in our heads, I ran one-shot stories with pre-gen characters, all tied into our main story somehow. I'm loving it.

And back to where I started. Not really. Earlier today was Game 4, and since we were down Jerry and Andrew, I ran our available three players through a small story that was an offshoot of the main story.

See.. what's happening - and without going into too much detail, since some of my players might read this.. there is some bad stuff happening in werewolf world. The Pure are descending upon our fair city like a swarm of 9 foot tall, deadly locust. During Game 3, they played the part of some Ridden, or people who have been possessed and taken over by spirits. They're not "evil spirits", well, they were cockroach spirits. But their agenda involved some messiness that was pretty evil by our understanding. Anyway, it ties in because for some reason, part of this Pure invasion seems to be in some way supported by some denizens of the spirit world. In Game 4, they played wolf-blooded, people who are not werewolves, but carry some werewolf blood, and being a vital part of werewolf society. But wolf-blooded are by no means super-human. Actually they're very human, they just happen to know about the existence of werewolves. So I handed the characters out, and described how each one was in a pinch. Bill's character, an older, alcoholic detective, who I blame Frank Miller for, was on a stakeout, and watched his partner get gunned down, after some guys mistook his partner for him. Meanwhile, Maddie's character, who was an ER nurse, and who's brother was a werewolf, got a couple of phone calls, which she could not take, so she got a voicemail. Krissi's character got a phone call in the middle of the night, asking "Is this Meredith Hart?" (her character's name), to which she replied, "Yes", and the line went dead. Then someone kicked in the front door of her brownstone. Oh, and someone threw a molotov cocktail into her front window. Meanwhile back at the hospital, Maddie's character had become somewhat un-busy, and so checked her voicemail, and had an urgent message from her brother, to the effect of "Shit has hit the fan, you're in danger." She tried to call him back but just kept going straight to voicemail. Then another nurse walked by and told her that someone was looking for her at the nurses station. She peered around the corner, and seeing two people that she did not recognize, she grabbed her stuff, and left out the basement door. Back to Bill's character, having just seen three or four people, some in a car, shoot the fuck out of his partner, cranked up his car, and gunned the engine, straight at their car. Their car was sitting still, two of the gunmen had just opened the doors to get in when he hit their car doing 45mph. It threw two of them into the street, and totally made wrecks out of both vehicles. He fired at one of the people, who was fleeing, and then caught the driver, plugging him a few times, and a few more when he saw that this guy was only sortof human. It took alot of bullets to keep it down. Then, shirking his duties as an officer of the law, he followed a tip from Maddie's character, and all three of them met up at a hangout that they all knew, their characters being familiar with each other.
They compared stories, and tried to work on a strategy. Krissi's character was shoeless, having only the clothes that she's put on before escaping the apartment, and her cell phone.

They got caught in the parking garage, on their way to Maddie's character's car- by one of the weird not-really-human guys, who seemed bent on sticking a 12 inch hunting knife into one, or each of them. He chased Krissi and Maddie's characters up the three floor staircase in the parking garage, with Bill's character right on his heels. They ambushed him on the top level, and killed it, after this one also proved to be damn hard to take down.

They tried the usual haunt of their associated pack of werewolves - which Maddie's character's brother was a member - but it was quiet and dark, until they really poked around, and a car down the street cranked up and drive right for them. They got inside, just as the occupants of the vehicle gave chase, and also gave them reason to believe that they might have at least one full-on-fucking-werewolf on their heels. They made their way through and out, to a canal behind the place, where they ran, pursued, through more chain-link-guarded areas, finally coming out near the stairs to an elevated train platform. They knew there was something the size of a pony chasing them, and they had every reason to believe that it was not in fact, a pony, or anywhere near as good natured as one. When they hit the relative light of the elevated rail stairway, their pursuer turned out somehow to be a tall, wiry fellow with long gray hair, in a battered leather jacket and a pair of blue jeans. They ran up the stairs, Bill's character pausing long enough to flash his badge at a uniformed officer, and told him that they were being pursued by a dangerous suspect. Mere seconds past as they continued their flight up the (long) stairs to the platform, and the wiry fellow bound up the steps behind them, three at a time, pausing when the uniformed officer accosted him, long enough to punch the uniform's lights out, and leave him crumpled on the stairs. They could see a train on the platform, its doors open, a few early-morning workers climbing on to begin their day. Panic crept in, as the wiry fellow continued up the stairs, and Bill's character turned and fired, hitting him with a beautiful shot, which was both excellent and terrible, because it was such an excellent success, that it forced the wiry guy into a check to resist Death Rage. Which he failed.

One second later, they had a hurt and pissed off, 9 foot tall werewolf coming up the stairs toward them. People scattered, or hit the ground, and they took off to the train car. Maddie and Krissi's characters made it on, but Bill's was behind them, very nearly didn't make it before the doors shut. But they pulled him into the car as the doors closed, and the train began to move, right as a fist the size of a large frozen turkey slammed through the metal door like it was paper. As the train gained speed, the arm peeled the other door back, and a werewolf started pulling itself into the opening. They attacked it as it tried to come through, Krissi's character taking off a couple of fingers with the aforementioned 12 inch hunting knife, and Bill's handgun-toting detective blowing a large hole into the monster's face. It fell off the train, and disappeared into the blackness.

They debated options and destinations, still unsure of where to go, what was happening, or why they couldn't get ahold of Maddie's character's brother. She had the numbers for two other of the pack werewolves, and one did not answer, the other did answer, and after just a moment she realized that the person she was speaking with was not who she's expected to reach. She recalled having once met a werewolf from another pack at a bar, and went there, looking for any help they could find. After dealing with Murray, the tired bartender, still trying to clean up after closing, they found a number for this other werewolf, and called him up. He didn't seem to know anything about what was going on, and was confused as to why they were even fucking calling him. He flat out told them that this wasn't his problem, and he didn't really want it to be his problem. But he called back a moment later, and with some discussion in the background, he directed them to a safehouse. They made it to the safehouse, met with a couple of the werewolves from this pack that they didn't really know, who had them repeat their story. The werewolves told them that they'd poke around.

Still no word from the brother, or any of that pack.

And we left off there. I just have to say that I'm extremely pleased with this game, both because of the novelty of running one-shot, story-related games when we don't have our full crew, and that let them experience things from other perspectives, but also that I was able to constantly keep the pressure on them, and a lack of information going, which created an air of tension, paranoia and fear. It was great.

awarding xp to your players

yay, a gaming post.

Some role playing games recommend giving out experience point awards based not on how many monsters you managed to kill, but instead for things like good role playing, being brave, etc.

I'm running a werewolf game with a fantastic, and somewhat diverse group of players. I've got a young D&D guy, who is very interested in how many guns he can collect, a hesitant role player, a head-strong player, a guy interested in making sure that he's playing correctly, and a fellow who shows up and role plays his heart out. I'm not complaining in the slightest about any of these people. I'm really happy with my crew. But, where I'm going with this is: I'm a little torn on "teaching lessons via experience".

Let me phrase it this way, I can either hand out experience after every game, giving basically the same to each player, with small bonuses if someone did an absolutely bang-up job during the game. Or. I can hand out experience and use it as.. negative reinforcement? to encourage people to strive for those hard-won points. Like, don't give out the role-playing point award unless people give me oscar winning performances. I'm hesitant to do that though. Partly, because that makes me the judge, and I hate judging people, at least to their face. I cringe at the thought of telling everyone at the table that they did a great job role playing, and just quietly skipping the one sad face at the table that just doesn't jump into the character like everyone else does. Should I penalize that player? The player is showing up and enjoying themselves, and is not so hesitant that they're a wall-flower or anything. (*drool* TSOY xp)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

300, and trips

I've been feeling very non-blogish lately, despite feeling like I have tons of stuff to blog.

I'm back from Indiana again. I took pictures, did alot of work, and had a little fun. Just to remind me later, and tease you, my eager reader, here are a couple topics I'll discuss later:

* Just 3 glasses for mix drinks
* Secure LAN separated from the rest of the LAN
* Dick's Tavern

I'm sure there's some other stuff. I should probably get on it before the memories fade.

Me and the missus went and saw 300, the new movie based on Frank Miller's comic. I've blogged about it here before. I was disappointed. I didn't not like it, but I didn't like it either. They added some stuff - like, an entire side plot, for the movie. And it felt completely tacked on, and out of place.

Anyway, this very second, I'm watching Sin City, to purge the bad taste from my mouth, if you will. Now that's a great graphic novel translation - and a bad ass movie to boot.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

back - for a sec

Back at home, but just for the weekend. Got to head back to Indiana on Monday, and will probably be there all week again.

Couple of things I could blog about, but boy I sure am feeling lazy. So instead you get this half-assed non-update.